Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New look, same book

I've wanted to give Isabeau a makeover for ages and finally did it! Actually, the mega talented Steven Novak , illustrator and cover artist extraordinaire, did it.

I sent him the synopsis, a very brief description of Queen Isabella and we batted around a few ideas. He came up with this concept on the first try. A few tweaks later and I had a stunning new cover that is more consistent in its layout with the sequel, The King Must Die. I couldn't be happier!

So for those of you who momentarily exclaimed, "What? Another new book already?!" Uh, sorry, but no. Just a new cover. I still need to upload the updated files to the printer for the paperback version, but the changes have already been made for the e-book on Amazon and other retailers.

As for what I'm working on for my next book... let me just say to expect something a little 'different'.

Until later,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Paperback giveaway for Uneasy Lies the Crown

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr by N. Gemini Sasson

Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr

by N. Gemini Sasson

Giveaway ends December 16, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Uneasy Lies the Crown - Now in paperback! And a giveaway!!!

Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr is now available as a paperback from and Barnes and Noble. You can also grab it as an e-book from:

Apple (iTunes)
Barnes and Noble (Nook) (Kindle) (Kindle for UK readers)

And from now until midnight Eastern time on Dec. 1st, I'm running a giveaway. For a chance to win a signed copy of a paperback of any of my books plus a $15 Amazon gift certificate OR just a $25 gift certificate, simply do the following:

1) Read Uneasy Lies the Crown and leave a review on or It needn't be a lengthy New York Times style book review, just your thoughts, plain and simple, stating your impression of the story and its characters.

2) Like my Facebook page if you haven't already and comment with the word 'Reviewed' in any of the appropriate posts about the giveaway - or leave me a message on Facebook. That's it! Reviews help not only authors, but guide other readers in deciding their next purchase.

(Giveaway open to customers of or

I'm so incredibly appreciative of all the readers and book bloggers who've helped spread the word about my books and those who've written to let me know they enjoyed them and ask when the next one will be out. I wouldn't still be doing this without you. Telling stories is a dream come true.

Happy reading,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Owain Glyndwr and the Welsh War of Independence

My latest release, Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr, is now available as an e-book for Kindle ( and, Nook (Barnes and Noble) and at Smashwords! The paperback should be available later this month, just in time for Christmas.

In celebration, today I'm over at Sarah Woodbury's blog with a post on Owain Glyndwr and the Welsh War of Independence. Sarah writes time travel set in 13th century Wales, so be sure to check out her books, too.

Owain's story was actually the first historical novel I completed, over a decade ago. When my first agent was unable to find it a home, I set it aside and went to work on The Bruce Trilogy. This year, I resurrected the story of Owain Glyndwr because, like the other people I've written about, his was a life I felt that deserved more attention. Some historians have speculated that Owain Glyndwr emulated Robert the Bruce and adopted not only many of his military tactics, but also his wider political visions. Still, there are subtle, yet profound differences between the two historical figures.

While I leave you to ponder that, here's the synopsis:

 For centuries, the bards have sung of King Arthur’s return,
but is this reluctant warrior prince the answer to those prophecies?

In the year 1399, Welsh nobleman Owain Glyndwr is living out a peaceful gentleman’s life in the Dee Valley of Wales with his wife Margaret and their eleven children. But when Henry of Bolingbroke, the Duke of Lancaster, usurps the throne of England from his cousin Richard II, that tranquility is forever shattered. What starts as a feud with a neighboring English lord over a strip of land evolves into something greater—a fight for the very independence of Wales.

Leading his crude army of Welshmen against armor-clad columns of English, Owain wins key victories over his enemies. After a harrowing encounter on the misty slopes of Cadair Idris, the English knight Harry Hotspur offers Owain a pact he cannot resist.

Peace, however, comes with a price. As tragedies mount, Owain questions whether he can find the strength within himself not only to challenge the most powerful monarch of his time, but to fulfill the prophecies and lead his people to freedom without destroying those around him.

Happy reading,

Friday, October 19, 2012

International Gathering of the Clans 2014 ***Update

***For the latest news on this event. please make sure to check The Gathering 2014 FB link below. There have been some recent changes. When it gets much closer, I'll be sure to re-post final plans here.  ***


For those who would like to celebrate their Scottish roots, there will be an International Gathering of the Clans to be held in conjunction with the event Bannockburn 700, June 24th, 2014. This will be 700 years after Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II of England at the Battle of Bannockburn. For more information:

The Gathering 2014 (on Facebook)

Clans 2014

Bannockburn 700 (on Facebook)

I see Clan Gordon will have a tent there. Hoping some of my other ancestral families (Bruce, Douglas, Stewart, Johnston, etc.) will be in attendance. Sounds like a great excuse for a research trip/second honeymoon!

Until later,

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interview at Martin Lake's Writing Blog

Today, I'm over at Martin Lake Writing talking about the writers who inspired me, what my 'typical' writing day is like and my favorite moment so far as a writer.

In other news, I just received the final edits from my wonderful editor Derek Prior at Homonculus Editing Services. Expect a stretch of silence on this end for a couple weeks as I give Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr, its final spit polish and begin formatting for release sometime next month. I'm also reviewing proofs for the cover from the talented Lance Ganey. Can't wait to reveal the final version when it's ready!

Until later,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Uniting of Wales

The Uniting of Wales

Llywelyn ap Iorweth accrued several Welsh territories during the first decade of the thirteenth century through both might and guile. For a while, he continued with the tradition of accepting an English overlord, but when he confidently declared himself as prince of all Wales in 1210, it was too much for King John of England to tolerate.  King John marched on Wales and had nearly unseated Llywelyn, when troubles with his own barons forced him to return home and sign the Magna Carta.  Llywelyn continued to accumulate Welsh territories, forcing the princes of Powys and Deheubarth to swear fealty to him.  Prince Llywelyn, who was later known as Llywelyn Fawr (the Great), was far-sighted enough to ensure that the complete inheritance of all his holdings to his son Dafydd was recognized early on, thus breaking with the tradition of gavelkind.  However, Llywelyn also had an older, illegitimate son named Gruffydd, and Welsh law recognized all heirs, whether born in or out of wedlock. 

Knowing that his half-brother Gruffydd posed a threat to his rule, Dafydd had him imprisoned.  King Henry III of England marched on Wales and Dafydd was forced to hand Gruffydd over, putting Dafydd in a very compromising position.  He then publicly acknowledged Henry as his overlord.  When Gruffydd fell to his death in 1244 trying to escape from the Tower of London, Dafydd mustered his forces to oppose Henry.  But the uprising was over essentially before it began, as two years later Dafydd took ill and died without issue.  Gruffydd, however, had left four living sons behind.  Thus, another power struggle ensued.

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was barely in his twenties when his uncle and father died.   Patiently, he built alliances and finally went to battle against two of his own brothers, defeating them and imprisoning the oldest.  Henry  III’s attempts to subdue Wales failed and inevitably he was forced to recognize Llywelyn as the Prince of Wales.

Meanwhile, Llywelyns’ troubles with his brothers continued and further complications arose when his betrothed, Eleanor de Montfort, was held captive by the new English king – Henry III’s son, Edward I.  Only after a forced submission and the relinquishment of much of his holdings was Llywelyn able to bring his bride-to-be to Wales.  A few years later she gave him a daughter, but sadly died in childbirth.

In 1282, on a bridge over the River Irfon, Prince Llywelyn (later known as ‘Llywelyn the Last’) was killed.  His head was delivered to London and set on display.  With this powerful Welsh prince removed, Edward I, also known as Longshanks, thought to end the Welsh rule of Wales once and forever by investing his son, later Edward II, as ‘Prince of Wales’.  For the next century, that coveted title passed down through the Plantagenet line of England to the future Richard II.  It is a title still employed today for future kings of England.


Until later,

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Fractured Wales

(Offa's Dyke)

As my next historical novel nears completion, I'll be bringing you some history on medieval Wales. This book features Owain Glyndwr, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, and also includes: Harry Hotspur, Richard II, Henry IV and a young Henry V. Owain's life bears many similarities to that of Robert the Bruce, and it has been speculated that he emulated the Bruce and patterned many of his military practices and diplomatic policies on those of the King of Scots. In many ways, however, his story is markedly different.

The working title of the book is Uneasy Lies the Crown, A Novel of Owain Glyndwr, and its expected release date is the end of 2012. For now, here's a little background on the Wales before Owain's time:

A Fractured Wales

During the Dark Ages, both of what are now present-day Wales and England were fractured into numerous, smaller kingdoms.  In the late eighth century, King Offa of Mercia built a dike extending approximately 180 miles from the estuary of the Dee River, down across the Severn, and on south to the mouth of the Wye.  Whether undertaken to thwart raids by the hill-inhabiting Welsh into pasture-rich Mercian lands or as the result of a mutually agreed upon drawing of lines is unclear, but Offa’s Dyke defined the limits of the general Welsh border for centuries on.

East of the Severn, the divided kingdoms were eventually melded into one when Althelstan became the first King of all England in the tenth century.  Well into the thirteenth century, Wales was still divided into four main principalities: Gwynedd in the north, Powys in the central lands, Dyfed in the southwest and Deheubarth in the south.

Perhaps one of the greatest contributors to this ongoing fragmentation of medieval Wales lay in the practice of fostering out the sons of noblemen.  Being raised in separate households, blood-brothers often had little personal knowledge of each other and consequently less likelihood of developing any affection for or loyalty to one another.  Also, in much of medieval Europe the eldest son would inherit his father’s titles and thus the bulk of the lands, a practice called primogeniture.  In Wales, however, inheritances were divided amongst sons – a practice called partible succession or gavelkind – thus weakening centers of power, furthering divisions and setting the stage for bitter sibling rivalries.   

Welsh princes sometimes sought out and accepted the overlordship of English kings in order to gain protection from neighboring chieftains or even their own kin.  In 926, King Athelstan exacted tribute (payment in return for peace) from several Welsh princes, including Hywel Dda of Dyfed who eventually became the ruler of three-fourths of Wales through inheritance.  He aligned himself closely with the English king, visiting the English court frequently, and later standardized the laws of Wales – an act for which to this day he is still remembered.  Upon his death, though, his kingdom was split amongst his three sons and for yet another century Wales remained divided. 

Homage (a formal acknowledgement of allegiance) given to English kings became routine for Welsh lords and costly tributes were doled out regularly, but later the Welsh were often even required to supply troops to the English to support military campaigns elsewhere.  Welsh archers, renowned for their skill with the longbow, and Welsh pikemen were routinely employed in English armies in campaigns in France and Scotland.

In the middle of the eleventh century, the ambitious Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Powys united north and south Wales for a brief period before Earl Harold of Wessex had him pursued into the wilderness and killed.  Earl Harold later became King Harold of England, until William of Normandy defeated him at Hastings in 1066.  Norman keeps were then constructed throughout Wales and were garrisoned with English soldiers to keep the locals in check.  English lords, many of Norman descent, increasingly controlled the civil administration of Wales. 

Next up - the uniting of Wales.

Until later,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Crown in the Heather is ... FREE!

This is a quick public service announcement to let everyone know that The Crown in the Heather (The Bruce Trilogy: Book I) is now free as an e-book on,, Barnes and Noble, Apple iTunes and Smashwords.

I'll report back later as to how having the first book in a series as perma-free affects sales of related books. So far it's going nicely. CITH got as high as #16 free overall in the Kindle store when E-Reader News Today picked it up. After just over a week, total downloads have exceeded 20,000.

So 'Hooray!' to new readers.

Meanwhile, I took a much needed month off from promotion, following my recent blog tour. I've also published five books in less than two years, so my brain (understandably) was getting a little scrambled. Since early June, I've read some phenomenally good books (which I'll list on a blog post shortly), cleared the brush out of the fence rows (I miss my sheep - they were good at that), weeded gardens, taken my dog to obedience class, gone on a lot of bike rides and am immersing myself in major revisions for an upcoming historical novel on Owain Glyndwr of Wales (more to come on that soon).

For those who would like to know some of what went on in Edward III's life in his waning years, I recommend Anne O'Brien's excellent historical novel: The King's Concubine: A Novel of Alice Perrers. For those not familiar with the events of the times, Alice Perrers was mistress to Edward III later in his life. O'Brien does a stupendous job of creating a sympathetic character out of Alice, who has been much maligned in history. I loved the narrative voice in this book and found it very compelling.

Here's wishing everyone a safe and fun summer!

Until later,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sometimes a Winner Finishes Last

Springfield News-Sun article:
WLS State Champ Lends a Helping Hand

Last week, our family of four piled into the car and spent the day at the Ohio High School State Track Meet, as we do every year. It was a little overcast, breezy and an unusually cool 70 degree day - a welcome change from the usual 90+ degrees when tens of thousands melt on the metal bleachers. Every year we get to see a few records go down. Luckily, since our kids graduated recently, we're still familiar with some of the athletes participating. This year was a special treat, though, because there was one of those great moments in life that I'll never forget.

Earlier in the day, Meghan Vogel of West Liberty Salem High School had won the Girls' Division III 1600 meter run in her first sub 5:00 minute performance ever, defeating a former state champ who she'd never beaten before that day. Humble and bubbling, she was beside herself with excitement afterwards. Later, she joined the entrants in the 3200 meter run, but by a few laps into the race it was apparent she'd expended her energy on the race of her life already and so she settled into the back of the field. The winner came across the line and one by one all the rest. Vogel was on the backstretch by then, in last place.

As Vogel came to the top of the homestretch, everyone in the stadium became focused on another runner, Arden McMath who, with less than 50 meters to go, stumbled, went down to the ground, got up and stumbled again. Fatigue had taken its toll. The officials rushed towards McMath, but then backed off. You see, if they had aided her in finishing, it was grounds for disqualification. So all they could do was wait and watch. As long as she was still moving, they were going to let her finish the race.

Behind her, Vogel closed the distance. McMath went down again. This time she didn't look like she was going to go on. Vogel stopped, lifted her up and helped her to her feet. McMath's arm slung over Vogel's shoulder, they walked step by step toward the finish line. The crowd came to its feet in applause. When the pair reached the line, Vogel let go of her and made sure that McMath stepped across the line first. Everyone glanced at the officials, waiting for the yellow flag to go up in the air, signalling a rule violation. It never did.

In the face of that selfless moment, the officials chose to publicly ignore a technicality and acknowledge the sportsmanship. I still get teary-eyed when I think of it. Vogel could have run past her and no one would have thought anything of it. The officials could have DQ'd both girls; they didn't.

It was a very noble moment on many fronts and I'm glad I was there to witness it.

Kind runner helps rival go the distance (The Columbus Dispatch)

Flotrack Video: Meghan Vogel stops to help fallen runner at 2012 Ohio State Meet
Flotrack Video: Interview with Meghan Vogel after her 1600 meter win

Until later,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebrating a Milestone: 50,000 Kindle Books Sold

(My assistant Trim [lower right] taking a break.)

Two years ago when I decided to stop pursuing the traditional route of publication and independently publish, I had hopes of selling a few hundred books. Sure, every writer wants to be a bestselling author, but I figured I'd be happy if someone other than friends and family simply knew my work existed.

I'd long ago lost count of the number of rejections I've received, at first from agents and eventually from editors. When I initially put my debut book on Kindle, there were days I clicked on my KDP sales report page and didn't get a single sale. Sometimes that went on for most of a week. Great big goose eggs. Oh well, I tried.

Yet something kept me going: supportive family, a champion agent and fellow writers. Along the way, I had crit partners who were persistent in their encouragement, even when I didn't have confidence in myself, and who made suggestions in a helpful, positive way that made my writing better. I remember the phone call from a successful agent (OMGosh, someone was actually interested in my books!) that had me so excited I almost burst. I can't neglect to mention my two children who allowed me to ignore them so I could write and the husband who made sure that dinner was on the table when I was absorbed in my work.

And one day, along came my first fan mail. It was January of 2011. I'd been self-published for seven months. I thought surely this was just some kind soul taking pity on me and spreading random kindness. Now, I can glance up at the wall behind my desk (above) and see it papered with e-mails and FB posts and tweets from readers. Yes, real readers. I sure as heck don't know that many people! I'm still amazed that anyone would take the time to write to an author, least of all me.

Yesterday, my KDP sales report page ticked over with my 50,000th Kindle sale on Amazon. Honestly, it feels more than a little surreal.

Just in case you think that's something spectacular, here's a list of indie authors and their sales figures for April 2012: Top 100 Indie Authors. It's not a comprehensive list, as some indie authors are more public with their numbers than others, but Holy Smokes! It's amazing how well some self-published authors are doing. Here's another thread on Kindleboards listing authors with over 50,000 sales.

I'm taking a moment out to celebrate and say THANK YOU! to all the readers who made this milestone possible, as well those who provided moral support and shared their knowledge along the way. I am humbled and eternally grateful.

Success, however small or large, never happens without a little help from others. Whatever your dreams, wherever you're starting from, however far you have yet to go, remember - one step at a time, stay the path and (as Oprah used to say) surround yourself with angels. They're there if you look for them. I've been lucky enough to find more than a few along the way.

Until later,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Author Rebecca Lochlann Talks About Ancient Volcanic Eruptions

(I've long had a fascination for geologic events, particularly volcanic eruptions. The powerful forces behind these cataclysmic events often have far-reaching and long-lasting effects. They alter the earth, destroy life and even entire civilizations. Today, even though we still can't predict them, at least we understand what is going on beneath the earth's surface. Imagine living in an age when volcanoes were not only unpredictable, but mysterious entities. My talented author-friend Rebecca Lochlann deals with this in her newly released book, The Thinara King, which I highly recommend. I asked her to tell us some more about it. So, welcome, Rebecca!)


The island in the Mediterranean nowadays called Santorini has had many names throughout the centuries. One of the oldest known names, and the one I use, is Callisti. In ancient Greek, it means “The Most Beautiful,” and is alternately spelled Kalliste.

Strongyle, another of Santorini’s ancient names, meant, “The Round One.”

Thera, yet another name long used for this volcanic island, can be translated as “Fear,” which, as it turns out, was rather prophetic, as is the name of the central mountain, rumored by some to be Alcmene, meaning “Wrath of the Moon.”

Book number two of my series, The Thinara King, jumps right in the middle of this famed volcanic eruption on Callisti.

For many years, until “super” volcanoes were more clearly understood, this eruption was considered the worst in human history. It was so enormous, so destructive, (categorized as a Plinian type event) that it made the eruption of Tambora look like a tiny belch in the earth. It would have made the Mt. Saint Helen’s eruption seem like nothing more than a brief, sleeping baby’s gasp.

As scientists become more adept at studying the effects of volcanoes, (and it’s impressive how much they’ve learned about the Santorini volcano, even though it happened so very long ago), they have conjectured that the repercussions of this event went clear round the world, and probably affected the earth’s climate for many years. From the depth of the ash on the sea floor, they have determined that the worst damage done to Crete, a mere seventy miles away, was on the east side. With improved methods and the study of more recent eruptions, there are now conjectures that the pyroclastic flow (the most dangerous, murderous part of an eruption) could very well have traveled on top of the water clear to Crete. The idea that such a thing could happen is amazing, and is merely theory, not proven. But that’s how huge this eruption was. Tsunamis of course came along after, and devastated the entire coast; there are theories that the tsunami which struck the northern coast managed to flow clear into the city of Knossos. Charles Pellegrino, in his book Unearthing Atlantis, says: “Within hours of the Theran upheaval of 1628 BC., death rolled into southern Turkey on the tongue of a tsunami. Two peninsulas jutting into the Aegean Sea confined the wave as if between the prongs of a mighty tuning fork, building it higher and higher and ultimately funneling it thirty miles inland. To penetrate so far, it had to be eight hundred feet tall when it hit the shore.” (Pellegrino, C. Unearthing Atlantis. New York: Avon, 1991)

One small bit of positive news: recent theories state that most of the populace on Santorini actually managed to escape the island before it blew into the heavens, leaving nothing but a sliver (part of which is again beginning to send out ominous messages). The volcano gave them warning, and they apparently heeded this warning. Since Callisti is considered by many to be an outpost of Crete, it’s no leap of logic to assume most of the refugees would go there, and that’s what happens in my book.

As awful as this eruption was, it did not end Cretan society. I have no doubt many died of the aftereffects, like starvation, ash suffocation, etc. But the Cretan civilization did eventually recover. Yes, these intrepid, hardy people managed to survive and even thrive again after this indescribable event. But at some point, later, the wondrous Bronze Age society of Crete (or Kaphtor) did disappear. This segment of my series, (a trilogy) offers one possible reason why, sets the starting point for the later books, and initiates a more familiar history—one that might never have occurred had Crete survived, retaining its original power and influence.

From everything Plato said about Atlantis, there is no doubt in my mind Thera is that fabled place.

Here is an excerpt from deep within The Thinara King.

Twilight fell. Chrysaleon made a fire from dead olive branches. The last glow of sunlight transformed gray clouds to scarlet and lavender, with hints of green and yellow. Beneath this magnificence he constructed a pyramid of stones and shot an unwary hawk from the sky. He burned its thighs in offering and knelt beside his cairn, clenching the necklace in his fist.

“Poseidon,” he said. “Walk with me. Lead me to Aridela. Make our bond unbreakable. Help me slay Harpalycus and bring an end to the king-sacrifice.” He peered into the heavens. “Make me this great-year-king, Horse Tamer, and I will present you with the rich island of Crete. I will cover this land with temples and fill each one with your image.”

A sudden gust of wind shot a fan of sparks into the dimming indigo sky.

He took it for the answer he wanted. Chrysaleon wrapped himself in the cloak Neoma had given him. “Bring Aridela home,” she’d begged, clutching his arm. “I miss her. I don’t think she even knows I’m alive.” The stone that struck her during the worst of the Destruction had left a noticeable depression in her forehead, like a large, out-of-place dimple, and ongoing headaches forced her to spend time in darkened seclusion nearly every day.

He stared at his fire, sleepless, thinking of Aridela, longing for her. A memory crept before him, one he’d forgotten, from his time near death in the cell at Labyrinthos.

In his starved, thirsty mind, he’d experienced a vision of Menoetius transforming into a black bull, the enormous bad-tempered kind Cretans used in their ring. The beast gored him and as he lay gasping, his lifeblood seeping away, Aridela came to stand beside the bull, resting her hand on his neck in an intimate manner. She had looked down upon Chrysaleon without any emotion.

“No,” he’d whispered, and he did so again now, his teeth and hands clenching as he gazed into the cold night sky. “Menoetius won’t defeat me.”

He fell asleep at last, but during the night’s blackest point, he was awakened by the earth shuddering. Small creatures scurried; rocks scraped, rolled, and tumbled. His horse shied and nickered. Farther away, he heard ominous, eerie echoes as an avalanche of boulders crashed into one of Crete’s many precipitous gorges.

He stared into the night toward the mountains, aching to be among them.

I’m coming, Aridela. I will find you.


More excerpts can be found here and here.

The Year-god’s Daughter: Book One of The Child of the Erinyes
The Thinara King: Book Two of The Child of the Erinyes
In the Moon of Asterion: The conclusion of the Bronze Age trilogy (available by the end of 2012)

Amazon Rebecca Lochlann page:

Thanks for visiting with us, Rebecca!

Happy reading, 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Virtual Book Tour May 28 - June 15: The King Must Die

Join me as I tour the blogosphere in a virtual book tour for The King Must Die (a novel of Edward III). For those interested in the research that went into this book and Isabeau, the writing process, a smattering of my writerly quirks and the occasional deep pondering from yours truly, this is your chance to stalk... I mean, learn more. ;-)

Did I mention there's a $25 Amazon gift certificate available to one random commenter during the tour?

Here are the stops along the way (I'll return every couple of days to update the exact links as they occur):

May 28th - Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
May 29th - A Chick Who Reads (interview)  (review)
May 30th - Sexy Adventures, Passionate Tales (Author Isabel Roman)
May 31st - The Literary Forest
June 1st - Hope. Dreams. Life... Love (Author Elaine Cantrell)

June 4th - Melissa Keir's Blog - Musings from Michigan (My Favorite Vacation Destination: Scotland)
June 5th - Sandra's Blog (Author Sandra Cox) (Medieval Clothing)
June 6th - Sugarbeat's Books
June 7th - Vintage Vonnie (Author Vonnie Davis)
June 8th - Welcome to My World of Dreams

June 11th - Cathie Dunn writes . . .
June 12th - Christine Young - Romance Writer
June 13th - The True Book Addict
June 14th - It's Raining Books
June 15th - Books Are Magic

Happy reading,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where To Find Good, Affordable E-Books

Today, The Crown in the Heather is being featured at Kindle Books for a Buck or Less. It's still on sale at a discount rate of 99 cents on Amazon Kindle.

Some other great sites where you can find good, affordable e-books are:

Pixel of Ink

Kindle Nation Daily

Daily Cheap Reads

Best Ebook Reader Lovers

The Frugal eReader

You can also follow most of these sites on Facebook. I do!

Happy reading,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sarah Woodbury Talks About Time Travel to Medieval Wales

Today, my guest is novelist Sarah Woodbury, who writes historical fiction, mysteries and time travel set in medieval Wales. I've asked Sarah to talk about why she decided to write historical fiction and to give us an introduction to her After Cilmeri series, which begins with Daughter of Time. I recently finished this book (which is FREE, btw). You know it's a good book when you get to the end and realize you really care about the characters!

(Meanwhile, you can find me over at Sarah's blog as I discuss Exploring the Lives of Real Historical Figures.)

Writing Historical Fiction

Back in high school, I overheard two girls lamenting how awful their classes were and how they ‘hated’ history.  Since I was hiding in a bathroom stall at the time, I didn’t give voice to my horror at their sentiment, but it has stuck with me in the thirty years since.  How could they ‘hate’ history?

Unfortunately, all too easily if by ‘history’ they meant the memorization of facts and dates that had little or no bearing on their lives.  Why did they care what year the Civil War began?  Or who was the tenth president of the United States?  Or what happened in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia (though knowing might clarify our wars in the Middle East today, but that’s a different topic).

That’s not what history is about.  History is about people.  It’s the anthropology of the past.  It’s about finding out why people did what they did; what they cared about; and the nitty gritty of how they lived and died.

I strongly believe with Donna Tartt that:  "The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone."

But along with entertaining, what I love about historical fiction is that it can bring history to life.

Because I have an academic background, research comes naturally to me.  When I decide on a topic for a new novel, I first spend a few weeks exploring the history, culture, and geography of that time period.  It is very important to me to know as much as I can about the history of the time, even if I end up changing aspects of it to suit my novel.  At the same time, I try to keep events as historically accurate as possible.

When writing about dark age and medieval Wales, however, there is so much we don’t know that sifting through the data to find out what ‘really’ happened is often next to impossible.  Many records were destroyed—deliberately for the most part—in the years after Edward I conquered Wales, but other records were lost to time, thrown away in ignorance, were never written down, or were lost when Henry VIII abolished the monasteries.

For the novelist, while knowing the birth date of the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, would be helpful, it does leave enormous scope for fiction.

And that’s what makes historical fiction or historical fantasy so fun to write.  The impetus behind my After Cilmeri series is a dream I had in which I drove my mini-van through a time warp into medieval Wales.  I was fascinated by the idea of what it would be like for a modern person to live there.  Would life in the Middle Ages chew me up and spit me out?  How would I survive without hot showers, antibiotics, and coffee?

In the end, the dream was only the initial kernel of the story, which evolved into a four book series, plus a novella and has occupied my creative life for much of the last five years.

A shelf (or Kindle)-full of good historical fiction can be entertaining, but also gives us a window to the past and allows us to lose ourselves in other times and lives.  And ensures that we call can say:  I love history!


Thanks, Sarah! Here are some links to Sarah's pages and books:

Sarah Woodbury's web page
Sarah on Twitter  
Sarah on Facebook
 Sarah's books on:
Amazon and Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

Monday, April 23, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway and Blog Tour for The King Must Die

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The King Must Die by N. Gemini Sasson

The King Must Die

by N. Gemini Sasson

Giveaway ends May 08, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Want to win a signed paperback copy of The King Must Die? Enter at Goodreads by clicking on the link above!

Meanwhile, I'm busily preparing guest blog posts for my Virtual Book Tour (May 28th-June 15th), organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Conquering a Chronic Condition

For over a year, I've been hoping I would one day be able to write this post... and now I can. I want to share this story to give others hope, in particular those who suffer daily with a chronic health condition, even though they may look entirely normal on the outside to others.

Most of us have times in our lives when nothing is going our way. Try as valiantly as we might, forces beyond our control sabotage our most determined and sustained efforts. If we're fortunate, we can identify the roadblocks, remove or work around them and fly toward our dreams. As I've been known to tell my kids, nothing truly worth doing is easy. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

But last year, I struggled to repeat those sayings, because every day I saw that no matter how badly my son Mitchell wanted to succeed in his chosen sport and no matter how hard he worked at it, his body just wasn't going to let him. In fact, even day to day activities were becoming increasingly challenging for him. Sometimes you begin to question if it's time to set aside the big dreams and just deal with the little obstacles and reclaim ordinary. He was there. 'Giving up' seldom seems admirable, but when reality keeps smacking you down, you figure maybe The Universe is trying to tell you to do something else.

When he should have improved steadily throughout each cross country and track season, instead he would backslide when it came to the post-season. His times were often erratic and unpredictable, which we chalked up to his exercise-induced asthma (EIA). He tried every inhaler known to medicine. We eventually found a couple that were mildly helpful, but none that reliably eradicated his symptoms. Sadly, the medication we found most effective for Mitch, Intal (cromolyn sodium), is no longer sold in the U.S. because the propellant used in it contains ozone-depleting substances. While I'm all for saving our environment, rah-rah, I can't tell you how exasperating this news was as a parent, especially considering the fact that such medications account for only a fraction of one per cent of the CFCs released into the atmosphere. The FDA seemed to think there were acceptable and equally effective alternatives. My son will tell you there is not.

Mitchell has loved distance running since his middle school days, and while he was a solid contributor to his high school team, excelling as an individual was always out of reach. Racewalking allowed him to fine tune his technique and become a contender, despite his physical limitations. For those who are not familiar with racewalking, it is a full-fledged Olympic event in which competitors must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times, unlike running, in which the runner loses ground contact for brief periods during the stride phase. Here's a video of phenom Trevor Barron, in case you want to see America's best at it.

Last year, during his senior year in high school, Mitchell came down with a respiratory infection. For two weeks, he nearly expelled his lungs. After a round of antibiotics, he quickly became ill again. It seemed he was sick from January through May. And not just sick, but exhausted to the point where he'd come home from school, crash with a 4-hour nap, wake up long enough to do homework, then sleep another 10 hours. Extreme daily headaches added to his problems. He no longer had the energy to do the things he loved most. The fatigue, headaches and recurring illness got so bad, that he eventually had to quit his senior track season. The kid who used to talk to people about going to the Olympics one day, who had earned an athletic scholarship for his racewaking, and who used to plaster Post-It notes with his goal times all over his walls and ceilings, no longer seemed to care. Why even try anymore?

Add to the asthma the fact that he constantly had problems with iron depletion, or borderline anemia, despite that we were pumping iron supplements into him and feeding him red meat as much as possible.We took him to several doctors and drew enough blood to give an elephant a complete transfusion. One doctor actually told us it was 'normal' for teenagers to sleep 12-14 hours a day. Every day? Naw, I don't think so.

Being the trooper Mitchell is and not wanting to burden others, he kept his problems to himself. I'm sure most of his friends, teachers and coaches never knew how terrible he felt. Anyone who's a parent knows you want to see your kid succeed, but more than that, you just want them to be healthy and happy. He was neither, anymore. I tried very hard to keep things positive with him, saying we can always find a lesson and a purpose in everything that happens to us, even the bad stuff. At times, that got really hard to do. I told him maybe this was to help make him grateful for the small things in life and if we figured this out and could overcome it, it would only motivate him that much more.

I was relentless and determined to figure out why he was not getting any better. The answer came with a simple post on Facebook. I mentioned how often my son had been sick and what his general symptoms were. My sister-in-law told me about her own bout with bronchitis and about learning that it was due to dust mite allergies. The light bulb went on.

So we hauled him to an allergist to get poked with dozens more needles. Lo and behold, not only was he allergic to dust mites and pollen, but wheat and soy. Food, like bread, cookies and spaghetti, for Pete's sake! Not only was he inhaling his allergens, he was ingesting them, too. Unknown to us, those weekly pasta dinners that are customary among cross country teams had been slowly poisoning him each season. The reason his body couldn't get enough iron, was because he wasn't even absorbing it to begin with. It bears mentioning that while he does not, to our knowledge, have Celiac disease, which is an intolerance of the digestive tract to the gluten protein found in wheat and other grains, his symptoms are very similar.

We have collected a few stories from walking into eating establishments and asking for an allergen menu. At one place, when we explained he couldn't have wheat, the hostess said he could have white bread instead. Um, hello? Bread is made from flour, which is made from ... wheat.

It took nearly six months for Mitchell to begin feeling 'normal' again. During his first indoor track season as a freshman competing for Goshen College, he busted his old Personal Record at the NAIA National Meet in March by going 14:16 in the 3 K race and placing 6th for All-American honors. Lately, he's started feeling so great that he keeps pushing himself at practice (thanks in part to his supportive teammate and school record holder Jake GunderKline) - so much so that during his first 5 K race last week, he clipped a minute and 35 seconds off his former PR and made the automatic qualifying standard for NAIA Outdoor Nationals.

It's been a long journey, but we've learned a lot along the way. Most importantly, we learned you have to educate yourself about your own health - and never give up hope that things will get better. Because they can and often do.


Monday, April 2, 2012

The King Must Die - Now available on Kindle!... and where to find more great Historical Fiction

Just a quick note to let everyone know that The King Must Die (the sequel to Isabeau) is now available for $3.99 on Kindle and at Smashwords:

Smashwords (Epub, LRF, PDB)

I'd also like to mention two authors' collectives that I belong to which specialize in Historical Fiction. You can find everything there from Ancient civilizations to 20th century war fiction, mysteries, westerns and historical fantasy. Check out their amazing selections to find more great new reads:

Historical Fiction eBooks

Past Times Books

Happy reading,

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Big Cover Reveal for The King Must Die

What is done cannot be undone.

England, 1326. Edward II has been dethroned. Queen Isabella and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, are at the pinnacle of their power.

Fated to rule, Isabella’s son becomes King Edward III at the callow age of fourteen. Young Edward, however, must bide his time as the loyal son until he can break the shackles of his minority and dissolve the regency council which dictates his every action.

When the former king is found mysteriously dead in his cell, the truth becomes obscured and Isabella can no longer trust her own memory . . . or confide in those closest to her. Meanwhile, she struggles to keep her beloved Mortimer at her side and gain yet another crown—France’s—for the son who no longer trusts her.

Amidst a maelstrom of shifting loyalties, accusations of murder propel England to the brink of civil war.

In the sequel to Isabeau, secrecy and treason, conspiracy and revenge once again overtake England. The future rests in the hands of a mother and son whose bonds have reached a breaking point.


The release of The King Must Die is coming soon! The paperback should be available in early April, followed shortly afterward by the Kindle book. I'll post here when and where the various formats can be purchased - or if you're a regular user of Facebook, sign up for my fan page (it still seems weird to me to say that). Don't worry - I keep my postings to about one per week, so I won't flood your newsfeed. You can also drop me a line via e-mail at imgnr "at" imgnr "dot" com and I'll add you to my e-mail list for new releases.

Some folks have wondered why I ended Isabeau where I did and why I didn't tell "the rest of the story" (not giving out any spoiler here, so forgive me for not elaborating further). Initially, I intended to write a single book, but there was just so much to tell about Isabella and Mortimer I knew I couldn't do it justice without writing an 800 page book. I don't know about the rest of you, but I find doorstoppers like that a bit daunting. Isabeau begins in 1308 with her wedding to Edward II, yet she lived until 1358. Covering that many years while moving the story forward and keeping it all connected was a challenge. So as I considered events, I decided there were two distinct periods in Isabella's life worthy of telling - and thus, two books.

For anyone who thinks I research and write fast enough to put out fresh new books every six months . . . uh, sorry, but I actually write much more slowly than that. I started writing over 12 years ago, while my kids were at school, and even while I was querying agents and then my lovely agent was circulating my manuscripts to editors, I kept writing. During the past two years, I've been mostly re-writing, adding a few new chapters here and there, learning about digital publishing and gleaning wisdom from the generous indie author community.

While I enjoyed my writing time, those 12 years were sometimes also lonely and frustrating years. There was a time when I thought The King Must Die would never be finished, let alone become a real book. It sat on my hard drive 2/3 complete for close to three years. I sincerely want to thank all the kind readers who have made the long struggle worthwhile. You are the reason I continue to park myself before the keyboard everyday. I hope that you learn a little bit along the way while getting lost in the world of people and events from the past.

Until later,