Friday 28 April 2023

Hornsea Writer, Madeleine McDonald, On Writing

Give me a 3-word summary of what you will be doing, writing-wise, in the coming year.

Anything and everything.

Tell me more:

In 2022 my aim was to submit something somewhere once a week to competitions or anthologies that either paid a cash prize or rewarded authors indirectly by publishing under an ISBN number. Alas, online magazines that fill their pages by asking authors to work for no pay are mushrooming, and are to be avoided like the plague.

I am grateful to those generous writers who donate their time and effort to spread the word among fellow scribes by posting lists of worthwhile opportunities on the Internet.

In terms of success, in 2022, I had three short stories, and two non-fiction pieces published. 2023 has started well, with the publication of one poem and two cosy crime shorts.

A new departure for me was selecting and introducing stories for The Best of Cafe Lit 11. All the authors published on the CafeLit website are good writers, and selecting only a few took careful thought.

Tell me about a writing-related event from last year

The success I relished the most was to win Press 53's monthly competition to tell a story in 53 words exactly, after submitting to them for years. Their contest is great fun and I shall carry on trying.

Learn more about Madeleine here.

Friday 14 April 2023

Forthcoming publication: Crime and Punishment in Tudor England

Crime and Punishment in Tudor England: From Alchemists to Zealots tells the story of the enactment of law and its penalties from Henry VII to Elizabeth I. 

The sixteenth century was remarkable in many ways. In England, it was the century of the Tudor Dynasty. It heralded the Reformation, William Shakespeare, the first appearance of bottled beer in London pubs, Sir Francis Drake, and the Renaissance. Oh, and the Spanish Armadas―all five of them! Yes, five armadas and all failures. 


 It was a watershed century for crime and punishment. Henry VII’s paranoia about the loyalty of the nobility led to military-trained vagrants causing mayhem and murder. Henry VIII’s Reformation meant executions of those refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. State-controlled religion―summed up through the five reigns as Roman Catholic; Anglo-Catholic; Protestant; Roman Catholic, and Sort of Protestant but I don’t mind so long as you swear the Oath of Supremacy―became an increasingly complex, not to say confusing, issue for ordinary people. 


 Although primary sources are rare and sometimes incomplete, the life of criminals and the punishments meted out to them still fascinates. 


Read about:

·       John Daniell and how he tried to blackmail the Earl of Essex.

·       The Stafford insurrection of 1486, the first serious opposition to the new king.

·       The activities of con-man extraordinaire, Gregory Wisdom, and many more. 


Crime and punishment didn’t start with the Tudors and this book summarises judicial practices built on tradition from the Roman occupation. It covers often gory details―what happens to the body when it is beheaded, burned, boiled, or hanged?

Arranged in alphabetical order of crimes, it recounts tales of blackmail, infanticide, kidnapping, heresy, and sumptuary laws. Told with occasional low-key humour, the book also includes Tavern Talk, snippets of quirky information. 

  Dip into it at your pleasure.


 Crime and Punishment in Tudor England is available from all outlets for pre-order now. 

Publication date 30th August 2023.

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