Historical fiction

A Writer’s Life: Interview with Award Winning Author Annie Whitehead

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Annie Whitehead today. She is here to talk with us about a big part of her writing. I first started this series-A Writer's Life- over at Layered Pages and decided to bring it to indieBRAG for our authors. Annie is a history graduate and prize-winning author. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. It was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Book of the Year 2016, and it has been awarded a B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion. Her second novel, Alvar the Kingmaker, is a tale of intrigue, deceit, politics, love, and murder in tenth-century Mercia. It charts the career of the earl who sacrificed personal happiness to secure the throne of England for King Edgar, and, later, Aethelred the Unready. It too has just been awarded a B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion. She has completed a third novel, also set in Mercia, and scheduled for publication in 2017. She has twice been a prizewinner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition, she won first prize for nonfiction in the new Writing Magazine Poetry…

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Copy-Editor- do we need one?

By Award Winning Author Elisabeth Marrion-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree You finished your latest masterpiece. Ready to press the publish button? No, wait, hold it there, just for a minute. Have you read and re-read? Did you do so on your computer, or did you print a copy? Printing out a copy is always a good idea, if you can do that. It really is easier to spot mistakes on a printed sheet. Have you been lucky, or brave enough, to have it beta read? Most of us have written more than one book. Do we, by now, have an inkling as to what will be best for our work to shine above the rest? Cost, as always, will be a factor. Proofreading is a must and can be costly. I, at one time, received some really bad advice on how to save on proofreading costs. A mistake I will not repeat. But do we need the extra expense of having the manuscript copy-edited? And bear in mind, that your copy-editor might suggest some changes. Or, worse still, suggest to delete certain sections altogether. This is your work, every word thought about, and the story carefully crafted. And now? A total stranger…

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The One that Got Away

By Annie Whitehead B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree It’s the time of year when students go off to college/university, and I’m casting my mind back to my own student days ... The Anglo-Saxon world which I studied was rather testosterone-fueled: kings whacking seven bells out of each other, male priests sermonising and occasionally fighting, and of course, those marauding invaders. No matter - I loved the subject when I was an undergraduate, and I still do. As much as I enjoyed my studies, I’d had a yearning to be a writer, and during those lectures, plans were forming. Some names and characters interested me more than others, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write about them. But one name really stood out. And this person had no testosterone. We were studying one of the first pieces of propaganda; a document designed to show off its subject in the best possible light - a real piece of spin. It was commissioned by this same high-ranking person and the rewards of studying it lie in what it glosses over or hides as much as in what it reveals. Queen Emma:  married to not one, but two kings. Mother to not one,…

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Three Axioms

Martha Kennedy Award winning Author of BragMedallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior As a writer, I’ve learned a few pretty obvious lessons, but, as I have the learning style of a crash test dummy, I had to discover them for myself. It comes down to three axioms. Axiom 1 — Give your ardor time to cool before submitting your work. While it’s cooling… Axiom 2 — Get help with proofreading, solicit comments and help from friends, then hire a professional editor. Axiom 3 — Stay true to your work. ********** Axiom 1 — Submit in haste, repent at leisure.  OR…Don’t do anything with your manuscript while you’re in love with it. Love is blind. In 2005, when I finished (and proofread [see Axiom 2]) the initial, complete 500 manuscript pages of Martin of Gfenn, I was so INFATUATED with it that I couldn’t see that it was an overwritten, error-riddled, repetitive nightmare. Four years later, looking at it with clearer eyes, I saw the full horror of my prose. Unfortunately, I’d already queried every possible agent. I decided (as the revised book was exponentially better than the unrevised book) to query them again. Yes, this is the biggest “NO!…

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Writing what you love to write – and read… by Anna Belfrage

Sometimes, people ask me why I write historical fiction. “Why such a difficult genre?” they ask, which in itself makes me a tad irritated, as historical fiction, IMO, is not a genre – it’s an umbrella under which all other genres coexist. In essence, the “historical” in historical fiction merely indicates that the story is set in a non-contemporary time. It says nothing about the content as such, albeit that many people seem to think historical fiction is defined by blood and gore and thousands upon thousands dying in one battle or other. Yes, that stuff happens in historical novels. It also happens in contemporary novels – it happens in real life around us on a daily basis. There are historical novels that are essentially love stories, there are others that are coming-of-age stories, yet another author delivers a well-crafted thriller set in distant times, and quite a few produce so called cosy mysteries a la Miss Marple. As long as all these very different books are set in the past, they end up labelled as historical fiction – and considered comparable. Obviously, they are not. I write books set in the past because I am something of a history…

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Wish-List 5: Historical Fiction

I am always thrilled when new B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees are announced and my reading list keeps getting bigger and bigger! One of the featured posts my fellow book bloggers and I do every month is share from our wish-list. This month there is quite a few from the indieBRAG library I have added. Today, I want to share five of them to you. Enjoy! -Stephanie M. Hopkins Four Nails by G.L. Berger Synopsis In ancient India, tragedy strikes a young elephant trainer. Forced into a slave caravan that takes him through perilous lands and into a world at war, Ashoka befriends a special elephant. He and that elephant, Four Nails, together lead Hannibal’s army over the Alps and down the back of Rome. Though a time of constant danger and uncertainty, Ashoka finds beauty and kindness while helping others enslaved for the pleasure of ruthless rulers. To survive this remarkable journey, the elephant trainer calls upon his unique ways with the great greys and a strength known only to those with nothing left to lose. Four Nails has been selected by The Huffington Post as one of only “Four beautiful, pack-your-suitcase worthy reads for summer vacation.” Huffington Post April 19,…

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Non-Fiction and The Brothers Path

Martha Kennedy Author of indieBRAG Medallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 Swiss emigrated to America before 1820, bringing not only their hard-working, flesh-and blood-selves, but religious and political philosophies that influenced what this nation became. I knew nothing about any of this until, at the suggestion of a Swiss reader of Martin of Gfenn, I began researching my own family tree. There I met the Schneebelis. At the time, I was in the midst of writing Savior, the story of a 13th century Swiss family, very minor nobility, living in a castle-fort near Affoltern am Albis in the Canton of Zürich. I based the setting of my story on a hillside and castle ruin I’d seen on a hike with a friend. I was dumbfounded when, in the midst of “finding my roots,” I found that my own ancestors had lived on that very hillside and in that very castle-fort. Even more creepy, the people in my family had the same names I’d given the characters in my story. OK, it’s true that there were not many names used in those places in the 13th century (boys were usually Rudolf, Hugo, Conrad,…

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An Author’s Angle on Date Night by Annie Whitehead

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree-To Be A Queen I’m going on a date with a handsome man called Alhelm, a real-life 10th century warrior and nobleman, who held lands in the northern area of the kingdom of Mercia. How do I know he’s handsome? Aethelflaed, from To Be A Queen, seems rather taken with him: “His blond hair, recently cut by the look of it, was sticking out at odd angles, where curls had been shorn, but not short enough to subdue them. His blue eyes were so pale that the pupils shone uncommonly black. A sprinkling of freckles spilled over both cheekbones and spread over his nose. He smiled at her … she felt an urge to smile back but also look away, at once a grown woman yet still a foolish child.” This is when she first meets him, and she is smitten. So I imagine someone who looks a little like this:    Although the reality is probably more like this:  But, I muse while I’m straightening my hair, how can we know what they looked like? The Mercians were the ‘Angle’ part of Anglo-Saxon; Pope Gregory, upon seeing some slaves in the market said they were “Not Angles,…

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First Year as a Newborn and Newbie Published Author by M. Louisa Locke

Below is a reprint of a post I did January 1, 2011, just about a year after I self-published my first novel, Maids of Misfortune. I think it captures some of the wonder of that first year. It is now slightly over a year later, a have a second grandson who just turned one, who is already running, climbing, and giving his two year-old brother a run for his money, and I have become more successful than I could have ever imagined. I have a second book out, Uneasy Spirits, the sequel to Maids of Misfortune, and over 37,000 people have bought copies of my two books, and another 50,000 people have downloaded them in a series of free promotions I did on Kindle. But I will never forget the joy of that first year of firsts. I hope you enjoy reading about them as well. --M. Louisa Locke Last year I rang in the New Year with my daughter, who had just had her first baby. I was exhausted (she had had a difficult delivery) and elated at being a grandmother. This New Year’s day, as I look back at the wonderful year of watching that sweet grandson grow…

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Meet my writer’s genie, the most distracting Ms Inspiration by Anna Belfrage

                Anna Belfrage   Sometimes, people ask me where all the ideas for my writing come from. That’s easy. I am afflicted – or blessed – by a vivid imagination and a most demanding muse, my very own Ms Inspiration. Lately, Ms Inspiration has not been much help. Not so that she doesn't spout ideas – she most certainly does, especially around three o'clock in the morning – but her attention span is the size of a newt’s, which means none of the ideas go much beyond an image or two. It's very annoying to have her leapfrog from a (great) idea for a story set in the 14th century to a vague daydream about becoming a hammer thrower and winning the Olympic gold. (This is the aftermath of having watched too much sports lately. Ms Inspiration has sadly concluded that I can neither ice skate, run nor do handstands, so throwing something is the single option that remains.) Mostly though, Ms Inspiration is presently suffering from indecisiveness. What she touts as a plausible idea on Monday is a dead duck on Tuesday, and the fabulous love scene she painted for me on…

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