May 29, 2014

R.L. Syme's The Runaway Highlander - Guest Post and {Giveaway}

While I have been writing for most of my life, there has been a huge shift for me over the last few years from being a hobby writer to being a professional writer. And what I’ve learned the most is that you have to think like a professional before you can be a professional.

Why do I say that?

Here are the hallmarks of my life as a hobbyist writer.

First, writing never comes first. Because I had to pay a mortgage, I always had to pick my job priorities and family priorities first. Writing always came last. It was reserved for “free” time. We all know how little free time we all have. So putting writing last means that it gets very little attention.

Second, writing habits focus around inspiration. When I lose inspiration, as a hobbyist, I stop writing. This is where Writer’s Block can derail an entire project. But when you’re a professional, you have to find ways around stalled inspiration. You can’t stop writing when you’re on deadline, and it’s good to cultivate those habits before you need them.

Third, I write whatever I want to write. It doesn’t matter what my editor wants. It doesn’t matter what my critique partners or writer’s group thinks. I don’t particularly care, as a hobbyist, what the “market” is doing. But once I know that I’m going to make money off my writing, I absolutely have to think about the market, and my editor, and my readers. I can no longer just willy-nilly do whatever I want. Unless I also don’t care if I pay my bills next year or not.

A lot of hobbyist writers are good, solid writers. And a lot of us (I include myself here because when I was a hobbyist, I definitely used to say these things) think that we could do a better job than whoever wrote the last really bad book we read. And maybe we could. But if we want to do it for a living, we have to do more than compare ourselves to other writers. And we need to do more than write when we feel like it. And we need to do more than write when we can squeeze it in. It just doesn’t work that way. You would never ask a doctor to squeeze in his office visits around the rest of his life. He’s a professional doctor. So during business hours, he’s doctoring. In the same way, during business hours, I am an author. I’m always writing or thinking about writing, but I definitely had to make the shift not long ago toward developing professional habits.

I like to think it’s made a difference in my career and my writing. I hope so.

What do you think? Do you have a hobby you’d like to turn into a profession? What steps do you plan to take to make that happen?

About the book
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: The Highland Renegades

Anne de Cheyne has a choice. She can play the dutiful daughter and allow her mother to sell her to a greasy English sheriff, or she can take control of her own life and find her own match. After a frightening run-in with her promised husband reveals a dark secret, she makes a desperate choice. Flight.

Aedan Donne needs easy money and no-questions-asked. When Milene de Cheyne offers him enough to pay all debts, requests complete silence, and pays half up front, just for a simple recovery, he can’t believe his luck… until he meets his mark. Anne’s beauty and passion ignite something Aedan can’t ignore, even as she leaves him in the dust. Suddenly, he finds himself wanting to capture the runaway Highland lady for himself.

The Highland Renegades Series
Book One: The Outcast Highlander
Book Two: The Runaway Highlander
Book Three: The Pirate Highlander — Coming Soon!

Buy the Book
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

About the Author
R.L. Syme works at a youth theatre, teaching kids performing arts and musical performance classes/camps when she’s not writing. Otherwise, she’s putting her Seminary degree to good use writing romance novels. Let not all those systematic theology classes go to waste…
For more information please visit R.L. Syme’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #RunawayHighlanderBlogTour #HistRom

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Runaway Highlander by R.L. Syme! (Open to US/Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 23, 2014

Vicky Alvear Shecter's Curses and Smoke - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

Curses and SmokePublication Date: May 27, 2014 Arthur A. Levine Books Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Genre: YA Historical
When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?
TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But his warrior's heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.
LUCIA is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she's been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air...
When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them -- to Lucia's father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Buy the Book

Vicky Alvear ShecterAbout the Author

Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of the young adult novel, CLEOPATRA'S MOON (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra's only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.

Author Links

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 12
Bibliophilia, Please
bookworm2bookworm's Blog
Tuesday, May 13
Broken Teepee
Passages to the Past
In the Hammock Blog
Wednesday, May 14
CelticLady's Reviews
The Most Happy Reader
I'd So Rather Be Reading
History From a Woman's Perspective
Thursday, May 15
Kinx's Book Nook
A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, May 16
Booktalk & More
The Mad Reviewer
Book Lovers Paradise
Saturday, May 17
SOS Aloha
Reading the Ages
Kelsey's Book Corner
Sunday, May 18
Giant Squid Books
WTF Are You Reading?
Monday, May 19
Caroline Wilson Writes
So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, May 20
West Metro Mommy
The True Book Addict
The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Wednesday, May 21
Book Nerd
Tower of Babel
Hardcover Feedback
Thursday, May 22
Paperback Princess
Bittersweet Enchantment
Friday, May 23
History Undressed
Historical Fiction Connection
Saturday, May 24
Literary Chanteuse
Just One More Chapter
Sunday, May 25
A Dream within a Dream
The Little Reader Library
Monday, May 26
Pages of Comfort
Griperang's Bookmarks
Raizza's Book Blogging Adventure
Tuesday, May 27
Princess of Eboli
Ageless Pages Reviews
The Musings of a Book Junkie


To win a copy of Curses & Smoke or a $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on May 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 28th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 photo 5d0bedea-42a1-42ca-9aac-7d15a9a3c0dc.png

May 22, 2014

E. Knight's My Lady Viper -- Excerpt and {Giveaway}


London, Court of Henry VIII

May 19, 1536


The queen would soon be dead. Her head cropped short of her neck for a crowd on Tower Green to watch.

Poor, poor Anne.

The king?s pardon we?d heard whispers of had not yet come. But surely he must! There was no coffin prepared. Not even a discarded box. Rumors that the king?s secretary Cromwell had convinced King Henry VIII against a pardon ran rampant. A lack of coffin had to be evidence that Cromwell had not succeeded.

Even as Anne Boleyn emerged from the Tower, dressed in a gray gown, her red, quilted petticoat showing with each step she took, the genteel fabric swishing back and forth, I looked about frantically for the king?s man to say this was all a show, that she would be spared. Her skin was pale, her lips red. Her black as night eyes calmly scanned the crowd, searching for something?perhaps the king himself. My heart went out to her. That she could put on such a fa?ade at the time of her execution only proved she was indeed a queen and of noble birth. Four of her ladies-in-waiting walked with her to the four-foot-tall scaffold. She passed out alms to the poor along the way, her movements slow and deliberate. Her last queenly duty. A shiver stole over my body.

Those who?d shunned her in life now greedily accepted her coin. How backward people were. Even I felt remorse for the events that would take place. For even though not a friend of mine, she did not deserve this.

Queen Anne, now dubbed Lady Anne?her marriage to the king annulled just hours ago?took the rickety steps slowly, regally, perhaps more like a queen now than I had ever seen her before, though she still did not touch the grace of the late Queen Katharine of Aragon?Henry VIII?s first wife?whose poise and decorum were unmatched at court. Lady Anne?s ladies appeared sullen, but in truth, not one shed a tear. Even my eyes stung, but these ladies were not her friends. They were ladies Henry had supplied her with in the Tower?women who would not sympathize with Anne.

?Good Christian people, I am come hither to die.? Her voice rang out over the hushed crowd. I swallowed hard, not certain that had I been in the same place I could have summoned the strength and found my voice.

I glanced briefly beside me at my husband, Edward. He stared intently before him and I wondered if he was seeing right through the spectacle, or if he watched every move, every person, as keenly as I did.

The crowd leaned in, some with hands covering their mouths, tears in their eyes. Others with brows furrowed, lips thinned in a grimace.

?Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, for by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.? She looked up toward the heavens, her long slim fingers folded gracefully in front of her. ?And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Oh, Lord, have mercy on me! To God I commend my soul.?

Anne reached up and removed her headdress, replacing it with a white cap one of her ladies handed to her, the same one who helped to tuck in her long raven hair. She was still beautiful, hauntingly so. The four ladies hurried to surround her, removing her white ermine cloak, her necklace.

The executioner stepped forward, begging her pardon for doing his duty to king and realm. She nodded solemnly, told him she willingly gave him her pardon. Still, her eyes searched, and I found myself searching, too. I?d had a hand in this, but... Guilt and panic twisted my stomach. I had never wanted her to die, just to be set aside as was good Queen Katharine. That is what everyone said would happen. He would not truly kill Anne Boleyn. It was all to frighten her, and the rest of us, into obedience, wasn?t it?

And yet, no messenger with a pardon.

No one shouting for this debacle to end. Sweat trickled down my spine and yet I was cold all over.

The executioner bade her to kneel and say her prayers. She knelt on wobbly knees, her frame slender and stiff, eyes glazing over, perhaps a moment of fear when she realized her execution was truly eminent. She righted herself, both knees locked together upon the straw that had been laid to catch her blood when the deathblow should be struck. I stifled the urge to run forward, to shout for them to stop. To beg my husband to search for the messenger who was surely on his way with the king?s pardon. Another wave of panic seized me. I took deep, gulping breaths and tried to maintain my own noble bearing.

Anne Boleyn straightened her skirts, smoothing them down the front and covering her feet behind her. She turned toward her ladies, asked them to pray for her, then faced the crowd.

?To Jesus Christ I commend my soul. Lord Jesu, receive my soul,? she repeated over and over, her lips moving, twitching, her fingers clasped tightly in front of her.

A moment of panic seemed to take control of her. She looked about herself aimlessly, fingered her cap, muttered to the executioner that perhaps she should take off the cap. The man tried to console her that he would strike when she was ready. He went to put the blindfold on her, but she stayed his hand, shaking her head.

I failed to quell the sob that escaped my throat. I could picture myself kneeling there. One moment full of confidence and poise, and the next my mind slipping and utter fear taking over. Within those few seconds of her fumbling, I prayed heartily His Majesty would come to pardon her. The executioner motioned to one of her ladies, who gently tied a linen cloth to her eyes, her piercing gaze having unsettled both the executioner and the crowd, myself included.

Oh, dear God! Have mercy!

With her voice shaken but strong, Anne told the man she was ready. She began to pray again, ?My God, have pity on my soul. Into thy hands, oh Jesu, have pity on me.?

The executioner silently pulled a four-foot, shining, steel blade from within the straw. He held it alight, the sun beaming off its length, drawing my eyes to the macabre sight.

?Bring me the sword,? he ordered loudly as he tiptoed behind her from the other direction. The man was tricking her about where he stood!

Anne turned her head, not aware he was no longer there. He lifted the sword high behind her, two-fisted, his hands trembling slightly, and then swung in an arcing motion down, severing her head from her neck in one swipe. I squeezed my eyes shut, my hands coming to my own slender neck.

It was done and could not be undone. This horrible deed was real. Not a dream. Not a lesson in anything except the cruelty of this world and the men in it. The cruelty of our king. And I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream, but could not, for I was sister-by-marriage to the next queen? Jane Seymour.

About the book
Publication Date: May 2014
Knight Media, LLC
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

May, 1536. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner’s axe on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snakepit court of Henry VIII. But at what cost?

Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread. If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her. Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen’s marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power. But Anne’s machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family’s rise is worth the loss of her own soul…

Book Two, Prisoner of the Queen, will be released later in 2014.

Praise for My Lady Viper

“E. Knight breathes new life and new scandal into the Tudors. This is an engrossing historical fiction tale that readers will love!” ~ Meg Wessel, A Bookish Affair

“A brilliant illustration of a capricious monarch and the nest of serpents that surrounded him, My Lady Viper is an absolute must. Intricately detailed, cleverly constructed and utterly irresistible.” ~ Erin, Flashlight Commentary

“Author E. Knight proves that though there are a plethora of Tudor novels out there a writer can still create a fresh and unique view of one of history’s most treacherous courts, that of England’s King Henry VIII. Schemes and scandalous trysts abound in ‘My Lady Viper’, making for a very captivating read. Racy and deliciously sensual, once started I was hard pressed to put the book down. I eagerly await the next installment in E. Knight’s stand-out Tales of the Tudor Courts series!” ~ Amy Bruno, Passages to the Past

Buy the Book
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia
Barnes & Noble

Audio: Coming June 16, 2014 — Available for Pre-Order

About the author
E. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers. Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age. Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed ( Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

She is avid in social media and readers can find her at:

Twitter (@ElizaKnight)

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #MyLadyViperBlogTour #EKnight #TudorHistFic

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a print or eBook copy - Winner's Choice - of My Lady Viper by E. Knight! (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 20, 2014

Rebecca Hazell's Solomon's Bride - Guest Post and {Giveaway}


Nowadays we’d like to think we’re modern, open-minded people, far removed from the kinds of horrors seen across Europe in the Middle Ages (and in the American colonies): the persecution of the followers of other religions, particularly of Jews, and the persecution of heretical (or unlucky) Christians by the Inquisition. We look at people in other countries enduring this kind of misery today and think it can’t happen here … surely …

My novels are set in the thirteenth century when your religion was a matter of life or death.

Ironically, the Western European kingdoms were the worst when it came to intolerance. In Islamic countries and across Asia, where the Mongols held sway, tolerance of other religions was not only much greater but also official.

In the Middle East, Muhammad’s revelations included official protection of “People of the Book,” i.e. Christians and Jews. They each had their own districts in large cities, surrounded with protective walls. Of course there were incidents, humiliations, and random harm done, but compared with Europe the Islamic countries were both more tolerant and more enlightened. This attitude took a beating when the Crusaders turned up, slew people, stole their treasures and land, and set up little personal states.

However, Islam developed a major problem, a great divide between two main branches: the Sunni and the Shi’a. The Sunni were conservative and literal, and for the most part were Arab. The early Sunni considered theirs the original and only legitimate form of Islam, and themselves to be superior to those who converted to it either peacefully or by force.

The other major branch of Islam, the Shi’a, tended to be conquered peoples who felt that the universal message of Muhammad had been twisted into an Arab-over-others caste system. In addition, the Shi’a, or Shi’ites developed a more mystical outlook, favoring a more esoteric interpretation of the Quran. The Shi’a soon split into many different variations where mystical leaders, Imams, founded lineages and gathered followers, each claiming to be the true line of Muhammad. As well, empires rose and fell; a Shi’a dynasty, the Fatimid, appeared in Egypt, flourished, and eventually collapsed. This is when the most infamous Shi’a splinter group arose: the Nizari. We know them as the Assassins, famed for their fanaticism and their political murders. The Nizari were feared and hated by just about everyone, including leaders of the Christian states.

Meanwhile in Asia, the Mongols, who had conquered most of it, didn’t care what anyone believed. There were Christians, Muslims, shamanists and so on amongst the leadership, and one policy for everyone: all religions are like fingers on the hand of God, and thus all must be not just tolerated and respected but officially supported. This policy gave them control over their subject peoples, and it lasted until they reached the Middle East, where Christian, Muslim and Jew were embroiled in deep enmities that were evidently contagious. One of the reasons the Mongol storm did not sweep across Europe and into Egypt was because the Mongol elite went to war with each other over religion: the old policy of obliterating resisting cities meant
that the center of Islam, Baghdad, was destroyed. That enraged a newly converted Muslim Khan, and civil war ensued.

All these complex relationships are the background for my second and third novels, Solomon’s Bride and Consolamentum (soon to be released). It’s part of a trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove, which is based on the fictional memoirs of a young Kievan princess, Sofia. Her story begins with the first novel, The Grip of God, and tells of her capture and enslavement by the invading Mongols. But in Solomon’s Bride, having escaped with a price on her head, Sofia finds herself in just as strange and challenging a world: that of Persia and the Crusader states. She confronts conflicting forces, always pursuing her goal of love and home, perhaps in Constantinople. But love and safety seem always just beyond her grasp until …

About the book
Solomon's Bride is the dramatic sequel to The Grip of God. Sofia, the heroine, a former princess from Kievan Rus' was enslaved by a Mongol nobleman and then taken as a concubine by the leader of the Mongol invasions, Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. Now, having fled the Mongols with a price on her head, Sofia escapes into Persia and what she believes will be safety, only to fall into the clutches of the Assassins, who seek to disrupt the Mongol empire. In a world at war, both outer and inner, the second phase of her adventures unfolds. Can she ever find safe haven, much less the lost love and family that was almost destroyed by the Mongols?

The novel is available both in paperback and Kindle versions and through your local bookstore by special order. The second book, Solomon's Bride, is out now and the third in the trilogy, Consolamentum, will be released soon.

About the author
Rebecca Hazell is a an award winning artist, author and educator. She has written, illustrated and published four non-fiction children’s books, created best selling educational filmstrips, designed educational craft kits for children and even created award winning needlepoint canvases.

She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honours BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history.

Rebecca lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1988 she and her family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in 2006 she and her husband moved to Vancouver Island. They live near their two adult children in the beautiful Cowichan Valley.

Visit Rebecca:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Visit the Official Tour Schedule

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win Kindle copies of The Grip of God and Solomon's Bride by Rebecca Internationally! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 19, 2014

Ann Weisgarber's The Promise - Guest Post

The Power of Photographs

Pictures are worth a thousand words, or so the expression goes. Pictures can also help writers find the right descriptive words. That’s how it is for me. My first novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, takes place in the South Dakota Badlands during 1917, and while writing it, I had pictures of the Badlands pinned on my bulletin board. I needed them. The thought of writing about landscape tied me in knots but the pictures helped me describe buttes and vast expanses of land. The most important one, though, was of a cookstove in a historic Badlands sod dugout.

The cookstove plays a key role in the novel. Rachel DuPree, the narrator, cannot stray far from it. There is always the next meal to prepare, there are always hungry children to feed. The cookstove represents the pressures of raising a family in an isolated landscape, a central theme of the novel.

The cookstove kept me anchored to that theme. Whenever the story wandered or fell into rabbit holes, the photograph reminded me what the story was about. Time after time, it brought me back to the heart of the book.

When I finished Rachel DuPree, I put the pictures away. Then, in Galveston, Texas, I went to the rural end of the island, climbed a fence, and took pictures of dilapidated house and a cattle holding pen. I tacked them to my bulletin board beside a map of 1890 Galveston. I was ready to begin The Promise, a novel that takes place just prior to and during the Galveston 1900 Storm, the worst natural disaster in the U.S. during the 20th Century.

I admire this house. It has survived hurricanes and tropical storms. I was told it was built during the 1920’s by a wealthy Galveston family that used it as a hunting cabin. It’s been abandoned for decades and during Ike, our last hurricane, I was sure it would blow over. It didn’t. I also expect the owners to tear it down. There are expensive bay homes nearby and the land is valuable. But as I write this, the house still stands with cattle grazing in its shadow.

In my mind’s eye, it’s the home of Oscar Williams, one of the characters in The Promise. The land that surrounds it is Oscar’s, and this is where one of the narrators, Catherine Wainwright, begins her married life. Nan Ogden, another narrator, is proud of the red brick chimney. Andre, Oscar’s five-year-old son, digs under the house in hopes of finding buried treasure.

The house represents the determination to survive even in the face of overwhelming loss, a major theme of the book. Like the cookstove for Rachel DuPree, the house anchored me to the story. It reminded me that the three main characters had starch in their backbones and weren’t quitters. It also reminded me that I couldn’t quit even when the writing was a challenge. The photograph of the house kept me from losing my way. I owe it my gratitude. It’s worth far more than a thousand words.

About the book
From the author of The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

1900. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar's farm on Galveston Island, Texas—a thousand miles from home—she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her. The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar's little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother. And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them. Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar’s housekeeper, Catherine’s sudden arrival has come as a great shock. For not only did she promise Oscar’s first wife that she would be the one to take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is struggling to suppress. And when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before.

Photo credit: Christine Meeker

About the author
Ann Weisgarber's first novel was The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. Weisgarber was nominated for England’s 2009 Orange Prize and for the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. In the United States, she won the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction. She was shortlisted for the Ohioana Book Award and was a Barnes and Noble Discover New Writer. Weisgarber serves on the selection committee for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction. Originally from Ohio, she now divides her time between Sugar Land, Texas and Galveston, Texas.

Her website is

May 16, 2014

Peni Jo Renner's Puritan Witch Book Blast

Please join Peni Jo Renner as she tours the blogosphere for Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames from April 28-May 30.

Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback

On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.

Praise for Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames
“Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames is a story of the fear, suspicion, and accusations as they permeate the surrounding communities. The narration was exquisite, really painting a picture in my head and bringing to life the language of the Puritans much better than it usually is done. I loved that it was based on a true story and that the story really expands on a piece of the darkest of American history. Such a cool read!” – Katelyn Hensel, Readers’ Favorite

“Elegantly written, meticulously researched, and historically accurate, the author’s work rings true. … Renner’s vast talent as a writer is enhanced by the fact that she’s telling the story of her own family, completely captivating from beginning to end.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

“In the colonial-era tale Puritan Witch, the plight of Rebecca Eames and her family plays out against the backdrop of one of the most intriguing periods in American history.” – Julie Castillo, writer and editor
Buy the Book

Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th greatgrandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachussetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into geneology and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.

After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.

I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.

For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.

Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule
Monday, April 28
Book Blast at Broken Teepee
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, April 29
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Wednesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover

Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, May 2
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, May 3
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Sunday, May 4
Book Blast at I’d Rather Be Reading

Monday, May 5
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner

Tuesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 7
Review at Books in the Burbs
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, May 8
Book Blast at Curling Up with a Good Book

Friday, May 9
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at Carpe Librum

Monday, May 12
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, May 13
Review & Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 14
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, May 15
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, May 16
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 19
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, May 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 21
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 22
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, May 23
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Reviews by Molly

Saturday, May 24
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, May 26
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, May 27
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Guest Post at Layered Pages

Wednesday, May 28
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 30
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, June 2
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

May 13, 2014

Caddy Rowland - Making History, Bohemian Style (Part 5)

Please welcome back historical fiction author and artist, Caddy Rowland, our regular contributor here at Historical Fiction Connection.

The most popular spot for bohemian artists of the nineteenth century was Paris, most particularly Montmartre. Officially part of Paris since the 1850’s, it still maintained the look of a small village, and residents there fiercely considered themselves separate.

Streets were mostly dirt roads, with only a few cobblestoned. There was no running water, gas, or electricity far longer than the rest of Paris. The main reason for this is Montmartre sits along and on the highest hill in the area. It was a real problem trying to figure out a way to modernize the area because of the steep incline.

Although this is a more modern photograph, this gives you an idea of the way Montmartre was built and how steep it was from the bottom to the very top—and the top isn’t shown here yet!

Why did the artists gather in Montmartre? For the same reason artists gather in run-down, cheaper areas of cities today. They could afford it—barely. Since the war, Napoleon had issued orders to beautify the city. That meant old buildings that were damaged during the fighting got knocked down and rebuilt. The crappy, drafty, fire-trap facades that housed Paris artists were fixed up. Fixed up meant high rent. High rents meant bye-bye artists.

Because Montmartre had no city utilities it had no taxes. Also, the rent was cheap. But, there were two other important reasons artists began to flock to Montmartre once the first few relocated there. The first of these two additional reasons was the view. Being on the highest hill meant an uninterrupted of Paris spread out in its entire luster. Not only that, the buildings weren’t as close together, nor was there as many. This gave artists something they considered more precious than gold: light. Blessed light. They could see what they were painting in beautiful, undisturbed natural light. And, when they started to paint outside, they could find even more of it! 

The second of these two additional things? Wine! Cheap wine! There had been a nunnery in Montmartre for years, and one of the things it produced was very inexpensive vin rouge (red wine). These artists liked to have a good time almost as much as they liked to paint, so that extra benefit was something they appreciated. Of course, they were also found of absinthe and other alcohols, but it sure didn’t hurt to have cheap wine to fall back on.

Montmartre would grow to become a hub of artists, circus performers, anarchists, village residents, wagoneers, and the middle-class and upper-class coming for the evening on a lark. By the late nineteenth century it was full of cabarets, dance-halls, dens of other vices, and even a crude bowling alley! There was also a shooting gallery.

Montmartre was very much a village onto its own. It was rough and tumble, gritty and wild, creative and cunning. Artists were given wide berth. It was an unspoken law that with them, anything went. If they got drunk and passed out, they were left in peace. When morning came, they found their way out and back home. If they couldn’t afford to buy a meal, many places took a painting as payment. In fact, one place gave artists free soup at the end of the night.

There is much more to be said about their personal housing, the cabarets, and the lifestyles of these creative geniuses, way more than I can write in one post. I look forward to telling you more next month. For now, I’m going to think about all those steps. I’ll climb them in my mind. Perhaps that will burn a few calories. Then again, perhaps not.

Historical Fiction by Caddy Rowland: 

Contact and Social Media Info. For Caddy Rowland:

Author Email:

May 09, 2014

D. Grant Fitter's City of Promises - Guest Post and {Giveaway}

As much as my City of Promises novel is a cultural celebration of Mexico City lifestyles in the 1940s, as much as it turned into a romance, and as much as the tale is an historical account, the underlying current is a plot driven forward by the impact of and reaction to, rampant crime and corruption.

It is not surprising then, that so many readers and reviewers are drawn to the corruption aspect of the storyline, interested to know more about mafia culture during the decade commonly referred to as “Mexico’s Golden Age”. Mafia stories are popular here at home in the US, and have been explored from so many angles and in such abundance they could almost be a genre on to themselves.

To me it is a good thing some readers have tagged my book an excellent film noirsort of story. That suits me just fine, because to my way of thinking, that takes the novel out of the compact realm of mafia culture and into something more atmospheric, something more all-embodying.

I suppose that what I am driving toward is a way of saying the corruption in the Mexico of that period is something that reaches much deeper into the social structure of a country than the mafia culture we happen to be familiar with here. In fact, it isn’t really a mafia culture at all. Profiting from corruption is considered a rightful reward of political achievement. It is an entitlement in which the degree of impunity is directly scaled to a level of political importance from the President on down.

Where we might think of organized crime being a mob here and a family there trying to grab a profitable piece of the action, Mexicans accept that the political elite are going to extract as much as they can extract from the entire economy.

That is right. I am serious.

During the President Aleman era of the 1940s, there was barely an economic activity of any consequence that was not manipulated by the President’s “crime family”. The Miguel Aleman regime established a new standard, setting the bar for every administration that followed.

It is an extremely interesting charade.

A president is elected to a single, six year term and most use their window of opportunity to extract as much wealth as they possibly can within the time limit set down by the constitution. Mainly because of the degree of sophistication involved, his “crime family” deals all appear quite proper and Mexicans have a unique capacity to ignore reality if it is well disguised, the president literally gets away with murder. Or maybe it is a uniquely Mexican resignation that nothing will ever be done to change things so it is best to get on with living the best one can while the governing machine gorges itself on the nation’s wealth.

The history of the Aleman rise to the presidency and his term of office is littered with unexplained murders, extortion, strong arming, expropriated wealth, land theft, false contracts, kickbacks, and association with illegal businesses.

You might prefer to think it cannot be so, but political corruption there makes mafia culture here look like small potatoes. To do so would be perpetrating the lie.

About the book
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction

Is there an economic value of one’s soul? “By divine good fortune I live in the most glamorous era of a famously enticing city. By obscene misfortune I’m shut out by its ruling elite.” Daring ways to make it big are on offer in Mexico City in the 1940s, but best watch your back! If Arturo Fuentes barters virtue to maneuver in on the action, will the consequence of his choices be too much to bear?

The rebirth of one of the world’s most colorful cities forms the rich backdrop for this historically discerning tale of treachery, intrigue and political corruption.

“My entire family was stuck for generations in that isolated village south of Veracruz where I was born. When you’re fourteen, know you are a dreamer and learn to be a schemer, you can’t stay and so you start planning for the day.”

In 1941, 21-year-old Arturo Fuentes followed the beat to Mexico City.
“There was so much going on!”

Bottles of rum in smoke filled bars, sultry women and impassioned conversation, music and bright show lights calling. Murder and corruption.

“A man moving up meets all kinds of people in that seductive city. Powerful men to boost your business prospects or a real dish who will change your life. Without women, life is without drama.”

“Arturo has goodness in his heart. I could tell in an instant. He was so easy to love. Arturo couldn’t sense the warning signs like a woman does. That pack of important politicos sucked him in! You can’t play their games and expect to walk away.”

“She was right! Each day my reasons for quitting got bigger and the ways out got smaller. I had to do what I had to do to save my soul.”

Praise for City of Promises
… beautifully merging together historical fact with inspired fiction, this remarkable story is enlightening, illuminating and thoroughly compelling…” -Goodreads

“… a dazzling story of an eager young industrialist drawn to a myriad of big city temptations yielding experiences of tragedy, corruption, misfortune and prosperity …” – el Popular

“Fitter has efficiently dealt with time and place that makes the story come alive in the imaginations of the readers.” – Bookpleasures

About the Author
D. Grant Fitter is a citizen of North America. Born in Ontario, Canada and educated in Colorado, USA, he is convinced he was Mexican in his previous life. How else to explain such a strong attraction to Mexico and all things Mexican, including his wife.

His business career includes long stints of work in Mexico before yielding to a pesky urge to pursue freelance journalism for seventeen years. Meanwhile, Fitter’s Mexican roots continued to call. City of Promises is the product of his curiosity to understand why the culture of our close neighbors is so distant from our own.

He lives in Toronto and whenever possible, in a sunny hillside casita in the colonial town of Taxco, Guerrero.

Visit the other tours for more guest posts, reviews and giveaways - HFVBT TOUR SCHEDULE
Follow the tour on Twitter - #CityOfPromisesTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of City of Promises by D. Grant to U.S. only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 07, 2014

Spotlight - Alison Morton's Perfiditas {Giveaway}

About the book
Publication Date: October 17, 2013
SilverWood Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 1781321248
Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova.
Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’├ętat thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.
Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…
Watch the Book Trailer

Praise for Perfiditas“Alison Morton has built a fascinating, exotic world! Carina’s a bright, sassy detective with a winning dry sense of humour. I warmed to her quickly and wanted to find out how she dealt with the problems thrown in her path. The plot is pretty snappy too and gets off to a quick start which made it easy to keep turning the pages. There are a fair number of alternative historical fictions where Rome never disappeared, but for my money this is one of the better ones.” – Simon Scarrow, author of the Eagle (Macro and Cato) series
“I can’t resist an alternative history and Alison Morton writes one of the best. Powerful storytelling, vivid characters and a page-turning plot makes Alison Morton’s PERFIDITAS a must read.”– Jean Fullerton, author of the historical East London novels
“Pure enjoyment! A clever, complex plot set in the beguilingly convincing fictional country of Roma Nova. Scenes and characters are sometimes so vividly described that I felt I was watching a movie. This compelling tale rendered me inseparable from my copy right up to the last turn of the page.”– Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster

About the AuthorAlison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…
INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO which will be out in June 2014.

Visit the other tours for more guest posts, reviews and giveaways - HFVBT TOUR SCHEDULE
Follow the tour on Twitter - #PerfiditasTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Perfiditas by Alison to US/Canada!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 06, 2014

The Tiger and the Dove series - Rebecca Hazell

Rebecca Hazell, author of The Tiger and the Dove series. Books One and Two are out now, The Grip of God and Solomon's Bride. Stop by her blog and read about The Joys and Perils of Writing Historical Fiction. You'll also find out about some exciting new historical fiction out now or coming soon. Enjoy!

May 05, 2014

Stephanie Thornton's Daughter of the Gods - Guest post and {Giveaway}

Five Things I Learned About Egypt While Writing Daughter of the Gods

1. Ancient Egypt was full of magic. 

So much of life in ancient Egypt was dictated by what we would call magic, but they called it heka. There were magic (and extremely unlucky) days at the end of the year when Egyptians weren’t supposed to do anything. (Sort of like Sundays in Little House on the Prairie.) Amulets conveyed magical properties to both the dead and the living, helping guide souls through the afterlife and healing the sick.

2. Cats ruled!

I suspect ancient Egyptians would have approved of all the Facebook cat posts out there, for they were huge feline fans. More than one source I found claimed that Egyptians would shave their eyebrows out of grief when one of their cats died, and there are countless cat mummies, some even buried with mummified mice to keep them well-fed in the afterlife.

3. Food was bland… and boring.

The majority of Egyptians subsisted off of bread and beer, and even those would have been sub-par to modern standards, the bread being thin, flat, and typically full of desert sand that destroyed your teeth, while the beer was akin to barley sludge. Hatshepsut lucked out and got some delicacies like pomegranate salad and date wine, but still… I’d have starved to death if I lived in ancient Egypt.

4. Hatshepsut founded one of the world’s first zoos. 

After her trade mission to Punt (likely modern day Somalia), Hatshepsut had a collection of giraffes, baboons, and other African animals that needed a home, so she reportedly created a zoo within Thebes. It’s likely this was the first zoo ever opened to the public!

5. Hippos are flipping dangerous!

It’s not lions, tigers, or bears, but instead the hippo that is responsible for more human fatalities than any other animal in Africa. These nasty beasts can run at speeds over 20 mph and have giant teeth that can pretty much crush you in two. While this proved handy for one of the early scenes in Daughter
of the Gods, I suggest you steer clear of all hippos if you ever visit Africa.

About the book
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.

Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.

Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….

Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Praise for Daughter of the Gods
“Daughter of the Gods is a wonderfully intimate and dramatic evocation of Ancient Egypt, where one headstrong young woman dares to become pharaoh. Stephanie Thornton vividly portrays the heat and the danger, the passion and the heartbreak of Hatshepsut’s struggle, as she defies even the gods to ensure success on the throne of Egypt. A touching love story combines with a thrilling tale of death, courage and political intrigue to produce a superbly researched and powerfully written novel. This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A remarkable story, remarkably told.” -Kate Furnivall, author of Shadows on the Nile

“Stephanie Thornton’s heroines are bold, brave, and powerful–they make me want to stand up and cheer!” -Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City

“Daughter of the Gods is a full-out, total immersion experience of ancient Egypt. From her moving love affair with a commoner to her fierce and unwavering commitment to Egypt as a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut crackles with fascinating complexity. Her ka must be grinning with pleasure at this richly textured account of her life, one that is worthy of the great queen herself. “ -Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon “An epic saga that brings ancient Egypt to life with vivid imagery and lovely prose. Stephanie Thornton is a rising star!” -Stephanie Dray, author of Lily of the Nile

About the author
Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.

“The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora” is available from NAL/Penguin, and “Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” will hit the shelves May 2014 and “The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan” will follow in Fall 2014.

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton’s website. You can also find her onFacebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtags: #DaughteroftheGodsTour #StephanieThornton #Hatshepsut #VirtualBookTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton! (Open to U.S./Canada)

a Rafflecopter giveaway