Wednesday, 27 November 2019

VIKING BRIDE ~ NEW RELEASE!


My new historical romance is released on Amazon Kindle today!

Here's the link : tiny.cc/ik7wgz

VIKING BRIDE is set in the Hebridean island of Lewis sometime around AD1040. It begins with the news that a marriage has been arranged that will break the hearts of two young people and force others into rash actions that have unsuspected consequences. There's lots of action and excitement as well for those who like a little more than a love story. 

Here’s the blurb ~
It was a marriage no one wanted, least of all the bride. 

She knew the groom loved someone else. But how would you avoid a forced marriage? Arrange a swift abduction? An accident? What happens when a third party takes a hand in the game and changes everything?

When chieftain Ragnar and his friend Grettir force the marriage on their offspring they have no idea of the powerful feelings they will unleash, nor the dreadful consequences that will follow. Set in the Hebrides in the eleventh century, it's  a time when  Christianity was taking hold in Viking communities slowly settling down as farmers and neighbours, but the old familiar gods had not quite been forgotten.

And heres's the cover: 



In AD 1040 MacBeth was High King of Alba and the Vikings were settling down in various parts of Scotland as neighbours and farmers. Emerging facts about the Vikings over the last few years would have us see them as less than rampaging warriors anxious to lop off heads, and more as settled neighbours; but I think they would still be a dominant force in any area they chose to settle and very dangerous to those who dared to argue with them. Among themselves, I am sure they were as happy, miserable, compassionate, cruel, cynical, greedy, envious and bloody-minded as people everywhere can be today. How they managed to blend in with the local populations makes a fascinating story. 

Northumberland nudges the border with Scotland and shares a good deal of its history. Ullapool is almost as close as London, and most of my holidays (apart from going to France in latter years) have been spent north of the border, including several in the Hebrides. I bicycled through the Uists one year when I was a good deal fitter than I am now, stayed in an old farmhouse in Arnol another year and various B&Bs throughout the islands later still. Got caught in a rainstorm on a gorgeous beach opposite Scarp and I can tell you it was a long, wet walk back to Hushinish!

I can’t say why I’ve always been interested in Scottish history, except that it began when I was about twelve with a book about ~ as you might guess ~ Mary Stewart. There is something in the air and the landscape of the west coast and the islands that resonates with me. A lady from Scotland turned up in my mother’s family tree about four generations back, but I really cannot blame it all on her! The land and the history simply proved more attractive to me than England and all those kings named Henry.

I have a degree in English and worked in academic libraries in the north east of England until retirement a few years ago. That’s when I began writing seriously and there are now twelve novels with my name on them – all historicals bar one. I hope you will enjoy my latest story and in the hope that you will, here are the links to follow: 

My Facebook Author page: @JenBlackauthor 
My books are listed on Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jen-Black/e/B003BZ8JNQ
My blog is https://jenblackathor.blogspot.com. I would be delighted to see you at any or all of them!



Friday, 22 November 2019

NaNoWriMo, I believe.

It is November.

 Lots of people are tapping away at their computer to take part in the Write a Novel in a Month competition. I think it results in a drop in posts on social media, and a drop in stats on my blog. Everybody else's blog too, I suspect. (I wonder if this makes it a bad month to bring out a new novel?)

I have never tried to do the 50,000 words in a month and I don't think I ever shall. For me it would require so much editing afterwards that it would be more time consuming than usual.

Now that I have finished Viking Bride  - and I have - both Kindle,  published on 27th of this month and - cross my fingers and hope the  proof looks all right when it arrives - the paperback, which might be a week or so later, I can take a deep breath and look around me.

I must do some PR work. It is so easy to forget, but it must be done. Otherwise no one knows I exist, and even less do they know my books exist. So in between dodging the rain during this miserable, flooded-fields November and washing Tim's paws every time we come back from a walk, I shall be busy exploring new ways of getting myself known. It has been a quiet month, with DH in Australia; just me and Tim.


Saturday, 16 November 2019

It was a marriage no one wanted

Here’s the blurb:
It was a marriage no one wanted.
Least of all the Borgunna and Asgeir.
When chieftain Ragnar and his friend Grettir force the marriage on their offspring they had no idea of the powerful feelings they would unleash, nor the dreadful consequences that would follow. Set in the Hebrides in the eleventh century, when Christianity was taking hold in Viking communities settling down as farmers and neighbours, the old familiar gods had not quite been forgotten.
If any of you read Far After Gold then you will recognise Flane ~ he re-appears in this story as wedding guest and distant cousin of chieftain Ragnar.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

We're getting close now!

Latest story is very close to publication.

I'm wondering if I should name a date and put it up for pre-order. I gather that is the accepted thing to do. Putting a deadline on it worries me!


The title is VIKING BRIDE, not  Viking Wedding as I earlier planned. I have yet to do all the fiddly bits - blurb,  tagline, categories and keywords. This story was originally intended for publication on my birthday  at the end of October, so perhaps I'll make it the end of November instead. Just in time for Christmas!

The cover is here - I hope you like it.  Believe me, a lot of effort has gone in to it!


Saturday, 2 November 2019

Lynn Bryant's new book



I don't often do Guest Posts, but I'm making an exception today for a writing colleague whose books I admire. (To celebrate her new publication, Lynnn is making the first book, An Unwilling Alliance available from 1st to 5th November 2019 FREE on Amazon here. Don't miss this opportunity!)
x



This Blighted Expedition is set during the disastrous Walcheren Campaign of 1809, where the largest British operation of the war, consisting of 40,000 men and around 600 ships fell apart due to a combination of poor planning, poor leadership, bad weather and an epidemic of ‘Walcheren fever’ which killed more than 4,000 men and left another 12,000 still sick by February 1810. It’s the second book in the Manxman series, which began with An Unwilling Alliance and is told from the point of view of six characters. 

Three of them are from the first book, including Captain Hugh Kelly, who is the Manxman of the title, his wife Roseen and his first officer, Lieutenant Alfred Durrell. There are two army men, Giles Fenwick, who later appears in the Peninsular War Saga and Ross Mackenzie, a new character and there is also a Dutchwoman, Katja de Groot. All the characters bring something different to the story, but if I had to make a choice, I would unhesitatingly say that this book belongs to Durrell.

Durrell is twenty-five at the start of this book, and has been in the navy since he was a boy. He comes from a family of minor gentry in Kent. Durrell’s father was not wealthy but was fortunate enough to have the patronage of the first Earl of Chatham and then later, after the Earl’s death, of his two sons, the second Earl and William Pitt, the prime minister.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, patronage was king. Put in it’s simplest terms, political patronage is the appointment of a man to a government post on the basis of partisan loyalty. In the days before Parliamentary reform, when many boroughs were controlled by a local landowner, this could also mean the gift of a seat in the House to a man whose duty it then was to support his patron’s interests.

Durrell’s father had enjoyed the patronage of the Pitt family right from the start of his career. He felt an immense sense of loyalty to the family, and held several different posts under the old Earl and then his sons, ending up working at the Admiralty when the second Earl of Chatham was First Lord of the Admiralty.

Both Henry and Alfred Durrell were helped in the early stages of their career by the Pitt interest. The two brothers went to Harrow, but while Henry fitted in well and enjoyed his schooldays, Alfred was unhappy and it was decided that he should go into the navy. He began his navy career as an ‘officers’ servant’ and worked his way up to midshipman and then to lieutenant. It was necessary to take an examination to become a lieutenant, and we are told had Durrell passed his with ridiculously high marks. From there, he held junior lieutenants posts on several different ships before obtaining the post of first lieutenant aboard the Iris in 1806. He was young for the post, and Hugh Kelly offered it to him on the basis of a letter of recommendation from the Earl of Chatham.

Durrell’s relationship with Kelly is one of the pleasures of writing these books. In the early stages, it seems very unlikely that the two men can be friends. They come from very different backgrounds and have very different personalities. Kelly is Manx, his father held a smallholding near South Barrule and drank himself to death after his landlord evicted him for failing to keep the land in good order. Kelly joined the navy as a volunteer, and worked his way up through the ranks without patronage or privilege to help him. He gained his education through the navy and although these days he is very comfortable mixing with all social classes, he’s aware that some people will always see him as a Manx farm boy.

Durrell, in contrast, comes from a good family who mix in the highest circles. He and his brother were presented at court and he has maintained links with the Pitt family. Despite this, he lacks Kelly’s social confidence. He is tall and slim, with the sense that he never knows what to do with his long limbs. We know nothing about his relationships with women, except that his brother teases him about his lack of experience. Durrell likes rules and regulations and has a strong sense of duty and a very good work ethic. He is also brilliant, with a phenomenal memory but in his early days with Hugh, he has no idea when to shut up and his lengthy speeches make Hugh want to thump him.
In An Unwilling Alliance, we see Durrell and Hugh getting to know each other and learning to work together. It isn’t easy, and there are times when Hugh wonders if he made a mistake in his choice, but gradually we see the ice thawing and by the time we meet Durrell at the beginning of This Blighted Expedition, Hugh knows his value and is furious when Sir Home Popham manages to get Durrell seconded to him for the duration of the campaign.

Durrell has a very good relationship with Roseen, Hugh’s young wife. They are fairly close in age, although Roseen is often quite maternal towards him, which makes Hugh laugh. Despite Durrell’s shyness around women, he has a younger sister at home, and once he gets to know Roseen, they develop a close friendship which probably helped to smooth out some of the early difficulties between Hugh and Durrell.

Durrell is a serious-minded young man and feels immense loyalty to the Earl of Chatham, the rather ineffectual commander of the army in Walcheren. There is a sense of mutual liking and even affection between them although the relationship is always very formal; Durrell understands the rules of patronage and theirs is not an equal relationship.

During this book, Durrell is away from the Iris for much of the time, acting as aide-de-camp to Sir Home Popham. Popham and Durrell met in the first book and their relationship is very complicated. Durrell has huge admiration for Popham’s abilities and is keen to learn from him, but he does not trust him and feels uncomfortable about serving under him.

While Durrell was working his way up the ranks of the navy, his elder brother Henry was appointed to a series of government posts through the Pitt interest, very much as his father was. Unlike his father, Henry is not content with this. He is ambitious and unscrupulous and Durrell quickly realises that there is more to Henry’s appointment to Lord Chatham’s staff during the campaign than meets the eye. In addition, Henry is paying court to Miss Collingwood, the very young daughter of a City merchant and Durrell does not trust his brother’s intentions towards her. As the campaign begins to fall apart, the relationship between Durrell and Henry begins to crumble, revealing tensions that began in boyhood.

A friend who has read This Blighted Expedition, told me that she loved this book because in this campaign, the typical hero-types don’t get much opportunity to be heroic. Instead, the real hero of this book is First Lieutenant Alfred Durrell; awkward, earnest and brilliant. This book is Durrell’s coming-of-age. Durrell started out as a somewhat comic foil to Hugh Kelly and proceeded to steal every scene I’ve ever written him into. I hope my readers come to love him as much as I do.

This Blighted Expedition is available on Amazon kindle here and will be out in paperback by the end of November. To celebrate publication, the first book, An Unwilling Alliance is available from 1st to 5th November 2019 FREE on Amazon here.

In the meantime, I am about to embark on book six of the Peninsular War Saga. It’s called An Unrelenting Enmity and to give myself a kick start with the writing process, I am attempting NaNaWriMo for the first time ever. To follow my progress why not join me on my blog over at Writing with Labradors, or on Facebook or Twitter?