Best night of the week – writers group

Thursdays are special.

My writing friends take me to their worlds. We might spend time with a bounty hunter in Las Vegas or look over the shoulder of a small town Kansas cop. We are in the future – a bleak one – in the Pacific Northwest. We relive the turbulent ’60s in the South. Or we are in Czarist Russia experiencing life through the eyes of a teenage girl. We are in medieval England.

As my friend and fellow writer Catherine Hedge says, we come together to be surrounded by dreamers who are passionate about writing and to get support for our creative energies. This writers life? “Some call that madness. Writers call it fun.”–CH



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.

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.

Thursday Walks…

views around Rancho MirageMost of us are still struggling to get through cold, snow, and flooding rains washing away roads (a nod to my friend Jaime in Kentucky – stay safe). So let’s walk through the flowers in this garden near Palm Springs, California, and dream of spring and warmer weather.


This will be a quickie post as I am still buried in the hell of Word .docs and CreateSpace formatting.

Read the latest tale of whimsy with Raji Singh’s magical characters… hear Efraim’s tall tales this week.

I have bookmarked this to re-read when I begin revisions on my crusades novel: from Janice Hardy, Time Marches On: Dealing With the Passage of Time Between Scenes.

Jody Hedlund writes about The BIG Question: What Should Fiction Writers Blog About?

And Catherine Hedge writes about a very inspirational writer/writing teacher Because I Have Something to Say.

What do YOU have to say?

Published a novel. Now what?

2010.04.16 edinburgh31c
Lived in Orlando 13 years.
You’d think I’d have a photo of the Disney castle.

I’m going to Disney World! (No, not really.)

Fellow author Colin F. Barnes posted his thoughts in late November about the aftermath of publishing his first novel. Time to compare our experiences. Colin (in italics) wrote:

There’s a few things I’ve noticed over the last week or so since my book released.

  • Most people don’t really care—including family.
    Quite a few congratulations have come via email & Facebook. I haven’t heard from all 250+ FB friends, including extended family. Hm…are there evil FB algorithms at work here? There have been a few retweets of the announcement. Colleagues at work who’ve been tracking my progress also congratulated me. One even bought the book while I was sitting in her office. She didn’t need to do that! I encourage folks to read the sample pages at Amazon and B&N. It may not be the type of story you like. You may think I suck at writing. However, if you want to toss $4.99 at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you go right ahead. 🙂  I won’t stop you.
  • You’re just one of many millions of people trying to do the same thing.
    25,000+ new ebook releases in fiction on Amazon in the last 30 days. 645K to choose from. What more need I say?
  • Releasing a book that you’ve worked on for so long is a massive anti-climax.
    There is one terrifying moment when you hit the “publish” button. Actually, there are about 12 hours of those moments while you wait to see your book on Amazon. And days of waiting for Barnes & Noble to process it. Weeks of waiting for Smashwords distribution to the iBookstore, KOBO, and other venues. Once the book is online, you go back to look at it in disbelief a few times, then you get back to writing book number 2. Oprah doesn’t call. Hollywood, where are you? Life goes on. Work continues. Someone wants a report. Documentation needs to be completed. Self-evals must be written.
  • I don’t feel any different now that it is done.
    I do. The manuscript (or various pieces of it) has been shared over the last 3 years with 3 members of my writing group (all published authors & 2 of whom did a good bit of  editorial comment on the completed work); and various beta readers. But now it’s really out there for anyone and everyone.It’s hard not to wonder about how the book will be received by friends who read it. I guess that’s worse than wondering how a stranger perceives it. It’s like giving a presentation to your colleagues. Time – and reviews (always welcome, of course) – will tell.Bottom line: I feel massively relieved that it’s done.
  • Promoting is a biotch! It doesn’t come naturally to me.
    Ditto. I’ve announced the book release, and mention it at the end of some of my blog posts – this is called passive promoting. I’ll do a bit more when the book is ready for print. Maybe some giveaways, Amazon or B&N gift cards.Some novelists say write, write, and write more. Don’t worry about active promotion. Over time, with more published works available, readers will find you. Of course, it would help if all my works were within the same genre. HA! What a concept! (Have you noticed the name of my blog?)
  • One positive comment is enough to keep me going for days.
    You can say that again. 🙂 It’s hard to wipe the smile from your face when a reader says “you rock!” or “I couldn’t put it down” or notes that you’ve written “a very moving book.”
  • Reviewers still generally think self-publishers are scum.
    Colin is likely referring to New York Times or Publisher Weekly types. I imagine an indie-published book would need to be in Kindle’s or Nook’s top sellers to get the attention of those reviewers. The sad part of the whole reviewer thing is the valid reviews that Amazon has pulled.
  • Despite all the above, the buzz of seeing my book in print is awesome.
    I’m sure I’ll be saying that when my book is in print. It’s still pretty darn cool to see the e-book. I’m working on formatting for print now. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could could grab the Word .doc and upload it without a second thought? Formatting is a PAIN. But I’m getting closer…
  • I’ve received lots of unexpected help, which is super heart warming.
    Writers group, beta readers, ebook formatters, CreateSpace advisors – you folks are worth a million!

Writer friends – what was your experience like? Readers – any surprises? (I’d encourage you to read Colin’s post.)

Hope your week is off to a great start. Happy Monday, everyone.