Saturday, 24 May 2014

New fangled techniques



This post is almost a copy of my post today at my alternate Saturday Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog.

Today, some authors are a mite concerned about whether or not print books are going to still be around in the near future, the texts having been supplanted by the ebook revolution. We’re in that state of flux just now where many novels, and non-fiction books, are available only as eBooks. Some older print books are being digitised to ensure the content is not lost, but the measure is also designed to make the books available to more readers. Giving more people the opportunity to read material that would otherwise only be seen by a select few in major world libraries has to be a fantastic thing. Technology means change and so it has been over the centuries.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EH1064742_Stationers_Hall_Stationers%27_Hall_01.jpg?uselang=en-gb













On Wednesday 28th May, I’ll be quaking in my shoes, sitting in my glad rags at the Awards Dinner in London for the finals of THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014. The  ‘black tie’ dinner is being held in the Guildhall of The Worshipful Company of Stationers' and Newspaper Makers. I set myself the task of finding out more about the venue. It’s often referred to as ‘The Stationers’ Company’- or 'The Stationers' Hall' -much easier to say and remember.  


But what’s that?  - ‘The Stationer’s Company’ is the City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content industries. Medieval tradesmen joined together to promote and protect their trades and formed Livery Companies to regulate this. There are 108 livery companies in London, each representing a discrete profession or trade. The Stationers’ Company is almost unique for a 600-year-old company in that over 90% of its members are actively involved in the Communications and Content industries. The majority of the members work in or supply the paper, print, publishing, packaging, office products, newspaper, broadcasting and online media industries.
Wikimedia Commons
Why ‘Stationers’? 600 years ago, London was full of itinerant craftsmen. However, the manuscript writers and illuminators decided to set up stalls or ‘stations’ around St Paul’s Cathedral. They became known by the nickname ‘Stationers’. In 1403, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London approved the formation of a fraternity or Guild of Stationers (booksellers who copied and sold manuscript books and writing materials, and limners who decorated and illustrated them). Printers, having come to England in the late 15th Century, joined The Stationers' Company during the early 16th century. (It took a while for them to be recognised) By the mid-16th century, the printers had virtually supplanted the manuscript trade – a parallel with what is occurring now where ebook technology is supplanting print works. In 1557, the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation and in 1559, the right to wear a distinctive livery.




The guild based itself at Stationers’ Hall, in Ave Maria Lane, a step away from St. Paul’s Cathedral.


I'm awed that I'm a finalist and look forward to the event. It will be scary sitting waiting for the envelope to be opened before the WINNER is declared but for that name to be mine I need to have everyone possible voting for me. Even if you voted before in the first round, you can vote again for me in the finals. All it needs is your email to register- and I assure you, you won't be inundated by spam stuff.

Vote here please: 



Thank you.
Slainthe!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

6 days!


This Wednesday is a very welcome one, because I'm now entering the last stages of THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE 2013/2014 competition.

During the next 6 days (21st -28th May at 10a.m.)  the final voting round takes place for this National UK competition. My ancestral/ dynasty based mystery thriller TOPAZ EYES is one of 12 novels in the final Fiction category.

For me to become the eventual winner, I need everyone I know to support me  and my publisher - Crooked Cat Publishing -  by voting for TOPAZ EYES. All you need to do is click on the link.


CLICK HERE





As a finalist, I'll be attending the 'black tie' awards dinner at the prestigious 5th Awards Ceremony at the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, London EC4 (near St Paul’s Cathedral), on 28th May  2014 and would be totally delighted to walk up there and receive the 'Winner's award!

 
Thank you for supporting me... and I'll be your friend forever! 

Slainthe!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Talk the 'talk'

Hello to Tuesday,

Today I'm spending some time writing an author talk since I'm going off tomorrow evening to visit a SWRI not far from my home. What am I talking about?
www.123rf.com

"The Aims of the SWRI

Scottish Women's Rural Institutes are groups of women who meet together in centres throughout Scotland.
The aims of the organisation are:
  1. to advance the education and training of those who live and work in the country or are interested in:
    • country life
    • home skills
    • family welfare
    • citizenship
  2. promote the preservation and development of Scotland's traditions, rural heritage and culture. "
 

I'm nervous in a kind of excited way since the author talks I've done to date have only been to a handful of people an therefore very personal. When I asked what would they like I've been told 'anything I like'. That leaves it wide open.

It just so happens that there's a local angle that I'll be employing since I used to teach for a while in the area where the talk is being held.

A forty-five minute talk is quite a long time, so I guess it'll be a case of ...'I'll start at the very beginning..'

See you later- after I write the speech and prepeare some new materials, since it just so happpens that tomorrow is also the start of the FINAL VOTING for the People Book Prize 2014. Watch out because I'll be posting that link tomorrow since I need as many people as possible toVOTE my TOPAZ EYES in as the winner.

Slainthe!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sunday Bee- busy bee



Happy Sunday to you!
bee on lobelia cardinalis

I’ve been a busy bee today, though not out in my garden, since for days now I’ve been doing re-writes/ edits to two of my earlier novels, my intention being to publish them as new versions. I've blogged already about needing to change things when something isn't working, but the realities are quite a salutory lesson.

What seemed like a quick task – isn’t. Not one to do things in a rush, with the possibility of making a complete ****of it, I’ve been methodically returning my story to what was originally a mystery with a touch of romance to suit the plot. Back in 2010, when I was seeking a publisher what seemed to be selling were 'heavy on the breathing' romances. Accordingly, before submitting to a romance publisher, I made many additions to my original completed manuscript. It was accepted by the publisher but I had to make a number of further additions before it was published. 

I'm now paring down to that original basic mystery story with a touch of romance.

Whilst bee-vering away (excuse the pun?) the weather outside has actually been quite nice, though the skies have still been mostly grey. I have stopped to smell the flowers and breathe in the fresh air occasionally and these photographs are the result.
bee on azelea

I’m sad that evidence of wasps is out there, but in contrast I’m delighted with the bee activity. I still seem to have plenty of plantings which encourage them to visit my garden.

I’m off to do another last sweep over my new extremely less sensual version of Monogamy Twist but leave you with some bee food to admire.

weigela almost flowering


But ...before that, here's an example of my bee-vering away and stripping (and isn't that appropriate) down of my novel - which, if I'm honest, wasn't selling as a sensual story but will hopefully do better as a regular mystery :-).


New version:

From his third level vantage point, the young woman recaptured his attention as she ploughed across the overgrown lawn grass. Her husky voice was firm.
“You went off again too quickly, you disobedient pup.”
Pup? The beast was enormous. His focus zoomed in on the woman as she capered back from the animal’s attentions. Her lava black hair settled around her face as she came to a gradual halt and gathered the squirming beast close to her. The dog’s tongue lapped out to lick her face, revealing the ungainly quivering of body hair as the long forelegs stretched up onto her shoulders. He watched her almost overbalance under the onslaught of adoration from the dog. She was a tiny little woman, and Thor was one very big canine.
“Get down, Thor!”
The melodious chime of her laughter imprinted itself somewhere inside him as she thrust the hound down to ground level.
“You’re not a little pup any more.”
Thor? A good name for a powerful beast, he thought, watching her rub the dog’s underside. Scratching below his own belly, he adjusted his stance at the window. His imagination surged, the heat of the sun blasting in the window.
“Who are you?” His question misted the filthy pane, the little pixie below making quite an impact. “A woodland fairy?” Well, she had materialized out of the woods and he presently felt he was in some nightmarish fairy tale. His harsh laugh echoed around him in the empty room. Was his fatigue so bad he was hallucinating? An ironic burst peeled out again, loud enough to make the dog’s ears perk up.
Warf. Warf.
 There was no quiet barking from this particular canine, its exuberance boisterous and excited as it capered way down below the window.
“Come on. Time to go, Thor.”
Who was the woman? He watched as she ushered the animal back to the woods. What was she doing in the grounds of Greywood Hall, seemingly so familiar? Realising he wanted answers to those questions, Luke erupted into the corridor taking the treads on the internal central staircase two at a time, trusting they’d not collapse under his pounding feet as he hurried outside.
There was no sign of her as he scanned the gardens.


 
blossom

Sensual version: 

From his third-level vantage point the young woman again snagged his attention as she plowed across the overgrown lawn grass, an even more welcome distraction than the dog. Definitely worth watching. Her husky voice was firm.
   “You went off again far too quickly, you disobedient pup.”
    Pup? The beast was enormous. Luke’s focus zoomed in on the woman’s supple breasts as they bounced in rhythm inside a tight yellow T-shirt as she capered back from the animal’s attentions. Very, very nice. His palms itched and curved by his sides, his eyes appreciative. Her glistening lava-black hair settled around her face as she halted and gathered the squirming beast to her. The dog’s tongue licked her face revealing the ungainly quivering of body hair as the hugely long forelegs stretched up onto her shoulders. Luke imagined his own tongue snaking across her lips as she almost overbalanced under the onslaught of adoration from the dog. She was a tiny little woman and Thor was one very big canine.
   “Get down, Thor!” The melodious chime of her laughter imprinted itself somewhere inside him as she thrust the hound down to ground level. “You’re not a little pup any more.”
   Thor? A good name for a powerful beast Luke thought, watching her rub the dog’s underside. Unconsciously scratching his own belly he adjusted his stance at the window, the denim of his jeans a little too tight now as he enjoyed her pert backside. Perfect for his hands to cradle. His imagination surged. The heat of the sun blasting through the window was more than a match for his spiking internal temperature.
   “Who are you, a woodland fairy?” Luke’s question misted the filthy pane. Dio! The little pixie below made quite an impact on him. She had appeared suddenly out of the woods. His harsh laugh echoed around him in the empty room. Was his fatigue so bad he was hallucinating? An ironic burst peeled out again, loud enough to perk up the dog’s ears but not loud enough to betray his location. Cristo! He really did need a woman.
Warf! Warf! No quiet barking from this particular canine.
   “Come on. Time to go, Thor.”
   Who was the woman? She ushered the animal back to the woods. What was she doing on the grounds of Greywood Hall?
   Realizing he wanted answers to those questions, Luke erupted into the corridor taking the treads on the central staircase two at a time, trusting they’d not collapse under his pounding feet as he hurried outside.


Slainthe! 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Wicked Intentions by JoAnne Myers



Today I'm welcoming a new guest - JoAnne - who writes crime, detective and paranormal fiction as JoAnne Myres. She's here to tell us about her anthology Wicked Intentions. 

It's lovely to meet someone new, so over to you JoAnne...

WRITING PARANORMAL

When it comes to fiction writing, almost anything goes. That is why I love writing paranormal and fantasy stories. The author can go completely over the edge and make something unbelievable seem believable. When it comes to ghost stories, I get a lot of my inspiration from real life experiences. Not necessarily my own either. I watch television programs that partake of the supernatural and paranormal flare. Programs from ordinary people who claim they experienced either an afterlife experience, or a haunting.

Some of the stories from my anthology, Wicked Intentions, are based on actual hauntings. In The Legend of Lake Manor, I placed my young psychic, Cassandra Lopez, in a haunted mansion I fashioned on my knowledge of a three-story mansion in my hometown and information from television about a restaurant/bar in Ohio, supposedly ruled by demons so violent that the local police are constantly closing it down.

A television documentary about a young mother plagued by ghost sightings since childhood, inspired The Haunting of Barb Marie and her gift/curse.

And The Apartment, in which my newlyweds, Bill and Gayle, are plagued by sightings of evil ghosts that threaten their marriage and theirs lives, originated from a real apartment haunted by the ghosts of two homosexual lovers who died violently. The legend says no tenant is able to stay there until the spirits are chased off by a paranormal investigation team.

On the Discovery Channel, is where I got the idea for Summer Wind. I learned of the colonial explorer Jonathon Carver who lived during the 1700s and whose ghost is believed to be haunting the Summerwind estate, built in the early 20th century. Carver’s ghost is, supposedly, searching the house’s foundations for deeds to a vast tract of land (10,000 square miles) given to him by Sioux Indian chiefs as a reward for the peace treaty he created between two warring tribes. In my Summer Wind, 29 year-old Ginger is mysteriously drawn to the old mansion, and like the many owners of the real mansion, the haunting had a negative and profound effect on Ginger and her family.

Another investigative program concerned one sister’s psychic premonitions about her twin’s murder. This led to my story, Blood Ties, and my heroine, Audra Roper’s dark, disturbing visions of her sister’s disappearance and the roller coaster of risks, heartbreak, and intrigue that followed.

Dark Visions came from reading a newspaper story while sitting in a diner. A young woman began having visions of her father's disappearance that was actually his murder from years earlier. So, my Carrie Reynolds starts having nightmares on her twenty-sixth birthday and believes these ‘dark visions’ can solve the twenty year disappearance of her father.

I set my murder mystery, The Truth Behind the Lies, on Norfolk Island after following a three year long murder investigation on that island from 2003. In my story, Federal Police Inspector Ian Christian faces attacks, more murders and ghostly occurrences, and the killer is closer than anyone realizes.

So, the next time you get Writer’s Block, or need a new idea, try switching on the television, open a newspaper, delve into history or simply look and listen. You will find something to stimulate your muse. 

JoAnne has been a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, and worked in the blue-collar industry most of her life. Besides having several novels under her belt, JoAnne canvas paints. When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, JoAnne spends time with relatives, her dog Jasmine, and volunteers her time within the community. JoAnne is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill's Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. JoAnne believes in family values and following your dreams. JoAnne’s original canvas paintings, can be found at: http://www.booksandpaintingsbyjoanne.com

Other books by JoAnne: 
Murder Most Foul-a detective/mystery
Loves, Myths, and Monsters-a fantasy anthology
The Crime of the Century-a biography true crime
Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between

Upcoming Releases:
Twisted Love-a biography true crime anthology available June
Flagitious-a detective/mystery novella anthology available Summer 2014



Buy links for “Wicked Intentions” 7 paranormal/mystery tales

Paperback:

Amazon:

Contact JoAnne: joannetucker98@yahoo.com

Thanks for visiting, JoAnne and best wishes with all of your writing.  

Slainthe!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sunday Soak



Happy Sunday greetings! 
Eons ago - it seems- there was a time when a long soak in the bathtub on a Sunday morning was a way of relaxing away the busy week that had gone, and helped to revive me after the revellry of the Saturday night activities. Today's Sunday Soak is of a different nature.
 
10 Deg C and 2 spots – rain indicator on the local weather chart.
Apple blossom

It’s been a rainy week so there’s a lot of moisture around the garden. It’s not a bog since my soil drains very well, but the ground underfoot is probably wetter than it was at this time last year.

Each year is different in the garden, just like it is in my household with regard to daily living.

I’m not a big fan of gardening in the rain but will have to brave it out if we have yet another spell of the wet stuff. I still haven’t managed to use my new strimmer/trimmer for the grass edges since I blogged about buying it days ago, and don’t see that happening anytime soon, but there are some jobs I can do between the showers.

Primula
Meanwhile I’m building up a nice little stack of 'rain on the plants photographs.

As I do my re writes/edits for the second edition of Monogamy Twist I’m looking out onto a very green view. There's been some rapid growth since last week, a bit of 'greening up' and lots of blackened moss visible since I did an application of lawn feed, weed and mosskilling. 

Overgrown lawn grass is mentioned on the first pages of my contemporary mystery novel.

Bergenia
Strawberries
  
I'm hoping for tasty strawberries this year.
 
Here's a snippet from the latest version of Monogamy Twist where Luke Salieri has his first sight of the woman he realises is the only one to help solve the Dickensian nightmare he's found himself in.



He strode to the nearest window to get the smell of camphor-balls out of his nostrils. The tall sash casements were clad with distressed claret brocade drapes, so distressed the colour had sun-faded to a pale blush wine. Pushing aside more cobwebs than material, he flicked the catch and yanked the window open, a shard of deteriorated wood slicing his index finger.
“Shit!” Curses garbled as he sucked off dripping blood and teased out the substantial splinter with his teeth. “How could you let a stately old home like this decay so much, Amelia?” He tried to force the window down again, but it refused to budge, his frustrated grunts disturbed by some wildly frenetic barking.
What the…?His question fogged the windowpane. The beast making the racket was a whirling dervish frolicking over the rough grass.
He grinned, the whimsical interruption lifting his tension.
“Thor! Get back here now.”
The peremptory command came from a woman who was exiting the woods bordering the lawn. Luke smiled again as the excited animal completely ignored its owner, instead bounding up to the dilapidated flagstones of what had once been an impressive terrace way down below him. He considered ignoring his dilemma as well; considered making a similar swift bounce-away.
From his third level vantage point, the young woman recaptured his attention as she ploughed across the overgrown lawn grass. Her husky voice was firm.
“You went off again too quickly, you disobedient pup.”
Pup? The beast was enormous. His focus zoomed in on the woman as she capered back from the animal’s attentions. Her glistening lava hair settled around her face as she came to a gradual halt and gathered the squirming beast close to her. The dog’s tongue lapped out to lick her face, revealing the ungainly quivering of body hair as the long forelegs stretched up onto her shoulders. He watched her almost overbalance under the onslaught of adoration from the dog. She was a tiny little woman, and Thor was one very big canine.
“Get down, Thor!”
The melodious chime of her laughter imprinted itself somewhere inside him as she thrust the hound down to ground level.
“You’re not a little pup any more.”
Thor? A good name for a powerful beast, he thought, watching her rub the dog’s underside. Scratching below his own belly, he adjusted his stance at the window. His imagination surged, the heat of the sun blasting in the window.
“Who are you?” His question misted the filthy pane, the little pixie below making quite an impact. “A woodland fairy?” Well, she had materialized out of the woods and he presently felt he was in some nightmarish fairy tale. His harsh laugh echoed around him in the empty room. Was his fatigue so bad he was hallucinating? An ironic burst peeled out again, loud enough to make the dog’s ears perk up.
Warf. Warf.
 There was no quiet barking from this particular canine, its exuberance boisterous and excited as it capered way down below the window.
“Come on. Time to go, Thor.”
Who was the woman? He watched as she ushered the animal back to the woods. What was she doing in the grounds of Greywood Hall, seemingly so familiar? Realising he wanted answers to those questions, Luke erupted into the corridor taking the treads on the internal central staircase two at a time, trusting they’d not collapse under his pounding feet as he hurried outside.
There was no sign of her as he scanned the gardens. 

Slainthe!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Saturday snipping

I'm over at the Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog today talking about snipping and saving.
Here's a partial reblog of what my current writing demands are - since I don't have time to do anthing but edits today. :-)

First published earlier today at http://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/



Snip, snip, snip…but don’t throw away!

It’s that kind of day today. Up nice and early, off to the hairdresser- her first customer of the day. I’m fairly pedestrian in that it’s generally a case of ‘take off an inch’ all over. I like a no fuss, no frills hairstyle of the ‘wash, blow and go’ variety. However, sometimes I surprise myself by agreeing to something a little bit different.

Go purple? Not again! Blonde? Don’t think so. Grey …sometime…soon maybe ( *wink, wink and a smiley face here.)

But sometimes a change is ideal when things need a bit of a shake up. This morning I got the top shorter and the sides a bit different. Was I delighted with my new hair? 

Cringe… I got exactly what I had asked the stylist to do but when I climbed into my car for the journey home the view in the interior mirror told me I wasn’t actually that sure about the wide sweep away from my cheeks. Hastily scrubbing the hair towards the front made some kind of compromise I could live with. 
ww.123rf.com


I’m doing a bit of snipping in my writing as well this weekend. Last week I had to make the huge decision of renewing my contracts with my first publisher (the contract duration had run its course), or calling it quits with them and doing a reversal of rights.

 My two contemporary romance novels with my first publisher were always in both ebook and print versions. The slight problem for me, as an ‘overseas’ author was that on Amazon.com my print books were set at around $12.99.  On Amazon UK, the price was just a change of sign to £12.99 and that was way too high priced for a paperback. It’s not surprising that they didn’t sell well in the UK since I wouldn’t pay for a paperback at that price.

Now what the heck do I do with the stories?

I pondered if I should approach another publisher and just try for an ebook version instead of print and ebook? Or…should I take the plunge and self- publish on Amazon?

The deciding didn’t actually take much time.

Those two stories are contemporary mystery romances and had to go through quite hefty edits before they were published. Originally not romancy enough, I had to add in a lot of new heavily sensual details to satisfy my editor. Now the situation is reversed. Since I need to publish a different version of the story, I went back to my original manuscript which is without most of the ‘heaving bosom’ details. I'm so glad I rarely throw anything away and that my original versions were archived. 

So does that mean I think it’s ready to self- publish? Not by a long chalk.

It’s amazing just how much I believe I’ve learned about writing over the last few ‘writerly’ years. I’ve started a nice snip, snip, snipping process and hope by tomorrow I’ll have the same basic story to self- publish but a very well manicured one. Not a number 2- gosh I’m now bald- haircut, but hopefully a compromise I can live with.

I guess I might need to have a new name for the story as well as a new cover design?

Does anyone reading this blog have any advice to give me in this new (ish) venture? I’d love to find out what other authors might have done. 

 Slainthe!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tuesday Trips




My post today is about taking little trips and longer trips. 

What do I like best about writing my contemporary novels as opposed to my historical ones?

In my contemporary novels, I have used lots of fabulous world locations – most of which I’ve managed to visit and remember with great fondness. In my ancestral mystery/ thriller, Topaz Eyes, I started off with Heidelberg -a city of great beauty and character. As the story developed, I realised I wanted to have my characters search for the missing Tiru Salana emerald collection in some of the other fantastic world cities which were great places to visit.

The story wasn’t intended as some kind of travelogue, but if any of my writing prompts people to experience the places for themselves then it has to be a great thing. One particular reviewer stated: " ...A fun, engaging read that will have you calling your travel agent."

I loved remembering about the elegant and ancient parts of Vienna and the bustling canals of Venice, but I’ve also included Edinburgh as a place of action in the novel. Keira Drummond, a main protagonist, is an Edinburgh lass but there’s very little of the city actually mentioned in the novel- in comparison with the other places- since her father’s house is in Collinton, a suburb of Edinburgh. The pace of the novel dictated some tourist time in other locations but since some of the action happens in Keira's father's house there's no description of the city of Edinburgh.

My omission of city details was intentional since there was no reaon for Teun and Keira to be there. That was a shame, in many ways, because Edinburgh is an incredibly fine city to visit. I could recommend tourist places here in this blog, but they are set out so much better on the many blog articles available if anyone is intereted in more info.




I love popping down to visit Edinburgh which is around 150 away from where I live. There’s always something to see and do, and if I meet up with friends or relatives then it’s even better.

Keira Drummond in Topaz Eyes is a lass who travels internationally as a translator but she’s got her roots firmly set in Edinburgh. My readers might be interested to know that all of the names used in Topaz Eyes were particularly chosen. Keira is a nice Scottish name as is Drummond. Drummond isn’t exactly a common name throughout Scotland, but from a quick search I chose it becasue there's a good whean o' folks of that name to the east of the Central Belt of Scotland. 

Slainthe! 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Emerald Monday Moments



Happy Monday to you.


Whilst out gardening yesterday, I drifted back to thinking about emeralds - though my grass will never be that colour of green. Emerald green. What exactly is emerald green? And what is the colour of emeralds?

Will I ever see any of my plantings as a really true emerald colour? I doubt it. When I looked at something like my daffodil stems they were a much more blue-ish hue than green-ish, a sort of sage colour with more definition. I don't have anything growing which is such a strong colour as the image here which was photographed from a paint chart and named emerald. 

I remembered that I found it quite challenging to write about jewellery descriptions in Topaz Eyes, my dynasty based mystery/ thriller. Writing about colour hues is very tricky.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emerald_crystal_muzo_colombia.jpg

The fabulous image below is from my favourite Royalty Free image site and I've used it a number of times for my blogs and my book trailer video. I love the reflections and the fine nuances of hues on the different facets of this one.

ww.123rf.com
However, some emeralds are referred to as aqua- green meaning those with that bluish tone. This diamond studded emerald ring is closer to the shade of my daffodil stems.


Wikimedia Commons
I’m going to be hunting for more of that hue since it can really enhance other plantings nearby. Emeralds are spectacular gems and there are some lovely YouTube videos which show their individuality.






The largest emerald – on exhibition

Calgarians selling world’s largest cut emerald
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VV7d1sFVxWc

  
As with other items of note there will be many contenders for the same title- ie for the world’s finest emerald, or for the world’s largest, or best cut, or most expensive… they are all beautiful.

There’s no sun shining today, rain has fallen overnight, but I’m declaring my day an emerald one. 

Are there any other emerald lovers out there who can tell me about their favourite? 


NB: If you’re a ‘gaming’ person you will likely be aware that emeralds are used as currency in games like ‘Minecraft' so those people might quite love a LOT of tiny little emeralds.  

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Snipping



Happy Sunday to you!

It's a 'lawn weed feed and mosskill' sort of morning. Yesterday, I zapped some rampant weeds growing in places they were not invited to inhabit and cut the grass. It's not the first grass cutting of the season but it had grown pretty long which means a 2 and 1/2 hour stint with the mower- there being more moss than grass on the front stretch. It’s actually a stretch of the imagination to call it a lawn, and even saying the ‘front grass’ would be challenged by an assiduous gardener. I try to do the moss killing ‘thing’ by applying the appropriate mix a few times over the season, but it now has to be done at a time that will be avoided by toddler feet.  

I'm a lazy gardener who uses an electric strimmer/brush cutter for trimming the edges and the awkward bits around my open beds- the real proper edging shears getting a mite too awkward to use and too time consuming. My lawnmower, replaced two summers ago worked perfectly, but the strimmer? Nope. It's only about 19 years old and I don't understand why things can't last forever. It's had some hissy fits over the last years when pieces of semi dried Iris stems have got wrapped around the motor. That's a total pain and did cause some problems at the end of last year's grass cutting. I know I tried to strip all the fibres out from under the 'spindle' (techie terms unknown) and that generally works, but I'm very sad to say I had to resort to buying a new strimmer yesterday afternoon.

It's not even out of the box yet - that's a job for today.

Time, and the lack of it, is now my main problem since I want to have a writing day, as well as a garden day. When I need garden tools to work, they have to co-operate and I suppose equally for my writing I need the internet or my laptop to be fully functioning- but the working of internet is often outwith my control.. While I was garden tools shopping, I treated myself to a new sprayer as well since my original one from more than a decade ago also needed replaced.

Buying tools to make my gardening jobs easier and quicker made me think of the farmers in my Celtic Fervour novels. Essentially my northern Celtic tribes are peaceable peoples who are mainly interested in having a successful season from their small Celtic strip fields. Good quality, abundant crops put essential food in their bellies. Anything which disrupted that farming process created a setback which might have reverberations for many seasons to come.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iron_sickle,_torc_and_adze.JPG?uselang=en-gb

What tools did they employ? Not all that many and certainly no time saving electric or petrol powered ones. Whereas my lawnmower will cut grass, the Celts would have used a simple but searingly sharp sickle for any reaping or cutting back.

The sickle would have been employed to cut oat, emmer (wheat), and barley crops ready for a simple hand threshing process to separate the chaff from the stalk. Sharp knives would have flicked out errant weeds and heavier duty tools like an adze or an axe would have been employed to cut away bushes or trees if new ground was being cleared.

For making a furrow in the soil prior to planting the Celts had a very simple plough, an ard, where a pointed iron tip was pulled through the ground to turn it over ready for planting new crops. The ard could be yoked to an animal- an oxen, a horse (though perhaps less likely since horses were so prized for many other needs) or a man.

 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AncientPlough.jpg

My gardening tasks are infinitely easier with less physical effort needed than the Celts in my stories.




All 3 books from my Celtic Fervour Series are presently in the Amazon UK Bestsellers Ancient World Historical Romance Chart. After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is at #65,
To read about them you can buy all 3 ebooks for less than £6 /$10. (sidebar) They are also available from the Crooked cat Bookstore, B &N, Waterstones, Smashwords and other major ebook suppliers.



Wishing you a happy May holiday weekend.
Slainthe!

Friday, 2 May 2014

May plans

Beltane is now past and the sun actually is shining right now as I look out my window. If that's a signal that summer is coming, I'm all for it happening in good style. It's time to get really serious about my garden and just as serious about some of my writing projects. I have very messy places on the terrace where there should be a tidy polished displays. New summer flowering bulbs have been planted recently but haven't yet made it to their final destinations. Other pots need to be planted up and spent spring bulbs put properly into storage for autumn planting. Decisions must be my forte. Effort needs to be expended to bear fruitful results.


Just yesterday, May 1st, saw me making some strategic decisions about my writing and I will now have to do some serious nurturing to bring new plans to fruition. Sometimes things seem absolutely fantastic and happen at 'the right time in life' but then for various reasons they don't work out so well later. It's been like that with my published romances with The Wild Rose Press -Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now. I am totally indebted to WRP for getting me into published writing and for teaching me so many useful aspects of using social media sites. But, as we all know, theory is not always the same as practical applications and marketing those titles has not been successful. They've been with The Wild Rose Press for more than 2 years but since sales have been extremely low I decided to terminate my contract with WRP. When something doesn't work well, it's time to make changes.

I had a huge evening of regret, yesterday, but what I did was the right decision for me. The coming weeks will see me revising those titles and then I intend to get them published in an altered version. A new growth period is about to begin for those romantic mysteries, which I have a keen fondness for.


This time last year I was avidly looking to see if my newly planted patio fruit trees would bear any blossoms or fruit. My new apples did and some shining red fruits were the result. My new plum, pear, and cherry trees did very little and in fact I thought my cherry tree was not going to survive.

It pays to give a little nurturing and pays to be patient since all of the trees have flowered really well in April and my cherry looks promising. I'm going to be really pleased to see it fruiting and look forward to tasting the results.

Similarly, I'll be nurturing my previous WRP titles- Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now - and will spit and polish them to a new shine.

Watch out for new covers and new versions emerging in a little while!   

Slainthe!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

It's Beltane



I named the first book of my Celtic Fervour Series The Beltane Choice because in it my main female character, Nara of the Selgovae, has a choice to make by the coming Beltane eve. She has been tasked with leaving the nemeton she had thought to grow old in as a priestess and must instead find a man to be a hearth husband to; a man who will father a son who will become a leader of his peoples. 

Though, what does Beltane mean? 

Beltane, the end of spring festival, is celebrated about half way between the Vernal equinox and the Summer Solstice and traditionally marked the arrival of the summer. Like its counterpart at the opposite end of the year, Samhain (which heralded winter) Beltane is one of the larger and more important festivals. If you have clear skies and want to follow the signs in the heavens, you can watch for the group of stars named the Pleiades when it rises just before dawn (sunrise) at Beltane and at Samhain when the stars rise at sunset.

Beltane heralds the world coming into the ‘Light part’- summer- whereas Samhain marks the coming into the ‘Dark part’- winter. Since our winter has been very lacking in snow and hard frosts (unusual in north-east Scotland) it’s hard to believe we’ve had that dark part of the year, except with regard to the dreariness of dull days of mist and rain - of which we’ve had more than plenty. Warmer days will be most welcome. The concept of the sun returning to rule over the land provides a great image. The tiredness of the spirit is lifted with the thought of better, sunnier days and celebrating a festival usually has its own cheeriness. A summer renewal is what the spirit needs to revive energy levels. In lands where the sun doesn’t shine for long periods or where cloud cover makes for what is termed SAD/ lack of sunlight deficiency it’s a wonderful festival to celebrate rejuvenation and look towards the light.

Building of Beltane fire features in my novel The Beltane Choice, the Celts paying homage to Bel (sun god) to bless and protect the tribe. By lighting fires in strategic rows for their animals to be herded through, it was a plea for Bel to protect their animals over the coming season and for them to be fertile before the summer grazing period began. The fires also burn away the blackness of winter and the warmth from the flames emulates what is to come from the summer sunshine.

It’s claimed that household fires would be extinguished and relit from the Beltane bonfires- though how old that tradition is, is an interesting one to postulate. The eve of Beltane is one of the times of ‘no time’, when the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead, the other time at Samhain. The Celts do appear to have been very superstitious people and the belief was that spirits could travel between the worlds during the transition periods before midnight of Beltane and Samhain. Rowan was used at the threshold for protection from wandering spirits.

Beltane daytime celebrations, dancing around the maypole and other festive events became popular- the flower garlands a sign of the blossoming plant life and a show that the earth was waking up from the long winter. 

Here's a little bit from The Beltane Choice, on the eve of Beltane when preparations are being made: 


Four days later, she still felt alone in amongst a steady stream of Brigantes from other settlements who arrived for the Garrigill Beltane festivities. Around her happy women prepared the Beltane victuals. Normally a cheerful time for Celtic tribes, it marked the coming of better weather, into summer and longer days, the time when the cattle were sent out after the purification rites to graze in the far fields, away from the winter feeding and closer protection around the settlement.

Tension and excitement built throughout the day as down in the lower fields, close to the riverside, the warriors prepared the large bonfire stacks of wood. They laid bonfires in two long lines, a walkway between them. Through the fire-lit walkway the farmers would drive the cattle, in a symbol of belief that forcing the beasts through the Beltane fires would protect them from disease, purify them and would keep them healthy throughout the coming months–fertility abounding in beast…and man.

Fertility and a new beginning, a happy time for most of the women, but not for her. After the purification rituals, feasting and dancing over, the women of the tribe would slip off with their chosen lover to find a quiet spot.

As the day progressed, the prophecy lay heavy on her heart. She wanted only to make love to Lorcan. He was the one man whose touch had stirred her desires, and melted the bones now telling her that her son should indeed be conceived that night, and that Swatrega’s premonition would be fulfilled. But how could it happen? Lorcan had not returned to Garrigill. Brennus–soon to be her husband–was expected to be chosen by her, since he had returned as the sun moved overhead in the clear sky. As part of the rites, the officiating druid would expect her to be at Brennus’s side…all through the eve and into the night.


Happy Beltane to you.
Slainthe!