Mastodon The Writing Desk: February 2019

28 February 2019

Guest Post by Rozsa Gaston, Author of Anne and Charles: Passion and Politics in Late Medieval France: The Story of Anne of Brittany's Marriage to Charles VIII

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII: Political alliance or true love? 

France, 1491:  In the fall of 1491 twenty-one-year-old Charles VIII of France is king, but he doesn't feel like one. When he marries Anne of Brittany in a political alliance, he acquires a wife who already feels like a queen and guides her husband to feeling like the king he already is. The brimming self-confidence of Brittany's ruler inspires his own, and fans the flames of their attraction into a lasting love. Their partnership and shared interest in new techniques in design and architecture from Italy results in the introduction of the Italian Renaissance to France.

Chateau Royal d’Amboise
Royal residence of Charles VIII of France and Anne of Brittany 
during the years of their marriage, 1491-1498
Amboise, Loire Valley, France
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Renaissance Gardens of the Chateau Royal d’Amboise
Designed by Pacello Mercogliano of Naples and commissioned by Anne and Charles
First Renaissance garden to be introduced in France, designed 1495-1497
Photo courtesy of Stephane Bern, Anne de Bretagne: Secrets d’Histoire
Anne and Charles presents French king Charles VIII in a new historical light, not as the naïve pawn of his older sister, Anne de Beaujeu, France’s regent in Charles’s minority, but as a young man with a sincere heart fired by the chivalrous tales of Roland. Charles successfully throws off his older sister’s powerful regency with the newfound confidence his bride Anne of Brittany gives him.

Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany on their wedding day
Waxwork reenactment of their Dec. 6, 1491 marriage ceremony
Great Hall of Chateau de Langeais, Loire Valley, France
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Anne de Beaujeu, regent of France from 1483-1491 stands on far left\
Wax reenactment of secret wedding of Anne of Brittany with Charles VIII of France
Both were betrothed to others: Anne to Maximilian I of Austria, Charles to his daughter Margaret of Austria
At age fourteen, Anne of Brittany has been ruler of Brittany for three years since her father died in 1488. She lacks the resources with which to rule her country, which Charles gives her by marrying her, saving Brittany from desecration by France. Additionally, he crowns Anne Queen of France to add to her title of Duchess of Brittany.

Both Anne and Charles are pleased with what the other offers, politically and personally. Anne's objective is to retain Brittany's independence from France. Charles's aim is to fold Brittany into his kingdom. But the surprising and lasting passion they develop for each other early on in their marriage tempers their opposing political objectives.

Portraits of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII, artist unknown, c. 1492
Chateau Royal d’Amboise, Amboise, France, photos by R. Gaston

Charles's lack of self-confidence, due to his neglected upbringing, manifests itself in his incessant need to prove himself. At age twenty-four, he invades Italy with the French army, based on a flimsy Angevin claim to the throne of Naples. After twenty months in Italy, he is forced to cede Naples by the combined forces of Venice, Milan, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. His army returns to France, defeated and with many men carrying syphilis. But with him, Charles brings back artists, artisans, architects and designers who introduce the glories of the Italian Renaissance to France, beginning at his and Anne’s royal residence in Amboise.

 Repeatedly faithless to Anne, despite his reliance on her love and support for him, Charles finally reforms his ways in a crisis of conscience during Anne's seventh pregnancy. Believing that he is being divinely punished for his faithlessness to his wife by the death of all of their children, he gives up his dalliances and turns to managing the affairs of his kingdom.

But it is too late…

Next month’s guest post on Anne and Louis, Book Two of the Anne of Brittany Series.


STROLLING DOWN TO the great hall Charles paused on the threshold, searching for a small figure within. The room was filled with courtiers and wedding guests, all of them noble, except for the six Bretons from Rennes in the corner. They were talking animatedly in their strange rolling accents, most likely on the subject of a duty well done.
God, it had been well done. And duty had had nothing to do with it. Scanning the room, he searched for the little bird who had laughed then cried the night before, finally falling into the sweet sleep of exhaustion in his arms until late in the morning. When they had awoken, her head had been nestled against his chest and he had felt himself a hundred times the man he had thought himself to be the morning before.
His heart swelled to think of it. Standing, he was constantly reminded of how inferior he was in height. But lying down with his Breton princess on his chest, he had felt as tall as he needed to be. The woman had the sort of ability to make him feel differently about himself than he ever had. Good God, she had even called him clever. What he most liked about her was what he most lacked in himself: her confidence. Starting with the night before, he felt as if he was beginning to have some, too.
Moving further into the great hall he traversed its length, unnoticed by anyone, as usual, due to his short stature and unprepossessing demeanor. He could do nothing about his height. But he would work on his demeanor, beginning that day. Finally, there was someone in his life he wished to prove himself to, again and again. He didn’t doubt she would advise him on how to prove himself before his public, too.
Looking everywhere for her, he avoided the eyes of his guests, who were beginning to notice he was in their midst. Where was his minx when he needed her?
“Sire! Your Majesty!” The duke of Bourbon slapped Charles heartily on the back. “Did you sleep well?” His eyes twinkled at Charles with the expected post-nuptial-night mirth.
“Not a wink, Monsieur. Too busy,” Charles replied, thinking it was not far from the truth.
“Good lad, Your Majesty. Work well done!”
Charles reached out and grabbed the duke of Bourbon's wrist. He gazed coolly into the older man’s eyes.
“What's that? What's that?” the duke spluttered, staring at the king's hand upon his wrist, the mirth draining from his face.
“You will never again address me as 'lad', Sire Beaujeu. I am your king and your sovereign.” Charles willed himself to remain calm.
“Yes, Your Majesty. Your Grace.” Pierre de Bourbon struggled to regain his composure as Charles released his wrist. He bowed to the king and when he stood again his eyes held new respect for the short youth over whom he and his wife had served as regents for the past eight years.
“And you may tell your wife the same, do you understand?” Charles stared into the older man’s eyes.
“Y-yes, Sire, I will do so at the first opportunity,” the duke of Bourbon spluttered.
“Good. Then let us break fast together. I am famished.” Charles slapped his sister’s husband on the back in precisely the same patronizing manner the duke had done to him a moment earlier.
The room had quieted. Glancing around, Charles caught Guillaume de Roquefort gazing at him with a look the king had never seen his chancellor face him with before: respect.
“What's the matter, Guillaume? Do you not recognize your newly-married king?”  Charles eyed his chancellor coolly.
“Your Majesty, I am your humble servant.” De Roquefort bent one knee before him. As he did, the other men in the room followed suit. One by one, Charles d'Angoulême, Louis d'Orleans, the count de Vendome, and the count de Foix all knelt, and as they did Charles was pleased to see he stood taller than any of them, for once.
The new order had begun. He would see to it that it continued. But he needed help. Where was she?
Anne and Charles at the time of Anne’s coronation as Queen of France, February 1492
By Jean Bourdichon, c. 1492
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Available for pre-order now is my new short story The Least Foolish Woman in France. Readers might be interested to learn the true tale of how Anne of Brittany’s second husband was sexually harassed in young adulthood by his sister-in-law Anne de Beaujeu, France’s most powerful woman at the time. This story is short but riveting, a surprising twist on the #MeToo movement.

On pre-order now, it comes out April 12, 2019. Post a short review on Amazon by the end of April and receive an eBook edition of any of my other books for free.

Rozsa Gaston

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About the Author

Rozsa Gaston writes playful books on serious matters, including the struggles women face to get what they want out of life. She studied European history at Yale, and received her Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. She worked at Institutional Investor, then as a hedge funds marketer. Entirely unsuited to the world of finance, she was happy to give it up to become a full-time novelist. Gaston lives in Bronxville, New York with her family and is currently working on Anne and Louis: Middle Years, Book Three of the Anne of Brittany Series. If you read and enjoy Sense of Touch, please post a review at to help others find this book. One sentence is enough to let readers know what you thought. Drop Rozsa Gaston a line on Facebook to let her know you posted a review and receive as thanks an eBook edition of any other of Gaston’s books: Anne and Charles, Anne and Louis, The Least Foolish Woman in France, Paris Adieu, or Black is Not a Color. Visit her at or at
Facebook:  Instagram: rozsagastonauthor  and on Twitter: @RozsaGaston

See Also:

Anne of Brittany? Raised to rule, she knew how to lead: Guest Post by Rozsa Gaston, Author of Sense of Touch

26 February 2019

Guest Interview with Kelvyn Fernandes, Author of The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

I'm pleased to welcome fantasy author Kelvyn Fernandes to The Writing Desk

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I love writing well into the night. I find the words just flow in the dead silence and distractions are few. It's not uncommon for me to start a writing session at midnight and just go for hours. Unfortunately this is an impossible schedule to keep when trying to live a normal adult life, so I try my hardest to find inspiration during the day too!

Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go? 

I definitely just let the story take me wherever it wants. During the planning phase, I brainstorm all kinds of ideas over weeks and months and then fit those thoughts into a coherent outline. Then during the writing phase, I do my best to stick to that outline, but my characters often take me on their own detours or decide to spark a conversation that can go on for a few pages. It's always good to have a plan, but that plan needs to be malleable to your whims.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Just write! Seriously, you'll never know whether you're any good at it until you find out. If you're unsure or embarrassed, keep your writing to yourself or share it anonymously. But when you're ready, show it to your friends and family and ask for their input. You need to have confidence in your work in order for it to succeed. Also, don't just blindly take advice if it doesn't fit your style. Go against conventions! Who cares? Do what you want in the way that you want to do it, and your passion will drive you forward!

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Reaching out to anyone who think will give your work an honest chance. Family and friends are a great place to start and a firm foundation for support. Communities for your genre are where you'll start to build a small following. And constantly finding reviewers and bloggers to give your work a try and spread the word. Being friendly, kind, and doing your very best not to sound like an ad when approaching potential readers goes a long way. Above all, you need to realize that promoting is a GRIND! It's slow, monotonous, tiring work, and sometimes you'll go a whole day with nothing to show for it. But you need to persevere, keep at it, and eventually the results will come.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

The hardest scene I had to write was the finale to Volume I. I won't spoil what happens, but I got so engrossed in the story that I just kept writing and writing, and soon it became the longest chapter in the story by a considerable margin. I kept fretting that it was way too long and I'd have to trim it down. But after handing it to my editor and beta-readers, the response I got was surprising. They loved the added details and the parts I fleshed out made the pay-off much more rewarding for them. Sometimes you need to put aside the voice in the back of your head that warns you from straying from the traditional path and just go out on a limb and let your imagination take you on a journey.

What are you planning to write next? 

I'm hard at work writing Volume II of The Many Adventures of Peter and Fi right now! It's planned for a summer 2019 release, and I can't wait to share it with my fans. Past that, I have the ideas and framework for several more books, all I ask is for the opportunity to tell my story.

Kelvyn Fernandes 

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About the Author

Kelvyn Fernandes decided to follow his dream of becoming an author after graduating from McMaster University with a degree in Biochemistry. He enjoys travelling and going on adventures, with his favourite pastime being back-country canoeing in Algonquin Park. He uses both his experiences with nature and education in the sciences to shape the world of the stories he writes. Find Kelvyn on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @PeterandFi

24 February 2019

Stories of the Tudors: Anne Boleyn

We think we know a lot about Anne Boleyn, but even the familiar portrait of her has been challenged as a good likeness – and it’s not certain what year she was born in. Her enemies delighted in stories about her being a witch who’d used unfair means to entrance poor King Henry VIII. 

To the supporters of Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, she was a scheming “goggle-eyed whore” who bewitched Henry VIII away from his true wife and the true religion of Catholicism. To her supporters, she was an intelligent, cultured and graceful lady with great drive and ambition.

12 February 2019

Book Launch: This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, by Emma Darwin

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Everybody knows about Charles Darwin, and many know about others in his family, from Erasmus Darwin and Tom Wedgwood, the first photographer, to composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and poet and radical John Cornford, the first Briton to be killed in the Spanish Civil War. 

But when Charles and Emma Darwin's great-great-granddaughter, another Emma Darwin, tried to root her new novel in that history, the conflict between her complex heritage, and her own identity as a writer, became a battle that nearly killed her. 

This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin takes the reader on a writer's journey through the Darwin-Wedgwood-Galton clan, as seen through the lens of Emma's struggle. Along the way, her wry, witty and honest memoir becomes a brave book about failure - and, above all, a book about writing and how stories are told.

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About the Author

Emma Darwin was brought up in London, except when the family was in Manhattan or Brussels. Her childhood travelling often inspires the background of her fiction, while history is how she thinks; photography, time, food, words and horses also tend to come into the equation. Find out more at and follow her on Twitter @emma_darwin.

11 February 2019

Book Launch Interview with Kaya Quinsey, Author of Love, Amour, Amore: A collection of three love stories from around the world

Three distinct, completely charming love stories set in beautiful places that, after reading, you will want to visit. Wonderful characters. No helpless maidens here! Quinsey's heroines are energetic women in pursuit of their own dreams whilst they 
pursue love, or it pursues them!

New on Amazon UKAmazon US

I'm pleased to welcome Canadian author Kaya Quinsey to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book?

Thank you for welcoming me to your blog, Tony. My latest book, Love, Amour, Amore: A Collection of Three Loves Stories From Around The World, is just that - a collection of three of my romance novellas. The three stories all offer something a little different - a story of love rekindled, love found where it is least expected, and finding love after loss.

Valentine in Venice is a story set in Venice about Valentine Wells, a newly divorced wedding photographer from Chicago, who finds herself falling (literally) into the path of her first love, Lorenzo. A Coastal Christmas follows Jessica Beaton, the successful co-host of Wake Up Manhattan, as her co-host and boyfriend almost proposes to her on-air before backing out, leaving her dumped and embarrassed on national television. While retreating at her family's seaside cottage to evaluate her life, Jessica finds herself butting heads with Dean Adams, the mayor of Pebble Shores. But she quickly finds herself more enamored with life in Pebble Shores, the community spirit, and to her own surprise, Dean Adams. Finally, there is Paris Mends Broken Hearts. 

Gwendoline Delacroix finds herself fleeing Paris in a desperate attempt to escape the memories that haunt her in her French countryside chateau. Following the aftermath of WWII, she had become a widower and desperately missing her husband, Jean. Gwendoline eventually takes charge and in a quick turn of events, finds herself at the Hotel de la Belle Paix - the hotel run by her brother and sister-in-law in the Latin Quarter in Paris. Over the summer, Gwendoline finds work at an animal sanctuary run by an eccentric aristocrat. With new friends, an elderly cat, and a glass of wine in hand, Gwendoline proves to herself and everyone else that there is life after lost love.

Now twenty-six, Valentine is a successful wedding photographer in Chicago. Still impulsive, Valentine is recently divorced after being married for about a minute in Las Vegas. And she doesn't miss the irony of being a divorced wedding photographer. Also dealing with her mother's recent diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's, Valentine's father convinces her that she needs a break.

Now that she is back in Venice, Valentine wants to prove to herself that she's no longer the impulsive, daring girl who got married (and quickly divorced) in Vegas to a man she barely knew. Now, she is living by a new set of rules: planned, cautious, and carefully executed.

But her plan is challenged when she falls (literally) into the path of her first love, Lorenzo. And with Valentine's Day around the corner, will Valentine be able to keep herself from making another big mistake?

What inspired you to write Love, Amour, Amore?
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I wanted to put together a collection of short love stories just in time to celebrate.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read as much as you can, and write as much as possible. Keep a positive attitude to the best of your ability, and have fun!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?
As this is a collection of three stories, I would say that a common thread I found challenging in each of these stories was creating an evocative setting, trying my best to do the cities (and town) justice. Paris and Venice are two of my favourite places, and it was such fun revisiting them as I wrote Valentine in Venice and Paris Mends Broken Hearts. The town of Pebble Shores (from A Coastal Christmas) is fictional, and I absolutely adored the process of creating a small, cozy town filled with quirky characters and a strong sense of community.

What are you planning on writing next?

I'm currently working on a book inspired by my time in the beautiful Basque Country. Keep an eye out for it! Thank you so much, Tony, for having me on your blog. It has been a pleasure!

Kaya Quinsey

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About the Author

 Kaya Quinsey is the author of Paris Mends Broken Hearts, Valentine in Venice, A Coastal Christmas, and most recently, Love, Amour, Amore: A Collection of Three Love Stories From Around The World. She holds her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology. Her work has sold in seven countries and been translated into foreign languages. Kaya’s passion for culture, travel, and psychology blend for a reading style that is fun, full of surprises, and easy to read. A romantic at heart, Kaya’s writing offers a contemporary twist to traditional love stories. Through her stories, she hopes to inspire readers to fiercely chase their dreams. Find out more at Kaya's website: and find her on Twitter @kayaquinsey 

8 February 2019

Guest Interview with Liri Bahar, Author of The Birth of the Ringmaster (The Circus Book 1)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

For eighteen year old Cassandra, The Golden Circus is everything. It's where she was born, it's where she grew, it's where she belongs.

I'm pleased to welcome author Liri Bahar to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

My book is called "The Birth of the Ringmaster". It tells the story of Cassandra and her father, who had performed at The Golden Circus for years. When she turns eighteen years old, they are losing their job and force to find a new place to call their own. Cassandra's father had enough of the show business, but unlike him she refuses to fit into her new environment. 

When a new circus comes to town she sees it as her chance and run away with them, only to find out that the show business are not as glamorous as she remembers: The circus members are narrow click, the performers are amateurs, and she kept back from the spotlight. The main conflict is between the uneasy and boring reality and fake and colorful dreams. What are you rather to live, and how much will you pay to get the life you want?

What is your preferred writing routine?

I wake up at 6:30am. 7:50am I'm on the train, 8:50 final stop. This is the only time at day that I have to write. Is it my preferred? No, but I've got used to it and now I can only write on rides.
What advice do you have for new writers?

Keep writing, even if your story is bad. You can always edit your story later.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

The best way I found is to ask help from more experienced authors and writers. The author community is very supporting, and they would be glad to tell you what tips and tricks helped them. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

One of the characters in my book is Rex, the lion pet of Zack. When I first wrote down about Rex I wanted to make him evil and mean creature. When I searched for information about lions I found out that the lion is actually one of the first animals that humans kept around them, and that there were kings who kept tamed lions for entertainment. 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The hardest scene for me was the end. I kept struggle what was the fitting ending for story like that, and rewrite it over and over.

What are you planning to write next?

I hope to write a sequel for "The Birth of the Ringmaster" soon. 

Liri Bahar

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About the Author

Liri Bahar was born in the holy land in 1998, and ever since couldn't stop dreaming. Over the years she found different ways to express her stories - using art, acting, and of course, writing. When she was fourteen years old she posted her own writing blog, written in Hebrew and published fanfics on You can find out more at Liri's website and follow her on Twitter @BaharLiri

7 February 2019

How to Create Large Print Editions of Your Books With Vellum

I've been using Vellum to format my books for eBooks and print editions for several years now and am happy with the ease of use and excellent results.  In particular, it is easy to make updates to your text and produce new editions with one click.

The latest version, Vellum 2.5 includes support for production of Large Print editions, which can help you reach the wide readership who may not be able to read a typical paperback. You can use the latest version of Vellum to create a Large Print edition in just a few steps.

  • Open Print Settings from Vellum’s File menu. Press More Options to find presets for large print
  • Find large print presets by pressing More Options
  • When you select one of the Large Print options shown, Vellum will use the indicated trim size and configure everything in your book for Large Print.
  • With a Large Print option selected, your text will use a significantly increased font size, equivalent in size to 16-point Adobe Garamond Pro.

Some Large Print Considerations

A larger font size will result in fewer words per line and fewer lines per page. To counter this, Vellum uses an outside margin that is smaller than what might be used for an equivalent trade paperback. Line spacing will also be slightly tighter than what is typical for such a large font size.

Because of the increased size of text, a Large Print version of your book will require more pages, making it more expensive to print.

As a Large Print edition will be bigger than a standard paperback, you’ll also need to adapt your existing cover layout to the new size.

Large Print on Amazon

Large Print editions require a new ISBN, which means you have to set up a new edition on your Amazon Bookshelf. (Amazon will provide a free ISBN.) When setting up your large print edition, check the Large Print box and your book's Amazon detail page will be marked 'Large Print' and linked to any matching editions. Your book will also be included in, but not limited to, large-print book browse results.

Tony Riches

5 February 2019

End of an era - the demise of Google+

In case you didn't know, Google+ is closing personal accounts on April 2, 2019. Any Google+ pages, including images and videos will also be deleted. If you are a Google+ user, this is therefore a good time to download and save your content. 

I was an early adopter of Google+ and have used it as part of my author platform since it started as an ‘invitation only’ network in 2011.  Since then Google+ matured into a lively and often thought provoking community. 

As well as being a great place to easily cross post from my blog, I would often have useful feedback on ideas. I must admit I haven't made much use of it for the past twelve months, but I would to thank the Google+ team and wish them well.

Tony Riches

1 February 2019

The Silence of Kings: Book One - The End of The Beginning, by Samuel Perin

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

A young man named Leo Gryffl rediscovers an old family heirloom that goes on to change his world forever. The heirloom that he discovers sends him down a dark, whimsical, and sinister rabbit hole that leads him on a path of adventure, self-discovery, and insanity. 

On his journey he meets a cast of colorful and unique characters that all have a story to tell or a past to run away from. As the story progresses Leo goes on to find out that their world is not what it seems, and that someone (or something) is somehow influencing political events in almost every country that exists.

Things take a dark turn when entire governments begin to collapse all around our “heroes”. Strange occurrences begin to happen at every corner and terrifying people that hold mysterious “magical” powers start popping up as the world tears apart at its seams. Rumor in the "Shadow" is that a great beast has awoken beneath the bowels of society. A hydra that cannot be defeated. One that has extended its poisonous heads into the farthest depths of world affairs. But what happens next extends far beyond the reach of politics. 

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About the Author

Sam Perin is a visual artist and author who says, 'I've always had a passion for telling stories. Thus, my first book series: The Silence of Kings was born. When I'm not writing or painting, I can be found enjoying life with family and friends or going on various adventures outdoors.' Find out more at Sam's website and find him on Twitter @sam_perin