Category Archives: Historical Fiction Books

Featured Historical Military Thriller Book and Interview: Dark September by Brendan Gerad O’Brien @obgowan


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Alternate History Thriller set in WW2


dark september

South Wales is the setting for this brutal and disturbing World War 2 thriller.
Germany invades mainland Britain. Storm-troopers swarm ashore along the South Wales beaches, determined to capture the Welsh Steelworks and Coal Mines.

Newport is blitzed. Irishman Danny O’Shea’s house is bombed and his wife is killed. His young son Adam has learning difficulties. Terrified of what the Nazis will do to him, O’Shea tries to take him to neutral Ireland.

Penniless and desperate, they head for Fishguard. But on an isolated Welsh road they witness an attack on a German convoy by Welsh Nationalists. The convoy is carrying some mysterious boxes that were discovered in a secret laboratory near Brecon.

German Captain Eric Weiss, responsible for the boxes safe transfer to Berlin, knows that his job – even his life – depends on him getting them back.

But, following a major disagreement among the Welsh insurgents, the boxes disappear. Then O’Shea goes to the aid of a dying woman – and both the Germans and the insurgents believe she’s told him where the boxes are.

Suddenly O’Shea is separated from his son and catapulted into a world of betrayal and brutal double-cross. Pursued by both the Germans and the insurgents, his only concern is to find Adam and get him to safety.

Buy this book now at:

Amazon l Amazon UK l Tirgearr Publishing l Smashwords l iBooks l Kobo l Barnes and Noble


Excerpt:

Suddenly a violent flash lit up the inside of the tram like a burst of sunlight For a moment there was total silence, then an almighty thud blew the windows of the tram into fragments of flying glass.

Everyone leapt from their seats and scrambled for the door, clutching frantically at each other as they fell over themselves, pushing blindly to find the way out.

‘For God’s sake, Danny.’ Elwyn grabbed at O’Shea’s coat. ‘Get out, get out!’

More explosions pounded down the street like enormous footsteps, flattening everything in their path. The building on their right erupted, spewing shattered stone out through the huge plate glass window.

The tram bucked violently and started to roll over. It skidded across the road in a screech of torn metal and flying sparks before it hit the front of a building with such force the impact bounced it upright again.

Then the noise stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and an eerie silence fell down around them.

‘Oh, my good God …’

The desperate groan came from somewhere behind O’Shea. He opened his eyes slowly, but all he could see was the side of Williams’ head pressed back against his face.

He drew back instinctively and went to sit up, and he froze when something sharp dug into his back, high up under his shoulder blade. Sagging back down again he took a slow, deep breath. Then very slowly he worked his hand around so he could reach behind him.

What he felt was cold and pointed and very long. And his heart skipped a beat because it was also very wet and sticky.

He gave it a gentle tug but there was no movement in it. It felt like a solid steel rod. He gave a harder tug, but again there was no give.

‘Brian!’ It was a loud whisper and it was right in his ear, but Williams didn’t move.

O’Shea brought his arm slowly and carefully around to the front again and he gave the head a gentle shove. And he recoiled in horror as it slowly rolled sideways and dropped with a dull thud onto the floor.

  *******


About the Author:

brandan gerald obrien

I was born in Tralee, Ireland and now live in Newport, South Wales, United Kingdom.
As a child I spent his summer holidays in Listowel, Co Kerry where my uncle Moss Scanlon had a Harness Maker’s shop. It was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters, and it was there that my love of storytelling was kindled by the likes of John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, who often wandered in for a chat and bit of jovial banter. The numerous short stories I’ve written based on those characters have been published in various anthologies and eMags over the years. I have self-published twenty of them in a collection called Dreamin’ Dreams [2] and also as stand-alone stories with Amazon.com.
Dark September [3] is my first novel and is published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Gallows Field [4] is my second thriller and is also set in WW2, only this time in Ireland.
A Pale Moon Was Rising [5] is a follow up thriller involving Eamon Foley again.

Website l Facebook l Twitter


Author Interview:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came every September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it, and I won the

Anyway, I left school at fourteen and went to work in hotels in Killarney, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement and colourful buzz of the tourist industry – remember, this was in the 60s when the Beatles were creating a heady revolution and engulfing the youth with hopes and dreams of a wonderful future – so I felt no great urgency to write. I dreamed of being a writer, of course. I wanted to be a writer – but somehow life just got in the way.

When I joined the Royal Navy at eighteen I was sent to the Far East, and I spent the first three years between Singapore and Hong Kong, and again I was having so much fun I didn’t get to write anything, although there were loads of stories bursting to get out.

It was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to put pen to paper, and the result was Dark September, an alternative history thriller set in wartime Britain.

I loved writing it – I always wrote in longhand in a school notebook – but I hated having to type it. After working a ten-hour day, I’d be clattering away into the early hours of the morning on an old Olivetti typewriter and getting on everyone’s nerves. Then I’d scream in frustration when I’d discover that hours of hard work were ruined by some horrendous typo error, and I’d have to start all over again.

Amazingly, I found an agent almost immediately, but she insisted on some major changes so I spent a year re-writing it.

Unfortunately my agent died suddenly and the agency closed. It took ages to find another agent, but he too demanded even more changes. It became too much for Jennifer and the kids, so my manuscript hibernated in the attic for a few years.

Then Jennifer bought me a computer for Christmas – with Spellcheck! This time finding an agent has proved impossibility – they only want to represent people who’re famous for just being famous – so I self-published it with Smashwords.com, though I still longed to have it accepted by a mainstream publisher.

Now I’m delighted to say the book has been accepted by Tirgearr Publishing – an Irish company, and I’m delighted with the result and all the hard work they’ve put into it to make it a great success.

How many books do you currently have published?

*Four in total;

·         Dark September, Gallows Field, A Pale Moon Was Rising are all novels.

·         Dreamin’ Dreams is a collection of 20 short stories all set in Ireland.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

It would be very hard to choose. I love the writing journey and the odd way a story can take on a life of its own.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?

I am. It is also a thriller set in Ireland during the sixties and concerns a young American girl backpacking across the country during a beautiful summer. But she wanders into a sinister little seaside village where people are being randomly attacked. …

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The way a story develops. Often the end product bears only a passing resemblance to what I set out to write.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

No. I just continue to scribble word down in a notebook and then have great fun in shaping them into something solid later.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

It happened all the time. In Dark September the beautiful, loving and kind Cerys turned into someone I would not like to be involved in real life.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite?

Eamon Foley in A Pale Moon Was Rising

Least favorite?

Liam Edge, Garda Sergeant in Gallows Field.

Why?

He used his position to pursue a brutal relationship with a vulnerable woman.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

When the baby Adam O’Shea fell into the River Usk and his mother’s desperate chase to catch up with him and save him.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

Let your imagination run riot. There is no right and wrong way to tell a story. Always try to use your own voice.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with?

Gallows Field

Why?

Because it introduced Eamon Foley who also appears in the follow up A pale Moon Was Rising.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release,  a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

Dark September has a few surprises that shocked me when they took me in a direction where I was out of my comfort zone.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

Anything by Andy McNab, Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves.

What about television shows? Movies?

Thrillers and Murder stories.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life?

The Wind In The Willows.

Why?

I fell into that book as a child and lived every day with the characters.

Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?

Not at the moment. I’m a very shy and private person and hate being the centre of attention.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

I wish I’d put more effort into it when I was younger.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers?

Just to repeat what the experts say – you’ll never get rich by writing a book so sit back and enjoy the journey.


Vampire Historical Fiction Spotlight and Interview: Unremarkable by Geoff Habiger,‎ Coy Kissee @TangentGeoff @TangentCoy


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Supernatural/Historical Fiction


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Release Date: 2/14/18

In 1920s Chicago, postal employee Saul Imbierowicz is unwittingly swept up in a city-wide conflict between rival gangs, federal agents, and supernatural forces beyond his control.

After striking out on his own from his overbearing Jewish family, Saul quickly becomes involved with the seductive and mysterious Moira. He soon becomes mixed up in the events of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, witnessing the shooting and fleeing from the scene after Moira takes a bullet and is presumed dead.

However, Moira is far from dead, and due to her influence Saul finds himself increasingly entangled in the rival factions seeking control over the city, coming face to face with Bugs Moran, Al Capone, and the federal agents pursuing both.

Everybody wants something from Saul, but will he be able to save himself and his family, and uncover the supernatural secrets of the city, before it’s too late?

Buy this book now at:

Amazon l Amazon UK l Smashwords l KoboBarnes and Noble


Excerpt:

“Al Capone murdered me tonight.”
I could hear the creak of the chair as the agent leaned forward. His face was in shadow, not that I would have been able to see him anyway. I’m pretty sure that he introduced himself to me, but I forget his name. I couldn’t think straight or feel much of anything; drugs, I guessed. I knew that my words were true, but it was just taking my body some time to realize the facts. I could feel the bandage on my head, wrapped too tight, covering my face and wrapping around to cover my left eye. My right eye was swollen to a narrow slit through which I could barely make out my surroundings.
I knew that I was in a hospital; the sharp smell of alcohol and antiseptic assaulted my nose. I was lying in a hospital bed; I could see the white sheets that were stretched over my body and the frame of a white metal bed past my feet. A dim light came from my left, its feeble glow barely reaching the foot of the bed. Something was taped to my left arm, and I could just make out a large bandage across my chest. “Gevalt! Mom’s going to be pissed at me,” I sighed, and then had to laugh at the absurdity of my words.
The man in the shadows spoke. “Mr. Imbierowicz, I need you to tell me exactly how Alphonse Capone murdered you.” He didn’t seem to be bothered by the incongruity of that statement. Apparently, he could see the same thing that my body had not yet figured out.
“Call me Saul. My father is Mr. Imbierowicz,” I said with a croaking rasp. I coughed and pain overcame the drugs and shot through my chest. I had a metallic taste in my mouth and I spat out a glob of blood and phlegm across the white bedding. Somebody to my left held a glass of water with a straw to my mouth. I smelled the scent of lavender and caught a glimpse of red hair. My heart leapt, but it was quickly dashed as an unfamiliar voice said, “Here, drink this.”
I sipped the water slowly, letting it quench my parched lips and wash the bloody taste from my mouth. I got too greedy and water dribbled down my chin, which was quickly wiped away by my red-haired imposter. “Not too quickly, you’ll have plenty of time to finish.” She’s obviously not a doctor, I mean, has she even seen me?
At that point a blurry figure stepped up to the bed, lifting a clipboard. I could hear pages being flipped. A man’s voice said, “There’s nothing more we can do for him. At best we can make him comfortable. You need to leave.”
“No,” the seated man said. “I need Mr. Imbierowicz to tell me what happened.” His voice was sharp and authoritative.


About the Authors:

Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee have been life-long friends since high school in Manhattan, Kansas. (The Little Apple, which was a much better place to grow up than the Big Apple, in our humble opinion.) We love reading, baseball, cats, role-playing games, comics, and board games (not necessarily in that order and sometimes the cats can be very trying). The idea for Unremarkable was sparked on a trip to Chicago and the basic idea was fleshed out on the return drive back to Kansas City. Coy lives with his wife in Lenexa, Kansas. Geoff lives with his wife and son in Tijeras, New Mexico.

Facebook l Geoff Habiger on Twitter l Coy Kissee on Twitter


Interview:

How many books do you currently have published? 

Just one novel, but a second one will be published in April. Geoff has non-fiction children’s activity book about dinosaurs that was previously published.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why? 

Both of them! Each has its own unique challenges, characters and situations. With Unremarkable, Saul is a fun character to write because he’s a nobody, so it’s basically like trying to figure out what I’d do and just write that. LOL But it was also fun to write historical characters like “Bugs” Moran and Al Capone, and to get their voices rights.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?

Yes, we are currently working on sequels to both Unremarkable and Wrath of the Fury Blade. The next book featuring Saul is called Untouchable and it is the furthest along in writing the draft. We hope to have it ready to go next year.

What do you enjoy most about writing? 

Sharing our ideas with others. And getting to explore the worlds we create.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? 

Funny, there was an interesting discussion on a Facebook writer’s group that Geoff follows just this morning about this and the answers ran the gambit from no to yes and ever iteration in between. We find that we might write ourselves into corners, or our characters do things that we aren’t sure about and what will come next. In those cases we let things sit for a day or two, then go back and re-read what we’ve already written. That is usually sufficient to remove any block.

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? 

Always. The characters are who they are, and even if you try to get them to do something they can be stubborn. Occasionally they will surprise you with something they do and as the author you just have to go with it.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why? 

In Unremarkable, Moira has to be my favorite because of who she is and what she does in the story. Saul is an easy guy to like too, and it’s fun to work with him. As to a least favorite, that’s a hard choice. Capone might come close just because of his ruthlessness. He’s not the kind of man I’d willingly want to hang around with.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

There is a scene in Unremarkable where Saul revisits the sight of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – the garage on North Clark Street in Chicago. That was fun as I got to research about the building and the scene and being able to put Saul there was a lot of fun.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

Keep at it, and don’t give up. That serves both as a lesson I’ve learned and advice for new writers. Unremarkable started 7 years ago as an idea and took a long time to get out. Had we given up it never would have happened.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?

Well, Unremarkable since it’s the first one out. It’s the first in the series featuring Saul, and it is important in learning about what happens to him as we get future books in the series completed.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release,  a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

Our next release is Wrath of the Fury Blade and is a fantasy crime fiction story. It’s basically a police procedural set in a world of elves and magic. Geoff always wanted to do a story focusing on the idea of how would cops in a world filled with magic and monsters solve crimes. This book features some strong characters and a great fantasy setting, and the combination of two genres will appeal to fans of both.

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read? 

Geoff and Coy read pretty much everything. We tend to be heavy on fantasy and science fiction, but if it’s a good book we will read it. Geoff also reads a lot of history books too, it helps balance out all of the fiction.

What about television shows? Movies?

We both have the same tastes in TV shows and movies – probably why we became friends in high school. Movies – anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. TV we love shows like Dark Matter (sad it got cancelled), Travellers, the various Marvel shows, Big Bang Theory, and pretty much anything with good writing.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

Just one book? I don’t think either one of us could narrow it down that far. There are certain authors that we both like, and who we follow, and as writers we try to emulate. Jim Butcher, Laurel K Hamilton, Richard Preston and Lincoln Child, Terry Pratchett; all of them are authors we read and respect and hope we can live up to.

Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?

Yes! We try to post our events and signings on our Facebook page, as well as Geoff’s author page on Goodreads. We have a signing the weekend of Feb 16 to 18 at Planet Comicon in Kansas City. We have some local book signings set up in the Albuquerque area in March and April, and have another convention, KantCon, in July in Kansas City.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say? 

Better late than never!

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers?

Just that we hope that you will take the time to read our books, and that we hope that you will enjoy them. We are always open to questions from our readers.


Featured Historical Fiction Book and Author Q&A: In a Time Never Known by Kat Michels @FictionofTruth


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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction


in a time never known

Wife, mother, spy. Anna is hiding a dangerous secret from her family, especially her Confederate General husband. However, it is not her covert work for the Union that she finds the most daunting, it is dealing with her spoiled Southern belle daughter. When Kady discovers that her mother has been leading a carefully constructed double life, she must choose whether to work by her mother’s side in the shadows or return to the pampered life of a Southern planter’s daughter.

Cast into the bloody fray of one of the deadliest wars in our history, In a Time Never Known is the story of women who courageously defy the expectations of the era to do unprecedented things, altering the course of American history and their own lives.

Free on Kindle Unlimited:

buy1._V192207739_ amazon uk buy button 3

Barnes and Noble


Excerpt:

“When at long last Benjamin quietly locked the door to the shop and pulled Anna into the back, her face flushed and her heart raced, whether from fear or excitement she did not know. Before she could decide, Benjamin kissed her. It was like no feeling she had ever had, like no feeling she knew was even possible. A warmth spread throughout her body that she felt down to her toes. He kissed her again and again, until the warmth centralized itself into her lower abdomen and she veritably ached for him. His hands held her firmly, one on her lower back, and the other stroking rhythmically on the side of her bodice, nearly driving her to distraction. She wanted so badly to be free of her many layers, to feel his flesh on hers, to ease her aching as only this man could, right here and right now.

Then he stopped. As he pulled away from her, she saw that he was breathing as heavily as she. He looked down, slightly shaking his head, then looked up to her with the kindest, most loving eyes and gently placed his hand against her cheek. She felt so small next to him, his hand could have easily engulfed her entire face. He ever so carefully stroked her cheek with his thumb until she had to close her eyes to keep the tears at bay.”


About the Author:

kat michels

Kat Michels lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her two puggles. She is the author of a historical fiction novel, three children’s book, and a series of mini-biographies about extraordinary American women. Kat has received multiple awards for her writing, including two regional Emmys for her work on short-form documentaries.

Website l Patreon l Twitter l Goodreads l Facebook


Author Q&A:

Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?

I’ve been writing stories and poetry for as long as I can remember. My life has been a series of scraps of paper and napkins with brilliant, spur-of-the-moment ideas hastily scribbled on them. Despite this, it took until I was in my mid-twenties before it occurred to me that not only was I a writer, I wanted to write as my profession. From there I started dabbling wherever I could. I wrote the narrative to a couple of short-form documentaries. I was a theater critic in Los Angeles for four-ish* years. I discovered the joy of uncovering and writing about historical American women who did extraordinary things, but received little to no recognition for their work. And the need for a heartfelt baby shower gift plus the chorus of a show tune getting stuck in my head became my introduction to the world of children’s books. While I have a place in my heart for all of these things, I have learned that it is really in the novel that I feel most at home. I love a good sweeping story that carries you away – to watch, to read, and to write.

* I say “ish” because I still get pulled back in by the siren song of live theater and write a review when I see something that truly blows me away.

How many books do you currently have published?

Four – three children’s books (Children Have Got to Be Carefully Taught, 10 Cheeky Monkeys, Monsters in the Night) and one novel.

What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why?

The novel is my favorite medium to tell a story, but children’s books are my favorite to write. I get to play around with rhymes and poetic structure and they are way less work than a novel. As much as I love writing, it is work. When the entire book is less than 100 words, it feels less like work and more like play.

Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?

I am actually working on four different books right now, which didn’t seem crazy until I said it. Now it sounds a little crazy. I don’t know which one will be my next release, but the smart money is on one of the children’s books. I work with two different illustrators, so I’m working on the text for a prequel to Monsters in the Night for M. McCune to work on, and a book called Because I’m a Girl, for A. Sutton to work on. Then I am also working on the sequel to In a Time Never Known, as well as a non-fiction book about the Civil Rights Movement as told through the eyes of the women who fought for the movement.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I get to write the stories that I’ve always wanted to read.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

I have come to realize that I don’t get writer’s block, I get writer’s fear. The ideas are flowing and I have words to put down, but I am afraid that what I put down won’t be good. That I won’t be able to make the words on the page match the idea in my head. This fear builds to the point that I become paralyzed and incapable of putting anything down on the page. At those times, I turn to friends for encouragement. There was one piece of advice/encouragement that has really stuck with me. I called a friend one night and told her all about this book that I wanted to write, but was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. She said to me, “The first draft may suck. But you have the talent, the passion and the dedication to fix it, so that the final draft will be great. Just start.” Those words are now my mantra when the self-doubt starts to creep in, “Just start.”

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

Yes – Jacob. No matter what I threw at that guy, he would always come out on top. He’s just one of those characters that can see where he will benefit in every situation he’s faced with. In early drafts I fought against that, because I wanted him to have some sort of comeuppance. It never worked, and I just wound up with chapters that felt false. Eventually I gave in and let Jacob be Jacob.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?

Mary, Anna’s personal slave, is hands down my favorite character. She is so strong, both by necessity to live as a slave, but also as part of her nature. She has learned how to survive in the circumstances she was dealt without giving up her dignity and sense of self. Yet despite all of her hardships, her capacity to love and empathize with those around her is immeasurable. If I could sit down and have a chat over a cup of coffee with anyone in my book, it would be Mary.

I don’t know that I would call him my least favorite character, but definitely the character that I love to hate is General Bell. He has a set of rules by which he lives and he is going to stick to them even if it means turning on those he holds most dear. He is just so awful in so many ways, but underneath that cruel exterior is a sad little boy that didn’t get held enough as a child. There are times that I want to give him a hug, then punch him in the face, because he both needs and deserves both.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

The battle scene was particularly fun to write. I studied stage combat for seven years, so I got up and acted out most of the fight to help me get the descriptions and the flow of the violence correct.

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

I have learned so much about criticism. First and foremost, that any critique is simply one person’s opinion about the work in front of them. Outside of memoirs that work has nothing to do with you as a person. While the work may feel like your baby, it’s not, and a critique of that work is not an attack on you as a person. As such, it should not be taken personally. Which is definitely easier said than done. However, the only way to get better is to let people read your work, and comment. So this realization and acceptance made me more open to criticism. The more open I was, the more I actually listened, and the better my writing became.

The one thing that I always tell new writers is that they have to learn the difference between criticism (This sucks!) and constructive criticism (Jane reacting this way feels forced. Why is she so disturbed by the situation?). On the whole, the former can be ignored and the latter should be considered. But at the end of the day, it’s your work. Just because someone says they don’t like something, doesn’t mean you have to change it. Now if ten people all say the same thing, then you have a problem that needs addressing.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

My most recent children’s book was released on October 5, and I had a lot of fun doing a recorded reading of it for Youtube. https://youtu.be/VCWeDDSV4lY

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

When I’m reading for pleasure my tastes run toward historical fiction, fantasy and young adult. I live in this world every day, so when I read I like to enter a different world. That being said, what gets me excited about a story is when an author can paint the world of their book so vividly that I can picture every aspect of it in my mind. I’m willing to overlook mediocre writing or shaky plots as long as the world-building is fantastic. Suck me into your world and you’ve got me till the end. Young Adult books are my guilty pleasures. They read quickly, often have better writing than adult books, and sometimes are downright silly. Sometimes you just need to read about a giant peach smashing some nasty aunts.

What about television shows? Movies?

I’ll watch just about anything by Joss Whedon. Years ago, I was reading an interview he did in a magazine and came across a piece of advice that has stuck with me. He said, “Give your audience everything they want, but in the worst possible way.” That concept intrigues me, and I love to see him play that out in his work. I also love how he is able to inject moments of comedy into even the most serious of scenes. As George Bernard Shaw said, “”Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” I’m also a huge fan of Criminal Minds. I find the psychology of deviant behavior fascinating.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

Loath as I am to admit it, I was not a big reader when I was younger. I read what was required of me for school or the summer reading program at the library, but no more. Books were often chosen because they contained the correct page count for an assignment, with little regard to their content. In 7th grade, I read The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye because it was so long, I could be done with the semester’s reading assignment after one book. I didn’t even know what it was about when I opened it and read the first page. Ironically, it was the first book that truly enveloped me in a story and made me fall in love with sweeping historical dramas. Looking back, that is probably where the kernel for historical fiction was planted.

The only other book that truly stands out to me is, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I read it in college and was completely absorbed in the concept of alternate truths, which was sparked specifically by her discussion of Shakespeare’s sister. What if she had been the brilliant writer in the family? What if she had tried to pursue that career? Would we have even a tenth of the canon that we do today, had the author been a woman instead of a man? I was fascinated by the ‘what ifs.’ I already had a love for history, and reading her words opened up a whole new angle of exploration.

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Did I say rewrite? Rewrite again!


Historical Fiction Book: Claimed by the Enemy by Shauna Roberts @ShaunaRoberts5


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Historical Fiction, Romance


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Crown Princess Nindalla knows the terrifying power of Sargon of Akkad’s army: Ten years ago, it destroyed her home city and killed her parents. Now the nightmare is happening again. The Akkadians conquer her new home, Susa; make her a widow; and strip her of her rank. Nindalla vows to protect her children from her enemies by any means necessary, including marrying whoever can shield them best. With plots swirling around her, can she trust her instincts to tell friends from foes?

Farm boy Ur-sag-enki was forced to become a soldier in the Akkadian army ten years ago after it destroyed his home and left him with nothing. When the Akkadians conquer Susa, he is awarded its governorship. He looks forward to settling down to the normal family life he craves. First, though, he must keep control of Susa despite enemies who exploit his inexperience, and he must gain legitimacy by persuading beautiful former princess Nindalla to marry him. But can he win her heart when it was his hand that struck down her husband?

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Excerpt:

Ur-sag-enki forced his thoughts to cold, heartless strategy. General Qisim had sent him to find Crown Princess Nindalla for a reason. To hold the city, he would her child alive and healthy and in his possession. The boy was the last of the royal line of Susa. Marrying Nindalla would legitimize Ur-sag-enki’s governorship.

His liver twinged, rebelling at the governor’s orders. Demons could take the man and his cold plotting! Ur-sag-enki would marry Nindalla because she was his destiny. The gods had decreed it at his birth. The shiny black hair he yearned to touch, the beautiful eyes he longed to look into, the rare smile he wanted to coax out—he had known they would be his since the day of the New Year’s Festival. He had never loved another woman, never expected to.

He had been waiting for her.

His skin tingled from his feet to his scalp. He had looked for her in every conquered city, his heart pounding each time he caught a glance of long, heavy hair or a certain arrogant tilt of the head. He had been disappointed too many times to count.

Now his restless body long to jump around or dance. He grinned widely. I must look like a fool. But he didn’t care. At last the gods had brought him to her! I will protect her and keep her safe always. I will let no one, not General Qisim, not even King Sargon himself, harm her or her baby.

He untied the amulet from his neck. It was a baked-clay figurine of a goat, an animal sacred to the god Enki. He wound the leather thong around it and tucked it inside the baby’s bindings.

Nindalla looked up and smiled. “You have done well, soldier. Find Prince Humba. Learn what name I should give his son and successor. Then bring my daughters here.”

He squeezed his eyelids shut as his body suffered the pain hers know to feel. The woman had daughters in the palace, a palace overrun by soldiers drunk on blood and beer and victory.

“My lady—” He stopped. He couldn’t tell her, not yet. She deserved a time of happiness with her baby first.


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About the Author:

Shauna Roberts writes fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and romance. She currently lives in Southern California. She was a copyeditor and an award-winning freelance medical and science writer for 21 years before retiring to write fiction. A graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, she now serves on the Clarion Foundation Board of Directors. In 2011 she won the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers’ Grant.

 

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Free Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


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Christmas, Classic, Gothic, Historical Fiction


 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London on December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease on life during this time. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy”. Dickens believed the best way to reach the broadest segment of the population regarding his concerns about poverty and social injustice was to write a deeply felt Christmas story rather than polemical pamphlets and essays. Dickens’ career as a best-selling author was on the wane, and the writer felt he needed to produce a tale that would prove both profitable and popular. Dickens’ visit to the work-worn industrial city of Manchester was the “spark” that fired the author to produce a story about the poor, a repentant miser, and redemption that would become A Christmas Carol. The forces that inspired Dickens to create a powerful, impressive and enduring tale were the profoundly humiliating experiences of his childhood, the plight of the poor and their children during the boom decades of the 1830s and 1840s, and Washington Irving’s essays on old English Christmas traditions published in his Sketch Book (1820); and fairy tales and nursery stories, as well as satirical essays and religious tracts.

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My Thoughts on A Christmas Carol:

Over the years I have seen just about every film version there is of this book, but I’d never read the book itself. Now that I have, though, I can truly see why this book is a classic, and I’d be quite surprised if it wasn’t on my yearly holiday read list in the future. This book spans several genres, including Christmas, Gothic, and historical fiction, and it’s written in a way that can only make one nostalgic for books from days gone bye.

If you’ve seen the various film versions as I have, it’s easy enough to insert your favorite “Ebenezer” actor in your mind as you’re reading through the pages.  In fact, it would be hard not to. The text is flowing enough that you can just imagine sitting in this old, cold, draft building as you watch all of this unfolding in front of your very eyes. Charles Dickens was–and is–an amazing writer.

Historical Fiction Feature: Windshift by Joyce Faulkner @WindshiftInn @JoyceFaulkner


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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction


windshift

Shirley Maxwell is a troubled young woman facing a complicated personal life, a culture that restricts female options, and a world at war. Yet, together with friends — Emmie, Delores, and Mags — she joins Jackie Cochran’s Women’s Air Service Pi-lots program (WASP) and participates in the adventure, challenges, and tragedies of the 1940s with determination and courage. Shirley and her friends know what they are tackling will be hard, but they do it anyway and relish the effort. In the process, they change what is possible in the minds of young girls everywhere. Lively and moving, Windshift inspires and educates. Appropriate for history buffs interest-ed in the World War II era, students of social change, those who love tales of der-ring do and those who just love airplanes.

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Reviews:

This book challenges all women to think about how they got to where they are today. These four women pilots were true pioneers — and passionate. Their determination, hurt, tears, strength, and fighting-back attitude make you wonder … would I have that kind of courage?

~ Marlyce Stockinger, Branson.com

WINDSHIFT takes the reader on a journey with four women who are caught up in change greater than themselves. We gain and lose along with our heroines and in the end, we are rooting for them to achieve the ultimate triumph.

~ Paul Bruno, The History Czar®

WINDSHIFT  is an original, fascinating window into the experiences of female pilots in World War II … I highly recommend this book … to all people — men and women, young and old, who … enjoy a good read.

~Midwest Book Reviews, Alma Bond


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The Windshift Inn

“The country is at war — not just our young men — but all of us.”

~ George Maxwell, CEO American View Communications September, 1943

I’m a pilot. It’s an unusual occupation for a woman, but I didn’t have a choice. I had some trouble in college and wanted to quit. As you can imagine, Father objected. Then he did a story on Amelia and realized I might be useful. He bought a small plane and paid for my lessons. For five years after that, I flew him from place to place. It was handy for the editor of a magazine and he could keep an eye on me — the perfect daughter gone wrong.

I’d still be his personal pilot if it weren’t for the war. He heard through his connections that Jackie Cochran was recruiting women pilots for a special assignment. He thought if I was part of the program, I could send him newsy little nuggets from time to time. I think he also felt bad he didn’t have a son to send off to fight Tojo or Hitler. He arranged for my interview before I ever heard about the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. What could I do but supply the man his paternal bragging rights? After all, it got me out from under his thumb. Almost.

I am a cautious, mediocre pilot but I was accepted into the program anyway. Father must have put in the fix. Training began in May of 1943 at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. There were twenty girls in my class. Every one of them was much more qualified than me. We lived in long barracks that we called bays and it was one long pajama party. I kept to myself. I didn’t want to disappoint Father again so I worked hard to keep up. Fourteen of us graduated in August. Our initial mission was to ferry aircraft around the country for the Army. My first assignment was in Cold Creek, Ohio — two hours south of Cleveland by train. We tested new planes as they came off the Wiley Aircraft assembly line and then delivered them to Camp Morgan in California.

Jackie Cochran arranged for us to stay in a boarding house just outside Cold Creek with the unlikely name of The Windshift Inn. The owner was a widow in her late forties by the name of Myrtle Jones. She worked as a welder during the day and cooked for her guests in the evening. One thing I can say about Myrtle, she kept a nice neat place. I always felt better when I was at the inn.

I was assigned to the third floor, which was divided into two big rooms. The south dormitory was the largest, filled with six workers from the aircraft factory. The WASP took the north suite, which had room for four girls. Each of us had a bed, a dresser, a nightstand, and a small writing table. There wasn’t a wardrobe. You need to hang things up for them to look nice. Other than that, the space was adequate. I was the first one to check in so I got my pick of beds. I chose the one without a window. I was unpacking when a plain young woman came in and threw her bags on the bed nearest the door. “How ya doing, hoss?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m Emmie Hopkins.” She shook my hand.

I thought she should do something about all those freckles — stay out of the sun or bleach them or cover them and her bangs were too long for someone her age. “My name’s Shirley Maxwell,” I told her and went back to hanging my clothes on the freestanding rack Myrtle found for me. Emmie pulled open the top drawer of her dresser and dumped the contents of her suitcase into it. I pretended not to notice. “I think one of your dresses is out of order there, Shirley,” she said and then laughed when I hurried to check it in alarm. “Gotcha!”

I never liked being teased — it was seldom funny and it always hurt. “Who else is staying here, do you know?” I tucked a lavender sachet into the pocket of my robe before I hung it on the rack facing right, just before my blouse section.


About Joyce Faulkner:

JOYCE FAULKNER has been writing and winning awards since
she was 15 years old. Losing Patience, a collection of short  ction,
was given an honorable mention from Writers’ Notes Magazine in
2005. Her  rst novel, In the Shadow of Suribachi received a Gold
Medal for Historical Fiction from Military Writers Society of
America (MWSA) in 2006 and Honorable Mention from Branson
Stars and Flags in 2010. Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors written
with coauthor Pat McGrath Avery took First Place in Biography
from Branson Stars and Flags in 2010. Role Call: Women’s Voices
— also written with Pat McGrath Avery — was First Place in
Branson Stars and Flags 2011 for a Non ction Anthology.

In July 2013, MWSA named Joyce and two other fine authors
finalists for Author of the Year. In addition, the audio version of
USERNAME was nominated for an MWSA award.  e results
will be announced the end of September, 2013.

In August of 2013, Windshift received the Silver
Medal for Historical Literature Contemporary (1940 – NOW) in
Dan Poynter’s Global eBooks Awards Program.

Joyce’s background includes a career in engineering and business.
She’s written for a variety of publications — from the American Oil
and Gas Journal and Ag Pilot International to Salute, the Branson
Bugle, and MWSA Dispatches. Her articles, columns, and stories
have appeared in a number of online ezines including Women’s
Independent Press, Scribe & Quill, and  e Celebrity Cafe. Her book For Shrieking Out Loud is a compilation of her column with Celebrity Café.com “ e Weekly Shriek.”

Joyce served as the President of Military Writers Society of America from 2009-2012. She’s also a book and magazine designer and ghostwriter.

Joyce Faulkner’s books move and intrigue — and are  at-out fun to read. Writing in a variety of genres, her stories focus on the complexities of life — those things that make one think.  ey can scare the pants off of you — and then make you laugh. They make you cry and they make you wonder why things are the way they are. She tells the stories that others can’t tell for themselves.

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