16 August 2017

Tips for new writers Part Three - Rules, by Wendy Janes #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #writing

The odd thing about grammar and punctuation rules is that they are a bit of a moveable feast. Some change depending on whether you’re using US or UK English and others are flexible depending on context, style and genre. Sounds like a can of worms, if you ask me. But let’s dive in and try and make some sense of it all.

First, I’d like to select the three rules that I see authors breaking most often. These ones are non-negotiable.

Use of it’s and its
it’s = it is (It’s raining)
its = belonging to (The creature protected its young)
The easy way to remember correct use of it’s and its is to say ‘it is’ whenever you come across either version. If the sentence makes sense when you say ‘it is’ then the correct term is it’s.

Use of initial capital when referring to parents
There’s no need for the capital when you’re referring to ‘my mum’ or ‘your dad’. Usually if you can substitute the name for the word ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ then you need a capital letter.
I asked Mum to dinner (I asked Jean to dinner would work fine)
I asked my mum to dinner (I asked my Jean to dinner is not right)

Use of lie/lay/laid
I have a crib sheet, in fact I have more than one crib sheet, to remind me how this works. Here’s one of them:

Present tense: I lie down on the grass and look up at the trees. 
Past tense: Yesterday, I lay down on the grass and looked up at the trees.
Past perfect: Years later I recalled how I had lain down on the grass and looked up at the trees.

Present tense: As I look up at the trees, I lay my book to one side.
Past tense: As I looked up at the trees, I laid my book to one side.
Past perfect: Years later I recalled how I had laid my book to one side.

So, the above are non-negotiable. Now let’s have a look at some of the ones that I think are negotiable.

When I was taught English grammar at school back in the 1970s, the rule was that a hyphen was required in ‘the nineteenth-century monument’, but not in ‘the monument dated from the nineteenth century’. These days, if the meaning is clear and the piece of writing isn’t formal, omitting the hyphen isn’t the sin it once was. However, please note, a hyphen isn’t needed in phrases that contain adverbs that end ‘-ly’. For example, ‘a happily married couple’ and ‘newly made road’.

Some people get very hot under the collar about the comma splice. The rule is that a comma by itself shouldn’t be used to join two main clauses. For example, ‘I enjoy reading, I always have my nose in a book.’ This can be corrected by splitting it into two sentences or by adding a conjunction such as ‘and’ or ‘so’. The comma splice is something I’m actually quite partial to. I rather like the rhythm it can give to a sentence.

If you’re not sure whether to use ‘that’ or ‘which’ in a sentence, the basic rule is as follows: ‘that’ is used when a clause is integral to the sentence, and ‘which’ is used when the sentence would still make sense without the clause.

The teacher always gave gold stars to stories that showed imagination. (Note: no comma before ‘that’.)

The pupil’s latest story, which the teacher had awarded a gold star, was her favourite. (Note: comma before ‘which’.)

However, there is wiggle room, especially when you’re writing in an informal style and when writing dialogue. The same goes for ‘who’ and ‘whom’. I cringe a little when I hear characters say ‘whom’ in everyday speech.

The basic rule is that you use ‘who’ when you’re referring to the subject of a sentence and ‘whom’ when referring to the object.

Test 1
Who is your teacher?
Whom is your teacher?

The correct answer for Test 1 is ‘who’ because the teacher is the subject of the sentence.

Test 2
Who did the teacher praise?
Whom did the teacher praise?

The correct answer for Test 2 is ‘whom’ because the teacher is doing the praising, so the ‘whom’ is referring to the object in that sentence.

I love the substitution test that many people refer to, which runs: if the answer to the question is ‘he’ then you use ‘who’ and if the answer is ‘him’ then you use ‘whom’. So in Test 1, the answer would be, ‘He is my teacher’ and in Test 2, you’d answer, ‘The teacher praised him.’ A quick way to remember the substitution rule is that ‘him’ and ‘whom’ both end with ‘m’.

If all that has whetted your appetite, and you don’t yet have a copy of a style guide, I suggest The Chicago Manual of Style for US English, and the New Oxford Style Manual for UK English.

I recommend that authors learn the rules of punctuation and grammar and then choose to break them if and when they want or need to. If you have a logical or creative reason then I see no problem in breaking a rule or two. However, I think it’s important you have the confidence and professionalism to assure readers that you’re doing it on purpose and not in error.

Wendy Janes 
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About the Author

Wendy Janes is a freelance proofreader for a number of publishers and many individual authors. She is also a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. Author of the novel, What Jennifer Knows and a collection of short stories, What Tim Knows, and other stories, she loves to take real life and turn it into fiction. She lives in London with her husband and youngest son. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her via her Facebook author page, her website, Amazon author pages (UK/US) and Twitter @wendyproof.

Do you have some great writing tips you would like to share?
Please feel free to comment

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join in.

15 August 2017

Book Launch Spotlight ~ The House of Beaufort: The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown, by Nathen Amin

New from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Wars of the Roses were a tumultuous period in English history, with family fighting family over the greatest prize in the kingdom – the throne of England. But what gave the eventual victor of these brutal and complex wars, Henry Tudor, the right to claim the crown? What made his Beaufort mother the great heiress of medieval England, and how exactly did an illegitimate line come to challenge the English monarchy?

While the Houses of York and Lancaster fought brutally for the crown, other noble families of the kingdom also played integral roles in the wars; grand and prestigious names like the Howards, Mowbrays, Nevilles and Percys were intimately involved in the conflict, but none symbolised the volatile nature of the period quite like the House of Beaufort. Their rise, fall, and rise again is the story of England during the fifteenth century, a dramatic century of war, intrigue and scandal both at home and abroad. Many books have been written about individual members of the dynasty, but never has the whole family been explored as one.

This book uncovers the rise of the Beauforts from bastard stock of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to esteemed companions of their cousin Henry V, celebrated victor of Agincourt, and tracks their chastening fall with the House of Lancaster during the 1460s and 1470s. The hopes and fortunes of the family gradually came to rest upon the shoulders of a teenage widow named Margaret Beaufort and her young son Henry. From Margaret would rise the House of Tudor, the most famous of all England’s royal houses and a dynasty that owed its crown to the blood of its forebears, the House of Beaufort. From bastards to princes, the Beauforts are medieval England’s most captivating family.

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About the Author

Nathen Amin grew up in the heart of Carmarthenshire, West Wales, and has long had an interest in Welsh history, the Wars of the Roses and the early Tudor period. His first book Tudor Wales was released in 2014 and was well-received, followed by a second book called York Pubs in 2016. His third book is a full-length biography of the Beaufort family. He is the founder of the Henry Tudor Society and has featured discussing the Tudors on BBC radio and television, as well as in print and online media across the UK. He has a degree in Business and Journalism and now lives in York, where he works as a Technical Writer. Find him on Twitter @NathenAmin.

11 August 2017

Special Guest Post by Melita Thomas, Author of The King's Pearl: Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary

Available for pre-order from 

Mary Tudor has always been known as ‘Bloody Mary’, the name given to her by later Protestant chroniclers who vilified her for attempting to re-impose Roman Catholicism in England. Although a more nuanced picture of the first queen regnant has since emerged, she is still stereotyped, depicted as a tragic and lonely figure, personally and politically isolated after the annulment of her parents’ marriage and rescued from obscurity only through the good offices of Katherine Parr. Although Henry doted on Mary as a child and called her his ‘pearl of the world’, her determination to side with her mother over the annulment both hurt him as a father and damaged perceptions of him as a monarch commanding unhesitating obedience. However, once Mary had finally been pressured into compliance, Henry reverted to being a loving father and Mary played an important role in court life

Hunting for pearls

I have wanted to write about Mary Tudor since watching the BBC series Elizabeth R as a child. Why Mary caught my imagination, rather than the more popular Elizabeth, I don’t know, but she did. Reading more, I concluded that Mary has been unfairly maligned by historians. Nevertheless, I did not want to write a defence of her that would be just as unbalanced as the religious polemics that created the myth of Bloody Mary. What I needed was a new angle, where I could focus my research, and hopefully challenge both my own beliefs and the stereotype. 

I found my hook in an unexpected place – one of C J Sansom’s fabulous Shardlake novels. In a throwaway line, the hero mentions works being undertaken at Whitehall, for the Lady Mary's apartments. Intrigued, I checked it out. Unsurprisingly, the meticulous Sansom proved correct – Henry commissioned a sumptuous apartment block for Mary at his most important palace, completed in early 1543. 

This was a revelation. I had always accepted the narrative that Mary had had a happy childhood, but that there was a complete breakdown in relations between Mary and Henry after the advent of Anne Boleyn, only ameliorated by Kathrine Parr. But if Henry was ordering beautiful apartments for her, whilst Katherine Parr was still married to her second husband, that suggested a different dynamic between father and daughter. Maybe Mary and Henry’s relationship was more nuanced than is generally thought. 

That question gave me the theme for the book. I could start researching, with a cut-off date of Henry’s death. I began with the National Archive on-line catalogue. There were several hundred entries, giving a brief description of items and their locations: examples being a call to arms from Mary to combat Wyatt’s rebellion in 1554, located at Loseley House, and an inventory of Jane Seymour’s jewels in the National Archive itself. I could discard the former, as out of the date frame, whilst tabling the latter for review. 

Next, I turned to the superb www.british-history.ac.uk which has digitised vast numbers of reference works, so instead of going to the British Library and paging through 39 volumes of the Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII (L & P), and Calendars of State Papers, I could read them at my desk, and bookmark relevant entries.

I drafted the narrative based on the contemporaneous chroniclers, Edward Hall and Charles Wriothesley. Then I worked through the calendared information in L & P.  Whenever Mary was mentioned, I would identify the source to review – or, more usually, because my palaeography skills are slim, and original documents often have access restrictions – a transcript in one of the vast collections of documents that the painstaking Victorian antiquarians faithfully copied from almost unreadable originals. 

Some early accounts of Mary’s birth and childhood are from the letters of Sebastian Giustiniani, the Venetian ambassador and much information from the 1540s is from the letters of the French ambassador, Marillac. Sadly, a trip to European archives was impossible, but both letter books have been published. Able to read Italian and French, I could refer to these original transcripts, rather than relying on translations in L & P. 

I was occasionally frustrated by references to Mary’s activities in an article or academic paper for which I could find no proof. An example is the excellent article by W R B Robinson: Princess Mary’s Itinerary in the Marches of Wales 1525 – 1527: Robinson mentions Mary visiting Coventry in 1526, but cites no source, and I could find nothing supporting the statement. I wrote to the Coventry city archives who pointed me in the direction of the Council minute book, but there was no mention of such a visit. I only wanted to include information that I could verify, so I had to leave it out.

Guided by the National Archive list, I visited archives at Taunton, Worcester and Gloucester. At Gloucester, I consulted the Council record of the ceremonial entry of Mary to the city in 1525 – which I compared with the similar visit of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn ten years later. 

Where possible, I went to places Mary lived. One lesser-known residence is Hartlebury castle, where an extremely helpful curator shared her research on Mary's sojourn there. 

Top tip for my next book is to note the details of the source immediately for references. I spent hours going back over my draft, to confirm the origin of quotes and facts from the bewildering array of sources I had reviewed.  

But it has all been worth it – the highlight was holding a British Library manuscript containing Mary’s translation of a prayer, and an affectionate hand-written note to a friend - a moment of connection through the centuries to a living, breathing woman. 

 Melita Thomas
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About the Author

Melita Thomas is the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Britain in the period 1485-1625 www.tudortimes.co.uk. Melita has loved history since being mesmerised by the BBC productions of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Elizabeth R’, when she was a little girl. After that, she read everything she could get her hands on about this most fascinating of dynasties. Captivated by the story of the Lady Mary galloping to Framingham to set up her standard and fight for her rights, Melita began her first book about the queen when she was 9. The manuscript is probably still in the attic! Whilst still pursuing a career in business, Melita took a course on writing biography, which led her and her business partner to the idea for Tudor Times, and gave her the inspiration to begin writing about Mary again. ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary’ is her first book. She has several ideas for a second project, and hopes to settle on one and begin writing by the end of the year. In her spare time, Melita enjoys long distance walking. She is attempting to walk around the whole coast of Britain. You can follow her progress here. https://mgctblog.com/ and find her on Facebook and Twitter @thetudortimes. 

8 August 2017

Guest Post by David Pryce, Author of 1170: The Legend of Prince Madoc

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

300 Years before Columbus…

Native American tradition tells of a brave group of pale skinned explorers who many generations ago crossed a ‘Great Water’ to get to their lands; these people called themselves ‘Welsh’ and this is their story…

Join Prince Madoc and his intrepid band of followers as they turn their backs on treachery and duplicity and undertake a voyage that will test their togetherness, belief and fighting spirit; taking them beyond the known boundaries of civilization to distant lands far to the west. 

Prince Madoc ap Owain was an illegitimate son of the great Prince of Wales, Owain Gwynedd. Destined like many of his siblings to be consigned to historical anonymity, it seems that Madoc had other ideas.  Instead of obscurity, adventure beckoned and trailing in the footsteps of Norse explorer of yore, Madoc and his followers headed across the Atlantic Ocean, making final landfall at Mobile Bay in modern day Alabama; some three hundred years before Signore Colombo. It is hypothesized that from there they eventually headed up river into the interior of the country (remains of stone forts that some attribute to the Welsh explorers can be found in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee). 

My own Prince Madoc adventure began in more modest circumstances, with an e-mail from my brother-in-law back home in North Wales. Had I heard of a Welsh prince who’d discovered America? I hadn’t, but that soon changed as I voraciously researched. 

Initially my ambitions stretched no further than a factual article or two, perhaps a modest blog, but the more I dug the more I felt that Madoc deserved more. Perhaps I was driven on by the fact that I was also a Welshman who had journeyed across the Atlantic - albeit in considerably more comfort and with distinctly less peril - to call this continent home?

Could I really write a book though? I’d dabbled as a child, but nothing since. I scoured the internet for tips and advice and discovered a whole community out there for budding authors. I started a spreadsheet to track my daily and weekly word totals and every day I lost myself in 12th century Wales. My characters took on life and writing allowed me to disappear from the everyday mundane. 

I decided to pen the tale as a trilogy and several months later the first book was finished. Exciting? Well to be honest, I felt a little flat. I started to have withdrawal symptoms; what was I going to do without my daily fix of Madoc, Cynwrig, Fergal, Ioan and the rest of my protagonists? Then there was the editing…Long story short; after completing books two and three, a chance conversation convinced me to combine and re-edit the three books into one, and 1170 was born…or should that be reborn? 

David Pryce
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About the Author

David Pryce was born and bred in North Wales; after graduating with a Mining Engineering degree he spent the next seven years living and working in Southern Africa. He currently resides in Colorado, but returns to North Wales on a regular basis to visit family and rediscover his intrinsic ‘Welshness’. This also affords him the opportunity to eat some decent fish and chips and sink a pint or three of real beer! You can visit David online at www.wales2america.com and connect with him on twitter @Madog1170

7 August 2017

Book Launch ~ Discovering Tudor London: A Journey Back in Time, by Natalie Grueninger

This engaging and practical travel guide takes you on a journey through the best of Tudor London, to sites built and associated with this fascinating dynasty, and to the museums and galleries that house tantalising treasures from this rich period of history.

Join the author as she explores evocative historical sites, including the magnificent great hall of Eltham Palace, the most substantial surviving remnant of the medieval palace where Henry VIII spent time as a child, and the lesser-known delights of St Helen’s Church, dubbed the ‘Westminster Abbey of the City’ for its impressive collection of Tudor monuments.

A range of photographs, maps and visitor information, together with an informative narrative, bring the most intriguing personalities and stories of the thirty plus sites across Greater London vividly to life. This a must have companion for both those planning their own ‘Tudor pilgrimage’ and for the armchair traveller alike.
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About the Author

Natalie Grueninger is a researcher, writer and educator, who lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. She graduated from The University of NSW in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts, with majors in English and Spanish and Latin American Studies and received her Bachelor of Teaching from The University of Sydney in 2006. Natalie has been working in public education since 2006 and is passionate about making learning engaging and accessible for all children. In 2009 she created On the Tudor Trail (www.onthetudortrail.com), a website dedicated to documenting historic sites and buildings associated with Anne Boleyn and sharing information about the life and times of Henry VIII’s second wife. Natalie is fascinated by all aspects of life in Tudor England and has spent many years researching this period..Find Natalie on Facebook and on Twitter @OntheTudorTrail

6 August 2017

Special Guest Post: Headdresses of Noble Women During the Reign of Henry VIII, by Sarah Bryson

Clothing was very important in the Tudor age, people dressed according to their status and there were laws which dictated what people could and could not wear. The higher in status a person was the more luxurious their clothing could be. For example only the Royal family could wear crimson, this defined them as royalty, while lower class people simply could not afford such rich fabrics for clothing, not to mention it would not be practical to wear such delicate garments while doing physical labour.

In addition to this, during the reign of Henry VIII married women had to cover most of their hair. Headdresses including the Gable Hood and French Hood were the two main headdresses worn by women of the court. Just as the gowns they wore, a woman’s headdress was a statement of their status and wealth. Women of the Tudor court would wear lavishly decorated headdresses and many would try to copy and emulate what the Queen wore. In this article I will be discussing two types of Tudor headwear, the Gable Hood and French Hood. But first I must talk about the Tudor Coif….


Women were supposed to have their hair covered. There were some exceptions, girls could wear their hair down and the Queen of England could wear her hair down on her coronation day – but other than this a married lady had to wear her hair up and covered. The coif one of the most common pieces of headwear worn by all classes of women during the Tudor age. Coifs were usually made of linen, any cheap material, or even silk for a richer woman, and they were either white or light in colour.

The coif was essentially a cap that was worn to cover the head and to hide most of a woman’s hair. For the common woman, those that worked upon the land, spun for a living or other types of physical labour, the coif was a way to keep the hair back from the face. For women of nobility and the Tudor court the coif was worn under the hood to hold back a woman’s hair from the face and to protect the hood from the hair’s natural oils. The coif could be simple in design and appearance or beautifully embroidered with fine thread. A woman’s hair was commonly braided and tied up under the coif.

Women at court, ladies in waiting and the Queen, would have worn a coif that would most likely have been made of silk or another type of expensive material and it would have been intricately embroidered. Despite not being able to be seen, the coif was still a fashion piece and more so a statement of a woman’s position. The prettier and more expensive the better!

Gable Hood

There were two types of hoods, the English hood otherwise known as the Gable and the French Hood. The Gable Hood was most popular during the later years of Henry VII’s reign and the first decade or so of Henry VIII’s reign. The Gable covered all of a woman’s hair and was often made in a triangle shape with the point at the top. Thanks to painters during this time, such as Hans Holbein, we have many wonderful examples of the Gable Hood.

Like any fashion, the style of the Gable Hood changed over time. The lappets (white parts that hang down to the shoulders) shortened over the years, and changed in length depending on the desire of the wearer. The hood (the material that hangs down the back) also changed quite dramatically over the reign of Henry VIII and we have several examples were the hood hung completely down the back, one of these being in a portrait of Queen Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.
Katherine of Aragon

There are also examples in paintings that show half of the hood pinned up. An example of this can be seen in Queen Jane Seymour’s portrait. The right half of the hood was turned up and folded or twisted and then pinned so it would project on the left side. The left side of the hood was then brought across the back and draped over the right shoulder. This style of Gable Hood was also referred to as the ‘whelk shell headdress’ as the hood was sometimes folded in the shape of a whelk shell.

Jane Seymour
Another example of how the hood was designed and worn has a square shape at the back of the Gable hood, and the hood is split into two parts or panels that hang down loosely and could have been worn over each shoulder. There is a wonderful Holbein sketch that shows this split hood.

Holbein Sketch
The Gable Hood was also decorated with lavish jewels depending on the wealth of the wearer. It was made out of expensive materials and designed in a variety of colours to suit various coloured gowns the Queen or noble woman was wearing. As with fashion of the day the decoration of the hood changed according to the person’s style, their wealth, and how much they wanted to display their status.

The Gable Hood was quite popular during the later years of Henry VII’s reign and the early years of Henry VIII’s reign however, it did not completely disappear from usage until around 1570.

Gable Hood made by Amanda Reiman

French Hood

It is commonly believed that Anne Boleyn brought the French Hood to the Tudor court when she returned from France and made her debut at court in 1522. However this is not the case, it was most likely that Mary Tudor, younger sister of Henry VIII, whom had the greatest influence upon the introduction of the French Hood as a fashion statement at court, especially upon her return to England after her short lived marriage to King Louis XII of France.

The French hood was far more scandalous than the Gable Hood as it was worn back from the hairline and showed some of the woman’s hair. It was also designed in a circle or oval shape.  The hood may have been tied under the chin by a thin piece of ribbon or may have been fitted to the head and pinned to the coif or hair.

At the front of the French hood was a coloured piece of material, sometimes frilled or for royalty made of gold gauze. This rested upon the hair and toward the back of the hood was a fixed wire which was covered with material and often lined with expensive jewels. This wire provided the oval shape of the hood. A black or dark colour tubing of material was attached to the back of the hood and hanged down the woman’s back.

Mary Tudor wearing a French Hood
The style and decoration of the French Hood changed over the years depending on the fashion of the time and person wearing it. Sometimes the back of the hood was raised higher and more intricately decorated, while other styles pushed the front of the hood back to reveal more hair. As in modern times the overall design, shape and decoration of the hood changed with personal taste and courtly fashion.

French Hood made by Gina Clark
As mentioned, for women of the court of Henry VIII the headdress they wore reflected their status and wealth. Thanks to talented painters of the age such as Hans Holbein and Lucus Horenbout, we have many wonderful examples of women wearing both Gable and French hoods. 

Sarah Bryson
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About the Author

Sarah Bryson is a researcher, writer and educator who has a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with Honours. She currently works with children with disabilities. She is passionate about Tudor history and has a deep interest in Mary Boleyn, Charles Brandon, the reign of Henry VIII and the people of his court. She is the author of Mary Boleyn in a Nutshell and Charles Brandon: The King’s Man. Visiting England in 2009 furthered her passion. Sarah lives in Australia, enjoys reading, writing and Tudor costume enactment, and wishes to return to England one day. Find out more at Sarah's website sarah-bryson.com and follow her on Twitter @SarahBryson44.

3 August 2017

Blog Tour ~ Raven's Feast (Hakon's Saga Book 2) by Eric Schumacher #HFVBT

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

It is 935 A.D. and Hakon Haraldsson has just wrested the High Seat of the North from his ruthless brother, Erik Bloodaxe. Now, he must fight to keep it. The land-hungry Danes are pressing from the south to test Hakon before he can solidify his rule. In the east, the Uplanders are making their own plans to
seize the throne. 

It does not help that Hakon is committed to his dream of Christianizing his people - a dream his countrymen do not share and will fight to resist. As his enemies move in and his realm begins to crumble, Hakon and his band of oath-sworn warriors must make a stand in Raven’s Feast, the riveting 
sequel to God’s Hammer.

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About the Author

Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, God's Hammer and its sequel, Raven's Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm. More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his website. You can also connect with Eric on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and AuthorsDB.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 1 Review at Pursuing Stacie
Thursday, August 3 Guest Post at The Writing Desk
Friday, August 4 Spotlight at WS Momma Readers Nook
Monday, August 7 Interview at I Heart Reading
Wednesday, August 9 Feature at A Book Geek S
Sunday, August 13 Review at Must Read Faster (God's Hammer)
Wednesday, August 23 Review at Must Read Faster (Raven's Feast)
Thursday, August 31 Guest Post at Jathan & Heather
Monday, September 4 Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, September 14 Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog
Sunday, September 17 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Wednesday, September 20 Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Monday, September 25 Review at Mary's Bookcase Review at The True Book Addict


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed paperback copy of Raven's Feast! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. Only one entry per household. All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Raven's Feast

28 July 2017

Tips for new writers Part Two - Dialogue, by Wendy Janes

As a proofreader I come across the same types of errors over and over again and thought it would be helpful to group some by theme and share them. The themes are repetition, dialogue, rules and consistency, and although they’re not intended to be comprehensive guides, I hope they’ll help you improve elements of your writing.

These suggestions are things you can do when you’ve finished pouring the first draft of your story onto the page/screen and you’re revising, editing or proofreading prior to sending your work to an editor or proofreader. The more polished your work is before it goes to the professionals, the better job they can do.

Welcome to the second post in the series: Dialogue

I don’t like to begin with a moan, but I can’t tell you how much time I spend correcting punctuation of speech. Honestly, you really don’t want your editor or your proofreader to be adding masses of missed commas and quote marks when they could be using their skills more efficiently and effectively. So, I’m going to start with some basics.

As a general rule, if you have a dialogue tag following speech, the dialogue ends with a comma, or question mark or exclamation mark, followed by the close quote, and the dialogue tag begins with a lower case letter. For example:

‘I seem to have forgotten my wallet,’ said Vincent.

And if you have an action tag following speech, the dialogue ends with a full stop, or question mark or exclamation mark, followed by the close quote, and the action tag begins with an upper case letter. For example:

‘I seem to have forgotten my wallet.’ He patted his jacket and trouser pockets.

Although the differences between action tags and dialogue tags seem very clear, readers and writers have different tolerance levels when characters are doing things like laughing or crying or sighing. To demonstrate my own preferences, let’s continue with Vincent and Anton.

‘I can’t believe I’ve done it again, Anton. This is so embarrassing.’ Vincent laughed.

‘Oh,’ sighed Anton, reaching for his credit card.

I would suggest that the above is correct because Vincent couldn’t have laughed all those words, and so his laugh is something that happens after his speech. I also think it’s quite reasonable for Anton to sigh a single word.

Modern dialogue tends to avoid too many he said/she said tags, and definitely shuns anything flowery such as ‘she implored beseechingly’. Ideally the words themselves will convey the drama, not the dialogue tag. A neat way to get around too many tags of the he said/she said variety is to choose an action tag instead. Let’s continue the story of Vincent’s missing wallet:

‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Not again,’ said Anton, crossing his arms and fixing Vincent with his ice blue eyes.

The above could be altered to:

‘You have got to be kidding me. Not again.’ Anton crossed his arms and fixed Vincent with his ice blue eyes.

Another issue I often come across is when the author states the obvious, and the dialogue is merely taking up space on the page. For example:

‘Hello,’ said Carla.
‘Hello,’ replied Duncan.

Simple greetings usually aren’t needed. However, greetings can be useful when they convey significant information, such as something unusual or interesting about the relationship between the two characters.

I suggest you also cut down on exclamation marks as much as possible. Ideally the words should convey the drama.

In order to avoid writing unrealistic dialogue, it can help if you read it out loud. Most characters will speak using contractions and it’s only very well-spoken formal or historical characters that will require the usual contractions to be written out in full. And when writing dialect, it’s a good idea to try and make it accessible and not stereotyped. Too many dropped aitches for your Londoner could be difficult to read, and slightly irritating too.

Make sure your characters speak in the language of their time. A word such as teenager has only been around since the mid-1930s, so if your book is set any earlier it’s important that none of your characters use that term to refer to anyone of that age.

Thinking carefully about your characters’ voices will really enhance your writing. Their style of speech can convey their personality or mood. For example, while it would be great for a professor of English to use the word ‘esoteric’, it would be out of character for someone who hadn’t completed high school or picked up a book since then. It’s also important to consider how each of your characters differ in their speech in terms of choice of language, vocal tics, style and length of sentences. If everyone in your novel sounds the same it’s difficult for the reader to tell them apart.

I hope you’re now ready to return to your manuscript with lots of ideas about the words you want to put in your characters’ mouths.

Wendy Janes 
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About the Author

Wendy Janes is a freelance proofreader for a number of publishers and many individual authors. She is also a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. Author of the novel, What Jennifer Knows and a collection of short stories, What Tim Knows, and other stories, she loves to take real life and turn it into fiction. She lives in London with her husband and youngest son. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her via her Facebook author page, her website, Amazon author pages (UK/US) and Twitter @wendyproof.  

26 July 2017

An Irish Fiction Omnibus, by Orna Ross

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

An Irish Fiction Omnibus is a collection of three bestselling novels from Orna Ross, perfect for fans of The Irish Heart series by Juliet Gauvin and An Irish Family Saga series by Jean Reinhardt.

After the Rising, book one in The Irish Trilogy is a historical murder mystery of love, revenge and redemption.

Twenty years ago, Jo Devereux fled Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, driven away by buried secrets and hatreds, swearing never to return

Now she is back and wants to uncover the truth…

What really happened between her family and their friends, the O’Donovans, during the Ireland’s bitter Civil War?

The consequences of that bitter division in the 1920s carried down into Jo’s own life, shattering her relationship with Rory O’Donovan, the only man she ever loved, and driving her to leave Ireland.

Now, Jo’s estranged mother has died, leaving her a suitcase full of letters and diaries that seem answer some questions about the past.

Over the course of a long hot summer, Jo is astonished to read about her grandmother and great-aunt, their part in Ireland’s fight for freedom and the repercussions that echoed throughout their lives.

She has learned how the passion of rebellion sweeps people up but what happens after the rising?

Her Secret Rose is the first book in The Yeats-Gonne Trilogy, chronicling the passionate relationship between W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne.

Willie Yeats was 23 years old in 1889, when Maud Gonne, six feet tall, elegantly beautiful and passionately political, came calling to his house and “the troubling of his life” began.

He spread his dreams under her feet, as they set about creating a new Ireland, through his poetry and her politics, and their shared interest in the occult.

Packed with emotional twists and surprises, Her Secret Rose is a novel of secrets and intrigue, passion and politics, mystery and magic, that brings to life 1890s Dublin, London and Paris, two fascinating characters — and a charismatic love affair that altered the course of history for two nations.

Blue Mercy is a literary family drama, with a murder at its heart, full of emotional twists and surprises

When Mercy Mulcahy was 40 years old, she was accused of killing her elderly and tyrannical father. Now, at the end of her life, she has written a book about what really happened on that fateful night of Christmas Eve, 1989.

The tragic and beautiful Mercy has devoted her life to protecting Star, especially from the father whose behavior so blighted her own life. Yet Star vehemently resists reading her manuscript.

Why? What is Mercy hiding? Was her father's death an assisted suicide?

Or something more sinister?

In this book, nothing is what it seems on the surface and everywhere there are emotional twists and surprises.
Will you side with mother or daughter?

Praise for Orna’s novels:

“A highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read.” — Sunday Independent

“The sort of massive book you could happily curl up with for the entire winter, an impressive canvas interweaving a contemporary story of love, emigration and loss with the complex world of civil war politics, emerging women's rights and buried secrets… in literary, lyrical language, while still being a captivating read.” — Irish Independent

“This expertly crafted novel is an important work in terms of Irish social history, but it will also be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates intelligent and profound family sagas that make the reader count his own blessings.” — Historical Novel Society

“Epic sweep...ambitious scope... an intelligent book”. — Sunday Tribune

“A riveting story...vividly brought to life.” — Emigrant Online

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About the Author

Orna Ross writes novels, poems and the Go Creative! books and has been described as "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" (The Bookseller) for her work with The Alliance of Independent Authors, an association of the world's best self-publishing authors and advisors. Born and raised in Wexford in the south-east of Ireland, she now lives in London. Find out more at Orna's website is www.ornaross.com and find her on Twitter @OrnaRoss.