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

Do I need to blog about the London attack?

(Still from a BBC video)

Yes, I do.

Seven people are dead and over 40 injured, after three people launched a van and knife attack.” (BBC website)

It was such a stark statement. I was in Spitalfields on Saturday 3 June, about a mile north of London Bridge, having a bite to eat with the stragglers from my joint launch party for RETALIO. (More on the Roma Nova blog about that.) We dispersed around 10.20/10.30pm and I didn’t take any notice of the police sirens over a block away; there always seem to be sirens  in London – police ambulance, fire brigade. But when I was back in my room and sipping a cup of tea, I switched on the television to catch up on the news. I’d been out since 12 noon and I like to know what’s going on in the world. I idly wondered if they’d made any further arrests in Manchester. Oh, and  the singer Ariana Grande was coming over to do a concert in Manchester, wasn’t she? Not my sort of music, but well done her.

Then the horror hit. Three knifemen having run people down on London Bridge, ran amok in Borough Market, killing and maiming. Thanks to the speed of the police response, their courage and that of members of the public, the criminals were bought down.

People were frightened out of their wits. Some resisted, throwing bottles, chairs, anything at the criminals to stop them, or at least deflect them. Most, very sensibly fled. Some trembled, some cried, but most just ran. One photo of a young man hurrying along a pavement went round the world – he was still holding his pint of beer. Nothing was going to separate him from it!

Most people, civilians, out on a warm Saturday night talk about their work, their awful or wonderful boss, their friend being bitchy, whether the team was going to win the cup, where they were going on holiday, their pay rise (or not). They don’t expect to end up in a trauma hospital, hurting, their clothes wet with blood from stab wounds.

I messaged my husband that I was safe, he posted on social media, as I did; messages of concern had flooded in. I could just as easily been in Borough Market with my friends, or the criminals could have attacked Spitalfields. We are always the proverbial hair’s breath away from death every time we wake up in the morning (and that’s a miracle in itself).

However, the risk of being involved in a terrorist incident is minute. The M25 is far more dangerous. But the after-effect of a terrifying incident ripples through a population with the aim of disrupting and and disuniting it at the same time making it fearful of everything.

Yesterday I went to the British Museum for research but also for some historical perspective. I walked to Liverpool Street Station. Bishopsgate looked much as normal on a Sunday; quiet except for a few tourists and people coming out of the  adjacent Spitalfields area. Um, it’s the financial quarter – the normal busy, no, frenetic, weekday population is at home or out with the kids. I slipped into the last seat in my carriage on the Tube; others were left standing. At Russell Square station, we had to queue for the antiquated lifts. Back up on the street, people filled the pavement as usual.

In Russell Square itself, that green oasis, the café was doing good business, people were picnicking or just lying in the sun (getting over a hangover probably), parents were pushing baby carriages, toddlers running after pigeons. At the British Museum, I walked into walls of people and escaped to the Roman rooms and relative peace.

So, no, people weren’t cowed or reeling. Upset, yes. Angry, yes. How dare these bloody people think they have a right to kill innocent people? Call us unfeeling – you’d be wrong – but don’t make the mistake of underestimating our resilience or our bloodymindedness. That’s what the British do best.

 

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

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

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Retalio by Alison Morton

Retalio

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

STOP PRESS: Winners announced!

The quality was impressive; it caused much sweating of the brow and drinking of tea. Congratulations to the three winners, but also to all those on the long and short lists.
http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/2017/07/first-page-competition-2017-winners.html
——————

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  NOW CLOSED

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.

 

 

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