Writer’s Digest awards an Honorable Mention to For King and Country

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For King and Country

awarded an Honorable Mention
in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards

How cool is that?

Writers Digest award

Go get your copy now! For King and Country is currently Amazon exclusive, available in print and ebook formats. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read for free.

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Charlene 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.

Talking about the book: Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

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Title: Under the Approaching Dark
Author: Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
As a child she wanted to be an Arctic explorer, a crusader or Richard Lionheart’s favourite page, and of course, a writer, and she couldn’t imagine a 9 to 5 job. “I was going to be a free spirit, an impoverished but happy writer, slaving away in a garret room. Life happened…” —from Anna’s website

The story
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II has been forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over… —Amazon description

The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer
King Edward III has tired of Scottish incursions and wants to teach the Scots a lesson. His advisors try to calm the impetuous, battle-naive youth in this scene:

“I dare say you’ll find the Scots are mostly like us, my lord,” Mortimer put in. “They eat, they shit, they swive, they fight and bleed, they die.”

“They are savages!”

“There are men of honour among them—their king for one, and Black Douglas is another true knight.” Mortimer pointed at one of the banners. “St George is a fine saint to follow into battle, but do not commit the mistake of underestimating your enemy—or denigrating him. And St George wasn’t English to begin with, was he?”

“As good as,” the king retorted. “England breeds the finest soldiers in the world.”

Thomas laughed. “Really, Ned, what nonsense is that? England is a land of sheep farmers and wool merchants.”

Lord Roger and the king looked equally displeased, making Adam bite back a smile.

The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room

Oh Kit, oh Kit… why in the world did you decide to meet Godfrey. Bad move, Kit. Stupid girl. (Sorry, can’t say more without spoilers!)

A memorable line (or two)

“I am but the puppet, am I not?”
–King Edward III to Adam de Guirande

“Men,” Kit muttered. “It’s only hair.”
Adam leaned towards her. “My wife, my hair. The matter is closed, Kit.”
–after Kit decides to follow the queen’s latest fashion, i.e., no veil, and her husband sends her back to get properly dressed!

My verdict – ****5 stars****
Ms. Belfrage has done it again. Under the Approaching Dark is book 3 in The King’s Greatest Enemy series, and it has passion, intrigue, and politics to keep the reader turning pages. If you aren’t familiar with England in the 1320s, never fear. Plunge into this book and you are introduced to the major players – the fictional Lady Kit and her husband Adam and the actual historical figures Edward II, Edward III, his mother Isabella, her lover Roger Mortimer, and others. We aren’t overburdened with backstory: it is woven in bits and pieces where needed. Ms. Belfrage draws us into the 14th century for a taste of life of the ordinary man, the minor baron and his wife, and of the royal family. It is easy to picture towns and manors, magnificent castles and minsters. And after visiting Lincoln last year, I was enchanted by Ms. Belfrage’s description of that medieval town, cathedral, and bishop’s palace. It took me back – it all feels authentic.

The novel brims with treachery, treason, and romance. Battle scenes, torture, and love scenes – some may be too graphic for the squeamish, but they are well written, full of emotion. There are great threats from rebellious barons. There is tedious everyday life and plenty of tension – between Adam and Kit, between Adam and the young king, and between Adam and his former lord, Mortimer. But I think what I most enjoyed about this novel is our window into the world of the young King Edward III. He becomes king when his father is deposed, and is a pawn of his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. Edward is bright. He is politically astute (most of the time). He knows – and resents – the control his mother has as regent. But he is also a vulnerable. This reader is rooting for him and greatly anticipating Book 4 in the series to see Edward as king in his own right.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

A Discovered Diamond – Book Review of For King and Country

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There is a new site in town – rather, on the web – for reviews of historical fiction: Discovering Diamonds. You should definitely bookmark or follow this site if you are looking for good historical fiction.

And I am thrilled to report that For King and Country, Book II of Battle Scars, has been selected as a ‘highly recommended’ diamond. Read the great review.

“Ms Newcomb has stepped outside the normal restrictions imposed on novels set in these times in that her Henry and Stephan are not only comrades in arms, they are lovers. In a sequence of beautiful scenes, she breathes careful life into their passion, moments of tenderness and love that make it abundantly clear theirs is not a short-term relationship, theirs is the love of a lifetime.”

If you haven’t read the book, I hope the review might sway you! Give it a chance. Get the book on Amazon – it’s available in print and for Kindle.

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Charlene 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.

Men of the Cross Review & #Giveaway on Diverse Reader

21878750Diverse Reader loved Men of the Cross!! Thank you, Meredith.

Check out Meredith’s review. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an e-copy of this tale of war, passion, and forbidden love. You’ll also have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Get over there now and enter the drawing! The drawing closes in 5 days so don’t delay.

And sign up for my Newsletter and I’ll send you a sample from Book II of Battle Scars, For King and Country.

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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. 

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.

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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.

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 Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.