Red Ned Tudor Mysteries

Friday, December 23, 2011

Waeshael! Happy Yuletide!

A Free Red Ned novel to all my friends today at Amazon!

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers, I wish you all happiness good company and joy this Yuletide Season. Remember that is the time for friendship, family and compassion and I hope that none of you end up with the kind of Christmas gathering as portrayed in The Lion in Winter. A brilliant representation of the archetypal not so loving medieval family- the Plantagenets. Headed by Henry II and his formerly loving wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. And who can forget their devoted children Richard Coure d’lion the later crusading king, Geoffrey of Brittany an arch schemer and the future King John. If all that wasn’t enough as an interested visitor and guest they also have King Philip of France, a young lad keen to regain the kingdom Henry II stole off his father. So anyway this season I encourage you to relax like a monarch (a Tudor one could be safer) and bestow peace and generosity to those around you.
As my effort to help along the festivities I am currently offering my Red Ned novel set around Christmas The Liberties of London as a free download from Amazon Aust/US and the UK for one more day so I encourage you to take a Red Ned home take a seat, a glass of fine Rhenish and read about how Ned’s best laid plans for a Tudor Christmas Revel unravel.

A short clip from the Lion in Winter - Knives or Peace... Just remember who carves the goose! 

Please note this offer expires by the 23/12/2011 (11.59 pm Pacific Standard Time)

The Liberties of London UK

The Liberties of London US/Aust

Red Ned Tudor Mysteries, Apprentice Lawyer and Aspiring Rogue

This is the first of a series of stories following the life and mis adventures of Edward (Red Ned) Bedwell, a young apprentice lawyer at Gray’s Inn and reluctant investigator who experiences first hand the tumult and intrigue during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs from Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth I. A foot slogger’s view of the dangerous and deadly rivalries, ambitions and human foibles of the Tudor Court. His Sovereign Majesty the King may command and Councillor Cromwell will instruct, but it is poor Ned that has to deal with the inevitable consequences that led to treachery and murder. In this Ned is mostly aided by the solid friendship of Rob Black, an artificer in iron and bronze. However it also includes the not necessarily appreciated but usually correct hectoring of his sister Mistress Meg Black, an apprentice Apothecary and suspected heretic. With this ill sorted team Ned has to balance solving his master’s instructions with retaining his honour, keeping secrets and somehow climb up the greasy pole of advancement in the Tudor Age.

Regards Gregory House

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Yes Virginia, there really is a Shakespeare

Or the turd besplattered premise of Anonymous (to quote Sir Thomas More)

Greetings my well regarded readers, all several of you, I have some quite good news to impart, for most of this last month Red Ned’s The Liberties of London has been sitting amongst the August company of Amazon UK top 100 Historical Fiction Mystery list.  Either at its peak of 22 or more usually in the 30’s to 70’s, I must thank all you UK readers for your discerning taste and if you enjoyed it please leave a review on Amazon or send a copy to your friends.  As well I’m please to announce that my latest novel in the Red Ned Tudor Mystery series –The Cardinal’s Angels is now out on Amazon.  While in another genre I’ve released the first of my Peter Wilks Archaeological Mysteries series- Terra Australis Templars also on Amazon.

Today’s article pushes a little ahead of my usual period of Henry VIII’s England, considering the current fraca concerning History and Hollywood I thought we’d look at Emmerlich’s latest piece Anonymous.  As you may have noticed from the splashy ads its a fictional tale about the Earl of Oxford as the secret author of one of the greatest collections of plays in the western world, no less than the real writer of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays.  So you ask where does that leave poor ol’ Will Shakespeare?  Well for Oxford to rise Will has to go down and its not just a minor downplaying no, instead the illustrious bard is portrayed as an illiterate drunken buffoon, whom it seems can hardly make it as a hack player.  Which is as you may understand is a bit of a come down.  How did they do this you ask?  How else…by the magical faerie dust of Hollywood.

Hollywood History???

The film industry in Hollywood has an interesting relationship with history.  A Love/Hate one, in that history provides some wonderful sources for cinematic stories and when viewed via very particular psyche of the film producer is never dramatic, or lurid or speculative enough.  It has to be bigger, or more dramatic, salacious and so forth!  Okay, I’ll just give the silly example of Pearl Harbour.  An experienced battle hardened fighter pilot shoots down lots of Japanese aircraft during the December 7 attack, (which in its self is a very demeaning presentation of the event) then translates himself into a bomber pilot just in time for the Doolittle Raid.  Oh dear that really warps a valid historical event into a sad travesty.  So in the meantime let us just accept that Hollywood has a tendency to ignore reality in preference to the more wilder flights of fantasy.  So its entertainment, no worries!  Well yes, and no, as humans we are natural storytellers and a vast amount of our learning, habits and interpretation of the world around us is made up of stories.  This simple fact is much utilised by the advertising industry, which one must admit is a legalised business for the dissemination of, not to put too fine a point on it ‘untruths’ or ‘marketable truths’. 

Bearing this in mind it should be no surprise that Emmerlich has sort to boost his films performance and historical credibility by any means possible.  This marketing of history has included offering Anonymous educational modules to school pushing as it is termed the Oxfordian view.  Well its only marketing, so why should we care?
I believe we should, for a number of reasons, not the least because re inventing the past into a pliable fantasy pastiche is a common tool used to stifle criticism and complaint against abuse.  This fantasization of the past has been utilised by all manner of opportunists, ranging from political ideological driven parties like National Socialist to more purely commercial organisations such as News International.
First a quick look at poor ol’ Will.

Shakespeare?  Bladerdash!!  Oxford!!
The Oxfordians, as they term themselves like Climate Change skeptics appear to accept not one single shred of evidence regarding the authenticity of Shakespeare’s works.  These non-viable pieces of evidence include written accounts by his contemporise, such as Dekker, Johnson and Greene and range from memorials, reports and snide viperative assertions (Greene, a fellow writer who knew little about restrain either with a poisoned pen or dicing).  I will not go over the lengthy academic accounts of why the plays must have been by Shakespeare, or how the studies were based on thorough analysis of verse, word style changes and so on.  There are more than enough scholarly works on that solid research without my need to build up the case. 

The best I can do is recommend a book by Bill Bryson- Shakespeare: The World as Stage.  It is perhaps the simplest and most entertaining account of what we do know about Will, (not a lot) and where that came from (or didn’t).  As well it shines a very disturbing spotlight on the origins of the rival authorship claims and their evidence…or actually supposition… or maybe fabrication and even a heavy dash of delusion. 
Thus having raised that issue I pass onto what I feel is my strongest ground for dismissing Emmerlich’s Anonymous as a poorly contrived piece of dog’s vomit masquerading as entertainment.

Queen Elizabeth- Gloriana Triumphant…Or slut?
I don’t quite see the logic in this scripting and portrayal of Queen Elizabeth as either a historian or writer, it just makes a bad film even worse.  According to the storyline Gloriana has three illegitimate children, one of which is the Earl of Oxford, the hero of Anonymous.  Even more disturbing, later on Elizabeth is so much the ditzy raving slut that she tries to seduce her own bastard child ie Oxford.  Err what is this?  The Queen of England has even less morals than Paris Hilton, or even Caligula?
Oh spare me!  Not just tacky, but insultingly demeaning, I mean what would Americans think, if in a novel or screen play I suggested that George Washington regularly bent the young servants over the banister rail, unbuttoned his breeches and gave them a damned good ‘rogering’?  See what I mean the imagination shudders to an abrupt halt.
Queen Elizabeth’s reign defined the later Tudor period as a ‘golden age’ of achievement in art, science and discovery, which was made manifest by her survival from plot, assassination and invasion.  Her political acumen, was regarded as legendarily incisive, though also frequently and according to some in her Privy Council notoriously indecisive.  As for her rivals, their strident public condemnations of Elizabeth were full of accusations of ‘an apostate excommunicate and protestant whore, dripping with the blood of catholic martyrs’.  This overtop treatment tends to indicate an obsessive fear and betrays a sneaking respect for the formidable Queen of England. 
But hey, this is a Hollywood fantasy, lets just ignore the fact that Elizabeth was the most closely watched princess in the pre Victorian era.  The fright of the Thomas Seymour affair and its resulting investigation has been frequently cited as enough to convince a young Elizabeth that public and private virtue were her strongest defences from the Tower, the axe and rebellion. 
As many a historian has noted, after her upbringing at the tumultuous Tudor court which claimed her mother plus more than a few relations and friends Elizabeth’s overwhelming motivation was survival.  How any of this complexity and depth of person and character appears in Anonymous is well beyond debateable…it doesn’t.

Thus when it comes to Hollywood versions of Elizabeth, I think we are better served by the interpretations of Cate Blanchett, Dame Judy Dench, Glenda Jackson, and Betty Davis or even Quinten Crisp.  
Alright we’ve hopefully salvaged the reputation of Gloriana, the discussion will continue in part 2 next week in;

How to win Friends and Influence People in Elizabethan England

So will I spend money on Anonymous or recommend it?  While the CGI scenery is very good and the costumes passible, on the whole the script and plot lack even the most basic credibility or coherence of the Bold and the Beautiful…So no. 

Dont forget to have a browse through the list of books on my Amazon Author's page or my List of Best Tudor Fiction

Regards Greg

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Cardinal's Angels Published on Amazon

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers.  I have some excellent news, the latest Red Ned novel has been released on Amazon, The Cardinal’s Angels is now downloadable from Amazon US/Australia and Amazon UK.  So browse over have a look at the sample and read the continuing tales of the Red Ned’s involvement in the affairs of the court of Henry VIII. 
After the excellent reception from readers of historical mysteries to the previous Red Ned novels The Liberties of London and The Queen’s Oranges (especially in the UK) I’m am pleased to announce the release of the third story- The Cardinal’s Angels
In this novel we step back a little in time to see how Red Ned Bedwell, apprentice lawyer and aspiring rogue, fell into the dubious company of Meg Back, her amiable brother Rob and their aptly named retainer Gruesome Roger.  In a similar vein to the other stories, this latest offering blends humour, realistic portrayals of Tudor life and the deadly drama of the Royal Court as the affairs of the mighty spill over onto the commons of England.  
Download a sample from Amazon and bring a little bit of Tudor London into your life, after all good historical fiction needs you!

As the author of this splendid work I naturally think its pretty good, as does my superbly talented editor (Jocelyn), and I could burble on for pages on how this is the equal to PF Chisholm in wit and dry humour or has the sense of thrilling adventure of Rory Clements.  I could even say it that it surpasses the literary style of gasp…Barbara Cartland, the doyen of Pink Prose.  But I won’t, I will be strong and refrain from the tempting indulgence.  For it is up to you, the actual reader to make a valued judgement on this novel and leave a note to others on whether it was entertaining and amusing.  Please don’t leave it to a publicist or kind old aunt Flo keen to help out a beloved nephew.  Leave a review and help Indie writers.

Regards Greg

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tudor’s- Blood, Sex and Vampires

Greetings fellow Tudor aficionados and well regarded readers, I hope that this fine week end you are all going well.  This current missive is to bring you up to date on the Red Ned Tudor Mystery stories and the advent of a new series of Tudor novels. 
First within the fortnight we will be releasing on Amazon the newest of Red Ned’s adventures, The Cardinal’s Angels.  This story is a slight step back in time where we see the origins of his fateful alliance with the not so trusting Meg Black and his unwilling inclusion in the deadly politics of his sovereign Majesty’s ‘Great Matter’.
The second piece of news is the imminent arrival on the Amazon Kindle site of my latest novels in the Tudor period.

Darkness Divined
Taking inspiration from the suggestions of some very kind readers I have reworked an earlier set of stories that includes a fantasy component.  Thus in the England of Henry VIII we now have Vampires, Witches, Ritual Magic, Demons and some very intriguing Renaissance devices.  These like the usual members of the court are all competing for the richest prize—power. Though beneath the sparkling brilliance of the court of the Tudor monarch lies a dark and dangerous shadow world where alliance, ambition and lust has an entrancing smile and a deadly bite.  I must admit I’ve been interested in Vampire fiction for quite some time, well before the current craze, in fact I wrote a collection of stories revolving around vampires in the Crusades several years ago.  They were put aside to deal with the Red Ned Tudor cycle.  However I have been thinking that a decent fantasy element inserted into well research historical stories lends a lot to both.  Some impressive examples spring to mind the Sarantine stories of Guy Gavril Kay, Harry Turtledove’s Videssos and with the slight twist of reality the superlative horror Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. 
So we come to my version of Tudor Magicks—the Darkness Series.  The story opens in the earlier part of year of the Field of the Cloth of Gold and is set within the magnificent and dangerous court of Henry VIII.
Master Francis Bryan companion to the King and Master of the Hunts is a deeply unhappy man.  Not only has Cardinal Wolsey stripped him of his close association to the Sovereign and thus access to wealth and titles, but as a fait accompli, has tasked him with the coronal inquest of the foul and malicious murder of a court servant.  The problem is Francis knows all about this bloody affair, after all he had to put Gwen down…twice.  Now if he isn’t to fall victim to Wolsey’s machinations or the revival of his demon possessed mistress, Francis has to ally himself with the untrustworthy Doctor Agryppa master of arcane devices.  The only problem, apart from a complete lack of trust, is that Agryppa has his own dubious solution for the problem.  The acquisition of a beautiful and deadly servant, with a penchant for pain and blood.

A Deed of Darkness

As the cloud skidded by overhead bearing its burden of heavy rain and sleet westwards, it briefly allowed a spill of half full moonlight to wash over the empty courtyard at Westminster palace.  If any at that late hour of the night chose to look out towards the Thames they may have caught a glimpse of the two huddled figures carrying a wrapped object across the cobbles.  At the sudden if wan burst of light the foremost hauler gave a squeal and dropped his end.
“By Crist sir she’z quik!  I’z sweer, I felt her twitch!”  Staggering at the sudden weight the Second hauler lost his grip and the body dropped to the ground. angered at the hindrance the Second hauler snarled out a curse.
“Don’t be so stupid yea measle brained tosspot, she’s dead!”  Cursed the Second Hauler, as he flexed his shoulder to limber up the cramped muscles.
“But’s I felt her foot move!’
“By God’s blood you fool you saw her in the room, you can’t get much deader than that, I should know, now stop y’r whining and pick up her legs!”
“By St Anthony’s blessed fucking arm bone, if you don’t do as I say you’ll twitch, yea measle, at the end of a rope!”  The First hauler reluctantly edged back and made a tentative grasp at the bundled feet of the shrouded figure, and lifted them a little way above the cobblestones before giving another cry and leaping backwards and crossing himself.
“Oh saints it moved…it moved I seez!”  Even in pallid light if any had been watching they’d have seen a head shake in disgust from the Second hauler, who knelt down and gave the shrouded body a deliberate prod.
“Yea louse brained loony even St Peter would say she’s dead.  Here see that, didn’t move.  You’ve been a weaselling sack from Butlery again, haven’t you!”  The First hauler gave himself a rapid cross over his chest.
“Ohh Sir, I swears by me muther’s soul I’d niver.  I’s only have what you’s pleased to grant me.”  The Second hauler paused at the too instant denial in the ubiquitous tone of an aggrieved hard put upon servant.  If any one at court was aware of the deficiencies of their liverymen the Second hauler certainly was.  Drunkenness, whoring, shirking and thieving, where just the fellow’s more common faults, another time and place that canny evasion would have earned a thrashing.  Now though he dismissed the urge there were more important matters to deal with this thrice damned corpse for one. 
“Damn you for a dolt just…just take hold of her legs again!” It was in as steady and commanding voice as he could manage while still being discrete, even at this late or early hour the royal palace and halls of Westminster were rarely quiet for long.  By his reckoning they had at best some quarter hour before the palace servants began traipsing through here beginning the morning’s preparation of baking and cooking.
“Ohh I’s don’t know sir…”  The doubtful reply trailed off into uncertainty.  The Second hauler bit back a curse, while that fool dithered the sands of secrecy were trickling out fast.  Ignoring the mud on the wet cobbles the Second hauler knelt over the body and gave corpse’s shoulder’s a shake. 
“See as dead as a traitor’s head on London Bridge.”  Now at this point in the argument the Second body hauler felt himself on solid ground, he should know if the body was deceased or not.  The rendering of this corpse had taken him the best part of half an hour.  In his experience your average descendant of Eve commonly only required one or maybe two dagger thrusts to make them as dead as they needed to be.  He wasn’t by nature a squeamish man or a coward, having proved himself on battlefield, duel and joust, but by all that was holy the memory of how this corpse came to be broke him out in cold sweat.  Pushing past that he tightened his hands around the sheet as his reluctant assistant shuffled over and they once more resumed their slow progress towards the riverbank. 
At that moment the pale light was cut off, as if by a dropped curtain as the next cloud occluded the moon.  It was perhaps not the best time for a further hiccup in the plan.
“Aww Crist!  It moved agin!”  Squealed the First hauler, repeating his prior refrain and almost dropping his burden.
“Damn you, by my blood it didn’t!  Hold fast and keep yer grip or you’ll earn a beating!  No doubt the discussion would have continued in this vein for the next fifty paces, except that an unexpected event brought the argument to a precipitous halt.  The body moved.
The arms broke free of the shroud and lunged up at the Second hauler while its feet spasmed kicked off the hold of the reluctant First hauler.  Needing no further prompting he bolted with a trailing scream into the covering darkness.  The Second hauler though didn’t have any choice at shirking his task, the hands of the corpse were now locked tight on his doublet and the rest of the body was struggling its way out of the shroud.  In any normal circumstance he’d be as terrified as his minion and would have thought nothing of bolting from this gruesome apparition.  He didn’t have a choice, stand him against a dozen Frenchmen and he’d take the odds with a grim chuckle, this though had him chilled to his belly.  The dead were supposed to stay deceased until the Last Judgement, not get up and try and kill you!
This damned girl wasn’t satisfied with the peace of eternal rest or waiting for the Last Trumpet instead those pale hands of hers were clutching at his throat.  Fear, terror and shock held him frozen for a moment until one clawing dead finger grazed the tip of his short beard.  By St Anthony no!  She’d almost done him in earlier this night, it wasn’t going to happen again!  With a growled curse he clasped his hands together and in a move that he’s learnt off the king punched upwards.  The blow jerked the body off its feet and knocked away one hand, the remaining one though was now latched onto his collar as the moving corpse made unnatural snuffling sounds in an effort to co ordinate standing, shaking itself free of the sheet and attacking.  Taking the instant’s respite the second hauler pulled out his belt dagger and plunged the blade under the arm moving toward his throat.  The blade was good german steel a gift of his Sovereign Majesty after a challenge of dice, it slipped in easily with only a whisper of sound as the needle sharp tip punctured the muscle in the armpit. 
It made no difference to the attack, the Second hauler whipped the blade out and used his fist to parry the attempted grasp by the flailing hand.  The rest of the body now was half free of its shroud shrugging it off like the worn skin of a snake.  A gap in the clouds spilt a beam of pale light down upon the struggle, the Second hauler stepped back and cursed.  Her damned dead eyes were open and he could hear strangled guttural moans leaking from the slashed throat.  According to his enemies he was a fellow rich in the experience and practice of depravity.  While it held some truth as he’d sneeringly concede, this situation was well past even the most fevered imaginings of his rivals.  He’d just wished right now he’d been afflicted with maybe, oh a lesser sin, like buggering a priest or pissing in the Cardinal’s wine?  Though from the clerics he’d seen at court that was more like a brief catalogue of their lesser habits. 
Pulling back the useless dagger he was left with a problem.  How do you slay the dead?  The damned corpse’s hand was still fastened at his collar, that stab hadn’t diminished the grip in the least.  His only respite was that in its struggles the corpse tangled the winding sheet around its legs, other wise…He’d faced many opponents some had been too stubborn to know they were beaten and had required inventive crippling.  The usual strikes to neck, head or stomach were out, if that gaping wound across her throat hadn’t kept her safely dead neither would another. 
The Second hauler needed an alternate strategy, if she got her hands around his throat again…no the first time on the bed was enough warning.  He’d been unprepared, relaxed and sated from her love play, then the sudden attack.  His neck still ached from her all too strenuous attempts.  His confessor Father Wade no doubt would gabble on about seeking the Lord’s aid and go on about prayers, relics and the blessed sacraments.  Well he didn’t have any, nor did the gold cross around his throat hinder her efforts to throttle him.  All that was pretty moot anyway, his belief in the holy mother church had never been that great, much to the despair of his mother.  So short of spiritual succour he’d go for the more mundane usages of survival. 
A blocking move with the forearm he’d pick up from old Chandos managed to dislodged the hand from his neck and provided a moment to step back.  A usually quiet voice by his soul, his own fallen angel was still screaming to run.  Here he was facing some fiend possessed dead punk and his bowels felt loose enough to drench his hose in a stream of liquid turds.  But to be so terrified as to running like his worthless gibbering servant.  By Christ’s blood no, it was going to end here!
Having made his decision, the Second hauler took the offered time and tilted to the left bringing his right side forward in a combat stance.  He then dropped his dagger down into a lower guard position, as he weighted up his opponent.  The corpse had finally struggled free of the shroud and as if animated by like a mummer’s puppet straightened up and swung towards him.  The gaping slit in the throat still emitted wheezing rumbles.  Even in the limited moonlight the Second hauler could see her lips and jaw moving, whether it was speech or scream he couldn’t say.
As the figure lurched towards him the second hauler felt his stomach roil in a prelude to a gut emptying puke.  He clenched his teeth tight, he was the master of his body unlike this poor girl.  The moonlight spilled over her face and shoulders creating softened highlights and deep shadows in the darkness.  Her skin had lost that glowing warmth and sheen that once drew him to stroke the skin of her breasts, now it was as cold and starkly white as tomb marble.  He took another pace back and shook his head, this wasn’t his sweet bed companion of an hour ago, it was dead flesh animated by some dark power and she was trying to kill. 
Well dead or not he was a knight trained by the best teachers in the kingdom, veterans of the battles that had first put and then kept the King’s father Henry Tudor on the throne.  Whether they’d faced a horror like this was debatable.  But they’d all been unanimous in the fact that even the most skilled opponent had vulnerabilities all one had to do was live long enough to find them.  The Second hauler yielded one more pace as he watched the steady advance of the corpse, how she moved really was exactly like a puppet that strange disjointedness of her steps.  Then his patron saint shone upon him the light of knowledge and he gave hard toothed grin.  He knew what to do!
Moving to the attack he closed the distance rapidly and swung up his left arm in a shielding blow that knocked the corpse off balance.  As soon as those clawed hands had been deflected he lashed upward with the dagger.  Not aiming for any vital organ instead his thrust hit the cruck of her left elbow and the sharp blade easily sliced through the muscle and sinew.  The Second hauler spun half around as he stepped past his assailant, the corpse apparently disorientated by the assault slowly turned to face him.  He gave it a grim smile, his tactic had worked, after all what was a puppet without its strings and here the left arm flopped uselessly unstrung by his slash.  Yes at last he had a chance against the dead!  Even his fallen angel had to reluctantly agree he’d live past the night.  The next attack was a repeat of the first this time aimed at the corpse’s right arm, the gaping slash at the throat wheezed what could have been a scream as that limb flopped unstrung.  A few well placed kicks had the corpse back on the ground where quickly slit the leg sinews as if jointing a deer after the chase.  Then avoiding the gnashing teeth he trussed up the twitching and shuddering corpse as before, and tensioned the bindings of the sheet until the body looked more like a moth’s cocoon.  Satisfied with his work the Second hauler dragged the burden to the wharf of Westminster Stairs.
The fitful clouds once more blanketed the moon until in a final gesture of the night revealing the writhing shroud lying on the weather worn timbers of the wharf.  The Second hauler stood above the body and pulled off his cap.
“Yea’re dead Gwen and there’s an end of it.  As you know I’ve no time for fat priests and their prattling, so I’m not going to give you that hypocrisy of unfelt mumbles.  No doubt you were as wicked as any daughter of Eve, though I’d heard naught of any grievous sin.”  At this point his own fallen angel sweetly whispered his litany of faults, and reminded him that Gwen’s would have to be shorter.
“Ahem, so I commend your body to the river and your soul to the mercy of God’s judgement in the hope of resurrection.”  At that last reference to the Almighty the corpse moaned, and the second hauler felt a trickle of fear down his spine, quickly he finished his task and just in case whispered a prayer quietly.
Pater noster qui es in caelis
Sanctificetur Nomen tuum
Adveniat regnum tuum
Fiat voluntas tua
Sic ut in caelo et in terra
Panem nostrum quotidianum da noblis hodie
Then with little further ceremony he tumbled the bound body off the end of Westminster Stairs wharf.  It landed with a modest splash and after a lingering moment afloat slowly sank from view.
“Peace be with you Gwen, yea were a comely lass and damn me but you had a sweet voice and could hump like the very devil…”  The last comment trailed off into a reflective silence, as the Second hauler reconsidered the potential closeness of the description.
“Ahh… yea see I’ve no idea what demon or affliction caused this Gwen, but it was either you or me and honestly, I can’t be sorry it wasn’t me.”  An embarrassed cough halted his speech, possibly prompted by earlier memories of the night.  The Second hauler shook his head and having cleared his throat restarted.
“By what little faith I do have Gwen I swear on my hope of salvation, that if I can I settle your spirit…ah somehow.”  With that he unloosed the small gilt gold cross from round his neck and dropped it in the water after the body.  Giving his shoulders a shrug he turned and strode off towards the courtier’s chambers the dead dismissed and already considering the solving of his latest difficulty-blood drenched sheets and hangings.  As any wise in the ways of magicks and arcanum could have warned him depositing a personal item with the unquiet dead was a sure and certain prescription for trouble. 
The Thames flowed on untrammelled by the impromptu burial, dozens if not hundreds of beasts and children of Adam are consigned to its care every day.  Some discarded as offal, others claimed by tragedy, inconvenience or misfortune of chance.  The spirit of father Thames enfolds them all, occasionally a body is washed up on a muddy bank or sandbar as the tide recedes and given a more christian rest.  In all that it is exceedingly uncommon for the departed to pull themselves out of the water and claw their way along the shore and up the water stair.  If the Second hauler had seen any of that he wouldn’t have bothered with the trivial matter of cleaning up his blood splattered room.  The moonlit glint of metal clutched in the teeth of the corpse promised an ominous future.

Regards Greg Chapter 1 will go up next week

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sir Thomas More, an example for Indie Writers?

Greetings fellow Tudor aficionados and well regarded readers, please accept my apologies for the long absence, lots of writing and editing took up too large a proportion of my time.  I thought today I’d be terribly self indulgent and link my current plight with that of perhaps the most famous Tudor writer, Sir Thomas More.  This eminent scholar, politician and the author of Utopia and A Dialogue concerning Heresies to name but two of his works, was a witness and participant of the most dramatic years of the reign of Henry VIII.  His writings have helped form modern perceptions in such diverse areas as religious thought, political morality and even Shakespeare’s plays (particularly Richard III).  I have started to discuss my perceptions of Thomas More in an earlier blog article The Reality of the Written Word and Thomas More so I won’t go over that ground again.  
Instead I think we should discuss a few examples of Thomas More and his efforts to spread the word as it were for his writings.

Now for the few of you who may not know it, apart from talent, Thomas More the writer was gifted with advantages that the rest of us modern day scribblers really couldn’t imagine.   Except for that coterie of Romantic and Gothic era writers who tended to indulge in a touch too much laudanum…among other diverse pursuits.  More was an important figure at the Royal Court even before he became Lord Chancellor so a ‘suggestion’ to a prospective printer came with the sort of implied hints that only a fool or one keen on prison food would ignore.  Secondly his brother in law John Rastell was a printer at the ‘sygn of the mearemayd next to pollys gate’ so from around 1520- 1535 this provided More with a printer on tap.  Then there was a final advantage that any modern media baron would easily understand…money.  While Thomas More’s personal wealth couldn’t compete with that of his former lord Cardinal Wolsey, it was never the less pretty damned good for the Tudor period.  There was also a suggestion in some contemporary accounts that More had been the recipient of thousands of pounds from the English Church to act as a lobbyist and advisor.  Thus Thomas More had that most amazing of opportunities for any writer, he could easily fund the printing and distribution of as many of his books as he wanted.  He had the contacts, the influence, the network, the prestige and the envious ability even now to write at a prodigious speed. So with all these advantages I have to ask one question.
Why did Thomas More forge his own book reviews? 
The advent of movable type via Gutenberg had a dramatic impact, it was the Information Revolution of the Renaissance and very much like the Internet was for us, speeding up discussion on just about very aspect of society.  Especially religion, quite a few historians have put forward that Martin Luther’s assault upon the Catholic Church may not have had as much of an impact if his declaration hadn’t instantly been rushed into print.  It is these very heretical complaints of Luther’s that had More extremely steamed up.  In 1520-21 he’d recently finished helping his Sovereign  Henry VIII compose his Assertio or the Assertion of the Seven Sacraments for which the Pope granted him the title of Defender of the Faith.  Ironically a title still held by the British monarchs.  Well just like a modern chat room flame war this prompted responses backwards and forwards until 1522-23.   More then decided on a counter blast to knock the ‘shitty befouled heretic’ for a six by publishing his Responsio ad Lutherum or the Response against Luther.  It was indeed, ‘ahem’ an astounding piece of work.  At a time which held a certain minimal level of literary decorum this little tome hit new lows giving us some lovely phrases of abuse, invective and insult. 
 For instance a quoted extract in Marius’ biography on More.
“will we not have the posterior right to proclaim the beshitted tongue of this practitioner of posterioristics most fit to lick with his anterior the very posterior of a pissing she mule.”  And that’s the polite part, for the rest he pulls out all the usual Renaissance writing ploys like exaggeration, classical allusions, fantastic legends, outright lies and occasionally when nothing else can be found …the truth.

So after going on in this vain for thousands of words More apparently decided to publish this under the name William Rosse.  Okay that’s fair enough there are hundreds of instances of pen names through out history, however More appears to have been unsatisfied with this simple nom de plume.  He decided to take this a few steps further and also added a number of fictitious reviews from apparently eminent scholars such as Hermann of Prague, John Carcelius and Ferdinand Baravellus.  Now this does sound familiar a very contemporary practice inventing reviews to boosts sales.  More though didn’t stop there, each of his imaginary reviewers then egged each other on plus backing up William Rosse in his ‘need’ to defend his slandered monarch.  Apparently More himself urged his friends to defend the right worthy Master Rosse even asking Erasmus to lend his pen to the cause.  The humanist scholar sensibly sidestepped simply remarking that Luther could learn the use of invective from Master Rosse.
As for impact it certainly was a memorable work in the literary and religious circles of Europe, though it certainly didn’t have the effect More intended.  Those heretical mischief makers increased in number and popularity thus Sir Thomas was soon forced to resort to more physical methods of dissuasion like in imprisonment and torture.  But the question remains, why did the most respected and influential humanist writer in England ghost his book and go to such lengths to fake his reviews?  Was it political, perhaps a touch of shame or did he really believe any tactic was worth the result?  Since the Catholic Church has put its imprimatur on his writings and life as well as making him the patron saint of politicians, I have to ask is this really a worthy example for writers to follow?  Do we not see too much plagiarism and faked reviews?   Where should Indie writers who desperately need an edge in promotion look to for inspiration?

I would suggest others would be more worthy, especially our readers.
Now Indie writers have many advantages, such as enthusiasm, they are able to pursue their projects with passion and verve often devoting long hours to research and finely crafting their pieces.  They also thrive on the most minuscule rewards, compliments and praise.  Always striving to directly connect with their audience and give the reader the personal link that is so frequently impossible in the commercial world.
However all that being said, they/we/I also continually labour under a number of ominously heavy burdens.  Being an Indie means you lack fully developed commercial networks, influence and resources unlike Sir Thomas More.  Covers the eye candy and blazon of your work are essentially whatever you can afford, which in my very fortunate case is my talented son Alexander.  For editing the bane and bugbear of many I have my extremely experienced partner Jocelyn, who squeezes her reviewing in between all the other tasks expected of a parent.  As for publicity, well this is it, blogs, Face book, forums and mostly the kindness of strangers.  Thus it is too these kindly passers-by that I frame this request.  The vast majority of Indies are not Thomas Mores, we cannot plug in unbelievable sums into publicity nor do we fabricate wonderfully glowing reviews (though it may get tempting).  Instead we ask our readers to pause, even for a minute or two and let someone else know what interested you about this indie book, did it amuse, enthral, satisfy or make you curious.  If it did even in the slightest, how about leaving your thoughts as a review so some other passer by can experience the same pleasure of discovery.  Go on take a minute, you can spare it and you’ll feel so much better afterwards.
Coming soon to Amazon Kindle The Cardinals Angels
Regards Greg

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Famine of Horses A Review

Greeting my friends and Houselings having started this theme of book reviews I thought we’d look at a spread of contemporary writers who have produced some good pieces of fiction and non-fiction in the Tudor Period.  Today it is the turn of PF Chisholm, whom for those of you who don’t already know is Patricia Finney and to be blunt she is an excellent writer of historical fiction.  Without being reduced to base grovelling and sycophancy, it is one of my aspirations that eventually my Red Ned Tuor Mysteries will be favourabley compared with her excellent Cary series.  So as you see I've got a pretty high target to aim for.

A Famine of Horses:  A Sir Robert Carey Mystery (Sir Robert Carey, #1)A Famine of Horses: A Sir Robert Carey Mystery by P.F. Chisholm

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is now Oh Gods some fifteen years since I first came across the first of PF Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey novels set in the politically complex Tudor England of the 1590s’. Queen Elizabeth’s fleet has beaten back the famed Armada and that threat at least for time has diminished and the kingdom basks in relative peace. However the northern border with Scotland it is not so quiet. Murder, cattle reiving and tower burning are all too common occurrences. So one more dead body found in the Debatable Lands shouldn’t make that much difference, except when it’s a Graham, and the head of that surname has a nasty reputation for vengeance. In to this cauldron of trouble steps Sir Robert Carey newly appointed Deputy Warden of the Western Marches. What Sergeant Dodd of the Carlisle garrison thinks of his new commander probably shouldn’t be put in print, but between them Cary and Dodd they have to solve two mysteries the ill timed murder of a Graham and the sudden ‘Famine of Horses of the title’. Alright that hasn’t given away anything that isn’t apparent from a quick view of the back cover blurb. As to the quality of the story, in short it is superb. PF Chisholm has a fine grasp of the character’s traits, they are all so very human and compelling. Sergeant Dodd for one is the epitome of the dour northern with a wry sense of humour and an intelligence that shouldn’t be underrated. As for Cary he comes with a very interesting history, he has to head north to escape his London creditors and recoup the fortune he doesn’t have. I’m not give much away in saying that his father Lord Hunsdon is the son of Mary Boleyn and that it is said he bore an uncanny resemblance to Henry VIII. That hint alone should wet your interest. The difficulties and scrapes Robert Carey gets into and his ahh unique ‘solutions’ very much carry the tale along to its not quite expected conclusion. In it all PF Chisholm has worked very hard to recreate the Borders region of the 1590’s as a living breathing culture alive with plots, mischief and mayhem. She hasn’t stretched facts or come up with wildly improbable story lines like some period writers. Instead this is honestly engaging with a very dry sense of humour. Most of all it’s a damned enjoyable romp for anyone who likes historical fiction. And yes it is worth every one of the five stars I gave it!

Regards Greg

The Liberties of London

The Queen's Oranges

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Drink fit for a Queen

Greeting to all my friends, fellow Tudor devotees and Houselings I hope you are all well at this time of Autumnal and down here Vernal Equinox, just remember at either end of the world it is day to celebrate and thus on that theme...
Drinking!  We all at least in the developed world take water pretty much for granted and when thirsty turn on the tap and grab a glass of pure (except for various chemical additives) water is very much the source of life, while you can go with out food for days or weeks four days without water and…
In the Tudor period for Red Ned Bedwell when he was thirsty after a heavy session at the gaming tables he didn’t ask for a refreshing tankard of water, no it was somewhat different.  Ned like almost anyone in Tudor England wet their whistle with small ale.  My God only the most poverty stricken, the insane or those tired of life drank pure water!

Especially in London, despite the constant argument on how clean the city was at this period, eyewitness accounts tend to err on the more foul than fair quality of the streets.  The stench and putrid condition of the Fleete Ditch came in for special mention in period complaints and reports.  As it was the Thames was the repository of all the foul scourings from the streets and the butcher's shambles after a good rain.  Thus a cup of Thames water was almost certainly a rather painful suicide from the dreaded bloody flux.  Now unlike a number of historians I strongly believe our ancestors weren't stupid they knew this, even if learned doctors of medicine waffled on about humours and miasmas.  They had (and to be honest it was probably a woman in one of the early Middle Eastern settlements) discovered that the act of brewing both purified the water and created a rather tasty and nourishing drink.  This was the common or small ale which unlike our modern beers had a lower alcohol content as well as a high proportion of protein, vitamins and minerals.  A quick perusal of the records of the Buttery of Hampton Court around 1540 shows that each servant was entitled to six pints of small beer per day with meat dishes and four pints on fish days.  It was consumed pretty much like we more decadent moderns guzzle energy and soft drinks, though it is possible that well made English small beer of the period did you less harm than our contemporary tipples.  When Tudors wanted to celebration a more potent brew with a higher alcohol content, sometimes called a double was passed around, according to some accounts this was also aged longer than small ale sometimes for up to one or two years. 

“The general drink is ale, which is prepared from barley and is excellent well tasted, but strong and intoxicating.”  According to Paul Hentzner a visitor from Brandenburg in the 1580’s
Recently a good friend of mine Wayne the Leatherworking Reverend has embarked on a very tasty series of reconstruction archaeology experiments based on the recipes from The Closet of Sir Kenholm Digby, Knight Unlocked.  He has been endeavouring to brew Tudor and Stuart period ales using full mash techniques appropriate to the period. Of course less the weevils and possibly some extra modern sanitation.  His results have been impressive and recently I’ve had the chance to try one a Hydromel as served to the Queen so this is it;

Take 9 litres of water, 0.5l of honey, half a ginger root, two cloves, small bit of fresh rosemary, splash of English ale yeast left over from the Cock Ale (I cheated instead using a dry ale yeast).
This only took about an hour to make, first simmer the honey, but don't boil it or you'll drive off the lovely aromatics.  Ferment in a sterilised brewing chamber as per a mead and bottle at the end of the fermentation process depending on the Specific Gravity reading maybe a week or so.  Personally I tend to go by taste and aroma as well as keeping a good eye on the rate of bubbles in the airlock.  Also remember this is a low alcohol version then 5 weeks in the bottle.

According to Wayne ‘It tastes like a honey-sweetened ginger beer’.
Here is the section it was based on from Digby

Take 18 quarts of spring-water, and one quart of honey; when the water is warm, put the honey into it.  When it boileth up, skim it very well, and continue skimming it, as long as any scum will rise.  Then put in one Race of Ginger (sliced in thin slices,) four Cloves, and a little sprig of green Rosemary.  Let these boil in the Liquor so long, till in all it have boiled one hour.  Then set it to cool, till it be blood-warm; and then put to it a spoonful of Ale-yest.  When it is worked up, put it into a vessel of a it size; and after two or three days, bottle it up.  You may drink it after six weeks, or two moneths.

Thus was the Hydromel made that I gave the Queen, which was exceedingly liked by everybody.
[The Closet of Sir Kenholm Digby, Knight Unlocked (1644), p36 in the 1669 edition]
The above link is to the whole downloadable book on Project Gutenberg.

After all that lets hope it doesn’t end up like this Tudor version
“Healthy but sickening to the taste.  It is cloudy like horse urine and has husks on top  Perhaps they used Thames water like some pilloried London brewers?

So in several weeks I’ll let you know how it turned out.
Regards Greg

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tudor Novels- Dissolution CJ Sansom

More Tudor Fiction

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers.  First before we start this instalment of Red Ned’s Tudor blog I would like you to take a moment to think of your friends and neighbours who may be experiencing problems or difficulties, I mean have you actually asked them if they are okay?  Or like so many of us are you isolated by family stress, work or illness and now I think about it are you okay? 

Anyway here’s a little entertainment to brighten your day.  It has been too long since we looked at the state of Tudor fiction, for that I plead the pressures of writing and the long long struggle to get The Cardinal’s Angels ready for publishing.  While the plan was to release it first in ahh… February, ahh (cough, cough, embarrassed mutter) life and other trivial irrelevances got seriously in the way.  So while in theory the third Red Ned novel is soon to be available in Amazon Kindle I won’t stick my neck out and promise next week.  In the meantime back to the exotic, lively and treacherous world of Tudor Fiction. 
The book I’d like to review today is CJ Sansom’s first Tudor novel Dissolution, I must state here publically that while Red Ned Bedwell and Mathew Shardlake are both lawyers in Henry VIII’s London, there the similarity ends.  His work did not serve as an inspiration for Red Ned, nor is Ned an attempt to ‘cash in’ on someone else’s well deserved praise.  Though considering the excellent quality of Sansom’s series it is definitely a target for me as a writer to aim for.  So firstly, a thank you to those of you who’ve flatteringly compared me to Sansom, it is an accolade I will endeavour to fulfil.

Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1)Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very sound first novel

I must admit to coming to Sansom’s historical mystery stories only very recently, although I had been aware of the series for a couple of years. Since at the time I was writing my own collection set during the reign of Henry VIII and while my main character like Sansom’s Shardlake is a lawyer in London, Ned is but a lowly apprentice. So rather than be accused of plagiarism I stuck well clear until I’d finished my first quintal of stories. In fact I finally read my first Shardlake novel over Christmas- Dissolution. Put off by the publicity write up and a little wary of the use of a hunchback hero in Tudor times, I hesitated then daring all I took the plunge and dove in. On the whole I’m glad it did, though it is true that at the conclusion I found that I had to  seriously think about my reaction to the story. As a first novel it was a little rough around the edges with a few flaws in the characters, plot and historical interpretation which I personally found annoying and distracting. But I am admittedly a tad picky. Now for the positive, the overall quality was reasonable, interesting plot, a good attempt at fitting the characters to a ‘living time period’ good quality research for the story background, credible characters and a decent and engaging storyline. I feel that I can recommend it to anyone with a taste for historical fiction. I’d certainly recommend continuing through the series, his later work picks up dramatically in quality and suspense, stunningly so! As the budget allows I will be buying all of the Shardlake series.

Dissolution Amazon Kindle UK

Dissolution Amazon Kindle US

Regards Gregory House

The Liberties of London

The Queen's Oranges

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Queen's Oranges Released!

The Queen's Oranges (Red Ned Tudor Mysteries)The Queen's Oranges by Gregory House

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now as the author I could gush wonderfully about this, saying the novel was the equal of Patricia Finney’s Firedrakes Eye or a better view of the Tudor turmoil than Phillipa Gregory or even a tour de force like CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series. I won’t. That is for you, the reader, to make your own judgement. All I can give you are the opinions of my beta readers. They’ve said it is a great piece of period mystery, blending a hefty splash of humour with the politics and machinations of Tudor England and so forth.

Since I don’t pay them, they aren’t relatives and they’ve all expressed an eager willingness to vet my future stories, then just maybe it could be…true? So why don’t you cruise on by download a sample and see what you think.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the release on Amazon Kindle of my first full length novel The Queen’s Oranges. Red Ned Bedwell Apprentice lawyer and aspiring rogue having recovered from his ordeals in The Liberties of London and several other difficult tasks from his lords and masters, is once more plunged into the labyrinthine complexities of Tudor politics. This story involves an unnatural double murder, smuggling and the strange hint of a devious plot circling the King’s annulment. For Ned life would be so much easier if he also didn’t have to rescue Meg Black from the suspicion of heresy or find a vanished royal official. Oh yes and of course there are always these damned oranges!


Amazon US/Australia

Amazon UK

Regards Greg

The Queen's Oranges

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Queen’s Oranges- A Cover! A story in Itself!

Good day to my growing legion of devoted readers.  First off, before we start this instalment of Red Ned’s Tudor blog, I would once more like you to take a moment to continue to think of those around the world undergoing threat or privation.  Disasters happen, and then all too soon our attention is drawn away by some other media event.  However the effects of the Japanese Tsunami and the continuing spread of nuclear radiation contamination doesn’t vanish when you change channels.  I ask you that if it is possible please donate or support a local/international charity of your choice.


Now on to the latest Red Ned news!  The Liberties of London novella is now almost across the complete internet spectrum firstly here at Smashwords, then secondly via their affiliate program through Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Diesel so far.  According to their updates, Kobo and Android will soon follow, with Sony, and Apple lagging a tad.  Right now you can acquire this (‘ahem’ to quote Lady Dellingham) magnificent piece of Tudor period fiction for the trifling amount of 99c!  In the meantime it is definitely available on Amazon Kindle at this link.  For those of you who have continued to ask for a hard copy, sorry, I fear that will still have to be much, much later this year.  But thank you for your interest.

Now on to the second book in the Red Ned Series—The Queen’s Oranges.  Within the next few days it will be live on Amazon and I will attach the link to this blog page.  In the meantime I thought we’d look at the cover art process for this novel.  In keeping with the theme of the last book, The Liberties of London, we have used a composition of the story elements.  I believe this is much better than the headless bimbo theme currently in vogue for almost every piece of historical fiction.  A wonderful article on that theme can be found here or my satirical version on Prognostications and Pouting.  As inspiration we’ve looked towards the wonderful early Dutch still life paintings of the mid 16th to 17th century.  As you can see in Claesz’s Still Life with Overturned Jug, Glass of Beer, and Food, an oil on canvas painted in 1635,it is fantastically full of life and colour. 
 Now after all that lofty discussion and inspiration we return the humdrum of real life. It came time for us to get the work done.  As Indies we have only our own resources to draw upon.  Though rich in talent and in theory, wealthy in experience, we have only the most basic tools available for graphics.  Thus improvisation is … well for us it is everything as you shall soon read.

Plan the First
Alex was to colour his excellent pen and ink sketch in Photoshop via the wonderful graphics tablet his loving parents had scrimped and saved for.  Well two weeks into this process and next to nothing had happened.  Alex, it seemed, had vastly overestimated his skills in Photoshop illustration, and fearing the undoubted wrath of his enraged parents, (here read me), had stayed silently reticent on his progress (read here very, very little).  The final editing was in its last flurry and we were almost ready to put it all together and…we had nothing, no maps, no cover and only the pen and ink sketch.  At this stage you can understand my hair pulling which achieved new levels of exasperation as soon as I discovered that Alex had also packed his not–so–well laptop so full of…ahh teenage stuff that only the odd miniscule kilobyte had room to squeeze through and run the poor thing.

A peremptory instruction finally had Alex grumblingly burn all his …ahh stuff onto a box full of discs.  Apparently he’d been under the impression that the magic backup fairy in size seven and a half boots (again once more you should read me here) was going to wave his wand and it would all be solved.  Not this time! 
All that took yet another day. Then four hours later the battery on Alex’s laptop, having staggered gamely along seriously depleted, promptly keeled over.  For its effort we awarded it a posthumous VC for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.
So after all this we were still up that infamous creek with only the very beginnings of a sketch of a paddle.  The editing had been finished but we lacked the essentials for an ebook, i.e. cover and maps.  At this stage Lady Fortuna cast us her smile Alex’s way, and a spare mint condition netbook with all the required programs was offered for use.  Well actually it was given to Alex to use by the school and it was dragooned immediately into service.  At last we had a graphics program, now for the maps et al.

Plan the Second
Initially Alex being a teenager wanted to use Google maps and then snapshot, filter, overlay, highlight, colourize and…well I’m sure you get the drift.  His ‘client’ felt this would result in another very long exercise where much play and fiddling on the netbook programs could ensure little actual progress.  The ‘client’ then made an executive decision and curtly instructed the following ‘get a pencil and a pad and draw the damned thing off the screen!  That process took less than an hour, and within two days after a ‘little’ further supervision and checking, we had scanned the excellent inked final versions ready for use. 

Now for the vexing problem of the cover.  Meg had offered to colourise the pen and ink and for a little while this was tempting.  She does have outstanding skill with colour as you can see in this example.  However we were still stumped for a cover.  Then as inspiration does, it struck in the strangest of circumstances.  At three in the morning I suddenly woke up with a Eureka moment.  Photograph an arranged still life and then Photoshop it.  Yes it could work!  I explained my idea to my dearest Uber editor, who to my chagrin was firstly already awake, and secondly had sketched out the idea on the back of an envelope about ten minutes earlier.

Plan the Third
A photographic studio was not at hand, so once more it was time to improvise.  The laundry (a rather small room on the eastern side of the house) was the least cluttered and had the whitest walls for light reflection.  So this was cleared and my Turkish carpet was tapped to the wall and draped over the freezer to provide a setting similar to that in Holbein’s Ambassadors.  Then a quick search of our re enactment gear pulled up a turned ash bowl, a Tudor period style pewter tankard and my twist pattern long dagger.  All this was artfully arranged as I said earlier to match the style of an early Dutch still life.  Easy, just go mad with the camera at variety of angles and light levels, a piece of cake!
Well no it wasn’t quite.  All this activity and moving carpets around had naturally attracted the interest and attention of our cats, who it transpired all wanted to help and none were so keen or so ‘helpful’ as my muse Myrtle.  Every couple of shots we had to pause and lift off cats, rescue other cats from knocked off daggers, stop them from climbing up their new vertical play gym (my carpet) and so on. 

In the end we had some hundred shots to pick from, and on the advice of my Uber editor two were selected for treatment via basic effects on Photoshop. 
As with every stage of this ‘simple’ project we ran into another snag.  The font we’d used for title upon the cover for The Liberties of London was perfect for this.  However it was currently locked away in Alex’s hors d’ combat laptop.  Now did desperation take hold and Alex was ‘requested’ to search through whatever options were available to him as to text styles.  The result was four choices.  One was discarded pretty quickly as way too modern while the other three scrutinised for both period character and also importantly legibility.  After a quick post around to a few of our beta readers one stood out as the most favoured and the winner is…

All that process is for now concluded, but we feel that the still life theme is worth continuing, so we will field some preliminary ideas for our up coming novels The Trade of the Thames and The King’s Counsel both to be released towards Fall.

In the meantime, as a shameless self publicist, check out my Tudor frolic The Liberties of London.  Download a sample.  If you like it splurge that 99c and help support ‘indie’ authors so that we, the crafters and wordsmiths, can directly supply you the reader with the best fiction possible as soon as possible.
Regards Greg and in conclusion the shot we had to put in!

Still life with Myrtle