Mastodon The Writing Desk: 2023

20 March 2023

Book Launch ~ A Matter of Faith: Henry VIII, the Days of the Phoenix, by Judith Arnopp

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US 

Finally free of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII is now married to Anne Boleyn, and eagerly awaits the birth of his son. In a court still reeling from the royal divorce and amid growing resentment against church reform, Henry must negotiate widespread resentment toward Anne. But his lifelong dreams of a son to cement his Tudor bloodline are shattered when Anne is delivered of a daughter.

Burying his disappointment, Henry focuses on getting her with child again, but their marriage is volatile and, as Henry faces personal bereavement and discord at court, Anne’s enemies are gathering. When the queen miscarries of a son, and Henry suffers a life-threatening accident, his need for an heir becomes vital. Waiting in the wings is Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting, who offers the king respite from Anne’s fiery passions.

But, when Anne falls foul of her former ally, Thomas Cromwell, and the king is persuaded that Anne has made him a cuckold, Henry strikes out and the queen falls beneath the executioner’s sword, taking key players in Henry’s household with her.

Jane Seymour, stepping up to replace the fallen queen, quickly becomes pregnant. Delighted with his dull but fertile wife, Henry’s spirits rise even further when the prince is born safely. At last, Henry has all he desires, but even as he celebrates, fate is preparing to deliver one more staggering blow.

The virile young prince is now a damaged middle-aged man, disappointed in those around him but most of all in himself. As the king’s optimism diminishes, his intractability increases, and soon the wounded lion will begin to roar.

The story continues in Book Three:
A Matter of Time, the Dying of the Light

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About the Author

Judith Arnopp is the author of books set in the Anglo-Saxon/early medieval period and the Tudor court. All books are available in Kindle and Paperback format, and The Beaufort Chronicle (three book series), The Kiss of the Concubine and A Song of Sixpence are on Audible. Find out more at Judith's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @JudithArnopp

19 March 2023

Book Spotlight: The Sixteenth Century in 100 Women, by Amy Licence

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

This retelling of the sixteenth century introduces the reader to a gallery of amazing women, from queens to commoners, who navigated the patriarchal world in memorable and life-changing ways. 
Amy Licence has scoured the records from Europe and beyond to compile this testament to female lives and achievements, telling the stories of mistresses and martyrs, witches and muses, pirates and jesters, doctors and astronomers, escapees and murderesses, colonists and saints.

Read about the wife of astrologer John Dee, the women who inspired Michelangelo, the jester who saved the life of Henry IV of France, the beloved mistress of the Sultan Suleiman the Great, the wife of Ivan the Terrible, whose murder unleashed terror, set against the everyday lives of those women who did not make the history books.

Introducing a number of new faces, this book will delight those who are looking to broaden their knowledge on the sixteenth century and celebrate the lost women of the past.

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About the Author

Amy Licence is an historian of women's lives in the medieval and early modern period, from Queens to commoners. Her particular interest lies in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, in gender relations, Queenship and identity, rites of passage, pilgrimage, female orthodoxy and rebellion, superstition, magic, fertility and childbirth. She is also a fan of Modernism and Post-Impressionism, particularly Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Picasso and Cubism. Amy has written for The Guardian, the BBC Website, The English Review, The London Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement and is a regular contributor to the New Statesman and The Huffington Post. She is frequently interviewed for BBC radio and in a BBC documentary on The White Queen. You can follow Amy on Twitter @PrufrocksPeach or like her facebook page In Bed With the Tudors. Her website is

18 March 2023

New Historical Fiction Spotlight: The Lost Highlander (Kit Scarlett Tudor Mysteries Book 4) by Adele Jordan

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Will Kit discover what happened to her spy partner…?

1586, London: Covert espionage agent, Kit Scarlett, is once again tasked with defending Queen Elizabeth against an assassination attempt.

With the attacks on the queen’s life mounting, Kit and spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham know they need to find a firm link between these deadly plots and Mary Queen of Scots.

But Kit is also keen to investigate a more personal matter. Her espionage partner, Iohmar Blackwood, did not return from his last mission set by Walsingham and has not been seen for a year.

When Kit is given a task by Queen Elizabeth to deliver a letter to Mary Queen of Scots, a letter not to be read by officials or any political figure, she takes advantage of the opportunity search for Iomhar and find out what happened to him.

But she soon finds herself trailed by Mary Stuart’s supporters and her journey becomes fraught with danger.

Can Kit complete her mission? Will she find out what happened to Iohmar

Or will she become a victim in the fight to overthrow the queen of England…?

THE LOST HIGHLANDER is the fourth book in the Kit Scarlett Tudor Mysteries Series. It is a thrilling historical espionage adventure set in Elizabethan London with a feisty female lead.

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About the Author

Adele is a writer with a fascination for history. Her focus is fiction in the Tudor era, telling the stories of women and adventure. Whether it’s inspired by true events or created purely from imagination, she desires to write stories from this captivating era that haven’t been written before of those on the edges of society, the paupers, the spies, the workers and those who have not had a voice. Adele studied English at the University of Exeter before moving into an eclectic career of publishing and marketing. Having worked with the National Trust’s photography department for two years, Adele travelled the country to visit the landscapes and historical places that have carved England and Wales’s heritage. When Covid struck, the job disappeared overnight, and Adele committed her time to ghost writing and authoring her own stories. Since then, she has had over fifty successful books published in pseudonyms and hopes to turn that success into stories now written in her own name. Find out more at Adele's website and follow her on Twitter @ALJordan_writer

17 March 2023

Historical Fiction Spotlight: The King's Son, by Darren Harris

Available on Kindle at Amazon UK and Amazon US
and paperback from Arcanum Press

A crown so easily won, can be lost in a heartbeat.

A life changing secret propels Richard of Eastwell into the centre of a bitter power struggle between the houses of York and Tudor at the climax of the War of the Roses. King Richard's only legitimate son and heir is dead but, known only to a few loyal friends and family, his firstborn son is alive and cared for by a priest in a village in Kent.

On the eve of the Battle of Bosworth, Richard is brought to meet his father, Richard III, who promises to acknowledge his son publicly once the conflict is won. However, treachery plays its part in King Richard's fatal downfall, resulting in Henry Tudor being crowned King Henry VII.

From the slaughter of the battlefield many vanquished Yorkists escape, but from the ashes of defeat a new Yorkist army will rise to challenge King Henry. Richard of Eastwell, with an army at his back, is intent on one thing; revenge upon those who betrayed his father.

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About the Author

Darren Harris grew up in Leicestershire, England, where he still lives with his family. He left school and set up business as a calligrapher before attending both Leicester universities to pursue a career in teaching. After obtaining a BA(Hons) in History & Media and a PGCE in History, he has gone on to work at several city and county mainstream and special needs schools as a teacher and Head of History. He has a lifelong interest in history, particularly the medieval and Tudor periods. He has researched many friends’ family trees and also traced his own family tree back to the fifteenth century. He is a founding member of his local heritage society and gives talks on matters of historical interests to local heritage and historical societies, including the Richard III Society.  Follow Darran on Twitter @DHarrisAuthor

16 March 2023

Historical Fiction Spotlight: Pagan Siege (Tribes of Britain Book 5) by Sam Taw

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Has the young Chief of the Dumnonii met his match?

Three Violent Clans - Two Deadly Rivals - One Struggle for Power

Anarchy reigns as the clan leaders revolt, threatening the Chief's position within the tribe. Wildfires ravage the moors, settlers are starving and homeless and wise woman, Meliora is no longer in favour.

Their fate is now in the hands of fickle and ambitious youngsters who have sly agendas of their own.

Can they end the siege and retake control over the tin mines or will a vengeful leader prevail and slaughter Mel's entire family?

Brutal skirmishes, bloody rituals and heartbreaking underdogs in the fifth book of the series.
Start the adventure now.

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About the Author

Sam Taw is the pen name for fiction author Sam Nash. Sam is committed to delivering novels in two distinct genres, historical thrillers set in Late Bronze Age Britain and a unique blend of science fiction and international espionage stories. She lives in a small market town in the south of Leicestershire, close to where she grew up, but dreams of owning a woodland on the Cornish coast.  For information regarding the work of Sam Taw, please visit:  For information regarding the work of Sam Nash, please visit: You can find Sam on Facebook and Twitter @samtawauthor

15 March 2023

Medicine in the Middle Ages: Surviving the Times, by Juliana Cummings

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Dive in to the history of medieval medicine

The Middle Ages covers a span of roughly one thousand years, and through that time people were subject to an array of not only deadly diseases but deplorable living conditions. It was a time when cures for sickness were often worse than the illness itself mixed with a population of people who lacked any real understanding of sanitation and cleanliness.

Dive in to the history of medieval medicine, and learn how the foundations of healing were built on the knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. Understand how your social status would have affected medical care, and how the domination of the Catholic Church was the basis of an abundant amount of fear regarding life and death.

We are given an intimate look into the devastating time of the Black Death, along with other horrific ailments that would have easily claimed a life in the Middle Ages. Delve inside the minds of the physicians and barbersurgeons for a better understanding of how they approached healing.

As well as diving into the treacherous waters of medieval childbirth, Cummings looks into the birth of hospitals and the care for the insane. We are also taken directly to the battlefield and given the gruesome details of medieval warfare and its repercussions. Examine the horrors of the torture chamber and execution as a means of justice.

Medicine in the Middle Ages is a fascinating walk through time to give us a better understanding of such a perilous part of history.

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About the Author

Juliana Cummings has been writing for close to thirty years. From her first publication in her junior high newspaper to her current writings on Tudor and Medieval history, writing has always been Juliana’s passion in life. While she has always been interested in history, it was her discovery that her family lineage led to Tudor Royalty, which pursued her to learn even more. Through years of research, Juliana considers herself an expert on all things Tudor. Her interests also lie strongly with other aspects of medieval history, particularly the history of medicine and the macabre. As well as actively writing her blog which focuses on the diary of a Lady in Waiting to the Six Tudor Queens, she continues to write for various publications in both the United States and The United Kingdom. Her work has been published in History is Now magazine, Matt’s History Blog, A Tudor Writing as well as Tudor has been writing for close to thirty years. From her first publication in her junior high newspaper to her current writings on Tudor and Medieval history, writing has always been Juliana’s passion in life. While she has always been interested in history, it was her discovery that her family lineage led to Tudor Royalty, which pursued her to learn even more. Through years of research, Juliana considers herself an expert on all things Tudor. Her interests also lie strongly with other aspects of medieval history, particularly the history of medicine and the macabre. 

Find out more at juliana's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @RevoltSavage

13 March 2023

Book Review: The Colour Storm: A story of art and betrayal in Renaissance Venice, by Damian Dibben

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Venice, 1510. The world's greatest artists gather to enjoy fame, fortune, and colour. When a wealthy merchant discovers a mysterious new pigment, he knows it would create a masterpiece in the right hands. For struggling artist Giorgione 'Zorzo' Barbarelli, success is far from reach. Until he's commissioned by the merchant to paint a portrait of his wife, Sybille. Impress him, and Zorzo could acquire the most coveted colour in the world - and write his name in history.

I enjoyed this book, which made me think about the parallels between literary fiction and fine art. Some passages begin as experimental outlines before the author brings them to life with deft touches of colour, adding light and shade until the scene pulls into focus.

The exotic setting of Renaissance Venice provides a huge canvas, the perfect backdrop for an intriguing cast of characters you soon begin to care about. I liked the unhurried pace and details of the painter’s studio.

This book is a lyrical, poignant and ambitious love story, with just the right mix of mystery and historical accuracy. I suspect I will return to it at some point in the future and discover something new. 

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Damian Dibben was trained as an artist, and lives between the southbank of london and a cottage on the downs of West Sussex.  He says, "Our corner of the country is like a land that time forgot: all ancient forests and secret hills. Whilst in the city, there's the river, theatres & galleries, the bustle, and the imprint everywhere of the past. Shakespeare, Newton and Wren trod the same paths of Southwark and you can sense them still. The future has a hold there too. Year upon year, extraordinary buildings rise up and the skyline never stops evolving." Find out more at Damian 's website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @DamianDibben

12 March 2023

Special Guest Post by Tracey Warr, Author of Daughter of the Last King (Conquest Book 1)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

1093. An invasion and a curse. The three sons of William the Conqueror fight with each other for control of the Anglo-Norman kingdom created by their father’s conquest. The Norman Marcher lords are let loose to consolidate the conquest of Wales, pushing across the English border to the east and invading from the sea to the south. Nest ferch Rhys is the daughter of the king of south-west Wales. Captured during the Norman assault on her father’s lands, she is raised by her captors,
the powerful Montgomery family.

A Turbulent Life 

If you are an inhabitant, a visitor, or an armchair traveller to southwest Wales you may know and revel in its medieval castles and spectacular coastline. You may, too, have come across the story of Nest ferch Rhys. I lived in Pembrokeshire for several years and was gripped by Nest’s story in the chronicles and entranced by those castles and wide, bright estuaries.

Daughter of the Last King is the first book in my Conquest trilogy, which has just been reissued with a new cover. Book 2, The Drowned Court, is out in April and Book 3, The Anarchy, is published in May. The novels were very much inspired by the beauty and history of this wild Welsh landscape.

The novels focus on the turbulent life of the Welsh noblewoman, Nest ferch Rhys, and the reign of the Norman king, Henry I. Nest was the daughter of the last independent Welsh king, Rhys of Deheubarth. Her father was killed in battle in 1093 by the Norman, Bernard de Neufmarche. Her father’s kingdom was annexed by another Norman, Arnulf de Montgomery. Her eldest brother died alongside her father. A second brother was captured and killed, a third died after a decade in prison, and a fourth brother was maimed at birth by the captors of Nest’s mother. One of her brothers escaped the massacre and was hidden in Ireland during his childhood. 

Nest became one of the many mistresses of King Henry and the mother of one of the king’s illegitimate sons. She was also married to the Norman steward of Pembroke Castle, Gerald FitzWalter and kidnapped and held for a couple of years by the Welsh prince Owain ap Cadwagn. After the death of Gerald, she was married to the Norman constable of Cardigan Castle, Stephen de Marais, and finally (perhaps) she was married to the Flemish sheriff of Pembroke Castle, Hayt. She was a symbol of ownership of the territory for this series of men.

Nest’s surviving brother, Gruffudd ap Rhys, the rightful heir to Deheubarth, returned from Ireland in 1116 and set about trying to reclaim his kingdom. He achieved some success in the Battle of Crug Mawr in 1136 when he, along with the princes of Gwynedd, defeated the Normans near Cardigan. However, Gruffudd’s wife Gwenllian and two of his sons were killed as they tried to attack Kidwelly Castle, and Gruffudd died soon after the victory at Crug Mawr.  

In addition to her son with the king, Nest had at least five other sons and a daughter. She is the grandmother of the writer Gerald of Wales and the ancestor of the FitzGeralds in Wales and Ireland. Hers must have been a turbulent life, to say the least! 

I was living near Narberth when I began writing the novels. I studied for an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (then in Carmarthen). I was awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary, which helped give me time to research and write Nest’s story. Llansteffan Castle and the triple river estuary at Carmarthen Bay were significant inspirations for me and are central in the novels. 

Llansteffan Castle at sunset with mist rolling in. Photo: Ken Day, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Nest’s other homes at Carew Castle, Pembroke Castle, Cilgerran Castle, and Cardigan Castle are also important for the story, along with King Henry’s courts at Westminster, Woodstock and Winchester where Nest must have spent time. Other places that feature in the story that can be visited today include Dinefwr Castle, the Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey, Saint David’s Cathedral and the Roman Goldmine at Dolaucothi. Being able to walk the headland at Llansteffan and wander around the ruined palace at Lamphey fed my imagination.

Carew Castle by Gordon Hatton, CC BY-SA 2.0
<>, via Wikimedia Commons.

After the death of Nest’s father, fighting continued between the Normans and the Welsh for many years. I didn’t intend to create a polarised story with the Normans as the baddies and the Welsh as the good underdogs. Lived history is more complex than that. Some Welsh collaborated and colluded with the Normans. Others were disinherited and oppressed by them and resisted the slow Norman invasion in Wales. Women were often at the forefront of integration through forced marriage and, of course, their children were both Welsh and Norman. Nest often found herself with loved ones on both sides of the conflict. I aimed to think and feel—through fiction—how she coped with the dramatic events of her life.

In the course of writing the novel, I found myself equally fascinated by King Henry I. His was a long reign of 35 years. Despite ably managing a complex kingdom spanning Wales, England and Normandy, he had numerous mistresses and over 23 illegitimate children, whom he acknowledged and educated. After the death of his only legitimate son in the tragic sinking of The White Ship in the Channel, he tried to make his daughter, Maud, his heir. I was fascinated to imagine his character and throughly enjoyed myself with Henry, and with other figures in the novels, such as a Welsh bard and a runaway nun who are both tasked as spies.

Henry I and Nest ferch Rhys in bed. 
Illustration in Matthew Paris’ illuminated manuscript in the British Library, 13th century.

See my posts for more information on aspects of Nest’s story: Helen of Wales, King and LoverThe White Ship and  A Norman Frontiersman in Wales (on Gerald FitzWalter) 

Tracey Warr

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About the Author

Tracey Warr was born in London, lived in southwest Wales and now lives in southern France. The castles and landscapes of Wales and France inspire her historical fiction. She is the author of five historical novels set in medieval Europe and centred on strong female leads. She draws on old maps, chronicles, poems and objects to create fictional worlds for readers to step into. Her writing awards include an Author’s Foundation Award, a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary, and a Santander Research Award. Before becoming a full-time writer she worked as a contemporary art curator and art history academic. She continues to teach on MA Poetics of Imagination at Dartington Arts School in Devon. Tracey is part of the group organising author launch interviews for the Historical Novel Society website. She is also part of the team organising the next Historical Novel Society UK conference at Dartington Hall in Devon 6–8 September 2024. Find out more at tracey's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @TraceyWarr1

11 March 2023

Special Guest Post by Joshua Campbell, Author of Love Beyond Borders

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US

Jordan Whitler, newly returned from fighting in the American Civil War that pitted North against South, rejoins his family, aims to settle into post-war life, and to welcome whatever progress might come therein. Little does he know that that while he was off fighting in battles like Gettysburg, his own family would have one 
to engage him in upon his return.

Hello and Warm Greetings from the Land Down Under, home of the Koala, the Wallaby, the Kangaroo, and the myriad of other life teeming across this vast continent of Australia. A land that is as diverse in its’ wildlife as the history of humanity is with events, people and places that have dotted the landscape of time. From the dawn of time, man has sought to understand the world around them and to make sense of what and who has gone before, so it can help us in understanding why things in the present are as they are, and such invariably gives way for many, to the questioning of where we stand in the grand scheme of things, and what part do we have to play?

Such has been my query increasingly as the hands of time push me ever forward along the timeline of life. So it was that I came to finally accept and begin to embrace that which I feel my professional contribution can be. While I have already become personally anchored and thus affirmed in what I can contribute to the world as a man, and thus husband and father, my professional endeavours were never seemingly in sync with who I am internally. But that began to change when I wrote my book, entitled "Love Beyond Borders”, which was inspired by the loving challenge given me by my wife. She said that since I love history, and also creative writing, why not combine both?

So, I took her up on it, and what came forth was a story of redemption, a story of new beginnings, a story with the Corinthian calling of Faith, Hope and Love. All set against the backdrop of a time when America, the land of the free, home of the brave, was just coming out of the grip of war, but not with some foreign power, trying to take it over, or usurp its’ autonomy in the name of conquest, and amalgamation into its’ own control. No, this war was internal in nature, pitting the North and the South, in a bitter rivalry for supremacy of philosophy, and the social governing style that each would herald in.  

In the midst of this time when war had finally and seemingly come to an end, and the process of national rebuilding could slowly begin, our main character Jordan, steps onto the literary scene, thinking he can come home to some normalcy and the tender mercies of a more peaceful life moving forward. But just as the nation was set to rebuild, his world seems to somewhat fall apart. He comes from fighting in battles such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Antietam, and Gettysburg, only to find that he had the battle of Whitlerville to fight as well.    

So in short, it is a story of family truths revealed, perspectives of life altered, and new realities requiring embracing. It is a story of new beginnings, old secrets brought to light, and forgiveness needed. But what comes forth as a result is far more beautiful overall, and such may not have happened, if the temporary upending of his expectations of immediate peace and tranquillity had not come to fruition. It is said that there is beauty in the ashes, and such Jordan discoveries, but it takes some of this turmoil, and the heartache that is unavoidably intertwined, in which he is involuntarily entrenched, before he can later see that, and even appreciate it. 

So with that as my first book, and now already at work on my second, which is in itself, the first of a five-book series, one may ask, what routine or style do I embrace as a writer, beit for my debut novel or my forthcoming series. Well, first off, I am one who writes from the heart, and as such, I cannot ascribe a specific formula that I follow ‘by the book’ as a result. While Love Beyond Borders is, in its’ genesis, a stand-alone work, I have left somewhat ambiguous in its’ ending, for it is possible to give it a sequel in due course, though I have no concrete storyline in mind at the present time. But it ends in a manner than leaves such open for possibility. But when I write, I start with whatever kernel of an idea I have, and then let it organically lead me and develop as it goes. 

In that, I have experienced the wonder of being led on a journey and adventure almost as much as the readers of it later could be led on. My writing routine therefore can be likened to Bilbo’s view on adventuring. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." I have this approach to writing… it is a dangerous thing in a way to start writing, because if I am not careful, I do not know where the story will sweep me off to, and I have experienced how things just come into the equation of the story that I did not necessarily pre-plan and yet seems so fitting to what is developing therein. 

But to say I have a set and concrete ‘routine’ is to not be truthful, for as a father of six, I have to have more flexibility than would maybe be ideal, but I have learned to adjust to our dynamics and work as I can, and around everything else, and thus be adaptable to the goings on from one day to the next. While I am not afforded the luxury of set times of uninterrupted writing bliss, I do appreciate moments I can steal as they arise. During these moments, I just continue where I left off last, and as the need arises in a given scene where I have to set the historical context, beit the place referenced, items utilized, or the social conventions applicable to the time period I am in, I do intermittent research for a given topic and then implement what I discover, to try and be as accurate to what I am referencing as I can. In that regard, I seek to keep to the historicity of the scene so that the blending of the creative and the historic can be as seamless as possible.  

If I were to give advice to anyone just starting out, I would echo the words of Confucius “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”. If you follow your heart and the subject of your passion, then it will flow a whole lot more readily and fluently. There is nothing much worse than forcing yourself to like something, or in this case write about something, you have no interest in or inclination towards. Whatever stirs you will move you to learn what you need to, take steps that you need to, and to take chances that you need to. The courage to act, the willingness to risk, and the openness to what lies beyond the proverbial door, can often create greater opportunities than self-forced subjection to that which you have little or not interest in, ever could. 

And you want to be a part of something that offers the promise of significance, not just success, for if it only garners the latter without the former, then it is empty and hollow, and will leave you unsatisfied when the rubber hits the road. As Jordan Kempler once observed,  :Success or Significance? Which matters most to you? I meet a lot of people who are successful, but not significant. You’ll never find someone significant that isn’t successful. Aim for significance and you’ll stumble upon success.” He goes on to also say, that “Success is adding value to yourself. Significance is adding value to others.” I live by that, and strive to be significant in what I engage in, and aim to offer others, above all else. Then whatever success comes, is an added bonus. So I would say to new writers, strive in that way also. Strive to offer something significant to others, and you will undoubtedly be successful as well. Also, I have the four E’s I have implemented into my approach to what I write and share:

Edified: What I write I want to build you as a reader up, to inspire you, to make you feel like you              want to grow as a person because of character examples in my work.  

Encouraged: I want you to be encouraged by the main characters and how they are as people and how it can be as an example to each of us. 

Educationed: My hope is to impart something from which you can learn, grow in your understanding, and feel more intellectually empowered by what I have included in my writing. 

Entertained: I want you to be able to enjoy the ride the story takes you on, and the adventure along the way that can be had. I want you to feel it was an enjoyable foray into whatever events or time period I am focusing on, and the journey that you get drawn into partaking of. 

As I try and get the word out on my current book and even the fact that I have a Pre-Order arranged on my Amazon kindle for my forthcoming start to my series, I try and network on Twitter and Facebook, get engagement, and to start getting ‘the conversation’ going. So far, my wife has concluded that Twitter ‘is my jam’ as we feel this is likely the best platform I can use, with FB a quick second, to network, help build into the community of like-minded fellow authors and readers, and to start being someone others can come to Like, Know and Trust. Those three are probably the best way to build awareness, for as people come to Like you and know you, they invariably learn to trust you, and then you can more likely have their willingness to join you on your Author’s Journey, and it is one that the more people you have for company, the better, as no one wants to be on that road alone. 

As referenced above, something unexpected I have found in my research is how I start looking up something and suddenly I am writing a whole section I never expected to write, and I have also found that sometimes I look one thing up, and it ends up leading me down a rabbit hole to other bits of information I did not anticipate or expect, which gets me excited as it is more that I can add in or help flesh out a scene with. 

Likewise, the hardest scene is one where I feel stumped how to explain something where I want to have some historically-grounded context, and yet I come up empty wherein I cannot  find any specific info, so I am left having to draw on creative assumption about that particular element or detail. Such as the other day when I was writing a scene in my present WIP, where I could not find height info for one historical figure I have as a character interacting with my main character, and I wanted to include it in describing him, so I chose to be descriptive minus any height reference, as I had none to draw on. So having to leave out some info I would love to include, or to sometimes take creative licence and hope it does not misrepresent what I am trying to convey, can be challenging at times. 

But when it comes down to it, that is the blend of being historic in essence, and creative for enhancement. With my current work, I am including some French from some characters as it is set in 1685 Paris primarily, but my main character starts off in Avallon, which is about an eighteen-hour horse-ride south of the capital. I am hoping that the Parisian French I can find today to utilize, is not too far-off from the Parisian French of the latter 17th century. As said, this is the first of five books, each ending on a cliff-hanger to draw the reader into continuing to the next book, where it will conclude with our main character, Tristan, completing the mission that he sets off on in the beginning of book one, which I am currently on. He has to find clues along the way and each book helps him attain one clue per book to lead him to the end goal. 

So as I undertake this most interesting of adventures, as a newly published, first-time author, I welcome the opportunity to grow with you all, beit fellow new authors, or seasoned veterans. We are all at various stages of learning and growth in our collective craft. One thing we all have in common though, is the love of writing and expression, and the heart to convey something for the betterment and enjoyment of the reading public. May we all be as open to learning as Socrates himself was, and I leave you now with some thoughts from Cicero:

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”   May we all be presenters of much work that help fill others digital or physical libraries with many good resources.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” May we be able to grow on others and plant good experiences with our work in their hearts and minds.

“The purpose of education is to free the student from the tyranny of the present.” May we be able to impart something for the reader’s betterment, that they can carry into the future, especially if we in the historical arena, and can offer lessons they can learn from the past about.

Joshua Campbell

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About the Author

Joshua Campbell is a first-time author, and a history-buff, who often feels out of time, and yet has acclimatised to the use of at least some modern technologies which allows him to fulfil his lifelong interest of writing, especially thanks to the encouragement of his beautiful better-half, who is a digital artist in her own right, and yet her greatest masterpieces are the six children they are parents of. She is also his cover illustrator - so whenever someone attains his books, they will be able to enjoy her artwork which greets them even before they open the first page. He hopes to be as inspiring to others as she has been, and still is, to him.  You can follow Joshua on Facebook and Twitter @HistoricTwists

10 March 2023

Special Guest Interview with Stephen M Davis, Author of The Rebecca Chronicles

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Rebecca is far from your average 21st-century girl. She is an old soul and rather than be on her mobile phone, prefers to sit in the woods sketching imaginative worlds. Often, those around her refer to 
Rebecca as a “second-timer.” As her grandmother often says, 
“even the way you speak suggests you’ve been here before.”

I'm pleased to welcome author Stephen M Davis to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about the Rebecca Chronicles

I started writing rather late in life and published Book One in the Rebecca series at the age of 59. I now realise I needed to experience the ups and downs of life, enabling me to deal with the complex emotional and physical challenges Rebecca often faces. I grew up in post-WW2 East London and my world in this war-torn environment was full of challenges. This has offered me a balanced outlook, and a desire to create a better outcome for myself and my family.

So, as for Rebecca. She is my guiding light. She never suffers from writer’s block. I would recognise her voice in a crowded room. Often, I think, go right, but she says left. Here is what you can expect from the Rebecca Chronicles:

Rebecca is far from your average 21st-century girl. She is an old soul and rather than be on her mobile phone, prefers to sit in the woods sketching imaginative worlds. Often, those around her refer to Rebecca as a “second-timer.”

As her grandmother often says, “even the way you speak suggests you’ve been here before.”
When the family moves to an old manor house up by the lakes in the English countryside, although she misses the previous family home, she soon delights in her new surroundings and sets off exploring the vast grounds.

While digging around in an ancient wood, she finds a large Victorian key. Believing the key had been waiting for her, she sets off searching for its rightful home. After trying every keyhole, she comes across a derelict summerhouse.
Sure enough, the key fits, and entering this ramshackle building, she unearths a spiral staircase, hidden away for generations. Climbing the dust-laden stairs, she ventures up into the darkness.
Arriving at a door, her fearlessly inquisitive nature takes over, and fumbling around in the pitch black, she opens the door.

The door pulls from her grip, and slams shut behind her.
Frozen to the spot, the room fills with sunlight, and seconds later, she hears an unfamiliar female voice call her name.

Inexplicably, she’s stepped back 150 years into the history of the old manor house. Now amid a love triangle, she rallies to the aid and the beautiful, but estranged lady of the house, Meredith.

Only tomorrow will tell if her intervention was right, or if she’s unwittingly derailed history.
This is the first of many journeys into the past for this valiant young girl, all with one destiny, right past wrongs. Follow Rebecca into her adult years through five volumes of time-twisting adventures, soon to be six. Where next for this valiant female, the past, future, or both?

What is your preferred writing routine?

That’s a simple one. I am always up with the sun and with a decent coffee, I write for around 3 hours, in silence. Too much ‘noise’ and I don’t hear her guiding voice.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Allow yourself to be an author and believe you are. If you don’t who will? Your confidence will show.

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

Every platform of social media. Book trailer videos (I do my own, using Microsoft Movie Maker). Great graphics on social media. Entice the potential readers. A great image catches the eye better than a few lines. Remember the rules of today: A social media 15-second attention span for those under 30, a little more for those over. Great books don’t sell themselves.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

Well, that’s been during Book Six. The ludicrous witch trials. Nineteen women were hung on one day in one small town in the UK. Also, Book Five. The outdated rules that were in place to control women. Some only recently changed.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

In Book Six. Rebecca awakes after 3 months in a coma.

What are you writing next?

My latest work in progress is Book Six: Rebecca – The Witching Dark Ages. Due for publication in summer 2023. Here’s a short blurb: Setting: Modern Day. After years of twists and turns, Rebecca’s learnt to prepare herself for the unexpected. However, waking and finding herself in a damp, foul-smelling 14th-century witch's jail, unbalances her ability to focus.

Stephen M Davis

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About the Author

Stephen M Davis  grew up in East London post-WW2.  It was a time of togetherness where everyone worked towards re-building their once great City.  During this time many life-lessons were embraced. In search of something better, he often used imagination to escape the meek and humble surroundings. This imagination stayed with him throughout his life, often showing itself by way of surreal and abstract paintings.  Later in life, this imagination manifested as words, and soon after putting pen to paper, Rebecca was brought to life. Book Two of the Rebecca Chronicles, Rebecca - The Way Back, won Book Talk Radio Club's Book of the Year 2019 - all genres. Find out more at Stephen's website and more about the Rebecca Chronicles at You can also find Steve on Twitter @SDavis571

9 March 2023

Special Guest Interview with Alana Beth Davies, Author of The Making of Annie-May

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

 It’s the 1980s in south Wales, with all its turbulence - unemployment, hardship, and a bitter miners’ strike - and Anya finds herself taking on a teaching job in the unfamiliar world of further education. She tries to balance the role of dutiful wife and mother with her idea of the liberated woman she aspires to be. She finds ways to fight the sexual harassment she encounters, and she helps the people in her local community in any way she can. In speaking up for them, she finds her own voice.

I'm pleased to welcome author Alana Beth Davies  to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book is a novel, The Making of Annie-May. It’s a love story, a family saga, and something of a social and political commentary on life in 20th century Wales, as seen through the eyes of one woman and her family.

It’s the 1980s in south Wales, with all its turbulence - unemployment, hardship, and a bitter miners’ strike - and Anya finds herself taking on a teaching job in the unfamiliar world of further education.  She tries to balance the role of dutiful wife and mother with her idea of the liberated woman she aspires to be. She finds ways to fight the sexual harassment she encounters, and she helps the people in her local community in any way she can. In speaking up for them, she finds her own voice.

Against all the odds, Anya rises from the local politics of her south Wales valley to the green benches of the House of Commons. Here, she finds some surprising links with her hometown, and is taken on an emotional journey back to her father’s youth, to a scandal, and a family secret that has remained hidden for decades.

Meanwhile, Anya embarks on a passionate love affair, one that has unforeseen and sometimes tragic consequences. As her life is thrown into turmoil, she faces some tough questions: Is this the life she wants? Can she do more good outside the Westminster bubble than within? Should she put her family first?

While she fights battles of her own and for others, Anya’s journey takes her from girl to woman, until at last, she has the self-belief to live the life she chooses.

What is your writing routine?

My writing routine is not as rigid as I sometimes think it should be. I write best in the mornings and in the late evenings, and I try to do this most days. I use a laptop – my beloved MacBook Air – and I literally use it on my lap, because if I sit at my desk or table, one of my cats takes it as an invitation to lie on the keyboard.

What advice do you have for new writers?  

Just write. Write something every day. And read. Read. Read.

Don’t get bogged down in style and genre – get your story down. You’ll be editing it – again and again – and you can tidy it up later.

If you’re worried about grammar and syntax – don’t. An editor will help you with that, AFTER you’ve written your book.

Get your settings and your characters sorted first – plot will come. I didn’t believe that either, but it’s true!

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

I’m still working on this! I use Facebook; I have used paid adverts but with limited success. I also use Twitter, via the Writing Community group, again with limited success. More recently I also post on Instagram. I arranged an official launch; this was very useful, and was something I could post on my social media accounts. I intend to do some readings at local groups, but so far I haven’t had time to do this.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research  

I discovered that the laws around domestic abuse were very late in supporting victims. The Parliamentary website was very useful for finding out when various laws came in; local government records and newspaper reports of the time gave a local perspective. The Women’s Aid website was a wonderful resource too, providing some astonishing facts: for example, that marital rape wasn’t classed as a crime until 1991.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?  

The scene involving the miscarriage of a much-wanted baby was a hard one to write. But hopefully the fact that I found it so emotional to write will mean that the reader will be moved by it too.

What are you planning to write next? 

My current work in progress is a family saga with a working title of ‘The Mothers of Tobergel’. It is the story of Daisy and her family, following their journey through the twentieth century, with a focus on the mothers in the family. It is set in Ireland and in Wales, and covers the period 1888 to 1999.  It follows a succession of mothers in their wide and extended family, their roles and their relationships. It is a story of complex family relationships and emotional turmoil.

Alana Beth Davies

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About the Author

Alana Beth Davies has had a number of careers – lecturer, politician, B&B landlady, dollshouse impresario – all while raising her family of five daughters, but it wasn’t until she had retired from all of these that she started to write in earnest. Although she had been writing short stories and poems since a teenager, it was a part-time course in Creative Writing with the Open University that convinced her this was something she could take seriously. In the past few years, Alana has written and published collections of short stories and of poems, and a number of children’s stories. She has helped other aspiring authors by editing their work, and self-published books on their behalf. Find out more at Alana's website and find her on Twitter @AlanaDavies9

8 March 2023

New Audiobook in the Elizabethan Series: Drake Tudor Corsair, narrated by Joff Manning

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

1564: Devon sailor Francis Drake sets out on a journey of adventure. Drake learns of routes used to transport Spanish silver and gold, and risks his life in an audacious plan to steal a fortune. Queen Elizabeth is intrigued by Drake and secretly encourages his piracy.

Her unlikely champion becomes a national hero, sailing around the world in the Golden Hind and attacking the Spanish fleet. King Philip of Spain has enough of Drake’s plunder and orders an armada to threaten the future of England.

7 March 2023

Book Launch Spotlight: Storm of War (The Saxon Warrior Series Book 2) by Peter Gibbons

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The fight for a torn Kingdom rests in the hands of a few brave men…

King Aethelred II, who men will one day call The Unready, rules over a land divided by the shadowy spin of his mother Queen Ælfthryth and the sprawling power of the Church.

The Viking Warlord, Olaf Tryggvason smelling the Kingdoms weakness brings the vicious Jomsvikings to the Saxon coastline ravenous for war and plunder.

Together Lord Byrthnoth, Ealdorman of the East Saxons and Beornoth his Saxon Thegn lead a force of oath sworn Viking killers, every bit as brutal and war-skilled as the Norse invaders to protect the Kingdom against enemies both from within, and from the cruel seas. They are pushed to the very limits of their bravery and endurance in a desperate fight for the very existence of the Saxon Kingdom.

In a riveting story of treachery, betrayal, vengeance and war, can Beornoth defeat his enemies and protect the Kingdom from destruction?

Storm of War continues the unmissable Viking historical fiction saga series which began with Peter Gibbons' Warrior & Protector.

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About the Author

Peter Gibbons is the winner of the 2022 Kindle Storyteller Literary Award, and an author based in Kildare in Ireland, with a passion for Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and of course writing! Peter was born in Warrington in the UK and studied Law at Liverpool John Moores University, before taking up a career in Financial Services. Peter currently lives and works in Kildare Ireland, and is married with three children. Find out more at  Peter's website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @AuthorGibbons

6 March 2023

Special Guest Interview with Anna Chant, Author of Call of the Viking Dead (Mysteriously Medieval)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

AD 851: Ceorl, Alderman of Devon defeats a Viking attack. But what if killing them is not enough?  A band of Norse raiders are sailing up the River Dart… While the raiders hope for plunder, Fiske, their leader, is there only for the kill. 

I'm pleased to welcome author Anna Chant to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

I love history and medieval history in particular. But rivalling that is a great love of myths, legends and folklore. There has always been some mythology and folklore included in many of my books. Writing about the early medieval era, there are frequently legends surrounding some of the figures of the time, such as the legend of the Merovingian dynasty that Merovech’s father was a mysterious sea creature called the Quinotaur which I included in my book Dawn of the Franks.

Up to now these myths and legends have appeared as small details in the larger story. But in my most recent book, Call of the Viking Dead, I wanted to write a story where the folklore is the main element of the story. My love remains with the medieval era and this book is to be the first in a series called Mysteriously Medieval, combining the history with folklore, myths, legends and superstitions of the era.

My youngest son, who is very keen on mythology, gave me the idea for this book. During the Covid pandemic he set himself a lockdown project of creating a website of mythological creatures. And one of these was a creature from Norse mythology called a draugr.

A draugr is a living corpse, usually the remnant of an evil man rejected from the halls of the gods. Incredibly strong, they have a range of unnatural abilities including controlling the weather, shapeshifting and being able to enter dreams.

A creature from Norse mythology allows for a wide range of settings – Scandinavia, the British isles, Ireland, Francia or even as far afield as North America or Constantinople. But the setting was decided for me in the form of a Facebook post on a local history group on an entry in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle describing a Viking raid on what is believed to be the edge of my home, Torbay. How could I resist? This gave me the date – 851 and the name of one of the characters – Ceorl, the Alderman of Devon who defeated the attack.

The Anglo-Saxon chronicle describes the slaughter Ceorl and the men of Devon made of the Vikings. But in my book he keeps two of them as slaves – Fiske, the vicious leader of the raid and Ari, a troubled young man. Captivity does nothing to improve Fiske and after continuing his acts of cruelty to animals, slaves and fatally, Ceorl’s daughter, he ends up dead. And with him buried on unhallowed ground that, they assume, is the end of Fiske.

When smoke rises from Fiske’s grave, animals act strangely and a mysterious figure stalks the estate, only Ari realises what is happening. A draugr has a weakness and Ari knows what has to be done. But he is just a heathen, just a slave with none listening to his warnings. As the spirit of the dead Norseman circles his prey, the danger edges closer, poised to strike at the heart of Ceorl’s home. And powerless to act, Ari can only wait for the draugr to claim his first victim, to see who must answer the call of the Viking dead…

What are you planning to write next?

I am working on the second of the Mysteriously Medieval books. The inspiration for this one is a Devon legend, set among the tin miners (stanners) of medieval Dartmoor. Their history is very interesting as they lived by different laws to the rest of the country with their own Parliament and free of the feudal system. The stanners of this book live near a valley which they believe holds a rich stream of tin, but this valley is a forbidden one, rumoured to be the haunt of a terrifying creature.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

There were a lot of scenes I found hard when writing Fisher King. This was a story I started planning in the autumn of 2019 and is set during the Plague of Justinian, a pandemic that swept Europe in the sixth century. I started writing in 2020 and we all know what happened next. Writing about a pandemic while living through one was very difficult with many of the scenes feeling all too familiar – the isolation, covering the nose, the blame, the denial, the conspiracy theories and the never-ending fear of whether my own family, friends or even myself might be the next victim. Most heart-breaking of all was seeing the fate of some of my characters echoed daily in news reports throughout 2020/21. 

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Research is always exciting. It’s like a treasure hunt and you never know what you might find. While reading up about medieval tin mining, I was struggling to visualise the smelting process. So I went on YouTube in the hope that someone had made a living history video on this. The closest I could find was one on medieval iron smelting in The Netherlands. And that video mentioned a name – a woman who had been powerful and notorious in that region. I had not previously heard of her but upon finding out more, I knew I had the next subject for another of my book series – Women of the Dark Ages. I am currently researching her story. 

Anna Chant

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About the Author

Anna Chant grew up in Essex before moving to Yorkshire to study history at the University of Sheffield. In 2015 inspired by her love of history and her Scottish ancestry, Anna started writing her first book. Kenneth’s Queen, the tale of the unknown wife of Kenneth Mac Alpin, was published the following year. Call of the Viking Dead is her twelfth novel and the first in the new Mysteriously Medieval Series. Taking inspiration from both history and legend, she particularly enjoys bringing to live the lesser known people and events of the past. When not writing, Anna enjoys walking the coast and countryside of Devon where she lives with her husband, three sons (if they’re home) and a rather cheeky bearded dragon.  Find out more from Anna's website and follow her on Twitter @anna_chant