Category: Book Blog (Page 1 of 3)

Tim’s Book Blog – Oct 2021

OCTOBER 2021

MONTHLY BLOG/NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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

Connect with Tim on social media:

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AUTHOR NEWS

In my news, Guardians at the Wall has sold moderately well on Kindle and in paperback since its June launch, also attracting a good number of page reads on Kindle Unlimited. So far, it has attracted some very positive reviews (and one stinker!).

I’ve held the Kindle price at the launch level to encourage more browsers to click on it – £1.99/$2.99/e2.69.
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

Guardians at the Wall now has a book trailer! 
A friend put me onto his mate who does short trailers for music or books, and he came up with this:

BOOK TRAILER
Please give it a like on YouTube!

Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival Short Story Competition
Earlier this year I became aware that there are plans for a festival to mark the 1900th anniversary of the start of the construction of Hadrian’s Wall by the Emperor Hadrian. I most likely heard about it on the Hadrian’s Wall Country website that I’d often visited when doing research for my novel, Guardians at the Wall.

I attended a zoom briefing and found myself volunteering an idea for an activity. I would organise a national short story writing competition on the theme, ‘Life at Hadrian’s Wall in the Roman era’. Do I have any experience of organising and running a short story competition? No. But I was willing to have a go. What I’m hoping for is that the competition will yield a collection of stories set at Hadrian’s Wall in the Roman era that together form a pastiche that evokes a sense of life in Roman Britain. It’s in the back of my mind to getting the permission of those involved to self-publish an anthology of Roman period short stories set at Hadrian’s Wall as a promotion for the festival.

I started by visiting the sites of competitions I had entered in the past and reading their guidelines and conditions. Then I put together my competition rules and guidelines and set about recruiting helpers for the admin and judging. My idea was to approach Roman historical fiction authors for donations of signed copies of their books as prizes. This is going well as so far I have had pledges from Ben Kane, Adrian Goldsworthy and Harry Sidebottom. So, if you want one of these fabulous books signed by the author, then start writing!

I also want to try and find a sponsoring partner for book or gift tokens as additional prizes and to help cover the costs of a prize-giving and reading event, slated for late May 2022. Any suggestions, please get in touch. I’m also convening a judging panel from amongst my indie author contacts and so far have three offers. If you’d like to get involved then contact me. In addition, Sam Taw, the Editor of Historical Times magazine, has agreed to devote the centre spread in the June 2022 issue of the magazine to the festival overview and the winning stories.

But the best way you could help out is by writing a short story and entering it. In the first instance, please send an email to: hadrianswallshortstorycomp@gmail.com to request the rules and guidelines.

I’m still speaking to the organisers to see what help they can give me, particularly in the area of finding a suitable venue near Hadrian’s Wall. It’s still at the planning stage so fingers crossed it will fly!

Historical Times online magazine
If you haven’t already, why not sign up for FREE to the monthly Historical Times magazine. Issue 3 on The Vikings is out now. You’ll find two articles from me in issue 1 – The Romans.

Tim’s Book Blog – Sept 2021

SEPTEMBER 2021
MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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 A C E B O O K
T W I T T E R
I N S T A G R A M

AUTHOR NEWS…

In my news, Guardians at the Wall continues to sell moderately well since its June launch, attracting a good number of page reads on Kindle Unlimited. 

My first attempt at dual timeline, it tells the story of student archaeologist, Noah Jessop, and his investigation into the life of Roman centurion, Gaius Atticianus. Both stories, although separated by 1,800 years, share the same locations – Vindolanda, Corbridge and Epiacum forts near Hadrian’s Wall.
It will be the subject of a second Kindle Countdown Deal when the e-book will be just 99p/c from 14th to 19th September, the perfect time to download your copy at the link below if you haven’t done so already… enjoy, and please leave a review!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

This month’s guest author is Dominic Fielder. Tell us about yourself, Dominic…

I’ve held a variety of working posts, some I’ve been good at, and others appalling. Before the world of Marvel and DC became popular, I ran a comic book store and worked for my parents’ family book business (which ran for 61 years and only recently closed). Either side of that, I worked in the Banking and Insurance sector, when such jobs seemed glamourous, but really weren’t, and as a telephone sales and alarm services clerk, which never seemed glamourous but allowed me to meet some interesting characters.

I undertook a History degree and after achieving First class honours had a change of direction in life. For the past ten years, I’ve become a tutor, specialising in Maths and English for students between years 5 and 11 (10 to 16 in old money). During lockdown, I moved my tuition to an on-line delivery whilst training to become a Secondary school Maths teacher. When I’m not doing those things, I try my best to be a reasonable father, and whatever free time is spare from those commitments, I give to writing.  

The King’s Germans series that I’m now working on, is a twenty book and twenty plus year commitment. Fingers crossed, I will stay the course.

Queen of the Citadels (King’s Germans Book 3) blurb

The new series for readers who enjoy Sharpe, Flashman or The Three Musketeers – discover the third book in the King’s Germans series which will take you from 1793 and the war in Flanders, to the Field of Waterloo in 1815.

October 1793: The French border.

Dunkirk was a disaster for the Duke of York’s army. The French, sensing victory before the winter, launch attacks along the length of the border. Menen is captured and the French now hold the whip hand. Nieuport and Ostend are threatened, and Sebastian Krombach finds himself involved in a desperate plan to stop the Black Lions as they spearhead the French advance. Werner Brandt and the men of 2nd Battalion race to Menen to counterattack and rescue Erich von Bomm and the 1st Grenadiers, whilst von Bomm struggles to save himself from his infatuation with a mysterious French vivandière. Meanwhile, dark and brooding, the citadel of Lille dominates the border. The Queen of the Citadels has never been captured by force. The allies must now keep Menen, which guards Flanders, and seize Lille to open the road to Paris. All of this must be done under the watchful eyes of a spy in the Austrian camp. Juliette of Marboré is fighting her own secret war to free Julian Beauvais, languishing in the Conciergerie prison, and waiting for his appointment with the guillotine, as the Terror rages in Paris.

Some of the reactions to the series so far…

The first good series on the wars of the French Revolution that I have read since Alexandre Dumas...” 5*

If you are looking for your next action-packed historical military series, this is it!” 5*

A great series, full of colourful, often unsavoury, characters set in a neglected period of warfare” 5*

BUY LINK

Follow the series on social media: FACEBOOK PAGE TWITTER

Check out books one and two in the series:

BOOK ONE BUY LINK BOOK TWO BUY LINK

International Literacy Day, 8th September 2021

Since 1967, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has celebrated an International Literacy Day around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.

I took the opportunity to participate in a literacy promotion project in Zambia from 1995 to 1996 through the British overseas aid organisation, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). My role was marketing and book distribution adviser and trainer attached to the Booksellers and Publishers Association of Zambia. I ran workshops for indigenous publishers, organised the annual book fair, and delivered one-to-one consultancy, to help give association members the skills to promote their own school curriculum books and materials and so reduce the reliance on international companies like MacMillan and Oxford University Press. I was one of a team of five volunteers with different aspects of publishing skills and experience. One promotion we worked on together was the publishing and launch of Zambian President, Frederick Chiluba’s book, Democracy: The Challenge of Change at the 1996 Zambia Book Fair.

In February 1995 I took my laptop with me, did what research I could in country, and produced my presentation slides in PowerPoint – something relatively new in Zambia. The only Internet Service Provider at the time was a University of Zambia project called ZAMNET, and their flaky dial-up service only had a one-mile radius from campus! This involved physically going there to dial in to receive and send emails, and to do a bit of internet surfing. Part of my presentation and follow-on consultancy was setting up small publishers with internet accounts and email, and introducing them to information sources for their sales and marketing activities. Ground breaking stuff that was both enjoyable and rewarding.

But the work of the developed world in supporting people in developing country is, and must be, ongoing. Narrowing the divide through information and skills sharing must be the long-term solution to reducing the appeal of widespread economic migration to Europe. The Zambian economy has leapt forward in the new millennium, with a new professional class emerging to work for regional and international companies and organisations, or setting up their own businesses. Education, literacy and access to resources are vital to emerging economies who can become, in time, self-supporting nation states.

International Literacy Day (ILD) 2021 will be celebrated on 8th September under the theme, “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.

The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities, disproportionally affecting 773 million non-literate young people and adults. Youth and adult literacy were absent in many initial national response plans, while numerous literacy programmes have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.

Tim (far right) and his publishing workshop group

Even in the times of global crisis, efforts have been made to find alternative ways to ensure the continuity of learning, including distance learning, often in combination with in-person learning.  Access to literacy learning opportunities, however, has not been evenly distributed. The rapid shift to distance learning also highlighted the persistent digital divide in terms of connectivity, infrastructure, and the ability to engage with technology, as well as disparities in other services such as access to electricity, which has limited learning options.  

The pandemic, however, was a reminder of the critical importance of literacy. Beyond its intrinsic importance as part of the right to education, literacy empowers individuals and improves their lives by expanding their capabilities to choose a kind of life they can value. It is also a driver for sustainable development. Literacy is an integral part of education and lifelong learning premised on humanism as defined by the Sustainable Development Goal 4. Literacy, therefore, is central to a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. ILD 2021 will explore how literacy can contribute to building a solid foundation for a human-centred recovery, with a special focus on the interplay of literacy and digital skills required by non-literate youth and adults. It will also explore what makes technology-enabled literacy learning inclusive and meaningful to leave no one behind. By doing so, ILD2021 will be an opportunity to reimagine future literacy teaching and learning, within and beyond the context of the pandemic.

Tim’s Book Blog – August 2021

28TH JULY 2021 / TIMWALKER1666 / 0 COMMENTS / EDIT

AUGUST 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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
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THEAKSTON CRIME FESTIVAL REVIEW
In this covid-calamity year, the on-off 2021 edition of the popular Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate finally went ahead, with caution and an absence of international big names, between 22-25 July.

Mark Billingham and Richard Osman

With covid-safe protocols in place, the author talks took place outdoors under a massive marquee tent on the rear lawn of the Old Swan Hotel. I had attended the festival in 2019 and decided, with a friend, to visit our mate in Harrogate again for a social weekend.
We only booked two events – a short story writing panel discussion led by Ian Rankin on the Saturday, and the celebrity author interview – Richard Osman interviewed by Mark Billingham – on Sunday. Both were entertaining and informative, although Stuart Neville’s late withdrawal from the short story panel through illness meant I didn’t get to hear him talk about his new collection of crime shorts, The Traveller, or get my copy signed. Ian Rankin was an enthusiastic and ever-present Chair of the organising committee, introducing most of the sessions. 

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From a short list of six, the winner of the 2021 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is Chris Whitaker. His third novel, We Begin at the End, is a powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California.
Mick Herron was the special guest author, interviewed by N.J. Cooper, and although I missed this, I bought a signed copy of his new crime thriller, The Slough House. I also came away with a proof copy of former Labour MP, Alan Johnson’s, first attempt at a thriller, The Late Train to Gypsy Hill, due for autumn release. I look forward to reading them all, together with Richard Osman’s record-breaking bestseller, The Thursday Murder Club.

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The articulate House of Games and Pointless quiz master, Osman, spoke with warmth about how visits to his mother in a retirement village inspired him to write a mystery novel (soon to be 4-book series) where the elderly residents of a care home investigate a murder. Now it’s an international bestseller and Steven Spielberg’s company will be making the film next year. Richard has already written the follow-up, The Man Who Died Twice, due for launch in September. It seems his early mentor was the man interviewing him, Mark Billingham, and his prompts revealed personal details of their meetings to discuss the embryonic concept. I always enjoy listening to authors discussing the writing process.

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In my news, Guardians at the Wall has sold moderately well since its June launch, attracting a good number of page reads on Kindle Unlimited. 
It will be the subject of a Kindle Countdown Deal when the e-book will be just 99p/c from 28th July to 2nd August, so hurry and download your copy at the link below!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

This month’s guest author is Pam Lecky. Pam is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime and mystery with a dash of romance. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.

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In November 2020, Pam signed with Avon Books UK/Harper Collins in a two-book deal. The first book in the historical thriller series, Her Secret War, will be published in October 2021; the sequel in 2022.

Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and longlisted 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 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, which will be published in late 2021.

Pam’s Links:
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Author website
Instagram
Goodreads

HER SECRET WAR by Pam Lecky
Published by: Avon Books UK/Harper Collins
Release date: 14th October 2021

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A life-changing moment
May 1941: German bombs drop on Dublin taking Sarah Gillespie’s family and home. Days later, the man she loves leaves Ireland to enlist.
A heart-breaking choice
With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah seeks refuge with relatives in England. But before long, her father’s dark past threatens to catch up with her.
A dangerous mission
Sarah is asked to prove her loyalty to Britain through a special mission. Her courage could save lives. But it could also come at the cost of her own…

A gripping story that explores a deadly tangle of love and espionage in war-torn Britain, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn and Kate Furnivall.

Pre-Order Link: Available to pre-order now

Finally, there’s a new historical magazine on the e-book shelf. Issue one of Historical Times launched on 1st August… and it’s FREE to subscribers! Set up by author Sam Taw, all articles have been written by a collective of historical authors. The theme of issue one is The Romans. It’s available to read online only, so join the Historical Times community and read via this link: HISTORICAL TIMES. Issue 2 will be on the Tudors.

Tim’s Book Blog – July 2021

JULY 2021

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly book blog. 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

Follow Tim on social media: FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM TWITTER

AUTHOR NEWS

June 1st saw the launch of my new novel, Guardians at the Wall. This dual timeline novel set at Hadrian’s Wall has piqued enough interest to generate fair sales (I’m not putting figures here, but it didn’t hit the top 100 in any of its categories, sadly, so no orange ‘Bestseller’ tag). The sales split is about 80% Kindle e-books as 20% paperback. In addition, it has gone quite well on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon’s subscription service) with close to 4,000 page reads in June. Already it has accrued ten positive reviews, which should tempt browsers to take a chance on it.

I appeared on over twenty book blogs during June, generating some awareness amongst active readers. As for paid advertising, well, I’ve only done two weekend Facebook post boosts, targeted by lifestyle characteristics and by country, and one spot advert with Fussy Librarian that generated six Kindle sales on the day.

I’m always pleased to get positive feedback from the USA market, so it cheered me up to see this review from a US historical fiction reader:

HF Reader
5 stars – Entertaining and Fast Paced
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2021.
“I really enjoyed the characters and settings in this exciting and well-researched dual timeline. Both modern and Roman stories wove together beautifully, and I found them equally riveting. I don’t know a lot about the Roman period in England, and I think the way the author presents the history, through the eyes of archaeologists and their own stories, really draws you in. Highly recommend, for those familiar with the Roman period, as well as those who want to learn more in an entertaining and easy-to-read novel.”

What’s the book about? Well, here’s the short description:
Guardians at the Wall is a gripping dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.
Currently just £1.99/$2.99/e2.69 on Kindle!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

FIRST BOOK AWARD
Guardians at the Wall has been awarded the International Review of Books Award by Books go Social (booksgosocial.com is a Dublin-based company that supports independent authors). Here’s what their reviewer said:
“The writing in this book is superb. I felt like I was at Hadrian’s Wall with a group of students on an archaeological dig. The author’s descriptions of what was happening, what the characters felt and saw were wonderful. I also felt like I travelled into the past where the artefact originated. These details brought the story alive.
Yet, it’s more than about finding an artefact. There is a story of love and mystery as well. This creates added interest in the book. The main character has to deal with going on an important mission that could risk his future career and the hardship of theft. The author intermingles the two timelines very well providing details into a complete story that is about the people as well as the excavated objects.
More than an artefact is dug up in this story. There are questions surrounding it that need to be answered. What does this find really mean? What is the story behind it? Finding the answers makes the reader eager to know what is happening and what happened long ago. Every step of this story adds more details to this well-written novel. It is full of everything you are looking for in historical fiction with some mystery and romance.”

General thoughts on the Novel:
“This is a fascinating world throughout two timelines and two worlds found in the same place. The world has changed since the artefact had last seen the light and the writer did well relaying the two timelines. The design of the book is good throughout. The idea of this story is interesting with enough details to keep track of each timeline.”

In a new feature, I’m reminiscing on my two encounters with punk poet laureate, Dr John Cooper Clarke. If you would like to share any literary-themed reminiscences on this blog, please email me…

Meeting Dr John Cooper Clarke

Way back in 1978 I was a sixth form student in Liverpool studying for, amongst others, English Literature ‘A’ level. What were the chances of me seeing a punk poet on stage who would one day find his way onto the national curriculum?

My studies were not going well as I was heavily distracted by the energy and noise of punk rock as it cut a jagged slash through the rock music scene. A classmate talked me into going with him to see his new idol, Salford punk poet, John Cooper-Clarke, a punk rock spin-off act. He was supporting Manchester punk band, The Fall.
So, we got the bus into Liverpool and made our way to Mathew Street, to Eric’s Club, opposite the site of the Cavern Club where the Beatles had made their name. We went to the matinee, where they tolerated a younger audience, and were forced to buy a year’s membership for £1 in addition to the £1.50 entry fee – a lot of money to skint schoolies. Descending into the dark dungeon basement, we gasped at the building-wide low-ceiling room with gloss red walls, a bar at one end and a low stage, about knee high off the concrete floor, opposite. Punks with bondage pants and leather jackets painted on the back with anarchy symbols and metal studs on the lapels milled about, comparing peroxide spiked hair. We hung around on the fringes, conservatively dressed in turned up drainpipe jeans, baseball boots and our dad’s old dark jackets with favourite band pin badges dotting the lapels.

The Fall were the new darlings of late-night DJ John Peel, and they belted out a loud, fast and forgettable set. Cooper-Clarke was a rake-thin stick insect dressed in black, with a mad mop of black hair sprouting from his pale face. Wearing shades and chewing gum, he read from a notebook at break-neck speed. I still remember such classics as ‘I married a monster from outer space’ and ‘You’ll never find a nipple in the Daily Express’. My mate was enthralled and vowed to write his own punk poetry in the style of his new hero. He insisted we wait behind after the punks had filed out for a chance to meet the man himself. Sure enough, JCC came out to the bar and chatted to fans, including us. I got his autograph on my Eric’s flyer, now glued in my scrapbook. This was the first of many night club gigs as I made use of my Eric’s membership, extending it into the next year.

Fast-forward forty years, and JCC performed his set at The Fire Station theatre in Windsor, close to where I now live. I bought a ticket and went along, armed with my scrapbook, determined to try and gain an audience with him after his performance to show him where he’d signed my flyer forty years earlier, to complete the circle. He had journeyed from a punk rock warm-up act and a battle with drug addiction to becoming an establishment figure and celebrated national poet, his name prefixed by ‘Doctor’ after he was awarded an honorary degree, and amongst his set are poems that now grace the national school curriculum. I marvelled at him performing to the well-heeled Tories of Windsor, and wondered if he voted Conservative himself.

Thin as ever and still dressed in a black suit with trademark dark shades, his delivery was much the same, except now he used backing tracks to add a drum and bass rhythm to some of his poems. Classics such as ‘Beasley Street’ and ‘Evidently Chicken Town’ (the theme to the final episode of hit TV series ‘The Sopranos’), plus school GCSE literature poems, ‘I mustn’t go down to the sea’ and ‘I wanna be yours’ received big applause. I had to laugh when he did some of the old, original set, including ‘I married a monster from outer space’.

After the gig I went to the foyer where his Manchester mate was selling copies of his books to eager buyers. Once they had gone, I bought one of his books and asked the guy if I could meet John and get the book signed. He replied, ‘No, John’s tired and resting’. I produced my scrap book and explained how John had been my first gig way back in ’78, when he’d signed my flyer. I showed him the page, and his eye was drawn to a ticket next to it from April 1980 when I’d seen Manchester band, Joy Division, at the Hascienda. ‘You’ve seen Joy Division?’ he asked, incredulously. ‘Yeah, three times, actually’, I casually replied. I showed him my other gig tickets and he was captivated. ‘Mind if I take some photos?’ he asked, producing his phone. ‘Only if you let me go backstage to meet John’, I replied.

He thought about it and then relented. ‘Alright, I’ll see if he’ll see you’. Two minutes later he put his head around the door and beckoned me to come. ‘Just for a minute, as John’s really tired’, he said. I went in and John staggered towards me, arms outstretched for a friendly hug. He was as high as a kite, grinning from ear to ear – adrenalin and a thirst-quenching beer perhaps? I briefly explained how I’d met him after his gig at Erics forty years ago and showed him his autograph. He swayed backwards and forwards, trying to focus. ‘That’s great… what’s yer name again? Tiny? Nice ter meet ya mate.’ His Manc mate took two very blurry photos on my phone (picture shown) of me and John, holding my scrapbook. And yes, I did let the Manc guy take pictures of my gig tickets and flyers. I almost felt like a celebrity.

Never meet your heroes they say, especially when they’re old and knackered. Why not? We are both survivors, and I’m in an equally degraded state these days. Life’s a journey after all, and I’m not against the odd trip down memory lane.

It’s incredible to think school kids are analysing his poems…

I WANNA BE YOURS

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic Ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion.

I MUSTN’T GO DOWN TO THE SEA AGAIN

Sunken yachtsmen
Sinking yards
Drunken Scotsmen
Drinking hard
Every lunatic and his friend
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The ocean drags
Its drowning men
Emotions flag
Me down again
Tell Tracy Babs and Gwen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The rain whips
The promenade
It drips on chips
They turn to lard
I’d send a card if I had a pen
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

A string of pearls
From the bingo bar
For a girl
Who looks like Ringo Starr
She’s mad about married men
I mustn’t go down to the sea again

The clumsy kiss
That ends in tears
How I wish
I wasn’t here
Tell Tony Mike and Len
I mustn’t go down to the sea again.

John Cooper Clarke

Tim’s Book Blog – June 2021

June 2021
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
SOCIALMEDIA
F A C E B O O K
T W I T T E R
I N S T A G R A M

Guardians at the Wall Book Launch
June 1st saw the official launch date for my new novel, Guardians at the Wall – although some of you may have noted that it went ‘live’ on Amazon ten days earlier. Why wait when its success or failure hangs on the number of good reviews it accrues? Please help Noah and Gaius gain the readership they yearn for by putting up a customer review on Amazon and/or a review on Goodreads. Thanks!

90,000-word novels don’t just come together by accident. It has been nine months in the making, starting with my late-September two-day visit to Hadrian’s Wall where the ideas and inspiration infused my brain. Then plotting and a winter of writing, ably assisted by my enthusiastic critique partner, Linda Oliver. I discussed my approach and sent chapters for her feedback. Also, she’s the perfect grammar policewoman – thanks Linda!

A book cover concept was roughed-up and discussed with my cover designer, Cathy Walker. The section of wall across the middle of the cover is my photo of a section of the replica stone battlements at Vindolanda. The wall separates the ghostly image of a Roman centurion from curious archaeologists.
Once the draft was finished, I then gathered together a team of a dozen volunteers from Facebook groups to beta read it. Their feedback proved vital in tightening-up the plot and steering me to firmer ground with archaeological practice. Then Version Two was given a final proof-read by Linda and sent to Sinead Fitzgibbon for a copyedit. Sinead has been with me since Thames Valley Tales in 2015 and I trust her judgement implicitly. Further tweaks were made, and the final manuscript was good to go by 20th May.

What’s the book about? Well, here’s the short description:
Guardians at the Wall is a gripping dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. Archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.
Currently just £1.99/$2.99/e2.69 on Kindle!
Paperback £7.99/$8.99 or read on Kindle Unlimited:
AMAZON BOOK LINK

FIRST BOOK AWARD
Guardians at the Wall has been awarded the International Review of Books Award by Books go Social (booksgosocial.com is a Dublin-based company that supports independent authors). Here’s what their reviewer said:
“The writing in this book is superb. I felt like I was at Hadrian’s Wall with a group of students on an artefact dig. The author’s descriptions of what was happening, what the characters felt and saw were wonderful.

I also felt like I travelled into the past where the artefact originated. These details brought the story alive. Yet, it’s more than about finding an artefact. There is a story of love and mystery as well. This creates added interest in the book. The main character has to deal with going on an important mission that could risk his future career and the hardship of theft. The author intermingles the two timelines very well providing details into a complete story that is about the people as well as the artefacts.
More than an artefact is dug up in this story. There are questions surrounding it that need to be answered. What does this find really mean? What is the story behind it? Finding the answers makes the reader eager to know what is happening and what happened long ago. Every step of this story adds more details to this well-written novel. It is full of everything you are looking for in historical fiction with some mystery and romance.”

General thoughts on the Novel: 
“This is a fascinating world throughout two timelines and two worlds found in the same place. The world has changed since the artefact had last seen the light and the writer did well relaying the two timelines. The design of the book is good throughout. The idea of this story is interesting with enough details to keep track of each timeline.”

This month’s guest author is Colin Garrow.
Colin grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland. He has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor, and has occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. All Colin’s books are available as eBooks and most are also out in paperback, too.

His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Word Bohemia, Every Day Fiction, The Grind, A3 Review, 1,000 Words, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine.

He currently lives in a humble cottage in North East Scotland where he writes novels, stories, poems and the occasional song. Colin’s latest book is an historical horror novella, Black Witch Moon.

Tyburn, 1625. A young woman hanged as a witch. A doctor plagued by nightmares.

Wracked by guilt, Robert Winter struggles with the notion that a witch may have been wrongly accused. But if that is so, what can he do about it?
When strange things begin to happen, Winter’s understanding of good and evil are put to the test. Compelled to choose one or the other, he soon learns that taking sides is the least of his problems…
In this horror series set in London, the novella Black Witch Moon is book #1 in the Black Witch Saga.

Currently just 99p on Kindle!
BOOK BUY LINK

Tim Walker’s review of Black Witch Moon:

This historical suspense/horror novella was an enjoyable read. The author brings many years of writing to his concise yet visually rich evocation of 17th century London – a time when belief in witchcraft was rife. Doctor Robert Winter is the doctor at the Bethlem asylum, and has just witnessed one of his inmates, Lizzie Pickins, hung for being a witch. This is not the end, but the beginning of a tale of intrigue as she appears to have risen from her grave to take revenge on those who testified against her. Robert becomes central to her plans, as he struggles to distinguish between reality and fearful superstition. A gripping tale full of gasps and sniggers. It bodes well for the series. Highly recommended.

Tim’s Newsletter May 2021

May 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
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
In my own news, my new dual timeline historical novel, Guardians at the Wall, has been proof-read, beta-read and copyedited, and will be finalised in early May ahead of a planned 1st June launch. I intend to put the e-book on Amazon Kindle for pre-ordering from 14th May, when the official cover reveal promotion will commence. The paperback and Kindle e-book will be ‘live’ on Amazon from 1st June, although it may be available on Kindle Unlimited before the end of May.
Every independent author needs favourable reviews to entice casual browsers to make a purchase decision. So, should you pre-order the e-book (at the discounted price) from Amazon and wish to start reading right away, please email me to request a pdf (for ipad); epub (for Kobo reader) or mobi file (for Kindle) so you can get started.

Guardians at the Wall blurb:
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 ancient riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.

In the same place, 1,800 years earlier, Commander of the Watch, 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 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 dirt rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by his gaming mates and 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.

This month’s guest author is S.J. Martin.  

I have had an abiding love of history from an early age. This interest not only influenced my academic choices at university but also my life choices and careers.

I spent several years with my trowel in the world of archaeology before finding my forte as a storyteller in the guise of a history teacher. I wanted to encourage young people to find that same interest in history that had enlivened my life.

I always wanted to write historical fiction. The opportunity came when I left education; I then gleefully re-entered the world of engaging and fascinating historical research into the background of some of my favourite historical periods. There are so many stories still waiting to be told, and my first series of books on ‘The Breton Horse Warriors’ proved to be one of them.

The Breton Lords, such as my fictional Luc De Malvais, played a significant role in the Battle of Hastings and helped to give William the Conqueror a decisive win. They were one of the most exciting troops of cavalry and swordmasters in Western Europe.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Author website

Book Blurb:
It is 1071, in an England now harshly ruled and occupied by the Normans. Peace is a distant memory for the Saxon people as rebellions and retribution ravage the land and decimate the population.
Luc De Malvais is the leader of the famed Breton Horse Warriors, a legend in battle, a feared and ruthless swordsman who has spent months quelling the rebellions in Northumberland.

He suddenly finds himself in the eye of the storm in northern England when Alain Rufus orders him to manage and control a large rebel area around Ravensworth. However, it is not long before he is experiencing the full violence of the maelstrom that breaks around his head.

He faces the most dangerous challenges of his life when he finds unexpected forbidden love with a beautiful rebel but encounters a savage and merciless enemy. This brutal Saxon leader intends to take revenge against these invaders. Full of hatred and rage, he resolves not only to drive out the Normans and destroy Malvais, but he wants to make the Horse Warrior suffer before taking both his life and the woman he loves.

Tim Walker’s review of Ravensworth:
A northern village awaits the arrival of the feared Norman conquerors five years on from Hastings. The scene is set for this thrilling tale of love, hate and reconciliation in Ravensworth and the surrounding countryside. The author’s background as an historian shows through in the believable evocation of early Norman England, with their customs and laws being imposed on their new subjects. New Lord of the Manor, Breton Luc de Malvais, falls for the charms of a local beauty, but this leads to many complications that test them both to their limits. A well-researched and written novel that promises much for the unfolding series. Highly recommended.
Amazon book link

This month sees the return of Rick Warren aka Lyrick.

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 in 2019 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 on my website 
Order your copy of Path to Redemption

Searching the Attic

I wish I’d taken more time to remember the little things, 
Youthful adventures lost, memories unmade sting, 
Small paper cuts of loss,
Disruptions of time and space,
Meaningful moments disappeared, only to reappear, replaced,
With static,
Buried beneath clutter,
In the attic,
Of my mind,

Forgotten phrases, unkind rhymes,
‘neath waves both dark and deep, 
Shipwrecked cargoes of unbound dreams, 
Lay hidden and asleep, 
Undisturbed on mapless shores, 
Beyond a compass’ perceptions reach
We are in no sense, innocent,
As we lay upon this beach

Treasure beyond comprehension… are we brave enough to fight?
To search our past for reasons as to why we hid the light
That once illuminated reason, to why we feel so lost,
Choices, once taken freely, come with a fearful cost,
Have we courage enough to search through our emotional detritus,
What awaits the foolish soul, what demons hide inside us,
Are we willing to awaken, the guardians of memory,
That deny and protect us from our sanity/insanity?
Forge swords of inquisition to fight and learn the truth
Prepare ourselves for battle with the shadows of our youth

Do we really want to remember everything?
Are we prepared for the consequences of all we have done and have ever been?
Sometimes things are hidden for a reason…
Where do we look for answers when questions are all we see?
Past life dreams becoming realities illusion
Caught between cliffs of clarity and confusion  
Between sky and sea, between ice and fire,
Who can escape what they truly desire?

Lyrick 2021

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
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 RF O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

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

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