Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The inspiration behind The London Monster By Donna Scott


In 1788, exactly one hundred years before Jack the Ripper terrorizes the people of London, a sexual miscreant known as the London Monster roams the streets in search of his next victim…

Thomas Hayes, having lost his mother in a vicious street assault, becomes an underground pugilist on a mission to rid the streets of violent criminals. But his vigilante actions lead to him being mistaken for the most terrifying criminal of all.

Assistance arrives in the form of Sophie Carlisle, a young journalist with dreams of covering a big story, though she is forced to masquerade as a man to do it. Trapped in an engagement to a man she doesn’t love, Sophie yearns to break free to tell stories that matter about London’s darker side—gaming, prostitution, violence—and realizes Tom could be the one to help. Together, they come up with a plan.

Straddling the line between his need for vengeance and the need to hide his true identity as a politician's son becomes increasingly difficult as Tom is pressured to win more fights. The more he wins, the more notoriety he receives, and the greater the chance his identity may be exposed—a revelation that could jeopardize his father’s political aspirations and destroy his family’s reputation. 

Sophie is also in danger as hysteria spreads and the attacks increase in severity and frequency. No one knows who to trust, and no one is safe—Tom included, yet he refuses to end the hunt.

Little does he realize, the monster is also hunting him.

My Inspiration for Writing The London Monster

Donna Scott

As an author, I tend to gravitate toward subject matter that is rarely discussed in historical fiction.  I like to write about things that some might consider uncomfortable or, rather, not the stuff of polite conversation.  Provocative, perverse, salacious?  Call it whatever you want.  For whatever reason, I am drawn to the obscure or bizarre.  If you’ve read Shame the Devil or The London Monster, then you know what I mean.

My favorite character to write is always the villain.  He’s usually the most complex and therefore the most interesting—at least, to me.  But naturally (and unfortunately), he must take a backseat to the other characters, especially the hero and heroine. So when the opportunity appeared to write a villain I could showcase, I grabbed it.

I’d never heard of the London Monster until I was browsing through some archived newspapers from the late 18th century and read about one of his attacks. This particular one was likely highlighted because it occurred on the evening of Queen Charlotte’s birthday celebration in January of 1790.  Two sisters were walking home when a man approached them and, after uttering a series of indecent comments and engaging in a brief scuffle, pulled a knife and stabbed the older sister in the hip.  His comments were inappropriate, too licentious for the women to repeat when questioned by authorities.  According to records, prior to the attack of the sisters, the monster had already abused, beaten, and cut more than a dozen women.  The location of the stab wounds indicated that his attacks were of a sexual nature.  This made me wonder about the type of man who would target his victims in such a way—his psyche, his motives, his strategy.  I also thought about the women he approached—all beauties, as they say—and how some women faked attacks to gain celebrity.  It seemed bizarre that anyone would do that, but vanity can make us do things that aren’t necessarily logical or smart.  I also read about the innocent men who were arrested for the monster’s crimes and then released after character witnesses and others came forth on their behalf. Ultimately, an hysteria erupted because one deranged man had a strange perverted sense of his own entitlement and sexual prowess.

Even though I knew he’d be the central character for my book, I had to figure out my other characters.  Who were the types of people who might live in this highly sexualized period of London history, and how would they come in contact with this perverse miscreant?  I like using main characters who are fictional yet have interactions with real historical figures.  Perhaps they may never have done anything spectacular in their lives to merit mention in a newspaper or book or historical record of any kind, but their flaws and lifestyles reveal more about the time period than someone who, because of his or her social status or ranking, was more well known. In late 18th century London, a city rife with vices—gambling and prostitution being the most prominent—the most likely figures to include in the story were an aspiring journalist, an underground boxer, a prostitute, and a sexually tormented noble.  It’s a strange cast of characters, all from different backgrounds and classes but, in one way or another, they all become entwined with the monster. And even more importantly, they all have their own stories to tell.  

 Buy Links

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¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨) ( ¸.•´

About the Author

Donna Scott

Donna Scott is an award-winning author of 17th and 18th century historical fiction. Before embarking on a writing career, she spent her time in the world of academia. She earned her BA in English from the University of Miami and her MS and EdD (ABD) from Florida International University. She has two sons and lives in sunny South Florida with her husband. Her first novel, Shame the Devil, received the first place Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction and a Best Book designation from Chanticleer International Book Reviews.

Connect with Donna:



Tuesday, December 29, 2020


 The Books Delight Interview

Welcome readers to another author interview. Today we are happy to have Mary Ann Bernal. Join us for a great conversation about writing, history, and Mary Ann's books. 

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Mary Ann. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun, and what the perfect day looks like?

MAB-Thanks for having me. I currently reside in Elkhorn, Nebraska, and enjoy attending my grandchildren’s activities. From softball to dance competitions, you will find me in the stands, cheering on my talented offspring. A perfect day would include making my daily word count, doing my treadmill miles, and being first in line in the carpool lane at my granddaughter’s school.

JMR-Your written books are set in Saxon England, Crusading Europe, and now ancient Rome. So, what is your absolute favorite time period? Why?

MAB-That is a tough question. I find history fascinating and am always trying to imagine how people lived their lives in previous centuries. Greek mythology piqued my interest at an early age. Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt held their own allure, a notable difference when compared to the dark and middle ages. But the romanticized knights of the British Isles deeply affected an impressionable teenager as did the heroic tales of the Vikings, albeit as Hollywood interpreted their escapades. I enjoy every time period equally without favoritism. However, if a choice must be made, I would favor Ancient Egypt on Monday, Ancient Greece on Tuesday, Ancient Rome on Wednesday, Crusading Europe on Thursday, and Saxon England on Friday. As you can see, in fairness, I went in alphabetical order.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical female? Why? If you could ask her one question, what would it be?

MAB-Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful women in the twelfth century. As Queen of France, she participated in the Second Crusade. She successfully annulled her marriage to King Louis, becoming engaged to the Duke of Normandy (the future Henry II of England) shortly thereafter. She refused to be subjected to “knowing her place.” She was not meek and submissive but a force to be reckoned with. As for my question, I would ask Eleanor, “What really happened in Antioch?” (Hint: Her husband was jealous of Eleanor’s affection for her uncle, Raymond of Poitiers.)

JMR-You have a strong connection to the U.S. Military. Tell our readers about that and why.

MAB-Freedom is not free, and too many people take our freedoms for granted. Without the courage and sacrifice of our military, we would not enjoy the lifestyles we covet. Democracy is fragile and must be protected at all costs. We must never forget the blood that was shed to keep us free.

JMR- Thank you for this Mary Ann, my husband and I are both Air Force Veterans and my son is currently serving in the Army. We appreciate your support. 

JMR- Mary Ann, tell us about your new book, Forgiving Nero. What’s it about, and how is it different from other books about this much-maligned man?

MAB-History is written by the victors. However, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio, the ancient historians responsible for vilifying Nero, had no first-hand knowledge of the events comprising Nero’s reign. Their information was based on hearsay (unreliable in a court of law) and dramatic personal interpretation of the circumstances. For example, fiddles did not appear until the Middle Ages. Thus, Nero could not fiddle while Rome burned. In fact, he was not even in the city when the fire started. While Nero was guilty of monstrous atrocities, he was also a kind and sensitive young man who wanted to help the common people when he became emperor. What forces slowly eroded Nero’s idealistic pursuits for the common good? Nero was flawed like the rest of humanity. He deserves to be remembered as the man he truly was, not the man history condemned him to be.

JMR-You’ve traveled to the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Greece for your research. Where did you feel the closest connection to your characters?

MAB-I would have to say my visit to the U.K. ranks at the top of the list. When I walked the ramparts at Kenilworth (Robert Dudley’s home), my mind shifted to the ninth century, and I pictured Vikings running towards the walls defended by the Saxons. The historical inaccuracies did not matter. I looked down upon an imagined enemy, hearing the bloodcurdling war cries in my mind, picturing the turmoil as arrows rained and men fell. The Priory Ruins at Thetford had its own ghosts of monks chanting in the abbey ruins, praying for salvation from the formidable enemy. The Anglo-Saxon Village at West Stow represents how the common people lived, enduring hardships we only read about.

JMR- Your books include a strong romantic storyline, which takes precedence, the history, or the love story?

MAB- The love story is interwoven with the history. The mores of the day dictate behavior. The characters conduct themselves as befitting their station in life. Conflict arises when a character does not follow the rules. Being an incurable romantic, at the end of the day, love conquers all.

JMR- What’s next? Another Nero book?

MAB-A few characters from Ancient Egypt have appeared on the horizon, demanding their story be told. I’m considering a novel set during Pharaoh Akhenaten’s reign. I always have another tale I want to tell. I need to find the time to write them all.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

 Website    Whispering Legends Press    Facebook    Twitter

Blog    Pinterest    Instagram    YouTube

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

MAB: Any fun facts you wish to share?

Nancy Walker (actress best known for appearing on the T.V. show Rhoda) and I almost collided on a sidewalk in Manhattan.

Tom Jones touched my hand during a concert at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York.

After visiting the Thetford Priory Ruins in Norfolk, U.K., I learned that Ghost Hunters had featured the site, which is reputedly haunted. I did not see any specters, much to my disappointment.

JMR- Wow, Tom Jones! How long did it take for you to wash that hand?!

JMR- Thank you, Mary Ann, for stopping by, we really enjoyed talking with you today. Good luck with your new book! Readers if you are interested in checking out Mary Ann's books click on the Amazon button below. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Inspiration behind Three Monkeys by Len Maynard


Writing the DCI Jack Callum Mysteries
The inspiration behind the series.
 Len Maynard


1) Three Monkeys
‘The Last Train to San Fernando barrelled down the stairs carried on Johnny Duncan’s nasal whine. Jack Callum sighed, laid down his newspaper, and went out into the hall.’
Those were the first lines of a Jack Callum novel ever to find their way onto my computer in the summer of 2010.
Not a particularly gripping start to a crime novel I’ll grant you, but for me, they were vitally significant because those twenty-six words had fixed so much in my head.
Firstly, period. I was now viewing Britain in the late 1950’s. Secondly, I knew that music, especially skiffle and early British rock n’ roll would be playing a large part in the coming narrative. I wasn’t aware then that Jack’s son, Eric, would buy a guitar and form his own skiffle band, or that his sister would be roped in to sing for them. That would become a voyage of discovery, as would the whole dynamics of Jack’s family.
At that moment all I was really concerned with was the crime Jack would be called on to solve.
I was building a character who had no apparent flaws, who had a settled home life, a loving, devoted wife and not much to disturb his uneventful and possibly slightly dull life. I was entering dangerous territory if I wanted to write an edgy crime novel and not a cosy drawing room mystery.
One thing I was certain of was that the crime had to be extreme and deeply disturbing. It had to shake Jack, and the reader, out of their comfort zone.
If you’ve read Three Monkeys you will be the judge as to whether I succeeded.

To further complicate Jack’s life I had the return of his and Annie’s estranged daughter Joanie ready to splinter their cosy world.
Joan Callum arrived in my mind in the early hours of a Sunday morning. She arrived fully formed, feisty and remorseful, and an absolute delight to write.
I had already fallen slightly in love with Annie. She was the wife I’d always wanted. Level-headed, attractive, and able to hold her own when dealing with Jack’s dogged nature. But suddenly Joanie arrived and I was instantly smitten. Here was a young woman who had made her own decisions (not always the most sensible ones) at a very early age and was wasting no time in forging forward with her life.
I was starting to engage with the entire Callum family. Eric was starting to resemble a fourteen version of me, with his love of music and his desire to play guitar. Rosie was still very much an innocent teenager. Little did I know then what lay in store for her in the months ahead.
Three Monkeys was written pretty much on the fly. I’ve never been much for planning my novels. When I have done this in the past the results have never been satisfactory. I like to discover what will happen in the novel the way a reader would.
However, once I decided there would be more than just one Jack Callum book, I had to break with tradition and started making notes about the characters and the villains…but not the plot. That evolved pretty much as it appears in the book. And it was a system I used throughout the entire series. I hope it’s worked, but you’d be in a much better position to judge than me.
2) A Dangerous Life
My fascination for the dark underbelly of the entertainment business has been evident since I first started writing back in the 1970’s.
At a funfair, I was always more interested by what was happening behind the flashing lights than the rides and sideshows. At the theatre, I always wanted to know what was happening behind the proscenium arch once the curtain fell.
The character of Tony Turner had a certain appeal for me – a famous and popular actor whose career was on the slide. It was someone whose life I wanted to explore, to dig down and uncover the secrets he had kept hidden behind the showbiz smile. The fact that he was also my first murder victim gave Jack a good reason to conduct that exploration on my behalf.
A Dangerous Life also took me away from the middle-class monster of Three Monkeys and allowed me to write about British gangland of the 1950’s, a world I only knew about from watching the black and white B movies at my local cinema.
Growing up, the names of two Edgars – Lustgarten and Wallace – had been my passport to a monochrome world of murder, thievery, blackmail, fraud, and all things criminal.
Once I had my background, my characters and my initial murder the rest came fairly easily.
I wrote the opening scene of a thirteen-year-old Gerry Turner confessing to the killing of her brother some months before starting the actual book. It was such a haunting scene that I knew I would have to use it. I was unaware when I wrote it that it would be a springboard into another novel.
Equally, I was unaware of how important young Gerry would become and the role she would go on to play in future Jack Callum books. But that in itself has been one of the delights in writing about the Callum world, how minor characters suddenly come into their own and take centre stage.
Norton Common, where Tony Turner’s tortured body was found nailed to a tree, like a lot of places depicted in the books, really exists. It’s a charming and rather lovely area of parkland barely a mile away from where I live, an ideal spot for ramblers and dog-walkers and not a place where a dead body is likely to be found. (Sidebar – a few weeks after finishing A Dangerous Life, a body was found on Norton Common, hanging from a tree. Nothing to do with me, guv. Honest.)
3) Appetite For Evil
The genesis for this story dates back to 1958, the year my father died at the age of thirty-three. I was just five years old.
For the few years that preceded his death he became involved with the everyday running of St Joseph’s, a local Catholic orphanage. A convert to that faith in his late twenties, his desire to help out in any way he could led to him forming a group of volunteers to help with social events, running sports days and organising film shows for the children and staff.
The first part of Appetite for Evil is pretty much an accurate account of my early childhood. My portrait of characters like Sister Rosalie, Cannon Flood, and especially Les Parsons are drawn from life – especially Les’s glass eye. Les, like my dad, had lost his real eye in an accident at work.
Beyond that, once the murders start, it’s all down to my own dark imagination.
The memories of the few years I was a visitor to St Joseph’s, accompanying my dad, are vividly etched on my memory, but this the first time I have used it in the fabric of a story. Writing the book was an emotional roller coaster, re-visiting memories that had been long forgotten, or so I thought.
Once I tapped into them, the names and faces came back in Dolby surround sound and glorious Technicolor.
Again, and probably because I was, for the most part, treading familiar ground, the execution of the book was relatively simple and, once I had put my emotions back in the box labelled Do Not Disturb, an enjoyable experience.
4) Deadly Ambitions
Larry Parnes was one of the most successful impresarios and entrepreneurs of the late ’Fifties, early ’Sixties.
I had read a great deal about him and his ‘stable’ of stars. Indeed, artistes like Joe Brown, Marty Wilde Billy Fury, and Vince Eager had provided me with the soundtrack to my early life. Pre-dating the Beatles and possessed of a glamour and star power that has really been unequalled since Larry Parnes’ stable of good-looking and talented (some more than others) young men fuelled teenage fantasies and took the record industry to new heights.
My elder sister was a fully paid-up member of the dream world Parnes was peddling and I absorbed it all through some kind of cultural osmosis…and by reading her weekly Valentine comic when she had finished with it.
So, a great deal of the research for Deadly Ambitions had been done decades before.
The title of the book was an accurate description of the plot.
Harry Franks was a would-be Larry Parnes, but a man with a fraction of Parnes’ talent or work ethic. He was a get rich quick merchant who saw the people he was managing as commodities and little else, and it was this avaricious side to his (frankly, unpleasant) nature that led to his murder.
Deadly Ambitions was another of the books that put the seedy side of show business under the microscope, busily lifting stones and examining the furtive, scurrying things that live beneath them.
Saying that, it was great fun to write and introduced one of my favourite characters.
Bunny Starling made such an impact on me that I was reluctant to kill her off when it was time for her to die.
Some of my characters are so unpleasant that I have no qualms in hastening them towards their demise – Harry Franks for one – but I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Bunny. She enlivens the pages in which she appears and never fails to make me smile.
The climax of the story takes place at Farringdon Underground station. A station I know intimately after spending over forty years of my life travelling to and from there when I was working in Clerkenwell. It was inevitable that it would, one day, feature in one of my books.
Since finishing Deadly Ambitions I have returned to Farringdon and, in my mind’s eye, I can picture the scene exactly as I wrote it. Luckily fellow passengers on the Metropolitan line have no insight into my thoughts.
I think they’d be horrified.
 5) Sins of the Fathers
Sins of the Fathers was the most difficult of the Jack Callums to write and took longer than the rest of the books by several months. And this had nothing to do with subject matter or lack of inspiration. In fact, it was nothing more than real life intruding into my literary world and making itself so noticeable that I just couldn’t ignore it and carry on.

I was 20,000 words into Sins and rolling along like a turbocharged Hillman Hunter when my landlord and owner of the cottage where I’d spent the best part of the decade, returned from his sojourn abroad in need of a place to live.
So, effectively, I was out on my ear and needed to find somewhere else to live and write.
The search for rented accommodation in Letchworth at that time of year (Christmas) was long and arduous. There was little on the market that was remotely suitable and the prospect of finding a three-bedroom cottage similar to the one I was vacating was very slim indeed.
I finally found a two-bedroom apartment and moved in, sacrificing many of my goods and chattels, including many books and much of my music, including twelve electric guitars and basses that had once adorned my walls, and now had nowhere to call home.
I really had no idea how traumatic the move had been, what a shock to my system it was, until I sat down at my makeshift desk and attempted to resume Sins of the Fathers from where I had left it all those months before. And I had nothing. I had left my muse at my old house and she hadn’t accompanied me to my new home.
Eventually, after a lot of cajoling she returned, but somewhere along the line she had lost her magic and, not for the first time in my writing career, I was floundering.
I had no choice but to start from scratch. I effectively ripped up the twenty thousand words I’d written and started again with a blank screen.
I’ve stated elsewhere that I’m not a great or fastidious note-taker but, at that time, I was actively cursing my own ineptitude and negligence. The words were a long time coming and sometimes it was like pulling teeth.
Gradually I realised it was nothing whatsoever to do with a powerless muse or a lack of imaginative power. I was simply a fish out of water, floundering, and gasping for air.
I had written a good dozen novels at my old cottage and had become accustomed to the place, to my writing room and the creature comforts I had fastidiously built up around me. If I was going to make the new book a success, I would have to repair the damage to my psyche and rebuild my life.
The solution, when it came, was so simple. Stop writing.
So, I made the conscious decision to stop – for about six months. Six months watching DVD box sets, socialising, catching up on music that I had missed, and just enjoying myself.
After six months my muse returned, with her tail firmly between her legs, and I completed Sins, followed very quickly by Into the Fire that took a fraction of the time.
Now I’m back to writing and the cottage seems like a lifetime ago. Phew! It was touch and go for a moment there.
6) Into The Fire
In my head I sub-titled this, The Death of a Ring Rat because that was what it was about.
The reason I called it Into the Fire was simply that I didn’t think the majority of my readers would have any idea what a ring rat was.
I had just read a series of biographies of professional wrestlers stretching back to the late ’fifties. It's hard to believe that televised pro wrestling, in the 1950’s and 60’s had such a following, but viewing figures of over ten million were commonplace, and people like Mick McManus and Jackie Pallo were household names. This pre-dated the Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks period of wrestling which was little more than a televised pantomime, and much the worse for it.
And it was this golden age that I had a hankering to write about since I first started writing.
Writing the Jack Callum series finally gave me the opportunity.
Ring rats were, and still are, the derogatory term given to the women wrestling fans who follow their favourites from town to town, and sometimes, country to country, in the same way that groupies follow rock bands.
Once I had decided on a background on which to paint the scenario, the rest came so easily the book nearly wrote itself. In fact, the whole thing took me about six weeks from start to finish, a new record for me, and it produced the book, which is probably my favourite of the six instalments.
I was even bold enough to include my love of period Variety theatre as a secondary background. I was doubly blessed.
Also, using the scourge of drug misuse gave the novel a resonance and relevance to today’s society. Again, it’s easy to forget that back in 1960 that drug abuse was commonplace and a serious source of income for the criminal fraternity. So, the research went deep, and the more I discovered the more I wanted to write the book.
So, that’s it for this look behind the scenes. I’ve said before that I think of the Jack Callum series as one long novel, and Into the Fire brought the piece to a satisfying conclusion…for now.

Writing the DCI Jack Callum Mystery series has been a hell of a ride, and I’m not sure I’m ready to get off just yet.


A girl’s body is found in Hertfordshire.
Her eyes and mouth have been sewn shut. Candle wax has been poured into her ears to seal them.
DCI Jack Callum, policeman and dedicated family man, who cut his teeth walking the beat on the violent streets of London, before moving his family away from the city, to a safer, more restful life in the country, leads the investigation into this gruesome crime that shatters the peace of the sleepy English town.
Images of three monkeys are sent to the police to taunt them: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Something more sinister than a mere isolated murder seems to be going on as more victims come to light.
Who is doing this and why?
At the insistence of the first victim’s father, a local dignitary, officers from Scotland Yard are brought in to bring about a speedy conclusion to the case, side-lining Jack’s own investigation.
In a nail-biting climax, one of Jack’s daughters is snatched. Before she can become the next victim, Jack has to go against the orders of his superiors that have constantly hampered his investigation, and risk his own career in an attempted rescue at the killer’s own home.
Buy Links:

Len Maynard

Len Maynard was born in North London in 1953.

In 1978, a book of short ghost stories, written in collaboration with Michael Sims, was published by London publisher William Kimber. For the following forty years the pair wrote ten more collections of ghost stories before moving into novels in 2006, completing over thirty more books, including the successful Department 18 series of supernatural/crime crossover novels as well as several standalone novels and novellas in the supernatural and crime genres.

Always a keen reader of crime novels, and with a passion for the social history of the twentieth-century it was fairly inevitable that, when he decided to branch out and write under his own name, some kind of combination of these two interests would occur.

The six DCI Jack Callum Mysteries were the result of several years of total immersion in the world he created for Jack Callum, his family, his friends (and enemies) and his work colleagues.

He has also written a trilogy of adventure thrillers set in the Bahamas (also available from Sharpe Books).

He is currently at work on the seventh book in the DCI Jack Callum series.

Connect with Len:

Website •  Website “The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries”TwitterInstagramFacebook

Monday, December 21, 2020

Spotlight on novelist MJ Porter

MJ Porter
Fun Facts

  I once had thirty-seven rabbits and forty-three gerbils. (I now have only two rabbits).

2)     I hate my middle name, even though two of my friends have it for a first name.

3)     When I was a teenager, I worked in a local music shop, and as such, have a strange and detailed knowledge of the music scene during the early 1990s, as revealed to me when watching an episode of Top of The Pops 2 for 1990 recently. I knew the words to almost every song. (The music shop was called Tudor Tunes. Even when I was a teenager, I couldn’t get away from history.) I’ve just googled the shop and discovered it shut over a decade ago. Ah, I’m traumatised.

4)     When I was much younger, I had my picture taken for the local paper wearing a NASA astronaut’s helmet. They had to put a bit of paper in the catch so it didn’t seal me in.

5)     I almost didn’t study history at GCSE, A Level, or as a degree. I changed my mind every time and caused many people a lot of problems. Not sure I’d get away with it anymore.

I decided to study history at GCSE rather than Drama after visiting my great-grandfather’s grave who fought in the First World War. While one of the lucky ones who came home to his family, he died in 1924 from injuries sustained during the war. It made me really angry to think my lovely Grandad grew up without his Dad (he would have been four when his Dad died) because of the war and I wanted to find out why!

Daughter, Sister, Duchess, Aunt. Queen.

United by blood and marriage. Divided by seas. Torn apart by ambition.

Lady Estrid Sweinsdottir has returned from Kiev, her first husband dead after only a few months of marriage. Her future will be decided by her father, King Swein of Denmark, or will it?

A member of the ruling House of Gorm, Estrid might not be eligible to rule, as her older two brothers, but her worth is in more than her ability to marry and provide heirs for a husband, for her loyalty is beyond question. 

With a family as divided and powerful as hers, stretching from England to Norway to the land of the Svear, she must do all she can to ensure Denmark remains under the control of her father’s descendants, no matter the raging seas and boiling ambition that threatens to imperil all.

  Buy Links:

 Amazon UKAmazon US


About the Author

I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest), born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since AD1066. 

 I write A LOT. You’ve been warned!

Connect with MJ Porter


Friday, December 18, 2020

Spotlight on PenforHireNYC author and PenPodcast host Matthew Harms


Penforhirenyc offers premier ghostwriting and author coaching services for writers of all skill levels. Whether it be successful business professionals who want to enhance their brand and improve profitability by creating a book that showcases their expertise or authors who just need guidance in starting or finishing their work, we have proven effective solutions.

In December of 2020, we launched the PenPodcast show, designed to help feature authors and bring their message to a larger audience. We hope that more authors will find their voice and become more accessible to their readers through discussions on their books, background, and process amongst a range of other topics.

Both Penforhirenyc and PenPodcast are currently accepting new author submissions and we look forward to expanding our services and show count in 2021. For a free consultation with Penforhirenyc, please visit PenforHire and hit the "Book Now" button. To sign up for a spot on PenPodcast, head over to PenPodcast and fill in the contact form.

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Matthew Harms

Matthew Harms is a New York born and based Freelance Writing Professional and Success Coach. His Bronx upbringing, combined with diverse educational and career backgrounds provide a multitude of facets to each project he works on.

As a lifelong writer, Matthew has learned from, and adapted, his various experiences in fields such as Finance, Project Management, and Corporate Training.  He has now dedicated his time to giving back to the community and providing a voice for the voiceless, as well as helping to enhance the work of writers looking to take their projects to the next level.

Matthew is the author of Grow Up: No, Really, and Employed: A Career Readiness Manual, books designed to enrich people's lives through basic life skills and career readiness training. When he is not focused on helping others, Matthew's other passions are writing works of fiction and spending time with his children.

Connect with Matthew

PenforHire   Matthew Harms Webpage   PenPodcast   Linkedin    Twitter

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 Book Appointment Now

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Available on Amazon
Purchase Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Inspiration Behind The Wolf Banner, Sons of the Wolf Book II by Paula Lofting



"Best battle description ever!"

1056...England lurches towards war as the rebellious Lord Alfgar plots against the indolent King Edward. Sussex thegn, Wulfhere, must defy both his lord, Harold Godwinson, and his bitter enemy, Helghi, to protect his beloved daughter.

As the shadow of war stretches across the land, a more personal battle rages at home, and when it follows him into battle, he knows he must keep his wits about him more than ever, and COURAGE AND FEAR MUST BECOME HIS ARMOUR…

Sons of the Wolf

My Journey

Paula Lofting

I have always wanted to write an epic historical fiction story as long as I could remember, but my journey into writing only began fifteen years ago when I was in my forties and doing my nurse training. The spark that had been there for many years was finally triggered when I attended a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. It's not that I had never realised the importance of this great battle and pivotal moment in our history, it just hadn’t ever got under my skin until that day. So my obsession began and I found a book called 1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth which discusses events of that year from the perspective of a village in Sussex known as Horstede and today known as Little Horsted where Mr Howarth lived.


I had found my inspiration, my lead character, and the setting.

Before I start, The Wolf Banner is book 2 in the Sons of the Wolf saga.

Little Horsted could not really be described as a village today, more of a Hamlet, with, according to Mr Howarth, a similar population when he was living there in the ’70s to the time of the Norman Conquest. It is set in the heart of Sussex, not far from the town of Uckfield. Listed in the Domesday Book the land was held from the king by a man called Wulfhere before 1066. Holding their lands from Wulfhere, were 9 villeins and 6 cottars. Between them, they owned 7 and a half ploughs with a team of 8 oxen each and 1 with a half team of 4. Now-a-days, besides a single row of houses, a parish church, and a school, there is also a Golf club and a hotel. Surrounding the place there are farms and fields. There is even a roundabout called the Little Horsted roundabout but nothing much else is there. 


 A lush green meadow and farmland in Little Horsted, Sussex.

 Many 1066 enthusiasts would probably know this book but for me, the way that Howarth has written it is so enchanting that I was able to conjure up scenes in my head of a man, his family, his tenants, and the forest that surrounded them. Children ran through the forest, swimming in the millpond; boys fighting with wooden swords and shields; a warrior and his servant returning home from battle. I could not be anything but inspired by Howarth’s book.

Nothing is known about what sort of man Wulfhere was, what his deeds were or who his family were. Things like that were not recorded for simple folk in those days. However, I hope that if he were alive today, he would not be offended by the life I created for him. Equally, Helghi of Gorde also was a man of the Domesday. Again, I hope I have not offended him too much by my villainous portrayal of him. But this is a fictional interpretation, and their story is my telling alone. I believe it is how life might have been for men and women of this time and although I have written from a twenty-first century point of view, I have tried to create an Anglo-Saxon mindset as a framework for the story. When all is said and done, these were people like you and me. They laughed, they cried, they loved and hated – They were much like us after all.

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Paula Lofting

Paula Lofting is the author of two volumes in the Sons of the Wolf series of which she is working on her third instalment. She has been a prolific reader all her life, inspired by authors like Rosemary Sutcliffe, Mary Stewart, and Sharon Penman. She is a psychiatric nurse by day and writes in her spare time whenever she can. Mother of three grown-up children and two grandchildren, she lives in Sussex and is also a re-enactor of the late Dark Age period. 

As a reenactor of the period, I can actually say that I have fought and died at the Battle of Hastings at least three times.

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