Hastings 1066 Fortnight

And last but not least the lady who started it all! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Steph Bennion!

Where do you live and write from?

I quit the big bad city of London last year and moved to Hastings on England’s south coast, so you can blame me for the idea of writing themed stories about the eponymous battle. This part of Sussex is known as ‘1066 Country’ and as you might expect there are all sorts of events planned to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Why do you write?

I write stories to scratch the itch that is the urge to create, but also with the hope that readers will be entertained! A big part of it is to pass on the love for the stories I read in my youth: books by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein and the other masters of science fiction.

When did you start writing?

I started writing and submitting short stories to various publications when I was in my teens, albeit with erratic success, so I’ve been at it for thirty years now. My first few novels were truly terrible and now live in a darkened drawer somewhere. I came close to giving up writing fiction and for a while concentrated on music instead (I was a songwriter and bassist in a weird folk-rock band), but then had an idea for a tongue-in-cheek adult fantasy novella which I managed to sell to a niche publisher. That royalty cheque gave me the boost I needed to persevere.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write mainly space opera on the hard sci-fi side, for young adults and adults young at heart. My Hollow Moon novels centre around working-class folk who find themselves battling the consequences of upheavals caused by those in power; stories of friendships and how people come together in times of need. I read a lot of science fiction and have a fondness for planet-hopping tales that keep the human element firmly in focus, preferably with a few spaceships thrown in. Science fiction at its best takes contemporary issues and shines new light on them outside their normal context, all against a background of adventure, mystery, humour and thrills. What more could you want?

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I like to inject a dose of humour into my writing – not in a ‘comic novel’ way in the vein of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the Space Captain Smith books, but space opera is often so overblown I find it hard to resist poking fun at science-fiction tropes or turning a plot device on its head. I like to think it makes the space opera I write a little bit different. What I will say is that comedy is deceptively hard to write.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My main goal is to complete the Hollow Moon series; by my latest reckoning there’s at least another two or three novels to write before the main story arc is concluded. I’m sure I’ll be distracted by other writing projects along the way…

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Writing is a craft that can be learned: it’s important to read widely and study the masters. Oh, and don’t give up the day job…

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

The Battles Of Hastings is taken from the journal of a headstrong young time traveller who, after she and fellow time travellers realise they each come from a future with a different past, embarks on a journey through multiple realities to try and put history right. While I was researching the events of 1066 it struck me how incredibly close King Harold of England came to winning the battle. Exploring this through a tale of parallel universes seemed the obvious way to go. The challenge for me as a science-fiction writer was that the second law of thermodynamics pretty much prohibits time travel into the past, but I still wanted to offer an explanation of how a time machine might work.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Time-traveller Jane Kennedy, the narrator of The Battles Of Hastings, also features in an unpublished novella of mine called Catastrophe Jane, which is set in an alternate-history version of my native Black Country during the industrial revolution. I never got to grips with the time-travel science in this earlier work and so put it to one side, but writing The Battles Of Hastings resolved many of the issues I had with this so hopefully there will be more of Jane’s adventures to come. I’m also tentatively outlining a synopsis for book four of my Hollow Moon series, as well as the usual festive tale for December. The seasonal short stories are generally sci-fi spoofs of classic fairy tales and a lot of fun to write!


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Hastings 1066 Fortnight

And now the only gentleman of the lot! From the depths of England once again, please welcome L.J. Hick!

tmas1stcoverWhere do you live and write from?

I live in Warwickshire in England and I write only when I am at home.

Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I have loved reading books ever since I can remember and I always wanted to write regularly, whether that comprised of a novel, short story, review or blog. Writing allows me to express myself through my stories.

When did you start writing?

I started writing back in school. Strangely, it dropped off a little when I was studying A level English. That might be because my writing time was filled up with assignments and projects from a slightly overzealous English teacher. I did not start to write an actual complete novel until 2012 when I suddenly had more time to do so.

What genre(s) do you write?

It would be easy to say science fiction and leave it at that. The truth is that I write across various genres. Sci-fi, horror, humour and mystery would probably cover most of my writing, but I like to think that I cover a much broader range than that. Some people stick with one particular genre and that is probably a wise thing to do. When people mention horror, I always think of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Fans of one genre will almost certainly look for writers specializing in that area. Despite the advantages of specialization, I find myself moving from one genre to another. For instance, Last Days began as a purely fictional reworking of history and then developed into a science fiction fantasy with comedic tones. Atom, on the other hand, is a mystery/ horror novel.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I feel that my strength as a writer is my sense of humour and understanding of history. I think that the more you write, the more you learn. I have a very good editor in Nigel Dean, who takes great delight in ripping some parts of my books to shreds and praising other parts. I think that is what you need as a writer. Someone to give an honest appraisal of your work. I also like to think I have an eye for detail, which helps when developing a plot across a series.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal is to make just enough money to spend my days writing on a laptop on a beach in the south of England. I would really like to see one of my books on the television or at the cinema as well. I have read and digested all the material about marketing I can find, and hopefully, this will help. I also try to make every book better than the last one and different to all the other works out there. I believe that the best way of improving your craft is to practice it continually and listen to the advice of people you respect.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Read your text aloud to yourself. The biggest single thing I had a problem with was editing and continuity. When you read your own work, you are somehow blind to all the silly errors and omissions you make. Read it aloud to yourself and you will pick these things up. You might feel a little strange at first, but you soon get used to it, despite the strange looks from the wife.

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

It is about a young man called Thomas who is befriended by an older man called Kauko as they march with Harold’s army. Kauko is intent on protecting Thomas above all else and Thomas has no idea why. The story is linked to the appearance of Halley’s comet that year. At the time people would have attached great significance to the appearance of a comet, as indeed they do today. The idea that human life is mapped out and predetermined by fate or greater beings is alien to me, and so I use the story to advocate the freedom that belongs to us all.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

The third book in the series of The Last Days of Planet Earth, The Children of Raphael is finished. This is more complex that the previous two, so the editing is particularly painful. I hope to have it released in time for Christmas. I am also working on a dark romance novel called Fugue, which I am about halfway through writing.


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Battlefield 1066 – spotlights – Barbara G Tarn

Library of Erana

Name: Barbara G.Tarn

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in the boot-shaped country dripping into the Mediterranean sea, but having lived abroad at a young age, I currently feel international, a woman with no country that sometimes is quite sick of the whole crazy planet. I love history, especially the Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), and making up stuff, although I learned the value of research even for the craziest idea – be it fantasy or science fiction. I write mostly SFF these days, having exhausted any will to talk about current events and today’s people.

Set during the Battle of Hastings tell us a little more about your story

Here’s the blurb: Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but…

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Happiness is…


Hastings 1066 Fortnight

And here’s our first guest! And she gets the Date itself, the anniversary of the battle! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Victoria Zigler!

eadweard-a-story-of-1066-cover-1-1600x2400Where do you live and write from?

I live on the South-East coast of England, not too far from the town of Hastings. I used to write from wherever I happened to be in our flat, but after I broke another laptop when I forgot where I put it and stepped on it, we decided a desk should be set up for me. So, now I do most of my writing at my desk, near to a window where I can hear and smell the ocean while I write (or, just hear it, if the weather is too miserable for me to have the window open). If I’m not at my desk, but have an idea I “have to” write down immediately, I use the “notes” function on my iPhone, but I usually only use that to make quick notes to use for reference later, because touch screen keyboards are too much work to use for long writing sessions, and voice recognition softwear doesn’t always reliably translate what you’re saying in to text.

Why do you write?

I write because I have stories inside of me that need to get out, and I publish them because I believe stories need to be shared. Yes, it really is that simple.

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I learned how. I was taught at home when I was about three years old, could already read and write well by the time I started school at the age of four, and was quick to learn the pleasure of writing poetry and stories. I was seven years old the first time I entered a writing contest, and still have the third place medal I won for it. I don’t have the chocolate bar I won in the next one though… I ate that a very long time ago. I haven’t entered any contests since I left school though, and I’ve only been publishing my work since April 2012.

What genre(s) do you write?

Most of what I write comes under the heading of fairy tales, fantasy stories, animal stories, or a mixture of the three. I have written a few stories in other genres though, such as my latest tentative steps in to writing science fiction and historical fiction, a story I’ve written about a vegetarian zombie, and a series I have on adjusting after sight loss. Regardless of genre, my stories are generally aimed at middle grade readers or younger, although I know of people in their 70s who have enjoyed them. No, I’m not talking about family members or friends either… If I included those, my eldest fan would be my almost 90 year old Nan, but I was talking about people who didn’t know me before they stumbled across my books.

I also write poetry, most of which is suitable for readers of any age, and has been enjoyed by children and adults alike.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I’m not really sure how to answer this one. A lot of aspects need to come together in order to create a story that readers will enjoy, and the best way to improve when it comes to writing is to practice by writing, and learn from reading books by other authors. So, that’s what I do. Seriously, most of my time is spent either writing or reading. But as for what my actual strengths are… Honestly? I haven’t a clue!

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal as a writer is to share as many of the stories in my head as possible with as many people as possible. As for what I’m doing to achieve it: writing a lot, publishing everything I write as soon as it’s ready to be set free in the big wide world, expanding the formats I offer my book in so I’m no longer only doing eBooks, and pretending to know what I’m doing when it comes to marketing.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

I think at this point I’m supposed to give some wise advice and sound like Buddha or Yoda, or their feminine counterparts anyway. But I’m not going to do that, because the best advice is to just keep writing. It’s the best way to improve as a writer, and the only way you’ll ever finish that book you’re working on. It sounds simple, but it’s the best advice I’ve ever had, and some people actually find it more difficult than you might think. So, just keep writing!

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

My story around the Battle of Hastings is about a young boy named Eadweard who, along with his best friend, Cerdic, thought it would be fun to join the ranks of men marching to fight in the battle, even though they officially aren’t old enough and had been forbidden to do so by their Fathers. They have dreams of being great war heroes, but soon discover the reality of war is nothing like what they imagined it to be.

I wanted to tell the story of the events of the battle reasonably accurately – as much as can be done without a time machine, which I don’t have access to, unfortunately. But I also wanted the story to be from the point of view of someone who wasn’t some famous war hero. Part of my preference for someone who wasn’t a great war hero was because I wanted the person to be a child, and part of it was because I wanted fighting to be new to him. I wanted to tell the story of the battle, while at the same time showing that war isn’t the amazing adventure some people think it to be. I also wanted the book to be suitable for middle grade readers, which is why it needed to be a young lad who was the main character. After looking up everything I could find on the battle, and letting those thoughts simmer in my mind for a couple of months, I sat down to write the story, and “Eadweard – A Story Of 1066” is the result. To my knowledge, Eadweard and Cerdic themselves never existed. However, boys like them would have, and the battle itself was very real.

Just for your information: I’ve put an “eight years and older” warning on the book’s blurb, because some of the scenes in the story really aren’t suitable for readers younger than that, in my opinion. After all, it is a story about a battle, and I can’t show the reality of war without showing some violence and blood.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yep… Always! I usually have at least two writing projects on the go, as well as writing poems whenever inspiration strikes. I’ve written several poems since I published my last poetry collection this past July, so when I have enough to do so, I’ll publish another one. I’m also working on a couple of new stories, one of which is a Christmas story involving a giant.


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Buy links for “Eadweard – A Story Of 1066”

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652726

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eadweard-victoria-zigler/1124182601

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/book/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/id1137551399

Also available from other sites Smashwords distributes to.

Paperback coming soon!

Hastings 1066 Fortnight

And since I’m away but the anniversary of the battle is in two days and I have three other authors who wrote stories about that, I’m going to paste us all over the blog for the next two weeks… I’m going first, answering the same questions I’ve sent them. My story goes live on October 14, like the others, I assume!🙂

Where do you live and write from?

A third world country starting wwith I, ending with A in our language… five letters… no, it’s not the place where I’m currently traveling (India) and it’s actually part of Europe, although I’m still wondering why…

Why do you write?

Because it’s fun, because it entertains me and because I’m addicted to it. What can I say… I love Mr. Writing!🙂

When did you start writing?

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Yeah, more or less when the first, veri first, one and only Star Wars came out in cinemas. A century ago. Yeah, I’m that old.

What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly SFF. I have currentlyu exhausted all my contemporary ideas. And I’ve started a series of historical fantasy that will keep me busy for a few years!😉

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I would have said dialog, even though I don’t use dialects and weird spellings. I don’t know, I’m still working on my craft at 51, and I’m bad at teaching…

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

I would love to find my 1000 True Fans. I would love to live of my writing. I was hoping to make it in five years, but careers take time. So, aiming for 10 and we’ll see where I’m at in 2012!🙂

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Follow Heinlein’s Rules. Put the stuff out there and don’t look back. Keep moving forward, there is no way back. Not even if you write time travel stories!😉

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

Blurb: Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert’s second life.
A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone.
Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

I have this new series of Vampires Through the Centuries and I thought it would be cool having one being turned at the battle. I ended up using two historical names of which we don’t know that much – 12th century chronicles are a little sketchy, but fun. Some things that might look like fiction (like raining blood) were actually taken from there (although the explanation is totally mine). As for the battle itself, I used one of the campaign books from Osprey Publishing and a comic book version from the 1970s, the history of France in comic book form.

The cover is, as usual, by the awesome Shafali Anand who did her best, and obviously succeeded, to render the ridiculous Norman haircut!😉

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m back on Silvery Earth, writing more Quests… which should take me until the end of the year. Unless I come back from India with even more ideas and itch to write another vampires through the centuries story. I know I’ll have to try to see everything through her eyes…

Pre-order Norman Blood on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Happiness is…


Random Friday

I’ll do another Art Friday – sort of – with the Fairy Tales Revisited! So, it’s three stories:

Colors (Snow White retold as m/m romance)

Cinder Boy (Cinderella, as above)

Beautiful (Sleeping Beauty, idem)

I did the single covers and then I asked two talented artists to draw them for the collections.

So, you have Nerian (male Snow White), Rohan (Cinder Boy) and Rithvik by Barb.

And then you have Nerian and Riander by the awesome Sir Wendigo.

male_lovers_vol2And Rithvik awakened by Kerrien by the wonderful Rossana Beretta.

fariy-tales-dtfI might tackle a few more fairy tales – Little Red Riding Hood? Beauty and the Beast? There’s a lot to take from! – but not right now. All these stories are ACE friendly, so if you’re looking for wild sex, forget it!😉

Have a great weekend!

Writer Wednesday

And in case you didn’t notice, another title is out! I know who bought the copy on Smashwords, but there’s some other kind soul who got one from Amazon!🙂 Yes, the Fairy Tales Revisited are finally available in one volume both ebook and paperback, yay! And the awesome cover is by Rossana Beretta – but more on that next post.

Quests Book 3 is finished, so I’m left with a few days when I’d rather not start on a new story. I’ll use them to archive stuff, make inventory and other non-writerly things that still need to be done. Sigh. But at least when I come back, I can go straight to writing Book 4 without wasting any more time with those necessary things!🙂

I’ll probably need to focus and refocus and reset goals and take another workshop or two when I come back. Dean has a way of dragging me into new workshops!😉 I can’t do October, so I’ll have to sign up for November – at least my questions shall be answered, haha!

I did a giveaway on Goodreads of some proofs. Now I’m trying to get rid of old POD versions, and I’m not sure if I should just do another giveaway or take them to London, since I know where the Bookcrossing zone is – and it’s a nice pub with nice food!😉 Now, if only I could find a bookcrossing zone in New Delhi…

So, publisher hat again until the end of the week. Sigh. But this only makes me hungrier to go back to writing!😉 I’m also sumbitting some of the short stories I wrote during the summer – and rejections are starting to come in (one took only a few hours, LOL!). I’m also waiting for my second Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future…

That’s all for today! Have a great week!

Happiness is…


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