Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

It’s getting ever close to Christmas and today we are back in Viking Denmark for another short tale about the snow in Ribe. If you enjoy this take and the other short story from the Children of Ribe universe, there are some discounted book gift sets that include digital and paperback copies of the books and A3 posters that make ideal gifts for children and adults who haven’t grown up yet, available exclusively from our Etsy Store.

First Snow Fall in Ribe

The mead hall in Ribe was full of men, women and children. The sound of laughter and celebrating echoed out of the town and out across the lands beyond. Pav stood on the wall that they had built around the town to defend against the invading armies from Hedeby and Schleswig. The lights from their campfires dotted the landscape, glowing in the dark of the night and giving the old warrior and unsettled feeling in his stomach.

The snow had fallen and driven back the armies to the shelter of forests that surrounded the town. The animals had all been driven out and the snow had made it virtually impossible for the army to forage for anything in the forest. There were other dangers that lurked in the trees like trolls, wolves and bandits. If the armies of Hedeby and Schleswig were foolish enough to remain in the woods during the winter they wouldn’t be in any state to assault the town in force come the first thaw of spring.

“Any signs of movement out there?” Kaleb asked as he joined his father on the wall.

“No, everything is quiet, just as you’d expect. No one is stupid enough to try and launch an attack against these walls when the snow is knee deep.” Pav replied gruffly.

“How many fires have you counted?” Kaleb asked as he warmed his hands in the bracer that stood beside him.

“Too many to count, rising smoke from denser parts of the forest too. Impossible to know how many warriors they’ve got there,” Pav sighed, “how are the preparations going?”

“Well, Axel and Frigg have the fires burning hot enough to keep me forging from now until Ragnarok.” Kaleb said with a grim expression of his face.

“There were plenty of blades left on the corpses now covered by snow.” Pav shook his head sadly.

“The cost of war we pay in the lives of the young. You told me that when I was begging you to tell me heroic stories from the tribe wars.” Kaleb said patting his father on the shoulder.

“All those lives lost because Viggo has lost his mind and now calls himself king.”

“We’ve loaded the bodies into the boats and they are ready to burn – children of Ribe, Hedeby and Schleswig alike.” Kaleb tried to console his father.

“We’ll sing songs of this day for generations to come, of the madness of ‘King’ Viggo and how the first snow of winter held him here and broke the spirit of his army.” Pav said.

“You don’t think he’ll retreat?” Kaleb frowned.

“No, his queen is here and all those that would consider themselves elders of both Hedeby and Schleswig. None of them have the wisdom or experience in war that would tell them returning home until the spring thaw is the only sensible thing to do. They’ll be starving in a few weeks, and those that don’t starve will fall prey to the wolves.” Pav growled.

“At least with their attention focused on us, the children have a better chance.” Kaleb sighed and looked up at the sky. There wasn’t a single star to be seen, so think was the cloud.

“It’ll snow again soon. I hope they’re keeping themselves warm.” Pav smiled to himself.

“Erland knows how to keep a fire burning, even in the heaviest rain. They’ll be warm enough.” Kaleb closed his eyes and tried to not think about passing the whole winter without any word of how his son fared.

“They were meant to search for the arm rings, just as we were meant to stand on this wall and hold back the tides of war.” Pav said warmly.

“Then we must all do what the gods have put before us and trust that when the spring thaw comes, our children will be home again.” Frigg said as she joined her husband and her father-in-law on the wall.

“Brave the cold of winter’s nights, bear our heavy hearts on high, for the sun will shine once more when spring is here again.” Pav recited and turned his attention to the blazing glow of the hundreds of fires that sprinkled the dark, snow covered lands of Ribe.

More about the Children of Ribe

A Viking Saga. The Children of the Viking town of Ribe must find the eight arm rings of Yngvar. The arm rings contain magic, which will save their town from the warrior horde of King Viggo Odinsen.

To find out more about the four books in the Children of Ribe series, follow these links: FATE, WAR, WIFRITH, DOUBT.

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Well it’s the 7th day of Advent, and our short story Advent calendar continues. For those of you that have been sharing and sending us messages about the stories, thank you, we’ve been passing on your comments to the authors, and we’ll continue to do so as we get them.

For the 7th day of our short stories, we’re taking a trip to the realm of Celadmore. There are a few stories that we have to share from C.S. Woolley’s fantasy realm, but the first of them comes from the diary of Calso Morgan, one of the characters from the Shroud of Darkness Trilogy. As there is no Christmas in Celadmore, the short stories from Caslo are his journal entries from the start of the new year, written several years before the novel, Shroud of Darkness, takes place.

2650GL 1st Sprengan

The first day of the new year, filled with such hope and promise…hope that we will see an end to the troubles on the mainland and promise that I will not be cooped up on the island forever.

It has been three years since I was called to Queteria to train for an unknown task. I was chosen for my swordsmanship, stealth abilities and horsemanship. My archery skills were called into question by the Elders upon my arrival in the city and I spent the first four months training solidly until they were convinced that I had improved by a satisfactory amount.

The training was not something that irritated me, however the attitude of the old vultures was something that gnawed at me. No one has told me what it is that I was sent here to train for, nor what was required of me before I arrived – this was told to me only this morning as my time is apparently drawing to a close here.

I was told I was expected to serve without question and die to defend my charges. I still am none-the-wiser as to whom my charges might be, but I was told I had to accept this responsibility or leave.

Leaving did not seem to be a sensible course of action, so I accepted.

There was a lot of commotion this morning as it is rumoured that the Eight have arrived on the island, or rather what remains of the Eight after they were ambushed by a force of two hundred from Hocuna. They lost two in the fighting, Elika and Elhanan are both said to have gone to Halsanda. I had never met either of them but their reputation spoke volumes for them both. Elika served as Queen Annalia’s personal bodyguard until she became Queen and was then asked to ride with the Eight. Elhanan was the brother of Shammah, the current leader of the Eight, the two having created tales of daring to rival that of the Anaguran Queens before they reached the age of testing. Shammah has led the Eight since the passing of Elisha, his mother, who led the Eight before him.

Eleazar, the youngest member of the Eight and Tulsana, his older sister, are reported to be severely injured leaving only Maharai, Helez and Jashobeam besides Shammah who are able to ride.

Considering the odds of thirty five to one, the losses are much in line with their fearsome reputation, given that none of Darnado’s men survived. I have also been told that Lady Gekendra, princess of the Order, has been dispatched as an envoy to Hocuna in response to the violence.

There seems to be more gossip mongering here than warrior training. I am more than tempted to request a transfer to undertake my sword training next week in the city of Anamoore. There is much more study and less intrigue in the capital than here.

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Shroud of Darkness Trilogy

A fantasy book trilogy that was 16 years in the making. The trilogy follows Venetia, a queen amongst her people in the fantasy realm of Celadmore. Strange occurrences in her home world have Venetia searching for answers as to whether an old evil has returned or if a new threat has arisen. Joined by a number of unlikely allies, who do not all get along with one another, Venetia has to fight against not only the darkness threatening to destroy her home world but the treachery of politicians, the fear in those around her, assassins that want to take her throne from her and those that would go to any lengths to try and prevent another war.

The Shroud of Darkness Trilogy contains the three volumes of the Shroud of Darkness trilogy in the Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days

Shroud of Darkness

In the realm of Celadmore, evil is stirring. The war torn land has not recovered from the last conflict as evil rises and threatens to ensnare the world of light. Venetia, favourite daughter of Queen Annalia, must fight enemies and allies alike. She must uncover truth amidst deception to discover the source of this new threat to her world before the darkness engulfs it.

Lady of Fire

United they must stand for destruction is upon them. The realm of Celadmore faces it’s destruction as a war that none perceived is brought against them. Venetia, Queen of the Order of Anagura and Queteria, must forge a new alliance between the nations of Celadmore against the evil that Aksoth, Lord of Nether Roth, is set to unleash. The Allied Spirit of Celadmore must be raised and march once more.

End of Days

The end is here. Aksoth’s forces roam unchecked across the plains of Celadmore; the people of Celadmore have been forced to retreat to the fallen city of Grashindorph. Revolution stirs amongst the poorest of the people; Venetia seeks to restore Gruagadon to his rightful place on the throne of Nesca and will sacrifice anything to get him there. In this final bastion, they must find victory.

The Chronicles of Celadmore (in chronological order)

The Rising Empire Trilogy
1. Rising Empire: Part 1
2. Rising Empire: Part 2
3. Rising Empire: Part 3

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy
4. Shroud of Darkness
5. Lady of Fire
6. End of Days

Fading Dawn Trilogy
7. When Darkness Falls
8. Torn Allegiance
9. Fading Dawn

Ailing Light Trilogy
10. Ailing Light
11. Ill Blowing Wind
12. Shadow of the South

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Well we’re already six days into advent and it’s back to Siren for another tale for our offering to you today.

This particular story takes a look at the sadder side of Christmas, the loneliness that lots of people suffer from at this time of year, the idea of a perfect Christmas, what they end up doing for Christmas and how they deal with their loneliness is as different as the people who suffer from it. Siren, as a character has had a hard life and copes with it in her own way. She hides her emotions and even lies to herself about how she deals with her past and her present.

 

Christmas

Christmas happens to be one of my most favourite times of year. Not because the run up to Christmas is very busy for me with people wanting people followed to find out where money is being spent and why spouses don’t come home after office Christmas parties, but because there is a certain level of peace and harmony that seems to fall over the city.

Yes, homes get broken into on Christmas eve of the richer element and have their presents stolen, there are drunken brawls and drunken drivers galore and A&E is not where I want to step foot given the number of incredible Christmas related injuries that occur, but none of this seems to have any effect on dampening my spirit.

Even Fred and Harry are less annoying at this time of year. We don’t fight or scream or have any form of exciting adventures, we sit down to a nice meal together with Ryan and spend two days in peace and harmony

That is until I wake up and find the frozen pipes in my apartment, no food in the fridge, Harry has gone out of town with his latest conquest, Ryan has wound up in prison and Fred… Fred is sat with his girlfriend and her family in one of the large townhouses on the other side of the city having the middle class Christmas he loves so much.

Christmas is my favourite time of year because I get to have the peace and quiet of my place all to myself, the phone doesn’t ring, no one bursts in unexpectedly and tries to rescue me for dangers untold and most importantly, no one tries to drink from the bottles I have stored up for the day except for me.

 

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

On the fourth day of advent, we bring you the 2nd Day of Christmas from Stickleback Hollow.

The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow is a new series from C.S. Woolley and the first book in the series is called A Thief in Stickleback Hollow. It is available in digital and paperback from a wide variety of retailers. We’ve put the links below the story so if you do enjoy it, consider taking a peak at the first book in the series.

2nd Day of Christmas

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves

George Webb-Kneelingroach looked out at the lands of his family estate. His family had spent generations on this land, back before the house of Grangeback had been designed and built. The family crypt was in the grounds of the chapel and held the Kneelingroach line as well as that of the Webbs.

He was sat in the rooms that had once belonged to his daughter, Lucy. She had been a bright girl, enjoyed her life in England and India in equal measure, and Christmas had always been her favourite time of year. She would roam the halls of Grangeback singing Christmas Carols until the whole household couldn’t stop singing them. It brought a great deal of joy to the manor and to Stickleback Hollow. There was hardly a person, from the Grangeback groundskeeper, to the village lamplighter, that wasn’t infected with a cheerful demeanour after Lucy had visited the village around Christmas.

She not only believed in sharing good cheer, but making sure that everyone in the village had all they needed. When the blacksmith burnt his hand and couldn’t use his forge, Lucy sent to Chester for an apprentice to work for him. When the vicar had a fever, Lucy nursed him back to health. There was nothing that was too much trouble for her.

George sat and looked at his beloved Grangeback and thought about the last Christmas that Lucy had spent there. She had been visiting the village three weeks before Christmas when she met a young man from London. He was a well-dressed individual that had no business being in Stickleback Hollow, at least as far as George could see. He was staying at the inn and told everyone that he was there to enjoy walking the countryside.

After Lucy met him, he started to join her walking around the village every day and after two weeks; he invited her to the theatre. It was a performance in Manchester and Lucy went without an escort in her finest clothes. George didn’t know what it was that they saw at the theatre; all he knew was that Lucy didn’t come home that night. It was two days before she returned to the house and declared that she was engaged. The young man hadn’t been to Grangeback or asked for George’s permission to marry his daughter before he had propositioned Lucy.

George had insisted that Lucy bring him to the house to meet the family before anything else was said on the subject of her engagement. The next day Lucy had gone down to the village, only to find the young man was gone. The innkeeper said that he had left the night before and had no intention of returning. Lucy returned to the house and burst into floods of tears.

She was taken ill, and even missed the village’s traditional Christmas dinner. She was in bed for a month and George grew very concerned and sent for the doctor. The doctor had come to visit and gave George the grave news – Lucy was pregnant. It was then that the young man’s intention had become clear and George sent for his solicitor. A search was made of each of the cities under the name that Lucy had been given, but the young man couldn’t be found.

The doctor suggested that Lucy and the family go to Scotland until the baby had been born and return to Stickleback Hollow with the babe in arms, a sibling to Lucy rather than her child. George agreed and had his wife, Helen and her lady’s maid, Emma, pack for the months that they would be absent for the manor. Bosworth was left in charge of Grangeback in their absence and was sworn to secrecy about the whole matter.

The journey to Scotland had begun in the New Year and had not been a comfortable one. The family estate in Scotland belonged to Helen Webb-Kneelingroach and was in the far flung highlands where the only people for miles were those who served the household, and their families had done so for several centuries.

Lucy understood the importance of the child being raised as her sibling and not as her child and seemed to be content enough with the arrangement that her father and the doctor had agreed upon. For months they enjoyed walking across the highlands. Her mother was happy to be at the place she had called home, and even happier that a new life should enter the world there.

But it was not to be. Before her nine months were up, Lucy woke in the night, screaming in pain. There was nothing that could be done to ease her distress or that of the baby. The women of the household did all that they could, the doctor in Stickleback Hollow was sent for, he arrived to find that Lucy had gone into labour two months before she should have. He worked tirelessly to save the mother and child, but he had arrived too late.

Helen shut herself in her rooms and refused to allow anyone in, not even her lady’s maid. The doctor made arrangements to have Lucy and the baby taken back to Stickleback where they could be buried in the family crypt, and George had been left to his misery. There had been no Christmas Carols sung in the halls of Grangeback since that day.

George sighed as he looked out of the windows and wondered what it was that drove young men to callously throw aside the virtue of young women, when he heard the sound of singing coming from the music room.

“Adeste Fideles laeti triumphantes,
Venite, venite in Bethlehem.
Natum videte, Regem Angelorum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
gestant puellae viscera.
Deum verum, genitum non factum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Cantet nunc io chorus Angelorum
cantet nunc aula caelestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Ergo qui natus, die hodierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria.
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

En grege relicto, Humiles ad cunas,
vocati pastores approperant.
Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Aeterni Parentis splendorem aeternum,
velatum sub carne videbimus.
Deum infantem, pannis involutum;

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Pro nobis egenum et foeno cubantem,
piis foveamus amplexibus.
Sic nos anamtem quis non redamaret?

Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
venite adoremus
Dominum!

Stella duce, Magi, Christum adorantes,
aurum, thus, et myrrham dant munera.”

It was Sarah; she was playing the piano and singing to herself. George rushed down the hall to find Alex was the one playing the piano whilst Sarah sang. Mrs. Bosworth, Bosworth, Cooky, the maids and other servants were all gathered around the doorway listening to the two of them perform. The pair were quite unaware that they had an audience.

“Oh brigadier, it’s been so long since there was music in the house. Doesn’t it feel like Christmas now?” Cooky whispered as she saw George approaching.

“Yes, Cooky, it certainly does.” George replied.

 

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow
card

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For those of you wondering what the carol is that Sarah and Alex are performing, it is O Come, All Ye Faithful in the original Latin.It wasn’t translated into English until the 1850s.

For the third day of advent we are taking a trip to the world of Ragaris, created by Penelope Wallace. You may have seen that her debut novel is one of Amazon’s hot releases in the Christian Fantasy genre, so with the run up to the celebration of the birth of Christ, here’s a specially written short story of Christmas straight from the country of Marod.

If you want to find out more about her debt novel, We Do Not Kill Children, you can read more here. This tale takes place a few years before the events of her debut novel and is a wonderful story about the power of giving.

The Queen’s Gift

Every Christmas Eve, the city was darkened save for a single torch carried to the Cathedral by a girl on a donkey – and then candles and lamps and rushlights were lit for everyone to take home.

The light comes again: long ago and far away in Bethlehem, but somehow also here and now in Stonehill.

That year the royal family walked back with their lantern to sleep a little; and next morning, like other parents, the Queen and King gave their children gifts. To Princess Emmia they gave a new bow, and she stroked it lovingly. “Now I can defend myself.”

“Yes, but you must still take soldiers with you.” The Queen didn’t like to think of what had almost happened, six weeks ago.

“I won’t take that soldier, Mother.”

“I am not hearing this again. He saved your life.”

“And he disobeyed my orders, a Princess’s orders. I want him punished. Flog him, as a Christmas gift to me?” She put her head on one side with a childish smile, inappropriate in a woman of nineteen.

“An odd gift, I think. Run along and dress for Mass.”

Later came the Christmas feast in the Great Hall. After Advent plainness, the mere smell of meat – heavy, warm, almost solid – might have filled stomachs. The Hall was full of noise, and men and women in bright gowns and merry mood.

On the dais Queen Darisha sat with her family (husband, two sons, daughter, sister and brother-in-law) and selected guests. And when her people could spare a glance from the food, they looked up, and they seemed reassured.

She was fifty-two years old, and had reigned for eighteen years. Her face was round and motherly, so that royal dignity was always an effort, but her eyes, she hoped, were still sharp. On this glad day she wore a purple gown trimmed at the bodice with foreign lace, and at the sleeves with ermine, and on her piled –up grey-streaked hair she wore the crown of Marod, gold and pearl and a single sapphire.

Members of the Queen’s Thirty stood around the walls. The most beloved of all her servants, sworn to defend her with their lives.

Those at the High Table ate and drank and talked, and were careful always to look happy; and after a steady hour and a half the songs had been sung, the bones picked, and the plates emptied. Tables were pulled back to clear the centre of the Hall… and all looked up together, expectant like baby birds, with open beaks.

It was time for the Queen to do what Queens must: reward those who have proved loyal, bribe those who may need persuasion. The Christmas Giving.

She stood, and the herald called names, and happy people knelt to receive lands forfeited by criminals, or other gifts found or made. There was cheering.

The afternoon was fading, and the shutters were fastened. Light from the torches flickered, dancing on the familiar faces, changing them.

Finally. Her feet were aching. “Dorac, son of Araf, approach.”

Now, Emmia. Listen.

The young soldier had to be pushed towards the dais, stumbling a little. He was clean, but his dull jacket and hose were patched, and his hair tied back with string. A confused and unbeautiful face.

The Queen said, “Forty nights ago, a woman of this Court was set upon by scoundrels intending robbery, or perhaps rape and murder. You and another fought them off, killed or captured them. That deserves praise, and praise has been given. Then you were ordered to kill your prisoners, and you refused, because you said trial should come before punishment.”

Now he was looking very nervous.

“Kneel.

“I don’t know what happens elsewhere, but in this kingdom even the great should keep the law, and even the lowly may tell them so. Take this, Dorac, with my gratitude.”

And he looked up at her. She saw his face, his life, change. She almost wept.

The gift was a sword – good, but not extraordinary. She trusted it would serve him well. He took it as if he’d never seen one before, and had to be nudged by the Steward to get up, and bow, and walk away.

“Do you know, mother,” said the Princess afterwards, “he looked as if he’d never had a Christmas gift from anyone before.”

“Maybe he hadn’t.”

The Queen thought of her dear friends, her Queen’s Thirty. They would all be willing to die for her.

But Dorac, she thought, would feel that was too great a privilege.

We Do Not Kill Children

front“We do not kill children; we do not commit rape; we do not take pleasure in torment.”

Dorac Kingsbrother was one of the King’s Thirty in the kingdom of Marod. That was before he was found guilty of the murder of Lord Gahran’s three children. Though Gahran was a traitor, his children were innocent. The code of the King’s Thirty leaves no room for such a barbaric act, and for this heinous crime Dorac faces a life in exile.

The shame of such a sentence is something that Dorac can’t brook, and so he sets off on a journey to the Old Stones, the place where those that seek death meet their end. Followed by Gormad, a child in search of adventure, Dorac is not alone on his final journey.

But not everyone believes that Dorac is guilty. Gemara Kingsister, head of the Six, investigates the murder of Gahran’s children; though there is more at stake than the life of a lone warrior in this, the first of the Tales from Ragaris.

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Well it’s the 2nd day of advent and we have some more fun things for you today. Straight from the files of Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren, we bring you Siren’s 12 days of Christmas.

If you want to find out more about the Siren books – you can do so here.

 

My 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, a headache the size of Italy.

On the second day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the third day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, eight hours broken sleep, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, nine consecutive phone calls, eight hours broken sleep, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, ten packs of cigarettes, nine consecutive phone calls, eight hours broken sleep, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, an eleven mile car chase, ten packs of cigarettes, nine consecutive phone calls, eight hours broken sleep, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Fred Barlow gave to me, twelve sincere apologies, an eleven mile car chase, ten packs of cigarettes, nine consecutive phone calls, eight hours broken sleep, seven arresting officers, six new cell mates, five interrogation hours, four shouting matches, three tasteless meals, two nights in jail and a headache the size of Italy.

And people wonder why I hate Christmas

 

More about Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren

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Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren is a book series by author C.S. Woolley. Written in the first person, this modern twist on the private detective pulp novel brings a refreshing take on the film noir world. Nicolette Mace is the private detective known as the Raven Siren and the eponymous heroine of the five books that come together to create the main narrative of the series. There is also a sub set of books within the Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren series that come under the title of Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld. These books are shorter tales that are written to fill in the gaps between the stories in the main five novels and round out the universe that C.S. Woolley has created. Some of the volumes follow cases that the Raven Siren has taken on whilst others are comprised of shorter thoughts and exploits from the day-to-day life of the female private investigator.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

To celebrate the start of another new series for C.S. Woolley and the release of the first book in that series, we are spending some time this festive season posting 12 short stories that she has penned that take place in her new book world.

The series is called the Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow and the first book is called A Thief in Stickleback Hollow. It is available in digital and paperback from a wide variety of retailers. We’ve put the links below the story so if you do enjoy it, consider taking a peak at the first book in the series.

1st Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Mr. Alexander Hunter crept silently through the woods that bordered the Grangeback Estate and the village of Stickleback Hollow. There was snow covering the ground and the lake that lay beyond the trees had frozen a few weeks ago. There was a fishing boat that was stuck in the ice, which showed no signs of thawing. Lee and Stanley Baker had gone out fishing during the night and fallen asleep in the boat. When the sun had risen, the two boys had screamed when they discovered that they were stranded in the ice.

Alex had heard the two boys and wandered into Stickleback to fetch their mother, Miss Baker, and Constable Arwen Evans. Constable Evans and Mr. Hunter had walked out onto the ice and carried the boys back to the shore, where Miss Baker dragged the boys home by their ears, giving them the greatest tongue lashing of their life.

The two boys hadn’t been back to the woods or the lake since then. During the winter months, the people of Stickleback Hollow didn’t venture into the forest, except on Christmas morning. There was a tradition in the village that called for everyone to wake up early on Christmas morning and walk through the trees on their way to the chapel that lay in the grounds of the Grangeback Estate. There was a church in the village but the Christmas service was held in the chapel and then everyone was invited to eat Christmas dinner at the Manor.

This tradition went back 400 years, since the Kneelingroach family had first taken possession of the Estate. Before the brigadier retired from the army and returned to England from India, it had been in the hands of his older brother, who had also upheld the tradition.

It was one of Alex’s favourite parts of Christmas, especially as he was responsible for bring the gift to the house this year. Every year, the village gave a gift to the Manor as a thank you for Christmas dinner. The table was always full of food that included geese that were reared on the Estate especially for the dinner. The gift was always something that the household could use, something that was useful, rather than simply decorative. Miss Baker had made gloves, hats and scarves for all the members of the household the year before as the gift from the village, and the year before that, the blacksmith, Mr. James Fletcher, had presented Brigadier Webb-Kneelingroach with new horseshoes for all the horses on the estate.

However, this year, Alex wanted to do something different. He was stalking through the trees an hour before the village of Stickleback Hollow would be stirring in search of the perfect present to take. He checked the traps that he had set in the forest and found that all but one was empty. But the trap that was full, that had exactly what he needed in it.

He stole back to the lodge that he lived in to prepare the gift and then took it up to the house and placed it in the corner of the dining room under a heavy cloth, so that no one would see it until the Christmas dinner began. Grangeback was full of the smell of food already. Cooky had been up all night preparing the feast for the next day. It was ready and placed in the serving dishes before she left for Church so that it stayed hot. The dining room was set the night before by Bosworth and Mrs. Bosworth. The table was covered with fine china, silver, crystal goblets, decanters of wine and space down the centre of the table for the serving dishes. The fireplace had a fire built in it that was ready to light when they came back from church.

Everything was ready, so Alex walked down to the village to be part of the procession to the church. The sound of snow crunching under foot was a welcome sound in the woods, it made them seem almost alive as the people of Stickleback Hollow filed into the chapel. The brigadier greeted everyone at the door and the Reverend Percy Butterfield held the service.

The hymns were sung, the lesson was read and the story of the birth of Jesus Christ was told. It was the same service that was held every year and once it was over, the people of Stickleback Hollow filed out of the chapel and walked towards Grangeback.

The fire was lit in the dining room, the wine was poured, the food was brought to the table and the happy sound of friends enjoying Christmas together echoed throughout the corridors of the Manor house. Once the pudding had been eaten, the table cleared and all the plates washed, everyone waited with baited breath to see what the gift to the household would be.

Alex stood and walked to the corner of the room. He stood next to the cloth that covered the gift and took a deep breath. In a single, smooth motion he pulled the cloth to the side to reveal a large gilded cage that had inside it a tree with a bird sat asleep on one of the branches.

“My dear boy, what is it?” the brigadier asked.

“George, this year the village of Stickleback Hollow is honoured to present you, and the household of Grangeback, with a partridge in a pear tree.” Alex smiled.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow
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When her parents die from fever, Lady Sarah Montgomery Baird Watson-Wentworth has to leave India, a land she was born and raised in, and travel to England for the first time.

Finding it almost impossible to adjust to London society, Sarah flees to the county of Cheshire and the country estate of Grangeback that borders the village of Stickleback Hollow.

A place filled with oddballs, eccentrics and more suspicious characters than you can shake a stick at, Sarah feels more at home in the sleepy little village than she ever did in the big city, however, even sleepy little villages have mysteries that must be solved.

A break-in at Grangeback, the assault on Bosworth the butler, the theft of Sarah’s jewellery and rifling through the possessions of her late father lead Sarah to believe that there is more to the crime than an interrupted burglary and that there is something more nefarious afoot.

The newly formed police force is still finding its feet, so Sarah must investigate on her own to find out what is going on in this new place she might call home.

Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

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As we continue with our Advent celebrations, day 2 is marked by a combination of a sale and a competition!

Yes, we love to give things away here at Mightier Than the Sword UK and, as it is the festive season, we have pulled out all the stops for day 2 (not sure what we’ll have left on day 3, but we’ll find out tomorrow!)

Through our Etsy store we have created The C.S. Woolley Bundle, a collection of 13 of her books that is on sale for just £7! ($10.50ish if you are in the USA) That’s less than 75p per book! (less than $1 per book)

But we thought that it wasn’t quite enough to make a bundle of books and have them on sale between now and the start of Christmas Day, so we have thrown in a little extra.

For every 50 bundles sold we are going to give away a 7″ Kindle Fire Tablet!

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Every purchase made will automatically enter you into the giveaway, so once you’ve bought your bundle, all you have to do is sit back and wait to find out if you’ve won! Winners will be contacted via etsy once the draws have been completed. Winners will be drawn at random.

SoD Trio

This bundle contains: –

The Chronicles of Celadmore – Rising Empire: Part 1
The Chronicles of Celadmore – Shroud of Darkness Trilogy Boxset (Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days)

Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Beginnings
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – The Kevin Metis Saga
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – The Derek Long Saga
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: Volume 1
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: Volume 2
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: Volume 3
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: The Case of Mrs. Weldon
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: Hunting the Priest Killer
Nicolette Mace: the Raven Siren – Filling the Afterlife from the Underworld: Murder in the First

To get your bundle and be entered into the Kindle Fire draw please visit http://ow.ly/Vm9gj.

Good Luck!

To celebrate the run up to Christmas there are going to be 24 different events, sales and competitions run, one announced on each day, all ending as Christmas Day begins.

For Day 1 we are happy to announce – The Chronicles of Celadmore sale!

Sale 2015

Yes, up until December 24th you can get Rising Empire: Part 1, Rising Empire: Part 2, Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days for just $4.80! Five ebooks for less than $5!

CoC Sale 1

To take advantage of this offer simple head to Smashwords,https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/3684, add the books to your shopping cart and enter the following codes at the checkout to get your discount. Smashwords even lets you send books as gifts as well!

CoC Sale 2

Rising Empire: Part 1 – Free (no code needed)

Rising Empire: Part 2 – 60% off TL82J – $1.20

Shroud of Darkness – 60% off SL76B – $1.20

Lady of Fire – 60% off CY28Q – $1.20

End of Days – 60% off YJ37W – $1.20

Shroud of Darkness Trilogy Boxset – 50% off YF44U – $3.25 (The boxset contains Shroud of Darkness, Lady of Fire and End of Days)

CoC Sale

All books are normally priced at $2.99 and the box set is normally $6.50. This means you can save a total of $10.15 by using the sale codes!

So Winter is Coming! And I couldn’t be more excited! Granted if there were whitwalkers out there, I might be a little less enthusiastic, but then again there would be the men of the nightwatch to balance things out.

I love winter, more than stretching out in the heat of the sun, more than having longer light hours, only slightly more than autumn evenings that are full of smokey smells and crisp leaves under foot – I am romanticising, I know, but winter for me is the best time of year – snuggling up under blankets as the night draws in, eating hot soup with freshly baked bread, taking a long hot bath after being outside for a few hours, Christmas (I do love Christmas) snow, being able to see your breath, drinking whiskey and mulled wine to warm you up after a brisk walk – yes to me, winter is the best time of year.

But I know that isn’t the case for everyone. For a start there is little to no cricket, which is not a good beginning, but on a more serious note – winter brings problems for a lot of people. Icy pavements are dangerous to walk on for a lot of people, not just the elderly, driving conditions are more treacherous, people have to choose between heating their homes and feeding themselves due to the rise price of fuel and then there are those who are isolated and those who suffer from conditions like depression.

I would really encourage people to remember this in the coming weeks, I’m currently raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support throughout September as they not only provided help for the emotional side of dealing with cancer, but the financial side as well. Each copy of my Shroud of Darkness boxset that is purchased during September will see £2 going to Macmillan. I’m aiming to raise a minimum of £2,000 for the charity. That’s only 1,000 copies of the boxset, so please, help if you can afford it, if not then please share this so that more people can learn about the great work Macmillan do and that no one should suffer alone.

http://ow.ly/ScC66 to purchase the boxset

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/ to learn more about macmillan

Sod Trio SoD Best seller SoD tril squares SoD Tril Slivers SoD Tril and logo Shroud of Darkness banner 2 LoD Promo 01 EoD promo