Monday 9 September 2013


I haven't written a blog post for ages- but I have been writing! Rehearsals are underway for a new play specially commissioned by Wigton Theatre Club to celebrate 60 years of uninterrupted productions. I was very excited when they asked me to write a comedy to celebrate this!

Last year I headed up a team of writers  to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the town's Market Charter. I wrote about it here,  as I had a lot of enquiries about the team writing process. This year's team is smaller- just three of us from North Cumbria Scriptwriters; and we have honed our team-working skills to the point where I feel I can pass on some tips- hence the title of this post. However, you will have to wait for a week or so, as, having co-written the play, I now have to direct it!

For those of my readers who are far away from this beautiful north west corner of England, Wigton is a small, lively town in the centre of the Solway Plain, just north of the Lake District and south of the Anglo Scottish border. I am privileged to live in what my Canadian cousin calls The North Country Far.
PS Who was Jeremiah?

Saturday 6 July 2013



I have just found this great- and fairly recent- review of Bride of the Spear on Library Thing. I'd like to be able to comment on it but can't find how to do it- help anyone?

This gripping tale, the first novel of a trilogy, is realistic historical fiction, obviously based on sound scholarly research. That is the finest kind. The setting is the north of England 180 years after Arthur. The Angles are invading from the south, and the Picts from the northwest. A prince learns to be a true man and a true king, and a princess learns to survive and to forgive, as well as to be a great healer. It is a convincing personal story set, accurately and believeably, in a fascinating place and time. You can go and visit the places in person; you can visit the time by means of this novel.

Yes, the title is lurid, and the cover art is both lurid and non representative of any scene in the story, but then, those were lurid times. It's tough work building civilization.                                           

I'd love to reassure jzdro - who has impeccable taste in literature- that the new edition will not have a lurid cover, but I can't do anything about the title, as this is the one by which the book is known, despite it not being the title the author originally chose. A great deal more about how the story evolved, as well as plenty of extra historical notes will be added to the text of the new version.

Bride of the Spear by Kathleen Herbert

Monday 1 July 2013



From this ....

..... and this

To this:

To be entered into the draw to win one of the first copies of the new edition, leave a comment on this cover below. The photograph, by Ian Carroll, is meant to capture the atmosphere of the following passage:

He looked up and saw a figure in a grey gown, gold hair streaming across its shoulders, watching him with wide grey eyes. It was as if sunlight, clear stream and grey stone had shaped themselves into a girl. He had the wild thought that the Goddess herself, the Lady of the hill circles and the holy springs, had risen from the stream to his aid.

Previous reader comments have already affected the design, but it will not be fixed for another week or two, so you have a chance to make your influence felt. This is of course, just my rough idea- proportions of back, front and spine will be decided by the number of pages, and graphic designer Kate will work on exact positioning, style and colour of text.

I have decided to reduce the price of the following three e-books too on Amazon for a limited period only: you can now buy them for around a pound, or under two dollars. That's cheaper than a cup of coffee! Hurry before I change my mind!

The Boy with Two Heads                   Paths of Exile                             Moon in Leo 

If you go to our website, and buy your copy from the links on each author page, we get a tiny proportion of your payment! The more we get, the more we can pay our authors!

Monday 24 June 2013


To celebrate the imminent re-publication of The Northern Kingdoms, we will be reducing the price of all our ebooks for a limited period. Watch this space! I have set the prices of Moon in Leo, Paths of Exile and The Boy with Two Heads to go down to under two dollars- about a pound in the UK. I will post links on here as soon as the price change comes into effect- so keep an eye out, then be quick as it will not be for long!

Saturday 22 June 2013


And to have a chance of winning one of the first copies!
Designer Kate (also my daughter) is due to come and stay with us for a nice long visit bringing our new granddaughter for her first visit to the North Country Far. She will be doing all the design work on Bride of the Spear cover in exchange for some baby sitting!
Thank you to all who have commented so far: you have shown us that we are on the right track, but criticisms and suggestions have been noted too- especially about readability of the text. Here is the cover- front and back, in its newest incarnation (I can't desist from tinkering) - with cooler colours for the text- suggested by an earlier commentator!

Sunday 26 May 2013


The final images- the moon pendant, Princess Taniu with her golden hair, and a warmer autumnal tinge to the landscape. Many thanks to photographer Ian for amazing work!

The lettering is a very crude attempt by me- ultimately it will be left to designer Kate to work on the layout, typography and manipulation of all the elements.

However- you still have a chance to win one of the very first copies of the new edition of Bride of the Spear- by leaving a comment on this blog, or on Trifolium Books' or Kathleen Herbert's Facebook page.

I'd be particularly interested to hear what potential readers have to say about the moon pendant, since I made it many years ago for Kathleen- to celebrate the original publication of the trilogy.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Wednesday 8 May 2013


Photographer found- check!
Model found- check!
Waterfall found- check!

Given the traumas I went through searching the Lake District- on line and on foot- for the waterfall which exactly fitted Kathleen's description of the magical meeting place of Taniu and Owain, the choice was eventually easy. 

The relevant passage in the book:
He looked up and saw a figure in a grey gown, gold hair streaming across its shoulders, watching him with wide grey eyes. It was as if sunlight, clear stream and grey stone had shaped themselves into a girl. He had the wild thought that the Goddess herself, the Lady of the hill circles and the holy springs, had risen from the stream to his aid.

The beautiful and very accessible Moss Force at the top of Newlands Hause was admired by Coleridge-
It is so near a perpendicular that it would have appeared to fall--but it is indeed so fearfully savage, & black, & jagged, that it tears the flood to pieces--and one great black Outjutment divides the water, & overbrows & keeps uncovered a long slip of jagged black Rock beneath, which gives a marked character to the whole force. What a sight it is to look down on such a Cataract!

The photo shoot went well- apart from Ian getting wet feet and Kathryn a cold bottom, and eventually the sun came out and the Raven cawed us his blessing.

In fact the sun became so insistent that Ian tried using the old umbrella from the boot of my car to defeat the flare. The struggle to control it and the camera landed him in the beck!

Ian is a perfectionist. He would happily do the whole shoot again, but time is pressing and I am delighted with his final photograph.

Now here's the competition bit:
A copy of Bride of the Spear, hot off the press, to the person who gives me the best feedback on the cover image I intend to use:

Some specific questions: 
  • Should we see a little of Kathryn's face, or does the back view leave us more intrigued?
  • I know that there is some evidence of plaid/check weaving in sixth- century Britain, and visually, I like the way the dark check works with the light grey flowing cloak which echoes the water, but I worry that it looks too modern. Opinions please?
  • Should we tidy the hair? We will certainly lighten it to a reddish gold.
  • Does the image convey a sense of mystery?
  • Could Owain seeing this imagine that sunlight, clear stream and grey stone had shaped themselves into a girl?
And finally, the Leibster Award! I am extremely honoured by being nominated for this award not once, not twice, but three times- something almost magical there! I have been so swamped with work since that I haven't written a post for well over a month, and so felt I really didn't deserve it. However, now that I've written this one, and now that the cover of Bride of the Spear is well on its way, I am ready to tackle my Liebster post, so thank you Kathryn Warner, Carla Nayland and Beth- my next post will honour you!

Tuesday 19 March 2013


The waterfall in the picture above is in Caldbeck, and is in fact the cold river from which the village takes its name. Although this is not the waterfall which will eventually appear on the cover of Bride of the Spear, it makes a striking design with the moon pendant.

I made this pendant for Kathleen when she was a highly successful author in the 1980s. A moon necklace, with the three aspects of the moon- waxing, full and waning, (representing the triple aspects of the Mother Goddess- Maiden, Mother, Crone) plays an important role in Queen of the Lightning, and this was my modern interpretation of it.

The Mothers are an important presence in the Northern Kingdoms Trilogy, and I feel the design is timeless and iconic. Kathleen thought so too, and can be seen wearing it in some of her author photographs.

So .... one element of the cover design is settled. Meanwhile, the search for the waterfall continues. Designer Kate is on board as is photographer Ian Carroll

Saturday 2 March 2013


Just over two years since its publication on the 14th February 2011, we brought home two copies of Moon in Leo, which we are reading at Wigton Library's Book Group this month.

I am really looking forward to hearing what other members of the group think of it- there is always plenty of lively debate and disagreement- and I hope they won't hold back!

Monday 25 February 2013


Can you see Taniu and Owain meeting here? Today we scouted more locations for the cover of Bride of the Spear. This is Carrock Beck on the Caldbeck Fells. Next Candidate is Roughton Gill- also on the Caldbeck Fells but further west.
Meanwhile, I'm delighted to announce that I have been able to pay a substantial cheque to Carlisle Overseas Aid Trust for e-book royalties, earned by Moon in Leo and The Once and Future Queen. Kathleen elected to have her royalties paid to a charity.
PS The Once and Future Queen is now available for Kobo too!

Wednesday 20 February 2013


Arthur, the last High King of the once civilised Roman province of Britannia, has been dead for fifty years. The last British kings of the North are fighting for survival in a welter of feuding and treachery.

Taniu, neglected and unloved daughter of King Loth of Lothian, is out gathering herbs when she meets a handsome young huntsman, unaware that he is Prince Owain of Cumbria. The two promise to meet in the spring, but when the awaited time comes and the King of Cumbria applies to Loth for the hand of his daughter, Taniu refuses, never connecting huntsman and prince.  Tragedy, bloodshed and separation follow, but there is a satisfyingly upbeat ending.

At last, Kathleen Herbert's Heroic Age books, long out of print, are to be published in their correct order. They have been variously known as The Northumbrian Trilogy and The Cumbrian Trilogy. They have a much wider geographical setting than either suggests, ranging from Lothian and Strathclyde, through Deira and Gwynedd to Mercia so I think they deserve a more inclusive overall title.

Sunday 3 February 2013



Ghosts of Camelot  is a book which we found, half written, and completely planned, amongst the many notebooks and boxes of papers which we rescued when Kathleen's house was sold. The book is set in Cumbria in the early 14th Century in the reign of Edward II. Trifolium Books' editor, Mike Jensen, is working on reconstructing it, and we hope to publish this exciting new find during the coming year.

 We took advantage of an unusually bright winter's day to take some photos of places which are important in the book. The heroine is Julian le Bret, a retainer of the powerful Clifford family, whose stronghold, Brougham Castle, plays an important role in the story. Just as we are fascinated by the Arthurian legends today, so were people in the 14th Century. Our characters even enact  scenes from the much loved stories, and, living as they did near Eamont Bridge, they had the perfect theatre for their pageant:

This ancient earthwork predates Arthur by at least 2000 years, but it has always been known as King Arthur's Round Table. In the picture below, by kind permission of the landlord of the Crown Hotel, Eamont Bridge- just across the road from his inn, we can see that it was a perfect circular amphitheatre.
After the Arthurian celebrations, Julian finds her way to near-by Mayburgh Henge, another impressive ancient Cumbrian earthwork.

The entrance to Mayburgh Henge.  The distinctive shape of Saddleback can be seen between the ends of the 3 metre high walls which surround the huge arena.
The massive standing stone which remains inside the henge. Originally there were at least four

Looking West- a gap in the wall opposite the entrance reveals Saddleback
Looking East to the Pennines

The keep of Brougham Castle. Julian looks out from the top floor to gaze at the Western Fells 
The sun was setting over the Lake District fells as we left, full of excitement about The Ghosts of Camelot, and feeling we knew a little bit more about Julian, Roger Clifford, and the other characters who lived their lives in this part of the Eden Valley.