For King and Country – Editor’s Choice at the Historical Novel Society

king and country_smallGotta love 3 day weekends. One more day to get the usual chores done, and of course, spend a few more hours working on Book III of my Battle Scars series.  My habit on writing weekends is to stay away from the Internet for the morning except to post the English Historical Fiction Authors weekly round up to social media on Sundays. But I made the mistake(!!) of checking email this morning before I’d settled into the opening of a new scene.

And there it was – an email from Helen Hollick, the Managing Editor of Indie Reviews for the Historical Novel Society (HNS).

“I am delighted to inform you that the above book has been reviewed by the Historical Novel Society and has been given an Editor’s Choice Selection, which also means that your book has been longlisted for the 2017 Annual Indie Award.”

If you felt the earth shaking and heard ear-splitting shouts across the galaxy, well, that was me. So much for the new scene. Those mercenaries who have captured Henry, Stephan, and Robin will have to wait a few more hours. (Sorry, boys.) I had to share my news, email friends and family, try to get my heart rate back to normal. It isn’t easy to come back down to earth and concentrate on writing after news like this. What a tremendous honor. I am thrilled beyond belief! Here is the HNS review:

When Henry de Grey left England to ride with his king in the third crusade, he was more of a boy than a man. Now he has returned, and the experiences he’s survived in the Holy Land have not only left him marked for life, they have also shaped him into a person who knows who he is and what he wants. Unfortunately, what Henry wants does not conform with the expectations of society – the times he lives in have little tolerance for a man who loves another man.

While the love story between Henry and his lover Stephan d’Aigle is a recurring theme, the main story centres round the ongoing political events. King Richard is a prisoner in Austria, and the huge ransom demanded for his release is yet another burden for the common man in England. No wonder that some listen to Prince John and his cronies, a whispered suggestion that maybe England would be better off without this crusading – and expensive – king of theirs.

Henry, Stephan, and their companion, Robin – a rather novel interpretation of the legendary Robin Hood – have no intention of allowing the traitorous Prince John to succeed. Plots and counter-plots, smuggled weaponry and food – all comes to a head at the siege of Nottingham.

Ms Newcomb is obviously entirely at home in this historical setting. Excellent descriptive writing brings the historical context into life, drawing the reader into the medieval world. Henry and Stephan are wonderfully developed characters, supported by a colourful cast which includes everything from a charming Little John to Elle, Henry’s intended bride who has no more desire to marry him than he does to wed her. All in all, an excellent read, quite impossible to put down, despite its length!

Whew. Thank you to reviewer Anna Belfrage, to Helen Hollick, and to HNS.

PostScript: in fall 2016, HNS decided to revamp its Indie Review program and apparently there will be no shortlist and no award in 2017 for Indies.


Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016 and is available on Amazon. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s  Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and to let you be the first to know about special offers.


Rocky Mountain highs amidst the Historical Novel Society Conference

What a way to begin my first HNS conference – a 3 hour broadsword workshop with writer/actor/swordsman David Blixt and his associate Brandon St. Clair Saunders.
david and brandon

These two gentlemen were superb swordsmen and were incredibly patient with some of us who were a bit uncoordinated, i.e., me!

Sword and shield

 Mary (from Iowa) and me!

Sparks flew. (Yeah, right.) We had a blast. And no humans were maimed in the process.

Even better, I met authors Sharon Kay Penman (Lionheart;and, A King’s Ransom; and many more) and Patricia Bracewell (Shadow on the Crown; and, The Price of Blood) in the workshop.

Sharon is such a lovely woman. I’d ‘met’ her through social media a couple of years back. She emailed me about 2 weeks before the conference and invited me to have lunch with her. Novelist Priscilla Royal joined us. This was the best conference moment ever! We talked of our love of the Angevins, of writing, deadlines, and marketing, of our favorite medieval fiction writers, and of the books we were working on and had already written.

me and Sharon Kay Penman
Me & Sharon Kay Penman
Priscilla Royal & me
Priscilla Royal & me









at the indieBRAG booth
with Geri & Stephanie at the indieBRAG book


And if that wasn’t enough, I met Geri & Bob Clouston and Stephanie Moore Hopkins of indieBRAG, who are extremely supportive of indie-published writers and made me feel so much at home. Stephanie also writes and hosts LayeredPages.


I’ll save the description of sessions I attended for another post – and there were many I enjoyed. It was surreal stepping into an elevator with two of my favorite authors: Diana Gabaldon and Patricia Bracewell. But the absolute highlight – beyond lunch with Sharon – was spending time with two individuals I’ve come to know through Twitter and Facebook: Anna Belfrage and Alison Morton. Both are indieBRAG Medallion honorees (multiple times!) and were such fun. Two of the warmest people I know.

Anna & me
Anna & me
with Alison Morton
me & Alison










Post-conference blues hit when you have to say goodbye to friends, but I headed north to Rocky Mountain Park to enjoy some time with family and great scenery.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado, here we come

HNS2015-logo3In a few days, hundreds of historical novelists and readers of historical fiction will descend on Denver. I’ll be there learning the art of combat with a broadsword – a morning workshop with David Blixt, best-selling novelist, weapons expert, and finalist for the M.M. Bennett Historical Fiction Award. What a great opportunity to feel that weapon in my hands when I’ve only been able to imagine it for my medieval fiction.

I especially look forward to meeting many ‘virtual’ author friends and individuals from indieB.R.A.G. who will have a display of books awarded their BRAG Medallion – including MINE! It won’t be easy deciding which panels to attend: midwifery, Shakespeare’s world, marketing & selling, self-publishing, primary sources tips, and I hear David Blixt and Diana Gabaldon will co-host the late night sex scene readings. (It’s one thing to read them in the privacy of your home, but in a crowded room? This will be wonderful!) Other sessions include “cold reads.” Agents will choose from dozens of two-page submissions and read them aloud to tell the good, bad, and ugly. Professional actors will read dialogue from submissions. Wouldn’t it be great if they read mine? I’ll have some pictures and surprises to share when I return in July. While I’m off to Denver and a few days vacation in the beautiful Colorado Rockies, I’ll let you take a look back at June 1190-1194 highlights from King Richard’s journey to the Holy Land. Have a great week!


Get swept away to the 12th centurySweeping battles, forbidden love, and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree and Readers’ Favorite
Get it for Kindle & Nook and at Smashwords.
Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2015.