It would appear that what I said at the end of yesterday’s post has done some good.
It would appear that what I said at the end of yesterday’s post has done some good.
…but well worth the wait. Here is what the Flemish author of the award winning crime novel Baudelair’s Revenge – Bob Van Laerhoven, had to say about my extremely short historical novella Autumn 1066.
As a Fleming, I knew that my knowledge of Britain’s entry into the Middle Ages was sketchy before I started reading Jack Eason’s Autumn 1066, but, after having read his novella, I must admit that it was also based on clichés and vague concepts. Autumn 1066 remedied this thoroughly. Eason has the gift of condensing and presenting historical facts in such a way that, although manifold and thoroughly researched, they hinder in no way the suspense of his war-story. Eason paints a clear portrait of the growing tensions between various factions competing for the throne, and the leaders of various armies, but also of the common soldiers, ordinary men who were forced to fight the wars of the nobility. For his vivid, and shocking, description of the battlefields, Eason focuses on two such ordinary warriors, Aldred and Cynric. When he describes the man-to-man fights and the deadly swarms of arrows, the reader can actually feel the fear and the agony of the warriors. In spite of the extensive historical background, Eason’s cast of characters, high and low, doesn’t degrade into stereotypes. They remain people like you and me, tackling life as best as they can when they are poor, and victims of greed and the overwhelming desire for power when they are rich. Writing historical fiction is all about keeping equilibrium between a passionate story and historical facts. Jack Eason has done that remarkably well.
Hopefully Bob’s review will appear soon on all Amazon sites. So if he and Sally Cronin can deliver, why can’t everyone else who promised to write a review!
By the way, I uploaded the Kindle version yesterday at the KDP base price of US$2.99. Depending which Amazon outlet you use, determines the price you will pay. But if your quick off the mark, you will be able to get yourselves a free copy tomorrow (Friday 30th June 2017) and (Saturday 1st July 2017).
…I’ve got to get people interested in my latest novella Autumn 1066 somehow. So, here is the opening chapter as a teaser.
Down the centuries, particularly during the period known as the ‘Dark Ages’, the British Isles was always seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon dominance, ending on the 14th of October, 1066.
Aldred shivered in his blanket beneath his shield. The weak light of dawn began to illuminate where the warriors of the Fyrd slept in a series of shallow frosty depressions on either side of Ermine Street, the old Roman road. The ancient route stretched from London to Lincoln and on to York. Where they were was a mix of open grassland and salt marsh. In this part of England, there was precious little cover for the countless number of housecarls and thegns already following King Harold northward. The flat landscape Aldred lay shivering in, is typical of the waterlogged fenlands in the northern part of the shires of Cambridge and Norfolk as well as those of the East Midlands.
By the time they eventually arrived at their destination there would be no hiding the swelling ranks of the Anglo-Saxon Fyrd, which steadily increased in number with every mile, as they marched northward. In an attempt to make the army far less conspicuous, at least from a distance, the king banned anyone from lighting a fire at night to cook and to keep warm, on pain of death. For the moment at least, surprise was still on his side. The further north they marched, the greater was the chance that enemy spies would soon spot their approach. The glow of a fire, even hazy wisps of smoke, could so easily be spotted at a distance or smelt on the wind by anyone on the lookout for any sign of the King’s approach. Especially on a cool clear September day like today. With daylight steadily increasing, the king’s older brother, Gyrth, the Earl of East Anglia, would soon begin the rounds by kicking the backsides of Harold’s housecarls, who in turn would wake the thegns of the Fyrd in a similar rough manner for what lay ahead.
Only a few days earlier, troubling news had reached Harold Godwinson at the palace of Westminster in London after he had been elected king by the Witan in accordance with Edward the confessor’s dying wish, naming Harold as his legitimate heir over that of his teenage nephew Edgar Ǽtheling.
Harold’s banished brother Tostig and the Norwegian King, Harald Sigurdsson, known as Hardradå (hard ruler) by his warriors, had joined forces in southern Scotland, after his large invasion fleet of three hundred long ships manned by warriors eager for battle, had just arrived. Tostig’s smaller contingent of Norman mercenaries, loaned to him by Duke William of Normandy, soon joined the fleet, while Tostig was temporarily elsewhere.
The disgraced Anglo-Saxon earl had set off to recruit Scots mercenaries of his own after first crossing the North Sea to the Low Countries to obtain additional Flemish warriors from his father-in law. Now that he was back, Tostig was impatient to be on the move to reclaim his earldom in Northumbria. To his astonishment and annoyance, the seasoned Norwegian campaigner was in no hurry. As far as Harald was concerned, he had more pressing matters on his mind.
A few weeks earlier, Tostig had set off from Normandy with Duke William’s blessing to retake his lands in Northumbria in exchange for promising him his support for what was seen by William as his legitimate claim to the English crown. Hardradå’s reason for invasion was also to lay his own claim to the English crown. Both William and Harald shared a common ancestor with Harold Godwinson in the Dane Canute who had previously ruled England. For his part, Tostig wanted his brother either driven from England’s shores forever, or executed. Not entirely sure that William had the stomach for the task at hand, meant that encouraging the bloodthirsty Norwegian king to do the deed was probably the better option.
Tostig first landed on the Isle of Wight where his men ran amok among the local Anglo-Saxon population. Eventually he and his small force of Normans were routed by an overwhelming force when word of an invasion rapidly spread across the island. This left him no choice but to head back out to sea to travel up England’s east coast to seek a temporary safe haven. On his eventual arrival in southern Scotland he immediately swore fealty to the terrifyingly short tempered Norwegian king, purely for fear of his own life.
Aldred kicked the shin of the shivering youth sleeping with his back to him. Cynric still had his arms wrapped lovingly around his longbow, minus its plaited and bound bowstring made from deer sinew. Whenever the temperature fell below freezing, he always kept it inside his shirt next to his skin to keep it pliable. His quiver of fire hardened, hazel shafted arrows with Goose feather fletchings, each bearing his mark as their manufacturer, lay across his crotch.
“Come on lad wake up!” Before they left to join the Fyrd, Aldred had promised his sister that he would look after his nephew, since the youth had been told by their Housecarl Betlic, that he was now old enough to serve the king in time of war. Growing up, Cynric had made a name for himself in the small farming community where both he, his mother and uncle lived in the southern part of the shire of Cambridge. His reputation as a meticulous fletcher, together with being an excellent shot when it came to hunting wolves or boar with his grandfather’s well-seasoned Yew longbow, spread far and wide.
“I’ve never been so far away from home before uncle. Where are we?” Cynric yawned before adding, “have you got anything to eat? I’m hungry.”
“We’re barely a day’s march from home lad. You’d know that if you kept your mind on why we’re here. Now come on, shift yourself daydreamer. If you’re hungry, nibble on one of your mother’s excellent oatcakes.”
“But they dry my mouth out! Haven’t we got anything else to eat uncle?”
“No! Now bite off a small bit and chew it slowly. Better that than what you usually do at home!” Aldred growled. “Get a shift on and join the rest of the Fyrd. The king still has to recruit more thegns, housecarls and their levies from Northampton, Rutland and Lincoln before we reach the river Humber. If your belly is still complaining after the piece of oatcake we can always find something else to eat along the roadside. For god’s sake boy – shift yourself! I’m damned if I’m being punished by Betlic because you want to drag your heels to admire a tree! While you’re at it, remember that from now on, before we start out each morning you’d best string your bow. The king may have need of it before the day is over,” Aldred replied while shouldering his shield, and hefting his spear. As they set off he checked that his father’s scramasax was secure at his belt, as well as his trusty all-purpose seax.
“How much farther north are we going uncle?”
“I’ve already told you all I know. We’re heading for the Humber! It’s not for the likes of you and me to question where or why we’re heading there. You’re in the king’s Fyrd now! We just follow orders lad. When the time comes, I’ve no doubt we will fight alongside king Harold.”
As the Fyrd began marching behind Harold’s horse and those of his brothers, Gyrth, the earl of East Anglia, and Leofwine, the earl of Kent, friendly banter could be heard breaking out among the ranks.
“What do you think Beadurof?” Colby wondered.
“The shapely hips on the comely wench yonder. Hey Aldred, we’re glad you brought your beautiful niece with you,” Colby added, “Oh Beadurof my heart is rapidly beating. Will you just look at the way her hips swing and sway?” he sighed. “Not to mention how the cheeks of her beautiful backside quivers as she walks. Very desirable, don’t you think?”
“Well if she gets cold sleeping on her own tonight or any other night from now on, I’ll fight you for the honour of protecting her Colby. I’ll keep her warm at night, always providing she lets me have my way with her that is. What say you my beauty? Do you want to be the lover of a lusty man with fire in his veins?” Beadurof replied with a huge grin as he blew a kiss in Cynric’ general direction while continually thrusting his crotch back and forth.
Aldred bit his tongue as he fought hard not to smile. When viewed from behind, because of his slender build, long blond hair and tender years, his nephew could so easily be mistaken for a young female at a distance. Smirking to himself, he briefly glanced in his direction. Cynric’s face flushed bright red with anger at the good natured jibe by his uncle’s oldest friends.
If after reading the opening chapter, you wish to read the entire story, click on either of the following links to buy a copy, or go to the amazon link relevant to your country:
Don’t forget to write and post a review for it on the Amazon link you bought it from. Far too many good stories like Autumn 1066 fall by the wayside, due to public apathy these days…
By S. G. Cronin on 18 May 2017
I was gifted this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
This novella may be a short read, but it so packed with authentic detail and action, that you feel you are reading a much longer book.
Our heritage is founded on the backs of ordinary men such as Aldred and his nephew Cynric pressed into service as were thousands of farmers and craftsmen who were sworn to the feudal Anglo-Saxon lords. The story is factual but told through the eyes of these two fictional characters as warring armies battle to gain control of Britain.
One army is led by the barbaric King Harald of Norway or Hardradå as he is known by his men. He has formed an alliance with the Anglo-Saxon Tostig, claimant to the throne, now held by his brother King Harold, following the recent death of Edward the Confessor. This invasion force has the backing of Duke William of Normandy who has made promises to Tostig should there be victory.
With all the various factions identified, the story then takes us through the build up of forces led by the Norwegian king in southern Scotland, the defeat of the army entrenched in York and the significant and decisive victory by the forces of King Harold at Stamford Bridge.
This leads to the battle that was to change the life of every man, woman and child in Britain on October 14th 1066.
The main characters are portrayed vividly, and their backgrounds and involvement in this pivotal time in history, demonstrate how human traits such as greed, revenge and jealousy leads to the deaths of thousands who follow them.
The battle scenes and the acts of barbarism are very realistically portrayed both through the eyes of Aldred and Cynric, as well as those leading the various forces.
By Mr. Jamie Boswell on 26 May 2017
Down the centuries the British Isles has always been seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon occupation, ending on the 14th of October, 1066.
At long last my historical novella Autumn 1066 (paperback only) is now available for purchase.
Please take note of the following number:- ISBN-13: 978-1546685302.
First of all, may I suggest that you order your copy directly from CreateSpace by inserting the above ISBN number when looking for it. Ordering directly from the printer is by far the cheapest purchasing option.
I ordered six copies to give to my friends at US$2.15 each as opposed to US$5.38 each on Amazon US, and UK£4.17 on Amazon UK. The CreateSpace price for my latest book works out at roughly what you pay for the average ebook these days. Which makes it value for money, I’m sure you will agree…
Buying from CreateSpace is a no-brainer in my book!!!
Of course if money is no object, you can always order it from your nearest Amazon outlet. Here are the links for Amazon’s two main outlets:-
Unfortunately, the one thing you cannot do on CreateSpace is post a review. That can only be done at Amazon sites. Here’s hoping that you enjoy reading the novella. If that is the case, do please post a review on Amazon.
PS – Are you one of those strange individuals who do not believe in ordering anything online? In that case, write down the title and the above ISBN number together with CreateSpace’s link – https://www.createspace.com/. Then head off to your local bookshop armed with all the information, and tell them (don’t ask) to order a copy for you…
Autumn 1066 isn’t even ready for publishing quite yet. But that didn’t stop one of its beta-readers Martin Bradley from feeling he had to not only write the pre-publication 10 – 12 word advertising review I asked for, but also a full length one.
Here is what he said:-
The events are insightfully brought to life. Prepare to enter Dark Ages Britain . Andrew French, author of the Michael Prentiss series
A new look at a series of battles that changed Britain forever. Colin Noel-Johnson
Great sense of ‘place’. The reader is ‘there’, in that poignant year. Martin Bradley
I’ve just added the final elements to my historical novella before I sent it off to be professionally formatted, prior to publishing. Hopefully by the time the bill for the service arrives, PayPal will have stopped playing silly beggars. Some moron in Djakarta tried to gain entry into my account with them. Because I no longer have a telephone I had to email them. Nothing ever goes to plan does it? If it’s not one damned thing, it’s another.
PS – Grrr! It’s the following day and I’ve still heard nothing back from PayPal!!!
The weapons traditionally used by the Anglo-Saxons – the shield, the hafted axe, the double-edged Sweord, the single edged Scramasax and the spear
Well, I sent the text for my novella Autumn 1066 off to its beta-readers a couple of days ago.
In the process I picked up a third one – Martin Bradley, via ‘Writer’s Group’ on Facebook. When I told him that I was only planning to publish it as a paperback, he informed me that in that case he would not be able to read it. He has had books he bought and paid for, sent to him via the Royal Mail, go missing in the past. As a consequence he now only reads books in e-book form on his tablet. As I’m not publishing this one as an e-book, I decided to send him a read only .pdf copy of the text. That way, at least he could read it…
Now I wait to hear back from Martin, and Colin, not only for their comments, criticisms and suggestions, but also for their pre-publication reviews which I will insert inside the end product. Andrew got back to me yesterday in the affirmative. Now all I need from him is his 10-12 word pre-publication review. So, one almost down, two to go…
Chris The Story Reading Ape, bless his heart, sent me a link yesterday for an article in a historical magazine concerning the three battles in my book – Fulford, Stamford Bridge and Hastings.
The day before yesterday, my mate Jamie came round to mow my lawns for me. After he had done, I gave him the text to read through. His reaction was also in the affirmative.
Yesterday I received an email from a chancer in the US of A (no names, no packdrill), purporting to offer his services as a beta-reader. Needless to say, if I smell a rat, in other words I don’t trust the individual concerned, he won’t become one, end of story…
As far as I’m aware until I wrote Autumn1066 in 2017 no one else had ever written a book encompassing the three final battles, two of which were fought between the Anglo-Saxon nation and the Viking invasion force, led by Harald Sigurdsson, alias Hardradå – the battles of Fulford and Stamford Bridge. Then just over a week later, the battle of Hastings when the force led by Duke William of Normandy, (also of Viking descent), finally ended Anglo-Saxon rule in 1066.
My extremely short novella Autumn 1066, is in essence a historical account of the last few weeks of England in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons. I compiled it from second-hand accounts written fifty years later in 1116 – chiefly The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which at best can only be regarded as political spin by the religious community of the time, in an attempt to curry favour with the new masters of Britain, the Normans. Unfortunately there are no creditable eyewitness accounts to be had.
Now here’s my question – did I treat it as purely historical or not?
In several places I added small details to flesh out what I believe may have taken place from inferences made by those responsible for writing the accounts. When you read it, you can decide if I’ve taken liberties or not.
Meanwhile, I’m busy adding the involvement of the few fictional characters I’ve employed where relevant, as their involvement throughout is minimal.
When I hand it over to the two gentlemen who offered to be my beta-readers – Colin Noel-johnson and Andrew French, I’ve no doubt they will have something to say about whether or not they consider the fictional characters as being relevant. At the moment, I’m in two minds on the subject of their inclusion…
If anyone does know of any such book, apart from the one I’m currently writing, I would be most grateful if you could give me the title, and the name of its author. So far I only know of one extremely badly written book from back in the nineteen nineties. But that one only ever concerned the battle at Stamford Bridge…
A reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon hall
Yesterday I completed the historical phase of my current WIP Autumn 1066. As I said earlier, I will now walk away from it for a week before I begin phase two, the fictional side of the story. As I also stated earlier, this will be a novella. Or to put it another way, an extremely short book. Having written the historical side of things, means that the first phase stands at slightly over 6,300, or thirty pages in the standard 5×8 paperback size.
Once I have completed phase two, I will offer its text to my beta readers, either as a read only .pdf, epub or .mobi file, for them to offer their thoughts and undoubted criticisms (everybody is a critic – right?) But, only on the condition that they agree to write a pre-publication review, which I will add to the finished product when I publish it as a paperback, always providing its favourable and short – ten words or less.
If any of you wish to become one of my beta readers, partaking in the privilege of being able to read it long before the general public, please email me at email@example.com after reading this post.
When I have completed the story I will then email a copy to anyone who has requested to be a beta-reader for this my latest WIP. Think of it as your one chance to not only read it for nothing, but also to participate in a new book’s evolution. Definitely something to brag about to your circle of family and friends.
PS – Potential beta-readers please note that as its as historically accurate as is currently possible, given the paucity of actual facts available, means that phase one leaves no room for expansion, unlike the fictional side.
Remember this also – all favourable pre-publishing reviews accompanying any book, providing they bear the actual name of the person responsible for them and not a pseudonym, are what always convince others to read any book these days.
I hope to hear from some of you in the next few weeks while I’m busy writing phase two…
As I’m now on the home stretch when it comes to the historical side of my current WIP Autumn 1066, I now have nearly all of the actual historical characters sorted. There may be one or two minor ones I’ve missed. Only further research on my part will determine that.
The whole story has led to one specific date in the history of my homeland, England. That date is October the fourteenth 1066, and the battle that determined our fate as a nation for many centuries afterwards. As I’ve mentioned previously (that’s if you have been bothering to read my past updates) it actually occurred seven miles northwest of the coastal town. Even so it is still referred to quite incorrectly by historians as the Battle of Hastings.
When I downed tools yesterday morning I had begun to assemble the players on both sides, led by Harold and William respectively, on the site in Sussex where it took place nine hundred and fifty-one years ago. This morning I begin writing about the battle itself, after I’ve posted this for you to read that is…
But what about your fictional characters, I hear the more inquisitive among you ask? You’ll just have to be patient won’t you. In other words wait until you get to read it for yourselves, when I publish it as a paperback.
Am I having fun with this one? Duh – what do you think? Of course I am. I can’t wait to begin the fictional side of the story. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…