IN A TREACHEROUS COURT: Guest Post & Giveaway Back to Blog

Update:  The winner of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is…Khelsey. Congrats!!

Today’s special guest is an author not to be missed. Michelle Diener‘s debut IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, promises to be a fabulous tale of adventure and action.  I am super excited for Michelle’s upcoming release, and I’m very glad that she’s guest blogging with me today.  Welcome, Michelle!


Thank you to Cynthia for inviting me back to blog! As I count down to August 9th, the release date of my debut historical novel, In a Treacherous Court, which is set in the court of Henry VIII, I thought I’d get everyone into a courtly mood by doing a show and tell on some of the quotes I have at the start of each chapter in IN A TREACHEROUS COURT.

I couldn’t use the language of the time in the book (it would be like reading a book in Shakespearean English), but I wanted to set the scene, give readers a taste of the cadence and poetry of the speech of the time and some context to the rules and mores of behaviour under which my characters would have lived. My solution was to use quotes from THE COURTIER, an Italian book on courtly manners written by Count Baldessar Castillo around the time IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is set, which was translated into English by Sir Thomas Hoby a number of years later. The book is in four parts, and the first part is really the ‘quick guide’ or cheat sheet for the rest of the book, containing the main DOs and DON’Ts on how to behave at court. It was great fun choosing a rule for a courtier (my hero, Parker) and a rule for a lady in waiting (my heroine, Susanna) for the start of each chapter.

The main characters in IN A TREACHEROUS COURT are based on real people. My heroine, Susanna Horenbout, was trained as an artist and illuminator in her father’s studio in Ghent (in modern day Belgium), and art historians are sure she was sent over to Henry’s court ahead of her father and brother. The hero is John Parker, one of Henry VIII’s ‘new men’, courtiers who were not noblemen, but in the meritocracy Henry was trying to establish, loyalty, and usefulness, could definitely overcome a lack of blue blood. They are both outsiders, but talented enough, and intelligent enough, to find a place for themselves in the world they find themselves in.

The Count Castillo’s advice on the fitting and proper behaviour for those who wanted to advance at court just worked so well. Where I could, I tried to match up the quotes (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) to what was happening in the scenes of that chapter. Some of my favourites include:

The Chiefe Conditions And Qualities In A Courtier: Not to be a babbler, brauler, or chatter, nor lavish of his tunge.

Of The Chief Conditions And Qualityes In A Waytyng Gentylwoman: To shape him that is oversaucie wyth her, or that hath small respecte in hys talke, suche an answere, that he maye well understande she is offended wyth hym. (LOVE this one! :))

The Chiefe Conditions And Qualities In A Courtier: To be handesome and clenly in his apparaile.

Of The Chief Conditions And Qualityes In A Waytyng Gentylwoman: To be heedefull and remembre that men may with lesse jeopardy show to be in love, then women.
The Chiefe Conditions And Qualities In A Courtier: His love towarde women, not to be sensuall or fleshlie, but honest and godly, and more ruled with reason, then appetyte: and to love better the beawtye of the minde, then of the bodie.

Of The Chief Conditions And Qualityes In A Waytyng Gentylwoman: Not to be lyghte of creditt that she is beloved, thoughe a man commune familierlye with her of love.

As you can tell, the Count Castillo had some great advice for the men and women of court :) .

Seeing as we’re talking about advice, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? There is a giveaway of a pre-release copy of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT to one randomly-drawn commenter (US residents only, unfortunately).

Looking forward to hearing some great advice!

Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener lives in Australia with her husband and two children. She’s worked as an editor, a publisher, managed a small IT business, and now writes full time. Her debut historical novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, is due out with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books on August 9th, and the second book in the series, KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS, is due for an early 2012 release. You can find out more about her at her website (, her group blog ( or follow her on twitter (!/michellediener ) or Facebook (

About the book:

Henry VIII’s most lethal courtier and his newly appointed artist become the only thing keeping him on the throne – and if they survive, neither will ever be the same.

John Parker is one of Henry VIII most useful courtiers — utterly merciless and completely loyal. But one small favour for his King will pull Parker into a deadly plot against the throne, one that will test his courage, his resolve, and most especially, his heart.

A commission from Henry VIII should have been the crowning achievement of Susanna Horenbout’s career, but before the beautiful and talented artist even sets foot in England, she finds herself in possession of a secret that could change its history. With Parker as her only protection against killers who will stop at nothing to silence her, Susanna has to trust the dangerous, enigmatic courtier. She’s used to fighting in a man’s world, but she never expected to be fighting for her life.

What people are saying about IN A TREACHEROUS COURT:

“IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is an action-adventure-mystery-historical that grabs the reader on page one and doesn’t let go. It reminds me of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE in the way it captures the “feel” of Tudor England, moving with equal aplomb from royal palace to refuse-clogged London street to leaky rowboat on the Thames.” Kate Emerson (Author of BY ROYAL DECREE: Secrets of the Tudor Court)

“Awesome! History woven flawlessly into riveting fiction.” Tammy J. Schneider (Special Features Editor and book reviewer at “Affaire de Coeur” magazine)

“Just when readers think there is nothing new to be learned about Henry VIII, debut author Diener delivers a taut suspense . . . that will keep you turning the pages.” Kathe Robin (4 star review in RT Magazine August 2011 issue)

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30 responses to “IN A TREACHEROUS COURT: Guest Post & Giveaway”

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Love those quotes! One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given was in story form, that if what you’re going isn’t working, you need to stop doing the same thing and find another way to make it work.

    Recently I read Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Keynote Speech RWA National Convention 2011, which she graciously posted on her home site. And she said something similar, that her personal motto is “over, under, around or through.”

    I’m making that my motto now, too.

  2. I’ve heard Sherrilyn talk before, Edie, and she is inspirational. That’s a great quote! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Cynthia Eden says:

    Hi, Michelle! Congrats on your release! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

  4. Thank you, Cynthia. And thanks for having me here today.

  5. Khelsey says:

    This sounds so good and I have never read an historical book, but I do love history and Tudor England is one of my favorite times!

  6. […] on courtly behaviour by Count Castillo, written in the early 16th Century, today over at author Cynthia Eden’s blog. I use a rule from THE COURTIER at the start of each chapter of IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, and […]

  7. susan leech says:

    This is a book right down my alley as I love these very much. I am pleased to be able to enter for the chance to win it. susan Leech

  8. Michele says:

    Best advise I received was from my mom when I was pregnant with my daughter. She had advised me was not to “tip toe” while she took naps, to do what I normally would do. And what great advise that was, if my husband and I have friends over, she sleeps right through it :)

    Congrats on your upcoming release 😀

  9. JOYE says:

    I really like reading about this period in English history.
    I think the best advice I got had to be by one of my grade school teachers who said “do the best you can in all things you do”. It has worked for me all my life.

  10. Viki says:

    Hi Michelle –

    Thank you for being here and the giveaway. When I was a pre-teen I was really into Jane Seymour. I read all kinds of books about her life. Since your book is based in Henry’s court I’m sure I’m going to love it.

    The best advice I ever got was from my uncle 5 yrs ago when I was going through cancer treatments. He didn’t give me the standard “think positive” crap. Instead he suggested that I set aside 10 minutes a day and just focus on the word LOVE. I can’t tell you how much this relaxed me and I’m sure it is one of the reasons I sailed through everything.

    • Viki, I’m so glad you sailed through, although I’m sure it wasn’t a pleasant ride. My crit partner, Liz Kreger, is on her 8th round of chemo, and you remind me of her. I’ve never met anyone more positive in my life.

    • Viki says:

      Michelle – I am adding your crit partner, Liz Kreger to my prayers. Every bit of positive energy helps.

    • Thank you, Viki, I appreciate it. In September, Liz, Cynthia herself, me, Allison Brennan, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Karin Tabke and a few other great writers will have an anthology out, called ENTANGLED. It’s an ebook and all the proceeds will be going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Liz is one of the inspirations for the anthology.

  11. Colleen says:

    Michelle congrats on your upcoming debut historical novel!
    My grandmother always told me to be myself… not to worry about what other people were doing and saying.

  12. Maria D. says:

    Congratulations on your new book Michelle! The best piece of advice that I received from my mother was more in the line of inpiration- she told me that I was the only person standing in the way of changing my life and making decisions – that life is too short to waste on blaming others for my own decisions/failures and that all I really had to do was believe in myself and take a chance….I took her advice and went back to school and got my MBA because of it. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Maria, it takes courage to hear that kind of advice and act on it, so huge kudos to you and congratulations on your MBA. My husband did one and I know the time and pressure involved.

  13. JackieW says:

    Some advise my grandmother gave me was If your dishes are done and your beds are made, your house doesn’t look too bad…and really that’s true. If you only have a little time to clean…do those 2 things first. Enjoyed dropping in today and reading the blog.

  14. Keisha Talley says:

    The best advice I ever received is think before you speak

  15. Amy R says:

    Best advice I ever received is if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all :)

    I love tudor period books, looking forward to reading yours Michelle!

  16. Amy, another classic! And so, so true.

  17. Although I know this didn’t originate with him, my foster father once said, “Never argue with a fool … bystanders won’t be able to tell the difference.” This has helped me bite my tongue on a number of occasions, and the moral I get from it is that there are some people who are just WRONG, but nothing you say to them will make a difference, so why get yourself all in a lather about it?


    I already have this title on my wishlist!

  18. Excellent blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any ideas? Bless you!