Category: Newsletter (Page 1 of 3)

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 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

Newsletter – December 2020

DECEMBER 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Equinox at The Stones

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

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

Newsletter – November 2020

November 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

A big THANK YOU to those of you have read one or more books in my history-meets-legend series, A Light in the Dark Ages. This is now complete, with the story of Arthur – the man behind the legend – reaching its climax in Arthur Rex Brittonum (published June 2020). In June it was reviewed by the Coffee Pot Book Club and received a ‘Highly recommended’ badge. Here’s what reviewer Mary Anne Yarde had to say about it:

“From the desperate battle at Mount Badon to the harrowing final confrontation at Camlann, Arthur Rex Brittonum by Tim Walker is the enthralling story of the latter half of King Arthur’s reign.
With an engrossing sense of time and place, Walker has presented his readers with a novel that is as rich in historical detail as it is in story.
I was eagerly awaiting the next instalment of Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series. I am pleased to report that the wait was most definitely worth it. This book was simply brilliant!”
The author presents his readers with a plausible Arthur – a very human Arthur, who stumbles, falls, makes mistakes and has moments of unbearable guilt.
I thought Walker’s portrayal of Arthur was very authentic in the telling, and he was a character I relish reading about. I highly recommend.”
Available from Amazon in PAPERBACK and KINDLE
Also, in i-books, Kobo, Nook and others.

This month’s guest author is Allie Creswell. This is her second book this year and her second appearance as guest author – she has certainly been busy in lockdown!

Allie Cresswell began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. One Christmas she asked her parents for a stack of writing paper as a gift. Not surprisingly, they were happy to oblige.
In 1992 she began her first novel – Game Show. With no encouragement from anyone, it took ten years to finish, its completion impeded by the school-run, the village flower and produce show and the ancient computer that regularly failed to ‘save’ any progress that might have been made.

Then, in 2007, a shocking and life-changing thing occurred – emotionally traumatic but creatively prolific – which meant she could concentrate full time on her writing. Nine more novels followed. Allie writes contemporary fiction as well as historical fiction. Her best-selling saga, Tall Chimneys, spanning the twentieth century, tells the story of a woman and her strange, isolated, dilapidated house in Yorkshire. Currently Allie is working on the first of a series of prequels to Tall Chimneys. The first of these, The House in the Hollow, due to be released at Christmas, is set during the years of the Napoleonic war.

This is a period where Allie is comfortably at home. Her Highbury Trilogy is set in the Regency. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma it imagines the little town in Surrey thirty five years before Jane Austen’s fourth novel begins. The first two books, Mrs Bates of Highbury and The Other Miss Bates follow the fortunes of the Bates family. Then, turning the focus of Emma forty-five degrees, the third book, Dear Jane, explores the characters of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill whose childhoods and meeting in Weymouth are hinted at but never fully explored in Emma.

Allie’s writing has been compared to Alice Munroe and Barbara Pym as well as to Jane Austen. She is the recipient of two silver medals and an Honourable Mention in the prestigious Readers’ Favourite competition, as well as the coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star award and a Pink Quill award.

The House in the Hollows by Allie Cresswell – book blurb
The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.
Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French.

The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice. Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.

Purchase link for the UK is: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08LHJLTQ6
Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LHJLTQ6
 
Launch day is 11th November but the book is available to pre-order via the link.

This month we have a short story submitted by a subscriber – Linda Oliver. Make a New Year’s resolution to send me a poem or flash fiction (up to 1,000 words) and I’ll find a suitable picture to accompany it.

A Dippy Poppy Day
By Linda Oliver
Crystal grouped the people she would encounter from behind her poppy tray. There were people she didn’t know at all, requiring general courtesy. They were easy. Then there were people she had known all her life. They were the best. If she had seen them off and on, she could look straight past the fading hair and rounded back, recognise them and know exactly where she was with them. That was a load off.
Terry Jolly at fifty was no different to Terry Jolly at ten. Her memories of carefree sunlit hours swinging her rounders bat and missing the ball marshmallowed around him, and when she said it was really nice to see him, she meant it. With no idea of how his life had played out, she had no doubt he had played fair. It delighted her that her name always tripped straight off his tongue, every decade.  ‘Alright, Crystal?’ Just like that. Likewise, Moira Dent was not a mystery. She could be ignored, because that was all she deserved, and it was also wise to check your handbag was zipped and hold the collection tin tight. If there was someone from her childhood Crystal didn’t recognise, she was fairly sure they wouldn’t twig who she was either. Twig being the operative word, as she was no longer anything like one.

Crystal’s third group of people she might have to process was the trickiest. These people had known her more recently, in her heyday, though she hadn’t known it was that at the time, when she had been busy, busy, busy. In those days, she had a voice, was actually tired of hearing it.  Dressed in head-turning heels, bright blouse and a well-pressed pencil skirt, unabashed to bring a crowd to attention or ‘work’ a room full of strangers, she had mingled with golden balls types, even the women, people who were going places.  When she saw them now, after they had been and come back, she mostly wished she hadn’t. They wouldn’t be satisfied with a greeting of Terry Jolly mode, but would expect to grill her, albeit briefly, before marinating her in the syrup of their successes, until her nod and rictus grin wore them down.

There was so much spin on the reports, so much over-interpretation by proud grandmothers, she believed they bore little relation to the truth. Were largely rubbish. This had given her an idea. It had occurred to her that she could launch into a tale, any tale, one of calamity and gloom. The golden ones might be so desperate to get away from her that they’d skip the bit where they pretended to be worried about their over-equipped lives and ‘have to dash’. So, the Calamity Chronicles had been born.
She wouldn’t wait for the words, ‘so how are things with you?’ to settle on the covid cloud between them before launching into a tale. It could be a yarn telling how she was put at the back of the list for alien abduction, yet again. That would keep them moving along. Or she could drivel on about how she was sued for frying onions with the cat flap open (her supposed defence there being a lifelong confusion between cat flap and flat cap – she might add that the judge wouldn’t wear it).

She had rehearsed a dozen or so plots, not wanting to bore herself or get caught out by inconsistencies in retelling the same story. She might drop in an occasional platitude about the weather, along the lines of how much worse it was because of the migraines induced by low air pressure. No, too much. She didn’t want them to stop buying poppies.
As Peter MacDonald and his wife pinned on their poppies, she knew they were far too expansive a couple to get quietly about their business.

They would linger, chatty, maybe even draw a crowd, God forbid, with him being Councillor MacDonald. As she ran through the Chronicles designed to flummox and discourage lingering, she heard the anticipated query. It was now or never.
‘Well, I’ve been battling bovine TB in the birdbath all summer,” she replied, assuming a worried frown and shaking her head.
Peter puffed out a long breath that made his mask quiver. ‘Don’t get me started on that,’ he said. And he was off. 
Crystal nodded a lot and wondered how her next Calamity Chronicle might backfire. She should have chosen the one that catalogued her attempts to start a support group for people owning vinyl copies of the theme tune to Daktari. ‘Social stigmas are wherever you find them,’ she could have said. And who can argue with a statement that says nothing! A councillor would have heard too much already about support groups to tolerate them on his day off. Her most daring Calamity Chronicle would be next. It began with a cold caller telling her she was on the wrong sewage recycling tariff, meaning she might have to strain her own urine through a vintage cheesecloth shirt – and to comply with WTO terms that could not be French cheesecloth. And it ended with these immortal words: reader, I married him.

August Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MRS BATES OF HIGHBURY

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

TALL CHIMNEYS

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

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

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

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

Summer Sun

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

Newsletter – July 2020

NEWSLETTER – JULY 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Light in the Dark Ages book series

Welcome Amy Maroney…

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

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

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

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

The Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Size Four Footprints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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