Friday, January 29, 2021

Spotlight on Gifford MacShane, author of The Woodsman’s Rose (Donovan Family Saga, Book 2)


1880s Arizona

Daniel Donovan wants nothing more than to get married, unless it's to restore his friendship with his closest friend, Alec Twelve Trees.

Alec is raging about his mother's murderer, whose identity Daniel knows but will not reveal, as the killer is dead and the family he left behind would be compromised if the knowledge became public. But Alec cannot recognize any needs but his own, and the rift between the friends grows wider every day.

Daniel's fiancée, Annie, is a delicate girl, her health frail and her future uncertain. Prone to vicious headaches that at times rock her to her knees, she’s accepted Daniel’s ring but is hesitant to name their wedding date, worried that marriage and possible pregnancy will exacerbate her physical problems.

Annie inherited the gift of insight from her Welsh mother and digs into the past, searching for a way to help Alec and Daniel mend their relationship. But when she discovers the secret behind the murder, it’s more horrifying than she could have imagined.

It may take more than Annie’s small strength and inherited skills to bring the friends together again. And that’s before a new enemy shows his face.

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Gifford MacShane
Fun Facts

My husband and I have rescued and placed more than 35 cats in the past 20 years. I often call him “The Pied Piper of Stray Cats”, as they seem to follow him everywhere. It got so that whenever anyone who knew us (and some who didn’t) found a homeless cat, they brought it over to him, knowing he wouldn’t turn them away.

It usually takes me more than a month to put away my Christmas decorations. Anyone who knows me can tell you I get a “little” crazy with it. Every room gets decorated (even the bathrooms); I have a wreath or candelabra for every window; and I usually have five trees to decorate: one for the living room (top row L); one for the lower level TV room (top row R); one for my office (Bottom L);  a 4’ wall tree that hangs in the master bedroom (bottom C); and a teeny-tiny one (2’ tall) for the guest room (bottom R). And that doesn’t count the two small trees that go out on the front porch to greet visitors!


All My Trees 
Origin: My personal photos

Though I write historical fiction/historical romance, I usually read murder mysteries and thrillers. My favorite authors in this vein are Agatha Christie, J. D. Robb, and the late Dick Francis.

My first library was a Book-Mobile. My grandmother lived in a tiny hamlet called Herbertsville in Ocean County NJ, and my older sister and I would visit her for 2 weeks every summer. The Book-Mobile came every week and parked at the village grocery store. Granny (pronounced “Grah´-nee”) would bring us to pick up books for my bed-ridden grandfather, a voracious reader.

Tired of kids’ books by the time I was 10, I asked the librarian to recommend something, and thus became acquainted with The Virginian by Owen Wister. What a revelation! My own copy of the book finally fell apart, but for years it was one of my most treasured possessions. The hard-core Knight of the Range and the literature of that time, that place—both live deep inside me.


The Virginian
Origin: Public Domain

When I was in the 7th grade, I won a puppya long-haired border collie mix that I named Samat the school fair. I’m not sure who was more surprised, my father, or myself. I do know who was happier!

PS: I’d love to show you a picture of Sam, but all our photos of that time were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

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¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨ ( ¸.•´

About the Author

Gifford MacShane is the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

Her novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s. With an accessible literary style, MacShane draws out her characters' hidden flaws and strengths as they grapple with both physical and emotional conflicts.

Singing almost before she could talk, MacShane has always loved folk music, whether it be Irish, Appalachian, spirituals, or the songs of the cowboys. Her love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when her father introduced her to the works of Zane Grey. Later she became interested in the Irish diaspora, having realized her ancestors must have lived through An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. Writing allows her to combine her three great interests into a series of family stories, each including romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism. Having grown up in a large and often boisterous Irish-American family, she is intimately acquainted with the workings of such a clan and uses those experiences to good purpose (though no names will be named!)

MacShane is a member of the Historical Novel Society and is an #OwnVoices writer. A self-professed grammar nerd who still loves diagramming sentences, Giff currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, the Pied Piper of stray cats.

Connect with Gifford MacShane


Monday, January 25, 2021

Book Spotlight: The Danish King’s Enemy (The Earls of Mercia) By MJ Porter

 Every story has a beginning.

Leofwine has convinced his king to finally face his enemies in battle and won a great victory, but in the meantime, events have spiralled out of control elsewhere.

With the death of Olaf Tryggvason of Norway, England has lost an ally, and Leofwine has gained an enemy. And not just any enemy. Swein is the king of Denmark, and he has powerful resources at his fingertips.

In a unique position with the king, Leofwine is either honoured or disrespected. Yet, it is to Leofwine that the king turns to when an audacious attack is launched against the king’s mother and his children. But Leofwine’s successes only bring him more under the scrutiny of King Swein of Denmark, and his own enemies at the king’s court.

With an increase in Raider attacks, it is to Leofwine that the king turns once more. However, the king has grown impatient with his ealdorman, blaming him for Swein’s close scrutiny of the whole of England. Can Leofwine win another victory for his king, or does he risk losing all that he’s gained?

The Danish King’s Enemy is the second book in the epic Earls of Mercia series charting the last century of Early England, as seen through the eyes of Ealdorman Leofwine, the father of Earl Leofric, later the Earl of Mercia, and ally of Lady Elfrida, England’s first queen.

Buy Links

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About M J Porter 

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!

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Friday, January 22, 2021

The Inspiration Behind Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, Book #2 By Wendy J. Dunn


Winter, 1539

 María de Salinas is dying.

Too ill to travel, she writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.

Friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness – All Manner of Things tells a story of how love wins out in the end

Praise for All Manner of Things.

“A timeless story of friendship and love, which will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned, All Manner of Things is Wendy J. Dunn's best novel yet…”

Lauren Chater, author of The Lace Weavers and Gulliver’s Wife.

 “To read this book is like tasting a succulent pomegranate that swells and ripens and reveals the luscious fruit…”

Glenice Whitting, author Pickle to a Pie and What Time is it There?

 “A sensitive and inspiring portrait of faith and friendship, framed around the devotion inspired by a remarkable queen. Wendy J. Dunn has written another gem of a novel for Tudor enthusiasts!”

Gareth Russell, author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII (US title) (2017), The Darksome Bounds of a Failing World: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era (2019).

 “This is a story ripe with passion and rich in historical detail. All Manner of Things draws the reader deep into the heart of Henry's Tudor court, with its machinations, betrayals and very human stories of love and loss…”

Rachel Nightingale, author of The Tales of Tarya.

 “A finely wrought tale that resurrects the indomitable spirit of Katherine of Aragon, breathing new life into her oft-told story... Yet another spellbinding novel from Wendy J Dunn!”

Adrienne Dillard, author of Cor Rotto and The Raven’s Widow.

"I'm so fussy about historical fiction, but Wendy J Dunn never fails to please. Dunn breathes life into Catalina and Maria in this celebration of true friendship. Their story seemed to reach through the ages to truly touch me. Beautiful, just beautiful"

Claire Ridgway, author of The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown.

 “…this book made me fascinate over times long ago, times when ancient buildings were brand new, faded portraits were still sharp and striking and faith and loyalty were absolute; times when women had so little autonomy it was never an option for them to venture out on their own and just ditch this damn place.”

Angela Wauchop, Backstory Literary Journal.

¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨) ( ¸.•´

Author Inspiration

What inspired Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things? What has inspired all my novels – history. To be more explicit – researching history. To be even more explicit – the history of women.

I was writing my first novel, Dear Heart, How Like You This? when I first became inspired to write a novel about Katherine of Aragon. Dear Heart told the story of Anne Boleyn through the point of view of the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder. It was also a novel that ended up deepening my knowledge about Katherine of Aragon. That was unavoidable. In her early years at court, Anne Boleyn was one of Katherine's attendants. Sir Thomas Wyatt also had a close connection to Katherine of Aragon. His artistic pursuits long benefited from her patronage.

Learning more about Katherine of Aragon also introduced me to María de Salinas. Katherine of Aragon's biography included mention of Maria's winter ride from London to be with the dying Katherine in 1536. I vividly saw her in my mind – a woman of about fifty (old in Tudor times), who did not waste time to ask for permission from Henry VIII (who likely would have refused her) to travel the long distance to Kimbolton Castle, on roads turned deadly dangerous by winter weather conditions.

By 1536, a written permit by the king was necessary to gain access to Katherine of Aragon. María lacked that. What she did not lack was her immense determination to be with her friend. She ended up falling from her horse a short distance from Kimbolton Castle. This worked in her favour because she stood outside the castle and demanded entry. She was a woman high up in Tudor society, the mother-in-law of the duke of Suffolk, so the people at the castle could not refuse to help her. But they would soon discover her true purpose. Once inside the castle, she headed straight to the chambers of Katherine of Aragon and remained with her until Katherine died in her arms.

History suggests María de Salinas was a kinswoman to Katherine of Aragon. But she is another woman from history we know little about. We know she was close to Katherine of Aragon, shared her early years in England, and served Katherine for years after her marriage to Henry VIII. So, María offered a perfect point of view character for my goal to tell the story of Katherine of Aragon.

I recreated the first part of Katherine’s story in Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters. When I first began that novel in 2002 (yes, that long ago!), I was using María de Salinas as my point of view character. Unfortunately, years after starting this work, I had to face the failure of my child’s point of view. For my story to work, I realised I needed to re-write it from the point of view of an adult. The failure of my first vision of my novel hurt –a lot. But I decided to lick my wounds by enrolling in a Masters in Writing, which led to a creative Ph.D. My creative artifact was The Light in the Labyrinth (2014), my second Anne Boleyn novel.

Of course, I never forgot my uncompleted work about Katherine of Aragon. I wanted to return to it. I always planned to return to it. But other writing projects kept distracting me. Then, one day, a publisher expressed interest in the concept of Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters. It pushed me to do that rewrite. Published in 2016, The Duty of Daughters committed me to finish my Katherine of Aragon’s story. Now I have.

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 About the Author

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian author, playwright and poet who has been obsessed with Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, the serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

 Connect with Wendy

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Historical Stories of Betrayal - Twelve tales of timeless challenges from post-Roman Britain to the present day.

Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy—all names for the calculated violation of trust. And its been rife since humans trod the earth.

A promise broken

A mission betrayed

A lovers desertion

A parents deception

An unwitting act of treason

Betrayal by comrades

Betrayal by friends

Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post-Roman Britain to the present day.


“Heart of a Falcon”

By Amy Maroney

The King of Cyprus invites young Frenchwoman Estelle to join his court. At her parents’ urging, she overcomes resistance to the idea and begins to imagine a glamorous new life. But when the true nature of her journey across the sea is revealed, Estelle realizes she has been the victim of a great deception—and must summon all her courage to survive. 

Rhodes, Old Town
via Wikimedia 
By Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany 

Rhodes, Greece


Estelle crouched motionless in the shade. Her brother’s confident voice rang out, sailing over the lemon trees and drifting along the row of spiky rosemary shrubs where she had taken shelter.

Sept, six, cinq, quatre…” he called.

An irrepressible giggle rose up from her small sister, who squatted nearby.

Shh!” Estelle put a finger to her lips.

The little girl covered her mouth with both hands and squeezed her eyes shut.

Trois, deux, un…”

The boy’s sandals were quiet on the courtyard’s hot stone floor. Perhaps he was creeping between the potted rose bushes now, brushing past the jewel-toned blooms that Estelle so loved. She had picked a handful of roses when they first moved into this home, seduced by their velvety crimson petals. And had been roundly scolded by her mother for it.

Had four years truly passed since those early days? Their lives in France seemed but a distant memory now. Still, not a week went by without her mother lamenting their move to Rhodes or talking about their eventual return to France.

Estelle dreamed about that day, too. Rhodes Town would never be home.

A shout. Her brother’s triumphant voice. A flurry of hushing, then silence.

Her sister began to sob.

Estelle wrapped an arm around the girl and rocked her gently. “It’s just a game, chérie.”

Ah!” her brother roared, pouncing. Her sister shrieked in terror.

Estelle shook him off. “Stop it. She’s frightened.”

“Why?” he groused. “There’s nothing to be frightened of.”

“She can’t tell the difference between games and real life,” Estelle said.

A deep male voice broke into their argument.


She turned on her heel. Papa’s rangy form filled the interior doorway.

Oui, Papa?

“Some important news has come today. It concerns you.”

Estelle bent close to her sister, who with her golden curls was a miniature copy of their mother. “Look, a butterfly!”

The girl darted off in pursuit of the fluttering insect. Estelle gave her brother a pointed stare.

“I know, I know,” he grumbled, following in their small sister’s footsteps. “I’m in charge now.”

Hurrying to Papa’s side, Estelle took her father’s outstretched hand. She shut her eyes for a moment as they entered the dimly lit corridor, relying on his strong hand to guide her forward. When they stepped into Papa’s little study, her mother was already there, standing by the window with a fine vellum scroll in her hands. An elaborate blue wax seal hung from it.

“Such news, Estelle!” Maman exclaimed.

Papa took the scroll from her and began to read aloud.

His melodious voice cast its usual spell over Estelle. He spoke of a kingdom across the sea, of a princess, of a palace high in the hills on the island of Cyprus. She let the words wash over her, swaying a little, eyes half-closed.

Estelle?” her mother snapped. “Are you listening?”

She blinked. “Forgive me, Maman. It’s a beautiful tale. Go on, Papa.”

“It’s no tale, my girl,” her father said gravely. “It is an invitation from a king. For you. You’ll be in the care of King Jean, a companion to his daughter Princess Charlotte, and tutor to her child. Fortune has been kind.”

“More kind than you deserve.” Her mother’s face took on a familiar expression of pained disapproval.

“I don’t understand,” Estelle said.

“A king has summoned you to his court,” her mother said in the tone she normally reserved for babies and deaf elders. “Where is your gratitude?”

Estelle looked at her parents in bewilderment. “But how does he know of me?”

“Thanks to Michel Pelestrine,” Papa said.

She remembered the young man. Michel Pelestrine, a falconer like her father, had followed her family out of France shortly after they arrived in Rhodes. He’d lodged with them in Rhodes Town on his way to the kingdom of Cyprus.

“King Jean prefers to be surrounded by French courtiers like Monsieur Pelestrine, to keep the old ways alive,” Papa explained. “But fewer and fewer come to Cyprus from France these days. Now that his daughter the princess is expecting her first baby, the king must make provisions for the child’s education, with a proper French tutor. Monsieur Pelestrine suggested you for the position.”

Estelle felt as if a stone had lodged in her throat. “The King of Cyprus wants me to teach his grandchild?”

“Who better than you?” her mother said. “You taught French to that Italian girl, the artist’s daughter. You teach it to your brothers and sisters now. I don’t know why you haven’t made more headway with the servants, though.”

“And you write more beautifully than any scribe,” her father interjected, throwing an irritated glance at her mother. “You’ll make a fine tutor.”

“When will we leave, Papa?” Estelle asked.

He hesitated. The muscles in his jaw worked under his closely trimmed dark beard. “I can’t leave the island while I’m in the employ of the knights, but you’ll not be alone. We’ll put you under the care of a trustworthy chaperone. There’s sure to be a few respectable women sailing to Cyprus on the next fleet. Your mother will look into the matter.”

“It will be easy to find someone of quality to see you safely there,” her mother asserted. “I’ll make inquiries at church. Merchants and their wives travel between Rhodes and Cyprus often, I hear.”

“How far away is Cyprus?” Estelle asked.

“With the right winds, the journey takes just a few days,” Papa said. “It’s spring now and the winter gales are over. No better time to sail.”

Estelle’s throat grew dry. Her left knee began to tremble.

“I thought we were returning to France soon,” she protested.

“We cannot think about returning home yet,” her father said. “We’ll stay as long as the Grand Master needs me. One day, if God is willing, we shall all voyage to France together.”

“Where is your gratitude? The King of Cyprus will pay us in gold for this arrangement,” Maman said to Estelle. “The entire family will benefit. We need that money.”

Sophie!Papa’s voice hardened. “She understands nothing of our money troubles. Nor should she.”

“Why not?” Maman shot back. “We can’t live the way we used to, not anymore.”

“I have never lived beyond our means.” He fixed Maman with a stern look.

“It’s not my fault I grew up with money. There are things I find necessary to survive life on this sun-baked island. You may think them luxuries, but you’re a man.”

Estelle’s mind went to the colorful silks her mother often purchased at the market. To the brimming sacks of saffron, pepper, and ginger that frequently appeared in the kitchen. To the fragrant, lavender-flecked soaps Maman preferred.

“Besides, there will be no more funds from Toulouse, not since Papa—” her mother’s eyes welled with tears. She took a shaky breath and gathered her composure again. “You’d think a master falconer would be paid more generously.”

“That’s enough, Sophie,” Papa warned.

“Not only will you be helping your family,” Maman said, turning to Estelle, “but this is the greatest honor you shall ever know. Such an opportunity only comes but once, does it not?”

“Yes, Maman,” Estelle managed to choke out.

Papa’s brown eyes grew thoughtful. He stepped closer to Estelle, cupped her cheek with his hand. “I’ll want you to finish up those notes of mine. The German bookmaker we met at church this winter told me he can bind them together with an oiled leather cover. A book of advice and healing remedies—that shall be my gift to Michel Pelestrine, hand-carried by you across the sea.”

Maman beckoned to Estelle. “Come. Let’s see what there is to send along with you. Perhaps I’ll give you a pair of my finest silk sleeves, a velvet bodice, or two. And satin shoes. Yes, a few items in the latest French fashion, fit for a royal court.”

Papa bent down and kissed Estelle on the forehead. The familiar gesture gave her a measure of comfort, as always.

“Go on now, ma petite chérie,” he murmured. “I’ve work to do.”

She dragged her feet, somehow forced herself to move to the door. It was as if all the air had been sucked from her lungs.

I cannot leave you, Papa. I cannot leave my brothers and sister.

In her mind, the words exploded like a cannon shot. She could hear the booms, could see each letter launching over the sparkling sea toward France.

Tears burned at her eyelids, but she blinked them away.

No tears, she promised herself. No tears until I set sail, and only then when no one can see me.


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About the Authors

Judith Arnopp

A lifelong history enthusiast, Judith Arnopp holds an honours degree in English/Creative writing, and a Masters in Medieval Studies. Judith has written twelve novels to date, nine of which are based in the Tudor period covering women like Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, and Mary Tudor, but her main focus is on the perspective of historical women from all roles of life. The Beaufort Chronicle: The Life of Lady Margaret Beaufort (three-book series) covers the transitional period between Bosworth and the death of Henry Tudor. She is currently taking a break from Tudor women and writing from the perspective of Henry VIII in "A Matter of Conscience."


Cryssa Bazos

Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and a seventeenth-century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor's Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award for Historical Fiction and a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards for Historical Romance. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and a finalist for the 2019 Chaucer Award.


Anna Belfrage

 Anna Belfrage wanted to become a time-traveller but ended up as a financial professional with a passion for writing and history. She has authored the acclaimed time travel series The Graham Saga, set in the 17th century, and the equally acclaimed medieval series The King's Greatest Enemy, set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal ingredients. Her latest release, His Castilian Hawk, is a story of loyalty and love set against the complications of Edward I's invasion of Wales.


Derek Birks

Derek Birks lives in Dorset, England, though he spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. For many years he taught history in a large secondary school before turning his hand to writing historical fiction. His stories, set both in the medieval period and late antiquity, are fast-paced and action-packed—almost no character is safe. He has also produced a series of non-fiction podcasts on the War of the Roses. When he is not writing, he enjoys travel, walking, and watching films.

Helen Hollick

First published in 1994, Helen Hollick became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), with the sequel, Harold the King (U.S: I Am the Chosen King), being novels that explore events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon's Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales, and Life of a Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write.


Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney lives in Oregon, U.S.A, with her family. She spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she's not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail.


Alison Morton

Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova series featuring modern Praetorian heroines—tough but compassionate women. She puts this down to her deep love of Roman history, six years' military service, a Masters in History, and an over-vivid imagination. It was hot that afternoon when staring at a particularly beautiful mosaic, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. Now, Alison blogs, reads, cultivates a Roman herb garden, and drinks wine in France with her husband.


Charlene Newcomb

Charlene Newcomb lives, works, and writes in Kansas. She is an academic librarian (retired) by trade, a U.S Navy veteran, and has three grown children. When not at the library, she is still surrounded by books trying to fill her head with all things medieval and galaxies far, far away. She loves to travel and enjoys quiet places in the mountains or on rocky coasts. But even in Kansas, she can let her imagination soar.


Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time author based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK, and is best known for his Tudor trilogy. After a career in the Royal Air Force, he held senior roles in the National Health Service and Local Government. When researching his books Tony likes visiting the actual locations and discovering elusive primary sources. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.


Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she received her B.A in Literature at the University of Missouri before moving to New York to "see the world". The search hasn't ended. Today she lives in Sergeantsville, N.J with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.


Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St. John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them—in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story . . .


Annie Whitehead

Annie Whitehead has written three award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon England:To Be A Queen, about the life of Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians; Alvar the Kingmaker set in the turbulent tenth century when kings died young and not always of natural causes, and Cometh the Hour, the story of King Penda the pagan king. Her nonfiction books are published by Amberley Books and Pen & Sword Books and she was the inaugural winner of the Historical Writers' Association/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Award.


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Monday, January 18, 2021

Interview with David Fitz-Gerald, author of She Sees Ghosts - The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls


A blazing fire killed her family and devoured her home. A vengeful demon haunted her. Ghosts of the Revolutionary War needed help that only she could provide. A young woman languished, desperate to survive, and teetered on the edge of sanity.

Mehitable grew up in a freshly tamed town, carved from the primeval forest. Family, friends, and working at the mercantile filled her days and warmed her heart. For Mehitable, life was simple and safe, until tragedy struck. When her family perished in their burning home, she retreated into a world of her own making.

As a young girl, she had seen glimmers, glimpses, and flickers of the spirit world. She closed her eyes. She turned her back. She ignored the apparitions that she never spoke of, desperately hoping they would leave her in peace. She was mistaken.

Grief-stricken, Mehitable withdrew from the human world. Ghosts were everywhere. They became bolder. She could no longer turn her back on the spirit world. Her friends feared for her survival. Nobody understood her. She would have to find her own way.

Fans of TV’s Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium will especially love She Sees Ghosts. This historical novel features memorable characters and delivers bone-tingling, spine chilling goosebumps. It stands on its own and it is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series by the award-winning author of Wanders Far―An Unlikely Hero’s Journey. David Fitz-Gerald delivers a historical novel with a bittersweet ending that you won’t see coming.

Would she save the spirits’ souls, or would they save her? Only time would tell.

Interviewing David Fitz-Gerald

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

What a fun question. One of my favorite locations to write about is also one of my favorite places to visit. It is an undeveloped 100-acre lake in the Adirondacks of New York State, near Lake Placid. It is called Copperas Pond. It requires a short hike, and it’s well worth the trip. 

Copperas Pond

What is the first book that made you cry?

I wish I could remember. I’m sure it was a horse book, and there’s a good chance it was Thunderhead by Mary O’Hara.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

If this aspiring writer is any indication, perhaps it is going into too much detail about things I care about but that most people would not. For example, sometimes I go into too much detail about how things are made when a reader might just want a little taste of that.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Commas. My cousin, who is my editor, must think I’m untrainable when it comes to commas. Perhaps if she keeps at it, she will get somewhere with me.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m finding that indie authors are very supportive. I’m pretty new at this, but I’ve had a chance to interact with a growing number of other authors. It’s great sharing triumphs and tribulations and helping each other by providing feedback. In the case of She Sees Ghosts, Elizabeth Bell, author of the Lazare Family Saga, made several observations that made my book better. One point I most appreciated was not to lose track of the cat in the book. Author Paul Bennett lent me a character from his series, The Mallory Saga, for a crossover appearance in my book. It was fun to do, and I think it fits the story perfectly.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Maybe I would tell my younger writing self not to major in accounting. However, maybe I was not meant to write as a youngster.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The experience of participating in blog tours is so wonderful, I’d easily say that’s the best money I’ve spent as a writer.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I think it might be when I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. I remember reading it as a kid when we were on a camping vacation while I had poison ivy. You can tell that language has power over you when it sticks to you for fifty years.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I recently read a great book by Eileen Charbonneau called Seven Aprils. I think it should be a best-seller.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Clearly, I owe my grandfather a lot. My first book was about the business he built in the 1960s. After writing that book, I was hooked, and I continued writing. She Sees Ghosts is my third book, and it is at least somewhat inspired by a visit my grandfather paid me after his passing. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, thank you for visiting me that night, Grandpa.

What does literary success look like to you?

Anytime someone tells me something specific that they like about my book, that’s what success feels like to me. Recently, someone told me that I was her favorite author, and I was blown away. And the sense of satisfaction when a book is finished and ready to share with readers is worth all the time and effort that goes into creating it.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I like going to the locations I write about, visiting museums, and reading books. I’ve also found tremendously useful information in old newspapers and on I love old postcards, and many of them have inspired scenes in my books. In the case of She Sees Ghosts, I also binge-watched Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium episodes. I think the amount of research required before writing a book varies. I find that as I’m writing, I discover I need to do more research along the way.

What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?

I think this is a very important question. Most of my historical characters are fictional. I try not to drift far from the facts or take creative license with the characters who lived real lives. She Sees Ghosts is set far enough in the past that I feel a little more comfortable fictionalizing them than I felt when I wrote my first book, which was set in the 1960s and early 1970s. I was cautious, knowing that I was writing about living people, their parents, and grandparents.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every book review. The positive reviews keep me writing. Critical reviews tell me a lot about what needs improvement and can help me write better in the future. On the other hand, not every book is for every reader, and sometimes a critical review reflects that. All that said, a harsh review sure can ruin my day.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Chapter 19. I shouldn’t say too much about this chapter since it occurs three-quarters of the way into the book, and I don’t want to spoil it, but maybe I could say a little something about it. I think readers will be surprised to find a romantic storyline at this point in this book and be surprised by our protagonist in this situation. I always had this scene in mind for this point in the story, yet for some reason, it was the hardest one for me to write. I’m grateful for my collaborator’s suggestions, and I love the way it turned out. Aside from advancing the plotline, I think it adds a welcome respite from the ghostly elements in the rest of the book.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Leisure time. Oh wait, I already did that! I can’t think of a more rewarding hobby than to spend all my free time writing, so I guess that’s my answer.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Helping my stories find the people who will love them is the most difficult challenge. It could be because my books don’t fit solidly in one genre and aren’t immediately comparable to other titles. If you know of other books that are similar to mine, please let me know. You can reach me at

If you had to do something different as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Strangely, I am finding 8th grade English very helpful as a “home school teacher.” It turns out these lessons are valuable in real life. I wish I had paid more attention to grammar lessons in school.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

So far, about one year, but I’m getting faster. I’ve noticed that some stories are more challenging to write than others, and it also depends on how much research is necessary.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If not, why? If so, why?

I do believe in writer’s block, having experienced it. Fortunately, I’ve been able to write around the block, and my collaborator has been able to help me when I’ve gotten stuck. Most of my blocks have been attributable to trying to force something into a story that doesn’t belong. Once I figure out why it doesn’t fit, I’m usually able to conquer the block. Sometimes the scene gets cut from the story.

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About the Author

David Fitz-Gerald

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts―A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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