Friday, August 9, 2013

Author Guest Post and Giveaway: James Aitcheson - Author of Sworn Sword

Ever wonder what it might be like to be a historical novelist?  Today I'm happy to welcome author James Aitcheson who gives us an idea.

A day in the life of a historical novelist

James Aitcheson

I probably speak for a lot of writers in saying that, as a general rule, we tend not to keep to strict daily routines. Novel-writing is, I think, about as far from a nine-to-five job as it’s possible to get, and the pattern of my working day is very fluid. That isn’t to say that I only write when inspiration strikes me. A novel is a big project to take on, and if you’re forever waiting until you feel in the right mood before putting pen to paper, it’ll take a very long time to get even a first draft finished!

I do my best to stay disciplined by setting myself a daily target of one thousand words Sometimes that will take me only a few hours, which means that I have some time to add new material to my website or update my followers on Twitter and Facebook with my latest news. If I’m some way short of that day’s target, though, or even if I’ve reached it but I’m still feeling in the zone, or if I’m feeling the pressure of a rapidly approaching deadline, I’ll often carry on working into the evening.

That said, I do have an absolute cut-off.time of 10pm, at which, if I’m still working, I down tools and shut up shop for the night, regardless of how much or how little I’ve written. Always. Without exception. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you can define your own working hours, but one of the difficulties comes in setting limits and preventing work from taking over your life. So imposing that cut-off, and sticking to it come what may, is very important for me.

 When I first started writing the novel that developed into Sworn Sword, I would spend hours at a time glued to my computer screen, and I’d sometimes get frustrated when I wasn’t as productive as I hoped. With experience, though, I’ve learned that I’m more efficient – and happier – when I write in short bursts of around one to two hours at a time.

In between those bursts I make sure to take decent breaks, in which I’ll grab a coffee, have lunch, go for a walk in the countryside, read a book or watch some TV: anything to help take my mind off writing. That way, when I do get back to my desk, I feel refreshed, and as a result the words flow that much more easily.

Thanks James!  For more information about James and his books, please check out the following: 

Twitter: @JamesAitcheson

About the book:

January, 1069: Less than three years after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the death of the usurper, Harold Godwineson, two thousand Normans march in the depths of winter to subdue the troublesome province of Northumbria. Tancred a Dinant,a loyal and ambitious knight, is among them, hungry for battle, honor, silver, and land.

But at Durham, the Normans are ambushed in the streets by English rebels, and Tancred's revered lord Robert de Commines is slain. Badly wounded, Tancred barely escapes with his own life. Bitterly determined to seek vengeance for his lord's murder, the dauntless knight quickly becomes entrenched in secret dealings between a powerful Norman magnate and a shadow from the past. As the Norman and English armies prepare to clash, Tancred uncovers a cunning plot that harks back to the day of Hastings itself. If successful, it threatens to destroy the entire conquest-and change the course of history.

This stunning debut sweeps readers into a ruthless, formidable world, where violent warriors seek honor in holy places and holy men seek glory in dark deeds. As the two opposing forces battle for conquest, the fate of England hangs in the balance.

Thanks to the folks at Sourcebooks, I have one copy of Sworn Sword to give away (US and Canada only)  Please complete the form below by midnight, August 16, 2013.

James Aitcheson was born in Wiltshire, England in 1985 and studied History at Cambridge. Sworn Sword is
his first novel, praised by The Mail on Sunday, Historical Novels Review, Publishers Weekly, and bestselling author Ben Kane, among others. The second installment, The Splintered Kingdom, is forthcoming

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