Mastodon The Writing Desk: April 2016

25 April 2016

Rhew 2 Rhew Blog Tour ~ The Fulfillment Series, by Erin Rhew

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she's abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms. 

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Layla’s world tumbles out of control when she discovers the truth of her parentage and realizes the Prophecy—the one she upended her entire life to defend—is incomplete. When her new friends share the entire Prophecy, the revelations contained within it alter her destiny and challenge everything she and Wil believe in. Now, she must confront the Outlander queen to save the Ethereal kingdom while grappling with this new reality. 

Today, I'm joined by one half of the RhewinationErin Rhew. For those that don't know, Erin is a young adult fantasy author who is married to adult thriller author, Deek Rhew. Together, they are "the Rhews," and their street team is the Rhewination!

Deek and Erin-- Join the Rhewination! ;) 

Last week, Deek went on blog tour to celebrate the release of his latest book, 122 Rules. And this week, Erin is on tour to promote her fantasy trilogy, The Fulfillment Series! PS. There's a giveaway--a $50 Amazon gift card!!

About the Author

Erin Rhew
Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written
word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by- side. Find out more at Erin's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ErinRhewBooks.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Want a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card?

24 April 2016

Guest Post by Sarah Bryson: Charles Brandon, The Myth, The Man

Available now on: 

Much has been written about Charles Brandon over the centuries and yet strangely so little has been compiled into one singular book about his life. We most often learn about Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk through biographies about his third wife, Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France, younger sister of Henry VIII or his fourth wife Katherine Willoughby Duchess of Suffolk. We can also gain information about the Duke from reading through biographies and sources related to the great King himself.

Charles was often at the King’s side, participating in jousting tournaments with him, sharing intimate conversations, hunting, hawking, attending council meetings or travelling overseas with the King or leading Henry VIII’s wars in France. From these sources we see glimpses of Charles participating in courtly life as well as the more intimate moments where the Duke relaxes his more public persona and allows the real man to shine through. Yet throughout all these mentions it is strange to see that so little has been compiled about his life.

Several years ago I found myself curious as to exactly who this Charles Brandon was. As mentioned he was often at court, always close to the King, trusted with important political and military missions and even married to Henry VIII’s sister. Yet, who was he? Who was the real Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk?

With my curiosity snagged I knew I had to find out more. I began my research at the library yet frustratingly there was little written about Brandon except in relation to those around him. This was not enough for me and I turned to original documents that I discovered online such as Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII. These documents written during Brandon’s life gave me a deeper insight into Brandon’s political and military career and the slightest, most tantalizing, glimpse into the man’s personal life – however I wanted, needed more! 

Much to my delight I was able to come across a number of personal letters written by Brandon himself; letters to fellow courtiers and even to King Henry VIII. It was through examining these letters that I was able to gain a deeper understanding of who Charles Brandon was, the man beneath the courtly facade.

Brandon would often overstep the boundaries of what was considered acceptable for the age. He married a woman almost twice his age only to take her money and have the marriage annulled before returning to his first wife with whom he had two daughters. He flirted with a European Duchess to the astonishment of all those around, except King Henry VIII who tried to convince the Duchess to marry Brandon! He then went on to marry Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary without the King’s permission… an act which was considered treason at the time! He spoke out against the King’s marriage to his second wife Anne Boleyn and yet Charles Brandon survived all of these bold behaviours. 

Not only did he survive but he went on to have a successful court and military career and died one of the King’s most beloved and dearest friends. Why? Because of the great and lasting friendship that he had formed with the King when they were younger and because of Brandon’s ability to read the King, to inflate his ego and to know what to say and when to say it. No matter his personal thoughts and beliefs Brandon was always loyal to the King and Henry VIII came to rely heavily upon this loyalty.

Charles Brandon was a man with thoughts, feelings, desires and fears. He lived, he breathed and he died a well-respected and deeply admired member of Henry VIII’s court. Through my book “Charles Brandon: The King’s Man” I have been able to peel back the layers to find out the real Charles Brandon and it is my hope that through reading my book people are able to gain a deeper, richer understanding of this fascinating man.  

Sarah Bryson

# # #

About the Author

Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Boleyn, Charles Brandon, the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She is the author of Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell and Charles Brandon: The King’s Man.  Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing and Tudor costume enactment, and wishes to return to England one day. Find out more at Sarah's website and follow her on Twitter @SarahBryson44.

23 April 2016

Guest Post ~ John A. Heldt On Writing Indiana Belle (American Journey Book 3)

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing time-travel novels set in twentieth-century America is learning about the people, customs, and events that defined particular eras. This is particularly true with events like natural disasters, events no movie studio could improve.

I found many of these cataclysmic events to be fascinating stories in their own right and did my best to incorporate them into my books. In four of my eight novels, in fact, I have used natural disasters as backdrops, starting points, and/or climactic turning points.

In The Journey, I bring my protagonist in close proximity to the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens. In The Fire, I devote several chapters to the Great Fire of 1910, a relatively little known but widely destructive inferno that charred three million acres of pristine forestland in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

In both books, the main characters know a disaster is coming but can do little more than spare a precious few from harm. The same is true in September Sky, where a reporter and his college-age son try to minimize the impact of a hurricane they know will strike Galveston, Texas, in 1900 and claim several thousand lives.

I like incorporating natural disasters into my stories because they provide added drama, sharpen distinctions, and bring out the best and worst in people. Timid men and women become heroes in an instant, while some of the cocky and powerful become cowards.

I learned this when researching The Fire, set in Wallace, Idaho. As the flames closed in on the isolated and vulnerable mountain town on August 20, 1910, many men helped women and children escape by loading them onto trains. A few acted less nobly. They pushed others out of the way in an effort to save themselves, much like some men did on the RMS Titanic less than two years later.

I didn’t use a natural disaster to draw out heroes and cowards in Indiana Belle, but I did use one to get the novel off to a roaring start. A few chapters into the book, my protagonist comes face to face with the Tri-State Tornado, a mile-wide tempest that killed nearly seven hundred people in the Midwest on March 18, 1925.

Reading about these disasters made me appreciate modern technology all the more. People who confronted wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes in the early 1900s did not have television, smartphones, the Internet, or Doppler radar to alert them to pending doom. They faced nature’s wrath blindly.

Part of the fun of researching the books that featured the disasters was visiting the disaster sites themselves. I visited Wallace in 2013, Galveston in 2014, and southwest Indiana earlier this year. The first two venues offer several museums, historical sites, and attractions that commemorate their respective calamities.

I visited Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in 2005, seven years before writing The Journey. It is an attraction no one with a memory of the May 1980 eruption or its aftermath should miss when visiting Washington state.

John A. Heldt

# # #
About the Author

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. Find out more at and follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnheldt.

22 April 2016

Guest Post ~ Inspiration to write Jane the Quene, by Janet Wertman

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court’s realm of plot and intrigue....  Jane believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, but early miscarriages shake her confidence and hopes. How can a woman who has done nothing wrong herself deal with the guilt 
of how she unseated her predecessor? 

I actually didn’t get truly inspired to write Jane the Quene until about the fourth draft! Let me explain…

I had always harbored a passion for Anne Boleyn. Thirty years ago, I came up with this amazing premise for a book: a secret diary that she’d penned, that one of her ladies hid and gave to Elizabeth at a time in her life when the parallels could guide her. Great concept, right? Even so, I let career and young children sidetrack me for a good ten years before I finally got serious in September 1998.

I wrote more than a hundred pages in only a month, and was researching a minor question when a strange result came up. An Amazon listing for a new book that had just been published in May, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. My book. Written by someone else.

After three days of wallowing, I came up with a new plan: I’d rework what I had but tell Jane’s story instead.  Well, that might have saved my psyche, but it didn’t really motivate me. I stumbled through several drafts over the years, never as enthusiastic as I’d been over my original idea, and just kept putting them aside.

Then I had my “aha” moment three years ago, after I told my tale of woe to a friend who’d never heard it. The conversation made me reconsider what was Anne’s story and what was Jane’s, and realize that Jane needed more of a voice. I finally saw the triumphs and tragedies in the three-act structure of Jane’s life (Commoner, Schemer, Queen), and how they paralleled those in the three-act structure of the Seymour “reign” (Jane, her brother, her son).

That insight finally anchored Jane for me as the tragic heroine of a story that really needed to be told – and that I really wanted to tell. It also gave me a new perspective that changed everything. I had learned long ago from karate that if you want to break a board, you can’t aim AT it, you must aim BEYOND it. All those years I had focused on writing a single book – but now I had a trilogy to complete.

From there it all fell into place, and I relished every moment of uncovering the story – just as now I’m enjoying moving forward with the sequel. And in case you’re wondering, yes I have another trilogy behind this one (taking us through Elizabeth’s story) - and another after that (I’m going to do a Star-Wars inspired circle back to cover Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn). I’ve got a lot of boards to break!

Janet Wertman

# # #

About the Author

Janet Wertman grew up within walking distance of three bookstores and a library on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – and she visited all of them regularly. Janet spent fifteen years as a corporate lawyer in New York, and co-authored The Executive Compensation Answer Book. After moving to Los Angeles with her family and switching careers, Janet became a highly successful grantwriter for non-profits took up writing fiction. Janet is thrilled to finally be releasing the first book in The Seymour Saga series: Jane the Quene The second book, The Path to Somerset, will chronicle Edward Seymour’s rise after Jane’s death to become Lord Protector of England and Duke of Somerset – taking us right through Henry’s crazy years. Finally, the third book, The Boy King, will cover the reign of Jane’s son, Edward VI, and the string of betrayals he suffered. Find our more at Jane’s website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @JaneTheQuene.

Historical Fiction Blog Tour ~ The House of Baric Series, by Jillian Bald #HFVBT

02A_Shield's Down

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Smashwords

Add to GR Button

Marriage matches for the Venetian nobility were not preordained by God in heaven. They were skillfully negotiated by fathers looking to enhance their own prestige and wealth. A young lady could overlook petty shortcomings in her future husband, if he were rich, held a title, and was easy on the eyes. The young Baron Mauro Baric was such desirable yet flawed match. Mauro was the last of the House of Baric, and he required a wife to provide him with sons. Resi Kokkinos was not interested in marrying an aristocrat any more than Mauro wanted a common, Ottoman Greek girl as his bride.

Betrothed as children to repay Resi’s father’s debt to the Barics, they had no choice in their paired future. Resi made the best of her sequestered adolescence in Thessaloniki while she waited to be summoned to the Venetian colony of Croatia to marry. Since her fate had already been decided, Resi’s mother allowed her to be tutored with her brothers. She did not need to learn the skills her friends focused on to entice a desirable husband, so she used her freedom to read every book she could find. Mauro’s bachelor years of soldiering gave way to burdensome responsibilities as a baron and a new husband.

Personal and political conflicts added more challenges to the couple’s awkward first year of marriage. Dear friends and unexpected visitors would bring their own troubles to the House of Baric. Through it all, Mauro could no longer deny that his complicated and unpredictable wife might be his perfect match after all.

Set in the summer of 1649, you are a fly-on-the-wall into their intriguing and adventurous world. Love, war, hating, and mating were perhaps not so different back in the seventeenth century. These memorable characters only wanted to steer their own destinies in search of happiness, and you will find yourself rooting for them to succeed in their quest.

02B_A Brother's Defense

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Smashwords

Add to GR Button

Book two of this fast-paced tale of aristocratic life in the 17th century Venetian Empire begins where book one left off: the mercenaries arrive to visit Resi and her new husband, Baron Mauro Baric. Part One: Shields Down introduced you to the colorful characters of the House of Baric, their loyal bonds of friendship, willing romances, arranged marriages, political conflicts, and suspicious deaths.

Mauro’s family secrets and buried pain can no longer be ignored. In Part Two: A Brother’s Defense, he must face his demons. But first, his new brother-in-law stirs up trouble, while the elegant Venetian guests fill their idle time at the Baric castle with new romantic pursuits. Set in the summer of 1649, this gripping rendition of the saga of love, revenge, and redemption do not disappoint. Questions will be answered, and more will come to light, as this engaging trilogy speeds along. Swords will be drawn. The House of Baric must be protected. But from whom?

# # #

About the Author

03_Jillian Bald
Most of the novels in Jillian Bald’s library take place in the far past or the far future, so it came naturally for Jillian to set her first novel in the year 1649. She has always enjoyed discovering new things, and historical fiction is an entertaining path to learning. After working in business management and living in France and Germany for several years, Jillian moved with her husband across the country while taking time off to raise her boys. Writing is a new occupation to Jillian, but she has always had a story churning in her imagination. “The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down” is Jillian Bald’s first published work. Connect with author Jillian Bald on Facebook and Goodreads.


To enter to win a signed copy of The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

04_The House of Baric_Book Blast_FINAL

19 April 2016

Guest Post ~ ‘The Errant Hours’ - a medieval adventure, By Kate Innes

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A headlong journey through the physical and spiritual dangers of Plantagenet Britain, in all its savage pageantry. Welsh Marches, July 1284 - the uprising in Wales is over, the leader gruesomely executed, the dead are buried. But for Illesa Arrowsmith, the war’s aftermath is just as brutal. When her brother is thrown into the Forester’s prison on false charges, she is left impoverished and alone. All Illesa has left is the secret manuscript entrusted to her – a book so powerful it can save lives, a book so valuable that its discovery could lead to her death. 

My working life started in archaeology.  Trowel in hand, I laboured on various sites around Britain and Europe, mainly as a volunteer, living in tents or squats with similarly crazy people.  I went on to study Archaeology at University, but soon decided that I wasn’t tough enough to spend most of my life exposed to an unreliable climate.  

I became a secondary school teacher, then a Museum Education Officer and finally a mother of three.  But when I came to write my first novel, the influence of my early love of archaeology was still strong.  Archaeology, in the main, looks at the discarded and unwanted remains of daily life, the broken things most people do not consider important. 

In my novel, The Errant Hours, I wanted to uncover what life was like for the people who did not make it into the history books, to research the daily lives of people who lived in the distant past, and to understand how their circumstances affected their fears, hopes and beliefs.

Having worked in museums of historic buildings, I was able to pull myself into previous time and furnish it with the commonplace and extraordinary objects that made Plantagenet Britain so severe and exuberant.  I found this aspect of writing very satisfying.  It was like Frankenstein running electricity through his monster: what was dead and in pieces I could bring to life, renewing the ruined sites, such as Acton Burnell Castle and Wenlock Priory, in my mind and on the page.

Acton Burnell Castle - Shropshire
Another starting point for my book was a fascination with medieval manuscripts. These exquisitely painted unique books were illustrated with subversive, ridiculous and beautiful imagery, showing the natural, the supernatural, and everything in between. They give a visceral sense of what stoked the medieval imagination. 

(The Alphonso Psalter, BL Add MS 24686 13th century)
But the manuscripts were not just appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. Many were considered to be able to bring the reader into direct communion with the Divine. 

I was researching medieval childbirth on-line, when I came across a very particular manuscript.  British Library MS Egerton 877 – The Passio of St Margaret.  I read the translation of the text and the fascinating explanation of the manuscript, and I knew straight away: this would be the touchstone of my story. 

According to the legend of her martyrdom, Margaret of Antioch was virgin convert to Christianity in the early 4th Century AD.  She was abducted by the Roman Governor who wished to ‘marry’ her.  When she refused, he had her tortured in numerous gruesome ways.  While this was going on, she was attacked by the devil in the form of a dragon.  The dragon swallowed her, but when she made the sign of the cross it burst open and she came out ‘unharmed and without any pain.’  It was this line in the manuscript that immediately struck me: ‘illesa sine dolore’.

The word ‘illesa’ is medieval Latin meaning ‘unharmed’, and it became the name of the heroine of my book.

The legend says that, before she was beheaded, St Margaret promised safe childbirth to those who read the story of her martyrdom.  And so, in accordance with medieval logic, books telling of the horrific torture of a virgin became a birthing aid, and St Margaret became the patron saint of childbirth. 

The illustration on the final page of this manuscript had a profound affect on me. 

British Library MS Egerton 877 folio 12
The image of the saint in the birth chamber is smeared and distorted because medieval women, in their time of great pain, kissed the picture and sent up prayers to St Margaret to save them and their babies.  Through this poignant trace of real belief and desperation, I could imagine these women, and the plot of the book began to take shape before my eyes. 

The Errant Hours is a fast-paced adventure, following Illesa as she struggles to save the life of her brother, and herself, in the face of poverty, violence and corruption.  But it is also the story of a mother who loses and finds a daughter, and the story of a sacred book, believed to have the power of life and death.

The two stories intertwine, bind, resist and console each other, as all our stories do. 

Kate Innes

# # #
About the Author

Kate Innes is a former museum education officer, now writing fiction and poetry in Shropshire. Kate’s novel The Errant Hours is widely available from bookshops or from her website  She also writes blogs, mainly about animals, art and history. Kate runs writing workshops and undertakes commissions and residencies. She can be reached via or on Twitter: @kateinnes2

18 April 2016

FREE Book One of The Hawk of Stone Duology: Capering on Glass Bridges, by Jessica Hernandez

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Limited time FREE download 18 - 22 April 2016
Click HERE Download Code AJ86C

The Utdrendans have spoken, and everything has changed as a consequence. People normally avoid the fog surrounding the cursed Kingdom of Mar, but now they are asking sixteen-year-old Kaia Stone to venture into it. The Utdrendans implied that there is something special about Kaia. They claimed that she could help free the land; she need only carry out their instructions and deliver a message to the Marian king.

Mar, however, is a land in which dark secrets abound, and many will stop at nothing to ensure that it remains forever cursed. Determined to work against Kaia, unfriendly forces have already begun to gather.

Will Kaia choose to abandon the only life she’s ever known—perhaps indefinitely—in pursuit of the greater good…in pursuit of her purpose?

# # #

About the Author

Jessica Hernandez was born and raised in the beautifully sunny state of Florida. She attended the University of Miami, where she spent more time than she cares to admit daydreaming of a faraway land called Acu. Upon graduating with a degree in English and Political Science in 2014, Jessica put pen to paper and brought Acu to life—so was born Capering on Glass Bridges. Jessica is now working on her second novel. Find out more at her website  and follow Jessica on Twitter @jessy_marie77.

Rhew 2 Rhew Blog Tour ~­ 122 Rules Book Blitz Extravaganza: Deek Rhew

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

In his black and white world, Sam Bradford--former Marine turned government assassin--finally sees a speck of grey. He has always followed orders without question, but his latest assignment threatens to disrupt the precision of his universe and may either severe or redeem his last remaining sliver of humanity.

Rhew 2 Rhew

How's that for a catchy title? What a crazy adventure this has been FIVE years in the making, and it has finally arrive: 122 Rules has been born unto the world. The stories I could tell just so I could tell you this story...well, let's just say it's been an interesting, educational, and life­altering adventure.

Who could resist those stunning blues?
This has been a grand journey, filled with hardships, fun, learning, and growth. But of all the things that have happened on the writing road, meeting the love of my life is the most unlikely and easily the luckiest, most blessed things to have ever happened to me.

Erin Rhew and I started out as critique partners, became friends, and now she's my bride. She's my best friend and partner in all things. Even if I don't sell a single copy of my writings, I'll always be a smashing success because I met Erin.

On this half of the Rhewination tour, I am visiting blogs all over the globe, from Australia to the farthest corners in Canada. Next week, on the second half of the tour, Erin will be gracing the pages of 50+ bloggers! In addition, we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card! Prepare yourselves to win!

Today, we are announcing my adult thriller novel

122 Rules.  

What are readers saying?

“122 Rules is a fast-paced thrill-ride, filled with rich characters living in an expertly woven world of mystery and suspense. Deek Rhew’s debut novel will take readers by storm, and keep them coming back for sequels.”
​~Michelle K. Pickett, Bestselling and award-winning author of PODs and Unspeakable.

The perfect, fast-paced novel for fans of kick-butt heroines, creepy killers, and getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. An absolute must-read!  ~Meradeth Houston, author of Travelers, An Absence of Light, and the Sary Society Series

With a pinch of humor and multiple twists of violent action, 122 RULES is a page-turning thriller where law-upholders, law-enforcers and law-breakers co-exist in a fuzzy line that makes you wonder: Who is enforcing the law, who is breaking it, and who are the victims of this uncertainty? Monica, a feisty and irreverent law student, is caught in the middle of it all when she finds herself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, overhearing the wrong conversation, one that changes her life forever taking us on a warped path where, what we think is real, might not be true, and what is true, is clearly debatable. Yes, Deek Rhew keeps you wondering until the last page! --Leonardo Wild, author of THE GALAPAGOS AGENDA, a Paradigm Shift Thriller.

This is a moment in your life without comparison or equal because you are about to embark on a journey that will undoubtedly become one of those memorable experiences you tell all your friends about. And that’s why it is your Rhewination. From this point onward, everything else you read will be measured against your first reading Deek Rhew’s 122 Rules. ~Elgon Williams, author of Fried Windows (in a Light White Sauce)

# # #

About the Author

Deek Rhew lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town ­­with antique shops and bakeries­ ­they call home. Find out more at Deek's website and find him on Twitter @DeekRhewBooks.

Are you ready to win?!!! Enter the Rhewination, Rhews on Tour Giveaway!

17 April 2016

Historical Fiction Spotlight ~ Of Fathers and Sons: Geoffrey Hotspur and the Este Inheritance, by Evan Ostryzniuk

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Italy during late-fourteenth century

Wandering into the midst of the many warring factions comes young English would-be knight Geoffrey Hotspur and his crafty French criminal manservant, Jean de la Langoustine, a debt collector for the notorious Gamesmaster. 

The hapless Quixote–like pair stumble from mishap to disaster as Hotspur pursues his ever–pressing dream of becoming a fully-fledged knight fit to fight in the Crusades. 

Although his friends and fellow squires have already served a knight on a proper campaign, Geoffrey has not yet crossed swords with anyone, let alone a knight. No matter how hard he tries to bloody his sword, some event is sure to intervene. 

His big chance comes when he becomes embroiled with the court of the child ruler Niccolo d’Este, who is thrust into power when his father, the popular Alberto, unexpectedly dies and leaves him too young to rule on his own. 

It is left to the naïve and unbloodied Geoffrey to escort Niccolo to safety through the battlefields and stave off the warlords and family rivals determined to kill and replace the young ruler. 

This thrilling adventure tale is woven into actual events, people and places from a period that had a major influence on Renaissance Italy and for many years to come. The author’s thorough research ensures a story that is set against a background in which fashions, food, lifestyles and habits, from peasant to prince, are described in rip–roaring and vivid detail. 

Of Fathers and Sons is an exciting tale of knights, courtesans and villains built around the Battle of Portomaggiore, waged in the muddy marshes of a snowbound northern Italy in the late fourteenth century. 

Praise for Evan Ostryzniuk 

'A classic story that brings the era vividly to life.' - Robert Foster, best-selling author of The Lunar Code. 
# # #

About the Author

Evan Ostryzniuk grew up in Canada and was educated in both Canada and the United Kingdom. He currently works and writes in Kiev, Ukraine. He earned several academic degrees in history and modern languages, which culminated in doctoral research at Cambridge University that resulted in a thesis about rural insurgency during the Russian Revolution. He is currently employed at a financial services company in the varied role of editor, translator and researcher. Before that, he was a lecturer in history at a private university. Find out more at Evan's website and find him on Twitter @EOstryzniuk.

16 April 2016

Guest Post by Anne O'Brien: Revisiting Katherine de Valois in the The Forbidden Queen

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

An innocent pawn 

A kingdom without a king 

A new dynasty will reign… 

All of my novels about the lives of medieval women have all allowed me to include more than a pinch of politics, government intrigue and national events.  It is something that I enjoy, working the ‘history’ into the lives of my protagonists.

But when I began to write about Katherine de Valois, particularly writing her story in the first person, I realised that this novel would be different from the rest, with strict limitations on its scope outside the life of the heroine herself.  I had to accept what The Forbidden Queen could not be, before I could settle down to decide what it should be.  To begin with, it was quite a daunting project.

The Forbidden Queen:
- is not a novel about the Hundred Years War.
    - is not a political comment on the difficulties faced by a country with a Regency under the minority rule of Henry VI.
 - is not a novel involved in the growth of powerful families, culminating in the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses.
 - is not a discussion of the problems of the Valois crown under Charles VI, with the resurgence of Charles VII under Joan of Arc and the ultimate defeat of the English.
It is none of these things simply because Katherine, except through the event of her marriage to Henry V, was untouched by most if not all of these issues.  If I wrote a political novel, Katherine would be a mere un-looker – and not even that since she was kept secluded from much of what was going on in the background to her life.   Katherine would be merely commenting on what she saw and heard.  There would be little that she actually did.

This would not make a dramatic novel. So why was Katherine, compared with my other medieval protagonists, so uninvolved? 

Katherine’s lifestyle was narrow and protected until the 1430s.  Her interests as far as we know were domestic.  Neglected as a child, she received little education in the convent at Poissy, and played the role of most princesses in the marriage stakes, to cement an alliance with a potentially hostile country.  Katherine had of course no influence in this.  We do not even know what she thought about it.  She is often portrayed as a beautiful young woman who was not very bright, which might simply indicate that she played no role other than a ceremonial one.  She certainly does not seem to have had any political interest or knowledge of the country of which she would be Queen.

It is true that some royal wives develop political acumen as they mature and take on a role in government either at the side of their husband or independently.  They support causes, they promote marriage alliances, they receive petitioners and speak for their interests.  Their role to support and bolster royal power gives a pattern to their days and a demand on their time.

This is not Katherine de Valois.  Katherine had the title, wore the robes of state and ultimately stood at her young son’s side as King's Mother when he appeared infrequently in public, but that was the limit of her involvement.  Nothing else was expected of her, and she appears to have little interest in carving out a role for herself.  Katherine does not mature into a political animal.  When she is able to take the initiative in the 1430s to live as she chooses, the choice she makes is to retire from public life to live quietly away from the public eye.  When politics encroach on her life, she becomes a victim, not a protagonist.

So what are we left with, as the story at the core of The Forbidden Queen

Presumably dazzled by her royal suitor, Katherine played her part successfully in her brief marriage with Henry V and the even briefer time she actually spent with him, by giving birth to a son and smiling at the crowds when she joined Henry on his royal progress in 1422.  Left a widow at 21 with little power and no official position assigned to her in the rearing and education of her young son other than the title Queen Dowager and King's Mother, Katherine remained obscure, destined to a ceremonial widowhood at her son’s side to bolster the boy’s claim to the Valois throne.  Nor is there any evidence that she had any knowledge of or interest in events in France.  Her only visit after Henry’s death was for the coronation of the young Henry VI as King of France.

The knowledge we have of Katherine in the late 1420s and early 1430s is of an entirely personal nature.

Lacking the political wisdom that might have shown her the foolishness of her actions, she became infatuated with Edmund Beaufort, even to the extent that marriage was mooted – with the obvious repercussions and restrictions from a suspicious Royal Council.

Prevented from taking this dangerous step, Katherine fell in love with Owen Tudor, an astonishing liaison between a Dowager Queen and a disenfranchised Welshman who, we presume, was a servant in her own household.  And Katherine loved him enough to marry him.

So this is Katherine’s story, and a most appealing one it was to become as I accepted my limitations.  A coming of age novel of a young girl who obeyed the demands of her family, suffered increasing isolation, but ultimately grew up.  Not politics, not foreign policy, but the story of a young woman caught in the grip of dynastic aggrandisement and political necessity.

It is a very personal story.  A splendid love story.  And ultimately, for Katherine, a tragic one.

Anne O'Brien
# # #

About the Author

Anne O'Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years as a teacher of history. After leaving teaching, Anne decided to turn to novel writing and give voice to the women in history who fascinated her the most, beginning with Virgin Widow, which told the story of Anne Neville, the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Since then, she has told the stories of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Devil's Consort, Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III, in The King's Concubine, Katherine de Valois, the child bride of Henry V, in The Forbidden Queen and Katherine Swynford, mistress of John of Gaunt, in The Scandalous Duchess. Her latest novel The King's Sister is the story of Elizabeth of Lancaster, caught up in dramatic and bloody family politics in the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. Today Anne lives in an eighteenth century cottage in Herefordshire, an area full of inspiration for her work. Visit Anne online at and find her on Facebook and Twitter @anne_obrien.