Sunday 31 August 2014

Sunday Surprise Anniversary #Giveaway

It's a beautiful morning and the sky is blue...
which is absolutely perfect because I have a Sunday Surprise #GIVEAWAY gift on offer today.

I love anniversaries - don't you? 

The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures set in Roman Britain AD 71, was launched on August 31st, 2012 - an amazing two years ago. That makes today its 2nd Anniversary!

In honour of the occasion, I have 2 #GIVEAWAY ecopies to go to 2 lovely readers who haven't yet read this first novel of the series. With 30 excellent reviews presently on Amazon UK ( over 20 on you can read how other people have enjoyed the novel.

If you'd like your name to be included in the DRAW, all you need to do is add your name in the comments section below and a way of contacting you (if needed), in case you are the lucky name from the draw.

The DRAW will take place on Wednesday 3rd September giving you a few days to enter.

Thank you and good luck! 

Can the Celtic Tribes repel the Roman army?
AD 71

 Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara.  


When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?


Read the reviews: 

Saturday 30 August 2014

Sparking the writing muse

Happy Saturday to you!

I'm over at my 'every-second-Saturday' slot on WritingWranglers and Warriors today. You'll find the post there is fairly similar to here, but I can wax lyrical a bit more on this one. 

Scottish Crannog Centre
What sparks your writing imagination?  

Earlier this week, I returned to a highly specialised museum /visitor centre named The Scottish Crannog Centre. This visitor attraction is located at Kenmore, Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland. Opened in 1997 to the public, this amazing facility contains a reconstruction of a crannog - a late Iron Age dwelling. Crannog evidence has been found in Scotland and Ireland almost exclusively, with only a few known examples in England.

raised cots- sleeping and storage use
After various archaeological diving expeditions in Loch Tay, over a period of 20 years (approx 1980-2000, the lochside was designated as a site of multiple crannog dwellings. It’s believed that the art of crannog building occurred over a very long period of time, from pre-historic times through to perhaps the 16th or 17th centuries, in some form or another. 

Artificial islands are now to be found in the loch, some of these having evolved as debris from collapsed wooden dwellings after abandonment. Scottish lochs are peppered with similar artificial islands. Whether they all once supported a crannog has yet to be discovered.

How were archaeologists able to organise the re-creation of a pre-historic dwelling? 

Underwater surveys of the area near the village of Fearnan have provided evidence so well preserved that image interpretation of the crannogs were possible. Even using carbon dating, the habitation dates of the Oakbank Crannog at Fearnan isn’t easy to determine, but it’s thought to have been occupied from pre-historic times and into the Early Iron Age in Scotland

Some evidence indicates that the site was also occupied during the late first century AD and then abandoned. I liked that bit of knowledge since it ties in with activities I wrote about in After Whorl- Donning Double Cloaks, Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series when the advance of 10,000 Ancient Roman legionaries and auxiliaries forced Celtic tribespeople to abandon their homes and flee to the hills.

The way of life in the crannogs can be interpreted very accurately since the wood used in the construction has been well preserved under the water. For some time after the Oakbank Crannog was abandoned, after approximately 200 years of use, stones systematically covered the largely wooden debris on the loch bed. The covering of stones has helped to preserve what lay beneath for many centuries. 

Bit by precious bit, the area was excavated under water and surprising result were found. The support timbers of the roundhouse were easily discernible. From other timber evidence, it was possible to build up a picture of how the flooring was constructed. Three layers of alder tree trunks were used to create the floor, the poles lying parallel on top of each other. On top of that, brackens and ferns were used as insulation and to make it easier to walk on. Evidence of mosses were found which were used for insulated packaging between wall supports, for sanitary use (tissues?) and for medicinal uses, as in padding for healing wounds.

Many wooden and stone objects were uncovered under bracken remains which demonstrate daily cooking and storage usage – some of these artifacts available to see in the small museum.  

Being inside the crannog at the centre is an incredible experience. When I’ve described a crannog village, or a Celtic roundhouse, in my Celtic Fervour Series it was my memories of the Kenmore Crannog which made it possible for me to imagine those scenes.

Re-enveloping myself in the atmosphere of the crannog earlier this week was an indescribable joy- the curator taking a box of my novels and setting them up for sale in the souvenir shop was another. I just hope that the international visitors to the Crannog shop will buy my novels and will appreciate my efforts to recreate late Iron Age in northern Britain. 

During the launch of After Whorl - Bran Reborn,  Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Series I wrote many different blog posts about some aspect of late Iron Age living. The following passage (in red) was written by me for guesting at Sarah England's blog in 2013 (apologies -I don't have the URL), to give readers a taste of what living in a Celtic roundhouse was like. 

Roundhouses being very similar to crannog construction there are definite similarities, but I now realise I didn't ask enough questions about life in the crannog. My guide, Dirk, at the Scottish Crannog Centre (I think) told us that the cooking processes were done near the open doorway during pre-historic times. What I failed to ask was if the late Iron Age dwellers worked out how to use a central hearth without setting the crannog flooring on fire.

The following passage describes the central hearth in a roundhouse, which would have had a beaten earth floor beneath it.

"The fire sits centrally on the beaten earthen floor, with rushes underfoot to soften the hard earth and to ‘warm’ the floor area. By that, I mean keep the cold, seeping- earthen-dampness from the feet of my characters. The smoke from the fire drifts up and escapes through the thatched roof, except my own small experiences of being in a roundhouse were such that the cloying, choking smoke tends to drift around before it heads up and very slowly out. Sometimes the wood gathered for the almost-perpetually-lit fire will be damp and very smoky. Yet, depending on the type of firewood used, there might be a nice fragrance wafting in the air to mingle with the herbs which are suspended from the roof beams to dry out.

However, regardless of smoke or smell, the fire is a much needed life essential. There are no windows in the roundhouse to give any light and there is considerable dampness from the roof after inclement weather, which northern Britain has its fair share of. The fire gives off some light but gives off much needed warmth, on most days and, of course, it is the only source of cooking food. 

There’s a simple cast iron tripod over the fire with a chain and pot dangling down to sit just above the burning wood. Some simple fire iron tools are laid down nearby: a poker for stirring the blaze and ashes; tongs for lifting pots from the ‘hot stones’ set alongside the blaze. Some slow cooking will be done on those stones, for example the simple unleavened oat bread bannocks will be made there, or they might be used to keep roasted food warmed on metal platters till required. The cauldron style pot hanging centrally over the fire will have some sort of stew, soup or porridge bubbling away in it. Simple food, but enlivened by the addition of some herbs.

Simple wooden stools might sit around the firesides or piles of skins as alternative seating. Around the inside walls of the roundhouse are raised platforms constructed from wattled sides, in-filled with natural packing materials and with a slatted wooden top. These platforms served for beds and for storage of goods needing to be raised off the earth. Where used for beds there would be mattresses of a sort - simple wool or material sacks filled with straw or some other semi-soft packing materials like heathers or mosses. I imagine whatever was used would initially have been reasonably fragrant when new. Woollen blankets, skins or furs top the beds.

Some simple eating utensils would be near the fire – wooden bowls and spoons and perhaps some made from metal copper alloys. A free standing drop-weight-loom might stand near the door entryway with carding and teasing tools nearby in woven wicker baskets. The door entryways varied according to size of the roundhouse but a low rectangular doorway would be curtained with a hung blanket or furs to keep out the draughts.

Larger roundhouses seemed to have a short, low, wattled, tunnel which served as a defensive mechanism- delaying the entrance- and also probably kept out more draughts as it was like an entrance porch with an inner and outer door to it. Unfortunately, Meaghan’s roundhouse (in After Whorl- Bran Reborn)  was simple and entry to the living space was …immediate and could be threatening. 


Also from, KOBO, and other ebook retailers.

Friday 29 August 2014

Discovery Dundee..but no crocodiles!

Familiarise Friday with a difference.
My blog post today will, hopefully, familiarise you with a ship rather than with a person.

As part of my recent jaunt around and about earlier this week, I visited the Discovery Centre at Dundee, Scotland, with my husband and almost 3 year old granddaughter.

I’ve been on the ship before but not for some years. We needed to take a break during what was a long journey for a little one and the Discovery Centre was much better than a fast food stop - the 'baked tattie' from the cafe more tasty and nutricious than I've had at many other food outlets. If the museum entry fee was included, the stop was maybe a little more expensive for us but well worth it!  

If you’ve never been on the ship, here’s a little potted version of what the visitor attraction is about. Skip back to 1901, when the world was a much smaller place and daring adventures were being made by our intrepid discoverers to parts hitherto almost unknown – like the polar regions of the globe.

Polar Research ship - RSS Discovery- was built in 1901 by Dundee Shipbuilders’ Company.

The visitor attraction and museum tells the story of this famous tall ship and of its crew led by Robert Falcon Scott. The RSS Discovery was the first ship to be built specifically for research purposes, the aim of its journeys to be used for scientific research, and as such, it was never the objective for it to be the first vessel to reach the South Pole in a ‘race’ situation. It was the first Official British Scientific Exploration of the polar regions though not the first British ship to explore the area. (For more details reaad about the voyages of James Clark Ross)

The RSS Discovery was also one of the last three-masted wooden vessels to be built in Scotland. Though famous for the research expedition of 1901-1904, the Discovery went on to have a long and fascinating career. 

Read more of this at this site:

Some of the design aspects were a challenge. Since magnetic surveys were an important part of the expedition, the design of the ship had to incorporate an exclusion zone around the Magnetic Observatory. No iron or steel was used for some 30 metres around it to ensure greater accuracy of the data.   

Sir Clements Markham, President of the Royal Geographical Society, had the vision and the expertise to raise the funds for the design and the building of the vessel. Once those details were organised he went in search of a man to lead the expedition to the South Pole. His criteria included the person being a naval officer of some experience – though Markham also wanted the man to still be relatively young and fit for such a hazardous journey. Robert Falcon Scott, born in Devon, was appointed as Commander at the age of 33.

I’ve been to many visitor attractions and the Discovery Centre is attractive and informative. It has static displays of the equipment used on the ship with sufficiently detailed explanations for the average visitor. For a 3 year old, there’s plenty of interesting things to encounter. Wandering around the extremely well preserved and well set out ship, it's amazing how compact it must have been for such a large crew, many of them functioning on a daily basis as scientists rather than as seamen.

imagining ice blindness!

I hadn't any plans to include the building of the RSS Discovery in my writing, before my visit, but now I can just see something sneaking into my family saga which, happens to have some references to Dundee.(*inserting a smiley face here*)

Visiting centres like this one always leaves with the urge to learn more. Someday maybe? When my priorities are different? Seeing as this was only intended as a break in our journey to Kenmore, Loch Tay, Perthshire – the location of The Scottish Crannog Centre - that someday might be a while in coming.

Look out for my blogs tomorrow on crannogs!  


Thursday 28 August 2014

Edinburgh walkabout...

While I plan the 2nd post for my recent jaunting around, I'll give you a taste of what the city streets were like in Edinburgh last Saturday. Enjoy! 

I'm no photographer but taking the following pictures meant waiting till the pedestrian traffic eased and a 'space' appeared. (all photographs my own)

Entering Princes Street from South Charlotte St., the Edinburgh International Book Festival having been at Charlotte Square, you are almost faced with this fabulous building of St. John's Church. 
Click to see interior HERE 

St. John's Church  
typical Edinburgh bus   

Edinburgh Castle and walled fortifications

Walking eastwards along Princes Street takes you past the castle, the venerable walled fortifications easily seen here. The tram tracks on the street, however, are new- the recent tram system only having started its operations in 2014 after long delays and at huge cost. Read about the problems incurred while building the system HERE

The castle from a different angle further east on Princes Street.

approaching The Royal Scottish Academy 

I fancied a ride on the tram but didn't have time to go to its end terminus and then turn back. I also fancied having a ride on the ferris wheel, but when I saw how slowly each car was moving, I decided that a ride to the top would need to be on another day since I couldn't afford to miss my bus back to Aberdeen!

Walking further east takes you to the fabulous Scott Monument. The Wikipedia version is only one of many with details about the building of this accolade to poet, Sir Walter Scott. HERE

Having left Princes Street, I headed for the St. Andrew's Bus station via St .Andrew's Square which has been turned into a 'Festival' beer garden. The throngs here showed its popularity.

I didn't catch at tram but I did take a nearly unencumbered photograph of one.


Wednesday 27 August 2014

My flying visit...Number 1...Edinburgh

Hello! Welcome to my Wednesday slot. 

My apologies for the 'radio silence' of the last few days on this blog. A lot of my time has been spent away from home since I've been jaunting around and about. I've not been near internet connections and have been unable to write much in the way of blog posts. That's my excuses, so here's the first post for my reasons why.


Last Saturday, I popped down (a nine hour return journey by bus/coach) to visit The Edinburgh International Book Festival and to have a yummy lunch with my publishers and some fellow authors at Crooked Cat Publishing.

4 Crooked Cat beauties!

The minute I left the St. Andrew’s bus station, I could see that the city of Edinburgh was heaving. Festival goers, and general tourist traffic, mingled with Saturday shoppers, weaving their merry way along the main city centre streets. I, personally, have never seen Edinburgh so busy and I wasn’t anywhere near The Royal Mile or the Castle.

(Photo: Steph writing as Cathie Dunn; Emma Mooney; Nancy Jardine; Carol Anne Hunter)

I was a first timer at the Book Festival and was keen to see what it was all about. Even more important was the fact that The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures was available for buying at the Crooked Cat stand in the Festival bookshop.
Laurence and Steph Patterson of Crooked Cat Publishing

I’ve already blogged about the festival this month (see Wed 13th August post and photos)  so I was delighted to find that the three shelves of Crooked Cat novels had been moved to the upper shelves- a much more prominent at eye-level position. Laurence and Steph Patterson, my publishers, are kneeling in the photo,(right) the better to show off our fantastic selection of  20 bestsellers from Crooked Cat Publishing!

Laurence and Steph encouraged me to sign some of my copies of The Beltane Choice while I was there since there was a triple section of ‘Author signed’ copies at a location nearer the cash desks. 

man browsing a CC novel- hope it was mine :-)
Placing my novels on the available space on the top shelf of one bookcase was a fantastic moment. An even better moment was when I returned around 3 hours later, after a wonderful lunch, to find there were no copies of The Beltane Choice anywhere around the author signed area. You can be assured that I definitely wanted to believe that the copies had been sold and not placed elsewhere. I guess, in due time, Laurence will be able to tell me how many copies sold during the festival.

A notable thing was that although the tented village of the International book Festival was extremely busy, the queues to buy books were small. It was, however, encouraging to see people going round with pen and paper, though more commonly their phone, making notes about the books. I’m hoping that means that those browsers will buy ebook versions or buy the books from another source like Amazon. 

at the Crooked Cat Children's section

The bookshop area for Children and YA books was remarkably devoid of children and that wasn’t so encouraging. I had thought that it might be a very large attraction, but it wasn't while I was looking around.


I took loads of photos and in the warm sunshine of Edinburgh had a generally lovely day. If possible, I’ll be visiting the 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival and encourage anyone who loves to see a large collection of books to visit as well. 

Who knows, perhaps I'll wangle an author signing!

visitors, sunshine and the
ubiquitous seagull!


Friday 22 August 2014

The cousins meet...

For my Familiarise Friday slot I'm taking the opportunity to let you meet the three main characters in my mystery thriller - TOPAZ EYES

The plot for Topaz Eyes is based around a fictitious family tree which I loved creating. To make the plot deeper, and have more twist and turns, I made the matriarch of the family a Dutch woman, Geertje Hoogeveen, from Amsterdam. The family tree 'begins' with the marriage of Geertje in the late 1870s. Designing the family tree and making the ancestral 'bits' fit was a fine exercise in patience. I even loved discovering that something, or some date, wasn't feasible which meant a bit of sleuthing to make changes for it to 'work'. The plot is a complicated one and by designing the ancestral tree it meant that most of the character names can be traced - though there are a few secondary characters who do not appear on the diagram.

Up till this point in the story, the third generation cousins from the family tree of Geertje Hoogeveen have never met. Mystery shrouds the invitations to go to Heidelberg - invitations issued by one of the cousins named Jensen Amsel. Jensen is the cousin who has the belief that an amazing legacy is hidden somewhere in extended family possessions. Keira Drummond has also been asked to go to Heidelberg, though she hasn't a clue why. It's been years since she was a student at Heidelberg University but she just can't resist the lure of returning to the fabulous city. 

.....the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of two men. One man Keira didn’t know. The other was… familiar. The older of the men offered his hand in introduction.
“Miss Drummond. I’m very pleased to meet you. I’m Jensen Amsel.” His words broke off as he wheeled around to introduce the second man. “This is Teun Zeger. Teun has come from California to be with us, and he is the third special guest I invited here tonight.” As Jensen Amsel pumped her hand in welcome, her gaze strayed to the other man.
Teun Zeger?
The American from Steingasse. He was another of Jensen Amsel’s special guests? Was that why he’d also seemed edgy earlier on Steingasse? Maybe he’d been feeling as vulnerable as she had about the mysterious summons. Heat pooled in her cheeks. What a stupid idiot she’d been.
“Miss Drummond.”
Teun Zeger’s cool tones assailed her – nothing like his honeyed warmth of the afternoon – his expression forbidding and now distinctly unfriendly. He appeared to be completely ignoring the fact they’d already met, his gaze flashing to Zaan, and then back to her. There was none of his former interest; his mouth tightened as though with distaste. Maybe she had been right to flee him that afternoon, but she couldn’t now.
His handshake was brief. Despite his disconnection, her palm tingled from the brief contact. A frisson of awareness started again, trickling down her spine and, in spite of his antipathy, the same desirous warmth of the afternoon pooled low in her torso. She hoped her face didn’t appear as flushed as she felt. Though speaking was difficult in the face of his brusque delivery, courtesy ruled her response. And, like him, she chose to ignore their earlier interaction. “Hello, Mr. Zeger.”
After a quick introduction to Zaan, who regarded Teun Zeger with undisguised curiosity, Herr Amsel ushered them through the gallery. “I’m so pleased you have all accepted my invitation. If we may talk first, you will be very welcome to browse around the exhibits afterwards?”
An unnecessary question, since they all trooped after Herr Amsel anyway; eager to get on with whatever they were there for. He led them through a door at the back into a small office and indicated three chairs which sat lined up, ready and waiting for them. Teun Zeger politely stood aside to allow Keira to take the middle chair, though didn’t acknowledge her nod of thanks, his focus on Zaan sliding onto the chair at her other side.
When all were seated, Jensen Amsel began. “At least one of you has an idea why I’ve asked you all to come, although I don’t believe the other two have any idea at all. Is that correct, Meneer De Raad?”
Keira picked up Zaan’s chuckle as he answered.
“Wasting no time?”
Jensen’s smile was appreciative, the tiniest nod of acknowledgement moving his head at Zaan’s statement. “Indeed. There’s no point in being discreet any more, Meneer De Raad. Your identities have all been verified by my lawyer this afternoon, so, if no-one has any objections, we’ll use our first names? It’ll make things easier.”
Keira had no objection. Since there were no howls of protest, Jensen continued.
“Zaan can confirm, I collect many types of artwork. Currently, I want to bring together a complete set of associated objects. I have one article, but I believe all three of you either have missing items from the collection, or have access to them. What I’d like is to amass the set, in its entirety, with your help.”
Keira studied Jensen as he clicked his fingers; not a becoming trait, something she always found annoying – even a bit repellent. Somewhere around forty-five, Jensen emanated poise. Polished to the nth degree, this included his bleached-white teeth. Honey-hued, manicured hair had not a short strand out of place, his heavy cologne permeating the air in the small room. Though quite tall, Jensen’s height didn’t measure up to either of the other two men present. What he projected a lot of was money, self-possession… and purpose.
Regardless of his appearance, Keira didn’t believe she had anything this man could possibly want.
Teun Zeger leaned forward in the chair, bracing his palms on his knees.  His fingers curled around his kneecaps, demonstrating something of the same disquiet she’d sensed had been his problem on Steingasse, but now, she was sure she was the target of his annoyance as well. Snapped words, and sidelong glances, bore out her evaluation of his mood.
“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.”


Monday 18 August 2014

Monday Moments- out or in?

Monday Moments are topsy turvey.

It wasn't even 10 a.m. and my 5 1/2 month old grandson tipped himself over in his swing chair. Fortunately he was giggling his head off and not a bit bothered, quite bemused by the upside down nature of his position. 

I'm hoping not to have too upside down a day today, although the sunny morning has faded into another rainy spell. My gardening plans might have to be altered a little - writing coming first, rather than after some outside work.

Revising ( read: euphemism for massive rewrite) my time-travel novel for early teens presently means ensuring there's plenty of action, loads of suspense and making the plot never falter. Easy to say. I'm too inclined to want to add lovely historical detail. This passage, for example, has just been earmarked for deletion. Is anything actually happening here, I had to ask myself?

Gypta’s tone was puzzled as she stared at Fianna. “Why do you ask questions while we walk? It is not usual in our tribe to disturb the peace of the forest with idle talk. We do not trouble the forest god with unnecessary noise and we need to be heedful of attack from our enemies. Is it not so in your branch of our tribe?”
Not chat?
Was that what Gypta meant? You couldn’t talk as you walked? The reproach in Gypta’s voice was damning. Realising Fianna had made some very big mistake Aran jumped in first to cover the confusion. “Princess, please forgive Fianna. In her excitement she’s forgotten. She won’t chatter any more.”
“That is as it should be!” Tyrnan was also critical and was now only a few steps behind them. “We all need to listen for untoward noises. We will maintain silence in the trees and pay attention.”
Fianna’s face flushed. Aran knew only too well how she hated to be in the wrong, though equally he understood her mistake, for how were they to have known you weren’t supposed to talk while walking in the forest? But if it was another rule of this strange game…they could do it.
Walking in silence was definitely a great way to appreciate the forest though, since he was much more aware of the animals and birds as they scuttled around and flit through the trees. Whenever he darted a look behind, Tyrnan alertly scanned all around him, was constantly aware and was taking note of any movements. His spear remained poised and ready…and was relentlessly trained on their backs!
At least, now, his sharp little knife didn’t prick at Aran’s throat - just a little something to be glad about.
As they continued on a small herd of deer passed through, way up ahead, shifting shadows crossing their path. The twins silently exchanged excited glances with Aran, their eyes sparkling. At home they often saw the occasional deer in the woods near their village, but never had they seen a whole herd passing by like this. The animals paused momentarily, their heads raised gracefully, catching the sounds of their approach, bounding off when the scent of people reached them. They moved so elegantly they hardly rustled the dense undergrowth, the leafy forest floor rippling only minutely with their progress.
Soon their direction changed. Patches of bright blue sky penetrated the glades and larger birds wheeled overhead above the treetops. As they neared the forest edge, descending all the time from the last slight rise, younger saplings were dotted more frequently around them all struggling to take root in the scrubby floor, sharply angled by the fiercer winds on the perimeter. A small winding river bubbled over large stones, in places. A little further upstream was a perfect crossing spot, a natural ford, narrow enough to traverse safely across some large flattish stones, the water there only knee deep.
“Princess Gypta!” Tyrnan called. “We will stop to pay homage below.” 
The answer is  - not really. So, off to the 'removals' folder? What do you think? Keep in or chuck out?

I'm off now to do even more revisions, but the nice thing about this kind of revision work is that I enjoy it when I remake links to the storyline to make the whole flow better - with lots of action. So like my grandson this morning, I'll be happiest when it's sorted out but not getting upset about what I'm presently doing. Read a **smiley face** :P 



Sunday 17 August 2014

Sunday Surprise is Caution's Heir

On my Sunday Surprise slot I'm welcoming a return guest, an author I met earlier this year via one of my Facebook Groups. David Wilkin writes in the Regency Romance and Fantasy genres. I read one of David's Regency novels earlier this year and really enjoyed his light-hearted style. Today, he's here to be interviewed and to tell us about his brand new Regency Romance - Caution's Heir - which has just been published. 

Here's what David has to say...
What moved you to become an author?
I like to tell stories. I had a great many inside my head, good dreams that just need to have more plot and a happy ending, and as I worked on them, they became good stories. Putting them down on paper was the natural next step.
Tell us about your current novel.
Caution’s Heir is a classic Regency Romance. It plays upon the idea that the men of the Ton did gamble and sometimes wagered so much that they became broke. In this case the father of our Heroine, who is a terrible gambler wagers everything, is against our hero who has been trying to rein him in, though also trying to teach him a lesson. The father loses all of his lands including all that ‘which is within.’ He then flees the country, forgetting that he leaves his daughter behind with few resources and no protection. She, Louisa decides the only thing for it is to go to London and make of our hero, Arthur, her protector.

How did the story begin to develop in your mind?
I was not sure if I had thought that Georgette Heyer might have had a similar idea for a story, or not, but the plot began to simmer until it boiled over.
David - I've read hundreds of Regency novels over the years, and although the plots rarely vary all that much,  it's the author's twist that makes their stories more memorable. 
What did you find most challenging about this book?
Ensuring that I could bring the character development to the fore. Arthur’s own father was much like Louisa’s. The Duke spent a fortune in his youth and then when he found himself with no money began to live a life of frugality, a recluse. He brought up his only son so as well, without a large allowance. And thus Arthur has only what money he saves each year from his own modest games at the tables. Until he wins the entire fortune of Lady Louisa’s father.

Tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I was 6 ft and almost 1 inch. Now I’m shrinking.

That was probably too little.

I’m a man writing Regency Romances. That has to be a little different.

So why? Why do I like the Regency?

I have written elsewhere about how Southern California at one time started a craze in Regency Reenactment. With that craze came the locals running a monthly dance practice so all would be ready for the two big events each year that are held. A Regency Ball held in Fall called the Autumn Ball, and then A Regency Assembly where the group would go to a hotel and take it over for a full weekend of activities, dancing, and another Ball.

A friend, thinking they had a woman to introduce me to, urged that I go to this dance practice, and though I did date the young lady once, I went back to the practice at various times because others knew of it. It was a good way for my friends and I to have fun doing these dances, and as time went on I became quite good and taught them, as I also did the dances I had mastered in my Medieval/Renaissance reenactment group.

I further became hooked on Regencies when one of my closest friends told me to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. Once into that and Heyer’s use of language I devoured a dozen more. (Well I didn’t eat them, but you understand.) Then I met Cheryl at the Autumn Ball. I had been writing in other forms, so as we maintained a long distance romance for a few months, I began to write her a Regency Story/Novel a few pages every few days until we were together.

My writing group thought that it was some of my best work and better than the Science Fiction I was sharing at the time, so I grew into Regency Romance.
That's a very interesting segue into romance writing! What is your next work, and beyond that, what do you want to work on.
I have been toying with the preliminary write-up of a paranormal. My working title is B’ware and my hero is not a wimpy werewolf, but a fearsome werebear! And being a bear, though only once a month, he is drafted out of college by Da Bears, to play in the NFL. Clawlike fingernails help with control of the football, and the bear like muscles make for excellent speed. One remembers the old joke about the two hunters when they disturb a bear and start running away, ‘I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you…”
In the current work, is there an excerpt to share? Your favorite scene, a part of your life that you put into the work and think it came out exceptionally well that you would like to share.
The entrance into Lord Arthur’s life of all that will forever change it is probably one of the most fun…
A week had passed since the eventful card game and much had returned to normal. Later that day the Earl was set to travel to his aunt’s to pay his weekly call upon her. Arthur had ventured to see a play with his friends and greeted many acquaintances there the previous night. This morning he dined on kippers and toast alone, whilst glancing at the paper. He recognised the sound of a carriage stopping in the street, and then a knock at his front door. Arthur knew he would finish the article before whoever called at so early an hour was announced to him. He used a cloth to wipe the jam from the right corner of his mouth as his butler, Dromes, knocked and entered.
“Yes Dromes?”
“My Lord, it is very irregular,” Dromes did not look happy and tugged on his gloves trying to make them as taut as possible.
“Irregular, how so?” Arthur liked things to be irregular. Novelty was always welcome in his house.
“My Lord it is a young lady.” The butler made that sound as if it conveyed the entirety of the matter.
The Earl was not entirely pleased for his cravat was not perfection, nor were his own hands as clean as they should be as he had newsprint now upon them. “Lady?”
“Yes, I have left her in the hall.”
That in itself was a social faux pas, certainly she should have been deposited in the drawing room. The Earl stood and did his best to wipe his hands, dabbing his nap cloth into his coffee to provide some moisture for the task. He then straightened his clothes as best he could, continuing the conversation. “And who is this lady, does she have a name, Dromes?”
“Oh yes, my lord. It is Lady Louisa Booth, she said to tell you, the daughter of the Marquess of Hroek.”
The Earl stopped his brushing for a moment, and then continued it more vigorously. “Return to the lady and show her into the drawing room. Then tell Mrs Hatch to prepare a full breakfast for it is early for such a woman to be out.”
“Yes my lord. At once. But my lord,” the butler paused having half turned to leave the room, “She has luggage.”
Once more the Earl paused and then dropped his nap cloth and rushed ahead of the butler. A quick twenty feet down the hallway to the landing and he could see the young girl gazing up at him. “Yes, I am Arthur Herrington and you are Lady Louisa…” He had slowed in his gait and slowly descended the stairs.
Another head from under the landing poked out, a much older woman with white hair creeping out from beneath a modest yellow cap. The young one said, “Yes, that is correct. Louisa Booth. I am yours.”
Arthur had stopped his progression. Then he realised he had done so and continued down the last five steps where he bowed to the two women as they curtsied. Neither was dressed fashionably. They had perhaps what was their best Sunday frocks. Louisa was dressed in white with a dark blue spencer.
“Please, let us go to the drawing room. It is much more comfortable then the hall, and Dromes. Dromes! Oh Steven, here take the ladies coats, this is…”
Lady Louisa supplied the name of her companion. “Mrs Bottomworth. She is my companion now more than anything else.”
“Indeed. Steven take Mrs Bottomworth’s and Lady Louisa’s coats. I believe Dromes must be seeing to refreshment. I have asked that cook prepare food as it is quite early…”

Who do you think influenced your writing, this work, and who do you think you write like?
Well Jane Austen of course. For Regencies I am also influenced by Georgette Heyer. I have a few modern day writers of Regency Mysteries. The Beau Brummel and Jane Austen Mysteries. The late Kate Ross. If you love Regencies, run, don’t walk to find these 4 gems. (Oh and now, Galen Beckett but this series is got Fantasy elements, the prose is dynamite though.)

After that, I think Robert Heinlein and Charles Dickens helped to form me as a writer.  The late Brian Daley, the Late Robert Asprin, the Late Robert Jordan (There really isn’t a theme. I am just younger than the writers I read and whom I like and return to reading. For those who take a look at my Fantasy work and other work, they may see how I am influenced.
Who do you read? What are the things that a reader can identify with that you have grounded yourself in.
Aside from my influences, who I listed, this last year I have read Burt Golden who has a mystery dealing with the March Madness tournaments. Burt was a former College Basketball coach so knows that area pretty well. Nathan Lowell who has written a science fiction series reminiscent of playing the Traveller role-playing game, Patrick Rothfuss whose second book is not nearly as strong as his first book.

Dave Poyer who is a delight in Modern Naval fiction, ER Burroughs who I thought had written better when I read him as a teenager, and Michael J. Sullivan whose first two books were much better crafted than the third where he threw in traditional fantasy elements without regard to logic.
When writing, what is your routine?
I spend way too much time in front of my computer writing. Some days I will sit and come up with well over 30 pages. I have sprints where I want to work on 100 pages a week. And then I have distractions where I have to take breaks and work on the website, or the blog.

It takes a good hour to come up with 3 pages in first draft, an about an hour to edit ten pages. In a three hundred page work then, that is about 100 hours to write the first draft. Thirty more to go through my edit. Then I enter the edits. At least another thirty and about a week of prep. About 200 hours? That seems low. If I sat here and was not distracted and got paid for that time, could I do a book every five weeks? 10 a year? Well probably. But then how much should I get back for each book?

Is $8 worth your time to read for two to three hours what took me 200 to write and polish and work on? So far, I think that my take on providing story, my interpretation of Boy meet Girls, Boy loses Girl and Boy then gets Girl, will take you on a journey you’ll enjoy.
Do you think of yourself as an artist, or as a craftsman, a blend of both?
I had not been thinking of myself as an artist until recently. Then I realized that these stories and tales are art. And that while I have fun with them, they are as much art as some of those writers I read. Then there is craft to this as well. Knowing how to string words together. But to weave in plot points and subplots so the characters become more than one dimensional. That has taken time to learn and develop.

So to be successful at storytelling, I have become both. But it is a kick to be an artist.
Where should we look for your work?
I can be found at the iBookstore, and Amazon, Nook and other online places for eBooks as well as physical books. I have created one webpage that sums it all up which I humbly (proudly, arrogantly, annoyingly) titled David’s books:

and the Press website

Caution’s Heir is available at all these places, but direct links for it are:

Trade Paperback-

Direct from Regency Assembly Press-

From David's Amazon Bio:
Award winning author, Mr. Wilkin is a graduate in history. He has been writing in various genres for thirty years. Extensive study of premodern civilizations, including years as a re-enactor of medieval, renaissance and regency times has given Mr. Wilkin an insight into such antiquated cultures.

Trained in fighting forms as well as his background in history lends his fantasy work to encompass mores beyond simple hero quests to add the depth of the world and political forms to his tales.
Throughout his involvement with various periods of long ago days, he has also learned the dances of those times. Not only becoming proficient at them but also teaching thousands how to do them as well.
Mr. Wilkin regularly posts about Regency history at his blog, and as a member of English Historical Fiction Authors. You can read that blog at His very first article was published while in college, and though that magazine is defunct, he still waits patiently for the few dollars the publisher owes him for the piece.
Mr. Wilkin is also the author of several regency romances, and including a sequel to the epic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. His recent work, Beggars Can't Be Choosier has won the prestigious Outstanding Historical Romance award from Romance Reviews Magazine.

Thank you for coming, today, and for doing the interview, David. I wish you the very best success with Caution's Heir and all of your other writing.