Wednesday 24 June 2015

Featuring The Outlaw Hearts Series by Rosanne Bittner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She smiled more.  “Yes, you can.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus Christ!” Jake swore.

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


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

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


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 21 June 2015

Summer Solstice blogging!

Hello! Happy Summer Solstice to you.

Stonehenge - but not at the Summer Solstice
I haven't been totally asleep for days- just a bit preoccupied.

I blogged on Saturday 20th June at my 'every second Saturday' slot with Writing Wranglers and Warriors- talking about the Summer Solstice. You can catch that post HERE

The photo above was probably taken around 1983 and you can see I was just as enthusiastic about ancient things back then, about on par with my obsession now.  (insert smiley face indeed)


Tuesday 16 June 2015

Fit's Kintore a' aboot?

In The Taexali Game my time travellers are from Kintore... so where is the place and what's special about it? 
I’ve blogged about Kintore before on this blog but, in case you missed it, here’s almost a repeat about the Aberdeenshire village which I’ve used as the setting for Book 1 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series of adventures- The Taexali Game.
My trio of time travellers—Aran, Brian and Fianna— have gone to the local primary school at Kintore and have been friends for some years. When they’re whisked back in time to AD 210 they find themselves in a landscape that has some sense of familiarity but not quite what they’re used to in 2015. 
What are they NOT seeing in AD 210 that any visitor - time travelled or otherwise -  would experience in 2015?
I've blogged in the past about the main historical landmarks in Kintore (on this blog) but, in case you missed those posts, here's a little recap about what Aran, Brian and Fianna are used to seeing in Kintore...
Kintore is a small town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, currently with a growing population that’s now approaching 5,000.  Though the most ancient one of that name, as far as I can tell, there are a few other places worldwide sporting the title of Kintore- two registered in Canada, and two Kintores in Australia. None of those in Canada or Australia were established around the 9th century as the one in Aberdeenshire was. 

A town charter is believed to have been granted to Kintore by King Kenneth II (earliest period of Scottish monarchy) in recognition that the locals helped him to victory on Tuach Hill by driving cattle covered in oak leaves at the Danish lines. The defeat of the Danes is celebrated on Kintore's coat of arms- depicted by a shield, an oak tree and two horned bulls standing up on their back legs. The Royal Charter Status was also recorded as being renewed in 1506 by King James IV. In times that are more modern a ceremony took place, in 1959, whereby Lord Lyon, King of Arms, presented an Official Coat of Arms to the Burgh. (On the wall between the forestairs in the above photo) Lord Lyon is the official responsible for overseeing state ceremonial in Scotland and grants new ‘arms’ to persons or organisations. He is also the official in Scotland who registers and records new clan tartans, upon request by a clan chief.

Kintore - Ceann Tòrr in Gaelic - means the town was at the head or end of a round hill. Ceann means the head, or the end, and Tòrr means a round hill. This probably relates to the Tuach Hill related above which lies to the south of the town. The area has been a popular settlement since prehistoric times, the stone circle on Tuach Hill only one of many ancient stone monuments in the surrounding area. Recent excavations, of approximately 2004, unearthed finds dating to at least 5000 BC. 
Kintore Townhouse was completed in 1747 and had a room specially designated as a Schoolroom; a Schoolhouse; a Council room and it was also the local Tolbooth prison. Rumour has it that back in those days it was not unheard of for a miscreant in the schoolroom to be removed and sent down to the basement prison to serve out a punishment.
By the early 1800s, the school was removed to its own dedicated building nearby leaving more space in the townhouse for other purposes. When I moved to Kintore in 1988, there was a little general store in one of the ground floor rooms aong with a tiny Post Office. 

Kintore parish churchyard has a Pictish symbol stone of the 6th-7th century AD. However, the present church is not a really ancient one since the earliest church was sited nearby in the Parish of Keithhall and Kinkell, to which the residents of Kintore attended. Though an earlier church was definitely on the current site, the present building is a remodelled version of the Archibald Simpson church designed and built in 1819. A young man at the time of designing the church, the architect and nephew of the minister, went on to become a well renowned architect in Aberdeenshire.

Bridgealehouse is at the northern end of the town. It served as the court and council house until the present Town House was built in 1747- Burgh Records refer to court proceedings being held there from around 1690 to 1745, the Earl of Kintore. Robert Bruce and the Bailies of Kintore are recorded a having been present t meetings in this building. I believe this house remains as a site of ‘some historic significance’.  

After the present Town House was built, Bridgealehouse became a coaching inn, historical references alluding to this fact are found for October 1779. The other coaching inn was The Kintore Arms. This was frequented by users of the toll road which ran from Aberdeen to the north and went right through the town

Hallforest Castle
A mile to the south-west of Kintore you'll find the ruins of Hallforest Castle. Said to have been built in 1296 it is an oblong keep 48 feet by 30 feet, and the walls are around seven foot thick. It was built on six floors and was one of the earliest towers in Scotland.

The Castle took its name from its location in the great forest - Hallforest. The forest, which lies between Kintore and Kemnay (4 miles from Kintore) is also recalled in local names such as Forest Road and Tom's Forest.

It is claimed to have been built as a hunting lodge by King Robert the Bruce.

In 1305, Sir Robert Keith (received the title Great Marischal) was chosen as one of ten Scots to represent his country at the English Parliament but in May, 1308, he was fighting with Bruce's army at the Battle of Barra, near Inverurie (4 miles from Hallforest). The Keith family helped Robert the Bruce to gain his throne in the ensuing battles for independence from the English. Keith was rewarded by King Robert the Bruce by land at Hallforest, Kintore that included the castle. And so the Keith's arrived in the Garioch ( local name for the land around Inverurie) and the castle became the stronghold of the Keith family.

King James IV of Scotland is said to have hunted in Hallforest and Mary Queen of Scots is known to have stayed at Hallforest in 1562.

(The Battle of Inverurie, also known as the Battle of Barra, was fought in May 1308 in the north-east of Scotland. Though part of the wider Wars of Scottish Independence it is more properly viewed as an episode in a brief but bitter civil war. The battle was a victory for the Scottish King Robert Bruce over his chief domestic enemy, John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan. It was followed by the Harrying of Buchan, a violent act of destruction, at least equal to, if not greater than, some of the excesses practiced elsewhere by the English.)

Mmmm....Writing this blog post has remined me to take some new photographs of the main historical landmarks in Kintore. 


Monday 15 June 2015

Tallinn's the place!

"Alexander Nevsky Cathedral" by Samuli Lintula User:Samulili - Author. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

Take Me Now

Aela and Nairn fly to many destinations in Take Me Now- Tallinn, Estonia being one of them. Aela finds Nairn is in playful mood but doesn't realise she's flying him there for any other reason than business!
I’ve been asked what made me choose the locations used in the novel and the simple answer is mostly I’ve used places I’ve been to and enjoyed visiting. However, that isn’t the case for all of the locations because I only have second-hand knowledge of Tallinn. My daughter and her husband visited the city some years ago and enthused over it so much that I knew it’s a place to add to my list of places to see and do.

One swaying comment made by my daughter was that I’d adore the cobbled streets and walls of the medieval old town and I’d find the architecture stunning. Looking at the images on the internet, I’m completely sure that I would!

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, lies on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Said to be the cultural focus of Estonia, it has plenty of places for the visitor to wander around, the old town able to be explored on foot. If the tourist wants to venture slightly further afield, the co-ordinated bus, tram, trolley-bus system is easy to use and the ‘one card’ system makes it easy to pay for the travel.

Hop on – hop off tourist buses also give great value for sightseeing. I love using these guided tour buses when I arrive at a new city venue for a number of reasons. I generally get great value from the ticket and it gives me the opportunity to choose which places to see in more depth. There’s also the lazy reason that if I’ve recently arrived by plane I’m often whacked and need to re-charge my batteries before venturing forth. I know it’s a ‘butt on seat’ moment again but walking around for those first hours sometimes means I’m not properly appreciating what I’m seeing if I’m tired. That’s where the usual 2 day ticket is great because on Day 2 I can see exactly what I want with enough energy to keep up the pace.
In Tallinn, Aela is given an opportunity that I’m not sure I could do any more but she has a fabulous time out on the waters of the bay. Her visit to Estonia is really short but I’d be hoping for a long weekend of maybe 4 or 5 days which, I’m told, would be just about right for taking in:

The Tallinn City Museum;
Seaplane Harbour (Estonian Maritime Museum);
Kadriorg Art Museum;
Estonian History Museum- Great Guild Hall
Some of the cathedrals and the Kadriorg Palace.

There would be plenty of time to sample the local food and drinks from the variety of restaurants as I saunter around.

So…when can I go? 


 Read about Aela's escapade in Tallinn in

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Sunday 14 June 2015

Sartorial elegance? Maybe not......

Happy Sunday everyone!

The sun really is shining outside, though it’s still fresh enough to need some sort of arm cover protection against the slightly gusting wind. At around 10°C, it could be called a typical late spring or early summer temperature.

From Wikimedia commons
This led me to think about what I’ve written about in my time travel novel- THE TAEXALI GAME- regarding the clothing worn in my part of Scotland (Aberdeenshire) in AD 210. Although I’ve not specifically mentioned the date my three time travelling characters ‘arrive’ at the Celtic hillfort of Balbath - Aran, Brian and Fianna are present at a Beltane ceremony soon after. Beltane is the 1st May so the weather conditions could be very like they are for me today on the 14th June- the weather being fairly interchangeable across the months of April through September.

When my time trio are whisked back in time, they find themselves wearing some interesting clothes. Part of their task list is to find out which era they have travelled back to and a good indication of that is in the clothing they find themselves wearing.

What did I have to fuel my imagination as a writer regarding their clothing?  Not all that much, really. I've some books about Celts for the younger readers written in the 1990s and they tend to be illustrated in the style of Angus McBride whose illustrations were credited with having particular attention to 'known' detail paid in them. I've also read as much as possible of recent interpretive ideas from recent archaeological studies adn used that knowledge to create the clothing for myb characters.

Here’s a little snippet from The Taexali Game to whet the appetite: 
(The images below are for The Beltane Choice, Bk 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures for the general adult market, set in AD 71, but I imagine the clothing would not be much changed by AD 210. )

“What on earth’s happened to us?” Fianna squeaked. “Look at you two.”
Instead of ragged jeans and thin T-shirt, Brian wore a faded red tunic with baggy mucky-yellow trousers underneath. Aran looked down. He was even more gaudily dressed.
“Cool clothes, Aran, I love the checks.” Fianna giggled at his elegance.
 A dull brown tunic covered his chest and breeches of brown and green checks clad his legs. Draped around his shoulders a long cloak hung to just below his knees. Brian’s cloak was roughly woven dark-grey wool that tied round his neck with a woollen cord, but his was different. It was newer looking wool of a dark mossy green colour. It was a finer weave with a large, ornate gold brooch fastening it in place at his right shoulder.
“Very fancy.” Brian laughed as he pointed to the brooch.
Fianna’s dress was a simply joined pale lilac rectangle of material with openings for her head and arms to slip through, reaching half way down her calves, drawn in at the waist by a twisted rope, the knotted ends dangling down from the middle.
“Look, you two. I’ve got a real knife.” She whooped as she pulled it free of a stiff leather sheath that was threaded through her belt but in her enthusiasm, it got caught on her cloak. “Eugh! How come my cloak’s the yucky one?” She stopped complaining pretty quickly though, when she realised the blade had ripped a fine slice in the coarse wool. “Friggin’ heck! It’s really sharp. Watch you don’t lose a finger.” Using her knife she pointed to Brian’s before sheathing it.
My drawing for Lorcan in The Beltane Choice
Fianna’s cloak was much longer. It almost reached the ground, was made of a cow-pat-brown weave and looked like a coarse potato sack.
He and Brian had sheathed knives, and all three of them had a leather bag which dangled from a cord angled across their chests, but the most magnificent thing of all was the metal band around each of their throats. He peered down. Around his neck was a heavy circlet of dark gold formed like a twisted rope. Brian wore a dull thin silver band, but Fianna’s was a tubular bronze choker.
She whistled before she slid her fingers across her neck ring. “Get a look at these. Have you two noticed they match our armbands?”
He hadn’t, but she was right.
“Hey, Aran. You look really cool. Fierce and much more grown up. I’m not sure about the dried whitish clabber, but your hair spikes on the top are brilliant, and the rest hanging wildly down past your shoulders is…” Fianna’s face was a picture, seeming short of the exact words she was looking for, tact not something she was noted for. “It’s tangled like a bird’s nest but your tattoo’s brilliant.”
“I’ve got a tattoo?” He quizzed both of the twins, looking at all the bare parts of his body that he could see. “Where?”
“It’s on your forehead.” Fianna reached up to rub it with her finger, to see if it would wear away. He wasn’t keen on her getting so close to his nose as she peered at it. “It could be an animal of some sort, like a fat sheep or maybe a pig?”
“Have I got one?” Brian’s question was hopeful.
“Nope.” He scrutinised Brian’s forehead thoroughly, rubbing off a fair amount of mud with his fingers. “Nothing but dirt.”
My drawing of Nara in The Beltane Choice
Fianna touched the coarse material of her clothing, and then felt the finer material of his tunic. “Okay, smarty pants, so when and where do you think we might be?”
“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.” His wide I’m-really-enjoying-this sort of grin slipped free. A sudden flutter of birds caught his attention as they swooped over on the far side of the clearing, startled by the strident squeal of an animal in the distance—either in pain, or not particularly happy with something. “Have you noticed these on the ground?” At his feet were two spears: one shaft quite crudely made.
When Fianna picked it up a splinter pierced her skin. “Ow!” She yelped again and threw it down in disgust. “That shaft is way too jagged.” She sucked a fine bead of blood from her finger and stepped clear of the weapon.
Aran lifted the other spear. Drawing his arm back, he pretended a throw. It fit him quite well, a bit like the javelin he’d been practising with at athletics, but with a super-sharp looking tip. “I like it. It’s got pretty good balance.”
He peered at Brian’s feet when his mate cautiously lifted the spear Fianna had tossed down. Like his own feet, they were encased in leather shoes like bags roughly fitted by pulled laces of leather. The spear looked quite heavy as Brian mimicked his movements, but since Brian had never been much good at throwing a ball, never mind a sharp spear, it was gingerly laid down again, keeping well clear of his toes.
“Where do you think we fit on the historical time line?” Fianna asked.

If I can ever find the time, I'd love to create (or better still get a real artist) some illustrations of Aran Brian and Fianna in The Taexali Game!  


Buy the Taexali Game from Amazon:


Tuesday 9 June 2015

The Unkindest Cut of All by Sue Barnard.

Happy Tuesday! 

Sue Barnard
I'm delighted to welcome my friend - Sue Barnard - from Crooked Cat Publishing. She'll be grinningly busy, today, since it's her turn to have a new book launched. Her Facebook Launch party is going on right this minute as this goes post live on Tuesday 9th June 2015. Pop in and join her. I'll be there when I get a free non-grandchildminding moment.

I really enjoyed reading Sue's previous books. The Ghostly Father  has such a fresh take on the story of Romeo and Juliet and their interaction with Friar Lawrence. Nice Girls Don't is a very different sort of story set much closer to our own times since it's around the 1980s. Sue's love of history and literature shines through in the work I've read so far and, you know, she might even be as obsessed about history as I am!

I've got her new novel The Unkindest Cut of All already on my kindle and look forward to reading it as soon as I can. From the blurb below it sounds brilliant - I'm sure you'll love it, too. I also think the front cover is stunning, don't you? Read on to see what I mean...

Welcome again, Sue, and over to you...
Hello Nancy. Thank you so much for welcoming me on to your blog to talk about my latest novel, which is released today.

The Unkindest Cut of All is my third novel for Crooked Cat Publishing.  It’s a murder mystery (with a touch of romance thrown in) set in a theatre.  The story takes place during an amateur dramatic society’s production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Nancy Jardine's ancient copy of Julius Caesar
To write this book I’ve drawn on my love of the theatre, my own experience of amateur dramatics, and my dim and distant memories of studying Julius Caesar at school for my English Literature O-Level.  (For those of you below a certain age: O-Levels are what we had way back in the Dark Ages before the days of GCSEs.)   I was extremely fortunate to have an excellent teacher who not only made the play really come alive, but who also managed to achieve the near-impossible task of making a group of stroppy teenage girls appreciate the finer points of Shakespearean tragedy.  
The book’s title is based on one of the lines spoken by Mark Antony, in his crowd-turning speech after Caesar’s murder.  The actual quotation is “This was the most unkindest cut of all” (according to my English teacher, the double superlative is intended to add extra emphasis), but it was generally agreed that this was perhaps a little too fussy – especially for a book by a writer who is notorious for her insistence on correct grammar!

Nancy says: Not quite ditto about the school experience. I studied Julius Caesar in my first year at secondary school along with A Midsummer Night's Dream as a contrast between his tragedy and comedy.  The two plays were my first taste of Shakespeare and they made me want to study a whole lot more of his work. It was timely that we were reading of Julius Caesar's death scene on the 15th March, the ides, which also happens to be my birthday. From that 13th birthday, for me, the play Julius Caesar has been very memorable. I was looking over my shoulder in the school corridor for days afterwards because one particular clown ( a boy in my year) pummelled my back pretending to 'give me the ides' treatment. My secondary school had segregated classes for girls and boys in the first two years but the syllabus was exactly the same so the 'mirror image class of boys' (same intellectual grading stream) were reading the same bits as the girls had, though with a different teacher. 

What the book is about...

Beware the Ides of March... 

Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it. So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar, there is only one man who can play the title role – even though Brian’s posturing ‘prima donna’ attitude has, over the years, won him few friends and many foes. 

Rehearsals progress apace, and the production draws ever closer. But when another member of the cast has to drop out due to illness, local journalist Sarah Carmichael (a stalwart of the Players’ backstage crew) suddenly finds herself called upon to step into the breach at the eleventh hour. 

Not surprisingly, Sarah finds that Brian is in his egotistical element playing the mighty Caesar. The fact that the final performance of the play takes place on the infamous Ides of March – the day when, according to tradition, Caesar was fatally stabbed – only adds to the excitement. 

But tragedy is waiting in the wings. And when it strikes, it falls to Sarah – with the help of Brian’s personable and fascinating nephew Martin Burns – to uncover the incredible truth about what really happened… 

And here, to whet your appetite, is a (slightly adapted) brief extract:

“Drink, Sarah, dah-ling?”
Sarah hadn’t heard Brian approaching as she stood waiting to be served at the bar, and in view of what she’d heard about him the previous evening, she felt more than just a little uncomfortable in his presence. But for the sake of keeping things on an even keel, at least until the end of the run, she turned to face him and forced a smile.
“Thanks, Brian. That’s very kind of you. I’ll have pint of bitter, please.”
“OOOH, a lady who drinks pints?”
Not for the first time, Sarah had to suppress her irritation at having to explain it.
“Yes, I drink pints. I like beer, and there’s no point in my drinking halves. I get very thirsty and they don’t last.”
“Fair point, I suppose, fair lady! And I can’t say I blame you. I’ve worked up a pretty thirst myself. I think I might take a leaf out of your book. Now, you go and find us some seats, and I’ll be right back.”
He strode up to the bar and returned a couple of minutes later with two brimming pint pots.
“Cheers, sweetie!” Brian sat down opposite her, raised his glass and took a swig.
“Cheers. And thank you.” Sarah smiled and returned the gesture.
“That wasn’t a bad audience, for a Wednesday,” Brian went on. “I can’t believe we’re halfway through the run already. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself!”
“Are you enjoying it?” Sarah asked as she took another sip of her drink. She knew before she asked that it was a pointless question, but all the same it made something to say.
“Am I enjoying it, dah-ling? Tell me, sweetie, is the Pope a Catholic?”
Sarah forced a smile.
“I knew it was a stupid question. Have you done any Shakespeare before?”
Brian’s face creased into a broad grin at the prospect of talking about his favourite subject – himself.
“Oh yes. I started very young, you know. Oddly enough, my first role was in this very play.”
“Really?” Sarah called on her own acting abilities and pretended to look interested. “What part did you play?”
“Lucius. It was a school play. Most of the other parts were played by sixth-formers, but they needed a younger boy to play the servant. It wasn’t a huge part, but it was the first of many. I was well and truly bitten by the acting bug by the end of it.”
“Oh yes? What came next?”
“The following year the school did A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Puck.”
“Then what?”
“After that, it was The Tempest. That time I played Caliban. Then the following year it was Hamlet, and I was Polonius.”
“Wasn’t he the one who was stabbed through the arras? I always thought that sounded slightly rude!”
Brian chuckled. “So you see, I’m no stranger to the Bard. But until now I’ve never managed to play the mighty Caesar.”
All those Shakespearean performances, Sarah thought. No wonder Brian was such a prima donna.

The Unkindest Cut of All is available now, at the special early bird price of only 99p.  There’s also a launch party going on on Facebook even as we speak.  Click here to add yourself to the guest list!

More about Sue:
Blog   Facebook   G+   Twitter

Book links:

Thanks for coming today, Sue, and all the best for great sales of your new novel. See you at the party.


Saturday 6 June 2015

So...what floats your boat is here as well.

Hello again!
It's time for my 'Every-Second-Saturday' post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

I've been reading a few articles about how good writing can leve positive effects on readers  - what lingers longer making readers more emotionally empathetic people.

Find my post HERE.

Enjoy the weekend. 


Those useful URLs!

Happy Saturday everyone!

my best ever selfie
I've a lovely smile on my face because the rankings for TAKE ME NOW have risen on Amazon UK to around 11 thousand, and in sales speak that means some sales did happen yesterday. When I checked a couple of times over the day yesterday at the Facebook launch party there was no movement AT ALL in the overall rankings and that, I have to be honest, was a bit depressing. 

This morning there's a lovely spike so if you've stlll not got your copy I'd get in quick while it's still at 99p and equivalent across Amazon. It's also available at SMASHWORDS if that's where you like to buy your ebooks.

I'm off to get my blog post written and ready for my every second Saturday spot at Writing Wranglers and Warriors, so see you later.... 

 Amazon UK   
Amazon US
Amazon France


Friday 5 June 2015

Launch Party fun!

Happy Friday to you!

Near Oban -Scotland
The Facebook on-line launch party for TAKE ME NOW is happening as I type at

You're welcome to join in the fun! Just click the link and watch out for the Competitions over the day to WIN some litttle fun items.

Since Aela Cameron and Nairn Malcom are in Scotland at the beginning of the novel the first part of the party is there as well. 

Win these items in simple quizzes. 

Updates to  follow over the day. 


Thursday 4 June 2015

Take Me Now launches tomorrow 5th June!

Tomorrow - Friday 5th June - is the Crooked Cat launch date of the new version of Take Me Now.  

Part of my fun during the writing of the novel was investigating what sports Nairn Malcolm might have on offer at his 'extreme sports' facilities. 

Extreme sports you say? Doesn't everybody love them? I love the sound of a lot of the ones I came across but I haven't personally tried many of them. At the time of writing the novel, I wondered how many authors include sporting experiences they’ve personally tried? The akternative being that they had just been 'winging' it like me, hoping to sound credible with the descriptions given. 

Nairn Malcolm is the owner of Adrenalinn Adventures-a company which markets land sporting adventures like tank driving, dirt buggies, quad biking, sphereing, bogshoeing. Bogshoeing? Yes, you might well ask about that one, but I’m going to be nasty and say read the book and find out! But those are only a few of the more ‘ordinary’ ones he markets.

Some of his water based sports are far more dangerous. 

Nairn has a half share in a boat yard which manufactures spectacular water craft, and he knows some very exciting water experiences to include for his customers. Ever heard of wakeboarding? I hadn't but I'm pretty sure my dare-devil nephew, who is a competitive surfer, has heard of it!

Let’s get back to land then. What about ‘Bun J Riding’? Nairn’s aiming to add more dangerous sports to his company portfolio of possibilities. That’s why his new general factotum - Aela Cameron - needs to fly him around Europe.

Before Aela met Nairn he loved to try out the all the sports he has on offer to the public but for some reason that isn't possible at the beginning of the novel. To find out why you'd need to read TAKE ME NOW. 

Aela Cameron is gung ho to try out what Nairn has to offer.  She especially wants to try some of the experiences with Nairn alongside, but she might have to wait a bit for that. Why? That would be giving away too much…

Take Me Now is available from 5th June across Amazon... at the special launch price of 99p (and equivalents) for a few days. 

Click HERE  to buy


Monday 1 June 2015

Imagination to the fore... Margo Hoornstra's Dearly Beloved Series

My Monday Moments return guest is my friend Margo Hoornstra who is sharing her Dearly Beloved Series with us today. She's written a thoughtful guest post about how writing fiction doesn't always need actual experiences. Read a couple of excerpts from her stories and there's a RAFFLECOPTER chance to WIN $15 a Gift Certificate. Read on to find the link below to enter.

Welcome again, Margo, it's lovely to have you back...

Art Imitates Life; Or Is It The Other Way Around?

In Only If You Dare, recently divorced Cynthia Buckingham has a one night stand with well- respected judge Jonah Colt. Except they soon discover life just simply isn’t that, well, that simple. As their story unfolds, all sorts of personal issues surface they have to deal with. Jonah is a military veteran suffering, and denying, PTSD. Cynthia happens to have just begun a psychological practice and helping those with PTSD is her specialty.  When they have their first fight and Jonah leaves Cynthia at the restaurant to ‘fend for herself’ she’s mugged and her purse is stolen.  Add to all of this, many of their clandestine times together are interrupted by face-time calls on the computer from Cynthia’s grown daughter with various crises she needs solved in the planning of her quickly approaching wedding.  Given that Cynthia’s goal is to keep Jonah’s presence in her life a secret, these calls pose a special, and physical, challenge.

Enter me, the author, to present all of these issues and make them believable. I’ve never been divorced, never indulged in a one night stand, never served in the military, never been a judge, never been a psychologist, never suffered from PTSD, never been mugged, though I once had my purse stolen, have face timed with my grandchildren, and helped two grown daughters plan their weddings. Out of ten things, I have, hands on, personal experience with three of them.

That’s where imagination comes in. I put myself in the shoes of my characters and try to envision how they would act, think and feel in various situations. I’m not trying to suggest that I’m an expert at any of it.
In my writing, I’m a true pantster from the word go. I come up with an idea-no let me rephrase that-an idea comes to me and I begin a mental game of what if. Sometimes-let me rephrase again-most times my characters surprise me. They will say or do something in a beginning chapter, and I won’t have a clue why. Then a few chapters down the road, whatever it was they said and did before makes perfect sense to me now.

I guess you could say I view writing as an adventure, a journey, a joy. Here’s hoping those who read my work agree.
Find Margo at these places: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Amazon Author Page
More About Margo:
Like many writers, it’s hard to determine exactly when my fiction writing career began. I remember composing a short story in grade school (I have no idea about what) which was chosen for publication in an all school anthology. A journalism class taken in junior high school led to a job on the school newspaper and a weekly column.
I always loved reading. I loved writing too. Someday, I thought, maybe when I grew up and received the right training, I could actually write a book. After all, I was often told, laughingly most times, I had an extremely vivid imagination.Through the years, the desire to write was always there. I had so many ideas and characters roaming around in my head, so many stories. But the business of living—going to college, getting married then raising a family—took precedence over something as frivolous as writing a book.

Then one day out of the blue I was downsized—effective immediately—from a job I’d held for over thirty years. What seemed so unfair at the time, I now recognize the tremendous gift I was given that day. As I’m now able to spend more and more time doing what I love—writing romantic fiction—I find I really do have an abundance of stories to share.

 Only If You Dare
by Margo Hoornstra
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Wild Rose Press
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 26, 2013
Length: 117 Pages

All the pleasures and none of the pain, that's what Cynthia Buckingham wants in a relationship these days. A one-night stand with Jonah Colt seems to fit that bill perfectly. Newly divorced, she's too busy planning her daughter's wedding for any serious involvement. Besides, her true passion is helping victims of PTSD reclaim their lives.

Waking up after spending the night with a woman he barely knows, Jonah is stunned to realize sex for the sake of sex isn't enough for him anymore. A veteran of more military battles than he cares to count, he wants to forget it all and focus on peaceful civilian life. Except flashbacks won't allow it.

Falling for Cynthia makes Jonah regret his weakened state, but he'd rather hide the truth than face it. When she sets aside everything she believes in to help him heal, can he accept her help--and her love?

Here's a little snippet from Only If You Dare to whet your appetite:

 “So, if I want to call you a hero. I’ll call you a hero.” As she looked over to study him, remnants of fear lingered in her eyes until recognition rose up to overcome it. “Why Judge Colt. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Jonah. And I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. Unless I can call you potential juror number twenty-three.”

“I’m flattered you remembered.” Smiling now, she stepped closer still. “I wouldn’t have thought my presence in your courtroom was all that memorable.”

“I try my best to keep track of what goes on in there.”

“I saw that for myself.” She turned to face him full on. “My name is Cynthia Buckingham.”

“Nice to officially meet you.” As he accepted her offered hand, she grabbed hold then squeezed, and welcome warmth filtered through him.

He realized with one brush of that soft skin somewhere along the line he’d forgotten how good it felt to be touched.

Elyse Monroe may be her sister's maid of honor, but that doesn't mean she has to follow the bride's example and fall in love. Battle-scarred and weary from previous relationships, she has no desire to take a chance on another--no matter how many hints her little sister drops about the best man.

Devastating life events have taken a toll on Eric Matthews. After losing his wife and unborn daughter, he's come home to heal. Serving as best man at his kid brother's wedding is the only relationship he cares to contemplate--no matter how attractive the maid of honor.

Thrown together again and again by wedding duties, Elyse and Eric reluctantly agree to explore a possible relationship--only to have their casual date turn into a glorious night of passion. Can two hearts, convinced a happily ever after will never happen, recognize love when it finds them?

Night Stars and Mourning Doves
by Margo Hoornstra
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Wild Rose Press
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Length: 90 Pages

Here's a taster from Night Stars and Mourning Doves

Eric slammed open the door to the hospital emergency entrance nearly blinded by terror at what he might find once he was inside. The last time he’d been summoned to a hospital like this--The sharp smell of antiseptic invaded his nostrils, blurred both eyes. He paused to lean against a wall tiled in puke green to get his bearings. A woman in blue scrubs and a stethoscope looped on her neck walked by.

He grabbed her arm. “Jay Matthews. Where is he?”

“I don’t know, sir. You’ll—”

When she attempted to pull away, he hung on. “My son. I got a call that he fell at his daycare. Someone brought him here.”

“You’ll have to ask at the desk. Down there.” Reaching over to pry away his fingers, she indicated the direction he needed to take with a nod of her head. As soon as he glanced that way, she yanked free.

“Where’s my son?” He lunged for her then stumbled when she hurried away. “What?—”

A hand clamped on his shoulder from behind; he spun around and found a green-eyed gaze holding his.

He clutched at Elyse’s upper arms. “Where is he?”

Thank you for sharing with us today, Margo. Best wishes with your tour!


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