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Wednesday 17 December 2014

You Are Invited To A Party!

The Christmas Season  (whatever your belief or religion)
 is the time for merry-making and parties…
So come and join some wonderful authors (and their characters)
for an Online Virtual Party!

Browse through a variety of Blogs (hopping forward to the next one on the list)
for a veritable feast of entertainment!
(And just as with any good party, you’ll find
a few giveaway prizes along the way!)

For my contribution I thought I’d talk about a scene in the third of my Sea Witch Voyages (pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy – written for fun and hopefully read for fun!) Bring It Close.

The story mainly centres around that dastardly scallywag Blackbeard – one of the things I love about writing my Sea Witch Voyages is the opportunity to ‘play’ with history. For Bring It Close my nautical hero – Captain Jesamiah Acorne – is the one responsible for bringing Blackbeard to justice, the final battle between Navy and Pirate was all Jesamiah’s doing…in fiction that is. In reality he had nothing to do with it, of course, (shh don’t let on, Jesamiah doesn’t actually exist….!) But as he says in the novel when the names of those participating in ending Blackbeard’s infamous career are about to be added to the logbook… “Don’t you put my name in that! I don’t want to be held accountable…” Which is why you will not read 'Captain Jesamiah Acorne' in any of today’s preserved documents.

Williamsburg Gaol
Blackbeard himself (also known as Edward Teach or Thatch) was killed at that final encounter but several of his crew were taken to the gaol at Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were tried and hanged.

I had the huge good fortune to visit Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago so had a first-hand chance to visit the gaol, courthouse and surrounding area. Even more fortunate, I stayed at Newport House a superb B & B  and the only one in Williamsburg with 18th Century History as its central theme….Where the real colonial adventure begins. The owner (and host) John F Millar is not merely a fine Innkeeper, but he is an author and historic sailing ship designer. His charming and beautiful wife, Cathy, keeps bees and a fantastic historical-feel garden…and has kindly given me permission to reproduce a few fantastic photos… read on!

Newport House
Newport House also boasts a fabulous ballroom and hosts Colonial Dancing (known as English Country Dancing) 

Dancing at Newport House
I was lucky enough to be staying there when a dance was scheduled – and what a fantastic evening it was! I didn’t get a chance to dance (my arthritic knees were a problem even a couple of years ago) but I wrote copious notes because I just knew I had to include a Ball in Bring It Close. As I sat watching and writing I could plainly hear Jesamiah grumbling … and below is the result of that wonderful evening with John and Cathy and their guests.

It is not a Christmas scene – but I had a ball writing about a ball!

Bring It Close - the Third Sea Witch Voyage

(Chapter 31 – abridged)
Virginia 1718

The shoes were too small and the wig was itching. Jesamiah had already found two fleas in it. A few young ladies had fluttered their fans and eyelashes at him, but his scowl had soon sent them scurrying in search of more sociable company.
By the look of her, Alicia was having the time of her life; two hours into the evening she had partaken of every dance and openly flirted with every young man present. Only one of the dances so far, Jesamiah noted, had been with Samuel Trent. He was busy talking to various men of wealth and connection. Attempting to raise money in order to buy la Sorenta, Jesamiah assumed. Good luck to him. Maybe if there was a decent figure offered he may consider the proposal. Four thousand pounds sterling would be about right. And it would have to be cash, not the tobacco barter based on what was available or the value of next year’s tobacco crop. Hard, solid cash. It would not be easy for Trent to raise it. Only wealthy men had access to that sort of financial resource. And pirates.
That was another thing rankling him; Governor Spotswood’s regulations against piracy. He’d had to ride into Urbanna to register his presence with the Constable. He hated riding, his legs were made for the sea not for sitting astride a fat-rumped cob. He’d had to sign his name and swear to God, with one hand on the Bible, that he had accepted amnesty and committed no offence of theft or murder on the High Seas or waterways below the low tide mark after the month of July. Both the signing and the ride had been a humiliating experience.
He glanced at Alicia, poised and elegant as she joined hands with her present partner to lead out and turn single. What was this dance? Something like, Swinny was Tall the musicians had said. No, that was the previous one, a new dance apparently. There had been a lot of laughter and a few stumbling feet from those unfamiliar with the steps. Alicia had known it perfectly. How did she learn these dances? Who had taught her? The questions were piling into Jesamiah’s head. She looked exquisite in a scarlet silk gown edged with black lace. Knowing her as intimately as he did, Jesamiah guessed the colours matched all the way down to her skin. With her honey-coloured hair piled in an elaborate creation of curls and ringlets, and rubies dripping from ears, throat and fingers, she was the most stunning woman present. But then, most of the others were either over forty or giggling girls who had never been kissed.
He removed another glass of champagne from a servant’s tray. “Who the heck was Swinny?” he asked. “And is he tall?”
The black servant shook her head, bewildered, not understanding for he had got the title wrong. Jesamiah shrugged, emptied the glass, exchanged it for another full one.
The dancing and hubbub of chatter slithered to a ragged halt, the orchestra’s enraptured violinist screeching a few notes alone until he realised his colleagues had ceased playing.
“Well,” Jesamiah mumbled into the sudden silence, resisting the urge to spit on the polished ballroom floor. “Alexander Spotswood himself. Lieutenant Governor of Virginia has graced us with his presence.”
Opinion was divided regarding the Governor’s popularity and the uncomfortable pause while he stood a yard inside the entrance removing his hat, cloak and gloves was noticeable. Being at the head of the dance and near the entrance, Alicia was the first to sink into an elegant curtsey, her reminder of etiquette rippling through the crowded room like the crest of a rolling wave. As Spotswood walked further in, nodding a greeting here and there, several men failed to acknowledge him, a few clergymen and Virginia Burgesses going so far as to turn their backs. Unperturbed, Spotswood disappeared into a side room where the gentlemen were playing cards or billiards and the underlying atmosphere in the ballroom almost immediately lost its chilled air of tension. Dancers and spectators began to smile and chat again; the orchestra resumed their lively tune and soon the room was again vibrating with tapping feet and clapping hands.
“Are thee not dancin’, Sir?” A middle-aged woman with three daughters in tow had to repeat her question twice before Jesamiah realised she was talking to him. “There are more men than girls here; always so of course. ‘Tis a pity the young ladies must sit out and not be permitted to show their figures to best advantage. Do thee not agree?”
The young ladies she spoke of were tolerably pretty and Jesamiah should have answered politely, but his mood had been rapidly blackening with every tedious minute – and was this sling around his neck supporting his injured arm not an obvious reason why he did not dance?
“In my experience, Ma’am,” he said, “the only way a girl’s figure can be seen to best advantage is when she is stripped naked and moaning in ecstasy beneath me.”
As a method of halting a conversation it worked most efficiently.
Want more? Well why not....

I could so picture Jesamiah grumbling and being rude – hating every minute of having to dress like a peacock and (supposedly) behave himself. He is more at home aboard the Sea Witch, dressed in his favourite mole-skin breeches and faded old buckram coat…

Cathy Millar in an email said:

It is a custom, at least here in the US, to finish an English Country Dance with a waltz. The dance and waltz hold were not very popular in the 18th cent as thought too scandalous. At our balls, the final dance is the only time partners hold each other in such a manner.” And here she is with John:
The Last Waltz
I hope you enjoyed that little excerpt… 
now, why not waltz on to the next person in our Blog Hop… 
just follow the links below...

Christmas Bonus!
(Giveaway Competition Closed)

the lucky winner of one of my novels was...
Rosie Amber
and thank you to everyone who took part!

See all my books here:

or buy direct from

Thank you for joining our party
now follow on to the 
next enjoyable entertainment…
(the Blog Hop Party Starts on 20th December UK time - 
so some links might not be 'live') 

1. Helen Hollick : You are Cordially Invited to a Ball (plus a giveaway prize) 
2. Alison Morton : Saturnalia surprise - a winter party tale (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
3. Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
4. Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
5. Anna Belfrage :  All I want for Christmas - (plus a giveaway prize) CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
6. Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
7. Clare Flynn :  A German American Christmas - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
8. Debbie Young :  Good Christmas Housekeeping - (plus a giveaway prize)  CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
9. Derek Birks :  The Lord of Misrule - A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
10. Edward James : An Accidental Virgin and An Uninvited Guest -  CLICK HERE  and - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog  
11. Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
12. J. L. Oakley :  Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907 (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
13. Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
14. Julian Stockwin: Join the Party - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog  
15. Juliet Greenwood : Christmas 1914 on the Home Front (plus a giveaway) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
16. Lauren Johnson :  Farewell Advent, Christmas is come - Early Tudor Festive Feasts - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
17. Lindsay Downs  O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree  - (plus a giveaway prize) CLICK HERE to go to this blog
18. Lucienne Boyce :  A Victory Celebration - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
19. Nancy Bilyeau :  Christmas After the Priory (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
20. Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
21. Peter St John:  Dummy’s Birthday - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
22. Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas  (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
23. Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
24. Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding -- Part of the Christmas Feast - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
25. Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement… (plus a giveaway prize) - CLICK HERE to go to this Blog
26. Suzanne Adair :The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 - (plus a giveaway prize )  CLICK HERE to go to this Blog

Thank you for joining us and...

... to you all!

Are you on Twitter? 
Could you cut and paste the Tweet below please? 
Thank you! 

Great Fun! A #winterparty #bloghop 26 fab authors share interesting articles AND some #giveaway #prizes!


Tuesday 16 December 2014

Gone AWOL for Tuesday Talk....

I'm not on my own blog today for Tuesday Talk.... 

click the link for a lovely lady's blog 
and my Christmas Contribution 

What’s your earliest Christmas Memory...

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Tuesday Talk - A bit of sunshine for a winter's day

My guest today: 
Antonia Novosel is a regular blogger at SailingEurope blog which is one of the most popular sailing blogs in yacht charter community.

It's turning cold here in the UK (well, it IS December) so let's go in search of some sunshine.....

The Top Seven Most Attractive Beaches in Greece...

Dreaming of a vacation with no worries in the world except whether your fingers have wrinkled enough to get out of the water? One of the most breathtaking options for a sun, sea and sand holiday is Greece, where both the weather and the sea are ideal from late May to early October. Due to its geological structure, Greece boasts a variety of impressive beaches, the most beautiful of which can be accessed only by sea. So if you want to see the best of Greece, rent a yacht and sail away. To give you a brief insight into what awaits you there, here is our list of the top seven most attractive Greek beaches.

1. Navagio Beach (Zakynthos)
The most famous of Greek beaches, Navagio lives up to the expectations as it is really a sight worth seeing. Turquoise sea, white sand, high cliffs and the wreck of an old ship on the shore provide for a surreal experience. If not for the crowds, you would get the feeling of a vacation on a deserted island. This is the only downside – since it is very popular, there are many tourists swarming in on large cruise ships. But if you have a sailing yacht of your own, you can peacefully enjoy this spectacular view.

2. Myrtos (Kefalonia)
A white pebble beach surrounded by steep cliffs, Myrtos is one of the most astonishing beaches, ideal for snorkelling. It was voted the best beach in Greece for several years in a row and is an unavoidable item on the top Greek beaches lists. However, winds tend to be very strong there, so be careful in the afternoons when they pick up.

3.  Sarakiniko (Milos)
This is one of the most impressive beaches to look at, as it is made of white rock with unusual shapes, reminiscent of the Moon’s surface. The whiteness of the rocks accentuates the blue shades of the sea and the sight is rather magnificent.

4. Egremni (Lefkada)
Egremni is a remote beach, and a large one at that, so if you are seeking peace and quiet, this is the one to choose. The beach can be accessed from the shore only via steep steps, so sailing is the most practical option here. It is a sandy beach with crystal clear turquoise sea with barren cliffs surrounding it, a real beauty in total.

5. Porto Katsiki (Lefkada)
Ranked as one of the most beautiful European beaches several times already, Porto Katsiki is a bit more crowded than its neighbouring beach of Egremni. It is a long expanse of white sand surrounded by high cliffs and clear blue-green water with lots of space for sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling or enjoying the slow sway of your yacht.

6. Balos (Crete)
This spectacular beach is made of several shallow pools forming a lagoon between Crete and a small island opposite. White sand and clear water provide for a Caribbean feel of the place. Because of its beauty and peculiarity, it is visited by lots of tourists, many of whom come by rented boats and leave before late in the afternoon. If you are sailing on your own, you get the luxury to stay longer and enjoy the quiet spectacle of the sunset.

7. Red Beach (Santorini)
The Red Beach is a unique sight in Greece, among the whiteness of the other beaches. Red Beach is made of volcanic sand, which gives it its special color. It is easier to reach by sea, so if you are sailing nearby, make a stop there and enjoy the spectacular view of volcanic influence on the island. The surrounding water is clear and deep so you can also spend your time snorkeling and exploring its depths.

It is hard to make a short list, but these seven are in one way or another special and it would be a waste not to visit them if you are spending your holiday in Greece, especially if you are on a sailing yacht, as you can approach them more easily. You will not regret the trip, whichever beach you decide to visit. Have an amazing Greek experience!

By Antonia Novosel

If you want to find out more about sailing to all these beautiful places, please visit

...and when you go  off to sail those beautiful blue seas and explore those beaches
don't forget to take with you ....

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Awards. It’s not the winning - it’s the taking part.

Tuesday Talk 
(Or so we convince ourselves.)

My Tuesday Talk post last week was about the Lovely Blog Award - an accolade passed on from one blogger to another. I was delighted to receive it (thank you Anna Belfrage for awarding it to me!) But, and please don't think I'm being ungrateful....  it isn't quite the Booker Prize is it? 

As authors, we write because we want to. For some of us, though, we write because we have to. It’s compulsive. We scribble away into the dark hours of night (or in the early silly-o’clock hours of the morning,) taking every opportunity to get another line, paragraph, page, or chapter committed to paper or hard-drive file. When not writing our thoughts are swirling with what we intend to write: planning that next scene, thinking about how a new character can be developed more, or whether we ought to ditch the one who doesn’t seem to be toeing the line plot-wise.

Then there is the editing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the editing process, improving that first, somewhat raggedy draft into something that resembles a readable story, then fine-tuning and polishing it. And doing so all over again after the first technical edit, again after a copy-edit and yet again after the proof read. But does anyone know how those pesky typos still manage to get missed?

With excitement we look forward to publication day, eagerly anticipating dozens of five star reviews on Goodreads. Of shooting to the top of the Amazon ranking list and receiving a nice royalty cheque at some point in the near future. Maybe we will be offered that movie deal and reach the dizzy height of the cherished Best-Seller accolade. Or holy of holies, find our labour of love and hard work placed on a long list for an award, and see it move up to the short list. And the final…

Unfortunately the world of writing novels isn’t quite as simple as that. Especially if you are an Indie author. By Indie I mean self-published, which in this instance is any author who has paid a financial contribution – large or small - towards producing their book, be it for the entire production, editing costs, cover design etc.

Indie writers are gaining in respectability in the literary world; we are, at last, being taken seriously. Many authors, now, like myself, are what is being termed as “hybrid”, we have a foot in both camps, traditional mainstream and Indie. With the big publishing houses often deciding not to re-print our backlist titles we have found the option to regain the copyright and re-publish under our own steam. What’s more, we are doing it quite successfully. Enough to make the publishing industry start to think twice about the previous negative attitude towards self-publishing.

Novice indie writers are also realising that to be taken seriously as an author they have to produce a book with quality presentation as well as quality writing. It does not matter how fantastic your writing style or the narrative is if the book you intend to self-publish is printed in the taboo Comic Sans font, with double-line paragraph spacing, incorrect indents, too wide or too narrow margins, and the text set as left justified. No one worth their salt is going to look twice or take you seriously.

“No!” I hear you cry, “it is the content that is important, not the layout!” Wrong. If I pay good money for something – be it a book, dress, pair of shoes, cd or whatever, I expect it to meet a certain standard. If it looks wrong or amateur then it does not qualify as ‘professional’. If you are going to do it – do it properly!

Authors  hope for that illusive possibility of an award, but there are few opportunities for Indie writers. Most award presentations carry a high entrance fee, and with no publishing house to support us we have to pay for everything including supplying at least one copy of the book, which entails printing costs and postage. Nor are there that many prestigious awards for the Indies. We need a high profile Booker equivalent, but whether it will ever come about is anyone’s guess. Most literary associations do not even accept indie-written books for review, let alone consider them for an award.

But there are a few openings and we eagerly pour over them in case they might give us the opportunity we need to be placed and get noticed.

Here, the Indie author is no different to the mainstream. We would love to win an award. We enter and tell our friends and avid readers that we are not worried about winning, we are just delighted to be recognised enough to be placed on that long list with the other hopeful authors. And we hide our disappointment when we don’t reach the shortlist, or that treasured Winner Result.

An Indie B.R.A.G medallion is a good achievement for indie authors to gain - basically, it is a mark of a "good read" and worth aiming for ( details here ), Worth getting. But it isn't a 'prize'.

When Ann Author, who we ‘know’ quite well in the virtual world, gets to the shortlist and we don’t we graciously say “congratulations” on Facebook and Twitter (all the while seething inside because her books are nowhere near as good as ours). But we are writers by trade and we have the ability to produce believable stories, don’t we?

 We are pretty good at convincing ourselves that it doesn’t matter, that awards really are not that important. We shrug, think, ‘Ah well, another prize has passed by, maybe the next novel will be The One.’

Or the one after that.

Or the one after that…


In addition to being a traditional and Indie-published author, with a best-seller listing to my credit, (no awards though L  ) I am the Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Review.

The HNS welcomes submissions from all Indie writers of Historical Fiction, and with the aim of encouraging quality writing and production of self-published historical fiction is proud to announce a newly-initiated Historical Fiction Indie Award.

There is no entrance fee; novels will be selected for potential long-listing from all novels submitted for review.

For full details: