Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop - Momentous events in History -




One of the most overlooked momentous events in history is the dissolution of the monasteries and the pilgrimage of grace. The events of these years overturned life in England forever. 

By the sixteenth century monastic foundations that had begun as humble institutions devoted to the world of God, had lost sight of their simple beginnings. By the time of the dissolution, these abbeys had become immensely rich and in some cases, were no stranger to corruption. 

Even the Cistercians, who were an offshot from the mainstream monastic way and intended to adhere more closely to the rule of St Benedict, had embraced the extravagance of stained glass, patterned floor tiles and multitudinous chapels. Throughout the monastic world the regulations laid down by St Benedict were breached. But it was difficult to avoid. 

By way of securing themselves a place in Heaven, laymen endowed  the abbeys with lavish gifts of land, chapels, windows etc. They paid a high sum to ensure prayers would be read for their souls for all eternity. Ultimately, the wealth of the monasteries outstripped that of the crown and it was their affluence that drew the greedy eye of Cromwell and his king.

Hans Holbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The accusations of corruption laid against the abbeys, although probably true in some cases, had less to do with outrage and more to do with justifying the plundering of the holy church.


Cromwell’s campaign to close the monasteries began slowly at first. Picking up where his old master, Wolsely, had left off, he began tentatively chipping away at smaller, less profitable foundations or houses where moral decay had become the rule rather than the exception. But once Henry gave Thomas Cromwell his head, the abbeys fell one by one,  monks and nuns were turned out, some abbots were tortured and executed. 

Abbey treasures went straight into the king’s coffers, the lands became the property of the crown, leased to the king’s favourites by way of securing both their loyalty and ensuring their support for the dissolution of the monasteries. By 1540 the largest abbeys were gone, the lands distributed among the nobilty, and the remains of once glorious buildings subjected to neglect and decay.

Young nun digging a grave — Wikipedia

The dissolution was almost universally resented by monks and traditionalists. Monasteries were a life-line; common people relied on them from birth to death for charity, employment and for healthcare. The closures united the populace both rich and poor, culminating in widespread protest that posed the biggest threat to the crown during Henry VIII’s reign. 

Richard Croft / Lincolnshire Rising plaque
The first rising took place in Lincolnshire in October but was quickly put down, only to spring up again in Yorkshire when the people of the north, led by lawyer, Robert Aske, embarked upon what came to be known as a ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’.


Gentry as well as commonfolk joined the peaceful march to persuade the king to change his mind; monks and laymen, nuns and children were among those who took to the road to preserve their way of life. The Pilgrimage of Grace was the worst uprising during Henry VIII’s reign, the rebels reaching more than 30,000, far outnumbering the royal army but after initially agreeing to consider their complaints, the king managed to get the upper hand.  


He ‘invited’ Robert Aske to spend Christmas at court, promising to consider the rebel's requests but when unrest broke out again in the East Riding, the king had the excuse he needed. The Duke of Norfolk was sent to deal with the rebels. The leaders were executed, and as a deterrent to future protests, there were widespread hangings of common people. Robert Aske was hung in chains on the walls of York and left to die.


When I wrote my book Sisters of Arden I concentrated on one small priory, Arden in Yorkshire.

Arden Hall on the site of the priory. Uncredited / Arden Hall via Wikimedia
Arden Priory was founded in 1150 by Peter de Hoton, confirmed by Roger de Mowbray between 1147 and 1169. It was never a rich foundation. One can only imagine the misery of a life of unceasing labour, meagre accomodation, glassless windows, fasting, overworked and ill-clad. In 1397, long before the dissolution, there were just six nuns at Arden: Christina and Elizabeth Darrel, Elizabeth Slayne, Alicia Barnard Agnes of Middleton, and Elizabeth of Thronton. They were overseen by the Prioress, who is named  simply as Eleanor.  At this time it seems relations between the nuns was not good. The sisters accused the prioress of pawning the church silver, selling wood without consent and providing so few candles in the quire that there was insufficient light to say the offices. They also complained the buildings were in a state of disrepair. But this doesn’t necessarily suggest the prioress was corrupt, it rather points to dire need. Janet Burton in her book Monasteries and Society in the British Isles in the Late Middle Ages says:

“What emerges from their complaints is that this small community of seven women, living in the bleak environment of the North Yorkshire Moors, was suffering conditions of extreme poverty and hardship. It was life on the edge.”

Being so far from the ‘concourse of men’ there few rich benefactors, the priory would have had little chance of increasing their wealth. If there was such a degree of poverty in the fourteenth century, what was the financial state by the time of the dissolution? ‘Valor Ecclesiasticus’  (a survey of church finances in England, Wales and parts of Ireland made in 1535 on Henry VIII’s orders) suggests that very little had changed. Poverty was aways the rule at Arden.

The priory was visited by the king’s commissioners on 8th May 1536 and it was suppressed the following August. At the time of dissolution there were just six sisters, three of whom received pensions of twenty shillings each, two of ten shillings and one six shillings and eightpence. Sister Elizabeth Johnson, who was an octgenarian with limited hearing was granted forty shillings ‘toward her sustenance.’ The church ‘treasure’  seized by the king’s men consisted of a gilt challice weighing 14.5 oz and a flat piece of white silver weighing 8oz, and two bells valued at ten shillings. According to the ‘Valor Ecclesiasticus’ the value of the house in 1536 was £12. 0s and 6d. It is noted that the nuns also had an image of St Brigid to whom they made offerings for cows that were ill or had strayed. 

This points to a reality quite different from tales that were circulated in 1536 of corruption and ungodliness. Motivated by his favour of the new learning Cromwell and his men put forward stories of nuns indulging in sexual misconduct with monks,  murdering their own infants, enjoying lewd and promiscuous lives. Even if they had the inclination, I would be surprised if the nuns of Arden found either the time or the energy for such practices. 


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.

After the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536, the embittered King strikes out, and unprecedented change sweeps across the country. The bells of the great abbeys fall silent, the church fragments and the very foundation of the realm begins to crack.

Determined to preserve their way of life, Margery and the sisters of Arden join a pilgrimage thirty thousand strong and attempt to lead the heretic king back to grace.

Sisters of Arden is a story of valour, virtue and veritas.


Five star Amazon Review - 'The Sisters of Arden draw us into the lives of nuns and the orphaned lay sister Marjory, who have been eking out an impoverished existence at the isolated nunnery of Arden on the Yorkshire Moors until Henry VIII’s break with Rome brings the King’s (and Cromwell's) Men to close the place, wreck the buildings and force the nuns out, to find shelter elsewhere.
This is an era casually discussed in history books as a moment of change but, for those living through it, it was an traumatising overturning of centuries of tradition, belief and understanding. Religion, the basis of all security in the life to come, was torn apart and the dissolution of the monasteries deprived the country of the nearest thing it had to social welfare. The old, the sick, the handicapped, the orphaned, the destitute were now abandoned and desperate. Many, determined to turn the King back from this overthrow of all they had known, banded together in the Pilgrimage of Grace, hoping by force of numbers to turn the clock back. Their attempt was inevitably doomed and retribution was sickeningly brutal. That brutality is captured in Sisters of Arden, but so too is the exhausting daily struggle against cold and starvation, and the hopes and fears of ordinary bewildered people. An excellent read.'


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Sunday, 28 June 2020

Welcoming author, Benjamin J. Gohs to the page!


*****

Benjamin J. Gohs is a longtime award-winning news editor whose investigative journalism has included stories of murder, sex-crime, historical discovery, corruption, and clerical misconduct. 

Benjamin now divides his time between writing literary thrillers and managing the community newspaper he co-founded in 2009.


A Thin Porridge
By Benjamin J. Gohs


When 19-year-old Abeona Browne's renowned abolitionist father Jon Browne dies in summer of 1860, devastating family secrets are revealed, and her life of privilege and naiveté in Southern Michigan becomes a frantic transatlantic search for answers—and someone she didn't even know existed.

Still in mourning, Abeona sneaks aboard the ship carrying her father’s attorney Terrence Swifte and his assistant Djimon—a young man with his own secrets—on a quest to Africa to fulfil a dying wish.

Along the journey, Abeona learns of her father’s tragic and terrible past through a collection of letters intended for someone he lost long ago.

Passage to the Dark Continent is fraught with wild beasts, raging storms, illness, and the bounty hunters who know Jon Browne’s diaries are filled with damning secrets which threaten the very anti-slavery movement he helped to build. 

Can Abeona overcome antebellum attitudes and triumph over her own fears to right the wrongs in her famous family’s sordid past? 

So named for an African proverb, A Thin Porridge is a Homeric tale of second chances, forgiveness, and adventure that whisks readers from the filth of tweendecks, to the treachery of Cameroons Town, across the beauty of Table Bay, and deep into the heart of the fynbos—where Boer miners continue the outlawed scourge of slavery.

Excerpt from A Thin Porridge by Benjamin J. Gohs


VISIONS OF THE GHASTLY Dubious Grimmis hastening toward the Bartholomew—knife drawn, long legs snatching away the distance between ship and shore—shivered the girl through. So, with ice in her heart, she mourned shrinking Cameroons Town from her poop deck roost. And even as they chugged for open water, Abeona cast her fearful gaze into unsympathetic horizons.

What if he followed in another boat? What if he was already hidden aboard this one? Abeona had to tell someone. But who, and what would she say? She tried to reason with herself. After all, Grimmis wanted the journals and they were gone. What use in hectoring some little girl? But the tattletale inside her spoiled the illusion: “All the journals? Is that the truth?”

The Bartholomew was two-thirds the size of the Elsie-Marie and carried only half the passengers. If Grimmis was aboard, Abeona would know it soon enough.

Sky glowed orange and pink. Sea swallowed last speck of earth. Dread of open water impelled Abeona to jump ship, chase after land. At one point she found herself pacing the rail like a skittish horse.

Just before dark, the sturdy little ship hooked sharply until land appeared on the portside, and there it remained the rest of the trip. There it remained eight days of easy seas. And the girl was comforted by its presence. Further, none of her hours were spent in endurance of tweendecks. No visits from her anemic stalker. Abeona was free to relax, to enjoy a different kind of adventure.

Swifte spent his mornings reading and sipping brandy on the main deck while Djimon and Abeona explored. They found the upper decks shabbier than those on the Elsie-Marie but below decks were nowhere near as foul. Trio met for breakfast and dinner in the main dining hall, but the youngsters sneaked their lunches of bread, jam, and tea to a favorite spot on the foredeck just below the pilothouse where the raised benches made for a fine view.

While Swifte slept off his morning libations, the pair walked the ship's narrow halls and passageways.

“We cannot arrive soon enough.” Djimon shielded his eyes from the afternoon sun as they looked to the south.

“Sometimes I find myself in a hurry to get back home and then I remember there’s not much left there for me.”

“You have all the time in the world to make a new life. Anywhere you like. Many would envy such a position.”

“I don’t even want to think about the future.”

“You had better, for it certainly has an eye on you.”

“What are your grand aspirations?”

“Aspirations?” Djimon hummed in thought.

“Yes. What is it you wish to do with the rest of your life?”

Djimon smirked. “I know the word.”

“Well?”

“I'm doing it. I travel. I read. I meet new and interesting people.” He gently elbowed the girl’s shoulder. “And do my best not to be devoured by wild beasts.”

Abeona touched his arm and gasped. “I was just thinking about that. Last night even.”

“Yet it will still be nice to go home. It seems as though this past year has been nothing but tramping from one location to another. My roots need to rest in their home soil.”

“You mean Michigan?”

“Of course. Your birthplace dictates not who you are. If that were so, the poor would never prosper and the weak would never triumph.”

“Will you take a wife when you return?”

“Someday perchance. But I am young, and Mr. Swifte keeps me quite busy.”

“You’re not so young.” She threw her head back to take the full sun. “And what kind of man doesn’t want a wife?”

“You would lecture on tradition?” Djimon grasped the rail and hung his head between his arms, his body stiff. “You, who dresses like a common laborer? Who thinks of no one but herself?”

“I do what I like.”

“We are all very well acquainted with what you do. And don’t. I just hope you realize how fortunate you are.”

“Meaning?”

“Nothing.”

“We’ve gone this far. Tell me what you really think.”

“Nothing. Just that you will never know what it is like to struggle.”

“Because of my father’s money. Well, let me tell you something, I never asked for it. I’d much rather he was alive. And I never once said I wasn’t going to do something with my life. I might like to be a teacher or a San Francisco cabaret singer or a policeman in New York City or whatever I decide.”

“Silly little girl. Who will care for your children? Your husband?”

“This little girl has seen more of the world than most folks my age.”



Buy Links:

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Monday, 15 June 2020

Henry Fitzroy – The Almost King


by Judith Arnopp
Henry Fitzroy Duke of Richmond and Somerset (1519-36)

Kings, especially Tudor kings, could have everything they wanted. Power, property, wealth, women, it was all theirs with a click of the fingers yet, for many years, Henry VIII was denied one thing – a son and heir to follow him.

In 1519, less than forty years after Bosworth, the Tudor dynasty was still young, and it was Henry’s job to ensure it continued to flourish. The responsibility weighed heavily on his shoulders and, as Catherine of Aragon suffered more and more miscarriages, and the sons she did bear died in infancy, his need became an obsession.

With just one legitimate daughter, Mary, Henry was becoming desperate. Imagine his frustration when his mistress, Elizabeth Blount, with no trouble at all produced a healthy son. The temptation to turn his bastard into something more was irresistible. They named the child Henry.

Just to ensure that no one was mistaken, the name Fitzroy which means 'the king’s son', was often given to base-born male offspring, but although it is likely there were a good few more, Henry Fitzroy is the only illegitimate child that the king acknowledged.

Shortly after he was born, Elizabeth was married to Sir George Talboys and assigned several manors in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. A mark of favour, or perhaps gratitude, for providing the king with what his wife could not.

While the relationship between Henry and Elizabeth ceased, he continued to show Fitzroy favour. At his christening it was Cardinal Wolsey who stood as Godfather, and by the time he was six young Henry was made Knight of the Garter, and created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset. This double dukedom ensured that he took precedence over all other dukes in the land, barring the King’s lawful issue – should he have them.

 Duke of Richmond


He was also appointed King’s Lieutenant-general north of Trent, and Keeper of the City and Castle of Carlisle.This may seem a lot for a small boy, but it didn’t stop there, and by the time of his death in 1536 he was Lord |High Admiral of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Gascony, and Aquitane, with a further commission as warden general of the Scottish marches thrown in for good measure.

Throughout his life he acquired castles, land and immense fortune, making him the richest man in England after the King. With the breakdown of Henry and Catherine’s marriage, and the advent of Anne Boleyn and the failures of that union, it soon became clear that, in the absence of a legitimate son, Fitzroy would be Henry’s heir. Nothing, bar the birth of a legitimate son, could stop it.

Henry Fitzroy received an education to match his status. Although often at court, he was resident in King’s College, Cambridge and taught by Richard Croke, a pioneer of Greek Scholarship in England, and John Palsgrave, another eminent scholar. By the time he was ten young Henry was reading Caesar, Virgil, Terence, and speaking Greek.

Arms of Henry Fitzroy


Henry VIII, proud of his son, despite the stain of his birth, lost no time in proposing matrimonial alliances beneficial to England, attempting to wed him into the family of Pope Clement VII, to a Danish princess, a French princess, and a the sister of Charles V who later became Queen of France.

In spring 1532 Fitzroy spent some time at Hatfield, accompanying Henry VIII to Calais in the autumn. He moved on to Paris, staying with his friend the Earl of Surrey until September 1533. And, later that year, at the age of fourteen, possibly at the instigation of Anne Boleyn, he married Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas, the third Duke of Norfolk by his second wife. The marriage was never consummated due to their age. Thereafter plans for him to go to Ireland were abandoned, and he remained at court in the midst of the furor surrounding the reformation and the downfall of Anne Boleyn.

He is recorded as being present at the execution of the Carthusians in May 1535 and was one of the peers at Anne Boleyn’s trial, witnessing her execution as Henry’s representative in May 1536.  Fitzroy benefited both in wealth and status from Anne’s death and those that died with her.
Henry VIII


Among Anne’s detractors there were rumours of jealous rivalry between Fitzroy and the Boleyns and whispers that she and her brother, Rochford, plotted to poison him. His death was more likely to have been due to consumption or possibly plague.

Fitzroy’s death in July, just two months after his stepmother, must have proved devastating for the King who, having disinherited both his daughters by this time was left temporarily heirless. But Henry VIII had a new wife and was pinning all his hopes on Jane, who was already pregnant, perhaps with a legitimate son this time. One that would live.

Henry Fitzroy was not given a state funeral as one might expect after his royal upbringing; the arrangements were left to his father in law, the Duke of Norfolk. He is believed to be interred at Thetford Priory with other members of the Howard family. After Fitzroy’s death it was decreed that, since the marriage was not consummated, the marriage was invalid, consequently stripping his widow of her benefits.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Judith Arnopp is the author of twelve historical novels; three set in the medieval and nine in the Tudor period. Details can be found here.
author.to/juditharnoppbooks




Illustrations

1. Henry Fitzroy http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/Lucas_Horenbout_-_Henry_Fitzroy%2C_Duke_of_Richmond_and_Somerset_%281519-36%29_-_Google_Art_Project.png

2. The Duke of Richmond sometimes thought to be Edward of Middleham. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/DukeofRichmond1.gif

3. Henry VIII by Holbein  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

4.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Arms_of_Henry_FitzRoy%2C_1st_Duke_of_Richmond_and_Somerset.svg


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Samantha Wilcoxson is in the building!




Delighted to welcome Samantha Wilcoxson to my blog today. Samantha is a history enthusiast and avid traveler. Her published works include the Plantagenet Embers series with novels and novellas that explore the Wars of the Roses and early Tudor era. Luminous is her first foray into 20th century American history, but she suspects that it will not be her last. Samantha enjoys exploring the personal side of historic events and creating emotive, inspiring stories.

The Society of the Living Dead
By Samantha Wilcoxson 



In the years following World War I, Radium Dial was one of the best places for working-class girls of Ottawa, Illinois to earn good wages to help support their family or set savings aside for when they were married. Little did those girls know that the material they used to paint watch and instrument dials was slowly poisoning them. Even when realization dawned, they were faced with opposition from the radium industry, which did not wish to see their profits disappear, and the medical community, which had been using radium as a miracle cure. One group of dial painters decided they did not want to see future workers suffer their fate, so they decided to form the Society of the Living Dead.

Pearl Payne took the lead on forming the shockingly named organization. She worked at Radium Dial for less than a year, but she suffered health problems for the rest of her life that she attributed to radium poisoning. Along with coworkers, Catherine Donohue, Marie Rossiter, and Charlotte Purcell, Pearl convinced their lawyer, Leonard Grossman, that they needed to do more than win their own case against Radium Dial. They wanted to “band together, secure legal aid and in general use our organized presence to simplify, promote, and improve the laws relative to those who are maimed due to occupational hazards.”

The called themselves the Society of the Living Dead because some victims of radium poisoning had the eerie appearance of walking corpses. Charlotte Purcell had an arm amputated, and Catherine Donohue’s body wasted away to less than half of her healthy weight. Other women grew giant tumors or had their jaws and noses rot away. The varied symptoms of radium poisoning was one of the factors that made it difficult to diagnose and hold employers responsible.


The Society got the attention of the press and used it to spread awareness of the struggle of the “radium girls,” as they came to be known. Even the women who did not enjoy being the center attention allowed media photos of their emaciated bodies and underdeveloped children to increase sympathy and action. The news stories requested that readers send funds to help support the disabled workers whose families were struggling with medical bills and loss of wages.

Leonard Grossman was vital to the success of the women’s legal cases and the Society’s success at raising awareness. “You hear the voice of the Society of the Living Dead. That is the voice of the ghost women speaking not only here in this room but to the world. This voice is going to strike the shackles off the industrial slaves of America,” he stated in one interview. The women could not have succeeded without his tireless efforts and countless hours of free legal work.

As the former dial painters sickened and died, Radium Dial and other companies in the radium industry fought to deny liability or even the idea that radium might be causing their health problems. Without the work of the Society of the Living Dead, the fight to see radium poisoning recognized as an occupational hazard might have taken years longer. These women’s quest to protect others from the harm they had suffered saved countless lives, even as they lost their own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



My new book, Luminous, tells the story of Catherine Donohue, one of the key members of the Society of the Living Dead. Photos of her shrinking frame and her tiny children inspired sympathy and increased awareness across the country, but there is much more to her than those media photos and news stories. Her private struggle is what I strive to capture in Luminous. What did it feel like to fight for your life when even the medical community seemed to be an enemy? How did she cope with watching her health fail at the time of her life that should have been filled with health and happiness? How did a quiet Catholic girl stand up to the might of the radium industry? Find out in Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl. To read it click here: mybook.to/luminous

To read Samantha's Blog: click here

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Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Jennifer C.Wilson


As oart of The Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour, I am very pleased to welcome Jennifer C. Wilson back to my blog with news of her new release due out on 4th of June 2020



Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quote often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.




Kindred Spirits: Ephemera
By Jennifer C. Wilson


The afterlife is alive with possibility…
In this collection of stories, we follow kings and queens as they make important (and history-defying) visits, watch a football game featuring the foulest of fouls, and meet a host of new spirits-in-residence across the British Isles and beyond.
Be transported to ancient ruins, a world-famous cemetery, and a new cathedral, and catch up with old friends – and enemies.
Because when the dead outnumber the living and start to travel, the adventures really do begin.
Kindred Spirits: Ephemera is a charming collection of stories about your favourite ghosts!


Here is a short excerpt

Kindred Spirits: Carlisle Castle

It had begun peacefully, just like every year. Then, again, just like every year, things had got out of hand.
“After all these years, decades, centuries even, you’d think this could be better handled by now?” mused Queen Mary to the young soldier standing beside her, as they looked down on the proceedings.
William hadn’t been picked for the Carlisle Castle team, and had instead chosen to stay on the castle walls with his former prisoner, who, luckily for him, had deemed him unworthy of having a grudge held against him. He nodded to the Scots Queen, as he and his colleagues had called her when they were watching her, centuries before. “I’d like to say the Jacobites team start it each year, Madame, but sadly, I think this year our guards are as much to blame.”
It had started with a foul, potentially in what had been roughly designated the Castle Guards’ penalty area thanks to some stolen jumpers and cones. But, ghosts being ghosts, one or two had been spirited forward before the referee (an old guardsman from the cathedral) had wheezed his way up the pitch to sort things out. He hadn’t made it in time, and in less than a minute both teams were engaged in what would have been a fight to the death, if they weren’t already dead.
“I suppose, in one way, it’s safer now there cannot be too many actual injuries,” Queen Mary said. Suddenly, her attention was drawn to a commotion at the other end of the field. If she had still had a heart, it would have pushed harder inside her chest at the sight. A group of locals, very drunk by the look (and sound) of them, were heading haphazardly towards the makeshift pitch. “Oh, here we go.” Signalling to William, the pair floated from the battlements to the ground below.
The teams had heard the approaching gang, and frozen, invisible to the living, watching as they tried to work out what the newcomers would do.
Seeing the pitch set up, in the middle of the night, the locals paused for a moment, wondering aloud whether they had disrupted an ongoing match, or found the remnants of one long finished. Little did they know, the battle they had disturbed had been ongoing for longer than anyone living could remember.
“Well?” One of the local lads had reached the football. “What do you reckon?” He looked around his group of friends, clearly trying to count through the alcohol-induced fog.
“We’re one short for five-a-side, mate.” His friend had been quicker at the maths. “But since Smithy’s played for the town, he counts as two, so his side only needs four men.” Laughing, the second man ducked as the aforementioned Smithy found a discarded baseball cap and sent it spinning through the air at his friend.
“Let’s go short sleeves versus long,” called another of the group.
As they looked around, they evidently realised it would work. A general murmur of agreement spread around the men, and they formed themselves, staggeringly, into the two agreed teams.
The Jacobites and the Guards had barely moved during the whole interlude. Now, meeting each other’s eyes and realising here was not only a greater danger but also a greater opportunity, they silently broke away, mid-fight. On the sideline, Queen Mary watched on, smiling at what she hoped was about to unfold. There was the odd haunting within the walls of Carlisle Castle, but it didn’t have the reputation of some places, once you left the more enclosed areas. And there was nothing wrong with a little fun now and then, was there? Even ghosts needed entertainment.
In a heartbeat, if ghosts had heartbeats, Jacobites and Guards had found their football stolen, their match abandoned, and a new game about to begin. But even arch-enemies could work together for a common cause. The local lads were drunk enough that the odd glimpse of a ghostly uniformed guard might be missed; the dead might need something stronger…


Included short- stories are
Kindred Spirits: St Paul’s Cathedral
Kindred Spirits: Jailbreak
Kindred Spirits: Carlisle Castle
Kindred Spirits: The Sisterhood of Hampton Court Palace
Kindred Spirits: Leicester – Return of the King
Kindred Spirits: The Jewel of the Wall
Kindred Spirits: Eurostar
Kindred Spirits: Père Lachaise
Kindred Spirits: York, Revisited

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon CA

You can connect with Jennifer online: BlogFacebookTwitterInstagramAmazon



Thursday, 28 May 2020

A Visit from author Mary Ann Bernal




I am excited to welcome Mary Ann to my blog to tell us all about her new release. 
Publisher: Whispering Legends Press



Crusader's Path 
By Mary Ann Bernal


From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

Will Etienne be true to his word if Avielle is cleansed of the contagion, or will he risk eternal damnation to be with the woman he loves?




Excerpt

Chapter Twelve

In the stillness, Avielle reflected on Peter’s decision to join a seasoned Army, which rekindled her desire to free the Holy Land from Muslim rule. She could ride with the camp followers, tending to the women and children if not the embattled soldiers.

Surely, they would not turn me away. With so many men, there are never enough healers, she thought.

Avielle wanted to take Brother Joseph into her confidence, seeking his wisdom and blessing should she decide to take up the Cross once again. Before leaving, she would teach the novitiates, and holy sisters and whoever else wished to learn the healer’s craft. Avielle did not want to leave Brother Joseph just as she had not wanted to leave Brother Dacien. An inner voice directed her steps, the Lord’s voice, perhaps.

Since the Army of Christ needed permission from His Holiness before setting out, she also had to obtain the Bishop’s approval by obeying the laws of God. And Urban spoke for God. Whichever Army she chose needed His Holiness’s blessing to take part in this Holy War, and she believed Peter never received Urban’s approval. Avielle thought Peter preyed on the vulnerability of people without hope, his dynamic speeches a distraction. The truth was hidden behind their expectations as he reminded them the Holy Ghost was the guardian of the soul and body.

Peter was not a military leader. He battled the evil one, a spiritual undertaking, and of no use when facing starvation, disease, and death. The holy monk probably meant no harm to those participating in such a daunting task, yet he should not have left without proper funding. Peasants did not have many possessions, and they lacked warfare instruction and self-restraint. Peter’s impatience left him grieving for what might have been; his Army marching behind him as they entered Jerusalem triumphantly, ahead of the wealthy and powerful, the poor and lowly, accomplishing what Kings could not.

You are being unduly harsh, Avielle.

Staring at the dying man, Avielle felt an uncomfortable tingling and prickling sensation. Opening and closing her fingers relieved the feeling, but her wrist hurt. Pulling up her sleeves, she carefully examined her arms, looking for redness, bumps, and spots, which were difficult to see in the darkness.

You are clean, do not think otherwise.

Avielle tried to remember when the contagion changed her father’s outward appearance. How long had it taken them to return to her uncle’s home? How long before Brother Dacien gave them succor? How long before they buried him?

Should she take the veil while still unblemished? The Abbess could not cast her out after final vows, but she might lock her away, alone in a cell for the rest of her days. Solitude destroyed minds, no matter the lineage. Avielle had observed such horrors wandering the countryside with her father when condemned prisoners pleaded for death, freeing them from their suffering.

You can care for the lepers and beg alms for a hospital. Find a patron. With men of great wealth visiting the city, maybe, someone seeking redemption?

Best to think of something now, before it is too late, and you are condemned to walk the earth, ringing a bell to warn people of your coming.






Mary Ann Bernal


Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavor is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Blog • Whispering Legends Press •  Twitter • Facebook.






Whispering Legends Press: https://www.whisperinglegendspress.com/



Sunday, 24 May 2020

Time to reveal who has won a FREE signed copy of The Kiss of the Concubine!


Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of The Kiss of the Concubine to mark the anniversary of Anne's death. There were a few teething problems with people accessing or commenting on the blog and I appologise for that. Since so many of you struggled to enter I have added everyone who commented on the Facebook posts too. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons I couldn't include those of you who commented under 'annoymous' or 'unknown'.

Usually, I ask my four year old grandson to pull out a name but since that is tricky during lockdown (still in place in Wales) I have had to improvise and get my husband to do it. He is cute but in a different way to my grandson. Please rest assured the result is totally annonymous.

First, I listed the names on a piece of paper.

Then I cut them into strips.


Folded them up so they all look the same.


Then I placed them in my truncated henin (a french hood would be more appropriate but wouldn't work as well).

Husband then closed his eyes, plunged in his hand and pulled out ...


a name!



 CONGRATULATIONS to LISA CROUSE!!!

Thank you so much to all who entered! Please follow my blog for a chance in other draws and competitions.

The Kiss of the Concubine: A story of Anne Boleyn is available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, Paperback and Audible.  mybook.to/tkoc2
author.to/juditharnoppbooks






Wednesday, 20 May 2020

A Q&A with authors, Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer.



Robin Hood’s Widow (Book Two in the Robin Hood Trilogy)
Author Q&A with Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows.  How is your trilogy different?

In our first book, Robin Hood’s Dawn, we re-imagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which included exploring his family dynamics: an aloof, selfish father and a kind-hearted mother devoted to ministering to the poor.  One theme is how the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations.  This is part of Robin’s legacy from his father.
We cast Robin as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official. When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff.  However, he feels a responsibility to the people because he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being.  Instead of running away, he stays to protect the people from the sheriff.  And this points to another theme: one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.
The second book, Robin Hood’s Widow, picks up where the first book ends. Robin is alive and still with King Richard in the Holy Land, but Marian, the sheriff, and Guy of Gisborne have returned to England thinking that Robin Hood is dead.
Robin Hood’s Widow explores themes of grief and redemption, while featuring Marian’s adventures as leader of the outlaws. Her story is interwoven with Robin’s quest to return home while fulfilling his obligations to King Richard.
In this book, we wanted to explore both the stages of grief and their non-linear nature. Experiencing loss and grief is not like climbing stairs; you don’t complete one stage, progress to the next, and eventually arrive at acceptance. The emotional turmoil of an earlier stage can reappear and reassert itself during the process.
That being said, this story is not sad or depressing; Robin Hood’s Widow is an optimistic tale of triumphing over adversity. 


You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been re-imagined.  Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?

There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend.  We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without adhering to the same story lines that have been previously written.  We hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.
However, we felt that Marian is a character who deserves more attention.  All too often she is a background character with little to do.  With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in Robin Hood’s Widow, where she takes center stage as the leader of the outlaws. She must learn how to lead while finding clever ways to thwart the sheriff and rob those supporters of Prince John who dare enter Sherwood Forest.  We also wanted Marian to be feminine and believable as a woman of the 12th century.    

Do the first two books of the trilogy end in cliff-hangers? Are the books stand alone?  

We have structured the trilogy so that the books do not end in cliff-hangers, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the books. 
Although we want readers to start with Robin Hood’s Dawn, we know that some might be more interested in Robin Hood’s Widow. Therefore, we have endeavored to provide enough information in the second book so that a new reader will not be lost.
Both Robin and Marian are guarding secrets that will be revealed in Robin Hood’s Widow!

How did you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?
Olivia:
The story of Robin Hood’s Widow is very special to me, and I wrote the original version after I experienced a devastating personal loss. Readers might be surprised to learn that Robin Hood’s Widow was written before Robin Hood’s Dawn!
I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters.  I am multi-lingual, and I enjoy writing stories in different languages.  My first novel is an English-language alternate history featuring Anne Boleyn.
I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet, and we decided to co-author a Robin Hood Trilogy with Robin Hood’s Widow as its centerpiece.  

So, you’ve never met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages.  How can you co-author a book?  Is it because you have similar writing styles?
Coleen:
Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!
Olivia:
We have found that we have a lot in common—especially our love of writing and of history.  We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this. 
Coleen:
That’s true.  Olivia and I have very different “voices” and writing styles.  You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.  
I write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes.  I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural sounding dialogue.
Olivia:
My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism.  I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.
Coleen:
In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect.  Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn and Robin Hood’s Widow. 


Both books available in paperback and Kindle. Click here to purchase Robin Hood's Dawn:
USA:
UK:


Clck here to purchase Robin Hood's Widow

About the Authors

Olivia Longueville 
Olivia has always loved literature and fiction, and she is passionate about historical research, genealogy, and the arts.  She has several degrees in finance & general management from London Business School (LBS) and other universities.  At present, she helps her father run the family business.  
During her first trip to France at the age of ten, Olivia had a life-changing epiphany when she visited the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau and toured its library.  This truly transformed her life as she realized her passion for books and writing, foreshadowing her future career as a writer.  In childhood, she began writing stories and poems in different languages.  Loving writing more than anything else in her life, Olivia has resolved to devote her life to creating historical fiction novels.  She has a special interest in the history of France and England.  
Having met on the Internet, Olivia and J. C. Plummer, a writer and historian, decided to co-author The Robin Hood Trilogy.  Olivia and J. C. are retelling the Robin Hood story with an unusual and imaginative plot that is solidly grounded in 12th century history. The trilogy incorporates twists and turns which will captivate and entertain readers.

Olivia’s social media profiles:
Personal website: www.olivialongueville.com/
Project website: www.angevinworld.com/
Twitter: @O_Longueville

________________________________________

J. C. Plummer 
J.C. Plummer (Jennie Coleen) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Anthropology.  She later earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Dartmouth College.
Co-authoring The Robin Hood Trilogy has merged J.C.’s passions for history, culture, and technology into one unique, exciting project.
As an author and historian, J.C.’s goal is to provide thoughtful and entertaining storytelling that honors the past, is mindful of the present, and is optimistic for the future.

J.C.’s social media profiles:
Project website: www.angevinworld.com/
Twitter: @JC_Plummer