Thursday, 24 December 2015

Festive felicitations!


I'd like to wish all of my blog readers a hearty happy Yuletide/festive time. If you're celebrating, have fun. If not celebrating, may you find enjoyment in the little things of the day. 

Slainthe!


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

6 Great marketing tips for niche writers!

On my #Welcome Wednesday slot I'm welcoming back my very busy friend, Gayle Irwin. 

Gayle book signing at Cheyenne
Gayle's books have been featured recently on this blog but she's back today with 6 brilliant ideas for getting out there and doing 'THAT PROMOTING STUFF!' The techniques are working well for Gayle in her specialised market of inspirational dog books and, with a bit of tweaking, they might work for you. I'm doing some of the things Gayle mentions, so here's a hearty almost Christmas #Wednesday Welcome to Gayle. 

Hello again, Gayle. I'm glad to have you with us, today. Please share with us what you've found useful. 

Discovering Your Writing Niche and Finding Your Audience Along the Way
by Gayle M. Irwin

Authors have so many options these days not only in publishing, but also in marketing their work … and themselves as writers. From Facebook and Twitter to blogs such as this, and websites like Goodreads, online opportunities abound to connect readers with authors and their books. Traditional booksignings are still popular as are library readings. There are so many opportunities to market one's works and engage readers.
           
I write inspirational dog books for children and adults. I have found aligning myself with dog rescue organizations and schools offer tremendous opportunities to market my work and to find new readers … as well as inspire audiences.

Find a Cause
Gayle at the Casper Humane Society Book signing
Finding a cause, such as pet rescue, or a group, such as historians, can help authors promote themselves and their work. Whether one writes non-fiction or fiction, aligning yourself with an organization or a topic and working with people affiliated with those endeavors can be a major benefit to an author. I have a friend who writes romantic fiction that's sprinkled with suspense or adventure. I've encouraged her to talk with groups that help women caught in domestic violence situations (one of her stories has that drama as an element) and/or that are involved in women's health (my writer friend is a retired nurse). Most books have some type of theme woven into the stories, and finding opportunity as a speaker related to that theme can help sell books.
           
Gayle on the 'Oregon' trail school speaking
Speaking Opportunities
Since the publication of my first book (a chapter book for children) eight years ago, I've been fortunate to speak in elementary and middle schools. I often talk about writing, but I also educate the students on pet care and animal welfare organizations (shelters and rescues). I've even woven  lessons people can learn from dogs into speaking engagements I've conducted for Christian women's groups and at senior citizens' centers, and I've been able to sell my books at these engagements. I donate part of my book sales to pet rescue organizations, helping audiences be part of such rescue work simply through purchasing my books, and therefore, having a connection, albeit indirectly, with such amazing and necessary work.

Nancy says: I've done a little speaking at local groups, libraries and schools. I don't tend to sell many books at these but it does get me know in the local community. 

Other Ways to Make Personal Connections
As one finds the online marketing pathways best for them, an author should not neglect the personal connections, trying different things to engage potential book buyers. Something I've considered in years past and just tried for the first time this year is craft fairs. These often cost a great deal of money, so I'd advise starting with smaller venues that cost less money, which is my current journey: small and inexpensive. I was able on one occasion to share a table with my romance-writer friend and split the vendor fee with her. Until I find more success with this type of outreach, I'll stay in the smaller market for awhile. You have to sell a lot of books to re-coup a $300 table/vendor fee, let alone the time and effort you put into the endeavor.
Nancy: My Craft Fair sales have been very successful during 2015 but my table costs aren't generally so high as you mention, since the venues are small market towns. The larger tourist markets around Aberdeenshire are very expensive, as you quote above Gayle, and it's very hard to recoup any profit from these. I've had most of my author talks booked as a result of being out there and talking to customers or interested people. 
           
Online Marketing
I'm still learning about online marketing. There is SO MUCH out there! Facebook, Twitter with its tweets and re-tweets, Instagram, blogs, author/reader websites, and much, much more. It's a meandering journey, but one worth learning about and experimenting with. I belong to several Facebook author and/or book groups, including children's books, book marketing, and others. Additionally, there are sites such as Goodreads, Authors Den, and so many others, through which an author can promote his/her work and connect with readers. A person can't belong to all of them, so one needs to review, experiment, and decide then focus on what seems to work. And, if that particular site or two doesn't seem to work well, try others. For me, I find Facebook enjoyable. I'm also on Twitter, but not consistently. I'm not an Instagram sort of gal. But I'm open to discovering and learning and therefore, finding new readers.
Nancy: I love Facebook, too, but find some other markets like Twitter hard to keep up but I need to 'do better' next year. 
           
Freelance Writing Expands Horizons
Another avenue I've found helpful, as well as a benefit financially, is freelance writing for various outlets, both online and in print. As my writing has blossomed in different areas, my name is more recognized and that helps a writer's business to grow. Because of my work with a local newspaper for the past three years and local a magazine for five years, one of my children's stories was selected to be serialized this fall in a weekly children's edition of the local newspaper. That led to increased school engagements and even book sales to a group of fourth graders, the books paid for by the school district – not a bad gig overall! I've guest-blogged such as today and on pet blogging sites and I blog regularly at Writing Wranglers & Warriors. I've written (and continue to write) pet columns for various print publications, as well as on my own website, and I've composed pieces that have nothing to do with pets, such as features on Vietnam veterans – those works help “get my name out there.” I'm not simply an author, I'm a writer. I may not work fulltime as a creative writer, but the various projects keep me busy … sometimes too busy to put in the time I should for marketing my books. But, I love the diversity, and I love the financial rewards that being a diversified writer (even part-time) brings.
Nancy: That is a brilliant way to keep your name rolling around out there. I've never yet tried magazines but that sounds like a plan for 2016. 
           
Writing and Marketing Take Persistence
           
Writing, whether that's focused on books, being a copy writer, or serving a freelance magazine and newspaper/content creator, takes work. Marketing takes work, too. It takes research, and it takes trial and error. And, marketing is not always fun – sometimes writing isn't either. But, the rewards of both are positive in the form of more book sales, interactions with readers, and making connections – and maybe even helping great causes, such as pet rescue/adoption and women's health issues.
           
Gayle's dogs - Mary and Cody
As the craft fairs and booksignings dwindle for 2015, I look forward to what 2016 will bring. I have a dog rescue book for kids in the works, and I have six school visits planned for January already. I also have magazine articles to write in the New Year. One of my 2016 goals as a writer, particularly as an author, is to continue exploring book marketing opportunities, and to implement what I learn with greater focus in both online and personal engagements. Outreach, education, and connection – important aspects of marketing myself/oneself as a writer.
           
May your endeavors to reach and connect with readers be successful in the New Year as you discover your writing and marketing niche(s), finding your audience along the way!

Nancy: Here's to your continued success Gayle in the coming year!  Seasons greetings to your whole family!

Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker who lives in Wyoming. She is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults and has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Additionally, she's contributed short stories to five Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. She speaks in schools and for civic and Christian women's groups, weaving topics together with lessons people can learn from pets. She is currently working on three books, including a pet rescue story for children. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.


Find Gayle on Facebook on the following pages:


She also has a Dog Devotions Facebook page and a Tips for Blind Dog Owners Facebook page, at which dog owners will find encouragement.

You can also find Gayle on Twitter @wyoauthor1.

Thank you for sharing with us today, Gayle. Best wishes to you for successful writing in 2016. 

Slainthe! 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Yuletide celebrations with Ailsa Abraham!

It's Tuesday... but it's also the turn of the year since the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere has already occurred earlier this morning

There's no better time than to invite my great friend Ailsa Abraham to share a promotional post today since she loves to celebrate Yultide. I've read both of the books below and highly recommend them if you've not yet got your own copies! 

I've also  had this lovely Yule image on the left popped into my inbox courtesy of Ailsa...





Elf yourself!


TWO DAYS ONLY!


YULE LOVE THIS IDEA!

We celebrate the Winter Solstice or Yule so as my gift to you readers I would like to present - for the two days of 22nd and 23rd December only.....Both books in the Alchemy series at 99p or cents each for an e-book. Come on, less than a cup of coffee? Lasts longer and keeps you awake better!

Click on the link below to see them on Amazon in YOUR country.

Plenty of five star reviews and the third one is on the way - grab them while they're this price!

WHAT DO YOU GET?
Book 1 ALCHEMY  A world without war? Professor Sawhele Fielding stumbles across an invention that would change the world; something so monumental, it could spell the end of environmental disaster and conflict. With the help of her father, a shadowy figure in the world of international banking, she begins to set into motion the biggest upheaval the planet has seen. But in a changed world, dark forces are threatening the fragile peace. Where modern technology is proving useless, old magic from a bygone era might just save the day. Adrian Oliver, expert in ancient religions is skeptical until faced with incontrovertible proof that ancient evil is abroad once again. How could a Utopian dream of free fuel and peaceful co-existence turn into a nightmare? Iamo, a priest of the Mother Goddess and Riga, a Black Shaman assassin captain, are thrown together - reluctantly at first - to face a threat that nobody could have imagined before "The Changes". ALCHEMY is the prequel to Shaman's Drum which features the adventures of Iamo and Riga through their world in the near future, where the established religions of our own days had been banned.

Book 2 SHAMAN'S DRUM  England in the near future. Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again. Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive. Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust? Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga's Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths. It's a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting.

 Happy reading everyone!

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

#Welcome Wednesday Meets Doris McCraw

Doris McCraw
On my #Welcome Wednesday slot I'm delighted to share a post by a blogging friend, Doris McCraw. She's also an author (writing as Angela Raines), speaker, historian and poet.

Many of Doris' posts on our common Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog are historical ones that I really enjoy reading and over the past couple of years, via Doris, I've learned a lot about Colorado, a US state I've not yet had the pleasure of visiting. Doris also writes excellent daily haiku poems, so click HERE if you enjoy a daily poetry reflection. 

She's here, today, to tell us a little about how her writing focus has come about, and about a habit that I also find very compulsive - that of research. My thanks go to her for the photos she's given me to share here today. 

Welcome Doris, it's great to have you visit.

Hello, My Name is Doris and I'm Addicted to Research

I have always loved history and enjoy reading diaries and other source material about the past. For the longest time, I would spend my Sunday afternoons at the local library going through the archives. Finally one of the librarians, who had become a good friend, said to me, “What good is all this research if you don't share it.”

Okay, I started sharing what I had found. I have done this in a myriad of ways. I have presented in the History Symposium that the library district does every summer. So far I have presented on the topics of the First Film Commissioner in Colorado, and the Cripple Creek Volcano. 

Cripple Creek
This year I will be presenting on my latest research focus, Women Doctors in Colorado prior to 1900. It is a topic near and dear to my heart. While they talk about how difficult it was to be a woman doctor, Colorado had many women doctors. The first was Alida Avery, in 1874, who had been at Vassar College and was brought to Colorado. Susan Anderson, who received her license in 1897, was the subject of the book “Doc Susie” and the inspiration for the television show “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
 
One of the women doctors in Doris' series 
Another way I share my research is through my short stories and novellas. My recent short story in the anthology “One Christmas Knight” had as an inspiration Hildegard of Bingen. This amazing woman has been a part of my ongoing research into powerful women of the past. I truly do believe if she had been a man, we would have heard of her long before we did.

Finally, I share the stories and pieces of information that I find fascinating on the various blogs I write for. So, if anyone says, “What good is research if you don't share it”, think of me and my addiction to the stories of the people from our amazing past.

I certainly appreciate what you share on the Wranglers Blog, Doris, and liked to read about women like the Julia E. Loomis on the above tombstone. In a way, some of my own research is also finding an outlet since I've been doing general historical talks this past year on my personal obsession of Roman Scotland.   

Author Page for Doris: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL 
Thank you for visiting, Doris. My best wishes for lots more time to enjoy your researching. 

Slainthe! 

Monday, 14 December 2015

#Monday Moments at Cody's Cabin by Gayle Irwin

My early #Monday Moments have dawned clear and crisp today in my part of north east Scotland- Jack Frost having visited now for a good 36 hours and it looks like he might intend to stay a bit longer!

It's a fine morning for a long winter's day walk - even better if I were to take that walk with a lovely little dog like the one described by my friend Gayle Irwin whose books touch the hearts of young and old! 

I've said recently that books make great stocking fillers and Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest is wonderful for younger readers and for older ones to keep handy, as well.

If you haven't yet read any of Gayle's inspirational books, then you can find out below what Gayle's passion is and what she's been currently dedicating her life to doing. She's had an incredibly busy 2015, but has taken time out to pay us a couple of visits before the year ends. Next week she'll be writing a bit more about how she goes about her authorly tasks. 

Welcome to my #Monday Moments blog slot, Gayle. Please tell us about the book you're featuring today...

Have you ever walked through a field of wildflowers and absorbed the intense fragrance or been awe-struck at the sight of the colorful meadow? Perhaps the fresh scent of a forest after a rain with the aroma of pine and clean air has made you stopped for a long, deep sniff. Has the happy chorus of bird song lingered in your ears long after the melody vanishes because the vibrancy struck a chord in your soul? All of these experiences can also delight children, but often kids aren’t exposed to nature on a regular basis. Yet, as American Catholic priest, author, culturalist and ecologist Dr. Thomas Berry said "Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives."

Cody sniffing out the forest
That's what the book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest written by Gayle M. Irwin attempts to do. This story takes children on a journey through a Rocky Mountain woodland as experienced by the eyes, ears, and nose of a cocker spaniel. Throughout Cody’s experiences of encountering wildlife, such as squirrels, turkeys, mule deer, and a black bear, children learn about the creatures of a pine forest as well as the trees and wildflowers that make up the ecosystem. They learn that the different senses (hearing, sight, smell, and touch) allow deeper, richer experiences with the outdoors as Cody uses his different senses to investigate and appreciate the natural world. Young readers will learn about nature not just through the story, but also with the inclusion of vocabulary words, nature tidbits, and outdoor activity pages in the book.

One reviewer, a former elementary teacher, says of Cody's Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest:
“Educators, including home schoolers, can make good use of this book. It gives children information about different animals and their habitats without them even realizing they are learning.”

Another reviewer, a current educator, says:
“Author Gayle Irwin entertains as well as educates her readers through Cody’s woodland experiences and through her encouragement to children to get outdoors with the provision of a nature journal at the end of the book. Teachers, parents, and anyone else who appreciates the beauty of the mountain world and wants to share that experience with children will love this book!”

Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest tells the tale of a cocker spaniel named Cody who explores a mountain woodland near the cabin he shares with his human family. Within the aspen leaves and pine branches, among the colorful wildflowers, and deep in the thorny thickets, Cody sees, smells, hears, and touches nature. Children will delight in Cody’s antics with squirrels and shiver as he encounters a black bear. Not simply an engaging story, Cody’s Cabin…. is also a strong teaching tool, encouraging children to explore natural areas using their own senses. Included in the book are activity pages to further engage children in outdoor experiences, nature tidbits to enlighten their minds, and vocabulary words to enhance their education, making this a great book for families to enjoy together and for private and public school teachers as well as for homeschoolers to enhance students’ outdoor and other educational experiences.



Gayle and Mary dog. 
Gayle M. Irwin writes inspirational dog books for children and adults and has had short stories published in five Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She enjoys sharing what people can learn from pets, including appreciating nature. A former humane and conservation educator, Gayle once lived next door to Yellowstone National Park, and she continues to visit and enjoy America’s natural splendors, including national parks, traveling as often as she can from her home in Wyoming. Gayle volunteers for various animal rescue organizations, to which she donates part of her book sale revenues; her pets, including Cody the cocker spaniel, are adopted from these great organizations. 

Learn more about Gayle and all of her inspirational dog books for children and adults at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Find Cody's Cabin... on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1QAyKCQ

And for those of us in the UK you'll find it HERE

Thank you for coming today to share Cody's Cabin, Gayle. My very best wishes for lots of sales of it as Christmas presents for some lucky people. 

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London by Jennifer Wilson

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London 
by Jennifer Wilson

I've just finished reading this very intriguing novel by Jennifer Wilson. Here are my thoughts on it: 

There’s a compulsion to read on through the daily dramas of the ghosts of the Tower to find out if Richard III’s mission in finding his nephews is successful as this amazingly different story unravels.
The cast of characters is impressive as different generations of ghosts intermingle on a daily basis: both with their spirit brethren and with the contemporary visitors who wander the Tower of London. As someone who visited the Tower in February 2015, in many ways thankful that I was too late to venture all inside, I’m quite glad to have read this novel in December 2015 and not before my visit. Though not superstitious, I might not have gone to the visit the Tower at all! The idea that my living world is also inhabited with a multitude of ghosts is something that’s pretty hard to reconcile with so all I’ll say is that I’m glad the author doesn’t go into too much detail about the ghosts of the Tower scaring the tourists who visit their haunts.
Keeping up with the ‘contemporary’ relationships of the ghosts is an engrossing entertainment and I’m glad to have read sufficient history to patch together the protagonists- some who were less than kind to each other in life.

When it comes, in this fairly quick read, the resolution of the quest seemed to me to be just a little abrupt- yet, I also couldn’t anticipate any other sort of ending. 

I'm now wondering if there is more to this version of Richard III's story and if it will continue in some other location.

An engrossing read- especially for anyone who enjoys the paranormal interspersed with history! 
  
Slainthe! 

Tim Taylor on Dictators in History- Fidel Castro

Sunday Surprises are in store for you!

I'm excited today to welcome back my friend and fellow Crooked Cat author - Tim Taylor. Tim's doing a mini - blog tour to publicise the fact that his excellent novel Revolution Day is currently on sale at 99p. I highly recommend it as a great read!

Tim's blog posts are centred on world-wide dictators and I'm very glad that he's chosen to send me on a post about Fidel Castro

That's because I could see that both Castro and Guevara were still highly revered by many people when I visited Cuba in 2008. 

Cuba, in November 2008, was the chosen venue for my daughter's wedding. Though we stayed a few days in Havana to begin our holiday, most of our 14 day trip was spent at the Sandals Hotel complex at Varadero on the northern coast of Cuba. From Varadero, we took as many tours as we could squeeze in to get a better understanding of the country. At that point in time Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, had recently become President. Although I learned a little of the current politics during my tours, I didn't have such a great overview as Tim's given us below! ( BTW- there's a fantastic Ernest Hemingway tour if anyone is interested in his writing)

I've failed to find any photos of Fidel Castro from that trip but I've added a couple taken at the Che Guevara Mausoleum complex at Santa Clara. If I remember correctly, the front facade of the photo below includes an inscription venerating the work that Fidel Castro did for Cuba. 
Santa Clara, Cuba

Welcome again, Tim. Now, over to you, to tell us about Fidel Castro and your character Carlos from Revolution Day....

Dictators in history: Fidel Castro

Hello Nancy, many thanks for hosting me today! 

My novel Revolution Day follows a year in the life of Latin American dictator Carlos Almanzor.  Carlos is a fictional figure and is not based upon any particular individual. Nevertheless, his life and career share many elements with those of real dictators and in some cases I consciously drew on historical events in writing the novel.

I thought it would be interesting to explore, in a series of blog posts, the lives of some real-life dictators, and to look for similarities and differences between their careers and characters and those of my own fictional dictator.  In the next of this series, I’m looking at one of the most colourful and well-known of all: Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born in 1926 in Biran, Cuba. His father, Angel, had become a wealthy sugar cane farmer, so the young Fidel was well-educated at boarding schools including the Jesuit Colegio de Belen and subsequently he studied law at the University of Havana.  Here he had his first introduction to radical politics, becoming a passionate opponent of US intervention in the Carribean and the corruption of the then Cuban government under president Ramon Grau.  Not yet a communist, he joined the Partido Ortodoxo, which advocated good government and social justice, and became increasingly active in often violent protests both in Cuba and abroad.  In 1948 he married wealthy student Mirta Diaz Balart, who gave birth to a son in 1949, and in 1950 he became a Doctor of Law.

It was the seizure of power by Fulgencio Batista in 1952 that transformed Castro into a fully-fledged revolutionary after a short legal career. He formed a group called “The Movement” and orchestrated an attack on the Moncada barracks near Santiago on 26 July 1952. This failed, leading to the arrest of most of the revolutionaries, including Castro himself, who was sent to prison for 15 years. He was released in 1955 after an amnesty, but still closely watched. He left the country, seeking support first in Mexico, where he first met Bolivian revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, and then in the US. Now divorced, he had fathered two more children with different women (later there would be six more, and a second marriage).
           
Castro returned to Cuba in November 1956, with 81 revolutionaries in the 60 foot yacht Granma and established a base in the heavily forested Sierra Mestra. Here he built up his forces and began to wage a guerilla war against the Batista government.  As Batista’s position weakened, his own troops began to defect and a general sent to destroy the guerillas instead agreed an armistice with Castro. Batista fled the country on 31 December 1958. A moderate lawyer was appointed as provisional President, and on 16 February 1959 Castro became the Prime Minister of Cuba. 

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fidel_Castro_-_MATS_Terminal_Washington_1959.jpg    

       
By now a committed Marxist, Castro did not admit this openly until 1961, in the hope of retaining the support of moderates. Nevertheless, he quickly implemented sweeping agrarian and social reforms. Much of the Cuban middle class fled the country and the economy rapidly deteriorated.  Anti-Castro groups also began guerilla attacks against his regime. In response, Castro dealt ruthlessly with counter-revolutionaries, executing many, and suppressed dissent.
           
Though Castro briefly courted the US after the revolution, even meeting (then vice-President) Nixon, the US-Cuban relationship quickly took on the character of enmity and mutual contempt that it retained for decades, and the regime thereafter depended heavily upon support from Soviet Russia.  Two crises soon ensued: the Bay of Pigs incident in 1961, where US-backed Cuban exiles tried unsucessfully to invade Cuba, and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, a stand-off between the superpowers over Russian nuclear missiles based in Cuba – perhaps the incident which came closest to starting a nuclear war. 

In subsequent decades Castro devoted much of his energy to supporting revolutionary movements elsewhere in Latin America and particularly in Africa; despite his close links to the Warsaw Pact he was very active in the Non-Aligned movement and later embraced environmentalism. While Castro thus played a high-profile role on the world stage, in Cuba itself, the combination of hard-line socialist policies (such as the closure of all privately-owned businesses in 1968) and the hostility of the US and other potential trade partners left the economy weak and dependent upon Soviet support. When that support was no longer on offer as the Soviet era came to an end, the Cuban economy shrank by 40% and Castro was forced to introduce some economic liberalisation and seek better relations with the west, whilst also forging relationships with emerging socialist governments in Latin America. 

Ultimately, Castro was a great survivor, weathering many storms and reputedly more than 600 assassination attempts to retain power into his eighties, when he handed over the Presidency to his younger brother Raul in 2008.  

Castro is a good illustration of the fact that the moral landscape in which dictators operate is often far from clear cut. Undoubtedly sincere in his political beliefs, he did many things to improve the lot of the poorer people of Cuba – for example, in raising literacy rates. Yet the rigidity of his ideology led to economic problems, and instilled in him a ruthless streak that paid little regard to democracy or human rights, leading many Cubans to flee their country. 

Carlos and Castro. Like Castro, Carlos was a lawyer by training and was a campaigning lawyer in his early career. Politically he was originally on the left, a socialist but never, unlike Castro (and several of his own close associates) a Marxist. He has none of the ideological zeal that led Castro to promote revolution in other countries. Nevertheless, like Castro he would enjoy a close relationship with the Soviet Union after his rise to power – and like Cuba his country would suffer economic collapse as a result of the over-zealous imposition of socialist reforms. Unlike Castro, however, Carlos responds to this pragmatically, re-introducing capitalism and even seeking rapprochement with the US (albeit temporarily – they are later re-installed as the arch-enemy). 
           
In personality, Carlos differs from Fidel in many ways: though sharing some of his abilities as an orator he is a less charismatic, more inward-looking man, not sharing Castro’s penchants for sport and womanising.  The pair do share one important characteristic in common, though: an unshakeable belief that they alone understand the true way forward for their countries, and therefore must exercise total control over them. As a result, from idealistic beginnings, both men come to embrace autocracy and repression.  Both are thus morally ambiguous characters: neither wholly good nor wholly bad. 

Many thanks for hosting me, Nancy.  If your readers found this post interesting, they might like to know that Revolution Day is currently on special offer for Christmas at 99p/$0.99! 

Information about the book and excerpts can be found on the Revolution Day page on my website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf.
 
Other Links: 


Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing. 

Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and daughter and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

Thank you for visiting today, Tim and for such an excellent post. My very best wishes to you with sales for Revolution Day.

Che Guevara Mausoleum, Santa  Clara, Cuba

Slainthe! 


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Arch of Severus in Rome

The Arch of Severus - Calude Lorrain 1636
One of these days I will go to Rome and view all of the wonderful ancient splendours I’m writing about. By then, I will have acquired a better camera so that I can take immensely impressive photographs of all of the magnificent edifices in Rome that are lasting legacies. 

Equally lovely would be to visit the galleries across the world which house any reference to the antiquities found in Rome. 
Jaques Chereau 1750

Some of the paintings displayed today I have probably already viewed during visits to places like the Louvre, or the Uffizi Gallery, but as I didn't know as much about the history of Rome as I do now, I would have viewed them with appreciation but not for their significance in my present researches. 

The interpretation of what was available for the artist to see is intriguing. I haven't done enough research to know whether all of the artists displayed here today actually sat in place at the Forum to do the initial sketches for these amazing paintings...though I imagine they all did. 
 
Constantin Hansen 1846
The Roman Emperor Severus was well known for his ferociousness in battle, and during his reign as emperor, but he is also famous for the lasting legacies in building works still available to see in parts of the Empire.

His triple triumphal arch on the Via Sacra in the Forum of Rome is a magnificent example of how such an emperor left his stamp for all to view. The spectacular structure with its three arches is a magnificent testimony to his prowess, and that of his sons, in battle against the enemies of Rome.


Wikimedia Commons Contemporary photograph 

Built in AD 203, it glorified the defeats in battle against the Parthians, the inhabitants of what is largely modern day Iran—though the Roman Empire never completely held that territory. The inscriptions claim that Emperor Severus and his sons, Caracalla and Geta, expanded the empire for the people of Rome.  

Wikimedia Commons

Built of travertine, a kind of limestone, and faced with white grained marble from Proconnesus the arch is a marvel of descriptive sculpture. Around the surface are battle scenes, deities, other victories and seasonal images. In four huge panels there’s something akin to a time capsule of events though the detail is very worn in places to be almost indiscernible. Scenes are said to describe the army marching off from their camp; forming up for a battle where Septimius Severus speaks before his troops, a battle scene and the liberation of Nisibis. Siege machines are shown attacking the city of Edessa; a group of Parthians surrender to Septimius Severus; there’s a war council within a fortified camp, and the launch of a new campaign.

I really want to admire what is left to see of the Arch of Severus. 
(Some of the information  via http://www.ancient.eu/article/502/  )

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RomanForum_c1750JacquesChereau.jpg

Slainthe!




Monday, 7 December 2015

Monday Moments with Angela Raines/Doris McCraw

Doris McCraw
My Monday Moments slot features the author- Angela Raines 
- who is also a very talented  lady I know better as fellow blogger Doris McCraw. 

I recently did a short review on one of her stories - Home For His Heart - and today, you'll see more of her work.

At my regular Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog, I love to read about Doris' updates on her excellent research into the earliest female doctors of Colorado. If you want to read more of that wonderful writing you can access it via the archives on the wranglers blog  HERE and she also pens excellent poems- particularly haiku on her Five Seven Five blog.

And today, you'll see that as well as writing Western Romances she also writes in the Medieval Era.

Writing as Angela Raines, she has 4 stories available to buy now, 2 of which are within anthologies.

The 2 novels by Angela Raines are:

Clara Cross ran away as a young girl after the suspicious deaths of her parents, and has spent the last nine years trying to find safety from a man she had reason to fear. Finally landing in the small town of Agate Gulch in the high Colorado mountains, she believes she may have found a safe home at last, and can send for the brother she had to leave behind. Sam Tower is the man she loves—but would he ever give her a second glance? When Clara’s past catches up with her, her survival depends on her own strength and courage, as well as Sam’s. 

Sam Tower runs on a ranch with his friend, Paul Ward, near Agate Gulch. Sam has been running from the past since the loss of his family, and the injury he received as a fife and drum boy in the Civil War. Clara is everything he admires and loves—but she is too good a person for him. When Clara is kidnapped, Sam begins a journey of discovery and finds what he’s always wanted—a HOME FOR HIS HEART.


Buy HOME FOR HIS HEART


Given a chance at freedom for a crime he didn't commit, Drew Carson must kill for his pardon. Taken to a lush valley where a beautiful woman lives, Luke, Drew's "rescuer", lets him know that the woman is his target--kill her, and he's a free man. But there's something strange about the valley. Time stands still, and nothing is as it seems. Will Drew trade murder for love?

Buy Angel of Salvation Valley





And the Anthologies are:

One Christmas Knight is on my TBR list, sitting waiting in my kindle queue.

Come join us around the Yuletide fire in a comfortable chair with a flagon of ale as we celebrate the upcoming holiday season with ONE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT! This wonderful collection of Christmas stories from the medieval time period will take hold of your imagination and won’t let go until long after you’ve turned the very last page.

You’ll be entranced with these seven tales of knights and their ladies from some of today’s top medieval authors, as well as some rising stars in this up-and-coming genre.

Deborah Macgillivray, Lindsay Townsend, Keena Kincaid, Livia J. Washburn, Tanya Hanson, Angela Raines, and C. Marie Bowen offer you some of the best medieval Christmas stories written, filled with romance and intrigue, laced with holiday traditions and celebrations of this rich era.

Prairie Rose Publications is proud to introduce yet another wonderful collection of Christmas tales for your reading pleasure. ONE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT is sure to bring you hours of enjoyment as you read on to find out how these knights and ladies will find their very own "happily-ever-after" endings at this very best time of year—Christmas!

Buy One Christmas Knight

When the Fourth of July rolls around, it’s time for a good, old-fashioned, rip-roaring COWBOY CELEBRATION! And what could be better on this steaming hot holiday than to relax with a book bursting with stories about — AHEM — even hotter cowboys and their feisty ladies? A COWBOY CELEBRATION pops and sizzles with seven colorful, sensuous stories by some of PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS — best authors. As an added bonus, each story mentions a tasty picnic dish (with recipes included!) for your next COWBOY CELEBRATION! Lorrie Farrelly — The Longest Way Home — Maddie, an orphan, is torn when her father shows up to reclaim her from her adoptive mother. Meg Mims — Winner Takes All — Cora Peterson's plan to beat her rival at a picnic auction brings about a surprising end and an unexpected love... Julia Daniels —For the Love of Grace — Poppy travels west to find her sister—but her own happily-ever-after awaits, as well. Beverly Wells —Brighter Tomorrows — Callie trusts no man. Chase Matlock is fearful to love again. He gets his man, she gets her adventure, and together they find it all. Agnes Alexander — Second Chance at Love — A temporary living arrangement might lead to something else when love enters the mix. Angela Raines — Never Had a Chance — How can a deadly trick bring two people the love they didn't know they needed? Linda Carroll-Bradd — Forged by Fire — Can a wounded soul find solace in the attentions from a cook who nurtures through her culinary creations?


More about Angela/Doris:
Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.

A photographer, Doris also writes haiku and combines them with her photography.
In here spare time she writes/casts and performs with a local murder mystery company.

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL
Actor and Casting Director for
 Red Herring Productions.
 www.redherringproductions.com
 
 
 Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com
 Blog: http://renawomyn.blogspot.com/ 
 Web: http://www.dorismccraw.net

Thank you for featuring here, today, Doris and I wish you the very best for all of your writing and artistic projects! 

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Home For His Heart by Angela Raines

Sunny Sunday wishes to you!

Yes, in my part of the world it actually is sunny this morning, with only a little of the wind lingering from Storm Desmond. 

I've been doing a lot of housekeeping of my kindle books this morning and find that I'm still behind with posting of some book reviews. I've a lot of virtual friends via Facebook, blogs and other author groups and when possible I try to read their work and post a short comment on it.

This morning's reflections are on a sweet 'Western' historical romance written by a blogging friend. I hadn't read what I'd call 'Western/Cowboy' romances for a while so it was a quick and pleasant read.

It reminded me of the romances I used to sneak a read of when I babysat as a teenager ( I was 15). The neighbour I babysat for was a devotee of Mills and Boon romances which arrived via the postal service every month. This was at a time when the only book club I'd ever heard of was The Reader's Digest so sneaking a read of her novels was quite daring and quite different from the books I was borrowing from the public, or school, library. 

The little boy was about 3 and actually needed no effort to babysit. He was always in bed by 8 p.m. on the Friday nights that I was there and he was asleep pretty well immediately. That meant a good few hours of reading before the parents came home somewhere between half past eleven and midnight. I could easily romp through a Mills and Boon in about 2 hours, so even if little Steven woke up, I still finished a novel in an evening sit. I'm pretty sure my neighbour knew what I was doing but she never ever said anything and her books were always left handy in a wooden newspaper storage rack near the fireside. If there was nothing in there that I hadn't read, it wasn't a disaster because I always went armed with a book of my own and my knitting. Back in the mid 1960s television transmission was over by a little after 10.30 p.m. so a book was an absolute necessity!  

So Home For His Heart... Here's what I've posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

This is an enjoyable novel set in a time when it must have been a very hard life for many who were new to prairie life. Women setting themselves up in business can’t have been all that common- not when doing it pretty well all alone. For reasons of escaping her turbulent past that’s what Clara, the main female character, needs to do and she does it well even keeping up a deception that’s been very hard to continue with- till that past catches up with her. 
The main male character, Sam, has lots of issues to overcome before he can persuade Clara she really is the woman to make both of their futures the best possible. 
This is a heart-warming romance with characters full of flaws, though some show that they can overcome that.  






Slainthe!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

High Dependency and... crossing those bridges - a partial reblog

Hello and Happy Saturday to you! 

Today, I'm over at my 'every second Saturday' post at Writing Wranglers & Warriors Blog but there's a slightly different version of it RE-BLOGGED below. 

High dependency and what that can mean!

I’ve no doubt that each reader seeing the title of this post will immediately have some particular thought in mind…and that’s why I’ve specially chosen this title, today. This has been a tough week when I feel huge decisions have been made over which I have personally been unable to do anything about, and nor has my country of Scotland. When I make a trip in my own car, I know where I'm going, how I'll get there and why I'm headed that way- with some sort of final strategy in mind as a result. I'm feeling very dependent this week on the Westminster Government making better plans than I've so far heard about with regard to the recent Foreign policy.  

Someone might think of high dependency in terms of a patient needing the highest level of 24-hour nursing care in a dedicated unit – i.e. the patient’s life being dependent on a variety of machines and procedures which may, or may not, involve drug therapies. 

Another may think of people who are totally dependent on daily life prolonging drug use i.e. controlled drug use for many conditions and needs over a 24 hour time period. 

Yet, others may immediately think of the misuse of mainly Class A drugs and what the ramifications are for those individuals who choose to dabble with drugs for recreational reasons, and who afterwards become totally dependent on them.

And we can’t forget our dependence on basic daily needs of food (including essential water), warmth and shelter- a combination of essentials that not all human beings across the planet have on a daily basis. Add to that list if you wish, but computers and mobile phones don't quite qualify. 

Though... Those are only a few things that we depend on but there are many others according to our lifestyles that we grow so used to them that we become dependent on them.

We can become very dependent on:
  • The infrastructure in our local environment. 
  • Petrol and diesel to fuel our vehicles
  • Oil, natural gas, electricity and nuclear energy to power our heating and cooking systems. 
I’m delighted to applaud those who have dependency on electricity that’s powered by natural resources like wind, water, wave and solar energies. It hits us really hard when there’s a disruption to those supplies that we’ve become dependent on. And there can be many reasons for areas of the world to find that their supplies are no longer constantly available.
  • We depend on our transport systems running smoothly- our trains and planes and coaches ‘well lubricated’ and running to time for daily commutes- and our roads and bridges available to be driven on.

 We have lately developed something of a problem in Scotland. With around 5.4 million inhabitants, our daily commuting issues are small potatoes compared to larger countries around the world. Yet, when something snarls up the system, then the ramifications can be incredibly devastating to those who are dependent daily commuters. Most Scottish commuters are centred around the main cities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. Those who use the roads systems are driving across the cities or are approaching from the main compass points via the motorways or dual carriageways. Sometimes the commutes involve crossing bridges for those who live further away from their place of work in the city.
 
Forth Road and Railway Bridges- Wikimedia Commons
Since a few days ago, Edinburgh has a major headache to work through. Many of those who commute into Edinburgh, some 70, 000 vehicles, cross the River Forth by the Forth Road bridge. Sadly for them a structural defect has been flagged up during routine testing of the steel structure and supports. This has meant that the Forth Road Bridge will be closed for some time, possibly not to be re-opened before New Year. That kind of measure means total disaster for the highly dependent users of the bridge.


At this time of year the bridge is sometimes closed to high sided vehicles sue to thigh winds and sometimes snow closes the bridge for a short time, but to be closed for a long duration will mean massive knock-on effects. Those road users can travel across country to the Kincardine Bridge which in miles isn’t actually all that far away but resorting to use it will cause massive tailbacks on that already very busy bridge during commuting times.

Will the ferries become much busier as they absorb extra traffic? The answer is a decided NO because there are NO operating ferries across the river Forth. The tourist foot passenger ferries which ply the waters of the forth  are no good for vehicular transport. 

The latest news reports do indicate that Scottish Government is addressing the situation as best it can and have organised some coping strategies with regard to trains, buses etc. 

As I write this post, I can’t help but think of when I was writing The Taexali Game, my time travel novel for YA /Teens. I was imagining the Ancient Roman armies of Emperor Severus (approximately 30-40,000 men) forging their pathway northwards to my part of Aberdeenshire back in AD 210. To get there from Eboracum (York, England) they used the established supply forts in northern England and southern Scotland to cater to their needs. Historians have postulated that some of those Roman troops may have crossed the River Forth near the site where the current damaged Forth Road Bridge is situated ( a Severan Roman coin find indicating a pontoon bridge could indicate this) and nearby Crammond was a site of Roman occupation. 

Soldiers using a Pontoon Bridge,  from Trajan's Column - Wikimedia Commons
The local Celtic Votadini tribe built no bridges (at least none that we know of), so crossing the Uisge For - lower River Forth- by the Romans would have been by creating makeshift pontoon bridges.

Pontoon bridges made from lashed-together flat bottomed boats were constructions the ancient Roman armies used throughout the Roman Empire when they had a need to cross over water to get to their final destination more quickly than by a detour across the land.
If the Romans did construct pontoon bridges to cross the Forth, then the crossing wouldn't have been immediate but they were such a disciplined entity that the crossing would not have been delayed for any longer than necessary.

Check out my Pinterest Board on Roman Research to see some images of Pontoon Bridges.

What is about to happen to the Forth Road Bridge will be a daily case of "Watch this space!" on the news bulletins. I expect to also hear daily bulletins about the current situation in Syria and other war-torn terrorist threatened world destinations.

Sadly, there are many kinds of bridges to cross across the world to make it a safer place.
ps I've just seen a comment on Twitter to lighten up my slightly gloomy and reflective post today and to show that people can overcome adversity when they want to! ;-) 

"To all Edinburgh citizens laughing at Fifers being cut off from you, the Amazon Warehouse is on our side. Merry Christmas!"  ( Fifers= people of Fife who live north of the River Forth)

If you've time, and this link works, you'll see more humorous responses!  http://www.forth1.com/local/social-media-responds-to-the-closure-of-the-forth-road-bridge-in-the-best-way-possible/
More info on The Forth Railway and Road Bridges, and other potential crossing methods here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31712005
Apart from your basic daily needs what do you think you are also dependent on?
Enjoy your weekend. 
Slainthe!