Soldier of Rome – Tour

Soldier of Rome: Empire of the North

The Artorian Dynasty Book 1

by James Mace

Genre: Historical Fiction

Battle for the Highlands

It’s been forty years since the Roman conquest of southern Britannia. The hostile western regions are at last subdued and twenty years have passed since the cataclysmic Iceni Rebellion in the east. With tribal kingdoms assimilating into Roman culture and the province at relative peace, Imperial Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola turns his attention north. The once-allied, now hostile Kingdom of Brigantes is divided between factions loyal to Rome and those of the usurper king, Venutius. Following a series of raids, and compelled to flee from imperial retribution, Venutius seeks the aid of a Caledonian chieftain named Calgacus. Calgacus hopes to use a conflict with the Empire to seal his claim as high king of the northern highlands.

In the southern coastal city of Portus Adurni, Gaius Artorius Armiger’s term as governor-mayor is coming to an end. Ten years have passed since Gaius’ last campaign during the Siege of Jerusalem. Ever the soldier, a summons to Londinium leaves him with an intriguing proposition. Knowing his reputation as a military leader, Governor Agricola offers Gaius a return to active service with command of the legendary cavalry regiment Indus’ Horse. Despite trepidation about leaving his wife and children and the lingering effects of old battle injuries, Gaius Artorius dons his armour once more as a soldier of Rome.

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

According to my parents, I’ve always been telling stories since I was about six. I was twelve when I first became interested in Roman history, thanks to the series, I, Claudius, based on the novels by Robert Graves. There is a very dramatic scene when a messenger informs Emperor Augustus of the disaster in Teutoburger Wald, Germania, where three legions were betrayed by their allies and annihilated. It only briefly touches on the campaigns of retribution under Germanicus Caesar (nephew of Emperor Tiberius) from 14 to 16 A.D. I kept thinking that would make for a great novel, but no one ever wrote it. A story grew in my head over the years. Fast-forward to 2004. I was in Iraq and borrowed a friend’s laptop to start writing the story that had been bouncing around for more than a decade. Writing and hitting the gym became my cathartic means of escapism. I completed a finished draft by the time we came home at the end of 2005, with even a couple chapters to a potential sequel.

My very first historical novel, Soldier of Rome: The Legionary, was released in February 2006. It’s far from perfect, and much of me wishes I could go back and rewrite the entire thing from scratch. But there it is. To be fair, it was my first work, and like any other skill, we develop with practice. Sixteen years and twenty-seven books later, I’d like to think I’ve improved a bit.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

Author, Historian, Traveller, Athlete, Nerd

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably around the time my fourth book was released. Before then, it was little more than a side hobby. Then my fanbase started growing, with my royalty payments surpassing what I made at my day job. I even had close friends referring to me as an author, which was a nice feeling. In December 2011 I resigned my regular job to focus on writing and haven’t looked back. I cannot stress enough how fortunate I am to make a living doing what I love.

Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Hmm, how about all of them? I was actually approached by a film producer back in 2008 about The Legionary, though sadly nothing ever came of it. What I’d really like to see is a miniseries based on my Anglo-Zulu War books. Though I’m mostly known for my Roman works, the South African conflict of 1879 between the Zulu Kingdom and the British Empire as a true labour of love that I poured my soul into. There exist two films about the opening days: 1964’s Zulu, starring Sir Michael Caine, and 1979’s Zulu Dawn, starring Peter O’Toole, Burt Lancaster, and Bob Hoskins. That’s about the extent anyone knows about the war. The films are getting up there in age, so fewer people have seen them, and they do feel a bit outdated. Zulu commits the typical 1960s war film error of casting actors who were way too old for their roles; men in their thirties or even forties depicting soldiers who were overwhelmingly in their late teens to early twenties. I’d like to see my Zulu War books filmed as an HBO or Amazon series, as it covers the entirety of the war, not just the opening two battles depicted in the old films. Television seems to be where the best creativity is these days. There’s less constraints due to time, and censorship is mostly a non-issue, at least when compared to the cinema.

I also would not want to see any in-your-face ‘messaging’ which just murders creativity and meaningful storytelling in so many modern films. My motto is: Tell your story and trust in your audience. It’s not up to writers and film makers to force viewers / readers to think a certain way. I, personally, view my books as very anti-war, in a similar vein to Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. However, many readers don’t come to the same conclusion, and that is perfectly fine. All forms of art, be it drawing, painting, sculpture, music, writing, etc., exist for everyone to find their own meaning.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The giraffe, because they’re just awesome.

Who is your hero and why?

Historically I have several. Most notably: Sir Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, the Duke of Wellington, and Emperor Vespasian. We tend to see them as larger than life, yet all were deeply flawed, in some cases more than most of their contemporaries. They achieved greatness despite their shortcomings and showed great resiliency.

I most admire those who rise above what life throws at them, strive to improve themselves, and selflessly use their talents for the betterment of others. That to me is heroic. My sister is one of my heroes. She’s a certified nursing assistant in a hospital and has dedicated her life to helping others. Like so many in healthcare, the pandemic was a living nightmare for her, yet she persevered. I could never do what she does. I have another dear friend who’s a mental health counsellor; another profession I would never be suited for. Mental health treatment is still stigmatised and neglected, despite some improvements in recent years. I’ve seen a therapist for the past sixteen years, which I am not ashamed to admit. It is impossible to put into words the profound respect I have for those who help others deal with the unseen, yet often most traumatic, burdens.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I don’t like wearing pants and don’t own a pair of jeans. Unless dressing up in a pair of slacks, one will usually see me in shorts from around February through November.

James Mace is a life-long historian and the author of twenty-seven books, including ten Ancient History best-sellers, and five South African History best-sellers. He penned the initial draft of his first novel, “Soldier of Rome: The Legionary”, as a cathartic means of escapism while serving in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. His works span numerous eras, from Ancient Rome to the British Empire.

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Borrowed Time – Blitz

Borrowed Time

Primetime of Life Book 1

by L.A. Boruff

Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction

Turning forty is less Witches of Eastwick and more Black Widow. Go figure.

I’ve always known I was adopted. It never mattered much…until my birth mother died.

I inherited a new power from the mysterious woman. But now she’s dead and I, despite the fact that I have exactly
zero training, I’m the next time-traveling assassin.

Don’t get excited. The job sounds glamorous, but it comes with a huge learning curve and plenty of mishaps. Then there’s having to actually assassinate people. That part sucks.

It could be worse. I could still be working retail.

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Primetime of Life Series

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L.A. (Lainie) Boruff, USA Today Bestselling Author, lives in East Tennessee with her husband, three children, and an ever growing number of cats. She loves reading, watching TV, and procrastinating by browsing Facebook. L.A.’s passions include vampires, food, and listening to heavy metal music. She once won a Harry Potter trivia contest based on the books and lost one based on the movies. She has two bands on her bucket list that she still hasn’t seen: AC/DC and Alice Cooper. Feel free to send tickets.

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Biblical Retellings – Tour

All Things Are Possible

Biblical Retellings Book 5

by C.A. Gray

Genre: Biblical Fiction

Stories of the miraculous abound in the Bible: the parting of the Red Sea. David and Goliath. Daniel and the Lion’s Den. Nebuchadnezzar’s Fiery Furnace. Jonah and the Whale. Many of us learned of them on felt boards in Sunday School class, and might know them so well that we have subconsciously relegated them to the realm of myth and fairy tale. But have you ever considered what it might have been like to live through those incredible stories—without knowing how they end?

These stories and more are brought to life in All Things Are Possible, told through the eyes of the main character. As with the other books in the Biblical Retellings series, the fictionalized retelling is followed by an afterword explaining why I made the decisions I did in the story, and finally the scriptures themselves. Protagonists include prophets, prisoners, warriors, and kings, ranging from the budding nation of Israel to the glorious New Jerusalem, as seen by John the Apostle in the book of Revelation. What unites these tales is the common thread of the supernatural, depicting God’s goodness and mighty power exercised on behalf of those who trusted in Him.

That same power is still available to us today. Jesus promised that with God, all things are possible (Mark 11:27)—and He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

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Blood Covenant Fulfilled

Biblical Retellings Book 4

God is a covenant making, covenant keeping God. From the dawn of prehistory, God’s dealings with mankind can be understood through the lens of covenant: a binding agreement of unending loyalty and faithfulness. His early covenants with mankind were one-sided, requiring very little from men in return. All of that changed with the birth of the nation of Israel, and her deliverance from slavery in Egypt through Moses.

The Mosaic covenant, also known throughout the Bible as “the law,” encompassed the rest of the Old Testament books through the death and resurrection of Jesus. With the perspective of hindsight, we know now that God neither expected nor intended for Israel to keep the law perfectly. Instead, He wanted them to recognize that their best human attempts would inevitably fail. What they needed was a savior who could do it for them (Romans 7:13-25): one perfect kinsman of Adam, who could redeem all mankind from the predicament of the fall, and restore God’s family to Him. This was always the goal, from the very beginning.

This second volume of the Blood Covenant duology picks up with Moses, God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt and His institution of the law. Israel’s early interactions with God can only be understood in the context of this covenant, set against the backdrop of a heavenly war. It carries through to Jesus’ initiation of the New Covenant of His blood, and finally to the prophecy of His return through the eyes of John. Each chapter begins with a fictionalized retelling, followed by an afterword discussion of commentaries and why I made the choices I did in the stories. Finally, they include the original scriptures. Blood Covenant Fulfilled is the story of how God united both His justice and His mercy in one staggering sacrifice that changed the world for all time.

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Blood Covenant Origins

Biblical Retellings Book 3

One of the most common arguments against Christianity is that the God of the Old Testament seemed so drastically different than the God of the New Testament. In the Old, many claim He seemed cruel and capricious, while in the New, He suddenly became a God of love and tolerance. Yet Jesus said, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9), and the writer of Hebrews tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If God hasn’t changed, how do we explain the apparent difference? The answer lies in a long-forgotten word: covenant.

Covenants play little to no role in our world today, but in ancient times they were all-important. Treaties between individuals, tribes, and kingdoms took the form of blood covenants. These were much stronger than our modern concept of a contract, which can be broken by finding clever legal loopholes or sometimes simply by a decision not to honor one’s word. By contrast, covenants were bonds broken only by death, and at times extending to the progeny of the two making the original agreement. Ancient covenants entailed unending loyalty and faithfulness, and often included the union of all assets, liabilities, and responsibilities between the parties. Most cultures had such a concept. They got the idea from God, who keeps His covenants to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9). But in order to make such treaties with mankind, God had to find a willing human participant.

This collection of biblical retellings explores the covenants between God and Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and how these covenants (or the lack of them) affected His dealings with mankind at various times. Each chapter begins with a fictionalized retelling, followed by an afterword discussion of commentaries and why I made the choices I did in the stories. Finally, they include the original scriptures. God’s ultimate goal was always love and grace for all mankind, and yet He had to balance this with justice, as well as with honoring His own original word. Blood Covenant Origins is the story of how He began the process that ultimately led to the cross.

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Daughters of Zion

Biblical Retellings Book 2

Have you ever wondered what it was like for Eve to be the first woman, created as an adult but with the mind of a child? What must it have been like for Deborah to be the only female judge in Israel’s history? Ever considered how Esther felt about being chosen as queen in the ungodly kingdom of Persia—particularly when she’d have to share her husband with a harem? What must Mary and Martha have thought when their brother Lazarus had died, and it looked to them like Jesus was not coming?

This collection of retellings from the perspectives of women in scripture explores these stories and more, including a few stories from female perspectives that also appear in Messiah: Biblical Retellings. While all of these women lived in various patriarchal cultures, and some of the most prominent women were even Gentiles, scripture shows that God cherished them all. As the Apostle Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)—and this was true for believing women under the old covenant as well, whose faith was counted to them as righteousness.

These are tales of miracles and victory: from brokenness, bitterness and envy to shalom: peace and wholeness, with nothing missing and nothing broken. For some, this meant a transition from barrenness to motherhood; for others, from widowhood to love and belonging. Still others went from bereavement to receiving their dead restored to life again. They included judges and queens, and also prostitutes and despised foreigners. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:25): what He does for one, He will do for all who believe in His promises.

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Messiah

Biblical Retellings Book 1

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be one of the five thousand when Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves? Or one of his disciples when he walked on water? Or to have seen Lazarus come out of the tomb? Ever wonder what Mary thought when Gabriel told her she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, or what the fallout was like in her personal life? Ever considered how those two disciples felt on the road to Emmaus, when they found that the man with whom they had been talking was in fact their risen Lord?

This collection of retellings from the gospels is designed to bring each of these stories and more to life in your imagination. They stick to the facts wherever the facts are known, from either the scriptures themselves or from extra-biblical commentaries. But they also add in back story when necessary, reimagining the sights, the sounds, the colors, and the emotions for the person most involved. Each retelling ends with an afterword discussion, summarizing the reasons for the choices made in the story, followed by the scriptures themselves.

Together, I hope these retellings help to paint a portrait of the Messiah.

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C.A. Gray is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD), with a primary care practice in Tucson, Arizona. She has always been captivated by the power of a good story, fictional or otherwise, which is probably why she loves holistic medicine: a patient’s physical health is invariably intertwined with his or her life story, and she believes that the one can only be understood in context with the other. For freebies, giveaways, and new release info, sign up for her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/F3rof.

Her favorite fictional tales have always been epic battles of good versus evil, with a strong tendency towards parable. An idealist herself, she has always been convinced that these stories have something deeply true to tell us about the human condition, and that is why we love them so much… or at least that’s why she does.

She still wants to be everything when she grows up. She moonlights as a college chemistry teacher (she has a degree in biochemistry, with minors in Spanish and Creative Writing), does theater when she gets the chance, sings, plays piano, was once a personal trainer and in coffee shop management. She is blessed with exceptionally supportive family and friends, and thanks God for them every single day.

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