An Excerpt: Robin Hood’s Widow by Olivia Longueville & J.C. Plummer

 

 

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Don’t miss this unique retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

England, 1154-1194
A kingdom under assault.
A conspiracy born of anarchy.
A hero standing against tyranny.

Robin’s duty to his king sends him on an odyssey that will unfold from the streets of Paris to the banks of the Danube. From incredible triumphs on the battlefields of the Crusade, to harrowing sea voyages, to a desperate dash across the frozen landscape of Central Europe, Robin Hood must ensure that King Richard safely returns to England.

Meanwhile, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest rise again under a new leader—and she is unwavering in her pursuit of justice against the tyranny of Sheriff de Argentan. Marian endures the heartbreak of widowhood only to find strength and purpose as she leads a small band of devoted men in her quest for vengeance while she protects Robin’s legacy.

Sir Guy of Gisborne, tormented by his conscience and enslaved by the sheriff, faces the wraith-like fury of the woman he once loved. How do you find forgiveness when you have committed an unforgivable crime? He must attempt a daunting journey of redemption, while finding inspiration from an unexpected source.

And through it all, Robin, Marian, and Guy are entangled in a web of treachery spun by the King of France and his sinister advisor, Montlhéry, as the plot to dismantle the Angevin Empire and take the throne of England from the Plantagenets boldly continues.

Part two of an exciting three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

Although the books in the trilogy are not stand-alone, they do not end in cliffhangers.

 

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Excerpts

Prologue: A Widow’s Journey

 

9 April 1192, North of Poitiers, On the Banks of the Clain River

Bracing herself against a tree, Marian gasped for air, clutching her side as she struggled to catch her breath. She felt as though she had been running for hours.

“I think we lost that man who was following us,” Much shouted over the roar of the nearby river.

Allan, who was also winded from their dash along the riverbank, followed behind as they skirted the tree line of a dense forest. Bent over at the waist and panting, he asked, “Did you recognize him?”

Much peered over his shoulder again. “No, but he looked familiar.”

Finally able to speak, Marian interjected sharply, “All I care about is returning to England as soon as possible. The king commanded me to go to the court in Poitiers, and I did. I made no promises that I would stay there.”

“We are very far from home, with few coins…” Much faltered as Marian glared at him.

“You told me you knew the way,” she reminded him.

“I do,” declared Much. “I traveled between Aquitaine and the ports in Normandy many times with Lord Robin.”

She stared at him for a moment. The sound of Robin’s name struck her like a physical blow, as if Gisborne’s dagger were piercing her heart just as it had pierced Robin’s. Paralyzing anguish besieged her mind until Allan’s warm hand on her shoulder interrupted her descent into the black abyss of her grief.

“Much will guide us, and I will earn coins by performing in the towns along the way. It will take time, but we will be back in Nottinghamshire in a month or so.”

Marian gazed into Allan’s kind eyes and then Much’s troubled frown. They were both looking at her with such pity that she was overcome by an irrational fury—a toxic brew of bitterness that these men lived, while Robin lay buried in the Holy Land, crushing guilt that she hadn’t revealed her secret to Robin, and hatred for the men who had taken her husband from her: Guy of Gisborne, Sheriff de Argentan, and even King Richard. They all shared some blame in the tragedy of Robin’s death.

She recoiled from Allan’s attempt to comfort her. “We will do whatever is necessary to speed our journey,” she stipulated. “Allan will sing his ballads, and if we need to steal or beg, then we will do it. Nothing is more important than returning home and avenging…” she swallowed to maintain a steady voice, “Robin’s murder.”

The day was drawing to a close, so they made camp. Despite the chill of the spring night, it was too risky to build a fire, since Much was still worried about the man who had followed them when they slipped away from the palace.

Fortunately, Queen Eleanor had not been in Poitiers, so security around the keep had been lax. The dowager queen had traveled to England the previous month, determined to thwart Prince John’s scheme to join forces with King Philippe of France to undermine King Richard while he was away on the Crusade.

Marian had insisted on taking the first watch. She leaned against a tree at the edge of camp, hoping that she could detect the sound of approaching danger over the rustling of leaves and the whoosh of the river. At least the full moon brightened the forest, although the pale light left everything drained of color and vibrancy.

Like her life without Robin.

She willed herself to think of something besides Robin’s death. Instead, she reminisced about another full moon, now over three and a half years ago, when Robin had rescued her from the sheriff. They had pledged to marry and had later become one. It had been the true beginning of her marriage to Robin.

She desperately wanted to fill her mind with joyful memories like those of that fateful, glorious night. But again and again, the happy recollections would transform into the same horrific scene, and she would relive Robin’s death. The details were so vivid in her mind: kneeling in the gritty dirt, the soft texture of his hair against her cheek as she cradled him in her arms, and the sharp bristles of his short beard as they shared one last kiss. After his death, she had held his hand, clinging to its warmth and begging God to either restore his life or take hers as well.

At that moment, Marian had wanted nothing more than to join Robin in heaven. But with time to reflect, she realized that seeking death would not honor Robin or protect his legacy, and it could very well condemn her soul to eternal hellfire.

By the time she disembarked at Marseilles, she had dried her tears and resolved to resist the grief that relentlessly pulled her towards a chasm of black despair. She would not surrender her spirit to the melancholy allure of endless mourning.

Instead, she would take action. First, she would honor the blood oath she swore over Robin’s body by making Gisborne and Argentan suffer for their murderous deeds. Then she vowed to devote the rest of her life to ensuring that Robin’s legacy would endure and thrive. This would be her sacred mission as Robin Hood’s widow.

 

 

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Chapter 1: Failure is Like the Sun

 

29 April 1192, City of Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem

The sound of horses approaching him from behind caused Robin to draw his dagger and pivot to face his attackers. The distinctive cadence of galloping hooves striking the cobblestone street triggered an intense memory of men on horseback, charging towards him with their swords drawn and surrounding him as he defended the woman he loved and the king he served.

At first, it all seemed so real, but when he blinked, the attacking soldiers morphed into a trio of mounted Knights Hospitaller riding past him as they hurried down the street. Their weapons were not drawn, and they did not even glance in his direction. An embarrassed Robin sheathed his dagger and continued on his journey to the harbor.

It had been two months since Guy of Gisborne had nearly killed him. During his recovery, Robin’s existence had alternated between excruciating pain and lethargic befuddlement. Eventually, he had refused to take any more of the mind-numbing poppy potion, resisting the entreaties of the king’s physician, Ranulphus Besace.

And when the doctor informed him that he must remain in his chamber, Robin had resolved to leave at the first opportunity. As soon as Ranulphus was called away to an emergency, Robin had dressed, retrieved a bag of coins hidden in his trunk’s false bottom, and headed towards the harbor of Acre.

No doctor, not even King Richard himself, would hinder his mission.

As he walked away from the citadel, he initially felt overjoyed to be on his feet and free of his confinement. His injuries were much improved. However, as he moved through the ancient city, the tightness in his chest became a throbbing pain that frequently caused him to stop and lean against a wall to catch his breath. A sheen of cold sweat enveloped him, and his head repeatedly spun in a dizzy spiral that threatened to send him crashing onto the pavement in an unconscious heap.

Robin grimly trudged onward. At the harbor, he would board a ship where he would have plenty of time to rest from his exertions. Regardless of his pain and discomfort, there was nothing more important than traveling to Marseilles, and from there, Poitiers.

During his convalescence, the alarming discovery that King Richard had sent Marian to Poitiers dominated his thoughts. He knew that she would learn the truth, and he wouldn’t be there to explain it to her. He decided to go there without delay and beg Marian to forgive him. Then, he would return to the Holy Land and fulfill his duties to Richard.

He had sacrificed enough for his king; now he would do something for himself and his wife. He smiled at the thought that Marian was his wife. Even if she was furious with him, they were still irrevocably and eternally joined.

When Robin entered the port, he noticed that it was unusually busy. The assembled men were abuzz with conversation, and many seemed angry and agitated. He pushed through the crowd, distracted by the snippets of conversation that he overheard.

“… It happened just after midday.”

“The Assassins are famous for striking in broad daylight. They…”

Robin paused to listen, but the men moved away from him. He had heard of the fearsome Assassins; they were Saracen mercenaries known for their willingness to kill for hire. He tried to hear what others were saying. The disjointed fragments of sentences were both intriguing and disturbing.

“… stabbed him in the back…”

“… They captured one, the other was killed…”

“… died in agony. Count Henry left at once—”

This revelation caused Robin to stop in his tracks. These men were talking about Count Henry of Champagne, nephew to both King Richard and King Philippe, a trusted ally of Richard, and one of Robin’s friends.

The other men took notice of Robin’s eavesdropping, and they stopped talking as they glared at him warily. Robin averted his gaze, for he did not want to be recognized, and he continued his walk towards the ships moored along the pier. Although his curiosity had been roused, he forced himself to refocus on his mission.

Traversing the wharf, he selected the largest vessel and inquired about its itinerary. The ship was traveling to Cyprus, then Sicily, and finally Marseilles. It was perfect for Robin’s needs. He informed a sailor that he wished to buy passage, and the young man left to find the captain.

After a short delay, the captain lumbered down the gangway and approached Robin, squinting suspiciously at the thin, pale young man dressed in a nondescript, hooded cloak. He brusquely demanded, “Payment is required up front. I need to see your coins.” The scowling captain looked him over from head to foot. “What’s the matter with you? You can barely stand. I ain’t taking any sick passengers.”

Robin knew the captain was within his rights to refuse passage to anyone. He cursed the wave of dizziness that briefly seized him and decided that the best course of action would be to answer honestly. “I’m not sick; I’m recovering from a battle wound.” Robin lowered his voice, “I would appreciate your discretion, so please don’t reveal this to anyone: I am the Earl of Huntingdon.”

The captain’s reaction was unexpected. For a few moments, he just stared at Robin, his mouth agape. Then he threw his head back and howled with laughter. Now it was Robin’s turn to stare open-mouthed at the other man.

“Was this battle wound to your head?” The captain guffawed.

“I don’t understand—”

“You ain’t right in the head, and you ain’t no Earl of Huntingdon. Everyone knows he was killed months ago.”

Robin was flabbergasted. This made no sense. He struggled to respond, but shadows were creeping into the edges of his vision.

The captain continued, “Get away from me before I call for the guards. With the king’s assassination, I have more important things to do than bother with you.”

The shock of hearing such news cleared the cobwebs from his mind. Robin stepped closer to the man and questioned, “Are you telling me that someone has killed King Richard? When? How?”

The other man pushed him away, and Robin tottered before grabbing a nearby railing to steady himself.

“Get out of here, you daft fool. I’m not talking about King Richard. Yesterday, Assassins killed King Conrad in Tyre. Where have you been that you didn’t know this?” The captain studied him with heightened mistrust.

Just then, a contingent of soldiers burst onto the wharves, shouting for everyone to make way. The lead guard announced loudly that they were searching for a man who had escaped from the citadel.

Robin and the captain watched with interest as the soldiers moved through the crowd, methodically inspecting each man.

Someone shouted, “What’s this man look like?”

The man in charge replied, “He’s a fair-haired Englishman who is thin and sickly. He’s delusional and thinks he’s a nobleman.”

Abruptly, the ship’s captain waved at the soldiers and hollered, “He’s here! Look!”

Robin looked at the man in surprise, and when he looked back at the soldiers, they were now running towards him and yelling, “Hold him!”

The captain grabbed his arm, and Robin’s instincts took command. He pulled away from the man’s grasp while kicking him in the knee. Howling in pain, the sea captain released him.

Another pair of hands reached for him, but Robin ducked and sprinted away from the soldiers. He dashed into the maze of narrow alleyways connecting the harbor with the rest of the city. His heart was pounding painfully in his chest. His mouth had become so dry that he was coughing and retching, and his eyesight was growing dimmer by the moment.

He could hear the men behind him. They were getting closer and closer. Robin realized that he was crawling on his hands and knees, no longer able to stand, let alone run. And then an ebony oblivion descended upon him.

 

 

An early medieval feast.

 

 

Chapter 4: The Feast of Midsummer

 

24 June 1192, Sherwood Forest, Near the Fortress of Nottingham

“I think we should tie him behind a horse and drag him through the village and into the forest. That would be a miserable death,” Will suggested.

Much had a better idea. “That death is too quick. I want to stab him in the stomach with a small dagger. The wound will not kill him immediately. Instead, he will live long enough for it to fester. That is the most miserable way to die.”

Little John grunted appreciatively; he liked both ideas.

The day was drawing to a close, and Marian was sitting on the ground with the three men in a thickly wooded area near the fortress of Nottingham as they awaited Allan’s return.

She was morbidly fascinated by the men’s proposals for killing Guy of Gisborne.

“Let’s cut him up, piece by piece. We’ll start by cutting off his—” John stopped abruptly.

“Cut off his what?” asked Marian. When she saw John pale and Will blush, she knew the answer to her question. She also blushed.

“What is taking Allan so long?” Much hastily changed the subject.

Marian stood and walked to the tree line of the forest, and the men followed her. They were on a hill that overlooked the river, and on the far side of the river, steep cliffs jutted out of the ground. The castle walls were perched at the top of the cliffs, and beyond the walls stood the stone keep of Nottingham castle. The tallest part of the keep was the tower where Sheriff de Argentan held court.

Marian remembered only too well her visits to that tower room. She shivered at the memory and drew Robin’s cloak around her shoulders. Upon her return to Nottinghamshire, she had gone to the old hunting lodge where she found a trunk belonging to Robin. His clothing was too big for her, but she had made a few alterations, and now she wore his clothes, including the hooded cloak that had been partly responsible for his outlaw name. Even though the clothing had lost Robin’s scent, it still made her feel closer to him.

She also had his bow slung across her shoulder and his quiver tied to her belt. She had planned to carry his sword, but it was so long that its tip dragged on the ground when the sheath was attached to her belt. The weight of the sword was another problem, so she carried a dagger instead.

At that moment, Allan emerged from the thick brush surrounding them.

“What is happening at the castle?” Marian inquired.

“Visitors have arrived for the Feast of Midsummer,” Allan reported. “I met with Kenric’s friend who works in the kitchens. He says there are many wealthy nobles in attendance, and he believes it is a meeting of Prince John’s supporters.”

[…]

Much angrily interjected, “We must kill Gisborne at once. He has no right to be breathing the same air as Lady Marian!”

John was formulating a plan. “We will wait along the road between Nottingham and Locksley and ambush him.”

[…]

The flow of ideas between the four men intensified as each gave his opinion and attempted to shout down competing schemes.

The noise became unbearable for Marian; she covered her ears and yelled, “Quiet!” She was astonished when the men stilled and gazed attentively at her. She had never commanded such obedience from men, and she was briefly frozen in shock.

Suddenly, an idea formed in her mind. It was audacious and unprecedented. But in that moment, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Rallying her courage, she declared, “We will punish both Gisborne and Argentan, but I want them to know that their suffering is the result of what they did to Robin. And I also want to ensure that Robin’s legacy is protected. Will you follow me as you once followed Robin?”

“My lady, how can you lead us? You are but a girl. What if you are captured or injured?” Little John’s concerned, fatherly gaze caused Marian to swallow nervously.

Undeterred, she asserted, “Robin and his uncle Edmund taught me how to use weapons and how to think strategically. John, you will be my captain and assist me.”

“We are only four men. We cannot prevail against the sheriff and his soldiers,” Allan reminded them.

This instigated another round of arguing, and Marian again bade them to be quiet. She was pleased when they obeyed her without complaint. Gaining confidence, she acknowledged, “We might be at a disadvantage in numbers, but we are on the side of what is right. If we cannot use brute force to succeed, then we will outwit our enemy.”

Her words impressed the men. Perhaps she could lead them in the spirit of Robin Hood.

Little John went down on one knee in front of Marian, and the others echoed his movements. The outlaw pledged, “My lady, we are ready to dedicate our lives to serving you.”

Their show of devotion touched Marian’s heart. Realizing that the sun was dipping below the horizon, she instructed everyone to return to the small camp they had made nearby. As they left, Marian glanced over her shoulder at the sheriff’s tower. With the coming of twilight, she could see that its windows were brightly lit, and she wondered what nefarious plots were being hatched by Argentan and Gisborne.

 

 

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Chapter 5: The Road to Perdition

 

30 June 1192, On the Road South of Paris, Near the Town of Montlhéry

The sun had descended below the horizon, although the sky was still bright with the lingering glow of a long summer’s day. Robin and André made camp a short distance behind Raimbaut and his men. They could not light a fire without alerting the other men to their presence, so they were thankful for the balmy weather. At this point in their journey, they had become weary and discouraged.

As they had expected, Raimbaut traveled to Paris, where he entered the king’s palace and remained overnight.

King Philippe’s keep was well-guarded, so they had been reduced to watching and waiting. While in Paris, Robin and André had heard vicious rumors about King Richard and his behavior in the Holy Land. It had been frustrating to listen to such outlandish tales, yet there was nothing they could say or do to counter the gossip.

On their second day in Paris, Raimbaut had emerged from Philippe’s palatial keep late in the afternoon and gathered his men before setting out on the road which would take them back to Poitiers. Robin and André were no wiser than they had been before their arrival in Poitou the previous week, and they had debated whether to stay in Paris or follow Raimbaut. They could find no easy way to slip into the royal residence, which was situated on an island in the river. Reluctantly, they chose to follow Raimbaut.

Settling in for the night, they refrained from conversation for fear that their voices would carry in the still air. They could hear indistinct sounds from Raimbaut’s camp. The men were in high spirits as they headed home.

Robin contemplated their options. Perhaps they should return to Paris and infiltrate Philippe’s court. They would need to obtain nicer clothing. But could they find a way into the court without being recognized or without their accents giving them away? Both he and André were fluent in French, but there would always be slight variations in their pronunciations and inflections that might betray them as interlopers.

He sighed. The answers which Richard sought could only be found at the French court. Following Raimbaut back to Poitiers was pointless.

“What troubles you, Robin?” André whispered to him.

“I was recalling my last conversation with Richard before we departed the Holy Land. I think we should abandon Raimbaut and return to Paris,” murmured Robin.

“Can you disclose what the king said?”

Maintaining a low voice, Robin explained, “During the regicide attempt, Richard recognized Baron de Argentan, but not from the Poitevin court.”

André leaned closer, his full attention upon Robin. “I don’t understand your meaning.”

“Richard was certain that he had seen Argentan at the court in Paris. I believe we will find the answers there.”

His brow creased in concern, André insisted, “Tell me exactly what Richard said.”

“Do you remember when Richard and Philippe were allies fighting against King Henry?”

“I will never forget it. I was serving Richard, and he was determined to force his father to declare him next in line for the throne. Even though it was ill-omened for a father and son to make war against each other, Richard was correct that England and the Angevin lands needed a clear plan for the royal succession.”

Robin elaborated, “Richard went to Paris to strategize with Philippe, and he saw Argentan standing with the advisors, courtiers, and attendants along the periphery of the room. Richard’s exact words were: ‘Argentan was just one of many men standing in the shadows.’”

Worried that he had spoken too loudly, Robin lowered his voice. “I was shocked when the king said that, for it cannot be a coincidence.”

Robin’s cryptic remarks confused André. “I have spent more time at court than I care to admit. However, what he describes sounds like a typical day at court, with advisors and attendants hovering around the perimeter of the hall, awaiting a summons from their lord. What is so shocking about that?”

To clarify his meaning, Robin recollected, “Every time I have met Argentan, he has recited some absurd riddle about shadows. Gisborne even has a sword engraved with the phrase, From Shadows to Glory. I think shadows are a metaphor for secrets, but I’m not sure.”

“You are right; we should return to Paris.”

“Baron de Argentan once told me, ‘Someday the sun will break through the clouds and illuminate everything around us. The truth of the shadows will be revealed.’ I will welcome such sunshine,” commented Robin.

With those words, the two men fell into quiet contemplation until the urgent rhythm of hoof beats disrupted the peace of the forest. André unsheathed his sword as Robin grabbed his bow and quiver, and they hastened to the nearby road.

The dark shapes of a dozen mounted men-at-arms galloped past them and disappeared around a bend in the road, and within moments, a cacophony of shouting and screaming erupted. Risking discovery, André and Robin sprinted towards Raimbaut’s camp.

 

 

Wooden Flag of Nottinghamshire

 

 

Chapter 9: Marian Hood

18 July 1192, Sherwood Forest, On the Road to Nottingham

 […]

“Well, don’t you agree with me?” demanded his companion.

“Yes, of course, Sir Gervase,” Guy dutifully answered.

Sir Gervase Rainecourt was Prince John’s envoy, and he had been dispatched to Nottingham to meet with Argentan. He was the same age as John, and he was eager to remind everyone of his position as a confidant of the prince.

Guy had been tasked with meeting him at the border of Nottinghamshire and escorting him to the sheriff. Guy had also collected a bag of silver from their contact at the tavern in Dover, and he had noticed that the monthly bags of silver had decreased in weight since their return from the Holy Land.

Stifling a yawn as he endured yet another story about Gervase’s close relationship with the prince, Guy felt some gratification knowing that the sheriff would also find the man insufferable, but he would still have to curry favor with him.

[…]

Diverting John’s interest from Nottinghamshire was becoming increasingly difficult. Nearly every noble traveling to Nottingham during the past fortnight had been robbed. Marian and the outlaws took anywhere from a tenth to a quarter of whatever valuables they found […].

Gervase was still droning on and on about something Prince John had said or done; Guy had stopped listening several miles back. He glanced over his shoulder at Gervase’s men-at-arms as they marched behind the two mounted knights. The royal envoy had brought a dozen men with him, and they easily outnumbered Marian’s outlaws.

Looking forward, he tensed at the sight of two dark figures ahead. He was relieved to see that it was just an elderly couple hobbling along the road. They were swathed in tattered hooded cloaks and leaning heavily on walking sticks. Tomorrow was market day in Nottingham, and it was likely that they were on their way to sell whatever was wrapped in the bundles tied to their backs.

“Make way; we’re on the sheriff’s business,” he shouted.

The man bobbed his head, and they shuffled into the marshy ditch and tall weeds that bordered the old Roman road.

After scanning the forest on both sides of the road, Guy looked up, as if he expected Robin Hood to drop a net upon the soldiers from heaven. Sighing, he acknowledged that he needed to get more sleep.

“Look!” Gervase exclaimed.

Some thirty yards down the road, the red-headed outlaw who had accompanied Robin to the Holy Land stood at the tree line. On the opposite side of the road was the boy with the red scarf.

“Murderer!” roared Much. “You will be punished for killing Lord Robin!”

Will Scarlet said nothing, but he grinned at them and waved his scarf over his head.

“After them!” Gervase ordered. “Divide up, and bring me that forest vermin, dead or alive!”

His men eagerly started after the outlaws, who fearlessly stood there, easy prey for such trained wolves.

“Wait! You can’t send all your men after two outlaws,” insisted Guy.

Gervase agreed, and he sent three men after Much and three after Will. Once the soldiers drew near, Much and Will vanished into the forest.

Guy grew concerned that half of their men were now chasing after outlaws. “My lord, we should not tarry here.”

Before Gervase could respond, they heard a shout behind them. Turning, they saw Little John laughing and pointing his staff at them. He was at least twenty yards away, and the two elderly peasants were fearfully crouching in the ditch between the soldiers and the outlaw.

Once again, another outlaw stood across the road. He was playing a lute and loudly singing:

A rooster is a proud bird;
He tells everyone he’s king.
But although he rules a roost,
He lacks land and can’t take wing.

Guy suggested that they ignore the outlaws and hasten down the road, but the song’s insults to Prince John incensed Gervase. Much to Guy’s exasperation, he sent all his remaining men after Little John and Allan-a-dale.

Once again, when the soldiers drew close, the outlaws entered the forest, and Gervase’s men disappeared as they pursued them.

Guy glared at the other man in disbelief. “Who taught you military tactics?” he thundered. “You’ve sent all your men into the woods. Who will protect the sheriff’s silver?”

“Get off your horses and kneel on the ground. Place your hands on top of your head,” commanded a dulcet feminine voice.

Guy saw that the ‘old’ couple had dropped their burdens and pulled back their hoods. It was Marian and the Knight Templar, and they were aiming nocked arrows at them.

 

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Author Olivia Longueville robin hood

 

 

Olivia’s social media profiles:

Personal websiteOlivialongueville.com

Project websitewww.angevinworld.com

Twitter@O_Longueville

FacebookOlivia Longueville

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Author JC Plummer Robin hood

 

 

J. C. Plummer 

J.C. Plummer (Jennie Coleen) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Anthropology.  She later earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Dartmouth College.

Co-authoring The Robin Hood Trilogy has merged J.C.’s passions for history, culture, and technology into one unique, exciting project.

As an author and historian, J.C.’s goal is to provide thoughtful and entertaining storytelling that honors the past, is mindful of the present, and is optimistic for the future.

 

J.C.’s social media profiles:

Project websitewww.angevinworld.com

Twitter@JC_Plummer

FacebookJennie Newbrand

 

 

 

 

A Q&A With the Authors of Robin Hood’s Widow: Olivia Longueville & J.C. Plummer

 

Robin Hoods Widow book 2 image

 

 

Don’t miss this unique retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

England, 1154-1194
A kingdom under assault.
A conspiracy born of anarchy.
A hero standing against tyranny.

Robin’s duty to his king sends him on an odyssey that will unfold from the streets of Paris to the banks of the Danube. From incredible triumphs on the battlefields of the Crusade, to harrowing sea voyages, to a desperate dash across the frozen landscape of Central Europe, Robin Hood must ensure that King Richard safely returns to England.

Meanwhile, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest rise again under a new leader—and she is unwavering in her pursuit of justice against the tyranny of Sheriff de Argentan. Marian endures the heartbreak of widowhood only to find strength and purpose as she leads a small band of devoted men in her quest for vengeance while she protects Robin’s legacy.

Sir Guy of Gisborne, tormented by his conscience and enslaved by the sheriff, faces the wraith-like fury of the woman he once loved. How do you find forgiveness when you have committed an unforgivable crime? He must attempt a daunting journey of redemption, while finding inspiration from an unexpected source.

And through it all, Robin, Marian, and Guy are entangled in a web of treachery spun by the King of France and his sinister advisor, Montlhéry, as the plot to dismantle the Angevin Empire and take the throne of England from the Plantagenets boldly continues.

Part two of an exciting three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend!

Although the books in the trilogy are not stand-alone, they do not end in cliffhangers.

 

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Q&A written on blackboard

 

 

Author Q&A with Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows.  How is your trilogy different?

In our first book, Robin Hood’s Dawn, we re-imagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which included exploring his family dynamics: an aloof, selfish father and a kind-hearted mother devoted to ministering to the poor.  One theme is how the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations.  This is part of Robin’s legacy from his father.

We cast Robin as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official. When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff.  However, he feels a responsibility to the people because he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being.  Instead of running away, he stays to protect the people from the sheriff.  And this points to another theme: one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.

The second book, Robin Hood’s Widow, picks up where the first book ends. Robin is alive and still with King Richard in the Holy Land, but Marian, the sheriff, and Guy of Gisborne have returned to England thinking that Robin Hood is dead.

Robin Hood’s Widow explores themes of grief and redemption, while featuring Marian’s adventures as leader of the outlaws. Her story is interwoven with Robin’s quest to return home while fulfilling his obligations to King Richard.

In this book, we wanted to explore both the stages of grief and their non-linear nature. Experiencing loss and grief is not like climbing stairs; you don’t complete one stage, progress to the next, and eventually arrive at acceptance. The emotional turmoil of an earlier stage can reappear and reassert itself during the process.

That being said, this story is not sad or depressing; Robin Hood’s Widow is an optimistic tale of triumphing over adversity. 

You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been re-imagined.  Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?

There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend.  We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without adhering to the same story lines that have been previously written.  We hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.

However, we felt that Marian is a character who deserves more attention.  All too often she is a background character with little to do.  With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in Robin Hood’s Widow, where she takes center stage as the leader of the outlaws. She must learn how to lead while finding clever ways to thwart the sheriff and rob those supporters of Prince John who dare enter Sherwood Forest.  We also wanted Marian to be feminine and believable as a woman of the 12th century.    

Do the first two books of the trilogy end in cliff-hangers? Are the books stand alone?  

We have structured the trilogy so that the books do not end in cliff-hangers, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the books. 

Although we want readers to start with Robin Hood’s Dawn, we know that some might be more interested in Robin Hood’s Widow. Therefore, we have endeavored to provide enough information in the second book so that a new reader will not be lost.

Both Robin and Marian are guarding secrets that will be revealed in Robin Hood’s Widow!

How did you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?

Olivia:

The story of Robin Hood’s Widow is very special to me, and I wrote the original version after I experienced a devastating personal loss. Readers might be surprised to learn that Robin Hood’s Widow was written before Robin Hood’s Dawn!

I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters.  I am multi-lingual, and I enjoy writing stories in different languages.  My first novel is an English-language alternate history featuring Anne Boleyn.

I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet, and we decided to co-author a Robin Hood Trilogy with Robin Hood’s Widow as its centerpiece.  

So, you’ve never met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages.  How can you co-author a book?  Is it because you have similar writing styles?

Coleen:

Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!

Olivia:

We have found that we have a lot in common—especially our love of writing and of history.  We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this. 

Coleen:

That’s true.  Olivia and I have very different “voices” and writing styles.  You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.  

I write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes.  I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural sounding dialogue.

Olivia:

My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism.  I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.

Coleen:

In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect.  Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn and Robin Hood’s Widow

 

 

A hooded hunter with bow and arrows walks through a forest

 

 

Author Information

Below are the author biographies and social media profiles.  

Olivia Longueville 

Olivia has always loved literature and fiction, and she is passionate about historical research, genealogy, and the arts.  She has several degrees in finance & general management from London Business School (LBS) and other universities.  At present, she helps her father run the family business.  

During her first trip to France at the age of ten, Olivia had a life-changing epiphany when she visited the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau and toured its library.  This truly transformed her life as she realized her passion for books and writing, foreshadowing her future career as a writer.  In childhood, she began writing stories and poems in different languages.  Loving writing more than anything else in her life, Olivia has resolved to devote her life to creating historical fiction novels.  She has a special interest in the history of France and England.  

Having met on the Internet, Olivia and J. C. Plummer, a writer and historian, decided to co-author The Robin Hood Trilogy.  Olivia and J. C. are retelling the Robin Hood story with an unusual and imaginative plot that is solidly grounded in 12th century history. The trilogy incorporates twists and turns which will captivate and entertain readers.

 

Olivia’s social media profiles:

Personal websiteOlivialongueville.com

Project websitewww.angevinworld.com

Twitter@O_Longueville

FacebookOlivia Longueville

Tumblr: http://www.olivia-longueville.tumblr.com

 

J. C. Plummer 

J.C. Plummer (Jennie Coleen) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Anthropology.  She later earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Dartmouth College.

Co-authoring The Robin Hood Trilogy has merged J.C.’s passions for history, culture, and technology into one unique, exciting project.

As an author and historian, J.C.’s goal is to provide thoughtful and entertaining storytelling that honors the past, is mindful of the present, and is optimistic for the future.

 

J.C.’s social media profiles:

Project websitewww.angevinworld.com

Twitter@JC_Plummer

FacebookJennie Newbrand

Legal Thriller: No Truth Left To Tell by Michael McAuliffe an Excerpt

 

 

No Truth Left to Tell

 

February 1994—Lynwood, Louisiana: Flaming crosses light up the night and terrorize the southern town. The resurgent Klan wants a new race war, and the Klansmen will start it here. As federal civil rights prosecutor Adrien Rush is about to discover, the ugly roots of the past run deep in Lynwood.

For Nettie Wynn, a victim of the cross burnings and lifelong resident of the town’s segregated neighborhood, the hate crimes summon frightful memories of her youth, when she witnessed white townspeople lynch a black man. Her granddaughter Nicole DuBose, a successful journalist in New York City, returns to Lynwood to care for her grandmother. Rush arrives from DC and investigates the crimes with Lee Mercer, a seasoned local FBI special agent. Their partnership is tested as they clash over how far to go to catch the racists before the violence escalates. Rush’s role in the case becomes even more complicated after he falls for DuBose. When crucial evidence becomes compromisethreatening to upend what should be a celebrated conviction—the lines between right and wrong, black and white, collide with deadly consequences.

No Truth Left to Tell is a smart legal thriller that pulls readers into a compelling courtroom drama and an illusive search for justice in a troubled community.

 

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An Excerpt

NO TRUTH LEFT TO TELL

By Michael McAuliffe

 

Prologue

July 1920
Lynwood, Louisiana

 

The following excerpt is reprinted from No Truth Left to Tell by Michael McAuliffe, released on March 3, 2020. Reprinted with permission of Greenleaf Book Group. Copyright © 2020 Michael McAuliffe.

 

Nettie glided along the sidewalk in her best dress, her mother’s creation that would soon be too small. That Saturday, however, the colorful outfit still fit and perfectly complemented her wide smile and earnest stride. The dress was spring blue with flower patterns bursting open into full blossoms, quite like Nettie herself. 

She stayed out of the way of the white pedestrians inspecting her with what appeared to be a mixture of curiosity and irritation. “What’s that one doin’ here?” one woman asked as she passed by. So Nettie hugged the buildings as she moved, trying to disappear against the facades. There was something big going on in the square, but Nettie couldn’t see over or through the gathering, since she was just seven years old. 

She had pleaded with her parents to go with her father from their home in Mooretown, Lynwood’s section for blacks, to a nearby town while he delivered a meal to a close friend who was gravely ill. At the last minute, Nettie’s mother had wanted one more item added to the delivery from a store on Lynwood’s downtown square—an establishment that served them only from the back door off an alley. Nettie was supposed to wait in the car, but despite her father’s admonishments, the strange and festive noises drew her out into the nearby crowd where she was protected only by her look of youthful wonder. 

Lynwood’s civic core was comprised of an expanse of lawn with a massive oak reigning over the surroundings. Four perpendicular streets framed the lawn, and they had been closed for several hours so people could mingle without regard to sputtering cars. The attendees had obliged the gesture by swarming the entire area by midmorning. The day’s activities appeared to originate across the street nearer the tree, allowing the spectators along the periphery to wander about with more freedom. From where Nettie was she could see the crown of the tree, and she moved in that direction as if pulled by some invisible force. 

The day was hot and humid. High clouds had gathered through the morning and darkened the midday sky, but the music played on and people chatted in small groups as if they were at an annual parish fair. 

After several minutes of distant rumbling a sprinkle started, and it soon developed into cascading water pouring from invisible pots in the sky. The drenching dispersed the crowd into stores and under awnings. Deserted chairs and soda bottles lay across the lawn. 

The scattering of the masses created large openings around the square. What was an impenetrable wall of people became a flat, open field of vision. The oak, of course, remained right where it had begun decades before as a sapling. 

Nettie couldn’t run into any of the stores like the others caught out in the street during the rainstorm. So, like the oak, she remained standing, although now she had a clear view of the square. Her dress—dripping and heavy with water—would have distracted her in any other setting, but unanswered curiosity kept her searching the square for clues about the day’s festivities. 

The oak tree had long, thick branches, like the heavy arms of a giant. A braided rope was slung over one of these arms, out about ten feet from the trunk. The rope was wrapped once about the branch and secured to a large stake in the ground. The other end of the rope was fashioned into a noose, and suspended from it was the still body of a black man. The man’s neck was grotesquely angled, and the feet were bare. His hands were bound behind his back. 

Nettie leaned forward like she was about to rush toward the oak. But she neither ran away nor went to it. She stared up at what had been until moments before a living, breathing person. She was frozen in place and time—alone in the moment when her world changed forever. 

Her father came running from behind and snatched her up with such force that the dress ripped along a side seam. He covered her with his protective embrace and spirited her away to the car that waited in the alley. They headed straight home using back streets and little-known shortcuts, the car not speeding despite the urgency of the situation. The trip to deliver the meal basket was abandoned as her father kept swearing that he’d never go to the square again. 

Nettie didn’t look outside the car. She kept her head down and stared at one of the dress’s printed blossoms, the flower part of the pattern ending at the hemline to reveal her trembling knees. 

 

 

Michael McAulife

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael McAuliffe is the author of No Truth Left to Tell and has been a practicing lawyer for thirty years. He was a federal prosecutor serving both as a supervisory assistant US attorney in the Southern District of Florida and a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. In 2008, Michael was elected and served as the state attorney for Palm Beach County, leading an office of approximately 125 prosecutors. He was  known for leading the ethics reform movement in county that resulted in the creation of a permanent inspector general, an ethics commission, and new ethics code. Michael and his wife Robin Rosenberg, a US district judge, have three children and live in Florida and Massachusetts. For more information, please visit https://notruthlefttotell.com/

 

 

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The Crew Reviews: James Rollins – THE LAST ODYSSEY

 

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

 

 

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The Crew Reviews: James Rollins – THE LAST ODYSSEY

 

 

 

 

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To save the world and our future, Sigma Force must embark on a dangerous odyssey into an ancient past whose horrors are all too present in this page-turning thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author James Rollins that combines cutting-edge science, historical mystery, mythology, and pulse-pounding action.

For eons, the city of Troy—whose legendary fall was detailed in Homer’s Iliad—was believed to be myth, until archaeologists in the nineteenth century uncovered its ancient walls buried beneath the sands. If Troy was real, how much of Homer’s twin tales of gods and monsters, curses and miracles—The Iliad and The Odyssey—could also be true and awaiting discovery?

In the frozen tundra of Greenland, a group of modern-day researchers stumble on a shocking find: a medieval ship buried a half-mile below the ice. The ship’s hold contains a collection of even older artifacts—tools of war—dating back to the Bronze Age. Inside the captain’s cabin is a magnificent treasure that is as priceless as it is miraculous: a clockwork gold map imbedded with an intricate silver astrolabe. The mechanism was crafted by a group of Muslim inventors—the Banū Mūsā brothers—considered by many to be the Da Vincis of the Arab world—brilliant scientists who inspired Leonardo’s own work.

Once activated, the moving map traces the path of Odysseus’s famous ship as it sailed away from Troy. But the route detours as the map opens to reveal a fiery river leading to a hidden realm underneath the Mediterranean Sea. It is the subterranean world of Tartarus, the Greek name for Hell. In mythology, Tartarus was where the wicked were punished and the monstrous Titans of old, imprisoned.

When word of Tartarus spreads—and of the cache of miraculous weapons said to be hidden there—tensions explode in this volatile region where Turks battle Kurds, terrorists wage war, and civilians suffer untold horrors. The phantasmagoric horrors found in Homer’s tales are all too real—and could be unleashed upon the world. Whoever possesses them can use their awesome power to control the future of humanity.

Now, Sigma Force must go where humans fear to tread. To prevent a tyrant from igniting a global war, they must cross the very gates of Hell.

 

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Where The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow by Rashi Rohatgi

 

Autumn mountains at sunrise in Switzerland

 

EXCERPT

Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow

 

It’s 1905, and the Japanese victory over the Russians has shocked the British and their imperial subjects. Sixteen-year-old Leela and her younger sister, Maya, are spurred on to wear homespun to show the British that the Indians won’t be oppressed for much longer, either, but when Leela’s betrothed, Nash, asks her to circulate a petition amongst her classmates to desegregate the girls’ school in Chadrapur, she’s wary. She needs to remind Maya that the old ways are not all bad, for soon Maya will have to join her own betrothed and his family in their quiet village. When she discovers that Maya has embarked on a forbidden romance, Leela’s response shocks her family, her town, and her country firmly into the new century.

 

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The next day my cheeks, my eyes, and my hair are as good as they’re going to be when Nash arrives just after breakfast. Instead of inviting us to his family’s for lunch, he is taking Maya and me to Gol Ghar. Everybody, from children to grandparents, loves Gol Ghar, but I wonder if he’s chosen the grain silo so that we will have an excuse to walk hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder up the narrow staircase. As Maya tells him about the good luck we’ve had with the training college’s opening, I study him.

Nash has always been beautiful: his dark skin smooth, his broad lips projecting softness, his lashes longer than mine with three coats of petroleum jelly. Beautiful, and somehow therefore gentle: the Chowdhurys have always been successful, and lucky, and generous. They have nothing to prove, and Nash, a diamond in this fine setting, even less so. And so though he’s always been tall, and always looked at each person as though they were the only one left in the city, he’s always struck me as laughing, comforting, with kindness to spare. In childhood, we hardly saw anything of him, but once we were formally engaged, he withstood the taunts of his classmates and often swung by with ices or samosas or the choruses of songs from the latest films. It was easy for him to love, and as all I’d ever dreamed of was loving someone back, he was perfect.

He’s changed: his lanky frame has tightened, straightened, and as he listens to Maya, I can see in the stiffness of his hands in his lap and of his toes, curled around the edge of his sandals, that he’s kept the tiniest portion of his attention for himself. He is still beautiful, but also…threatening? Is that the right word for the way he makes my body, still seated and composed, feel called to attention against any inclination of its own? His hair is longer, I see—his barber must only have shaved him this morning, rather than give him the accompanying trim—and this imperfection lets me catch my breath.

The carriage is pulling up to the Gol Ghar— our very own Round House, our silly English silo that once held grain and now serves as a pleasure ground for those of us too brown to make use of the club—as Nash responds to Maya’s exclamation that she’s more than ready for us to go back to school next week. “But surely…” he says.

When Nargis and Mawiyya do that to me in school—trail off in the middle of a thought there’s no chance I could finish on my own—it’s to mock me, but Nash doesn’t mock. I realize that while Maya and I have had numerous conversations about my post-marriage life and how to keep it as seamless a transition as possible, Nash and I haven’t had any. “Why don’t you run slightly ahead and check on the crowd?” I ask Maya with our shared look. We trail her, slowly, and I want to throw my arms around him again, but instead I say, “You know I won’t attend the training college from August if you or your parents don’t approve.” I start with what Maya would call a barefaced lie because I suppose that, all said and done, it’s the truth. November, really, is wedding season, but ours is to be held as soon as the weather settles. Some families need time to negotiate; ours will be efficiently put together as Papa has ceded complete control to the Chowdhurys since, as even Koyal Chachi would agree, there’s no chance of their taste being anything less than impeccable.

“Oh, no, of course I wouldn’t dream of stopping you!” he says. He actually stops, and turns to me, and reaches for my hands before he realizes, and stops himself. “Leela, I didn’t realize you wanted to become a teacher, but I should have guessed. You’ve read all of the great histories of Chandrapur, and your Sanskrit is far better than mine. I’ve no right or desire to stop you making the most of yourself.” “Well, that’s good, then,” I say. “Though if I’m being honest, I mostly just want to attend the school to make sure I’m able to see Maya every day. I’m not used to a joint household and I’m not sure I’ll be able to play a dutiful daughter-in-law without her as a sounding board.” I pause, but Nash smiles, and laughs. “And after suffering through a mixed education, I think it will be nice to have the chance to teach in the Hindu school whenever it opens.”

We have only taken a few steps, but already Nash stops, causing the mother and daughter behind us to bump into our calves and mumble apologies. “Leela,” he murmurs, so softly I have to lean in to hear, and the proximity is causing my heart to do a furious dance. But then he keeps walking.

“Leela,” he says again after a few steps. “When I was in Japan, at first it was terribly lonely. We tried to integrate, but without eating fish, we Hindu students found ourselves isolated in the canteen; without much money, additionally, I found myself unwilling to hole up and play cards with boys from Lucknow or Kanpur. I know you didn’t have it easy at Bankipore, either, with your father in trade.”

I nod.

“But after the triumph against the West, it was as though divisions had melted away. Even when we were sent home, I knew I was coming back to something important, and the sight of you in that swadeshi sari running towards me solidified every commitment I’d hardly understood, before Tokyo, that I’d had. I’ve dreamt about you in red for years,” he says, and though I want to faint I press my hands to the wall and keep myself barely upright, “but for the past year, I’ve dreamt about you in white. I’m so lucky that my life partner shares my dreams, not only for us, but for the country.” Nash sees me faltering, and risks censure from the auntie behind us by steadying me, a hand to the small of my back. I am dizzy for so many reasons.

“I just cannot understand why there is no hesitation towards a communal training college that will only lead towards a communalization of the school system itself, when we’re fighting, desperately, against communalism!”

We have almost climbed to the top; I see Maya awaiting us, and when she catches my eye, she winks, but I can’t reciprocate. “It wasn’t a British initiative,” I tell him. “The Director of Schools wanted to keep us girls together, in fact, and then both the Nawab and the Maharani joined together to oppose him. There are surely more than twelve Hindu girls in Chandrapur who may have wanted to get educated alongside us, and soon there will be places, and teachers for them. Education can only help us.”

I am out of breath, but we’ve climbed Gol Ghar, and the view is rewarding enough to let me tear my eyes away from Nash for a minute. And thank heavens, because looking at this new Nash while he is deliberating is… no, not threatening. Unsettling, I decide on. I wink at Maya, and we play our usual game of identifying all of the best places: the fields, in the distance, past the river, where on the way to Gaya we always stop, much too soon, for the best roasted corn; the Rama temple with the most rambunctious monkeys; the Sikh gurudwara that is unquestionably our most beautiful building; the Khudabaksh library where the real scholars spend their days with microscopes, studying the beautifully illuminated manuscripts; the market, where one day soon we must go and see what Indian-made lingerie I will wear to start my married life.

Nash speaks up again, finally. “I’ve missed this place so much.”

There are the beginnings of tears at the corners of his eyes, and I don’t know what to say.

Maya never has this problem. “And didn’t you miss us, then? I didn’t get even one letter from you, Mister.”

She has cracked the gloomy spell, and Nash rifles through his bag until he hits upon a small wrapped package. “I thought you’d prefer the paper,” he says, handing it to her.

“You didn’t have to get her a gift,” I say, knowing what it has cost his family to send him away, and all for a trip with no degree certificate.

“But he did,” Maya says, as though he’d take it back, ripping it open willy-nilly instead of
properly, neatly. I lean over to get a better look, and am glad I did: he’s brought her stationary more beautiful than I have ever seen. The British have their formal, heavy paper to announce their galas, and I’ve coveted that often enough, but this is its opposite: thin, almost translucent, and sparkling, oyster pink with sea-green filigree adorning its edges. Maya is staring at it, and I squeeze her shoulders. “Oh, yes,” she says. “Thank you.”

She walks ahead of us on the way down, staring at it; it is a good thing, after all, that we’ve been here countless times before. Nash and I pretend to watch her, to stop her from falling off the edge, but really we are stealing glances at one another. “Thank you,” I tell him, and just for a moment, before our feet reach the solid ground, he takes my hand.

 

Reprinted from Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow with the permission of Galaxy Galloper Press. Copyright © 2020 by Rashi Rohatgi.

 

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About the author:

Rashi Rohatgi is the author of Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow. An Indian-American Pennsylvania native who lives in Arctic Norway, her short fiction and poetry have appeared in A-Minor Magazine, The Misty Review, Anima, Allegro Poetry, Lunar Poetry, and Boston Accent Lit. Her non-fiction and reviews have appeared in The Review Review, Wasafiri, World Literature Today, Africa in Words, The Aerogram, and The Toast. She is a graduate of Bread Loaf Sicily and associate professor of English at Nord University.

www.rashenka.com

 

 

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Expeditionary Force Blog Tour: Paradise by Craig Alanson

 

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About Audiobook #3

Author: Craig Alanson

Narrator: R.C. Bray

Length: 15 hours 53 minutes

Publisher: Podium Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Expeditionary Force, Book 3

Release date: May 23, 2017

Synopsis: While the crew of the starship Flying Dutchman have been trying to assure people that hostile aliens do not have access to Earth, the UN Expeditionary Force has been stranded on the planet they nicknamed “Paradise”. The Flying Dutchman is headed back out on another mission, and the UN wants the ship to find out the status of the humans on Paradise. But Colonel Joe Bishop warns that they might not like what they find, and they can’t do anything about it without endangering Earth.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #3

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Planets of the solar system against the background of a spiral galaxy in space.

 

 

Good story development in this one. I’ve grown accustomed to hearing Skippy’s snarky remarks on Joe Bishop as they embark on another wacky journey across the universe. R.C. Bray really gets into character “as usual” with several “LOL” moments! The fact that someone can craft something like this is remarkable. The strong narrative and dialogue make you feel part of the adventure.

 

 

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NARRATOR INTERVIEW WITH R.C. BRAY

 

Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?

I had two great champions get me through the door: Pat Fraley and Scott Brick.  Bringing my years of acting experience to narration impressed them enough to make suggestions, introductions, and continued support.  Also, ACX was launched the same time I got into narration. Being able to use that as a means to navigate the process (along with many patient authors, rights holders, and independent publishers), was a godsend.  Several of the titles I did via ACX garnered attention from bigger publishers and off I went.

 

A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

It’s not essential, but it does help.

 

What type of training have you undergone?

I was a CTA (Communications/Theatre Arts) major in college that performed Off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I also attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting where, because of my theatre background, I excelled during the voiceover portion.  It was my abilities in voiceover that was a catalyst to getting the job at Kaplowe Studios.

 

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

I keep from burning out by thinking of my past jobs.  I don’t ever want to have to go back to doing any of them.  The thought of that lights a massive fire in me.

 

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 

I used to listen to them nonstop when I was a commuter.

 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?

Unless it’s really brilliant writing, my least favorite part is when I get to the middle and realize I’m only halfway done.  My favorite part is being exposed to books I would likely have never picked up.

 

Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?

I’d love to be suited for children’s/YA novels, but I’m afraid my deep voice doesn’t jibe well with them.

 

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

Enough to get certain information but definitely not so much they start to direct.  You wrote it, now let me read it.

 

Who are your “accent inspirations”?

Frank Muller, Paul Michael, Scott Brick

 

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

No idea.  I’m not a vocal warm-up kind of guy.  I just go for it. Pneumonia sucks though.

 

Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?

No, but after I tell people what I do (only if they ask, I don’t like bringing it up) they inevitably “hear it now!”

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Craig Alanson

Craig Alanson is a NYT best-selling author. His first audiobook ‘Columbus Day’ was one of five finalists for Audiobook Of The Year 2018 Visit craigalanson.com for FAQs, blog posts, merchandise, etc.

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About the Narrator: R.C. Bray

From an early age Audie, Earphones, and SOVAS Voice Arts Award-winning audiobook narrator R.C. Bray despised reading. Truly hated it with a passion.

And audiobooks? Even worse. Those were for people too lazy to read (not to be confused with those like himself who didn’t want to read to begin with).

R.C. eventually got older and wiser (he was always good-looking) and eschewing his capricious convictions fell head-over-heels with reading. Not just to learn words like “eschew” and “capricious” so he could use them in a bio line, but because someone was actually going to give him money to do it.

Note: R.C.’s gorgeous wife and three beautiful children begged him not to make this his official bio. Clearly he misunderstood.

 

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About the Publisher: Podium Publishing

Podium is an industry-leading independent audiobook publisher built upon the foundation of successful partnerships with self-published authors and narrators. With deep share of voice in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance, the company has enjoyed quick commercial and critical acclaim, releasing almost 1,300 audiobooks, numerous best-sellers, winning an Audie Award and 13 Voice Arts Awards. Podium is best-known for supporting, nurturing and discovering independent authors and narrators from the U.S. and around the world. The company gained international notice when it took a risk on one-time unknown author Andy Weir (The Martian) and turned his e-book into the largest audiobook seller in the world.

 

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Rom Hoop market. Thai Railway with a local train run through Mae Klong Market in Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand. Tourist attraction in travel and transportation concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Obsolescence Trilogy: Book #2 UPGRADE by Chris Muhlenfeld

 

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Billions are dead. The World is still smoldering. A terrifying new threat has emerged from the ashes. 

 

 

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About Audiobook #2

Author: Chris Muhlenfeld

Narrator: Price Waldman

Length: 8 hours 44 minutes

Publisher: Chris Muhlenfeld⎮2018

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: The Obsolescence Trilogy, Book 2

Release date: March 5, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Billions are dead. The world is still smoldering. A terrifying new threat has emerged from the ashes.

Returning safely from their expedition, James and Alexa deliver the weird news to the survivors at Winona Station. Everyone still alive is now faced with an impossible decision: betray their very humanity to survive, or watch the human race regress into a new stone age.

The stakes could not be higher.

Will they choose wisely?

Make time now because once you start listening to UPGRADE, you’ll be instantly hooked. Get it now! 

UPGRADE is the second thrilling audiobook in The Obsolescence Trilogy. This audiobook is plausible, near-future sci-fi that’s full of rich, insightful characters, and compelling ideas.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #2

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A solid follow up from book one, Upgrade has several fascinating story developments.  A mysterious Artificial Intelligence with unknown motives, intriguing technology, good characters, and a good dose of humor made this an entertaining book. The ending was a bit confusing, but I’m assuming that will be explained in the next book, RESET.

 

 

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About the Author: Chris Muhlenfeld

Chris has been reading and writing science fiction since he was a teenager. After roaming all over the world,  he finally settled down in the beautiful mountains of western Montana where he publishes Distinctly Montana magazine with his wife. When he’s not hiking, biking or camping in the Montana wilderness, he and his wife are traveling the world. 

 

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About the Narrator: Price Waldman

Price Waldman is an actor and singer, born and raised in NYC. Classically trained, and working professionally in the theater for over 20 years he is new to the world of audiobooks. As an actor he has performed multiple times on Broadway, toured nationally and internationally and appeared on film and television.

 

 

 

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Interview with Peter Riva, Author of Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller

 

 

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The third book in the Mbuno & Pero series pulls terror from headlines to create a gripping international thriller for readers of John le Carré, Daniel Silva, and Iris Johansen.

Expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar are filming on Lake Rudolf in Northern Kenya, East Africa, when they receive news that Mbuno’s son, himself an expert guide, has been kidnapped while on a safari five hundred miles away in Tanzania. After gathering the clues and resources needed to trek through the wilderness, they trace the kidnappers back to an illegal logging operation clear-cutting national park forests, manned by sinister Boko Haram mercenaries. There, they find not only Mbuno’s son but also a shocking revelation that has terrifying and far-reaching consequences.

Relying on Mbuno’s legendary bush skills, the pair must overcome the danger both from inside and outside the camp to bring Mbuno’s son out alive. In doing so, Mbuno and Pero discover that kidnapping and deforestation are only the beginning of the terrorist group’s aspirations, and they realize a threat that would herald an even more dangerous outcome for Tanzania—a coup. A rescue might just risk the entire stability of the region.

Exciting and expertly plotted using facts ripped from news’ headlines, Kidnapped on Safari is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in deepest, darkest, Machiavellian, East Africa.

 

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Interview with Peter Riva,
Author of Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller

 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

As an adult? No. However, as a child I was always writing and making up stories based on real events, machines, animals. My mother, of course, loved these, as did my much younger brothers. Then school took that hedonistic pleasure away. It was only in later years, post-40, that I found that pleasure of writing for fun again. It’s a slightly guilty feeling to allow myself the pleasure…

Have you ever written a screenplay?

Yes, at UCLA film school 1969-70. Those years were interrupted by the anti-military riots and it went nowhere. I did critique other young TV/filmmakers—like Steven Spielberg (at USC- he used to come to see original films at UCLA)—with my opinion of films and their perspective. My advice to Steven was useless. He always had a steel-trap memory, remembered every credit of every film he had seen. Steven, who worked with my brother Michael, is a storyteller at heart. We have that in common.

How did you become a literary agent?

As a gopher on Monty Python’s Flying Circus for BBC TV—and I mean a gopher, I had, for example, to fetch two ladies of the night willing to dress as nuns for the penguin tennis sketch… and bare their chests (BBC 2 allowed that, it was aired, but never in video). When the TV season was over they asked my help in getting a book published. My father was a toy agent and he was able to steer me in the right direction. Things went on from there…

How did you develop a love for wildlife in Africa?

I first went to Africa age 16 and then returned –this time to East Africa with a client Peter Beard. There I met some wonderful people, real people, people of the land and adventure, who showed me their connection with nature. Three times I walked solo across the Maasai plain to the Ngong Hills and back, eight miles each way. Lions let me pass, hyenas paid me no heed. I walked through herds of gazelles. There I also met Mbuno who, as you can see in my stories, had a profound impact on me. The stories of his exploits and those of his father (who guided Teddy Roosevelt) are awe inspiring.

What are your favorite animals?

Let’s start with those I hold in my heart… a succession of wonderful companions since I was 18, dogs, currently Lil Lady and Tay, both Golden Retrievers. Except for those dog friends who I consider much like family members (I do not own them, we share life), I have always admired, studied, and been fascinated by animals. I had a farm back east with a rescued pulling horse, Big Jim, 1500 pounds of muscle, along with cows, ducks, chickens and wonderful goats. Where I live now on a ranch in NM we have Pinzgauer cattle that I hand feed when they turn up early morning. 

How did your writing process develop? Or has it always been the same?

I am afraid as a writer I binge. In work I read 100k to 150k words a week, write maybe 10k words at least. I have written for the past 20+ years a weekly op-ed piece, 800 words, for the Millerton News and often the Lakeville Journal. It all adds up. But writing a story? I sit down, pluck events I know about out of the thin air, write them down and let the characters construct events. Sometimes that means I’m still typing at 3am… sometimes I need to stop and mull it over for a day or more.

Do you always write what you know? And if not, would you write something outside your direct knowledge base?

Yes, I rely on what I know, have studied, learned about or—and this is the fun part—connect the dots on. Take two separate events, especially when everyone assumes that there is one event and that’s final—and there is another event and that too is final, self-contained. If you then find the link between them, if you can find that thread that mysteriously (plot twist) connects them, then you have great fun allowing the threads to be woven into a good story. If I reach a point where my personal knowledge fails me, I have resources, people I can talk to of course. Quite often that gap not found on Google until you get to the 20th or more page down. I often prefer my 1956 Encyclopedia Britannica. Research is never frustrating, it is always illuminating.

Write something outside my direct knowledge base? Yes, sure, insofar as data and facts are concerned. That’s fun. My SciFi stories fit that bill, tons of learning (all fun).  Write something outside of my personal emotions and experiences as a character or those of characters I have known? Not sure I can make up a human out of whole cloth. Can anyone?

I believe storytelling originates out of some kind of appreciation. What do you appreciate about Mbuno?

Mbuno embodies—both the real man and the character I write which is an amalgam of Mbuno, his father and stories of pre-colonial East Africa—that which is most honorable, most deliberate, least constrained by false values levied in modern society. I’m not talking about PC here, but let’s take an example. The real Mbuno was asked to help the British powers during the Mau Mau revolution. This was a terrorist faction of the Kikuyu tribe, set on upending British rule. Mbuno didn’t care who wanted to rule the country. Like ownership of land which he believed to be nonsense—“Only the gods own the land they created.”—ruling a country didn’t interest him. However, Mbuno could not stand by and watch Mau Mau butchers hacking up women and children in the dead of night. He had no hesitation in tracking those killers down. Nothing to do with sides, just moral right from wrong, nothing PC about his thinking.

What do appreciate most about the setting in your book?

It is so hard to convey the true majesty of real nature. I live in New Mexico, abutting the Gila Wilderness, 3.5 million acres set aside as wilderness. To be here, to inhale unspoiled air, revel in the scenery, watch the wild animals (bears, coyote, fox, javelina, snakes, and 1/3 of all the bird species in N. America come through here)—it’s like a meal for the senses. The difference between here and East Africa’s wild places? On foot, almost nothing, but Africa has that primordial connection to a part of your brain that you cannot escape. The senses can be overwhelmed with the beauty and majesty. In a zebra-painted tourist minivan, your TV is better.

Is everything in Kidnapped on Safari real?

Oh, of course, real yes and actual fact? No. Times, events, places are moved about. A similar coup in Tanzania was a real possibility until it was stopped in the ‘70s. Boko Haram kidnapped girls (news events). Transporting the girls to Tanzania as a means to effect the coup? My imagination and that connection thread no one expects. The trains, the places, the parks, the animals, all real, researched or experienced first-hand. Mbuno’s ability to communicate with elephant? As told by him true and, in his old age (approaching 80 when I knew him), no longer fully possible—but the prowess of his father to do so—taught to him—always astounded me and even him. He used to explain, “You need the beat of the land, of nature. Without that, they will not listen.” Mbuno was the real deal.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Peter Riva is the author of Kidnapped on Safari. He has spent many months over thirty years traveling throughout Africa and Europe. Much of this time was spent with the legendary guides for East African hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series in 1995 called Wild Things for Paramount. Passing on the fables, true tales, and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is his passion. Nonetheless, his job for over forty years has been working as a literary agent. In his spare time, Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books, including the previous two titles in the Mbuno and Pero Adventures series, Murder on Safari and The Berlin Package. He lives in Gila, New Mexico. For more information, please visit https://peterriva.com

 

 

 

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The Obsolescence Blog Tour: Crash by Chris Muhlenfeld

 

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The global power and communications outage arrives without warning…

 

 

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About Audiobook #1

Author: Chris Muhlenfeld

Narrator: Price Waldman

Length: 9 hours 46 minutes

Publisher: Chris Muhlenfeld⎮2018

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: The Obsolescence Trilogy, Book 1

Release date: Nov. 14, 2018

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: And then it went dark…the world’s electrical grid was gone. 

Who would survive the chaos? 

For James and Alexa, they saw it unfold from their ranch, which was a blessing. They were away

from the chaos, and they thought they were safe. They thought wrong. 

What will they do? 

All across the country cities are in crisis. 

Logan and his family look out from their Manhattan penthouse. The world is crumbling before their eyes. Unprepared, he’s got to do something. They can’t stay. But how can they leave and where will they go? 

Someone has a solution. 

It’s Logan’s domestic android. 

Can he believe a machine? 

You won’t believe the twists and turns, but you’ll love the adventure.  

Get it now.  

 

 

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Buy Links for Audiobook #1

Buy on Audible

 

 

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This was a very fascinating book. The premise was great and it only gets better towards the end. Although it provides good suspense, I thought the author could’ve filled in, or sprinkled, more information in the first and second acts. That’s the only reason I believe that weakened the story. However, everything is tied together quite nicely towards the conclusion of the book. Having this book as the foundation for the rest of the trilogy makes me wonder how the remaining books play out.  Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Narrator Price Waldman does an excellent job with a variety of accents. From British English, to American southern accents, Waldman does a good job of characterization and breathing life into the story.

 

 

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About the Author: Chris Muhlenfeld

Chris has been reading and writing science fiction since he was a teenager. After roaming all over the world,  he finally settled down in the beautiful mountains of western Montana where he publishes Distinctly Montana magazine with his wife. When he’s not hiking, biking or camping in the Montana wilderness, he and his wife are traveling the world. 

 

WebsiteFacebookAmazon

 

 

 

narrator Price_waldman

 

About the Narrator: Price Waldman

Price Waldman is an actor and singer, born and raised in NYC. Classically trained, and working professionally in the theater for over 20 years he is new to the world of audiobooks. As an actor he has performed multiple times on Broadway, toured nationally and internationally and appeared on film and television.

 

 

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A Self-Care Checklist for the Sandwich Generation by Dr. Ken Druck

 

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A Self-Care Checklist for the Sandwich Generation

By Dr. Ken Druck

Regardless of whether adult children are distant or close, the pressure to get involved in a parent’s life increases over time. Parents who are beginning to look and feel older, slow down, unplug from a career, face a new season of life—and whose needs are changing—may look to their adult children for greater support. The parent who once gave care is now in need of care. For many adult children, meeting the needs of an aging parent comes at a time when they’re raising their own children and immersed in their career. “The Sandwich Generation,” a term officially added by Merriam Webster to its dictionary in 2006: is defined as “a generation of people (usually in their forties to seventies) who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.” I refer to them as “SanGen’s.” Adult “SanGen” sons and daughters are called into action no matter how overwhelmingly busy they are with their own lives, necessitating a new self-care OS (Operating System).

A Self-Care Checklist for the Sandwich Generation

To repeat something very important: the only way to survive the squeeze of SanGen stress is to upgrade your operating system for self-care. When we feel exhausted and pulled in a million directions, self-management is the key. SanGen survival requires upping your self-care game. At the end of the day, each of us is our own primary care physician. We are responsible for ourselves.

Here is a blueprint for taking exceptionally good care of yourself—that you can tailor to meet your particular needs—taken from my new book, Raising an Aging Parent: Guidelines for Families in the Second Half of Life.

 

1. Exercise and move

2. Balance stress and activity with rest and relaxation

 

3. Eat right and hydrate

 

4. Say “No” and avoid putting anything more on your plate

 

5. Find healthy/constructive outlets for emotions like fear, sorrow and anger 

6. Maintain a positive outlook to the best of your ability

7. Stay engaged with other parts of your life (friends, neighbors, community, etc.)

8. Make a plan to do things that lighten and lift your heart

9. Work smarter, not harder and waste not

 

 

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A self-care checklist can be more powerful than it might look at first glance. At its core, taking good care of ourselves is about balancing rest and activity, getting in game shape to play at our life, restoring and rejuvenating our souls, and investing wisely in our best possible futures. For perhaps as long as we can remember, we may have been running around doing everything for everyone else, leaving ourselves with crumbs and leftovers. It’s time for a change.

 

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About: Dr. Ken Druck is an international authority on healthy aging and author of the new book “Raising an Aging Parent.” He has spent four decades helping people grow into the more courageous, compassionate, and resilient version of themselves by transforming adversities and losses of every kind into opportunities. Learn more at www.kendruck.com.

 

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