Monday, 14 January 2019
Before I begin, I would like to thank my friend and fellow author, Judith Arnopp for hosting me on her blog. We both appreciate how hard it is to find people who might be interested in reading our respective novels, so I value any opportunity to reach out to a potential new audience.
I’d like to think that I might find some new readers among Judith’s blog followers, despite that fact that my genre is fantasy, not historical fiction. Many of us read multiple genres, after all, and historical fiction and drama—more specifically the medieval, Dark Ages and eras beyond—have always fascinated me. I love reading about the Saxon and Roman periods, and am always attracted by characters such as Boudicca and King Arthur, and the many influential leaders who no doubt contributed to the myths and legends surrounding their times. It was this allure, I suspect, plus my own love of fantasy novels, that first led me to try my hand at writing.
I never intended to be an author, though. My initial scribblings were mainly to relieve boredom and stress, and later to satisfy a need for the kind of story I just couldn’t find among the shelves of my local bookstore. These were the days before the Internet made finding good novels easy, and before budding writers could find knowledgeable help and advice simply by posting a comment on Facebook. Oh – if only I’d known then what I know now! I made so many mistakes when I first started writing, and even more when I was finally convinced that my story could be good enough to submit to an agent. I’d have saved precious cash too, as I was far too trusting and naive. I would never have believed that an agent could abscond with someone’s reading fee (yes – I did once pay a reading fee. I know better now, of course!), and was devastated to learn that there were unscrupulous people who could pass themselves off as agents merely to charge a reading fee and then abscond with that naive person’s trustingly-paid money. Oh well. We live and learn.
So, having lived and learned through those trying experiences, which included the thrill of being offered publication by a small US publisher only to have said company disband three years later, setting me adrift as an indie author, I can still count many successes and highlights in my writing career. My first novel, King’s Envoy, gained the HarperCollins Authonomy Gold Medal award in 2008. That book, plus the second novel, King’s Champion, eventually became Amazon UK bestsellers. King’s Envoy was also short listed for the 2015 BookViral Book Awards. The entire first trilogy has been endorsed by one of my writing heroes, the US sci-fi, fantasy and non-fiction author Janet Morris, who has accepted two of my short stories, The Wyght Wyrm and Black Quill, for inclusion in her Perseid Press HEROIKA anthologies. Another of my shorts was included in the British Fantasy Society’s 40th anniversary anthology, Full Fathom Forty, published in 2011. I am still very proud of that achievement!
Yet despite that nice list of successes, my biggest thrill still comes from the comments and reviews of complete strangers who have picked up my novels and enjoyed reading them. I am often humbled and overwhelmed by the impact they tell me my novels have had. To me, that is the ultimate goal of the author, and was the reason I started writing in the first place: to connect with someone else’s heart and have them experience the excitement, trepidation, fear, anticipation and ultimate satisfaction of following my characters within a world I created out of my own imagination. I would be overjoyed should some of you decide to give my novels a try—please see the buying and social media links.
An excerpt from King’s Envoy
Taran circled the noble warily, searching for weak points. The sun’s heat was increasing, he was sweating profusely. He lunged at the noble, forcing him back across the dusty ground, but the man disengaged and came at Taran again, giving him no time to draw breath. We’re too evenly matched, thought Taran, there’s no advantage. Sunlight struck blindingly from steel as his blade clashed and rang on the noble’s, labored breaths grunting through his throat.
They struggled back and forth for half an hour or so. Taran was bleeding from many superficial cuts; he was bruised and sore, but so was his opponent. Neither, it seemed, could gain the upper hand. Now that Taran’s early anger had been forgotten in his struggle for survival, he began to despair. A strange heaviness was weighing his arm and he was having trouble holding his own. He was dismayed; his stamina was usually greater than this. But his concentration was centered on his opponent’s latest flurry of vicious cuts and it took him a while to figure out what was happening.
He couldn’t understand it. What he suspected should not be possible. He and the noble hadn’t learned each other’s pattern of psyche, there was no way the other man could be affecting Taran’s life force. But it was undeniable. Insidiously, and contrary to all the rules and codes, the noble was draining Taran’s metaforce and using it to empower himself.
Outraged and confused, Taran’s mind shut down like a steel trap, cutting off the other’s leaching force. In panic, he accessed his psyche, using his own Artesan skills to bolster his flagging strength.
“Foul,” yelled his opponent. “The use of metaforce is forbidden by the codes.”
Taran saw the watching huntsmen stir at this cry. Infuriated by its hypocrisy, he realized he had walked straight into a trap. He couldn’t impeach the noble though, it was too late. And anyway, there was no one to believe him.
As he automatically blocked a low swipe to his leg, Taran recalled a glance exchanged between the noble and someone among the huntsmen. Coupled with the strange eager light in his opponent’s eyes, these signs should have warned Taran that something was amiss. Yet it had passed him by and this new failure only increased his frustration.
Enraged by the deception, Taran attacked with a burst of vicious strokes. The noble gave way before him but there was a knowing look in his eye. Now Taran understood that he had planned this all along. He had never intended to honor the contract. With no witnesses to speak for him, Taran was totally unprotected. He would have cursed himself savagely if only he’d had the strength.
About Cas Peace:
Amazon UK Bestselling author Cas Peace lives in the lovely county of Hampshire, southern UK. On leaving school, she trained and qualified as a teacher of equitation. She also learned to carriage-drive. She then spent thirteen years in the British Civil Service before moving to Rome, Italy, where she and her husband Dave lived for three years.
As well as her love of horses, Cas is mad about dogs. She currently owns two rescue lurchers, Milly and Milo. Cas loves country walks, working in stained glass, growing cacti, and folk singing. She is also a songwriter and has written and recorded songs or music for five of her fantasy books. They are available to download (free!) from her website. You can also find Cas on www.reverbnation.com
Cas’s first novel, King’s Envoy, was awarded a HarperCollins Authonomy Gold Medal in 2008. The novel has since gone on to become an Amazon UK Bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2015 BookViral Book Awards. Her Artesans series has also won the critical acclaim of US fantasy, sci-fi and non-fiction author, Janet Morris. Cas contributed to the 2015 Janet Morris-edited Perseid Press anthology HEROIKA 1: Dragon Eaters, and has another in the soon-to-be-published HEROIKA 2: Skirmishers. She also had a short story published in the British Fantasy Society’s 40th Anniversary anthology Full Fathom Forty.
As well as being a novelist, Cas is also a freelance editor and proofreader. Details of her Writers’ Services and other information can be found on her website: www.caspeace.com.
King's Envoy: http://geni.us/1o97
Artesans of Albia Kindle Box Set: http://geni.us/SpBptY4
King's Envoy on Audio Book: http://geni.us/kingsenvoy
Cas Peace on Reverbnation (for book songs): http://geni.us/1GBh
Cas Peace Writers' Services for editing/copyediting/proofreading): http://www.caspeace.com/cas-peace/writers-services/editing/9-copy-or-line-editing
Wednesday, 2 January 2019
I will probably remember 2018 as the year I had a breakdown and nobody noticed. On a personal level, it has been awful, on a business level it has been dire. The only brightness came toward the end of the year when I won a brace of awards for The Beaufort Bride and The Beaufort Woman, with The Beaufort Woman being chosen as The Coffee Pot Book Club's Book of the Year 2018. There was some dancing and smiling on that day. Thank you so much for that Mary Anne Yarde - you may have rescued me. It certainly persuaded me not to give up!
There are always positives, of course. Sisters of Arden was published in November and is already starting to gain some nice reviews and going some way to reviving flagging sales on my other books. The summer was good! It was warm and sunny for months, and I swam in the sea a lot this year. The garden looked fabulous, blooming marvellous in fact but the Book of the Year 2018 award, and spending a week in June with my son on the beach, were the highlights – the rest of the time was either stressful or tedious. I won’t make a lengthy list of resolutions I won’t stick to but some things (mostly exterior) have to change and since I cannot change the world (not on my own anyway) I shall have to change myself.
I shall continue to concentrate on my writing and try to find ways to reach new readers, and I have already begun research for the next book, I must also set aside time for the things I want to do rather than should do. I will endeavour to forget about Trump and Brexit and my dwindling bank account. I am going to bury my head in the sand.
I shall lie in the daisies and look at the sky, I will push myself to walk further and not hurry back to my desk to squeeze out another chapter by tea time. I will laugh more, I will kiss my grandsons and spend time with my family, quality time; I will stay on the beach until sunset even if my back hurts and I am craving my bed. I will sit on the floor and build lego spaceships, paint bad paintings of impossible things. I will switch on the lights and chase away darkness, dance in the garden, and not let sorrow strangle my music. I must learn to live again … if the world will let me.
A big thank you to all my readers and fellow authors without whom I'd have to get a proper job. Happy New Year Everyone! Let us hope it is a better one.
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
It is Christmas! and I am happy to offer two paperback copies of Sisters of Arden, hot off the presses. All you need do is comment below on why you'd like to be one of the winners and your name will be entered into a draw. Please share on social media.
Arden Priory has remained unchanged for almost four hundred years. When a nameless child is abandoned at the gatehouse door, the nuns take her in and raise her as one of their own.
As Henry VIII’s second queen dies on the scaffold, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack.
Determined to preserve their way of life, novitiate nuns Margery and Grace join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong to lead the heretic king back to grace.
Sisters of Arden is a story of valour, virtue and veritas.
Excerpt from Sisters of Arden
1537 - Yorkshire
We run, heads down through the darkness, away from the cries of our dying friends and the sickening thud of their falling bodies.
Ducking through a garden gate, I cast about for a hay store or a tangle of bushes that might conceal us. Grabbing her wrist, I pull Frances into a briar patch, the thorns snagging and tearing at our robes and limbs. As we crouch in the dark, she trembles and wipes her wet cheeks on my sleeve. I can just distinguish her bone-white face and the stark terror in her eyes, and I am sickened with guilt that I have led her to this. Her life is now forfeit to my mistaken conviction that simple folk can make a difference.
I grope for God in the faithless void of my mind, begging that the king’s men grow tired of the hunt and ride away, back to their warm hearths, their laden tables, and their fragrant, sinful wives. Frances’ teeth begin to rattle, her breath faltering as her courage dwindles. I give her a gentle shake and put a warning finger against her lips, beseeching her to be silent, to be brave for just a little longer.
As the stealthy hooves draw closer to our hiding place, we hold our breath, sinking deeper into the undergrowth when he halts just a little way above our heads. The dank aroma of rotting vegetation rises; the tang of frost tickles my nose and pinches my toes. Frances trembles so violently it is indistinguishable from the juddering of my own body. I fumble for prayer, nausea washing over me as I fail to recall a single one.
A creak of harness as the rider shifts in his saddle. I cannot see him but when the horse snorts, in my mind’s eye his breath mists the darkness, rising wraith-like in the night. I can feel the rake of the man’s gaze as he searches, seeking out our hiding place. My lungs strain fit to burst, my chest is aching, and I am ready to relinquish my freedom for just one blessed breath. The horse stirs, turns and moves away, and we fill our lungs with fresh damp air. We clutch hands as the vague hope of escape returns.
Then noise erupts with a harsh yelp. A hound is loosed and, with a furious growl, it crashes through the hedge. As I fall backward, I glimpse a lolling tongue, and yellow eyes stare briefly into mine; cold, murderous eyes. Frances’ scream shatters the night as the jaws clamp down upon her wrist.
“Let go! Let go!” I strike out with my bare feet, feeling the crack of bony ribs beneath a silken coat. The hound yelps but holds on fast, screaming aloud as I kick out again, hammering his head with my heels. The air fills with a confusion of hooves, screaming women, and triumphant male laughter as they lay hands upon us. As they drag me to my feet, Frances gives a loud unintelligible sound that breaks my heart.
“Please,” I beg, as my hands are wrenched behind me and roughly held. “We are nuns from Arden. My sister has done nothing. Take me, but … let Sister Frances go – she ... she doesn’t understand.”
A white dagger of agony flashes through my skull as my captor clouts me around the ear. My head rings and my vision blurs. Through a fog of pain, I realise they are hauling Frances from the ground, dragging us both rudely forward.
“Hold them,” the man on the horse orders, and their grip tightens as he slides from his saddle, hawks and spits on the ragged skirts of my habit before slowly unfurling a rope from his belt.
The knots are tight about my wrists; my hands are numb. I cry out as the horse jolts forward and, tethered to the saddle, all we can do is follow him. Agonisingly, we retrace our route back the way we have come, through the hamlets and homesteads that earlier offered us shelter.
Our cause is lost. Our peaceful mission to bring England back to the true church has failed; doomed by the promises of a false king. In the lightening dawn, the slack-limbed, sightless bodies of those who aided us sway as we pass. The voiceless, lifeless men, women and children who dared to share our questioning of the king’s wisdom gape blindly at our passing.
We will join them soon; our useless lives cut short, our fruitless existence ended in ignominy.
My throat grows tight. How have we come to this?
Paperback will be available on Amazon very soon. Also available on kindle
Merry Christmas Everybody!
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Brandon – Tudor Knight
By Tony Riches
From the author of the international bestselling Tudor Trilogy comes a true story of adventure, courtly love and chivalric loyalty.
Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.
Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.
Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?
About the Author
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 history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony was a finalist in the 2017 Amazon Storyteller Awards and is listed 130th in the 2018 Top 200 list of the Most Influential Authors. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter