Monday, 27 April 2015

The Magna Carta Story Book Launch Planned

I have booked the venue for my book launch – the same place as my previous ones. The Oxfam Book Shop in Castle Street likes to encourage local arts and crafts, and events in the shop bring in customers to browse the bookshelves before and afterwards.

I have designed posters and flyers and printed them at home. The posters are up in the bookshop, and I have given out some flyers. There are lots more places to contact.

The press release and media kit are ready (I’ve been studying!), and I’m putting together a list of who to send it to. Local press and radio, groups I have given talks to and local history groups.

If any of my readers want to attend, the poster is below, and I’d love to see you.

Book Launch Poster

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Meet Balitoth, Communications Officer on the Kestrel

Balitoth is one of the non-human crewmen of the Kestrel. I found this picture on the web which is something like him.

Balitoth

He is from Zoa, a reptilian race, with a longer jaw than humans and sharp teeth. His blood is cooler than humans too, so he wears an insulated jacket over his uniform, except in his quarters, which he keeps at a higher temperature. He shares quarters with the other non-human crew member, the Altairian Shom Reuel, who luckily is happier with the warmer temperature.

Zoans are not very emotional, as Balitoth puts it, "My people are … unsentimental." Their faces don't show emotions well either. This can make them seem to be unfeeling and callous. Balitoth has learnt to compensate with gestures, especially in dealing with the more emotional humans, and has also learnt to show some emotions that he doesn't actually feel, but are expected of him. Still, he has never been known to raise his voice or lose his calm disposition.

Zoans don’t have marriage. Couples mate whenever and with whoever they want to, and then the children are raised by the whole community, particularly by the older females. Balitoth has several children, but doesn’t keep in touch with them as they belong to the tribe of their mothers. He pays more attention to the children of the females in his tribe, as their children are his family.

The tribe is dominated by the males, but great respect is given to the females. They aren’t second-class citizens but recognised to have different roles, more nurturing and organising. Businesses are run by tribal families, with the males making major decisions but the females running the practical side.

Just before the first Kestrel story, Intruders, Balitoth is suddenly taken ill and has to be dropped off at the nearest planet for emergency surgery. This is a problem, as Zoans can only be operated on by Zoans, and this is a human colony. But they find a Zoan doctor and Dr Robinson manages to get permission for the operation to be done in the colony medical facility. Balitoth’s room-mate Reuel is very worried, as they have become very good friends. You will be surprised when you find out what brought Balitoth and Reuel together!

It is Balitoth’s absence which leave the Kestrel short-handed and leads to Captain Darrow deciding to offer work experience to the top student in the local PACT Training Academy – who is Tabitha Enns. Luckily Balitoth recovers and joins the crew for the main expedition.

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Magna Carta Story is out!

Did you know that King John didn't sign the Magna Carta?
He sealed it.

Did you know that the rebel barons offered the English throne to Prince Louis of France?
If John hadn't died, the British Isles might be part of France today.

Did you know that Magna Carta was only in force for a few weeks?

So why is the Great Charter considered to be the dawn of democracy?

Find out in The Magna Carta Story, the layman's guide. It contains all the intrigue, tantrums and civil war, what happened afterwards, and why it's so important.

Ebook and print book available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Print book also available from Create Space.

So, after all these months of work, it's finally up online, in ebook and print. I'm so excited!

I have ordered print copies and am planning my book launch in the real world, but I need to launch online too. For that, I need reviews. Of course, I hope people will buy the book and leave reviews. But I'm asking you for help.

I will send a free PDF copy of the book to the first ten people to leave their email address in the comments below, or contact me via the email address on the About Me page.

Please help and leave me a review on Amazon.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Meet John Blackwell, Engineer on the Kestrel

Blackwell looks like actor Brian Cox
John Blackwell, the Engineer, is the father-figure to everyone, especially his assistant Roy Stubbs. A burly older man with a ruddy complexion, he is human, from Earth. Although he looks very jolly, he has no time for fools, and some of the crew have the sharp edge of his tongue when they do something foolish or ask stupid questions. He expects hard work and discipline, but when he gets it he is very generous.

Blackwell usually seems to know most of what goes on aboard ship, and is concerned about everyone. He loves mechanics and engineering, and spaceships most of all. And he loves his job. He is always tinkering, to get better performance out of the engines and ship's systems. Since his wife died, after a long and happy marriage, he spends all his time with the ship.


In Intruders, it is Blackwell who works on the vid records from the mine, and figures out that the Intruder aliens can be seen under altered lighting. It is also Blackwell who first encounters the Intruders when they attack and transport on board Kestrel into Engineering.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Fascinating Facts: Henry IV

For those who love Shakespeare, he wrote two plays about this king – he wanted to say so much that he couldn't get it all into one! Henry IV parts 1&2 were the centre part of the stunning BBC series The Hollow Crown.

Fascinating Facts: Henry IV [1399-1413]


  • He was a leading international competitor on the field of arms – a champion at tournaments.
  • He was the grandson of Edward III, son of John of Gaunt, and cousin to Richard II.
  • He was heir to extensive lands and titles, including Duke of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln and Leicester.
  • He was raised at court with the future King Richard from the age of nine.
  • At the age of 21, he was one of the five Lords Appellants who confronted King Richard and rebuked him for misgovernment.
  • When he quarrelled with Thomas Mowbray in 1398, they were due to meet in formal combat to settle the dispute, but the king stopped it at the last minute and banished them both.
  • When his father died, the king seized all of his immense inheritance and banished him for life, provoking Henry to return to England to regain his inheritance.
  • On July 4 1399 he landed at Ravenspur in York with 300 men, but quickly gained increasing numbers as he marched south.
  • Richard was betrayed and ambushed and locked in the Tower of London. Henry had taken the throne by force.
  • During his reign Henry had trouble with the Scots, the Welsh under Owain Glyndwr, and conspirators led by Henry Hotspur.
  • Although he prevailed, Henry felt less and less secure. As his health failed he relied more and more on Prince Hal and his chancellor Archbishop Arundel.
  • He suffered a long nightmare of pain and debility which eventually affected his mind and left him an invalid, and died aged 55.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Meet Daniel Hoy, Second Officer on the Kestrel

Hoy (young Jackie Chan)
Daniel Hoy is a human, from Earth. He is of Asian descent, with a small lithe stature, and short cropped black hair. His family are Japanese, but moved to England when he was twelve. Despite the move, he was brought up with traditional Japanese values of honour and loyalty. Working for PACT was all he ever wanted to do. It was a family tradition. His father served on the Fast Response ship the Harrier.

He nearly didn't make it through training, as he discovered he's a little claustrophobic. When he put on a space suit, he felt so trapped, he thought he would suffocate. Then he concentrated on the view of all that space, and he got through it. He is not pleased when Kestrel is called to assist at a mining accident and he has to babysit the trainee - underground!

His parents are still at home, and he will have an arranged marriage to a woman from a traditional family, so she will expect to stay at home and just wait for when he comes home on leave. But will his experiences broaden his outlook and make him rebel against his tradition?

He studies martial arts because of his heritage, and when he fights he confuses opponents who are not used to his style of fighting. But he can be hotheaded and reckless, and has some maturing to do. When we first meet him he has been with Captain Darrow for three years and was only made up to Second Officer six months before.

When the Kestrel takes on six representatives from the allied races, he has to share a cabin with the most obnoxious of them. How will his temper hold out? At the end of Intruders, he has to take command in a crisis, how will he cope?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Fascinating Facts: Richard II

For those of you into Shakespeare, this is the first of the quartet of plays which were so stunningly filmed by the BBC in the series The Hollow Crown. The facts below are from history, and not from Shakespeare, who could be a little careless with the truth.


Fascinating facts: Richard II [1377-1399]


  • Richard was nominated as heir to the throne by his grandfather Edward III. His father, the Black Prince, was dying and would not live long enough to reign.
  • He was crowned at the age of 10, supported by his uncle John of Gaunt, Steward of England, the most powerful man in the realm.
  • In 1381, when Richard was 14, rebels formed huge marauding bands and began attacking manors and monasteries. They marched on London, but the young King rode out to meet them, listened to their grievances and promised to give them what they wanted. It was a remarkable feat of bravery.
  • By the time he was 17, however, opinions changed. The brave boy had grown into a handsome, narcissistic, dissolute young man, contemptuous of his elders and full of ridicule and hauteur. The court was turned into an erotic pleasure palace.
  • When John of Gaunt was out of the country five Lords Appellant, backed by Parliament, chastised the King.
  • Instead of maturing, Richard became drawn to spiritual and occult matters, taking Edward the Confessor as his patron.
  • He was concerned about his health, and was continually consulting physicians and taking medicine.
  • His marriage to Anne of Bohemia was childless.
  • He attempted to be elected Holy Roman Emperor.
  • When his queen died, he married the six-year-old daughter of Charles VI of France.
  • In November 1398 a comet blazed across the sky and was taken as an ill omen of the death of a king. Richard was afraid, but it was his uncle, John of Gaunt, who died, in February 1399.
  • John's heir, Henry Bolingbroke, landed at Ravenspur in York with 300 men and marched to avenge his father's death, gathering support all the way. Richard was captured and taken to the Tower, where he was forced to abdicate in September 1399. Parliament declared Henry Bolingbroke King, as Henry IV.
  • In February 1400 Richard's body was displayed in London so that no imposters could claim his identity. It is not known how he died.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Meet Andrew Chambers, Helmsman on the Kestrel

Chris Pine would play Chambers in a film
Andrew Chambers, the helmsman on the Kestrel, is human, from Earth. He joined the Kestrel a year before the first story, Intruders. There is an incident in his past which nearly finished his PACT career. Only the Captain and First Officer know the details, but there was an accident, and Chambers blames himself. If he had truly been negligent or careless he would have been prosecuted, so he is not as culpable as he feels he is. But because of it, it was difficult for him to find a posting.

Captain Darrow gave him a chance and has been building his confidence. He is only in his early thirties and has many years of service ahead of him, if he can regain his self-confidence. The helmsman Grey Lanx has just left the Kestrel, so Darrow has promoted Chambers to helmsman. Chambers wants to do well, but will his confidence desert him in a tight spot? Will the animosity of Roy Stubbs undermine him?

Chambers takes Tabitha Enns under his wing, when she is whisked away from the PACT Training School to fill a temporary gap in the crew, and the two become good friends.


Chambers' grandfather fought as a volunteer in the Casparian struggle for independence from Ochra, and when the Ochran representative on the main mission in Intruders finds out, he demands justice under the Ochran rule of family responsibility. Will this jeopardise the mission? What did his grandfather do? This is another mystery to solve, but Chambers turns out to be a good diplomat.