Tag: Newsletter (Page 1 of 3)

April 2021 Newsletter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 – 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 – June 2020

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

AUTHOR NEWS

New Book Launched on 1st June – ARTHUR REX BRITTONUM

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

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

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

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

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

Crusader’s Path – Book Blurb…

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

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

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

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

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

BOOK BUY LINKS:  AMAZON.COMAMAZON.CO.UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome – now go wash your hands.

Newsletter – May 2020

NEWSLETTER – MAY 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

Follow Tim on TWITTER FACEBOOK GOODREADS

AUTHOR NEWS

NEW – Coming on 1st June…

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

Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend. 

Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.

Arthur, only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father – but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory?  It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum is book five in the A Light in the Dark Ages series, and picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum.

Pre-order the e-book HERE

This month, I’m delighted to welcome TWO top historical fiction authors – Mary Anne Yarde and Mercedes Rochelle – both of whom have new books they’d like to share with us. Also, Mary Anne has written an article on a subject close to my heart – The Arthurian Legend.

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes.

Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed. Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde 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 part of her childhood.
Connect with Mary Anne here:-
Website  Blog   Twitter   Facebook    Goodreads

God against Gods. King against King. Brother against Brother.
Mordred Pendragon had once said that the sons of Lancelot would eventually destroy each other, it seemed he was right all along.
Garren du Lac knew what the burning pyres meant in his brother’s kingdom — invasion. But who would dare to challenge King Alden of Cerniw for his throne? Only one man was daring enough, arrogant enough, to attempt such a feat — Budic du Lac, their eldest half-brother.
While Merton du Lac struggles to come to terms with the magnitude of Budic’s crime, there is another threat, one that is as ancient as it is powerful. But with the death toll rising and his men deserting who will take up the banner and fight in his name?
Book Buy Links – Amazon UK    Amazon US

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter

Mercedes Rochelle was born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Website • Blog • Facebook • Twitter

The King’s Retribution: Book 2 of The Plantagenet Legacy
By Mercedes Rochelle

If you read A KING UNDER SIEGE, you might remember that we left off just as Richard declared his majority at age 22. He was able to rise above the humiliation inflicted on him during the Merciless Parliament, but the fear that it could happen again haunted him the rest of his life.

Ten years was a long time to wait before taking revenge on your enemies, but King Richard II was a patient man. Hiding his antagonism toward the Lords Appellant, once he felt strong enough to wreak his revenge he was swift and merciless. Alas for Richard, he went too far, and in his eagerness to protect his crown Richard underestimated the very man who would take it from him: Henry Bolingbroke.

Buy Links –  Amazon.com    Amazon UK

Extract – The trouble begins

The Duke of Gloucester was not one to give up his principles just because he was out of favor with the king—again. Regardless, as far as Gloucester was concerned, peace and prosperity in England mattered far less than the military glory that could be achieved on the fair fields of France. As he picked up his helm and rubbed away a smudge, the duke wished once again that he could have fought with his father, Edward III, at Crécy. Those were the days people cherished, when the English army stunned the world by trouncing a much larger French force. Though it was only fifty years ago, times had changed so much it felt like ancient history. And then ten years later, Gloucester’s brother Edward the Black Prince achieved a similar victory at Poitiers, capturing the King of France in the process. The ransom was enormous and the benefit to the exchequer incalculable—even though it had never been completely paid off. What did it matter? The prestige was unrivaled. 

The duke replaced his helm on its shelf, straightening the mantle hanging from its crest—a lion with its own crown. And what happened with the Black Prince’s son? He grimaced like he always did when thinking of Richard. The best his nephew could manage was an unprofitable expedition to that backwater Ireland. And what came of that? Nothing. And then he bent his knee to the mad King of France who is totally unfit to sit on the throne. And what came of that? A seven year-old queen! And Richard was twenty-nine! Unheard of! The king’s peace policy was a disgrace. Idle soldiers turned into brigands; armorers fled to the continent to practice their trade, for there was no work in England. And worst of all, instead of attaining glory the dukes and earls had to be satisfied with begging for crumbs dropped by their milksop king.

Something had to be done.

The Dark Ages: The time of King Arthur
By Mary Anne Yarde

In 1846 William John Thoms, a British writer, penned a letter to The Athenaeum, a British Magazine. In this letter, he talked about “popular antiquities.” But instead of calling it by its common name, he used a new term — folklore.

What did Thoms mean by this new word? Well, let’s break it down. The word folk referred to the rural poor who were, for the most part, illiterate. Lore means instruction. So, folklore means to instruct the poor. But we understand it as verbal storytelling. Forget the wheel 
— I think storytelling is what sets us apart. We need stories, we always have and we always will.

The Dark Ages is, I think, one of the most fascinating eras in history. However, it does not come without challenges. This was an era of the lost manuscripts. They were lost due to various reasons. Firstly, the Viking raiders destroyed many written primary sources. Henry VIII did not help matters when he ordered The Dissolution of the Monasteries. More were lost due to the English Civil War and indeed, The French Revolution, and of course the tragic Cotton Library Fire in 1731.Therefore, there are only a handful of primary written sources. Unfortunately, these sources are not very reliable. They talk of great kings and terrible battles, but something is missing from them. Something important. And that something is authenticity. The Dark Ages is the time of the bards. It is the time of myths and legends. It is a period like no other. If the Dark Ages had a welcoming sign, it would say this:

“Welcome to the land of folklore. Welcome to the land of King Arthur.”

Throughout the years, there have been many arguments put forward as to who King Arthur was, what he did, and how he died. England, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and France claim Arthur as their own. Even The Roman Empire had a famous military commander who went by the name of Lucius Artorius Castus. There are so many possibilities. There are so many Arthurs. Over time, these different Arthurs became one. The Roman Artorious gave us the knights. The other countries who have claimed Arthur as their own, gave us the legend.

We are told that Arthur and his knights cared, for the most part, about the people they represented. Arthur was a good king, the like of which has never been seen before or after. He was the perfect tool for spreading a type of patriotic propaganda and was used to great effect in the centuries that were to follow. Arthur was someone you would want to fight by your side. However, he also gave ordinary people a sense of belonging and hope. He is, after all, as T.H. White so elegantly put it, The Once and Future King. If we believe in the legend, then we are assured that if Britain’s sovereignty is ever threatened, Arthur and his knights will ride again. A wonderful and heartfelt promise. A beautiful prophecy. However, there is another side to these heroic stories. A darker side. Some stories paint Arthur in an altogether different light. Arthur is no hero. He is no friend of the Church. He is no friend to anyone apart from himself. He is arrogant and cruel. Likewise, history tells us that the Roman military commander, Lucius Artorius Castus, chose Rome over his Sarmatian Knights. He betrayed them and watched as Rome slaughtered them all. It is not quite the picture one has in mind when we think of Arthur, is it? It is an interesting paradox and one I find incredibly fascinating.

King Arthur and Edward III

But putting that aside, Arthur, to many people, is a hero. Someone to inspire to. This was undoubtedly true for Edward III. Edward was determined that his reign was going to be as spectacular as Arthur’s was. He believed in the stories of Arthur and his Knights. He had even started to have his very own Round Table built at Windsor Castle.

He also founded The Order of the Garter— which is still the highest order of chivalry that the Queen can bestow. Arthur, whether fictional or not, influenced kings.

So how do we separate fact from fiction?

In our search for Arthur, we are digging up folklore, and that is not the same as excavating relics. We have the same problem now as Geoffrey of Monmouth did back in the 12th Century when he compiled The History of the Kings of Briton. His book is now considered a ‘national myth,’ but for centuries his book was considered to be factually correct. So, where did Monmouth get these facts? He borrowed from the works of Gildas, Nennuis, Bede, and The Annals of Wales. There was also that mysterious ancient manuscript that he borrowed from Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford. Monmouth then borrowed from the bardic oral tradition. In other words, he listened to the stories of the bards. Add to the mix his own imagination and Monmouth was onto a winner. Those who were critical of his work were brushed aside and ignored. Monmouth made Britain glorious, and he gave us not Arthur the general, but Arthur the King. And what a king he was.

So is Arthur a great lie that for over a thousand years, we have all believed in? Should we be taking the Arthurian history books from the historical section and moving them to sit next to George R. R. Martin’s, Game of Thrones? No. I don’t think so. In this instance, folklore has shaped our nation. We should not dismiss folklore out of hand just because it is not an exact science. We should embrace it because when you do, it becomes easier to see the influence these ‘stories’ have had on historical events.

References: 

(Author Unknown) — The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (J. M. Dent, New edition, 1972)
Bede — Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2012)
Geoffrey of Monmouth — The History of the Kings of Britain (Penguin Books Ltd, 1966)
Gildas — On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain (Serenity Publishers, LLC, 2009)
Matthews, John, Caitlín — The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero (Inner Traditions, 2017)
Nennius — The History of the Britons (Dodo Press, July 2007)
Pryor, Francis — Britain AD: A Quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons (HarperCollins Publisher, 2005)
Wood, Michael — In Search of the Dark Ages (BBC Books, 2005)

Images:

1) Stonehenge — TheDigitalArtist / 5052 images, Pixabay
2) The King Arthur statue at Tintagel. The statue is called Gallos, which is Cornish for power. The sculpture is by Rubin Eynon.
3) Edward III — Scanned from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson, ISBN 1855142287. Reproduction of a painting that is in the public domain because of its age.

Newsletter – April 2020

APRIL 2020
MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com
SOCIAL MEDIA
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
AUTHOR NEWS

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

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

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

PAPERBACK BUY LINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PLAGUE

I walked through Corona though some call it Slough,
Through the wreckage of many lives – I don’t know how,
My blood was boiling, a life beyond care,
Eyes bulging as I inhaled the fetid air,
My pulse quickening as my shuffle became slow,
Passing tumbleweed creepers with nowhere to go,
Past doorway sleepers whose lives forsake pleasure,
Block no one no more, those doors closed forever,
A mangy dog howls and chases its tail,
Side-stepped by droogs and a postman with mail,
I stagger on through gritty drizzling rain,
Oblivious to holes in my shoes and the dull throbbing pain,
MacDonald’s is empty with no one in line,
Beyond, the bright lights of Boots just in time,
My empty back pack I then stuff with loo roll,
Before cleaning out pain killers, juices and Swiss rolls,
I adjusted my mask and make for the tills,
Joined a queue, kept my distance and popped a few pills,
Outside I looked about, jealously guarding my haul,
Made my way to the bus stop passing through the mall,
Then leave the cold drizzle for lightness and warm,
Lowered mask, ignoring stares, embracing the storm
Looking out of the window whilst clutching my wares
At the hunched over shufflers burdened by cares,
Boarded up plots speak of urban decay
A fitting graveyard for those who fall by the way,
The window steams up and it all becomes vague
As I wonder if I’ll also succumbs to the plague.

Newsletter – Feb 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full contents:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Book of Love

Book 6 in the Little Book Series

A poetry collection by Claire Buss

Author Website

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

Be My Valentine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newsletter jan 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
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
Happy new year to you all. The highlight of my 2019 was launching book four in my A Light in the Dark Ages series, Arthur Dux Bellorum, on 1st March. It was with some trepidation that I approached writing my version of the King Arthur story, aware that I was treading a well-worn road, and that my offering might be rubbished or shot down in flames by the legion of Arthurian fans. As it happened, it was well received, even in hardcore Arthurian Legend Facebook groups.

Since September I have been researching and writing the follow-up, Arthur Rex Brittonum, and hope to have it ready launch by May 2020 (progress has been hampered by illness that has negatively impacted momentum).

However, I’d like to sign off for the year and by thanking all those who read and reviewed Arthur Dux, and I’ll leave you with a handful of glowing review comments…
• I really loved this book. The characters come alive with Tim’s very descriptive writing. I really felt like I was there with Arthur and part of his life and events.
• The author has certainly done his research with this book as it covers all the old legends along with all the new information that has been found recently to make this the most up to date story based on Arthur that I have ever read.
As with the previous books the story flows brilliantly and the fight scenes are really well written along with the locations and characters.
• I enjoyed it – historical fiction with a smattering of magic – a really good read.
• An exciting journey. Into a wee world of sorcery, knights, battles and of course fair maidens. A great read, brilliant storytelling of the rise of Arthur as a warrior wielding his legendary sword Excalibur.
• Great storytelling, excellent battle scenes, interesting new ideas about the legendary Arthur and his impact on Britain in the Dark Ages. Looking forward to reading the next instalment in this series!
• Tim Walker doesn’t just begin this story with a boy and end it with a man. Arthur’s right of passage wasn’t served on a plate, he earned every man’s respect and grew with age into a legend that is still talked about. The story is mesmerizing, brutal and stunning. Loving this series.
• Arthur, Dux Bellorum is the sort of engaging historical fiction I’m always delighted to discover; this is described as book four of four but I hope there is more to come as I will definitely be reading any future books in the series and look forward to catching up with the previous novels.

Arthur Dux Bellorum buy links:- Kindle/Paperback  i-books/Kobo/other       

Dying to be Born’ is the third installment in Jane Jago and EM Swift-Hook’s entralling book series based on the Dai and Julia characters.

You see… In a modern-day Britain where the Roman Empire never left, Dai and Julia find themselves pitted against their most dangerous and implacable enemy yet, whilst still having to manage the inevitable family, friendship and domestic crises.  The Third Dai and Julia Omnibus includes the three novellas ‘Dying on the Streets’, ‘Dying to be Innocent’ and ‘Dying to Find Proof’ plus several exclusive short stories.

Here’s one of the exclusive bonus short stories The Third Dai and Julia Omnibus by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

            “And what do you think Llewellyn?”
            The voice of the Magistratus cut into Dai’s thoughts. He had been attending a meeting on the monthly crime figures for Demetae and Cornovii, a meeting which he usually came to armed to the teeth with relevant figures and ready to make a strong case for increasing the hours allocated to the crimes which affected the ordinary people and not those which impacted only the Roman elite. But this time he had turned up empty-handed and with only the vaguest idea of the figures which he had read through on his palmtop in the few minutes that elapsed between his arrival at his office in the Basilica Viriconia and the start of this meeting.
            “I ..uh…”
            He became painfully aware of the over-sharp look he received from the other individual in the room, his opposite number and fellow Submagistratus, Agrippina Julius Valerius Apollinara. It felt like he had Divine disapproval since she was of the great reforming Emperor’s bloodline even only if a distant and forgotten cul-de-sac of that.
            The Magistratus tapped a finger on the print-out in front of him.
            “I am not so surprised you have no opinion, these figures are a little troubling. Whereas the team under Submagistratus Julius Valerius has been making great strides and inroads into crime on all fronts, your own teams seem to be failing badly. Especially that of Senior Investigator Cartimel, his clear-up rate has bottomed out at an all-time low. How would you explain that Llewellyn?”
            It was hard to be sure from the perturbed frown on his face whether Magistratus Sextus Catus Bestia was genuinely more concerned about the poor figures or about there being some underlying problem which might explain them. Dai decided to try for the truth – tactfully.
            “The cases we have been assigned are…”
“Ones I feel are best suited to your skillset – local knowledge, British crimes.”
It was hard to disagree with that. Bryn Cartivel stood far more chance of making headway with those on the lowest rungs of the social ladder than the man shipped in from the provincial capital to cover, on a temporary basis, the Senior Investigator role for Agrippina Julius. That had needed to happen following the tragic death in action of her previous SI. A death she still seemed to place somehow at Dai’s door. It was an eternal elephant in the room every time they were forced into professional contact.
The one person Dai knew who might have been able to resolve it all was Julia, his Roman born wife, but Julia…
He jerked his thoughts away with a near-physical reaction. He couldn’t let himself go there. Not here. Not now.
“Cartivel is doing a solid job,” he said quickly, “but the cases you are assign – I mean the cases he is being assigned are those which take a lot of investigation. They are anything but open and shut.”
“Really?” Bestia frowned down his nose at a line his finger had come to rest on. “So the fact that a spate of robberies that just happened to coincide with the return to the area of a known criminal from a sentence of three years hard labour for petty theft took a lot of investigation?”
“Gillie had an alibi for each occasion – rock-solid ones. The man has only just got back to his wife and children he’s not about to…”
“These people will always alibi each other, they can’t be trusted. No. Just tell Carnival to arrest the man and we’ll let the courts decide. See how many of his low-life alibis are willing to speak up for him under oath before the face of the Divine Diocletian.”
And that was the problem. Whilst most might be willing to speak to Bryn and tell him what they knew, none would have the courage to step into a Roman court with the knowledge that their evidence if dismissed, could result in a charge against them for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
“SI Cartivel has a strong line of enquiry…”
“Just do what I suggested, eh?” the Magistratus dropped an odd avuncular wink. “And then your SI can get on with something else a bit more important. His dithering around with these open and shut cases does make me wonder if he’s not really up to the speed of modern Vigiles work. He must be close to retirement now.”
“He has another five years before…”
“Exactly. This is a younger man’s job. Now tell him to make the arrest, it really is for the best. Then we can close the case, improve the figures and move on.”

Universal Book Link
EM’s author page
Jane’s author page
EM’s twitter
Jane’s Twitter

No poem actually, just a drabble.
What is a drabble? I hear you shout. Let me tell you…
It is a short story of no more than 100 words in length, a form at which the aforementioned Jane Jago is a master (or mistress, perhaps).
This one was written by me shortly after the apocalyptic images of Notre Dame Cathedral burning in April 2019 flashed across my television screen. I intend to put this and other short prose, together with odd verse, into a collection I shall call ‘Perverse’ and hope to publish in early 2020.

Morte de Notre Dame

The hoot of a barn owl was met by the stony glare of a gargoyle, fashioned by medieval masons to guard the holy building from evil. But tonight, they have failed.
A wraith-like figure danced down the aisle, glowing in the cavernous darkness, revenge on her mind.
Orange and yellow flames licked the inside of the monstrous granite cathedral, feeding off rows of wooden pews, torching tapestries and melting lead in stained glass windows that popped colourful shards.
Esmerelda smiled as she skipped barefoot through the barred oak doors, out into the silent square, past the scene of her murder.

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