Friday 28 February 2014

Come and meet Dougray Fitzpatrick

Familiarise Friday meets Dougray Fitzpatrick from Lost in the Mist of Time.

I'm delighted to welcome back Karen Michelle Nutt, an author friend I met through The Wild Rose Press. Karen is one of the hardest working authors I know and has some amazing novels. She's kindly passed along my character interview invitation to Dougray and says he's delighted to come today.

From Karen Michelle Nutt: Sir Dougray Fitzpatrick, Lord of Dunhaven is one of my favorite heroes. Probably because he was my 'first'. First hero that is, who spoke the loudest and pushed me to pen his tale.

All my heroes worm their way into my heart as they fall in love with my heroines, but Dougray has a special place there and he’s here today for an interview. Hopefully he’ll charm the readers into falling in love with him, too. 

Hello Dougray, I'm very pleased that you've come to visit. 

What is Lost in the Mist of Time about? Time Travel and how Aislinn and I met. Petty feuds, conspiracies and threats plagued my people of Dunhaven, but these were the least of my problems when a magical mist tossed me into the future. Neala, the old woman of the glen, foresaw this and warned me not to tarry, and I did not, but Aislinn followed me back to my time. What else could I do? You probably already guessed, and I am sure you are most correct. I brought her home with me.

What did you think of Aislinn Hennessy when you first met her? Beautiful and strong, but entirely too bold and outspoken for my taste.

What were your second thoughts? The longer I spent time with her the more I found the headstrong lass to my liking. Not even magical mists could keep me from having her. Her lovely lips said ‘no’ to my advances, but winning her trust and her heart was a challenge I could not refuse.

Where is Dunhaven and what do you do there? Or should I say when was Dunhaven known for its grandness? Dunhaven was in Ireland and I was the Lord of Dunhaven. I took my job seriously and I did my best to keep all who resided there safe. Sadly, Dunhaven no longer stands strong and true, but in the 16th century no forces could break through her defences.
What do you like most about Aislinn? Her courage, strength and her kind heart. The lass takes the weak and encourages them to do grand feats. I am in awe of the woman’s ability to find goodness in all. As for courage, even injured, bleeding, and faced with the knowledge someone wanted her dead, she did not whimper. No, my fair maiden picked up a sword and fought. Ah…she is truly a worthy woman to have at my side.

If you could change one thing about her, what would it be? Change her? I would not. She is perfect the way she is.
Where are you originally from? I am from the 16th century Ireland.

Where are you currently living? In lovely state of California in the USA and in the 21st century.

What’s your main occupation just now? Penning historical information about 16th century Ireland with my lady wife, Aislinn’s devoted help. Also, my father-in-law and I are actively involved with the afforestation in Ireland, focusing on farm forestry. One day I hope to see forests aplenty covering my homeland.

Tell me 6 things about yourself.  Husband, Father, Honorable, Warrior, Protector, patient (when needed)

Who is your most loved one? My lady wife, Aislinn.

How would your significant other half describe you? honorable, bull-headed, warrior, brave, strong, loving, lord, stubborn, attentive, a good lover (well, perhaps that is me own description, but Aislinn has not complained. J),

Do you enjoy travel? Hmm… tricky question. Time travel? Nay, I prefer to stay put.

What would you avoid? Magical mists that send ye to another century.

Name your most favourite place in the whole world/universe. Wherever my lady wife is, I am the most pleased.

What would be your most favourite way to travel? Horseback. I was not particularly thrilled with what ye call a car. Nor do I trust the beastly contraption that takes flight.

What is your most valued possession? My family.

One word answers, please, to the following:


Karen Michelle Nutt and I want to give ye thanks for having us over to your lovely blog to chat.

May ye always have happiness in yer life,
Lord Dougray Fitzpatrick

About Lost in the Mist of Time
Aislinn Hennessy pens tales of courage, loyalty, and true love, but her heroes of old are pure fantasy—figments of her imagination. She long ago gave up thinking a knight in shining armor would sweep her off her feet, but then she never expected to run him off the road either.

Sir Dougray Fitzpatrick has buried one wife and vows to never love again—but destiny has other plans for this 16th century Irish Lord. During a battle, a mist separates Dougray from his men and casts him into the future. Dougray must return to Dunhaven and to his century, but Aislinn follows him into the mist, leaving him no choice, but to take her home with him.

Conspiracies, feuds and unexpected violence are commonplace threats, but along the way, Aislinn and Dougray discover a surprise neither one expects: a chance for love even when they're Lost in the Mist of Time.

About the Author:
Karen Michelle Nutt resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chorkie, is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.
When she’s not time traveling, fighting outlaws, or otherworldly creatures, she creates pre-made book covers to order at Gillian’s Book Covers, “Judge Your Book By Its Cover”. You can also check out her published cover art designs at Western Trail Blazer and Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing.
Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.

Visit the author at:
Stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats and contests at:
Gillian’s Book Covers
Judge Your Book By Its Cover
Amazon Author Page:

You're a very welcome guest anytime, Dougray. Maybe next time you could bring Aislinn as well? Karen can also pop back anytime! Thank you for sharing with us today, and best wishes from me. 


Thursday 27 February 2014

11th review in 10 days for The Beltane Choice!

Hello and happy Thursday to you, or what's left of it!

I'm a very happy author since my historical romantic adventure- The Beltane Choice- has clocked up 11 new 4* & 5 * reviews in 10 days. They are all wonderful and I appreciate them very much.

The latest makes a wonderful quote:

"...the characters are wonderfully credible, each main player distinctive in their place in the novel... a splendid read..."

 The complete new Amazon reviews can be seen HERE.

My thanks to all the reviewers.


Wednesday 26 February 2014

Come fly with with me to a fascinating taste of Igboland!

Welcome Wednesday has something wonderful to share today. 
My Crooked Cat friend, Jeff Gardiner, is giving us an insight into what it might have been like for his missionary characters - Lydia and Clem - in his recently published historical novel - Igboland- set in Africa in the late 1960s.

I recently read and reviewed the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Review on my features blog, Amazon, and Goodreads) Jeff is on tour with his newest novel so, over to Jeff now...

IGBOLAND, by Jeff Gardiner, is a tale of passion and conflict set in Nigeria during the 1960s Biafran War.

Lydia is a young English girl, newly married, who goes to live in an Igbo bush village. She has to face many difficult challenges, not least regarding her marriage and personal beliefs.
Author, Jeff Gardiner’s own parents lived in Nigeria during the Biafran War, and Jeff was born out there in Jos. Here he provides us with some of his parents’ photos of Nigeria, taken between 1964-1970, and gives us a few comments about the parallels between his parents’ inspiring experience, and the very fictional narrative of Lydia Davies, protagonist of ‘Igboland’.

This shows a typical red dusty road along a southern Nigerian village. The sun is shining and the welcome faces become a regular sight for Lydia, adapting to life in this country, thousands of miles from her West Sussex home.

Here’s a very typical sight – the bush land through which Lydia cycles to meet Kwemto.

Grace and the other Igbo women pound yams just like this lady to make fufu and other delicious dishes. Yam is the Nigerian staple diet and an important part of their culture. The yam festival is a central event in Igbo culture and described in a chapter of ‘Igboland’. They choose a King Yam and give blessings to the earth goddess, Ani.

Lydia and Clem have a few car problems in the novel. My own parents often tell stories of their Beetle, pictured here, stuck in rivers or breaking down, only for a group of locals to appear miraculously out of the bush, to help them on their way again. Mum remembers one occasion when some men appeared as from nowhere through very tall grass, with a basin of water for washing their hands, a table to put it on and chair to sit on: such kindness.

My Mum ran a simple dispensary to help locals with lesser medical issues. It is through Lydia’s little clinic that she develops her relationship with Kwemto, the Igbo doctor. As an interesting aside, Lassa Fever plays a role in the novel, and the very doctor who delivered me at my birth was an American called Jeanette Troup, who became the first white person to be recorded as dying from the newly discovered Lassa Fever.

I thought you should have a laugh and see an author photo. Here’s little Jeffy at the age of one, sitting outside in the burning West African sun, where my parents obviously abandoned me...!

‘Igboland’ was a pleasure to research and write. I learnt a great deal about the country that I consider my ‘spiritual home’. The Igbo tribe have an inspiring culture and philosophy, from which we in the west could learn a great deal. Igbo traditions and the brutality of civil war provide the backdrop for ‘Igboland’. It is a work of fiction, about imaginary characters; but the whole thing is rooted in a place and historical context that are very real.

Read ‘Igboland’ to find out what happens to Lydia and Clem when they leave their comfortable English homes to live in a place so challenging and different from anything they have ever experienced before.
For more details and photos, please visit my blog:

To purchase ‘Igboland’ visit my website:

Thank you so much for sharing this with us today, Jeff. It certainly brings the story much more to life for me having read it recently, and I'm sure your photos will entice new readers. (The cute little boy that was you just might well do it, too!) Best wishes for great success with Igboland - it's a treat to read.


Tuesday 25 February 2014

Oh, Vienna!


Vienna is a fantastic city and one which I had to slide into my writing at some stage or other, so it's no surprise it appears in TOPAZ EYES my ancestral mystery/ thriller which is currently being VOTED for in THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE FICTION 2014 (winter- ending 28th February 2014)

Votes can still be placed using the above link- thank you! 

When writing that novel, it was exciting to be able to recreate in my mind a trip taken to Vienna some time ago. Yet, memory alone cannot be relied on since cities, even majorly historic ones, can change quite a lot over a decade. I only have a few relevant photographs from that visit in October 2002,  but I'm sharing some today before I make a new Pinterest board.

The fantastic exteriors of the museums I visited haven't altered though I've no doubt the interiors will have changed considerably as museums have 'upgraded' for popular consumption. Personally, I preferred the older more crammed museum style of the 1960s/1970s with loads more items on show, but the 'hands-on' aspect is deemed to be more user friendly now.

The architecture of old Vienna is absolutely fantastic and in many ways best seen on foot.

This isn't meant to be a travelogue but I was wowed almost around every corner of the ancient city centre. Even on a rainy day the grey skies didn't diminish the sometimes subtle, and at other times very vibrant, colours of the exteriors of the intricate facades- though the weather was mostly kind to me that October.

It can be tiring tramping the streets, especially cobbled ones, but if you're not inclined to walk and have a deep pocket then you can explore in a horse drawn carriage.

My photo is a bit old but I'm sure this method of transport is still available.

Yes, I'm more than a bit awed standing there in my blue jacket admiring that fantastic fountain and entrance area.

The Kunsthistoriches Museum is one of the best and so jam-packed full that a day is not nearly enough. Keira in TOPAZ EYES agrees with that staement and would have loved more time to explore all it's fascinating collentions. Of course, she was being stalked at the time which thankfully- I don't think I was!

I don't know why in particular this building caught our attention (my husband and I) but it is quite beautiful and I'm sure behind those windows it is very grand too.

The detail on the frescos and statues in niches is breathtaking- even down to the boots he wears.

What am I looking at? Why the statues embellising the roof, I image.

Am I a happy cable car traveller? Yes! You might not think so but the view of the city was brilliant!

This photo below dates my trip quite a lot. This tram style went out of use, I believe around 2011, and gave way to the new YELLOW trams on the Ringstrasse which skirts around the old city.

When writing TOPAZ EYES, I'm glad I checked the details before using this photo in my book trailer video because that was when I discovered that the Ringstrasse tram line had been upgraded. Good research can be invaluable if, like me, you want to be as authentic as possible.

I hope you've enjoyed my reminiscence of Vienna. I'll leave you with an excerpt where KEIRA is finding that riding the Yellow tram is a lot more exciting!

Instead of walking back to her hotel, she hopped onto the Ring-tram as it squeaked to a halt outside the impressive museum frontage. Entering through the middle doors, she punched her ticket and squeezed her way to the rear of the car. It was jam-packed, but she found an empty seat when a couple made an impromptu late choice to get off at the stop, jumping up in a flurry. As she settled down, her gaze drifted to the front of the tram. Just before the doors closed and the car slid into motion, a man forced his way through the closing space at the front doors.

            Oh God! That shit again?

            Panic set in. She stared out the window for guidance, from who knows what, or whom. The grip on her bag threatened to break the leather strap, her fingers trembling against her chest.

            Rat in a trap.

            Not absorbing a thing outside, she willed calm to descend. She was being ridiculous again. The back of one hand snaked up to towel her sweaty brow. The tram was packed full of people, the man trailing her couldn’t do anything to her while she was on… but when she got off? Her eyes tracked her surroundings. Wide open.             Squelching down her fear, she made plans. Exit really quickly, so fast her hunter would be unable to follow her. He was still wedged down near the front and that was a good thing. Wasn’t it?

            Oh God! Why was the tram so hot? The window close to her was open, but she felt as if she was a tasty bit of meat on a spit… just ready for the picking. Or more like the meat in amongst all the vegetables on a plate: her pursuer the fork, poised and ready.

            Having got on at the Museumplatz area, she guessed the tram might get less busy by the time it reached the University quarter. That was a good few stops ahead. She had to get off before then to lose her shadow. Once she lost him, she could do normal things like... find somewhere to eat? She felt nauseous already. Drawing on reserves of strength, she fought back the bile threatening to erupt and concentrated on the elusive being-normal thing.

            According to her guidebook, there were plenty of good restaurants around the area called Schottenkirche, and it wasn’t too far from her hotel. She yanked open her map so fast a split screeched down the middle. Her eye movements were feverish as she blinked to a clear vision, one finger tracing her route. When her tram passed along the Rathaus Park, she could get off and walk down the street named Schottengasse, and stop at some place when she was sure the man wasn’t following her.  

            She avidly scanned to confirm her bearings. When the car hissed to a halt at the next stop, lots of people around her were exiting. Finding no street name, she swallowed her alarm. She must be at Schottengasse already! How did that happen?  Scrambling from the seat, she ducked down as low as she could and followed the queue. When she was almost out of the door, she leaned to the side to track her snowy-haired follower.

            Her stomach almost heaved up its contents. He’d forced his way to the nearest doors. Panic overtook her; her foot froze on the lowest step, her body fully out of the vehicle. In slow freeze frames, her pursuer got off. A pile of travellers surged behind him and forced him to move further onto the pavement. 

            Keira’s chin whipped around. No-one exited behind her. Zipping back inside, the doors hissed to a close before the tram wheezed into motion. Thumping down onto the nearest seat, her eyes gravitated to the window. Her stalker speed-walked alongside the tram. She was terrified. He looked furious. Now he wasn’t just a white head as his features imprinted on her memory banks. An aquiline nose sat above tightly-drawn thin lips. Strong blue eyes flared his anger. 

            Keira shut her eyes tight. She couldn’t look out the window any more. Her hand willed the rapid pulse at her neck to still. Involuntarily, her lips curled up in a nervous smile. Her nerves were still a jingle, but she also felt exhilaration, a heady excitement. She’d lost him. Steeling herself to be braver, she scanned the street up ahead. He’d have to run much faster to keep up since the stretch they were travelling on moved alongside the edges of the Rathaus Park, now a greater distance between the tram stops.

            That was confusing.

            Pulling up her map, she checked again. A genuine smile of delight split her face; her body slid even further down the vinyl seat, beginning to relax a little. All those people had exited at the Burgtheatre, the city theatre, and there was still a bit of park to pass along before the next stop. She wasn’t near Schottengasse yet. Relief flooded as the tram clicked into an even faster pace. No-one got off or entered at the next stop. Keira heaved a sigh of relief when there was no sign of her shadow alongside.

            Her legs trembled like mad when she got off at Schottengasse.  As she walked down the fairly major thoroughfare, she willed her nerves to calm. She sporadically scanned back on her speed-walk, relieved there was no sign of her pursuer. After a few long blocks, she slowed her pace and regained her breath. She couldn’t truly appreciate the marvellous architecture around her, though she tried. When she was close to the Schottenkirche, the local parish church, she selected a place to eat.

Crooked Cat Bookstore


Monday 24 February 2014

Emeralds are this girl's best friends!

Topaz Eyes is the name of my ancestral-based mystery/ thriller novel. Is it all about topaz? Not really, it's only a tiny bit about topaz but you'd need to read the book to understand the connections. What feature a LOT are emeralds.

In Topaz Eyes, there’s a special and mysterious collection of antique jewels as the focus of an inheritance quest. The whereabouts of the collection is unknown at the beginning of the novel – apart from one piece which has recently come onto the market and has caused a furore. 

Wikimedia Commons
My first instinct when conceiving the idea of a treasure hunt mystery was to make it a diamond collection. Not knowing all that much about such jewels, since I have little interest in that kind of jewellery, I trawled internet jewellery shops to find really nice pieces to spark my imagination. 

There are thousands of white sparkly images out there of beautiful diamonds but they were, somehow, so predictable. Unfortunately, they were not capturing my imagination as I wanted to be caught. I quickly ditched the concept of diamonds when I saw some beautiful emerald jewellery. One particular necklace did the trick – a necklace that had been fashioned after an ancient Mughal design. I can't show that necklace for copyright reasons but suffice to say it was quite spectacular and very intricately inventive in design. The following image is a Mughal  'Nose Ring' of many different gems but it may give you the idea...

Wikimedia Commons:
Decision was made! My lost collection was going to be of original Indian design, but mostly of emeralds.

Green is my favourite colour and the contents of my wardrobe are pretty good proof of that. Real emeralds would be wonderful to wear so it was no hardship to base my novel on the concept of bringing together a large collection of antique emeralds. I can’t show the items I collected from internet jewellery stores on this blog but they were fantastic for giving me descriptive ideas.

Who would have which emeralds in my story was incredibly exciting to work out. The Empress above lived well before my Geertje Hoogeveen of the 1880s but I had a lot of fun dressing Geertje's Edwardian daughters in beautiful emeralds and pretty dresses of 1910.

This photo was taken by Mark Somma - Description 18kt yellow gold ring set with one pear shape emerald and 12 diamonds. (Wikimedia Commons)

Someone in my novel was going to have a ring something like that one! 
And another lighter, more blue-green emerald is named the Chalk Emerald” 37.8 carats, Colombia. The emerald is set within a cluster of 60 pear-shaped diamonds weighing a total of approximately 15 carats.

Wikimedia Commons
The royal rulers of Baroda, a state in India, once owned the emerald - though at that time it was set in a necklace. In the 20th century, the emerald was set in a ring designed by Harry Winston. It was donated to the National Gem and Mineral Collection by Mr. and Mrs. O. Roy Chalk, and may now be in the National Museum of Natural History — Gem Gallery (U.S.). The resetting of such stones was not uncommon in Victorian and Edwardian times and this practice lent me ideas of why my collection would be harder to find in contemporary times.

Perhaps these stones will give an idea of why my invented collection, originally belonging to an invented Mughal emperor I’ve called Tiru Salana, is the focus of the search in Topaz Eyes. The big question then is how my main characters, Keira Drummond and Teun Zeger, manage to find the collection? How do they manage to survive desperate attempts to prevent this from happening?  How is it eventually mounted as a fantastic exhibition? And what is the mystery item they do not expect to find but which turns out to have the most value? A reading of Topaz Eyes is the only answer! 

Topaz Eyes Blurb:
A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.

“Would you ditch the mystery, Jensen, and just enlighten me as to what you think I have that interests you? And tell me why you couldn’t have asked for it in the letter you sent to me? I came here of my own free will – granted – but I’m not hanging around any longer if you’re going to drag this out, for I’m damned sure I’ve no idea what you’re referring to.”
            Jensen’s reply lacked emotion, his face a blank screen, his gaze focused on Teun as Keira regarded the by-play.
            “Teun. It may come as a surprise to you, but you actually know more about this invitation than Keira. At least you knew from my letter I had something of family interest you might be glad to take back to the USA with you. Keira had no such suggestion made to her.”
            Tension rose in the room, which didn’t only radiate from Teun.
            Keira sat uneasy, also unwilling to be in the dark any longer. “Would you please explain why you think I may have something you want, Herr Amsel?” She found herself reluctant to use his first name, considering the antagonism now mounting.
            “All in good time, Keira. And please call me Jensen. I don’t set out to be anyone’s enemy. I believe each of you can provide access to items belonging to the collection. All the pieces are likely to vary in monetary value but, viewed as a complete entity, it will make an impressive display. It’s a historic set… and unique.”

The voting for TOPAZ EYES in THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE goes on till the 28th February- only 4 more days. If you'd like to help get me into the finals please click this link:

Thank you!


Sunday 23 February 2014

5 more days!

Happy Sunday to you.
(It's back to being cold, extremely windy and slightly rainy where I am, but I hope the weather is kinder wherever you are today.)

The month of February is waning and that means that there are only 5 more days to go to place the votes for my ancestral mystery/ thriller TOPAZ EYES, which is nominated in the current section of THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE FICTION 2014 (winter category) This link will show you what it's all about.

When I first saw that the VOTES could be cast for 3 whole months, (voting taking place 4 times a year for each seasonal section) the time seemed endless and yet the end of that period now looms. To go through to the finals at the end of May, my exciting thriller mystery needs to gain the highest vote from the PUBLIC. How to encourage those votes is not a simple matter.

It's a competition of great prestige for both myself and my publisher as the competition aims to bring novels into the public eye. I, personally, could not nominate myself - only my publisher Crooked Cat could do that, so in a sense a win for a Crooked Cat book is excellent news for the publisher, too, as they will gain much credibility for being the excellent publisher that they are.

I've been periodically posting on my Facebook groups to encourage people to vote for me. How can I know if that has happened? The answer is I can't. Unlike some less prestigious competitions, it has no status bar to show how many votes have been cast. I must wait and see in the hope that I gain support from author friends and family, alike. I've managed to have a couple of mentions in my local newspapers during the period but how many votes can be gained through this is not easy to quantify. I've handed out flyers to people at the local market where I periodically sell my books and I've encouraged attendees at the local book events I've organised during the last few weeks to place a vote.

Is that enough? I really don't know since this competition is one where it seems the winner is likely to be the gregarious person who has a huge amount of friends to support them.

If you're one of my regular blog readers, or just someone popping in today, your VOTE really does COUNT. I kow that having to use your email address will put off some voters but it truly is just to prevent multiple votes for the one book from the same email address adn I can assure people they will not be 'spammed' with unwanted mail.

So what's it about? 

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910. Who among the progeny of Geertje- hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest - can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife. Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to - as they pair up to unearth the jewellery? As they follow a trail of clues, will the cousins uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposé. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?

Greed, suspicion and murder on the one hand are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love on the other.

If you haven't yet placed a vote and would like to support me, please click on this link:

You vote will be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you. If you haven't seen my book trailer have a little look and see what my Teun and Keira are up against.


Saturday 22 February 2014

Get on with it!

Hello everyone.

It's a wonderful bright morning and it's one of those 'GET ON WITH IT ' times.

The swing and slide set is back upright, restored and almost ready for use. It can be played on but the top canopy above the platform will await better non-windy days. Since it acts like an umberella that takes flight when wind gusts get underneath it, the crowning glory will have to wait awhile.

However, the garden is really stirring and crying out for attention. So many tiny time-consuming jobs await, all  vying for attention and it will soon be time for me to share around my short working hours with outside demands too.

The little'un is now outside on that swing, happy in the sunshine!

We'll soon be going around and reminding each other of what might be poking through the ground. She'll be telling me that my tulips are coming through in the tubs and she'll be correct. The snowdrops have been out for weeks now but are still bright and cheery.

The pruning jobs need to begin on fruit trees, roses and many other plants. Just like I've been doing in my writing.

My latest novel- AFTER WHORL: DONNING DOUBLE CLOAKS is waiting in the wings now and ready to be revealed to everyone. The final proofs have been done this week, the novel has it's fantastic cover and as I featured yesterday, I have published my book Trailer Video for the novel.

The launch date of the 25th March is looming but I've stll got many jobs to do. I'm booked to visit a few blogs but it would be good to be featured on a few more.

My tasks for the day then are in no particular order for the morning: request some more guest blog spaces; tidy up my images files for Roman and Celtic research (now in folders for 4 different books and it's time consuming finding them). For this afternoon,  I need to do a tiny bit of preparation for the 'Book Reading/ Book Signing I've arranged locally.

For that I will be focusing on TOPAZ EYES since the date for the last VOTING for it at THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE is the 28th February.I'll be doing a first reading from TOPAZ EYES and then, if requested something from my historical novels. If you haven't yet VOTED for Crooked Cat Publishing and TOPAZ EYES I'd be delighted for you to place your vote using this link. Thank you!

Apart from that my day will hopefully include some new writing- like those tulips poking their leaves up my newest WIP needs a lot of nurturing. I also plan to get a bit more reading done to whittle down the fabulous 'To Be Read ' pile I have awaiting me on my kindle. I'm currently reading 'Warhorn' by J. Glen Bauer. This historical novel set in Iberia is of a time period I know extremely little about so I'm very keen to learn as I read!

Wishing you all a great day...


Friday 21 February 2014

Fresh from my home made film studio - usually referred to as my dining room office!

Revealing my latest Book Trailer Video. Phew!

This fabulous front cover for my Celtic Fervour Series, Book 3, was unveiled days ago, but was my book trailer video finished?

Ahem... no! 

Weeks ago, I had chosen a few different pieces of royalty free music and had narrowed the choice down to one by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetec called 'Mighty and Meek' (Thank you once again, Kevin).  Of course, I needed some images to go with the music and had found a few I deemed as possibles. Then the trailer planning was laid aside. 

Picking it up again this week I had moments of doubt over the music. I set to and made a version with 'Mighty and Meek' but wasn't too enamoured with it. Back to the drawing board. I tried the other pieces of music, but in the end wasn't too struck with them either. 

I went back to using 'Mighty and Meek'; pared down the amount of images I was trying to cram in; changed a few of the transitions and I have come up with this version which I'm now delighted with.

I hope you like it too! 

ps  - I'm not sure if anyone manages to get their book title as the 'front screen' on YouTube vidoes but I've now done 6 videos and just can't manage that. But the image above is a lovely one so I'm happy for that to be the front screen.



A Cracking Read!

Since I don't have a Familiarise Friday guest today, I'm sharing my thoughts on a book I've just finished by a fellow Crooked Cat author- Sue Barnard. Her debut novel is a cracking read and is called - The Ghostly Father.

The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard 5 stars

A fantastic read!

This is a book to read in one sitting, if possible. I believe any reader will feel at the outset that they know what’s coming, if they’re familiar with the Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet, but they don’t! I love the whole plot of the book; how Sue Barnard reveals her version of the story. Tragedy isn’t absent, the echoes of the bad guy of Shakespeare’s Capulet family are there but you don’t need to have read the Bard to understand the Veronese family feuding. 

As I read on, there were some tenterhook moments not knowing how the story was going to be reworked. Were there going to be more corpses? Who would they be? How was the author going to reveal a happier ending, and for which characters, since Sue Barnard’s novel is the story of more than one pair of star crossed lovers and Romeo and Giulietta do not really have centre stage. 

The writing style is a treat to read, plunging the reader into a situation of being directly in confidence with the character I’m going to refer to as the narrator, whether or not that is technically correct (I’m avoiding spoilers). Though not a play, it reads in many ways almost like a script since it is heavy on dialogue- this excellently done since it maintains a great pace throughout. 

I really appreciate that Romeo is still portrayed as a bit of a wimp – just as he is in the Shakespeare version – since it is in keeping with plot. Had he been reworked into a macho alpha male, it somehow wouldn’t quite have worked for me!  This is a novel I recommend to anyone who enjoys a good tale.


Wednesday 19 February 2014

It's an Irish Inheritance today!

Hello everyone, 

I'm welcoming back my friend, Paula Martin, who has a new novel to share with us which is 'right up my street'. Paula and I have quite a few things in common like our professional backgrounds, our love of history, and in particular for this current blog post - our love of ancestry. For her latest story, Irish Inheritance, she's had to create a family tree with all the interesting ramifications that can throw up. Readers of both my contemporary ancestral mysteries- Monogamy Twist and Topaz Eyes - will likely have read how much I enjoyed doing that for my own writing, and I know Paula's had great fun creating hers as well.

I've not managed to read Irish Inheritance yet, but I've read other Paula Martin stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm sure you will, too!

Over to Paula...

Inventing Family History

For my latest release, ‘Irish Inheritance’, I needed to invent some family history for my American hero and English heroine. They have jointly inherited a house on the west coast of Ireland, but neither of them has ever heard of the Irish woman who has bequeathed it to them. This leads them into an intriguing, and sometimes puzzling, journey into their individual family histories, until they eventually unravel the tale of a 19th century love affair.
Sorting out this family history was fascinating for me too! I’ve done quite a lot of research into my own family history, so at least I was aware of the resources that are available online.
What I didn’t know before I started was that only the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses are available. The census records for 1861-1891 were pulped, by government order, during the 1st World War, and the earlier records from 1821 to 1851 were destroyed by a fire at the Public Record Office in 1922. This actually worked to my advantage, as it meant my characters couldn’t find out where their ancestors were living before 1901. The census records did help me, though, to see what names were popular in the early 20th century, and also to find out what streets and houses existed at that time in the Irish town of Clifden in County Galway.
Coincidentally, most of the USA 1890 census was destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Building in Washington DC in 1921. Again, this proved very convenient for me – although it must be so frustrating for American researchers!
My own research came in useful, too, when my heroine asks someone to look up information about her great-grandmother, because the 1911 census does not shown the maiden name of a wife. The heroine needs to know this, and I could easily imagine her researcher trawling through the marriage records to find one that seemed to be the right one. I say ‘seemed’ because in family history research, we can’t always assume that something that looks right actually is the correct record.
Another ‘headache’ in creating an imaginary family tree was getting ages right. I couldn’t have someone getting married when they were 15, or a woman having a child when she was in her 70s!
When I needed one couple to die relatively young, I had to search for plausible reasons for this, which was where my knowledge of history came in useful. The Spanish flu epidemic at the end of World War 1 fitted the bill perfectly, and so did the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940.
I really did enjoy inventing this family history, even though I must have drawn and re-drawn the ‘family tree’ a dozen or more times before I eventually decided it worked!

I know exactly how that felt because I had to re-draft my family trees many times, Paula, but if you're like I was it was so exhilarating when the final version was constructed and everything seemed to 'fit' perfectly! Thank you for such a great blog post, Paula.

Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has travelled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.

Blurb for ‘Irish Inheritance
English actress Jenna Sutton and American artist Guy Sinclair first meet when they jointly inherit a house on the west coast of Ireland. Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered 'family', they discover surprising links to the original owners of the house.
They soon unravel an intriguing tale of a 19th century love affair. At the same time, their mutual attraction grows, despite personal reasons for not wanting romantic involvements at this point in their lives.
A local property agent appears to have her own agenda concerning the house while other events pull Jenna and Guy back to separate lives in London and America. Friction builds over their decision about the house and its contents.
Will their Irish inheritance eventually drive them apart – or bring them together?

Amazon author page:

Thank you for popping in today, Paula, and best wishes with Irish Inheritance.