June 29, 2015

Thomas M.D. Brooke's Roman Mask - Release Day!

Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Formats: Kindle & Paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action

What is it we normally expect of the leading character in our books? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Possibly with a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn’t have any of those. Cynicism – yes. Cowardice – possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends – absolutely!

It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome’s imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career. None of Rome’s fashionable parties are complete without him.

But he hides a secret.

After his nerve is broken in Germany, even the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat. But this doesn’t dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of womanising, wine and wild parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However, his scandalous life is interrupted by a summons from the emperor’s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial. The events will resound through history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg …

I have researched the calamitous history of the doomed legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, using a wide range of historical sources including the classical works of Tacitus and the more recent archaeological findings of the early 1990s in Kalkriese. I have put my complicated hero, who clearly suffers from the post-traumatic stress of his last encounter with the German tribes, at the centre of the events that rocked Rome to its foundations. How can a man, so flawed in so many respects, possibly impact on these terrible events? By his humanity, by coming to terms with his flaws, and learning to stop hating himself for them. It is a tale of betrayal and hardship, but also personal redemption.

Roman Mask Available At

About the Author
Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers’ tantrums.

Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke’s second novel, although this will be the first available for sale.

As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

For more information on Thomas M D Brooke, visit www.thomasmdbrooke.com and www.romanmask.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

June 25, 2015

Spotlight on Mary F. Burn's Isaac and Ishmael {Giveaway}

Please join Mary F. Burns as she tours the blogospere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Isaac and Ishmael: A Novel of Genesis from June 8-26.

Publication Date: November 15, 2014
Sand Hill Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction/Biblical

Isaac and Ishmael attempts to bring to human scale the legends and mythic dimensions of Abraham and Sarah, their sons Isaac and Ishmael, and Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons Esau and Jacob. Readers will experience the struggles, competition, betrayals and loves of these brothers, fathers and sons caught up in the overarching tension between time and eternity, a place where a new God is coming into being—Yahweh, the uncanny, irascible, mischievous, bargaining God who participated in the life of a new people and compelled them to a new way of being human.

The stormy relationship of Isaac and Ishmael has long passed into a tradition which looks to Isaac as the father of the Jewish people, and Ishmael as the father of the Arab people, particularly in Egypt. Similarly, while Jacob carries on his father’s heritage, becoming the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, his twin brother Esau, the red-haired archer who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup, is traditionally said to have departed for the North, and populated what would later become Rome. Isaac and Ishmael explores the thorny, complex yet delicate relations between these brothers and fathers, providing a more human understanding of the differences that arise between individuals and peoples, even now as the ancient tensions in the Middle East continue to flare up in modern confrontations and war. Ever present in the story are the strong, subtle and often ambitious women of Biblical legend: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Official Book Trailer

About the Author
Mary F. Burns is the author of ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, published by Sand Hill Review Press in November 2014. Other historical fiction includes THE SPOILS OF AVALON and PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2014, 2013), both books featuring the celebrated portrait painter, John Singer Sargent and his best friend, writer Violet Paget (aka Vernon Lee). Mary is a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a former member of the HNS Conference board of directors. Her debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010 by O-Books (John Hunt Publishers, UK). She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders). She will be part of two panels at the upcoming North American Historical Novel Society Conference in June in Denver, one on The Historical Mystery and the other on Art and Artists in Historical Fiction.

Ms. Burns was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where she earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, along with a high school teaching certificate. She relocated to San Francisco in 1976 where she now lives with her husband Stuart in the West Portal neighborhood.

Ms. Burns may be contacted by email at maryfburns@att.net. For more information please visit Mary Burns’s website at www.maryfburns.com. You can also connect with Mary on FacebookTwitter, andGoodreads, or read her blog posts at:

Tour Schedule
Hashtags: #IsaacandIshmaelBlogTour #HistoricalFiction
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @jwriter9

One copy - print or eBook - Open to US only for Print, Internationally for eBook. To enter, please comment below with your favorite historical story from the bible. Last day to enter: Thursday, July 9 at 11:59pm CST.

Rules– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

June 24, 2015

D.J. Niko's The Oracle - Cover Reveal and {Giveaway}

02_The Oracle_Cover

Publication Date: November 10, 2015 
Medallion Press 
Paperback; 456p 
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273 
Series: The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three 
Genre: Historical/Archeological Adventure     

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In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world. When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world. Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire. But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?

Pre-Order The Oracle at

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository 

About the Author

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO
Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel. Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE. In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels. Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at djnikobooks.com and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

The Oracle Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, June 15
100 Pages a Day
Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, June 16
Genre Queen
The Reading Queen
Wednesday, June 17
Book Nerd
Diana's Book Reviews
Thursday, June 18
The Lit Bitch
To Read, Or Not to Read
Friday, June 19
A Book Geek
Monday, June 22
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, June 23
Raven Haired Girl
CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, June 24
So Many Books, So Little Time
Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, June 25
Peeking Between the Pages
The Never-Ending Book
The True Book Addict
Friday, June 26
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter


To enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of The Oracle by D.J. Niko please complete the giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs! ⇒ Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, and Canada. ⇒Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 26th. ⇒You must be 18 or older to enter. ⇒Only one entry per household. ⇒All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. ⇒Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. ⇒Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

 The Oracle Cover Reveal + Giveaway

03_The Oracle_Cover Reveal Banner_FINAL

June 12, 2015

Charlotte Brentwood's The Vagabond Vicar - Guest Post and {Giveaway}

A Matter of Life and Death: Women in the Regency Period

As a modern woman in this frantic world of ours, it’s easy to romanticise the past and wish we were one of the regency ladies we love to read about. We imagine a glittering life of balls and horse-drawn carriages, grand estates and seaside excursions.

Those carriage rides could be very bumpy and uncomfortable, with distances between towns taking many hours. And the horses… let’s just say they don’t clean up after themselves. Even the people would have been quite, er, fragrant. But the economic realities of genteel Regency women are perhaps the greatest reason for us to be grateful we live in modern times.

It was extremely rare for a woman to inherit her family’s fortune. Even a generous dowry would go to her husband on marriage. A gentlewoman had no way of providing for herself. If she was not fortunate enough to marry, she would need to rely on her family for sustenance. On the death of her parents, a brother would need to agree to take her in. If circumstances didn’t work out, she would quickly drop down the social strata, with a governess being the best position she could hope for, and at worst she would need to go to London and find some manual labour to undertake. In extreme cases securing a husband could be a matter of life and death.

Once married, our gentlewoman wasn’t assured a happily-ever-after. Many marriages were purely an economic arrangement without much love or fidelity. Childbirth carried a high risk of complications or death, and of course with no contraception this would be endured many times. As a wife she was her husband’s property and he was in charge of her fate including where she lived and what she could spend. Although many women could do charity work to contribute to society, long years of “morning visits” and embroidery must have gotten quite tedious for intelligent minds.

It’s because of these circumstances that I love finding my heroines men who will not only secure their material happiness, but also love and contentment. It is and was a rare thing, and thankfully we can escape into stories where, despite the inevitable challenges, love prevails.

About the book
William Brook is an idealistic young cleric, desperate to escape dreary England for a mission adventure in exotic lands. It's his worst nightmare come true when he is posted to a parish in a small backwater village, populated with small-minded people and husband-hunting mamas. He’s determined not to form any ties and to escape the country as an independent single man.

A free spirit, Cecilia Grant is perfectly content to remain in her family home in Amberley village - when she's not wandering the countryside at all hours painting. Marriage options are few, but that won't stop her mother from engineering a match with one of the ruling family's sons. Cecilia attempts to win the man, but what is it about the new vicar and his brooding ways that is so appealing? Could he be the only one who has ever really understood her, and can she discover what he is running away from?

As William struggles not to fall in love with the lady's intoxicating beauty and mysterious eccentricity, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the villagers, despite their best efforts to alienate the newcomer. When he makes it clear he's not sticking around, Cecilia strives to restrain her blossoming feelings for him. Just when it seems love may triumph, dark secrets are revealed in Amberley and a scandal from William’s past may see the end of not only his career, but his chance at finding an everlasting love.

The Vagabond Vicar is an unashamedly romantic historical novel you'll fall in love with. If you love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, can't get enough of Downton Abbey or Cranford, or just prefer old-fashioned boy-meets-girl stories, try reading Charlotte Brentwood.

Sensuality level: sweet (only kissing)
Please note, although there is some mention of religious subject matter due to the hero's occupation, this is not an "inspirational" novel.

Photo from Goodreads

About the author
Charlotte developed serious crushes on a series of men from age fifteen: Darcy, Knightley, Wentworth and Brandon. A bookworm and scribbler for as long as she can remember, Charlotte always dreamed of sharing her stories with the world.

Earning a degree in communication studies, she was seduced by the emerging digital world and has since worked with the web and in marketing. She lives in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand.

When she's not toiling at her day job, writing or procrastinating on the Internet, Charlotte can be found snuggling with her cat Sophie, warbling at the piano, sipping a hot chocolate or enjoying the great outdoors.

Follow the instructions on the GLEAM form to enter for an eBook copy of The Vagabond Vicar. Open internationally!

The Vagabond Vicar Giveaway

June 10, 2015

Sophie Perinot's Medicis Daughter...Coming in December and Available Now for Pre-Order!

The wait is over. Sophie Perinot, author of The Sister Queens, has a new book available for pre-order! Medicis Daughter travels forward three-hundred years from Perinot’s last novel to the intrigue-riven French court of Charles IX, spinning the tale of beautiful princess Marguerite who walks the knife’s edge between the demands of her serpentine mother, Catherine de Medicis, and those of her own conscience. This is a coming-of-age story that will remind audiences that, when it comes to the 16th century, the Valois are even sexier than the Tudors—and just as treacherous.

Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot’s heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother’s schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot’s wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

Praise for Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois
“This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown. A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons!” –Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

“The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guise to the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!” –Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN

“Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot’s epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright.” –Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL

Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois Available for Pre-Order at

About the Author
SOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.

An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Find her among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on facebook at www.facebook.com/sophie.perinot.author.

Hashtag: #MedicisDaughterPreOrderBlitz #RenaissanceFrance #SexierthantheTudors

June 08, 2015

Florence Ratwatte's The Doppelganger - Guest Post

When I first had this urge to write a novel, the only thing I was sure of was its location. While quite young and impressionable, I spent a long vacation on a mist-hung tea plantation, surrounded by mountain chains, nearly 2,000 m. above sea level, in Sri Lanka’s central highlands. It was an incredibly beautiful place of tropical sunshine and frosty nights and I knew I’d have to stretch all the creativity I had with the plot and characters, to match the setting. 

As I wanted to publish in Britain, I thought a novel with a tea plantation backdrop set in the British colonial period (mine is a late 1930s – mid 1940s time-warp ), would appeal in this nation of dedicated Ceylon tea drinkers. And of course, Ceylon tea which became the undisputed global quality brand very quickly, was purely and very creditably, a British achievement. (The tea industry still uses Sri Lanka’s colonial name, Ceylon, as its world-renowned brand name.)

I had of course to build my story on hard facts, because make no mistake, despite the stunning enchantment of its production location, tea production is hard commerce. It has been so, come 2017, for 150 years, its superlative quality achieved with sweat and toil and relentless commitment. Under the gift-wrapping of beautiful scenery and gracious life-style of the tea planters, is the hard, round-the year routine of tea production. Growing and harvesting the tea leaf, then processing and packing it, goes on round the year, often round the clock in Sri Lanka’s tea plantations, to achieve the impeccable quality of Ceylon tea. Manned by driven men the Ceylon tea industry rose within 50 years, on the ashes of its coffee plantations devastated by a plant pest, to become the main supplier of premium teas to the world’s leading tea market, London’s Mincing Lane. 

Writing a novel with a Ceylon tea background, I had therefore to supplement my early experience of tea plantation life, with first-hand research and reading. My free-lance writing assignments sometimes took me to the tea country, and while working at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board I also had opportunities to visit tea estates (as tea plantations are always called in Sri Lanka), to get insights into a unique British country life transplanted in a sub-tropical location. I am also indebted to D.M. Forrest’s excellent ‘A Hundred Years of Ceylon Tea – 1867 – 1967’ (Chatto & Windus, London), commissioned by the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board, to mark the centenary of the first commercial planting of tea in Ceylon on Loolecandura Estate , Hewaheta, in 1867.

Writing The Doppelganger was thus not merely fulfilling but also enlightening and enjoyable and at every turn, new and delightful experiences rewarded my labour, which I hope I share with my readers.

About the book
On the borders of the misty High Forest tea plantation in Ceylon, Rachel Varuni, the daughter of a Scottish tea planter and a Ceylonese village girl, lives alone with her mother. Simple, frugal and hard, their life has a quality of unspoilt happiness, even if Rachel is sometimes haunted by her mixed parentage. She sees herself as a doppelgänger, belonging nowhere, and to no one.

Her dream of re-claiming her Scottish identity comes true when a letter from a lawyers' firm informs her of a bequest from an unnamed benefactor for Rachel to be educated at Ceylon's most exclusive boarding school.

Whilst the expensive education transforms Rachel unrecognisably, terror, the crushing hurdles of racism, spite and colonial injustice threaten to overwhelm her new life.

About the author
A sociology major of the University of Ceylon, Florence Ratwatte worked in the Sri Lanka Tourist Board until she took up free-lance writing. She lives deep in the beautiful ‘Ceylon tea' country, the backdrop of her first novel, The Doppelganger.

Publisher’s Website: www.austinmacauley.com  
Sales pages and book preview on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1849633584

June 05, 2015

Lee Ness's Hoplite: Olympian - Guest Post and {Giveaway}

It all started with a conversation over a cup of tea. A few of us at work read a lot of books and we all have a preference for historical fiction. The conversation was around which periods had not really been covered by the big hitters, like Scarrow, Cornwell and Iggulden. We couldn’t really think of any. It was an interesting conversation, but didn’t amount to anything. At the time I was writing a non-fiction book called The Sports Motivation Master Plan.

A year or so later, the Master Plan was off with the editor and I was at a loose end. I was still maintaining the same routine, up at 5am sat in front of the computer, but doing nothing productive. On the way to a competition with a mini-bus full of athletes, a 5 hour round trip on the motorway of mind-numbing frustration in a bus that was restricted to 56mph, I started to think about writing a novel, but what about?

There I was, with a bus full of athletes…….

And then, there it was. Ancient Olympics. (The idea of writing a contemporary novel about the Olympics came to mind, but it didn’t even interest me, never mind a reader!) I thought back to that conversation and tried to think of a major series of books set in Ancient Greece, and I couldn’t. Brilliant. I was sure there was, but the fact that none sprung to mind was good enough. By the time the bus journey finished I had the plot, not just for one book, but for a whole series.

I love Greece, and I’ve been there many times. I even plan to retire there when the time comes. Perfect. Except I knew scant amount about the history, only tourist levels of knowledge. Time to research. I read an excellent book called The Naked Olympics, by Tony Perrottet which gave me some great ideas and helped me decide the exact period I wanted to set it in. The aim wasn’t to write about specific historical events, only to use them as a backdrop. The aim was for the characters and the plot to carry the day.

During my research though, I found such a rich vein of content that if I’d simply picked Ancient Greece and dropped a pin in the timeline, I could have been content to write a book on where it landed. For example, I use a real character in my book called Pericles, the Polemarchos of Athens and his activities are on the fringe of the story. He comes into the story properly towards the end. But, if you read Pericles’ Wikipedia page, you could write a whole series of novels just from that! The period is absolutely fascinating.

As a final example, when I came to the end of Act 2 in the book, I wasn’t sure how to climax it. I knew the whole plot of Act 3, and I had got to a point where I wasn’t quite happy with how to get there. I got stuck for a week or so and went back to the research. I started with the setting. The story is set on the Island of Samos during the Siege in 440BC. I had a look at background on Samos and there it was. In the 6th century BC, a 1036m tunnel was excavated from both ends under Mount Kastro by a Greek Engineer called Eupalinos. The incredible accuracy was a feat for the first tunnel in known history to be dug using geometry and the second to be dug from both ends. The tunnel supplied the capital city with water and was of defensive importance in a siege as it was hidden. There it was, dropped in my lap on the first time of asking. And so the story continued…..

I finished the novel at the end of 2013, but as it was my first, I knew it wasn’t ready. It’s been edited innumerable times, the first 10 chapters have been removed and I’ve now rewritten it. I am a better writer now, more skilled and it is ready. I’m releasing it on e-book in parts over the course of this year, with the full book and paperback released at the end of November. The first three parts have the covers you can see at the top of this post (I design the covers myself and I’m quite proud of them).

The first draft of the second book in the series The Academy: Olympian Book 2 has just been finished. This one sees my protagonist, Alexander, meet up with some sworn enemies at a military academy and faces a battle of survival when all the odds are stacked against him. I will put it aside for a few months now while I write my next novel, the follow up to my technical contemporary thriller D.E.M. _ Deus Ex Machina, before I give it a good old editing. My aim is to release it early next year, followed by the third book set at an Olympic Academy and the fourth set at the Olympics over the course of the year. This is all to tie in with the 2016 Olympics of course.

About the book
Alexander decided that there was no-one around and started to move from under the ramp but, before he could make his escape, he felt the ship rock as loud tramping came from the gangplank. He froze in position while he tried to work out what this new sound meant. Whatever it was, the ship was noisier somehow. After listening for a short time, he realised that the troops were boarding the ship. He needed to get away, so he dragged himself fully our and from his hiding place and made his way to the ramp. Maybe he could just run past them all before they realised he was there. Then, to his horror, the ramp down into the hold started shaking and the tramping came closer as the soldiers started coming down it into the hold to shelter from the sun. He was trapped!

In 440BC, all the young Alexander wants to be is an Olympian. But while trying to follow his hoplite father, Alexander becomes trapped aboard a troop ship. His life spins out of control when making port, the seemingly benign state of Samos overthrows the mighty Athenian army and tragedy strikes. He soon realises that the foes in his own camp are more dangerous than the Samian rebels. When one of his only friends and allies on the island goes missing, Alexander has to further endanger his own life to try and find him but by doing so he puts his friend's life, and his mother back in Athens, in danger.

Excerpt from Chapter 3
The Samians continued to wait as the phalanx approached, and were in no hurry to come out to meet the Athenians. Alexander held his breath in anticipation of the crash of shields. He knew he shouldn’t look forward to it but he couldn’t help himself. People were going to die and he felt ashamed of himself when he realised with disappointment that this was not going to be the case here. The Samians wore light armour and the spears were short, not long like the ones protruding from the phalanx approaching them. Some did not even have spears. 

Alexander waited for the Samians to break and run, but they continued to wait, not particularly still, but neither were they making any effort to protect themselves. As the Athenians continued to close on them he became confused. He tried to spot how they were going to fight against the approaching phalanx or whether they were about to surrender. The Athenian phalanx accelerated forward covering the short distance remaining until the two armies met and he couldn’t understand why the Samians still made no move to advance or retreat. He couldn’t see their faces from this distance, but they were not moving and didn’t look like they were doing anything. 

When the Athenians came into range, a huge black cloud rose up from behind the siege wall, to the confusion of the watching Alexander. He struggled to process the scene unfolding before him. The Samians were moving now, the waiting over and commands from the Samian lines reached the ridge where he waited, the sound delayed by the distance. As he watched the Samians start to move, his mind caught up with the action unfolding before him. He returned his attention to the black cloud, which had now changed from an indistinct mass into thousands of arrows that climbed high into the blue sky, a faint hiss following them. They reached their zenith and then hovered suspended for a moment, caught above the phalanx. Alexander held his breath as he watched them riveted by the sight, the movements below forgotten. As if remembering their path, the arrows started on their new journey downward in a lethal rain. Alexander’s eyes widened and he sucked in a sharp breath. He clapped his hands to his face, riveted by the path of the arrows. 

In a moment of sudden and terrible clarity, he realised the magnitude of what he had done by coming here. His mother was alone back in Agryl and, because she was a Thracian, her status as a citizen came from his father and him, and they were both here. If his father perished and he wasn’t there either, she would lose everything, her husband, her home and her means of support. He didn’t know where she would go, if he would ever find her again. He had to do something, his panicked thoughts tumbled through his mind. He couldn’t get home now until the next transport returned. He had to try and protect his father somehow instead. The twelve year old boy protecting the seasoned veteran. It sounded ridiculous to his own mind, but he reasoned that there must be something he could do to help, with the rain of death descending on the phalanx below. He would work it out as he went along. With the decision made, he set off down the ridge at a run towards the imminent battle below.

About the author
I’m a Programme Manager by day, an athletics coach by night and get up with the lark to be a writer. Sometimes, I spend time with my wife, two kids and my dog as well. I used to write articles for stack.com, speedendurance.com and Athletics Weekly before the fiction bug took over my life. Now that’s all I write.

First Place winner will receive eBook editions of ...

Hoplite: Book One, Olympian (3 books total)
Part 1: Lysander
Part 2: The General
Part 3: Training 


a copy of D.E.M. - Deus Ex Machina (the author's contemporary technical thriller)

Five remaining winners will receive an eBook edition of Hoplite: Book One, Olympian, Part 1: 

Follow the instructions on the GLEAM form below to enter. Good luck!

Hoplite Giveaway

June 01, 2015

Sheila Myers' Imaginary Brightness - Guest Post

One of the challenges of writing historical fiction, I have come to realize, is the fear that what I write may construed as the truth. 

I am trying my best to stick to generally known facts about the family of Dr. Thomas C. Durant. Dr. Durant was one of the masterminds behind the transcontinental railroad and there is currently an AMC t.v. series about him and the railroad days called Hell on Wheels. 

But while he was busy building the railroad across the U.S., his family was sequestered abroad living it up on all the money he stole from taxpayers. My novel focuses on the time period after the railroad was constructed and his next venture developing the Adirondack wilderness where he owned ½ million acres. 

And it focuses especially his son, William West Durant. When it comes to writing this novel William has been an enigma to me. There are some things I just can't make up - like the date of his birth, or when he lived where. The fact that he divorced, was under financial duress, was sued by his sister - these are facts. 

What we may never really know however is what was going on in his mind while he was living his life. What was he thinking when he built that $200,000 yacht while sending his sister a paltry $200/month allowance to live on in England? There is the court testimony from his sister's lawsuit (Heloise Durant Rose vs. William West Durant, 1903) that sheds some light on the actual scandal. But it doesn't answer the question: where was William's chivalry?

And why did he divorce his wife after ten years of marriage and three children? The divorce case papers are sealed - I only have a few news articles written in 1898 to go by - will we ever really know what went on between William and Janet behind bedroom doors? I have to let my imagination wander.

William West Durant is famous because of the great camps he built in the Adirondacks, forging a unique style of rustic architecture. But what was he thinking when he built the Great Camp Uncas or Sagamore in the Adirondacks? What was he trying to prove? What was his motivation? Surely it could not be all for show and tell, yet he lost money on each venture. 

I know once I present my own fictional version of what might have motivated the man there will be those that will disagree with my interpretation. Let them. 

I am not writing this story to try to break new ground on the historian's account of his life. I am writing it to elucidate for the general public, a story of a man that embodies a lot of the human frailties and greatness that we all have within us. 

Along the way though I have discovered a few errors in William's biography. What to do with them while I write is another story in itself. To learn more about my research journey visit my blog at Tracking William West Durant

Watch the book trailer


Available May 31th, 2015 in print and eBook:

To order the ebook in the U.S. link here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UPFBCWU

For U.K. visitors link here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00UPFBCWU

About the author 
This is the second novel for Sheila Myers, a professor at a regional community college in Upstate New York where she lives with her husband and three children. Her first foray into writing, Ephemeral Summer, was a novel that explored her own passion for the environment in the beloved Finger Lakes region. With this new novel, Imaginary Brightness: a Durant family Saga, Myers tackles the complicated history of the development of the Adirondack Wilderness and the pioneers that pursued their vision of what some called ‘A Central Park for the World.’ “ She has kept a blog about her research journey as well as fastidious notes on her sources for historic characters portrayed in her novel. “Blogging about where I have gone, what libraries and museum archives I have visited, as well as the people that I have been researching has been the most interesting part about writing this novel on the Durant family and their connections.” She can be reached at lifeofwwd@gmail.com.