5 Ways to Make Sure You Write Every Day

every day is a struggle and i want to give in,

I think that writing every day is one of the best ways to stay motivated if you are a writer. But that’s a hard thing to do and the demand to write every day could weigh you down.

Here’s five tips that I find useful for making sure you do write every day:

  1. Have a regular writing time. In the morning is great because then you know you have definitely done some writing during the day. You can always do a bit more writing later if you have time. If you just can’t write in the morning then choose another time when you won’t have too many distractions.
  2. Remember that you write because you enjoy it. Dean Wesley Smith has an excellent post about this – we write because we enjoy don’t we? So try not to forget that and have fun with it. Don’t think of it as a chore – although some days it may feel like it!
  3. Don’t worry about what you actually write. Neil Gaiman says that he thinks of everything he writes as a really rough draft so he just gets on and puts the words down without worrying too much about them. If you’re not stressed about quality the words will

    come easier and you’ll end up being able to start writing and write more.

  4. Don’t take time off for the holidays! Just because its the weekend, you’re travelling etc doesn’t mean you can’t spend twenty minutes or more doing a little writing. Learn to write in a notebook, tablet or even a smartphone. Don’t break the habit. Once you do you may lose track of the story you’re telling or forget how much you enjoy writing.
  5. Don’t despair you miss a day! It happens. You get ill or there’s a crisis. Just try to write again as soon as you can, even if it’s just a few words so that you get back into the habit.

Hope these tips help someone – I’m always trying to remember them myself!

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Free Historical Fiction: Stonehearted 2: Chapter 4

First look at chapter 4 of the next volume of Stonehearted. The first volume is By the Sword’s Edge. The second volume doesn’t have a title yet, so I’m going to call it Stonehearted 2 for now. I started writing the second volume towards the end of last year and am making fairly good progress on it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to post here each completed chapter as I write them. They’re only drafts at the moment – no fancy editing, so probably riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Once I have finished this volume I’ll publish it in print and eBook format and announce it on this blog.

Chapter 4

Eolande clutched the wooden rail of the ship that was named the Dame of Good Chance by its crew, and steadied herself against the deepening swell. A gust of wind tugged at her wimple and threatened to pull of the woollen cap that sat on top of her head. She pulled the cap down hurriedly. What lay beneath was worth hiding.

The winds had been erratic, and after two days at sea out of Lynn, it had only been that morning that the poor scamp of a boy they kept at the top of the mast in a small wooden open box had cried out “Land ho!” The boy had shouted down repeatedly after that telling the captain of the Dame and her crew everything he could see. The land was green, but there were snow capped mountains in the distance. Eolande had listened in amazement as the boy told of the dark purple peaks of hills that he could see. Until that was the captain sent two men up in the rigging to pry the boy from his perch.

“First time out and already touched in the head,” muttered the captain’s mate, and old shipman with a thick but close cut silver beard by the name of John Scot, “Jock” to the others, who spoke with a deep burr and seemed to have made it his main job to follow Eolande around the ship to make sure she kept out of trouble and that she didn’t get knocked overboard.

Despite their rough manners the crew of the Dame had treated her well. The captain had respected the purse of money enough to ask no questions of a lone young woman dressed like a woodsman, but with the manners of a gentlewoman.

Now, coming into view, was the harbour of Calais, England’s toe-hold on the north coast of France, a friendly port for any English ships. Eolande could make out the bay of the harbour and the smudge of buildings bumping up to break up the flat coast-line. Other wooden cogs, like the Dame, bobbed in the bay like a clutch of corks in a bucket.

“You’ll be a’right when you step ashore, will ye?” asked Jock. “Got somewhere to go, like. I expect, you got a fine young man waitin’ for ye?”

“Yes, of course,” she replied. “I’d better be getting my things together.” With that she turned and staggering, almost expertly now, to the rhythm of the sea’s swell, she made for the single passenger’s cabin under the Dame’s stern-castle.

When she was inside with the stiff wooden door shut behind her, she kicked out at the low wooden cot that had been her bed. Her boot made a satisfying thud against it. She should curse herself for a fool and a wretch. Jock had been nothing but courteous and kind to her for the whole voyage, and now one question that touched a nerve triggered her to rudeness. That was no way to win friends. And perhaps onshore she would need one.

She pulled of the cap and the wimple and rubbed her short chopped hair. She liked to do that when she was thinking. It could become a habit.

The truth was she had no idea what she would do in Calais. Where would she start looking for her father? She would have to leave Calais and venture into French territory, through hostile lands. Her French was passable; she was a noblewoman after all. But travelling on her own, on uncertain roads with little knowledge of where she should be searching would be difficult.

No, surely the quest she had set herself was impossible.

She picked up her travelling bag from the peg on which it hung and started stuffing the small amount of clothes she had brought into it. She wore a simple woollen dress now, but she had brought more boyish clothes with her. Clothes that she didn’t want the shipmen to see her in. To pass as a boy? How stupid she was. It would never work.

There was a knock on the door, and before she could react the door was opening, and in leant the Dame’s captain.

The captain was a normally quiet man. Eolande had been nervous of him during the voyage, always feeling that there was a brooding anger beneath the surface ready to boil over. But he had never given her any trouble. But that looked set to change.

He looked at her with puzzlement. “Your hair?”

Eolande resisted the temptation to cover her hair with the cap and wimple. He had seen her short boyish crop now, so what would it help if she denied it.

“What of it?”

The captain weighed his words before speaking. There was an uncomfortable knowingness in his expression. “Your hair is shorter than I expected from a lady. I have never seen hair so short on any woman, and did not expect it of the wife of a knight in the King’s pay, en route to visit her husband.”

The captain stepped into the small cabin, unconsciously ducking his head as he did so to avoid the low beams, he was a tall man to be skulking below the decks of a cramped vessel like the Dame, and Eolande wondered if that discomfort of posture did not impinge on any fellow feeling he might have for others.

“What did you say his name was again?” asked the captain. “Did you say he was a knight of the Calais garrison? I don’t remember his name being familiar to me.”

Eolande had made up a name to make her journey at least appear more possible. A young, unmarried, noblewoman, travelling on her own was just not believable. A married woman, whose treacherous servants had stolen her travelling belongings (but not her purse) and deserted her, at a stretch she had thought, might.

“Did, did, I give you a name?” she said. She backed away, until her legs met the side of the narrow cot, and as the ship swayed on the swell, she found herself sitting. “Do I need to justify myself to you, captain. You have received an honest payment for my passage to Calais, have you not?”

The captain, despite his height, had steady sea legs, and remained standing looking down from her from his crooked height. As she looked up, she could see black hairs jutting like a brush from his large nostrils. She gripped the sheet of the bed tightly in her left hand, and felt for her bag with the other where it lay near the pillow, not taking her eyes from the cruel face of the captain.

“Sir Richard Malfoy you said his name was. I’ve never heard of him. Who’s his lord?”

Eolande hesitated. She knew the game was up. She had no idea which lords or commanders were part of the garrison of Calais, a simple collection of facts, which surely the captain of the Dame would know.

“He has no lord. He is one of the King’s knights on a secret commission for the King only.” Her voice grew in power and certainty as she boldy worked her way into the lie. So outrageous that the captain might think twice. “Do you want to jeopardise the work of one of the King’s own knights by questioning more? Would you like me to tell my husband that the captain of the Dame of Good Chance asks too many questions?”

The captain grimaced. “This is nonsense. I smell a lie here.”

“And I smell a spy.” Eolande stood up and pushed the captain back in defiance, and this time he did lose his footing as the Dame jarred in the water, and he landed with a clatter in doorway of the cabin, bashing his elbow against the door. He winced in pain and scrambled to his feet.

Clutching his elbow he looked with what seemed close to hatred at Eolande. “We’re not finished yet. I have many friends in Calais, and be assured that I will be watching you, but don’t call me a spy. I am no traitor. I am not running away from anything.”

He left the door that had done such hurt to his eblow swinging, and Eolande rushed to shut it firmly and standing with her back against it unless anyone else tried to barge in on her, she stood there and breathed deeply, filling her lungs. She felt that she had been holding her breath ever since the captain had appeared in his cabin. He knew there was something wrong, and now she was even more caught in a lie that the captain could only disprove. But he was wrong about one thing. She wasn’t running away from anything, she was running to someone. Running to her father wherever he was.

 

***

If you want to read the first volume of StoneheartedBy the Sword’s Edge, then click here.

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Free Historical Fiction – Stonehearted 2: Chapter 3

First look at chapter 3 of the next volume of Stonehearted. The first volume is By the Sword’s Edge. The second volume doesn’t have a title yet, so I’m going to call it Stonehearted 2 for now. I started writing the second volume towards the end of last year and am making fairly good progress on it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to post here each completed chapter as I write them. They’re only drafts at the moment – no fancy editing, so probably riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Once I have finished this volume I’ll publish it in print and eBook format and announce it on this blog.

Chapter 3

Louis propped the arbalest against the wall of the stable, bent over and clutched his aching knees. His breath came in red gasps. Raw like a side of beef. He wanted to stop. To sink to the ground and sit or lie. Like he had in the orchard under the hot sun. But there was no time. As he pulled himself upright he looked across the fields towards the town of Montdidier. Smoke rose across the horizon and tongues of flame licked into the evening sky. It had been a long day and the English had not yet departed after finishing their business. They had burnt houses, set light to the dry wheat in the farms, and worst of all, uprooted Louis’s beloved apple trees and hacked the roots to pieces. Wheat could be sown again. Trees would take years to replace.

Louis felt hot moisture on his cheeks and tasted salt on his lips. He wiped the tears away and smeared dirt and ash and blood as he did so onto the back of his hand.

He didn’t weep for the trees, but for the people of Montdidier. You could not grow new family or friends of neighbours.

As he watched Montdidier burn there was a clatter of wood. He turned, his heart racing. His arbalest had been knocked to the floor and behind stood the mercenary, Wulf, his sword drawn.

“If you want to stay alive, if you want to get your revenge one day, then you need to be more careful. Always watch your back.”

The mercenary returned his sword to his scabbard and strode away. Two horses were tied to a wooden rail nearby.

“I have a horse for you,” he said as he mounted one of them, seemingly unbothered by the weight of his armour. “Will you ride with me?”

Louis nodded, picked up his arbalest, and followed Wulf.

They rode behind the main line of houses, leading their horses behind the gardens of the finer townhouses that had belonged to the merchants of Montdidier. Some of the English were in the town by now and they wanted to avoid them so they could get away. Louis felt like a coward creeping along like that, but he knew that bravery would only lead to his death.

They came to the end of the row of gardens. A narrow alley lead out onto another short street that went over a small stone bridge and then towards Paris. They were nearly out.

Wulf motioned him to stop and in a low voice murmured, “Mount your horse. We’ll need to write like demons when we hit the open.”

“What if there are English in the way?”

Wulf grinned. Louis noticed how white the man’s teeth were. Like pearls. “In that case, we do what God made us for. We fight, and then we die.”

Louis shivered. He wasn’t ready for this. He wanted to find a corner of a garden, soft hay or grass to curl up in and hide, like he had when playing hide and go seek with his brother, when he was a child, in the orchard.

An image came into his head of Oliver leering over him where he hid behind a stack of hay in the family barn, a wicked grin on his face, a fist raised to jab down at Louis’s shoulder. His smug older brother. Where was he?

Wulf lead the way down the alley. The mercenary leant over the neck of his horse, stroking the animal’s neck to calm it, to make sure it walked slowly, ever so slowly. If their horses gave them away they might be dead men. Louis copied Wulf and patted the neck of his horse, which at his touch snickered and bent its head back towards him, its teeth bared. Louis pulled sharply on the reins, and the horse let go a louder whinny of anger as the iron bit pulled back in its mouth.

Wulf’s head snapped back. “Quiet!” he hissed.

But it was too late, and Louis’s horse, panicked by the enclosed space of the alley and the clumsiness of Louis’s horsemanship, put its head down and bit the rump of Wulf’s horse. The surprise on Wulf’s face would have been funny if the situation hadn’t been so serious. Wulf’s horse leapt forwards, hooves skidding and the dry dusty earth of the alley as it bolted into the street in front of them. Wulf clutched the reins tightly and pushed his body weight forward to prevent flying off the back of his horse and Louis just followed. What else could he do? He thumped the horse’s flanks with the heels of his boots, the weight of the hit and the leather having to do the work as he wore no spurs, and he eased the pressure on the reins. With a guttural yell he urged his horse through the alley and onto the street where he could see Wulf’s horse already galloping to the left, towards the bridge, Paris and safety.

As man and horse entered the street, Louis could not resist a glance to his right, even though he knew the head of his horse might well be tugged to the right as well in case he kept careful control of the reins. He knew it was a mistake and that he wasn’t a good enough rider to control his horse unless he was fully determined on his direction. But he couldn’t help him. An impulse of curiosity drew him to look.

And there he saw a cart, and a man that was his brother, Oliver, supervising the loading of it with bales of flour, barrels of wine, sides of meat. Servants worked under his supervision next to a communal warehouse that belonged to the merchant guild of the town. And there were men in armour standing around, some with thin long wooden bows at their sides, laughing and drinking from an opened barrel of wine. They looked up at the sound of the horses down the street, and then Louis knew he must turn away before it was too late. But before he did his eyes, even at the distance of over fifty yards met those of Oliver. The first arrow that whizzed past made him turn. He could hear shouting. He saw it was Wulf. He had reined his horse in just before the bridge, and he was shouting at Louis. Louis dug his heels again into his horses flanks and drove the beast towards the bridge.

Wulf did not wait. He was across and galloping down the tree lined road to the south, to Paris. But Louis knew he would catch him up. The arrows fired at him were wild, and the English soldiers on the street didn’t have their horses.

And he knew that one day there would be a reckoning against the man who had betrayed their country. His brother.

***

If you want to read the first volume of StoneheartedBy the Sword’s Edge, then click here.

Free Historical Fiction – Stonehearted 2: Chapter 2

First look at chapter 2 of the next volume of Stonehearted. The first volume is By the Sword’s Edge. The second volume doesn’t have a title yet, so I’m going to call it Stonehearted 2 for now. I started writing the second volume towards the end of last year and am making fairly good progress on it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to post here each completed chapter as I write them. They’re only drafts at the moment – no fancy editing, so probably riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Once I have finished this volume I’ll publish it in print and eBook format and announce it on this blog.

Chapter 2

Minsterworth gritted his teeth. “Tighter than that.”

Richard Stone pulled the strap harder and buckled it.

Minsterworth winced. The muscle of his leg still ached from its wounds, but those cuisses needed to fit well and not come loose. An inch of unprotected leg could be enough for another arrow or worse a blade or spear to pierce it.

Richard buckled the other strap and then fixed the greaves to the lower legs. Minsterworth sat and Richard helped him on with his tall riding boots that fitted snugly over his plate armour.

Minsterworth nodded his thanks to Richard, who returned it with a blank face. “We need to fix you with some better protection. Then you could ride in at my side.”

Richard nodded at this.

“That cross, sell it to me and I’ll give you enough marks to buy a full suite of armour. What say you?”

“I don’t want to sell the cross,” Richard replied. He was still kneeling where he had to help Minsterworth on his with his boots. He looked at the floor as he spoke those few words.

“If you want to be a priest then why don’t you shave the top of your head? Join an abbey. Become a hermit. I’ll happily help brick you in your cell if you like.”

“Don’t mock me.”

Richard got up and stared defiantly at Minsterworth. Minsterworth felt goosebumps on his arms underneath his armour. He looked at Richard’s belt. There was no knife. He was safe. Perhaps.

“Come here,” Minsterworth commanded. Richard stepped forward and into a back-handed slap from Minsterworth’s gauntlet. The blow knocked Richard back and nearly made him stumble. Minsterworth reached for the nearest item from the arming rack behind him, and pulled back mace. He waited, expecting Richard to come at him fired up and angry.

But the lad didn’t. He straightened himself up. His cheek was bleeding badly. But he paid it no heed. He didn’t look up. He just turned and walked from the tent.

Minsterworth shivered again.

***

If you want to read the first volume of StoneheartedBy the Sword’s Edge, then click here.

Free Historical Fiction – Stonehearted 2: Chapter 1

Readers of this blog may know that a while ago I published the first volume of a serialized novel, Stonehearted. The first volume is By the Sword’s Edge. The second volume doesn’t have a title yet, so I’m going to call it Stonehearted 2 for now. I started writing the second volume towards the end of last year and am making fairly good progress on it at the moment. I thought it would be fun to post here each completed chapter as I write them. They’re only drafts at the moment – no fancy editing, so probably riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Once I have finished this volume I’ll publish it in print and eBook format and announce it on this blog.

Chapter 1

Louis felt warm and comfortable with the sun on his skin and a few cups of wine inside of him it was a beautiful afternoon to take a nap in the orchard at the back of their house. If only Madelaine was lying next to him it would be just perfect. He could hear a gentle breeze swaying the apple trees behind him and somewhere he could smell bread being cooked for the evening meal. Above the sky was a perfect blue. Was it true that God lived there? Louis hoped idly that it wasn’t too warm in heaven nearer the sun. Those angel wings must get hot in the summer. And scratchy too. At least as a man he could strip down to his underpants, and he had done just that. Louis rubbed idly at the warm skin of his belly and twisted the small curls of hair that lay around his belly-button. He slapped the skin. A firm stomach, and he had some muscles too. This summer Madelaine would say yes, surely. He’d ask her to dance at the fête on Lammas Day and then …

Louis’s reverie was broken by the sound of trickling water and the strong smell of piss. Louis levered himself up on his elbows and looked over his shoulder. A man in a fur hat with a scarlet fur-trimmed cloak was urinating against one of the apple trees.

“Did I wake you?” said the man. It was his brother, Oliver.

“I wasn’t sleeping.”

“Oh of course not,” replied Oliver. The urinating came to a halt and Oliver shook his penis and replaced inside his pants and tied up his breaches. “There that’s all done. The cidre this year will have a fine taste to it I think. Mother will be proud of me. Don’t mind me though, go back to your dreams, little brother.”

“I wasn’t sleeping.”

“The watch never sleeps does it and that’s what we, the good citizens of Montdidier pay you for isn’t it.”

Louis shook his head and lay back down, hands behind his head. Perhaps Oliver would go away soon.

“Or perhaps,” continued Oliver, “you watch for enemies in the sky. Do the English sport wings now? I have heard wild tales that their king and his sons came like demons into our lands once upon a time. A nice fiction to tell for those who would waste the hard-won coin of honest working men.”

“Honest!?” Louis coughed out and shook his head. “You call usury and maintenance of unfair prices honesty?” Louis could feel himself getting angry. A common occurrence whenever he was within earshot of his elder brother these days. Oliver had returned a new man from his apprenticeship with a mercer of Rouen. Full of grand ideas of making the town and its people rich. Those people like himself, that was, who could afford to buy up in large quantities the pots, baked and glazed by others who had no access to the markets of the bigger cities. The town of Montdidier was blessed, as Oliver kept reminding them, with wonderful deposits of clay and over thirty householders who had their own pottery kilns, but they all competed against each other, and that drove down prices, and that, according to Oliver, was not good for business, not good at all.

The mercers of Rouen had certainly filled Oliver’s head with garbage and no mistake. Their family, the Cidrons as the name suggested were cider-makers by heritage, their farm stood on the edge of the town and just outside the walls now fallen into disrepair. They owned some land in the town – sold off fields to accommodate pottery workshops and their family homes – all in one constructions with the workshop below and the folk living above, all crammed in they were – they paid rent by the yard. That had been the Cidrons first mistake, Oliver had told them when he returned so grandly from Rouen, a new fur-hat on his head and that red cloak on his back. The land was an investment. They should have kept it and the rents that went with it. But now there were men who lived in Montdidier who lived just from the rents, and they lived very well indeed. They were the bourgeois and ran the town council for the most part, and made all the decisions. And what did the Cidrons get from the sales of their land. They paid for a new cider-press to be built, a new cart and horses to pull it. That was because their father was lazy, Oliver had said, and that’s when old père Cidron had said “enough is enough” and thrown him out of the house.

Père Cidron had died two months later. Oliver had come to the funeral and mère Cidron had rested her head on his shoulder afterwards and wept and had listened to all that he had to say and given her coin, their father’s coin, into his hands for his damned investments.

“And what work do you do?” said Oliver. “Do you call getting drunk on the your mother’s farm’s produce work?”

Louis licked the inside of his lips. Sharp tang of apples still lingered from the last cider he had drunk. He let out a belch that a bull-frog would have been proud of.

“Disgusting.”

Louis felt a gust of air flicker the hair on his head as Oliver turned, pulling his cloak around himself in a great twirl. Ever the showman.

Louis smiled to himself. Words were Oliver’s only weapon. And what were they, only movements of the tongue and lips propelling sounds through the air to curl into the ears of foolish folk. Oliver’s words didn’t fool him. There was nothing to him. He was jealous most likely. Jealous of a real man like Louis, who owned a crossbow and a sword and knew how to use them (well the crossbow anyway).

A cloud appeared above in the sky and swept over the sun. Louis shivered. A few moments later he heard the slow, heavy clang of the tocsin bell.

Hot, sharp breath burnt at the back of his throat as he scrambled to his feet. He looked around expecting to see banners and lances approaching over the hedgerow of the orchards. But he could see nothing. Was it a false alarm? It sounded more like a funeral bell it was tolling so slowly. He could hear shouting from the other side of the farm, towards the centre of the town. Other men who had heard the bell and were hurrying to their posts, or hurrying to lock themselves indoors if they, like Oliver, were too cowardly to fight.

The Church of the friary of St. Michel was located not far from the farm. Located just off the main road that went from Amiens straight to Paris, any English army that approached would most likely come from this direction, but Albret d’Gascogne, the commander of the watch had also designated watchmen to be at all four parish churches to toll their bells as well in case word of raiders, or worse an army, was reported. So far, the only bell that Louis could hear was the single thrum of the friary church. Grabbing his cross bow in one hand and his sword-belt in the other, Louis jogged down the track from the farm to the main road. He could see the bell tower of the friary from here and the bell slowly moving back and forth. From the fields around the friary walls he could see men and women hurrying. They were servants of the friary, workers for their fields, or serfs of their lands, and anxious to get to the safety of her walls as quick as they could. Half a dozen came slowly down the road from the north on a two wheeled cart drawn by an oxen. The cart was half-full of hay they had been cutting and half-full of frightened peasants.

“What news?” Louis shouted as he came to the road and within shouting distance of the cart. The man leading the oxen shook his head. A dull expression of fear upon his face. Louis ran up to them. “What have you seen? Are the English here?”

The man looked at him and tugged on the rope of the oxen harder, trying to propel it to a faster pace. The peasants on the cart huddled together like fledglings in a nest, as if their shared body warmth could protect them. They looked as if they were shivering with cold, but it must have been the hottest day of the year, and Louis was sweating in just his shirt and braies. He looked past the cart. He wasn’t going to get any more sense out of them. There were no more peasants coming, they had all gone within the friary walls. And then he saw them, standing like tall pillars, two, no three, dark plumes of smoke reaching up into the blue sky, not half a mile away. It looked like they were near the friary’s farm and grange of St. Chappelle. The trinity of pillars of dark grey smoke rose up to form a single cloud high in the sky casting a shadow over the friary and Louis’s farm, blocking out the sun.

“The unholy trinity,” said a voice behind Louis. He turned. It was the mercenary. Wulf he called himself, and some said he was German, although Louis knew little of the man.

“The clouds of smoke?” asked Louis.

“Fire, death and the English,” Wulf replied in his heavily accented French.

“Where’s the rest of you?” asked Louis, thinking about the other dozen mercenaries the commune of Montdidier had hired a month ago when news of the English invasion had spread through the towns and villages of Picardy like the plague.

Wulf looked at Louis as if he was talking Moorish. “The smoke,” he began. “Where the smoke is, or half-way towards the town …”

Louis shook his head in confusion. “The other sellswords are at the grange of St. Chappelle already? But how did they know? Why wasn’t the alarm bell rung earlier?” And why aren’t you with them, wondered Louis.

Wulf grabbed Louis’s jaw and lifted him until he was on his toes. “Don’t even think any more on it, boy. Just forget what you heard me say, eh?” Wulf let go of Louis’s chin and brushed his hands against the front of his brigandine as if wiping them clean.

Are you drunk, was what he wanted to ask. But daren’t in case it provoke more erratic action from the old mercenary. Wulf was reckoned to be the best swordsmen of the men they had hired.

Wulf turned and started walking down to the road.

Louis hurried after him. “Where are you going?”

“Your commander of the watch set the town square outside the church of St. Sauveur as the muster point, so now we’re going to muster. It’s also next to the tavern of the Three Hearts, where we might find my fellows, whom you wanted to locate. Are you coming?”

Louis looked over his shoulder at the clouds of smoke. “I’m coming,” he said.

***

If you want to read the first volume of Stonehearted, By the Sword’s Edge, then click here.

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Get The Return of the Free – for Free!

The Return of the Free CoverThe Return of the Free is the first installment in an epic fantasy series – and is currently available as a free eBook from the usual suspects.

To get your copy visit:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks

Out of the steppe came a lone rider. A man of destiny whose prowess would change the world of the Bachyan nomads forever. He was not an enemy come to destroy the Bachyan, but a prodigal son returned to lead them to victory over those who would enslave them.

Taken by Nukush slavers when still a very young man, Jenraey has to learn fast to adapt to the civilisation of his new masters. He finds the ways of the Nukush strange – they worship no gods, but use a magic called science to power their weapons and drive their armies to conquest. Torn between his curiosity in the ways of this great Empire and his desire to return to his own, Jenraey knows that his people can only survive the onslaught of Nukush armies if they can change too.

The time of destiny is at hand and only a leader of legendary powers can prevail.

Will Jenraey be that man?

Book 1 of the Empire of the Steppe

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Top Blog Posts of 2013

It’s traditional at this time of the year to take a look back – a review of the best bits if you like of 2013!

Highlights for me were getting 2 1/2 novels published – although Hell has its Demons still needs some work doing to it, plus getting a number of short stories sent off to professional magazines.

With regards to blogging, some of the most popular posts have been old ones – the one on Dante below has had over 1,000 hits and I wrote it a few years ago now. An oldie but a goodie!

So here are my top 5 blog posts of 2013:

“Midway along the journey of our life” – Great Medieval Verses (this is from Dante’s Inferno)

What did people believe in the Middle Ages, Part 1

Why George RR Martin is NOT an American Tolkien

So You Want to Draw a Dragon?

Favourite Fantasy Fiction Characters: Logen Ninefingers (aka the Bloody Nine)

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New TV Series set in Hundred Years War: Bastard Executioner

Kurt Sutter as Big Otto.

Kurt Sutter as Big Otto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Came across this news today – looks like an interesting new TV series is in the works from the creator of Sons of Anarchy (story via Deadline.com):

Bastard Executioner tells the story of a warrior knight in King Edward III’s charge who is broken by the ravages of war and vows to lay down his sword. But when that violence finds him again he is forced to pick up the bloodiest sword of all. “I love the network. I love the world. I love the blood,” Sutter said.

The Bastard Executioner, which marks FX’s first pilot with Imagine TV, stems from an idea by Grazer, who had been exploring the arena for some time. “I find the executioner to be an incredibly fascinating and provocative character,” he said. “He deals with the highest order and the lowest order in the culture. It’s about as morally complex a profession as you can imagine, and it is going to make for a spellbinding series.”

Definitely worth the watch for any fans of Medieval History – although I’m wondering if it will just be glamourising blood and violence?

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly Now Published

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverMy latest short story collection has now been published. Through a Distant Mirror Darkly is now available in all eBook formats and as a printed edition. The collection is dedicated to short stories with a medieval theme – some of them are straight historical fiction, while others contain an element of fantasy and the supernatural.

Buy print and eBook at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Buy eBook at: Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Here’s a bit more about the contents of the collection:

In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.

 

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