MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Saturday 16 December 2017

Diamond Tales

Don't miss out on these wonderful short stories
 by a variety of fantastic authors!

Follow the Tales…and Discover some Diamonds

3rd December     Richard Tearle Diamonds

4th December     Helen Hollick  When ex-lovers have their uses

5th December    Antoine Vanner  Britannia’s Diamonds

6th December    Nicky Galliers  Diamond Windows

7th December    Denise Barnes  The Lost Diamond

8th December    Elizabeth Jane Corbett A Soul Above Diamonds

9th December    Lucienne Boyce Murder In Silks

10th December    Julia Brannan The Curious Case of the Disappearing Diamond

11th December    Pauline Barclay Sometimes It Happens

12th December    Annie Whitehead Hearts, Home and a Precious Stone

13th December    Inge H. Borg  Edward, Con Extraordinaire

14th December    J.G. Harlond The Empress Emerald

15th December    Charlene Newcomb Diamonds in the Desert

16th December     Susan Grossey A Suitable Gift

17th December     Alison  Morton Three Thousand Years to Saturnalia

18th December      Nancy Jardine   Illicit Familial Diamonds

19th December      Elizabeth St John The Stolen Diamonds

20th December      Barbara Gaskell Denvil Discovering the Diamond

21st December       Anna Belfrage   Diamonds in the Mud

22nd December       Cryssa Bazos    The Diamonds of Sint-Nicholaas

23rd December        Diamonds … In Sound & Song 

Tuesday 5 December 2017

My Guests Revisiting: Captain Jesamiah Acorne

... recycling some posts from  an old (now deleted) blog of mine that I ran in 2011/2012 
originally published March 2012
by Me and My Pirate

I 'met' Jesamiah on a cold, wet, windy beach in Dorset several years ago. My agent (now ex-agent) wanted me to write something with a fantasy element. I had been researching the history of pirates - so the Sea Witch Voyages were born. How I met Jesamiah - the full story

To me, Jesamiah is a very real person. I know a lot of people I have never met in real life - my friends in the USA and Australia for instance. It just happens that Jesamiah lives in that distant land of Imagination; still at least the communication between us is free!

He was born on December 4th 1693 (and I can't say where because that will be a plot spoiler) He is 5'10, has black, curly hair, dark eyes; is quick to laugh but formidable when angry.

He has a scar above his right eye (the cause is revealed in an e-book novels and several on his body, along with a variety of tattoos. He is lean, muscular - OK, drop dead gorgeous....

His trademark is his famous blue ribbons. (Pirates really did wear ribbons) He likes to give one to the ladies he meets as a keepsake, but they have a more sinister purpose. Made of silk, they are strong, flexible and as he usually has one or two tied into his hair he always has one to hand. When he is planning a raid, or thinking he fiddles with the gold acorn earring he wears, but when he is annoyed, when someone has angered him - beware! If he fiddles with that blue ribbon.... run!  Why? Because a silk ribbon makes a very effective garrote....

Jesamiah ran away to sea when he was almost fifteen years old. His bully of a half-brother had made most of his life a misery, but one event triggered the explosion - on the night when they buried their father, Phillipe taunted Jesamiah once too often - and the victim fought back. Fearing his half-brother's revenge, Jesamiah fled, found his father's friend and went to sea with him. Naturally, that friend, Malachias Taylor, was a pirate and he taught Jesamiah all he knew.

Sea Witch opens with a pirate chase, one Jesamiah has misgivings about. Aboard the anticipated Prize is a young woman, Tiola Oldstagh (say it Tee-o-la Oldstaff) and she is not all she seems....

Sea Witch Voyages
Later, Jesamiah is to meet her again, briefly. Their paths cross and part several times, until on his birthday Jesamiah is attacked by pirate hunters. Close to bleeding to death Tiola finds him, heals him - and thus the romance begins.

The path of love never runs smooth, however, for they are parted, and that bully brother turns up again...
I won't say more because it will spoil the story. You'll just have to read the book.

In the second Voyage - Pirate Code, and subsequent adventures, Jesamiah has given up piracy, but he is a useful man to know and various government officials (Gov Woodes Rogers of Nassau, Gov Alexander Spottiswood of Virginia....) manage to co-erce him into helping out in various dastardly plots. An ex pirate makes an excellent spy.

In Bring It Close Jesamiah helps in the downfall of Blackbeard. Voyage Four, Ripples in the Sand will see him mixed up in with one of the failed Jacobite rebellions, while in Voyage Five On the Account who is the mysterious Nightman? Voyage Six, Jesamiah (as always) is in big trouble - the title of this one will be Gallows Wake.

Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship's wake.

And then there is the matter of Tiola, who is not all she seems, for she is a White Witch, and there is Jesamiah's dead father who wishes to make amends, and Tethys, the spirit Goddess of the Sea who wants Jesamiah for her own....

Tiola is on the back cover
In an nutshell (or maybe that should be an acorn husk?) the Sea Witch Voyages are a treasure chest of adventure yarns.

I describe Jesamiah as a blend of Indiana Jones, with a pinch of Jack Sparrow, mixed in with Richard Sharpe and a dash of Hornblower.

available from: Amazon. (or other suppliers)

So, if he had the chance, who would Jesamiah invite a few dinner guests?
As he is something of a lady's man, I would imagine they would all be female, and very possibly famous for one thing in particular...

Nell Gwynne (1650-1687) was a long-term mistress of King Charles II of England, also famous for selling oranges. Samuel Pepys called her 'Pretty, witty, Nell'.

Moll Flanders from a novel written by Daniel Defoe in 1721. The novel's full title gives  insight into the outline of the plot: The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, &c. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.

Molly Malone   'In Dublin's Fair City, where the girls are so pretty, I first laid my eyes on sweet Molly Malone ...' The song tells the fictional tale of a beautiful fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin, but who died young, of a fever. In the late 20th century a legend grew up that there was a historical Molly, who lived in the 17th century. She is typically represented as a hawker by day and part-time prostitute by night. Right up a pirate's street.

Helen of Troy I can't imagine Jesamiah not asking the legendary most beautiful woman to dinner; and after all, she does have a connection with ships....

Emma, Lady Hamilton - mistress to Admiral Lord Nelson, so another sea nymph

Cleopatra - certainly a woman on the most famous mistress's list. Mind you, Jesamiah might be equally as attracted to her famous golden barge.

Madame de Pompadour Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, December 1721 – 15 April 1764 was of the French court, and the official chief mistress of Louis XV  from 1745 to her death.

Fanny Hill  is the lead character in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure  an erotic novel by John Cleland first published in 1748 written while the author was in a London  debtor's prison. It is considered to be the first original English prose pornography.

The Sea Witch Voyages
Helen's website

from Amazon
an excerpt from Bring It Close
from a different character's point of view!
buy here for Kindle 

Monday 27 November 2017

My Guest this week: Alison Morton and An Alternative World View

 Thank you for having me on your esteemed blog, Helen, in the launch week of CARINA.

Now, you asked me what the ‘North America’ of my alternative Roman world looks like. World building is essential in any novel, whether romantic, a thriller, a swords and sandals epic, space opera or pirates on the high seas. We ask readers to abandon Real Life and enter a different world for several precious reading hours, so as writers we’d better get it right!

Key principles of world building are plausibility and consistency. Characters need to act as if their world is perfectly natural to them. This is where they’ve grown up, got their first job or date and the place they have to make sense of by finding their own path through it. In other words, they have the same challenges, opportunities and disappointments we have in our world and time.

Whatever whizzy gadgets the characters use or back-breaking rural work they have to perform, their normality has to be credible and this is done by them interacting with their environment, the structures and people within it in a consistent way. In an Ancient Roman society, your characters would need to make connections with others more powerful than them who would protect them. If not, plan for those characters’ life chances to be cut short in all senses! On a larger scale, characters’ activities are regulated by the way their government works (or doesn’t) and by who holds the power.

The Roma Nova of my books is based on the foundation of small fiefdoms and city states established at the time the Roman Empire was fragmenting. My heroines’ ancestors, who worshipped the traditional Roman deities, left Rome in AD 395 to protect themselves from Christian persecution. You can read the full story here. Their presence as a tough little country robustly dealing with all-comers changed the face of Europe and later the rest of the world. The effect can be compared to ripples after a stone is thrown in a pond or the famous ‘butterfly of doom’ 

Roma Novan village
Roma Nova itself is ‘somewhere in central Europe’ but has borders with the Italian Confederation (Confederatio Italiano) and New Austria (Neuösterreich). As members of the European Economic Area based in Berlin, Roma Nova enjoys friendly relations with Bavaria and Prussia in the German Federation and ‘most favoured nation’ terms with the United Kingdom.

Speaking of which, in the Roma Novan world, the last British Governor-General didn’t leave North America until 1867 and in Carina’s time, Britons still own considerable stretches of land and business interests. The British and Dutch co-ruled Manhattan and the surrounding area from the 1600s, with Britain the junior partner. But in 1813, due to economic and political problems at home, the last Dutch Governor-General sailed out of New York in 1813, leaving the British to rule for another fifty years.

Roma Nova - Constantine Arch
The other colonies on the American continent? The rebellion in the 1770s was a ramshackle affair and the leaders squabbled too much to form a united movement. Wisely, the British granted parliamentary representation, full trading and civic rights equal to those in the mother country. The colonies known as the Eastern United States (EUS) were permitted to expand west to the Mississippi River and north to the Great Lakes with Georgetown (later Washington) as their capital. The territories beyond the original colonies were supposed to be called the Western United States, but the name faded away as the Easterners become dominant.

New York became an autonomous city, although staying within the EUS. Further west lie the Indigenous Nations Territories and the Spanish Empire lands. Louisiane gained autonomy from France under Napoleon V after the Great War of 1925-35 and the République Québecoise shortly before the time of INCEPTIO (Book I in the Roma Nova series), English-speaking Canada is more or less where it is in our timeline. Phew!

INCEPTIO itself starts in New York and from the first sentence you know you are in a different place:

The boy lay in the dirt in the centre of New York’s Kew Park, blood flowing out of both his nostrils, his fine blond hair thrown out in little strands around his head.

Kew Park, not Central Park

Beyond the trees behind it, the windows in the red-brick Dutch highthouses along Verhulst Street threw the full sun back.  

There is no Verhulst Street alongside Central Park.
(In 1625, the real Willem Verhulst oversaw the decision to locate a main fortress and town, New Amsterdam, on the tip of Manhattan Island in the colony of New Netherland. It was the first permanent European settlement, later the city of New York.)

‘If you want to be a real tourist, you could take a trip around the harbour,’ I said. ‘You know, Fort Amsterdam, Hudson statue, Franklin Island. Or a comedy club or a show. Maybe Jonas Bronck’s zoo or a walk around the old Dutch Quarter in Manhattan, or the Georgian lanes.’

None of which exists in our reality, but all of which are credible in the Roma Nova timeline.

Upper Bay near Manhattan
the statue is, of course, Governor Benjamin Franklin
(no Statue of Liberty...)
In my latest book, a novella called CARINA, nearly half of the action takes place in North America. Our heroine lands in Montreal in the République Québecoise. I drew on my own visit there and to Quebec to flesh out the location detail. It’s not entirely inconceivable that this French-speaking part of Canada could have become autonomous by Carina’s time, although it was still a French imperial territory in the 1980s when Aurelia led the action in INSURRECTIO.

Montreal, where Carina and Flavius arrive
on the first night of their mission
We’d brought a supply of Napoleonic louis as well as the livre québecois they’d recently introduced; both were used at present. We had enough for our visit, but on the way back from the supermarché on the Avenue du Mont-Royal we checked out the nearest bank in case we needed more.

This is another essential part of world building. Time has to pass; countries, treaties, governments as well as people should change.

Only about 10% of research should appear in the finished novel; a historical note and links to an author’s website can provide more. Like the Ruritania created by Anthony Hope, or the 1960s Germania of Robert Harris’s Fatherland, I don’t go into too much detail, just enough to set the tone and paint a sketch for the readers to fill in.

I hope you enjoy the world of Roma Nova. Happy reading!

about Alison Morton 

Alison Morton writes the acclaimed Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction.

All six Roma Nova full-length novels have been awarded the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. SUCCESSIO was selected as an Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller. CARINA is a novella set between INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds a MA History, blogs about Romans and writing.

Now she continues to write, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband of 30 years.

Social media links
Connect with Alison on her
Twitter @alison_morton

Buying links for CARINA
Barnes & Noble NOOK

read the review HERE
What’s CARINA about?
Carina Mitela is still a young inexperienced officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces. Disgraced and smarting from a period in the cells for a disciplinary offence, she is sent out of everybody's way on a seemingly straightforward mission overseas.

All she and her comrade-in-arms, Flavius, have to do is bring back a traitor from the Republic of Quebec. Under no circumstances will she risk entering the Eastern United States where she is still wanted under her old name Karen Brown.  But when she and Flavius discover a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of Roma Nova, what price is personal danger against fulfilling the mission?

Set in the time after INCEPTIO but before PERFIDITAS in the Roma Nova series, this thriller novella reveals hidden parts of Carina's early life in Roma Nova. And North America isn't quite the continent we know in our timeline...

Visit Discovering Diamonds during December for some
Diamond-themed short stories - one of which is written
by Alison Morton and features Carina.
Leave a comment!
Alison is giving away a free (ebook) copy to the person who leaves the most original comment!

Sunday 19 November 2017

Please support our North Devon Community Shop!

even if you are not from Devon or Chittlehamholt please support the guy who made our Community Village Shop a reality! 

Please vote for Ron Thorne - and support North Devon! Click here - and vote for Ron!

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Jesamiah - in Italian!

Bring It Close - the third Sea Witch Voyage is set during October 1718 - the month when ghosts walk and the dead return... 

Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a government-granted amnesty against his misdeeds of piracy, but old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard - has a bone to pick with Acorne. Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée, the midwife and white witch Tiola Oldstagh, has gone to North Carolina to help with an imminent and difficult birth. The problem; that is where Blackbeard now resides.

He must not discover that Tiola is Jesamiah's woman, she will have to hide her identity and her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil. With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded by Blackbeard, Jesamiah has to take stock of his situation at his old home in Virginia - but trouble follows him like a ship's wake and he is arrested for acts of piracy on the High Seas.

Too much trouble has come too close! How is Jesamiah Acorne to clear his name, overturn a sentence of hanging, keep Tiola safe, put an end to Blackbeard and deal with being haunted by the ghost of his father? Bring It Close moves from the Bahamas to North Carolina and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia at a swashbuckling pace. There is intrigue, misunderstanding, romance and adventure all wrapped up in a delightful blend of mystical fantasy set during the period of Samhain - Halloween.

acquistare l'ebook (non ancora pubblicato)  

(Scroll down for the English translation)

“Ti stavamo cercando, Acorne,” disse l’uomo con l’orecchino.
“E mi avete pure beccato, o no?” strascicò Jesamiah. Aveva abbandonato il suo usuale accento colto, e si abbandonò alla parlata chiusa di un comune mozzo. Era un ottimo imitatore, aveva un talento naturale nell’imparare accenti e cadenze tonali. Sapeva anche quando comportarsi da gentiluomo e quando da sempliciotto.
Vuotò il suo boccale, sollevandolo poi per fischiare all’indirizzo di Nan-Non-Dice-No, una sgualdrina piena come un galeone spagnolo, i cui fascini la tenevano tanto occupata quanto la sedia di un barbiere.
Ancheggiò verso Jesamiah, la parte superiore del suo corpo era parzialmente esposta e i suoi abbondanti seni dondolarono accanto al volto di lui mentre la donna si chinava a versargli dell’altro rum.
“E per i tuoi amici?” chiese, con un cenno del volto nella loro direzione.
“Non sono amici miei,” rispose Jesamiah, sollevando il boccale per assaggiare il liquore appena versatogli.
L’uomo con l’orecchino mosse il capo in uno scatto, indicando a Nan di andarsene. Lei sospirò sprezzante, allontanandosi, lasciandosi indietro la sua risata profonda e rimbombante, non appena un altro uomo attirò la sua attenzione pizzicandole l’ampio didietro.
“Ma per dire meglio, Acorne, è che è Teach quello che ti sta cercando.”
Con una mezza alzata di spalle, Jesamiah finse noncuranza; “Non è che mi sto nascondendo, Gibbens. Sono qui ancorato al porto di Nassau da diverse settimane.” Da agosto, in effetti, se si escludeva la sua breve gita a Hispaniola – un’esperienza che Jesamiah stava cercando di lasciarsi alle spalle e dimenticare. E da lì, il rum.
Aye, abbiamo sentito che hai firmato l’amnistia e ci hai lasciato le palle in mano a Governatore Rogers.” Gibbens ringhiò, accompagnando le parole a un gesto crudo ed esplicito sulle sue parti basse.
“Mollato la pirateria?” Barba Rossa – Rufus – sbuffò mentre raggruppava un grumo di saliva e tabacco nella sua bocca per poi lanciarlo sul pavimento. “Ti sei rammollito, eh? Hai il barile a secco, eh? Hai perso le palle, eh?” Aggiunse poi, con malizia, “A Edward Teach non ce ne fregava niente delle favole di pace del governo, né di uno stramaledetto perdono.” Conficcò il pugnale nel piano del tavolo di legno, dove vibrò, tanto minaccioso quanto l’uomo che lo brandiva.
Non è ciò che ho sentito, pensò Jesamiah, senza però dire nulla. Non aveva alcuna intenzione di avvicinarsi a Edward Teach, meglio noto come Barbanera – sebbene Cuore Nero sarebbe stato altrettanto appropriato. Persino la feccia e i miscredenti che giravano nei Caraibi in cerca di bottino facile evitavano quel feroce pirata che era Barbanera.
Oltretutto, Jesamiah non era più un pirata. Proprio come aveva detto Gibbens, aveva firmato con il suo nome nel libro rilegato in pelle di Governatore Rogers e aveva accettato il perdono reale di Sua Maestà Re Giorgio. Ed era precisamente quello il motivo per cui non aveva niente di meglio da fare che starsene seduto in quella taverna a bere rum: la pirateria, saccheggiare, razziare, niente di tutto questo faceva più parte di lui, non più. Ora, Jesamiah Acorne, capitano della Sea Witch, aveva una donna che stava per sposare, una fortuna sostanziosa che avrebbe finalmente potuto cominciare a godersi, se solo avesse saputo come spenderla, e la dubbiosa reputazione di chi stava diventando un uomo ozioso.
Era anche annoiato.
“Ci devi qualcosa, Acorne,” disse Rufus. “E Teach vuole che paghi il debito.”
Buy the book
Or in English...

Tuesday, 1st October 1718
Jesamiah Acorne, four and twenty years old, Captain f the Sea Witch, sat with his hands cradled around an almost empty tankard of rum, staring blankly at the drips of candle-wax that had hardened into intricate patterns down the sides of a green glass bottle. The candle itself was smoking and leaning to one side as if drunk. As drunk as Jesamiah.
For maybe ten seconds he did not notice the two grim-faced, shabby ruffians sit down on the bench opposite him. One of them reached forward and snuffed out the guttering flame, pushed the bottle aside. Jesamiah looked up, stared at them as vacantly as he had been staring at the congealed rivers of wax.
One of the men, the one wearing a battered three-corner felt hat and a gold hoop earring that dangled from his left earlobe, leant his arms on the table, linking his tar and gunpowder-grimed fingers together. The other, a red-haired man with a beard like a weather-worn, abandoned bird’s nest, eased a dagger from the sheath on his belt and began cleaning his split and broken nails with its tip.
“We’ve been lookin’ fer you, Acorne,” the man with the earring said.
“Found me then, ain’t yer,” Jesamiah drawled. He dropped his usual educated accent and spoke in the clipped speech of a common foremast jack. He was a good mimic, had a natural talent to pick up languages and tonal cadences. Also knew when to play the simpleton or a gentleman.
He drained his tankard, held it high and whistled for Never-Say-No Nan, a wench built like a Spanish galleon and whose charms kept her as busy as a barber’s chair.
She ambled over to Jesamiah, the top half of her partially exposed and extremely ample bosoms wobbling close to his face as she poured more rum.
“What about your friends?” she asked, nodding in their direction.
“Ain’t no friends of mine,” Jesamiah answered lifting his tankard to sample the replenished liquor.
The man with the earring jerked his head, indicating Nan was to be gone. She sniffed haughtily and swept away, her deep-rumbled laughter drifting behind as another man gained her attention by pinching her broad backside.
“Or to be more accurate, Acorne, Teach ‘as been lookin’ for yer.”
Half shrugging, Jesamiah made a fair pretence at nonchalance; “I ain’t exactly been ‘iding, Gibbens. I’ve been openly anchored ‘ere in Nassau ‘arbour for several weeks.” Since August in fact, apart from a brief excursion to Hispaniola – which Jesamiah was attempting to set behind him and forget about. Hence the rum.
“Aye, we ‘eard as ‘ow thee’ve signed for amnesty and put yer piece into Governor Rogers’ ‘and,” Gibbens sneered, making an accompanying crude and explicit gesture near his crotch.
“Given up piracy?” Red Beard – Rufus – scoffed as he hoiked tobacco spittle into his mouth and gobbed it to the floor, “Gone soft ‘ave thee? Barrel run dry, ‘as it? Lost yer balls, eh?” Added with malice, “Edward Teach weren’t interested in fairy-tale government amnesties, nor ‘ollow pardons.” He drove his dagger into the wooden table where it quivered as menacing as the man who owned it.
That’s not what I’ve heard, Jesamiah thought but said nothing. He had no intention of going anywhere near Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, though Black Heart would be as appropriate. Even the scum and miscreants who roamed the seas of the Caribbean in search of easy loot and plunder avoided the brute of a pirate who was Blackbeard.
Aside, Jesamiah was no longer a pirate. As Gibbens had said, he had signed his name in Governor Rogers’ leather-bound book and accepted His Majesty King George’s royal pardon. Which was why he had nothing better to do than sit here in this tavern drinking rum. Piracy, plundering, pillaging, none of that was for him, not now. Now, Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, had a woman he was about to marry, a substantial fortune that he could start using if only he knew what to spend it on, and the dubious reputation of becoming a respectable man of leisure.
He was also bored.

“You owe him, Acorne,” Rufus said. “Teach wants the debt paid.”