December 18, 2014

Spotlight on Mark Patton's Omphalos

Please join Mark Patton as he tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Omphalos, from December 5-19.

Publication Date: December 5, 2014
Crooked Cat Publications Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-1-910510-06-3
Genre: Historical Fiction

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2013: Al Cohen, an American in search of his European heritage.
1944-1946: Friedrich Werner, an officer of the Wehrmacht and later a prisoner of war. His wife Greta, clinging to what remains of her life in war-torn Berlin.
1799: Suzanne de Beaubigny, a royalist refugee from revolutionary France.
1517: Richard Mabon, a Catholic priest on pilgrimage to Jerusalem with his secretary, Nicholas Ahier.
1160: Raoul de Paisnel, a knight with a dark secret walking through Spain with his steward, Guillaume Bisson.
4000 BC: Egrasté, a sorceress, and Txeru, a man on an epic voyage.
Transgressions, reconciliations and people caught on the wrong side of history.
Omphalos. A journey through six thousand years of human history.

Praise for Omphalos
"Omphalos is a powerful word, a powerful connotation, as are the stories focused on in this excellent collection. The author leads the reader from one story to the next like an easy progress through the chambers of La Hougue Bie, followed by a reverse journey of revelation. To say too much of how this is cleverly achieved through the excellent use of letters, prose and poetry, I feel, would spoil the enjoyment of a potential reader. The skilful writing techniques used make it a thoroughly engrossing read. I have no qualms in recommending ‘Omphalos’ to the lover of historical fiction and to those who enjoy a well-crafted tale." - Nancy Jardine

Pre-Order the Book
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author
Mark Patton was born and grew up on the island of Jersey. He studied Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge and completed his PhD at University College London. He has taught at the Universities of Wales, Greenwich and Westminster, and currently teaches with The Open University. He is the author of two previous historical novels, Undreamed Shores (Crooked Cat, 2012) and An Accidental King (Crooked Cat 2013).

For more information please visit Mark Patton's website and blog. You can also connect with him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Omphalos Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, December 5
Review at Back Porchervations
Monday, December 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, December 10
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Thursday, December 11
Spotlight at Book Babe
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Monday, December 15
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, December 16
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Wednesday, December 17
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Thursday, December 18
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Friday, December 19
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

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December 17, 2014

Kamil Gruca's Gentlemen of Pitchfork - Guest Post

Is there anything left to be said about the knights and Middle Ages?

The knight as the subject of European culture and certain archetype has been so present across centuries that it’s easy for us today to assume we know everything there is to know about them. However a lot of us, including myself, still cannot get enough. Even though the knight has been ridiculed so many times, all his flaws emphasised and attacked, there still seems to be some attraction in the notion of a brave, noble warrior filled with virtues. Those virtues were Christian at the source, but may as well be replaced by any others that suit us. We can clearly see the link between the jedi knights and their medieval ancestors for example. It’s this combination: fighting + virtue that makes a knight such a great carrier for storytelling.

Why is that? My answer is: because it’s rare. It is rare that strong protect the weak and play by the rules when they could just take advantage. How rare exactly? Maybe it’s so rare that it actually never happens? Maybe there are no knights?

I believe that it would have been a sad truth. I believe that the knights existed and still exist and that we continue to tell stories about them because we want it to be this way.

There are three main characters in my story and they are all knights. I hope that by the end of reading everyone will be able to see that it’s rightful to call each of these men a knight, even though they differ so much as human beings. By that I do not merely mean that they are formally knights by the trivial fact of being born as nobles. They all represent chivalric virtues, each in his own way and according to his abilities.

The background of my story is early XVth century France. Once more it may seem that so many has been said about Middle Ages. So, do I claim I have anything new to say? Let me share my idea of depicting the epoch. On one hand I attempt to grasp many aspects of life, like: society, communication, ideas, clothing, fighting, love and even bathing (which despite quite common misconception was popular up until around second quarter of XVth century). On the other I often go into details in each of the respective domains. I don’t perceive the time and place I’ve chosen for my novel’s action to be just a pretext to tell another adventure story. I want this historical scenography to be really convincing, no wooden swords (unless for training purposes), no dialogues governed by mentality of XXIst century people, no woolen chain mails. On the other hand it is still fiction, it is still an adventure story. Most of the characters and events are fictitious. But when a given event is something that really happened I care to tell it as it was. When it comes to historical characters, some of them were purposefully depicted differently than they probably were. The best example is count David Rambourg. So when it comes to characters not everything comes with historicity warrant.

I believe I did say something, if not entirely new, than at least refreshing both when it comes to knights and the Middle Ages. Oh, and I also believe story is not that bad too. But… you be the judge.

About the book
Publication Date: July 13, 2014
eBook; 258p
Translator: Pawel Brzosko
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The year is 1415. France is weakened by the recently ended Civil War between the factions of Burgundians and Armagnacs. The young and belligerent King Henry V Lancaster decides to pay the French a neighbourly visit. With him – the flower of the English knighthood.

Among them – Sir Arthur, the Baron of Pitchfork, an ideal of all chivalric virtues – his uncle, Sir Ralph, a veteran soldier with a taste for women and bitter humour – and his cousin, Sir Robert, a young and romantic would-be scholar who will have his first taste of war, sieges, duels, betrayal and intrigue but also love and practical philosophy.

Together they ride as secret envoys of their King to meet Burgundian emissaries. But the Armagnacs’ spies keep their eyes open for any sign of treason on the part of their political opponents and three powerful French armies are gathering to cross King Henry’s way.

Interview with Kamil Gruca

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About the Author
Kamil Gruca is a Polish writer born in 1982 in Warsaw. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Warsaw University.

Kamil is also an active knight who confirmed his battle prowess by winning the Polish National Knights League in 2006 under the alias of Sir Robert Neville. He has studied medieval swordsmanship for over 15 years hence his novels are full of dynamic and realistic swordplay.

Being an avid re-enactor and a passionate history geek Kamil moved to France for two years to study documents unavailable in other countries that would add to the feel and realism of the book on multiple levels.

His first novel “Panowie z Pitchfork” was published in 2009 by a major publishing house Rebis. Receiving a warm welcome from Polish critics, readers and fellow writers, the first part of the adventures of the young and keen Sir Robert was soon followed by a sequel “Baron i Łotr”, published by another publishing house Znak, bringing closure to the major plot.

Currently Kamil lives in Warsaw with his family and is working on another series of historical novels focused around one of Poland’s most famous knights – Zawisza Czarny – and his not so famous yet equally interesting brothers.

For more information about the book please visit or You can contact Kamil at

If you want to learn more about how Kamil trains medieval swordsmanship please visit HAM-Historyczna-Akademia-Miecza on Facebook (Site in Polish), as well as (Site in Polish).

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #GentlemenofPitchforkBlogTour #HistoricalFiction
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt

December 15, 2014

Mary S. Black's Peyote Fire - Guest Post and {Giveaway}

I went to a winter solstice party the other night. Being in central Texas, we stood outside around a fire in our shorts and sandals and drank tequila. The backyard was lit with hundreds of tiny lights, and candles burned on the table. We did our best to withstand the gloom of this darkest time of year.

Many people in Europe and elsewhere have bonfires this time of year. In Veneto, Italy, these fires are called “panevin,” for it is also a time for eating cake (pan) and drinking wine (vin). The bonfires are built of wood and brush, some topping ten meters high. A puppet of an old woman is placed on the pile. She represents all the mishaps and calamities that occurred during the preceding year. When the fire is burned, all those misadventures go up in smoke. If the smoke blows south or west, people say the crops will be good next year. If it blows north or east, predictions are the harvest will be poor.

The Scandinavian Juul log was burned on the winter solstice to honor the Norse god Thor. In some parts of Europe and Britain, this practice became known as burning the Yule log. Ancient people scattered the ash from the Yule log on the fields for good harvest or saved it until Twelfth Night for good luck. French peasants believed if the ashes were kept under the bed, they would protect the house from thunder and lightning.

In other places there may or may not be bonfires, but still the winter solstice is all about keeping the light of the sun. Thousands will gather at Stonehenge in England next week to celebrate the sunrise. The stones are aligned so that the first light of the sun will occur between two specific stones on the solstice morn. Druids and pagans, and regular folk just seeking a respite from the season’s incessant commercialism, will chant and dance to call the sun back from darkness. At the Neolithic mound of Newgrange in Ireland, the sun will fill a passageway in the massive earthen temple chamber on the morning of the December solstice. Men and women who obviously paid attention to the changing angles of the sun constructed this place more than 5,000 years ago.

In North America, Native American mound builders built various earthworks oriented with the sun for both summer and winter solstices. For instance the tail at Great Serpent Mound near Peebles, Ohio, points to the sunrise on the shortest day of the year, and the mouth points to the head on the longest. This serpent effigy, built sometime from 1000-1500 AD, is the largest such mound known. The Hopi of Arizona hold a celebration during winter solstice to prevent the disappearance of the sun. Preparation starts by cutting bits of cotton string and tying feathers and pinyon needles to the ends. Friends and family exchange these simple gifts. The highlight of the festival is the story of the Plumed Black Snake. Dancers play the roles of the Black Snake, the Sun, and Warriors. The snake symbolizes the evil influences that drive the sun away. The chiefs make offerings of prayers and corn meal to the Plumed Black Snake to persuade him not to swallow the sun, like he does during an eclipse. Then the warriors must convince the sun to return by offering gifts. When the sun does finally come back, the people cheer.

Me, I’m here in Austin. We hung brightly colored lights around the front porch like many of our neighbors, and will string them liberally around the backyard so we can see them from our windows. I’ve “lit” the LED candles and my husband’s got a fire going on the grill. But still, I’d like to burn up the old year’s regrets and use the ash to bring a better harvest.

If you feel like I do, please join me on Facebook at the group page called “Prehistoric Writers and Readers Campfire” on December 21, 2014. We’ll have a digital solstice bonfire, to burn terrible first drafts, rejection slips, wadded-up revisions, and other detritus of a writer’s life. If you’ve got something you want to burn, now’s the time to do it. You don’t have to be a writer. We’ve all got something we’d like to get rid of. Come on! Let’s light up the darkness and bring back the sun.

About the book
Publication Date: October 25, 2014
Writers Press
Formats: Ebook, Trade Paperback
Pages: 350
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Deer Cloud is painting the stories of the gods when tragedy changes his life. He is called to walk the shaman path and bring the buffalo through his visionary power. The evil Stone Face will do anything to thwart Deer Cloud’s growing strength. Jumping Rabbit, a lusty female shaman, decides to mentor him and ends up taking him to bed. She introduces him to a powerful spirit plant to counter the effects of the dangerous wolf flower. When buffalo are spotted, Stone Face challenges Deer Cloud to call the beasts with his new power. With Jumping Rabbit’s help, Deer Cloud changes Rain Bringer society forever.

This book brings to life people who lived over 4,000 years ago in the southwest Texas canyonlands known as the Lower Pecos, near the confluence of the Devils and Pecos rivers with the Rio Grande. These ancient people painted over 300 currently known rock art murals, some of which can be viewed today. Archaeologists have also found evidence of a huge bison jump in a small canyon in that region that points to a catastrophic event in the lives of these people so long ago. This book is based on extensive research and is the first novel to examine these events.

About the Author
Mary S. Black fell in love with the Lower Pecos more than twenty years ago. Since then she has studied the archaeology and related ethnography of the area with numerous scholars. She has an Ed.D. from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology and lives in Austin with her husband, an archaeologist, and two cats.

For more information please visit Mary’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #PeyoteFireBlogTour #HistoricalFiction
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Peyote Fire.

- Giveaway is open to persons 18 years of age or older
- Giveaway is open to residents of the US, UK, Canada, or Australia
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

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December 12, 2014

Spotlight on Sherryl Caulfield's Seldom Come {Giveaway}

Publication Date: December 10, 2013
Cedar Pocket Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 490
Series: Iceberg Trilogy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, fifteen year-old Rebecca Crowe’s fascination with icebergs leads her to save a shipwrecked survivor, Samuel Dalton, the nineteen-year old son of a Toronto medical family.
Love sparks in the crystal cave of an iceberg but is thwarted by an unreasonable father and the Great War that drags Samuel and his brother, Matthew, to the Western Front as medical officers. Knowing Rebecca is home and safe in Newfoundland brings Samuel great comfort. But as the war moves towards its final harrowing days, they both discover that tragedy and terror can strike anywhere, setting their love on an unforeseen path.

Only when Samuel and Rebecca can fully come to terms with such devastating loss and their impossible choices can their love soar. With an emotional intensity reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman, Seldom Come By, named after an actual place in Newfoundland, is an unforgettable journey across waves and time and the full spectrum of human emotions.

Praise for Seldom Come By
“Seldom Come By is a haunting love story set against the windswept coast of Newfoundland. The story draws you in from the opening lines and takes you on a compelling journey across time and continents, through love, loss, heartache and healing. It is a beautiful and memorable story — a great accomplishment and a wonderful read.” – Julie Fison, Australia

“A wholly engaging read that wraps you up in another world. The story of how Samuel and Rebecca met and fell in love will always stay with me — and leaves me feeling as if I have already visited Newfoundland.” – Carolyn Wood, New Zealand

“If you love deep, epic, romantic stories this is one for you.” – Jeannie Zelos, United Kingdom

“Historical fiction is by far my favorite genre and this book captures the elements perfectly. An engaging, strong heroine, a dashing, honorable stranger, a brutal daily life existence in Newfoundland set during WWI. The story and characters are made more rich by the superb writing. I look forward to reading more from this author.” – Diane Tyson, USA

“This book was a real treat to read. By 30% in I was completely invested in the characters. The strength, passion and adversity that the couple have to endure are reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman, but beyond that, Rebecca and Samuel find their own way of handling things. I have already found myself recommending this book to others that have loved The Bronze Horseman. I do believe that if you enjoy an epic love story, this will make a fine reading suggestion.” – Karen Scott, Canada

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About the Author
Australian-born Sherryl Caulfield is a marketer, writer and traveller. After twenty years working for some of the world’s leading technology brands and a stint with Outward Bound, she longed to write about the human experience and the redemptive qualities of nature.

In 2006, haunted by an encounter with a woman she met in Canada, Sherryl started what has now become known as The Iceberg Trilogy. From her home in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, she distilled the lives of three generations of women – Rebecca, Evangeline and Lindsay – over the course of a century. In the telling of their stories she crafted a series rich in landscapes – of sea, land and the human soul.

For more information please visit Sherryl Caulfield’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #SeldomComeByBlogTour #HistoricalRomance
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @ShezCaulfield

To enter to win an Autographed copy of Seldom Come By, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below.

Rules– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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December 11, 2014

Book Blast: Rebecca Hazell's The Tiger and the Dove Trilogy {Giveaway}

Please join Rebecca Hazell as she tours the blogosphere for the Tiger and the Dove trilogy Book Blast, from December 1 - 14, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

The Grip of God (Book One)
The Grip of God is the first novel in an epic historical trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove. Set in the thirteenth century, its heroine, Sofia, is a young princess of Kievan Rus. She begins her story by recounting her capture in battle and life of slavery to a young army captain in the Mongol armies that are flooding Europe. Not only is her life shattered, it is threatened by the bitter rivalries in her new master's powerful family, and shadowed by the leader of the Mongol invasion, Batu Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson. How will she learn to survive in a world of total war, much less rediscover the love she once took for granted? Always seeking to escape and menaced by outer enemies and inner turmoil, where can she find safe haven even if she can break free? Clear eyed and intelligent, Sofia could be a character from The Game of Thrones, but she refuses to believe that life is solely about the strong dominating the weak or about taking endless revenge. Her story is based on actual historical events, which haunt her destiny. Like an intelligent Forrest Gump, she reflects her times. But as she matures, she learns to reflect on them as well, and to transcend their fetters. In doing so, she recreates a lost era for us, her readers.

Solomon's Bride (Book Two)
Solomon's Bride is the dramatic sequel to The Grip of God. Sofia, the heroine, a former princess from Kievan Rus' was enslaved by a Mongol nobleman and then taken as a concubine by the leader of the Mongol invasions, Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. Now, having fled the Mongols with a price on her head, Sofia escapes into Persia and what she believes will be safety, only to fall into the clutches of the Assassins, who seek to disrupt the Mongol empire. In a world at war, both outer and inner, the second phase of her adventures unfolds. Can she ever find safe haven, much less the lost love and family that was almost destroyed by the Mongols?

Consolamentum (Book Three)
In the finale of Sofia's memoir, Consolamentum, both dramatic and poignant, her dreams of home are shattered when her own family betrays her. Raising her child on her own, mourning the loss of her beloved knight, and building a trading empire, she seeks safe haven for her child and herself. Her quest takes her from Antioch to Constantinople to Venice. A surprise reunion in Venice leads her to France where she runs afoul of the newly established Holy Inquisition, possibly the greatest challenge she has yet faced. Can a woman so marked by oppression, betrayal, and danger ever find her safe haven, much less genuine happiness?

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author
Rebecca Hazell is a an award winning artist, author and educator. She has written, illustrated and published four non-fiction children’s books, created best selling educational filmstrips, designed educational craft kits for children and even created award winning needlepoint canvases. She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honours BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history.

Rebecca lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1988 she and her family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in 2006 she and her husband moved to Vancouver Island. They live near their two adult children in the beautiful Cowichan Valley.

Visit Rebecca:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 1
History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, December 2
A Book Geek

Wednesday, December 3
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, December 4
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, December 5
Must Read Faster

Saturday, December 6
What is that Book About

Sunday, December 7
The True Book Addict

Tuesday, December 9
She is Too Fond of Books & Movies

Wednesday, December 10
To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, December 11
Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, December 12
Book Drunkard

Saturday, December 13
Brooke Blogs

To win all three books in Rebecca Hazell’s The Tiger and the Dove trilogy (eBook and print, two winners), please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Ebook giveaway is open internationally. Print book giveaway is open to U.S./Canada.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 17th and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.