Kindle Countdown Deal – Men of the Cross

21878750 Just a friendly reminder that Men of the Cross is on sale all this week for Kindle (Amazon US & UK). The sale will end on Sunday, so now is your chance to indulge yourself and curl up with a book that Professor Andrew Latham, author of The Holy Lance, calls “a vivid picture of the Third Crusade . . . filled with excitement, passion, and plenty of action.” Christopher Monk, aka The Anglo Saxon Monk, describes it as “Trauma and passion in a battle of bodies and souls.” C’mon, you know you want to read it!

Sweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights
fighting for Richard the Lionheart
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Buy the book: Amazon

And don’t forget – the Big Gay Fiction Giveaway (#BGFG) is ongoing through the end of the day Sunday, too. Choose from 80+ authors writing m/m fiction in multiple genres: historical fiction (like mine), literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and more.

Free books, short stories, and sample chapters are just a click away.

Yes, free! Opt into an author’s mailing list and you can download something new to read just in time for the long holiday weekend. So many freebies in just one place.

 

The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway #BGFG

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Discover a new author – better yet, discover more than 80 authors writing m/m fiction in multiple genres: historical fiction (like mine), literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and more.

Free books, short stories, and sample chapters are just a click away.

Yes, free! Opt into an author’s mailing list and you can download something new to read just in time for the long holiday weekend. This is a great promotion for both readers and authors! Readers can find a lot of freebies in one place, and rather than each author individually trying to promote their own book, we have 80+ people teaming up to share this giveaway on their websites and through social media. That will reach a lot of people! Their readers may spot an intriguing title on BGFG, drawn to a book by its cover and blurb. and sign up, which will help each of us build our own readership.

My BGFG giveaway
I wasn’t able to offer a free copy of Battle Scars I, Men of the Cross. It is part of a program called KDP Select, which means the ebook is exclusive to Amazon, at least until early January. So my giveaway is Chapter 10 of For King and Country – a chapter that isn’t part of the Amazon preview. I know a lot of readers don’t want to read Book 2 of a series before reading Book 1, but I hope they’ll read the free chapter and decide to get Book I (and/or II). I am offering an incentive: a Kindle Countdown on Men of the Cross on Amazon (US & UK) to coincide with the BGFG all week. The price today is 99p/99c, but it won’t stay that low for long. Get it now before it goes back up to full price at the end of the week!

Benefits of being on my mailing list
If you sign up for my mailing list you won’t be bombarded with email – promise! I’ll use my newsletter sparingly to offer exclusive content and to let you be the first to know about special offers. Sign up and you will see the cover reveal for Book III, Swords of the King, before I show it off here on my website. You’ll be the first to read a draft of Chapter 1 of the new book, too.

Find a new author to curl up with!
Browse the free books, short stories, and sample chapters.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. 

Writing Medieval Lincoln – Lincoln Castle

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The Observatory Tower

I wish I lived closer to Lincoln or could have the Enterprise transporter take me the 4000+ miles in a few seconds. While I am wishing for the transporter, I might as well add a time machine to the mix. Where is the TARDIS when you need it?

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I didn’t have a chance to visit Lincoln until after I published Book II of Battle Scars. Lincoln’s 12th century history is background for my novel, but only two scenes from the 579 page book actually take place there.

Photos on image sites are great for seeing what a place looks like, but as I mentioned in previous posts on Lincoln Cathedral and  Nottingham Castle, those pictures only capture a snapshot of a place in a specific time. If I hadn’t dug deeper, I might have assumed the Castle’s Observatory Tower existed in the 1190s, but it wasn’t added until the 19th century, and Cobb Hall, a tower on the north-east corner of the Castle, wasn’t built until the 13th century.

The Castle dates back to the 11th century, one of the fortifications built by William the Conqueror and the Normans. It would have had a wooden palisade back then, but by the early 12th century, stone replaced the timber walls.

The Lucy Tower originally stood two stories high and would have been home to the castle constable (also known as the castellan). Lucy, daughter of Thorold, first sheriff of Lincolnshire, inherited the title of constable and passed it on to her son, Ranulf, 4th Earl of Chester. When Henry II became king, the title went to the de la Haye family.

The Castle saw conflict in the 12th century: at the Siege of Lincoln in 1141, King Stephen was captured by troops loyal to the Empress Matilda. In 1191, while King Richard was on Crusade, his chancellor William Longchamp laid siege here for forty days against Nichola de la Haye. She and her husband Gerard de Camville, who became castellan when they married, were staunch supporters of Prince John. Nichola defended the castle in her husband’s absence and did not surrender. After de Camville’s death, Nichola, as castellan, once again held Lincoln Castle in 1217 for more than three months against the French, who were finally routed when William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and regent for Henry III, arrived with more troops.

One of four surviving originals of Magna Carta is housed in Lincoln Castle. There is another 800 years of history at this remarkable place – visits by kings and queens, of plague, economic turns, the English Civil War, and more. The buildings in the bailey are more recent construction – a courthouse and a prison existed there in the 17th century. The red brick building above was a prison completed during the 19th century, and when we visited, the tents were placed for a University of Lincoln graduation celebration.

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Soldiers on the battlements in the 1190s wouldn’t have had this view

The white timber-framed house on the left (now the Tourist Information Center) sits on the corner of an old road known as Ermine Street. This was a main north-south road since Roman times. Need to get to York? Turn left/north and the road will pass through the old Roman gate – the Newport Arch. The road south took medieval travelers all the way to London.

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Ruins of the 3rd century Roman gate – the Newport Arch

Historic places never get old, do they?🙂

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Writing Medieval Lincoln -Lincoln Cathedral

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I am standing at the top of the observatory tower of Lincoln Castle eyeing the streets of Lincoln and the magnificent Cathedral. What a fine setting for a novel, don’t you think? Yes, so did I, which is how Sir Stephan l’Aigle ends up in Lincoln in 1193 in For King and Country. But, the observatory tower didn’t exist back then. And Lincoln Cathedral? It was pretty much a pile of rubble after an earthquake rocked the area in 1185.¹

Writers want to place the reader in the shoes of the main characters so they see, hear, smell, and feel a place. It can be a bit challenging when writing historical fiction, and sometimes daunting – have I missed a source that would give more accurate information about this place and time? The reader familiar with the time period and location may put my novel aside if I screwed up, or at least, they might be temporarily thrown out of the story. Not a good thing!

I never intended for Stephan to enter the Cathedral, but I was curious. Would I need to mention it, especially given its proximity (about .2 of a mile) to the Castle? I had to do some sleuthing to discover if Hugh, elected as Archbishop of Lincoln in 1186, had started reconstruction. Did the Cathedral look like this in 1193 when Stephan visits Lincoln Castle?

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Would the interior look at all similar to the photos I snapped in September?

Were the flying buttresses built?

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The answers to these questions: “No.” Archbishop Hugh, who was canonized after his death, did begin raising money to rebuild this magnificent building in 1186 and construction was underway by the end of 1192.

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timeline of 11-13th century construction – signage is part of the Cathedral experience and the photo is  copyright Sharon Connolly; used with permission

The original church dates back to 1072, a few short years after the Norman Conquest, and the signage shows renditions of the structure before and after the earthquake. I think I was safe to assume that there was little there in 1193 that resembled a cathedral. Stephan arrived under cover of darkness and departed rather quickly  – he probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway…

Notes:

¹ “The damage to Lincoln cathedral has been debated. “… the extent of the damage is an inference from the other parts of the building which show no vestige of other earlier work. What has survived [of the pre-earthquake building] is the lower central part of the west end and the lower part of its two attached angle towers.”
http://www.earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/historical/data/studies/MUSS008/MUSS008.pdf

Image credits

All photos, except where noted, are the author’s own, and are licensed for re-use under CC BY-SA.

See more of photos of Lincoln Cathedral on my FLICKR page.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

 

 

GRL Retreat in Kansas City

GRL 2016 Supporting Author

Broadening my horizons, stretching my wings. GRL is the Gay Romance Literature Retreat. According to their website, GRL is “for people who create and celebrate LGBT romance.” My Battle Scars series is historical fiction with a gay romance – it made me smile when I signed up to be a Supporting Author and organizer Teresa E. emailed and asked, “You do know this is for LGBT romance correct?” It was great to laugh with Teresa when she introduced herself at the Supporting Authors book signing. This retreat has been happening for 6 years and I am so thrilled to have finally discovered it.

I’ve been to a number of Star Wars and other SciFi conventions where the joy of sharing your love of a particular fandom with thousands of other people gives you the warm fuzzies inside. While the Internet allows us to gush online in forums, chat rooms, and Facebook, and to virtually meet people with similar interests, attending an actual event is an other-worldly experience that most of your co-workers just don’t get.🙂

This book event was an eye opener. In some ways, you could call the Historical Novel Society (HNS) Conference that I attended in 2015 and 2016 a book event. There were big name guests and book signings, but I didn’t get the impression that the same reader/fans attend the conference every year. At GRL I met so many readers who were attending their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th event, coming from far and wide. (Of course, HNS authors are also readers/fans, but for repeat-GRLers I specifically mean readers.)

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the author lounge

I was super nervous about being a “supporting author.” I’m usually the observer at conferences so this was a new experience for me. GRL provided three separate opportunities where I met a lot of readers, authors, bloggers, narrators, and book reviewers: a supporting author book signing and two 45-minute “author lounges.”  The lounge, which ran throughout the day Thursday and Friday and on Saturday morning,  was in the main hall outside the meeting rooms – a perfect place for people to visit and ask about my books.

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my table at the Supporting Author book signing session

I applaud the GRL organizers for this set up. For us introverts, it was a lot of fun, but exhausting – about 3 hours straight on day 1 of the Retreat for me. When we had no ‘visitors,’ I was able to chat with other authors, including Christine Wright (setting up her table next to mine above). Christine also lives in Kansas!

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view from my table at the Supporting Author book signing event

I didn’t see many authors hawking historical romances during the event. That certainly made my books stand out – you cannot believe the number of people who commented on my book covers! :) Contemporary, SciFi, and paranormal seem to be the big sub-genres in LGBT romance literature, but there were fans of historicals who stopped by to chat with me. I also connected with other authors who have written or are writing historical romance: Michael Jensen, Dean Frech, B.G. Thomas, and Edmond Manning. I know there were others in attendance and I sense networking opportunities ahead!

Like other book events, there were author Q&As and book readings, but there was also boyfriend bingo (with great gifts for the winners), a movie night (featuring a sing-a-along of Grease), a masquerade ball, a cock-walk (handmade items in many cases donated for a raffle), and regular bingo that raised money for charities. This community knows how to have fun and is very giving, donating thousands of dollars to the PulseVictimsFund, the Trevor Project, and more.

In between the sessions and when I wasn’t perusing the author lounge, I hung out in the lobby and met more people. Narrators Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie Froomkin sat with an informal group to talk about their experiences narrating audio books. Joel does fabulous English accents – and some readers will buy everything he reads no matter the genre. (Ditto for Greg.)

Last observation – GRL attendees were warm and welcoming. Authors and readers alike were passionate about the genre and supportive of each other. Author Tina Blenke welcomed me at the Meet and Greet the first night and introduced me to her friend Kathie S. and author Posy Roberts. There were so many friendly faces – authors Nicole Dennis, Eden Winters (another Star Wars fan), Aleah Barley, Lynn Lorenz, and reader Juli and others whose names elude me. I am already planning to attend next year’s event in Denver.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

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A Young Earl, A Bad Marriage

ranulf_de_blondeville-2Some medieval arranged marriages were successful: Edward III & Philippa; William Marshal and Isabel de Clare. Love blossomed between couples brought together for political or business alliances.

Last week on English Historical Fiction Authors I shared the story of a not-so-happily-ever-after. Constance of Brittany, the widow of Henry II’s son, married Ranulf de Blundeville, 6th earl of Chester in 1188. One biographer describes their relationship as one of a “lifelong mutual loathing.”*

Ranulf appears in For King and Country in scenes leading up to, and including, the March 1194 Siege of Nottingham. He returns in Battle Scars III, Swords of the KingRead about Ranulf’s life on EHFA. Enjoy! 

Sources:
*Soden, I. (2013). Ranulf de Blondeville: the First English Hero. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing.

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

For King and Country is a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for Pre-1750 Historical Fiction

5fd8e47ed036ac5eb5bd484b32302357-1-2I am delighted to announce that For King and Country has been named a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for Pre-1750 Historical Fiction.

Chanticleer Book Reviews runs the annual competition as a way to recognize “emerging new talent and outstanding works.” My novel has made it through Round 1. Finalists compete through 2 more rounds for a coveted “First In Category” in their sub-genres, mine being Dark Ages/Medieval. After Round 3, the First in Category for each sub-genre is announced. Fingers crossed!

Helena Schrader, whom I interviewed in August and who interviewed me earlier this month is also a finalist. And I recognize 2 other names – Prue Batten and Jean Gill – both writing medieval. Competition will be tough.

For the full list of finalists visit: http://www.chantireviews.com/2016/10/10/chaucer-awards-for-pre-1750-historical-fiction-2016-finalists/

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.