Category: Book Blog (Page 1 of 2)

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 – April 2020

APRIL 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 RELEASE
On 1st April I launched Perverse – a collection of short prose and verse. These poems and stories were in the main written over the past two years for delivery at a monthly stand-up event at the Herschel Arms pub in Slough.

However, as it’s my first such collection of miscellaneous verse and flash fiction, I’ve included other bits n’ bobs of unpublished material.

Perverse is available from Amazon in e-book (99p/c) and paperback (£$ 4.99), and is a free read on Kindle Unlimited (KU). Hurry! It’s also FREE on Kindle on 2nd April !!
KINDLE BUY LINK

PAPERBACK BUY LINK

TIPS ON WORKING FROM HOME
During this difficult time when the corona virus pandemic has forced us to cancel or change our plans, many will be experiencing working from home for the first time – school children as well as grown-ups. So, here are some handy tips for working from home – some you will already be doing and seem like common sense. I hope they help!

1) Establish a routine
Now, I know this is difficult, but if you’re working from home, you don’t necessarily need to set the alarm and get up and get to your desk at a certain time. But let me tell you, it’s a lot easier if you do because otherwise, you end up wandering around going, ‘well, what shall I do?’
Then you’ll be checking your phone too much, checking the news, and it will all just fall apart. So I would suggest that you try to follow the same routine as you would do normally. So yes, I’d suggest setting your alarm, having your shower. You don’t need to put on the suit if you do wear a suit to work, but certainly put on some clothes and get out your pyjamas and try to get to your work desk within your home office or your work space at a decent time.

2) Set aside a specific place for your work within your home
Now I know that many people will find it impractical to have a home office, a separate room. If you have a big enough house, then fantastic. Make sure you have an office to go to. But many people won’t be able to do that. The important thing is to set aside a specific place, maybe even just one end of the kitchen table, somewhere where you wouldn’t normally sit.
It’s very important to separate the place where you work from the place where, for example, you watch Netflix or if you do gaming, then where you do gaming. The brain likes to have routine, and if you’re going to be working from home for an extended period, maybe even if you intend to do so, then you need to make sure you have a specific place for that.
So even if it is a chair in a specific corner with a laptop or something, you need to make sure that it is a different place to where you do other things. It just helps your brain separate the different things you’re going to do.

3) Time blocking and timed work periods
Now it can be very difficult when you start working from home because the time seems to stretch on you. The morning starts with, ‘Oh, well I’ve got all day to do this thing.’ But time seems to disappear, especially if you’re checking the news and your Skyping with colleagues or you get text messages or WhatsApp messages, and that can be very distracting. And what you can find is that the hours go past and you haven’t actually done anything.
This is just as hard for writers because you can sit down to do some work and if you just have an open time period, it can feel like you don’t get anything done. So what it would suggest is you set aside a time block that might be 20 minutes. If you’re trying to write something, it might be longer.
If you are trying to achieve a bigger task, I tend to like doing an hour, at least turn off all your phone notifications. You can even unplug from the internet if you want to go hard. Then set a timer. And this is a really important part of it. Set a timer so you know you have a specific time block and then do the work.

This is important because it’s very hard to focus otherwise, especially when things are going a bit nuts in the world around us. So set a timer and then concentrate, turn off notifications, do your work in that different place, and then when the timer goes off, then you can go check social media. You can go check your email, then you can get back online, check the news, etc. But if you don’t have these time blocks, it can be really hard to get anything done.

4) Get out of the house
Now, I realize that as I write this, we are moving into a time of social distancing, and some people may even be in quarantine, but there are ways that you can get out of the house without coming into contact with other people.
Obviously, if you’re sick, you’re not going to do this, but if you can and you’re working from home, then you can go into your garden. Even if it’s raining, get some fresh air, stand there with an umbrella, and actually breathe some air out of your house.
If you can go for a walk, say, for example, I live quite near a canal where I can go for a walk and I don’t have to touch anyone or be near anyone. I can just go for a walk. Being outside and seeing nature is also really important. When things seem a bit crazy, I like to take a break to hear the birds singing, see the trees and flowers and breathe the (not too fresh) air.
Because sometimes if we’re at home and things are going a little crazy, it can feel even more intense. But if you get outside and especially if you have an animal, you walk your dog or whatever, you can still manage to get outside in nature oftentimes without having to be close to other people.
So I find that getting out of the house every day is really important to my mental health. And that is a very important part of our life.

5) Connect with your loved ones and your community online
If you don’t have a way to connect with the community, now is a really good time to sort that out. If you’re a writer, of course, there are lots of groups on Facebook [I recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors which has a private FB group]. There’s Twitter and other social media.
It’s very important to have a community that you can talk to at this time. If you are trying to set up things with family, then help people with Skype and other devices where you can contact people without physically seeing them. This can be a really good idea.
Now, if you work from home for a long time, then you will have your online networks and they are incredibly important to your life as a creator, as well as just a member of society.
So make sure you do your work, get outside in nature, but also check in with your friends and family over time. So those are just some of my tips from working from home.
And remember – stay safe!

Here’s one from my new book of short prose and verse, Perverse.

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 gritty drizzling rain,
Oblivious to holes in my 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, juices and Swiss rolls,
I adjusted my mask and make for the tills,
Joined a queue, kept my distance and popped a few pills,
Outside I looked about, jealously guarding my haul,
Made my way to the bus stop passing through the mall,
Then leave the cold drizzle for lightness and warm,
Lowered mask, ignoring stares, embracing the storm
Looking out of the window whilst clutching my wares
At the hunched over shufflers burdened by cares,
Boarded up plots speak of urban decay
A fitting graveyard for those who fall by the way,
The window steams up and it all becomes vague
As I wonder if I’ll also succumbs to the plague.

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!

Newsletter – Oct 2019

Author News
I briefly emerged from my cave to take part in Slough Libraries’ Local Author Showcase at The Curve on Wednesday 25th September. Five authors took part (pictured) – Sudhana Singh; Isabel Rogers; Sovel Cunningham; Naima Rashid and myself. It was well attended with over 50 eager book enthusiasts and many questions were answered by the panel after each had introduced themselves and their latest book. More of these please!

Also, I was invited to take part in a Sky  (UK)Television programme called Round Table to discuss the subject of ‘Legends’. I couldn’t make it to the studio so appeared via Skype… here’s the YouTube link… https://youtu.be/qF5CwnLLvVU

Are you up-to-date with my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages? Book four, Arthur Dux Bellorum, was published in March this year, and I am currently working on its follow-up, part two of my Arthur story, Arthur Rex Britonnum

Tim Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages book series starts with…

Abandoned:-

Kindle/Paperback: http://mybook.to/Abandoned

i-books/Kobo/other: https://books2read.com/Abandoned

Ambrosius: Last of the Romans:-

Kindle/Paperback: http://mybook.to/Ambrosius

i-books/Kobo/other: https://books2read.com/Ambrosius

Uther’s Destiny:-

Kindle/Paperback: http://mybook.to/Uther

i-books/Kobo/other: https://books2read.com/Uther

Arthur Dux Bellorum:-

Kindle/Paperback: http://mybook.to/Arthur

i-books/Kobo/other: https://books2read.com/ArthurDuxBellorum

I’m a member of a FaceBook Group for independent authors around the World called Sparkly Badgers. From time to time the group produce a themed anthology of short stories and poems. As October is the month of Halloween, the group have produced the following collection, Haunted, now available as a FREE download from Amazon Kindle and other online stores… check it out and help them with a review… https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XXHRS21

HAUNTED

The Sparkly Badgers’ are a writing group thriving on Facebook made up of an eclectic mixture of writers from all backgrounds, writing in different genres and with different styles. We all have a passion for writing and for sharing our work with others and so I am delighted to be able to bring you this spooky anthology of spine tingling, goosebumpling and hide behind the sofa stories and poems.
 

If you are a writer who needs more sparkle in their lives then please, come join us on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1720960814878512

we’d love to badger you.

Claire Buss, Chief Sparkler & Editor

Newsletter – Sept 2019

AUTHOR NEWS… I have enjoyed my summer break (beneath a wide-brimmed hat) with family and am now poised over the keyboard to plot my next fiction books. During the holidays my daughter Cathy and I discussed the storyline for Charly in Space, and I will devote this month to writing up a first draft of what will be book three in our Adventures of Charly Holmes series.

I have also read two historical novels, both different and excellent in their own way. The first, The Head in the Ice, is a gripping Victorian crime thriller from debut author, Richard James. I attended his book launch in the small bookshop in Cookham some months ago, and am pleased to see from his reviews that the book has been well received.

Richard James (left) with Tim Walker

The second was recommended to me as an example of expert historical fiction writing, and it has not disappointed. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick is sweeping epic set in 12th century when the Norman legacy is splintering through civil wars and family feuds, non more intriguing than in the court of King Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is the story of English knight, William Marshal, and his rise to royal favour as the guardian of the king-to-be, Henry. The author’s superb grasp of historical detail and expert storytelling, particularly her use of metaphor to conjure up detail in beautifully constructed scenes, is something I hope I can learn from.

My own autumn and winter project will be to plot and write the follow-up to Arthur Dux Bellorum, and hope I can do justice to the second half of my King Arthur story. Working title – Arthur Rex Britonnum (if you have any better suggestions please let me know!)

Also… I’ve been invited by Slough Libraries to take part in their Local Author Showcase at The Curve on Wednesday 25th September from 7.30pm. Come along if you can!

For more information: https://www.slough.gov.uk/libraries

I’m pleased to welcome fellow indie author, Colin Garrow, to my newsletter/blog this month. I have read a couple of Colin’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed his easy style and wry Northern humour. Over to you, Colin – tell us a bit about yourself…

I grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland and have worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor. I’ve also occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. As well as several stage plays, I’ve written eleven novels, all of which are available as eBooks and paperbacks on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble etc.

My short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind, A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. These days I live in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where I write novels, stories. poems and the occasional song.

I’ve been interested in murder/mysteries since I was a kid, and grew up reading series like The Hardy Boys, and The Three Investigators, before moving on to grown-up novels by Agatha Christie and Stephen King. Initially, I wrote stage plays but started writing novels for children back in 2013, beginning with my first book The Devil’s Porridge Gang. Since then I’ve penned another five books for middle grade readers and my books for adults include the Watson Letters (a spoof Sherlock Holmes adventure series) and the Terry Bell Mysteries. I’ve just released the second of these, A Long Cool Glass of Murder and the next one, Taxi for a Dead Man should be out by Christmas.

A Long Cool Glass of Murder (The Terry Bell Mysteries Book 2)

When taxi driver and amateur sleuth Terry takes on a new client, he doesn’t expect her to turn up dead. With echoes of his recent past coming back to haunt him, can he work out what’s going on before someone else gets killed?

‘Charis Brown’s elfin-like smile was, like the footsteps on the stairs, noticeably absent. She looked at me, looked at the dead woman and let out the sort of sigh I knew from experience meant it was going to be a long night.’

‘A Long Cool Glass of Murder’ is book #2 in the Terry Bell Mystery series.

If you love mysteries and amateur sleuthing, ski-mask-wearing villains and the occasional bent copper, this’ll be right up your everyday seaside-town street.

You can find my books on Amazon and Smashwords, and links and more info about my writing are on my websites:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colin-Garrow/e/B014Z5DZD4

https://www.smashwords.com/

https://colingarrow.org/ (for Adult readers)

https://colingarrowbooks.com/ (for middle grade, teens and YA)

https://thewatsonletters.com/ (The Watson Letters Blog)

Newsletter – May 2019

Arthur Dux Bellorum Wins Book Awards

April proved to be a good month for Arthur Dux Bellorum, book four in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It has been well-received with positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and two book awards from notable sources. Here are the awards citations:

The Coffee Pot Book Club Award

“Following in the footsteps of the great Arthurian authors, Walker has penned a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in all its mythological traditions. Drawing on the works of Monmouth, Nennius and Welsh folklore, he has presented a hero who has to desperately fight a seemingly invincible foe to win his throne and take his place in British history.

Walker’s compelling narrative caught my attention from the opening sentence. The author’s careful blend of mystery, treachery, deceit, war, honour, and the knightly code made this book unputdownable. The skilfully described battle scenes were so real in the telling that I could almost taste the terror and the chaos as our intrepid hero fought for not only his life, but for the throne and the kingdom which was rightfully his. All of which is set against a very believable historical backdrop.

The forces of good and evil run through the heart of this book. Morgana’s desire for power is as seemingly unstoppable as the tide. She is determined to secure her son’s throne. However, one could surmise that it is not in Mordred’s interest that Morgana is so despotic in her ambition to vanquish her enemies, but in her own insatiable lust for power. Morgana is often portrayed as the anti-hero in the story of Arthur, but I thought Walker brought a refreshingly new take on the character. She is deplorable, but at the same time she drives this story forward, and I found myself holding my breath as she continued to plot and scheme to thwart her adversaries.

In comparison to Morgana, her half-siblings, and in particular Artorius (the young Arthur), came across as level headed and for the most part compassionate. Artorius does struggle with some of the things he has done, particularly in the heat of battle, which I think gave his character a tremendous depth, and made him very believable.

Likewise, Merlyn was a character I enjoyed reading about. His ingenuity and his use of the tools available to him made his story compulsively readable. I enjoyed following his progression throughout this wonderful book.

There are several secondary characters that fans of Arthurian fiction will be familiar with — Gawain, Percival, Bors and Tristan — all of whom Artorius looks up to for advice. I thought these characters were well fleshed, and I look forward to reading more about them in the next edition of this remarkable series.

Like a heroic poem from times of old, Tim Walker’s Arthurian saga continues to mesmerise. A must read for those who love everything Arthurian, but also for those who have a keen interest in the Dark Ages. I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club, April 2019

One Stop Fiction Book Award

“This is a very well written reinvention of the myth that portrays Arthur not as a superhero but as a sometimes-conflicted young man. He is not quite sure that he is meant to be king but is led by Merlyn to accept his role. He questions his paternity, is often disgusted by the brutality he witnesses, and yet becomes an inspirational leader of men.

Many of the familiar characters are present in Arthur Dux Bellorum: Merlyn, Gawain, Percival, Geraint, Gunamara (Guinevere), Morgana, and Mordred. Mainly these characters are fleshed-out to be well-defined and human.

It would be interesting to see what the author would do with the later Arthur and Gunamara story as well as with the legend of the Round Table.

The story moves at a fast pace with several battle scenes that were marvellous to read. The narrative switches points of view between Arthur and his mother and sisters who are living in the shadow of Morgana and Mordred. This alternation serves well to highlight the attempts to unify the British tribes under one rule.

One of the best aspects of the novel is the picture it paints of Britain after the Romans had left. This is a divided and beset land, subject to invasion by outsiders and by wars between rival tribes. It was very interesting to learn that parts of the Roman legacy remained in surviving towns and forts and in military tactics. The conflicts between the old and new religions, between warring chieftains, between Britons and the foreign invaders were all beautifully set out.

As an American reader, I often found myself wondering exactly where in England the story was taking place. For authenticity, it is important to use the names of towns as they were at the time. However, it was a bit difficult, even with the author’s list of place names at the beginning of the novel, to follow the movement of Arthur’s company. Because of that, I would strongly recommend that anyone who reads this read it in a hard cover or paperback edition and not on an e-reader. Readers who like to follow the plot with maps of the area should avoid will find it impossible to read the maps that appear on the e-reader edition.

This is a small complaint, but it is nearly impossible to find anything to dislike about this book.

The author is to be applauded for making yet another re-telling of the Arthurian legend fascinating and suspenseful. I would very much like to see one more book in the series to bring the rest of the legend to life. Arthur Dux Bellorum is a highly recommended book and winner of the One Stop Fiction Book Awards.”

By Kathleen Lance, Book Reviewer, onestopfiction.com

Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Richard Tyner

One of the Herschel Arms Poets, Richard was born in the boondocks outside of the town of Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland. He has very fond memories of growing up in Ros Beg and indeed the first eighteen years of life in rural tranquillity.

Richard does not see himself as a poet and if pushed describes his work as that of a rhymer. It has long been his ambition to write songs. As he said they were just rhymes, until my talented friends gave them tunes.

One of his collaborators has uploaded two of the songs to Soundcloud. Search for them under the names of Bogman and Ian Brown UK.

Thinking back his first writing was in the years 1972 to 1976. First date is Marriage, second date birth of first child. In true fashion he put aside foolish activities and concentrated on career and family.

He is pleased to report that hardly any of his rhymes from back in those days have survived. The memory of living in Ireland is forever in his heart and in order to maintain his accent he visits there whenever he gets the chance.

In 1967 his Mother took her 8 children to Peterborough England. Richard started work as a computer operator, then, after ten years, moved to Shell Oils. Closure of the local office necessitated a change of career, this time resulting in a management role in a publishing house. He was head hunted by the TSB to work in Norfolk as an investment advisor. Two years later he became self employed and continued as an IFA until the onset of Parkinson’s brought about early retirement. He has since then been busier and happier than any other period of his life.

Married forty-seven years he counts himself lucky and is still trying to figure out why his wife is still with him. Cheryl has been heard to say, “that he would trouble the patience of a saint”.

He loves music across all genres but admits his guilty pleasure is Country music citing the likes of Waylon and Willie. Townes van Zant, Hank Williams. He is a mean quizzer specialising in songs and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. He likes travel and wishes he had rhythm, balance and a bigger pension.

A SONG WITHOUT WORDS

I wrote a song that had no words

Just the sighing of trees

The chirrup of birds.

The rhythm of rain

 Turning into snow

Bluebells in dells

A choir of crows

Humming honey bees

Harmonise with the breeze

Waltzing holly hocks

A flotilla of leaves

Sprites using dandelions

To tell the time

Cascading waterfalls

Crescendo and climb

 songs of the rivers

as they flow through the glens

Sometimes angry at the way of men

This world is an opera

The finest ever heard

It has no conclusion

An aria without words.                   

ALL THOSE YEARS AGO (Westport)

I am not sure why I am here

I am not sure what it all means

Time goes around in circles

I live my life in dreams.

I was born by the ocean side

I never learned to swim

A flat stone leaving ripples

Won’t you follow the circles in.

I met you all those years ago

In a city far from the sea

You fed me a breakfast

I stayed for lunch and tea.

Your bark and bite are the same

Not all lines are on my face

Father hear my confession

So I can die in a state of grace.

Mother hear me calling

In the hills above the clouds

Father won’t you tell me

Why were you alone in crowds?

Its almost gone full circle

I am in the dying years

I have questions without answers

I weep without the tears

The breeze is blowing cold

I stand on Ros Beg shore

I hear the curlew calling

It will soon be time to go.

This place is in my heart

I fished here many times

Some came here before me

Many more will bait their lines

I wonder if they listened

To wiser men than me

Will they take greater care

So this world’s a better place to be.

NO TIME FOR REGRETS

I have no need of clocks or watches

It’s enough to know night from day

Sometimes I only sleep for minutes

To dream in blues and pastels grey

I often think of my old friends

It was my luck to know

Of the country where I was born

Those generations that had to go.

Mothers at the garden gate,

 Letter’s that never come

Waiting for the return

Of their husband or a son.

In time they would return

These restless worn out men,

To walk alone along the shore

Stopping every now and then

I sometimes shook a hand

Occasionally shared a glass

Those that talked were rare at all

Most let the moment pass

They had lived so long alone

The need to send home pay

Turning boys into bitter men

They got lost along the way.

They do not seem to notice

Life is passing fast, but

You cannot foretell the future

You cannot change the past

Once more the young are leaving

Hearts heavy as a stone

They gather in their ghettos

To sing their songs of home.

Instead live every moment

Let your life take flight

Live like there is no tomorrow

One of these day’s you will be right!!!

© R G Tyner 26/09/2018

Newsletter – November 2018

OK, I’ve changed my mind. I admit it. In March I published book three in my historical series, A Light in the Dark AgesUther’s Destiny – with the announcement that me work was complete. The series was finished. I had intended to join the end of Roman Britannia to the coming of King Arthur. Uther’s Destiny ends with the boy Artorius drawing the sword from the stone in a cunning plan devised by Merlyn.
Well, seven months on, I’ve decided to continue the series and write a fourth book. I had initially baulked at the prospect of writing a King Arthur story (oh no, not another one!) but, having mulled it over and done some further reading around the subject, have found a way in – a glimmer of a storyline. So, I’m heading in – wish me luck! I’ve also decided to follow the same plotting and writing plan that led to Uther’s Destiny last year. This involved researching, writing a plot outline, character lists and a first half chapter plan in October, and then crashing out a first draft (or at least the first 50,000 words) in November, using the framework of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
My novel title is: Arthur Dux Bellorum and I’ve even found a picture I’d like to use for the cover. I found this on a site called DeviantArt and tracked down its owner. I have agreed a fee with him to use it for commercial purposes, and have sent it to my cover designer, Cathy Walker, to see what she can do with it. Here’s the picture…

NaNoWriMo – www.nanowrimo.org
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, about 400,000 participants from all over the World began working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. November is a bit of a nothing month – wedged between the end of summer and the start of the madness of Christmas – so perfect for putting aside the 2-3 hours a day that is required to maintaining an average of 1,666 words a day to hit the 50,000-word target (evenings and weekends take most of strain).
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Mr. NaNo says: “Our experiences since 1999 show that 50,000 words is a challenging but achievable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. This is about the length of The Great Gatsby. We don’t use the word “novella” because it doesn’t seem to impress people the way “novel” does. We define a novel as “a lengthy work of fiction.” Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you’re writing falls under the heading of “novel.” In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.”

Pep Talk From Neil Gaiman

From the NaNo Archives, I’ve found this inspirational Pep Talk from bestselling author, Neil Gaiman…
Dear NaNoWriMo Author,
By now you’re probably ready to give up. You’re past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You’re not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You’re in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more—and that even when they do you’re preoccupied and no fun. You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.
Welcome to the club.
That’s how novels get written.
You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
A dry-stone wall is a lovely thing when you see it bordering a field in the middle of nowhere but becomes more impressive when you realise that it was built without mortar, that the builder needed to choose each interlocking stone and fit it in. Writing is like building a wall. It’s a continual search for the word that will fit in the text, in your mind, on the page. Plot and character and metaphor and style, all these become secondary to the words. The wall-builder erects her wall one rock at a time until she reaches the far end of the field. If she doesn’t build it it won’t be there. So she looks down at her pile of rocks, picks the one that looks like it will best suit her purpose, and puts it in.
The search for the word gets no easier but nobody else is going to write your novel for you.
The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”
I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Not really.”
“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”
I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.
So, I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.
One word after another.
That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.
So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.
Pretty soon you’ll be on the downward slide, and it’s not impossible that soon you’ll be at the end. Good luck…
Neil Gaiman

Newsletter – August 2018

Welcome to Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter covering all things books – news, reviews, guest authors and poets. No guests this month as Tim is on holiday.

The third and final book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, Uther’s Destiny, was published In March 2018. I then returned to book one, Abandoned, and extensively revised and extended it, re-launching in July 2018 as a second edition. I can now kick-back and enjoy summer knowing that the series is finally complete.

SUMMER READING LIST

I’m enjoying a summer break with my teenaged daughter (and co-author), Cathy,  and visiting my parents in my annual time for rest and reflection. If you’re looking for an e-book or paperback to read this summer, why not try one of these?

ABANDONED

I have recently uploaded a revised and extended version of book one in my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages. It’s in desperate need of new reviews on Amazon, hence the low e-book price of just 99p/99c for the summer (Paperback £5.99/$6.99).

Shortly after the last Roman administrators and soldiers abandoned their province of Britannia, Bishop Guithelin, guided by visions from God, embarked on a perilous journey to a foreign land to seek assistance for his ailing country. From this mission an adventure unfolds that pits a noble prince and his followers against tribal chiefs who see no need for a leader – and ruthless Saxon invaders who spill onto the coast in search of plunder.
Heroes emerge, including half-Roman auxiliary commander, Marcus Pendragon, who looks to protect his family by organising the defence of the town of Calleva from a menacing Saxon army, who are carving out a trail of murder and destruction across the south coast. Through the turmoil, Britannia’s first king in the post-Roman period emerges – Constantine – who takes on the difficult task of repelling invaders and dealing with troublesome rebels, until…

Abandoned is book one in a three-book series, A Light in the Dark Ages, that charts the story of the Pendragon family, building to the eventual coming of their most famous son – King Arthur. There is a black hole in British history, known as The Dark Ages. What happened to the Britons after the Romans departed around the year 410, never to return? There are few surviving records and therefore much speculation. Whilst some Britons may have viewed this as liberation, others would no doubt have felt a sense of trepidation once the military protection of the legions was removed. Abandoned speculates on the anxieties of some and opportunism of others, as Fifth Century Britannia slowly adjusted to self-rule.

POSTCARDS FROM LONDON
Prefer reading engaging and humorous short stories whilst reclining on a lounger? The city of London is the star of this collection of 15 short stories that reflect the past, mirror the present and imagine the future of this incredible city of over 8 million souls. The Romans were the first men of vision who helped shape the city we see today. Turn over these picture postcards to explore the author’s city through a collage of human dramas told in a range of genres.
e-book is £1.99/$2.99 and the paperback £4.99/$5.99.

DEVIL GATE DAWN
Worried about Brexit? Then get comfortable with this humorous, dystopian thriller, set in post-Brexit Britain and crazy Trump America in the year 2026. Affable retired railwayman, George Osborne, is planning his retirement when his pub is blown apart in a terrorist bombing. Understandably angry at the untimely death of his close friend, he forms a vigilante group to track down those responsible. Against a backdrop of civil unrest and under the quixotic rule of King Charles III and his Privy Council, George must somehow protect his family whilst he is unwittingly being drawn into the hunt for kidnapped King Charles that ultimately leads to a showdown at Devil Gate Dawn.
e-book £1.99/$2.99 and paperback £5.99/$6.99 http://myBook.to/DevilGateDawn

Book Blog Newsletter – May 2018

MAY 2018

This is the newsletter of UK author Tim Walker. It aims to be monthly and typically includes: book news and offers, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Readers of this newsletter are invited to volunteer for the guest author slot, submit a book review, flash fiction story (up to 250 words) or poem to timwalker1666@gmail.com for future issues.

AUTHOR NEWS

FIVE STAR REVIEW AWARD FOR UTHER’S DESTINY

Uther’s Destiny, the third book in A Light in the Dark Ages series, has been selling well, briefly visiting the Amazon top 100 in the Historical Fiction and Alt-History categories. The book blog tour has helped raise awareness for the series and has led to some fine five star reviews.
In addition, it was submitted for review to Onestopfiction.com, receiving the five star review award for March. This award badge has been added to the cover of the e-book.

A LIGHT IN THE DARK AGES:
Book one – Abandoned (http://myBook.to/Abandoned)
Book two – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (http://myBook.to/Ambrosius)
Book three – Uther’s Destiny (http://myBook.to/Uther)

Now I’d like to welcome this month’s guest author – CLAIRE BUSS…


Claire Buss is a science fiction, fantasy & contemporary writer from Southend-on-Sea, Essex. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead, Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 setting her writing career in motion.

Tell us a bit about your books.
The Gaia Effect is a hopeful dystopian novel and winner of the 2017 Raven Award from Uncaged Books for favourite Scifi/Fantasy novel. Here’s the blurb:
In City 42 Corporation look after you from cradle to grave. They protect you from the radiation outside the wall. They control the food, the water, the technology and most important of all, the continuation of the human race. Kira and Jed Jenkins were lucky enough to win Collection but when their friends start falling pregnant naturally, everything changes. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall? As the group comes to terms with the changes in their lives they discover there is a much more powerful and ancient force at work, trying to bridge the gap between man and nature.

I’m currently working on the sequel, The Gaia Project, which I hope to release later this year. I can’t tell you too much at this early editing stage but I can share with you the fantastic cover artwork which is a constant source of motivation.

Tales from Suburbia is a collection of humorous plays, blogs and short stories that I published last year. It’s quite an eclectic mix of writing but it shows off my natural writing style which does lean towards humour. I’m planning a follow-up, Tales from the Seaside, for release this summer which has been great fun to plan.

My most recent novel, The Rose Thief, is a humorous fantasy inspired by my love of Terry Pratchett. I always thought he did such a great job writing stories that had a message but also had a great deal of fun telling you that message. I’ve been a fan for over twenty years so it felt very natural to write something encouraged by his own style. The book started out as a writers workshop exercise which I then went home and added 20k words to. It was left alone until NaNoWriMo 2016 when I added another 30k and then went on to write the rest. characters, I can’t wait to revisit this world again soon. I already have ideas for a couple of novellas but I feel quite sure we haven’t seen the end of Ned Spinks and his band of thief-catchers!

The reviews have been great calling the book a mixture between Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett which is fantastic. The first chapter is available to read on my website, here is the blurb:
Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. But that’s not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It’s up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn’t exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?

Finally, my most recent project is The Blue Serpent & other tales, a collection of flash fiction stories, which is available to download as an ebook, for free, everywhere – including Amazon. Flash fiction is a new genre for me and I love it, I challenge myself weekly with a different theme or prompt and I love seeing how other indie authors respond to the same prompt, the possibilities are endless.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
As a mum to two small people, obviously I enjoy watching Postman Pat and reading Stick Man but what I really enjoy doing is tackling my huge TBR pile as often as I can and spending as much time as possible by the seaside. We moved in September 2017 to the coast and I keep having to remind myself that I’m not on holiday, I actually live by the sea. Obviously I hope for beautiful summer evenings, being inspired and writing at the beach however I feel sure the reality will be somewhat different.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I love building worlds and characters and seeing where they’ll take me. I am a complete pantser, I never know what’s going to happen next and when I’m writing a new book I just let the words flow. Usually I write 1000 words a day, I never read back over what I’ve written and I sit down at my laptop and carry on from the previous day. It does make editing a bit of a graft as I’m forever filling in plot holes and back weaving new characters that appear two thirds of the way through the book but I don’t think I could write any other way. I tried thinking about planning and I started to procrastinate before I’d even chosen what colour post-it notes to use so it just doesn’t work for me.

You can join Claire on social media at the follow places:

Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/busswriter
Join her Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/BussBookStop
Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407
Visit her Website: www.cbvisions.weebly.com
Read her Blog: https://www.butidontlikesalad.blogspot.co.uk

Sign up for her newsletter and get The Blue Serpent & other tales for free: https://mailchi.mp/402338620663/claire-buss-newsletter

All her books are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Claire-Buss/e/B01MSZY649/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

This month’s guest poet is JANE JAGO…

EVIDENCE OF GRIEF
The evidence of grief
And the motions of sorrow
Some that we learn
And some we just borrow
The solitary figure
Dry eyed by the grave
Whose hurt runs too deep
For convention to brave
Who stands thus erect
Drawing scarcely a breath
Feels the hard scraping pain
Of a love killed by death
Those who say cold
Have not looked in those eyes
It is not just a loved one
But I who have died

©️ Jane Jago 2017

AGAIN TOMORROW
It’s better to have loved and lost
is that not what they say
Who have not loved to count the cost
of one heartbroken day
A day when time and tide are out
a day to stand alone
A time to understand the doubt
the lie in the word home
Naked born and shed we tears
upon the barren earth
Cry, is it better yet to love
no matter what our birth
Should we turn our back on chance
for fear of bitter sorrow
Or open up our hearts and minds
and love again tomorrow

©️ Jane Jago 2017

For more prose and poems from Jane Jago please follow her blog:
Link to blog.  https://workingtitleblogspot.wordpress.com/

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