Thursday, 24 January 2019

An interview with author Elizabeth A. Martina

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for joining us this morning. I shall sit back and drink my coffee while you tell us about yourself.      
I am from upstate New York and live in the mountains with my husband and two Bernese Mountain dogs, Max and Hansel. I went to college forever, getting a doctorate in health care. I am now retired, and started a hobby of genealogical research. While not writing or running after the dogs, we travel to Alaska, Canada and the southern US.
When I was little, my grandmother told me stories about the Italian immigrants who had come to America before the Depression. I learned to love her stories. And I began to write my own. While being in health care practice for years, I began to write my grandmother’s stories. My first published book, The Ragman Murders, is based on what I learned as a child. Now I have a chance to write. The stories I have found in my genealogical research have expanded my source of plots and characters. What struck me in all my research is that the men did things and the women stayed home, or at least, that is how history has been presented. I have learned differently.
Who is your favourite writer and why?

               By the time I got into my teens, I was reading Jane Austen, Dickens, the Bronte sisters and Taylor Caldwell, my favorite writer for years. At first I read to learn history, since high school history I found very boring. Thomas Costain, and Brock and Bodie Thoene, all historical fiction writers, came later. Costain had the ability to take straight fact and make it read like a novel. The Thoenes have the techniques to make me cling to the book using the smallest of details to bring a scene to life.  Currently, I have read my way through most of Anne Perry and Diana Gabaldon. Again all historical fiction. Now, I read for character development and writing style. For excitement, I have read Carmen Amato’s Emilia Cruz mystery series, a police procedural genre, not for the faint-hearted. I admit, I know Carmen.

What attracted you to your special genre?

I am sure it was my grandmother’s story-telling that got me interested in family and, then, history. My genealogical work simply cemented the interest.
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Who is your favourite character you have created?

My characters are real. So far, my favorite character is Giuseppe Amato, the POV of “The Ragman Murders”.  He is trying to do the best for his family. He is trying to be well-accepted in the community. He is trying to make money as fast as he can. But things get in the way. And his understanding of economics is not very good. He makes poor decisions, jumps into scenarios where he has no understanding. And in the end, he does not accomplish what he sets out to do. I like him because he is trying. I don’t like him because I disagree with his techniques and lack of patience.

How do you develop your story?

I like true stories. Most of the story line is researched. In The Ragman Murders, that meant looking at the old newspapers of the time, reading books on the Mafia in Italy and America of the early 20th century and doing research on the places where the story occurred.  That means Calabria, Italy and New England. Since there are three timelines I had to follow for the book, this took a while. I interviewed people involved, peripherally, with the story to get an idea of the personalities of the characters. Then I had to put it all together. I started with the main event and worked backwards to find the causes of the final events.

In my new trilogy, Virginia Legacy, I am doing the reverse, starting at the beginning and working my way forward. This is the story of a very political family, so politics is center-stage. Research about early Virginia politics and families is sparse.

Upcoming project or advice?

My advice to authors is do anything you can to market. I give talks occasionally to groups about my book The Ragman Murders. It is interesting for many because I live in an area with many of Italian descent and stories about Italians intrigue them. Find a niche of interest and fill it.

Thank you so much for joining us, Elizabeth. I hope you will come back again soon and keep us updated on your progress with Virginia Legacy.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Cas Peace in the Spotlight

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

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:

King's Envoy: 

Artesans of Albia Kindle Box Set:

King's Envoy on Audio Book:

Cas Peace on Reverbnation (for book songs):

Cas Peace Writers' Services for editing/copyediting/proofreading):
Social Media:
Twitter: @CasPeace1

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Diving into the dark

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.