Spotlight: C.C. Humphreys and Shakespeare’s Rebel

Here’s a spotlight on author C.C. Humphreys’ new historical novel, Shakespeare’s Rebel. Check below for the link to the giveaway for a C.C. Humphreys book bundle.

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Shakespeare's Rebel coverTitle: Shakespeare’s Rebel

Author: C.C. Humphreys

ISBN: 9781492609902

Pubdate: October 6, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

Imprint: Sourcebooks Landmark


 To be (or not to be) the man to save England

England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the magnificent new Globe Theatre has hit rock bottom. John Lawley just wants to win back his beloved, become a decent father to his son, and help his friend William Shakespeare finish The Tragedy of Hamlet, the play that threatens to destroy him.

But all is not fair in love and war. Dogged by his three devils—whiskey, women, and Mad Robbie Deveraux—John is dragged by Queen Elizabeth herself into a dangerous game of politics, conspiracy, and rebellion. Will the hapless swordsman figure out how to save England before it’s too late?

Brimming with vivid periodic detail, Shakespearean drama, and irresistible wit, Shakespeare’s Rebel is a thrilling romp through the romantic, revolutionary times of Elizabethan England that will delight historical fiction fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.

Exclusive excerpt

If John knew the odds of a street fight, he also knew its mind-set. There were always those uncommitted to its extremity. These could be swayed. Bribery had just failed to do so—yet swift ferocity might work. So he stepped away from his friend and the still bawling boy to give himself the room required.

It was a good plan, to take out the biggest threat and transform the rest into nervous bystanders. May have worked too—if John had not been betrayed by the unevenness of the stones underfoot, a misjudgment of distance, and the lingering effects of the heated double-double ale he’d just drunk.

He drew, screamed, “Heya!” and leaped. Tripped. Fell, his sword clattering onto the stones. Somehow he kept a grip upon it, which aided him not a jot, what with the apprentice’s boot upon it.

“Oh, John,” he heard his friend say. He squinted up at the butcher’s boy looking down.

“Now that,” the youth said, “was not very friendly, old man.”

He might have taken more offense if he were not lying with his ear pressed to shit­rimmed cobbles and if the youth had not continued, to the crowd, “You all witnessed who drew first. So I’m going to let him rise—and then give him a little lesson in swordplay.”

The boot withdrew. John rolled clumsily away, got onto knees, thence onto shaky legs. The butcher’s boy stepped back, handed his cleaver to a friend, then reached to his side and began to draw, very slowly, a rapier from its scabbard. The weapon’s speed was partly dictated by its length—at least a foot longer than the limit decreed by Her Majesty. Once clear, he also withdrew a long dagger, raised both weapons into the air, to another huge cheer, the onlookers so thrilled by this escalation that not one yelled out when the accused thief, cause of the quarrel, slipped from Shakespeare’s neck and sprinted off down the alley.

Escalation…escalated. Where two swords were bared, suddenly there were nine, for the six other apprentices also now had their rapiers out. As Will drew his, John stared. “Is there not an ordinance, Will,” he mumbled, “that decrees only gentlemen may carry rapiers?”

The butcher’s boy overheard—and smiled. “’Tis true indeed, sir, which is why we carries ’em.” He turned and grinned at his companions. “’Cos we is all fucking gentlemen.”

More cheers at that. They were spreading into a half­circle when, from behind them, flagons appeared, borne by drudges from the tavern, the landlord following, a large man who shouted as he came, “A sixpence says it is over in less than a minute. I offer odds of three to one!”

“I’ll take sixes,” a man cried out. “These are real gentlemen, after all.”


David Cooper Photography 2007

David Cooper Photography

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist.  He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad – The Last Confession,  the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his website:




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Charlie Britten at The Anne of Green Gables Museum

Charlie Britten is the regular contributing reviewer at The Copperfield Review, and here are her thoughts about her time at The Anne of Green Gables Museum on Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books when I was a child, and the museum sounds like someplace I’d like to visit. Here’s her guest post, “Visiting Kindred Spirits.”
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museumMy eyes brimmed with tears, one of those moments so intense I wanted to make it end, to run out into the safety of the hire car, the road and the twenty-first century.  Yes, I know it was all fiction and none of it really happened, but L M Montgomery’s Anne Shirley figured as large in my childhood as the flesh-and-blood friends I met in school every day.  And here I was, in this beautiful house, fitted out with its simple and functional furniture, but with lace everywhere – over the mantelpiece, over the tables, in the bedspreads, exactly as it would’ve been in her time.  Anne was here, and Gilbert, and Marilla, and Rachel Lynde, and all the others.  I’d travelled over three thousand miles for this and probably would never return.  I took a deep breath and carried on.

museum 2The Anne of Green Gables Museum is at Park Corner, on the north coast of Prince Edward Island, at a Gothic Revival farmhouse called Silver Bush, the former home of author Montgomery’s Uncle John and Auntie Annie Campbell.  The first Campbells settled in this house in 1776 and the family lives here still, managing the Museum, which appears on Canada’s Historic Places Register and Prince Edward Island’s Register also.  Although the real Lake of Shining Waters is just down the hill from the main museum building, this is not Green Gables, but Silver Bush, as featured in two of Montgomery’s other books, Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat.  It was in this house, which she called the wonder castle of my childhood, that Montgomery felt comfortable, not in the official ‘home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’ in the village of Cavendish a few miles away, which is advertised in tourist literature.

museum 3The Museum has two storeys.  You enter (like Mrs Rachel Lynde in the first pages of Anne) through the kitchen, passing the leaded range to pay at the desk (in summer 2015, $5.50 for adults and $2 for children).  You move through into the lacy Edwardian parlour, where a clock ticks loudly and lugubriously and you see the small organ which was played at Montgomery’s wedding in 1911 to Presbyterian minister, Ewan Macdonald.  You think about small children, sitting still on hard chairs, in their best clothes – hopefully with puffed sleeves – longing for Sunday to end.  A letter in the parlour, written a year before the author’s death in 1942, thanks her nephew for sending $10, because, she tells him, she doesn’t have enough money for the nursing care she needs, even though by this time, Anne of Green Gables was enjoying huge popularity and Montgomery would have been earning from her many other books.

Upstairs are a family bedroom, a child or single person’s room and a hallway, where first editions of Montgomery’s books are on display – not just the Anne books, but a selection of her twenty-two novels, and the short stories she used to submit to magazines in the days before Anne.  You may touch these faded volumes, even read a little.  Hanging on the wall is the crazy quilt Montgomery stitched as a teenager, using any scraps of fabric she could find, and which she finished only after the fashion for crazy quilts had passed, but, as she wrote in her diary, she had had the ‘joy of making’ [1] –  a typically upbeat and stoical comment.  Born in Clifton (now New London) in PEI in 1874, Montgomery’s mother, Clara, died of tuberculosis when the author was twenty-two months old.  Mounted on the same wall is a journal entry, in which the author relates how, as an adult, she encountered a friend of her mother’s, who tells her how Clara entreated her to come and see her baby because ‘little Lucy Maud is so sweet today’. This is what brought me to tears in the warm yellow afternoon sunshine.

There is a danger that the whole of Prince Edward Island will be subsumed by the commercial opportunities offered up through Anne of Green Gables and her creator.  Everywhere you can buy red-haired Anne dolls, stay at several different Green Gables motels, eat at Green Gables cafes, bathe on the Green Gables Shore (the Island’s north facing beach), and, in the Homburg Theatre in the Island’s capital, Charlottetown, see Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, which has been running continuously since 1965.

I’m glad I went to the Museum first, when I had been on the Island only a few hours, because it captured the spirit of Montgomery’s stories, which were about people living a simple life in farming communities at the beginning of the twentieth century, their underpinning stoicism and joy in small things.  Montgomery loved to visit Silver Bush because here she was loved and that loving feeling lingers on.  The last words in Anne of Green Gables, were a quote from Pippa Passes, Browning’s long narrative poem (1841) – significantly – about an orphan.  “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world!” whispered Anne softly.”

For more information about the Anne of Green Gables Museum, visit

[1] (From The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Volume II, 5)

Spotlight: Elizabeth Chadwick and The Winter Crown

Elizabeth Chadwick, one of my favorite historical fiction authors, has a new novel–The Winter Crown. Here’s a spotlight on her second book about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below to win a copy of Chadwick’s first novel in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, The Summer Queen.


Winter Crown coverSummary

 As Queen of England, Eleanor has a new cast of enemies—including the king.

Eleanor has more than fulfilled her duty as Queen of England—she has given her husband, Henry II, heirs to the throne and has proven herself as a mother and ruler. But Eleanor needs more than to be a bearer of children and a deputy; she needs command of the throne. As her children grow older, and her relationship with Henry suffers from scandal and infidelity, Eleanor realizes the power she seeks won’t be given willingly. She must take it for herself. But even a queen must face the consequences of treason…

In this long-anticipated second novel in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick evokes a royal marriage where love and hatred are intertwined, and the battle over power is fought not with swords, but deception.


Here Are Three Little-Known Facts about Eleanor of Aquitaine, One of the Most Powerful and Influential Women of the Middle Ages:

By Elizabeth Chadwick

  • She got married when she was 13 and became Queen of France at that age too. Her husband, Louis, was 17, and they met only a week before their wedding. For a long time, historians thought she was 15, and you will still see some of them write it that way. But new research favors the age 13—and what a difference that makes to me as an author coming at it from that perspective. It provides a whole new take on the story.
  • Eleanor gave her husband Louis a vase for a wedding present that still exists today. It was made of carved rock crystal and was already hundreds of years old when she gave it to him. Her grandfather had brought it back with him from the Crusades. When she gave the gift to Louis, it was a plain, unembellished object, except for its detailed honeycomb carving. Later on, Louis gave it as a gift to his tutor, Abbe Suger, for the treasury of St. Denis. Suger then had it decorated with gold and precious gems, completely changing its original, more subtle appearance. You can still see the magnificent “Eleanor vase” in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
  • No one knows what Eleanor looked like. There is not a single proven description of her anywhere in any medium. She is variously described by her biographers as a brunette, a blond, and a redhead, but the truth is we don’t know.


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Book Information

Title: The Winter Crown

Author: Elizabeth Chadwick

ISBN: 9781402296819

Pubdate: September 1, 2015

Imprint: Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Historical Fiction


Here’s the link for the Rafflecopter Giveaway of Chadwick’s first novel in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, The Summer Queen.


Susan Hicks (Elizabeth Chadwick) photographed by Charlie Hopkinson. © 2007

Elizabeth Chadwick photographed by Charlie Hopkinson. © 2007



“A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here,”—USA Today.

Chadwick is the bestselling author of over 20 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards.


Guest Post: Exploring the Koestler Suicides

Here’s a guest post from Bernard Otterman where he discusses his experiences writing historical fiction set in the dim, dear past of the 1980s.

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Self-Deliverance CoverFor a long time I wanted to write a novel at whose center would be a love story. I wasn’t thinking about a Harlequin romance or a tear jerker like Eric Segal’s novel, but a mature story, which would among other virtues, shed light on my own love story which includes a marriage which has lasted forty six years.

While seeking a frame for such novel, I read a biography of Arthur Koestler, who committed suicide together with his much younger wife in March 1983. At the time of his death, Arthur Koestler was as well known in London as Jean-Paul Sartre was in Paris. Darkness at Noon is judged by many to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century. He had also penned The God That Failed, a memoir of Communist faith and disillusionment. Critics claimed that Spanish Testament, his autobiography about his experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War and his imprisonment there, ranked with the war reportage of George Orwell. Later in his life, shortly before becoming prime minister, Margaret Thatcher requested that Koestler pay her a visit.

It is not known if this meeting ever occurred, but what is known is that the morning of the third of March, 1983, the bodies of Arthur and his wife, Cynthia were discovered by the police at their house located in the Kensington section of London. Arthur slouched in his living room chair dead, his wife – twenty five years younger — lying on the adjacent sofa also dead. The initial police report suggested a double suicide. My and many other people’s reaction was one of horror.

Arthur’s decision at the age of 78, terminally ill, is understandable. But why would a healthy and good looking woman of fifty-three also decide to kill herself? Did she act on her own volition or was she forced or tricked to end her life? For me, a child Holocaust survivor, life is precious. Even in death camps such as Auschwitz, very few inmates “took to the fence” — committed suicide by impaling themselves on the electric fence. Classical literature such as Romeo and Juliet and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, as well as occasional real life reports, suggests that love, when taken to the extreme, can make a partner or a spouse choose death over living the “practical life” without the beloved.

The Koestler’s suicides present an opportunity to examine love by forming a fictional group tasked to investigate the mystery of their deaths. Moreover, by subjecting the members of this group to their individual love troubles, I was able to study love in a wide variety of situations, such as cheating in marriage, love between individuals from different cultures, and expectations of what love can or should create in a good marriage, namely, a good life.

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Author PhotoBernard Otterman is the author of Self-Deliverance: The Death and Life of Arthur Koestler. You can find out more about Bernard and his book at The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.