Tag Archives: Hardrada

I don’t know about you – and most people don’t agree with me, get upset and throw me in the bin (I’m sure they’d like to literally) – but, I’m really disillusioned over this whole social media business. Using it as a promotional tool, I mean. Does it work? I’m not convinced. Let’s be honest, often when I go on Facebook I see quite a lot of promotional stuff, covers of books, people telling me how great they are, and I simply delete them. I do think a lot of authors get carried away, that they believe social media is working, so they are afraid to stop. Unfortunately, by dominating the pages the way they do, it feels almost as if they are spamming. I like to go on FB to interact with people, usually people I know personally or have a strong connection through the site. I myself do use it to occasionally promote my work, but this is purely because I feel pressurised to do so. But it doesn’t work.

And then there is Twitter. Twitter is now simply a promotional site, with so many screaming headlines about ‘my wonderful book’ or ‘the latest from best-selling author bla de blar’…I’ve often wondered, if they are best-sellers, why are they still promoting their book in this way? I still feel word of mouth is the best recommendation, with browsing in a bookshop coming a close second. I love that about Waterstones, where the members of staff write down their own recommendations. I’ve bought quite a few books this way. I remember many years ago going into my local W’s and finding a recommendation card, written in a spidery hand, spouting off about a little known Swedish author called Henning Mankell. I was so won over by the recommendation that I bought the book and, from that moment, bought every other thing Mankell has written!

Wow…to get a book on the shelves of Waterstones…

That’s my ambition, my dream…

I know most of you will scream in derision, but I do not believe I will not have ‘made it’ as a writer until I see one of my books in there.

Anyway, the thing is, what to do. I don’t know, is my answer. Just keep plugging away, I suppose. But I am sick and tired of reading about other people’s books on social media, so I am sure people must be sick of reading mine. I try to keep all my author stuff on my FB author page, with links to my website where I usually try to put some excerpts from my books. I’m going to try not to put much on my personal FB page. And I’m culling my list of ‘friends’ as a lot of them have ideas that are totally contrary to mine. I actually feel a lot better for this.

I remember when I first started buying books, for pleasure. Agatha Christie, Sven Hassel, Ian Fleming, they were the big three. I read every book Sven and Fleming wrote, but I’ve still got some way to go with Christie. But here’s a thought – I never once thought I’d like to meet the author, interact. For me, an author was like a god-like figure, distant, all-powerful. Their words, their creations were enough for me. Now, we are bombarded with interviews, webinars and all sorts of stuff. I never read them. I’m not convinced they serve any purpose, I’m really not.

Well, I have good news. My dystopian thriller ‘Tears in the Fabric of Time’ is about to be published and I can’t wait. This has been a labour of love for me for many years. I loved writing it and now it is going to be published! The cover looks cool and the first chapter is available on my website, so go and have a look.fabric-of-time-cover

Also, Varangian Volume 3 – HARDRADA – is out soon too. This has been a long haul but we’re almost there. Some people have asked me about Hardrada (YES, on social media…wow!), so here is a little taster about Volume 1:

2 books

His name was Harald Sigurdsson, but the world knows him as Hardrada. Having fought his first battle at fifteen, where he watched his brother, King Olaf, die, he fled south to the fabled city of Constantinople. Here he enrolled in the legendary fighting unit known as the Varangian Guard. His love for the Empress Zoe is legendary, but Harald seeks more than mere love. To regain his birthright drives him forever onward. To be the King of Norway. The year is 1042 and Harald is imprisoned, betrayed. The first volume of this great Viking king tells of his attempt to flee the great city and return north. It is a violent, uncompromising tale of murder, deception and depravity, for the Emperor is the lust-filled Michael V, and he wants Hardrada’s head. Hardrada, the very name means ‘Hard Ruler’, but how can he ever rule unless he can escape. And to escape he must forge allegiances with some of the most despicable men in the entire empire.

HERE is a link to the Amazon page for Varangian.

My website: www.stuartgyates.com for further information.

Thanks for dropping by and thanks to those of you who have bought my books. I hope you like them.


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Adventures in Writing … bullying for authors

One of the great things about being an author is, you are your own boss.

You don’t have anyone breathing over your shoulder, checking up on what you’re doing, making the criticisms, making your life feel worthless.

Well … if you’re a full-time writer that is.

The problem is if you still have to hold down a job to pay the bills, as writing simply doesn’t give you that luxury. I wish it did. Maybe one day it will for me, but not right now…

So, I juggle between the two. I work and I write, mainly at weekends, but also during holidays (when I become fanatical!).

And here is my focus this month … bullying.

I’m a teacher. We spend a lot of our time talking to the students about bullying, how to fight against it, how to do our best to stop it. But human nature is what it is. There will always be individuals who will try to impose themselves on you. And that is bullying. Simple.

I was bullied at school. The problem with me was, the bullying took place AFTER school. They would stand beneath my bedroom window and jeer at me for going to bed early, or they would come and knock on my front room window as I sat and had my supper. I never told my parents. Don’t ask me why. I just never did. And then, when I was out, they would stalk me, and push and shove, call me names, and once, the most awful time I can remember, they grabbed me by the ankles and held me over the edge of a cliff. They shouted and jeered, demanding I say ‘Don’t drop me, don’t drop me, PLEASE’. Instead, I said, ‘No.’ I wasn’t going to give into them. They had nowhere to go, their threats had failed. So they pulled me back and from that moment, they never troubled me again.

I’m not tough. I’m not that hard. Okay, I can trade punches, but my life has taught me there are better ways to sought out differences and this is what I teach my students.

Fighting, violence … it is never the answer.

So now, I have a situation. I’m being bullied again, only this time it is at work. The asshole I work with has decided my desk is too untidy, so he has taken it upon himself to clear away all my papers. In fact, he’s done this more than once. I took a few days off sick and when I came back, everything was gone. The problem is, I don’t know where.

So … what do I do?

Do I ask him, politely and meekly, where have my things gone, or…

Do I stand up?

Enough is enough, I feel.

There comes a point when you simply have to say ‘No.’ I may be the untidiest person in the world, the most disorganised, but that is still MY DESK. How dare he, or anyone else, pick up MY things and move them.


So tomorrow, I stand up. I tell him, ‘you have no right to move my things’ and I’ll see what he says. And if he wants a ruck, I’ll give him one. I used to be pretty good, but I haven’t traded punches for at least 20 years. But, I know a few things. I reckon I could break his nose before he even knows what time it is.

Mm, seems to go against everything I’ve just said. But, do you know what, sometimes … well …sometimes. I wish I was like Hardrada. Bury my battle-axe deep in the asshole’s head.

The great thing about all of this, I can use the entire scenario in a book. Now there’s the joy of being an author. Experience. Writing the truth.

Amen to that.

I’ll let you know how it all pans out.

The GREAT news is, my latest book is now published! Varangian, King of the Norse is the second in my Hardada series, and I’m hopeful. I think it is better than the first, and the first has received plenty of amazing 5-star reviews. So, get out their guys, and buy yourself a copy. Christmas is coming, so why not buy them both! You know it makes sense.

Find the new book HERE.

Thanks for dropping by, and keep on reading!


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Adventures in Writing – Hardrada novels

VARANGIAN – the background story to the greatest Viking of them all, is the first in my Harald Hardrada series. novels.

Very soon, the second in my proposed five volume series of historical novels based around the life of Harald Sigurdsson, the last and greatest Viking of them all, published by Rebel-e, will be available.

The first volume, entitled ‘Varangian’ is receiving very good reviews. It is available from Barnes and noble, Smashwords and HERE, on Amazon.

The cover for my historical novel 'Varangian'.

The cover for my historical novel ‘Varangian’.

I thought it might be of interest to many readers to give some background to this amazing man, a living legend in his own time, a man who is still honoured and celebrated in Norway even to this day.

We all know the Vikings, or at least we think we do. The recent television series ‘The Vikings’ has used the historical figure of Ragnor Luthbrok as its vehicle to launch a re-telling of this amazing man’s journey across the sea to England.

Luthbrok was a real figure. It is to him that history has forever linked the terrible atrocities perpetrated at Lindisfarne in 793 AD, when the defenceless monks in that isolated monastery were put to the sword and their holy relics and treasures looted. The Vikings had arrived, and for the next 360 years they raided, settled and ruled the land we now know as England.

Ragnor Lodbrok, one of the first Vikings to raid Britain

Hardrada’s story is similar.

Born in Norway, around 1014, he was the half-brother to King Olaf II, who was canonised a saint soon after his bloody death. My fictional series begins with Harald languishing in a prison cell, in the great city of Constantinople. How he got there is the subject of my thirds volume. The in-betweens are dealt with it the previous two volumes. ‘Varangian’ sets out how he manages to make good his release. Already a commander of the fabled Varangian guard, he is employed by the holy patriarch Alexius to help the great city defend itself against the excesses of its own emperor, Michael V. Depraved, drunk with power, Michael attempted to usurp power for himself, ignoring the army and his adopted mother, the magnificent, beautiful and sensual Empress Zoe, whom Hardrada was once a lover. Well, all that is over now. Zoe found our hero in a clinch with a young girl and has taken her revenge by throwing him in prison. But the patriarch wants him free, to muster the Varangians, stationed in the north. Without them, the entire empire will fall under the clutches of the mad, perverted young emperor.

That’s the plan at least.

The problem is, there are others who want the throne for themselves. Top of the tree is General George Maniakes, the greatest Byzantine general ever. He has fought alongside the ferocious Hardrada in Sicily. He knows what the man is like, and he will do his utmost to undermine him at every opportunity.

And so the story continues, the palace intrigues, deceptions, murders, all contributing to make for a fast-paced and exciting series of books.

Of course, Hardrada was to fall at Stamford Bridge in 1066, a victim of his own ambition. Not content to be honoured as the greatest Viking who has ever lived, he strove to succeed in one last, great achievement – to be king of England. He destroyed the Army of the North at Fulford Gate, but fell at Stamford a few days later, not expecting Harold Godwinson to react so quickly.

The Battle of Stamford Bridge, September 25th, 1066


Two hundred and fifty ships brought the Vikings to England, only twenty were needed to take the survivors home. It was the last roll of the dice, the Vikings never again gaining a foothold in England.

Hardrada was an amazing man. His adventures and sheer force of will to have his named stamped in the annals of history, set him towering over his contemporaries. Poet, lover, warrior, read of his exploits in my books and get to know the greatest Viking of them all – Harald the hard ruler, king of Norway and man of legend.

You can learn more about my books and what I do by visiting my website, www.stuartgyates.com.

Here you can read some extracts of my books and find about current and future projects.

The images used in this blog are supplied under license from ‘Look and Learn’, and apologies for the Vikings wearing horns on their helmets – something they never did!

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Adventures in writing … some news so far

Wow, what a difference a month makes!

This month everything has changed quite dramatically, in terms of forthcoming publications, etc.

For a long time, 2014 has been somewhat dormant. I’ve been writing, editing, planning, all the usual stuff that a writer is required to indulge in, but for a very long time none of my work has appeared in print or on e-book.

Well, all that has changed!

My agent sent me some good news. It seems that the revised and extended version of ‘Ogre’s Lament – a Don Luis Story’ has been accepted for publication! This is great news for me, as I think this is a good story. I’m already well into the second book, so I’m extremely excited about the whole thing! For those of you who don’t know, the novel is a historical murder/adventure, set in the mid’17th century. All of the stories involve a young man named Luis who is something of a celebrity – he can read! He lives in a remote Spanish village and the first story sees him maturing into a resourceful and fearless young man as he faces down a bunch of blood-thirsty mercenaries on the hunt for gold! The ogre is a legend, developed by the mercenaries to keep the curious out of the mountains where the gold is buried … or is it a legend? As the story develops we soon realise that not everything is at it first appears.

I wrote a story some time ago entitled ‘Fallen Past’. It was a smaller book, one which I found very moving to write as it is so very personal. It languished on my memory-drive as I wasn’t at all sure what genre I could place it in. So, I went back to it, developed it, changed a lot and added a lot more. What I ended up with was an even more moving tale! Then I came across a publisher who wanted to publish ‘feel-good books’! Well … I couldn’t resist, so I submitted ‘Fallen Past’, and it was accepted! It should be out in the spring of 2015. Quite a wait, but I think it will be worth it. A young boy is on a collision course with an old, embittered man … but the more they meet, the more a grudging respect develops between them. In the end, they become friends. They have a shared sense of guilt over what they have done in totally unconnected acts in the past. This is their link. Their bond. I won’t tell you about the end, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Further to the above, ‘Whipped Up’, the 2nd in the Paul Chaise series will be out soon. And following that ‘King of the Norse’ will be published, which takes Harald Hardrada’s story to the next level. Of course, I have to write the 3rd volumes for both. I’m about 32,000 words into Hardrada’s story, but poor old Chaise only has the first chapter.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve submitted a contemporary thriller entitled ‘Overstretched’ and I’m working on an extended version of ‘Sallowed Blood’ which will be in two parts so that Daniel’s story is developed into the most spine-tingling direction imaginable.

All very busy and all very exciting. A writer should never stop writing. One project should lead onto the next in a never-ending stream. This is what it means to be a writer. As if to underline the point, as is typical with me, I’ve had an idea for a story and it will not leave my head. So, I might be putting all my efforts into that!

All details are on my web-site (which is about to be extended, to include more news and more extracts) so please pop along and have a look.


Thanks for visiting this blog and remember, carry on reading!

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Adventures in Writing…my debt to the good Doctor

After watching the BRILLIANT 50th Anniversary Dr Who, I am reminded of the tremendous debt I owe this iconic show.
I was six years old and the weather outside was bleak. In our living room, the black and white television flickered away in the corner, Grandstand having finished, and ‘Tomahawk’ gracing the screen with yet another great episode. When it ended, I got up to get ready for my tea and a strange, unworldly sound invaded my senses. The TV screen blurred and changed, mystical white shapes ebbing to and fro as music the like of which I had never heard before drew me in. The opening credits of the very first Dr Who. From that moment I was gripped.
Some years later, with everyone at school still buzzing with the wonder of the time-traveller’s adventures, a competition was launched to write a storyline for the Doctor. At the core of this tale was to be a new monster, to test our hero to the upmost.
Well, I wrote a story and from that point, with my imagination soaring, I became a writer.
I was eight.
I can’t remember what happened, or even where the story is now. I think I have some drawings I made of the monster, in the bottom of a box somewhere, but I can’t be sure.
For me, writing enables me, like the Doctor, to travel to new worlds, to populate stories with characters and events that did not exist before I put down the words. Creating, utilising my imagination, this is what gives me purpose and direction. I’m bombarded as I look through all the various social network sites about how to do this, how to achieve that; advice, seminars, books all about ‘how to’ write, ‘how to’ achieve success. The keys to marketing, the secrets of becoming a best-selling author. I used to read some of these. Not any more. Now, I scan over them all, not taking a blind bit of notice. Why is that?
I don’t know.
I’m not convinced by all the hype. Never will be. The screams of the self-published, that traditional publishing is dead, that paperbacks are a thing of the past…Well, I don’t believe it. None of it. Sorry, maybe I too am a dinosaur. E-books are great fun, and it is so easy to browse through the pages of Amazon picking out something new. To then download it (often free!) and have it sitting there, ready to read in a matter of minutes. So convenient and, in many ways, exciting. The anticipation…something akin to wandering inside a sweetshop and choosing the most delicious confectionary to devour with glee.
I buy books, Of course I do. However, almost 90 percent of them are paperbacks, especially non-fiction which I buy regularly to aid in my research.
I do use social networks, I do TRY to promote, because to have strangers – even one – reading my books, the feelings generated by that knowledge is beyond words. I am honoured people enjoy my work and say such lovely things about my stories. It humbles me. But I’m not seduced; I do not make many sales and am nowhere near to becoming ‘known’ and won’t be until I manage to break through into the world of traditional publishing. Because it is only there that success (awful word) will be achieved. That’s my opinion, and I’ll stick with it.
E-books? Yes, they are wonderful, and they do wonders for the environment…I think. Most of my books are e-books, as well as being in paperback. Varangian is receiving good reviews, as indeed are my others.
The cover for my historical novel 'Varangian'. Roadkill_Cover

The problem is, unlike sweets, most of those ‘books’ we download stay in the e-reader unread. How many of us have dozens, perhaps hundreds of free books simply lying there unlooked at? I myself have a number, but I’ve stopped now. What is the point? I’d rather have a book I know I will read. I also like books on shelves. I have all of George Martin’s in paperback, and I wouldn’t swap them for anything. I think, in all honesty, once all the hullabaloo has settled, we will do what we have always done. We will buys books, and read them. Both as e-books and paperbacks. We are not about to witness the demise of traditional books. No way. What will happen is we will be presented with choice. And that has to be a good thing.
But writing itself, the constant striving to succeed? Well, I write because I love it, not to make millions. I won’t be a best-seller, I won’t ever walk into Waterstones and see my books gracing the shelves. There are millions of authors out there, hawking their wares. I am lost in the digital universe. Depressing? Perhaps. But the joy of creating keeps me going and every time I finish a book (and I have written well over thirty) my mind conjures up a new adventure. Because that is what it is – an adventure. My adventure. And, thanks to Dr Who, the journey has been one full of wonder.
Thanks for dropping by, and please go over to my website to check out some news, and read a few sample chapters of Varangian.
Keep reading!


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