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The Last Letter of Mary Queen of Scots on Public Display

As a lover and author of historical fiction I was filled with excitement and privilege today to be able to visit the National Library of Scotland to cast my eyes on the original last letter written in the hand of Mary Queen of Scots. For those unaware of the history attached to this event, today marks the 430th anniversary of the Queen’s death, where she was condemned and executed by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I for treason.

Mary penned her famous letter at 2 am in the morning, just six hours before her execution. Here I show some photographs of my visit and of the memorabilia produced for this event.

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Arriving early to beat the queues.
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The Boardroom display where the letter is encased in a glass table.

Queen Mary’s letter is addressed to her brother-in-law King Henri III of France. There is much written in this letter that provokes interest.  She mentions that along with her letter she encloses “two precious stones, talismans against illness, trusting that you will enjoy good health and a long and happy life.” It is also interesting to note how she is  viewed as a martyr by some and a traitor by others.  Her letter states “The Catholic Faith and the assertion of my God-given right to the English crown are the two issues on which I am condemned, and yet I am not allowed to say that it is for the Catholic religion that I die.” 

So strong was the case against her, known as the Babington Plot,  that when Mary was tried, she was not even permitted any legal counsel or to review the evidence set against her. In front of 300 witnesses she was executed at 8 am. on Wednesday 8th February 1587.

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As well as the original letter, displayed was a letter to her mother, Mary of Guise, as well as Mary’s personal Book of Hours.

This portrait painting of Mary Queen of Scots in white mourning is dated 1561. Artist unknown. Scottish National Portrait Gallery. (Edinburgh).

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Photography © Carla Acheson

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A new gift, a new novel in the works…

bookimageAlas, it’s been a while since I blogged about my own writing activities, hence I think it’s about time for a little update. And whilst I beg forgiveness from my faithful readers if I may, I’m extremely excited to announce that I have been steadily working on my third novel in the past six months.

I cannot reveal the title for the book itself as yet, but I can confirm that it is another work of historical fiction and is set both in the Victorian and Edwardian period.

How does that work I hear you say?

Well the book follows the story of the lives of two women who are connected by one tragic circumstance. The parallel narrative follows their separate journeys in both era’s which ultimately leads to the truth – one bitter secret buried in time.

And let me tell you what I noticed this time around too. My previous novels were set in the Victorian era so this time I observed quite a few changes. My new heroine, for instance, appears to naturally sound much more ‘loose’  and relaxed in her attitude. Thoughts seem to be less…‘What should I not do..?‘ to ‘What can I do..?’

This may be a subtle change but evidently a big one for repressed women of that time.

I discovered how in the Edwardian period women began to not only dress in fewer layers of clothing, (allowing them to feel a lot less restricted, I’d imagine) but to think and act a little more freely too, as they embraced the unfolding benefits of voting rights and unopposed viewpoints.

These revelations came about quite naturally in the writing process itself, and only in working through my novels could I fully appreciate the changing conditions for women as the years passed by.

I will have more news on the progression of the novel in the coming weeks, including a cover reveal and a possible book blog tour for UK readers who all follow my previous works. The publication date is currently set for late May or early June on Amazon globally, and is a stand alone novel, and not a sequel to either of my previous titles The Last Gift and The Whitechapel Virgin – the two books which I can say have really changed my life and I cannot regret a single moment of the effort I put into them.

And lastly, a huge thank you to my friends who support me, both near and far. Without all the feedback, encouragement and motivation you guys give me I would still be on chapter one!

Watch this space!

 

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“The Last Gift” hits Classic Bestseller Rank on Amazon

“Absolutely brilliant story. A real page turning book. Brought a tear to my eyes a few times. Could not put it down…” – Mrs J Smith

The Last Gift,’ is set in the Victorian era and focuses on the poorer class. The story follows the life of a young girl, who amidst the horror of poverty and disease, respectfully emerges into a more beneficial existence. Downton Abbey fans have been downloading the book greedily, shooting it high up in rank in the Classics genre.

TheLastGiftThe novel first became published online in early 2012, when publishing giant Harper Collin’s Authonomy provided extracts of the book. Within weeks it reached a high ranking position and hundreds of favourable reviews on the site.

This autumn, The Last Gift has soared up the charts to become a bestselling book on Amazon in three fiction categories based on sales alone, currently peaking in the Top 5 position on the website’s Top 100 Bestselling books in the Classics genre, beating sales of other more famous fiction authors.

In the News…

Media Release : Gibraltarian author’s novel hits bestseller rank on amazon.

The Last Gift. – Amazon UK Kindle download is available for a time at a discounted price of just 99p.

Additional Links:
UK Historical Novel Society – Review

The Last Gift on Goodreads.co.uk

Barnes & Noble – Paperback

 

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The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep – And So Do The Parents!

91BrbGINsbL._SL1500_I’m not much into covering news of book story major successes, but author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin seems to have had his big dream come true as a self published author. His children’s book, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has just landed itself in the summit of amazon’s rankings, even nudging aside the hugely popular – The Girl on The Train, catapulting to the top of Amazon’s charts in the last few days.

The book itself is said to concentrate on helping young one’s fall asleep. The main character Roger Rabbit intends on visiting Uncle Yawn, then on his way meets sleepy snail and heavy-eyed owl. Is it me or does this sound very reminiscent of a very famous children’s book where a certain farm animal clucked his away along under a blue sky towards a castle, meeting various other poultry along the way, until finally being duped into getting eaten by a wolf?

What is quite astonishing too is the amount of positive feedback this book has successfully garnered, with over 100 readers offering a 5 star rating, compared to 60 rating it 1 star. Some even expressed the book as ‘magical’ with a large percentage of the reviews showing quite an interesting contrast:

Read this book to my Grandson and when I had finished he turned around and fell into a deep sleep! I read it to my other 2 Grandchildren on a sleepover and they fell asleep halfway through!
Brilliant

On a more pessimistic angle, another reviewer who gave the book just 1 star, wrote:

Perfect if you are trying to bore your child to death. It worked on me but had absolutely no effect on my four year old.

With that in mind, does it not indicate that it really depends on the child in question? Surely this tale can’t be more magical than Peter Pan or any other well known classic?  Perhaps it’s the simple case of the book helping the parents yawn (not a hard task given the anguish most parents face at bedtime) which thus produces a sleep-inducing effect on the child.

On the whole I would be very interested to try this story out and see whether it does indeed hold some magical qualities. I also wonder if, on the back of his success, will Erhlin produce a similar title for the millions of pill-popping insomniacs in the world?

Check out this book at the Amazon store.

The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is Surely The Stuff of Nightmares – Imogen Russell Williams (The Guardian)

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Farewall Authonomy

Last week an announcement was made that the popular Harper Collins website for aspiring and upcoming authors – Authonomy – will be closing it’s doors and waving goodbye to thousands of hopeful members.

Authonomy began in 2008 and I, yet another aspiring author back in 2012, offered my original draft of “The Last Gift” to the website before considering publication. I was immediately impressed with the almost instant feedback received by many on the site, and it was not long before my book rushed up the charts to a high ranking position.

My experience on Authonomy taught me a few genuine things in the world of writing and in becoming a novelist. One important lesson I learned is this…  after seeing so many fantastic writers gathered in one community, I quickly realised that I will never be the best writer in the world, but yet my voice was completely unique, and with that in mind, I could never be prevented from trying to be the best that I could be. The other important thing I took away from my experience there was that people can be (and often are) genuine, and their advice can be heartfelt and given with an honest lack of prejudice in order to help others improve their writing.

I will admit that there were a degree of disappointing setbacks during the year I spent on Authonomy, including some very unattractive actions performed by other selfish and/or competitive authors, but despite this, I found being a member in general to be hugely useful in terms of receiving genuine feedback, advice and promotion.

I have moved on from the days of being an authonomite, but in many ways I feel saddened by those who won’t get to experience the sweeping rush of happiness when a positive and helpful review hits their inbox, or wake up to find their book has hit a higher rank in the HC charts.

Farewell Authonomy and thank you for giving us lowly writers an opportunity to spread our work far and wide.

I for one am very sorry to see you go.

www.authonomy.com

My Authonomy reviews – This page lists all the reviews I received on authonomy for my debut novel The Last Gift.  http://www.carla-acheson.com/my-novel/