Why I Wrote: The Du Lac Chronicles, by Mary Anne Yarde

Why I Wrote: The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde I grew up in the land of myths. In the early morning, I would watch transfixed as the Fata Morgana, the mist, rose up over the ancient Isle of Avalon. The only thing visible was the Tor, and that floated on a sea of clouds. Growing up near Glastonbury it was easy to believe in King Arthur, and his Knights, all I had to do was look around, and there he was. Arthur is timeless. It matters not if he was a general in the Roman Army or a Dark Age warlord. What matters is that he fought for his people, for God, and for his knights. As a child, I was captivated by the stories of Arthur. He was everything heroic. Everything good. But, there was one aspect of the story that I never really understood. King Arthur's final battle was at a place called Camlann, and it was there that...
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Book Review: The Colour of Poison, by Toni Mount

Book Review: The Colour of Poison by Toni Mount I generally can find something I love about most books.  This is not to say that I’m not a critical reader, but for the most part I can take nearly any book at face value and enjoy it for the qualities it has as an individual work.  What can I say?  I’m a glass-half-full kinda gal!  I understand what goes into every aspect of writing, from the plot imagining, to the drafting, editing, polishing, etc.  It’s a tough, tough job when done well.  With that in mind, I tend to write positive reviews of the books I read, because what’s the point of tearing apart someone’s hard work if what I have to say is merely subjective?  And let’s be honest, most unfavorable reviews focus on the subjective.  Not every book will please every reader.  What might be one person’s negative could be another’s positive. An odd way to start a review?  Perhaps.  But...
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Book Review: The Du Lac Chronicles, by Mary Anne Yarde

Book Review: The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde At its heart, The Du Lac Chronicles is a love story.  Forced together by the rash yet fearlessly daring decision of a young girl, our hero and heroine brave certain death by sword, arrow, dog, wolf, starvation, hypothermia, fratricide (I’ve probably missed a few)… sometimes simultaneously.  I was drawn into the book by the action and pace from page one, and the developing complexities of the story held me until the very end.  I’m not particularly fond of the romance genre, but even so I found myself cheering for the boy to get the girl the entire time, laughing out loud at the sometimes subtle, other times outright wit of the characters. The plot of the book is well thought out and well executed.  Telling the tale of a king who has lost his land and failed his people, we journey along with Alden Du Lac as he is given a second chance...
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Transformations in Writing, a guest blog by Richard Abbott

Transformations in Writing, a guest blog by Richard Abbott

Transformations in Writing A Guest Blog by Richard Abbott For a whole variety of reasons, I have been recently reading some late 18th and early 19th century literature. It's been quite an eye opener in several ways. For one thing, the Victorian stereotyping of gender had not yet appeared, and women writers could flourish without having to disguise their true self by an assumed or ambiguous name. Also, genres had not developed anything like the separation that came later. The particular area I want to write about today concerns the crossover between travel writing and fiction which was happening at that time. Even today, in an age when global travel is common, and images from every country on Earth are easy to access, good travel writing is widely appreciated. How much more was this true when there was no internet, no photography, and most people travelled only within their locality. Soldiers and sailors might well experience something of other countries, but they had no choice...
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Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Kin of Cain, by Matthew Harffy I have been a fan of the Bernicia Chronicles almost from the beginning, though I was a wary convert.  Usually one to be skeptical of books when one is “supposed” to like it (I generally steer clear of popular best-seller lists, Oprah book club selections, etc.), I prefer to make up my own mind about them.  If a celebrity or a highly paid marketing firm suggests it, my cynic’s mind kicks in.  So when I heard that Harffy’s first book, The Serpent Sword, was compared to one of my favorite authors, Bernard Cornwell, I immediately pushed it aside.  Cornwell has been writing for 20 years or so, and his novels have appeared on the small screen (Richard Sharpe and the Saxon stories).  Cornwell has a huge following and is widely considered one of the best battle scene writers. But… I wanted to know what the hype was all about.  I’d seen his name pop...
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Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution, by Erin Jensen

Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution, by Erin Jensen

Why I Wrote: In a Mental Institution A Guest Post by Erin Jensen I think the concept for any story begins with a why or a what if.  We writers are constantly looking at the world around us and asking, what if?  As a pharmacist, I've spent a fair share of time around mentally ill individuals.  In college, I did a hospital rotation on a psychiatric floor where the elevator could only be accessed by key, and I've worked in the community pharmacy setting for years.  Throughout my career, I've conversed with mentally ill individuals at various points along the spectrum of sanity—from the properly medicated high functioning mental patient, to the unmedicated schizophrenic who has lost much of their grasp on reality—and in every conversation, no matter how coherent, I've looked into their eyes and seen a soul struggling to connect with the world around them.  I've witnessed the devastating effects that a traumatic brain injury or a stroke or temporary deprivation of...
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Why I Wrote: A Series, by Anna Belfrage

Why I Wrote: A Series, by Anna Belfrage

Why I Wrote: A Series A Guest Post by Anna Belfrage I might as well come clean right from the start and admit I never had an intention of writing more than one book about my time travelling Alexandra Lind and her 17th century man, Matthew Graham. Truth be told, I found the idea of one book quite daunting. After years of writing little bits and pieces there, of deleting 30 000 words and starting anew multiple times, I had almost given up on ever completing the dratted book. It was mostly Matthew’s fault. “My fault?” He scowls. “Is it my fault you chose to depict me as it fitted your preconceived notions of what a Calvinist Scot should be? Is it my fault…” Whatever. Best block him out. Let’s just say that Matthew’s character arc developed in a totally different direction than originally intended, and… “Thank heavens for that,” Alex breaks in. “Imagine shackling me to some dour Knox-like type.” No, that...
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Why I Wrote: The Lake Garda Trilogy, by Jennifer Young

Why I Wrote: The Lake Garda Trilogy, by Jennifer Young

Why I Wrote: The Lake Garda Trilogy A Guest Post by Jennifer Young It was the wine that did it. Not on its own, you understand, but as part of a wonderfully relaxing holiday during a particularly stressful time. I think I remember the exact moment when it came to me, if there is an exact moment. I was sitting on the terrace of the hotel after dinner, watching the sun set over Lake Garda and sipping a glass of local rosé, and all the cares slipped off my shoulders. And I thought: I know. And A Portrait of my Love was born. The book was the first in the Lake Garda trilogy, and it isn’t the kind of thing I normally write. I’m too often tempted to include danger of some kind — and I suppose the Lake Garda books aren’t exactly trouble-free, but most of the characters in them are well-meaning, even if they are often thoughtless and capable of getting...
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Why I Wrote: To Murder a King, by James Holdstock

Why I Wrote: To Murder a King, by James Holdstock

Why I Wrote: To Murder a King A Guest Blog by James Holdstock Whilst teaching some basic broadsword techniques to a bunch of young teenage scouts, I asked them if they knew when the medieval period was. They really had no idea, apart from one of them who nailed the latter part. I was actually surprised and asked him how he knew. Video Games. Well they are good for something then. The old adage from the publishing industry is ‘girls read, boys play video games’. I have never been one to accept convention so I decided to share my love of history (especially medieval) by writing an adventure story featuring real characters and events. That was the aim, but it turned into so much more. I got the idea of learning history through historical fiction by funnily enough reading historical fiction! I was inspired by writers like Edward Rutherford, Ken Follett and Elizabeth Chadwick. In fact Elizabeth Chadwick’s books on William Marshal started...
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Book Review: 1066 What Fates Impose, by G.K. Holloway

Book Review: 1066 What Fates Impose, by G.K. Holloway

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies who will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold. Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny - or does he have to bow to what fates impose? I have recently been adding to my knowledge base about Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century) Britain, the...
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