Mastodon The Writing Desk: August 2017

31 August 2017

Register Free for The Tudor Summit. Ten talks spread out over two days, hosted by Heather Teysko

Here's a joke waiting to be told: a Tudor historian, a blogger, and a podcaster all walk into a bar and ... 
... can't pay the bill because all they have with them are groats?
... spend five hours trying to redecorate the place, but in the end decide they like it how it is, but just want new ownership?
... start a fight over the drink Bloody Mary?
All completely possible. But the correct answer is ... 
... And the Tudor Summit is born! 

The Tudor What now? 

The Tudor Summit. Ten talks spread out over two days featuring leading names in Tudor history. If you read blogs, books, or listen to podcasts about English history, I'd be willing to bet you've come across these names before. And it's all online, so there's no need to travel. And it's completely free! 

So why a Tudor Summit? Let me explain. 

Back in 2009 I started the Renaissance English History Podcast because I thought that podcasting would be a good thing to know. This was back when podcasting was very new, and there wasn't a lot in the way of history podcasts. I've had large gaps in my podcasting as life took over, but it's always been this constant in my life that I return to time and again, and it brings me such joy to connect with others who are enthusiasts about 16th century England.

One thing I see is that those of us who are passionate about this time period are often passionate in our own little bubbles. We spend a lot of time in our books. We read a lot of blogs. And we voraciously listen to Melvyn Bragg postulate on In Our Time. One thing we don't spend a lot of time doing is talking to actual people. Alive ones. In real time. 

It's one of the paradoxes of history that while we study people, we are often so immersed in our books that we forget to talk to the ones who are still alive. History is, quite simply, a study of being alive. And I'm passionate about it because I believe it connects us more deeply to our own humanity. 

In studying history we grapple with the questions and passions that have followed humanity since it all began. Especially so in the 15th and 16th centuries. The parallels to our own world - new technologies making information dissemination possible, societal changes happening at breakneck speed, England's sovereignty compared with a central European authority, a religious refugee crisis - are unmistakable. The people who lived in Tudor England dealt with a lot of the same issues we do. 

So, given that I love people so much, it's amusing that I sometimes go days without talking to any.
And so, the idea for the Tudor Summit hit me earlier this summer. Bring together leading names in Tudor scholarship. Have them give talks. Get everyone connected in a group online. And everyone gets to learn and share together. Without the awkwardness of having to, you know, leave the house. I've seen gatherings like this in other areas. 

In my previous life as the Assistant Director for California's largest library consortium I created an online conference called The Edgy Librarian. I've attended online conferences on self publishing. But I haven't seen one on Tudor England. And so, I created that which I wanted to attend.

The fun is this coming Sunday and Monday, the 3rd and 4th (it's a 3 day weekend in the US, hooray!) starting at 4pm in the UK with five talks each day. It all kicks off on Sunday at 4 UK time when Sarah Gristwood gives a keynote talk about Queenship in 16th century Europe. She's followed by Tony Riches talking about the earliest Tudors. Nathen Amin from the Henry Tudor Society passionately debunks some Henry Tudor myths. Melita Thomas from Tudor Times talks about Mary I, and James Boulton from the Queens of England Podcast walks us through the quick recap of the Six Wives. 

Monday the 5th, Natalie Grueninger from On the Tudor Trail takes us on a tour of Tudor London. I follow with a talk on Tudor church music, and Rebecca Larson from Tudors Dynasty talks about Royal Scandals. Then Gina Clark, a Tudor costumier talks about Tudor fashion, and Roland Hui, an art historian caps it off with a talk on Tudor portraits. 

The registration is completely free, and even if you can't attend live, register anyway - I'll be leaving the talks up for at least two weeks afterwards. 

For the speakers, it's a chance for us to get our work out in front of audiences who may not already know us. For the attendees, it's a chance to learn and share your passions with others. There have already been some great connections in the accompanying Facebook group, which I love seeing. 

Learn more, and sign up free at See you in the Facebook group, and online on Sunday!

Heather Teysko
# # #

About the Author

Heather Teysko is the creator of the Renaissance English History Podcast, the longest continuously running independent history podcast. She's also an author, and the creator of the Tudor Planner, a weekly diary filled with history, quotes, and music. Her gateway to Tudor history was through choral music, and she is passionate about William Byrd. She lives in Spain with her husband and 4 year old daughter where she writes, podcasts, and, in her spare time, butchers Pinterest crafts. You can learn more about the podcast at  and find Heather on Twitter @teysko.

29 August 2017

Book Review ~ The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice: A feel good fantasy romance (Angel Aid Book 1) by Katarina West

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A middle-aged saleswoman becomes a Hollywood star.
A spoilt celebrity becomes a suburban housewife.
An angel becomes a human being.

How would you cope if you had to live someone else's life? Once you've started this book you can't put it down, as the first novel in Katarina West's Angel Aid series has a special magic that holds you on its spell.

With brilliantly observed characters in wonderful locations, this heartwarming fantasy keeps you guessing. Funny and poignant, the lives of two very different women become intertwined in an innovative twist on a familiar plot.

I enjoyed Katarina's previous novel Absolute Truth, For Beginners and look forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended.

Tony Riches   

# # #

About the Author

Katarina West was born in Helsinki, Finland, and studied at Queen Mary and Westfield College in London and the European University Institute in Florence, where she completed a PhD in political science. During those student years she started work as a journalist, and continued writing for various Finnish magazines and newspapers for over ten years, writing on various topics from current events and humanitarian issues to celebrity interviews and short stories. She also briefly worked as a university lecturer on humanitarian issues in Northern Italy. Katarina lives in an old farmhouse in Chianti with her husband and son. Find out more at Katerina's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @WestKatarina.

27 August 2017

Special Guest Post by Sarah Gristwood, Author of The Queen's Mary: In the Shadows of Power...

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Mary Seton is lady-in-waiting to the legendary Mary Queen of Scots. Torn between her own desires and her duty to serve her mistress, she is ultimately drawn into her Queen's web of passion and royal treachery - and must play her part in the game of thrones between Mary and Elizabeth I. Mary Seton is lady-in-waiting to the legendary Mary Queen of Scots.Must she choose between survival, and sharing the same fate as the woman she has served, 
loyally and lovingly, since a child?

        Believing your own stories

There’s been a lot of talk recently about historical fact and historical fiction, with writers from Hilary Mantel downwards getting in on the act. But I like to think I’ve taken the issue a step further - writing fact and fiction about the same person, at virtually the same time, with all the risk entailed of believing your own stories.

I wrote about Mary, Queen of Scots in Game of Queens, a non-fiction book about the women who made sixteenth-century Europe. But I had already some time before begun, and have since completed, a novel, The Queen’s Mary, about one of the four attendants famously known as the Four Marys. Question is - and Simon Sebag Montefiore said that he felt got closer to Stalin in his recent novel than in the non-fiction books he wrote about Stalin some years before - which would allow me to see her more clearly?
I’ve never been a fan of Mary Stuart’s. As a historically-minded, novel-reading teenager growing up in this country you’re either with Mary, or with her kinswoman and nemesis Elizabeth, and I’m an Elizabeth Tudor girl all the way. In Game of Queens, with its parade of competent, powerful women, Mary was in some ways an anomaly. The one who frankly made a mess of trying to rule her country - the one who got away.

In The Queen’s Mary I had perhaps to see her more sympathetically. The novel was, after all, being written from the viewpoint of one of the  girls who had grown up with her, loved her . . . even if love and hate can be closely allied, maybe. And yes, I think the experience of viewing her that way did help me better to appreciate the difficulties of a young woman (a girl!) who did at least make a determined stab at the impossible job of trying to rule her turbulent country.  A number of novelists (well-trained historians, many of them) have described how they write fiction to find another way of exploring the truth - not to spin a total fantasy.

What is legitimate in historical fiction? The short answer ‘anything!’ may be too easy. (Remember the fuss surrounding Hilary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, anybody?) Every writer makes there own deals, and I’ve certainly taken some liberties.  But the public affairs, the politics - like the everyday details -  had to be as accurate as I could make them. In my first novel, The Girl in the Mirror, I wrote about the relationship of Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex, and again, it was vital for me to feel that if I had been writing it up in non-fiction, I would not have understood that relationship any differently.

I once heard Philippa Gregory declare that fiction was in some ways more rigorous than factual writing. There are no footnotes in fiction (or in film) and you can’t even say ‘on the one hand . . . on the other’, and present the contradictory evidence. If you’re writing about the death of the Princes in the Tower, you have at least to believe you know the truth about that mystery. (Actually, that said, the first person Gregory so often uses does allow a measure of ambiguity.) Heaven knows fiction does have its own rigours. As the biographer Carole Angier put it: ‘Because fiction has to seem true, it often can’t be true - there are improbabilities, coincidences, inconsistencies in life you couldn’t put into a novel because no-one would believe them.’

 Hilary Mantel is one of those who says that: ‘You become a novelist so you can tell the truth.’ She adds: ‘I start to practice my trade at the point where the satisfactions of the original story break down.’ The reactions of the sixteenth-century Four Marys may have been very different from those I have imagined here. But they must have had reactions to the traumatic events going on around them - feelings which, because of the lack of records, cannot easily be explored in non-fiction history.

Simon Sebag Montefiore rightly says that public history has to be presented in terms of known fact, or the characters who inhabit that world will fail to live.   ‘The pillars of the cathedral must stand’. But opinions are divided as to what, if anything, you can change if it doesn’t suit your story. 

‘Story’, after all, is the second syllable of ‘history’. And anyone who has studied, for example, the Wars of the Roses knows there is no single version of that history. The Queens Elizabeth and Mary have been seen very differently down the centuries  Perhaps that’s what made me feel that of the two books I’d written, the one was as valid a way as the other of exploring the tumultuous events of Scotland’s 1560s.

Sarah Gristwood
# # #
 About the Author

Sarah Gristwood  is a best-selling Tudor biographer, former film journalist, and commentator on royal affairs. After leaving Oxford, Sarah began work as a journalist, writing at first about the theatre as well as general features on everything from gun control to Giorgio Armani. But increasingly she found herself specialising in film interviews – Johnny Depp and Robert De Niro; Martin Scorsese and Paul McCartney. She has appeared in most of the UK’s leading newspapers – The Times, the Guardian, The Telegraph (Daily and Sunday) – and magazines from Cosmopolitan to Country Living and Sight and Sound to The New Statesman. Turning to history she wrote two bestselling Tudor biographies, Arbella: England’s Lost Queen and Elizabeth and Leicester. Sarah was one of the team providing Radio 4’s live coverage of the royal wedding; and has since spoken on the Queen’s Jubilee, the royal baby, and other royal stories for Sky News, Woman’s Hour, Radio 5 Live, and CBC. Shortlisted for both the Marsh Biography Award and the Ben Pimlott Prize for Political Writing, she is a Fellow of the RSA, and an Honororary Patron of Historic Royal Palaces. She and her husband, the film critic Derek Malcolm, live in London and Kent. Find out more at Sarah's webiste 

26 August 2017

Guest Post by Greg Howes, Author of The Man Behind The Glass

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Septimus Blackwood is a Victorian photographer with a difference. Set in London’s East End in the year 1860, this Gothic adventure follows a man’s quest to capture life and cheat death through photography. Septimus races against time to discover his family’s long lost legacy buried deep amongst the forgotten rivers and cellars of old London. Unbeknown to him a mysterious old woman looks on.... 

Like most people my earliest remembrances of creative writing were those endured at the school desk, born out of necessity rather than joy or foreboding. That situation soon changed when a keen eyed English teacher by the name of Mrs Wright (I tell you no lie) noticed a modicum of talent for poetry, prose and any other work that needed an unbridled imagination.

I think I was as surprised as she was to have discovered this given that my handwriting looked like something only achievable by using a broken spirograph set. These wonky words were often emblazoned upon paper so creased it would make walnut blush. In spite of, or maybe because of these presentational dilemmas, she noticed something lurking in the undergrowth. That something was a kind of poetical empathy and deep appreciation for the natural and historical world around me. I was also fascinated by what lay behind these strange forces and events of yesteryear, for me the natural world was never more alive and the past never quite dead.

The credit for giving my Victorian mystery and suspense novel “The Man Behind the Glass” wings, lies predominantly at the feet of my mother Jennifer Howes. It was she who gave me the quest upon which my spark of an idea was struck. She asked each family member to write and recite a short eerie tale to be told around the fire-side the night before Christmas. Little did I know at the time that the spark was going to turn into a blaze; a blaze of ideas that fed off all of my knowledge of Victorian London and a lifetime of inspiration.

At the point of the story’s conception, I had been working as an historical researcher (for TV, radio and private clients) for fifteen years. More often than not those studies took me back to the nineteenth century and the murky waters of Dickensian London (and Britain as a whole). I was already quite familiar with the heart and the history of the city as my grandparents lived close to its core. My Irish born grandfather was an inspirational enthusiast of London, taking great pains to walk me around all of the obvious places of interest, as well as the not so obvious.

The mystique of Victorian London never ceases to excite, appal and bewitch me all at the same time. Its mysteries are endless, its allure irresistible. It was a time of immense contrasts, exploration, discovery and experimentation. Some of those fantastical discoveries were made in the light, others in almost total darkness. It is out of this world that the shadowy figure of Septimus Blackwood first emerges from the banks of the Thames. He is a man of vision and secrets, a man who seeks to combine the energies of both light and dark. A man determined to capture life and cheat death through the fledgling art of photography. Septimus is also haunted by his family’s past, and a long lost legacy believed to be buried deep amongst the forgotten rivers and cellars of the old city. Little does he know that an elderly woman watches, and awaits her time…

Greg Howes
# # #

About the Author

Greg Howes is a genealogist, writer and historical researcher based in Pembroke, South West Wales. Greg’s work as a researcher has seen him present (and research for) family history programmes on television for both the BBC and ITV channels. He has taught family history (and horticulture, in his younger days) and featured on national and local radio stations answering questions and giving advice on family history and the historical landscape. He has written many articles for magazines on subjects as diverse as local history, dating and archiving old photographs, and the history of woodland and ancient trees in the landscape. Greg’s other great passion is photographic art and design. He has recently released a book featuring some of his work entitled, The Dark Room, which includes fifty (mainly) black and white images of his designs. His other pastimes include walking, watching motorcycle speedway and reading. You can find out more at Greg's website and find him on Facebook.

25 August 2017

Book Launch Interview with Brittany Lewis, Author of Heir of Zion

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Michael felt like his life ended the day his family left. In a way, it did. While he struggled to remain composed when he was in the company of others, he allowed his thoughts and anxieties to consume him when he was alone. Though the life that he had always known had ended, a new one quickly emerged, one that had been suppressed by the Elders for far too long. While Michael struggled to wrap his brain around the information he was learning about his true identity and the community he had grown up in, his heart continuously pulled him toward a young girl and his new found romance, while it simultaneously ached 
for the family he lost.

As part of the launch of Heir of Zion, Brittany has agreed to explain a little about her writing process:

My desk is set up in the sitting area of our house, right next to the living room, so when I’m home I usually write there.

From what I understand, my writing process is much different than a lot of other authors I know, at least in the beginning. After I’ve thought of an idea for a novel I write out the general summary, usually only a paragraph. Then I expand it, making it three paragraphs. This gives me the summary of the entire plot, beginning, middle and end.

I prefer to read shorter novels and since most of my readers prefer this as well, this is what I write. My books are usually between 40,000-60,000 words and normally have 20-25 chapters. I estimate that I want around 20 chapters in my book with each chapter being 2,000-3,000 words. After that, I break the chapter down into scenes.

I only use a few words to summarize a scene and I do this in list format, that way if I need to go to a doctor’s appointment or I know I’ll be somewhere where I’m waiting in line etc, I can jot down those few words on what the scene is about and write it while I’m out. I’ve actually written a lot of my work by texting it to myself while I’m out and then typing it later.

When I’ve gotten about half of my first draft done I send it out chapter by chapter to my first beta reader. She reads each chapter and makes corrections. After those corrections are made I send it to my second beta reader and do the same thing. Then the third draft goes to my editor. I normally start writing another book the day after I finish my rough draft.

I’m a stay at home mom of two young kinds (seven and two) so right now I write whenever I have the time. I try to spend a total of 2-3 hours per week writing, sometimes more. Honestly, I spend the most of my time marketing.

Brittany Lewis
# # #

About the Author

Brittany Nicole Lewis from North Carolina is the best selling author of  Finding Freedom (The Zion Series Book 1), her YA Zion series and her works of poetry. Brittany enjoys helping women and teens who suffer from depression and anxiety and she regularly donates copies of her books to ministries Find her on Facebook and Twitter @BLewis2008.

24 August 2017

Guest post by Leila McGrath, Author of The Heart Runs Wild

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Wales, 1069:  Alis doesn’t like life on the farm, but things get worse when her father fails to pay the rent. When he is thrown in jail by Lord de Braose, a Norman who wants the land for profit, Alis takes a tavern job in Abergavenny town and vows to never forgive her father or de Braose. There, she meets handsome Reese de Saint-Jean and becomes a housekeeper on his estate. When Reese makes an enemy of Lord de Braose, he is sent overseas in response. Too in love to be parted, Alis finds a way to join him. What transpires changes their lives forever, and teaches Alis that she will never find peace unless she learns to forgive.

Based on true events, The Heart Runs Wild captures the heart as it travels from the mystical mountains of Wales to the
daunting sea cliffs of Ireland.

I have been writing stories and poems since Fifth Grade, but turned to my true love, novels, seven years ago. It has proven to be a harder course than I imagined! There’s this myth that writers can just sit down and write a story.

I began learning the hard way how to piece together plots (and how not to), with nice resolutions at the end, as well as interesting characters that interact well together. It’s difficult to be a writer in today’s world, and just as difficult making a living at it. But when your passion is storytelling, you find all the love you need to continue.

Though my books are currently Irish medieval historical romance, I have scads of other ideas for the future. My first book, Vikings in Dublin is based on a true event, as this book is. My list of ideas (including upcoming novels about smugglers and plague) was inspired by a visit to Ireland four years ago. The magic, music, and people of Ireland took me by surprise. I’ve been there three times now! There’s no place like it on earth. Learning its history, I was fascinated that many stories are little known. Its history stems back to ancient civilization, with structures and mummies older than the pyramids. So we should be writing this down!

I’m only thankful to soon be celebrating The Heart Runs Wild with my first trip to Wales and England, as well. Looking forward to more inspiration to come!

My first book was inspired by an accidental visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. The tour was supposed to include Dublin Castle, but it was under construction. When I stepped into the cathedral and felt the medieval tiles under my feet, as well as Strongbow’s grave and an underground crypt, I was mesmerized that something could be so old, originally built by Vikings. That’s when I did a little research and discovered that the Vikings had a history in Ireland, and that the Irish of the ninth century were actually able to get them out.

My inspiration stems from feeling the importance of sharing not only my heritage, but that of millions of people across the globe. These were our ancestors! Our heroes. I can only hope that, by magnifying the lives of people with unspeakable courage, we will encourage even greater heroism today.

Leila McGrath
# # #

About the Author

Leila McGrath is a piano and voice teacher from New York who has written short stories and historical articles since the Fifth Grade. Now she's turning her attention to her true love: novels. When not writing, she enjoys travel (particularly to Ireland) the latest great restaurant, or a big bowl of ice cream, while listening to her Spanish Timbrado canary sing for all he's worth. Follow her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter @writeluv

23 August 2017

New Book Spotlight: To Catch A King, by Charles Spencer

Available for pre-order from Amazon UK 
Hardcover and Kindle editions

£20.00 plus P & P

Earl Spencer’s latest history book, ‘TO CATCH A KING’, will be published by Harper Collins on 5 October this year. The companion piece to ‘KILLERS OF THE KING’ Earl Spencer’s (he writes as “Charles Spencer”) ‘Sunday Times‘ bestseller from 2014. A personally signed and dedicated to you (or your friend or family member?) by Earl Spencer, will be sent as close to the 5 October publication date as possible.

Guided by its various twists and turns, To Catch a King tells the story the manhunt for Charles II, following the rebellion that spurred his father’s beheading in 1649. This unputdownable sequel to Killers of the King tells an old story with new eyes, challenging our polarised notions of royalism, nationalism and loyalty.
In January 1649, King Charles I was beheaded in London outside his palace of Whitehall and Britain became a republic. When his eldest son, Charles, returned in 1651 to fight for his throne, he was crushed by the might of Cromwell’s armies at the battle of Worcester.
With 3,000 of his supporters lying dead and 10,000 taken prisoner, it seemed as if his dreams of power had been dashed. Surely it was a foregone conclusion that he would now be caught and follow his father to the block?
At six foot two inches tall, the prince towered over his contemporaries and with dark skin inherited from his French-Italian mother, he stood out in a crowd. How would he fare on the run with Cromwell’s soldiers on his tail and a vast price on his head?
The next six weeks would form the most memorable and dramatic of Charles’ life. Pursued relentlessly, Charles ran using disguise, deception and relying on grit, fortitude and good luck. He suffered grievously through weeks when his cause seemed hopeless. He hid in an oak tree – an event so fabled that over 400 English pubs are named Royal Oak in commemoration. Less well-known events include his witnessing a village in wild celebrations at the erroneous news of his killing; the ordeal of a medical student wrongly imprisoned because of his similarity in looks; Charles disguising himself as a servant and as one half of an eloping couple to escape capture.
Charles never forgot those who helped him and, when restored to the throne as Charles II, told the tale of his adventures to Samuel Pepys who transcribed it all.
In this gripping, action-packed, true adventure story, based on extensive archive material, Charles Spencer, bestselling author of Killers of the King, uses Pepys’ account and many others to retell this epic story. With bloodied feet and facing certain death if caught, Charles relied upon a patchwork of hiding places that had evolved to hide Catholics from lethal persecution. Now, in the 1650s, they saved the life of a king.

# # #

About the Author

The Rt Hon The Earl Spencer  is a British nobleman, peer, author, print journalist, broadcaster, and the younger brother of Diana, Princess of Wales. Through his sister, Charles Spencer is the maternal uncle of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and the great-uncle of Prince George and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. You can follow the author on Twitter @cspencer1508 and @cspencerbooks_.

Video interview with Earl Spencer about his previous book
Killers of The King

18 August 2017

Register for Free: The Tudor Summit on 3rd and 4th September

The Tudor Summit will be hosted on 3rd and 4th September, and you are all invited to attend from the comfort of your own home!

This two day online event brings together Tudor history enthusiasts from all over the world to connect with each other, and listen to interviews and lectures from some of the leading Tudor History historians, bloggers, and podcasters.

With lecture topics ranging from Tudor portraiture, fashion, and music; to Henry's wives, and Mary's relationships with them, we have a jam packed, and engaging agenda!

The event will be broadcast live on September 3 and 4, starting at 4pm UK time, and registration is free to attend live!

A list of historians and authors currently signed up to give talks include;

Rebecca Larson - Tudors Dynasty
Natalie Grueninger - On the Tudor Trail
Melita Thomas - Tudor Times
James Boulton - Queens of England Podcast
Roland Hui - Tudor Faces
Nathen Amin - Author - The Henry Tudor Society

with a keynote by historian Sarah Gristwood, author of Game of Queens

TO REGISTER for FREE, head to

17 August 2017

Special Guest Post by Dave Chesson: Book Copyright - A Matter Of Life And Death?

Book Copyright - A Matter Of Life And Death?

Just as those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, writers who don’t learn from the mistakes of others are doomed to repeat them.

One of the most valuable sources of information when I started out writing was the advice and ideas of others writers. Whether in-person or online, I gladly sought lessons to inform my own writing career.

Naturally, I still made my fair share of mistakes along the way. One of the most serious was failing to understand the importance of copyright. Whereas most writing mistakes are a matter of style and technique, copyright is something with potentially serious financial implications.

We’ll now explore a brief history of copyright before looking at how you can protect your own work as a writer.

Have you heard the story of St. Columba and St. Finian?  St. Columba was a studious monk who borrowed and copied a Bible from St. Finian without having the proper permission to do so. Of course, ‘copy’ in this era literally meant transcribing by hand.

In spite of the painstaking work of St. Columba, motivated not by financial gain but a desire to share with others, St. Finian demanded that the copy created be handed over to him, as he owned the rights to the original.

The High King of Ireland heard both sides of the story and sided with St. Finian. Despite St. Columba’s protests that no harm had resulted from his copying of the book, the King ruled that St. Finian owned the right to the copy as he owned the original.

This was the start of a chain of events which led to the Battle of Cul Dreimhne, the death of 3000 people, and the exile of St. Columba.

Book Copyright In The Modern Era

While book copyright in this day and age is unlikely to lead to war and exile, it’s still a serious matter worthy of your attention.

If you fail to protect your book properly, you will have a far tougher time if someone plagiarizes your work and sells it on as their own. You will also struggle if a modern day St. Columba decides to share your work freely with others, even if it isn’t for financial gain.

So how exactly do you copyright your work? Thankfully, it’s fairly simple, and there are a few options at your disposal.

The Essential Elements Of Copyright

To create a legally valid copyright page for your book, all you really need are two things -

1. Statement of copyright
2. Statement of ‘all rights reserved’

These two elements vary in complexity but are legally valid even in a very simple form.

At its most basic, your statement of copyright should include either the word copyright itself or the copyright symbol, the year in which your book is published and your name or the name that is valid for copyright purposes.

For example, ‘Copyright 2017 Joe Jones’ is a valid copyright statement. You can use a pen name or company name in lieu of your real name if it is more appropriate to do so.

To state all rights reserved can be as simple as writing “All Rights Reserved”. You will sometimes come across more complex statements expanding on this basic concept and explicitly stating various rights, but this is by no means necessary.

The above is all that you need for your book’s copyright page to be legally valid. However, you will often see other, optional elements listed, which we’ll now explore.

Optional Elements Of Copyright

You will often see, and may wish to include, any or all of the following elements on a copyright page -

Information relating to publisher such as address and contact details
Any trademarks found in the book, such as logos
The edition of the book
Any legal disclaimers

Legal advice related to trademarks and disclaimers is outside of the scope of this article so you should seek qualified, specialist advice if you need to in these areas.

Whether or not you need an ISBN for your work depends upon a number of factors. If you use a service such as Createspace, you will automatically be given an ISBN. If you wish to purchase an ISBN yourself, you can do so here.

Copyright Recap

Putting hours of effort into researching and writing a book is no small labour. Your work therefore deserves to be protected in the best way possible. By following the advice found here, you can ensure that your book is legally protected should the worst happen and someone plagiarizes you.

If you have any other historical anecdotes about book copyright, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Also feel free to share any personal stories or experiences you have had with copyrighting your work.

Dave Chesson

# # #
About the Author

Dave Chesson is a master Jedi at book marketing and the author of Kindlepreneur.  To succeed in today’s competitive kindle business, you need to be part  writer and part marketer.  His website on self-publishing is devoted to  helping you with the latter. Find out more at and find Dave on Facebook and Twitter @DaveChesson.

16 August 2017

Tips for new writers Part Three - Rules, by Wendy Janes #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #writing

The odd thing about grammar and punctuation rules is that they are a bit of a moveable feast. Some change depending on whether you’re using US or UK English and others are flexible depending on context, style and genre. Sounds like a can of worms, if you ask me. But let’s dive in and try and make some sense of it all.

First, I’d like to select the three rules that I see authors breaking most often. These ones are non-negotiable.

Use of it’s and its
it’s = it is (It’s raining)
its = belonging to (The creature protected its young)
The easy way to remember correct use of it’s and its is to say ‘it is’ whenever you come across either version. If the sentence makes sense when you say ‘it is’ then the correct term is it’s.

Use of initial capital when referring to parents
There’s no need for the capital when you’re referring to ‘my mum’ or ‘your dad’. Usually if you can substitute the name for the word ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ then you need a capital letter.
I asked Mum to dinner (I asked Jean to dinner would work fine)
I asked my mum to dinner (I asked my Jean to dinner is not right)

Use of lie/lay/laid
I have a crib sheet, in fact I have more than one crib sheet, to remind me how this works. Here’s one of them:

Present tense: I lie down on the grass and look up at the trees. 
Past tense: Yesterday, I lay down on the grass and looked up at the trees.
Past perfect: Years later I recalled how I had lain down on the grass and looked up at the trees.

Present tense: As I look up at the trees, I lay my book to one side.
Past tense: As I looked up at the trees, I laid my book to one side.
Past perfect: Years later I recalled how I had laid my book to one side.

So, the above are non-negotiable. Now let’s have a look at some of the ones that I think are negotiable.

When I was taught English grammar at school back in the 1970s, the rule was that a hyphen was required in ‘the nineteenth-century monument’, but not in ‘the monument dated from the nineteenth century’. These days, if the meaning is clear and the piece of writing isn’t formal, omitting the hyphen isn’t the sin it once was. However, please note, a hyphen isn’t needed in phrases that contain adverbs that end ‘-ly’. For example, ‘a happily married couple’ and ‘newly made road’.

Some people get very hot under the collar about the comma splice. The rule is that a comma by itself shouldn’t be used to join two main clauses. For example, ‘I enjoy reading, I always have my nose in a book.’ This can be corrected by splitting it into two sentences or by adding a conjunction such as ‘and’ or ‘so’. The comma splice is something I’m actually quite partial to. I rather like the rhythm it can give to a sentence.

If you’re not sure whether to use ‘that’ or ‘which’ in a sentence, the basic rule is as follows: ‘that’ is used when a clause is integral to the sentence, and ‘which’ is used when the sentence would still make sense without the clause.

The teacher always gave gold stars to stories that showed imagination. (Note: no comma before ‘that’.)

The pupil’s latest story, which the teacher had awarded a gold star, was her favourite. (Note: comma before ‘which’.)

However, there is wiggle room, especially when you’re writing in an informal style and when writing dialogue. The same goes for ‘who’ and ‘whom’. I cringe a little when I hear characters say ‘whom’ in everyday speech.

The basic rule is that you use ‘who’ when you’re referring to the subject of a sentence and ‘whom’ when referring to the object.

Test 1
Who is your teacher?
Whom is your teacher?

The correct answer for Test 1 is ‘who’ because the teacher is the subject of the sentence.

Test 2
Who did the teacher praise?
Whom did the teacher praise?

The correct answer for Test 2 is ‘whom’ because the teacher is doing the praising, so the ‘whom’ is referring to the object in that sentence.

I love the substitution test that many people refer to, which runs: if the answer to the question is ‘he’ then you use ‘who’ and if the answer is ‘him’ then you use ‘whom’. So in Test 1, the answer would be, ‘He is my teacher’ and in Test 2, you’d answer, ‘The teacher praised him.’ A quick way to remember the substitution rule is that ‘him’ and ‘whom’ both end with ‘m’.

If all that has whetted your appetite, and you don’t yet have a copy of a style guide, I suggest The Chicago Manual of Style for US English, and the New Oxford Style Manual for UK English.

I recommend that authors learn the rules of punctuation and grammar and then choose to break them if and when they want or need to. If you have a logical or creative reason then I see no problem in breaking a rule or two. However, I think it’s important you have the confidence and professionalism to assure readers that you’re doing it on purpose and not in error.

Wendy Janes 
# # #

About the Author

Wendy Janes is a freelance proofreader for a number of publishers and many individual authors. She is also a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. Author of the novel, What Jennifer Knows and a collection of short stories, What Tim Knows, and other stories, she loves to take real life and turn it into fiction. She lives in London with her husband and youngest son. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her via her Facebook author page, her website, Amazon author pages (UK/US) and Twitter @wendyproof.

Do you have some great writing tips you would like to share?
Please feel free to comment

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join in.

15 August 2017

The House of Beaufort: The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown, by Nathen Amin

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Wars of the Roses were a tumultuous period in English history, with family fighting family over the greatest prize in the kingdom – the throne of England. But what gave the eventual victor of these brutal and complex wars, Henry Tudor, the right to claim the crown? What made his Beaufort mother the great heiress of medieval England, and how exactly did an illegitimate line come to challenge the English monarchy?

While the Houses of York and Lancaster fought brutally for the crown, other noble families of the kingdom also played integral roles in the wars; grand and prestigious names like the Howards, Mowbrays, Nevilles and Percys were intimately involved in the conflict, but none symbolised the volatile nature of the period quite like the House of Beaufort. Their rise, fall, and rise again is the story of England during the fifteenth century, a dramatic century of war, intrigue and scandal both at home and abroad. Many books have been written about individual members of the dynasty, but never has the whole family been explored as one.

This book uncovers the rise of the Beauforts from bastard stock of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to esteemed companions of their cousin Henry V, celebrated victor of Agincourt, and tracks their chastening fall with the House of Lancaster during the 1460s and 1470s. The hopes and fortunes of the family gradually came to rest upon the shoulders of a teenage widow named Margaret Beaufort and her young son Henry. From Margaret would rise the House of Tudor, the most famous of all England’s royal houses and a dynasty that owed its crown to the blood of its forebears, the House of Beaufort. From bastards to princes, the Beauforts are medieval England’s most captivating family.

# # #
About the Author

Nathen Amin grew up in the heart of Carmarthenshire, West Wales, and has long had an interest in Welsh history, the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor period. His first book Tudor Wales was released in 2014 and was well-received, followed by a second book called York Pubs in 2016. His third book is a full-length biography of the Beaufort family. He is the founder of the Henry Tudor Society and has featured discussing the Tudors on BBC radio and television, as well as in print and online media across the UK. He has a degree in Business and Journalism and now lives in York, where he works as a Technical Writer. Find him on Twitter @NathenAmin.