Against overwhelming odds, can she save her legacy?
Gwenna’s life is about to change. Her father is dead and the family business on the brink of collapse. Thwarted by society, the plucky sweet maker refuses to accept defeat.
Amid the bustling vibrancy of Auckland’s Karangahape Road, she promised her father she would fulfil his dreams and save her legacy. But thanks to her overbearing stepbrother that legacy is at risk. Gwenna must find hidden strengths and fight for her rights if she is to keep her promise.
She falls in love with the cheeky and charming Johnno, but just when things are beginning to look up, disaster strikes. Throughout the twists and turns of love and tragedy, Gwenna is irrepressible. She refuses to relinquish her goal and lets nothing and no one stand in her way. Blind to anything that could distract her, Gwenna overlooks the most important person in her life, putting her dreams, her family, and her chance at happiness in jeopardy.
Vicky Adin is a family historian in love with the past. Like the characters in her stories, she too, is an immigrant to New Zealand, arriving a century after her first protagonists and ready to start a new life.
Born in Wales, she grew up in Cornwall until aged 12. Her family emigrated to New Zealand, a country she would call home. Vicky draws on her affinity for these places in her writing. Fast forward a few years, and she marries a fourth-generation Kiwi bloke with Irish, Scottish and English ancestors and her passion for genealogy flourishes.
The further she dug into the past the more she wanted to record the lives of the people who were the foundations of her new country. Not just her ancestors but all those who braved the oceans and became pioneers in a raw new land. Her research into life as it was for those immigrants in the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s gave her enough material to write about the land left behind and the birth of a new nation for many years.
Vicky holds a MA(Hons) in English, is a lover of art, antiques, gardens, good food and red wine. She and her husband travel throughout New Zealand in their caravan and travel the world when they can. She hopes that younger generations also enjoy learning about the past through her stories as much as she had in writing them.
Granny Hunith, was an elderly woman. Edith had been her last child and she was well past her sixtieth year, though no one seemed to remember when she was born, and if she knew herself, she was not telling. Hunith and Kendra had disputed for several years over which of them was the elder, for it was some distinction to be the oldest woman in the village. Kendra’s impending death would secure Hunith her supremacy, an event she looked on with a mixture of triumph and regret.
She was sitting on a bench outside her hut, a spindle busy in her hands while she watched several small children—offspring of Elswyth’s Welisc cousins—playing in the dirt at her feet. She was dressed in rough-spun brown like a slave, though underneath she wore fine-spun linen, so as not to itch from the wool. She had the face of an aging well-tanned cherub, framed with long grey hair that her various daughters and granddaughters, noble and slave alike, kept immaculately combed for her.
The children leapt up and ran to attach themselves to Elswyth’s skirts when they saw her coming, begging for the nuts or apples that Elswyth usually had with her when she came to visit Granny. But today she had forgotten to bring anything, so she kissed each of them on the cheek and sent them away.
“Hello, Granny,” she said as they approached. She and Leif were hand in hand, though neither had consciously offered a hand to the other.
“So you’ve brought your swain to see me at last, Elsy,” Hunith said.
“No, Granny, this is Leif.”
“Help me up, young man,” Hunith said.
Leif offered her his hand and she pulled herself to her feet. She did not let go of his hand, however, but held him with one hand while she inspected him with the other, testing the muscle in his arm and forcing open his mouth so she could inspect his teeth. She lifted the corner of his bandage and made him bend over so that she could smell the wound.
“It’s fresh, Granny,” Elswyth said. “It wouldn’t smell yet. I bound it with honey so it would not fester.”
Hunith nodded. “Well, he’s fit,” she said, when she had completed her inspection. “Very tall. Tall men are good in battle, but it can be hard work birthing their babies. Big babies could get stuck inside a wee thing like you.”
“I’m not having his babies, Granny.”
“Waiting till the wedding, then? You are taking her on faith, young man? Don’t worry, we’re a fertile lot, and we birth easy.”
“I’m not marrying him, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. Don’t you remember? This is Leif, the captain of the Norsk ship on the beach.”
“Norsk? You still remember the old gods, young man?”
“We honor Odin, Thor, and Ran.”
“And what of the Christ, then?”
“I will give no offence to your Christ, in his own country.”
“Good lad. Will you be taking Elsy back to Norway, when you marry?”
“I am not marrying your granddaughter, Lady.”
“Lady? You’re not in the hall now, young man. I’m not an Anglish lady, and I won’t hear it said. You heed me?”
“You should call me Granny, since you are marrying Elsy.”
“He’s not marrying me, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. You would have met him several times already, if only you would come to the hall when he visits.”
“I’ll not go to the hall, and Drefan of Bamburgh will not come down to the slave huts to visit me. But this young jarl of yours, he comes to see me when you ask him to. He regards the whole of you, not the half. He will make you a good husband.”
“But I’m not marrying him, Granny. Stop being dense. I know you’re not really.”
“She has a temper, this one,” Hunith said, still holding on to Leif’s hand. “But she has a good heart. Do not beat her. She will disobey you sometimes, but she will be sorry for it. She has a good heart, and beating would only turn her sour.”
“I would never beat her,” Leif said.
“You will be a good husband. She will be a good wife. She can’t sew, but she will entertain your guests and take good care of your children.”
“You may tell your mother I approve the match,” Hunith said, dropping Leif’s hand and taking both of Elswyth’s hands in her own. Then she pulled Elswyth close and whispered. “Come to me before your wedding night. I have a salve that will make things easy for you, and herbs to put in his food, and a charm for under the pillow.”
“I’m sorry, Leif,” Elswyth said. “Sometimes she’s lucid as a bishop and sometimes she’s just dotty. This must be a dotty day. Let’s go and see if the monk has finished his prayers.
Elswyth kissed her grandmother goodbye. Leif bowed to her and thanked her for receiving him. They turned and walked back toward the hall, her hand falling into his again, without either of them noticing.
Hunith sat back on her bench, picked up her spindle, and watched them go, a contented smile on her face. She could always tell when the weather was changing, long before other people noticed the sun come out or the clouds roll in.
Here’s the blurb:
The mighty are undone by pride, the bold by folly, and the good by wistfulness.
Elswyth’s mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman’s son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.
From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793 the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne. Norse are suddenly not welcome in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach in her village of Twyford, her father fears a Viking raid.
But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father’s ship and desperate to raise his father’s ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. Elswyth is fascinated by the books and the pictures they contain of warm and distant lands.
But when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif, and tame the wistfulness of her restless heart.
G. M. Baker has been a newspaper reporter, managing editor, freelance writer, magazine contributor, PhD candidate, seminarian, teacher, desktop publisher, programmer, technical writer, department manager, communications director, non-fiction author, speaker, consultant, and grandfather. He has published stories in The Atlantic Advocate, Fantasy Book, New England’s Coastal Journal, Our Family, Storyteller, Solander, and Dappled Things. There was nothing much left to do but become a novelist.
Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has beencalled the last true Elizabethan.
This journey began when I was researching for an historical novel about Henry Tudor, who like me was born in the town of Pembroke, Wales. I eventually uncovered enough original material to write three books, with Henry being born in the first, coming of age in the second and becoming King of England in the third.
The result was my best-selling Tudor Trilogy, and I decided to continue the stories of the Tudors in a continuous line. I also made a conscious decision to tell the stories through those surrounding King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, so we see different facets of these complex rulers through the eyes of others.
For my Elizabethan series I chose three very different favourites of the queen, who each saw different sides of her personality. Sir Francis Drake showered her with gold and jewels, stolen from the Spanish, in return for the status he longed for. The Earl of Essex was like the errant son she never had, but Raleigh became her protector, Captain of the Guard, and lived to see the last days of the Tudor dynasty.
Many of the things I thought I knew about Walter Raleigh proved to be wrong. Raleigh is credited with introducing the potato and tobacco to Britain, but I’ve seen no evidence for either, or for the popular tale of a servant throwing water over him when he mistook the smoke from Raleigh’s pipe for a fire!
I followed Raleigh across the Irish Sea to the sleepy harbour at Youghal, where he had a house and became Mayor, as well as to the bustling city of Cork, where he served in the English Army of occupation. I also visited Raleigh’s house at Sherborne in Dorset, which still has many original features.
My research uncovered a comprehensive collection of original letters and poetry written by Raleigh. As well as helping me understand his motivation, and the timeline of complex events, they also gave me a sense of his ‘voice’, and how he spoke to the queen and others of her court.
I relied on the comprehensive records of the Elizabethan Court, which set out events in fascinating detail. I was also lucky to read ‘A Woman of Noble Wit’, a new novel by Rosemary Griggs, about Raleigh’s mother. This led me to explore Walter Raleigh’s relationship with his father, as well as his mother, an aspect of him largely ignored by historical biographers.
My hope is that Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer will help readers see beyond the myths and half-truths, and have a better understanding of the man who has been called the last true Elizabethan.
Thank you so much for sharing. Your research sounds fabulous, and I too am reading A Woman of Noble Wit. Good luck with the new release.
Here’s the blurb:
Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.
He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?
The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors’ podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches
Your book, Apollo’s Raven, sounds fascinating. Can you share with me what the first idea was that made you decide to write this story? It might be very different from how the story ended up being, but I am curious, if you don’t mind sharing. And, if the story is very different, would you mind sharing the process by which you ended up with your current novel?
Thank you for featuring me as an author of Apollo’s Raven (Book 1 Curse of Clansmen and Kings) in the blog tour. You pose an interesting question, because the evolution of the characters and storyline has been a lifelong journey. Since childhood, the characters of a female warrior and her Roman lover have lived in my head, in part, as a way for me to deal with challenges in my own life. Both characters are bigger than life, but I never had a cohesive tale until I discovered historical figures who inspired me to develop the overall arc of the storyline.
A pivotal point for creating the story was during one of my business travels to the United Kingdom. I was intrigued by the statue of a warrior queen and her daughters in a chariot, alongside the Thames River in London. After I did more research, I learned that she was Boudicca—an Iceni warrior queen who united the Britons in a rebellion against the Romans in AD 61 to expel them from Britannia. Roman historians describe her as a powerful druidess who sacrificed some of her victims to the war goddess, Andraste. Although the Celtic society was becoming more paternalistic, women were still held in high regard and could rule. The legacy of warrior queens in ancient Britannia and in Irish mythology inspired the primary protagonist, Catrin, in the series.
The legacy of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and his tragic downfall with Cleopatra inspired the creation of Catrin’s Roman lover, Marcellus. Mark Antony’s son (Iullus Antonius) from a previous marriage also suffered a similar tragic fate— he was forced to commit suicide for his scandalous affair with Augustus Caesar’s only daughter, Julia. Little is known about Iullus’s son, Lucius Antonius, except that he was exiled to Gaul as a young man, most likely as a condition to escape his father’s fate. During the period in my series, the Antonius family legacy is cursed by the act of damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) for Marcus and Iullus Antonius, who both died in disgrace as a consequence of their liaisons with women. One of the burning questions I had is how would the tragic Antonius legacy impact Lucius Antonius? How would he react if his own son went down the same fateful path as his ancestors?
And thus, Marcellus, the son of Lucius Antonius, was created and cursed to meet the tragic fate as his ancestors. Catrin also lives under the curse cast against her father, King Amren, that foretells she and her half-brother will overthrow their father and rule the Cantiaci Kingdom in southeast Britannia.
I drafted a three-page summary in 2010 for initially three books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series, which is now envisioned to be at least five books, a sequel, and other books associated with the characters. The series spans the time period between AD 24 through AD 40 in the backdrop of ancient Britannia, Gaul, and Rome. Prior to the Roman conquest of Britannia, tribal kings fought each other for power and sought interference from Rome to settle political differences. The series is an epic tale with universal themes of love versus duty, political corruption, otherworldly forces, loyalty, vengeance, and redemption.
When I look back at my original summary, the storyline has changed substantially. Apollo’s Raven starts earlier in southeast Britannia to give a taste of the Celtic culture and beliefs to contrast with the Romans. Since the Celts left few written records, most of the backdrop for Celtic society is based on Greek and Roman accounts and archaeological findings. Interestingly, Julius Caesar left some of the most detailed accounts about the Celtic society in Gaul and Britannia.
Fantastical elements were added to reflect the culture and religious beliefs of Britons to contract with the paternalistic Romans. The magical elements are based on Welsh and Irish mythology and legends, similar to Arthurian legends. The story was changed so that Catrin can connect with ravens, which is seen as a bad omen. As she is struggling to understand this unnatural connection, she is romantically drawn to the captivating Roman hostage, Marcellus—her family’s enemy.
Likewise, Marcellus is confounded by Catrin’s mystical ability to travel to other worlds through her spirit guide, the Raven. She co-exists in the realm of mankind and in the Otherworld of the gods and the dead which empower with the ability to see through the eyes of a raven, foretell the future, and hear his thoughts. His intimate relationship with Catrin could unravel the volatile politics between Rome and Britannia.
One of the most fascinating concepts of Celtic religion that I incorporated into the series is the Celtic belief in the reincarnation of the soul. Their belief is consistent with the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who believed in metempsychosis, or the “transmigration of souls.” Every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. I freely use this concept to explain shapeshifting and other magical powers, which was not originally included in the series.
In essence, seeds for the characters and storyline germinated over time in my mind, but then evolved to include fantastical elements after I developed the original summary of the plotline. After that, characters directed how their stories should be told in my head, and I was further inspired from further research and travels.
Thank you so much for sharing with on the blog. I wish you huge success with the series.
Here’s the blurb:
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.
AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.
Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include Apollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), and Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3). Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4) is anticipated to be released in late 2021 or early 2022.
A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
What happens when a king loses his prowess? The day Henry IV could finally declare he had vanquished his enemies, he threw it all away with an infamous deed. No English king had executed an archbishop before. And divine judgment was quick to follow. Many thought he was struck with leprosy—God’s greatest punishment for sinners. From that point on, Henry’s health was cursed and he fought doggedly on as his body continued to betray him—reducing this once great warrior to an invalid. Fortunately for England, his heir was ready and eager to take over. But Henry wasn’t willing to relinquish what he had worked so hard to preserve. No one was going to take away his royal prerogative—not even Prince Hal. But Henry didn’t count on Hal’s dauntless nature, which threatened to tear the royal family apart.
This book is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription
Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Today, I’m pleased to share an excerpt from Lindsey S Fera’s latest book, Muskets and Minuets.
They danced the reel, and Abigail with George. For the second, Annalisa paired with Quinnapin, and for the third, Ezra Kimball.
When the cotillion ended, Annalisa scanned the set for Jack.
He stood across from Jane.
Forlorn, she turned away. Perhaps she would not dance with him after all. Jane, at seventeen, had been formally educated in Salem, been out for the past two years, and was now ripe for courting. It was no surprise Jack favored her.
And thank God it isn’t Oliver.
But Annalisa could hardly shake the bitter sting of disappointment, and an opportunity lost.
She slipped away from the set of dancers and wandered toward the common’s edge. Near a large boulder—the Common Rock, as it was known in town—Annalisa sprawled upon the cool, damp grass and lifted her face to the sky. The heavens glittered with a million tiny stars, and the yellow glow of lightning bugs hovered over the field in a thousand flickering lights. The brisk evening air, full of dew and lilac, set her with peaceful ease.
Annalisa reached into her pocket and removed Jack’s linen handkerchief. Holding it to her nose, she sniffed his amber perfume and closed her eyes. She imagined his hands upon her as they twirled beneath the night sky.
“Miss Annalisa, there you are.” Jack’s voice interrupted her fantasy.
Startled, she peered up at him.
“They’ve done the last dance already. I apologize. I’m afraid we’ll have to dance next year.”
Flowers of Edinburgh played one final time in the distance. Amidst the fireflies and sparkling skies, all she noticed were his eyes, glassy from too much ale. She replaced the handkerchief into her pocket.
“Sir, that is foul news indeed.” She sat up. “I’ve never seen so many lightning bugs.”
Jack peered about. “I’ve not seen anything like it myself. Topsfield is agreeable.”
“’Tis home.” She sighed, ready to lift from the ground. “I suppose I should find my parents.”
Jack assumed a recumbent position beside her on the grass. “Just a moment more—to atone for missing our dance.” He held his hat to his chest and looked into her eyes. “Nights like these are rare.”
“You’re right, Mr. Perkins.”
“Call me Jack.” He paused and licked his bottom lip. “Annalisa.”
The impropriety of hearing him utter only her Christian name stole her breath. Giddy, she lay back, and together they watched the stars.
“Adams keeps me too busy. I rarely have the chance to star-gaze in Boston.”
“George and I used to lie out in the western field for hours, watching for shooting stars. Quinn tells us to beware the Puk-wudjies in the woods late at night. I hardly believe in ghost stories, but I’m curious of his tales.”
“Good old Quinn. Wampanoag lore is fascinating, though. After he told me about Puk-wudjies I thought I saw one in Cambridge. Turns out it had been the ale I’d been drinking!” Jack laughed. “I wish I had someone like George growing up. Your brother loves you very much. He spoke of you countless times when he stayed with us.” He paused. “I felt as though I already knew you before we met.”
“I felt the same about you. George wrote of you in nearly every one of his letters.” She ground her teeth, hating herself for having harbored ill feelings toward him. “You must be a good man if he had only good things to say.”
From the corner of her eye, she caught him staring. She turned and smiled.
“I’ve never known a lady so willing to lie in the grass like this.”
“I’m no ordinary lady.”
Jack’s cheeks dimpled. “I can see that.”
This is most inconvenient. Every girl in town holds a dalliance for Jack, including Jane.
She bit her lip, wishing she weren’t on that long list herself, especially when her own sister fancied him.
“Annalisa.” Jane’s voice struck like lightning. “Papa and Mamma are waiting.”
Jack sprung up and held out his hand to her. Annalisa grasped it and scrambled to her feet.
“Mr. Perkins.” Jane gave a brief curtsy.
Jack offered her his arm. “Miss Howlett, ’tis always a pleasure.”
Annalisa trailed behind them until they met with George, his eyes glassy and frown upturned. He dashed to her side and wrapped an arm over her.
“’Tis getting cool, Little One.” George’s breath smelled of stale cider.
She eased against him and relaxed her shoulders. “Tomorrow, let me show you how well I’ve been shooting. You owe me a lesson with Bixby.”
Her brother guffawed and stumbled as they walked. “I like the sound of that.”
In front of her, Jane held Jack’s arm. They beamed at one another, impervious to Annalisa and George behind them.
Annalisa squeezed George’s hand. “I’ve still much to learn.”
And much to forget.
She pulled Jack’s handkerchief from her pocket, crumpled it into a ball, and dropped it onto the common.
Here’s the blurb:
Love. Politics. War.
Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eligible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annalisa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.
Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th century, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history.
Violence and battle scenes, sexual assault, mild sexual content, and profanity.
A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. A member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets and Minuets. When she’s not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Boston, she’s nursing patients back to health in the ICU.
Welcome to the blog. I’m hoping you’re share what inspired you to write the book with my readers.
The initial inspiration for The Oath—and the books that were to follow it—was an image that came to me when I was mulling over the idea of writing a tongue-in-cheek medieval murder mystery as a way to balance the formal writing I did for work. More accurately, I had just dismissed this as a charming but unrealistic notion since to write any sort of fiction you need to have characters and a plot, and I had neither. Then, out of the blue, I pictured a Druid priest and a Christian nun having a conversation in a dirt-walled chamber.
Since that odd experience, I’ve had occasion to say that writing the five volumes of The Druid Chronicles was what I did to find out who those two people were, what they were talking about, and what happened to them afterwards. There was, of course, more to it than that since I’d seen images of modern Druids celebrating the summer solstice at Stone Henge, knew a little about the Roman destruction of the Druidic center on the island of Anglesey, and took it for granted that later vilification of polytheistic worshippers by the Christian church was at the basis of our current stereotypes of sorcerers and witches. In any case, I was intrigued by the thought of a Druid and a nun having a clandestine meeting, and went on to scribble the first draft of a story that took them out of that underground cell into a world that seemed to grow around them, replete with complicated characters, unexpected plot twists, and moral quandaries.
Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with the books.
Here’s the blurb:
When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanctuary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.
Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father’s throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids—beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.
“Linden’s well-researched tale eloquently brings to life a lesser-known period of transition in Britain. . . . The author has created a strong foundation for her series with well-developed characters whom readers can embrace. . . . [a] layered, gripping historical fiction.”
“The story rolls along at a lively pace, rich with details of the times and a wide cast of characters. [The] plotting, shifting points of view of the three engaging protagonists, and evocative writing style make The Oath a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.”
—Historical Novel Review
“Linden uses a fairy tale-like style almost as though this story has been passed down orally over the centuries.”
Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergraduate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a somewhat whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome N L Holmes to the blog. She’s going to share with us all the inspiration behind her Egyptian mystery books.
In a way, my Egyptian stories started the same way yours did, M.J. As a kid, I used to love all those fifties sword-and-sandal movies like The Egyptian and Land of the Pharaohs. That awakened my fascination with archaeology and perhaps with what ancient societies looked like. I remember raising pennies to help raise the temple at Abu Simbel when Lake Nassar was being built. During the decades that followed, I got sidetracked from my first love, but in my fortieth year, I went back to school and got my PhD in archaeology after all. Not specifically Egyptian, but Classical and Near Eastern, which situated me in the Eastern Mediterranean. And that meant people who interacted with the Egyptians. The interest was still simmering!
We’re getting closer now to the actual inspiration for Lord Hani. Over the following twenty-five years, I taught a wide variety of classes on ancient culture and history, including one on Ancient Egypt and one called Ancient Near Eastern Empires, which included Egypt and the Hittites. My family had been bookish, so the idea of starting to write fiction when I retired from teaching was a natural one. And the first inspiration I had for a story came from that Ancient Empires class. As an exercise, I had assigned my students to read the few brief historical documents referring to a certain royal divorce in the Syrian city of Ugarit, a vassal of the Hittites. “Now,” I told them, “describe what we really know about the event.” It became pretty clear that there wasn’t much you could say without drifting off into speculation. I said to myself, There’s a novel in there! So when I retired, I began to write The Queen’s Dog and expanded it into the Empire at Twilight series, set in the last few generations of the Hittite Empire.
From my teaching experience, though, I knew there were only about five people in the world who got excited by the Hittites, whereas loads of people were Egyptophiles. I loved Egypt too, after all. And we had a wonderful resource in the Amarna Letters. This is a partial archive of diplomatic correspondence from the reign of Akhenaten, the “heretic pharaoh”, that tells us nearly everything we know about Egypt’s relationship with its vassals and peers in the fourteenth century BCE. Here was a ready-made cast of characters and loads of plot points grounded in reality. Hani son of Mery-ra appeared frequently in the Letters, and his every mission was ready to become an adventure. I took Hani as my protagonist and developed his character into the sort of man I thought might be a trusted royal emissary under several kings. Then I selected a number of events and personages and wove them together. The process was “This, this, and this happened. Now explain it. Give the actors motives and relationships.”
I’m not a writer who plots in advance, so I can’t say that had any particular story in mind before I started. The process was one of tying diverse threads in so that nothing was left dangling at the end. In addition to Hani’s particular adventures, I wanted to capture a sense of the social and political upheaval Akhenaten inflicted on his kingdom with his “reforms.” Thus, I made Hani’s family involved with the worship of Amen-Ra—people whose personal lives took a direct hit from the revolution of values. Hani’s crisis of conscience is an ongoing thread through the six books of the series. But in addition to the political intrigue and the personal or familial arc, there is also a murder mystery in each book. In the case of Bird in a Snare and The North Wind Descends, the murder is a real historical fact; the others are fictional. After my experience with the Hittite series, I thought a solid, definable genre series might be easier for readers to digest. People seemed not to know exactly what to do with a genre-less, perhaps literary book set in the remote past, just because there weren’t any. Historical mysteries are familiar and popular. And that is how Lord Hani came to be!
Thank you so much for sharing the inspiration behind your series of books. They sound fascinating. Good luck with them.
N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun.
Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Nancy Jardine’s fabulous new book, Before Beltane. Enjoy.
Nara-Summoned to Swatrega
Nara pulled back the heavy leather cover that kept draughts from entering the roundhouse and ducked under it.
The first thing she noticed was the pall of aromatic smoke that lingered and danced high up in the roofbeams, and the heavy burning smell that permeated the dwelling. Swatrega and the priestess diviner had been casting prophecies.
At the far end of the large room, Swatrega sat alone in silence. The eyes of the High Priestess were closed, though Nara guessed the woman was not asleep. She stood awaiting the invitation to go further into the room. It came eventually, by which time Nara was feeling extremely unsettled, wondering what she could have done to merit the censure she now feared was coming to her.
“Come and sit by me, Princess Nara of Tarras.”
Swatrega’s tone was not angry. This disturbed Nara even more. The use of the term ‘princess’ was yet another reminder of her tribal status, and not a good sign at all.
Nara made her way to the end of the fireside, to a low-burning fire that gave out just enough heat to warm the priestess, who sat on the stool that had specially carved sides and was created for the one who led the order. Swatrega was enwrapped in a thick blanket of close-woven wool of a mud-brown colour, the material similar to the acolyte cloaks.
Only after Nara was settled on the short wooden bench beside her did Swatrega begin to speak again.
“You have been here for many seasons and, for my part, you have always given the impression that you would eventually rise to become one of our best priestesses.” Swatrega broke off, a gruff laugh coming unexpectedly.
Nara was dazed by the words, a sudden thrill overtaking her natural caution. Was she now to be given her final priestess rites? The elation she was feeling she quickly suppressed from sight – it was not a worthy trait under the eyes of the goddess.
She also knew it was not her place to answer…though it was her place to listen,
Swatrega broke eye contact, her focus on the doorway at the far end of the room. “In time, I had even envisaged that you might take my place, here at this priestess home.”
Once more Nara had to wait, confusion now reigning. The word ‘had’ that Swatrega used did not seem to indicate that she would remain at the nemeton. Did that mean she would leave and go to another priestess settlement? Nara’s head whirled. For some reason, conversations about other priestess villages had been rare, although a visiting priestess was not a completely unheard-of occurrence.
Talk with the High Priestess about her future had never transpired before. Many times Nara had wanted to ask why her final vows of the priestesshood had been delayed, and further delayed, yet it was never a conversation that she could start. When the goddess willed it, it would happen. She felt her eyes glisten as she focused on the hearth stones.
Was it about to happen now?
Nara listened to the huge sigh that came before Swatrega’s attention returned to her.
“Know now, Princess Nara of Tarras, that time will never ever come. You will never be a High Priestess at any sacred place. The goddess has spoken. She has prophesied a new pathway for you.”
“A new pathway?” Nara could not control the wobble in her voice that bordered on a squeal, and could only repeat Swatrega’s words. “What does that mean? I do not understand.”
“The goddess has newly spoken today. You must leave the Islet of the Priestesses. You have only a few things to claim as your own. You will collect them and leave now.”
“Leave? What have I done?” Nara was horrified. Dread cold replaced the heated excitement that she had been trying to suppress. “Why does the goddess not favour me? Why does she send me away?”
“Your future is freshly foretold, Nara of Tarras. You are no longer an acolyte of the priestesshood. You must take your place once again at your father’s side in his stronghold…as a woman of the people.”
Nara fell to her knees beside the High Priestess and grasped Swatrega’s thin and bony fingers, tears stinging and dripping from her chin. “I still do not understand your words. My father has never had any need of me at Tarras. He hates the very sight of me. Why must I return there?” Relentless tears continued to stream down Nara’s cheeks. “I have been a priestess in all except name for many seasons now, bar the final rites. Why cannot I continue? Even as I am now, still uninitiated?”
Soft pats at her cheeks only barely registered.
Swatrega’s tones softened, though the High Priestess did not properly claim her gaze. “The goddess Dôn has spoken – and as her servants – we must obey, Princess Nara. Your path is no longer as a priestess.”
Nara was distraught.
“But how can I now be a princess of the tribe at my father’s side? What shall I do?”
“The goddess Dôn has foretold that you will be the mother of a son who will become one of the greatest leaders the northern territories has ever known. In this time of great threat from the legions of the Roman Empire, the tribes of the north will desperately need strong men and women to defend our way of life.”
Nara could only gape, open mouthed. What Swatrega was saying was incomprehensible.
“Our forthcoming Beltane Festival will be a crucial time for you along your prophesied journey. Before then you must find a worthy warrior to sire your son. It cannot be just any man, but will be the one whose destiny is linked to yours. Pray to the goddess Dôn because she will always guide you.”
“A mother?” Nara was dumbfounded.
Swatrega’s expression lost its momentary softness. “You must leave immediately and prepare for your new future.”
Here’s the blurb:
Two lives. Two stories. One future.
AD 71 Northern Britannia
At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tarras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is unexpectedly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…
In the aftermath of civil war across Brigantia, Lorcan of Garrigill’s promotion of King Venutius is fraught with danger. Potential invasion by Roman legions from the south makes an unstable situation even worse. When Lorcan meets the Druid Maran, the future foretold for him is as enthralling as it is horrifying…
Meet Nara and Lorcan before their tumultuous meeting of each other in The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of the acclaimed Celtic Fervour Series.
Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writing, researching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV.
She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Roman Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertaining alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.
Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.
Today, I’m delighted to share a fab post from Brodie Curtis about the inspiration behind his new book, Angels and Bandits.
ANGELS and BANDITS is my second historical novel, set around The Battle of Britain. What inspired ANGELS and BANDITS? Well, I can say the book is a follow-on to THE FOUR BELLS, my debut novel which portrays events during the Great War. Protagonist Eddy Beane is the answer to a loose thread from my first book, and we follow Eddy’s story all the way to those heady days when Britain stood alone in 1940.
But my inspiration for ANGELS and BANDITS goes beyond a sequel and is rooted in deep respect and admiration for the Royal Air Force’s defence of unrelenting German Luftwaffe bombing attacks in August and September of 1940. For those of us who have never experienced war in our day to day lives, and hopefully never will, just imagine London in late summer 1940. Sirens wailed, ack-ack guns boomed and in between Londoners heard the droning engines of bombers somewhere high overhead. Explosions, death and destruction became part of daily life.
Contemporary images of mostly boyish countenances of RAF fighter pilots present the young men, who were inexperienced in life but tasked with the weighty life-saving responsibility of protecting civilians. It was up to them to confront and repel the German Luftwaffe and all of its daunting scale, efficiency and weaponry. It is the story of those young men and how they dug deep within themselves to accomplish the task that inspired me.
For me, I was stirred beyond words reading Churchill’s war-time speeches and famous line: “Never, in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few.” Walking by The Battle of Britain sculpture on Victoria Embankment in London, opposite the London Eye, was terrifically inspiring.
Watching YouTube clips of the Spitfire in action took my breath away. And I must admit that watching scenes from Michael Caine’s movie The Battle of Britain, for the umpteenth time, still gives me chills.
So who were “The Few”? That question, I suppose, is at the heart of ANGELS and BANDITS. My impression from a deep research dive is that “The Few” were men of many backgrounds. Some educated, some not; some wealthy, some far from it; Englishmen and Canadians and Aussies, Poles and Czechs, and many more. All united by the masterful leadership of Air Marshals Hugh Dowding and Keith Park, and others.
How did “The Few” do it? The answer, in part, is that many of them flew the magnificent Spitfire, Britain’s elegant yet powerful fighter plane.
The more I learn about Spits, the more I love them, and can’t wait for the day I look into the cockpit of one. My admiration for Spitfires surely comes through in many scenes in ANGELS and BANDITS.
I would draw a contrast with the inspiration for my debut novel, THE FOUR BELLS. That book was set in motion years ago, in a homey lounge, when I heard a gorgeously mournful acoustic version of John McCutcheon’s song about the transcendent Christmas Truce of 1914. It inspired me to research reports on the truce in contemporaneous writings and non-fiction, and to walk the fields of Flanders. Its funny how your characters take you along on their own journey. In the end, The Christmas Truce became just one important scene in THE FOUR BELLS.
Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and good luck with the new book.
Here’s the blurb:
The Battle of Britain rages and two young RAF pilots from very different stations in life must somehow find common ground—and stay alive.
On the eve of World War II, working-class Eddy Beane is a flight instructor in London. He successfully completes dangerous espionage missions for Air Commodore Keith Park and takes on society-girl June Stephenson as a student. Her ex-fiancé, Dudley Thane, is also a flyer, but upper-class and Cambridge-educated. When the German Luftwaffe attacks England in 1940, Eddy and Dudley end up serving in the same Spitfire squadron. Aerial combat is intense, and both men show their skills and courage, but can they set aside jealousy and class differences to become fighting brothers for the defence of Britain?
Raised in the Midwest, Brodie Curtis was educated as a lawyer and left the corporate world to embrace life in Colorado with his wife and two sons.
Curtis is the author of THE FOUR BELLS, a novel of The Great War, which is the product of extensive historical research, including long walks through the fields of Flanders, where much of the book’s action is set. His second novel, ANGELS AND BANDITS, takes his protagonists into The Battle of Britain. Curtis is currently working on a novel set on a Mississippi Riverboat prior to the Civil War.
A lover of history, particularly American history and the World Wars, Curtis reviews historical fiction for the Historical Novels Review and more than 100 of his published reviews and short takes on historical novels can be found on his website.