When did I become a pizza critic?

depositphotos_2593330_l-2015I’ve been a life-long reader and can’t imagine anything more satisfying than curling up with a book and losing yourself in its pages. If I were a foodie, it would be equivalent of eating my way through five star restaurants. As a child of immigrant parents, I had to wait until the first grade before someone taught me how to read. Before then, I would look at books and pretend I knew how. My older cousin once called my bluff, and I made up some story on the spot to convince him. And so a writer was born.

Imagine my despair when I realized that somewhere along the road, I’ve become a pizza critic. Figuratively, of course.

Early in my husband’s career, he went from a typical university student who lived on pizza to working in the food service industry as, yes, a pizza inspector. It was his job, over many years, and for a couple of major pizza chains, to go to these stores and check their product (and other things). For years, he couldn’t order a pizza without analysing the darned thing: from the rise and the stretch and the distribution of toppings and the quality of the cheese. Those of you in the industry are nodding your heads because these terms have meaning for you. But as a civilian, all you know is that the pizza tastes good (or not).

Tasty pizza and falling ingredients isolated on white

I am a pizza critic but instead of analyzing the rise and stretch of the pie, I’m picking apart books for style, character, pacing and plot. I don’t mean to do it, but living and breathing story as a writer makes me more sensitive to gaps on the page. Where I may, as a civilian, have finished reading the book with a vague sense of ‘meh’, now I can’t help analyzing it. The character arc is weak. There is no ‘world normal’ in this, the pacing is off, etc. It’s diminished my reading experience in one way because I’m no longer able to slug through ‘meh’ anymore; on the other hand, it’s heightened my appreciation for well-crafted stories and the subtlety that underscores exquisite storytelling. Here are a couple of examples.

A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe

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If you want to learn how to weave backstory through a complex story, read Guy Vanderhaeghe and take notes. We all get tripped up with backstory; new writers especially want to throw in their character’s cereal eating preferences and family tree. But good backstory, really the only kind we should include on the page, matters to the story. It has a place in the character arc. It isn’t a nice to know; it’s a must understand. True masters know how to thread the backstory with perfect balance. Too much in the beginning and the reader is snoring. Too little, the writer is accused of withholding. The trick, having admired and picked apart A Good Man, is to give us as much as we need when we need it and no more.

In A Good Man, the story opens with the protagonist’s father, a man of wealth, has bought out his commission. We learn that the protagonist’s service record hasn’t been exemplary and there is a blemish that no one talks about. That’s all for now and that’s enough. But as the story progresses, we gradually learn more about this past action until the end we understand how deeply this has impacted the character’s sense of worth. We see how this backstory has driven the character. It’s a beautifully constructed and flawlessly revealed backstory.

The Crystal Cave (Merlin trilogy) by Mary Stewart

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I read this book to pieces in my late teenage through my twenties until the binding gave out. It took me twenty-five years to finally get another copy, and with a great deal of trepidation, I re-read it. Loved it! As well as re-discovering the magic of this story, I now saw it from fresh eyes. No one does description like Mary Stewart.

As writers, we are encouraged to use the five senses. Done well, it transports the reader into the fictional world. Done not so well, it overloads the reader with meaningless description. Think of a stew with every known spice thrown in willy-nilly.

Mary Stewart uses description not only to establish setting but also to show character. The protagonist in this trilogy, the Merlin of legend, is a man with psychic gifts and above average intelligence. He’s an herbalist, a naturalist, a bard and an engineer. No magic wand. He’s a character in tune with the world around him and the descriptions heighten that link. Instead of calling it a bird, the writer names it a marlin. She uses the specific rather than the general.

I’ve only covered two elements of craft: backstory and description. In my pizza analogy, these would be the equivalent of rise and stretch.

Now your turn. Do you have any examples that show good distribution of toppings and quality of cheese?

 

 

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The Household Cavalry

When the last king of England, your father, has been executed by his enemies and you are finally reclaiming the throne, the first thing you want to do is get yourself a professional bodyguard, a crack force entirely loyal to you.

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By John Michael Wright – Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

This is what Charles II did when he was restored to the throne of England, Ireland and Scotland. As the Prince of Wales, he had been living with civil war since the age of twelve. He had seen men turn against his father and fight against him on the battlefield and turn  him over to his enemies. It’s no surprise that Charles valued loyalty above all else.

Before the Restoration in 1660, Charles raised a bodyguard in Holland which consisted of Royalists who had been exiled with him. After the Restoration, they were recognized as his personal guard. The present Household Cavalry traces back to its history to this Life Guard as well as two other regiments, the Royal House Guards (the Blues) and the Royal Regiment of Dragoons (the Royals).

Today, the Household Cavalry is easily distinguished by the famous black horses accompanying the Queen in ceremonial parades, but the regiments have a long history of military service.

I can’t discuss the Horse Guards without mentioning something about these magnificent black horses. They come from Irish draught horse stock, and they were the standard mount of the Horse Guards at least from the latter part of the 17th century.

If you’re in London, the Household Cavalry Museum and Knightsbridge barracks are situated immediately across from the Banqueting House in Whitehall. Ironically, this is the place where Charles’s father was beheaded by Parliament. Or perhaps not so ironic.

Every time I visit London, I have to visit the Household Cavalry. This time, I was able to catch the changing of the Queen’s Guards. The Household Cavalry regiments ride from the Knightsbridge Barracks to Buckingham Palace. This changing of the Queen’s Guards happens at the Horse Guards Parade.

Here’s a fun question. If you were a King (or Queen) in exile and suddenly came into your own, what would be the first thing you’d do? Drop me a line and have fun with your answer.

Posted in 17th century, Charles Stuart | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Author Spotlight: Elaine Cougler

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It is my pleasure to introduce historical fiction Indie author, Elaine Cougler. Elaine is the author of The Loyalist’s Wife, The Loyalist’s Luck and her third book, The Loyalist Legacy, just came out.

Elaine is a fellow Canadian whose trilogy covers the lives of British Loyalists from the American Revolution, beyond the  War of 1812 to the Rebellion of 1838. From these conflicts, Canada emerged as a nation.

Join me in welcoming Elaine as she shares her thoughts on the writing process.


Did you have any scene which was more difficult to write than the others? One that you pondered whether to include or not? 

Actually there were two scenes that I wondered whether to include. This book was so important to me for its fictional story but also for the way it had the ability to speak to some of the exciting and heartbreaking history going on in Upper Canada (Ontario) after the War of 1812. I put in a scene about a Chippewa couple and their struggles with the white people changing their way of life forever with the reservation system. And I knew that long before the American Civil War (1860-65) slavery was part of North America and I wanted to work some of that into my novel. Imagining what my characters might have been experiencing along these lines provided a way for me to present these issues in a natural way. These topics were not my main focus but they provided the backdrop to the central themes of pioneering and the vast differences in human nature.

What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme?

I am most interested in our human ability to rise again, over and over, no matter what difficulties we must overcome. People can be so strong, so amazing. One of my favorite songs is We Rise Again, made popular a few years ago here in Canada by the Rankin Family; in fact, our family quartet sang that at several events, a joy to remember. (Yes, I’m a singer.:-)) And music has such a way of taking a theme and imprinting it on our minds. I try to do the same with my writing; hence, Lucy’s strength and John’s ability to find the positives reoccur with their children’s families in my latest book, The Loyalist Legacy.

Is there an aspect of writing that you favor over others, e.g. dialogue, exposition, description of a scene, setting, or character, etc.? Is there one that is more difficult for you?

The thing I most like about writing is getting so into my characters and their stories that I find myself completely shut off from the actual world around me. I picture the rushing rivers, the single furrow ploughs, and I smell the sweat of a day’s struggle to survive but most of all, I join my characters in heart-stopping danger and unimaginable sadness. At those times my fingers type the words while the tears run down my cheeks and my whole being is immersed in a baby dying or a strong woman finally brought to the brink because she just can’t take any more pain.

Indie authors need to do it all on their own. How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?

Thankfully, I am past the stage of having a day job because my days are spent doing all of the above. While I love the writing, the marketing can be great fun, too, but I have to watch that it doesn’t take over my life. Yesterday I took about four hours off in the middle of the day to accompany my husband on one of his business trips; I consciously did that to work on keeping balance in my life. I now have a trilogy, a second edition of my first book, an audio book, a writing blog, a twice-monthly newsletter to my subscribers and all of the marketing for said initiatives. It’s a lot. And November is launch month with this fabulous blog tour online and many appearances at events in person. Lucky I love people!

How did writing this book change you or change how you look at the world?

That’s a hard question but it has changed me. It’s given me a joy I never had before. Oh, I have always been a happy person but finding my writing legs has tapped into my innermost desires. I think I’ve touched on something that is just mine, just me, and people seem to love it. The rewards go to my soul. Oh, that just sounds mushy! This latest book I’ve dedicated to my great great great grandparents, whose names and whose farm are the heart of the story, and to my two grandchildren who are connected to that history through me. That makes me absolutely thankful.

What would you like my readers to know about you?

Although I loved raising my children, sharing my family’s life, and being a high school teacher, once I started my writing journey a new joy found its way into my heart. I love meeting readers and writers on my speaking tours. Hearing their questions as they share their unique perspectives feeds my adrenalin. Just now I’m working on doing Skype-type speaking gigs wherever book clubs and other groups will have me. But the most fun is sitting at my computer with my hands hovering over the keyboard as my thoughts jump onto my computer screen. It’s fabulous, especially when my words make me smile or laugh out loud or cry real tears, or they just sing out a lyric melody in their own unique way. I am a wordsmith.


About The Loyalist Legacy

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When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find in the wild heart of Upper Canada their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.

With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.

In Praise for The Loyalist Trilogy

“….absolutely fascinating….Cougler doesn’t hold back on the gritty realities of what a couple might have gone through at this time, and gives a unique view of the Revolutionary War that many might never have considered.” ~ Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.

“….an intriguing story” ~ A Bookish Affair

“I highly recommend this book for any student of history or anyone just looking for a wonderful story.” ~ Book Lovers Paradise

“Elaine’s storytelling is brave and bold.” ~ Oh, for the Hook of a Book

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Elaine Cougler is the author of historical novels about the lives of settlers in the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American Revolution.

Cougler uses the backdrop of the conflict for page-turning fictional tales where the main characters face torn loyalties, danger and personal conflicts.

Her Loyalist trilogy: The Loyalist’s WifeThe Loyalist’s Luck and The Loyalist Legacy. The Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair selected The Loyalist’s Wife as a finalist in its Self-Publishing Awards. The Middlesex County Library selected the book as its choice for book club suggestions. The Writers Community of Durham Region presented Elaine with a Pay-It-Forward Award.

Elaine has led several writing workshops and has been called on to speak about the Loyalists to many groups. She writes the blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, about the journey to publication and beyond. She lives in Woodstock with her husband. They have two grown children.

Connect with Elaine on Twitter, Facebook Author Page, LinkedIn and her blog on her Website.

The Loyalist Legacy and Elaine’s other titles are available for purchase on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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Publishing announcement Traitor’s Knot

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It is with a great deal of excitement that I announce that my novel, Traitor’s Knot, will be published by Endeavour Press in early 2017. Endeavour is the UK’s leading independent digital publisher.

Traitor’s Knot is the first of a series that starts during the third English Civil war and leads to the restoration of King Charles II.

I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Durant, Endeavour’s Publishing Director, at the Historical Novelist Society Conference in Oxford during a pitch session, and later hearing her thoughts on marketing and promotion during a panel discussion. Endeavour has come up with innovative ways to attract historical fiction readers, and I look forward to working with them in the months to come.

Thank you to the HNS committee for organizing a terrific and informative conference. It’s no small feat to put something like this together and your hard work was greatly appreciated.

Follow my blog to keep up with the news, and stay tuned for updated about my release date.

And now the adventure begins…

 

 

 

 

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Worcester Cathedral 

This post was originally published for the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog on October 13, 2016. If you are interested in British History, I encourage you to visit the EHFA blog (click here).


On the banks of the Severn River stands a magnificent cathedral. Framed against a river of gliding swans, Worcester Cathedral’s history has spanned centuries, serving as the final resting place for royalty and providing a backdrop for major conflicts.

Even before the present day cathedral, the site was consecrated by a priory founded in the 7th century. Nothing now remains of this original priory, but in the 10th century, a new church was built by Saint Oswald, the Bishop of Worcester. The subterranean crypt is the only part of that earlier structure still remaining. It’s a hauntingly quiet niche still used for worship.

Another saint associated with Worcester was an Anglo Saxon bishop, Saint Wulfstan who held this see before and during the Norman Conquest. Despite his allegiance to Harold Godwinson (of the Battle of Hastings fame), Wulfstan held his post under William the Conqueror.

This stained glass panel commemorates both saints.

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Work on the present day cathedral started in 1084 and was finished by 1504. It is a work of art as one can see by the magnificent vaulted quire ceiling, which is decorated with the images of saints and angels.

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And now to visit the cathedral’s famous residents. King John, also known as John Lackland, Prince John, and signer of the Magna Carta, is buried in Worcester Cathedral. His sarcophagus is decorated with his likeness, carved in Portland stone. At one time, the stone would have been painted, but now has darkened to the colour of agate.

King John was a poor monarch and his reign was punctuated by periods of revolt . Though  he did sign the Magna Carta, he did so under duress, forced to do so by his barons who had had enough of his abuse. He died shortly after trying to launch a fresh attack on the rebel barons.

What is interesting about his effigy is that the two Worcester saints, Oswald and Wulfstan, have been included, sitting on each shoulder of the king. Proof that John Lackland needed all the help he could get for the afterlife.

A better mourned royal in Worcester Cathedral is Prince Arthur, the older brother of Henry VIII. Prince Arthur died suddenly at the age of 15, only five months after his marriage to Catharine of Aragon. His death was a crushing blow to his father, Henry VII.

After lying in state at Ludlow castle, Prince Arthur’s body was brought to Worcester Cathedral by boat. The Prince had a connection to the city since he had been baptized by the Bishop of Worcester, and as a child, he had spent time in the city. During his funeral, dirges were sung for him. His tomb lies in the chantry chapel and is decorated by the white and red roses of York and Lancaster.

Imagine what might have happened had he lived. Henry VIII would not have been king, would not have married Arthur’s widow, Catherine, and subsequently broken from the Catholic church for the sake of Anne Boleyn. The country may have gone down a different path, one perhaps not driven by religious conflicts.

The final grave I’d like to visit belongs to the Duke of Hamilton, killed during the final battle of the English Civil War.

The first battle of the civil war was fought in 1642 just south of Worcester Cathedral at Powick Bridge. The last battle of the civil war was fought at Worcester on September 2, 1651. During the week leading up to the final battle, King Charles II occupied Worcester with 12,000 – 14,000 Scottish soldiers. William Hamilton, the 2nd Duke of Hamilton, was a close friend of the king and led a regiment on his behalf.

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By Adriaen Hanneman (circa 1604–1671) – NPG 2120 [Public Domain] Wikimedia Commons

During the early stages of the battle, King Charles observed the fighting to the south from the strategic vantage of the cathedral’s tower, with its sweeping views of the area. When he gauged the time right, King Charles led an assault against Cromwell’s forces at Red Hill (to the east of the city) while the Duke of Hamilton led an assault against Perry Wood.

The Duke was shot during the engagement, and his men brought him back to his lodgings in the Commandery (just outside Worcester’s Sidbury Gate) which was now overrun by the victorious Parliamentary soldiers.

At the Commandery, a Royalist surgeon examined him and found a musket shot had shattered in the leg and the only way to save him would be to amputate. Cromwell’s physician examined him as well, but disagreed with the prognosis and told him that he didn’t need to lose the leg. Hamilton worsened and subsequently died of his injuries. Another version of this story was that Hamilton declined Cromwell’s offer of his surgeon, determined not to be treated by a traitor.

On his deathbed, the Duke had barely enough energy to write a heart-wrenching farewell letter to his wife. The letter was found in his pocket after he passed away.

 

Dear Heart,

YOV know I have been long labouring, though in great weakness, to be prepared against this expected Change, and I thank my God I find Comfort in it, in this my day of Tryal; for my Body is not more weakned by my Wounds, then I find my Spirit Comforted and Supported by the infinite Mercies and great Love of my Blessed Redeemer, who will be with me to the end and in the end.

I am not able to say much more to you, the Lord preserve you under your Tryals, and sanctifie the use of them to the Comfort of your Soul.

I will not so much as in a Letter divide my dear Neeces and you; the Lord grant you may be constant Comforts to one another in this Life, and send you all Eternal Happiness with your Saviour in the Life to come: to both of your Cares I recommend my poor Children, let your great Work be to make them early accquainted with God, and their Duties to him; and though they may suffer many wants here before their Removal from hence, yet they will find an inexhaustible Treasure in the Love of Christ. May the Comforts of the Blessed Spirit be ever near you in all your Straits and Difficulties, and suffer not the least repining to enter into any of your Hearts for his Dispensations to|wards me, for his Mercies have been infinitely above his Iustice in the whole Pilgrimage of,

Dear Heart, Your Own, HAMILTON.

Worcester, Sept. 8. 1651.

Against his wishes for his body to be returned to Scotland, the Duke was buried in Worcester Cathedral. His servants repeatedly petitioned Cromwell to approve the transfer of the Duke’s body to his wife but the request was denied. A single plaque marks where he was buried.

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Worcester Cathedral has a long, rich history to explore. The next time you are visiting Worcester, I encourage you to take a detour and visit the past.

 

Posted in 17th century, Duke of Hamilton | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Gunpowder Plot: Guest post by Tony Morgan

Remember, Remember the 6th of November

The Gunpowder Treason and Plot.

Wait! That’s not how it’s supposed to read. It should be the 5th of November. I run the rhyme again through my head. My first thought is that someone got the date wrong but then I realize how clever it really is.

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Tony Morgan, whose debut novel, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, has just been released. It’s a historical thriller and all profits in 2016 will go to Save the Children and a Yorkshire flood support charity. The book leads up to the Gunpowder plot of the 5th of November but focuses on what happened after.

Today on the 17th Century Enthusiast, Tony talks about the Gunpowder Plot, bonfire celebrations and what if things turned out differently…


Who should we put on top of the Bonfire on November 5th?

by Tony Morgan

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Every year in the UK, on the evening of November 5th fireworks parties and bonfire celebrations are held across the country. One of the highlights for many is placing the Guy onto the top of the bonfire but what is this all about?

Last year, I asked myself this question. I knew the Guy was an effigy of a man from York called Guy Fawkes, who’d been arrested whilst planning to blow up the English Parliament, with a whole lot of gunpowder but to be honest I didn’t know much more.

So I began to do a little background reading and research around the Gunpowder Plot. Within a short time, I was hooked. There was a complex Protestant King, James Stuart, an educated man who’d written about the divinity of monarchs and the evils of tobacco smoking. He’d been on the throne for only two years. Initially, he indicated he would be tolerant towards Catholics but by 1605 he was actively pushing an ever increasing level of persecution.

In James’s palaces and bed, although rather infrequently of late, was the Queen, Anne of Denmark, mother to their two sons and two daughters and… a Catholic. Whilst James enjoyed the hunt and the company of some of his male friends, Anne loved the arts, especially masques and was patron to many of the leading lights of their time, including Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones. He turned a blind eye to her religion, as long as she practised her faith discretely, behind closed doors.

At the King’s side, was his Secretary of State, the Earl of Salisbury, Robert Cecil. This man was also the Spymaster General, controlling a growing army of spies, watchers and informants. Whatever was happening out there, Cecil was the first to know about it. Rumours were rife he was having an affair with the Lord Chamberlain’s wife, Katherine of Suffolk, intelligent, ambitious, beautiful and… another Catholic. What were her motivations, I wondered?

James’s policies were not going un-noticed. Many Catholics felt betrayed. Whilst most would not dare protest, for fear of potential retribution, others believed armed struggle was their only hope. Their leader was a charismatic swordsman, Robert Catesby. Carefully Catesby created a terrorist cell and developed a plan to instigate regime change. The King, the government and the Princes had to be killed. The state Opening of Parliament would give the group the perfect opportunity.

The older Princess Elizabeth would then be kidnapped, converted to Catholicism and placed onto the throne. If they could achieve the first part, he was sure they would get external help for the second from Spain. (Although he also knew the Spanish were wavering due to a peace deal signed recently with England, in which both Cecil and Katherine had played their parts).

Wow! What a story I thought. Spies, terrorists, religious unrest, government surveillance, a rift between Britain and Europe. I could have been watching the ten o’clock news. But most interesting of all were the people. The ones I have mentioned above but so many others.

There were sub-plots galore!

An anonymous letter warned of the plan to blow up Parliament and was given to Lord Monteagle. It could have been written by the plotter he owed money to or the one who used to be secretary or the one who was his brother-in-law! But he passed the letter onto Robert Cecil, perhaps concerned Cecil may have written it himself. Cecil then put his watchers onto the case, or were they on it already?

One of the plotters, Thomas Percy, had abandoned his wife and daughter for a younger model. This didn’t so much to endear him to two of the others, Martha Percy’s brothers, Jack and Christopher Wright. How would these tensions rise to the surface?

The plotter least known to the London authorities was Guy Fawkes. As this was the case, he was placed undercover in Westminster, disguised as a servant man and given the pseudonym, John Johnson. It would be his responsibility of protect the gunpowder beneath Parliament and light the fuse but did Fawkes have a secret Spanish wife, Isabella?

What about the children? Thomas and Martha’s daughter, Edith, and Robert Catesby’s son, Robin. They were watched over by Martha and Isabella in the rented house next to Parliament. So close to the gunpowder. The risks were enormous.

In my book, I bring all these threads and a few others together in the week leading up to November 5th and then the 6th of 1605, as the men and women involved each play their part.

As I wrote the story, I began to wonder what could have happened differently. Perhaps today we would no longer put the Guy onto the fire but place an effigy of the King onto the bonfire. Perhaps, if this had happened, there would not have been an English Civil War or centuries of hostilities in Ireland and the British Empire may have been something quite different. Perhaps? Perhaps? Perhaps?

My book is called Remember, Remember the 6th of November. It’s a historical fiction thriller but it’s mainly the story of the men and women who were involved, written in an engaging and contemporary style. The initial reviews have been very good. I hope you enjoy it.


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Tony Morgan is a Welshman living in Yorkshire in the UK.

His debut novel, Remember, Remember the 6th of November, is set at the time of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. The book explores a number of striking parallels with the modern day, including civil unrest, terrorism, and government surveillance, through the men and women involved. The story combines real life events with a view of what could have happened, as spymaster Robert Cecil and his lover, Katherine of Suffolk, attempt to create a different outcome for the Gunpowder Plot.

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Remember, Remember the 6th of November is available as an e-book on Amazon, with all profits in 2016 being shared equally between Save the Children and a small local flood support charity.

Link to Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LICIBOK

Link to Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LICIBOK

Tony is currently working on a sequel, set twelve years later in 1617, which investigates how the world may have developed differently following the events of 1605.

You can reach Tony through his website (click here) and follow him on Twitter (@MorgantheBook)

Posted in 17th century | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Battle of Worcester Society

I had the pleasure and honour of speaking before the Battle of Worcester Society for their Civil War Night series. The talk happened on September 1st, two days before the 365th anniversary of the Battle of Worcester, the final engagement of the English Civil War. As well, BBC Radio Hereford Worcester interviewed me on the subject of my talk and aired the interview in the evening before the event.

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The subject of my talk was Captain James Hind, a Royalist Highwayman who fought for King Charles II. Captain Hind managed to escape the battlefield and elude Parliamentary soldiers who were beating the countryside for fugitives. Weeks after the battle, while living incognito in London, he was betrayed and captured, then subsequently hanged for High Treason.

I consider this address before the Society as the highlight of my year. Living across the “pond”, I have very few opportunities to connect with people equally fascinated by this exciting and significant chapter of English history. The discussions and enthusiasm for the subject made for a wonderful evening. As an added thrill, the talk was held at Worcester’s Commandery which was a Royalist headquarters in the days leading up to the final battle. For all I know, the subject of my talk may very well have crossed the black and white chequered floor of the Great Hall!

I enjoyed the evening more than I can say, and I was glad to share it with my good friend Sally Moore, another 17th century enthusiast. A great many people were in attendance, including re-enactors and even a descendent of Oliver Cromwell. Fortunately, he did not hold being a Royalist against me.

A heartfelt thank you to the Battle of Worcester Society who promoted and organized the event and especially to Richard Shaw, Chairman of the Society, who was extremely gracious in his welcome. I am now a proud member of the Society.

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One side note: while Worcester is known for being a loyal city to the crown, it still is dangerous for fleeing Royalists. The day after the talk, as I ran down the same cobbled street that Charles II would have retreated following the battle, I tripped and broke my hand. I am now listed down as one of the Royalist casualties in Worcester. Six weeks later, I’ve escaped from a more serious injury an consider myself fortunate. History does repeat itself…

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If you would like to read more about Captain James Hind, see my post The Royalist Highwayman. For your listening pleasure, here is the BBC interview. And if you would like to learn more about the Battle of Worcester Society, click here to visit their website.

And now, for your listening (and viewing) pleasure, here is my BBC interview on the Andrew Easton show.

Posted in 17th century, English Civil War, Highwayman | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments