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.

BRAG

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

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: http://bit.ly/2o6FzkT

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 www.tonyriches.com.
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

Love me, love my character – Keith Dixon, crime writer

Delighted to welcome my fellow Poitevin Keith Dixon to my blog today.  Keith, born in Yorkshire and raised in the Midlands, has been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. He’s the author of seven novels in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series. He’s currently spending more time in France than is probably good for him.

Bienvenue, Keith!

Tell us why you wrote your latest book
My most recent book is called Storey, and is a crime thriller set in Coventry. It’s the first in a new series featuring an ex-policeman and firearms expert called Paul Storey.

My main reasons for writing it are two-fold. First, I already had a series featuring a British private eye, Sam Dyke, and I wanted to change gears and perspective—the books were told in the first person, in classic PI fashion, and were set in the North West of England (mostly). Coventry was the city I was brought up in so I thought it would be interesting to revisit the place—if only fictionally—and to set a new series there and thereabouts, with a new character and told from a different perspective.

Which leads to the second reason for writing it—a change of style. I’ve long been a fan of the American writer Elmore Leonard, and in particular the way he gets into the heads of both his good and his bad guys. His style is incredibly involving, taking you into the thoughts of his characters so that you’re with them all the way, without any ‘editorialising’ on behalf of the writer. I wanted to try out this style, partly as an experiment and partly as a way of extending my own skill-set, such as it is.

Why do you think your main character is like he is?
Like many heroes in crime fiction, Storey is a damaged character. Not through drink or failed relationships, but because he made a wrong decision in his professional life that he couldn’t forget. So he leaves that profession, comes back to Coventry to bury his father, and almost casually finds himself involved with a group of criminals who don’t know who he is.

Storey’s personality has been moulded by his eighteen years or so as a police officer in London, making him mentally tough, a little (but not too much) cynical, and very pragmatic when dealing with criminals. He’s intelligent (he reads) but not necessarily over-reflective. His openness to experience means that he will constantly become involved with people he shouldn’t bother with, and go into situations he should steer clear of!

What does he think he’s like? And why?
As another character tells him early on, he doesn’t really have any idea who he is. He’s never had a long-term relationship but hasn’t analysed why. He doesn’t own a property (though he’s inherited his father’s house) and he has no notion of what career he wants to pursue now he’s left the police force.

What he does have is a low tolerance for criminals who think they’re smart, a perspective that enables him to take most things with a humorous grain of salt, and a commitment to putting things right where he sees they’re wrong—either within the Law or, if necessary, outside it. Being a police officer for eighteen years has made him, if anything, suspicious of the Law’s limitations while being aware of what they are. Perhaps foolishly, he sees himself being able to pick and choose which aspects of legal procedure he’s willing to abide by—a belief which leads to more trouble in the second book in the series, One Punch, which is nearing completion.

And wider… 
Storey is the first in a new series, and I hope to have two more in the series completed before the end of the year. The previous series, Sam Dyke Investigations, comprises seven novels currently, with more to come. The fourth in the series, The Bleak, won in the Private Eye/Noir category in Chanticleer Reviews’ CLUE contest in 2014. The latest, The Innocent Dead, is currently on the shortlist for the same contest, with the winner to be announced in April. (Exciting!Altered Life is currently a free download everywhere, and if you sign up to my newsletter (see the website link) you can also get the second book in the series free as well.

And your other work? 
I’ve also written a novel best placed in the category of ‘Contemporary Women’ and called Actress, which describes how a young actress, famous on a TV soap, decides to leave that world and move into serious stage drama … and then finds herself involved in a competition to win the lead role in a major new film. Does she want the role? Can she afford not to have it? The novel won an Awesome Indie Award and is a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.

Is your work available in other formats such as audio or translation?
The first four books in the Sam Dyke Investigations series are available as audiobooks and the series is slowly being translated into a number of languages, primarily Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Storey is being translated into French, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese, and Actress is available as an audiobook and in Chinese, with French and German translations in the works. (Wow!)

Thank you, Keith for being my blog guest today.

You can connect with Keith:

Website: www.keithdixonnovels.com
Blog: www.cwconfidential.blogspot.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/keithyd6   @keithyd6
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SamDykeInvestigations/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0034OO9BK

Read about Keith’s latest book…
When Paul Storey comes home from London he’s escaping an event that ruined his professional life. Now he’s slowly making contact with people again … but the people he winds up meeting are lowlifes, thieves and conmen.

Exactly the kind of people he was trying to escape. Worse, one of them is a con-woman who, for some reason, he can’t get out of his mind and who has a habit of manipulating men …

When he gets involved in a scam to sell smuggled antiquities from Syria he realises he can’t escape being a professional either—and one with a specialised skill that makes him even more desirable to his new colleagues.

Finding a purpose in life while keeping his head connected to his shoulders keeps him busy, until a Syrian who wants the return of one of the stolen antiquities shows up … and he’s not inclined to take prisoners.

Highly intelligent, witty and well-plotted thriller” – Colin Garrow.

 

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

What readers want in 2017 - the survey results!

Monkey

Thank you so much to readers who completed my recent survey asking them how they found books and interacted with authors.

It was a follow up to a similar survey two years ago triggered by pure curiosity combined with a sincere wish to give my readers what they want.

Headline results:

–  Fewer people complete surveys!
–  Subscribers read across a broad spectrum of genres
–  Email is now the most important source for learning about new books
–  Favourite price is now 99pence/cents but 3.99 is next favourite
–  Facebook and Amazon have taken over the world
–  You still like to hear about author’s current writing
–  Nearly all of you have read INCEPTIO!

So what were the questions and answers?

First, I asked readers to list their favourite genres. I deliberately did not give readers a prompted choice; I wanted to see what they came up with! Although a huge range including paranormal, military fiction and alternative history, the favourites were the ‘usual suspects’! First preferred genre winners were mystery, historical fiction and joint third, thrillers and sci-fi. Second genre choice winners were thrillers (by a wide margin), fantasy and historical fiction. Third genre choices were wider with historical fiction first, then fantasy and thriller joint second place and horror and mystery tying for third place. Honourable mentions go to crime, suspense and military and naval history.

Next, “Where do you learn about new books?” I didn’t include print media, only digital and social media; this was entirely selfish as these are the principal channels for me,

Email from author jumped from the 2015 level of least important source to top source in 2017! Promotions online and browsing internet stores came next was next with browsing in bookshops and email from bookshops/retailer next. Social media promo sites was bottom of the list Friends, book blogs and social media book clubs hovered between. In 2015 friends, book blogs, social media book groups/clubs, social media generally and browsing Internet stores were the main sources with email from the author as the least important. Browsing in bookshops/stores remains steady, but now seems slightly more important than recommendations from friends.

Virtually no change from 2015 about what attracts you to a book: cover, blurb, genre and known author, with the first very slightly more significant. I was again surprised by how evenly the top four elements scored.

How much you would pay for an ebook has changed considerably! A third of you opted for 99 pence/cents, with a quarter paying 3.99 pounds/dollars/euros. The next price level was 4.99, then 2.99. This compares with the 2.99 to 4.99 range in 2015 when the 0.99 share was only 7%. Comments were interesting… Q4 Price.

Watching book trailers has slightly increased; around 27% of you watch occasionally to extremely often but non-watchers total 72%. This is a shame, as they give a little frisson of what to expect. Some respondents didn’t know they existed. I should obviously publicise mine more! Here’s a taster…

To blog or not to blog? In answer to Question 6, readers seem to visit author blog sites less often than writers might imagine (or wish!). But while ‘Occasionally’ is still the answer for most readers (over 60%), more of you are visiting regularly; once a month 16% (in 2015 12%) and every week 20% (in 2015 15%). Not missing news was a prominent reason in the comments. But perhaps we writers should write more words in our books than our blogs?

Question 7 about the Roma Nova books was selfish, but it was nice to see that 95% of you who responded had read INCEPTIO! Nearly half have gone onto PERFIDITAS (43%) with SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO well clear of 30%. Happy reading!

Once again, I was curious about what readers would like in a newsletter. In 2015, the top three items were: author’s current writing, news about the author and author’s events. This year, author’s current writing is just ahead of news about author, closely followed by Roman facts/news. Author’s events had slipped back behind sales/awards of author’s published books.

So where would readers leave a book review? I offered three of the ‘usual suspects’ – Amazon UK, Amazon US and Goodreads, plus ‘Other’ .As in 2015, Amazon is by far the most popular place to leave a review (61% for the Amazon UK and US combined, with mentions for Amazon Canada in the comments). Goodreads holds up at 20% of the replies. Authors, including me, know reviews are life-blood as they help a book’s journey in the competitive sea of publishing, but appreciate they take a little time to write.

Readers who do squeeze out some of their precious time to write some words should be awarded medals and book bloggers made saints.

Would you follow an author on social media? Facebook hogs the limelight; 85% of you go there compared with 78% in 2015. Twitter is not so popular with you; just over a third follow authors on Twitter compared with two thirds of you in 2015. Half of you followed an author’s blog in 2015, but slightly down this time at 41%. From the comments, a surprising number of you don’t follow social media. I’m doubly honoured that you like receiving the Roma Nova newsletter!

 

How I did it
I’m not a professional marketer, so I kept it really simple. The readers were self-selecting from my own newsletter subscribers. I used a free version of Survey Monkey which allows 10 questions and 100 replies. Questions attracted a 90-97% response by people taking part. All links have been deleted in this report and the supporting lists. You can find the 2015 survey report here.

So, an interesting result! Did it surprise you?

 

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