Saturday, 4 July 2015

York it is!

Happy Saturday to you!

This post is, in part, duplicated today at my 'every second Saturday' Writing, Wranglers and Warriors Blog.   Here you'll find more details about fantastic places to visit in York, England.

I'm heading off next week on a round trip of approximately 700 miles to go to a Crooked Cat Publishing Seminar (Crooked Cat being my publisher).

I’ve been to fantastic Crooked Cat author get-togethers twice before  for purely social reasons—that point where ‘author friends’ via the internet, especially via Facebook, become ‘real’ colleagues. Those party events were great fun but this time it’s down to more ‘serious’ business. Crooked Cat authors who are attending will be enjoying a day long conference/ seminar. I’m hoping to learn a lot about making my books sell a whole lot better than at present.  We’ll see how that pans out!

The venue for this seminar is also huge draw for me. The Edinburgh meeting in 2013 was followed by London in 2014, but this 2015 venue is York, England. I absolutely love to visit York. I have many favourite places world wide and York is definitely one of them. It’s a city that’s very dear to my heart since its origins go back to Roman times and those readers of this blog who know me, know that I’ve become a bit obsessed with Roman Britain.  
I first visited the wonderful city of York around 1975. Subsequent visits over the decades have seen me make return visits to the many tourist visitor centres but I also love to go to new attractions as well. York is famous for its Roman Wall, which can still be walked along, but it’s equally famous for its Viking and Medieval history. The Yorvik Centre (Viking York) has changed a little over the decades since its opening but the experience remains much the same. It’s one of those experiences where the tourist senses the sights, smells and -  yes - almost a taste in the mouth sensation of Viking York. But York isn’t only about those time periods. A walk around York will give you an architectural experience that is indicative of all historical eras from Viking onwards to the twenty first century.

There’s the fantastic National Railway Museum for railway enthusiasts -  one of the places I went to back in 1999 for research purposes when I wrote my first non-fiction book for use in local Aberdeenshire schools (Scotland). 

The topic of the book was on the history of the Inverurie Locomotive Works (approx 1899-1969). You might well ask why did I journey so far to York to see old engines and carriages when I was doing a project based in Scotland? Why not go to the Glasgow Transport Museum? Well, actually, I visited there too. Only 6 locomotive engines were built in the Inverurie works but many famous engines which chugged the railways of Great Britain were repaired or refinished at Inverurie—a few examples of which were in the York Railway Museum.

York Minster is a fantastic church to visit, even for the non-religious like me. The majestic building is equally as impressive as many churches I’ve visited in mainland Europe: the history of its construction being a fantastic read. The present building was begun around 1230 but wasn’t completed till 1472. That’s a long time to create a building but standing beneath the facade you can see just how much it was worth it.

Every time I return to York, I try to take in whatever is new on Roman York. I wholeheartedly agree that many tourist attractions can trivialise real historical data but I like to separate my historical research from the theatrical attractions that are designed to encourage people to enjoy history more than they otherwise would. The best of the attractions have a neat blend of good sound historical facts, presented in an entertaining way.

Some visitors may not like the Roman ghost tour/walk but I found it an enjoyable experience. I don’t get bored easily if a guide is telling me useful information- though some might if they really expect ‘spooks’ to appear. On my Roman ghost tour in York what was most memorable was being down in some cellars, a few levels below street level, and being told that some visitors sensed ghost horses, ancient Roman ones accompanied by a lone legionary soldier, walking alongside them. Of course what they were purportedly seeing was only the upper halves of the beasts and man because down to the hoof level meant it was below the cobblestone floor of the cellar we were walking on. York is a city that has been successively built upon, layer after historical layer, over the two thousand years of its occupation. 

When I wrote Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Series—After Whorl: Bran Reborn—I researched York back in Roman times of AD 71. The difficulty there was that there isn’t much data available since the Romans were only just invading the area around AD 71, or perhaps a little earlier, but they built no permanent structures and traces of temporary encampments are yet to be discovered. My own walk along the Roman Wall was memorable but I couldn’t write about that because it wasn’t built till much later than AD 71.   

What I had to do was imagine what the land around York was like back in AD 71 and describe my ‘view’ of what my characters—Brennus and Ineda—were seeing as they spied on the Roman Camp down by the River Ouse. I hope I was successful in my description but only a read of the book will prove that!

This link is to an earlier post I wrote on this blog about Roman York/ Eboracum  with much more detail.

Enjoy the weekend-4th of July festivities or not.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

It's Revolution Day by Tim Taylor!

Happy Thursday everyone.

The sky is blue and there's the promise of a good day ahead - just perfect for finding a nice shady spot to do some great reading.

I'm delighted to welcome back my friend, Tim E. Taylor, from Crooked Cat Publishing. He's visiting to share his new novel Revolution Day. I love its fiery cover!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tim's debut novel Zeus of Ithome and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this new one. I'll pass over to Tim to give us a few details and then we can enjoy the short extract he's sharing with us...

Hello, Nancy! Thank you for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my novel, Revolution Day, published on Tuesday 30 June by Crooked Cat.
            Revolution Day, my second novel, follows a year in the life of Latin American dictator, Carlos Almanzor (my first, Zeus of Ithome, is a historical novel set in ancient Greece). Now in his seventies, Carlos is feeling his age and seeing enemies around every corner. And with good reason: his Vice-President, Manuel Jimenez, though outwardly loyal, is burning with frustration at his subordinate position. 
            Carlos’ estranged and imprisoned wife Juanita is writing a memoir in which she recalls the revolution that brought him to power and how, once a liberal idealist, he changed over time into an autocrat and embraced repression as the means of sustaining his position.
            When Manuel’s attempts to increase his profile are met with humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action. As he moves to undermine Carlos’s position and make his own bid for power, Juanita will eventually find herself an unwitting participant in his plans.

In this excerpt, Juanita recalls an incident early in Carlos’ premiership, following a reception for some  Russian military advisers. The aftermath of this event was the beginning of his long descent towards autocracy and repression. 

‘We walked down the steps, sharing inconsequential conversation with the ambassador and his wife, and a protocol officer beckoned us towards the first Rolls-Royce. Carlos shook his head, and turned to the ambassador.
            “You are our honoured friends and guests today; it is only right that you should have pride of place.”
            So the ambassador, his wife, and the Russian general who was the boss of the advisers went in the first car, and Carlos, Angel and I in the second. Of the preceding conversations my only memory is of thinking that the ambassador’s wife was badly dressed and had nothing of interest to say. But my mind has preserved every detail of what happened next. I remember slumping in the seat, relieved that I did not have to make chit chat for a while. I remember looking at the red leather seats of the car and noticing that they were slightly faded. I remember putting my head back to relax and becoming aware that there were hundreds of faces peering at me from the side of the road. I remember starting to wave at them, having realised that I still had to put on some kind of an act, and feeling at once irritated, amused and flattered. I remember thinking how ponderous the convoy’s progress was, and wondering whether I would have to keep waving all the way. I remember hearing an untidy rattle of sharp bangs, and watching the people stop waving and turn their heads. I remember turning my own head, then seeing a man pointing a long tube at the car in front of us. I remember a bright flash (oddly, I don’t recall hearing a bang), and pieces of bodywork leaping into the air like scraps of paper caught by the wind. And I remember being thrown into the seat in front and onto the floor, as our driver stamped first upon the brake and then the accelerator and threw the Rolls-Royce into a violent turn. I have no memory of screaming, though people tell me I was hysterical. Then it is all a blank, until we have arrived somehow at the palace, and I am sitting in a leather armchair and people are comforting me and offering me things to drink. I remember thinking that the leather was the same colour as in the Rolls-Royce.’

If your readers are intrigued, they can find out more on my website and Facebook author page.  Many thanks once again for hosting me, Nancy.  I hope your own novels are doing well!

A bit about Tim...
Tim Taylor was born in 1960 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
He grew up just outside the city in Brown Edge, then at the age of 11 moved to Longsdon, near Leek.  Tim went to Newcastle-under-Lyme High School, then studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating he moved to London and spent a couple of years playing guitar in a rock band. When it became clear that he was never going to be a rock star, he sadly knuckled down and joined the Civil Service, where he did a wide range of jobs before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.  While still in the Civil Service Tim studied part time for a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, achieving it in 2007.
            Tim married Rosa Vella in 1994 and their daughter Helen was born in 1997. In 2001 they moved to Meltham, near Huddersfield, and have lived there ever since. Tim now divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
            Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome (a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for historical fiction), was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  He has also published a non-fiction book, Knowing What is Good For You (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), on the philosophy of well-being. As well as novels, Tim writes poetry and the occasional short story.  He also plays electric and acoustic guitar and a little piano, and likes to walk up hills.
You'll find Tim at these places:

Buy Revolution Day from: 

Thanks for visiting, today, Tim. I wish you huge success with Revolution Day and with all the rest of your writing. My kindle is newly stocked with yet another Crooked Cat Publishing novel so I'm going to get through my garden tasks quickly and have a break when my grandson eventually takes his daily nap. (The fact that he naps for only about 20 minutes a day has some bearing on the fact that my leisure reading, and indeed my writing progress, is so incredibly slow just now.  Insert smiley face here! )


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Featuring The Outlaw Hearts Series by Rosanne Bittner!

Today, I'm welcoming Rosanne Bittner. If western romance is your preferred reading sub-genre, then you'll be desperate read on to find the details of Rosanne's series. It's hit the headlines - i.e.  front cover - on The Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine for July 2105 where the series is featured. 

Book 1, Outlaw Hearts, is already released and Book 2 Do Not Forsake Me is on pre-order and will be released in early July 2015.

As well as sharing information about the series, and some background to her writing, Rosanne has a great GIVEAWAY via the Rafflecopter entry below!
The Giveaway
Grand Prize - One (1) Set of Autographed 11.7 x 16.5 Framed Prints & $50 Amazon Gift Card
Two (2) Sets of Autographed 8.5 x 11 Framed Prints & Two (2) $25 Amazon Gift Card

3 Signed Copies (US Only) - Outlaw Hearts & Do Not Forsake Me
3 e-Book (International) - Outlaw Hearts & Do Not Forsake Me

Read on for details and excerpts from the stories but first a few words from Rosanne about her love of sneaking in a bit of pioneering history...

Oh, how spoiled we are today. Oh, what the pioneers would have given for McDonalds and TV’s and – oh, what heaven! – cell phones!! Just imagine if they could have called all the way back home and talked to those precious parents and siblings they had to leave behind, usually never to be seen again. Instead, they wrote letters that took five or six months to reach each other – if they reached them at all. They buried children and loved ones along the way, never to see their graves again. They suffered from illnesses and pain we’d never have to worry about today because we can always find help in this modern day.

This is why I write about American history and especially pioneers. I do my little, tiny part in trying to remind readers what our ancestors went through to settle this country. I try to “teach” a little history in an entertaining way while getting my fictitious characters involved in true events. Sometimes I wonder just how “fictitious” my characters really are, because I get so involved in their lives they become real to me – and often readers write to me wanting to know if they really did exist!

I will never get over the wonder of how our pioneers braved new settlement. Even in the east, when the “West” was the Ohio Valley and the Smoky Mountains, heading in that direction meant incredible dangers from animals and the elements and, of course, the Native Americans, who were not happy with any of us intruding into what they considered their land, and I don’t blame them one bit. That’s the food for many of my books also.

So here we are today, able to get in an airplane and go from New York to California in only about 4 -5 hours, and even driving it, you can make the same trip in 4-5 days, compared to close to six months or more by wagon. Visiting Las Vegas every year always refreshes my memory and my writing skills when it comes to the kind of books I write. You have to see the country to truly appreciate what it took to settle there a hundred and fifty years ago. There are places along the Oregon Trail where there are still ruts from the thousands and thousands of wagons that plodded their way west, people filled with dreams of their own land, dreams of gold, dreams of a better life, dreams of even more freedom than what they already had back east. Dreams are what this country was built on – as well as freedom. I hope today’s generation doesn’t let all of that slip away.

Nancy says:  I hope we never lose any of the history that authors, like you and I love to write about. The historical period I write about is some 1800 years before the era of the western pioneers but that doesn't stop me from also trying to do that little bit of 'informing' through our writing!

Aptly titled THE QUEEN OF WESTERN ROMANCE at the 2015 RT Convention, USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is highly acclaimed for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—from Canada to Mexico, Missouri to California—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting.

Rosanne's stories are deep love stories, often family sagas told as a series. It is the hero and heroine’s love that holds them together through the trials and tribulations of settling America’s western frontiers. Rosanne absolutely love the Rockies, the Tetons, the Sierras, and the wide-open plains, prairies and desert land west of the Mississippi. In her books, she strives to tell the truth about the settling of the West and how it affected our American Indians, as well as the gritty depth of what our brave pioneers suffered in their search for free land and a better life.

Rosanne lives with her husband and two sons in Michigan and is a member of the Nebraska and Oklahoma Historical Societies, her local southwest Michigan historical society, Women Writing the WestMid-Michigan Romance Writers of America, the national RWANational Rifle Association and a local charity group called the Coloma Lioness Club.

So... what is the Outlaw Hearts Series about?
Outlaw Hearts
by Rosanne Bittner
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | Kobo Books | All Romance
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Release June 2, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks
Length: 576 Pages

Fall in love with the epic, sweeping romance of Bittner's beloved Outlaw Hearts, called by New York Times bestseller, Heather Graham, "a wonderful, absorbing read, with characters to capture the heart and the imagination."

United by chance, bound by fate, consumed by passion.

Miranda Hayes has lost everything-her family, her husband, her home. Orphaned and then widowed, desperate to find a safe haven, she sets out to cross a savage land alone...until chance brings her face-to-face with notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner.

Hunted by the law and haunted by a brutal past, Jake has spent a lifetime fighting for everything he has. He's never known a moment's kindness...until fate brings him to the one woman willing to reach past his harsh exterior to the man inside. He would die for her. He would kill for her. He will do whatever it takes to keep her his.

Spanning the dazzling West with its blazing deserts and booming gold towns, Jake and Miranda must struggle to endure every hardship that threatens to tear them apart. But the love of an outlaw comes with a price...and even their passion may not burn bright enough to conquer the coming darkness.

She opened her eyes and managed a weak smile.
“You have a son,” she whispered.

No.  He couldn’t think about that.  He couldn’t really have a son of his own.  It was all so unreal.  Maybe if he didn’t look at the kid, this would all just go away.  “You hang on, Randy.  Don’t you dare leave me with a kid to raise on my own. You know I can’t do it.”

She smiled more.  “Yes, you can.”

He put his hands to either side of her face and bent down to kiss her forehead.  “You listen to me.  I love you like I never thought I could love another human being.”  He felt a lump rising in his throat, a desperate fear at the thought that he could lose her.  “I need you, Randy, and you know all the reasons why. Don’t you go and die on me, you hear?  If I lose you I’ll go right back to that old life.  You don’t want me to do that, do you?”

“You talk … big, Jake,” she whispered.  “Don’t … mean it … got to take care of our little son.”

He brushed her cheek with his own, tears forming in his eyes.  “Damn it, Randy, don’t  you leave me.  Don’t you dare leave me!”

“Come and see your son, Jake.”  Mrs. Anderson touched his arm.

Jake straightened, looking over at the cradle … finding it difficult to picture a child of his own lying in it.  Why did he dread this?  What if he really did love the child?  … That meant he couldn’t bear for anything to ever hurt the child, especially not his past.

The sins of the father are visited upon the son. He remembered hearing a street preacher shout that once back in Missouri, recalled how he had applied those words to his own father.  And look how he had turned out, just as mean and unfeeling and murderous as his father.  To think his own past could somehow scar his son.

Do Not Forsake Me
by Rosanne Bittner
Pre-Order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | Kobo Books | All Romance
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks
Length: 480 Pages

"Veteran romance author Bittner revisits the characters of Outlaw Hearts as a much older couple in this captivating romance...a refreshing view of enduring love that survives the dangers of the Old West." - Publishers Weekly

"More than two decades in the making, Bittner's sequel to Outlaw Hearts is an emotional powerhouse! The strong flavor of the Wild West combines with a beautiful love story, creating a true saga of the era. This epic tale of an outlaw lawman and the woman who tamed him has everything Bittner fans expect and more. This classic historical western is destined for the "keeper" shelf. 4 1/2 Stars, Top Pick!" - RT Book Reviews

Fate brought them together. His past may tear them apart.

Miranda Hayes' life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner...and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace...balanced on the knife's edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there'd be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.


The men inside the jail laughed.  “Jake Harkner, kind and thoughtful toward kids, and a ruthless, murderin’ sonofabitch toward everybody else.”

“Something like that,” Jake answered.  “You try anything, or hurt Sparky, and you’ll see the ruthless, murdering sonofabitch side of me.”

(Reporter Jeff is watching all of this)  Five men against one, he is thinking).  Jeff wondered how he would manage to find his next breath.

“What about the hired gun, Bo?” Jake yelled.  “Who is he?”

“Pierce Henry. He’s out in the street somewhere, waiting to shoot your ass if we can’t do it.  One way or another, you’ll die today for killin’ Jack, and for what you done to Brad. The kid is hurtin’ real bad, Jake. He might not live.”

“He made his choice,” Jake yelled back. “Now come on out of there unless you’re ready to die. Give it some thought.”

It was then that everything changed. A little boy came running down the street on short little legs.  “Gampa! Gampa!”

Jeff froze in terror.  My God, it’s Jake’s grandson!”

“Jesus Christ!” Jake swore.

After that, all hell broke loose.  Jake charged off the boardwalk and literally leaped over a hitching post.  He ducked and rolled his way toward his grandson while guns blazed from inside the jail.


Here are images of the prints that can be won via the Rafflecopter below. 

Thank you for featuring with me and best wishes to you, Rosanne, for a great tour! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway