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Friday, September 22, 2017

Autumn is Here! Update





Blog update


It has been two months since my last update, and I apologize for being tardy--many things going on in my life.


The Broken Lance - Update Broken Lance


Since the release of my latest historical novel, The Broken Lance, sales are moving along nicely, especially, the book signings I have conducted at Barnes & Noble. However, you wouldn't know it by looking at sales statistics on Amazon's website. They are very misleading. However, I am pleased to announce that The Broken Lance, along with my first historical, The Sign of the Eagle, were in Sunbury Press's (www.sunburypress.com) top twenty-five category for sales during the month of August.


Book Signings  The Broken Lance  MattNorthtownMall.jpg

                                                                     New Reader Matt at The Northtown Mall


Between August 5th and September 16th, I conducted seven book signings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Yoke's Fresh Market stores. The Woodinville B&N, August 5th, was the launching date for The Broken Lance, and did very well. Besides selling The Broken Lance, I sold copies of my other three novels as well. Sales were better than expected. The Barnes and Noble events in general were very successful, whereas, Yoke's was so-so. Being that Yoke's is a grocery store chain, located in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, I expected that. However, it gave me an outlet that replaced the defunct Hastings stores. Since they are in the area where I live, people like the fact that I am a local author, some are practically neighbors. I will be returning those stores again in the future. Check the book signing segment of my website for details along with future events at Barnes & Noble.


Developments at Sunbury Press  Milford House Press


In the future Sunbury Press will be launching a new line of five imprints. My novels will eventually placed under imprint, Milford House, which will be used for most fiction genres. They will still be published by Sunbury Press. More details in the future. Sunbury Press was invited to join a new site geared towards movie and television opportunities. The site will allow the publisher to promote their book titles to Hollywood and other entertainment industry producers and directors. So, Lawrence Knorr, owner and publisher of Sunbury Press will be promoting a select numbers of books, I hope he will include mine. We will see what the future brings.


Return to Britannia - The Work Continues  RomanLondonoverview.jpg

                                                                    Roman London Overview


The work on Return to Britannia (working title) continues very slowly. I am still look for the right direction in which to take this story. Right now, I have two parallel plots: Solving the murders of three bureaucrats and Macha being kidnapped by British rebels. I have begun chapter three and written three scenes, including one in which Macha is attacked by a lone assassin. Fortunately, she kills him. I am also developing the major characters of this story, too. This is taking much longer than I had planned. Part of the problem is I am spending a lot of time promoting my current novels. If I don't promote my books, no one else will do it for me. The publisher does not have the budget for major promotions (although he is trying his best).


60 ancient shipwrecks found by climate scientists at bottom of Black Sea  Black Sea sunken Romanship

Dozens of perfectly preserved ancient shipwrecks have been found at the bottom of the Black Sea. This image shows a 3D 

model of a Roman ship lying in over 2000m (650 ft) of water. Its mast still stands, both quarter rudders with their tillers

are still attached. Rope is still draped over the frames due to the preservation of materials in the Black Sea’s anoxic conditions. 


Scientists stumbled upon the graveyard while using underwater robots to survey the effects of climate change along the Bulgarian coast. Because the Black Sea contains almost no light or oxygen, little life can survive, meaning the wrecks are in excellent condition.


Researchers say their discovery is 'truly unrivaled'. Many of the ships have features that are only known from drawings or written description but never seen until now. Carvings in the wood of some ships have remained intact for centuries, while well-preserved rope was found aboard one 2,000-year-old Roman vessel.

Read more at Shipwreck!



A Couple of Personal notes. Steve working with trainer  Palamino Kit

                                           Steve with trainer              The Palamino "Kit"



I have been working out at the Liberty Lake Athletic Club (Liberty Lake, Washington) with a personal trainer (two days a week plus weight-lifting one day on my own) since last May. In that time I have lost nearly 19 pounds (from 200 to 181, my goal is 180) and am still slowly going down. Since it took a long time to put on the weight, it will take a long time to get it off, but it is happening. My final goal is 175 pounds. Still got to rid of this gut. I keep plugging away. Once I do reach my final goal, I will continue to maintain the weight and keep working with my trainer. As you grow older, it is important to stay in good physical condition. Although I'm 75, I'm not ready for the rest home anytime soon.


I am sad to report that we had to have our beloved palomino, Kit, put down (Monday, September 18th). She was 27 years old. Recently, she had suffered from several medical issues. Sunday night (Sept. 17th), she was taken to an equine hospital here in Spokane Valley, Washington, for testing and observation. Because of her age and many other factors, Liz made the tough decision to have her put to sleep. This is the second horse we have lost in less than one year. We still have two younger horses, Annie and Darby who are in excellent health. Like our other pets, horses are part of the family. There loss is hard on us. Rest in peace, dear Kit.




That is all for now. Until next time, Salve Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!




Jess Steven Hughes




2:22 pm pdt          Comments

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Broken Lance is now Available The Broken Lance Book Cover



At long last The Broken Lance was released July 14th. It is available from Sunbury Press The Broken Lance at Sunbury Press, Amazon USA, UK, Australia and Canada, and Barnes & Noble online.



The Broken Lance is also available on Kindle and can also be ordered at your local brick and mortar store.


Summary of  The Broken Lance: Check the home page and book review page for a summary of the story and book review by author Janet Morris.



Book Sales Book Cover


Although The Broken Lance was only available for pre-order in June, the novel was number eight in sales for Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com) for the month. Not a bad start.




Short Story Roman Britain Romanisation


Wonderful news! I received word that my short story, A Body in the River, will be published in the September issue of Conceit Magazine , a literary publication. The story is set in Roman Britain, 71 A.D. It may eventually part of a historical novel I am writing, Return to Britannia (working title). The main character for both stories is Macha, daughter of the British king, Caratacus. She was the main protagonist in my first historical, The Sign of the Eagle. In the short story, see spots a body floating down the Thames River.



Breast Cancer Survivors and my Novels Breast Cancer Awareness


The two following messages which I received moved me deeply. If my novels helped these fine ladies in there recovery from such a devastating disease, then all my writing struggles have been worth it. I can identify with them and their loved ones as my wife, Liz, is a fourteen year breast cancer survivor.


Message One



My wife was voracious reader (and we have the multiple book cases filled to overflowing to prove it) of all genres, both fiction and non (she has a screenplay about Captain Cook she is shopping for which she did extensive research) however.. 


This all came to an end when she was hit by breast cancer. The cancer was bad enough but the treatment, as you may know, is very much a race to see who dies first - the cancer or the patient. So it was that on all the medications she lost her ability to concentrate and reading was no longer the joy it once was. 


And then she saw your post about The Broken Lance and the critic's reaction to the language. "I've got to read that book' was her reaction. Of course, it was not yet available so we picked up a copy of The Wolf Of Britannia. She read it cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely. 


Your book helped her breakthrough the logjam of medication and rediscover the joy of reading that she once knew so well. 


Just wanted you to know that your book was a hit, and I expect more of your volumes to find a home on our bookshelves in short order. 



Thank you




Message Two



Just thought you would like to know. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, going through surgery, chemo, radiation, and post chemo meds, my senses deteriorated almost completely. Before the diagnosis, I was a voracious reader; finishing a book in a few days. After the treatments, my concentration was nearly zero; couldn't remember what I had read from page to page.


Still on meds, but when heard about your book, I asked my husband to get it for me. For the first time, I was able to keep my attention on the book for more than a few minutes. Read a chapter every night, then progressed to two, then three chapters, and finally, finished the last five chapters in one night. Thank you for your book that got me back into one of my great loves. Just bought the next book.




Cache of New Roman Letters Discovered at Hadrian's Wall New Roman Letters Hadrians Wall


A cache of 25 Roman letters has been found at Vindolanda, the fort below Hadrian’s Wall where the most famous documents from the Roman world were discovered in 1992, first-person accounts of cold feet, beer running short, and jolly birthday parties at the northernmost edge of the empire.


The tablets are still being conserved, before being scanned with infrared light which should make the faint marks in black ink legible, but the cursive script is invariably a cryptic crossword puzzle that will take experts many months to solve.


However, the archaeologists have already spotted that one of the tablets may refer to a character already well known from the original find: Masclus was then writing to his commanding officer asking for more beer supplies to be sent to his outpost on the wall. In the newly discovered letter, Masclus is requesting leave – possibly with a painful hangover.


Most of the new letters are written like the original find on thin slivers of birch, but there is particular excitement about one double-leaved oak tablet, as the two pieces of timber folded together usually give particularly good preservation of ink and the wood was used for more important correspondence than the more plentiful birch.


For more details see the following link: New Cache of Roman Letters Discovered at Hadrians Wall  




Return to Britannia - Work in Progress Steve Penning Sixth Historical Novel B&A Spokane Valley WA

                                                             Steve Penning Sixth Novel


Because I have been busy working around our home (we have four acres) and promoting my latest novel, I have not had the time that I needed to work on my six novel (the fifth, The Peacekeeper, will be released November/December). I have only completed two chapters. I read chapter two to my support group, The Red Ink Fictioneers twice.


The members were very helpful making several constructive suggestions. Now, I can proceed with chapter three. The story takes place in Roman Britain, 71 A.D. Macha, the protagonist of my first novel, The Sign of the Eagle, returns to Britannia with husband Titus, who is a tribune in the Praetorian Guard. He has been dispatched by the Emperor, Vespasian, to investigate the murder of three bureaucrats.


Things are not necessarily what they may seem. As an aside, Macha wants to learn more about the fate of her father, Caratacus, who use to rule several tribes in Britannia, before the Romans invaded in 43 A.D. He escaped from Italy during the rebellion by Boudicca in Britain, 60 A.D. She had not heard a word about him since that time.



On a Personal Note Steve and Liz Wedding Day

                                Congratulations, Steve & Liz


On July 11th, Liz and I celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. Can't believe the time has flown by that fast. Even though we have had our share of ups and downs, the marriage has remained solid. This was Liz's first marriage and my second. This one will go the distance. Happy anniversary to my wonderful wife, I love you!



That's about all for now. Until next time, Salve Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!



Jess Steven Hughes



2:08 pm pdt          Comments

Friday, June 9, 2017


The Broke Lance - Updates    Broken Lance Book Cover 


Although, The Broken Lance won't be released until July 11th, you can now pre-order the novel from Sunbury Press at  The Broken Lance

I have already arranged at several stores for future book signings. See my website and click onto book signings.  Book Signings


The Broken Lance - Pre-publication Book Review 


Author Janet Morris wrote the following book review - It is better than I had expected.


" On the last page of The Broken Lance by Jess Steven Hughes, the legend reads: To Be Continued. When you reach that point, you'll be thrilled and relieved that another volume is coming. Hughes, whose Celtic Britain historicals has everything a man or woman could want: love, hate, revenge betrayal, and pathos. This book is staggeringly good, as historicals go. You fall asleep holding it; you awake thinking about it. Your normal life fades to a pale shadow of the world Hughes creates. If you've read The Sign of the Eagle, or the two-volume The Wolf of Britannia, I don't need to say more. If you haven't yet read Hughes, what are you waiting for? Start here, and have your faith in the novel restored.

No part of this book lags; it grabs you by the throat, with women as compelling as the men. He brings politics at their worst to life, and teaches you why things were the way they were then.

So, without giving away the story, I must tell you that if you are a man, woman, boy, girl, searching adventure and a better understanding of human nature, The Broken Lance is your book. Once you've read it, you'll go looking for the previous volumes in this series, wondering how you could have missed these stories. And you'll read The Broken Lance and its precursors more than once, for the sheer pleasure of it. I said of a previous volume, Hughes is an American Ecco, writing for his time. His background as a Marine, a horseman, a police detective, all enhance his stories.

        SO, if you love historical adventure, heroes of both sexes, and a story to make you think differently about modern life, here it is. Grab it and run -- and get it autographed if you can." - Janet Morris



Book Signing Follow-ups   New Reader Katie at B&N

                                              Signing the Wolf of Britannia, Pt.I for Katie at B&N



Between April 22nd and June 4th (the last date was a late add-on) I conducted seven book signings at:  Barnes & Noble, Spokane Northtown Mall and Spokane Valley, Washington, EntertainMART in Couer d' Alene, Idaho, Liberty Lake Chevron and Yoke's Fresh Market, Liberty Lake, Washington. With the exception of one signing, the rest were a success. I sold many copies of my novels from The Sign of the Eagle Trilogy. Soon, I will turn my attention to pushing my next novel, The Broken Lance, at future signings starting August 5th (see above re: book signing schedule).



The Sign of the Eagle Trilogy Book Sales   The Sign of the Eagle Trilogy



Good news! All three novels, The Sign of the Eagle; The Wolf of Britannia, Part I and Part II, were in the top 25 sales for publisher, Sunbury Press, for month of May. 



Ancient Roman Bath House Discovered During Rebuilding Phase of a Cricket Pavilion in Carlisle (UK)  Roman Bath House Discovered in Carlisle Britain




" Renovation works intended to move the Carlisle Cricket Club’s pavilion (which was damaged by Storm Desmond), revealed the remnants of an ancient Roman bath house in the area. The fascinating discovery was actually made in proximity to the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site, with the preliminary excavation project already managing to unearth a range of items from weapons, pottery to coins. Most of these artifacts are judged to be around 1,600 years old.

Now when it comes to the historical scope of Carlisle (in Cumbria), while the town itself was probably one of the important urban centers for native Britons, the settlement was established as a prominent fortified stronghold under the rule of the Romans. This main settlement was called Luguvalium, and it was part of a network of forts along the frontier. And by 2nd century AD, a new fort Petriana was built at the site, complementing the Hadrian’s Wall – a defensive project approved by the visiting Roman emperor himself in 122 AD. To that end, Petriana in itself was probably the largest stone-fort along the extensive wall – so much so that it boasted the garrison of uniquely formed 1,000-strong cavalry regiment known as Ala Petriana."


For additional information see link: Roman Bath House in Carlisle



Return to Britannia - Update Map of Romanization of Brittain


Because I have been so busy promoting my novels, including my next release, The Broken Lance, I have made little headway on my next novel. I am currently working on chapter 2 and will read a rough draft to the writers support group, The Red Ink Fictioneers, this Saturday, June 10th. The draft still needs lots of work and I will be asking for the group's input. Once The Broken Lance is released, I hope for more to write. However, the second half of this novel, The Peacekeeper, is scheduled for review by my editor at Sunbury Press in August, so we will see how much I will have to write.


On a Personal Note Liz on Darby   Camp Roberts Museum

                                          Liz on her new horse Darby                               Steve at Camp Roberts Museum



My wife, Liz, recently purchased another horse. Her name is Darby and she is a registered bay quarter horse mare. She is well trail broken and will be a wonderful addition along with Annie and Kit.


In May, when I was visiting our son, Chris, in San Jose, California, he and I drove down to Camp Roberts Army Base near Paso Robles, California, to visit there military museum. I am standing next to an army M-60 main battle tank from the 1990's.




That's about all for this session. Until next time, Salve Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!



Jess Steven Hughes



1:38 pm pdt          Comments

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pre-Publishing Review of The Broken Lance



A Pre-publishing Review for The Broken Lance The Broken Lance 2nd Final Cover


The following is what one reviewer and author has written about my next historical novel, THE BROKEN LANCE:


"I'm nearly done with my review copy and I assure you, if you like historical novels that are actually novels -- with elements of mystery, suspense, drama and romance, this is not only the book, but the series for you. So well written that you can start anywhere, so compelling that you won't stop reading. Grab "The Broken Lance" and its precursors in the Sign of the Eagle series, then turn off the news, let in the cat and lock the door, because you're in for one terrific ride." -- Janet Morris, Author, I, THE SUN and THE SACRED BAND


Update on The Broken Lance  


I finished reviewing and making all the necessary changes to the galleys of my historical, THE BROKEN LANCE, I had received from editor at Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com). This included adding three new chapters and splitting in half another one (chapter 31). Fortunately, these were three chapters I had originally cut from the story during the first draft sometime back, I had deleted the electronic copies but kept hard copies, a good thing. When I am writing, I don't throw anything away. Although I had to manually add them back to the story with some changes, at least I didn't have to start from scratch. After I had emailed the galleys to the editor, my mind felt like jelly, and I took the rest of the day off. I will be finished with editing this novel until I receive another revised copy from her, hopefully, the last one. Sunbury Press want to get my manuscript out to book reviewers by May.


Book Signing Update - The Successes Continues   B&N Spokane Valley,WA New Reader Christine

                                                                          New Reader Christine at B&N Spokane Valley


I conducted a total of six book signings between March 5th and April 9th at Barnes & Noble, Spokane Valley, Washington, Barnes and Noble, Blossom Hill, San Jose, California, and Yoke's Fresh Market, Liberty Lake, Washington. I am now in the habit of conducting Saturday and Sunday events when I sign books at Barnes and Noble stores, e.g. March 18th and 19th at the Blossom Hill store. Management loves it, and that way I sell more books. All these events were a success. Not only was Ally, the weekend manager at the Blossom Hill store pleased, but she also invited me to conduct a signing in the future at the B & N store in Gilroy, California, which is south of San Jose. She worked there for several years before coming to Blossom Hill. She said if she recommended me to the store for an event, which she will, then I will sign at that store. I will have to consider that, but my time is limited in San Jose as I always fly down there to visit my son, Chris, and his family which takes priority over any signings. However, I am flattered that Ally things that highly of me.



The Sign of the Eagle - Update  Book Cover The Sign of the Eagle


Once again, The Sign of the Eagle, is a best-seller for Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com) for March, 2017. This time it came in at number nine out of their top fifty. After nearly four years the novel is still one of the publisher's top selling historical novels.



Update - Writing Latest Novel, Return to Britannia (working title) Roman Britain Romanisation


Now that I have made the latest changes in The Broken Lance for my editor and sent them back, I can get back to writing my next novel. Although I completed chapter one, I am still debating in which direction I will take the novel, still figuring out what the theme will be. Regardless, Macha, from The Sign of the Eagle, will remain my main protagonist. Her husband, Titus, will be the secondary one. He will play a greater role in this story than he did in the first.






The Pompeii Exhibition in Seattle Re-visited  Pregnant Woman Cast Pompeii Exp, Seattle, WA


Tuesday, May 12th, 2015, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pompeii Exhibit, inside the Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington. Despite having to deal with bumper to bumper traffic, detours, etc., I made to the center and the visit was worth the wait. It seems as if all the pictures I ever saw of Pompeii (besides my visit there over 30 years ago) came to life. Nearly two years ago when I first wrote about the exhibit, I promised to show more pictures from that site. Finally, below are three more examples of what I saw at this impressive display. L to R: the cast of a pregnant woman found in the ashes; kitchen utensils; and gladiator equipment. I promise to display more pictures in a future blog much sooner than the last.


Hadrian's Wall - The Wall at the End of the Empire  Hadrians Wall Sunset



This is a very interesting article found in Archaeology Magazine:


"When the emperor Hadrian visited the province of Britannia in A.D. 122, he was in full command of the entire Roman Empire, which stretched some 2,500 miles east from northern Great Britain to modern-day Iraq, and 1,500 miles south to the Sahara Desert."  


For further information on to how and why the wall was built, check out the following link: Archaeology Magazine



On a Personal Note  Kit & Annie grazing in center paddock

                                                  Kit & Annie


It has been a long wet, snow-covered winter where we live. Our horses, L to R, Kit and Annie have had to spend most of their time in there stables and adjacent paddock as the pasture and the center paddock, between the house and barn (pictured here) were covered in deep snow. Finally, it has melted and grass is growing again. Now, we are getting a lot of rain, but the horses are now getting out and they particularly like the grass in the center paddock. Eat hardy girls.



That's all for this time around. I would sure appreciate your constructive comments on my blog or anything related to my writing, please don't be bashful. Until next time, Salve Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!



-Jess Steven Hughes



3:10 pm pdt          Comments

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Updates on published novels

The Sign of the Eagle Best Seller! The Sign of the Eagle


After placing number eight on Sunbury Press's best-selling list of fifty, for the month of January, The Sign of the Eagle rose to number one on the publisher's list. This was my first published novel and ever since it was released in 2012 it remains my best-selling novel. Besides that, the novel just received another five-star review from Amazon. See below.



A rollicking first-century detective story..., February 28, 2017


Meghan Holloway


This review is from: The Sign of the Eagle (Paperback)


The Sign of the Eagle by Jess Steven Hughes is a gripping murder mystery set in the Roman Empire. The strong-willed heroine undertakes a quest to save her husband, a Centurion arrested on the charge of plotting against the Emperor. The characters are finely drawn, the era richly detailed, and the plot fast-paced. Hughes’s story is an adventurous read and a rollicking first-century detective story.


The Broken Lance - Update The Broken Lance 2nd Edt. Book Cover


The release for this novel has been re-scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, 2017 (That also coincides with the 36th wedding anniversary for my wife, Liz, and I). I have made arrangement with Barnes & Noble stores in Spokane (Northtown Mall), Spokane Valley and Woodinville, Washington for "book launch" signings during the month of August. Check my website's book signing page for specific dates and times. The Peacekeeper is still scheduled for release in November. 


Although I have written this once, I believe it is worth repeating the story's summary: These stories are seen through the eyes of a Spanish cavalryman who becomes a centurion. He goes to Rome, after campaigning in Britannia, as the retainer for a real historical character, Titus Flavius Sabinus, older brother of future Emperor, Vespasian. The period covered runs from 44 - 69 A.D.


Book Signing Successes Continue New Wolf Part I Reader Jesse Northtown Mall

                                                                              New Reader Jesse, Northtown Mall B&N


Successful book signing weekend at Yoke's Fresh Market, Liberty Lake, Washington, and Barnes and Noble North Town Mall, Spokane, Washington (February 17th, Yoke's; Feb. 18th/19th B&N). Despite rainy weather, both stores were busy, and I met lots of interesting people. B & N was a near sell out. I want to thank Yoke's assistant manager, John-Michael; B&N manager, Kelly, and B&N associate, Danni for their assistance in making these successful events. 



In addition to the above, I have added more book signing dates for The Sign of the Eagle Trilogy. Check my book signing page for the updates.




New Novel in Progress-Return to Britannia (Working title)


Recently, I read chapter one to the Red Ink Fictioneers (formerly The Spokane Novelist Group) writers support group for the first time. Although they liked it very much, I still have work to do. There were several small things which needed change to make this a better first chapter. I have already made most of the changes suggested. On to chapter two.


In this novel, Macha, the main character in The Sign of the Eagle journey's to Britain with her husband, Titus, who has been dispatched by Emperor Vespasian, to investigate the murders of three imperial bureaucrats. Macha, who is originally from Britannia, and daughter of the legendary King, Caratacus, wants to learn if he still alive or dead. He had escaped from Italy at the outset of the Boudiccan revolt and she never from him again. 





Vatican library plans to digitize 82,000 of its most valuable manuscripts Vatican picture of Dante Divine



A 1,600-year-old manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil is among the collection being digitized by the Vatican Apostolic Library with the help of a Japanese IT firm

A rare Roman manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil dating back to 400AD is among thousands of historic items the Vatican’s library plans to publish online.


Vatican Apostolic Library, founded in 1451 and considered one of the world’s most important research libraries, is hoping in the next four years to archive its entire collection of 82,000 manuscripts, comprising more than 41 million pages.



The €8 million (£7 million) project will mean that the Roman Catholic Church’s most precious documents will be available to the public for the first time.


For addition information go to:  Vatican Digitizes Holy Writings



This is my Writers Block Lionel the Railroad Cat Writers Block

                                           Lionel the Railroad Cat


In my last entry I showed a picture of a cat with a caption about removing writer's block. Here is a picture of my writer who is sitting on my lap. His name is Lionel, "the railroad cat," who always wants to help with my writing. He is called the railroad cat because he is always hanging around my outdoor model railroad when I am running trains. He weighs nearly fifteen pounds, a big boy.



That's all for now. Until next time, Salve Atque Vale! Hail and Farewell!




Jess Steven Hughes



6:31 pm pst          Comments

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