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Wednesday 26 January 2022

We are off to Prussia with my Coffee Pot Guest Justin Newland

 A Two Year Celebration Tour!
It is two years since this novel has been published

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

I’ve written four novels; The Coronation is my third. It’s a secret history thriller, that’s when you take real places, real events and actual historical personages, and weave them in with fictional characters, locations and events, then add a sprinkle of the fantastical. It’s a re-telling of a known story, but with a supernatural twist.

The places described in this blog are all real. The novel is set in the 1760’s in East Prussia during the event we now call the Seven Years’ War. East Prussia is a now-defunct Baltic state, sandwiched between modern-day Lithuania and Poland.

The main location for the story of The Coronation is Schloss or Castle Friedrichstein near Löwenhagen. For reasons of discretion, I changed the name of the estate in the novel to Castle Ludwigshain.  

The layout of the castle was full of state rooms, galleries, a chapel, kitchens, an attic where the Christmas decorations were stored, and the servant’s quarters down below. 

A great gallery ran alongside one elevation of the castle and which overlooked the grounds and the valley of the Pregel, the river that flows on into the Baltic port of Konigsberg. The other side of the castle was faced by a natural lake, which plays a crucial part in the plot.  The out buildings included several barns, which, on a wintry night, also played an important role in the unfolding of the plot. 

Several scenes take place in Konigsberg, about 10 miles west of Friedrichstein. Konigsberg was famously divided into four quarters, as illustrated by the popular verse:

“In the Altstadt, the power.
In the Kneiphof, the splendour. 
In Löbenicht, the fields. 
On the Sackheim, the rascals.”

Konigsberg Cathedral.

Konigsberg was located on an island in the Pregel River which housed the Cathedral. It also hosted the original campus of the University, which boasted such luminaries as Immanuel Kant.

In the novel, the Cathedral, which still exists today is shown in the photo, was host to a thanksgiving mass attended by members of the Order of the Black Eagle, the highest Prussian chivalric order.   

Löbenicht Hospital was another location in Konigsberg in the novel. Once it was a Benedictine Monastery. After the Reformation, it fell into disuse and became a hospital, which hosted important scenes in the novel.  

Near to Konigsberg is the Samland Peninsula. This is where most of the world’s supply of amber is found. This fossilised tree resin plays a huge part in the denouement of the novel, as does the Anna Amber Mine, and the Newcomen Engine, used to pump out water from the mine. 

The Amber Room
St Catherine's Palace, St Petersburg.

The novel had other locations, farther away from Konigsberg and East Prussia. St. Catherine’s Palace, near St. Petersburg in Russia, was one of the these. The Palace exists today, and is a fine rococo building, more than fit for the Russian Tsars.

It’s also home to the extraordinary Amber Room. It’s not the original one. That was donated by in the early 1700’s by King Frederick the Great’s father to Tsar Peter Great, but it was stolen during the Second World War by the Nazis. The one in the photo is a replica.
These are some of the locations in The Coronation. Every one seems to echo with its own history, as if that history is somehow held, locked, and bound into the bricks and the mortar of the many room in the mansions spoken of herein. 

Perhaps there is a record written somewhere in the ether of those who sat and conversed in those rooms. Then perhaps, one day, we will hear those same conversations, and articulate them, and thereby give a voice in the now to those in the past, and a voice to those in the past to those in the now.  

About The Book

It is 1761. Prussia is at war with  Russia and Austria. As the Russian army occupies East Prussia, King Frederick the Great and his men fight hard to win back their homeland. 

In Ludwigshain, a Junker estate in East Prussia, Countess Marion von Adler celebrates an exceptional harvest. But it is requisitioned by Russian troops. When Marion tries to stop them, a Russian captain strikes her. His lieutenant, Ian Fermor, defends Marion’s honour and is stabbed for his insubordination. Abandoned by the Russians, Fermor becomes a divisive figure on the estate.
Close to death, Fermor dreams of the Adler, a numinous eagle entity, whose territory extends across the lands of Northern Europe and which is mysteriously connected to the Enlightenment. What happens next will change of the course of human history… 

Buy Links:

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Author’s Website (buyers can enter a dedication to be signed by the author): 

Publisher’s Website: 

Wordery (UK): 

Booktopia (Au): 

Saxo (Dk): 

About The Author

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers - that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. 

His Books

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. ISBN 9781789014860.

“The novel is creative, sophisticated, and downright brilliant! I couldn’t ask more of an Egyptian-esque book!” – Lauren, Books Beyond the Story.

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times.  ISBN 9781789015829.

‘The author is an excellent storyteller.” – British Fantasy Society. 

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. ISBN 9781838591885.

“The novel explores the themes of belonging, outsiders… religion and war…  filtered through the lens of the other-worldly.” – A. Deane, Page Farer Book Blog.

His latest, The Abdication (July, 2021), is a suspense thriller, a journey of destiny, wisdom and self-discovery. ISBN 9781800463950.  

“In Topeth, Tula confronts the truth, her faith in herself, faith in a higher purpose, and ultimately, what it means to abdicate that faith.” 
V. Triola, Coast to Coast.

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Twitter Handle: @matadorbooks @maryanneyarde
Hashtags: #HistoricalFantasy #Supernatural #Thriller
#BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub
Tour Schedule Page: 

note: Helen has not yet read this title - it is on her TBR list though!

*** *** 

You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s

episode 1:
A Mirror Murder
set in a north London Library
in the 1970s

episode 2:

~~ ~ ~ ~ 

nautical adventures set during the Golden Age of Piracy

If you liked Pirates Of The Caribbean?
then you'll love the Sea Witch Voyages!

A prequel novella - how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate 
new edition with new additional scenes
and now in paperback and e-book

~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Monday 24 January 2022

My Coffee Pot Guest: the Winged Warrior Series by Griffin Brady

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

The Heart of a Hussar is a tale of a noble 17th century Polish winged hussar who pursues his dream of owning his own estate by gaining recognition for his military accomplishments. The winged hussars were an elite cavalry known for the wings they wore into battle, and his role as an officer places him in many campaigns throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

First, a bit about the country he fought for: In 1569, the Kingdom of Poland and the Duchy of Lithuania united, forming the superpower known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At the time, it was the most populous country in Europe, and one of its largest as well. 

The story opens in the midst of the Battle of Kłuszyn in Russia. The location is relevant because of the battle’s significance in Polish military history. It was one of many fought by the Polish winged hussars where they were far outnumbered by the opposing army and yet prevailed. It also marks a decisive contest that was part of a larger military campaign undertaken by Poland against Russia: the siege of Smoleńsk. 

While the book does not include any scenes in Smoleńsk, its mention is relevant because it was ground zero for the war that erupted between the two nations. Conflict had been brewing for a while between Russia and Poland. When Sweden allied itself with Russia against Poland, King Zygmunt III, the elected king of the Commonwealth, seized the opportunity to go to war against Russia by laying siege to Smoleńsk. 

The siege began in 1609 and had been underway for a year when Hetman Stanisław Żόłkiewski, the general in charge of the Polish troops, heard of the allied Russian army advancing. He mobilized to intercept, and Kłuszyn became the battleground. Though the battle lasted only five hours, it is significant because of the jaw-dropping odds. A force of 2,700 (2,500 Polish winged hussars and 200 infantry) took on a force of 40,000 … and defeated them. A month later, Żόłkiewski marched into Moscow and established a Polish garrison which would occupy the city for two years.

In and around Smoleńsk and Kłuszyn are several other locations whose relevance are tied to the battle itself. For instance, Biała and Carowa-Zajmiszcze were staging areas where Żόłkiewski divided his already depleted force, eventually reducing it to the 2,700 who marched on to Kłuszyn and defeated the Russians. 

When the battle ends, the main character’s company of winged hussars is dismissed and directed to return home by Żόłkiewski. As they set out, they come upon a village under attack. Vyatov is a fictional village, but I placed it close to Maksimkovo, which existed then and still exists today. Vyatov is in Russia but borders the Commonwealth, which is key because the main character ends up rescuing two children from the village whose fluency in Polish allows them communicate with the hussars. 

Over several weeks, the company wends its way to the area where it hails from in southwest Poland, not far from Kraków. The estate is a fictional one named Biaska, and it is located in the Polish Jura Highlands among a string of castles and forts known as the Eagles’ Nests fortifications. These date back to the fourteenth century and were ordered built by King Kazimierz the Great to secure Poland’s western border against its aggressors. 

The layout of the fictional Biaska Castle is loosely based on Ogrodzieniec Castle, whose ruins can be found among what remains of the Eagles’ Nests. Its geographical location, however, would more closely match that of Bobolice Castle, which lies approximately fifteen miles to the north.

Ogrodzieniec Castle

Bobolice Castle

The Eagles’ Nests castles and forts run northwest of Kraków. Ogrodzieniec, for example, is about forty miles north by northwest. It housed the royal court from the time Poland first became a country until the royal court moved to Warsaw not long before this story begins. Though the characters do not travel to Kraków in the book, it is mentioned quite often. It’s relevant because of its proximity to the fictional Biaska Castle, its overall importance to the country, and the fact that a modern reader can easily relate to it. 

Poland’s other major city, Warsaw, is featured in the story when the main character detours there in his quest to gain favor with the king and further his ambition to gain his own land. The side trip ends up being a costly mistake. 

Before the main character departs for Warsaw, he visits Żόłkiew. Żόłkiew, which is now in the Ukraine, was once part of the Commonwealth and belonged to Hetman Stanisław Żόłkiewski. Żόłkiewski is a historical figure who makes a number of appearances in the book and is highly revered by the main character. The hetman’s invitation is a great honor the main character cannot—nor does he want to—refuse. 

Kamieniec-Podolski also figures in the story. It too is in the Ukraine and was once part of the Commonwealth. An impenetrable fortress along the latter’s southern border, it was key to the Commonwealth’s defense against the encroaching Ottoman Empire. The main character travels to Kamieniec-Podolski on several military campaigns. One of those campaigns results in a battle between the hussars and an army of Tatars. 

Kamieniec-Podolski Castle

Other towns and fortifications—some real and some fictional—are sprinkled throughout the story. Of those, Sandomierz is relevant because there is talk of Mikołaj Zebrzydowski, a historical figure who was a Polish magnate from Sandomierz and the Palatine of Kraków. He led a rebellion of nobles against King Zygmunt III known as the “Zebrzydowski Rokosz” (Zebrzydowski Rebellion) in 1607-1609. The rebels were defeated at Guzów by the king’s forces. Present was none other than Hetman Stanisław Żόłkiewski, though the troops he commanded never saw battle.

Traveling virtually through the towns and countryside where Polish winged hussars once rode was a thrill for me. I’ve visited some of the places in person and would someday love to see them all.

The Heart of a Hussar (The Winged Warrior Series, Book 1)
By Griffin Brady
this novel was reviewed on
Helen' review blog
Discovering Diamonds

Poland is at war. He must choose between his lifelong ambition and his heart.

Exploiting Muscovy’s Time of Troubles, Poland has invaded the chaotic country. Twenty-two-year-old Jacek Dąbrowski is an honorable, ferocious warrior in a company of winged hussars—an unrivaled, lethal cavalry. When his lieutenant dies in battle, Jacek is promoted to replace him, against the wishes of his superior, Mateusz, who now has more reason to eliminate him. 

Jacek dedicates his life to gaining the king’s recognition and manor lands of his own. Con-sequently, he closely guards his heart, avoiding lasting romantic entanglements. Unscathed on the battlefield, undefeated in tournaments, and adored by women eager to share his bed, Jacek has never lost at anything he sets out to conquer. So when he charges toward his goals, he believes nothing stands in his way. 

Upon his return from battle, Jacek deviates from his ordinarily unemotional mindset and rescues enemy siblings, fifteen-year-old Oliwia and her younger brother, Filip, from their devastated Muscovite village. His act of mercy sets into motion unstoppable consequences that ripple through his well-ordered life for years to come—and causes him to irretrievably lose his heart. 

Oliwia has her own single-minded drive: to protect her young brother. Her determination and self-sacrifice lead her to adopt a new country, a new religion, and a new way of life. But it’s not the first time the resilient beauty has had to remake herself, for she is not what she appears to be.
As Jacek battles the Muscovites and Tatars threatening Poland’s borders for months at a time, Oliwia is groomed for a purpose concealed from her. All the while, Mateusz’s treachery and a mysterious enemy looming on the horizon threaten to destroy everything Jacek holds dear.

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited
Universal Book Link:

About the author

Griffin Brady is a historical fiction author with a keen interest in the Polish Winged Hussars of the 16th and 17th centuries. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The Heart of a Hussar took third place in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2018 Colorado Gold Contest and was a finalist in the Northern Colorado Writers’ 2017 Top of the Mountain Award.

The proud mother of three grown sons, she lives in Colorado with her husband. She is also an award-winning, Amazon bestselling romance author who writes under the pen name G.K. Brady.

Follow the tour

Twitter Handle: @griffbrady1588 @maryanneyarde
Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #PolishWingedHussars 
#BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

note: Helen has not yet read this title - it is on her TBR list though!

*** *** 

You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page:

A prequel novella - how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate 
new edition with new additional scenes
and now in paperback and e-book

the events that led to 1066
the Battle of Hastings

1066 - the events that led to the
Battle of Hastings
Harold the King (UK edition)
I Am The Chosen King (US/Canada edition)
1066 Turned Upside Down -
an anthology of alternative stories

Thursday 20 January 2022

My Coffee Pot Guest Rosemary Griggs A Woman of Noble Wit

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
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meet interesting people,
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Researching A Woman of Noble Wit and sixteenth century Devon

by Rosemary Griggs

What I learned at school about the sixteenth century centred largely on the happenings in King Henry’s Court.  I think the dissolution of the monasteries was also mentioned in passing, perhaps the reign of so called “Bloody Mary” and certainly the glorious times of Queen Elizabeth when England repelled the Spanish Armada.  But that’s just about all I was told many years ago; a list of dates to remember, the old rhyme about Henry’s wives and a smattering of Shakespeare.  Then I was put into the science stream and that was it.  But it was enough to spark a flicker of interest that has grown and grown.   I’ve fed my fascination with the past, particularly the times of the Tudor’s and Elizabethans, throughout my life by reading, reading and more reading.  

It’s about seven years since I first met the remarkable Devon woman who was Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother. I soon realised that if I was to bring Katherine Champernowne’s story to life I’d have to delve deep into the history books and archives.  I needed to find out who she was and to understand  what life was really like for a woman like her living in Devon during those momentous times.

Searching for Katherine in the historic record proved very challenging.  Born before baptisms,  marriages and deaths were recorded in parish churches — a system first introduced in 1538  — I still can’t fix her birth date with certainty.  Even after churches recorded such details some parish registers, kept for generations in the “parish chest,”  have been lost or damaged.  I’ve found no record of either of her marriages and, sadly, the pages that cover the year of Katherine’s burial are missing from the register.   Like many women of her time her story has remained hidden from view, amongst the army of forgotten wives, mothers, and sisters who stood behind famous men.

I had a lucky break early on.  One of my first ports of call was the Devon Archives held at the South West Heritage Trust (SWHT),  where the staff have been unfailingly helpful.  During an early visit I stumbled across a wonderful typewritten account and boxes full of letters and notes.  It was a history of the Champernownes drawn up by one of the family in 1953.  I owe an enormous debt to Miss C. E. Champernowne whose painstaking work has pointed me in the right direction for many sources.  I stand in awe of her achievement to draw together such as complex piece of research without the aid of online catalogues, and search engines, which I use extensively. After that, my visits to SWHT,  Exeter Cathedral Archives, the Devon Rural Archive and the National Archives at Kew turned up a wealth of documents; all pieces of the puzzle that was Katherine’s life. I also read every biography I could find about  her famous boys, her Carew cousins and other Devon notables like the Raleighs and the Courtenays.  Gradually I felt I was getting to know the forest of intertwining branches that links the family trees of our great Devon families.

Some big surprises were lurking amongst all those dusty documents. I really didn’t expect to find that a member of the Raleigh family had a house just down the road in the Devon town where I live. Katherine’s stepson, John Raleigh, was heavily involved in his father’s shipping business which veered between merchant trading, privateering and piracy. He was named co-lessee when Walter Raleigh senior renewed the lease on the farm at East Buddleigh in 1551, but later he had a house in Newton Abbot where he married the widow of a prominent figure in the town’s history.  He even had his own private door into, the nearby church,  which can still be seen when the Tower, all that remains of St Leonard’s chapel, is open to the public.

Another real surprise was to find evidence that one of Katherine’s sisters married a priest in the time of Edward VI and suffered the consequences under Mary.  I plan to publish those research findings, which gave me a sub-plot, soon.

I had a head start discovering how people like Katherine lived though my research into sixteenth century clothes.  Learning how to create the sort of clothes Katherine wore, stitching them by hand, and literally walking in her shoes in the places she knew has really put me in touch with her world.

My bookshelves are groaning under the weight of all the books I’ve consulted. 

Books like Alison Sim’s The Tudor Housewife,  Elizabeth Norton’s The Lives of Tudor Women, Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Tudor and Barbara J Harris’ English Aristocratic Women have given me valuable insights into how less well known women lived in Tudor and Elizabethan England — a rich background against which to explore Katherine’s own life and times.  

One of the things that surprised me most was just how much to a well born girl was expected to learn to equip her to make a good dynastic marriage. She must acquire a huge range of “housewifely” skills to enable her to manage a large household, with a brewhouse, bakehouse, still room and herb garden.  She must know how to harvest and preserve enough food to withstand hard winters and how to prepare and use medicines to treat the sick. She must be a skilled needlewoman, able to stitch and embroider.   She must be able to sing, play an instrument and dance so as to be an ornament to her future husband’s home.  On top of that some girls were also educated in languages and the classics alongside their brothers. There’s every indication that Sir Philip Champernowne favoured the increasingly popular humanist approach and believed his daughters should be as well educated as his sons.  You only have to look at the list of subjects Katherine’s sister Kat Ashley was able to introduce in princess Elizabeth’s curriculum to see what a paragon of academic virtue she must have been.  (There’s a blog post on my website all about Kat and her relationship to Katherine  )  To learn all of that at such a young age — it looks as though Katherine Champernowne was in her early teens when she married Otho Gilbert — must have placed huge expectations on these girls. In the patriarchal society that was Tudor England girls were treated very differently to boys. To receive a broader education but still have so little choice must have been hard for bright young women, constrained by family duty to comply.

As I followed Katherine’s footsteps I was surprised to find just how much of her Devon can still be glimpsed if you look hard enough in the right places.

The River Dart, Dartmouth

I’ve found her beside rivers, in woodlands, in the city of Exeter, in grand houses and smaller ones and churches that have changed little since her day. 

The biggest problem with research like this is knowing when to stop.  There’s always one more avenue to explore, one more source to uncover.  Getting the balance right between research and writing is really tricky.  I hope readers will think I’ve pulled it off in A Woman of Noble Wit.


Few women of her time lived to see their name in print. But Katherine was no ordinary woman. She was Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother. This is her story.

Set against the turbulent background of a Devon rocked by the religious and social changes that shaped Tudor England; a Devon of privateers and pirates; a Devon riven by rebellions and plots, A Woman of Noble Wit tells how Katherine became the woman who would inspire her famous sons to follow their dreams. It is Tudor history seen though a woman’s eyes.

As the daughter of a gentry family with close connections to the glittering court of King Henry VIII, Katherine’s duty is clear. She must put aside her dreams and accept the husband chosen for her. Still a girl, she starts a new life at Greenway Court, overlooking the River Dart, relieved that her husband is not the ageing monster of her nightmares. She settles into the life of a dutiful wife and mother until a chance shipboard encounter with a handsome privateer, turns her world upside down...

Years later a courageous act will set Katherine’s name in print and her youngest son will fly high.

Trigger Warnings: Rape.

Buy Links:

Universal Link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

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About the author:

Rosemary Griggs is a retired Whitehall Senior Civil Servant with a lifelong passion for history. She is now a speaker on Devon’s sixteenth century history and costume. She leads heritage tours at Dartington Hall, has made regular costumed appearances at National Trust houses and helps local museums bring history to life.

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Twitter Handle: @RAGriggsauthor @maryanneyard

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

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note: Helen has not yet read this title - it is on her TBR list though!

*** *** 

You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

Latest Release

~~ ~ ~ ~ 

nautical adventures set during the Golden Age of Piracy

A prequel novella - how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate 
new edition with new additional scenes
and now in paperback and e-book

Blog tour coming soon

~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Friday 14 January 2022

Adventuring to Africa with debut author Charles Moberly (for Broadminded Adults only!)

Author: Charles Moberly

Confessions of a publishing novice

Between 1986 and 2005, I wrote three books. The first two are historical novels, although one of them could also be described as a romantic thriller. The third is an extremely rude satirical comedy.

Being in full-time work, then spending twenty years looking after eleven acres of land (my fields in North Devon bordered onto Helen’s), I made no effort to find a publisher. Then my wife fell seriously ill, so that I became her full-time carer. It was only after she’d died early in 2021 that I decided to make an effort to get my three novels published. Who to turn to? No brainer: Helen, of course, my ex-neighbour, dear friend and well-published EXPERT. [Helen: I'm not sure about that Charles!]

After a brief discussion with Helen, I decided that “Assisted Self-Publishing” was the thing for me. So I contacted two firms. With one, I didn’t feel comfortable that I would be getting close personal attention. With the other, I thought the service would be good, but they were horribly expensive. I had set my heart on Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics to design my cover. But when my favoured assisted self-publishing firm refused to make any reduction at all for not designing my cover, I pulled the plug on them too. Then came the email from Helen which changed EVERYTHING.

‘Why don’t you do it yourself, publish your books on Amazon? I’ll help you. I’ll even do it for you, if you like. It won’t save you much money, but you will have fun.’ 

This was a fabulously generous offer. I rejected the idea of Helen doing it all for me, partly because that would mean that I wouldn’t learn, and also because I didn’t want to impose on her valuable time that much. (In practice, I think I’ve taken up a lot more of Helen’s time by blundering along and having to be corrected by her, than if she’d done it all herself. But then I would never have learned how to do it, so where would I be when it came to getting my second and third novels published?)

Fun? Yes, it has been, although highly stressful at times. But, as Helen said at the outset, I have complete control over my publishing, which I would never have had to the same degree, had I gone for one of the assisting firms. [Helen: and you would still have had the same stress issues!]

The other thing I owe to Helen has been my introduction to the brilliant and ever-patient Annie Whitehead. Many of you will know Annie as the author of several successful historical books, both fact and fiction. What Annie has done for me is to superbly proof read and copy edit my first novel, The Scrotum Toad. I’ve been privileged to be part of a lovely and highly professional team: Helen, Annie and Cathy. They all know each other extremely well, so my work passes seamlessly between them.

As for Cathy (Avalon Graphics), I can only say this. Look at what she’s done for me. How’s this for a cover?

I think that’s stunning.

Helen has also designed me a tasteful and simple blog:

She’s even dragged me kicking, snarling and growling into the world of Facebook

There’s only one thing Helen got wrong. Self-publishing on Amazon has after all saved me quite a lot of money, compared with going to a firm. But that’s only because Helen has given me so much of her valuable time for free. [Helen: the bill's in the post! *laugh*]

So what do I think of Amazon? Putting aside any troublesome thoughts about them not paying their fair share of taxes, I can honestly say that I think they’re superb. Their systems for authors are clever and extremely easy to use. Most of my technical problems have been with social media.

My life has been improved enormously by this experience. And now it’s onwards to getting my next novel, The Corncrake, published. Annie, Cathy and, if I need her, Helen, will all be there to work with me. But I won’t need Helen any more, will I? Because I’m the expert now. 
I’m not, but I have learned a lot.

© Charles Moberly, Salisbury. UK.

About the book:
(warning very adult content - but also very funny if you like tongue-in-cheek satire!)

available from Amazon

The Scrotum Toad is an outrageous comic novel set in Africa. The many and diverse characters bicker and swear in the vernacular of eight different languages and dialects: English, Danish, Yiddish, Australian, Texan, Irish, Hip Hop and Swahili.

The novel satirises beliefs, preferences, cultures, national characteristics and prejudices. It is resolutely anti-woke, and should be avoided by snowflakes who are easily offended.

The Scrotum Toad

Tangle is a tree-hugger who is often mistaken for a glamorous witch. She is proud of her organic smallholding in the heart of Africa. 

When threatened by a bullying and corrupt businessman who starts trashing the environment and the local people, who can she turn to?

Surely not that foul-mouthed Aussie TV presenter, nor those famous and fabulously wealthy international holidaymakers who suddenly invade her precious patch. And how could an international food-eating competition, sponsored by the USA’s tin-eared goodwill ambassador, solve her problems?

Surrounded by xenophobic bickering, Tangle struggles to assert her authority, aided by some unlikely admirers.

The Scrotum Toad is an outrageous comic novel which will have the easily offended spluttering over their lattes. Nationalities, cultures and occupations are satirised shamelessly. 

You have been warned.

also available as an e-book
and on
Kindle Unlimited

Here's an excerpt:

‘Naturally, we recycle all our waste products here. Before they fall a hundred and forty feet, the solids are separated from the liquids. The liquids are then filtered - at least I assume they are; hm, I’ve never really checked - to provide our drinking water.’

The word recycling alone was bound to get Chest going again. ‘You mean we’re drinking our own piss?’

‘Not just your own. Be fair, other people’s too.’

Teeny looked alarmed. ‘Aren’t there any side effects?’

‘Oh loads. And front effects, and rear effects.’

Lola shook her head at Teeny pityingly. Could she really be lapping up this shit? An apt way of putting it, she thought grimly to herself.

‘By the way,’ said Jake, ‘that reminds me. If you are ill as a result, do please make sure you vomit into the recycling bowl. Tangle insists that we compost everything here.’

Chest wasn’t having that. ‘I’m telling you, Sweetums, you don’t have to do that, not while I’m around and kicking. Well, partly kicking. It’s all phoney baloney, this ecology nonsense. What I want to know is what this mysterious animal is that I overheard a couple of your colleagues talking about. With my busted leg it’ll be a while before I can go huntin’ again. But I sure am curious to know what that beast might be.’

‘Ah, you mean Kirsten’s great discovery. I’m not sure I ought to be talking about that. You see... All right, then.’ Jake moved his chair closer to Chest and assumed a loud stage whisper. ‘It’s an animal which everyone thought was extinct. She’s rediscovered it.’

‘Is it big?’

‘A fair size. Let’s say you wouldn’t want to meet it on a narrow path on a dark night.’

‘My God!’ Chest’s blazing eyes revealed how impressed he was. ‘Are you able to tell me what it is?’


‘Just a hint, maybe?’

‘Put it this way, if you were to have a guess and were on the right lines, I wouldn’t put you off the scent.’

‘Let me see now. There’s the white tiger. I’ve heard they’re so rare that no one’s actually seen one for a while outside a zoo.’

Jake leaned back in his chair with a sphinx-like smile.

‘No!’ Chest didn’t dare believe it. Had he really got it in one?

Jake winked.

‘Well I’ll be darned!’

‘Keep it to yourself. Yourselves.’ Jake sounded panicky, as though regretting he’d said too much. ‘We don’t want to be letting the cat out of the bag. The cat?’

Chest leaned back. ‘Don’t you worry, son. I’ve been producing movies for thirty years.’


‘Thank you, Dream Girl, thirty-two years booking stars, planning locations, hiring directors. That requires heapsa confidentiality. Discretion is my middle name. Your secret’s safe with me, and with Teeny. She’s been by my side for all of that time and more...’


‘Is that right, my Cutesy Pie, well thirty-eight it is, so you can count on her too. And you, Lola?’

‘Oh you bet,’ said Lola acidly.

‘Chest can’t wait to get back hunting again,’ gushed Teeny. ‘It’s why he came out to Africa, that and to plan his next movie.’

‘We’ll leave that subject for now,’ said Chest sharply. He was still smarting over Rutt’s rebuttal of his plan to shoot an African film about Gordy.

‘And you Teeny?’ Jake saw Teeny as a target for further leg pulling.

‘Oh me, I came out to get a baby.’

‘Do you know, for one moment I actually thought you said you came out here to get a baby.’

‘I did.’

‘To have a baby, how wonderful!’

‘Oh, you flatterer!’ Teeny shrieked with delight. ‘I think I’m a bit old for that. No, I came out to buy one.’