Category: Authors (Page 1 of 2)

April 2021 Newsletter

April 2021 Newsletter
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com
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Author News
My new book, Guardians at the Wall, is due out on 1st June. It’s a dual timeline historical novel, set at Hadrian’s Wall. The main protagonist is Noah Jessop, a student undergraduate on a dig, who digs up a carved stone goddess. His professor, Maggie Wilde, identifies it as Brigantia, the protector of the local tribe, the Brigantes. This is the first of a few objects that connect the contemporary story to the historical account of Centurion Gaius Atticianus, in second century Britannia, that runs parallel through the novel.

I’ll share some of Professor Maggie Wilde’s research into the goddess Brigantia with you. The name of the tribe, ‘Brigante’ means ‘the high ones’, suggesting they were a dominant tribe over lesser neighbours, and Brigantia fulfils the function of being the high goddess over all others, the great protector of her people. The Romans recognised this and were keen to co-opt her into their belief system, twinning her with various deities including Minerva, Fortuna and Caelestis, the latter a North African moon goddess who was also co-opted by the Romans, from whom we get the word ‘celestial’.

Whilst the archaeologists are looking for meaning in their finds, Gaius is gifted the goddess statuette and presents it to his wife, Aria. Her reaction surprises him, as she is from a southern tribe and regards the Brigantes and their deities as foreign. She reminds her husband that their household is watched over by the water goddess of her people, Sulis, twinned with Minerva, and she won’t countenance having a rival deity in the house. Incidentally, the Roman name for the city of Bath was Aquae Sulis – ‘the waters of Sulis’.

This was too much for Gaius, who stalked off for a warming bath after a hard day in the saddle splitting enemy skulls. Aria picked her moment, one night, to return the offending goddess to her people. She sneaked out to bury it outside the shrine to Brigantia in the native settlement outside Vindolanda fort. It was then excavated by Noah some 1,800 years later.

The picture shows a stone altar carving of the goddess Brigantia, here twinned with the Roman goddess, Caelestis, that can be found in the Museum of Scotland.
(picture source: pinterest board)

This month’s guest author is Elizabeth Keysian. Elizabeth is an international bestselling author of heart-pounding Regency romances, set mostly in the West of England. She is working on a fresh series for Dragonblade Publishing called Trysts and Treachery, which is set in the Tudor era.

Though primarily a writer of romance, she loves to put a bit of mystery, adventure, and suspense into her stories, and refuses to let her characters take themselves too seriously.

Elizabeth likes to write from experience, not easy when her works range from the medieval to the Victorian eras. However, her passion for re-enactment has helped, as have the many years she spent working in museums and British archaeology. If you find some detail in her work you’ve never come across before, you can bet she either dug it up, quite literally, or found it on a museum shelf.

Workhouse Waif
How can Bella Hart escape the hell of the Victorian workhouse?
Fleeing the abuse that she suffered there, the lonely outcast hopes her new life in a factory town can provide the esteem and affection she craves.
Torn between the worlds of masters and workers, Bella falls for the enigmatic Jack, but their relationship shatters when his true identity is revealed. In a desperate bid to revive her love, Jack unearths Bella’s past, with tragic consequences.
After a devastating fire, a secret emerges that seals Bella’s fate, and that of everyone and everything she holds dear.
Fans of Catherine Cookson and Victorian historical romances will love this book.

Here’s the universal BUY link-
http://mybook.to/workhouse

Social media/web links:
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cxe369
Amazon page: 
https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Keysian/e/B06VVL9JMB/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EKeysian
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/LizKeysian
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/elizabeth-keysian?list=about
Website: https://elizabethkeysian.com/

This month, it’s Geoffrey Chaucer! He wrote his great work, The Canterbury Tales in the 1390’s. It’s about the stories a group of pilgrims told each other as they made their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and is regarded as one of the great founding works of English literature.

April Fools’ has been celebrated in the UK since the beginning of the 19th century but there are lots of different theories and explanations about where it originally came from.

The first of April some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools’ Day;
But why the people call it so
Nor I, nor they themselves, do know…
18th century folk rhyme

In the English-speaking world, some have traced April Fools’ Day back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales, in which a cocky rooster named Chauntecleer and the arrogant fox named Reynard battle wits.
The story begins with the melodramatic Chauntecleer waking from a nightmare where he is murdered by a fox. His wife tells him it’s probably just gas and to get over it. But later that day, Reynard the Fox shows up to flatter Chauntecleer on his beautiful singing. Never missing an opportunity to show off, the rooster crows and Reynard immediately snatches him up while all Chauntecleer’s barnyard friends give chase.

As the fox runs away with Chauntecleer’s neck in his mouth, the rooster asks Reynard to tell the farm animals to give up their futile chase. And as soon as the fox opens his mouth to taunt them, Chauntecleer flies up a tree out of Reynard’s reach.
This silly little tale is told in a parody of a great epic that all takes place on the 1st of April. Steel yourself for some Middle English:

Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also,
Sin March bigan, thritty dayes and two,
Bifel that Chauntecleer, in al his pryde,
His seven wyves walking by his syde,
Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
That in the signe of Taurus hadde y-ronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat more;
And knew by kynde, and by noon other lore,
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.

This translated as:
The month of March—the same month when God had made the world and first made mankind—had passed, and the day was April 1. Proud Chanticleer, with his seven wives at his side, looked up at the bright sun, which was more than 21˚ through the sign of Taurus. His natural instinct alone told him that it was nine o’clock in the morning, and he crowed happily at the top of his lungs.
(Source: sparknotes.com)

The phrasing here is a little awkward, so “since March began, thirty days and two” might actually refer to either May 2nd or April 1st. April 1st is 32 days after March 1st, and May 2nd is 32 days after the last day of March. But either way, the first of April soon evolved into a popular day for pranks and tricks.

Tim’s Newsletter – March 2021

Newsletter March 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

WORLD BOOK DAY – 4TH MARCH 

World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading. World Book Day is an educational trust whose mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. We want to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.

World Book Day was created by UNESCO on 23rd April 1995 as aworldwide celebration of books and reading. It is marked in over 100 countries around the globe.

The first World Book Day in the UK and Ireland took place in 1997 to encourage young people to discover the pleasure of reading.

As World Book Day founder, Baroness Gail Rebuck, recalls “We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.”

2021 is the 24th year there’s been a World Book Day, and on 4th March 2021, children of all ages will come together to share the joy of reading for pleasure.

Spending just 10 minutes a day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to their future success and it’s fun for all involved.

That’s why World Book Day continues to encourage children and young people to read for pleasure through its work with authors, illustrators, publishers, bookshops and libraries. Authors – make a note to share your books on social media on World Book Day, 4th March 2021. Let’s get them reading!

RESEARCHING MY NEXT BOOK

I have recently completed the first draft of my next novel – Guardians at the Wall. This is dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. It was inspired by a visit to a number of Roman sites and museums close to Hadrian’s Wall in September 2020. This is very much my Winter 20/21 novel, and it has helped keep me sane through this trying Covid-19 lockdown.
I have set the launch date for 1st June, and intend to reveal the cover in my 1st April newsletter. The book blurb is a work in progress, but this is the current version:

A group of archaeology students in northern England scrape at the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes.
Twenty-year-old Noah makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He is living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding 2,000-year-old riddle, and an artefact theft, as if his career depends on it, because it does.

In the same place, in the year 180 C.E., Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives will brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one trying to get himself noticed and the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology mud rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by the attentions of two very different women, work out who to trust?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

I have tried to link the contemporary and historical strands of my story through objects and through themes, such as trust, loyalty, societal attitudes and locations. One object that fascinated Noah that is on display in the Vindolanda museum, is fragment of a glass drinking tankard with a hand-painted colour frieze around it depicting gladiators fighting (pictured). In my historical story, Gaius and his mates drink a toast to Saturn on the eve of the Saturnalia festival, downing the ale poured by a serving girl and passing it on to the next in their circle, each having to tell a story of bravery in battle. To think that Roman legionaries over 1,800 years ago would have drunk from this tankard in the tavern outside the walls of Vindolanda fort is amazing to me.
Here is what the Vindolanda guidebook says about this incredible discovery:

“A long strip building, situated just outside the west gate of the fort, was the Vindolanda tavern. here the people of Vindolanda would have been able to enjoy locally brewed beer and wines from across the Empire and hot food. The front of the building, facing onto the street was where the common room or bar was situated. Its ceiling was held up by pillars to provide an open social area, with a small kitchen set behind to supply meals to travellers and patrons. You can imagine this would have been a noisy and smelly room, on of the focal social points of Vindolanda in the 3rd century.

When excavated, the tavern produced the highest concentration of drinking vessels from the site. One of those vessels is a fragment of the beautifully painted gladiator glass cup (now in the museum). The tavern owners had planned for their future by burying 270 coins below the floor of the kitchen. Unfortunately for them they never had the chance to spend the money as it remained hidden until excavators located the hoard in the 1977 excavation. It is likely that some of the money, which you can now see on display in the Vindolanda museum, was used to buy a round or two of beer in the tavern, almost 1,800 years ago.”

Here’s an extract from Guardians at the Wall. It is the scene where Gaius Atticianus, Officer of the Watch, meets auxiliary soldier, Amborix, on the battlements at Vindolanda in 180 C.E. on a cold winter’s night:

“Thank you, sir – although I have been told something different,” Amborix replied, also turning to watch the shimmering lights. He was only a few months at the Wall, and had already spent his meagre wages on woollen socks and a thick tunic he wore day and night. He watched in silence as the mysterious wave of light added in new colours – red, blue, violet and yellow – as it climbed into the night sky. “This is a strange land,” he added, throwing a stone in the direction of a hoot from an owl, “and a cursed one. Our protector, Sol Invictus, will only rise from his slumber for a few short hours.”

Gaius decided to ignore his insolence and let him prattle on. His head still throbbed from the beer he had drunk with his unit at the tavern that afternoon to celebrate the start of the feast of Saturnalia. They had sacrificed a goat to Saturn and had roasted the meat on a spit beside the tavern. Now he regretted the last two toasts, but grinned at the memory of drunken tales of bravery on their last posting in the wild lands north of the Wall. A glass tankard depicting colourful gladiators fighting for their lives had been passed around his carousing mates – each making a toast and downing the contents as a serving girl stood by ready to re-fill it from a pitcher.

“It is indeed a strange and wild land, but you will see in the coming weeks that Sol Invictus will gain more hours and Artemis will sulk in her hall. The long days of summer will come to give me more time with my horses.” He adjusted his shoulder guard and turned to the youth. “In Rome they say this is an empire without end, but here we are, boy, at the wild edge of Empire, hemmed in by the Wall.”

Newsletter – Feb 2021

Tim’s Newsletter February 2021

The highlight of last year for me was a three-day trip to Hadrian’s Wall. It was a trip I had been planning for a few years. Wedged between Lockdown One and Lockdown Two, I spent a night in a hotel in Newcastle and a night with a friend in Harrogate.

It was such a relief to get into the car and drive out of area after so long spent at home. I had pre-booked my museum visits and was grateful for the reduced numbers and staggered time slots. On the first day, I joined a small group (in masks) on a curator’s tour of Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields, on the south Tyne estuary. This fascinating tour centred on the reconstructed Commanding Officer’s House, and ended at the reconstructed gatehouse, giving a valuable insight into daily life in a Roman garrison and supply fort 1,800 years ago.

In the afternoon, I crossed the famous Tyne road bridge and made my way to Wallsend, and the part-excavated Roman fort and museum of Segedunum. The museum is well laid out with creative displays that give an excellent insight into the daily life of Roman soldiers and an overview of the history of Hadrian’s Wall. This is literally the end (or starting point) of the Wall, that runs for almost 80 miles to Carlisle in the east. On day two I visited Corbridge Roman town and museum; Vindolanda fort, reconstructions and museum; and Chesters Roman fort and baths, right in the middle of Hadrian’s Wall and next to the fast-flowing waters of the upper Tyne, in the beautiful Clayton family estate.

From this visit, I got the idea for my next book. It’s title is ‘Guardians at the Wall’ and it’s a dual timeline novel with contemporary and historical (Roman) plot lines in alternating chapters. The two stories are connected by location (Vindolanda), themes and objects. It is proving a challenge to plan and write, but I am half way through and am working towards a mid-May publication date.

By the way, are you watching Robson Green’s excellent mini-series on walking Hadrian’s Wall? He’s a Northumbrian lad and brings a very personal touch to his tour along the Hadrian’s Wall footpath. I’ve recently leant that 2022 is the 1,900th anniversary of the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, to be marked by activities at the various sites and museums (covid-permitting).

This month’s guest author is Jonathan Posner. My daughter, Cathy, is currently reading his new book, Mary Fox and the Broken Sword, aimed at young adult readers.

Jonathan Posner has pursued his love of creative writing as a hobby, alongside raising a family and a career in marketing.

It was at school in Suffolk that he first developed a love of literature, spending much of his free time in Narnia, or in the company of contemporary heroes such as William Brown, Molesworth and Jennings.

This led to a burning desire to write something himself – which finally reached boiling point at Exeter University, when he wrote two plays and a musical (book & lyrics). One of the plays, Private Eyes, was performed by students, but the other play and the musical were put on a shelf and thankfully, never seen again.

Three further musicals followed as Jonathan started to build both a marketing career and a young family, and all three of these musicals were considered to be of a high enough standard to be performed on stage.

The family and career then took precedence, until he got up one morning in the early 2010s with an overwhelming urge to write a novel. Casting about for an idea, he spotted one of his original musicals. It was a time-travel story set in Tudor England – and he decided to post-rationally write the book ‘behind’ the musical.

To start with, it went swimmingly well. Large chunks of dialogue were lifted from the libretto and pasted into the manuscript – until he realised that what works in a musical doesn’t necessarily work in a novel, and a completely new plot had to be built around the original time-travel Tudor idea.

Thankfully the resulting 2015 novel, The Witchfinder’s Well, has received many positive reviews and demands for a sequel. The Alchemist’s Arms was therefore published in 2019, and a third novel in the trilogy is planned for 2022/23.

Jonathan is ever one for getting the most out of an idea. In The Witchfinder’s Well, the lead character develops her love of all things Tudor when she finds a series of adventure novels set in the reign of Henry VIII, featuring a swashbuckling heroine called Mary Fox. So Jonathan has now written the first book in this series, called Mary Fox and the Broken Sword.

In this story, teenage Mary Fox has to return the Broken Sword to a house in Suffolk in order to lift a centuries-old curse, while keeping one step ahead of her arch-enemy Sir Reginald de Courtney.

Jonathan has a website for more information, contact and links to buy the books, at http://jonathanposnerauthor.com.

Amazon UK – Links:

The Witchfinder’s Well

The Alchemist’s Arms

Mary Fox and the Broken Sword

Mary Fox and the Broken Sword

Tudor England – where young girls are expected to marry the man their father decides…

Mary Fox is a rebellious teenager who needs to escape from the evil Sir Reginald de Courtney, the older man her stepfather says she must marry.

From desperate swordfights to daring escapes, Mary battles to keep one step ahead of Sir Reginald. Will he catch her? And will he stop her in her quest to return the mysterious Broken Sword to its rightful home – and so lift a centuries-old curse?

In the Tudor world of men, Mary Fox is an unexpected heroine!

Comments from readers:

“A rollicking, exciting ride with a lot of unexpected twists and turns which kept surprising me along the way.”

“…definitely a good story to get younger readers interested in historical genre novels as it had excitement, intrigue, mystery and unrequited love!”

“I will admit to being quite a fan of our ass-kicking Tudor heroine.”

As we stagger on through Lockdown Three
Whilst Covid morphs and creeps ever on
A shape-shifting ghoul after you and me
Described in a poem from Lockdown One…

The Plague
I walked through Corona though some call it Slough
Through the wreckage of many lives – I don’t know how
My blood was boiling, a life beyond care
Eyes bulging as I inhaled the fetid air

My pulse quickening as my shuffle became slow
Passing tumbleweed creepers with nowhere to go
Past doorway sleepers whose lives forsake pleasure
Block no one no more, those doors closed forever
A mangy dog howls and chases its tail
Side-stepped by droogs and a postman with mail
I stagger on through filthy, gritty drizzling rain
Oblivious to rubbing shoes and the dull throbbing pain

MacDonald’s is empty with no one in line
Beyond, the bright lights of Boots just in time
My empty back pack I then stuff with loo roll
Before cleaning out pain killers and a lonely Swiss roll

I adjust my mask and make for the tills
Join a queue, keep my distance and popped a few pills
Outside I look about, jealously guarding my haul
Make my way to the bus stop passing through a mall
Then leave the cold drizzle for lightness and warmth
Lowered mask, ignoring stares, I embrace the storm
Then look out of the window whilst clutching my wares
At the hunched over shufflers weighed down by their cares
Boarded up plots speak of urban decay
A harrowing graveyard for those who fall by the way
The window steams up and it all becomes vague
As I wonder when I’ll succumb to the plague.

By Tim Walker 2020

Newsletter – January 2021

JANUARY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

Author News
Firstly, happy new year to all of you – let’s hope for better things in 2021. As for me, I’m writing my winter novel – something I’ve done for the past four years (I have got into the habit of planning and research in September/October, writing from November to March, then getting it proof-read and copyedited, the book cover finalised and launch strategy worked out). But having finished my epic five-book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, with 2020’s Arthur Rex Brittonum, I’ve retired that set of characters and set my mind on writing a standalone novel.

My work-in-progress is titled Guardians at The Wall, and it will be my first attempt at a timeslip novel. I got the idea for a story involving intrigue amongst archaeologists meshed with a Roman soldiers’ story on a trip to Hadrian’s Wall sites and museums in September 2020 (between lockdowns!). Time slip, I’ve recently discovered, can be a sub-genre of either historical or science fiction that combines two strands to the story – contemporary and historical/another time. As I know little about this, I joined a Facebook group, Historical & Time Slip Novels Book Club, to find out more.
I posted a statement about my work in progress and asked for suggestions, and received dozens of useful comments, including a link to a blog article by author, Kathleen McGurl, on writing dual timelines. She provides her own definitions of the different types of time slip stories that gave me pause to reflect on what I was attempting:
Kathleen has identified three types of time slip novel:
Time travel – characters deliberately and intentionally travel through time. Science fiction.
Timeslip – characters unintentionally and accidentally slip through time. Supernatural/magic.
Dual timeline – a mystery from the past is uncovered and resolved in the present day. The story is told in two timelines, woven together. No science or magic needed.
From these definitions, I can firmly locate my project as dual timeline. My contemporary story involves a search to uncover a mystery and to piece together the actions of a Roman centurion in the second century, posted at Hadrian’s Wall. The historical story is the story of that centurion, outlining what actually happened all those years ago. The archaeologists must piece together what they think happened based on scraps of information, and then search for the location of a buried payroll chest.
Kathleen has shared how she approaches writing her novels (BTW, her latest book is The Forgotten Gift – see below) and it resonates with how I’ve approached my story, giving me comfort and the confidence to push on.
She makes each chapter a single timeline, alternating between her two stories, so reader knows what to expect; chapters are typically 3,000 words in length (to give the reader a chance to get into each timeline before swapping); chapter 1 and the last chapter are the contemporary story – the character with whom the reader will most identify; make both stories equally strong.
She goes on to advise authors that they will need several elements for a successful dual timeline: two linked stories; strong characters in each timeline; a great setting that the reader sees in both timelines; an item turning up in both timelines; and a theme to help tie the stories together.
So, thanks for the advice, Kathleen – now I just need to write it!

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861: George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?
Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…
Discover a family’s darkest secrets today. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Beekeeper’s Promise and The Forgotten Village!

Our featured guest author this month is Jean M. Roberts who lives with her family outside of Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston with a BSN in nursing. She then joined the United States Air Force and proudly served for 8 years. She works full time as a nurse administrator for a non-profit.
A life-long lover of history Jeanie began writing articles on her family history/genealogy. This in turn has led to two works of historical fiction. She is currently working on a third book, The Heron, due for publication in April 2021. Jean has kindly written an article for us on the period of American history she is particularly interested in.

Her first novel is:  Weave a Web of Witchcraft

This is the haunting tale of Hugh and Mary Parsons of Springfield, Massachusetts. Using actual testimony recorded in their depositions and trials, the book recreates the story of this ill fated couple. Happily married in 1645, their life slowly disintegrates into a nightmare of accusations, madness and death. By 1651, Hugh is accused of witchcraft by his own wife and soon the entire town turns against him. Hugh’s friends and neighbors tell outlandish tales of unnatural occurrences, ghostly lights and mysterious beasts then point the finger of blame squarely at Hugh. In a wild turn of events Mary confesses that she too is a witch and has danced with the devil. Both Hugh and Mary are deposed and sent to Boston to stand trial for witchcraft before the General Court of Massachusetts; one is charged with murder. Their very lives hang in the balance. Exhaustively researched, this book is filled with vivid details of life on the frontier of Massachusetts, and brings to life the people who struggled for existence in the harsh world that was Puritan Massachusetts. Predating the famous Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 by almost forty years, this is the page turning story of a tragic couple whose life is overtaken by ignorance and superstition.

War in the Colonies
As an American, I can trace my ancestry to the British Isles. According to my DNA profile, I am 100% Anglo/Irish. I am also a lover of history. Like Tim, I am a novelist, but although I adore medieval English history, I don’t know enough to write with any authority. My historical novels are focused on Colonial America, from the early beginnings, through the War for Independence.

My first book, Weave a Web of Witchcraft is set in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1650. The story revolves around a real couple, Hugh and Mary Parsons, who were both accused of witchcraft. My second book, Blood in the Valley, is the fictionalize tale of my ancestors before and during the American Revolution. The story follows them from New Hampshire to the wilds of the Mohawk Valley of New York.

This brings me to my next book, The Heron, which has a dual time narrative; modern day and the 1690s and is set along the banks of the Oyster River in New Hampshire. War plays a big role in this chilling story, specifically, King William’s War. This was the opening conflict of what was to be called The French and Indian Wars. A brutal fight, waged on both sides, it would last until 1763, when a peace agreement, the Treaty of Paris, was signed by the European powers. But the fight with and against the native people on the American continent continued well into the 19th century.

Like many American children, I grew up playing games we called ‘Cops and Robbers’ and living in Texas, ‘Cowboys and Indians’. The cops and the cowboys were the good guys; men in white hats riding white horses. The men in black, the bad guys, were the robbers and the Indians. We fought over who had to be the baddie, the enemy. The idea of the ‘bad Indian’ was ingrained in us from a young age.

From the day the first white man stepped ashore, the Native population has been maligned. Englishmen were smarter, braver, they had God on their side and like all conquerors, entitled to take what they wanted. England itself had been swept by conquering peoples from time immemorial. The Romans, the Saxons, the Norsemen, the Normans. It was the natural order of things.

Along with guns, and a healthy sense of superiority, Europeans brought plague and pestilence with them to the new world. Historians call it ‘The Great Dying’, 90% of the native population perished. The Americas were ripe for the taking. In a way, I can see a parallel between the beleaguered American natives and the people of England, the Romano-British people who banded together under King Arthur to fight the Saxon invader and preserve their land.

In 1620, a group of English religious separatists, set sail for the Colony of Virginia. At that time, the territory of Virginia stretched as far as today’s New York, and their intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River. They didn’t make it. Blown off course they found themselves far to the north. This year, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.

When we think of the Pilgrims, fresh off the boat from Plymouth, England, newly landed on the Cape of Massachusetts, images of a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner come to mind. The starving settlers were aided by Native Americans, taught to grow food in the unfamiliar land. It’s a lovely narrative but this peaceful co-existence was short lived.
As wave after wave of Englishmen arrived on the shores of North American, the Native Americans became increasingly concerned. Conflict was inevitable.

Loss of land, subjugation to harsh English law, and enslavement led to a rise in tension between the two peoples. In 1675 the Native Americans along the North East coast banded together under the leadership of a Wampanoag man, Metacom. The English called him King Philip. The Natives lashed out at the interlopers.

This war, King Philip’s War, was a full-out assault on the colonists in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Together with warriors from Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narraganset tribes brought death and destruction to the Colonist, their combined efforts all but drove the colonist into the sea. If they had held together, the English would have been penned up in coastal cities, and possibly forced to abandon New England.

But this was also a war between Native Americans. The Mohegans and the Mohawks of New York, allied themselves with the English and fought against Metacom and his coalition. For the better part of 14 months, Metacom and his warriors ravaged New England. He was captured and killed in August of 1676 and the fight gradually dwindled until the signing of a peace treaty in Casco, Maine in 1678. Hundreds, if not thousands of native fighters and their families were rounded up and shipped to the Caribbean to work as slaves on the sugar plantations.

Peace did not last long. In 1689 King William of England declared war on France. As battles waged on the Continent, simmering tensions in the Colonies flared. Canada was, at that time, a French territory. The Governor, Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, devised a three-prong plan of attack against the Colonies of New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Maine was part of Massachusetts). In the winter of 1690, a force attacked the town of Schenectady in New York, a second attacked Salmon Falls in New Hampshire and the third destroyed Fort Loyal in Maine. The loss of the Fort, near present day Portland, emptied the frontier.

Hundreds of settlers, men, women and children were killed or taken as captives to Canada. The numbers may not seem significant but the population of these settlements was small, and so the impact of losing males of working age had a huge effect on the economy and the ability of these people to survive. That these people survived at all is testament to their tenacity. King William’s War ended 1697 but flared again in 1702 with Queen Anne’s War.

For many Americans this is dry dusty information, naught but boring dates without meaning. If your family, whether they were of English descent or Native American, lived in New England in the 17th – 18th century it is almost certain that they were also affected by these wars. If nothing else the mental toll must have been enormous. In fact, Mercy Lewis, one of the Salem Witchcraft accusers fled the attack on Casco Bay in 1689, where her parents were both killed, leaving her an orphan and forced to work as a servant. It has been suggested that the psychological damaged inflicted by the war might have played a part in her role as an accuser.

As most know, the native population of America was pushed further and further west, just as the remains of the British population were pushed into Wales and down into Cornwall. Or, they were forced to assimilate into the in new culture. King Philip and King Arthur have many similarities, their biggest difference being, King Arthur is a hero and King Philip a long-forgotten fighter for Indian freedom.

My upcoming book, The Heron, is set along the Oyster River of New Hampshire. This area was subject to repeated attacks during King William’s War. My story has two main characters, Abbey Coote a modern-day woman and her ancestor Mary Foss who struggled to survive, not on the war, but life in general. My story is full of period details and as accurate a portrayal of life in the 1690s as I could get. Be sure to check it out. Its release date is April 15 2021.

In Poet’s Corner this month we have Michael le Vin, a writing mate of mine from our Windsor Writers’ days. Now, he is more likely to be spotted turning up at Slough Writers’ meetings and events. His poem, Tammany Adieu, won the Slough Writers Annual Poetry Prize / Competition, 2020.

Tammany Adieu
By Michael le Vin

The desolation.
Waves lapping at the shallop’s hull. A kind of kissing;
January’s North Atlantic wind keening.
Bitter, biting face and hands.
Adel, weeping in rhythmic slow lament, as Boston fades in the mouth of the
Charles, desecrating the memory of the father she loved.
The man she knew.
At home.
A man of simple tenderness. Caring, loving, true
Looked after her dying mother, his second wife, adopting Adel as his own.
A man of political passions too, the father she loved,
The man she knew.
The public man.
Hard and strong, whisky swilling.
He could outdo the lads,
Happily gamble his silver dollar.
But fight for a cause, give women a vote, equal rights for all
Regardless of race, or gender or kin.
The battle-hardened politician.
The father she loved.
The man she knew.
His death.
His collapse at Tammany Hall. A shock!, Disquiet.
A deafening silence, before a fall.
Interring him in an unmarked grave, political allies and adversaries alike
demanding redress.
His birth certificate, said “Mary Anderson, born Govan 1840”.
Cynically they buried him…. in a dress….
The father she loved
The man….. she thought….. she knew

Newsletter – December 2020

DECEMBER 2020

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

Author News
I’m closing the year on a high, with the news that my June 2020 historical novel, Arthur Rex Brittonum was short-listed for the Historical Fiction Book of the Year 2020 (early Medieval period) Award in the prestigious Coffee Pot Book Club Awards. I’ll take a runners-up medal in a hard-fought field.
It was reviewed in June by Mary Anne Yarde of the Coffee Pot Book Club and received a ‘Highly recommended’ badge. These were her impressions:
“From the desperate battle at Mount Badon to the harrowing final confrontation at Camlann, Arthur Rex Brittonum by Tim Walker is the enthralling story of the latter half of King Arthur’s reign.
With an engrossing sense of time and place, Walker has presented his readers with a novel that is as rich in historical detail as it is in story.

I was eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series. I am pleased to report that the wait was most definitely worth it. This book was simply brilliant!”
The author presents his readers with a plausible Arthur – a very human Arthur, who stumbles, falls, makes mistakes and has moments of unbearable guilt.
I thought Walker’s portrayal of Arthur was very authentic in the telling, and he was a character I relish reading about. I highly recommend.”
Available from Amazon in PAPERBACK and KINDLE
Also, in i-books, Kobo, Nook and others

This month’s guest author is Pam Lecky. Pam is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime, and mystery with a dash of romance. She is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors.

Pam has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award. Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018.

June 2019, saw the release of the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned, a fast-paced Victorian mystery/crime, set in London and Yorkshire which was recently awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequel, Footprints in the Sand, set in Egypt, was released in March 2020. She is currently working on the third book in the series, The Art of Deception, and a new series of WW2 espionage novels.

Pam’s Links:
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
www.pamlecky.com­­
Instagram
Goodreads 

No Stone Unturned is the first book in Pam’s Victorian series and the e-book has reduced to 99p/99c for the month of December… click the title to buy now!
Also available as AUDIOBOOK (USA only)

Book Blurb: A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.

When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave, and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?

Here’s a seasonal extract from my 2018 historical novel, Uther’s Destiny…

Winter Equinox at The Stones

Stars winked in the deep blue blanket above them as the promise of dawn seeped upwards from the distant edge of the World; a golden glow that prompted the start of the ceremony. Druids holding burning brands chanted to the steady beat of hand drums as a line of riders wrapped in bearskin cloaks watched, their breath trails mingling with those of their horses, rising like the souls of the departed buried beneath, making their way in twisting tendrils to the netherworld.
“Merlin, this had better be the sight you have much talked of,” King Uther growled, his horse stamping impatiently on the frozen earth.
“My lord,” Merlin replied, “This is the dawn on midwinter day for which these stones were erected and aligned by the ancients who understood the movements of the sun and moon. We are blessed with a clear sight of the rising sun, and you will soon see it shine through yonder stone portal and light up the altar on which a sacrifice will be made to the goddess Beira for seeing us through another winter…”
“My lord!” Bishop Andreus interrupted, causing Uther to turn to his left.
“What is it?” Uther demanded of the shivering, tonsured priest, his white face peeping out from his cowl.
“Beira is a pagan goddess of the druidic religion of the dark forests, banned by our former Roman masters,” he said through chattering teeth. “It is not long since the people bowed to the Roman god Saturn at their feast of Saturnalia…”
“And what is your point?” Merlin challenged.
“My point is, the Romans have now departed, taking their gods with them! The older ways of the ancients have passed into legend, banished by the one true Christian God to the dark corners of this land. I urge you to turn away from this base pagan bloodletting and embrace this day as the feast day of the birth of our saviour, Jesus the Christ. For our God is the one true light of the world…”
Uther raised a hand to silence him. “Save the sermon for later, bishop. Now let us bear witness to the mysteries of nature revealed to us.”

The smell of incense mixed with sandalwood wafted before them as Merlin pointed, drawing Uther’s attention away from the fretting bishop towards the stone altar and the light now bathing it in an eerie glow. Three druids stepped from the shadows, each holding a struggling creature in one hand and a raised knife in the other. Fowls clucked their desperation and kids screamed as their throats were cut and their blood dripped into silver goblets. The drummers increased their tempo as men and women dressed in animal skins and masks danced around the altar where the druids chanted and held their hands up to welcome the rising sun.
“This is an impressive sight,” Uther said, grinning his pleasure at Merlin. Bright yellow sunlight was illuminating a hitherto unseen ceremonial avenue bounded by rounded stones from east to west, cutting through the centre of the stone circle.
A golden shaft beamed through the windows of the largest pairs of standing stones on opposing sides of the circle, now in perfect alignment with the rising sun, like a bolt from the gods.
“From this day onwards, our days grow longer,” Merlin said, “and hope is restored to the people after the darkness of winter, and the earth is reborn.”
“You are forgiven for calling me out on such a cold night,” Uther said to Merlin, a broad smile cracking his frozen beard. He turned his horse to signal his readiness to leave and remarked to Bishop Andreus: “And, dear Bishop, we shall pray to the baby Jesus in our church, then progress to our hall where we shall raise a goblet to ALL the gods that they may grant us success in our campaign against the Saxons. Onwards!”

August Newsletter

AUGUST 2020
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

CHARLY IN SPACE is the third Charly Holmes adventure story from father and daughter writing team, Tim and Cathy Walker – out in e-book and paperback from Amazon on 1st September!
You can pre-order the e-book for a modest £1.77/$1.99 HERE

13-year-old schoolgirl Charly’s inquisitive nature once more gets her into trouble, and leads her to another exciting adventure. But this time it is the ultimate adventure of going into space and visiting the International Space Station. Not only does she go to Space, but she has the opportunity to prove that her theory about alien dogs is true!

This book is suitable reading for children aged 9+ and is the third book in a series, following on from The Adventures of Charly Holmes and Charly & The Superheroes.

This month, I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical author, Allie Cresswell, to Guest Author Focus.

Allie Cresswell began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. One Christmas she asked her parents for a stack of writing paper as a gift. Not surprisingly, they were happy to oblige.
Allie wrote copiously – but not very legibly – until the gales of laughter at her high-octane thriller based in London’s seedy underground (possibly she meant underworld) sent her into the closet. She was about eight years old. After that time, writing was secret, earnest and angst-ridden.
In 1992 she began her first novel – Game Show. With no encouragement from anyone, it took ten years to finish, its completion impeded by the school-run, the village flower and produce show and the ancient computer that regularly failed to ‘save’ any progress that might have been made.

Nine more novels followed. Allie writes contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. Her best-selling saga, Tall Chimneys, spanning the twentieth century, tells the story of a woman and her strange, isolated, dilapidated house in Yorkshire. Currently Allie is working on the first of a series of prequels to Tall Chimneys. The first of these, The House in the Hollow, due to be released at Christmas, is set during the years of the Napoleonic war.
This is a period where Allie is comfortably at home. Her Highbury Trilogy is set in the Regency. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma it imagines the little town in Surrey thirty five years before Jane Austen’s fourth novel begins. The first two books follow the fortunes of the Bates family. Then, turning the focus of Emma forty-five degrees, the third book explores the characters of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill whose childhoods and meeting in Weymouth are hinted at but never fully explored in Emma.
Allie’s writing has been compared to Alice Munroe and Barbara Pym as well as to Jane Austen. She is the recipient of two silver medals and an Honourable Mention in the prestigious Readers’ Favourite competition, as well as the coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star award and a Pink Quill award.

MRS BATES OF HIGHBURY

Thirty years before the beginning of Emma Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.
Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.
Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.
Book two is The Other Miss Bates
Book three is Dear Jane

TALL CHIMNEYS

Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition.
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.

Follow Allie on social media – here are the links:
TWITTER 
WEBSITE 
FACEBOOK 

This month, I’ve chosen a summery poem by a well-known author – Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer, most noted for Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and A Child’s Garden of Verses. He lived to the age of 44. Born in Edinburgh in 1850, he moved in London’s literary circle and travelled widely, before living out his last four years in Samoa, where he died from bronchial pneumonia is 1894.

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
 
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
 
The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
 
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
 
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

Newsletter – July 2020

NEWSLETTER – JULY 2020

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

SOCIAL MEDIA:
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

Author News
After five years of researching, plotting and writing, A Light in the Dark Ages book series is now complete with the publication in June 2020 of book five, Arthur Rex Brittonum.

I feel both a sense of achievement and relief, and hope that those of you who are reading the series will finally reach book five and leave me your thoughts in reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Most of all, I hope you enjoyed reading my imagined saga of the Pendragon family over three generations, drawn from historical research and the romantic desire to believe that at least some of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s creative ‘history’ is based on real people and events.

They may now be lost in the mists of time, but their folk memory lives on in the realm of legend.

Picture: I imagined that Arthur’s banner would combine his family association with the dragon, and the animal after which he is named – the bear.

The book series can now be found on one page on Amazon and the e-books or paperbacks ordered with ONE CLICK
The e-books are also available on Apple ibooks; Kobo; Nook; 24Symbols; Scribd; Playster; Montadori; Indigo; Overdrive; Tolino; Bibliotecha; Hoopla; Angus & Robertson and now Vivlio  HERE

A Light in the Dark Ages book series

Welcome Amy Maroney…

I grew up in Northern California and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 20 years. I come from a family of bookworms, of writers and editors, of wanderers who love to travel and explore the natural world. In my childhood home, television was strictly regulated and reading was encouraged instead.
I went on to major in English literature in college and began a career as a writer and editor of nonfiction soon after graduating.

Eventually my husband and I welcomed our first child to the world and my writing career took a back burner to the demands and joys of parenting. I continued to freelance part time and took graduate courses in public policy while we added another child to the mix. Meanwhile, I got involved in various volunteer gigs and began a graduate thesis when disaster struck in the shape of a debilitating stroke shortly after my 40th birthday.

The stroke and its aftermath were a game-changer. I realized that perhaps I didn’t have as much time on this planet as I had imagined. During my recovery, I put aside my thesis and gave myself permission to seriously pursue creative work. I began writing fiction and mapping out plots for a series of pharmaceutical thrillers, the first of which has the intriguing title, The Sunscreen Caper.
Then we had the good fortune to fulfil a long-standing dream: we rented out our house and travelled with our kids for ten months. It was a magical experience. Inspired by our travels, I began researching and writing the first book of The Miramonde Series: The Girl from Oto. Everything in the book draws on our trip, but it is also influenced by my previous stints living in France and Germany. I loved every minute of writing the story. The sequel, Mira’s Way, followed in 2018.

Now Amy writes page-turners about extraordinary women of the medieval and Renaissance eras…

The Promise

This series prequel novella will transport you five hundred years into the past…

It is 1483, and the Pyrenees mountains are a dangerous place for a woman.

Haunted by a childhood tragedy, mountain healer and midwife Elena de Arazas navigates the world like a bird in flight.

An unexpected romance shatters her solitary existence, giving her new hope. But when her dearest friend makes an audacious request, Elena faces an agonizing choice.

Will she be drawn back into the web of violence she’s spent a lifetime trying to escape?

Click here for your free download of The Promise. Learn more at www.amymaroney.com.

Find Amy Maroney on Twitter @wilaroney, on Instagram @amymaroneywrites and on Pinterest @amyloveshistory.

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Innerverse poet, James Linton, to Poet’s Corner. Tell us a bit about yourself, James…

My name is James Linton and writing is what I do.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really been good at and the only thing that I really enjoy.  I’ve been writing all my life from my silly childhood stories of a talking bird and cat super team, to cringy angst-filled teenage poetry and short stories on all types of topics: tragedy, love, children’s lit, crime and however you would class the Story of Esme Esmerelda.  I’ve also done some freelance student and travel blogging.

In the past six years, I’ve been writing performance poetry and I love it.  I love the accessibility of the medium and I love performing it.  It’s the best high, but my first love will always be prose. I’m editing my first book at the moment – a post-apocalyptic dystopia focussing on humanity trying to start again.  I’m also writing my second book now – The Willow Tree, a fictionalised retelling of my experiences working in a care home.

Writing has certainly taken me on a strange journey throughout my life, but I can’t wait to see where it will take me next. Please read more of my work here.

Size Four Footprints

 “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato

The fire crackles
as she walks through the sand
leaving behind size four footprints
a fighter plane reflects in her brother’s eye

A ringing in her ears,
as she holds her up extra-small hands
the lens looking like a barrel
the ground buzzing beneath her size four footprints

Shards of glass are tucked into the sand,
as she tiptoes over the stone and concrete,
clutching onto her little pony
one last present from her father

Their voices scream freedom
as she peeks from underneath the red-patched door
holding her breath
as the combat boots march past

Stacks of green bulge from Their Gucci and Prada
as she scavenges for copper and brass
dust coating her pigtails
salt sticking to her cheeks The Eye scans the waste
as she claims she’s a friend, she wants no more,
the Eye locks on, the hammer drops,
only the dead have seen the end of war.

Newsletter – June 2020

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com
SOCIAL MEDIA:
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K F O L L O W on T W I T T E R F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

AUTHOR NEWS

New Book Launched on 1st June – ARTHUR REX BRITTONUM

From the decay of post-Roman Britain, Arthur seeks to unite a troubled land

Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend.
Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.
Arthur, only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father – but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory? It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum is book five in the A Light in the Dark Ages series, and picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum.
E-book available on KINDLE and iBOOKS, KOBO, NOOK
Or order the PAPERBACK

This month, I’m delighted to welcome fellow historical fiction author, Mary Ann Bernal, and her thrilling new book, Crusader’s Path.

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavour is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Blog • Whispering Legends Press •  Twitter • Facebook.

Crusader’s Path – Book Blurb…

From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?

BOOK BUY LINKS:  AMAZON.COMAMAZON.CO.UK

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Innerverse poet and wit, Rick Warren, to Poet’s Corner. Tell us a bit about yourself, Rick…

My name is Rick Warren and I enjoy writing stories and poems, mainly for my own enjoyment and as a way of trying to make sense of the world. Having stopped work last year to attempt a thriller, (way harder than I imagined),  I’m now writing and compiling poems and stories, hopefully putting out a book by the end of the year, to follow on from my first collection of poems “The Path to Redemption” which I self-published on Amazon under my pen name Lyrick.
I have always enjoyed the brevity and concise nature of poems, with their ability to distil sometimes complex thoughts and issues into a succinct and manageable format. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, the process of using fewer words to say more is challenging and one I really enjoy. 
You can see some of my work HERE 

So, What did you do in the Pandemic, Grandad?

One day we will look back, and our grandchildren will say,
“What did you do grandad, to make the virus go away?”
We’ll sit them down and in reverent tones speak of our incarceration,
When toilet paper became currency, and panic gripped the nation,
We will speak of all the hardship and of our deprivation,
The lack of pasta alone nearly ended in starvation,
No restaurants, pubs or cinemas, no golf and no football,
Just as well for Arsenal who were not playing well at all,

Well, we watched TV and we tidied our homes,
We washed our hands right down to the bone
We landscaped our gardens, did our shopping online,
We all learnt how to conference call, that helped to pass the time,
Some took up baking and making their own gin,
The most important thing that got us through was all of us stayed in,
Except for those too selfish, or too stupid to realise,
Every unnecessary journey was a chance that someone dies,
Books were read, box-sets streamed, conspiracy theories abounded,
Celebrities (with no scientific knowledge at all), expounded the unfounded,

Boris got sick and went to intensive care,
With the cuts, he was lucky that they had a bed to spare,
The staff, who were working without proper PPE,
Saved our new Prime Minister, and the likes of you and me,
So now you know of the hardships we faced,
Vaccines were created and Trump got replaced, (hopefully)
So now your world is a far better place…

You’re welcome – now go wash your hands.

Arthur Dux Bellorum – Chapter One

Chapter One

A COCKEREL CROWING its defiance to rivals always marked the start of his day. Shifting uncomfortably on a straw-stuffed sack, he turned away from the damp wall to see how far the first fingers of daylight had stretched across worn paving slabs. But the cockerel’s call was distant, muted and distorted – filtered through a narrow opening high up in his cell, making his first waking thought a cruel reminder that he was no longer in the sanctuary of his parents’ farm. Absent were the homely sounds of dogs barking, birds fighting, workers busying themselves, and the fountain splashing an invigorating melody.

Artorius sat, scratching at his woollen garment, then pushed aside the filthy blanket and ruffled his long, tangled hair, freeing some strands of straw. The rattle of keys interrupted his woeful reflection, signalling the entry of his jailor, Ahern, with a bowl of weak gruel and a pewter mug of water. He was a sullen, wordless giant who expressed himself with grunts and kicks.

“You are a happy man, Ahern, for you have found your true calling in life,” Artorius muttered, receiving a snarl in reply. Three months in his narrow cell had afforded him plenty of time to reflect on the words of Merlyn that had led to his arrest. Merlyn had exposed him to a cheering crowd as the true heir to his father, Uther Pendragon, and had showed him how to pull the sword of Ambrosius smoothly from the cleft in a rock, made possible by the removal of pressure due to Merlyn and Varden’s subtle easing back. A trick to fool an expectant crowd. No sooner had he entered the royal hall than the doors were barred behind him, and Caradoc, the army commander, had him arrested. Merlyn too, and Gawain the knight who had supported his claim. But not Varden, the ex-soldier and Merlyn’s bodyguard. He was at large and represented his only hope of rescue. 

“But my destiny as the son and heir to Uther, if indeed I am, has proven to be a false calling,” he moaned to the closing cell door. He had received no visitors or news from the outside, but the fear of execution had receded as the weeks had passed. They had locked him away and would no doubt parade him or dispose of him once the reign of the new king was bedded in – the boy-king Mordred, whose mother had tried and failed to free the sword on his behalf. He gloated over the memory of Morgana’s desperate and unsuccessful struggle.

Left alone with his thoughts, he shouted his anger and frustration at the impassive stone walls. “It was a conjuror’s trick that landed me here! It was YOUR ambition, Merlyn, not mine!” He had practised it over and over. This is what he would say to the mysterious healer should they ever meet again.

THE BEST PART of Ygerne’s day was the hour she was allowed to spend in her enclosed garden in the company of her daughters, Morgaise and Anne. They would tend to the roses and dwarf apple trees, and collect vegetables and herbs for their evening meal. They had been confined to their rooms since that strange day when Merlyn had unveiled Ambrosius’s sword. Ygerne had been shocked by his revelation that the youthful Artorius was the baby she had believed dead, although Morgana had once revealed her suspicion that he had been stolen. But that was typical of Uther’s mischief-making daughter. Morgana’s long investigation had revealed nothing, so the baby remained officially dead, despite a faint maternal flutter that tugged at her heart, the vague feeling that maybe the child still lived.  She had experienced it during Uther’s victory parade in Corinium, as if her son’s eyes were on her.

The widowed queen invited the squabbling girls to sit beside her on a stone bench and be still whilst she shared her thoughts with them. “Could it be true?” Ygerne asked her daughters, not for the first time.

Anne, a girl on the cusp of womanhood, answered first. “I think so, Mama. I have always felt that I have a brother, and have often imagined playing with him. When I saw Artorius, my heart jumped.”

“You are Uther’s daughter, without a doubt,” Ygerne laughed, “impulsive and firm in your belief.”

The older Morgaise, daughter of Ygerne’s first husband, Chief Gorlois of Cornubia, scoffed at the suggestion: “It was all a trick by Merlyn to place a farm boy on the throne so he could rule this land.”

“And yet, I would look into that boy’s eyes and decide for myself,” Ygerne replied. Her worn face, lined by thin strands of greying hair, was troubled.

“I would like to try and visit the cells to talk to him,” Anne said, making a curved line with the pointed toe of her slipper in the gravel at their feet.

“They will not let you,” Morgaise replied sharply. “And besides, it would be interpreted as plotting by Caradoc and Morgana, who rule over the boy-king. They would have your pretty head on a spike.”

The sisters glared at each other. Ygerne reached out and held their hands, silencing them. “I am less inclined to do nothing, as time goes by. Let us apply our minds to thinking of a way to contact Artorius. Perhaps, sweet Anne, you could find a way to go to the dispensary where they are holding Merlyn and try to talk to him when his guards are not looking?”

Morgaise’s face lit up at the prospect of something to do to quell their dull routine. “Yes! And I can go with her to distract the guards. But what should we ask of him, dear mother?”

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, Morgaise reported to their guards that Anne was sick with stomach ache and urgently needed to be taken to the dispensary to see a healer. The guards were visibly alarmed by the sight of Anne rolling on the floor, groaning, with white foam dribbling from the corner of her mouth. Caradoc himself appeared, some minutes later, wearing Uther’s purple cloak edged with gold, Morgaise noticed, and a silver medallion bearing an eagle’s head swinging on his chest.

“Carry her on a litter to the dispensary. Hurry,” he tersely commanded the guards.

“May I accompany her as I know her diet and history of ailments?” Morgaise asked innocently.

Caradoc nodded, then promptly turned his back and marched out.

They had not been outside of the enclosure of royal apartments in three months, and now Morgaise enjoyed looking about her at the passing traders and market stall women who turned away from her stare and stilled their chatter. Where the cobbled street ended, a dirt track took them to a row of wooden thatched huts that clustered around the dispensary, a large stone building standing apart from the more typical rows of townhouses and livestock pens.

They entered through a wide archway and were greeted by the women who tended to the sick and injured. The two guards and two litter-bearers were directed through a door and out into an airy and light courtyard where a fountain dribbled spring water into troughs from which servants collected fresh drinking water in jars for the patients. Morgaise followed the litter-bearers into a room smelling of herbs and was soon face-to-face with Merlyn. The ageing healer was still an imposing presence and easily the tallest man there. Her keen eyes noted his long grey hair tied neatly behind a black gown; his narrow features and tattoo swirls were partly hidden by a closely cropped beard. 

Merlyn’s brown eyes flitted from Morgaise to Anne lying still on the litter, and he pointed to a table laid out with a white cloth.

“What ails the young woman?” he asked.

“She has eaten something that does not agree with her delicate stomach,” Morgaise replied.

“Stand outside,” he commanded the guards and litter-bearers. They hesitated, exchanging looks, before silently withdrawing to guard the door. Morgaise sniggered at his authority over his jailors.

“I may be a hostage, but I remain a valuable resource to them. This is my dispensary, developed over many years under Uther’s reign. I preserve here the skills and knowledge of Roman physicians now long departed.” He looked at Anne’s tongue and touched the back of his fingers to her forehead, whilst Morgaise looked around her. Glass jars contained plants and body parts, and assorted clay pots with symbols scratched on them occupied the shelf space around the room.

Merlyn, once satisfied that Anne was in no danger, indicated a woman, who stood by the stool where a boy sat grinding a pestle into the mortar hugged to his ribs. “You can trust Pryderi, who assists me. The guards do not know she is my wife, so please keep this a secret.” Turning to the quiet woman he said, “My dear, may I introduce Queen Ygerne’s daughters – Morgaise and Anne.” If Pryderi was shocked or surprised, she didn’t show it. She bowed slightly to the royal princesses and busied herself on a nearby workbench.

By now Anne was sitting up. Merlyn asked Pryderi to bring a potion to ease stomach pains. “What did you take to make you unwell?” he asked her.

“I crushed up some fennel and dog wort from the garden and made a potion with sheep curd. It gave me stomach cramps and produced foaming of the mouth,” she cheerily quipped.

“Indeed, it would,” Merlyn replied. “Now drink this to settle your stomach,” he said, as Pryderi handed over the remedy.

Turning to Morgaise he asked, “Pray tell me, what it is that you have come for?”

The confident young woman faced him and held his gaze. “Our mother is concerned about the fate of the youth, Artorius. We are not convinced that he is the son of Uther, as you claim, but we would like to help rescue the boy from what may yet be an unfortunate end.”

“Have you heard that Caradoc has plans to kill him?”

“No, but our mother has a feeling that once the people are more accepting of Mordred as king, then he will be disposed of.”

Merlyn took the pewter vessel from Anne and passed it to Pryderi. “You should start to feel better now, my lady,” he said, smiling. She managed a half-smile in return. “I also am of a view that the young man needs rescuing, and soon. I had not expected allies from within the royal enclosure, although I’m pleased that you have come.” He bowed slightly to Morgaise.

“We are so bored imprisoned in our rooms that we are ready to do anything for some excitement.”

Anne coughed and added, “But I have long harboured a feeling that I might have a brother, and would welcome the chance to meet with Artorius and question him.”

Merlyn kept his thoughts to himself. A jailbreak would almost certainly be followed by a swift escape for all involved. There would not be much time for a family reunion. “I have six men or more camped in the woods who are in readiness to act. But first we need to plan his release. Can you draw me a diagram indicating where he is held on this wax tablet?” Merlyn turned to a table and handed a curved stick to Morgaise. Anne joined her and together they made a crude sketch of the interior of the underground chambers beneath the king’s hall.

“Is this the only entrance?” Merlyn asked, pointing to the sketch.

“Yes,” Anne replied. “It is guarded day and night by two guards. It can be reached from the kitchens at the back of the hall. If I know when you are coming, I can let you in through this door.” She indicated a gap in the outer wall of the enclosure.

“I know the place,” Merlyn said. “The moon will be at its brightest two nights from now and will help with our escape. We shall come to this door when the moon reaches its highest point in the night sky. I shall knock like this.” He rapped his knuckles on the table in a broken beat.

“Then one of us shall let you in,” Morgaise replied.

“We can do no more than that,” Anne added, “and must return to our rooms before the alarm is raised.”

Merlyn hesitated before speaking, “You may only have the briefest of moments with your brother, you must realise.” He did not want any words left unsaid on their plan. “But I shall send word to you where he can meet with you and your mother once we have made good our escape. That is all we can do. Remember this boy, Ulla, for it might be him who brings you news.” He ruffled the dark brown hair of the quiet boy in the corner.

Anne nodded, knowing this was the best that could be expected from a midnight jailbreak, whilst harbouring the faint hope of a snatched moment with her brother.

MERLYN LED HIS gang through the streets of sleeping Venta, beneath the glow of a pale moon. He glanced about for any signs of movement before rounding a corner, where he came face-to-face with a large, growling dog, its bared teeth and arched back indicating a readiness to strike. He held an arm up to indicate his followers should stop and dropped to eye level with the dog. He whispered in a soothing tone and slowly pulled a piece of roasted boar skin from inside his tunic and offered it. The dog approached, sniffing. Merlyn carefully patted its head and was relieved to see its tail wagging. “Come on,” he urged his followers, allowing the dog to tag along beside him.

They avoided a watchman’s tower at the corner of the wooden stockage that housed the royal buildings, and lined up in the shadow of a warehouse opposite the doorway to the kitchen. Merlyn checked both ways and studied the parapet above the wooden barrier across the street before running across to the door. He rapped the code and waited for a response. Sure enough, he heard bolts being withdrawn and he stood back, gripping his staff in both hands, ready to strike.

Morgaise’s face peered out from under a hood and he smiled with relief. “Come quickly,” she whispered. “The guards are drunk and sleeping.”

Merlyn waved for his men to follow and then entered the compound. Once all eight were inside, Varden, their leader, detailed one man to watch the doorway and two others to scout the yard and be in readiness to cover their escape.

Merlyn turned to Morgaise and asked, “Do you know where the sword of Ambrosius is?”

“The one Artorius pulled from the stone? Yes, it hangs on the wall in the Great Hall, behind the throne and under Mordred’s banner.”

When Varden returned to his side, Merlyn conveyed this information in a whisper. With a nod from Merlyn, Morgaise led them into the kitchen and out into a passageway that connected the hall to the sleeping quarters. She met Anne halfway along the narrow hallway, who indicated they should take a left turn. At the top of a circular stairwell Anne whispered to Merlyn, “At the bottom you will find the jailor sleeping on a wooden bed, but the night watchman is awake. He has the keys to the cells.”

Merlyn nodded. “Anne shall lead us down and Morgaise shall remain here to keep a look out and wait for our return. Varden will go to the hall and get the sword.”

“No,” Morgaise whispered, “the hunting hounds sleep in there by the hearth. They will attack him.”

Varden and Merlyn were confounded by this information. “Barking and snarling hounds would wake the guards,” Merlyn said, deep in thought.

“I sometimes feed the hounds,” Morgaise hissed. “They know me. Let me go there with a plate of meat from the larder and pick the sword on my way out.”

“Will they attack you in the dark?” Varden asked.

“Not if they smell the meats on offer,” she replied.

“Then let us try it,” Merlyn said, not wishing to delay further. “Varden will stand by the door with two men, ready to come to your aid if the hounds are restless,” Merlyn added.

Morgaise led Varden back to the kitchen to raid the larder for joints, whilst Merlyn and the rest of the men descended the stairs behind Anne. At the foot of the stairwell was a chamber lit by a solitary torch glowing from a bracket on the stone wall. To their right was a wooden bed on which slept the large form of Ahern, the jailor, snoring on his back. Anne crept forward towards the row of cells and bumped into a startled watchman, holding a lantern in which the candle had died.

“Oy, what are you doing here?” he growled. Merlyn and his companions shrunk back into the shadows, leaving Anne to answer him.

“I… followed my cat down the steps. Have you seen him?”

“No, I have not…” was all he managed in reply as Merlyn stepped forward and banged his head with the ball at the end of his wooden staff. The young gaoler fell to the floor, unconscious, and they checked whether the sleeping man had been disturbed by the clatter of the lamp on the floor. Ahern grunted and rolled over, facing the wall. Anne picked up the keys from the stricken man and passed them to Merlyn. They moved cautiously down a flight of a dozen steps to a tunnel lined with locked doors. A burning torch fixed to the wall lighted their way. Anne plucked it from its sconce.

Merlyn led the way to the first cell door with Anne following behind. The second key clanked in the lock and Merlyn pushed the door open, peering into the gloom. He moved towards a hunched figure lying on a bunk with his back to him. Merlyn put his hand on the sleeping man’s arm, and rolled him onto his back. The light from Anne’s torch fell on Artorius. He woke with a gasp and Merlyn put his hand over the young man’s mouth. He ceased to struggle when he heard a familiar voice by his ear.

“Merlyn!” he croaked through dry lips.

“Be quiet, my boy,” Merlyn whispered. “The jailor still sleeps.”

Merlyn led Artorius, whose heart galloped now, to where he saw a young woman staring at him. “This is your sister, Anne,” Merlyn said, stepping back. Artorius stood, mystified, but Anne stepped forward and looked closely at his face.

“I believe there is a resemblance,” she said, and then hugged the bemused youth.

“We’d better get going,” Merlyn whispered, looking around.

“Wait,” Anne replied, “there are two knights held here. Perhaps they are friends of Artorius?”

Merlyn looked to the hunched youth who shrugged his thin shoulders. “Then let us quickly look to see who they are and if they are worthy of our help.”

They combed the dungeons, finding some stray wretches, and soon identified Gawain and Percival, held in separate cells. Gawain could stand, bruised but otherwise unhurt, but Percival cried out in fear as they approached, in the voice of one who has endured a terrible torment. It soon became apparent that he was in much pain and couldn’t walk, his leg badly broken.

“What of these other wretches who are unknown to us?” Gawain asked, indicating three reed-thin men.

“Let them follow us out of here, then they can decide if they wish to come with us or escape to the forest,” Merlyn replied.

Whilst Artorius and Gawain briefly hugged, Merlyn called up two men to help the lame knight. “Let us hope you don’t have to make a run for it,” Anne whispered to Merlyn as they made their way to the stairwell.

At the top of the stairs Merlyn paused to peer in the direction of the hall. “Anne, lead them out through the kitchen door. I’ll follow soon.” With that Merlyn strode into the gloom towards the hall, leaving Anne and Varden’s men to escort the shuffling escapees towards the exit.

Merlyn found Varden and his two companions hiding in a recess in the wall, daggers at the ready.

“She is still inside with the hounds,” Varden whispered.

“We have rescued the prisoners and now must get away from this place,” Merlyn muttered, the tension apparent in his tone.

“You go and lead them to safety. I’ll wait for Morgaise and the sword,” Varden replied, his eyes shining with resolve in the dim glow of an oil lamp. Merlyn paused for thought. Ideally, they should all leave together. Just then, the hall door creaked open and Morgaise slid out, shutting it behind her. They gathered around her as hounds whined and scratched at the closed door. With a triumphant smile, Morgaise produced the unsheathed sword from a fold in her skirt. Varden took it from her and Merlyn gave her a gentle hug around her slender shoulders.

“Let us make haste, for our luck will soon run out,” Merlyn whispered, turning to lead them back towards the kitchen. They passed out into the cool night air, finding their fellows hiding in a shadowy porch. Clouds shrouded the moon making it much darker than before, causing Merlyn to sigh his relief. The biggest man was able to carry Percival on his back, and they filed out through the open door and into the night. Artorius and Merlyn were the last to leave, exchanging hugs with the two young women. Morgaise was hurriedly introduced to Artorius, to add to his wonder of the events still unfolding.

Anne sniffed back her tears as she kissed Artorius on the cheek. “I hope we meet again soon, dear brother, together with our dear mother who longs to hold you once more.”

Merlyn pulled Artorius away and they melted into the night. “Let us not tempt the fates by delaying, Artorius,” he whispered. “Our horses are outside the town’s walls. It is but an hour to sunrise.”

Artorius started at the sight of a large guard dog emerging from the shadows. His alarm soon turned to bemusement as it wagged its tail and lolled its tongue at Merlyn who bent to pat its head. The beast trotted beside them to the unguarded gates and watched as they slipped out into the night, leaving the sleeping town behind.

Newsletter – Feb 2020

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

Author News
I’ve been busy this winter with writing the follow-up to Arthur Dux Bellorum, part two of my King Arthur story and the LAST book in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, titled Arthur Rex Brittonum.
I’ve set myself a deadline of end of February for the first draft, ready for sending to Beta readers for their critical feedback. Once their feedback has been taken on board and further adjustments made, I will send it for a copy edit. The book cover has already been designed by Cathy Walker (cathysbookcovers) and I will unveil it on 1st May. By mid-May I expect to have advance review copies ready to send out to book reviewers, and will put it up on Amazon for pre-order, ahead of a 1st June launch. I am in the process of approaching book bloggers to request space on their blogs in June, so if you have a book blog and I have not approached you yet, please email me!
Also, email me if you’ve read Arthur Dux Bellorum and would like to review an advanced copy of Arthur Rex. Phew! There is so much to think about.

MAIDENHEAD’S BIG READ (click the title to visit their website and book FREE tickets)
From late February to early March, Maidenhead will be hosting a book festival called Maidenhead’s Big Read. Launched in 2019, this it’s second year, and the programme has grown considerably to include many Berkshire-based authors, covering books from many genres.
I have been invited to take part, and will be giving talks on the following dates and topics:-
Sunday 1st March, 4.00pm, Nicholson Centre – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (children and parents)
Wednesday 4th March, 7.30pm, Cookham Library – The Dark Ages, Where History Meets Legend (adults)
Saturday 7th March, 7.30pm, Maidenhead Heritage Centre – The Dark Ages, Where History Meets Legend (adults)

This month we have two exciting books to tell you about…

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas-theme read with a twist that can be read all year round.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

When Stars Will Shine is the perfect Christmas gift for the bookworms in your life!

When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas-themed short stories compiled to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

There isn’t a person in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour working on these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Full contents:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman
Four Seasons by Robert Scragg
The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff
Believe by Mark Brownless
What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron
Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell
The Art of War and Peace by John Carson
A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton


Free Time by Stewart Giles
Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake
The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen
The Village Hotel by Alex Kane
A Present of Presence by HR Kemp
The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin
Brothers Forever by Paul Moore
Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen
Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne
Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli
Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke
Christmas Present by Lexi Rees
Inside Out by KA Richardson
Penance by Jane Risdon
New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg
Family Time by Graham Smith

When Stars Will Shine is available in digital and paperback formats and on Kindle Unlimited.
For more information, please contact Emma Mitchell: emmamitchellfpr@gmail.com

…And we also have a fabulous historical novel by Mary Ann Bernal, The Briton and the Dane: Concordia, to tell you about…

Travel back in time to late Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon Britain where Alfred the Great rules with a benevolent hand while the Danish King rules peacefully within the boundaries of the Danelaw. Trade flourishes, and scholars from throughout the civilized world flock to Britannia’s shores to study at the King’s Court School at Winchester.

Enter Concordia, a beautiful noble woman whose family is favored by the king. Vain, willful, and admired, but ambitious and cunning, Concordia is not willing to accept her fate. She is betrothed to the valiant warrior, Brantson, but sees herself as far too young to lay in the bedchamber of an older suitor. She wants to see the wonders of the world, embracing everything in it; preferably, but dangerously, at the side of Thayer, the exotic Saracen who charms King Alfred’s court and ignites her yearning passions.

Concordia manipulates her besotted husband into taking her to Rome, but her ship is captured by bloodthirsty pirates, and the seafarers protecting her are ruthlessly slain to a man. As she awaits her fate in the Moorish captain’s bed, by sheer chance, she discovers that salvation is at hand in the gilded court of a Saracen nobleman.

While awaiting rescue, Concordia finds herself at the center of intrigue, plots, blackmail, betrayal and the vain desires of two egotistical brothers, each willing to die for her favor. Using only feminine cunning, Concordia must defend her honor while plotting her escape as she awaits deliverance, somewhere inside steamy, unconquered Muslim Hispania.

Poet’s Corner welcomes the multi-talented Claire Buss, who has brought out a book of love poems in time for lovers everywhere in the run-up to Valentine’s Day!

Little Book of Love

Book 6 in the Little Book Series

A poetry collection by Claire Buss

Author Website

Love isn’t just romance and flowers. Sometimes it’s tears and anguish. This collection of twenty-five poems from author and poet Claire Buss take you on a journey of love from delight to heartbreak, including pets, children and those we’ve lost. Love is everywhere and affects everyone but sometimes we can’t say what we feel. Hopefully, these poems will inspire you to spread a little love in your life.

Be My Valentine

Roses are red, violets are blue
But you already know I love you
And I prefer carnations anyway

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
I’ll stop for a moment, if I may
Cos it’s hot and sweaty and I forgot my sun cream

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
You make a pretty decent cuppa, most days
But I wish you could cook dinner from time to time

O my love is like a red, red rose
And even though I cannot touch my toes
I’ll hug you with all my might

Love is a many splendored thing
And one of the reasons I wear your ring
But it’s also important to note

I don’t love your bottom burps
I don’t like the way you slurp
But I’ll be here all year round

Cos I’m yours and you’re mine
And together we get along just fine
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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