Friday 25 March 2016

A crash course in the early Plantagenets

I'm currently reading the excellent The Plantagenets: Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, by Dan Jones, mostly because I wanted to know more about Henry II and his heirs.  It's a book I would most definitely recommend but it's very long and involved, so, for those with less reading time, I would like to provide this crash course in the early history of this most fascinating of royal houses.

Henry II ~ my favourite Plantagenet

Henry I was the grandson of William The Conqueror, though at the time he was just called Henry, not Henry I, because no one knew there would be seven more.  

Henry's only surviving child was his daughter, Matilda, who he made his heir.  Henry made her marry Geoffrey of Anjou, in France.  Geoff was a stylish chap who wore a little yellow flower in his hat, the Latin name of which was planta genista, hence the name Plantagenet.  Cool, right?!  

This marriage reinforced England's control over France.  Matilda, however, wasn't too keen because she was twenty-nine and Geoff was only fifteen.  A little on the gross side, I am sure you agree.

Geoff, of yellow flower in hat fame

Enter stage left Matilda's cousin, Stephen, who thought he ought to be King, so they had a lot of battles until Matilda and Geoff threw the towel in and went back to France.  Geoff died, but they had a son called Henry II who was brave, intelligent and wise, even going into battle to support his father when he was just thirteen, ie, the sort of fellow you want to be in charge of a country or two.

(Also, it makes you think: if they'd let Arya in Game of Thrones and Judith in The Walking Dead fight in more battles instead of saying "y'all stay home, you're too young", they might have won more battles too.")

Later on Henry II zipped back over to England and made friends with Stephen, who agreed Henry could be king after him.  Stephen was pretty old by then.

King Stephen ~ an intelligent man with a dark side. 

Once Henry was king he married Eleanor of Aquitaine, a feisty wench previously married to Louis VII of France - he'd turned out to be a bit of a drip.  This was a good move by Henry because it guaranteed him control over loads of bits of France.

Henry carried on being a top bloke, and pulled lots of clever and diplomatic moves all over England and France, with lords and nobles and castles and laws, etc.

Feisty wench Eleanor of Aquitaine, who would ride about the country disguised as a chap

King Henry II was big buddies with Thomas Beckett who he made Archbishop of Canterbury, but it was one of those toxic friendships.  Thomas had lots of issues, including some way tedious self-esteem problems, so he made a lot of trouble for King Henry.  

One night at court, Henry was ranting about his high-maintenance chum, and a few of his soldiers mistakenly thought he meant them to kill him.  He didn't, but they did anyway.  Then everyone thought King Henry had ordered it, so a lot of people were angry because having the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered was a bit off.

Thomas Beckett: a psychotherapist's dream client
....and here he is being murdered.  You'd have thought he'd hear three of them that close behind him.


King Henry and Eleanor had four sons:
  • Henry The Young King (henceforth to be known as Henry TYK)
  • Richard (soon to be The Lionheart)
  • Geoffrey (a two-faced snake)
  • John (later of Magna Carta fame).

Henry The Young King
~ the face that inspired a thousand doubts

Henry TYK was posturing and vain, and considered by most to be whiny and childishly impulsive.  Kind of the Prince Harry of his day.  At this time there were lots of arguments about bits of land in England and France and who owned what territory.  Then King Henry started giving bits of France to his daughters for dowrys, and Henry TYK, Richard and Geoffrey got pissed off about it - and so did their mother Eleanor.  She was possessive about Aquitaine, probably because it was part of her name.

Eleanor and the three boys teamed up with Eleanor's ex, Louis VII (who had never forgiven Henry for copping off with Eleanor), and started having battles against King Henry.  Peace was restored but King Henry put Eleanor under palace arrest for the rest of her days.  This is like being under house arrest but much better because you get servants.

Richard The Lionheart
~ much sexier than Henry The Young King, as you can see

King Henry tried to make Richard and Geoffrey kneel to Henry TYK as his heir, but Richard wouldn't because he was an awesome soldier (if a tad obsessed with a guy called Saladin) and Henry TYK was of use to neither man nor beast.  Then Henry TYK chucked all his toys out of his pram and tried to rebel, but got dysentery and died, and everyone secretly said, "thank Christ for that".

Next: Richard is made King but plunders England's wealth on his quest for personal glory en CrusadeI feel really sorry for Henry II.  That such a sound chap got such a rubbish family is most tragic.

And that's as far as I've got.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Self-publishing workshops in Huntingdon/Cambs area

Calling all new writers in the Cambridge/Huntingdon/Peterborough/Beds/Northants area, who are interested in self-publishing but don't know how to go about it!

I'm delighted to introduce Mary Matthews, also known as author Georgia Rose, who has produced three highly acclaimed self-published books, all of which are presented to a professional standard in both ebook and paperback.   She has lots of experience in administration and customer service and has now started a company, Three Shires Publishing, to help other writers attain their goalsI'll hand over to Mary so she can tell you all about it:

"There are three stages in getting your book into the hands of a reader ~ writing, publishing and marketing. The writing and marketing are by far the hardest, and the areas where money should be spent ~ but the actual physical act of publishing your book is something you can do yourself.  I've put together a workshop to teach writers the practical steps needed to do this, and save some money in the process."

"Since publishing my own books I have had many conversations with people who have already written books which are languishing on hard drives or who are keen to write something but lack the knowledge to know what to do next. My workshops can help with this.

There are other self-publishing workshops out there but mine differ in that they are not online but face-to-face. I do realise that I’m therefore not going to be conquering the world of self-publishing with this innovation but that’s not what I’m about. I like the personal approach and being able to help people on an individual basis."

Self-Publishing Workshops

Are you writing or thinking of writing a book? Do you already have one gathering dust because you don’t know what to do with it?

Or maybe you just want to find out if self-publishing is the route you want to take towards publication?

Find out more in our How to Self-Publish Workshop

Fiction, non-fiction, biography or memoir – we cover it all.

We provide workshops and one-to-one support to help you through the self-publishing process.

The workshop will cover:

  • ·       what you need to prepare before you publish
  • ·       publishing your e-book
  • ·       how to produce a paperback
  • ·       the first steps in marketing

Our workshops will give you a valuable insight into the self-publishing world, guidance on how to proceed, as well as hints and tips along the way.

This is the How to Self-Publish Workshop and there will be another one coming soon on How to Sell Your Book, a guide to marketing.

If you are interested in finding out more, please take a look at the website, sign up to the newsletter if you want to keep up to date with news or feel free to email me.

Twitter:- @TSPublishing

Satisfied customers at the last Three Shires Workshop

Monday 14 March 2016

BEST SELLER ~ it's live!

My new novella, BEST SELLER is now available on Amazon (click title for link).  It's 40k words long, a quirky little tale about three writers trying to succeed in the modern publishing industry ~ by fair means or foul....  

Best Seller is only 99p/99c, and is also available on Kindle Unlimited.  Enjoy!

13 Reviews in the first 13 days:

"It’s a terrific plot which is immediately engaging, the writing accomplished and expressive. The author has a flair for defining complex characters realistically with believable dialogue and qualities"

 "Terry Tyler has an exquisite talent for creating fully rounded characters 
who leap off the page and become a part of your life."

"...a tale of three writers whose lives are woven together 
in a full and engaging plot that throws up surprises 
right to the end."

 "One of the most outstanding features of any of Terry Tyler’s books is her ability to create rounded characters that come alive the first time they open their mouths"

"...overall, this book is absolutely brilliant. 
If you have any interest in authors, writing and books
this book is for you!"

"With fascinating insights into the world of contemporary publishing, 
the novella is hugely entertaining but it has a darker side too 
and poses some serious moral dilemmas"

"This book should also be required reading for all those 
who think they have a story in them. 
It is a masterclass in the ups and downs of writing in the hope of publication."

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.  

Eden Taylor has made it—big time. A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she's outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.   

Becky Hunter has money problems. Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex's extravagant spending habits, before their rocky world collapses? 

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life. She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print... 

In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get to the top.   

BEST SELLER is a novella of 40k words (roughly half as long as an average length novel), a slightly dark, slightly edgy drama with a twist or three in the tale.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Did I really write THAT?

Like any artists, writers should improve as they go on, yes?  If we're not constantly learning from those we admire, reading the work of the most brilliant in our field, keeping an open mind about our weaknesses and going over and over our work before we publish to wheedle out the crap bits, then we're doing something wrong.  That's right, isn't it?

But isn't it demoralising when you read something you wrote (and published) a few years back, something you thought was as good as you could make it, and see that it needs some serious attention?  Have you ever done that?

You know that (excellent) advice about putting your manuscript away for a month before you start the redrafts ~ I sometimes wonder if it ought to be two years rather than a month.  When I read the first novels I wrote, over twenty years ago, I cringe, badly, at some bits.  That's okay, they were my first attempts and if I couldn't see their faults I might as well pack it all in and do the housework; happily, I didn't bother to submit them to agents because I suspected they were not good enough, even at the time.  But in the last couple of weeks I've re-read two of my earlier published novels, and did that 'ouch' thing again.  Nobody's Fault, which I wrote in 2011, needs a good edit, I think.  Far too many exclamation marks in dialogue, sentences not succinct enough, long passages that need splitting into paragraphs, a feasibility issue - and that's something I yell about in other books!

I also read What It Takes written in 2013, which is better, but not better enough.  Both books have some very good reviews (after all, there is nobody more critical that the creator of any piece of art), but, now that I review books on a regular basis for Rosie Amber's Review Team, I can see that I would have given Nobody's Fault only 3.5* ~ fairly enjoyable, fairly well written, but needs some work ~ and What It Takes just 4* ~ good, but not memorable.  

(Note Mar 5 ~ it's only 99p for the next few days, if you want to see if you agree with me or the reviewers!!  HERE)

When I read my later books (Kings and Queens, Last Child, Round and Round and The House of York ~ they're all HERE) I feel proud of them ~ I wonder if I'll cringe at parts of them in a few years' time, too?   And perhaps I shouldn't say that I'm critical of my earlier stuff ~ but in these days of so many writers using gushing superlatives from reviews to advertise their work (and I am guilty of that, too), maybe a bit of honesty doesn't go amiss.

I still like Dream On and Full Circle, with only a few reservations, although those were written in 2012.  They're my 'lightest' books and quite a few people name them as their favourites of mine; it's a matter of taste, too, isn't it?  I was reading through the almost-final proof of my yet-to-be-published novella, Best Seller, last week when my sister was here, and read out to her a sentence I thought should have been phrased differently, with my suggested amendment.  She said she couldn't see the difference.

Maybe it's just that all writers have their best novels and their not-so-good ones, as even your favourite band will have the odd album you don't like.  I love Aerosmith but am not so keen on Draw The Line and Rock In A Hard Place.  One of my favourite writers is Douglas Kennedy; The Job, The Pursuit of Happiness and The Big Picture would probably feature in my all time top 100 books.  I also loved Temptation, The Moment and The Dead Heat, but thought Leaving the World and State of the Union dragged on and on; I skip read and might have not even finished.  

Maybe that's all it is, and I shouldn't worry too much.

Some writers never read their own books, as some actors never watch themselves on television.  In reviews, I criticise books for the same mistakes I have made myself ~ which is why, whenever I write advice for debut novelist type posts, I always make clear that I am talking from experience.  I recognise some of those flaws only too well.

In 1990 I discovered the novels of Susan Howatch.  I read what I consider to be her five best ones (The Rich are Different, Sins of the Fathers, Cashelmara, Penmarric and The Wheel of Fortune), but when I tried a couple of novellas she'd written before them, I wasn't so taken with them.  Perhaps if even maestros such as Ms Howatch have work that's less than compelling, it's okay for me to go 'ouch' at my older works, too, and I should stop giving myself a hard time.  That, or re-edit the ones I'm not so keen on.  That would be the best thing to do, I suppose ~ but I'd rather spend the time writing the new.  On the other hand, if someone reads one of the not-so-good ones first, they might well abandon and never try another one by me.  Maybe that's just the way the cookie crumbles, one man's meat, and all that (and yes, I always give cliches a wide berth :).

Do you cringe when you read your old stuff, too?