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A Choice

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Welcome to my guest blogger this month, Lisa J Yarde, historical novelist, speaker and blogger. This is the third in a series of blogs about what it must have been like to live in Moorish Spain. This time we learn about the life of a Christian slave who decided to change his religion and become a Muslim government minister. Well researched by Lisa for one of her historical novels and filled out by her fertile imagination it gives us an idea of why so many Christians in Moorish Spain changed their religion. A Choice by Ridwan ibn Bannigash The Life of a Christian Slave Turned Moorish Minister in 15 th Century Spain My name is Ridwan ibn Bannigash and I have been chief minister to two Sultans ...
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What do you do when you believe you have lost everything?

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My latest novel, Love Is All is at last available for purchase on Kindle. Those of you who prefer the comforting feel of a paperback will have to wait another month, sadly. I don't know why I'm so easily seduced by what the 'experts' tell me, but I often am. Love Is All was ready months ago, proof read, cover designed, edited and ready to go, but then I decided to put it up for pre-order instead of selling it immediately. The reason given by the 'experts' is that when you have hundreds of pre-orders and they all hit the for sale button at the same time, it does wonderful things for your ranking on Amazon. And a high ranking means more sales. Great theory, or so I thought. And it probably wor...
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The Many Marvels of Medicine in 10th Century Islamic Spain

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In the second of my blogs about what it was like to be living in al-Andalus, I have invited the author John D Cressler to participate with a blog about a famous surgeon, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi. In a time before the National Health Service and Medicare, if you became ill life could be pretty tough, but as you will see, not in medieval Islamic Spain.  A portrait of Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi in action What comes to mind when you think of the practice of medicine in early medieval Europe, say during the late 10 th century? You know, those dastardly Dark Ages! Leeches? Letting blood? Maggots run wild? Gruesome amputations using a dull, rusty blade? Biting a bullet for anesthesia? The smell of gang...
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Free and Simple


I'll put it simple. Look for Me Under the Rainbow   FREE DOWNLOAD ! Saturday, June 30, 2018, 12:00 AM PDT to Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 11:59 PM PDT I won't say it for certain, but this is probably the last free promo in a while of my story of Danny, a curious harp seal pup with soft white fur and black innocent eyes, and Helen, an environmentalist and member of a young activist crew of the Rainbow Warriors, whose mission is to save animals. This is why I give you four days to  download my e-book . Happy reading! In the brief moment he surfaced, he thought he heard a familiar sound. Rumbling, buzzing, splashing. Dragged under too soon, he could not figure it out. But he had managed to breathe in...
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Her home background inspired a love of history: meet Lisa Yarde

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Good morning Lisa, thank you for talking to us today. ​ Thanks so much for inviting me as a guest. I admire you very much. First of all, would you like to tell us when and why you decided to become a writer. As a friend of mine reminded me some years ago, I started writing short stories back in junior high school, but it was not until 2005 when I joined my first critique group, that writing became a passion. It would be another six years before I decided to publish the novel I worked on with the group, the first of a six-part series set in Moorish Spain. I know you like writing historical fiction but what attracted you to that genre in particular? I was born in Barbados, so grew up surrounde...
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Combining a full-time career, family and being a successful novelist: meet John D Cressler

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Good morning John. Well I suppose my first question is a little self-evident. How did a Schlumberger Chair Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering decide to become a historical novelist? Thanks for having me, Joan, it is a real pleasure. Funny! Yeah, I get it. Professor and novelist? WHAT?! Not a typical combination, that much is certain. My training is in physics, and I am a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech, where I lead a large research team focused on what comes next in the world of electronics and nanotechnology. BUT, for my entire life I have almost exclusively read fiction for pleasure, and have always dreamed of writing fiction si...
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Danny Needs Your Votes


My new book  Look for Me Under the Rainbow  has been enrolled in the  AllAuthor Cover of the month for their May contest , competing with 69 other books! This year it has been enlisted a day later than other books, so already at the start it didn't have an equal position when it appeared online: it was over 140 votes behind. This is why my harp seal pup Danny and my book need your help more than ever!  Please vote for  Look for Me Under the Rainbow .  Help it catch up and give it a chance to fight the battle of equals. With your support, we stand a chance. Without you . . . well I don't even want to consider that option. Thank you so much for your support! I look forward to your votes! Pleas...
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At the court of Felipe IV of Spain

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Welcome to JG Harlond, author of the best selling historical novel series THE CHOSEN MAN. Today she tells us about Book Two ,  A TURNING WIND, and the historical background to it. It's set in 1640 in the royal courts of Spain and France. King Felipe IV of Spain painted by Velasquez Felipe IV of Spain, nicknamed el Rey Planeta by his contemporaries, presided over a court that was both pious and secretly decadent. A ‘lazy king’, he was said to have ignored the good government of his country by relying too heavily on his valido, the infamous Conde-Duque de Olivares, and devoting his time to collecting Old Masters, being painted himself by Velázquez, hunting, theatre-going and womanising. Felipe...
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What was like to be a concubine of the Royal harem in Moorish Spain?

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In the Harem by Fillippo Barratti My name is Najm. I belong to the most powerful man in the world. His name is Abd al-Rahman III, caliph of al-Andalus. It is the year 950 AD and I have been one of his concubines for the last fifteen years. How did I end up here? The truth is that I do not really know. One day I was living with my family in a village in Saxony when we were attacked by Viking raiders. They killed many of the villagers but most they captured. I was very frightened because I had no idea what they would do with me. I was only ten years old and I’d never even been out of the village before. After a long, frightening journey we reached a big city. I had never seen anything like it ...
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More than one way to be a pilgrim

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Now is the time of year when people start thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago. In summer it's very hot and in the winter it rains; the higher roads can even be blocked by snow. So Spring and Autumn are the ideal times to walk across northern Spain. In the recent TV travelogue, The Pilgrimage, the seven pilgrims taking part —an actor, an ex-soldier, a priest, a singer, a TV presenter, an investigative journalist, and a comedian -- started at the French border at St Jean Pied de Port, but didn't walk the entire 800 km to Santiago de Compostella - they walked part of the way. 26 km to be exact and then they took a bus. Finally they resumed their walk to complete the last 100 km. Cheat...
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FOUR HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

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Writing is a solitary business. It is rarely a group effort. The writer needs to immerse him or herself in the story, live with the characters, breathe the air that they breathe. There is no room for team talks. Yes, the writer can bounce ideas off other people and ask for opinions, but basically it is down to one person—the author. So I was rather surprised, but pleased, when I received an email from two novelists who also write historical fiction, suggesting we get together to do some cross-promotion. Wonderful idea. Especially so because they also write about Moorish Spain, an area of fiction that is largely neglected in the English speaking world of the historical novel. Then a fourth wr...
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PLEASE NOMINATE MY LATEST NOVEL "LOVE IS ALL"

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My latest novel is finished and ready to be published. But this time I am going to try something different. I'm hoping to publish through Kindle Scout. Never heard of it? Neither had I until recently when I read an article by a fellow member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. After ten years of writing I have grown to realise that one of the keys to success is getting your book known. After all nobody is going to read it if they have never heard of you or your book. And like it or loathe it, Amazon is currently dominating the market as far as book sales go. So a book promoted by Amazon has much more likelihood of success. What is Kindle Scout? It's a system where Amazon offer your book ...
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Why do you use Facebook?

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Why do you use Facebook? Personally I use it mainly as a marketing tool. With around a billion users, it is a great way to bring my latest books to the attention of readers. However, now that I live in Spain, it is  also a good way to keep in touch with old friends and family members. For example I am now in touch with lots of my Scottish cousins, whom I hadn't heard from in years. According to Ingram Spark's March newsletter, Facebook have recently changed the way in which users receive news. The founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be more family and friends  orientated. He thinks people don't want to spend hours scrolling through hundreds of posts that do not interest them a...
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A TURNING WIND

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  JG Harlond has a close affinity with the sea, having grown up in north Devon and this is plain to see in her  second book in The Chosen Man Trilogy. As she openly admits, it took her two years to write A Turning Wind, but she feels it has been well worth it. It follows on from the adventures of the charismatic and roguish hero of The Chosen Man, the merchant Ludo da Portovenere. ​ From the 17th century trading colony of Goa to the royal courts of England and Spain, Ludo endeavours to fulfil dangerous secret commissions on his own terms, and for his own reasons. But as these tasks bring him closer to personal success, Ludo is forced to confront a secret of his own. Accompanying Ludo on her ...
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How Resilient are You?

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I realised the other day that I have completed twelve books during the time I have been writing professionally—now ten years—and that my books fall neatly into two separate categories. There are those that look to the past and those that are firmly grounded in the present. What is more, I seem to have spent a great deal of my energy promoting the former to the detriment of the latter. I enjoy writing historical fiction and have found pleasure in reading books by Hilary Mantel, Anna Belfrage and am now looking forward to JG Harlond’s latest novel in The Chosen Man Trilogy, A TURNING WIND—due out next month. However, to be honest, most of what I read is contemporary or literary fiction—or, in ...
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A Thriller-Like Poll


By a heartbeat my book  A World Without Color  ended up first on the novella of the week poll today in a super exciting photo finish in the last minute! A piece of my heart goes to everyone who voted for my book in the past few days. My respect and gratitude to you all! My respect also goes to the other two books and authors, especially to Andie J Fessey who walked arm to arm with me all along the way and deserved the victory too. The Twitter poll was organized by Book Recommendations & Promotions and I thank them for considering  A World Without Color  as one of the contestant for their novella of the week. Please follow them on Twitter at  @UkBookrecom . I would also like to ask you to...
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Copyright

© By a heartbeat my book A World Without Color ended up first on the novella of the week poll today in a super exciting photo finish in the last minute!

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UK to pay compensation to surviving child migrants

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its findings into the abuse of British children who were sent to Australia under the Child Migration Programme. It heard from 48 witnesses and studied over 30,000 pages of relevant documents. It examined not only the experiences of the children but also the extent to which those in charge took care to protect the children from abuse of any kind. It also looked into how much the authorities knew about the abuse that occurred and what reparations had been offered. Its results are pretty damning, placing the final blame on the British government for what was allowed to happen to the children. Over many years the UK government had all...
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Fashion guru - 10th century style

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When I was researching into the background for my series of historical novels entitled The al-Andalus series, it wasn't just dates and battles that I needed to know about. I wanted to find out the details of everyday life and to do that I needed to scour the internet, read as many books as I could on the period and visit museums to see what artefacts had survived from 10th century Spain. Then I made an interesting discovery. Many of the customs and fashions that we now adopt originally came from the agile mind of a freed Arab slave. He was called Abu al-Hasan, who was born in 789 AD in Persia. His family were slaves or freedmen and served the Abbasid caliph  in Baghdad. There is some doubt o...
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Will they have closure at last?

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In 2012 I read an article in the Economist that stunned me. It was about the children who'd been sent to the British Dominions during, before and even after World War II. These were the child migrants -- orphans,  neglected or abandoned children.  I was amazed, not only that such a thing could happen in Britain but also that it had been kept secret for so many years.  If it hadn't been for a chance circumstance, many of those children, now adults, would never have been reunited with their families.  A social worker, Margaret Humphreys, was assigned the case of a woman who claimed that she had been deported from Britain when she was only four-years-old.  That was in 1986; since then Mrs Humph...
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Historical Fiction: why we like a good series

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The only series of books that I've written is the al-Andalus trilogy, set in 10th century Spain. The fact it has ended up as a trilogy doesn't mean I set out to write it that way. As all writers know, no matter how clear your plan of action is at the start, the novel takes on a life of its own and sometimes you end up in quite a different place. The first book was The Shining City and when it was finished I was happy and prepared to move on to something else, but then someone asked if I was going to follow on with a sequel. 'People like historical series,' they said. 'You'll sell more books if you write a sequel.' So I delved back into that period and found that forty years later, history ha...
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