29 November 2016

A Visit to the Channel Islands - via Isabella of Angoulême and a pirate or two...


My Tuesday Talk Guest: Erica Lainé... 


At the HNS Conference 2016 in Oxford we were all given goody bags. In mine was a reprint of a 1902 book Nelson and His Captains by W H Fitchett. Chapter 9 was about Sir James Saumarez, a famous Guernsey admiral. Someone I knew about, and in a way the book was the impetus for this guest post. My interest in the Channel Islands and especially Guernsey stems from a long and happy childhood there and a true Guernseyman for a husband. 

The discovery of the subject of my book, Isabella of Angoulême: The Tangled Queen Part 1 came about as I researched the history of Normandy. As the wife of King John, that marriage acted as a trigger for the loss of Normandy. I found her interwoven history with Aquitaine, the Poitou, Normandy and England fascinating. 

Whenever I find a relevant 13th century reference about the Channel Islands that I can use in my fiction I do. In Part 1 it was Eustace the Monk sailing out of Sark to the Battle of Sandwich, in Part 2 Henry III stops in Guernsey on his way to St Malo, small details but all important to me.

The Channel Islands, Corsairs and Privateers
William the Conqueror brought Normandy with him to England, and with Normandy came the Channel Islands. They had been ceded to or taken by William Longsword in 933 when he took the Cotenin and Avranchin. 

When King John lost Normandy between 1204-1214 the Channel Islands were not part of any agreement between the French and the Anglo-Angevins. They remained faithful to a King who had lost their parent Duchy and did not swear allegiance to the French King who had resumed it.

The law in the C.I. remained the law of the Duchy of Normandy. An ancient law, which became varied by local customs. There was nothing written as law but there were commentaries on what happened, court records which were consulted as if they were text books.

In 1217 two important castles were built, Castle Cornet in Guernsey and Mount Orgueil or Castel Gorey in Jersey, they both had garrisons of English troops. Fortification was now necessary, as it had never been before.

In 1218 Henry III, John's son, wrote to Philippe D'Aubigny, his Warden:
'It is not our intention to institute new Assizes in the Islands at present, but it is our will that the Assizes which were observed there in the time of King Henry our Grandfather, of King Richard our Uncle, and the Lord King John our father, should be observed there now.'

Three years later he wrote to Philippe d'Aubigny, the younger, this very stringent command:
'Rule the Islands by right and due custom, as they have been accustomed to be ruled at the time of our ancestors, Kings of England.'

And the customs and laws related to the time when the Kings of England and the Duke of Normandy were still one person. 

(The Queen despite being a woman is known as The Duke of Normandy, when referred to by Channel Islanders. During the loyal toast, they say The Queen, our Duke or, in French a Reine, notre Duc, rather than simply ‘The Queen’ as is the practice in the United Kingdom.)

In 1254 Henry III granted the Islands to his son the future Edward I of England. The King ordered that these Islands were never to be separated from the English Crown, that no one by reason of this grant might at any time claim any right therein but that they should remain wholly to the King of England for ever. But the position was both anomalous and advantageous at the same time. In 1483 a papal bull declared the Channel Islands neutral with free ports. This began a far reaching maritime trade.

Jumping forward some 300 years to the Navigation Acts in the 17th century, the position changed again. The Acts were designed to restrict trade with Europe. These restrictions were ignored by the C.I. and the rise of Guernsey as a significant entrepôt was intricately linked to the rise of St Malo, which had been made a free port in 1395. According to a medieval Bishop the French port had always attracted all manner of thieves and rogues. 

As imports of French goods were forbidden they came into to St Peter Port from La Cité corsair and were sent onwards to England or America. In 1689 the neutrality of the C.I was overturned and they were banned from importation or retailing any commodities of the growth or manufacture of France.
So Guernsey turned to privateering. There is a fine line between outright piracy and the more respectable privateering. A Letter of Marque or Mart is issued by the Lord High Admiral licensing the commander of a privately owned ship to cruise the waters in search of enemy vessels. Either as a reprisal for injuries suffered or as acts of war. And so the commander became a privateer. Licensing privateers by special commission was highly profitable and many owners equipped their ships with guns to prey upon merchant shipping. 

During The American War of Independence, the Americans were helping Britain’s enemies and making a profit for themselves by importing goods from Europe and then reshipping them.  In 1801, a letter of marque was issued to Captain James Lainé, commanding the Guernsey privateer The Hawk.
'You are instructed to cruise off Bordeaux, keeping close inshore and as near as possible to the Cordouan lighthouse. You are to send in all Prussian vessels which you find suspicious, all Hamburg vessels bound from enemy colonies in the East and West Indies to any European port except Hamburg itself, and all Russian, Danish, and Swedish vessels without reservation.
You are also to send in American vessels coming from enemy colonies to Europe, all vessels bound from one French or Spanish port to another, all vessels having two sets of papers on board and all vessels attempting to enter enemy ports with warlike stores. Vessels bound from America to an enemy port are to be sent in if they have enemy property on board, to ascertain which you must be particularly nice in examining every paper you can of every denomination whatever.
Neutral vessels with passengers or supercargoes on board are to receive particular attention, but no neutral vessel is to be given the benefit of the doubt, for we daily find out neutrals with false papers and masked cargoes.'

Letter of Marque
1801 John Laine’s personal copy
In France the commission was a lettre de course, and the commander became a corsair. From the 1500s for over 200 years St Malo was the dominant corsair port. Robert Surcouf, a famous corsair was born there in 1773. The son of a ship owner and a mother who was daughter of a captain his privateers led successful campaigns against the British in the Indian Ocean and disastrous ones in the English Channel. However he had great celebrity in France where he became a ship owner himself and he died in St Malo in 1827. A true Malouin, there is a bronze statue of him on the ramparts.

Robert Surcouf
Photo taken by Guillaume Piole/CC by 3.0 
James Lainé was 22 years old when apart from captaining The Hawk he also became captain of the Guernsey privateer Mayflower, a 151-ton cutter owned by the Priaulx brothers. On 27 April 1806 he captured the lugger privateer Sorcière of St Malo, sailed by Captain Thomas Lauriol, three leagues west of Jersey. By sailing down to leeward James Lainé prevented Lauriol from firing his main cannons due to the heel of the Sorcière.

PAINTING OF THE MAYFLOWER
copyright JRL
He was mentioned in dispatches by Rear Admiral James de Saumarez, Commander Guernsey who wrote:- 
'Great praise is due to Mr James Lainé, her commander, for his activities and exertions on this occasion. He was in pursuit from windward and the chase took nine hours The ‘Sorcière’ is a remarkable fast sailer with sixteen guns and forty six men and has done immense injury to our trade, particularly off the coast of Ireland and the Bristol Channel.'

It is believed that the Guernsey privateer had friends in Royan who provided them with food and intelligence. It would be quite usual for Guernsey captains to have friends in Royan and other ports along the coast of France. France was a neighbour with which the C.I shared language and lineage dating back to the 10th century. The alliances still worked.  


Buy the Book Amazon.UK
Facebook devoted to Isabella and her life and times.
Facebook for Aquitaine Historical Society, mainly images of all sorts of things  historical.

Twitter @LaineEleslaine 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And for all indie writers: Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links:




22 November 2016

Writing A Nightmare

By Haydn Corper
Haydn Corper at the offices of SilverWood books
holding the first printing of his book.
An exciting moment for all authors!
“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it.”

So said Eric Maria Remarque in the opening to his famous novel about the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front. 

When I set out to write my own war novel, The Scent of Lilacs, I did so knowing that death is not an adventure; war is not an adventure. It has become a cliché to say that war is hell; and it is.  But even in hell there are some lighter moments, I suspect. 

Depictions of war can be one dimensional: unrelentingly gruesome; or gritty; or satirical; or yes, even adventurous. The challenge in writing about war is to depict the mixed reality, as much as one ever can: to convey the awfulness yet also to be realistic and acknowledge that amongst the blood and mud and suffering there is also companionship and, yes, fun. 


Nightmares are grim; waking from a nightmare is a relief, knowing that the terror is gone and that it wasn’t real anyway. The fall of Nazi Berlin to Soviet forces in the spring of 1945 was a nightmare; but also the end of a nightmare. It was the end of Hitler’s regime. But this nightmare had been real and it left a grim legacy; it had not gone away completely. The aftermath was in many ways just as bad.

(Central Berlin shortly after the surrender to Soviet force)

It is difficult to imagine now but this is what Berlin looked like seventy-one years ago.


Footage of the fighting for Berlin, posted on YouTube by 'darkborn2000'

To tell the story of such a dark period in European history, I needed to immerse myself in time and place thoroughly.  So I read extensively, listened to and watched documentaries and war dramas, visited the settings; I even cooked the food and played the music.  My own direct experience of being in an Army, albeit a peacetime one, helped me get a little further into the heads of some of the characters.


Haydn Corper served in the Territorial Army for several years during the 1980s

So far so useful, but then how was I to take my readers with me? Most of them, perhaps all of them, would have no direct experience of war.  Should I lecture? Preach? Bombard them with facts? Of course not. The Scent of Lilacs is a novel, a story; not a history book, not a seminar. Another cliché: I did not tell the story; my characters did.  Five of them, ordinary people, not one great or powerful. I let them run the show: it is their book, not mine.

I found that another cliché is true; you do not always know what your characters will do or say. I had a book plan; it changed. No war plan, they say, survives contact with the enemy; it changes as the situation develops. So too with my book. As the battle raged my characters often did what they wanted to do, not what I had planned for them. After a while I felt I was watching someone else’s documentary, not following my script.

Sometimes, the thoughts and feelings of those I wrote about surprised me; or perhaps, it is more accurate to say, the thoughts and feelings they expressed through me.

The nightmare unfolded as nightmares always do; unexpectedly and I did not know how it would end, except in general terms. When it did end, I was relieved but, like the characters, also a little anxious, not knowing what might come next.

Website:       www.haydncorper.com
Twitter:          @corperhaydn
Facebook:     www.facebook.com/haydncorper

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links:




15 November 2016

Location, Location, Location

with fabulous Saxon-era author Annie Whitehead

Annie Whitehead
“How extensively do you travel for your research?” I was asked this question a while ago, and my answer was “Hardly at all.” 
Now, I should make it clear that I do an extraordinary amount of research, but mostly from the comfort of my own home.

Many of the Anglo-Saxon charters and law codes are now available to read online, as are seminal works such as Asser’s Life of Alfred. No longer does the Anglo-Saxon author have to schlep down to the British Library or order obscure books with phenomenal price tags. (Although I often do!)

I still have all my notes from my degree course, plus copies of numerous papers and ‘text’ books, yellowed and dog-eared as they are. I have my student copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and tattered old photocopies of the Encomium Emmae Reginae. (Possibly the earliest example of ‘spin’.) I also have my Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, which will cost you a fortune to buy, if you can find a second-hand copy. So I’m set up, in terms of academic references and primary source evidence.

But location research? There’s little point.

Anglo-Saxon buildings, on the whole, were made of wood. And wood simply doesn’t last. Archaeologists can tell us how the buildings might have looked, but they base most of this on the discovery of ‘post holes’ - literally holes in the ground where wooden posts once held up great halls and other buildings.

Lots of scenes in my books are set in Mercian locations like Tamworth, Gloucester, and Worcester, but try to imagine Godiva’s supposed procession through the streets of modern Coventry! Even standing on the famous ‘Spon Street’ where all the oldest buildings to survive the city’s bombing in WWII were relocated, one cannot look out on anything that would have been familiar to that notorious lady. (Side note - no matter which Coventry postcode you enter into your Sat Nav, it will take you to Spon Street. That’s the voice of bitter experience talking!)

Spon Street, Coventry
Even if one were to visit locations specifically noted for their role in Anglo-Saxon history, they are not the places they once were - Bamburgh Castle, whilst having recently been the subject of some extensive archaeological investigation, remains a much more modern, stone-built structure, while, across the water, Lindisfarne, so crucial to the establishment of English Christianity, bears no trace of the original wooden monastery. Corfe Castle, scene of the murder of Edward the Martyr in 978, is a ruin, but by Anglo-Saxon standards it is a modern ruin.

And the landscape has changed so much in the last 1000 years that it is difficult to get the ‘feel’ of the place. Coastlines have changed, topography is different - Ely was an island (its name meaning the ‘Isle of Eels’, according to Bede.) Bawsey in Norfolk, some several miles from the port of King’s Lynn today, was then on the the coast. Many Anglo-Saxon structures are technically still visible, but walk along any part of Offa’s Dyke or the remains of Alfred’s walls at Wareham and you will not gain any understanding of the height or appearance of the originals.

Bawsey, Norfolk
But it is staggering to think that there were things which they looked upon which we can still see now - Stonehenge, for example, or the stone circle at Avebury, and the nearby Silbury Hill.

And some sites do give the sense of treading where the Anglo-Saxons walked, particularly Sutton Hoo, which I’ll discuss in more detail in a moment. Others give an idea, and the reconstructed village at West Stow is a must-visit location if one wants to learn more about how the settlements looked and how people lived and worked in them. But, it must be stressed, this is a reconstruction, albeit on a site which was occupied for most of the Anglo-Saxon period.

Sutton Hoo
There are a few buildings scattered about which genuinely date back to the period -
Escomb Church near Bishop Auckland in the North East was founded c.670-675 and is one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon churches still surviving. St Laurence’s Church, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire has no medieval ‘add-ons’ and All Saints’ Church, Brixworth, Northamptonshire is un-modernised, apart from its tower and spire. The chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex also dates from the 7th century and has no surrounding buildings, giving a little idea of what it must have looked like when it was first built. The tower of All Saints’ Church, Earls Barton, Northamptonshire dates from c970, and St Mary's Priory Church, Deerhurst, near Gloucester, contains Anglo-Saxon carvings and still has the original Saxon windows, and is the setting for several poignant scenes in To Be A Queen. To know that my characters in all probability saw these same carvings and windows sends a little shiver down my spine.

Escomb Church
All of these churches are beautiful, but of great halls, there is no trace. They were built with wood, and simply did not survive. Wood rots away - usually all that is ever found of shields (made traditionally from linden - lime - wood) are the metal bosses, the central conical piece.

Sometimes, though, wooden items do survive. Recently, at the Must Farm excavation in Cambridgeshire, a 3000 year-old wooden wheel was unearthed. It’s a big thing when something wooden survives - like the two coffins which I was recently privileged to see in Durham Cathedral. In their ‘Open Treasure’ exhibition, they have on display many stone crosses and ‘hogback’ grave stones. But, wrapped in plastic and awaiting conservators in London to tell them how they can possibly display them, are two ‘log coffins’.

And there are some exquisite artefacts which can be viewed - the Libraries Officer at Durham told me that in their 2017 St Cuthbert exhibition there will be some embroidered linen - the oldest to depict human figures. (They are still in the process of designing the display cases, which have to be temperature/humidity-controlled.) And for embroidery that’s a bit more modern, one can always visit the Bayeux tapestry.


There is jewellery and metalwork, which of course does stand the test of time. At Bamburgh, the ‘beast’- a small brooch depicting an animal - is on display, along with a beautiful pattern-welded sword. The finds of the Staffordshire Hoard have been cleaned up and are currently on a tour, and my favourite, a ring of Queen Aethelswith, the aunt who fostered ‘my’ Aethelflaed, is on display at the British Museum.

The Bamburgh 'Beast'
So we can get a good sense of how the Anglo-Saxons lived, but not really where they lived. Sutton Hoo came closest for me; because of where it is, it has been preserved - more by luck than judgement, because it happened to be on private land and was never developed - and I could easily imagine the procession from the settlement at Rendlesham to the mound site when the famous ship was buried there.

Churches get extended, villages become towns, burhs (fortified towns) become cities. To wander round modern day London, or even Gloucester, or Tamworth, whilst diverting, is pretty meaningless in terms of research or even soaking up atmosphere.

West Stow
But, as with the church in Deerhurst, there is one other place where I can ‘catch’ one of my characters... Even though there is nothing much of Saxon age still there, it made me shiver, when I first began thinking about my second novel: Clynnog Fawr, in North Wales. Nothing remains of the original monastery building, but, standing in the church, in a village where I know my main character had been in 978, I was able to say yes, right on this spot, here he was. Aelfhere of Mercia (Alvar in my novel) is known to have been here in alliance with a Welsh prince. Tudor historians can go to Hever Castle, Hampton Court; Ricardians can stand amid the ruins of Middleham Castle. Rarely can I do the equivalent, but the feeling, I’m sure, was the same. Alvar woz ‘ere. Such a rare moment for an Anglo-Saxonist, and I’m happy to have experienced it.


Clynnog Fawr
Annie's Books:
http://mybook.to/AlvartheKingmaker

http://mybook.to/To-Be-A-Queen
myBook.to/1066TurnedUpsideDown


Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links:

8 November 2016

Loyalist Legacy

My Tuesday Talk Guest: Elaine Cougler


When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting. 
With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.


“We Want a Say!”
Ordinary People Fight the Family Compact

One of the interesting things about writing historical fiction is the exquisite chance for an author to show attitudes, events and mores of times gone by. Writing about my own country as it was coming into being has allowed me to show how different our world was in the days following the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Today we enjoy good relations with both our American neighbours to the south and our mother country across the pond. This state of affairs was not always so. Quite a lot of wrangling took place with the Americans in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and families suffered because of it.

Even the British government during the times of which I write was not always fair to Loyalists and others under its protection:
  • Many of the Six Nations Indians fought bravely and boldly on the side of the British in the American Revolution only to lose great tracts of land when the British and the Americans finalized their treaty to end that war in 1783.
  • Richard Beasley’s beautiful and well treed land overlooking Burlington Bay (at present-day Hamilton, Ontario) was seized by the British for its suitability as a troop and supplies depot; Beasley got back a denuded and desolate tract of land he soon lost entirely, because of the chicanery of those in power. You can see that land today where Dundern Castle sits, a tourist mecca built right over the redoubts and battlements on Beasley’s land.
  • And after the War of 1812 the British system allowed the rise of a group of powerful men disdainfully called the “Family Compact” by those early settlers in Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec). These men did as much as anyone to cause the pioneers to move toward democracy so that ordinary people could have a say in their own world.

In the excerpt from the third book of the Loyalist trilogy below, the two Garner brothers are in York (Toronto) arguing with Bishop Strachan, a powerful member of the “Family Compact."

“Now I remember where I heard your names before. Your father is John Garner.”
“Yes.” The brothers answered together.
    A tiny smile crossed the bishop’s face, thinning out his lips even more. “And you broke out of jail all those years ago. With your father.”
    William’s voice cut in. “We were all wrongfully imprisoned. No charges were brought against any of us.” After a moment he added, “sir.”
    A large sense of foreboding in his gut, Robert dared to speak again. “We had to escape. Our father was sick and dying from being in that infernal jail.” He kept his voice low but inside his heart was pounding as he remembered.
    “Just one of the illegal acts perpetrated by those in power. For their own ends.” William’s tone was soft. “I ask you, is that any way to start a country?"
    “You want me to listen to jail breakers?”
    “Who were illegally jailed!” Robert could not abide the sneer on the man’s face.

Suddenly the bishop stood and leaned over the desk right into their shocked faces. “Aha! Now I remember. You.” He pointed his bony finger in Robert’s face. “You’re illegal. You blasted American!” The man ranted all around the room, shouting and shrieking, so that the door crashed open and the beady-eyed clerk came running in.
    “Arrest this man!” The bishop pointed at Robert. The clerk grabbed his arm and shouldered him past the shocked William and out of the room.

Excerpt from The Loyalist Legacy 


 “....absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn't hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.”
Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.

“....an intriguing story”
 A Bookish Affair

“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.” 
Book Lovers Paradise

“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.”  
Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Oh, for the Hook of a Book
ABOUT ELAINE

Elaine Cougler is the author of historical novels about the lives of settlers in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution.

Cougler uses the backdrop of the conflict for page-turning fictional tales where the main characters face torn loyalties, danger and personal conflicts. Her Loyalist trilogy: The Loyalist’s WifeThe Loyalist’s Luck and The Loyalist Legacy coming in 2016. 

The Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair selected The Loyalist’s Wife as a finalist in its Self-Publishing Awards. The  Middlesex County Library selected the book as its choice for book club suggestions. The Writers Community of Durham Region presented Elaine with a Pay-It-Forward Award. 

Elaine has led several writing workshops and has been called on to speak about the Loyalists to many groups. She writes the blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, about the journey to publication and beyond. She lives in Woodstock with her husband. They have two grown children.

Links:
@ElaineCougler    Twitter
BLOG  


Book Tour
  1. November 7   Hook of a Book Review of The Loyalist Legacy

  2. November 8   Let us Talk of Many Things…  Guest Post

  3. November 9   Meyette’s Musings  Interview

  4. November 10 The Book Trail Review of The Loyalist Legacy

  5. November 11 Writer’s Treasure Chest  Guest Post

  6. November 14 Kristina Stanley Guest Post

  7. November 15 P.C. Zick Guest Post

  8. November 16 Cryssa Bazos Interview

  9. November 17 A Writer of History Guest Post

  10. November 18 Charlene Jones Soul Sciences site Podcast Interview

  11. November 21 Writer’s Treasure Chest Guest Post

  12. November 22 Hook of a Book Interview (live or taped)

  13. November 23 Annika Perry’s Writing Blog Book Release Post with excerpt

  14. November 24 Sally Moore’s Blog Interview

  15. November 25 Black Friday sale of The Loyalist Legacy on Amazon (link to come)


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Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links:




1 November 2016

THE PAST AS A FOREIGN COUNTRY

 My Tuesday Talk Guest - Bill Page

 
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,” the man said. Perhaps he should have added that, the further we go back into the past, the more foreign it tends to become. For a start, the natives don’t even have the decency to speak English.
My chosen fragment of the past is later 4th century Roman Britain, and I have now written three novels set in those times, the latest being One Summer in Arcadia, centred on Spoonley Wood villa, near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. And yet I am painfully aware that, as evocations of the people and their world, the novels are essentially fraudulent. For how can I – how can anybody – really be sure of what it was like to be alive in that long-vanished world, and of what hopes and terrors, earthly and unearthly, delighted or troubled those long-dead people?


Museums are stuffed with vast piles of pottery and tiles, and with tens of thousands of coins and brooches and innumerable other artefacts. University library shelves groan beneath the weight of carefully researched and beautifully illustrated publications setting out in minute detail the results of the thousands of excavations carried out over the last century and a half. Yet where, in all this mass of information, are the people themselves?

We have some names – pathetically few, considering the millions of people who lived and died in Britain during the three centuries and more of Roman rule – some carved on stone, others scratched on everything from pottery to lead curses. But often they tell us frustratingly little about the living, breathing people to whom those names once belonged.

Even from a great villa like Chedworth, which flourished for over two centuries and reached its heyday towards the middle of the 4th century, we have only one solitary name, Censorinus, inscribed on a silver spoon (now lost). And we do not even know whether he was the owner of the villa: all we have is the name.
As to the owners of other Gloucestershire villas, such as Spoonley Wood or even the palatial Woodchester, we do not have so much as a single name for men who must, in their time, have possessed near god-like powers over those who lived on their often vast estates. They are, to borrow from Ecclesiasticus, “perished, as though they had never been.”

We have some skeletons – all, alas, anonymous – from cemeteries located outside the walls of towns like Corinium (Cirencester), and the tales they tell are grim. It seems that life for the humiliores –the underclass of Late Roman society, which formed the overwhelming bulk of the population – was generally short (most people not living past their 40s) and frequently brutally hard. Healed fractures and wear on leg and arm joints indicate hard manual labour (and violent quarrels?) from childhood, leading to arthritis and other painful conditions in later life, if they survived that long.    

4th century belt buckle with dolphins & horses’ heads,
said to have been found in the North Cotswolds
 
And we know from surviving edicts that humiliores could legally be tortured to obtain evidence of alleged crimes committed by themselves or others, and suffer savage punishments, including execution. For those same crimes, honestiores – the upper classes – would at worst usually only suffer banishment, at least for a first offence.
But was such harsh treatment an everyday reality for the underclass? My guess is that it was. Why? Because, in a curious letter written a century later in Gaul, the aristocrat Sidonius Apollinaris tells us that he had several men beaten, simply because they had inadvertently begun to dig a fresh grave on the spot where his grandfather had been buried, even though, by his own admission, the unmarked grave had been levelled by time and weather so as to be indistinguishable from the surrounding ground. And this by a man considered humane by contemporary standards, who later became a bishop and a saint. So should I make this routine ill-treatment a more prominent feature of my novels? Or would it be wiser to heed T S Eliot’s advice, that “humankind cannot bear very much reality”?

 Sidonius Apollinaris 
And how far had the struggle between Christianity and paganism progressed by the late 360s? Had the majority – honestiores and humiliores alike – converted to the new religion favoured by most emperors from Constantine the Great onwards, or did they still believe in the multitude of strange gods and goddesses, whose stone images now stare blankly out at us from museum cases? We simply do not know, although it is worth remembering that there is very little surviving evidence of Christianity from the western half of 4th century Britain. My suspicion – and it is only a suspicion – is that belief in (or fear of) the old deities was still strong, and that to a substantial part of the population they were as real as the hills themselves.  

Speaking of which, do we even know what the landscapes of the 4th century Cotswolds looked like? Certainly the contours of the hills must have been the same then as they are today, but what else was? Did great flocks of sheep and their shepherds roam across what were already open grasslands? And were the places that are woods now, also wooded then? Some probably were, but not all: a great villa like Spoonley would not have stood in the wilderness of trees and undergrowth that it does today.  

Spoonley Wood villa,
photo taken in spring 2011,
 before the wilderness returned.
So many questions, so few satisfactory answers. In the end all we can do is take the crumbs of information gleaned from the various sources and use them to create an illusion of reality. But that is all it is, an illusion, because we can never experience their world through the senses of those men and women who vanished from the earth so long ago, never know their innermost thoughts. And if we claim otherwise, then perhaps we deceive both ourselves and our readers.

LINKS:

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Chill With A Book Award
by Pauline Barclay

September saw the launch of a brand new award, Chill with a Book AWARD.

The Award is exclusively for indie authors and authors with small indie publishers. It is designed to promote the best books from indie authors.

Indie authors write some of the best reads in out the market place, but due to a number of constraints their work is not always as visible as authors published with large publishing houses, yet many of these authors deserve as much, if not more, recognition.

For those who know me, understand I am very passionate about supporting indie authors, I am one myself and know from personal experience how tough it is to gain recognition and a large following whilst sitting down and writing the next novel, and that is why I have created Chill with a Book AWARD .

I want Chill with a Book AWARD, not only to gain a reputation for recognising great reads, but for authors to feel proud to receive the accolade. However, the AWARD is not for everyone, it will only be honoured to the best.

How the process works:

Once a title has been accepted for consideration it will be read by a number of Chill’s readers and checked against the following criteria…

Were the characters strong and engaging?
Was the book well written?
Did the plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
Was the ending satisfying?
Have you told your friends about it?

Readers have clear instructions on how to arrive at their evaluation.

Authors must understand that a book accepted for consideration for a Chill with a Book AWARD does not guarantee it will receive the AWARD.

Authors of books accepted for consideration will be notified directly whatever the final decision.

Awarded books will be promoted on Chill with a Book’s web site, Chill's Pinterest board, Chill's Facebook page and Twitter

A small fee of £16 is charged for each book accepted for consideration payable via Paypal (the fee is for the purchase of Kindle copies for readers and any balance left used to maintain Chill’s web site)

There are limited places each month for books to be considered and if you are interested in submitting your title, please email Pauline at paulinechill@hotmail.com in the first instance.

Chill with a Book’s decisions to accept or reject a book for consideration is final.
Chill with a Book's decision to award a book or not is final.

It is an exciting time for Chill with a Book and indie authors and I look forward to seeing great, well written reads sporting the coveted Chill with a Book AWARD button on every book shelf.

For more about Pauline and Chill with a Book AWARD click on the following links: