Swords of the King – work in progress update

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Chateau Gaillard, one of many   locations of Battle Scars III

Apparently back in September I promised monthly updates on Battle Scars III: Swords of the King.

Whoops! Is it really the middle of April? Looking back, I see I told you about awards & accolades for For King and Country. I wrote about research for Book III based on my visits to Lincoln and Nottingham, my experience as a ‘supporting author’ at GRL in Kansas City and the Big Gay Fiction Giveaway. And in March and early April I highlighted some significant events in the life of Richard the Lionheart.

So, what is happening with Swords?

I am closing in on “the end.” Three weeks ago I told a friend I had 5 ‘chapters’ noted in my Scrivener outline. Well, one of those turned into 3 chapters. I’m at 94,000+ words and those remaining 4 could add another 10,000-20,000 words.  A broken truce, numerous engagements between Richard’s army and the French, the big climax and aftermath — Henry, Stephan and Robin will be in the thick of the action.

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Chateau de Gisors

At Gisors, Philip of France takes a dunk in the River Epte when a bridge collapses in September 1198. (A true story.) And the pace won’t let up in the pages that follow. Richard’s brother, the evil John (you know, King John of Magna Carta fame), does not forget how Henry, Stephan, and Robin thwarted his efforts to overthrow Richard in Battle Scars II.

It seems like the research never ends. I think I have read everything I need to, and then discover I want more detail about a particular place or event. Check/cross-check more sources. Am I missing some piece of information? I certainly hope not.

Snippets from Swords of the King

If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen these short snippets. Then again, given Facebook algorithms, maybe you haven’t! Enjoy…

John sniffed at his drink. “Interesting that you defend Lady Elle, Henry. She ignored her brother’s wishes when she did not marry you. She chose that landless, penniless squire. Quite the story there, even my own mother involved. So many secrets, plots and intrigue.” John’s eyes grew icy as he brought the wine to his lips and swallowed a swig. He clamped a hand on Henry’s shoulder and scrutinized Robin. “But as they say, the truth always outs.”

* * * *

A wrinkled map covered the table in the king’s tent and tallow candles made the air stale with smoke. The men hovered over it like a pack of wolves. Snarling, Richard whisked out his dagger and stabbed Paris. “So Philip consorts with Flanders, Ponthieu, and Boulogne. Where will they strike?”

* * * *

“Watch out for the rats,” Allan said.

Edric groaned.

“Give him the torch,” Henry said. “The path is uneven, and I for one don’t want to carry Weston if his foot catches in a hole.”

“Or slips in the pigeon shite,” Allan added as he handed the torch to Edric.

“Is that what smells like an overripe privy?” Edric had slowed, lowering the flame to inspect the sandstone.

“I thought that was you, Weston,” Robin said and increased his pace uphill.

* * * *

Just as Henry started after Robin, curses flew at the front of the room. Stephan scrambled atop the trestle and the curses weren’t the only thing in flight. He landed on Edric Weston and both men disappeared from Henry’s sight.

Chairs toppled, wine and food bounced into the air, and men clambered to get out of the way. Stephan and Weston rolled across the floor, knights cheering, definitely more in Stephan’s favor than Weston’s from the shouts Henry heard. King Richard was on his feet spurring them on, but one quick glance at his wife and at Queen Eleanor, and he immediately ordered them to stop.

For King and Country News

For King and Country is Amazon exclusive until early July, available free on Kindle Unlimited. Do check it out!

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Image credits

Château Gaillard – by Sylvain Verlaine (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chateau de Gisors, France – by Nitot (Own work), GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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men_full-sideCharlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of Battle Scars, 12th century historical fiction 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 Newsletter. 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 – the Bishops’ Palace

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The porch into the West Hall, added in the 13th century

I don’t get to travel across the Atlantic as often as I would like, so I am revisiting Lincoln today through this post. I could close my eyes to wander medieval Lincoln in my mind’s eye, but it would be hard to type!

I had written about Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral in previous posts and related how important it was for me to know the state of these magnificent buildings in the 1190s. My knight, Sir Stephan, has one scene – yes, one! – in For King and Country set at the Castle, but that didn’t matter. (It also happens to be one of my favorite scenes in Book II.) Now that I’m writing Book III, Swords of the King, I want to know more about the Bishops’ Palace. Stephan’s lover, Lord Henry de Grey, is on his way to Lincoln as I write this post. The year is 1196.

Henry visited the Cathedral numerous times as a boy before an earthquake left it in ruins in 1185. He remembers the Bishops’ Palace – construction on it dates back to the mid-12th century during the reign of Henry II. The palace, which sits just outside the Cathedral close, wouldn’t have been quite so extensive as the picture above left. That represents additional building in the 13th – 16th centuries.

However, even before the earthquake the Palace was recognized as one of the grandest bishops’ palaces in England. The quake might have caused significant damage to it because Hugh of Avalon, appointed Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, had two major rebuilding projects until his death in 1200. He oversaw the work on the Cathedral and undertook a total rebuilding of the Palace.

Reconstruction of the Cathedral got underway by 1192 – Bishop Hugh had been busy raising funds for the project. But what work would have been completed on the Palace by 1196 when Henry visits? What of the grand kitchen? Or the West Hall? Records appear to indicate that the kitchen, with five huge fireplaces, was completed before Hugh’s death. The West Hall, begun under Hugh, was completed by his successor.

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The Alnwick Tower from ‘inside’ the Palace’s West Hall with Lincoln Cathedral in the background

Did the Alnwick Tower exist in the 12th century? Nope. Can’t mention that as something Henry would have seen as it was not added until the 14th century.

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a room off the East Hall

Rooms off and beneath the East Hall and chapel existed before the earthquake. Henry might have seen the upper part of the hall as a boy, where business would have been conducted. By the time of Bishop Hugh’s death in 1200, the East Hall range had been rebuilt.

Bishop Hugh made a couple of appearances in For King and Country. He is a friend of the de Grey family so Henry will be visiting with him in Book III and perhaps share a meal in the East Hall.

Sources
Medieval Bishops’ Palace, Lincoln, edited by Lorimer Poultney. London: English Heritage, 2002, rev. 2013.

Image credits

All photos are the author’s own, and are licensed for re-use under CC BY-SA. See all my photos of the Medieval Bishops’ Palace on my FLICKR page.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction 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  Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

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. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

A shout-out from Sharon Kay Penman

 

me and Sharon Kay PenmanAugust slipped past and I never managed to mention that the lovely Sharon Kay Penman mentioned both For King and Country and Men of the Cross on her blog at the end of July. Sharon writes:

“I think they might be of interest to my history-loving, book-loving readers and friends.”

What a thrill to have my books noted by a best-selling author of historical fiction! I met Sharon last year at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver. She is so generous with her time, with her fans and with authors like me. And she writes amazing books – I have many on my TBR list, but will recommend Here Be Dragons as my favorite. 13th century, King John, England, Wales, and France – fabulous!

Men of the Cross and For King and Country (Battle Scars I & II) take place at the end of 12th century while John’s brother, Richard the Lionheart, is king. John’s shenanigans are the focus of Book II. Fans of Sharon’s Lionheart and King’s Ransom will enjoy the series (even if I do say so myself).  I hope you’ll check them out!

And don’t forget, both books have been recognized as great reads. Men of the Cross was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion in 2014; and For King and Country has been long listed for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award for 2017!

! An HNS-longlisted 2017-2registered- 800

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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 to let you be the first to know about special offers.

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Mini-teasers for Book III, Swords of the King

nominee-high-res-flatHave a line or two…

But first – voting is still open for the Summer Indie Award.
Go vote, preferably for one or both of my books.
Historical: http://goo.gl/zK9veq
Then come back here to see what is in store for Battle Scars, Book III!

Okay, now that you’re back…

I want to get into the habit of cross-posting these one-liners, 7x7s, and random blurbs from Facebook more often. If you’ve read them there, skip to the end because you don’t want to miss information about the cover reveal and preview of Chapter 1.

Of teasers and pantsers

I can’t say I post these types of teasers to my Facebook page on a regular basis. They are spur of the moment posts – I’ll be working on a scene for Swords and think, “This is cool and there aren’t any major spoilers. Let me share this.” Or another author acquaintance will tag me to participate in a “go to page 7, line 7, and share 7 lines” game. Maybe a few more people will see them here and be interested in tracking my progress, or they’ll check out Men of the Cross or For King and Country.

While some writers can pound out a novel in a few months – bless them – I work a bit slower and some days can’t even get one hour of writing in. I started working on Swords of the King in late June. I’m what’s called a “pantser,” that is, I write by the seat of my pants rather than have a detailed outline. I know how the novel ends and I have the key points outlined to get me to the end – but how I get there within the confines of actual historical events is a journey for me and my characters. I was surprised when a nasty villain from Book II decided to show up much earlier than I had originally planned, but I am having a ball with him. 🙂

I had done a good bit of research preparing for the writing of Book III, but keep discovering I have more to do to ensure I can immerse the reader in events, places, and people.

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I would like to say the first draft will be done by early summer 2017, but I can’t make any promises. I hope you will hang in here with me.

One-liners, 7x7s, and random thoughts…

Henry  knew warriors who claimed every battle was the same. Details were lost in the charge, in the flight of arrows overhead. Henry shuddered. The noise. Siege machines ripping large boulders through the air. Rocks smashing into a stone curtain wall. The clink of armor, the clank of swords. Screams, the sounds of men dying. The smell… Oh God. The smell of blood stung Henry’s nostrils and bile rose in his throat.

* * *

May have to dig deeper into medieval Paris circa 1196. Hadn’t planned to go there for Book III, but the knights are pointing me in that direction.

* * *

At the bridge, Henry and Stephan watched the ducal train. Cart after cart came over the distant ridge and then stretched down on to the flood plain like a serpent, an apt description when Henry remembered King Richard’s words about his former sister-in-law and her advisors. Covered in brown and beige tarps that looked like snakeskin when shadows fell across them, the carts overflowed with baggage. The duchess’ necessaries would include tapestries, pillows, and linens to make any room to her liking, silver and gold goblets and trenchers, pots to cook her meals, and casks of wine.

A hundred mounted riders slithered at the van- and rearguard, the procession plodding along and now about half the distance between the summit of the hill and the bridge. The Breton flag, a black cross on white field, flew above the duchess’ litter. A spirited horse drew up beside it and the curtain was drawn aside. The rider was a child judging by his size—an important one, being that three knights hovered round him. Arthur.

* * *

By the time King Richard rode through the gates the skies had unleashed their fury—not that the storm matched the thunder in the king’s eyes.

* * *

“Why so suspicious, friends?” Edric settled himself and slung a blanket across his back. “I am here to ensure Robin completes his mission and—”

“And then kill me so if I am captured I will not break under torture and tie the deed back to John.”

“God’s bones,” Henry exclaimed.

Edric roared with laughter, even wiped tears from his eyes. “You have quite the imagination, Robin.” He took a long breath. “That cannot be further from the truth. I am here to help, that is all. You underestimate your usefulness to Prince John.”

* * *

“What have you done, Robin?”

Robin heard Marian’s voice call to him above his horse’s pounding hoofs. “You will not be happy,” he muttered to himself.

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Be special! Sign up for the cover reveal and a preview of Chapter 1

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tiny snippets. In the future – hopefully by the end of this year – an early Christmas present! –  I plan to send a preview of Chapter 1 to people who sign up for my mailing list. Be the first to see the cover of Swords of the King (unless you happened to be at the Historical Novel Society Conference the last few days and got the postcard in your hospitality bag) See the link below and sign up now.

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Photo credit
Château de Fougères – photo by Luna04 at French Wikipedia – Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons by KaTeznik using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4838424)

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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 to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Voting begins today – Summer Indie Book Award

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VOTE EARLY AND DAILY!!

Both of my historical fiction novels – Men of the Cross and For King and Country – have been nominated by a lovely reader for a Summer Indie Book award in the historical category. Readers can vote once a day Sept. 1 – 11.  You can even vote for both books!

Vote here!  http://goo.gl/zK9veq

Metamorphic Publishing notes:

“Voting for the awards will be done via Poll Maker, and will open on September 1, 2016. Anyone can vote once a day, until midnight on September 11, 2016. Links to polls will be posted here, and pinned, hopefully a week before voting begins. They will also be on the webpage athttps://metamorphpublishing.com/summer-indie-book-awards/. Genre links will go out in the newsletter, so sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bL43cf.

You may vote in any or all genres. Each genre will allow you to make muliple choices, as long as you checkmark them all BEFORE you hit vote the first time! Since voting is limited to one visit per day, you must get all your choices marked before you hit the vote button.”

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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.

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Goodreads Giveaway – For King and Country

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Enter to win one of 3 signed copies! This Giveaway will run June 6 – July 5. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

See what the reviewers are saying:

“A breathtaking gallop through Richard the Lionheart’s England.”
–Sharon Bennett Connolly at The Review

“…emotional journey… With a blistering siege scene, daring escapes and a truly dastardly villain there is something for everyone here.”
thurinius (aka author LJ Trafford)

“Beautifully written, chock-full of historical details imparted elegantly throughout, For King and Country is a compelling and wonderful read.”
–author Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award winner 2015 

“…the anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page while shes ties the threads of the web together. Strong characters, vivid detail and an interesting take on the Robin Hood mythology make this page turning adventure a joy to read.”
Paul Bennett, Historical Fiction Reviews

With reviews like these, can you go wrong?

Enter the Giveaway now!

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of The Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures taking place during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. For exclusive content and early-bird announcements of special offers,  sign up for Char’s Mailing List.