my humble abode in York…

I’ll be staying at St. Anne’s College at Oxford soon. It will be fun to compare accommodations from my stay in York 5 years ago.

A Librarian's Life

My friends and I loved the annual Parade of Homes back in Orlando, Florida. We’d trek across 2 or 3 counties to explore places we’d never call home in a million years (not without a few million in our bank accounts). It was fun to dream…

I remember one of those multi-million dollar mansions. The master bedroom was over 1,000 sq.ft. and separated from the master bath by a see-through fireplace. It was gorgeous. But all I could think was man, I’d hate to have to clean this place, and whoa, can you imagine the electric bills? (Yes, I realize that I would probably have maid service if I lived the lifestyle of the rich & famous.) You could get lost in a house that big. It could never be called cozy.

But ah… the dorm room. Does anyone ever think of a dorm room as intimate? Isn’t…

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Research, Writing, Star Wars, and Medieval Knights


I had the pleasure of being interviewed by award-winning author Anna Belfrage about a week ago. I probably went on too long about my research and inspiration for the Battle Scars series, my writing roots in the Star Wars universe, and the knightly romance, i.e., the forbidden love that is a central theme of this series. Anna rounded out the interview with a wonderful review of For King and Country.

If you missed my earlier blog stops, do check them out. On Matthew’s blog I write about 12th century Nottingham and York vs what what visitors see today:

“What Char Newcomb learnt while writing Battle Scars I & II”  on Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles.

And on #EHFA, see the research behind the scene of For King and Country’s climactic battle scene:

“Richard the Lionheart and the Siege of Nottingham, 1194” on English Historical Fiction Authors 

There will be more to come, so do follow me! Sign up for my Mailing List. In the future I’ll use it – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

For King and Country and Men of the Cross

are available on Amazon sites worldwide.


Historical Nottingham, York, and more – blog trotting adventures

king and country_small“A breathtaking gallop through Richard the Lionheart’s England.”
–Sharon Bennett Connolly on The Review blog

The knights have returned from the crusade to the Holy Land in For King and Country and face enemies at home that will take them from Lincolnshire to York to Nottingham, climaxing with the siege of Nottingham in 1194. Writing about these places required a lot of research. A writer always wants to transport the reader back in time (and preferably get it right!), but there is always a danger of overwhelming the reader with too much information.

Blog Trotting

In my blog trotting this week, I get to tell you about some of my research discoveries. I hope you will stop by to check out these posts:

“Richard the Lionheart and the Siege of Nottingham, 1194” on English Historical Fiction Authors 


“What Char Newcomb learnt while writing Battle Scars I & II”  on Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles.

There will be more to come, so do follow me! Sign up for my Mailing List. In the future I’ll use it – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.


One lucky person will win a copy of the ebook. See The Review. Comment there for a chance to win.

For King and Country

is available on Amazon sites worldwide.

York Castle in the 12th century

Clifford's Tower
Clifford’s Tower

Somewhere in the midst of plotting Book II of Battle Scars, For King and Country, I had a brilliant idea: Stephan l’Aigle must deliver a message to the Sheriff of York.

If you’ve been to York, you’ll recognize Clifford’s Tower. It is one of the few visible remains of York Castle.

A menacing keep on a motte overlooking the city – great for scene-setting, right? From my 2010 visit there and earlier research, I knew the Tower’s significance to Richard I’s reign. But I didn’t recall specifics about the dates of construction of the structure, so I put my research hat back on to hunt down the facts.

Like the gatehouse at Nottingham Castle, which I’d posted about last year, I discovered the current stone structure we know as Clifford’s Tower wasn’t built until the second half of the 1200s. For King and Country is set in the years 1193-94. Stephan would have seen a timber keep called King’s Tower atop the motte. In fact, most of York Castle would have been timber. Surrounded by a moat on all sides, the motte and its castle were built by William the Conqueror in 1068-69, destroyed during an attack by the Danes and rebellious Northumbrians in 1069, and then rebuilt by William.

But Stephan wouldn’t have seen the keep built during William’s reign. He’d have seen newer construction. Over £207 in expenditures were recorded in the Pipe Rolls for 1191 to cover costs to replace the earlier keep and other buildings. They’d been set ablaze during the massacre of Jews there in March 1190. Excavations of the site in 1903 uncovered charred remains of the fire and revealed the artificially-created motte had been raised to its present level (approx. 50 feet high) when Henry III ordered the construction of the stone keep. Over £2000 were expended in that thirteen-year project between 1245-46 and 1258-59.

For reference, the average annual income of a 12th century baron was £100-200. £207 for repairs was a hefty sum!

For a model of 14th century York Castle, see


Clifford’s Tower photo taken by me in 2010.

Cooper, T.P. (1911). The History of the Castle of York. London: Elliot Stock.

York Castle. on Wikipedia.

work in progress Wednesday – and we’re off to Nottingham!

Well, Nottingham and a few other locales…

If I’d been on top of things a few days back, I would have mentioned that 7 September was the anniversary of the Battle of Arsuf in 1191. This was a huge victory for Richard the Lionheart. Arsuf is about 14 miles from the port of Jaffa, a strategic objective for the Crusader army. Jaffa must be held. Goods brought by Richard’s fleet there would replenish the army’s supplies as they marched east toward Jerusalem.

On to the writing update…

Title: Battle Scars: For King and Country (book 2 of a series)
Current word count: @57,000 words

Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle

I’ve visited Nottingham with Robin this week, and castles and manor houses near York and Lincoln with knights Stephan and Henry. Allan has a bit of a run-in in a small market town called Grantham. The knights are reuniting at Henry’s manor as I write this post. It’s time they report back to Queen Eleanor. What orders will she have for the men who remain loyal to her son, King Richard? Conspiracies, intrigue, action, adventure…and romance! What more could a reader want?

I mentioned last week that I participated in a Labor Day weekend writing marathon. My friend Marie described the #laboringaway objectives on her blog. Though I didn’t take part all 4 days, I made significant progress, jumping to a record high word count for a week: over 10K added.

You must be scratching your head about the word count thing, right? Generally, writers estimate 250 words a page. 10K is 40 pages. For me, it’s just a way of marking progress. I have no idea how long this book will be. I have broad plot points mapped out. (Mapped out meaning I have a 2-3 sentence description that needs to blossom into a scene or chapter.) Nine more to go, though I’m certain I’ll have double before it’s all over. New scene ideas pop into my head as I write. When I type “The End” we will all know how long the book will be.