My Tuesday Talk Guest - GUESS THE TRUE STATEMENT ...

(Statement #92)

To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell's latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

A few of Jessica Bell’s most favourite films are ...
a. Cry Baby, The Shawshank Redemption, The Hours
b. Miss Congeniality, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls
c. Avatar, Edward Scissorhands, Heathers

What do you think?
Which one is true?
Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win?
You have until October 31st to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.


*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she's rehabilitating herself as a "normal" mother and mathematics teacher, it's time to stop dreaming about slicing people's throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne's leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she's determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover's daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia's back. It isn't long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia's motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

My Guest, Mark Farrell - Ascribe Novel Solutions

After 13 years trudging the well-worn path of the aspiring novelist and coming agonizingly close to success, Mark Farrell was told he should consider self-publication. But the idea of touting himself on social media non-stop didn’t appeal, so he came up with another solution. 

Here’s the story of how he did it...

“I started writing historical novels back in 2000. It’s in my blood; who wouldn’t want to write, with a Booker Prize winner – JG Farrell – in the family? After five years with no success, I got my MS looked at by a literary consultant. Then another, then another, then another.

By 2009 I started a new project from scratch, and the first draft almost immediately caught the attention of Bill Hamilton, managing director of AM Heath, one of London’s oldest agencies; he diagnosed my writing as Young Adult (which was news to me) and then he handed me over to Sarah Molloy, his children’s specialist.

I asked my author friends what they knew about Bill Hamilton.
“You should be turning cartwheels,” said one.
“He’s the prince of agents,” said another.
“He’s Hilary Mantel’s agent, and Katie Fforde’s,” said yet another.

It all felt right: the logical conclusion of someone having worked hard over years, going the right path of getting trained to develop their talent. It felt like my  just reward. I’d always known deep down that I’d make it one day, and now getting a publisher would be a formality. I thought.

“This is so exciting,” said Sarah, who likewise was praised to the heavens. She knew everyone. She was the best, the Jose Mourinho of Young Adult literary agents. The Door, that had for so long been shut, had burst open in front of me. But first I had to own up that I was a bloke.

I’d had a couple of nasty experiences with feedback; more than once I’d been told that my female voice didn’t work and I disagreed so the manuscript went in to AM Heath under my initials.

Bill and Sarah both fell for it: “Dear Ms Farrell [no idea what your first name is]…” wrote Bill. “What is your name?” wrote Sarah. “I can’t keep calling you by your initials.” And finally – “Well there’s a thing: I never would have guessed you’re a man, which speaks volumes for your very convincing portrayal of a young girl.”

Why did I want to write as the opposite sex? some horrified tutors had asked. I was baffled: what was their problem? Haven’t writers always done that? And when I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme, I was put firmly in my place: words to the effect of, how dare you?

Well, now I felt vindicated. Since I started writing I’ve read predominantly female authors, and usually female protagonists too. I don’t know why it happens, I just prefer to take my written word that way (though some have said it may have something to do with my having five daughters and no sons).

So I went for a meeting with Sarah. Talk about exciting: “They don’t take just anyone out for lunch,” I was told. We discussed changes, I set about rewriting then she asked me to change a few more things. Then she said she’d test the water by sending out the third draft to her B-list. If they go for it we’ll attack the A-list and get a contest going, she said.
An auction! Can you imagine? I was having kittens by this stage.
Three of the biggest publishers turned us down. We met again. I rewrote again. Sarah attacked the A-list. A thoughtful no-thanks from her number one target. More changes to make. I was beginning to run out of enthusiasm.

Then as I was about to start draft number five, Sarah retired. Her successor let me go. She apologized and suggested Kindle Direct: “There’s no shame in it nowadays,” she said. I asked her for a quote for my collection then looked around for an advertising website displaying self-published books like mine, which people in the trade were prepared to recommend. But nobody had thought of it.

And all the while, in literary supplements and on blog threads, writers and readers alike were bemoaning the difficulty in finding the good self-published novels among the dross. The answer looked simple enough to me: launch a website, and only admit the best.
Ascribe Novel Solutions is open to anyone, whether self-published or published by a small independent press, who has a recommendation from either a traditionally published author, a literary agent or consultant, or a professional editor working primarily with fiction. The first 100 books to apply successfully will be featured for a year, free of charge. Go to for full details.

(c) Mark Farrell

The Shoemaker's Apprentice
Helen: I'm pleased to say that a selection of my books are here:
 ASCRIBE : Helen Hollick

Thanks Mark for an interesting article

Where Lies Harold?

On this day, 14th October 1066, there was a unique for its time battle at a place that, then, had no name. The battle raged from around 9 a.m. until dusk and was bitter and bloody.
Since that day the location has been known by various names – Senlac Hill, the Battle of Hastings – and just Battle, which is the name of the present town which came into existence when the Abbey was built to commemorate the event by the victor – Duke William of Normandy, or William I of England as he became on Christmas Day 1066.

Battle - Senlac Ridge

Since then, a lot of conjecture – and heated argument - has passed back and forth by various sides for or against the Normans or the English (or others). We all have our own personal beliefs and argue like mad to defend them.

Since a few archaeologists dug up a certain King in a certain car park, though, there has been quite a bit of speculation about another King whose remains have not been accounted for. Harold II, Harold Godwineson – who fought and died that day on that battlefield.

Or did he?

Apparently a licence has been granted to explore his possibleburial place at Waltham Abbey – which was, back in the 11th Century founded by Harold, who was then Earl of Wessex, so it is, in a way ‘his’ church.

photo Cathy Helms
Speaking personally this news irritates me. For one thing there is overwhelming evidence that Harold is buried beneath the Chancel Arch at Bosham’s Holy Trinity Church (pronounce it Bozzum) in Sussex – which was the site of the Godwin’s main family manor, and where Harold’s mother, Gytha, lived in 1066. Very briefly: a grave was discovered beneath the Chancel Arch. In it, the torso of a man. No skull, one leg missing. No marker. BUT only very important people were buried in this position. Kings and Archbishops, for instance. There have been claims that this was Earl Godwin, Harold’s father – but why would only part of his body be there – and anyway it was well documented that he was interred at Winchester.

Holy Trinity Church. Bosham
HERE lies Harold Rex
Secondly, if you read the news reports carefully, all they are doing is a geophysics search sponsored by a man who has a book coming out soon, (which always makes me  bit suspicious (she said cynically as an author always on the look-out for some extra marketing *grin*) !) – which will show…. What? How will this find Harold’s remains? As far as I’m aware – although perhaps my mind is playing senility tricks on me in my old age of 61 years – I thought an extensive dig of the old layout of Waltham Abbey had been carried out a few years ago. They found nothing. No grave, no bones. No Here Lies Harold marker.

Also as far as I was aware, legend has it that he was buried under or near the High Altar – which is a spot still very clearly marked today. And very clearly quite empty.

The Harold Stone, Waltham Abbey
(myself with some members of my Australian Fanclub)

And even if this survey DID find an anomaly of some sort – a pit or a hollow which could be a grave, what will it prove? Unless it has Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Harold   – (here lies interred the famous King Harold) it will be meaningless. The remains could belong to anyone.

But what annoys me even more is the additional claim that Harold survived the Battle of Hastings and was buried at Waltham Abbey years later.
Annoys me? No I am furious!

Harold died in battle. He died attempting to defend his kingdom and his people from foreign invasion, in this instance, whether he or Duke William had the right or wrong of it is immaterial. What is relevant is that we KNOW Harold was cut to pieces. He was decapitated, castrated, disembowelled and his body cut up. (And no, he was not killed by an arrow in the eye.) There is plenty of written evidence to support his horrific death - and “cartoon” evidence for the Press of the Day – the Bayeux Tapestry. We also know that William was furious because he needed the body to prove Harold was dead – Harold’s mistress Edyth Swanneck had to identify what was left of her lord.
His mother offered the body’s weight in gold so she might take it for Christian burial.

This story of Harold surviving is just that - a story. It was written down in 1177 soon after Waltham became an Augustinian foundation. The new incumbents published the Vita Haroldi (The Life of Harold) which records that he survived the battle and retired as a hermit, and was eventually returned to rest at the Abbey. Funny how these sort of stories always emerged at times when the abbeys were in dire need of cash. The finding of King Arthur’s grave at Glastonbury is another good example of remarkable co-incidence.

This story that Harold escaped with dreadful wounds and was nursed back to health by a Saracen women is a good tale, akin to Presley still being alive, or Princess Diana… But do we seriously believe that a man like Harold – with his sense of honour and loyalty, with his determination of leadership and his legitimate crowning as king, would merely have shrugged and said “Oh well, I didn’t want the crown anyway”, and buggers off to live a life of ease as a hermit?
Absolutely no way! 
(More details about the sources here on Wikipedia )

The Conquest did not happen overnight. Yes William won at Battle – but it took him YEARS to consolidate his position. Almost up until his death he was fighting rebellion after rebellion. Rebellion from people like Edgar the Aethling (who would have been crowned King, not Harold, had he been older and more experienced); like Harold’s sons, like the Earls of the North, like Hereward…. The only way William could – eventually – put an end to nearly having his arse soundly kicked out of England was to virtually destroy the land. He decimated the North. Not only was the population slaughtered, but all the livestock – all of it, from chickens to oxen. The land was then torched. So bad was the damage those left alive starved to death, and the land itself took many, many, years to recover. (There are some who say it never did!)

So? Does it really seem likely that the King who fought all day, who was passionate about defending his crown and his throne would not try his best to at least rally and support these ongoing rebellions? Even if he could not lead them himself because of injuries all England needed during those first few years was a leader strong enough I mind and spirit to unite them. The majority of the Anglo-Saxon/English/ Danish nobility had been wiped out. Do we really think that their legitimate King, Harold, would not have stepped in?
The quote in the news story about this “archaeological dig” is:

If we find the complete remains of an old man in his late 70s with scarring to his temple from a battle wound then we need to do a DNA test.”

My answer to that is an unprintable rude word.
 But I am open to opinion. Feel free to add your comment below. I can’t guarantee I’ll agree with you though.

(note – plot spoiler…. In my Novel Harold doesn’t survive...)

13th October 1066

On 14th October 1066 Harold Godwineson, Harold II, our last English King, died in battle attempting to protect his kingdom and his people from foreign invasion. Subsequent history, written by the conquering Normans, scratched his short - and legitimate - reign from official records or returned entries to his previous title of Earl of Wessex. Kings became numbered from William I, ignoring all previous Saxon names.
For me, Harold II is a hero. He died fighting for freedom, and I honoured him by writing, to the best of my ability, a novel that reflected the people and events that led to the Battle of Hastings.
In memory of Harold II's efforts, I will be posting some excerpts over the next few days.

§ The Hoar-Apple Tree, Sussex - 13th October 1066

Evening descended with one of those soft ripples that is barely noticed. The sky had darkened gradually, so that it was only when night actually fell that it was realised the day had ended. Evening ushered in the autumnal chill, the grass dew wet, the air nipping at fingers and face. Before many nights passed, frost would be sprinkling the bronzed leaves and dying bracken.
Duke William was aware of the English muster. Normandy had scouts who knew their job - had been observed by King Harold’s own scouts. Word would have travelled before the marching army as it left London, two days and sixty-odd miles away, over the northern Weald beyond the densely thicketed forest of Andredsweald. They had marched on foot, most of them - the housecarls, the fyrd - for there were no adequate sound horses, but it did not matter. The walk was not so long from London into Sussex, and surprise and speed were not essential for this coming battle.
By the late afternoon of the thirteenth day of October several thousand men were adding their rough-made encampments to those already gathered on the wind-riddled slope of Caldbec Hill. More were coming: in small groups, pairs, ones and twos. Esegar and Godric, both Shire Reeves, settled their men at campfires after dark; Leofric, Abbot of Peterborough, joined his freemen of the fyrd with those of Abbot Ælfurg of Winchester. The men of Thurkill of Kingston and Eadric the Deacon sank wearily into the huddle of their cloaks, hardly caring that the women were offering them food, such was their weariness. Through the night men came, expecting to have a wait of a day or two, perhaps more, before their weapons and skill would be wanted. Scattered over the hill, a hundred and a hundred campfires mirrored the sparkle of the stars wheeling across the heavens: Orion the Hunter, the Bull, the Bear.
The King’s own tent was pitched within yards of the old tree, which had proved its worth as an easily recognised rallying point. Outside, his two banners fluttered, toyed with by the restless southern wind: the Dragon of Wessex beside the Fighting Man. Nearby stood the command tent of Earls Gyrth and Leofwine with their own banners. Within Harold’s tent, the lamps lit, they were arguing.
“It is senseless for you to fight, brother. If you are killed, what will happen to England? Let me take your place.” Leofwine was vehement, his obstinate stance backed by many of those leaders also present - captains, bishops, thegns….
“And what will happen to England if I did that?” Harold roared back at them, slamming his fist on the table in front of him, making tankards and goblets, maps and the paraphernalia of war bounce. “I was elected king, as Harold the second of that name, elected as the man most worthy to lead our armies. Do I, then, abandon my responsibility at this first hint of danger?”
“But you fought at Stamford Bridge - you have adequately proved your worth.” That was a captain of his housecarls.
“And I shall fight here at Hastings!”
Leofwine swung away from the table, his hands raised. “Is there no reasoning with the man?”

“Happen you could try it more successfully with Duke William?” Gyrth said drily. “Our messenger got nowhere. You might be more persuasive.” 
(unedited excerpt)

Previous instalments:
4th October - Here
9th October - Here
10th October - Here

The competition winner was:
Leah Weller
congratulations Leah

Lovely to have met everyone at the annual re-enactment
at Battle, Sussex

Available on Amazon
(UK Title) Harold the King

(US Title) I Am The Chosen King

More on Helen's Website

Previously posted 1066 related articles that may be of interest