Lovely review of By Sword and Storm

Thank you to Jessica at The Bookworm Chronicles

For a lovely review of By Sword and Storm

Two sentences really stood out and encouraged me – ‘Each time the narrative switched, I found myself emotionally torn, as I was rooting for them both.’ and ‘All in all I thought By Sword and Storm was another wonderful, historical rollercoaster ride, that had me gripped from start to finish.’

The splitting of the story over two countries and timelines was a bit of a gamble in case folk wouldn’t engage with that (and technically challenging to mesh them together and still remain true to the historical dates when specific events happened) so I was very pleased that it worked for her. Here’s hoping it works for others!

It was also the first time that I’ve seen what the title page of By Sword and Storm looks like on a kindle… The publisher has sent me files, but for some reason I haven’t managed to access them properly and haven’t got round to asking for them to be re-sent.

That was interesting because I use the same font for the chapter headings in the Katharina books – the second of which, Fortitude, is due out at the end of July and I was totally unaware until very recently that kindle readers don’t get the benefit of that wee refinement because the kindle programme has limited fonts at its disposal. – That makes me a little sad. For those who mightn’t know the font I’m referring to it is called Morpheus and is a rather lovely ‘church-style font, which suits the subject matter of Katharina ideally.

It was found by my cover designer – well done him! Here it is:


Katharina: Fortitude is currently with my editor and two days ago I got a lovely preliminary sentence from him – ‘I’m loving what I’ve read so far. The writing is so rich, so distinctive and so evocative. I’m looking forward to this journey.’ It is always a scary time when waiting for an initial reaction from a professional, who really knows their job, so this is extremely encouraging. I’m looking forward to the end of July now…

Tidelines Festival, Irvine

Hugely pleased to be appearing at the Tidelines Festival in Irvine along with some great authors – too many to mention them all – follow the link below to see the full programme line-up but just a few names to whet your appetite – Denise Nina, Anne Donovan, Mairi Kidd, Doug Johnstone and Catherine Czerkawska.

It’s going to be a great festival and I’m chuffed to bits to be invited to be a part of it.

Tidelines Book Festival 26 – 29 September 2019 @TidelinesFest #MakingWaves #TidelinesBookFest

Historical Fiction Meet My character Blog Post no 3.

This is likely the most high profile character being interviewed during this blog hop – one that everyone will already have heard of. Seems a bit arrogant to me, but then I suspected that all along. Here’s the link to Judith Arnopp’s blog for a really interesting interview with Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset.

Historical Fiction Blog Hop Part 1

Yes, I know It’s out of order (or I am – take your pick) but that’s courtesy of too many things to mention. Suffice to say that the blog I’m visiting today includes a fascinating interview with a character who I’d nor met before and whose name I couldn’t pronounce – until he helped me out. Jen Black who was interviewing him had to ask too, so I didn’t feel so bad. I think he found that question a little rude though.

So back to the 10th century we go – an era that I have to admit I’m a little hazy on, but now I’m definitely intrigued.

Historical Fiction Blog Hop

I’m delighted to introduce you to the Historical Fiction Blog Hop which is taking place throughout June and July. There will be lots of interviews with characters from some great historical fiction. Some you will love and quite possibly some you will love to hate!

First up for me is Eleanor Elder – the heroine of Derek Birks’ series set in the Wars of the Roses. I have mixed feelings about Eleanor – some traits of her character I like and admire, but there is one aspect that disappoints me. Just as in real life I like My friends to like my other friends, in fiction I like to find that characters I have sympathy with share my feelings about real historical characters. Sadly, although I am a Riccardian, Eleanor isn’t. I guess you need to read the books and judge for yourself whether she is justified in disliking him…

Interview my Character: Eleanor Elder

Stats are boring – right?

Not being a mathematical sort of person (and being married to someone whose degree was in Statistics and with three children who have all been inclined to the sciences) I’ve always contended (on principle) that stats, and mathematics topics generally, are boring.

But today, while updating my ‘Events’ page on my website, I was seduced into gathering the statistics for the last four years, since I moved from being traditionally published to first of all Indie and now a hybrid author, with a foot in both the traditional and Indie camps.

And I have to (reluctantly) admit that I found them rather interesting (don’t tell my family).

In the hope that you might too – here they are:

Numbers first –

Author events: talks, presentations – 55

: workshops – 5

:panellist in shared events – 4

: 5 minute reads (open mic events / shared festival events) – 11

Chairing events: involving others – 10

Book Launches: 2 launches for each of 3 novels, 1 x Short story collection

And one (wonderful) month-long writer’s fellowship. For those who might find it interesting –  a link to some reflections on my time  at Hawthorden Castle.   

And if I haven’t totally bored you with the figures, some detail:

Author presentations – (I love making up Powerpoints, but I so wish I really knew what I was doing, as it would be a much more efficient use of time…)

I love talking about writing, about my books and a wide variety of related topics – from the trials, tribulations, and sheer joy of research, to the historical context for Macbeth. Macbeth

From Food Standards Agency 16th century-style                          What's in this meat pie copy

to the influence of place.  From my (long) road to publication to the impact of faith on fiction.

Brother wordprocessor Salt and Light


And many more. Some are very personal, some focused on history and the historical background both to my books and the 16th century in general. And while I feel very at home in the 16th century now, I’m quite glad I don’t have to actually live there!

Workshops  range from the more general He said She saidHe said, she said. Writing Effective Dialogue.’ and ‘Stealing Stories – Where fact and fiction meet.’ to the specific ‘Writing authentic historical fiction.’  Always good fun, and the more attendee participation the better they are.


Chairing events has included the joy of being in conversation with a fantastic writer, Robyn Young (Brethren / Robert the Bruce trilogy) and historian David Crane (Went the Day Well – Waterloo), as well as introducing many writers in the context of Open Mic events.

Highlights as a panellist –  It’s Nae the TudorsGrantown – a new historical fiction festival at Grantown in the Scottish highlands, and taking part in an Amazon Academy Day at Newcastle upon Tyne (yes I am happy to stray over the border from time to time and it was lovely to meet and share a platform with L J Ross – a fantastically successful author who writes crime set in Northumberland). Newcastle Panel One - closer in

The book launches have been exhilerating and daunting in equal measure and I am very grateful to Waterstones, Edinburgh, Blackwells Edinburgh and Mainstreet Trading, St Boswells for hosting me.

I could hardly believe when I counted them up, that I had more than 80 events under my belt, and with some exciting new opportunities already booked ahead, I am looking forward to 2019.

An average of just over 20 events per year doesn’t really seem very many (especially not when compared to Kate Mosse’s 60+ appearances in connection with her newest book) but it’s a start…