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Book Review: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun, by Joan Schweighardt

The Last Wife of Attila the Hun by Joan Schweighardt is an ambitious, superbly researched, excellently written novel based on Germanic legends and the true life of Attila the Hun that will mesmerize fans of historical fiction. There isn’t a lot of fiction based on Attila, so being a lover of history I was instantly intrigued about reading the book.
The novel moves back and forth in time, interweaving two stories. In one, we meet Gudrun, a brave Burgundian noble woman with a lethal mission, destroy the infamous Attila the Hun. In the other, the reader travels to the past to learn the overwhelming events that brought Gudrun to this difficult, suicidal undertaking.
From the beginning, Schweighardt’s imaginative storytelling and attention to detail shine through the pages, bringing Attila’s fifth century landscape to life in all its gritty vividness. Characters are deftly drawn, and I found myself instantly sympathetic to Gudrun’s situation, as well as absorbed by the other characters. This was especially true of Attila’s second in command, with whom Gudrun develops an unusual relationship. Attila himself is portrayed in chilling detail.
Needless to say, I love the fact that the story is seen from a female perspective. At times, her focused obsession for revenge propels the tale at a breathless pace. Juxtaposing with her present life as Attila’s prisoner are her memories of her great yet tragic love with Sigurd.
I’m not surprised the novel has won awards and it’s been translated into other languages. Dark, mysterious, and beautifully layered, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is filled with lust, revenge and passion, and comes highly recommended by this reviewer. If you’re a historical fiction enthusiast, this is for you.
Find out more about Joan Schweighardt here. Read my interview with her on Blogcritics. Purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Luck Is Just the Beginning’ by Celeste Leon

LuckcoverthumbBased on a true story, Celeste Leon’s beautifully written debut novel is the story of a young man in 1940s Puerto Rico who wins the lottery, only to realize that, as the title states, luck is just the beginning.

Young Ramon is able to see visions, a gift he inherited from his mother. When he sees a number flash across the sky, he decides to buy a complete lottery ticket. At first, he’s thrilled to have won a fortune, for his plan is to go to college, become a dentist, and make the world a better place by helping the people of his village. But, as it turns out, money changes a lot of things—people’s intentions, expectations, desires—even one self’s, and not always for the better. Now, people approach Ramon because they want something from him, and he starts to doubt everyone, even the girl who claims to love him. Likewise, he starts doing things he later regrets.

This is the era of WWII, and in the midst of it all Ramon tries to face the challenges that threaten to destroy his life, especially a man whose envy has made Ramon his target for revenge. Overnight, all facets of Ramon’s life turn upside down—his dwindling family business, his relationship with Elsie, his dream to go to college in the States. At some point, even the police are after him.

The novel is rich with Puerto Rican flavor and historical details, and Leon writes with simplicity yet profound perception about human nature. Ramon is an endearing, utterly likable character—an honest, good-hearted man who makes mistakes yet rises above them.

Luck is Just the Beginning was honored with a Mariposa award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the “Fiction: Multicultural” category of the 2016 International Book Awards.

Read my Blogcritics interview with the author.

Find out more about the book on Amazon or from the author’s website.

This review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

Character Interview: Attila the Hun from Joan Schweighardt’s historical novel, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun

JS_TLWATH_cover_thumb-1We’re thrilled to have here today Attila the Hun from Joan Schweighardt’s new historical novel, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. Attila is a 47, ruler of half the known world, and resides in the City of Attila.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Attila. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I was fairly portrayed, yes. The author did her research and had good information about my activities. My only regret is that she chose to reveal some of my failures as well as my many successes. And while I had never trusted my most important officers, it was only by watching over the shoulder of the author as she researched and wrote the book that I came to learn that one of them, a man I had thought less likely than the others to betray me, played a huge part in my destruction.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Having never actually seen me or even a drawing of me, the author had a lot of nerve describing me as “terrible to look upon.” I would say whoever cast Gerard Butler to play me in the film Attila the Hun achieved a much closer likeness.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My bravery of course, and my leadership skills. I wiped out half the Roman empires (there were two back in those days, the eastern and the western) and lots of Germanic tribes as well.

Worse trait?

Can a man who ruled the world be said to have any negative traits? To even suggest such a thing could be dangerous…for you!

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

As I said, I liked Butler, but if this particular version of my story, which is much closer to the truth than that movie with Butler, were to be made into a film (which, Wise Filmmakers Who May Be Reading This, would be an extraordinary idea), I would suggest Johnny Depp to play me. While the author and I might be at counterpoints regarding whether or not JD looks like me, I think she would agree that he could pull off the acting for such a part.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I had many wives, but I loved none of them. I couldn’t even be bothered to determine which of them I would sleep with on any particular night. I let my officers decide that. The element of surprise appealed to me.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I knew how it would end, didn’t I?

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I would never want to change places with anyone. While my empire eventually crumbled, as all empires at some point must, I relished those days when all the world bowed to me.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Ha! I can’t believe you would even ask such a question! Let us just say, I did not care for the ending at all.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I would suggest that the next time she writes about me, she sticks with me all the way, through every battle. I had to share pages with lots of other characters.

Thank you for this interview, Attila. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Of course, when The Last Wife of Attila the Hun film comes out!

Title: The Last Wife of Attila the Hun

Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction with a Legendary Component

Author: Joan Schweighardt

Website: www.joanschwweighardt.com

Publisher: Booktrope Editions

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

Two threads are woven together in The Last Wife of Attila the Hun. In one, Gudrun, a Burgundian noblewoman, dares to enter the City of Attila to give its ruler what she hopes is a cursed sword; the second reveals the unimaginable events that have driven her to this mission. Based in part on the true history of the times and in part on the same Nordic legends that inspired Wagner’s Ring Cycle and other great works of art, The Last Wife of Attila the Hun offers readers a thrilling story of love, betrayal, passion and revenge, all set against an ancient backdrop itself gushing with intrigue. Lovers of history and fantasy alike will find realism and legend at work in this tale.

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About the Author:

Joan Schweighardt is the author of several novels. In addition to her own projects, she writes, ghostwrites and edits for private and corporate clients.

Website: www.joanschweighardt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joanschweighardtwriter

Twitter: @joanschwei

Character Interview: Ignatius from Donald Joiner’s historical novel ‘The Antioch Testament’

frontsmallcoverWe’re thrilled to have here today Bishop Ignatius Theophorus from Donald Joiner’s new historical novel, The Antioch Testament.  Bishop Ignatius is a 68 year old religious leader living in Antioch the capital of the Roman Province of Syria.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bishop Ignatius.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Ignatius: It had never occurred to me that my response to a request by the daughter of the late esteemed government official, Theophilus in answer to her question about what happened to the Lord’s apostles after his glorious resurrection would find its way into a historical novel. My intention in  writing was to comfort Christian believers in an age they were undergoing fierce persecution. But to your point, yes, I was certainly treated with respect.

Q: Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Ignatius: My role in Mr. Joiner’s novel was essentially the same as in my report to Dorothea, the honorable Theophilus’ daughter, which was to compile information from various sources about the the journeys and activities of the twelve apostles as well as their eventual fate.  The novel and my report to Dorothea were not about me, but were about our Lord’s companions and what happened to them.

Q: What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Ignatius: Through the laying on of blessed Peter’s hands, the Lord has seen fit to place me in a position of leadership in his church at the very time that intense persecution of believers has reared it’s ugly head. I pray constantly that the Lord will strengthen me and make me worthy of this task come what may.

Q: Worse trait?

Ignatius:  It is no secret to believers and unbelievers alike. Impatience. I constantly battle with impatience. I’m impatient with those who would deny their faith and forsake eternal life in the face of persecution. I’m equally impatient with those within the church who so easily fall prey to false teachers and their heretical messages, but most of all I’m impatient with life on this earth and yearn to be counted among the saints who have been martyred and now reside with the Lord in his Father’s kingdom.

Q: If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Ignatius: Sean Connery.

Q: At what point in the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Ignatius: I was dismayed when toward the end of the book the ancient manuscript fell into the hands of the unbelievers who conspired to destroy it. I was concerned that the ones charged with interpreting it would abandon their task in the face of such hostility.

Q: If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

Ignatius: That’s easy to answer. The evil presence of Zaid al Rifa, the despicable leader of a sinister and fanatical organization, who was so dedicated to death and destruction in his quest to create an Islamic caliphate. His hatred for Christians and anything to do with the history of Christianity is  vividly presented in the book.

Q: How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Ignatius: I was gratified to find that in spite of the evil intentions of those who sought to destroy it, the character responsible for initially saving the ancient manuscript determined to press on with the task of presenting the translated work to the modern world in the face of potential scholarly opposition.

Q: What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Ignatius: I would advise the author to make haste. Word has just reached me that Emperor Trajan is en route to Antioch and is furious that I have encouraged believers to refuse to worship him. It is being said that I’m to be arrested and brought before the emperor to be judged for what is considered a major crime.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Bishop Ignatius.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Ignatius: I think not. Those who offend the emperor are not likely to escape his retribution.

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Title: THE ANTIOCH TESTAMENT

Genre:  Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction/Suspense

Author:  Donald Joiner

Publisher: Seraphina Press

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

Donald Joiner, a veteran who served during the Korean War era, is a lifelong student of history.  Joiner’s passion for history shines through in his debut novel, The Antioch Testament, a sweeping, suspenseful novel resplendent with rich historical detail.

When The Antioch Testament opens, it’s 2004 during the insurgency in Iraq.  An American army patrol manages to rescue a frightened group of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic militants. The refugees’ severely wounded leader, a priest, carries with him a mysterious bundle the group has brought with them from a northern Iraqi Christian monastery.  As he clings to life, the priest insists on handing over the carefully-guarded package to the American army chaplain. When the bundle is unwrapped, Army chaplain Charles Monroe finds a large, scuffed, leather-bound ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Fearing for the manuscript’s safety in war-torn Iraq, the chaplain arranges to have the manuscript sent to Augusta, Georgia, his hometown.  Eventually, the manuscript winds up in an Eastern Orthodox monastery where internationally- recognized linguists begin the arduous task of interpreting it. What the linguists discover is absolutely astonishing: the manuscript is a first century AD testimonial in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, describing what happened to Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. But time is running out.  Unbeknownst to the interpreters, a fanatical Iraqi insurgent organization is bound and determined to retrieve or destroy the ancient manuscript before its secrets can be revealed.   Some secrets may be worth dying for—but these secrets might even be worth killing for.

Imaginative, inventive, and intriguing, The Antioch Testament explores the lives of the apostles after the resurrection. A thoughtful and thought-provoking page-turner, The Antioch Testament is a carefully-crafted page-turner with a pulse-pounding plot, and engrossing storyline.

About the Author:

Georgia native Donald Joiner is a veteran who served during the Korean War era. A retired school superintendent and a lifelong student of history, Joiner has been married for fifty-two years and is a proud father and grandfather. He has taught Sunday school in his church for forty years. Joiner has also authored two previous books about antebellum churches in Georgia.

Connect with the author on Facebook.

Character Interview: Jeremiah Creed from S.W. O’Connell’s Historical Fiction, ‘The Cavalier Spy’

TheCavalierSpy_medWe’re thrilled to have here today Jeremiah Creed from S.W. O’Connell’s new historical novel, The Cavalier Spy. Jeremiah Creed is a 22 year old Continental Army officer from Frederick, Maryland.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Lieutenant Creed.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

Truth be told, I was somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that the author did not fully reveal why I came to America. Or rather, the reason I was in prison before I, ahem, escaped to this fair land. I am sure he had his reasons. Perhaps he wants to reveal them in a future book in the Yankee Doodle Spies series. But having this hanging over my head like a cloud of musket smoke is a bit disarming. As to my overall character, he may have painted me as a bit too mercenary. He has me taking certain sums of money on two occasions.  I am an idealist by nature. I just believe money is a means to an end. And I believe I put it to good use – supporting the cause of the American independence from an oppressive King.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Oh, I should say he did a foin job at that. I am light hearted on the exterior and a bit reflective on the inside. I believe I am more spiritual than the author portrayed. But I do indeed thrive on humor. ‘Tis something that helps me through the darker moments such as leaving home at a tender age, losing loved ones and having to flee more than one country and fight a secret war on behalf of my adopted land. Why, ‘tis a wonder he didn’t have me spewing oaths that would make a pirate blush. I guess he didn’t want me to displease my mum.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Well, I mentioned humor. But also, the ability to turn serious when it comes to getting a job done.  After all, I serve His Excellency George Washington – the essential man of the age. And The Cavalier Spy takes place during the times “that try men’s souls.” Failure is not an option… neither for General Washington, nor me.

Worse trait?

I eat too fast. Really. And the lads, that is my men, the White Knights, roll their eyes at my fastidious hygiene. I guess in that sense I am ahead of my time. My peers would say my humor. I enjoy bantering with Abner Scovel. He’s such a dour New Englander.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

As we don’t have such things in the eighteenth century you pose me an anachronistic question. But…Hmmm… I’d say a young Colin Farrell or Hugh Jackman. Or perhaps a younger version Daniel Day Lewis. But if you read the Cavalier Spy, you will see that I can be a bit of an actor myself.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

In matters of the heart I try to stay discreet. But without naming names – yes. She is the most beautiful woman in 13 independent states. Daughter of a British surgeon. But she is a true patriot.

Unfortunately, we are separated by time and space. You see, she lives with her dad in British occupied New York and I am with General Washington in New Jersey.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I failed in my initial mission and did not find (or save) Nathan Hale in British occupied New York. And the mayhem of occupied New York had me wondering. But for me, the worst was the intense grilling of His Excellency and Colonel Fitzgerald as they tried to “vett” me. Admitting to a secret past is often difficult. But made all the more so by the fact my chief inquisitor, General George Washington himself, was the most important man in the world.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Roy Harry, of course. He is sort of my alter ego. My evil twin, so to speak. Although at heart, he’s merely a rogue.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Other than horrendous weather in the Jerseys and missing Christmas mass, I am overjoyed with the outcome. But something tells me my joy will not be long lasting.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I’d like to spend a lot more time in British occupied New York! But something tells me he has other plans first.

Thank you for this interview, Lieutenant Creed.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

‘Tis my fondest wish… and in the past as well. The Cavalier Spy is, after all, book two in the series. Book one is The Patriot Spy

oconnell_author_photo090315

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S.W. O’Connell is the author of the Yankee Doodle Spies series of action and espionage novels set during the American Revolutionary War. The author is a retired Army officer with over twenty years of experience in a variety of intelligence-related assignments around the world. He is long time student of history and lover of the historical novel genre. So it was no surprise that he turned to that genre when he decided to write back in 2009. He lives in Virginia.

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Title: The Cavalier Spy

Genre: Historical

Author: S. W. O’Connell

Website: www.yankeedoodlespies.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase link: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCavalierSpy_ch1.html

Amazon / OmniLit 

About the Book:

1776: His army clinging to New York by a thread, a desperate General George Washington sends Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed behind British lines once more. But even the audacity of Creed and his band of spies cannot stop the British juggernaut from driving the Americans from New York, and chasing them across New Jersey in a blitzkrieg fashion. Realizing the imminent loss of one of the new nation’s most important states to the enemy, Washington sends Creed into the war-torn Hackensack Valley. His mission: recruit and train a gang of rogues to work behind British lines.

However, his mission takes a strange twist when the British high command plots to kidnap a senior American officer and a mysterious young woman comes between Creed and his plans. The British drive Washington’s army across the Delaware. The new nation faces its darkest moment. But Washington plans a surprise return led by young Creed, who must strike into hostile land so that Washington can rally his army for an audacious gamble that could win, or lose, the war.

“More than a great spy story… it is about leadership and courage in the face of adversity…The Cavalier Spy is the story of America’s first army and the few… those officers and soldiers who gave their all to a cause that was seemingly lost…”

~ Les Brownlee, former Acting Secretary of the Army and retired Army Colonel

“Secret meetings, skirmishes and scorching battles… The Cavalier Spy takes the reader through America’s darkest times and greatest triumphs thanks to its powerful array of fictional and historical characters… this book shows that courage, leadership and audacity are the key elements in war…”

~ F. William Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Author of Ways and Means for Managing UP

A Tale of Three Settings: The Story Behind ‘The Cavalier Spy,’ by S.W. O’Connell

TheCavalierSpy_medIn many ways, The Cavalier Spy should have been an easy book to write. After all, it is the sequel to the first book in the Yankee Doodle Spies series, The Patriot Spy, so many of the characters, themes and settings were in place when I began the book. But ironically, that made the book all the more difficult. Why? Because I wanted The Cavalier Spy to stand on its own. I wanted readers who had not read the first book in the series to enjoy The Cavalier Spy as much as those who did read The Patriot Spy. I had no idea how hard that would be. And starting out, I had no idea how I would do it. But then I began to write and the story took over, as it often does.

The story has three general settings. I think that helped. In fact, the settings are essential to the building of the tale. This is, after all, a historical novel and I am trying to portray history through fiction. And history is about places, as well as people. The first setting is New York. The second is the area around the Hackensack Valley of New Jersey. The third setting is “western Jersey,” the area along the Delaware River. During the time of the American Revolution New Jersey was often referred to as “the Jerseys.” The Jerseys were east and west Jersey. East Jersey is that part of the state that borders New York and the North (Hudson) River. West Jersey is the portion that borders Philadelphia and the Delaware River.

Since the first setting was the same as that of The Patriot Spy, and as I began to draw out the plot, I used the setting to refer back to events that unfolded in it. I did not plan this. It just came to me as I wrote. An example is when the protagonist, Jeremiah Creed and his men are sent behind British lines he decides to go by the post house in Yorkville. There he “re-recruits” young Thomas Jefferies to the cause. I use those scenes to flash back to how they originally met, and the events that drew them together. As Creed drives deeper into British occupied New York, people he encounters and venues provide opportunities to briefly let the reader in on what happened in book one. Another challenge for the writer is to do this without making things tedious for those who read the first book. The trick is to keep the flashback short. Usually a couple of sentences. The trick is to do this without tying up the story too much and break the flow. As the story progresses to the other two settings, the need and opportunity to do this fades away. Soon the story is standing on its own legs and the reader is caught up on what happened.

Another interesting challenge I faced was telling the tale of how my protagonist arrived in America. In The Patriot Spy I hinted that he was an immigrant. In The Cavalier Spy, I show it. But how to get there without distracting too much from the main plot, Washington’s desperate attempt to avoid defeat and his use of intelligence to aid those efforts. The idea came to me suddenly. I would have Washington and his fictional “Senior Intelligence Advisor” conduct what is essentially a “subject interview” of Creed. They confront him on his mysterious past and want to “vet” him. He decides to tell all in a “confession” to his commander in chief. Don’t worry. He doesn’t really tell all. Some things have to be saved for future books. But we do get a several chapter flashback out of it. And I had a lot of fun writing it.

By time I got to the Hackensack Valley setting, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I was able to create a fictional village and spin some interesting characters in and out of it. But in doing it, I reveal an interesting and little noted fact about the American war for Independence. It was a complex struggle and a local one. New Jersey raised some impressive Loyalist troops for the King and one of those regiments plays a role. The Hackensack Valley had a significant Dutch populace. After all, East Jersey was part of the Dutch colony (along with New York) of New Amsterdam. This provided me some rich characters to develop. It is in this setting that I bring the strange case of “Mister X” into the story. Weaving a controversial historic figure into the plot was intriguing to me, the writer. I hope it is for the reader as well.

The last setting is West Jersey. This is the iconic “times that try men’s souls.” The new nation’s hopes are all but dashed. Washington escapes the British but is now ignominiously holed up on the far bank of the Delaware River and his army has evaporated. To have any hope of saving his army and the cause, Washington must send Jeremiah Creed back into the bosom of the enemy. A key ingredient, almost a character, in this setting is, believe it or not, Mother Nature. A cold winter is gripping the Delaware Valley and it has a role in everything. The characters (and their horses) are affected. The Continental Army is affected. And most importantly, the British Army is affected. The despair that unfolds in the first two settings culminates in desperation. And this desperation sets in on both the fictional and historical characters. Washington is desperate to save his Army and the Revolution. Creed is desperate to do his duty. And the British are desperate not to lose what they have achieved. But desperation breeds valor and resourcefulness. But it can also breed mistakes. And ultimately, the fortunes of men and of nations, can turn on mistakes.

oconnell_author_photo090315

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S.W. O’Connell is the author of the Yankee Doodle Spies series of action and espionage novels set during the American Revolutionary War. The author is a retired Army officer with over twenty years of experience in a variety of intelligence-related assignments around the world. He is long time student of history and lover of the historical novel genre. So it was no surprise that he turned to that genre when he decided to write back in 2009. He lives in Virginia.

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Title: The Cavalier Spy

Genre: Historical

Author: S. W. O’Connell

Website: www.yankeedoodlespies.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Purchase link: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCavalierSpy_ch1.html

Amazon / OmniLit 

About the Book:

1776: His army clinging to New York by a thread, a desperate General George Washington sends Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed behind British lines once more. But even the audacity of Creed and his band of spies cannot stop the British juggernaut from driving the Americans from New York, and chasing them across New Jersey in a blitzkrieg fashion. Realizing the imminent loss of one of the new nation’s most important states to the enemy, Washington sends Creed into the war-torn Hackensack Valley. His mission: recruit and train a gang of rogues to work behind British lines.

However, his mission takes a strange twist when the British high command plots to kidnap a senior American officer and a mysterious young woman comes between Creed and his plans. The British drive Washington’s army across the Delaware. The new nation faces its darkest moment. But Washington plans a surprise return led by young Creed, who must strike into hostile land so that Washington can rally his army for an audacious gamble that could win, or lose, the war.

“More than a great spy story… it is about leadership and courage in the face of adversity…The Cavalier Spy is the story of America’s first army and the few… those officers and soldiers who gave their all to a cause that was seemingly lost…”

~ Les Brownlee, former Acting Secretary of the Army and retired Army Colonel

“Secret meetings, skirmishes and scorching battles… The Cavalier Spy takes the reader through America’s darkest times and greatest triumphs thanks to its powerful array of fictional and historical characters… this book shows that courage, leadership and audacity are the key elements in war…”

~ F. William Smullen, Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Author of Ways and Means for Managing UP

Cover Reveal: The One Who Sees Me, by Kandi J. Wyatt

Looking for a new read?
 
It’s cover reveal time!
 
Booktrope Publishing brings you the latest in Historical Christian Fiction…
 
THE ONE WHO SEES ME
SYNOPSIS
Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.
On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?
Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.
 
Author
Bio & Social Media Links for The One Who Sees Me
Author Bio: 
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.” To learn more, visit Kandijwyatt.wordpress.com.

Character Interview: Etienne Dolet from Florence Byham Weinberg’s nonfiction/historical novel, ‘Dolet’

Dolet_medWe’re thrilled to have here today Etienne Dolet from Florence Weinberg’s new nonfiction novel, Dolet.  Etienne is a 37-year-old publisher who lived in Lyon, France in the sixteenth century.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Etienne.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Perhaps my author was too kind. She left out one of the hottest controversies of my literary life, between me and my arch-enemy Julius Caesar Scaligiero or Scaliger, as we French call him. He was nasty, snide, sarcastic and attacked me ad hominem, but I was nastier and wittier. At least, I think so. I suspect my author thought the whole thing too obscure, scholarly, complicated and nasty to go into the book. She showed the intransigent side of my character in other ways.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

With what I just said taken into account, I think she portrayed me very well. I was always someone who told my friends and my enemies just what I thought. No beating around the bush, no little white lies. If they couldn’t take it, too bad for them. But they always knew where they stood with me. I had wonderful friends, and they stuck by me to the end. I could be loving, generous, and always had a strong sense of justice. I showed that in taking the print-shop workers’ part when they fought for higher wages that hadn’t been raised for at least 50 years. My author showed all that.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

What I just said. I made friends who stuck by me through thick and thin. I think they appreciated the fact that nothing I said in their absence was any different from what I said in their presence. Besides that, I was a brilliant scholar of the Latin language and of Marcus Tullius Cicero. I was one of the finest writers of Ciceronian Latin in my age, was a historian with ideas you would call “modern,” and wrote a book on the art of translation with precepts in use in your twenty-first century. But of course I was cut off in my prime—on my thirty-seventh birthday when the Inquisition tortured and burned me at the stake.

Worse trait?

Ye-es…. In hindsight, I know that I unjustly blamed some of my friends for having abandoned me when I was thrown into prison in Lyon for the first time. They actually hadn’t. They were afraid and had good reason to be. However, I never forgave them, never tried to make things right. I was too self-righteous, too intransigent.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

It would have to be a British actor, someone who has gravitas but a sense of humor at the same time. He would have to be tall—I was over six feet—and dark haired, dark-eyed. He would have to be fairly young or at least in early middle years. Patrick Stewart could carry it off, but he is bald, blue-eyed and way too old. He could portray the character traits, though, that I had. Well, at least you know the type of actor I’d look for—if such another exists.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes, of course. I passionately loved one woman, Louise Giraud, who became my wife and with whom I had a lovely son, Claude. I only hope and pray that she can make it without me, and that Claude will grow up to be a fine man, even without his father. I have confidence in Louise, though, that she can pull that off.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When Henri Guillot forced me to fight a duel with him that night. I had never even held an epee before that but, with fool’s and beginner’s luck, I killed him—ran him through the throat—and he, who had practiced fencing for months died. I knew right then I was in deep trouble. Guillot belonged to one of the old Lyonese families, you see, and I was a relative newcomer. I ran for my life with his bodyguard pelting after me, and, in a sense, I kept on running for the rest of my life.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

It’s a hard choice between the Chief Inquisitor, Matthieu Orry, and Cardinal François-Juste II de Tournon, but I think I’ll choose de Tournon. Both men desired most passionately to burn me at the stake, but Orry could have been—and was—overruled by King François I, whereas de Tournon dominated His Majesty’s policy decisions toward the end of the king’s life. I blame de Tournon for the total extermination of a sect of Christians called the Vaudois. They had existed since 1179, were not Protestants, but based their faith on the Scriptures rather than on decrees from Rome. De Tournon had the army attack them, slaughter them, lock them in houses and burn them. None survived, and he had a solemn Te Deum Mass sung in Notre Dame Cathedral to celebrate his satanic deed.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

My author did me justice in the end, as she did in most of the book. I behaved reasonably well under torture, even with a bit of humor in extremis. What I like most about the ending is how my author showed the courage and virtue of my wife Louise.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I would tell her to put in the bit about Scaliger. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Thank you for this interview, Etienne.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

No, I think this book wrapped up my life pretty well. Not much else to tell. Goodbye, and thanks for letting me speak my piece.

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Title: Dolet

Genre: Nonfiction Novel; Historical Fiction

Author: Florence Byham Weinberg

Website: www.florenceweinberg.com

Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Read Chapter One

Amazon / OmniLit / Twilight Times Books

About the Book:

Dolet depicts the life and times of Etienne Dolet. Etienne, who told the bald truth to friend and foe alike, angered the city authorities in sixteenth-century Toulouse, fled to Lyon, and became a publisher of innovative works on language, history, and theology. His foes framed him; he was persecuted, imprisoned, and ultimately executed by the Inquisition for daring to publish the Bible in French translation.

What readers are saying:

“[Dolet]  …I read it all with pleasure, and delighted to see names that I have known for some time coming alive as “characters,” albeit fictitious ones. I especially liked the way in which you brought out the sense of community, of being a band of brothers that so many of those amazing people shared.”
~ Kenneth Lloyd-Jones, Professor, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

florence

About the Author:

Florence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch, on a farm, and traveled with her military family. After earning a PhD, she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written seven historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs and horses, and great-souled friends with good conversation. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Character Interview: Ximena Godoy from Graciela Limón’s Novel ‘The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy’

ximenaWe’re thrilled to have here today Ximena Godoy, from Graciela Limón’s new novel The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Ximena Godoy.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

“Well, I do believe that Graciela Limón portrayed me fairly most of the time, but sometimes she was unable to dig deep enough into the inner recesses of what I really am.  Based on what s/he reads, I think that the reader could accuse me of making poor choices, maybe even selfish ones. Yes, I made stupid choices, but I think that it was because there was a mysterious force that drove me from a very young age.  Could it have been a demon?  Maybe.  I think this is what baffled even the author.  What I really yearned for was freedom and space to breathe.  Do you know what I mean?”

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘colorizing my personality’ but I will say that I do believe that for the greater part Graciela Limón captured what I was like.  She was successful in portraying my personality with its many changes and moods, its unpredictability, and always doing what she, the author, would never do in her own life.”

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

“I’m determined and focused.”

Worse trait?

“I’m quick to take offense, but slow to forgive.”

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be?

“Salma Hayek would be my first choice.”

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

“I have several love interests in the book.  Perhaps you would say that this is one of my weakest points:  I love too quickly and too intensely.  But oddly enough, when the fire of passion burns out in me, it’s finished.  I’m able to walk away from that passion and get on with my life.  That is, except for the last love.  I don’t want to say more because I’ll spoil the novel for you.”

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out? 

“Because I didn’t know my own end, I never was nervous.”

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

“I would not want to be Concha Urrutia because she, above all else, feels the full brunt of my rancor in the novel.  Also, Concha is one of those women who loves once in her lifetime; she hangs on to that love no matter what.  This depresses me.”

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

“I’m afraid that it would indeed give away the entire ending if I answer this question.  Can we please move on to the next one?”

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

“I know that Graciela Limón will not be writing another novel with me in it so there are no words of wisdom for her on this score.  She will indeed write other novels, but not with me in any of them.”

Thank you for this interview, Ximena Godoy.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future? 

“Unfortunately, you will not be seeing more of me in the future.  When you read the novel you will understand my meaning.”

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Graciela LimónGraciela Limón is a Latina Writer, Educator and Activist. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Literature from Marymount College Los Angeles, a Master of Arts Degree in the same field from the University of the Americas Mexico City, followed by a PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Prior to retirement, Limón was a professor of U.S. Hispanic Literature as well as Chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.  She is now Professor Emeritus of that University.

Limón has written critical work on Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature.  However, she now concentrates her writing efforts on creative fiction that is germane to her areas of interest: feminism, social justice and cultural identity.  Her body of work includes In Search of Bernabé that won The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1994).   Limón also published The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994), Song of the Hummingbird (1996) andThe Day of the Moon (1999).   Erased Faces, which was awarded the 2002 Gustavus Myers Book Award, was published in 2001, Left Alive was released in 2005, The River Flows North, 2009, followed by The Madness of Mamá Carlota, 2012.  Her latest book is The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, published by Cafe con Leche Books. Find out more about Graciela at www.gracielalimon.com.

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TitleThe Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Author:  Graciela Limón

Website www.gracielalimon.com

Publisher:  Café Con Leche

Purchase on Amazon 

The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoyfollows the story of a woman from very early life to maturity.  Her tale takes place in the early to mid-twentieth century unfolding first in her native Mexico, and ending in Los Angeles, California.  It is a story of love and revenge told against the historical events of Revolution, Repatriation, War and Peace.  When Ximena Godoy falls into the abyss of crime, she faces the punishment demanded of that crime.

Guest post: “My Inspiration behind ‘The Saint of Santa Fe'” by Silvio Sirias

Sirias - Cover - 9781937536565.inddEvery June 9, the Republic of Panama mourns the anniversary of Father Héctor Gallego’s disappearance. More than forty years after the crime, his case still remains a source of deep, national pain.

While researching The Saint of Santa Fe, I spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains of the province of Veraguas, where Father Gallego served as parish priest. I had lengthy conversations with people whose lives were deeply affected by this noble Colombian. Among them were Jacinto Peña, the lone witness to Father Gallego’s abduction; Father Raúl Rodríguez, Santa Fe’s current parish priest; and Edilma Gallego, Héctor’s sister who first came to Panama in September of 1999, when it was thought that her brother’s remains had been found. Edilma Gallego, a person every bit as courageous as her older sibling, has chosen to stay in this country to continue his work. And she and her family still have hopes that one day they will learn the truth about what happened to Héctor.

The stories and comments I heard while in Santa Fe were both inspiring and heartrending.  “He was the angel God sent to liberate us,” an elderly campesina said to me.  “To know him was to know Christ,” said Eric Concepción, for whom Father Gallego obtained a scholarship so he could study agriculture. At the time of our conversation, Eric was the president of Panamá’s organic farmers. “He was a prophet,” Father Rodríguez claims. “And sadly, as history repeatedly demonstrates, prophets meet a tragic fate because the truth they speak threatens the established order.”

And Father Héctor Gallego did speak the truth. As the first parish priest in the four-hundred year history of Santa Fe, he helped bring an end to the exploitation campesinos had been subjected to for centuries. Sadly, the truth offended the local strongman—a first cousin of General Omar Torrijos—and this cost Héctor his life.

Who kidnapped Father Héctor Gallego; on whose orders; how did he die; and where are his remains are questions that several former members of Panama’s defunct military can answer.  Yet in writing The Saint of Santa Fe I believed readers deserved to learn the story about the extraordinary things this saintly man did in life.

Find out more on Amazon

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silvio03c
Silvio Sirias is the author of Bernardo and the Virgin (2005) and Meet Me under the Ceiba (2009), winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Best Novel, and most recently The Saint of Santa Fe.  A native of Los Angeles, he spent his adolescence in Nicaragua and currently lives in Panama.  In 2010, Silvio was named one of the “Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read).”  He has a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona.  He has also published academic books on Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya, and the poet Salomon de la Selva.  In addition, he has a collection of essays titled Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions.  The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature lists him among the handful of authors who are introducing Central American themes into the U.S. literary landscape. For more information, visit his website at www.silviosirias.com.

https://www.facebook.com/silviofans / Twitter: @silviosirias

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