I briefly emerged from my cave to take part in Slough Libraries’ Local Author Showcase at The Curve on Wednesday 25th September. Five authors took part (pictured) – Sudhana Singh; Isabel Rogers; Sovel Cunningham; Naima Rashid and myself. It was well attended with over 50 eager book enthusiasts and many questions were answered by the panel after each had introduced themselves and their latest book. More of these please!
Also, I was invited to take part in a Sky (UK)Television programme called Round Table to discuss the subject of ‘Legends’. I couldn’t make it to the studio so appeared via Skype… here’s the YouTube link… https://youtu.be/qF5CwnLLvVU
Are you up-to-date with my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages? Book four, Arthur Dux Bellorum, was published in March this year, and I am currently working on its follow-up, part two of my Arthur story, Arthur Rex Britonnum…
Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages book series starts with…
I’m a member of a FaceBook Group for independent authors around the World called Sparkly Badgers. From time to time the group produce a themed anthology of short stories and poems. As October is the month of Halloween, the group have produced the following collection, Haunted, now available as a FREE download from Amazon Kindle and other online stores… check it out and help them with a review… https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XXHRS21
The Sparkly Badgers’ are a writing group thriving on Facebook made up of an eclectic mixture of writers from all backgrounds, writing in different genres and with different styles. We all have a passion for writing and for sharing our work with others and so I am delighted to be able to bring you this spooky anthology of spine tingling, goosebumpling and hide behind the sofa stories and poems.
If you are a writer who needs more sparkle in their lives then please, come join us on Facebook at
AUTHOR NEWS…. Arthur Dux Bellorum e-book price promotion is running from 1st – 5th June – download your copy now!
A founder member of the Herschel Arms Writers, Anna Jones is a creative producer, writer and theatre maker – connecting words & images, places & people to create art, ideas & change.
Her place-based work explores heritage and how people respond and resonate with their local history today. She discovers, celebrates and shares stories from her home & work place of Slough & surrounds and her heart & roots place of Dartmoor & Devon.
Please see a selection of Anna’s poetry on The Innerverse YouTube channel. Please check out her website
Caroline charts the story of 18th century Slough based astronomer Caroline Herschel. The piece featured in an Arts Council commissioned play written by Anna and performed in her house in Upton Road where the Herschel family once lived. It was selected to be performed at the opening of The Curve theatre venue and to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Our Special Relationship was written in response to The New York Times call for poems in reaction to the 2017 election of Trump and was published on the New York Times website.
Join in at The Innerverse every last Wednesday of the month at The Herschel Arms in Slough. This poetry, spoken word & comedy night has just marked its first year Innerversary and these films were made as part of these celebrations. This regular open mic night is a welcoming community of poets/lyricists /MCees/wordsmiths/spokenword artists/comics
The Innerverse is especially encouraging of first-time performers as we know the nerves and courage it takes to perform.
Anna is currently directing and producing an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate and mark the 80th anniversary of Windsor Theatre Guild.
Celebrate 80 years of Windsor Theatre Guild this summer with our outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s most enduring and enchanting play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. BOOK TICKETS
Bring family and friends, food and fizz to the beautiful private settings of Foxleigh Grove where we will be conjuring up midsummer mystery and mayhem.
Join fairies, lovers and our passionate players so that, like Bottom the Weaver, you can be moved, maybe even transformed, by the magic of theatre.
Picnics from 6.30pm, show starts at 8pm July 4th, 5th, 6th & 11th, 12th, 13th.
I’m Mary with a story, which many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who condemn us all to hell.
My own tale is a cursed one, that’s told from days of yore
Five hundred long years I’ve travelled, across the wild Dartmoor
In a ghostly ghastly carriage made from the bones of six dead men
It carries me nightly and forever to Oakhampton and home again
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
I’ll begin at the beginning, with the bones of him who died first
John Fitz once lord of Fitzford House, our home now with me cursed
Daddy John inherited a vast fortune, but our fortune was brief
It drove him insane and set my path: an eternity of grief
The Fitzford wealth it earnt him, more enemies than silver groats
He killed friend and foe, his craz’d mind hooked on slitting rivals’ throats
Those who spill it they soon come to learn, blood can’t be washed with gold
I found him slashed by his own hand, I’m an orphan, nine years old.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who send us all to hell.
Alone, young, rich and female, I need protecting from false claims
How naïve to think my earthly saviour could ever be righteous King James
Pious bastard sold me like a chattel to the Earl of Northumberland
Was only a child when he tired of me and gave his brother my wedded hand
As abused and trapped and frightened as the poor creatures he hunted for glory
I beseeched mother earth and all of her beasts to remove him from my story
Nature is red in tooth and claw, soon horn and hoof his gizzards gore
Hunter is hunted and dead man two, I’m your prey no more.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who drive us all to hell.
I ran away with my sweetheart, married in secret to fair Thomas
My life it finally felt full of hope, future brimming with such promise
But you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a tale where happiness will last
Just a few months of joy ‘til tragedy when my one true love he passed
The pain and grieving will never stop for my dead man who went third
Was still in black weeds and just sixteen when forced to wed John Howard
Hid from him my every penny: “Sir do you not love me poor?”
This stayed as unknown as the causes of death of this dead man number four.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who take us all to hell.
I rue the day I met my final husband Sir Richard Grenville
Used fire and fists to harm me, locked me up against my will
Star chamber found him vile and violent sent him straight to Lydford Gaol
On escaping he revelled in torment and terror on a far much larger scale
When brother turned against brother and England she was bleeding
‘Twas turncoat rich warred for both sides as general and was leading
Parliament ‘gainst royals and vice versa ’til no troops were left alive
This traitor, Skellum, Gren-villain is the bones of dead man five.
I’m Mary with a story that many a girl could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who doom us all to hell.
I’m way past the point of white weddings now, I’ll only take a lover
Although as a wife I’ve truly failed, I try and be a better mother
Head home to Tavistock with George my boy, but me and luck don’t mix
The fates they deal my last mortal blow and make him dead man six
My heart and earthly body breaks, soul taken, no longer my own
I’m cast as a black widow, with a black dog to match, in a carriage made from bone.
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House near Tavistock to Oak Castle I must go
To carry out my penance and fetch forth one blade of grass
Until the lush green mound is bare, my curse will never pass.
Legend is not kind to females, especially when bold, brave and beautiful
It warns all girls throughout all time to be decent, dull and dutiful
I’m a woman with a story, but aren’t all our sex damned as well?
Leave those men and your life behind you my dear, come and ride with me to hell…
April proved to be a good month for Arthur Dux Bellorum, book four in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It has been well-received with
positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, and two book awards from notable
sources. Here are the awards citations:
The Coffee Pot Book
“Following in the footsteps of the great Arthurian authors,
Walker has penned a story that is as rich in historical detail as it is in all
its mythological traditions. Drawing on the works of Monmouth, Nennius and
Welsh folklore, he has presented a hero who has to desperately fight a
seemingly invincible foe to win his throne and take his place in British
Walker’s compelling narrative caught my attention from the
opening sentence. The author’s careful blend of mystery, treachery, deceit,
war, honour, and the knightly code made this book unputdownable. The skilfully
described battle scenes were so real in the telling that I could almost taste
the terror and the chaos as our intrepid hero fought for not only his life, but
for the throne and the kingdom which was rightfully his. All of which is set
against a very believable historical backdrop.
The forces of good and evil run through the heart of this
book. Morgana’s desire for power is as seemingly unstoppable as the tide. She
is determined to secure her son’s throne. However, one could surmise that it is
not in Mordred’s interest that Morgana is so despotic in her ambition to
vanquish her enemies, but in her own insatiable lust for power. Morgana is
often portrayed as the anti-hero in the story of Arthur, but I thought Walker
brought a refreshingly new take on the character. She is deplorable, but at the
same time she drives this story forward, and I found myself holding my breath
as she continued to plot and scheme to thwart her adversaries.
In comparison to Morgana, her half-siblings, and in particular Artorius (the young Arthur), came across as level headed and for the most part compassionate. Artorius does struggle with some of the things he has done, particularly in the heat of battle, which I think gave his character a tremendous depth, and made him very believable.
Likewise, Merlyn was a character I enjoyed reading about. His ingenuity and his use of the tools available to him made his story compulsively readable. I enjoyed following his progression throughout this wonderful book.
There are several secondary characters that fans of
Arthurian fiction will be familiar with — Gawain, Percival, Bors and Tristan —
all of whom Artorius looks up to for advice. I thought these characters were
well fleshed, and I look forward to reading more about them in the next edition
of this remarkable series.
Like a heroic poem from times of old, Tim Walker’s Arthurian
saga continues to mesmerise. A must read for those who love everything
Arthurian, but also for those who have a keen interest in the Dark Ages. I
Review by Mary Anne Yarde The Coffee Pot Book Club, April 2019
One Stop Fiction Book
“This is a very well written reinvention of the myth that
portrays Arthur not as a superhero but as a sometimes-conflicted young man. He
is not quite sure that he is meant to be king but is led by Merlyn to accept
his role. He questions his paternity, is often disgusted by the brutality he
witnesses, and yet becomes an inspirational leader of men.
Many of the familiar characters are present in Arthur Dux Bellorum: Merlyn, Gawain, Percival, Geraint, Gunamara (Guinevere), Morgana, and Mordred. Mainly these characters are fleshed-out to be well-defined and human.
It would be interesting to see what the author would do with the later Arthur and Gunamara story as well as with the legend of the Round Table.
The story moves at a fast pace with several battle scenes
that were marvellous to read. The narrative switches points of view between
Arthur and his mother and sisters who are living in the shadow of Morgana and
Mordred. This alternation serves well to highlight the attempts to unify the
British tribes under one rule.
One of the best aspects of the novel is the picture it
paints of Britain after the Romans had left. This is a divided and beset land,
subject to invasion by outsiders and by wars between rival tribes. It was very
interesting to learn that parts of the Roman legacy remained in surviving towns
and forts and in military tactics. The conflicts between the old and new
religions, between warring chieftains, between Britons and the foreign invaders
were all beautifully set out.
As an American reader, I often found myself wondering
exactly where in England the story was taking place. For authenticity, it is
important to use the names of towns as they were at the time. However, it was a
bit difficult, even with the author’s list of place names at the beginning of
the novel, to follow the movement of Arthur’s company. Because of that, I would
strongly recommend that anyone who reads this read it in a hard cover or
paperback edition and not on an e-reader. Readers who like to follow the plot
with maps of the area should avoid will find it impossible to read the maps
that appear on the e-reader edition.
This is a small complaint, but it is nearly impossible to
find anything to dislike about this book.
The author is to be applauded for making yet another
re-telling of the Arthurian legend fascinating and suspenseful. I would very
much like to see one more book in the series to bring the rest of the legend to
life. Arthur Dux Bellorum is a highly recommended book and winner of the One
Stop Fiction Book Awards.”
By Kathleen Lance, Book Reviewer, onestopfiction.com
Welcome to Poet’s Corner, Richard Tyner
One of the Herschel Arms Poets, Richard
was born in the boondocks outside of the town of Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland. He
has very fond memories of growing up in Ros Beg and indeed the first eighteen
years of life in rural tranquillity.
Richard does not see himself as a poet and if pushed describes his work as that of a rhymer. It has long been his ambition to write songs. As he said they were just rhymes, until my talented friends gave them tunes.
One of his collaborators has uploaded two of the songs to Soundcloud. Search for them under the names of Bogman and Ian Brown UK.
Thinking back his first writing was in
the years 1972 to 1976. First date is Marriage, second date birth of first
child. In true fashion he put aside foolish activities and concentrated on
career and family.
He is pleased to report that hardly any of his rhymes from back in those days have survived. The memory of living in Ireland is forever in his heart and in order to maintain his accent he visits there whenever he gets the chance.
In 1967 his Mother took her 8 children
to Peterborough England. Richard started work as a computer operator, then,
after ten years, moved to Shell Oils. Closure of the local office necessitated
a change of career, this time resulting in a management role in a publishing
house. He was head hunted by the TSB to work in Norfolk as an investment
advisor. Two years later he became self employed and continued as an IFA until
the onset of Parkinson’s brought about early retirement. He has since then been
busier and happier than any other period of his life.
Married forty-seven years he counts
himself lucky and is still trying to figure out why his wife is still with him.
Cheryl has been heard to say, “that he would trouble the patience of a saint”.
He loves music across all genres but admits his guilty pleasure is Country music citing the likes of Waylon and Willie. Townes van Zant, Hank Williams. He is a mean quizzer specialising in songs and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. He likes travel and wishes he had rhythm, balance and a bigger pension.
The launch went well and with the addition of pre-ordered e-books, sales on Amazon drove it into the top ten in the ‘Alternative History’ category. It hung around in the ‘Top New Releases in Alternative History’ rankings for a couple of weeks – thanks to those of you who bought it. Reviews on amazon.co.uk have been good and are into double figures at time of writing.
I’d like to thank the following for featuring Arthur Dux Bellorum’s launch package on their book review blogs:
This month I’m delighted to welcome fellow British indie author, Michelle Connor.
Michelle lives on the North East coast of England in a town called Grimsby. She’s been with her husband for twenty-one years. They have three children together. Their youngest is sixteen. She is the princess of the family and has two older brothers. As well as writing Michelle loves to paint, draw, and take lots of photographs. She has a great intrigue for history and spends many a summers day hunting for castles and ruins to visit. I think this comes through in her first novella series as it is set in the medieval era.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? I had poetry published when I was fifteen, but I didn’t realize I wanted to write fiction books until I was in my thirties.
What genre books do you write? Fantasy with a heart.
What is the name of your book/books? The Bound: Hers to Save Series. Where Ravens Soar: Nine World Protection Agency Series.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? To not give up writing because life got in the way.
Does your family support your career as a writer? It depends on the day.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Not using clique dialogue every now and then.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Both. I can be crying at a sad scene while I write it and shouting at the screen if someone dies I wasn’t expecting too or laughing at something funny a character does or says. I’m a complete pantser and maybe a little crazy too.
What items do you surround yourself with when you write? Music and sometimes reference books.
What is your favourite genre of books to read? Epic Fantasy, but my guilty pleasure is romance books.
What is your favourite childhood book? Flowers in the attic.
Do you have a favourite author or one who inspires you to write? Joel Shepherd.
What words of wisdom would you give to someone who wants to be an author? Read lots, and when you start the first draft just write. Don’t worry about your spelling or if it’s any good. Get the words on the page and worry about all the rest during the many rounds of edits which are to come. And those will come, boy will they come.
“I was born in Slough 1950 (maybe 8pm) half Ukrainian half Irish, thus the name John Ivan O’Karliciuk.
I spent my early years in Wexford Eire living with my grandparents till my parents could decide if they wanted me and had saved up for my boat ticket to England. I went to St Joseph’s Roaming Catholic School in Slough and spent my childhood roaming about running away from home and even travelling back to Wexford twice on a platform ticket as of course the fare was more than 6 pence. At school I mainly played truant as I had no musical talent. I began to write at a very young age (mainly on lavatory doors).
I had many types of employment trainee supermarket manager, trainee male nurse, office jobs and countless manufacturing jobs. I never found my niche and work sadly prevented me following my dreams of being a playboy layabout. I tried to join the RAF in 1969 but they were shut that day. Also, my strange name smelled of Soviet Spy. I married early about 11am. The marriage didn’t work out but at least I hadn’t wasted the whole day! I met a wonderful Lady and travelled extensively to America, Australia, Egypt and Europe. I have many interests and have been in amateur dramatics and also a local writers’ group along with my cousin and good friend Mary Parris. I would describe my unique writing style as ‘progressive garbage’ My passion is searching for the meaning of life and when I find it, I’ll disclose it in a poem…”
In Taplow’s historic village, a stones’ throw from the
In a weathered crumbling churchyard stands one of England’s
Wildflowers in the hedgerows
Welcome ramblers on their way
To sacred ground and Taeppa’s Mound from an Anglo-Saxon day
Taplow was named from Taeppa Low the Saxon prince entombed below
Twelve centuries chief Taeppa slept this burial mound his
In the British museum his royal grave goods now are stored
A golden buckle-drinking horns
Rich textiles and his sword
I wondered back to the village Inn
The charming Oak and Saw
To take a drink-reflect and think
My mind still filled with awe
Long have I lived near Taplow
Yet of its wealth I never knew
Just a stone throw from the Thames a gem like Sutton Hoo.
I slap on the makeup my best to look
Then post my selfie on Facebook
I hide the way I am and feel
So, my Life looks so ideal
Of my reality you have no notion
You only get my self-promotion
It seems sometimes that life’s on hold
That so much data’s made us cold
No meat and veg, its sugars n’ jam
And Life is one great pile of spam.
Children once went out to play
But now its x-box night and day
Too much sitting-little walking
Too much texting little talking
To old eyes it seems a mess
Can this really be progress?
We’ve left our tribe and village bliss
Now lost inside Metropolis
What if the computers are human haters
Sent from our future terminators?
They promised Wonders to inspire us
But seeded in our brains a Virus.
I noticed it back in the time of Thatcher’s
The invasion of the Body Snatchers
So, are people changing?
Growing mechanistic selfish colder
Or am I just a Luddite with silicon
Chips upon my shoulder?
May I introduce Lady History?
But much of what you’ll hear of her
You shouldn’t take too serious.
She’s Hot! She’s very Spicy!
Can give intense heartburn
She does seem to repeat on us
We mortals never learn!
I’ve heard a bit about her-would love to learn some more.
Well, after nine months of research, plotting, writing and hand-wringing, the fourth book in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum, is finally good to go. I’ve formatted it for e-book (on a variety of platforms) and paperback. I love the cover, and feel the Fates (as the Romans would have it) smiled on me the day I saw Gordon Napier’s stunning picture, entitled ‘Arthur Dux Bellorum’ on deviantart.com.
My cover designer, Cathy Walker, added her magic and the end
result is a cover I can be proud of. We decided to let the whole picture cover
the page, and not block-out the bottom to conform with the previous covers in
Rather than bore you with self- praise (lol), I decided to
throw the gauntlet to my keen proof reader and critic partner, Linda Oliver, to
tell it from her perspective. She has been on board since book one, and quite
honestly, I would have given up, racked by self-doubt, a long time ago if it
wasn’t for her support and emailed kicks-up-the-backside. Writing can be a
I caught my writer on an online fiction forum. Tim had set
out his idea to write a series of novels about how life changed for fifth
century Britons after the Romans left. It would end with King Arthur’s death,
about a hundred years later. I did a
double take. I’m still sulking because I
lent my childhood copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table twenty
years ago, and never saw it again, so the topic appealed to me. Also, I was charmed
by the epic scale of the Boy’s Own Adventure project. But I thought a novice
fiction writer would get lost in it. Tim Walker’s a nice nom de plume, I
thought, wordplay on the literary time travel he’s embarked on. I was wrong
about that too.
Tim had posted an
extract from the first incarnation of ‘Abandoned’, with a request for feedback.
I read, admiring the pleasing balance between narrative and dialogue, the clear
point of view and the vivid settings, and then I forgot I was reading for a
purpose and my imagination took over. I enjoyed the idea of Marcus Aquilius, a
young character whose father had been a Roman soldier and whose mother was a
Briton, a sorceress in the eyes of some. I could see him torn. Should he view
the departure of a Roman legion as an opportunity to advance himself, or a
cause for dismay? When his mother gave him a tunic on which she’d stitched her
own design, he was touched, but took it off so that his men wouldn’t see him in
it, which reminded me of me, taking off my knitted bonnet with its chin strap
at my gate. Not in recent times, obviously.
When I finished reading,
I was smiling, but I realised I’d noted a few pointers and had a strong urge to
look up the number of people living in Britannia at this time. I’ve always had
a weakness for seeking demographic insight. So there I was, shimmying down into
the role of invited busybody. This writer deserved praise because the story set
out clearly, in a varied manner, what was happening in the wider Roman Empire,
in the town and in the family of Marcus Aquilius. Its complexity opened out
gradually. And then the characters sprang into action. So I told him all this.
But there were questions. Once I’d become a regular sounding
board for Tim, we discussed issues related to style. Would the screenplay style
in the early version of ‘Abandoned’ be suitable and sustainable for a series?
That’s a lot of externalising, heavy going for writer and reader. And how
should the dialogue sound? I accepted the characters are statesmen and scholars,
as well as soldiers, in this version of the past. They need to articulate
developed ideas, despite the likelihood of them swinging a sword through their
enemy before the end of the same chapter. And who is it for? Adult and young
As the series has
progressed, every novel has taken on a slightly different style, and the
military leaders focus on different regions of Britannia. The protagonists also
bring contrasting back stories and personal qualities. The second book in the
saga, Ambrosius, is about a character with a vision for his homeland, one who
chooses to pursue it, whereas the other leaders have responsibilities thrust upon
them. They are all the standout individuals of their generation. They’re not cosy,
spending their lives wearing a groove in
The Devil’s Highway and Ermine Street, driven to drag hesitant lads to confront
foreign raiders, or usurpers in their midst. They are the characters making
hard decisions when there is a plague to be contained, or taxes must be raised
to feed an army.
The novels reflect Tim’s knowledge and interest, and his
ability to bake the chewy plots that keep me reading. The latest instalment,’
Arthur, Dux Bellorum’, out now, is no exception. Readers of Uther’s Destiny
will find the story unexpected from the start, and Merlyn and Artorius
continually find the challenges ahead throw up unpredicted twists. The noise
and energy of armed conflicts drive the adventure, and one of the features of a
novel with such an array of characters is that we reader knows they won’t all
make it to the next instalment of the saga, no matter how familiar they may be.
So that keeps up the tension for me.
I can’t guarantee I
haven’t noticed that a gas poker has been introduced in a roundhouse, or a
woman married off to her uncle, but I think I’ve raised all the issues I felt a
need to raise. In fact, that’s why I’m in this newsletter. When our esteemed
author tapped out a fate worse than death for a character in one of those last
minute strokes I’ve learned to expect from him just before a book’s launch date,
I set out a reasoned argument why they should be spared, based on continuity, gender
power in the novel (I know), and demands of the plot. So, out of gratitude for
clemency being shown to an imaginary woman, I’m showing myself ‘front of house’.
Yes, I’ve loved
helping on this project, and the more time and thought I’ve committed to it,
the more I feel invested in the series. It’s an accessible interpretation of
history, a possible version of a mysterious era of great fluidity, and I found
it an informative as well as an entertaining read. My greatest wish was that
the eponymous hero should get out of the novel alive… now, that would be
Welcome to Poet’s Corner – Mary Parris
I grew up in Slough, Buckinghamshire, with a shillelagh in one hand and a pen or paint brush in the other. From an early age I started writing little ditties and creating odd paintings. I was lucky to have travelled extensively and lived for a while in California and various other places. However, family ties brought me back to Slough which had then moved to Berkshire!!
I enjoy trying new things (as long as they are legal!) be it Morris dancing, Salsa, Tai Chi. You name it, I’ll try it. I sang with a West Indian Steel band for a number of years, studied various art forms including Zentangle, Batik, acting, folk art, and poetry which I enjoy the most.
Whatever pops in my mind hits the paper. Silly, sad, romantic, strange, wherever my mood takes it. My paintings and writing have been described as ‘quirky’. I am happy with that. I like the idea that I can dance to the beat of my own drum….
DO NOT SEE ME…
walk as not to know me.
shush. do not see me.
do not glimpse
or make our eyes meet.
I am a whisper of life
dancing on tip toe,
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
I move stealthily, glide so i do not
tremble the waters,
stir the heavens, tempt the devil.
I feel I cannot breathe
trying to control
spirit that emanates from me.
trying to stay hidden.
I am a whisper of life.
dancing on tip toe.
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
if there is a god,
I do not want to wake it.
if there is a Satan
I do not want to tease it.
ignore me. leave me be.
I can carry no more.
I am forsaken from joy.
what sins are upon me
that I fear each new day
will strike a deeper blow
within my heart
that already bleeds its love.
if there is a god,
why is he not kind to me?
cradling my soul.
or is it that he has twinned with
the fallen angel
to torment me.
generous with his maladies,
touching those I love
with his demon fingers.
my thoughts cry,
my tears cry. my heart cries,
my pain, my soul, my life cries.
enough, enough, you bastards.
you have forsaken me.
I will forsake you.
you have burned me enough.
I will believe in no one
I will pray to no one
I will defy you.
we will defy you.
you do not see me.
I will not see you.
I am a whisper of life
dancing on tip toe,
leaving no footprints
to catch me.
Mary Parris – 26.9.17
Did I say I’m a model?
I love to preen and pout
and if the money’s generous
I’ll get my tutu out.
I don’t ‘ave o levels
not even an A you see
but I can boast a prefect’s badge
and an amazing double D.
I’ve modelled for the camera club,
was a pin up in 2008,
I did topless for the paper sun
but me photo did not rate.
I was queen of the night in Benidorm,
did some shoots in Wigan town,
then me tan got overloaded
and I went an orange brown.
Me face is quite unique
they say, and me hair’s like
and though I get a little bored
I just think of the money.
I look good in my pink tutu
with my curvy figure eight,
tho not in me fleshy tights
as I’m a little overweight.
and tho I am a model
I am brainy as well.
I do walk ons at dart shows
and pose in bikini’s in Bracknell.
I’ve got a big show Sunday
the best I’ve had so far.
I’ll be sitting on a mini
in Slough’s Herschal Bar.
me mum is excited
tho me dad thinks it’s funny
but I like being a model
cos I like the easy money.
Mary Parris – 30.1.2018
Next time I see you, I will come to your table and say
That’s if my shy, nervous heart will let me.
Or maybe I should just stay in the background, worship you
But next time you may not be alone and my chance shall be
I imagine you are one of those ‘new men’ all metric,
and mindfulness, whilst I am more of a pound, shilling and
kind of girl and next to modern models of makeup, botox and
I’m more your Betty Rubble than Betty Boop,
Your Bette Davis than Bette Milder.
Ah, but next time you may pass me by like you did yesterday,
deep in conversation with your phone.
I stepped aside for you, heart pounding with hope,
I think you nodded but you really did not see me.
You have never really seen me.
All my smiles and polite conversation lost in the wilderness
if there ever was any.
Maybe I’ll just stay in the shadows, me and my aching heart
and forget about this enchantment and yearning for you.
And so, what next?
Next time, hopefully the thrill of you will have eased,
softened, ebbed away. Maybe.
These are the things I’ve learned over the past three years through
self-publishing my books. Once you’ve finished your book, checked and
proof-read it and sent it off for a copyedit (yes, you should!). Then sit back,
exhale, and take a moment to think about the next step – how to market, promote
and sell your book.
My budget is extremely slim (contact me privately and I
might tell you) – my biggest cost is on a thorough copyedit. I also invest in a
good book cover (e-book and paperback). But to get maximum value from the
copyedit, it is advisable to first have your manuscript read and critiqued by
one or two trusted friends or beta readers. Get it as good as you can before
engaging the services of a professional copyeditor. They will tidy it up and
have a care for the overall smooth flow of your story.
As a matter of priority, get your book cover done and write
a blurb for your book.
If you’re an indie author and intend to self-publish your
book, you need the following things in place in the build-up to your launch
A completed, proofed and edited manuscript. You may also have sent your
m/s to trusted beta readers who can give you critical feedback. You can tweak
your m/s up to about five days before your launch date – then you MUST load up
the final version to KDP/D2D or other self-publishing platforms. Always best to
launch with the final version!
A list of willing fans/book reviewers to send your advanced reader copy (ARC) and
hopefully get you started with some supportive reviews. The main platforms for
reviews are Amazon and Goodreads. If you are a reader, you can link your
Goodreads account to your Amazon account so that whenever you review an e-book
on Amazon, the review is automatically replicated on Goodreads. If you read a
paperback copy, then you might have to post a customer review on Amazon and
then manually copy and paste your review to Goodreads. Also, Amazon
(annoyingly) only publish reviews in the territory in which it was placed. So,
if you are a British reader, like myself, operating in amazon.co.uk, then my book
reviews will only be seen in my territory and not in other important
territories like USA, Canada, EU countries, Australia, etc. You may want to
politely ask reviewers to copy reviews to .com, although I understand Amazon are
now making this difficult.
Cover. By all means have a go yourself – I dabbled with using
cheap-and-cheerful designers through http://fiverr.com and making covers on the
cheap, but ultimately remained dissatisfied with the outcome. I soon discovered
the value of having a professional book cover designer to discuss my cover
ideas with and then hand over to them to work their magic – sizes for your
e-book and paperback (wraparound) are precise details best left to an expert.
Also, your designer can choose a perfect font for your book – which becomes all
the more important if you are developing a series (see my A Light in the Dark Ages series covers with consistent look and
fonts – thanks Cathy Walker!).
ASIN (Amazon book number) as early as possible. It’s advisable to load your
manuscript to Amazon using the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) http://kdp.amazon.com
platform at least three weeks before your intended launch date. You can use
their pre-order function and have your e-book available to pre-order before
your launch date. This will, Hopefully, give you a sales spike on your launch
day and also provides a platform for early book advertising and promotion. The
important thing about using the pre-order function is that you MUST load up
your final manuscript FIVE DAYS before your launch date (if you have made any
last-minute changes). This gives you an ASIN (book sales link) that you will
need to include in your guest blog posts and pre-arranged advertisements.
Also, with your ASIN you can then get a universal link. This is a customised
link, often with a short version of your book title, that takes readers to the Amazon
or other online retailer sales page for your book wherever they are in the
world. It makes it easier for readers to buy your book!
Format the paperback.
Yes, if you’re doing it yourself, you need to use the platforms in KDP and/or
draft2digital to load up your MS Word manuscript. You must re-format your
e-book m/s and change the page size (eg. 5” x 8”) and include things like a
numbered contents page, header, page numbers (footer) in a newly saved Word
document. Very fiddly the first time you do it, but thereafter you have created
your own template. Tip: get a ruler and measure the ideal page size you want in
cms from your paperbacks. KDP offers your two standard book sizes. You will
need to read up on setting margins, gutters and bleads. I think your book cover
needs to be in print-ready PDF format for KDP, and the spine width is
calculated on the number of pages – information you need to give to your book
designer once you have it.
Consider booking paid-for advertising. In some platforms, like Twitter and Facebook
page boosts, you can define your target audience by relevant demographics and
interests. Try BooksGoSocial and BookBub for ads aimed at active book readers.
promotion. Since the launch of Uther’s
Destiny in March 2018, I’ve been organising my own book blog tours. This
involves identifying relevant book bloggers who review and/or promote
independent authors, approaching them and asking for a guest author slot. There
are some very supportive book reviewers out there who will be happy to fit you
into their schedules, but beware, most take bookings between 6-9 months in
advance. So, for my forthcoming book, Arthur
Dux Bellorum, due for a 1st March 2019 launch, I’ve been booking
guest blog slots since September last year. The other way to promote for free
is through your own social media – facebook, twitter, Instagram, pinterest,
Google+, LinkedIn; and your newsletter or blog if you have one. I have a
monthly newsletter and my following has slowly crept up to over 60 emails (not
much, but it’s a start!). If you are reading this on my blog and haven’t yet
signed-up, please follow this link and get a FREE short story download!
(incentivising people to sign-up is recommended) – http://eepurl.com/diqexz
Write your book
blurb. I approach this by reading book descriptions of other, similar books
in my genre and getting a feel for how author’s entice readers to choose their
book. It helps if you’re an international bestselling author (which I’m not…
yet) – these tend to lead with ‘BESTSELLING INTERNATIONAL AUTHOR OF…..’ and
then a punchy opening line to make you salivate. Others lead with a review
quote from a notable source. I’ve just read an article that advises authors to
marshal their thoughts by writing a brief summary description using the
following formula – A (adjective) CHARACTER NAME + Intrigue.
So, mine might be, “A
determined Arthur must learn quickly if he is to survive in Dark Ages Britain.” This could become your first line/headline, or
a guide for your thoughts.
Make it easy to
digest for skimmers – short, punchy sentences using power words to heighten
emotions. Don’t summarise your book’s plot. It is meant to be a teaser that
piques the skimmer’s interest. Its aim is to get those undecided readers to
click YOUR buy button.
Here is my first
attempt – please give critical feedback!
Arthur Dux Bellorum by Tim Walker
From the ruins of post-Roman Britain, a
warrior and charismatic leader arises to unite a divided land.
King Uther is
dead, and his daughter, Morgana, seizes the crown for her infant son, Mordred. Merlyn’s
attempt to present a youthful Arthur as the true son and heir of Uther is
scorned, and the bewildered teenager finds himself in prison. Here, our story
Arthur finds he
has friends and together they flee northwards, moving through a fractured
landscape of tribal conflict and suspicion, staying one step ahead of their
pursuers whilst keeping an eye on Angle and Saxon invaders who spill onto the
shores of the troubled island. Arthur gathers supporters as he battles his way
to a temporary haven at the great Roman wall. He gradually refines his image
with help from his family and followers, learning the harsh lessons needed to
survive and acquire the skills of leadership.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Dux Bellorum is a masterly
retelling of the Arthurian legend, combining myth, history and gripping battle
Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew
Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in
the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Dux Bellorum.
Canva makes it easy
by having the differing standard size templates for your social media posts,
covering Facebook story, timeline or page posts; Instagram; twitter; pinterest
and others. The three key elements of your adverts are: background, book cover,
headline. I tend to place a clickable link in the body of the social media
post. Here’s an example of a teaser ad in Instagram size for Author Dux Bellorum:
Plan your Launch
Day. Some author’s have Facebook parties, with competitions, free books or
other giveaways, inviting friends to join them and post. This can help raise
awareness for your book launch. Some authors have a price drop or even a
limited time free e-book on launch to generate reads and reviews. Email your
friends – make sure everybody knows! Aim to appear as a guest on important
blogs and post in your Facebook groups. If you can afford it, plan some
A very happy and fulfilling new year to you all! I’m currently writing the fourth book in A LIGHT IN THE DARK AGES series – Arthur Dux Bellorum. The launch date for this novel is set for 1st March 2019 (if I get it finished!).
I can now reveal the book cover designed by Cathy Walker from an original picture by artist Gordon Napier (all permissions obtained).
Arthur Dux Bellorum is my telling of the King Arthur story, adhering to the style and aims of the previous three books in the series – to present a possible history of Britain’s missing years following the end of Roman occupation in 410 AD, based around scraps of researched information and supplemented with a huge dollop of imagination.
Coming out in March 2019!
Born in Gibraltar and raised on a yacht around the coasts of the Atlantic, JC Steel is an author, martial artist, and introvert… “In between the necessary making of money to allow the writing of more books, I can usually be found stowing away on a spaceship, halfway to the further galaxy.
Science-fiction and urban fantasy are my favourite genres to write in. I grew up on a rich diet of Anne McCaffrey, Tolkien, Dorothy Dunnett, and Jack Higgins, and finally started to write my own books aged fourteen. I can’t point the finger at any one book or author that set me in my current direction, but I blame my tendency to write characters who favour drastically practical solutions on some mix of those. If I can toss in a bit of gender- and genre-bending, so much the better. Status quo is boring.”
Death is for the Living
…when ‘here be monsters’ doesn’t only mark the unknown.
By day, Cristina Batista is a deck girl on
a Caribbean charter yacht, with all the sun, smiles, and steel drum music that
entails. By night, she and her crew hunt the monsters that prey in the dark:
the powerful vampire clans of the New World.
Unfortunately Cristina’s past is hunting
her in turn – and it’s catching up. Without her partner, sometime pirate,
sometime lordling, and ex-vampire, Jean Vignaud, Cristina wouldn’t simply be
dead. She’d be something she fears far more.
Cristina and Jean are experienced, motivated,
and resourceful. One faction wants them despite it. The other wants them
because of it.
Death is for the Living was released on 26-December-2018
pirates, vampires, vampire hunters and storms at sea can exist within the pages
of one book — and they do it so well in Death is for the Living. It’s most
highly recommended.” ~Readers’
Favorite 5 star review by Jack Magnus
“I wanted to be mad at the author for the ending; how could they do this! But it was perfect! It ended the way the whole book was written, with mystique.” ~Readers’ Favorite 5 star review by Peggy Jo Wipf
The first of our TWO new year poets is Andrew Green. Andrew recently retired after a career in Local Government, most recently with Slough and RBWM. The 66-year-old poet said when asked about his suitability to be the next Poet Laureate: “I won’t be too disappointed if they go for someone else. My poems are more for fun than to be taken seriously; affectionate but slightly irreverent.”
Begging Your Pardon is a light hearted look at what it’s like to live as a close neighbour of the royals in an imagined Windsor where locals regularly rub shoulders with the royals. It would make an ideal stocking filler for locals with a sense of humour.
Andrew has been writing for a while and won local competition for a poem about Slough that was broadcast on local radio and BBC radio four. He has begun to write more regularly two to three years ago and has built a following on Wattpad where two of his collections were featured and have amassed over 100,000 reads between them. His first published book was Margaret’s Story, a verse biography about his mother published earlier this year.
Andrew Green’s new book, Begging Your Pardon – Please Can I Be Laureate? is a humorous collection of royal poems pushing the merits of a local Laureate who could pop round to the Castle with a poem whenever the occasion demands it. The current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy will shortly be standing down at the end of her ten-year stint a new Laureate is to be appointed from May 2019. Some well known poets have made clear they don’t wish to be considered, and have even suggested that the post should be abolished, but Andrew is available and willing and would aim to bring a lighter touch to the role. So why don’t they look past all the established poets who make such a fuss about it all and appoint a local poet as the next Poet Laureate?
Andrew has thrown his hat into the ring with a collection of light hearted royal and local poems first shared on Wattpad. He ‘doesn’t do pentameter’ is ‘really just an amateur’ but there should be something here to make you smile.
There is a, sadly one sided, correspondence with Her Majesty, his neighbour from up the hill, fanciful accounts of royal life such as what happens when they forget to take the flag down and encounters, one of them real, with the family themselves. There’s a poem in praise of our patron saint, Saint George, a bit of Brexit naughtiness, some fairy tale princes and princesses, some verses about the wedding and the obligatory royal wedding poem.
A poem from the book, Dear Queen Elizabeth expresses why Andrew thinks he would be ideal for the role.
Dear Queen Elizabeth
Just a note to say
Dear Queen Elizabeth,
When next you need a Laureate,
Please consider me.
I write a lot of poetry
So how hard can it be?
In terms of productivity
You could do worse than me.
I’d mark the big occasions
And mark each special day.
Be it births, or deaths,
Or marriages; the special jubilees.
Providing something rhymes with it
You’ll be OK with me.
The better poets turn it down
Get up themselves and sniffy.
I’ll just get on and churn stuff out.
I write most every day.
Whatever you want a poem about.
Please just give me a shout.
I can easily write at Royal request
And churn another out.
I’m very, very local
I just live down the road
I could pop round to the castle
Whenever you’re next home.
Could do a proper interview
Or just come for a brew
I’m flexible so any time
Whatever works for you.
Our second new year poet is the talented stand-and-deliver Pete Cox.
“Hello, I’m Pete Cox, I have been writing for 5 years and performing spoken word for 2. I’m from Slough, England where i host an open mic night called The Innerverse. I write based on experiences, annoyances and anything and everything. I love writing and sharing it. I find freedom in it. I found even more once pushed to perform. I am writing a poem a day for a year. I had worried what I would do with with my mind, thoughts and pain poetry has been the key to freedom. I love the many different styles from each poet I hear. I believe everyone has poetry in them, it just get lost in what people believe poetry should be. I have a YouTube channel and am in the process of creating a website. You can find me here on the social media link until then.
My 2018 thank you note ❤️
2018 I want to thank you for the gifts you did bring
Firstly thanks for letting me live in the living ring
Tim is currently writing the fourth book in his A LIGHT IN THE DARK AGESseries – Arthur Dux Bellorum. The launch date for this novel is set for 1st March 2019. In January the book cover designed by Cathy Walker will be revealed.
Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology
Tim is a member of an eclectic Facebook Group of talented independent authors called ‘Sparkly Badgers‘. The group has flexed its creative muscle and produced an anthology of Christmas themed short stories to raise money for Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled. Download the e-book for a feel good glow that will carry you through the festive season…
A BADGER CHRISTMAS CAROL
C H Clepitt and Claire Buss bring you a modern retelling of a classic story, with badgers CHRISTMAS UNDERWATER
Ever wondered if Santa could make it to mermaids? Wonder no more with this short story from Ted Akin INVISIBLE CHRISTMAS
A poem from playwright, dramaturge and disability activist Amy Bethan Evans MRS. CLAUS’S HOLIDAY
Sometimes even Mrs. Claus gets overwhelmed, but how will Santa manage Christmas without her? A sweet short story from Ann Frowd WISHIN’ YOU WERE HERE BY ME
Will Lindsey and Claire get their happy ever after when Lindsey runs out on their wedding? From author A.M. Leibowitz comes a wonderfully romantic and quirky short story MIDNIGHT LASAGNE
Some of the best conversations happen at midnight, over lasagne! A gentle short story from Maria Riegger CHRISTMAS EVE, DESPONDENT
A poem from poet and novelist Joanne Van Leerdam UNIDENTIFIED FLYING REINDEER
Staying awake to meet Santa doesn’t always go as planned in this quirky short from Lyra Shanti SANTABOT!
How on Earth can Santa get around all of the houses in just one night? Layla Pinkett has a decidedly Sci-Fi theory JOEY THE LITTLE CHRISTMAS TREE
Discover Christmas from the viewpoint of the tree in this unusual short from Margena Holmes ZOË QUINN AND THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER
Spend Christmas with Zoe Quinn, as she learns that there is a lot more to it than just presents in this short story from Sophie Kearing THE VISIT
Horror author Chloe Hammond weaves a spine-tingler of a tale with a twist at the end that you will not see coming A CHRISTMAS TAIL
Writing partnership Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook bring a cute story in verse about a girl discovering the meaning of Christmas with the help of a mouse. BUY IT HERE
This month’s guest author is… JENNIFER ASH (aka Jenny Kane) who’s here to tell us about her fabulous new historical novel that’s out from the 3rd December…
Edward’s Outlaw: Book Three of The Folville Chronicles
Blurb: January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.
Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.
Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?
Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…
The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.
The sound of a fist hammering at the door to the bedchamber broke through Mathilda’s contented slumber. Slower to react than her husband of just three days, she blinked the sleep from her eyes as Robert de Folville leapt from their bed. Wrapping a cloak around his naked frame, he responded to the urgency of the rapping by flinging the door wide open.
‘Adam, whatever’s wrong?’
Clutching the bedclothes to her chest, Mathilda tried to hear what was so pressing that their steward had had to wake them so unceremoniously. The draught, which shot with cruel enthusiasm through the open doorway of the manor house’s second-best bedchamber, made the new Lady Folville shiver, but not as much as her suspicion that something was wrong.
One look at Robert’s expression as he turned from the door confirmed Mathilda’s fears. ‘Something’s happened.’
Instead of elaborating, he threw open the clothes chest in the corner of the room and began piling garments onto the bed. ‘There is a linen roll under the bed; could you fetch it?’
Recognising the determined set of her husband’s face, Matilda hooked a layer of bed linen around her shoulders and dragged a bundle of bound material from beneath the bed. ‘You’re packing?’
‘We’re packing.’ Robert stopped moving as fast as he’d started and beckoned her to his side. ‘I’m so sorry, Mathilda. This isn’t the start to married life I’d imagined for us.’
Engulfed in his arms, relishing the closeness of his flesh, Mathilda concentrated on remaining calm. ‘What do you mean?’
‘We have to go away for a while.’
He stroked a hand through her wavy hair, teasing out the stubborn red tangles that had formed overnight. Even through the tenderness of the gesture, Mathilda could feel the tension rising in him. ‘Away?’
‘I’ll explain while we pack.’ Robert produced another roll from beneath the bed. ‘Separately.’
Determined not to neither shout nor give in to the tears that unhelpfully threatened to escape from the corner of her eyes, Mathilda spoke firmly. ‘Husband, the road to our marriage was not a smooth one. Are you telling me that, only three days after our wedding, we have to part?’
Robert’s eyes flashed with both regret and devilment. ‘Wife, you married into a family of felons. You didn’t expect we were going to live here happily ever after, did you?’
With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.
Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One of The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).
Book Two of The Folville Chronicles – The Winter Outlaw – was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)
Book Three of The Folville Chronicles – Edward’s Outlaw- was released in December 2018.
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane. Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2^nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at
@JennyKaneAuthor Jennifer Ash Facebook Jenny Kane Website
This month my guest author is the fabulous and talented Mary Anne Yarde. She has a new book out in her Arthurian legend series, The Du Lac Chronicles. I have enjoyed reading this series and look forward to reading the fourth book, The Du Lac Prophecy.
More on that later. First, let me briefly bring you up to date with what’s happening in my creative writing world…
NEW BOOK OUT SOON – CHARLY & THE SUPERHEROES
Following on from The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2016), my daughter Cathy and I have written a new adventure, which we intend to launch on (or close to) 19th September.
The ideas came from Cathy, who’s new love is Superheroes movies. “Hey, Dad, why don’t we write a story where Charly goes on a studio tour in Hollywood and gets asked to take the place of a child actor who is sick in a new superheroes movie?!!”
So, we kicked the idea around during our summer holidays and came up with – Charly & The Superheroes.
We found an illustrator with cartoon experience through www.upwork.com and put up a proposal with a crude sketch showing the concept. The illustrator made the drawing and designed the cover, matching as closely as possible the fonts and style of the first book cover. We’re quite happy with the results… what do you think?
This month’s guest author is… Mary Anne Yarde the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling series — The Du Lac Chronicles.
Mary grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were a part of her childhood.
1. Hi Mary and thanks for guesting on my blog. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the Du Lac Chronicles?
For well over a thousand years we have been enchanted with the tales of King Arthur and his Knights. Arthur’s story has everything – loyalty, betrayal, love, hate, war and peace, and like all good stories, there isn’t a happy ending for our hero. Arthur is betrayed by his best friend, Lancelot, and then he is betrayed once again by his nephew, Mordred. Arthur’s reign comes to a dramatic and tragic end on the battlefield at Camlann.
When Arthur died, the Knights died with him. Without their leader they were nothing, and they disappeared from history. No more is said of them, and I always wondered why not. Just because Arthur is dead, that doesn’t mean that his Knights didn’t carry on living. Their story must continue — if only someone would tell it!
The Du Lac Chronicles is a sweeping saga that follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Lancelot du Lac’s sons as they try to forge a life for themselves in an ever-changing Saxon world. In each book, you will meet the same characters, whom hopefully readers have come to love. I made sure that each book stands alone, but as with all series, it is best to start at the beginning.
2. What inspired you to write The Du Lac Chronicles?
I grew up surrounded by the rolling Mendip Hills in Somerset — the famous town of Glastonbury was a mere 15 minutes from my childhood home. Glastonbury is a little bit unique in the sense that it screams Arthurian Legend. Even the road sign that welcomes you into Glastonbury says…
“Welcome to Glastonbury. The Ancient Isle of Avalon.”
How could I grow up in such a place and not be influenced by King Arthur?
I loved the stories of King Arthur and his Knights as a child, but I always felt let down by the ending. For those not familiar, there is a big battle at a place called Camlann. Arthur is fatally wounded. He is taken to Avalon. His famous sword is thrown back into the lake. Arthur dies. His Knights, if they are not already dead, become hermits. The end.
What an abrupt and unsatisfactory ending to such a wonderful story. I did not buy that ending. So my series came about not only because of my love for everything Arthurian, but also because I wanted to write an alternative ending. I wanted to explore what happened after Arthur’s death.
3. What were the challenges you faced in researching this period of history?
Researching the life and times of King Arthur is incredibly challenging. Trying to find the historical Arthur is like looking for a needle in a haystack. An impossible task. But one thing where Arthur is prevalent, and you are sure to find him, is in folklore.
Folklore isn’t an exact science. It evolves. It is constantly changing. It is added to. Digging up folklore, I found, is not the same as extracting relics! However, I think that is why I find it so appealing.
The Du Lac Chronicles is set in Dark Age, Britain, Brittany and France, so I really needed to understand as much as I could about the era that my books are set in. Researching such a time brings about its own set of challenges. There is a lack of reliable primary written sources. Of course, there are the works of Gildas, Nennius and Bede as well as The Annals of Wales, which we can turn to, but again, they are not what I would consider reliable sources. Even the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which was compiled in the late 9th Century, has to be treated with caution. So it is down to archaeologists to fill in the missing blanks, but they can only do so much. Which means in some instances, particularly with regards to the history of Brittany during this time, I have no choice but to take an educated guess as to what it was like.
4. There are many books about King Arthur. Can you tell us three things that set your novels apart?
You are quite right; there are many fabulous books about King Arthur and his Knights. So what sets my books apart:
1.) My books are set after the death of King Arthur.
2.) Not all the Knights are heroic, and some of them are not even Christians. Ahh!
3.) You will meet some “historical” characters from the past — not all of them are legendary!
5. Do you have a favourite Arthurian character from history?
I really should say Lancelot du Lac, as my books are based on his story. But in truth, one of my favourite characters is Sir Gawain. Gawain And The Green Knight is one of my all-time favourite Arthurian stories.
6. What next?
I am currently working on Book 5 of The Du Lac Chronicles.
The Du Lac Prophecy
(Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde
Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.
Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.
If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.
“I feared you were a dream,” Amandine whispered, her voice filled with wonder as she raised her hand to touch the soft bristles and the raised scars on his face. “I was afraid to open my eyes. But you really are real,” she laughed softly in disbelief. She touched a lock of his flaming red hair and pushed it back behind his ear. “Last night…” she studied his face intently for several seconds as if looking for something. “I am sorry if I hurt you. I didn’t know who you were, and I didn’t know where I was. I was scared.”
“You certainly gave me a walloping,” he grinned gently down at her, his grey eyes alight with humour. “I think you have the makings of a great mercenary. I might have to recruit you to my cause.”
She smiled at his teasing, but then she began to trace the scars on his face with the tips of her fingers, and her smile disappeared. “Do they still hurt?”
“Yes,” Merton replied. “But the pain I felt when I thought you were dead was a hundred times worse. Philippe had broken my body, but that was nothing compared to the pain in my heart. Without you, I was lost.”
“That day… When they beat you. You were so brave,” Amandine replied.
Her fingers felt like butterflies on his skin, so soft and gentle. He closed his eyes to savour the sensation.
“I never knew anyone could be that brave,” Amandine continued. “You could have won your freedom and yet, you surrendered to their torture to save me. Why? I am but one person. Just one amongst so many.”
“Why do you think?” Merton asked shakily, opening his eyes to look at her again, hoping she could see the depth of his love in his scarred and deformed face.
“I gave you these scars,” Amandine stated with a painful realisation, her hand dropping away from his face. “You are like this because of me,” her voice was thick with unshed tears.
“No, not because of you,” Merton immediately contradicted. “My reputation, Philippe’s greed, Mordred’s hate, and Bastian’s fear, gave me these scars—”
“I should not have gone back to your chamber. If they had not found me there, then they would never have known about us. If they had not known, then you would have had no cause to surrender. Bastian would not have taken your sword arm.” Amandine touched what was left of his arm. “Philippe would not have lashed you.” She touched his face again and shook her head. “I am to blame.” She sat up and her eyes filled with tears, her hand fell away from his face. “I am to blame,” she said again as a tear slipped down her cheek. “How can you stand to be near me?”
This is the newsletter of British author Tim Walker. It aims to be monthly and typically includes: book news and offers, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Readers of this newsletter are invited to bid for the guest author slot, submit a book review, flash fiction story (up to 250 words) or poem… firstname.lastname@example.org
AUTHOR’S NEWS – ABANDONED REVISED AND EXTENDED NEW EDITION
I’ve just re-published a new, longer second edition of Abandoned, book one in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It addresses the complaints at the brevity of the original novella that told the story of Marcus and the defence of Calleva.
This is now incorporated into a longer story that charts Britannia’s troubled journey from abandonment by the Romans to choosing a king to organise their defence from determined raiders. The narrative thrust is loosely guided by the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 1136 work, The History of the Kings of Britain.
The romantic in me likes to think there might be some credence in his account of events in fifth century Britannia leading up to the coming of King Arthur (now widely thought to be a composite of a number of leaders who organised opposition to the spread of Anglo-Saxon colonists).
I’m holding the e-book price at just 99p/99c – so please help me replace the lost reviews from the now unpublished first edition. Much work has gone into this upgrade from novella to novel – I hope you enjoy it!
I can now say, after three years, the series is FINALLY COMPLETE!
This month my two guests, Jonathan Posner and Sarah Ann Hall, are, like myself, members of the Windsor Writers’ Group.
The group of about 12 writers’ meet once a month at The Hope Pub (in the Library), on Alma Road, Windsor.
The group was formed in 2014 and has published a book of short stories – Windsor Tales
If you’d like to join or visit us (to give an author talk?) then please drop us an email: email@example.com WEBSITE FACEBOOK
Jonathan Posner Author Profile
Jonathan has been an avid reader of fiction ever since he was old enough to own a torch. As a schoolboy he virtually lived in Narnia, and as he got older, he discovered historical fiction – particularly Phillipa Gregory, Susan Kay, C J Sansom and the Flashman Papers.
He loves creative writing, and has written Book and Lyrics for three full-scale Musicals, all of which have been performed locally. There have also been two plays, some poetry and several short stories. And now he has upcycled the plot of one of the Musicals into The Witchfinder’s Well, a full-length fantasy historical fiction novel.
The short stories have also been published as Once Upon an Ending
Currently he is close to completing the first draft of the sequel to The Witchfinder’s Well, to be called The Alchemist’s Arms. Jonathan is married with two sons and lives near London, UK.
The Witchfinder’s Well book blurb:
“Bringing the Tudors to life! … an engrossing thriller with plenty of twists and turns.”
Tudor England – a dangerous world where a few wrong words can get you accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.
So when a freak electrical storm sends modern-day girl Justine Parker time-travelling back to 1565, she quickly becomes the target of sinister witchfinder Matthew Hopkirk.
Justine must use all her cunning and ingenuity to keep one step ahead of Hopkirk. But not only must she save herself, she also has to save her new love, Sir William de Beauvais, from the early death she knows history has decreed for him.
Can Justine save herself from Hopkirk? And what if she saves Sir William from one fate, only to pitch him into another, even more deadly?
The Witchfinder’s Well gives a refreshing and new take on Tudor history, and is a must for fans of Philippa Gregory, C.J. Sansom and Judith Arnopp.
As she surveyed the royal banquet from her high vantage point in the Minstrel’s Gallery, Justine Parker twisted slightly to get more comfortable in the tight bodice of her gown.
All things considered, it was going pretty well.
An army of servants had brought exotic dishes up from the kitchens into the Great Hall and presented them to the assembled ladies, gentlemen, knights and courtiers for their appreciation and amazement.
There were dishes such as the noble roast peacock with its plumage dancing in the light, guinea fowl in a deep crusty pie and legs of mutton surrounded by mountains of peas and carrots. Fine red claret was drunk copiously from silver goblets, with the servants replenishing them from silver pitchers as they weaved around the tables.
Justine leaned on the railing of the gallery and let the warm sound of conversation and laughter wash over her; the rich hubbub of noise that rose up to the furthest corners of the magnificent ornate plaster roof. Down below her, the face of every guest was bright with enjoyment, bathed in the golden glow of a thousand flickering candles.
In the middle of the high table, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth sat bolt upright, her bright eyes dancing round the room as the courtier to her right engaged her in conversation.
Justine admired her pale beauty, set off by her striking bodice of red velvet edged with gold lace and sparkling with a thousand shimmering pearls, together with the single flashing emerald at her neck that brought out the green fire in her eyes. Then there was her red-bronze hair adorned with its simple, elegant gold crown, framed by the high pearl-edged lace ruff that flared up from her shoulders.
With a small raise of her hand, the Queen paused the conversation with the courtier beside her and looked up at the gallery. Maybe Justine’s small twisting movement had caught her eye. She held Justine’s gaze a moment, then gave the smallest nod of her head – so small that it could easily have been missed – as if to congratulate Justine on the success of the banquet she had organised.
With a smile Justine bowed her own head and gave a gentle curtsey. The Queen nodded again, then turned back to the courtier and resumed their conversation.
In the gallery Justine smiled again, this time to herself.
Yes, all things considered, the banquet was going pretty well.
She looked down across the room, taking in the full scene. The long high table ran along the back wall under the big windows with the Queen in the centre. On either side Justine had seated her most important courtiers, looking resplendent in their richly-coloured silk doublets with slashed sleeves and fine white ruffs. Beyond the courtiers she had seated the women, elegant in their low-cut gowns, their hair carefully parted in the centre and tucked under their French hoods – a style introduced originally by Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn.
Justine’s gaze moved to the table down the left side of the room. The people here were less important and their clothes reflected this – the men wore plain doublets and the women wore their hair in simple cotton coifs rather than the more elaborate French hoods of the high table. Their behaviour was no less exuberant, if anything slightly more so, and Justine smiled as they all laughed at a joke from the jester who had been moving round the tables. His brightly-coloured motley costume consisted of a tunic split into a red half and a yellow half, while his hose had one red leg and one yellow leg on the opposite sides. In his hand was a small jester head on a stick, which he was using to entertain the guests.
From behind her came the sound of the minstrels; four elderly men with lutes playing light-hearted music that was all but lost against the loud noise of the room. Their piece came to an end, and she turned to them.
“You play well, good sirs,” she said with a twinkling smile. “What is next?”
“We have not yet played Greensleeves,” said the eldest minstrel. “But first we need a drink.” All four reached down for the tankards by their stools and drained them with great satisfaction. The oldest man then examined the bottom of his empty tankard and looked up at Justine expectantly. She laughed and reached for the large pewter jug ready by her feet, then went to each in turn, pouring more beer into their proffered tankards.
“Ahh, thank you my girl,” said the oldest man, “it is always a pleasure to play at one of your banquets.”
Justine curtseyed in reply. The men drank some more, then put down their tankards and launched into Greensleeves.
She turned and resumed her gaze across the Great Hall.
To her right was a smaller table seating more people, with a carving table beside it. On the wall above was a large portrait of a handsome knight in a shining breastplate standing with a white stag in the background. Her gaze stopped on this portrait, as it so often did, and she gave a small sigh as she studied the man’s long blond hair and trim beard.
The jester turned from the table he’d been entertaining and looked up, catching sight of Justine as she stared across at the portrait.
His gaze took in her shoulder-length cascade of russet-coloured ringlets trying to escape from under her French hood; her small, slightly snub nose, her pale blue eyes under thick, dark eyebrows staring with a faraway look at the portrait…
He gave a little dance and waved his stick to catch her eye.
She spotted him and gave a small wave back. He raised an enquiring eyebrow, then flicked the stick up behind his back so the little jester head on the end popped up on his shoulder.
He turned to it and appeared to have a brief conversation, then pointed up at her. The little head on his shoulder nodded. He made a ‘doe-eyed’ face – a gross over-exaggeration of hers, with a sickly grin and fluttering eyelashes – then pointed back at her. The head nodded again, then both the jester and the head turned to look up at her, with the jester smiling broadly.
She couldn’t help but laugh and he laughed back. Then he gave a low courtly bow, while she applauded.
The jester turned back to the room and started dancing sideways up towards the high table.
Still chuckling, Justine’s gaze moved upwards to the large tapestries depicting heroic scenes of hunts that were hanging round the hall between the sconces. In one scene knights attacked a stag with spears and arrows in a green forest; in another a different stag was running from a pack of baying hounds, followed by nobles on horses.
Justine looked back down at the hall. The servants had cleared the main courses away and were now circulating with bowls of fruit and more wine.
‘Only an hour more and we’ll be cleared and finished,’ she thought, as she twisted once more in the tight bodice of her gown.
Just then she became aware of an insistent beeping sound over the noise of the room. Fishing her mobile from the pocket of her gown, she swiped the screen.
“Hello, Justine Parker here.”
“The taxis have started arriving,” said a voice. “They’re early.”
“Oh, bother. I put half-eleven on the schedule.” She nudged up the end of her lace sleeve with her elbow, to reveal her watch. “It’s only eleven fifteen. We’ve just served the fruit. Would you be a sweetie and tell them they’ll have to wait?”
“And please can you tell them to turn their meters off. I don’t want one of their silly waiting charges when it’s all their fault.” Justine thought a moment. “It is their fault, isn’t it? Oh bother and blast it, it had better be. I’ll check the email I sent them. Can you be an absolute poppet and bluff it out or something?”
“Sure, no problem.”
Justine tapped the email app on her phone and scrolled through to find the relevant message. There it was – ‘please make sure the taxis arrive at 11:30pm’.
Tucking her mobile back into her pocket with a satisfied smile, Justine looked back down at the hall.
I have been writing fiction for 20-years, starting with the book I needed to get out of my system, which shall never again see the light of day. During that time I’ve worked as an antiques dealer, jewellery designer-maker, painter and decorator, and written a number of novel-length works that I would be happy to see published. I recently completed a novel about a young woman coming to terms with terminal cancer, for which I am currently seeking agent representation. I also write short stories, some of which have published in anthologies or short-listed in competitions, and flash fiction, which I post on my blog sarahannhall.wordpress.com. I find it difficult to identify my genre, but focus on relationships and the psychological while writing about love, death, and mental health.
I am not a poet but experiment with micropoetry – tanka, shadorma, American Cinquain – and find these concentrate the mind as well as language.