BOOK TOUR: The Last Cowboy by Jan Herrman #historicalfiction @RRBookTours1

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Welcome to the book tour for historical fiction novel, The Last Cowboy by Jan Herrman. Read on for more details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card!

The Last Cowboy Cover

The Last Cowboy

Publication Date: November 7th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

As the romanticized period of the American “wild” West wound down, most cowboys rode off into the sunset. Hank Miller must follow a different path. In The Last Cowboy, he survives the Civil War, Texas sized desperados, and the great San Francisco earthquake. With a debt to pay, Hank will place himself and his twin sons in great danger in a new, wild and untamed frontier—Morocco!

This is a sweeping tale of a reluctant hero of the West. It is also a story of romance and international adventure, stretching from west Texas to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Tangier and the Moroccan Rif. The novel spans an equally expansive time frame: 1860 to 1912. The backdrop is the American frontier with all its enduring myths and troubling realities.

Ultimately, his heroism earns Hank unexpected wealth, friends on three continents, and the love of an extraordinary woman. Now ensconced in a mansion in the most exclusive neighborhood of San Francisco, Hank has a beautiful wife and three remarkable children. He wants nothing more than to enjoy them all and the highly successful international tour business he and Beth now operate. But a last, perilous mission awaits. Hank has a debt to pay and a friend to rescue in a far off land.

Available on Amazon

About the Author


Jan is a retired physician living with his wife, a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. Their children have all flown the coop.


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Release Blitz: Blood Before Dawn by Daniel V. Meier, Jr. #historicalfiction #politics @AuthorMeier @rabtbooktours

Book 2 of the Dung Beetles of Liberia series.

Political/Historical Fiction

Date Published 12-15-2021

Publisher: Boutique of Quality Books (BQB Publishing)

April 1979: Ken Verrier and his wife, Sam, return to Liberia to buy diamonds. They did not return to get caught up in a rice riot and a coup d’etat. But that’s what happens. Ken witnesses and unwittingly participates in a period of Liberia’s tumultuous yet poorly documented history—the overthrow of the Tolbert presidency and ultimately the end of the Americo-Liberian one hundred thirty-three years of political and social dominance.


2019 Grand Prize Winner – Red City Review


Based on the remarkable true account of a young American who landed in Liberia in 1961.

The blend of fictional action and nonfiction social inspection is simply exquisite, and are strengths that set this story apart from many other ficitonal pieces sporting African settings. – D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review

NOTHING COULD HAVE PREPARED HIM FOR THE EVENTS HE WAS ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE. Ken Verrier quickly realizes the moment he arrives in Liberia that he is in a place where he understand very little of what is considered normal, where the dignity of life has little meaning, and where he can trust no one.

It’s 1961 and young Ken Verrier is experiencing the turbulence of Ishmael and the guilt of his brother’s death. His sudden decision to drop out of college and deal with his demons shocks his family, his friends, and especially his girlfriend, soon to have been his fiancee. His destination: Liberia—the richest country in Africa both in monetary wealth and natural resources.

Author Daniel Meier describes Ken Verrier’s many escapades, spanning from horrifying to whimsical, with engaging and fast-moving narrative that ultimately describe a society upon which the wealthy are feeding and in which the poor are being buried.

It’s a novel that will stay with you long after the last word has been read.


About the Author

A retired Aviation Safety Inspector for the FAA, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. has always had a passion for writing. During his college years, he studied History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW) and American Literature at The University of Maryland Graduate School. In 1980 he published an action/thriller with Leisure Books under the pen name of Vince Daniels.

Dan also worked briefly for the Washington Business Journal as a journalist and has been a contributing writer/editor for several aviation magazines. In addition to BLOOD BEFORE DAWN, he is the author of its prequel, the award-winning historical novel, THE DUNG BEETLES OF LIBERIA, as well as 2 other highly acclaimed novels published by Boutique of Quality Books (BQB Publishing).

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Book Tour: Over the HEdge by Paulette Mahurin #Historical Fiction #WW2 #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @MahurinPaulette @maryanneyarde

Book Title: Over the Hedge

Author: Paulette Mahurin

Publication Date: July 31, 2021

Publisher: Independently Published

Page Length: 176 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.

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Author Bio:

Paulette Mahurin

Paulette Mahurin is an international bestselling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists for literary fiction and historical fiction on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. Her sixth book, A Different Kind of Angel, was released in the summer of 2018 also to rave reviews. Her last four books: Irma’s Endgame, The Old Gilt Clock, Where Irises Never Grow, and Over the Hedge all made it to bestselling lists on Amazon. Her new release, Over the Hedge, was #1 in Hot New Release Amazon U.K. it’s second day out.

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Release Blitz: Punk Disco Bohemian by Arya F. Jenkins #LGBTQ #historicalfiction @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Punk Disco Bohemian

Author: Arya F. Jenkins

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 41300

Genre: Historical 1970s, LGBTQIA+, coming of age, Provincetown, 1970s, historical, memoir, multicultural, jazz, disco, women, queer, lesfic

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It’s the 1973 and seventeen-year old, multicultural Ali is on the run from suburbia, since her best friend has left for college and home has turned into a nightmare—a druggy brother and a mother who has hooked up with another man since Ali’s father disappeared.

Ali wants to let loose, find herself sexually, experience real freedom, and she hopes to do this in the one place she remembers being happy as a kid, when her family spent summer vacations on Cape Cod.

Provincetown has always represented freedom with a capital F to Ali. In the 1970s, Provincetown is a queer mecca, afire with gay people and a burgeoning disco scene. Ali quickly gets sucked into a partying lifestyle and starts sleeping around to gain experience. For Ali, it’s a time of growth and unraveling, of coming to terms with truth while letting go of the past. But Ali’s search could come at a price. Will she find herself? Love? Freedom? And is she willing to pay the price for them?


Punk Disco Bohemian
Arya F. Jenkins © 2021
All Rights Reserved

When it came time to fly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” accompanied me on the radio. I turned up the volume and beat the wheel of the Rabbit with the heel of my palm. I was going to the Garden of Life. I rolled down the window and let the November wind whip my hair. Next came “Dazed and Confused.” I heard go, go, go, go in my head while the fuzzy image of a cat on my windshield, probably no more than a mirage of cigarette smoke, impelled me on.

“You begin the moment you believe you can fly,” I had written in my diary, unsure of what I meant, liking the sound of the words, enthralled with the idea of flying and beginnings.

Behind me I had my Spanish guitar and small stereo system, both gifts from Dad, red ski jacket, lamb’s wool vest, rolled-up sleeping bag, pillow, knapsack with a couple of changes of clothes and, ridiculously, a pair of white tennis culottes I’d worn months before as if I was heading into summer, toothbrush, comb, journal, pens, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, and a cardboard box in which were albums by Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and John Coltrane that had belonged to Dad, as well as my own eclectic collection by Santana, Richie Havens, Nina Simone, Deodato, Elton John, James Taylor, Cream, Joni Mitchell, and Led Zeppelin, each thing precious, a memento.

I’d taken off in the car meant to be my brother’s and mine and imagined Buddy peeved as hell, realizing he would have to mooch rides now that his wheels were gone. It was his fault for ripping me off, taking money I’d stashed inside a book from my job at a gift shop to save up for now. Who else would have done it?

When it came time to gas up, I went to the nearest phone booth to do the one thing I did not want to do that day, call home.

“Yes, operator. Collect. Mrs. Baines, from Ali. The number is 2-0-3-9-6-6-5-3-7-3.” A few rings beat slow time to my racing heart, and then someone picked up.

“Hey, Maman, Ali here.” I tried to be casual. “I want you to know I’m not coming home.”

“Ali, where are you?” Mom’s voice sounded remote. I gave no answer. Then she said, “Are you sure?”

“Nowhere. I’m not coming home. That’s all you need to know. Bye, Mom.”

The words “I hope you and Buddy will be okay” came to me, but why would I say them? Sentimentality would derail me from my goal. Buddy, Mom, and Dad were all part of the past now.

Three years before, at fourteen, I’d run off to Greenwich Village. My dress rehearsal, I think now. I felt pulled in a hundred directions at home and school, and I had nightmares from which I awoke in a sweat. In one, I saw myself crucified on a cross while being split in two. In another, I ran through woods only to come upon an empty box through which wind whistled. Why did that scare me so? The songs of the day, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and others by The Temptations, Edwin Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, and James Taylor, all spoke to feelings I tried to hide. Angst and despair were roiling the country too.

Whose hand did you reach out to, to pull you out of the darkness? I didn’t know. I listened to songs, hoping to learn. All I got was turmoil and my body telling me to run. One day, instead of going to school, I turned in the opposite direction from the bus and just kept going.

To myself I was something strange, cut out of myriad boxes, unfit to be part of anything. In first or second grade, a kid at school asked me, “Are you a savage?” I had the distinction of being the only brown kid in my class and the entire school. Maman had a dark complexion too. It would be years before I would see a Black person or anyone of color in New Canaan. Its main street glimmered white, its people were white, its clubs white, its ethos white. In this cold, subtly and blatantly exclusionary world, white middle-class women who had been abandoned, divorced, or widowed were at the bottom of the white tier, and suffered too. I got to see that close up.

As a kid I was the odd one out. My exotic, buxom Argentinean and French mother might have been in movies. My eyes were dark and fierce; my hair, black with reddish highlights, like Gra-mere’s. I have never known anyone besides us with hair naturally like that. My fluency in three languages, all of which I went in and out of easily with my parents and grandparents, added to my feeling different, like a nerd. In a family with a beautiful mother and a brother who resembled our handsome blond American dad, I was the alien.

My first time taking off, I hitchhiked toward New York City and spent my first night in a gas station bathroom. The next day I hit the West Village, where I hung with hippies, druggies, and other runaways, all of us following the same trail of dope and free music in St. Mark’s Place and Washington Square Park. I spent most of the time panhandling, my hand out, head down, leaning against buildings or standing on corners. Hardly anyone gave me a dime. Passersby glimpsed a skinny kid with hair in front of her face, wearing a tie-dyed top, jeans, and filthy Converse high-tops, a cigarette dangling from her fingers or mouth, every parent’s worst nightmare—maybe every kid’s too.

I tried going with the flow to survive. If what I went through at home was bad, this too was a kind of hell. One time, two bikers fought over me when I hadn’t said a word to either, not even given them a look. I tried not to look at people, afraid my stares set fires. One of the guys, a Vietnam vet, said whenever he rode his bike, he hallucinated trails from his acid-taking days. The burly one with a beard and leather vest called him full of shit. Somehow, I became a subject, and their fistfight drew a crowd, which allowed me to escape! Another time, a greasy-haired hippie with stained front teeth peered into my eyes and, cocking his head, inquired, “Do you know where it is? Tell me where it is, baby.” Those weird times spooked me.

On the streets, Blacks and whites commingled freely in a diverse scene, a world in which to be different was an emblem rather than mark against you. You were looked up to for it. I no longer felt isolated like at home, no longer imprisoned by false, stifling selves. Only as a runaway did I begin talking about myself and my life. There were so many stories on the street, and they interlaced like multicolored threads, a quipu of history.

“Your gra-mere must have been some crazy babe,” Leroy said after I told him how my mother’s mother, someone I loved madly, would do backbends while balancing a full champagne glass on her forehead.

“Yeah, like the Jimi Hendrix of grandmas, a surprise around every corner.”

“I love it. I love it,” he said.

Leroy was tall, slim with beautiful, expressive hands, and made me think of Hendrix, save for the mole high on his right cheek and his moss-green eyes. He had lost two older brothers, Jamal and Tyrone, in prison gang fights. After his mama died, Leroy turned to the streets, making enough to get by sewing people’s clothes, patching them up in exchange for money and stuff. He always had a basket at his side of discarded materials people had given him, along with his sewing needles and threads, and wore patchwork jeans like a colorful trip.

Ingenious and talented, he took a white silk sash and made a turban around my head. “You look like a swami”—then wrapped it around my body—“Now you are Artemis.” He scrunched up his nose, putting one closed hand under his chin. “Actually, you look more like Audrey Hepburn in the party scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” We laughed. I wore the sash as a belt, then as a scarf for days.

All Leroy wanted, he said, was to live free and avoid prison. In ’63, as a boy, with his brother Tyrone already behind bars for dealing dope, he and his mother marched in DC and attended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Air was electric, man. I never saw so many Black folks and white folks together in my life. Like heaven. After that, we got the rights.” He shook his head, full of irony. “People of color ain’t ever gonna be free long as white people run the world.”

I closed my eyes to mull his words, adding to myself, white men, as long as white men rule.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Arya F. Jenkins’s fiction has been published in many journals and zines. Her short stories have received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a short story collection, Blue Songs in an Open Key (Fomite, 2018). Another collection, Angel in Paris & Other Stories, is forthcoming through NineStar Press in 2022.

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Book Tour & Interview: In a Grove of Maples by Jenny Knipfer #HistoricalFiction #ChristianHistoricalFiction @JennyKnipfer @maryanneyarde

Book Title: In a Grove of Maples

Series: Sheltering Trees: Book 1

Author: Jenny Knipfer

Publication Date: 1st July 2021

Publisher: Jenny Knipfer–Author

Page Length: 264 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction

… a heartfelt tale of the struggles of married life on a nineteenth-century farm. Edward and Beryl are both relatable and sympathetic. Knipfer expertly captures the emotion and stress of their lives and relationship. It’s a touching and realistic portrayal of love, loss, and friendship.” Heather Stockard for Readers’ Favorite five-star review


In 1897 newly married Beryl and Edward Massart travel more than one thousand miles from Quebec to farm a plot of land in Wisconsin that they bought sight-unseen. An almost magical grove of maples on their property inspires them to dream of a real home built within the grove, not the tiny log cabin they’ve come to live in. 

Misunderstandings and tempers get the better of them when difficulties and troubles arise. Just months after they wed, Edward leaves pregnant Beryl in the midst of the coming winter to tend the farm and animals while he goes to be a teamster at a northern Wisconsin logging camp. 

Will Beryl and Edward walk into the future together to build their house of dreams in the grove of maples, or will their plans topple like a house of sticks when the winds of misunderstanding and disaster strike?

Readers of Christian historical fiction, Historical fiction, Women’s fiction, and Christian historical romance will be endeared to this slice of late 19th century farm life.

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BOOKS+COFFEE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

After I read the Anne of Green Gables series, I remember sensing a desire in me to become a writer. And that was that.

BOOKS+COFFEE: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, mostly journaling back then, but I did pen a few stories.

I started a novel in my twenties, but life interrupted with a job and kids, and I set it aside. For the next twenty years, I wrote poetry, songs, blog posts, and journal entries.

In 2018 when I retired from my work as a floral designer due to disability, I resurrected the novel I’d started years ago and finished it in a couple of months.

For some months I queried for an agent but ended up pursuing the indie author route and publishing my first book, Ruby Moon, in 2019.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Do you have a routine you follow when you’re working on a book? A certain time of day when you write, or a snack you keep nearby?

My writing schedule fluxuates with my health. I have MS and struggle daily with many physical issues, fatigue and weakness being some of the heavy hitters. I plan to write anytime from late morning on, but some days writing doesn’t happen. There are a lot of other author duties that need my energy too.

My process follows more set boundaries. I sketch a rough outline of the plot and characters, as they appear, and establish a premise and what the main characters seek or need for resolution. Then I write and let the act of writing take me where it will.

Due to the nerve damage in my hands, I write chapter by chapter on my iPad and sandwich chapters together in Word on my computer, when I polish them enough. Typing traditionally is difficult for me. Then, one or two final edits at the end, and the book is ready for beta readers.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Did anyone give you writing advice when you were first getting started? Do you think it helped?

I am grateful for the early beta readers that pointed out some things in my work, as far as writing a novel goes, that helped me greatly. I started out a solid writer but needed to learn a few things about writing a novel, like POV’s and establishing a well-crafted plot. I’m definitely a better novelist today than I was in 2018.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?

Rejection is always difficult to take, but I’ve come to realize not every reader will like my books. And that’s okay.  For me the scariest beast in the forest reveals itself as marketing. It’s one thing to write a great novel; it’s quite another to sell it.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Is there a book, movie, or song that inspires you when you’re working?

I prefer it quiet and don’t usually write with music or movies playing. When I’m not writing I read or watch some romantic entertainment, to help inspire some romance in my own writing.

BOOKS+COFFEE: As a writer, I’m sure you also love reading. Do you have a favorite book and what do you love about it?

Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite book. It contains everything: romance, mystery, moral dilemmas, tragedy, comedy, poetic prose… I recall the first time I read it, and how those first few paragraphs made me feel. It was an experience, and that’s what every good book should bring to its reader.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?

Don’t give up. Often dreams don’t work out quite like you imagine, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t. More than anything—dreams are a lot of hard work.

Now, let’s talk a little about your current book…

What’s the title of your current release and is it part of a series?

In a Grove of Maples is the first book in my Sheltering Trees series. To learn more about the series visit:

Who published In a Grove of Maples?

I am self-published.

Your cover looks amazing. Do you know who the artist is?

The background is a stock photo, and the female image I purchased off a book cover site. Nothing too spectacular there, I’m afraid. However, for my next book, Under the Weeping Willow, I hired a photographer and a model for a photo shoot.

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?

In a Grove of Maples was inspired by my grandparents and their lives as Wisconsin farmers in the late 1890’s. I did not know them or know much about them and always wondered about their lives. I suppose it’s my attempt at reaching into the past to piece them together the best I can.

If there’s one thing a reader will take away from this story, what do you hope it is?

In a Grove of Maples tells the story of Beryl and Edward Massart as newlyweds, embarking on a new life. Through their story they learn to set aside assumptions and their own agendas to create a more solid foundation for their marriage. I hope this inspires readers to do the same. They also learn that pulling together as a team accomplishes more than pulling separately.

Any funny stories you can share about writing this book, or something that sparked the idea for it?

I can’t think of anything funny. The idea came from two directions: wanting to explore what my grandparents’ lives were like and highlighting newlywed life and the crossed wires that can often come with it.


March 15th, 1898

Dear Diary,

I saw a robin today. Robins remind me of hope. They are the first birds to arrive after the snows of winter come to an end. I hung some clothes on the line, and he flitted down onto the chopping block. He twitched his tail and gazed at me with a slanted head and beady eye. I wonder if he had an inkling his perch helped dispatch one of his bird relatives lately.

The oldest hen, whom I had named Goldie (for her tuft of golden feathers on her head and feet), had given up laying eggs. Much as I hated to do it, she ended up in the stockpot today. Paul and Nola came to check on me, and I asked them to stay for supper.

The chicken bouja didn’t turn out half bad. Nola said she had not tasted anything like it. It’s a basic, Belgian, country chicken stew recipe, which Mama taught me to make, but I add dried green peppers, chili powder, and dollops of bread stuffing on the top.

Paul asked about Edward. I read Edward’s last letter to them both, but I didn’t tell them what I guessed was in between the penned lines: sorrow, regret, and longing.

What is Edward mourning besides our son? What does he want?

I should be bold and ask him, but I’m not. I fear what might be sent to me, scrolled out in elegant script by his hand. His penmanship is worthy of the founding fathers who signed The Declaration of Independence. His alphabet letters form swoops and tails, and the overall effect is elegance.

He tells me of his daily life, but he doesn’t tell me how he feels. Does he miss me? Will this absence make our hearts grow fonder, or will our physical distance be a picture of the way we have grown apart?

If only we could go back, apologize to each other, be kinder, love deeper, and set our foolish fears and pride aside. I do love him, despite it all.


Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set. A new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, will be released in 2021 and 2022. Jenny is currently writing a novella series entitled, Botanical Seasons.

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Book Tour & Interview: Kingfisher by D.K. Marley #historicalfiction #TimeTravel #WW1 #KingArthur @histficchickie @maryanneyarde


(The Kingfisher Series, Book One)

By D. K. Marley

The past, future, and Excalibur lie in her hands.

Wales, 1914. Vala Penrys and her four sisters find solace in their spinster life by story-telling, escaping the chaos of war by dreaming of the romantic days of Camelot. When the war hits close to home, Vala finds love with Taliesin Wren, a mysterious young Welsh Lieutenant, who shows her another world within the tangled roots of a Rowan tree, known to the Druids as ‘the portal’.

One night she falls through, and suddenly she is Vivyane, Lady of the Lake – the Kingfisher – in a divided Britain clamoring for a High King. What begins as an innocent pastime becomes the ultimate quest for peace in two worlds full of secrets, and Vala finds herself torn between the love of her life and the salvation of not only her family but of Britain, itself.

“It is, at the heart of it, a love story – the love between a man and a woman, between a woman and her country, and between the characters and their fates – but its appeal goes far beyond romance. It is a tale of fate, of power, and, ultimately, of sacrifice for a greater good.” – Riana Everly, author of Teaching Eliza and Death of a Clergyman

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BOOKS+COFFEE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

DK: I have known since a very early age that I possessed a love for books, and for creating worlds in my imagination. I used to act out the story of Alice in Wonderland at the age of six and seven, so when my grandmother, an English literature teacher, discovered me sitting on the floor in front of her bookcase at the age of eleven reading her college textbooks “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” and “English Literature”, she gifted them to me that day and started me on the path of becoming a writer. In high school, my English Lit teacher was also instrumental in pushing me forward, and I was the editor-in-chief for our high school literary magazine, as well as winning medals in the regional short story competitions every year. I wrote my first novel before graduation, which is still unpublished but remains a reminder of how far I have come on this journey.

BOOKS+COFFEE: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?

DK: As I mentioned above, I’ve been writing since high school. After graduation, writing was put on the back burner as I took a job right out of school as a graphic designer, and shortly afterwards, married and started a family. When my daughter was two years old, I started playing with writing again but wasn’t serious. Not until 1997, the month after Princess Diana died, when I made my first trip to England did the spark reignite after a visit to the Globe Theatre. The premise behind whether or not Shakespeare being the true author of the plays hit me and I started writing the moment I returned to the states. After years and years of researching the plays and sonnets, I was only half finished by the time I attended the Writer’s Retreat Workshop in 2006. After learning a great deal and realizing my story was not up to par, I shelved it for many more years. In 2015, everything changed. My husband I suffered a great personal tragedy, losing our daughter, son-in-law, and grandbaby to a drunk driver. Death and grief impacted us in ways I cannot describe but after attending grief therapy, my counselor suggested a return to writing as a way to cope with the immense feelings. I published that shelved novel in 2018, self-publishing as a way to regain some of my lost power. After six years, I now have five books published and I have to say, writing has definitely helped me to cope.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Do you have a routine you follow when you’re working on a book? A certain time of day when you write, or a snack you keep nearby?

DK: Yes, I do have a routine as I am very obsessive-compulsive. I enjoy writing when I first wake up and pushing myself to keep going, especially if I am on a good flow. Also, I plan for writing in advance; in other words, I will tell myself that ‘I am going to write 2000 words tomorrow’ and that seems to hold me accountable the next day. Snacks? Hmm, most often I snack on White Cheddar Cheez-Its, and my favorite tea is ‘Breakfast in Paris’ with lavender honey.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Did anyone give you writing advice when you were first getting started? Do you think it helped?

DK: The best writing advice I’ve ever had came from the instructors at the Writer’s Retreat Workshop. Jason Sitzes and Lorin Oberweger (of Free Expressions Literary Services and the Donald Maass Agency) spurred me forward on my writing journey, and to this day their words resonate in my head and heart.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?

DK: The scariest thing? I’m not sure anything scares me anymore. Losing a child, the scariest thing a parent can go through, puts other things into perspective. I’ve faced the scariest event ever, all the rest is a cinch.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Is there a book, movie, or song that inspires you when you’re working?

DK: I adore the songs of Enya, and Andrea Bocelli. I think if inspiration is found in a voice, then these two people have it in abundance.

BOOKS+COFFEE: As a writer, I’m sure you also love reading. Do you have a favorite book and what do you love about it?

DK: Yikes, this is a hard question! I can’t pinpoint just one, so maybe my favorite ten?

  1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – powerful and evocative
  2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – this was my daughter’s favorite book, so it’s mine, as well.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzGerald – the words, just love the words!!
  4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – such incredible world-building
  5. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier – again, such beauty and emotion in the words
  6. I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles – one of the first Tudor-era novels I read and loved
  7. Columns of Fire by Ken Follett – I loved this one because of my own book “Blood and Ink”
  8. The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye – the very first historical novel I read as a teenager
  9. The London Scene by Virginia Woolf – actually, everything by Virginia Woolf!!
  10. Hamlet by William Shakespeare – well, obviously.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?

DK: Interestingly enough, I adore this quote by Ray Kroc, the businessman who founded McDonalds. There is utter truth in the quote: ““Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Now, let’s talk a little about your current book…

What’s the title of your current release and is it part of a series?

Kingfisher (Book One in the Kingfisher Series)

Who published Kingfisher?

My own imprint – The White Rabbit Publishing

Your cover looks amazing. Do you know who the artist is?

Yes, I am the book cover designer, my company – White Rabbit Arts. I’ve been a graphic designer for 37 + years from the day I graduated in 1984 to today, with countless experience working on magazine covers, layouts, photography, logo design, book covers, branding, and more. I design book covers for historical fiction authors at The Historical Fiction Company –

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?

Yes, my love for Arthurian literature and in the words of Toni Morrison “If there is a book you want to read and it has not been written, then you must write it yourself.”

If there’s one thing a reader will take away from this story, what do you hope it is?

There is hope beyond suffering.

Any funny stories you can share about writing this book, or something that sparked the idea for it?

No funny stories… sorry!


D. K. Marley is a Historical Fiction author specializing in Shakespearean adaptations, Tudor era historicals, Colonial American historicals, alternate historicals, and historical time-travel. At a very early age she knew she wanted to be a writer. Inspired by her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, she dove into writing during her teenage years, winning short story awards for two years in local competitions. After setting aside her writing to raise a family and run her graphic design business, White Rabbit Arts, returning to writing became therapy to her after suffering immense tragedy, and she published her first novel “Blood and Ink” in 2018, which went on to win the Bronze Medal for Best Historical Fiction from The Coffee Pot Book Club, and the Silver Medal from the Golden Squirrel Book Awards. Within three years, she has published four more novels (two Shakespearean adaptations, one Colonial American historical, and a historical time travel).

When she is not writing, she is the founder and administrator of The Historical Fiction Club on Facebook, and the CEO of The Historical Fiction Company, a website dedicated to supporting the best in historical fiction for authors and readers. And for fun, she is an avid reader of the genre, loves to draw, is a conceptual photography hobbyist, and is passionate about spending time with her granddaughter. She lives in Middle Georgia U.S.A. with her husband of 35 years, an English Lab named Max, and an adorable Westie named Daisy.

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Book Tour: Tho I Be Mute by Heather Miller #historicalfiction @HMHFR

Book Title: ‘Tho I Be Mute

Author: Heather Miller

Publication Date: 13th July 2021

Publisher: Defiance Press and Publishing

Page Length: 340 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.

Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.

Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.

Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

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Chapter 1: Daughter of the Sun, Clarinda Ridge, daughter of John and Sarah Ridge

Storm clouds stole the last daylight while I removed my coat. In the sudden darkness, my hand reached for the cold pewter candle holder, topped with beeswax stick and wick. Carrying it to the wood-burning stove near the window, I pulled a twig from a thin broom, its usefulness long forgotten, and removed a switch, touching it to an ember in the banked fire. Smoke billowed into the cabin from the stove’s door. The switch sparked. I torched the candlewick in its man-made rest and returned to the wood-burning stove, dragging the chair behind me—the tree’s extension of my hand. Opening the stove door and loading the iron beast with oak, wood smoked, ignited. This weather premeditated more of its kind: a harsh, blowing fall that doused and chilled the bones of those left outside under tonight’s storm’s revenge.

I removed my leather shoes and woolen socks, stretching out my legs near the fire. Digaleni stirred and stood, expecting the stove’s radiant heat. He stretched his hind legs, extending his hindquarters high as his ears weighed his head low. He slunk for a scratch behind his namesake—Digaleni, ears in English—and sank low in front of the stove. I propped my feet atop his shoulder blades, both of us content to remain for the upcoming hours of this full moon’s rebellious storm.

Anxious rain pelted the roof with innumerable drops. Water collected in an old iron pot from a small hole in the roof where the oak’s branches grew through weaker boards. Neither limb nor rain intruded, was only a welcomed, accustomed guest. Like two people sitting with their backs together, my home and oak tree held one another upright.

I grabbed a spool and my hoop from Momma’s sewing box beside my chair. Using my teeth to separate a strand, I licked the thread to make it straight and held the needle steady to weave the cotton thread through the eye. With the muslin-covered hoop angled in my lap, I stitched from practice and skill. With continued minute and deliberate gestures, a border formed with each stitch. Then, with keen eyes, I rethreaded the needle. This time, instead of thread, I used a strand of my hair, licking the end before threading the eye.

From here, I sewed with my eyes closed, each stitch guided by touch alone. The door rattled against the wind. Not hearing, I sewed one petal of the incomplete moonflower. I must complete this task tonight. Opening my eyes, I saw the shape of the full bloom, filling with my hair, sewn by my fingers. I continued to the next. 

Digaleni stood with a slow-rumbled woof to the door while I sewed and prayed to the Great Spirit for an hour longer. The rain beat and blew. With one last elaborate pull and knot, the poisonous moonflower was complete but starkly different from the one between the pages. It contrasted in color from the bloom, as do I, with my blood from two nations. 

From exhaustion, the rain ceased its tantrum. The moon looked peacefully again upon the Earth. While the Thunder Brother, the one that lost the game, growled and rumbled with resignation from the far side of the mountain. I moved to my bed and dreamt of bird spirits who lost their wings and transformed into great white snakes.

Daylight found my eyes in the eastern sky’s morning haze. It turned colder. Digaleni pawed beside the door as I rubbed my eyes against the day’s masked sun. I moved first to sit and then to stand and walked to lift the latch. Digaleni bounded down the steps and pawed at the grassy ground. I could not see what he sought. Then, his body contorted and limped away, darkened within my standing shadow. He fell on his side, curled, and did not move again. With hurried steps, I reached for him. The rattler struck, jaws spread wide, clamping onto my outstretched forearm. I gasped with escaping breath—soundless. 

Poison seeped into my blood. My eyes clouded as I fell. My body spilled down the stairs. The snake slithered across my tousled strands into the grass. Having completed his quest, he rattled in triumph. Continuous ticks pulsed in time with my failing heart. Owl’s wings shuttered, and he flew northward.

About the Author

Heather Miller

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

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Guest Post: Ariadne Unraveled by Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalFantasy #AncientGreece @ZenobiaNeil @maryanneyarde

Ariadne Unraveled by Zenobia Neil

Publication Date: July 7, 2021

Publisher: Hypatia Books

Page Length: 345 pages

Genre: Mythic retelling/Historical Romance

Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.

The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.

Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.

From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.

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From the Author…

We’ve all heard that history is told by the victors, but it took me a while to realize that this applies to the ancient world and Greek mythology as well.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Minoans, Crete and the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, though I always had questions about it. The myth goes that Minos, a son of Zeus, was given a beautiful white bull as acknowledgement that he was king. Minos was so in awe of this beautiful bull that instead of sacrificing it, he put it among his own bulls and sacrificed another in its place. In anger, Poseidon made Minos’s wife Pasiphae lust after the bull. She got the famous engineer Daedalus to make a wooden cow that she could hide inside… and nine months later the Minotaur was born.

This story has always been strange and disturbing. Years ago I joined an amazing Facebook group that focuses on Modern Minoan Paganism—a testament to how powerful Minoan culture is. At some point, a member mentioned how this story of Pasiphae, queen of Crete, lusting after a bull was a great story to tell about one’s enemy. What a way for a patriarchal culture like Athens to insult a powerful witch-queen than to say she lusted after the bull and bore a monster. What a fantastic story to tell that the monster demanded the sacrifice of Athenian youths, and that the cultural hero Theseus was the one to kill the monster and free Athens from this horrible blood sacrifice.

What better way to slander one’s enemy than to tell this story and to have it be believed and recorded thousands of years later? I was inspired by this idea because I’ve always been interested at looking at history from different perspectives. We currently think of Crete as part of Greece, but Minoan civilization was its own culture for a very long time.

I’ve always been interested in Dionysus and the conflicting myths about his origins. About five years ago, I read Bacchus: A Biography by Andrew Dalby. In my other novels about the ancient world, I’ve made a few jokes about how all children with unknown fathers are said to be the children of gods. Andrew Dalby recounts how Dionysus’s mother Semele was impregnated by Zeus. The story I had always heard is that Semele was tricked by Hera in disguise to ask Zeus to give her a promise. Once he promised, Semele asked him to show himself in his true form. Zeus begged her not to, knowing seeing his essence would kill her. But Semele insisted and even though Zeus tried to show only the slightest bit of himself, she was incinerated. Zeus scooped the essence of Dionysus up, tore open his thigh and carried the baby to term.

What I didn’t know until I read Dalby’s book is that there was another story that Semele, pregnant by a palace slave, claimed Zeus was the father. When lightning struck her bedroom, everyone thought it was divine retribution for her lies. I began to imagine a young Dionysus, unsure of his godhood. Unsure of what kind of god he wanted to be.

My latest novel Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling is a look at the conflicting myths of Ariadne and Dionysus, but it’s also a kind of coming-of-age story for Dionysus. Dionysus is the last god to become an Olympian and the only Olympian who is a demi-god. This gives him a rare opportunity to be different from the other Olympians.

Another huge inspiration for me to write Ariadne Unraveled was to reimagine Ariadne herself. She is often mentioned as a sidenote in Theseus’s story. She is portrayed as a pawn—a princess who falls in love with a stranger who is her father’s enemy. She helps Theseus kill her half-brother the Minotaur.

In most versions of the myth, Daedalus, is the one who gives Ariadne the thread to help Theseus escape the labyrinth. Ariadne has no agency and no motivations for the things she does. Then, after sacrificing everything for the Athenian hero, he abandons her on Naxos.

Some myths say that Athena told Theseus to abandon her or that Dionysus came to him in a dream and claimed Ariadne for himself. In all the myths Ariadne is nothing more than a girl, a daughter of the king, the lover of the hero, the wife of the god. I wanted to give her back the power a Minoan priestess would have possessed. I wanted to tell a Greek myth from a Minoan perspective. And I wanted to re-empower women in the ancient world and depict Minoan culture not as a patriarchy as we often see in the Hellenistic world, but as a culture where women have freedom and Ariadne had her own motivation and strength. I was inspired to write Ariadne Unraveled to tell a story that was written by the victors from the other side and give a mythical woman back her power.

About the Author

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Visit her at

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Book Tour: The Anarchy (Conquest) by Tracey Warr #HistoricalFiction #Medieval @TraceyWarr1 maryanneyarde

Book Title: The Anarchy

Series: Conquest, Book 3

Author: Tracey Warr

Publication Date: 2nd June 2020

Publisher: Impress Books

Page Length: 218 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance

Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymen’s resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies.

Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the King’s heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King?

Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?

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Tracey Warr, Conquest III: The Anarchy, Impress Books, 2020

Chapter 9


We were all up with the lark in the morning but so was the rest of the household and a great deal of clattering and neighing broke through the swirling morning mist that lifted and lowered around the castle courtyard in waves. The air was damp and Amelina forecast more rain. Readying to dress me, she laid out an oiled riding cloak and heavy boots. She would remain at the castle and wait for my return, but I asked Ida to accompany me and keep her face well concealed. ‘It’s too dangerous,’ she gasped.

‘I have a notion,’ I told her as we stood at the window watching Breri leave to continue his journey into Wales. Through the swirling mist, we glimpsed his flamboyant hat and his back, as he swayed in the saddle, disappearing down the road.

‘I have an idea about this threat.’ In response to her inquisitive glance, I continued. ‘While Breri is in Pembroke, you are at great risk in Wales. I’m thinking you might be safer at Henry’s court for a while.’

‘What are you talking about, Nest!’

‘Henry would not betray you to the Church. I assure you that he will find the notion of a renegade nun a great amusement, and he was very grateful to you for nursing him through his sickness before.’

Ida’s expression showed her hesitation at my idea. ‘But then, I would have to leave you.’

‘Not for ever, just until we are sure that Breri is no threat.’

‘I believe Breri would have no compunction in betraying me for a handful of coin.’

‘Whereas the king would protect you.’

‘I don’t know, Nest.’

‘I have two motives, I confess. I think the king needs you, Ida. I was a little concerned at his speech last night on prophecies of death and births. Perhaps you could help keep him stable, keep him well?’

She nodded, but her face showed her reluctance and anxiety at the risk we would run in exposing her situation to the king.

Amelina’s prediction was true, and we rode for half an hour through sheets of cold rain that blustered at our cloaks, penetrated beneath the brims of our hats and under our collars, slid wet fingers inside the tops of our boots. ‘You’ll be regretting this, Nest!’ Henry laughed.

‘I hope not, sire.’ First, I saw the long, curving line of the grey wall of the deer park running far across the fields, as far as the eye could see. We trotted through the gateway into the park and the trees gave us some respite from the downpour. Then, the hunting lodge came into view through the trees. Halting before the lodge, two of the king’s men came to help Ida and me dismount. We ran for the shelter of the door. ‘Stay close to me,’ I told Ida in a low voice.

‘Come in, Nest, and ….’ Henry turned, holding his hand out to me. Ida stood close behind me with her face swathed in a veil. He stopped mid-sentence at the sight of her, thinking that I had come alone, perplexed that my chaperone persisted in accompanying me even into private conversation with him. I pulled her fully into his chamber and closed the door behind us. The king had already discarded his sopping cloak and Ida and I followed suit. Then Ida slowly removed the veil that was moulded wet to the contours of her face.

‘Sister Benedicta … Haith’s sister,’ Henry said slowly.

‘Yes.’ She cast her eyes to the ground and Henry looked at me bewildered.

‘You are a long way from Fontevraud.’ I saw his eyes roving over her clothing. ‘And from your nun’s habit.’

‘Sister Benedicta is known as Ida de Bruges now,’ I told Henry. He opened his eyes wide to me and then to her, but she only glanced briefly at him, her face flushed. ‘She has temporarily left … she is on an extended pilgrimage.’

‘I see.’ Henry’s voice was loaded with amusement. I was relieved to find that my prediction about his reaction was correct.

‘Henry, I have two favours to ask of you.’ I spoke quickly.

‘Ask away.’ He was chuckling openly now at Ida.

‘Would you keep Ida with you, in your court for a while, and safeguard her. She is at risk of exposure as a runaway nun, and I want to protect her from that.’

‘I would, certainly,’ he assented warmly. ‘I owe her a great deal.’

Ida thanked him quietly.

‘And would you sign my charter and ask witnesses for it from your household members breaking fast in the next room.’

He narrowed his eyes, distracted for a moment from his amusement at Ida’s renegade status. ‘Hmm. You wish to be away from your husband, Nest?’

I did not respond. ‘Very well. It is the least I can do for you, my beloved.’ He took my hand and I let him.

‘I would have it in writing,’ I persisted.

He rummaged in the saddle bag that he had brought in with him and produced my rolled charter. He unrolled it on the table, weighting it at either end with two stones that were left on the table for just such a purpose. He read it through again, and looked up at us both, his eyes glinting with humour. He took a few steps to the door, opened it a crack and called out, ‘Give me a stylus, quick.’ He closed the door and returned, stylus in hand to stare again at my charter spread out on the table.

 ‘Was it a man?’ he asked Ida, without looking up from his perusal of my charter.

Ida kept her lips tightly pressed together and her gaze directed at her feet.

He signed the charter with a flourish. ‘My scribe will see this witnessed for you, Nest, and sealed with the royal seal.’ Now he looked up. ‘I have no doubt it was a man,’ he said to Ida, smiling delightedly at us both, and holding the charter out to me.

Author Bio:

Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.

Tracey Warr studied English at University of Hull and Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) and MPhil. She worked at the Arts Council, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chatto & Windus Publishers, and edited Poetry Review magazine with Mick Imlah. She also publishes art writing on contemporary artists, and in 2016 she published a future fiction novella, Meanda, in English and French, as part of the art project, Exoplanet Lot. She recently published a series of three books, The Water Age, which are future fiction and art and writing workshop books – one for adults and one for children – on the topic of water in the future. She gained a PhD in Art History in 2007 and was Guest Professor at Bauhaus University and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts. Her published books on contemporary art include The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Midden (Garret, 2018). She gained an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David in 2011. She is Head of Research at Dartington Trust and teaches on MA Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Arts School.

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Book Tour: Sigurd’s Swords by Eric Schumacher #HistoricalFiction #Vikings #KindleUnlimited @darkagescribe @maryanneyarde

From best-selling historical fiction novelist, Eric Schumacher, comes the second volume in Olaf’s Saga: the adrenaline-charged story of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the kingdom of the Rus.

AD 968. It has been ten summers since the noble sons of the North, Olaf and Torgil, were driven from their homeland by the treachery of the Norse king, Harald Eriksson. Having then escaped the horrors of slavery in Estland, they now fight among the Rus in the company of Olaf’s uncle, Sigurd. 

It will be some of the bloodiest years in Rus history. The Grand Prince, Sviatoslav, is hungry for land, riches, and power, but his unending campaigns are leaving the corpses of thousands in their wakes. From the siege of Konugard to the battlefields of ancient Bulgaria, Olaf and Torgil struggle to stay alive in Sigurd’s Swords, the riveting sequel to Forged by Iron

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Chapter 12

We turned our prows to steer board and headed for the docks below the fort. Though the sun had not yet risen, the garrison and people who lived in or near the fort came to greet our ships, for many were wives and kin to the warriors who had just returned. I knew their smiles and waves would die as soon as our ships touched land. Nearly half of our warriors had perished in the south, and there would be many families left without their menfolk that night.

As our hulls scraped land and we shipped our oars, the crowd settled into an uneasy silence. Families and friends scanned the ships with weary eyes for their loved ones. Most of our warriors did not wait to grab their things. They simply leaped from the ships and made their way into the crowd to end the suspense of those who waited. It was at once a tender and solemn affair, for seeing loved ones reunited warmed me, but seeing wives and children standing alone, searching, then eventually learning the hard truth, wrenched my gut. For them there was no comfort on that brittle night. There were only tears and memories.

To look upon them was too hard, and so I turned to Olaf, who stood beside me. But his gaze was fixed on something else — or I should say, someone else. I followed that gaze up the boarded path that led to the fortress, where a notable group of warriors and lords stood, looking down at us. They surrounded a young woman, and it was on her that Olaf’s eyes now focused. The entire group was dressed in dark cloaks and hats of fur. She, too, was wrapped in a thick cloak of fur. But unlike the others, her white-blond hair danced on the breeze in the wavering torchlight, giving her an almost ethereal aspect. 

I knew instantly who she was and punched Olaf’s shoulder. “Best not be caught ogling the prince’s bride-to-be.” Though I admit, I too was fascinated by her. Even from a distance, she was as mesmerizing as a flame.

Olaf smiled that mischievous smile of his. “Who is ogling? I was just curious.”

I rolled my eyes. “Curious in a leering sort of way.” I lowered my voice and looked about to ensure no one was listening. “Just mind yourself,” I warned.

Olaf brushed my warning aside with a wave of his hand and lifted his pack from his sea chest. “Take your ease, Torgil. I seek only good beer and hearty food, and mayhap the company of a warm woman. I will let the nobles have their own dealings. Come, we have earned our fun this night.” 

I looked at the milling crowd, then at the stark walls of the town, then back at Olaf’s mischievous smile. I envisioned myself in some tavern sipping beer, while he and the others bragged about their exploits and I struggled to stay awake, and the mere thought of it exhausted me. What I needed most was silence and comfort. “The night is gone,” I said. “Besides, I seek someone else.”

Now it was Olaf’s turn to roll his eyes. “Gods. You are about as fun as a rock.” He dismissed me with a snort. “If you find her, I wish you an evening like no other. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

I hefted my own pack, which carried my byrnie, helmet, and a few loose items, then I grabbed my shield from the port-side rack. “Watch yourself,” I said again as I leaped from the ship. 

I threaded my way through the growing crowd and headed north along the Volkhov, following the beach several hundred paces until I reached the tributary that turned east from the main river. There, at the intersection of the waterways, stood Sigurd’s hall. And there I froze, as nervous as if I were facing an army of Pechenegs, a hundred doubts accosting me at once. What would Turid think when she saw me? How would she react? Had I changed? Had she? Had she met someone else in my absence? The questions came at me unhindered, unabated, rapid-fire. They made my palms sweat and my stomach flutter. I had never been good with women, and here I was again, faltering. I cursed myself in an attempt to bolster my courage, but it did not work. Rather, it alerted the guard who walked nearby and whom I had not seen.

“Who is there?”

I raised my hands in surrender. “It is me, Oleg. Torgil Toralvsson.”

The man turned to me and a flash of light danced across his drawn blade. There was a smile on his wrinkled face. “Gods, you had me worried. I am getting too old for night fights.” He stepped closer and looked me up and down. “So Sigurd is home?” he asked.

“Aye,” I said. “He is. He and the men are at the fort.”

He sheathed his blade. “We heard rumors. Was it bad?”

“Aye, Oleg. It was.”

He beckoned me to him. “Come, lad. You are home.” There was that strange word again. I walked to him and he patted my back, ushering me forward.

Sigurd’s was a large estate, with a comfortable main hall in which he lived and entertained, a barracks for his men, a smithy, a larder, and a barn. Attached to the barn was a pen for his chickens, sheep, pigs, and two horses. Down near the water was a boathouse for Sea Snake and Sigurd’s two other ships. Service in the East had been kind to him.

“Head to the barracks and find yourself some warmth,” Oleg instructed. “The men are sleeping, so try to be quiet.” 

His words turned my mind to the ten men who had remained behind to guard Sigurd’s estate. Those lucky bastards were sleeping in their cots with full bellies and furs to warm them, and they were the last thing I wanted to see. I shook my head. “There is someone else I must see first.” Though it was night and I knew Oleg could not see my face very well, I blushed. “Is Turid in the main hall?”

“Oh,” he answered. I was about to explain myself when he waved me forward. “Come, then. Leave your things by the door. She sleeps in the first bed to the left as you enter. Mind your noise, now.” He winked at me. “And do not fall asleep. You know the rules. No warriors are to sleep in the main hall.”

I thanked him and deposited my things at the door, then entered the hall as quietly as I could. The door creaked as it swung open. I paused, letting the warmth seep into my skin as my eyes adjusted to the firelit interior and my nose to the smoke and body odor and must. Snores and heavy breathing and the crackling of burning logs filled the space. As silently as I could, I closed the door and moved to Turid’s bed. She lay curled in a ball with her face near the wall. Her fire-red hair was splayed across her shoulder and pillow. Gods, how peaceful she looked. My heart thundered as I sat carefully on the frame of her bed, then brushed my fingers against her shoulder. “Turid,” I whispered with my heart in my throat.

She rolled her head to me suddenly, a mixture of confusion and sleepiness on her freckled face. “Torgil?” she finally asked.

I smiled and whispered, “Aye.”

She sat up and wrapped her arms around my torso. I returned the hug, my nose close to her neck, and immersed myself in her scent. 

“I have missed you, Torgil,” she whispered fiercely.

I pulled back from her and studied her face. Those glacial eyes now filled with tears. That straight nose and prominent jaw and jutting chin. Those full lips and fair skin covered with freckles. “I have missed you too,” I whispered back, then looked away because her beauty left my cheeks searing hot and my body bereft of strength.

She lifted my furry chin with her finger and smiled gently. “From the rumors we heard, I feared I might never see you again.”

“And I, you,” I admitted softly. “It was good that you remained here.”

Suddenly her brows dipped and she looked beyond me, then back at me. “Where is Olaf?”

“He is at the fort. I came to see you.” My voice trailed off.

She lifted her blanket. “Come. Warm yourself.”

“Are you certain?” I knew what she had suffered at the hands of our Estland captors and did not want to break that barrier indelicately.

“Aye,” she whispered, holding the fur blanket open for me.

I shed my boots and slid under the furs beside her, aware of how much I must reek and hoping she did not care. She reached up and wrapped her arms around my torso. I closed my eyes, reveling in her touch and her scent, trying to ignore my ache for her. 

Her hand reached up and stroked my chest softly. “Rest now. You are home,” she breathed.

I sighed, relaxing into her warmth and into the peace I suddenly felt. Home.

“One day you must tell me of your adventure.” 

“I will,” I responded drowsily, trying to keep my weary mind from falling asleep.

It was the last thing I remembered. 

Author Bio

Eric Schumacher

Eric Schumacher (1968 – ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.

At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

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