16 June 2017

New & Noteworthy: June 16

Happy summer to our northern-hemisphere readers!

Blythe Gifford will be at the Romance Writers of America "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing on Saturday, July 29, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET, signing copies of her novel RUMORS AT COURT. More than 300 authors will participate. The event will be held at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in the Pacifica Hall. All proceeds go to literacy organizations. For more information, visit: https://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=564







M.J. Neary announces the release of her newest title, SIRENS OVER THE HUDSON! Though the novel is set 10 years ago and may not technically be historical fiction, it deals with the 2008 financial crisis and taps into various historical issues surrounding Wall Street and the culture of New York society. Learn more at the book's Amazon page here.







June brings Michelle Styles a bumper crop of publishing news from around the globe:
  • SOLD TO THE VIKING WARRIOR is now available in large print in the UK and Australia 
  • RETURN OF THE VIKING WARRIOR is now available in Portugal 
  • SAVED BY THE VIKING is out in France as Un Guerrier aux Yeux Clairs (The Warrior with the Clear Eyes)
  • TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN is out in Germany as Die Wilde Braut de Wikingers (The Viking's Wild Bride)
  • SUMMER OF THE VIKING is out in Italy as L'uomo Venuto Dal Mare (The Man Who Came from the Sea)

11 June 2017

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Jeffrey K. Walker on NONE OF US THE SAME

This week, we're pleased to welcome author JEFFREY K. WALKER with his latest release, NONE OF US THE SAME (Sweet Wine of Youth, Volume 1). One lucky winner will receive a copy of the novel in Kindle format. Here's the blurb about the novel.

Fiery Deirdre Brannigan had opinions on everything. She certainly hated the very idea of war in 1914. Childhood pals Jack Oakley and Will Parsons thought it a grand adventure with their friends. But the crushing weight of her guilty conscience pushes Deirdre to leave Ireland and land directly in the fray. Meanwhile the five friends from Newfoundland blithely enlist. After all, the war couldn’t possibly last very long… 

They learn quickly how wrong they are and each is torn apart by the carnage in France.

What began with enthusiastic dreams of parades and dances with handsome young soldiers turned into long days and nights in the hospital wards desperately trying to save lives. And for the good and decent young men in fine new uniforms aching to prove themselves worthy on the field of battle, the horrors of war quickly descended.

But it is also the war which brings them together. Deirdre’s path crosses with Jack and Will when they’re brought to her field hospital the first day of the slaughter on the Somme. Their lives part, their journeys forward fraught with physical and emotional scars tossing them through unexpected and often painful twists and turns. But somehow, a sliver of hope, love and redemption emerges. And their paths cross again in St. John’s.

When the guns finally fall silent, can Deirdre overcome her secret demons through a new life with battered Jack? Can shell-shocked Will confront his despotic father’s expectations to become the man his young family deserves?



**Q&A with Jeffrey K. Walker**


So let's find out more about the story behind the novel...

Why and how did you become a writer?
I’m a latecomer to fiction, having started this first novel at age 56. However, as an attorney and consultant and professor, I’ve written for a living most of my adult life—most of what lawyers do involves complex research and writing. So I came to fiction with a full tool box for doing the mechanics. It’s the world-building and storytelling that’s new and challenging for me, so None of Us the Same taught me a lot of the craft of writing.

None of Us the Same is set during and after the First World War. How did you come to that time period for this historical novel?
Two reasons. First, I’ve always been fascinated by this period in history, much more so than the Second World War. That might seem odd for an American. I spent a lot of my legal career in public international law—treaties and law of war, that kind of thing—and the period before and after the First World War was the golden age of international law. World War II was really the final act, the denouement of the First World War—the international order was fractured by the conflict and not very effectively put back together, leaving space and oxygen for fascism, Nazism, Stalinism.

Second, I set out to write a book about the terrible damage war does to the young men and women drawn into it and how they struggle with putting their lives back together after the war. Initially, I assumed I’d set the book present day, using Afghanistan or Iraq. As I dug into the project, I couldn’t shake the feeling I was appropriating the stories of young men and women struggling real time. To a guy like me who spent 20 years in uniform, it felt a little wrong. So the First World War offered a compelling alternative setting, yet with many of the same problems that young veterans face today. I guess you can say I was a bit of a coward and that landed me in 1914 rather than 2014.

How did you approach researching the book?
I’ve been a big historical fiction fan since I was 11 or 12 and read one of my parents’ completely age-inappropriate Book of the Month Club selections. It was something by James Michener. I can’t exactly remember which one, maybe Hawaii. Ever since, perhaps because Michener was such a meticulous researcher, I don’t like books with a lot of historical groaners in them—and my wife will attest that I actually groan out loud when I read inaccuracies—so I was a little neurotic about research for None of Us the Same. Among other things, this included a research trip to Newfoundland during iceberg season and you'll see its gems in the book. (Everyone should put Newfoundland on their Bucket List. Beautiful land with genuinely friendly people.)

I’m really drawn to social and intellectual history, so spent a lot of time reading ‘Lost Generation’ poets, novels written by veterans of the War, newspapers and magazines of the period, as well as a mountain of more traditional historical sources. Memoirs and letters were very important to me so I could get period-appropriate voices in my head. I also visited some amazing museums, like the Imperial War Museum in London and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum in St. John’s. I hope it was all worth it, but I’ll leave it to readers to check their own level of groaning.

Did you rely on actual historical persons or are your characters 100% fictional?
As 100% fictional as any character can be, I suppose. I’ve never been a big fan of “fictional biographies” in general because so few authors do them really well. I mean, there’s Hilary Mantel and then there’s the rest of us mere mortals, isn’t there? So I went to some effort to avoid using real persons. For example, my two male main characters are from Newfoundland and join that Dominion’s regiment in 1914. The First World War was a traumatic and emotional right of passage for the Newfoundlanders—they sustained huge losses for a very small place and the regiment is highly revered to this day. To not offend anyone, there is no one named in the book above the rank of captain nor above the position of platoon commander. I pulled last names for characters from the regimental roster and from old St. John’s city directories, but that’s as far as I went. My female main character, an Irish nurse you met in the excerpt, is completely fictional albeit her hospital did exist, as did her casualty clearing station on the Somme. So I wove my fictionalized characters between the seams of real people, places, and events.

That said, the second volume in my trilogy does incorporate a historical person or two because I really needed them for narrative purposes.

So None of Us the Same is the first volume of a trilogy? Was that a challenge your first time out—three books all at once?
Yeah, a little crazy wasn’t it? I wanted to approach the theme of “war changes everyone and everything” on three different levels: individual, social/cultural and political. That lended itself quite naturally to a trilogy. All three are—or will be—heavily character-driven, but the overarching themes track these three aspects of change. None of Us the Same focuses on the wide range of individual traumas and struggles. The second book—Truly Are the Free, should be out in the Fall. It looks at the enormous social upheavals and change caused by the War and is partly set in post-War Harlem and Paris. (It features a main character from the storied 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment—the “Harlem Hellfighters.”) The third book, No Hero’s Welcome, will look at the violent political upheavals in Ireland in the wake of the British Empire’s widespread exhaustion caused by the War.

The alternative to a trilogy would have been a Michener-esque doorstopper of a saga, 800 pages long. I had serious misgivings about anyone giving a new fiction writer that much benefit of the doubt.
  
About the Author

JEFFREY K. WALKER has worked as a stock broker, bomber navigator, criminal lawyer, international consultant, and law professor. He’s lived in ten states and three foreign countries. Although None of Us the Same is his first novel, he’s written his entire life, including undergraduate sports coverage, an opinion column in his law school newspaper, hundreds of trial motions, a losing Supreme Court amicus brief, and several scholarly chapters and articles. He dotes on his family and has never been beaten at Whack-a-Mole.
  
Connect with Jeff on his author page and blog at http://jeffreykwalker.com/  or:
             On Instagram at https://instagram.com/jkwalker.author 
             On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker 
             On Twitter at @jkwalkerAuthor
             Or Email him at jeff at jeffreykwalker dot com
  
None of Us the Same is available at the following:
 www.amzn.to/2qvJSJm  (Amazon)
 http://bit.ly/2qxoMd3  (Barnes& Noble)

08 June 2017

Excerpt Thursday: NONE OF US THE SAME by Jeffrey K. Walker

This week, we're pleased to welcome author JEFFREY K. WALKER with his latest release, NONE OF US THE SAME (Sweet Wine of Youth, Volume 1). One lucky winner will receive a copy of the novel in Kindle format. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the series. Here's the blurb about the novel.

Fiery Deirdre Brannigan had opinions on everything. She certainly hated the very idea of war in 1914. Childhood pals Jack Oakley and Will Parsons thought it a grand adventure with their friends. But the crushing weight of her guilty conscience pushes Deirdre to leave Ireland and land directly in the fray. Meanwhile the five friends from Newfoundland blithely enlist. After all, the war couldn’t possibly last very long… 

They learn quickly how wrong they are and each is torn apart by the carnage in France.

What began with enthusiastic dreams of parades and dances with handsome young soldiers turned into long days and nights in the hospital wards desperately trying to save lives. And for the good and decent young men in fine new uniforms aching to prove themselves worthy on the field of battle, the horrors of war quickly descended.

But it is also the war which brings them together. Deirdre’s path crosses with Jack and Will when they’re brought to her field hospital the first day of the slaughter on the Somme. Their lives part, their journeys forward fraught with physical and emotional scars tossing them through unexpected and often painful twists and turns. But somehow, a sliver of hope, love and redemption emerges. And their paths cross again in St. John’s.

When the guns finally fall silent, can Deirdre overcome her secret demons through a new life with battered Jack? Can shell-shocked Will confront his despotic father’s expectations to become the man his young family deserves?



**An Excerpt from NONE OF US THE SAME**
Chapter One — Deirdre

The old one in the last bed had riled them again. One of the trainees, impossibly young in a stiff white pinafore, stood pleading and wide-eyed. "I can't bathe Mr. Duffy again, Sister! He…he…touches his…his…nether parts when he sees me comin' with the towel and basin," said the girl, struggling out her careful words in unconcealed mortification. Only the good Lord Himself knew what the Daughters of Charity would make of this poor girl's conundrum. But Deirdre Brannigan was a lay nurse, not that it eased the suffering of the trainee standing before her burning with embarrassment.
"Fetch a friend or two who can hold his arms while you bathe him. 'Tis hard enough keeping everyone and everything clean without your delicate sensibilities aggravating the situation," Deirdre said with mild scolding, calm in the fretting storm.
“I've… I've tried that," the trainee said, two others vouching the truth of her timid protest with vigorous nods. "His… manhood still becomes… quitetall… anyways. And he likewise leers at me in a most distressin' manner." An unsettling murmur rippled across the clustered trainees, tinged with an edge of mutiny. Deirdre knew she must nip this.
"Ladies," she began with deliberate sternness, as if she were not just a few years clear of training herself, "let us be mindful this is a charity hospital with a mission to care for the least fortunate of our Lord's children with kindness and understanding."  She sucked at her cheeks a little, checking a smile that rose from her unintentional imitation of Sister Mary Evangeline. Deirdre soldiered on, channeling the formidable matron. "If our Blessed Mother could bear the pain and sorrow of kneeling by the cross of her precious Son, I would hope and pray you can muster the strength to endure the sight of an addled old man's… nether part. Regardless of its height."  She stared down each trainee, ending with the complainant, who burst into loud sobs.
"Bridget, you're made of sterner stuff. Dry your eyes and blow your nose now." She handed her an immaculate handkerchief, speaking quietly and taking the poor girl aside. "Come along. I’d a few tricks from the sisters when I was a trainee myself. I'll entrust them to you, for use with present and future Mr. Duffys." She turned and gave a backward nod and scowl, signaling the stricken girl should follow and stop her sniffling.
As the two women approached Mr. Duffy's bedside, he was gleaming with lurid anticipation. Running a purple tongue over cracked lips, he reached under the bedclothes and rubbed himself with surprising vigor given his decrepitude. Deirdre, terse and businesslike, pulled his arms over the blanket. "These will remain in plain sight, Mr. Duffy, or I'll have the porters bathe you with lye and the dandy brush from the horses." He fell into an offended silence, shocked by her unexpected bluntness.
After pulling the nightshirt over his head, Deirdre commenced bathing the spent old man, his mind half gone from decades of drink, running a soapy sponge over the yellowed skin of his sunken chest and spindle arms. She handed over the sponge to Bridget for washing his other side. Half done, they pulled the sheet back over his chest, then folded it back from his lower body, leaving him exposed upon the bed. A crooked grin crept across the old man's toothless gob, his withered penis rising from the greasy grey pubic hair. Bridget gave a short gasp and began a turn that Deirdre froze with an icy glance. Drawing a wooden tongue depressor from the pocket of her apron, Deirdre bent it back and thwacked the old man's withered scrotum.
"Aggghhh! Y’are a right demon bitch, y'are! Damn ya to hell, woman!" the old man yelped. He curled on his side, both arms shoved between his legs.
Deirdre turned to Bridget and said, clear and even, "You can finish bathing Mr. Duffy now. He'll be giving no more trouble this day." Not taking her eyes from the old man, she handed the tongue depressor with dignified ceremony to Bridget and said, "I recommend liberal use until such time as he learns to act proper at bath time."
Bridget would share her secret with the others before the hour was out, so Deirdre hoped. She walked back down the double line of beds filled by broken men with a litany of illnesses. Some would soon be back to their poverty and filth. Others would pass to their reward here—perhaps tonight, maybe in a week or a month.
As she reached the day room, the door flew open and trainees flushed out in their identical uniforms, like schoolgirls off to summer holiday. Deirdre halted one by the arm and asked, "What's all the caterwaulin' here? You'll disturb the patients with your silliness."
"'Tis war! Have you not heard, Sister? We're to fight the Germans!" The girl's eyes were wide and wild with anticipation of parades and dances and handsome young soldiers in fine uniforms. She knew the girl had every reason to be thrilled, young as she was. She released her, the girl scampering down the corridor to join with her friends in their jubilation.
In the now deserted room, Deirdre could hear the bells of Dublin—Catholic, Protestant, no matter—commencing to sound. First just the one, probably St. Patrick’s, this side of the Liffey, a few blocks away. Then another, more distant than the first. Likely the Pro Cathedral off Sackville Street, the Catholics joining from the other side. Soon enough, every church in the city added its peal. Above the din, she could make out cheering, a crowd already gathering on St. Stephen's Green. Deirdre stared down from her window, scowling at the burgeoning celebration on the Green below. Speaking to no one, maybe everyone, she muttered into the antiseptic air, under the crescendo of bells.
"Those stupid, stupid old men. What have they gone and done to us now?”

Buy None of Us the Same at: http://amzn.to/2qvJSJm


Learn more about author Jeffrey K. Walker
Website: http://jeffreykwalker.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker 
Instagram: https://instagram.com/jkwalker.author 
Twitter: @jkwalkerAuthor

21 May 2017

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: J Tullos Hennig on SUMMERWODE

This week, we're pleased to welcome author J TULLOS HENNIG with SUMMERWODE, from the Books of the Wode seriesOne lucky winner will receive a copy of the novel in e-book format. Here's the blurb about the novel.

The Summer King has come to the Wode...
Yet to which oath, head or heart, shall he hold?

Once known as the Templar assassin Guy de Gisbourne, dispossessed noble Gamelyn Boundys has come to Sherwood Forest with conflicted oaths. One is of duty: demanding he tame the forest’s druidic secrets and bring them back to his Templar Masters. The other oath is of heat and heart: given to the outlaw Robyn Hood, avatar of the Horned Lord, and the Maiden Marion, embodiment of the Lady Huntress. The three of them—Summerlord, Winter King, and Maiden of the Spring—are bound by yet another promise, that of fate: to wield the covenant of the Shire Wode and the power of the Ceugant, the magical trine of all worlds. In this last, also, is Gamelyn conflicted; spectres of sacrifice and death haunt him.

Uneasy oaths begin a collision course when not only Gamelyn, but Robyn and Marion are summoned to the siege of Nottingham by the Queen. Her promise is that Gamelyn will regain his noble family’s honour of Tickhill, and the outlaws of the Shire Wode will have a royal pardon.

But King Richard has returned to England, and the price of his mercy might well be more than any of them can afford...

**Q&A with J Tullos Henning**

What are you currently working on?

The fifth novel, Wyldingwode, to complete the Books of the Wode. I'm also working on several new speculative fiction short stories, and researching a new historical novel.

Speaking of the Wode Books, when will the next one be out? And how many books are planned?

The 4th book, Summerwode, releases 16 May, 2017. It's on preorder now!
There are five novels planned in the story cycle. The duology of Shirewode and its prequel Greenwode are available began it all. A trilogy that begins with Winterwode will continue with Summerwode, and will end with Wyldingwode (#amwriting).

Why the LBGTQ slant on Robin Hood?

Why not?

Don't just take my word for it, though; several scholars have explored the possibility. There are many excellent essays and non-fiction studies of Robin’s role as a cultural--and changeable--icon. The Robin Hood Project at The Library of Rochester is an excellent place to begin an acquaintance with the ever-morphing facets of the Robin Hood/Robyn Hode mythos.

But I think it really comes down to this: respect. Whenever you take an old warhorse of a legend, you owe it to the Story to respect its legacy, but its purpose in existence. Which means you question it, turn it over and inside out and re-imagine it, shape it to the best of your ability into a vital continuation of its Story. To just rehash a tired trope is disrespectful to not only the power of legend, but your own talents.

Why Robin Hood (okay, Robyn Hode) as a Druid? Why the fantasy element?

Again, why not?

There are so many reasons to explore Robin/Robyn as Green Man of the Forest. Legend and Myth cling to him, and rightfully so. And myth has its own truths, sometimes stronger than what is considered “fact”. All too often the term fantasy is used to dismiss someone else’s belief systems. No question, I’m a great whopping history geek, but also, I’m hyper-aware (no doubt due to my Choctaw heritage) that history is suspect. Speculative, even.

Not to mention, I adore speculative fiction, and am a SF/Fantasy fan from waaaay back. Eons before it was considered cool.

Do you do a lot of research?

Yes, indeed. I love research; have done and still do, ever on. It's not just about long hours in closed stacks, but even more the hands-on trial/error and life experience which, I hope, shall continue for some time. Most of that research never ends up as prose, granted... but it shouldn't. Having knowledge and authority speak through the storytelling is sooo much better than overwhelming an audience with "see what I know?" (Not to mention that for me, Story often trumps Fact. Because Facts can be so... chancy.)

When did you start writing, and what are some major influences on your writing?

I’ve been writing and drawing my own worlds for a very long time; basically since I could hold a pencil. I had an abortive writing career in the 80s, but it’s all part of the process. The books I’m writing now are much better, anyway. *grin*

Influences...On the subtextual level, it's all about the myths, folklore, ancient stories, cultures, and possibilities. Listening to the elders share stories, and to the ideas children express before some of the less palatable aspects of culture start trying to shut them down.

As to specific works/writers: I hail the 3 Marys: Mary Renault, Mary Stewart, and Mary O'Hara. Parke Godwin, Louise Erdrich, Ray Bradbury, Paula Gunn Allen, Starhawk, Leslie Marmon Silko, Albert Payson Terhune, Colleen McCulloch, Taylor Caldwell, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robert Heinlein, Virginia Woolf. There are others, but these come soonest to mind. No one should regret reading any of these author's works.


THANK YOU!

BUY LINKS:

Kobo 

E-books 1 & 2 in the series are currently on sale through most retailers until the 16 May release: GREENWODE is free, and SHIREWODE is $2.95!

About the Author

J Tullos Hennig has always possessed inveterate fascination in the myths and histories of other worlds and times. Despite having maintained a few professions in this world—equestrian, dancer, teacher, artist—Jen has never successfully managed to not be a writer. Ever.

Her most recent work is a darkly magical & award-winning historical fantasy series re-imagining the legends of Robin Hood, in which both pagan and queer viewpoints are given respectful voice.

Musings blog (You can subscribe to my newsletter at either the Musing blog or main site—you’ll receive the first and earliest notification on all updates and news, plus a gift: several short stories seldom seen in the wild.)


19 May 2017

New & Noteworthy: May 19

M.J. Neary announces the publication of her newest novel SIRENS OVER THE HUDSON, set in Recession-era Tarrytown. The book will be released by Crossroad Press in Summer 2017. Congrats M.J.!

And if you'll be at the HNS Conference in Portland, stop by and see our contributors:

Kim Rendfeld will moderate a panel entitled "How Am I Supposed to Write about This When They’ve Destroyed All the Evidence?”, in which the panelists will discuss navigating around research dead-ends.

Judith Starkston will serve on a panel entitled “Mythic Tradition and Legend vs. the Historical Record”, which will discuss shifting the stereotyped expectations of readers to make room for more diverse mythic fiction.

J.K. Knauss will be at the book signing on Saturday, June 24, signing copies of her work.