2 Upcoming History Talks and Book Signings

Now that Acre’s Bastard is out in the world, we have two events coming up. Please join us for some fun, conversation and a chance to get your hands on a signed copy of my latest novel.

Saturday, February 11, at 1 PM at the Museums at Lisle Station Park, I’ll be part of the Chicago Authors Series. Join us as we talk about “Putting the STORY in History- How writers turn history into great historical fiction.” I’ll also be selling and signing both my books, The Count of the Sahara and Acre’s Bastard.

Sunday, February 26th 12-4 PM at Barnes and Noble in Downtown Naperville, IL I’ll be talking writing and reading historical fiction, then signing copies of Acre’s Bastard. B and N is anxious to support local writers, so if you’re a fan of historical fiction, or are thinking about writing it yourself, come on down. Bring your questions and book recommendations for the others. There’ll be lots of Q and A, as well as a chance to help convince Barnes and Noble that supporting local authors is good business.

Irish American History and the Civil War

A lot has been written about the Irish in the US. Even more’s been written about the American Civil War (or Civil War 1.0 as we call it around here.) Writer Ellen Alden has a documented family history that includes both topics, and it drives her work, especially her novel, “Yours Faithfully, Florence Burke.”

So what’s the Ellen Alden story?

My name is Ellen Alden and four years ago I was living a “normal” life. I was teaching fourth grade, playing on a tennis team and raising my three children, two dogs and a hedgehog. Then one fateful day my daughter asked if I had a photo of myself when I was a little girl and it prompted me to sift through old cardboard boxes that my parents had left in my attic years ago. It is then that I made the fortunate discovery of 19 Civil War letters from my great great grandfather, Irish Immigrant, Florence Burke. He was writing to his wife and children back home in West Springfield, MA.

After reading these letters I became inspired  to tell their extraordinary story and to stop everything and research, travel and discover my geneaology. I worked tirelessly to trace their past and to bring their story to life. I discovered that to be a writer, all I really needed is passion and creativity. I am now working on two new novels.

An understandable, if a tad robust, reaction. So what’s the book about?

My book is about my the life of my first generation Irish immigrant ancestors. It is based on the original 19 Civil War letters I found in my attic. It begins with my great, great grandfather signing a legal contract to join the Civil War as a “substitute” for a wealthy man who was drafted in exchange for a small parcel of land for his family.  Florence Burke is 35 years old, happily married and a father of three. It then replays back to his past in Ireland during the Potato Famine, and gives the horrific account of the suffering from both the perspectives of Florence and his love interest Ellen.

At 19 Florence decided to flee Ireland, chasing both his true love and his chance at a better life. But, his family believes he is a traitor. Once in America Florence and Ellen reunite and settle on a farm (as tenant farmers) in West Springfield, Ma. They are very poor and can’t seem to get ahead—and the town councilmen are less than sympathetic to the new Irish Immigrants. In 1864 Florence makes the decision to join the war (without the knowledge or consent of his wife). He knows it is a great gamble, but he feels it could be the last chance to attain land and raise his family out of poverty.

From this point on the perspective of the story is only told by Ellen who is at home with the children. Ellen struggles to prep the new farm, to keep her children warm and safe through the cruel winter and to support her embattled husband, all while secretly holding a grudge that he made this deal without her knowledge. The reader hears from Florence only through his letters—and I used my great, great grandfather’s words 85-90% verbatim. Yours Faithfully, Florence Burke is a book about the sacrifices that the first generation Irish immigrants made in order to survive in America. It is also about the extraordinary love that a father has for his family. I hope you like it!

Obviously there’s the genetic connection, but why is this period so fascinating to you?

I believe the Potato Famine is an understudied time in history. The Irish don’t like talking about it, the English choose to deny it, and most other nations over look it. As For the Civil War, it is monumental. To have our nation so torn apart that we fight our own countrymen and enlist immigrants form other countries to fight for one side (even though they have no great loyalty to either side) exemplifies the desperation and makes this an extraordinary time period in history.

I was lucky enough to find the letters, a window into the past, a first hand account of the battles from an Irish immigrant placed on the front lines. His letters describe unbelievable battles, his feeling of guilt at having made the deal without telling his family, and his longing to come home and reunite with his beloved family. I didn’t choose these time periods; they were already chosen. I just brought them to life.

Writers and pre-destination is probably an argument for another time and a different beverage. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene is set on the farm in March,1864. Florence has gone to war and Ellen’s sister Mary arrives to help her with the children. One evening the oldest son Jerry notices a stranger lurking around the barn, potentially trying to steal the hay or farm animals. He runs to warn his family in the farmhouse and it is the old Aunt Mary who saves the day with her archery skills (which no-one knew she possessed). It’s a great moment in the story when the two women realize they are fighting their own battle on the home front—and they are winning.

Where can people learn more and get the book?

My website and blog www.ellenalden.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ellenaldenauthor/

Twitter @ellen_alden

You can get the book on Amazon  or Barnes and Noble

Or you can find it on Goodreads:

The Murder of Becket Spawns a Series- EM Powell

I came across today’s author when I was searching for an agent. I found a very good story teller named EM Powell, and really enjoyed her first book. (As for the agent, I’m still looking, and yes that’s an obvious cry for help.) Her novel, The Fifth Knight, began life as a serial but then became one of three novels. This is her story, about her story…. you know what I mean.

E.M. Powell’s medieval thrillers THE FIFTH KNIGHT and THE BLOOD OF THE FIFTH KNIGHT have been #1 Amazon bestsellers and a Bild bestseller in Germany. Book #3 in the series, THE LORD OF IRELAND, was released in 2016. Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog. She is also a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society. Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com.

What’s “The Fifth Knight” and the series about?

THE FIFTH KNIGHT is the first of my Fifth Knight series of medieval thrillers. It’s my take on the infamous brutal murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket on the altar of Canterbury Cathedral on December 29 1170. The history with which many people is familiar is that long-standing disputes between Becket and his king and one-time friend, Henry II, had reached a critical point. Henry is said to have exploded in one of his typical rages, ending with the words: “He has…shamed my realm; the grief goes to my heart, and no-one has avenged me!” Unfortunately, a group of knights who were listening took him at his word. They set off for Canterbury to avenge their king with fatal results. In my book, I add a fictional fifth knight, Sir Benedict Palmer, to the group. And the reason they go to Canterbury is not to avenge Henry, but because they know that Becket has hidden a young nun in the walls of Canterbury Cathedral. They need to find her and the secret she holds.

Tell me about writing the book as a serial story first, then turning it into a novel. How did that impact how you put it all together?

My fictional story must have appealed to some people as it has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide. Yet it had an unusual route to publication. My publishers are Thomas & Mercer, an Amazon imprint. THE FIFTH KNIGHT was first released in the US only as a Kindle Serial back in 2012. It was published in six episodes, with each episode being delivered to readers’ Kindles every two weeks. So I had to break the story up, making sure that each episode ended on a cliff-hanger and making sure that each one balanced out. Then would come the wait to see if readers liked the new instalment. As I say, it was unusual, to say the least!

Fortunately for me, readers loved it and it was released as a complete novel in 2013. I also followed it up with the next two Palmer books in the series. In THE BLOOD OF THE FIFTH KNIGHT, Palmer is called back to find out who’s trying to kill Henry’s mistress, the Fair Rosamund. In the third, THE LORD OF IRELAND,  Palmer is sent by Henry to a warring Ireland with John, Henry’s youngest son and future Bad King John. No spoilers, but John being John, all does not go well. Neither of these two books were released as Kindle Serials. The Kindle Serial program has been discontinued but all the books that were released through it are still available as complete works.

What is it about that time period that intrigues you? I mean, I share your fascination but we’re not exactly  the majority…

I think that the medieval period is one of the most interesting, exciting and downright bizarre historical periods of all. It isn’t the most popular for readers of historical fiction, but I think people are missing out. What other period gives you banquets that serve peacocks, breath-taking illuminated manuscripts, gatherings with the Devil, leech collectors and chainmail?

Right? I mean frickin’ leech collectors!  But I digress. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

It’s no spoiler to say Becket’s murder. ‘Favorite’ isn’t maybe the right word but it was certainly the most challenging to write. We have eye-witness accounts from the time and it was truly horrible. Becket was utterly defenseless against the armed knights. Even though I had to write it in the context of a fictional story, I had to stay true to what we know to make it credible. I actually caught myself at one point wanting to rewrite it so he got away! But this book is speculative historical fiction, rather than true alternate history, so I had to do it. I can only hope that I gave Becket the proper respect to his memory and the terrible end he suffered.

How can people learn more about you and your exciting series?

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/EMPowell-Author

Website: www.empowell.com

Blog: http://www.empowell.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/empowellauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/empowellauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6583496.E_M_Powell

Acre’s Bastard is officially published….

And so it begins…

It’s January 17, 2016 so my newest historical fiction novel, Acre’s Bastard, is now available worldwide in paperback and ebook, wherever you buy such things.

Barnes and Noble


I’m very grateful for the help I’ve received in advance of the launch from Naperville Writers Group, my trusted beta readers, and those who have read advance copies and actually liked the darned thing.

This book isn’t an easy sell, so any help I can get is appreciated. If you’d like to help, I can think of a couple of things:

    • Tell your friends. Tweetfacelinkblog to your heart’s content.
    • Leave a review, even a luke-warm one, on your favorite book site. The number of reviews counts almost as much as the rating in this crazy online world run by our robot overlords. Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook pages… you know the drill
    • Give me feedback. This is the first of at least 2 “Lucca Le Pou” stories to come. I had a boss once who told me, “we always reserve the right to get smarter.”
    • Come on out to an event. So far, I’ve got two events scheduled. The official book launch is February 11th, 1 PM at the Museums at Lisle Station. I will also be doing a presentation in early march at Barnes and Noble in Naperville, exact date TBD. Come on out, bring some friends and have some fun.

I am very excited about the launch of this story, and hope it receives the same warm reception that Count of the Sahara got. Oh, and sells a few copies.

Thank you all. Here goes…..

Anglo Saxon Adventure with Annie Whitehead

When we think of the English, most of us-especially we colonials-have an image in mind. But the history of Britain goes back a long way, and it’s far from a straight road with an unbroken line of homogeneous residents (Brexit not withstanding.) Today’s author specializes in telling stories of the Angles and Saxons…. I introduce Annie Whitehead.

Annie came into my orbit when we took part in a round-table blog discussion with members of the Historical Novel Society. You can read it here. As you’ll see, she’s a total smartass, which mean we had to “meet,” at least virtually.

Okay, Lady. What’s your story?

I’m an historian (and a bit of a pedant – note that I didn’t say ‘a’ historian!) and a writer, mainly of Anglo-Saxon stories. I’m a nomad who genuinely can’t say where I’m ‘from’. I have two birth certificates, which I believe is quite rare. I’m vibrant, witty and smiley – when I’m tucked away behind the safety of my keyboard. In real life there’s less elegance and sophistication, which is perhaps no bad thing as I live in the English Lake District where I walk, a lot, and where it rains, a lot. History, writing and music are my passions, and I’m lucky to be able to indulge all three – the last of which involves my regularly making a fool of myself as I teach small children the art of music, singing, and what I like to call ‘leaping about’ – and yes, ‘leaping about’ is a technical term…

What are your books about?

Can I be greedy and tell you about both my books? (Editor’s note. I suspect it would be a fool’s mission to try and stop her, but carry on) I’ll be super-brief (unlike my books which are good and chunky):

To Be A Queen is the story of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, daughter of Alfred the Great. She came to be ruler of a country in all but name, fighting for that country against the Vikings, and, ultimately, her own brother.

Alvar the Kingmaker is the right-hand-man of King Edgar at a time when politics and intrigue at court make life difficult, and dangerous. His job brings power and wealth, but also heartbreak and sacrifice, especially when the king dies and the country is plunged into civil war. Then there’s the small matter of the queen, who loves him, and is accused of murder…

The Anglo-Saxon period is rather “niche-y”. Why that era?

I assume I’m amongst friends – i.e. history lovers. I won’t use the words nerd or geek, although I do apply both terms to myself – so I suppose I can dispense with explaining my love of history. But this particular period? It was brought alive for me by a very learned tutor of mine, with whom I’m still friends. Everyone has that one teacher, yes? The one who inspires? Well, Ann Williams was that teacher for me; she gave me the bug, and I’ve never shaken it off.

Specifically though, in the case of Alvar, it was a footnote in one of Ann’s published papers about Alvar (real name Aelfhere) concerning a widow who was deprived of her lands after his death. It’s the only mention of her, and no-one knows if she was his wife, his lover… and why did they leave no children? I was intrigued, so I set out to answer my own questions. With To Be A Queen it was simple: no-one had told the story of this remarkable woman, yes, woman, who had led an army and ruled a country. I had to put that right!

Any favorite (or favourite, since you’re so pedantic and British-y and all) scenes you can share?

Hmm, no spoilers huh? That rules out a couple of my favourite scenes… Okay, in that case: In ’Queen’ I had a lot of fun researching the flammable properties of flour (yes, really!) and enjoyed writing the scene in the mill when my characters also learn about those properties…

In ‘Alvar’, most of my favourites are spoilers; you know, those pivotal moments when lives are ended or changed, hearts are broken or mended, but there is one: it’s where Alvar finally gives vent to the rage that has been boiling for years. He fires off a load of expletives (I was keen to keep them pure Old English so no, not that four-letter word). I had a lot of fun, and he felt a whole lot better!

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Besides my website, I have two blogs, Casting Light Upon the Shadow  and Time Traveler

My Amazon Author page is here

You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Windy City Reviews likes Acre’s Bastard

It’s hard for an indie book to get reviews aside from the folks who take the time to write on Amazon or Goodreads (and a thousand blessings on your homes and camels.) So when someone you don’t know, share DNA with, or owe money to likes your book, it’s a cause to celebrate.

Windy City Reviews has done a pre-publication review of Acre’s Bastard, and it’s a good one! You can read the whole thing here.

Any review that starts with

The subtitle to Wayne Turmel’s Acre’s Bastard is “Part 1 of the Lucca le Pou stories,” and I am already looking forward to further stories from this author about his engaging main character.

and ends with

… even these supporting characters have none of the cardboard cut-out feel of many adventures. They have the feel of people we might have chanced to meet if we were transported to those hectic times.

Now, I could pick nits… the biggest thing is this is NOT a YA novel that adults can read, it’s an adult novel teen readers can sink their teeth into. Still who am I to complain when people are telling strangers to buy your book?

Richard Adams and Why I Don’t Believe in “YA”

Richard Adams

Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, died this week. Although talking bunnies in the English countryside are a long way from the Crusades, he and I have (had?) at least one philosophy in common–“there are no such things as children’s books.”

I know it’s tacky and self-serving turning the loss of a writer into a discussion about my new book, Acre’s Bastard, but there’s a point to be made, so indulge me.

Watership Down, because it involves talking rabbits, is sometimes (very mistakenly) thought of as a children’s book. Adams’ point was that a book is a book. If you can read, then the book is for you. Now, to make this about me again, that’s one reason I intentionally avoided making the tale of Lucca and his adventures, “YA.” Yes, the hero is a young boy. Yes it’s an adventure story that anyone over the age of 14 or 15 can enjoy. That doesn’t mean it’s meant for a younger audience or that adults can’t enjoy it guilt-free.

In fact, one reason my former publishers at The Book Folks (blessings be upon them) turned this book down, is the fear that adults won’t read about a young boy, and younger readers will be appalled or offended by the violence and terror Lucca goes through. I don’t believe that. So far, my readers and reviewers haven’t either.

The fact is, a good story is a good story. Jim Hawkins, Luke Skywalker and Kim were young boys thrust into violent situations and thrilling adventures. Treasure Island and the lot were written for a general audience, before marketing people segregated the audience and school libraries were the final arbiters of what was appropriate reading material.

The recent violence in Aleppo only goes to show that children are often caught in wartime, and combatants don’t care what’s “appropriate for children.” That’s what Acre’s Bastard is about. Yes, it might not be for all young readers (although I’d have read it at 15.) That’s why I rejected the original title of “Acre’s Brat,” lest it entice those not ready to tackle the subject matter. You have to play fair with the audience, after all.

Richard Adam’s allegorical rabbits weren’t intended solely for a young audience, although it didn’t talk down to, or exclude them either. I hope the same is true of my book. I hope teen readers will thrill to Lucca’s adventures and identify with his spirit, and older audiences won’t be put off by the idea that it’s about a child so must be for younger audiences.

Acre’s Bastard is available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters online. The Ebook will be available January 17, and the paperback February 8.


Family Letters Inspire Civil War Drama: Greg Seeley

Lately, my email has been filled with authors who’ve written Civil War dramas (henceforth to be referred to as Civil War 1.0, because I’ve got a bad feeling about this.) I’m a bit ambivalent about the time period, maybe because I’m Canadian and don’t really empathize too much with the South on this one. (I’ve heard all the arguments. Bite me.) At any rate, many of the authors have deep family connections to the event. Such a writer is Greg Seeley, whose new novel, “Henry’s Pride,” is here for your consideration.

greg-seeleyGreg Seeley was raised on a farm north of Afton, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a major in history and received his Master’s degree from the University of Iowa. He is a retired certified public accountant and lives in Overland Park, Kansas with his wife Carolyn, a retired math teacher. Henry’s Pride is Greg’s first novel. He is also the author of
a book verse entitled The Horse Lawyer and other Poems.

So what’s Henry’s Pride all about?

Henry’s Pride is a wide-sweeping novel of the Civil War told from the perspective of two families, one from Minnesota and the other from Georgia. Henry Hancock is a Minnesota tenant farmer who reluctantly but dutifully goes to war to save the Union. Darius Morgan, the son of a Georgia plantation owner eagerly enlists in the Confederate army to save what he considers to be his rightful legacy. Other characters, whose stories are interwoven include Hamilton Stark, the cowardly yet vicious overseer from the Morgan plantation and Adam Kendrick, a gentle but dutiful southern soldier, who must keep his anti-slavery sentiments hidden. Meet also Joshua Gibbons, a Union chaplain and Hosea Billings the vindictive captain of guards at a Federal prison camp.

The story is told through the usual means of narrative and dialogue but also through numerous letters written back and forth between the characters expressing their loneliness, fear, pride, and other emotions associated with what the title character calls “the nation’s nasty business”. The story also portrays the devastating effect of war on soldiers and families alike – wounds both physical and mental as the characters deal with battle injuries and with what is now call PTSD. There is Jonas Hancock, Henry’s brother, who is injured and mustered out early in the war but continuously deals with haunting memories. There is Henry himself, tormented by reminders of what he has had to see and do. Henry’s Pride is a war novel that, in sense, is also an anti-war novel. Characters on both sides examine themselves and must decide whether or not their respective country’s objectives are worth the sacrifices they and thousands of others are called upon to make. Henry’s Pride is not about generals and military strategy or troop movements. It’s about ordinary soldiers and families each trying to find their way through the “madness” that is the Civil War.

What inspired the story? Where’d your passion for the topic come from?front-cover-thumbnail

My great-grandfather, Ira Seeley, served with an Iowa regiment in the Civil War. When I was still in elementary school, my grandmother would sometimes bring out letters he had written home, show them to me, and read me some of them. After college, I took the same letters and carefully typed a transcript of each one exactly as written.

Many years later, after I retired as a CPA, I thought about trying to reconstruct all of the unsaved letters that my great-grandmother might have written to her soldier husband and mesh them with the transcribed letters.  I soon determined the task to be nearly impossible given the time it would have taken for their letters to cross in the mail and the difficulty of determining which letters each would have received when writing to the other. At that point, I decided to write a novel of the period – a fictional account where I could weave into the story letters to and from my characters written in the style of the day.

What’s your favorite scene from the book?

I believe my favorite scene takes place after Henry Hancock has been mustered out of service and has returned home. The traumatized Henry, though of Methodist faith, seeks out a priest to take his confession and absolve him of the things he has had to do. The scene shows a certain depth of feeling shared even now by veterans of more recent wars. Though Henry was a hero of the Battle of Shiloh – even called ‘the Lion’ by his men, he is vulnerable. He is at the same time proud of his service to the country and guilt-ridden over the part he has played.

Where can people learn more about Henry’s Pride?

The book is available at Goodreads and as both an e-book and paperback edition at Amazon.com. For signed copies, contact me at Greg.Seeley@att.net.

Manhattan Before Hudson with Harald Johnson

I have mixed feelings about New York City, but there’s no argument it’s changed the world like few places before or since. Harald Johnson has tackled the history of the island of Manhattan in a series of novellas. The first Manhattan Novella: 1609, is out now.

Sometimes I feel like such an underachiever when I do these interviews. What’s the Harald Johnson story?

I invent a new career for myself every 7-10 years, like a memory-challenged

The author visioning his Manhattan story at the tip of the island he swam around.
The author visioning his Manhattan story at the tip of the island he swam around.

cicada. Over the past 40 years, I’ve been a magazine publisher, Hollywood art director, ad agency creative director, photographer/filmmaker, marketing consultant, and of course, a writer across all those trips around the sun. And recently, I’ve turned my focus back to something I’ve kept hidden for a long time: fiction writing. Oh, and did I mention I like to swim? A lot. Not only did I win that around-Manhattan swimming race mentioned here, but I continue to swim regularly as much as I can. So water and swimming are recurring themes in my life, and in my writing.

What’s the story behind Manhattan: 1609? And don’t say it’s about Manhattan in 1609 because that’ll just tick me off…..

If historical fiction is your thing, you might also want to check out my own novels, The Count of the Sahara and the newest, Acre’s Bastard.



Launch Event for Acre’s Bastard February 11th

My new novel, Acre's Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores
My new novel, Acre’s Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores

Join me February 11th, 2017 to launch Acre’s Bastard! I’ll be speaking at the Museums at Lisle Station, in Lisle, IL at 1 PM, on “Putting the Story in History,” Then I’ll be signing the first hot-off-the-presses copies of my new historical fiction novel.

If you can join us, click CONTACT on the right side of the screen and drop us a line.



Here’s the poster and the details:

Join us February 11th