Woo hoo … new book deal!





I am very pleased to announce that I will be writing a non-fiction history book for Amberley Publishing.




Non-fiction wasn’t the way I envisaged my writing going but boy, am I pleased it has.  Amberley liked my history posts on this very blog and thought their Secret local history series would be just right for me to write for.  I couldn’t agree more so am now busy researching and learning all about image copyrights ha!




I have found the help of a local history group so far very helpful and am beginning to have my faith in human nature restored – for people with a first-hand knowledge of facts I need to write about and reference, helping so freely is immense.  Will hopefully be doing updates on the book’s progress as and when – unfortunately, I can’t afford to give up the day job but who knows, maybe one day I can cut back on it a little bit and devote more time to the wonderful world of words!


New Book Review – Crime Thriller Genre!

Good Morning … finally back with another review for indie author Jaye Marie!  Jaye has kindly agreed to a free book giveaway for a draw on 12th December.  All you have to do is comment on the blog itself, or the Facebook page (links below).



The Ninth Life was a deviation from my first love of historical fiction but what a read to liven up the old brain cells.  Fantastic story, fab plot and is the first book in a trilogy so more thrills to come.  Read the review here on The Review Blog, where I contribute reviews and occasionally other bits ‘n’ pieces.










Remember, comment on either of those threads on the Ninth Life posts to be in for a chance to win a free copy.  Happy reading!


Abergavenny Castle



Bathed in glorious sunshine on an unusually warm October day, sits the curtain wall remains of Abergavenny Castle, Monmouthshire.  Difficult to believe that this romantic, proud ruin signifies the site of one of the most infamous massacres in the history of the Welsh Marches …


William de Braose, 4th Lord of Bramber probably goes down in history as one of the cruellest of the Marcher Lords. Christmas Day, 1175.   After luring a Welsh Lord, Seisyll ap Dyfnwal of Gwent – supposedly for blood revenge – to Abergavenny Castle on the pretext of a peace treaty and new beginnings (meaning the Welsh would have lain their weapons at the door and were thus defenceless), William and his men proceeded to cut down the Welsh royalty within the walls like that pictured above.  This included Seisyll’s eldest son and other notable Welsh leaders too; more than likely, a bloodthirsty attempt to weaken Welsh influence around Abergavenny.  Of course, we must always allow for the mindset of the day – nothing like our modern, more socially aware way of life (no, you cannot chop the head off the bloke driving the van that just cut you up on the ring road).  In this case however, as cruel as the massacre was, William – whether partaking himself or commanding his men – rode to the home of the slain Welsh lord before news reached his people, and slaughtered the seven-year-old son of the prince:


“In this case, once the guests were all assembled inside the great hall, the doors were barred and every single man was cut down. William and his attendants then hopped onto their swiftest horses and sped south a few miles to the country of Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, one of the slain. De Briouze arrived ahead of the news of the slaughter, found Seisyll’s wife, executed the youngest son, seven-year-old Cadwaladr, in her arms, and left the wife and mother to a fate unrecorded in the historical legend.”   Haltom, E.A. (2015) The Massacre at Abergavenny  http://abergavennynow.com/2015/06/28/the-massacre-at-abergavenny/ [accessed 2.11.16].



Gatehouse, later addition circa 1400 (photo source Emma Powell, Oct 2016)












Further ruins within curtain walls (photo source Emma Powell, Oct 2016).














View from adjacent car park overlooking Blorenge Mountain. The Castle ruins look down on flood plains, aptly named Castle Meadow with it’s rich biodiversity, bordered by the River Usk. (Photo source Emma Powell, Oct 2016).


Beautiful, tranquil and how one can imagine ‘how lovely it must have been’.  Hmmm … violence was abound, it was originally a defensive castle after all but thankfully now a visitor spot on the edge of a bustling market town.  Take time out in the ruins to relax, chill or whatever you please.

At least you know you’re safe!


References and recommended reading:






New Book Review – The Reaper’s Breath

Been a while but I’m back with a new book review for the fab The Reaper’s Breath by the talented author Robert Southworth.  Follow the link to The Review Blog below to enter a comment and be in with a chance to win the free paperback giveaway by the author!



The Review Blog

The Review Blog Facebook Page

Beta readers…do we need them?

anita dawes and jaye marie


When I first began to blog, back in 2012, it was to promote my sister, Anita’s books and I had no idea how anything worked. All I had to go by was the fact that everybody seemed to be doing it, so how hard could it be.
So I set to it with a great deal of determination (and patience) to learn whatever was necessary to do the job. Didn’t think it would be too difficult, after all I had just mastered the art of formatting and uploading a load of Word files to Amazon. And Smashwords and Goodreads.
It was beginning to look quite easy, but that was about to change.

Although I love to read, and do a lot of it, I must admit that in the beginning I read more ‘how-to’ books than any other kind. Most of these were very good, and I would not be…

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History Snippet – St Anne’s Church, Syston



The gorgeous St Anne’s Church, Syston, Sth Gloucestershire on a sublime Sunday autumnal morning.  Who would have believed that this place of tranquility and beauty was the site of Cromwell’s troops firing at the door?!  The marks of which are still visible today …


The village of Syston – I am using the old spelling here, the modern day version is Siston although both are still used locally – lies just seven miles east of Bristol (the site of Bristol Castle).  Yet deep in the Sth Glos countryside, it is classified by South Gloucestershire Council (1989, 2010) as a Conservation Area due to its natural beauty and historical buildings. It is also just a few miles from the famous Battle of Lansdown 1643 (a Snippet about that can be found here https://louisewyattsmusings.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/battle-of-lansdown-5th-july-1643-near-bath/), hence the reference to Cromwellian troops leaving their marks on the church door.

Local church information states that St Anne’s is built atop a hill, usually the indication of a much earlier pagan/Celtic place of worship.  To strengthen this idea, there is an ancient well, aptly named St Anne’s, at the rear of this hill next to a stream (Siston Brook) and what would have been a large pond serving the manor house, Siston Court:

siston court

The peace of the graveyard can be disturbed by the baying of Llamas on a neighbouring farm but it is a very tranquil place to sit and think.  Or take a load of photos like I did!  There are mighty graves, there are ornate graves and there are very old graves:


Past members of manorial families


Village dwellers from the 1700’s






20150906_160007 20150906_152510Once grand memorials surrounded by wrought iron designs now covered in ivy.  Unable to identify who, where and why but the once-upon-a-time wealth is obvious.




Gate from Siston Lane, unfortunately a very busy lane during rush hour and school runs.


Entrance gate walking down from the sloping graveyard


This would have once been a rather dominating view












The church itself was built in the early 11th century with later additions.  It has a lead font made in the time of King Rufus (1056-1100) and is one of only 38 in the country.  Unfortunately, the church was locked and I couldn’t get inside to have a look at this or the more elaborate tombs of previous lords of the manor.  The Domesday Book states that Syston had belonged to a Saxon named Anne but was in the hands of Roger de Berkeley after the Norman invasion.  Could this be who the church and well are named after?  The local church information page however, states the area is named after San-Tan, a pagan goddess of water, and this has come to be St Anne.  Whilst researching the internet, I could find no San Tan but then, this is only one of my ‘snippets’; perhaps some further research and digging deeper in archives might lead to further information.  If anyone knows of a pagan goddess with that name, feel free to let me know!

The church is wonderful and steeped in history.  It reminded me of fairy-tales, with its’ hidden doors, higgledy-piggledy buildings and aura of peace amongst the busy outskirts of Bristol.  A perfect place to step out of the rat-race and just … relax.  You don’t have to be religious to feel the special atmosphere at these places, despite Cromwell’s attempts at ruination!

20150906_152105 20150906_152618 20150906_155653 20150906_155746



http://www.bafhs.org.uk/our-parishes/other-parishes/409-siston [accessed 1.10.15]

http://www.bristol.anglican.org/i/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Warmley-Syston-Bitton-Parish-Profile.pdf [accessed 1.101.5]

http://www.pucklechurch.org/html/siston_court_history.html [accessed 2.10.15]

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Ask-Gerry/story-11288167-detail/story.html [accessed 2.101.5]

https://www.southglos.gov.uk/documents/pte100112.pdf [accessed 1.101.5]

And Wikipedia for basics!

England before 1066!

Yes, there was a history 😉

My latest review is of a second instalment in a trilogy exploring the fantastic, albeit enigmatic, Emma, the Norman Queen of England.  A fantastic fictional read that intertwines fact and fiction and if you love history before the Conqueror, this is for you