Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy RETALIO.
Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy INSURRECTIO. INSURRECTIO_sm
Read an excerpt HERE. Click on image to buy PERFIDITAS.


Read an excerpt HERE.
Click on image to buy INCEPTIO. Amazon bestseller

Author events-lite

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post on how to set up and run an author exhibition stand. Readers seemed to find it useful and it’s still much retweeted and reposted. But how do you do this when you haven’t got the luxury of a thousand-litre boot people-carrier but a single suitcase, weight limit 20kg?

I live in France, but write in English and attend many events in the UK as speaker or participant. Last year I was back and forth like a yo-yo! I’ve had to develop a strategy on this.

The secret is selection, teeth-grinding, laser-sharp selection.

I have a venerable Antler suitcase which I call ’The Beast’ because dragging it up Tube station steps and along uneven London pavements searching for my hotel has given me a jaundiced view of it. But it’s sturdy. It needs to be. Yes, that is the world’s most embarrassing-looking strap round it, but can you easily pick yours out of the zillion black cases on the carousel at Stansted? (I hastily undo the strap and stuff it in the outside pocket before going through to the arrivals hall.)

So what goes in this case?

1. Books
Whatever the event, I take a few, especially the first in series, INCEPTIO, which weighs in at 450gms, and the latest in this case, RETALIO (425gms). If somebody asks and you don’t have a book for them, what a missed opportunity!

If I’m speaking, one of the perks is to have my books in the event bookshop/on the speakers’ sales table, so I take a reasonable number. As I write a series, I take at least one of each (6 so far). That’s 2.5 kgs. Add in three more INCEPTIOs and another seven of RETALIO (just out!) and we have a chunky 7.6kgs. Now, it’s a fine line between not missing out on sales and lugging the books along miles of airport corridors. You probably won’t sell that many, but you never know.

2. Clothes
A light raincoat is a must. Sorry, but it rains a lot in the UK. I can roll my microfibre one up and stuff in the outer pocket of my suitcase once I get through passport control and onto public transport.

Wear your heaviest shoes to travel in; the lighter ones go in the case. But do you really, really need a second pair if you’re away for only a few days?

Take layers and as light as possible. Most writing events can be covered by ‘smart casual’. If it’s a jacket event, try to travel in it unless it’s a lightweight one. Keep it simple and take same colour clothes in different weights and styles: t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt. I usually take black trousers, black velvet shirt, white polycotton shirt and black and white pattern shirt, a jacket/cashmere cardigan and a couple of scarves. If there’s a gala dinner, you can often get away with a summer frock and use the jacket as cover up for later.

Underwear and scarves can be packed round your precious books to shield them from the worst vicissitudes of baggage handling. (No offence to baggage handlers. Standards differ and YMMV.)

3. Promo material
You cannot do without this. Even if it’s just a few postcards. Keep them pristine in a self-closing plastic bag, the kind used for freezer storage, before tucking them in your bag. It’s surprising how quickly surfaces get scuffed and corners turned when jostled around in company of your keys, pens and lipstick.

I slip a small pack of postcards into the front pocket of my laptop bag which doubles as my cabin bag. It still surprises me how positively people react when you say you’re an author travelling to an event; they always love a card.

Postcards, bookmarks, pens, badges can add up – I’m taking 50 Roma Nova pens to my next event, 435 gms – so think about taking enough for a good display but not so much it piles on the kilograms.

I used to take an aluminium based pull-up banner. A 60 cm wide one can be wedged diagonally across my case. It gives a lot of PR space for very little effort. However, in the tightened security of the past year or two, I used to get pulled over more than half the time for a baggage check. A long manufactured metal object with no obvious purpose… Now, after the tragic event in Manchester I think it would be tactless, if not foolish, to attempt to take it.

But you can at least take a placecard for the table.

4. Usual travel stuff
Toiletries (mini travel sizes if possible), a couple of plasters, aspirin (or equivalent). If the hotel has a hair dryer, use that rather than take your own. I would throw in some flip-flops or travel slippers as you can never be sure when the carpet was last cleaned. The rest is up to you…

Two organisational tips
I’ve used little bags rather pretentiously called ‘packing cubes’ for a while now and find they not only keep small stuff together, but make packing and unpacking very easy.

As you’ve seen above, I have some perfect ones just under book size.

Do weigh your case before you leave the house; this avoids embarrassment and at worst a tear-streaked face and throwing books around the airport. This inexpensive travel scale is very easy to use, plus can be tucked into the case for use before your return flight.

Well, this is what I’ve been doing. Have you any tips to add? I’d really like to know!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

A writing hiatus

Alison not quite cross-eyed

You may have thought I’d disappeared.

No, apart from squeezing in some writing and finalising edits with my copy editor, I was just publishing and launching a new book.

“Just publishing and launching” doesn’t quite describe it.

Let me show you…

Target RETALIO publication date: 27 April 2017

Mid January: Planning the promotion campaign

February: Super advance unproofed copies sent out to potential endorsers

February: Blog tour planned (Asking for blog tour spots, discussing whether guest post, spotlight, author interview, giveaways to keep a balance for readers. Recording on a spreadsheet to keep track of commitments)

March and April: Writing sixteen blog tour posts, interviews, etc, delivering them to hosts with images, etc.

March and April: Writing additional background posts for own blog

March and April: Organising promotions for AURELIA and INSURRECTIO, the first two books in the second trilogy immediately preceding RETALIO

March and April: Writing monthly newsletters aimed at RETALIO launch

Early April: Cover and blurb reveal and promotional support

Early April: Making and uploading book trailer

Early April: Sending out copies to Roma Nova Reviewers team

Mid April: Approving ebook files

26 April: Uploading ebooks to Amazon, iBooks (Apple), Kobo and B&N Nook

Late April/early May: Approving final print files, uploading to printers Lightning Source and CreateSpace, approving printed proofs, releasing for distribution

Early May: Setting up Goodreads giveaway (Still time to enter!)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Retalio by Alison Morton


by Alison Morton

Giveaway ends May 24, 2017. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

April and May: Composing tweets and Facebook posts, visiting groups daily and posting

May: Sending out blog tour giveaway prizes

Oh, and I had a two-week trip to the UK 24 April to 8 May. So I haven’t exactly been twiddling my thumbs. Promotion and launching a book is as much part of an author’s job these days as writing it. I do rather enjoy this aspect, I have to confess.

But I have left Carina dangling in the middle of a novella, so soon I’ll be back to writing properly. In the meantime, do go and visit RETALIO to see what all the fuss is about!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, came out in April 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Our fearless leader – of a lady in armour

The Mitela women of Roma Nova are not the only women warriors to go armoured into battle. Sometimes we glimpse one from time to time in the real historical record. In celebration of the publication of Under the Approaching Dark, historical fiction writer Anna Belfrage introduces us to a(n in)famous one.

Women in medieval times were not expected to go to war. Well, at least not to actually fight, albeit that there would always be females among the servants that accompanied a larger force. After all, someone had to do the laundry, someone had to offer a welcoming embrace to the men who spent weeks, months, away from their homes and wives.

Obviously, some women went to war anyway. Women like Joan of Arc—and Isabella of France. Now, Joan took up arms to defend her homeland against the ravaging English in the later stages of the Hundred Years’ War. Isabella took up arms to invade her husband’s kingdom and claim it for her son. Not, perhaps, as noble a cause, although I think Isabella would disagree. She had to act to safeguard son’s future. Said son, the future Edward III, would be the one who initiated the hostilities known as the Hundred Years’ War by claiming the French crown through his mother. Isabella surely applauded such audacity. The French most certainly did not.

When Isabella landed in England in 1326 at the head of an army, she was not in actual command of it. She left that to Roger Mortimer, the man who would be her companion through thick and thin until November of 1330. Unlike Joan, she did not don armour and brandish a sword—that time.

Invading a country is generally not a simple thing. But the English were sick and tired of Edward II and his greedy favourite Hugh Despenser, so rather than defend their king, they joined their queen. In a matter of months, England had been conquered, with Hugh Despenser very dead and Edward II under lock and key at Kenilworth. The age of Isabella (and Roger) had dawned, with the young Edward III little more than a puppet—at least initially.

Not everyone was delighted by this turn of events. While there was a broad consensus among the powerful barons that a dead Hugh Despenser was a good Hugh Despenser, they were not entirely as thrilled at having their queen and her favourite baron lording it over them. Some barons in particular disliked the way things were going, notably Henry of Lancaster, brother to Edward II’s cousin Thomas who’d been executed in 1322. Henry demanded a voice in how things were run. Well, as per dear Henry, things would be much better if he ran them, rather than this upstart Marcher lord and a foreign queen. Obviously, Isabella and Mortimer disagreed.

In 1328, things came to a head. Henry tried to snatch the young king but failed. Instead, he and several other barons (including, at least for a while, Edward III’s two paternal uncles) rebelled. The fragile peace which Isabella and Roger had forged in the aftermath of their invasion was now a thing of the past, and soon enough two armies were marching towards each other, one of them led by Henry, the other by Mortimer. (As an aside, marching towards each other was difficult in a time without GPS and the like, but in general the combatants had a rough idea of where the other party might be.)

Roger Mortimer did not ride alone. By his side rode the young king—and Isabella. After wreaking total destruction on Leicester (the town lay within Henry’s earldom), the royal army took a breather in early January. While encamped in Northampton, they received news that Henry was in Bedford, a good day’s ride away.

Roger suggested they ride through the night to surprise the rebellious earl. The young king agreed, and soon enough the royal army was on the move. And this time, Isabella rode beside her man in armour, determined to fight should it be necessary. I suspect neither Roger Mortimer or the young king would ever have let her join it had it been necessary. I also suspect Isabella knew that. But as a grand gesture, it was pretty impressive!


You can read more about these events in Anna’s recently released ‘Under the Approaching Dark‘, the third in The King’s Greatest Enemy series.

Thank you, Anna. Brava to Isabella. She was not universally loved, I think, but nobody could say she lacked courage and determination! I thoroughly recommend Under the Approaching Dark. A good read and Anna’s best in series to date.

About Anna
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. Instead, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time-slip series The Graham Saga, winner of multiple awards, including the HNS Indie Award 2015.
Her new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures during Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The third book, Under the Approaching Dark, is now out!

Anna can be found on her website, on Facebook and on her blog. Or on twitter and Amazon.

So what’s Under the Approaching Dark about?
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

Under the Approaching Dark is the third in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, will be published in Spring 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Judging for Words With Jam

A few weeks ago, I was delighted (and rather flattered) to be asked to judge the Words With Jam First Page Competition. Apart from the prize money on offer (£500 first prize), it’s a prestigious competition to be placed in, let alone win.

The WWJ online magazine is an excellent way to spend some of your life minutes with informative, thoughtful and sometimes provocative articles. And I’m not just saying that.  Go and look for yourself!

What the competition about?
Fairly much what it says on the tin, but here are WWJ’s own words:
“We’re looking for the most captivating first page (up to 400 words) of a story. Entries can be from a novel published, unpublished, a part written novel, or simply a first page written purely for the competition. Entries will be judged anonymously.”

Full entry details here:

Entering competitions is a great discipline for writers as it means working to a deadline and sharpening up a piece of writing to glistening point. Plus, there are further potential gains: you may be placed or even win a prize, and your work may come to the attention of somebody in publishing. On top of that, your work will be seen by new readers.

Closing date is 31st May 2017 at midnight GMT (If you’re west of the British Isles, I’d suggest sending your entry the day before.)

Good luck!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, is due out on 27 April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter

Love me, love my character - Tony Riches and Henry

Delighted to welcome Tony Riches to the blog today. Tony is the author of  best-selling medieval historical fiction, lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. His new book HENRY, is based on the life of King Henry VII and part of the successful Tudor Trilogy.

Welcome, Tony! Now tell us why you wrote HENRY?
I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry Tudor. We all know about King Henry VIII and his six wives but I’d always wondered about Henry VII. I decided to begin with Henry’s grandfather Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen, and was surprised to find there were no books about his amazing story.

The idea for the Tudor Trilogy came to me when I began looking into Owen’s life and began to collect fascinating details of the lives of Owen’s sons, Edmund (Henry’s father) and Jasper Tudor. I realised that if I planned it as a trilogy, Henry Tudor would be born in the first book, come of age in the second and become King of England in the final book.

Why do you think your main character is like he is?
Henry’s father Edmund died (or was murdered) two months before he was born. He was taken from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, as an infant and spent the first fourteen years of his life as a virtual prisoner, before running away to exile in Brittany with Jasper until the age of twenty-eight. I can understand why he is careful who he trusts – and has such great love for his mother and loyalty for his Uncle Jasper.

What does he think he’s like? And why?
When Henry sails to invade England he speaks in French, Breton and Latin and knows his claim (through his mother’s Beaufort ancestors) to the English throne can only be won by conquest. The reward for a surprising victory at Bosworth is a country where at least half the people wish him dead, so it’s no wonder he’s always looking over his shoulder! Even once he achieves the longest peace in living memory he faces the threat of invasion from Scotland and France—and even a band of angry Cornish rebels, who march on London. His marriage to the beautiful Princess Elizabeth of York was planned by his mother but I believe Henry’s love for her changed his outlook on life.

What next?
I’ve been pleased with the success of the audiobook editions of the first two books of the Tudor Trilogy so have commissioned British narrator James Young to produce an audiobook for HENRY. I’m also looking forward to June 10th, when a life-sized bronze statue of Henry will be unveiled outside Pembroke Castle, ensuring the life of this enigmatic king is not forgotten.

I’m also delighted to add that after all these years researching the lives of the early Tudors, all three books of the trilogy have become international best sellers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers around the world who have been on this journey with me. Although this is the end of the Tudor trilogy, I am now researching the life of Henry’s daughter Mary and her adventurous husband Charles Brandon, so the story of the Tudors is far from over.

Glad to hear it! I thoroughly enjoyed reading HENRY and will be intrigued to see the story of the Brandons which has always seemed sidelined. Happy writing and thank you for being my guest today.

Connect with Tony at his blog The Writing Desk and website
You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.
The Tudor Trilogy (including HENRY) is available on Amazon UK  Amazon US and Amazon AU.

So what’s HENRY about?

Bosworth 1485: After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York.

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors.

“A fine end to a superbly researched and well-written trilogy, one I would recommend to anyone with an interest in this period of history.” Best-selling author Terry Tyler


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, will be published in Spring 2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, for FREE when you sign up to Alison’s free monthly email newsletter