Read an extract HERE.

Click on image to buy PERFIDITAS.BRAG

Read an extract HERE.

Click on image to buy INCEPTIO. Amazon bestseller  
BRAG_INCEPTIO

How to get the reader to read your book

reading_grassUnless you write  for the sole purpose of personal fulfilment, you probably hope other people will read your work. When you publish a story, either as a freebie or commercially on multiple channels (Amazon, Kobo, Waterstones, iBooks) and in multiple formats (paperback, hardback, ebook, audio), you are making a contract with the reader. The reader invests their time and money and in return you agree to provide a satisfying reading experience. Of course, defining ‘satisfying’ is the legendary poisoned chalice, but let’s hope it’s a genre or type of thing they would normally enjoy reading. It all boils down to taste.

Choosing a bookSo far so good.

The reader has picked your book, attracted by the cover, and read the product description (or blurb on the back). Expectation x 1. If it’s a new novel by an author they’ve read before, they (like me) pick it up immediately with only a glance at the description because they know it’s going to be good. Expectations x 10. They fish out their hard earned money and buy it. Yippee!


Promises, promises

toy warriorFrom the very first page, the writer makes a promise to the reader, one that they must deliver on by the end of the book. Let’s look at genre. Romance readers will throw your book against the wall and tell all her friends on Facebook what a rubbish writer you are if there is no ‘happy ever after’, or at least ‘happy for now’ ending. A crime reader will get angry if the intrepid sleuth declares that he just can’t see whodunnit and asks what’s for tea. And fantasy readers will be be after you with the Axe of Ullshorn  and a crowd of elves if there’s no magic.

Protagonists leap in
Usually a story starts with the protagonist, hopefully in some kind of difficulty, or with a difficulty that’s about to fall onto the protagonist. Sometimes, it starts with something inconsequential, but that takes over the protagonist’s whole existence. We expect to go through the whole story with that person, see the person grow and change, and survive the story. If the protagonist does not survive, then the reader should know that from the start. It’s an unfair deception otherwise.

Seeing clearly
Before I go to sleepThe reader expects you to keep the story clear whether it’s a deep, stylish unpicking of a character on a personal inner journey, a lighthearted shopping and friends story or an action adventure ‘twists and turns’ thriller. Of course, a mystery has to be devious. e.g. think of S J Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, a wondrously deceptive book, but very clearly written. You can combine types of story, e.g. historical whodunits, but these range from Lindsey Davis’ straightforward tales about the cynical, witty and dumped-upon Falco to Umberto Eco’s labyrinthine and literary, but eminently readable The Name of the Rose.

Avoiding bumpiness and dreariness
Apart from clear, evocative writing, readers expect a book to be well-structured with a beginning, middle and end – that’s obvious – but they also don’t want a bumpy ride along the way.  Spending a a paragraph or two describing the glint of a knife as it slides into the sheath strapped on the protagonist’s smooth-skinned shapely leg sets up an expectation that the knife  or maybe the shapely leg will play an important part in a future scene. Nor do we need to see a sunset graphically described for a page.Thanks to Google and friends’ photos on social media most people know what a spectacular sunset looks like. However, if that sunset is relevant to a crucial scene, then a description is fine, but only for a sentence or two!

Minor character misuse
crowds_smYou introduce a minor character into your novel because you’ve promised your BFF, your mother, or somebody who won inclusion as a prize in a charity draw.  You give them a different name, talk about their penchant for quail’s eggs or fatty chips, give them a shining waterfall of chestnut locks, or spots and a grotesque tattoo, and you write some snappy dialogue in their speech register. They fetch a file, order in food, visit a cousin, then disappear. If that’s all they do, there is no point to their existence and you have wasted words as well as bewildered, and probably annoyed, the reader. Secondary characters have one purpose only – to help drive the story forward. They are not interesting otherwise.

Endings
And lastly, no alien space bats/dei ex machina,/waking up from dreams/new characters to the rescue to conclude the story. My favourite hate is when the author kills off the character for no good reason.  Sacrifice, a terminal illness (leave clues, please) and suicide because they’ve been found out are all perfectly acceptable, though. ;-) Of course, a twist is fabulous and in my books, mandatory, but there have to be clues laid throughout the book. In a totally unofficial poll in respect of INCEPTIO, one or two people guessed the twist, quite a number knew by halfway something was brewing but didn’t know what and the paranoid among my  friends said, ‘I know what you’re like – there’s bound to be something.’

Make the book have a purpose for the reader – a problem to solve, a character to change, a lesson to learn, or what’s the point?

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is out early summer 2014.

PERFIDITAS is on tour!

Perfiditas_Tour Banner_FINAL

Interviews, reviews, spotlights and giveaways along the way. See you there!

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
INCEPTIO   PERFIDITAS

Tuesday, April 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 16
Interview at Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, April 17
Spotlight & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Monday, April 21
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, April 23
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 25
Interview at Dianne Ascroft

Monday, April 28
Spotlight & Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Tuesday, April 29
Review at Ink Sugar Blog

Wednesday, April 30
Interview & Giveaway at Ink Sugar Blog

Friday, May 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Thursday, May 8
Interview & Giveaway at Books and Benches

Monday, May 12
Guest Post at Royalty Free Fiction

Tuesday, May 13
Review & Interview at Tower of Babel

Friday, May 16
Spotlight at Reviews by Molly

My sincere thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for their splendid organisation.

If you’d like to Tweet about the tour, just click here: http://ctt.ec/C2e8p

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is out early summer 2014.

How the Romans celebrated spring

!cid_63217AD6-BD98-4D64-91A4-F01C336A3052[1]Welcome to the SilverWood Books Spring Blog Hop!

Some of our authors have come together to share a variety of articles and items of interest on their blogs for your enjoyment. There are some lovely giveaway prizes, and – to stay in keeping with the spring and rebirth theme at this time of year – some colourful Easter eggs.

Feel free to collect the eggs, and use them where you like. They were drawn by SilverWood author Peter St John who writes the ‘Gang’ series about a boy who was evacuated to a village near Ipswich during WWII. Meet Peter and his characters on the Blog Hop, along with a host of eggcellent SilverWood authors. ;-)
Have fun!
Helen Hart
Publishing Director, SilverWood Books 
www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk 


Spring – awakening from winter sleep, the celebration of new life, blossoms and fertility. In many religions, the revival from the dead and a fresh start.

Until the arrival of Christianity, Easter did not exist as a festival for Romans. So how did they mark the arrival of spring? We have three alternatives: Cerealia, Parilia and Floralia.

268px-Alma_Tadema_Spring

Spring (1894) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, depicting the Cerealia in a Roman street

Ovid hints at its archaic, brutal nature of the Cerealia (held for seven days from mid to late April) when he describes a nighttime ritual; blazing torches were tied to the tails of live foxes, who were released into the Circus Maximus. The origin and purpose of this ritual are unknown; it may have been intended to cleanse the growing crops and protect them from disease and vermin, or to add warmth and vitality to their growth. Ovid suggests that long ago, at ancient Carleoli, a farm-boy caught a fox stealing chickens and tried to burn it alive. The fox escaped, ablaze; in its flight it fired the fields and their crops, which were sacred to Ceres. Ever since, foxes are punished at her festival.

The ludi Ceriales – games were essential to any Roman festival – were held in the Circus Maximus. Ovid mentions that Ceres’ search for her lost daughter Proserpina was represented by women clothed in white, running about with lighted torches. During the Republican era, the Cerealia was organised by the plebeian aediles (minor public magistrates), Ceres being one of the patron deities of the plebs or common people.

The festival included circus games (ludi circuses), opening with a horse race in the Circus Maximus, with a starting point just below the Aventine Temple of Ceres, Liber and Libera. After around 175 BC, the Cerealia included ludi scaenici, theatrical performances.

Suvée_Festa_di_Pales

Festa di Pales, o L’estate (1783), Joseph-Benoît Suvée

The annual festival of the Parilia on 21 April, intended to purify both sheep and shepherd, was in honour of Pales, a deity of uncertain gender who was a patron of shepherds and sheep.

Ovid describes the Parilia at length in the Fasti, an elegiac poem on the Roman religious calendar, and implies that it predates the founding of Rome, traditionally 753 BC, as indicated by its pastoral, pre-agricultural concerns. During the Republic, farming was idealised and central to Roman identity, so the festival took on a more generally rural character. Increasing urbanisation caused the rustic Parilia to be reinterpreted rather than abandoned, reflecting Rome’s traditionalist nature. During the Imperial period, the date was celebrated as Rome’s ‘birthday’ (dies natalis Romae).

743px-Giovanni_Battista_Tiepolo_090

Triumph of Flora by Tiepolo (ca. 1743),

And lastly, the Floralia celebrated the goddess Flora, and took place on 27 April during the Republican era, or April 28 on the Julian calendar. It began in Rome in 240 or 238 B.C. when the temple to Flora was dedicated to invoke the goddess’s protection of blossoms, essential to the life cycle of food-producing plants. The Floralia fell out of favour and was discontinued until 173 BC, when the senate, concerned about wind, hail, and other damage to the flowers, ordered Flora’s celebration reinstated as the ludi Florales (or ludi Florae). (See Ovid Fasti 5.292 ff and 327 ff.). Under the Empire, the games lasted for six days.

The festival had a licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere and in contrast to festivals based on Rome’s archaic patrician religion, the games of Flora had a plebeian character.

800px-Fasti_Praenestini_Massimo_n3

Fragment of the Fasti Praenestini showing a note on the Ludi Florae

The games of Flora were presented by the plebeian aediles and paid for by fines, and probably partly by these aediles, who used the games as a socially acceptable way of gaining popularity and so votes in future elections for higher office. Cicero mentions his role in organising the Floralia games when he was aedile in 69 BC. (Orationes Verrinae ii, 5, 36-7). The festival opened with theatrical performances (ludi scaenici), and concluded with competitive events and spectacles at the Circus and a sacrifice to Flora. In 30 AD, the entertainments at the Floralia presented under the emperor Galba featured a tightrope-walking elephant.

Participation of prostitutes
Prostitutes participated in the Floralia; according to the satirist Juvenal, prostitutes danced naked and fought in mock gladiator combat. Many prostitutes in ancient Rome were slaves, and even free women who worked as prostitutes lost their legal and social standing as citizens, but their inclusion at religious festivals indicates that sex workers were not completely outcast from society.

Symbols
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOvid says that hares (Aha!) and goats – animals considered fertile and salacious – were ceremonially released as part of the festivities. Persius says that the crowd was pelted with vetches, beans, and lupins, also symbols of fertility.
In contrast to the Cerealia, when white garments were worn, multi-coloured clothing was customary. There may have been evening ceremonies, since sources mention measures taken to light the way after the theatrical performances.

Egg 3And eggs? In Rome, the egg symbolised life and fertility and was used in the rites of Venus (the patroness of the month of April). An egg preceded the religious procession for Ceres, goddess of agriculture (see Cerealia above). Macrobius wrote that in the rites of Liber, Roman god of fertility and wine (who was also called Bacchus and identified with Dionysius), eggs were honoured, worshipped, and called the symbol of the universe, the beginning of all things. Eggs are represented on Roman sarcophagi, perhaps with the wish that the spirit of the departed may have a renewal of life.
As a gesture to the symbol of new life, there are six decorated eggs scattered throughout the SilverWood Authors Spring Hop – collect them all and feel free to use them on your own Blog or Facebook – or wherever you like!

And today?
In Romania, Palm Sunday is called Duminica Floriilor, a name derived from Floralia; as often happened, the name of a long established Roman festival was given to a Christian feast celebrated during the same season.

Along with other traditional Roman festivals, Roma Novans celebrate Floralia. In SUCCESSIO it’s on the last night of Floralia that Allegra, Carina and Conrad’s daughter, is beaten and left for dead…

If you’d like to be entered for the draw for a signed paperback of PERFIDITAS, leave a comment below by Saturday 26 April 12 midnight UK time.

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Do hop over the other sites for further colourful Easter eggs to collect giveaway prizes!

Helen Hollick :  Let us Talk of Many Things  - Fictional Reality
http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/fictional-reality-silverwood-blog-hop.html

Anna Belfrage : Step inside…   - Is freezing in a garret a prerequisite
https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/is-freezing-in-a-garret-a-prerequisite/

Edward Hancox : Iceland Defrosted - Seaweed and cocoa
http://icelanddefrosted.com/2014/04/16/silverwood-blog-hop-seaweed-cocoa/

Lucienne Boyce : Lucienne Boyce’s Blog - The Female Writer’s Apology
http://francesca-scriblerus.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-female-writers-apology-or-then-and.html

Matlock the Hare :  Matlock the Hare Blog -  Pid-padding the self-published Pathway…
http://matlockthehare.blogspot.co.uk/

Caz Greenham : Caz’s Devon Blog Diary - Springtime and hanging baskets
http://cazgreenhamdotblogspotdotwordpressdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/silverwood-authors-spring-blog-hop-springtime-and-hanging-baskets/

Michael Wills :  Michael Wills - A Doomed Army
http://www.michaelwills.eu/2014/04/a-doomed-army/

Isabel Burt : Friday Fruitfulness  -  Flees for the Easter Hop…
http://isabelburt.com/

John Rigg : An Ordinary Spectator - Television Lines
http://www.anordinaryspectator.com/news-blog%20

Debbie Young : Young By Name - The Alchemy of Chocolate
http://authordebbieyoung.com/2014/04/17/the-alchemy-of-chocolate/

Peter St John : Jenno’s Blog -  My Village
http://jennospot.blogspot.fr/2014/04/my-village_16.html

Helen Hart : SilverWood Books Ltd
http://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk/

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is out early summer 2014.

Meet Carina Mitela, main character...

Antoine Vanner, who writes the Dawlish Chronicles, cracking naval adventure stories in the 19th Century, has invited me to participate in a blog-hop about meeting writers’ main characters. I asked Carina, the heroine of INCEPTIO and PERFIDITAS, if she’d like to take part and she said, ‘Sure’.

Carina Mitela_smWhat is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
My name is Carina Mitela and to me I’m real enough. I guess that as I live in what you writers called an alternate historical world you might not think that…

When and where is the story set?
My current adventure starts in the present day, in Roma Nova, where I live with my husband, Conradus and three children, Allegra, Tonia (Antonia) and Gil (Gillius). But I do get to travel to the UK in this one, which doesn’t work out too well for my health.

What should we know about her?
Hey, what do you want to know? I’m tall, around 1.75m, and 39 years old. I’m a serving officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces and love my life. Oh, and I belong to the Mitela family, one of the founding families of Roma Nova sixteen hundred years ago, so sometimes I have to do ceremonial stuff. But I prefer being with my troops, out there catching the bad guys who threaten the imperatrix, our ruler, and state.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
Just when you think everything is in balance, curveballs come at you from every direction; some woman claims to be your husband’s daughter, a buried childhood problem surfaces with spades to threaten my beloved husband, Conrad, and teenagers think they can defeat a vicious destroyer. And then the personal gets professional; an assault rifle barrel is pressed up against the head of the imperial heir.

What is the personal goal of the character?
To defend me and mine against threats, but to protect the imperatrix and Roma Nova in general. That’s what Praetorians do. The problem is when the two come into conflict….

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
As it’s about what happens next in my life as well as the next generation, it’s called SUCCESSIO which covers both ideas nicely. Here’s a little more about it, but this information is totally confidential. Nobody wants to be thrown in the central military prison for blabbing state secrets. There will be timed disclosure of other facts, so if you want to be in the loop, subscribe here.

When can we expect the book to be published?
Okay, that’s an easy one  – the beginning of June, probably just after the Kalends.

Well, thank you, Major Carina Mitela, for your time. We’ll let you get back on duty.

And who am I tagging to answer the same questions on their blog on Saturday 19 April?

Elisabeth_StorrsElisabeth Storrs whose debut novel, The Wedding Shroud, was published by Pier 9 Murdoch Books in Australia and New Zealand in 2010. It is the first novel in the Tales of Ancient Rome series. When Murdoch Books was taken over in 2012, Elisabeth chose to retain all rights to The Wedding Shroud and independently published digital and paperback editions. It has since been judged runner-up in the 2012 international Sharp Writ Book Awards for general fiction and was a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book of the Year in literary fiction. The second volume in the series,The Golden Dice was named as one of the top memorable reads of 2013 by Sarah Johnson, the reviews editor forHistorical Novels Review. The third volume, Call to Juno, is currently being written. www.elisabethstorrs.com

UPDATE: read Elisabeth’s terrific post here.

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is out early summer 2014.

Day 3 at the London Book Fair

At SilverWood BooksToday was a ‘lighter’ day. After the ALLi celebratory party yesterday we were all a little quieter, but still kept up a busy routine. My first ‘appointment’ of the day was to talk through the fine detail of book production with SilverWood Books’ publishing director, Helen Hart. The third book in my Roma Nova thriller series, SUCCESSIO,  is out at the beginning of June. I also confirmed the date and venue of the launch. Although that’s entirely my responsibility, it means SilverWood can announce it on their website in coordination with my own marketing.

Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde

 

Around midday, I went to Author HQ to hear science fiction/fantasy (SFF) book publisher Jo Fletcher, historic fiction writer M C (Manda) Scott and romance/women’s fiction writer (and RNA president) Katie Fforde speak about writing in their respective genres.

M C Scott

M C Scott

 

 

All emphasised how important it was to read in the genre you are writing, to be relevant in the genre and to do your research. I noticed RNA stalwarts Christina Courtenay, Sue Moorcroft, Evelyn Ryle, and Jenny Haddon in the audience.

Alison_Katie_Manda

 

 

Katie kindly bought Manda and me a healthy crush (which was both delicious and reviving); we chatted together afterwards in the quiet of the Random House stand.

 

Christina Courtney_Sue Moorcroft_LBF

Next was a quick visit to the Choclit stand to see Christina Courtenay and Sue Moorcroft (authors and the RNA Chair and Vice-Chair respectively).

I talked to fellow authors throughout the day, and later to writers who were interested in using SilverWood Books’ services. There are many routes to publication and an ethical author services company such as SilverWood Books provides is but one.

My impressions from the three days?
- Authors talking to each other across genres, publishing routes, and channels
- the enthusiasm and excellent organisation behind ALLi events
- the better level of the author events
- the continued and increasing interest in ways of self-publishing.

Earls CourtAnd finally, goodbye to Earls Court. This was the last London Book Fair here. In 2105, LBF will be moving to Olympia.

 

Read about Day 1 and Day 2

 

 

Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIO, and PERFIDITAS. Third in series, SUCCESSIO, is out early summer 2014.