23 April 2018

Book Spotlight ~ A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US


Now with a new foreword and an updated cover showcasing Jane's own handwriting, this re-imagining of Jane's life continues to charm and delight readers of literary fiction worldwide.

All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane? Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess. Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

Why I wrote a Jane Austen re-telling.

Jane Austen, frankly, didn’t get a fair shake. She died young, her name was not on her books during her lifetime, she never found love (that we know of), and she was probably considered a burden on her family as she got older. 

I always like to imagine Jane as someone outside of her time, not wanting to live within the norms and rules for women simply seeking a good match. Jane was the original rebel.

When I discovered Jane Austen’s books, it was a revelation. Her voice, strength of convictions in a constrained time awed me. Then when I read about her life, well, something had to be done. I called this book a daydream because in many ways it is. 

It is not a normal historical fiction, it could almost be considered experimental literary fiction because of some of the twists I put in it (which I won’t discuss here, more fun to discover them for yourself). This is my daydream for Jane. It is her, living in one of her tales (a new one, with new surprises). And maybe there, Jane might find love, happiness, success, and a fairer shake. 

Scott D. Southard

"For those of you who are exhausted by the innumerable retellings of Austen's novels, this is a style entirely new.... be rewarded by a quick paced novel unlike any you can ever have read, which injects new ideas and possibilities into the world of Jane Austen." Laura Boyle, The Jane Austen Centre
"Mix one-part biography and one-part historical re-imagining...add witty characters and some surprises and you have A Jane Austen Daydream. This was a delightful read."  Amelia Rodriguez, Jane Austen Society of North America 

"...Lovely, thought-provoking novel. Fans of Austen will adore this book." 
Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.

"Southard has taken the facts about the great author and woven them into a credible, touching, and also entertaining portrait of a life." 
Historical Novel Society

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About the Author 

Scott D. Southard, the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, swears he is not obsessed with Jane Austen. He is also the author of the novels: My Problem with Doors, Megan, Permanent Spring Showers, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, and 3 Days in Rome. With his eclectic writing he has found his way into radio, being the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master's in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog "The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard where he writes on far-ranging topics like writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. Currently, Scott resides in Michigan with his very understanding wife, his two patient children, and a very opinionated dog named Bronte.  Find out more at Scott's blog sdsouthard.com and follow him on Twitter @SDSouthard

21 April 2018

Guest Post: Inspiration behind the writing of the novel The Italian Couple, By J.R. Rogers

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

An atmospheric historical thriller of subterfuge and illicit love with a menacing plot set in Mussolini's Asmara, Italian Eritrea.

I am a novelist who always has places in mind first—even before a story is formed. Typically, in between novels, my mind begins to wander about where to set the next one. So it was that I remembered—this was a year and half ago—reading an article in the newspaper.

It must have been in the New York Times, about Asmara in Eritrea seeking designation as a World Heritage site by Unesco because of its trove of Art Deco buildings erected in the 1930s when the town was one of Mussolini’s Italian East African colonies. I’ve lived in Africa, and visited a few cities there, and so my curiosity was piqued at once though I was never able to visit Asmara.

Intrigued, I went on the Internet and looked at the many photographs and read more about Asmara’s Italian colonial heritage. But besides the truly amazing architecture, almost all of the buildings are still intact and in many cases being preserved, also were details about something referred to as the teleferica, the engineering marvel that was the Italian-built Asmara-Massawa cableway opened in 1937. It linked Italian Eritrea to the sea. Food, supplies, and war materiel were moved from the colony’s Red Sea seaport in Massawa to Asmara 7,600 feet above sea level and 44 miles (72 Kms) away.

At the time it was the longest cableway in the world. Unfortunately it no longer stands. The British army dismantled it during their occupation of the former Italian colony after World War Two, and sold off the parts as war reparations.

So I resolved to set my next novel of historical fiction in Asmara. I now had the place in mind, the time period, the teleferica that I selected as the major plot point and had also read about the Circuito Asmara, a car race run through the streets of Asmara that debuted in 1938. The race, along with a driver character I created nicknamed Soldi—money, because he almost always won, would become my second plot point.

I set about to imagine a cast of characters and set them in motion with a story that gradually coalesced as I began to write over a period of a year. Unlike some authors, I don’t craft a story in any detail beforehand. Instead I use major plot points to anchor it in my mind. I prefer to see where the story goes, an organic approach to writing, as long as it respects the boundaries I have set. But I did decide a few details ahead of time: because Eritrea at the time was Italian Eritrea my protagonist had to be Italian, so I created a Colonel Francesco Ferrazza, a disciplined and inflexible Royal Italian Army officer and paired him with a British wife, Emilia.

Thus Francesco and Emilia became the Italian couple. She had to be British because early on I decided that her father would be the leading British intelligence officer at the embassy in Rome. My novels always feature an element of espionage and intrigue and I had something in mind though it was not a fully formed idea when I began.

Now it remained only to find a reason why the Ferrazzas were to find themselves in Asmara in the first place. I wanted there to be some historical accuracy to this. When I uncovered the existence of Italy’s Fascist Military Information Service (MIS), responsible for intelligence and security activities and for the integrity of the Italian State and of the Italian Empire from 1900 to 1946, I promptly enrolled Colonel Ferrazza and dispatched him to Asmara.

J.R. Rogers
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About the Author

J.R. Rogers is a literary historical thriller novelist of foreign intrigue and espionage. He has written seven novels in this genre. He is also a prolific short story writer a number of which have been published in various literary publications and/or online sites. An avid reader he holds a university degree in French literature and studied short story writing. He has lived in Europe and West Africa and now lives in southern California. For more information visit https://authorjrrogers.com/theitaliancouple/

19 April 2018

Book Launch: Victory Girls (Lavender Road 6), by Helen Carey

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

VICTORY GIRLS is the sixth poignant saga in Helen Carey's much-loved Lavender Road series, set in south London during the Second World War. Not to be missed by readers of Katie Flynn, Annie Murray and Lilian Harry. Praise for the Lavender Road novels: 'Funny, poignant, emotional and unputdownable' London Evening Standard

August 1944. Allied troops are fighting their way across Europe. But rocket attacks on London are a chilling reminder that the war is far from over.

Helen knows all too well how dangerous it is in war-torn France. But it's a long-time since she heard from her French fiancé, Andre, and nothing is going to stop her going back to track him down, before he is lost to her forever.

Her friend Molly is finding it hard to stop thinking about the lovely Canadian pilot she met while nursing overseas, and the future she might have had, if only she had been good enough for him. Now Molly is back in London, determined to discover the truth about the mother who gave her up for adoption when she was four years old.

Victory may be just round the corner, but the fighting is far from over for the women of Lavender Road.

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About the Author  

Helen Carey is best known as the author of the popular wartime Lavender Road series. The previous novel in the series, London Calling, was shortlisted for the RoNA Award for best Historical Romance. Helen also writes travel articles and short stories, and from time to time she teaches Creative Writing at various universities, specialising in story structure. She is also a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. Before being published herself, she worked for a literary agency and as a reader for several publishers. Having spent quite a lot of time in different parts of the world, Helen now lives mostly in Pembrokeshire in West Wales where she and her husband run their small coastal farm as a conservation project.  For more information about her and her books please visit her website www.helencareybooks.co.uk and find her on Facebook and Twitter @HelenCareyBooks. 

14 April 2018

Three great tips for fiction writers #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

There is so much advice for new writers it must be quite bewildering for anyone starting out on the long journey to successful publication.  For this month’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop I’ve therefore had a think and here are my top tips:

Develop your own authentic voice

Finding your ‘voice’ as a writer is what can make your work stand out from the rest. Think of your favourite authors - and why you look forward to their next book. Best-selling author Jeff Goins says, ‘Once you’ve found your voice, make sure you continue to develop it. It’s a discipline, one that can’t be overlooked if you’re going to have the impact you desire and that your words deserve.’ Find out more at Jeff’s post 10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice.

Show don’t tell

Don’t groan – even after writing eight novels I find this advice useful when reviewing a first draft. ‘Telling’ has its place, as there are times when you need to tell the reader something and ‘showing’ is about using all the senses to make readers feel what your characters feel. Creative writing expert Emma Darwin says, ‘Understand their respective strengths, and use each to your story's best advantage. like everything in writing, it isn't even binary, but a spectrum, from the telliest tell, to the showiest show.’ Find our more at Emma’s useful post Showing And Telling: The Basics.

Never state what you can imply

I’ve put this in the header of my current work in progress as a reminder. Like showing and telling, there are times to be flexible but it’s always good to involve the reader more by making them do some of the work. Award winning author Peter Selgin says, ‘Telling readers what to think or feel is the job of a propagandist. A storyteller’s main purpose, on the other hand, is to create experiences for the reader, to involve us so deeply, so convincingly, so authentically in those experiences that we feel what characters feel..’ Find out more at his post In Storytelling: Never State What You Can Imply.

Happy writing!

Tony Riches

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.

13 April 2018

Healer: The Gift of Dreams (A Tales of Freya Short Story Book 5) by Sarah Dahl

New on Amazon UK

A collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking Age

In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives -- all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives.

Viking farmer Magnus is plagued by a demon. Since his wife’s death, the dreaded Mara tortures his body and mind. Powerless, he sends for a healer, the unexpectedly young and beautiful Audr
"Sarah Dahl brings a crisp, contemporary voice to an ages-old world of battle, bloodshed and primal indulgences. Her refreshing style not only draws the reader back into ancient times; it brings the characters to us, allowing us to meet in the middle for a vibrant and accessible experience. From two ravaged warriors reaping the spoils of war to the sensuality of a medieval menage, Ms. Dahl has a way of making scars sexy and luring out the vulnerability in the invulnerable." 
J.D. Lexx, author of The Crimson Confessions
"With her unique writing style and in-depth knowledge of this bygone era, she brings the world of clashing swords, dashing warriors, and strong, independent shield maidens to life. Brutality turns into sensuality in an instant, leaving the reader satisfied, yet craving more. Her writing is addictive, and every story in this brand new and exciting series is sure to thrill and delight." 
Elaine Coetzee, author of Runo's Curse
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About the Author

Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers. She is interested in the everyday life in bygone centuries, and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Find out more at her website www.sarah-dahl.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter @sarahdahl13 

12 April 2018

New Book Review: Richard the Lionheart: The Crusader King of England, by W. B. Bartlett

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Hollywood has a tradition of introducing King Richard I in the last few minutes of stories of Robin Hood, but how much do you know about the real man behind the myths which have grown over the years? I recall being taught at school about his wars of the crusades and remember thinking it can't have been good to be out of the country for quite so long.

Richard the Lionheart: The Crusader King of England is therefore a useful reappraisal of what King Richard really achieved, and provides an intriguing insight into his life, and how his actions were shaped by the times he lived in. 

I found surprising parallels with the modern world, as he battles Islamic enemies, and had the nickname 'Richard Oc e No' (Richard yes and no, much like our modern leaders.) The author visited Syria for his research on the great crusader castles, and notes how well the different communities have coexisted, yet as I write this, Syria is on the brink of an international war.

W. B. Bartlett's experience shows in his lively and readable style, and he uses engaging montages to bring the story to life.  I'd never thought about it but Richard's untimely death meant he never had the chance to show us what sort of king he might have been. I'm sure he'd have done a better job than his successor, King John.

This isn't the story of an English king, it's about the life of an Angevin noble who became King of England. A great book which I am happy to recommend.

Tony Riches

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was kindly provided by Amberley Publishing

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About the Author

W. B. Bartlett has worked across the globe in almost twenty countries and has spent time in over fifty. He is the author of many history books for Amberley including titles on the Titanic, Medieval History and Dam Busters. He lives in Bournemouth.

11 April 2018

Historical Fiction Blog Tour: Port of No Return, by Michelle Safitch

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US  

Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

Port of No Return is the first novel in a series of two.

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About the Author

Michelle Saftich is a first time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children. She holds a Bachelor of Business Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). For the past twenty years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. In 1999, she was named National Winner for Best News Story in the ASNA (Australian Suburban Newspaper Awards). Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent ten years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English. Find out more at Michelle's website https://michellesaftich.com/ and find her on Twitter @MichelleSaftich