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A new book and a birthday – a celebratory combo?

Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal 2022, Book of the Year award,Today is publication day for Her Castilian Heart and I am especially proud to release a book that has already been awarded a Gold Medal in the 2022 Coffee Pot Book Club Awards. That was an unexpected and delightful honour, and I am quite sure both Noor and Robert—my somewhat battered protagonists—are happy as well.
“Happy?” Noor snorts. “Happy that we survived yet another of your plotlines, yes, that we most certainly are. But happy for an award when we both realise this will likely mean you will add several new plot twists to our next adventure, well, no.”
“But it’s because of you I won it,” I tell her. “It’s because you and Robert just sort of rise off the pages and become SO real that. . .”
Robert pats my arm. “Now, now, Anna, calm down. Aye, we all know we feel real to you—we must, seeing the lengthy conversations we hold with each other—but actually, we’re not real.”
Well, to me they most certainly are. Robert and Noor, Alex and Matthew, Kit and Adam, Jason and Helle—all of them take up room in my brain, constant presences that enrich my inner life. I love them all.
“You do?” Adam de Guirande ostentatiously rubs at his foot. Huh. It’s not exactly my fault he was so badly injured!
“No?” Robert waggles his maimed fingers at me. “Are you saying you couldn’t have stopped this from happening?”
Nope. Once the story starts gathering speed, it’s the characters and the peeps they interact with that drive the narrative.
Robert gives me an incredulous look. I squirm, because yes, it was me who plotted the encounter between Robert and the future Philippe IV of France that ended so badly.

Leaving all the above aside, I am proud to announce that Her Castilian Heart is now LIVE! (and also available in paperback)

Obviously, I will be celebrating my new release. But today, I have double cause to celebrate, because it is also my birthday. Today, dear peeps, I turn sixty, and yes, I have been somewhat anxious over that fact for some months. Why? Because it makes me feel. . . well, not exactly old, but deffo on a steepening slope towards “the end”. Not always a pleasant feeling when there’s so much left in life I want to do, even if by now I have had to scratch some goals, like becoming a Navy SEAL (always an unrealistic goal as a) I wasn’t American b) I was a woman in a generation when women were rarely allowed to be first-line fighters) walking round the Black Sea (seems extremely unwise since back in 2012-14 due to the political conflicts), or riding across the Continental Divide, mainly because my riding skills aren’t good enough.

At the same time—as those of you who’ve read this blog know—I end my sixth decade in much, much better shape than I entered it. I have lost close to fifty kilos since I turned fifty, and a regimen of regular workout, a lot of walking and a healthier approach to what I eat and when I eat (I no longer eat when I feel sad, angry, happy, upset, irritated, stressed. These days, I eat when I’m hungry—well, except for the odd piece or two of chocolate but they don’t really count as they’re “inspirational” choccies used to fuel my writing process) All in all, according to the doctor who so rudely told me I was facing a very, very early death back in 1217, I have prolonged my lifespan by so much I could almost argue that I’m not turning sixty, I’m turning fifty for the second time!

Hmm. Whatever the case, it’s not the age as such that I have a problem with. It’s the inevitability of where all this will end, and even if I realise (and hope, plus keep my fingers crossed) that death is not exactly staring me in the face, I do feel an increasing desire to make sure I find closure where needed and to grab on to life with both hands and just enjoy the heck out of it while I can.

Which is why, dear peeps, today I am celebrating. I am celebrating a new book, I am celebrating that said book has already been awarded a gold medal, I am celebrating that I am healthy and sixty, that I have a wonderful family and so many friends who enrich my life. Makes me want to warble  Celebrate good times, come on (and celebrate)

Back to Her Castilian Heart:

I give you a story of twisted family ties, of greed and war, of complicated politics—because seriously, the world was quite complicated in the thirteenth century—and of love. I give you the story of a man and his wife, standing shoulder to shoulder to face whatever life throws at them. I give you a story of rebels and rogues, of just how fragile life can be. I hope you enjoy it!

Her Castilian Heart, by Anna BelfrageBlood is not always thicker than water…

At times a common bloodline is something of a curse—or so Robert FitzStephan discovers when he realises his half-brother, Eustace de Lamont, wants to kill him.

A murderous and greedy brother isn’t Robert’s only challenge.  He and his wife, Noor, also have to handle their infected relationship with a mightily displeased Queen Eleanor—all because of their mysterious little foundling whom they refuse to abandon or allow the queen to lock away.

Eustace is persistent. When Robert’s life hangs in the balance, it falls to Noor to do whatever it takes to rip them free from the toothy jaws of fate. Noor may be a woman, but weak she is not, and in her chest beats a heart as brave and ferocious as that of a lioness. But will her courage be enough to see them safe?


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