Saturday, 22 April 2017

Interview time for me!

Happy Saturday to you!

This past week has vanished in a flurry of house and garden massive tidy-ups. Thorough spring cleaning (shampooing) of carpets has taken me ages but at least when I've sat down at my keyboard I now know those tasks won't be nagging at my shoulder.

Just for something different,I'm off today to be interviewed at the lovely Pam Lecky's 'Vintage Treasures' blog. If you don't know all about me yet, now's your chance! Join us HERE

Having cut my lawn grass for the first proper cut of the year this morning, I've had lunch so I'm now off to do some sprucing up of the grand children's climbing frame. A quick wipe down to remove the yucky bird poop, followed by a swift sanding down of the wood then a couple of coats of wood preserver/varnish. How long will that take me? Mmm...probably more than the hours left of this afternoon so my new writing will have to be much later.

I'm also now fine tuning the preparations for a big party next weekend for someone near and dear who is now - can I believe it? - 70!

Wishing you a fine weekend.

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

My# Heidelberg

Good Morning!

If you are celebrating Easter Sunday have fun...and if you're not, have fun as well! 

I'm out visiting one of my Crooked Cat author friend's blog this Sunday morning. Jennifer C. Wilson has a Sunday theme called 'Sunday Sojourns'. I've popped in before and talked about a little stroll to Bennachie with regard to all of the Ancient Romans who visited its slopes a couple of thousand years ago- those in My Celtic Fervour Series.

Today, I'm talking about the fabulous little city of Heidelberg in Germany, a place I love to visit. It's one of the settings that I've used in Topaz Eyes, my contemporary mystery thriller.

Hop over to Jennifer's blog HERE and read what I love about Heidelberg and why I chose that location.

***
On another note the Crooked Cat Easter Sale continues.

All of my Crooked Cat titles are 99p/99c across the Amazon network for one more day 14th -17th April.

I did sell some copies of Topaz Eyes on Friday during my 'Booksends' promotion but I don't think they nearly paid for my outgoings. I'm off to ask my publisher for some sales figures, if it's not too soon to work them out. Updates later on that.

Slainthe! 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

No time? Buy now, read later!

Happy Saturday to all!

For some it's Easter Saturday and for others it can be just as special. especially if you're a reader. The Crooked Cat Books Easter #SALE continues with all of my CC titles reduced to 99p/99c equivalent across the Amazon network.  (Clink that link to see them)

Even if you've no time to read them just now, it's a great time to pick up a bargain.

For this event, I took the plunge and paid a whack of my hard earned profits from my physical paperback sales at my 2016 Craft Fair Venues. I'd not heard of a book promotions outfit named 'Booksends' but I thought I'd try it. Approx. 100 dollars is out of my budget for all of my CC titles but I decided to throw the cash at Topaz Eyes and see how it would fare. I paid for a one day slot where 'Booksends' send the information and links for Topaz Eyes at the reduced price of 99p/99c to their huge email list of readers who are nominally interested in reading particular genre categories like mystery thrillers.

The 'Booksends' email went out on the 14th April so as I write this at almost 10 a.m. UK time the west coast of America are only just settling down to bed. I'm hoping that there will be a continued trickle of sales of Topaz Eyes over the next 2 days with readers taking a chance that the book will still be at the reduced price. It should be 99p/99c till Monday morning(17th). Fingers crossed.

It will be amazing if the feature runs into profit since it was quite an expensive add for me. However, if it boosts the novel on the Amazon charts it might be picked up by other readers in some way I don't understand, or know of, but I'm told a meteoric rise in Amazon charts can trigger lots of mysteries!

So far I've sold some copies during my 14th April but it'll take a lot more to cover my costs. C'est la vie. 

Gaining more readers is the ticket and if they like my writing they will hopefully try my other novels.

Slainthe! 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Crooked Cat did it again!

Good Morning!

For some people it's their religious Good Friday

...and for others it's also a good Friday because the Crooked Cat Books SALE begins for the next 3 days 14th-17th April, 2017!

Crooked Cat Books has designed this fabulous poster for me to share.

All of my Crooked Cat Published books are available at 99p/ 99c across the Amazon network.


This link HERE  
should take you to my Amazon Author page where you can click through to my novels - or you can use the sidebar on the blog.

You'll also find one of my rare short stories available #FREE in -Crooked Cats' Tales

If you'd like a change from my contemporary or historical novels then Crooked Cat Books publish an amazing array of genres. You can use this link HERE to browse through their titles available on Amazon. There has to be something you'll love and get it at a bargain, even if you're not able to read them just now.

Enjoy! Happy reading...

Slainthe! 


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Mellow yellow and all that...

Tuesday Trials.
What do you do when your ideas seem thin on the ground?

This afternoon was not as productive as I wanted with my writing and when that happens I need a distraction. The day was cloudy but it wasn't supposed to rain (according to local weather reports) so I decided to do a spot of necessary weeding around and about.

However, it seems that procrastinating extends beyond a new writing hiatus because the minute I was outside I thought it would be a great idea to have a daffodil count.

By that I don't mean count every single daffodil around the garden but the types of daffodil. Once upon a twenty or so years ago my garden probably had about 15 different daffodil/ narcissi types of bulbs. Over time many had played out their best shows and didn't reappear. I've added new ones but quite a few types were in the back garden which became my daughter's house back in 2015.


Today's count indicated a measly half dozen but they're looking great for all that.

As I clicked the shutter here and there it was evident that not all that was yellow was daffodils.

I've been trying to control the spread of yellow aconites but sometimes those cute little monsters just pop up everywhere.

And the dandelions! Oh, i know I ought to let them grow because it's great for wildlife but when it comes down to the amount of garden time available to me I'm afraid the pinching out wins over the ecological reasons for keeping the blighters. As soon as my granddaughter and grandson see dandelion heads they are jumping with joy and blowing the dandelion clocks all over the place. Hence more daffodils this year. AKA Lady Macbeth (?) I'm afraid it was a case of "Out, Out, damned spots..."

Two hours later I'm back at the keyboard but I have got an idea for a new scene in current writing so...after I post some of today's photos onto my Pinterest board I'll be back to that other real job.


Not all the current garden colour is yellow.


Slainthe! 


Monday, 10 April 2017

New Look Blog!

Monday Moments!

I've had a few of them today already but the one worth mentioning is my brand new blog header.

It's near impossible to get a really appropriate Ancient Celtic / Iron Ages Scotland image that I like and is a good branding for my writing.

I recently used an image of the Arch of Titus in Rome but it's time for a change. I've settled for the lovely bright image above and hope you like it as much as I do.

I acquire the use of most of my images from www.123rf.com and thank them for this one.

Now, after that slight dalliance to make my new blog header, I'm off to add a bit more to my current work in progress... since my allocated writing slot yesterday, for new writing, was eaten into by guest post writing instead.

Slainthe! 








Friday, 7 April 2017

Been quiet of late

Hello! Can it be #Friday again?

My blog posting has been sparse for a variety of reasons of late.

I've been involved in local politics, delivering some campaign information to a few hundred households, since Scotland has local elections coming up on the 4th May, My reading pace may be slowing down, or it may just be that I'm reading more daily newspapers and flagged up political articles but they are taking up an enjoyable chunk of my mornings. Reading about the damages that BREXIT from the E U will have on Scotland in general, and the potential of a future Scottish referendum, are very important to me just now. I don't often include politics to posts on this blog but it's been my desire to have an Independent Scotland for many years now and it may be that in the near future there are more mentions!

I've been entertaining some relatives during this last week and planning for a special joint 70th birthday party at the end of April (my OH and my B_I-L). Even more time will be vanishing in the coming weeks for that exciting event!

All of the above means my writing has been on hold but I did notice that my contemporary mystery - TOPAZ EYES - has a 10th 5* review on Amazon UK. It is lovely to note that the lady who posted it had picked up her copy and read it after my last author presentation in Aberdeen, Scotland in February. I look forward to finding out if she does buy more of my work and hopefully if so, she will post another review.

It's short but is certainly does the trick!

"I meet the Author who talk about her books. Topaz Eyes is a very good read and will follow on with more books from Nancy Jardine."


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Topaz-Eyes-romantic-Nancy-Jardine-ebook/dp/B00AHIKEEC/



Meanwhile, I'm off to prepare my table presentation for my first FOCUS Craft Fair this year which takes place tomorrow in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. I've a few new things to update. 

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Out visiting today!

Hello and a Happy Sunday to you! 

As well as being spoiled on  'Mother's Day' I'm also out blog posting. You'll find me over at the One Stop Fiction Readers Blog discussing locations used in my contemporary novels and I'm also sharing a little secret about Topaz Eyes.



Click HERE to read the post.

Slainthe!

Monday, 20 March 2017

5*stars for The Taexali Game!

Hello again. It's still a Mad Monday for me but in a very happy way!

As promised, the adjudicator of the SAW (Scottish Association of Writers) Award for the Barbara Hammond Trophy, where The Taexali Game was awarded 2nd place, has posted a superb 5* review on Amazon.  
  

Here's what she has to say...

"This combination of fantasy and history, linked by an interactive computer game, is sure to appeal to a wide audience. The geographical location of the story is used well in this tale of the attempts of the Romans to subjugate the peoples of the North and though there is little historical evidence of events, the writer skilfully creates a most believable world.
The characters are well-drawn and the action is fast-paced as befits the idea of a computer game. As Aran, Fianna and Bruce attempt to complete the tasks set by Callum, we are swept back to a time far more dangerous than our own and are able to explore the risks of time travel from the comfort of an armchair.
This is the first in a series and the underlying premise of a particular kind of time travel promises well for future stories."


My thanks to Myra Duffy, (aka the amazon customer)  who has posted this review.

Now I need to persuade a few more people (like thousands of) to try it out - 
The Taexali Game might be what you'd like to read, as well! 

Slainthe!  

2nd place - Conference Surprise!

Monday Madness is here again!

Now why is this Monday any more hectic than the usual? It would be mainly because I've got an extra piece of blog posting to fit in today. I also need to play domestic catch up after having been away for a long weekend.

My reason for being away was to attend my FIRST EVER  writers conference. I hopped into the car last Friday lunchtime and drove the 140 miles or so to get to Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, Scotland. The Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) conference was being held at the Westerwood Hotel, a very nicely appointed conference/leisure facility.

I wasn't attending the Friday evening session which kicked off the conference because I was staying with my relatives who live approximately a mile and a half from the hotel. That proved to be an inadvertent mistake because I missed hearing Myra Duffy, the adjudicator of the Barbara Hammond Trophy competition giving her updates on Friday evening. Unbeknown to me at the time, my time travel novel was placed second = and I missed the public announcement.

All of the SAW awards are only disclosed at the conference (some adjudicator updates are Friday night and some first thing Saturday morning) many of which are entered using pseudonyms to promote fairness during the selection/reading and finalising processes. This means that no-one knows in advance if they are a competition winner or are 'runner-ups'- but I din't know all of that till the Saturday when it was too late!

The Barbara Hammond Trophy for Best Self Published Novel is a fairly new award from the Scottish Association of Writers.

When I joined SAW a couple of years ago, I looked at their competition listings which are very extensive. Many of them are for poetry and short stories but there were a couple for full length novels, and ones for fiction for younger readers.

In autumn of 2016, I decided that my self-published time travel novel The Taexali Game fit the self-published criteria for the Barbara Hammond Trophy so I sent off my submission. Then I forgot about it till just before the 2017 conference. Since I found no updates anywhere to tell me who won, I reckoned that I hadn't been successful.

On arrival at the hotel I knew none of the sea of faces surrounding me, the conference being a large one with hundreds of attendees. However, I'd  'virtually' met a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, Rosemary Gemmell, and we met during the extremely brief coffee session before the first workshops. After greeting each other her words made no sense to me in the throng. I had to make sure to talk to a woman named Myra Duffy who particularly wanted to speak to me. The first opportunity came at lunch time. To my great surprise she commended my novel highly, told me she had really enjoyed it and had had a very difficult time choosing which novel should be placed first. She had ultimately chosen another novel to be first and placed The Taexali Game second.

Her adjudicatory comments on The Taexali Game are exceptionally well received by me and I look forward to the reviews she has promised to place on Amazon.

The conference workshops I attended were varied and entertaining and I had a thoroughly good day. The hotel is to be recommended for excellent decor, food and friendly service. I'm pretty sure that I'll probably do the whole '3 day ' conference next year.

Now to get on with more writing!

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mid March Madness!

Good Afternoon!

It's the Ides of March, the 15th, and it's always a great day for me since it's my birthday. I've been given some fabulous gifts so I'm returning the favour to my readers.

As I indicated in my recent spring newsletter, I have some special gifts for you on this day of Mid March Madness.



The Taexali Gamemy historical time travel adventure for early teens, is now available on Amazon at the seriously reduced price of  99p/ 99c/ 0.99 euros so now's a fantastic time to hope on over and get your bargain copy HERE!





And Here's a Mid March Madness 
FREE **competition** for you!




 My WINNER will receive a signed copy of one of the above contemporary romantic mysteries.

THE RULES are simpleTo WIN:
  • Tell me which of the covers shown above that you prefer and why.
  • Tell me which of the titles you think you would like to read and why. 
Please leave your answers in the comments section below on this blog to ENTER. Please also make sure I have a way of contacting you, if you are my winner. (e.g email address)

**Competition** open till Midnight Sunday 19th March 2017. (UK time) 

My winner will have the opportunity to choose which copy they would like to be personally signed for them. (worldwide entry)


To help you make up your mind...   Here are the blurbs for each contemporary novel.

Monogamy Twist When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he's never heard of— with quirky conditions attached—it’s a mystery he wants to see resolved immediately. But there’s a catch: he needs a woman to meet his needs, though just how far will he have to go to persuade her? 

The job of researching Greywood Hall and its fantastic contents is enticing, but can Rhia Ashton see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while. 
But neither expect love to enter the game.

Take Me Now Patience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when he finds himself and his business mysteriously under attack. He needs a general factotum immediately— someone with exceptionally varied skills who can ferry him around, help him keep his business running smoothly and be available to him 24/7. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who arrives at his Scottish island castle for an interview to be so competent…or so incredibly attractive. 

Aela Cameron’s range of talents is perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. She loves transporting him all over the globe, adores his restored Scottish island castle, and is thrilled with his hectic lifestyle. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings – yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract? 
Can Nairn persuade Aela she’s the woman for the long haul as the mystery is solved?


Topaz Eyes Edinburgh lass, Keira Drummond, becomes entangled in the search for a hoard of exceptional jewels last seen in Amsterdam, in 1910. Pairing up with Teun Zeger to find the once Mughal owned collection, the trail leads from Heidelberg to Vienna, to Minnesota and to Edinburgh. Deadly dangers dog their progress as they uncover the ultimate mystery item.

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




Good luck! 
*Please consider leaving a short review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or in an email to me, if you read any of my novels. 
Slainthe! 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Out guest posting today!

What a Monday it's been! 

I don't know how I forgot to post this earlier but I've been out visiting Katy Johnson today giving her some ideas of what it was like when I was first published.

She's been doing a series of 'tips to help before and after your story is published'. I really was unprepared back in 2011 when I got my first publishing contract but with some help and guidance that needn't be the case for someone in 2017.

You can find my guest post HERE.

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Yet another novel recently read!

Sunday review catch up continues! 

This time it's called Thunder Moon by Joanne Mallory.

Thunder Moon - a beautiful tale of magic and love

What a fabulous cover from Crooked Cat!

This was a quick, easy-read romance with a touch of the paranormal. If you like to read a short novella this might be for you, especially if you love a sea side setting that’s atmospheric. I tend to feel short changed by short books but this was just enough to keep my interest throughout. 

The romantic relationship between Marc and Thea progresses smoothly and predictably and I feel able to guess at who might be in for a new relationship in the coming books. Because the story is very short, I felt that Marc’s initial personal issues weren’t fully explained, and neither was his ‘extra’ ability developed, though he’s a lovely character: similarly, with Thea. 

Maybe there will be more of the witchery in the next books which I personally hope will be longer reads.     The question now is who will be featured in Book 2? 


Slainthe! 

Delving deep into the legend

Never On Saturday by Sue Barnard 

Delving deep into the legend

If you like a short, easy read novella that nudges into the paranormal then I can recommend Never On Saturday as being something different!

I’ve really enjoyed Sue Barnard’s work, appreciate the excellence of her writing and this new novel meets those high standards. 

It is, however, in a different style from her other work but her love of history clearly shines through. Throughout the novel the historical detail is interspersed with the mythology within a contemporary love story. I’ll give no more clues on how that unfolds suffice to say that I’m glad Ray and Mel have a happy ending!  



Slainthe! 

Sunday Catch up with reviews

Happy Sunday to you! 

My day started with a fairly thick haar cloaking the view from my window. That means I could barely see 10 feet in front of me outside at 7 a.m. By ten a.m. the blue chinks were appearing and the misty haar burned off in that almost instant way that it does in Aberdeenshire. 

I had a plan but that didn't include writing all day. Nope, first pop was to go to a nearby town to help deliver leaflets giving an update on the local SNP MP's progress. First pop didn't quite happen but I was off on my delivery round by 10a.m, after the haar lifted. Driving around Aberdeenshire single carriageway (for some single track with passing places) roads isn't fun if you can't see in front of you so it's cautious to wait. 

My writing tasks today include catching up with reviews of books read so here's another I finished last week. 

Simon Scarrow Under The Eagle  - 4 stars


This was an interesting glimpse into the life of a centurion, Macro, in the Ancient Roman Army of c. AD 43. At times, it seems as though the story is more about the young recruit Cato since there are spells where the plot is described in his point of view, though that also happens with other characters, too. However, the omniscient author plus technique didn’t interrupt my reading flow. The details of fortress life in Germania were very realistic, the harshness of the military life thrust upon the new recruits being particularly brutal and as far as we can tell very authentic from written military texts handed down to us. Phraseology that works today give a sense of the earthiness of the characters but it doesn’t quite work for me for 2000 years ago, though I appreciate how difficult it is to give the characters a real depth that makes the reader empathise with them. This would be a great read for anyone new to Ancient Roman military history who wants to learn it though the medium of realistic action packed fiction. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Sanity? A review of Isolation by Neil Randall

Happy Saturday!

Once again I'm behind with writing reviews of books read recently. As well as getting more politically active in a local sense, I must find time to post more about the excellent raft of books I've read recently. 

Here's one of them: 

I doubt I will ever use the word nightmare again in any glib way. In Isolation’ Nigel has the most freakish nightmare ever, one that’s irresolvable. 

The writing is powerful, scary and compelling. I was rooting for the ending to be different but could sense the way it was heading in a definite bleak direction. Bleak is a word which appears earlier in the novel and it has many bleak aspects, yet it was hard to put down once started. 

It’s another Crooked Cat Novel that crosses many genres and sub-genres and is thrilling from page 1. Crimes abound with a plethora of mangled bodies but that brings us back to deciding as the reader- what is real and what imagined?


I posted this a five star read on Amazon and Goodreads - though I'm aware that the subject material might be just too graphic for some to handle. 

Slainthe! 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Topaz Eyes is featured today!

Friday Fun! 

Topaz Eyes, my contemporary romantic mystery is featured on Just Kindle Books today, Friday 10th March 2017.

I haven't  tried this site before for marketing my novels so I'll be keen to see if there's any movement of Topaz Eyes on Amazon.com.

If you haven't yet read Topaz Eyes but love a deep mystery that has yet another mystery to solve just when you think you've cracked it then you can grab a copy on the Amazon US site for only $2.45 or £1.99 on the UK site. Other Amazon domains have it at an equivalent of £1,99.

If you've been to #Amsterdam or #Vienna or #Heidelberg or even #Edinburgh you'll love the descriptions of these cities as my characters move around the world to find the Tiru Salana emerald collection that was once in the hands of Geertje Hoogeven, a member of an Amsterdam 'jewellery store' family in the 1880s.

Other locations in Minnesota and the US also feature as my main characters Teun Zeger and Keira Drummond avoid the nastiest of the cousins who are also seeking the long lost 'family jewels'.

Just click the link HERE if you fancy an engrossing weekend read.

Slainthe! 


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

New book launch for Ailsa Abraham!

It's Wednesday again and I welcome a very good friend, Ailsa Abraham, to join me today.

Ailsa and I met at a few years ago at a Crooked Cat Books event and she's no stranger to this blog, though it's been a little while since she last visited. She's here today to give us a little bit of advance warning about her latest book that's being launched this coming Friday 10th March

Ailsa's books are in my kindle pile and now there's another one to join the rest! Though this new one, I believe, is different from her other books...and she's here to tell you why.  

Hi, Ailsa.  It's great to have you back again and even more so since you're in the pre-launch frenzy of spreading the word about your new novel. Your blog guesting schedule this week will be hectic but please take a deep breath, have a wee break from scurrying around, and tell us a bit about it. 

BTW - It's a very arresting cover design! 

And now over to you, Ailsa...

Hello Nancy!
Thank you for inviting me to talk about my latest release today.

This is a departure from my previous series in magical realism. 

Here I take off on murder mystery. Why? Erm... limited attention span? Love of variety?

Attention to Death is released on 10th March and here's some info about it.

Please Find Attention to Death on pre-order on Amazon: http://mybook.to/AttentionDeath

"In Attention to Death, Ailsa Abraham pulls off something I wouldn't have thought possible - a steamy romance with a twist of murder and a splash of social conscience. A remarkable book that will have you turning pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next."
~ India Drummond, author of the Caledonia Fae series

Finding a murderer among a group of killers is not going to be easy for two Royal Army Military Police investigators, Captain Angus Simpson and Staff-Sergeant Rafael ‘Raff’ Landen, whose Christmas leave is cancelled for an investigation into a suspicious death on a base in Germany.
The case is further complicated by unhelpful senior officers who make pre-judgements on colour, creed, race and sexuality. Yet the insight of the investigators helps them uncover a sinister plot, although they too have something to hide: their own fledgling relationship.
Will Angus and Raff be able to solve the murder without giving away their secret?
The best and worst of human nature is represented in this story, which is why it is suggested for over 18s only.

I delved into my past life as an officer in the Royal Air Force and my lifelong friendships with gay men to research this book.  Coming right after LGBT History Month in February, it highlights the problems that men who have to be “in the closet” and the sort of bigotry that causes people to refuse to read a book just because there are gay characters in it, although this doesn't stop them leaving reviews. Me? I've never been too sure. I'm gender-neutral which is why the first thing I wonder on meeting new people isn't “What do they do in  their bedrooms?”

Read it for yourself and decide. Is it an honest portrayal of two men doing their job who just happen to have started an affair?

Here's a bit more about Ailsa...
Ailsa Abraham  is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman's Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon. She also writes mystery romance.

She has lived in France since 1990 and is now naturalized French. She enjoys knitting and crochet and until recently was the oldest Hell's Angel in town . Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family.  She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care (pirate gear is her favourite!)

Thank you for coming today, Ailsa. As always, my very best wishes for a fantastic launch day on Friday.

Slainthe! 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Discovering Diamonds Review!

Friday Fun! 

It's a bright and lovely morning, a great start to the day. It was also lovely to find that one of my novels, The Beltane Choice, was given a Discovering Diamonds Award today.

The Discovering Diamonds site is a prestigious one and the awards are given out sparingly which means it's great to get one regardless of what the reviewer likes or dislikes about the historical novel.

I agree with the reviewer that The Beltane Choice is a more standard romance than the next two books in the series but it's also not a historical romance in the normal sense either.

There's a little point to mention, though, that the reviewer says that I mention Boudicca throughout the novel when I actually don't mention her at all- though I do mention the northern Brigante Queen Cartimandua a number of times.



I can now use the logo on my blog and will be delighted to do so.

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

That 'Bluidy Mackenzie' made some good decisions!

It's Wednesday and it's March 1st!

I was looking for a topic to write for my blog post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog today and wasn't inspired by what I started with. In my indecision, I googled what happened in history on March 1st with a specific focus on Scottish history. Here's what I came up with...that I was much happier to work on. 

This is almost a reblog of my Wranglers post but I want the content to be accessible to me on this, my own blog, as well. 

Internet research sites.

I’m regularly accessing sources of historical information from various internet sites as I write my historical adventures. Often a simple question will have me digressing for hours as I latch onto something only vaguely related to my initial inquiry, but which in its own right is engrossing.

Over the last number of years, I’ve found it increasingly easier to access useful information from highly respected sites because that information has been gradually released for public use. Just days ago, I picked up a prompt from an author colleague that more visual information had been released via The National Library of Scotland, specifically photographs of my birth city of Glasgow which were taken during the 1860s. 

http://digital.nls.uk/learning/thomas-annan-glasgow/explore/page-1/

Though the photos indicate the absolute squalor that existed in the slums of Glasgow, they’ll be very useful for one of my writing projects that I temporarily shelved some months ago in favour of my most current writing. Viewing the portfolio of photographs made me appreciate how much information they contain and which I can access free of charge.

I’ve been to many public buildings in Edinburgh but not to the National Library of Scotland. It’s possible to get a reader’s ticket for entry to some of their ‘lending’ rooms but that’s only practical if you live around our capital city. However, I have been using the online sources for years now and love how useful it can be. What I’ve never thought about before is how long the library has been functioning and who started it.

National Library of Scotland

Skip back with me to March 1st 1682. 

According to one historical events site it was the day that the library started though not called ‘National’ at that time. 

Sir George Mackenzie was the current Lord Advocate, a member of the Scottish Parliament. He was also a member of the Privy Council of Scotland which meant advising the monarch, an extremely exalted position to hold.

He was reputed to be a learned man with literal tendencies. He wrote several books and essays—legal and political and antiquarian. 

Sir George Mackenzie
As Dean of the Faculty of Advocates he was the founder of The Library of the Faculty of Advocates in 1682.

By 1689 the building was formally inaugurated and the collection of works grew and grew. 

In 1710, The Copyright Act meant the Library had the legal right to claim a copy of every book written in Britain

The collection continued and eventually outgrew its original building. 

In 1925 the collection became the National Library of Scotland, formalised by an Act of the UK Parliament. Since then the collection has been housed and re-housed in different places and we are now fortunate that much of it is available to the public online.

That’s all commendable but where does the ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie bit come from. As well as being a man of letters, Mackenzie was also in a position of power during many of the Scottish Witch trials that I’ve blogged about earlier. He was also responsible for persecution of many of the Covenanters, sending large numbers to a nasty death, their tortured bodies buried near the Covenanter’s Prison.


Sir George Mackenzie is also buried close by in Greyfriars Kirkyard and it’s no real surprise that thousands of tourists flock past his 'Black Mausoleum' as they enter into a ‘Graveyard Tour of Edinburgh’. There’s a heavy chain kept in place by a stout padlock across the door which is said is there -  not to keep the dead in, but to keep the living out!

I took a Graveyard Tour some years ago and it can be a creepy experience. 

This post will tell you a whole lot more about adventures in Greyfriars Kirkyard.


Meanwhile, I’m off to do more research.

Slainthe!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Books I've been reading!

Monday has been full of gardening duties since it was a fabulous day today.

My pile of garden rubbish has been piled up since late autumn and today was the day it went onto the fire pit. Two well dried off Christmas trees, honeysuckle roots, pruning from my patio fruit trees, leycesteria formosa reeds, bamboo shoots and more! All gone now and the area they were drying off in is all cleared up. 

My garden sometimes has to take priority over my writing time since it's very weather dependent and has to be on days when I'm not on official grand kid minding duties. So although I managed no writing this afternoon the work made me remember to write a short review on books I've recently finished. My garden jobs today were much more onerous than those of Alice, the main character in Deborah Swift's The lady's Slipper, as Alice potters around in her potting shed trowel in hand. Here's a few observations about the novel. 




The Lady’s Slipper by Deborah Swift 


I enjoyed this book very much. It was full of rich detail of the era, the pace exciting and the character development very well done. The story line is intriguing and the subject matter of the aftermath of the Cromwellian revolution is well told where there was such division among families. Followers of the monarchy and King during the troubles had to ease back into a ‘normal’ life with the followers of Cromwell and the Parliamentarians- I think Deborah Swift has portrayed those dilemmas really well in The Lady’s Slipper. The characters are vivid, whether as a reader I admired them or not! A great read.



Slainthe!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Whose point of view?

Wednesday!

How it can possibly be Wednesday again  is a mystery. The days have flown past but I've not entirely been idle. My current manuscript slowly grows and I've written a number of guest blog posts and a guest interview.

You can catch the interview at the One Stop Fiction Blog HERE.

And today I've posted an article on the Wranglers Blog about how many characters are too many in historical fiction? How does the author cope with lots of characters having sections where it's their point of view that's presented? You'll find that partially re-blogged below.

***
Pah! Too many characters?

Yesterday I posted a question on two of my Facebook places where I appealed to those who are readers. I asked them:

What would you consider to be the maximum amount of main characters you'd be comfortable with in a historical adventure novel?”

I had some excellent and varied replies. It might just be the particular friends who replied but I was delighted to find that a good number said they felt comfortable with at least 3 main characters and a few others who play minor roles. Since I’ve currently got a good cast of characters in my ongoing manuscript, I’m totally relieved! 

Only one person categorically said they preferred a novel to have only 2 main characters. I wasn’t surprised by that response because I’m fairly sure that person tends to prefer Historical Romances which have a slightly different remit from general historical novels. Speaking broadly, I’d say historical romance needs to have 2 main characters, the whole story being constructed around their developing romance. Another element to historical romance is that it must have a happy ending and the expected norm is the happy ever after is for those 2 main characters who will love each other forever.
 
www.123rf.com
Historical Novels are something else and it’s a genre that’s harder to define. Again, this is a broad definition (and may easily be disputed by many) but I think a historical novel needs a setting that’s in a period of history (often no earlier than 50 years before the publication of the novel) and is a story which conveys the day to day elements of the political, social and living conditions of the time. It’s a story which has realistic detail, is credible and faithful to the era as is known. It’s often centred on identified historical figures, or a known historical situation.

Historical Adventure is probably even harder to classify. Taking the ‘adventure’ part first—broadly speaking, it’s a series of events and challenges which happen out with the daily norm for the characters involved. The protagonists find themselves in unusual, sometimes unexpected situations of danger. There tends to be a lot of physical action involved as characters resolve their predicament. The historical context generally places the protagonists in a known era where they battle their wits against the conditions they find themselves in. This might make the elements of historical accuracy become overshadowed if the action happens to characters that are not known figures in history texts.

Add a dash of romance into the historical adventure and that means you have to have at least 2 of your characters involved in their developing relationship alongside a whole gamut of other happenings.

I asked the question on Facebook because I’ve a lot of characters in my current writing—Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. When I began Book 2, I wasn’t well-planned enough to have decided if it was just a follow-on novel to Book 1. I quickly realised, though, that what was developing was going to become a series where the initial main characters in Book 1 would make reappearances in later books as the series progressed, though other family members would ‘take their turn’ at being the main characters in the subsequent books. As I write Book 4, my Garrigill Clan members will be familiar to readers of Books 1-3 so I’m almost ‘not counting’ them as notable characters since they play a supportive but fairly minor role.

When I eventually finish this novel, my dilemma will be whether to keep my 4 main characters and 1 other very important character who might feature in a fifth book of the series.

www.123rf.com
I intend to include a ‘cast of characters’ at the beginning of the novel, as I had in Book 3. I might even draw a family tree structure for my Garrigill kin.

What would your answer be to the question? 

What would you consider to be the maximum amount of main characters you'd be comfortable with in a historical adventure novel?”

Slainthe!










Sunday, 12 February 2017

Unexpected happenings this Sunday!

Hello everyone!

I thought that I'd have a mainly writing day incorporating a little drive for research purposes. That will happen but some unexpected book marketing tasks have taken up some time this morning.

Amazon is a fabulous vehicle for selling books on but they do seem to have their unexpected moments. It was brought to my attention that #3 of my Celtic Fervour Series - After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks was priced at £2.13 for the PAPERBACK version. That is seriously cheap since it's normally £7.99!

It probably won't stay at that price for long but grab a copy if you still love reading a paperback version.



I'm also out virtual visiting at the OneStopFiction blog where I've a post for the Writers Blog with some tips on my experience of writing pre- historical fiction. 

You'll find that post HERE 

Enjoy your Sunday!

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Can a Romance #competition be any better?

Wednesday Welcomes to you!

It's that time of year when romance authors are hoping for lots of lovely people to read their books. And I'm no exception. I sometimes focus on the historical aspects of my writing and let slide the fact that I also write contemporary romantic fiction.

But don't worry- I've not forgotten it this February.

My Corporate Sabotage Humorous Mystery  - Take Me Now -  is in a month long competition run via the OneStopFiction website. There are fabulous prizes to scoop up and everyone is a winner! You can't not win if you enter. It's that crazy!

There are loads of paperback novels on offer; or $50; or a choice of 14 different ebooks to choose from, of which my Take Me Now is one of them.


Just click the link HERE to enter.

Good Luck.

Slainthe!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

#SundayShare

Sunday Greetings to you!

I haven't shared any of my work for a while so here's a tiny excerpt from my current writing.

At this point in the manuscript, my character - Gnaeus Julius Agricola - is making his first appearance. Something's not well at his camp near the Springs of Ythan...

I hope you enjoy it.

(The following is from my 'unedited' WIP)
image from : www.123rf.com

Tribune Flavus was now visibly sweating, a trickle running down each temple. A fleeting memory came to Agricola of being a rattled junior tribune of the Legio II Augusta, when he was serving in Governor Paulinus’ staff. He, too, had weathered through some trying times when he had angered his superior.

The tribune’s gulp before answering him was suppressed but still audible. “Another patrol was sent out immediately after we found the beast to seek traces of them.”

“And?” he prompted, wanting the update concluded. He had so many more pressing decisions to make, like how many of the Caledon passes into the mountains to block. Although there was really no question at all about that since it was now clear that he needed to block every single one that could be found.

“No signs so far, sir.”

The approach of a new arrival at the entry gate again halted the conversation that he found irksome. He assessed the newcomer’s tunic. When the man got closer they shared a salute. “Manius Helva. Salve! You come from the Tungrian detachment sent to patrol the northernmost Taexali territory?”

“I do, sir.”

“What good news do you have for me?”

When Flavus made to step away he growled at him, “Stay. And learn!” Turning to Helva his nod gestured the Tungrian to continue.

“Due north of here there is one large river flowing from the northern Taexali coastline out into the Oceanus Germanicus.”

“You found no other rivers?”

Helva’s eyebrows flinched. The man carefully formed his reply, as though the question was a trick one. “No other rivers in Taexali territory on the northern coast, though we have been told there are more rivers to the west which flow into the Oceanus Germanicus, but they are in Vacomagi territory.”

“Your unit has not explored these other rivers?”

Again there was the tiniest flicker in the man’s expression. “No, sir. My unit was dispatched to investigate the extent of north eastern Taexali lands and was bidden to report back as quickly as possible.”

Agricola shook off the vague white coating on his crimson cloak before it seeped in and soaked the wool even more than it was already. He ignored the stinging chill at his cheeks and stared at Helva who appeared unaffected by the miserable weather. As well he may do since the lands of his origin were probably not so different from Caledonia. “Your unit has been on patrol for days. What took you so long?”

A trickle of melted hail slid off the Tungrian soldier’s nose though the man’s stance remained firm. “We established the route of the river that we found a short ride to the north west of here, till it reached its estuary to the sea. From the natives we confirmed that river is the western border of Taexali territory.”

“The natives were friendly?” The question had to be asked though the answer was no doubt a foregone conclusion.

What do you think Agricola is doing at this point in his Caledonian campaigns? 

Slainthe!


Thursday, 2 February 2017

Literally out visiting and virtually out blogging today!

Happy Thursday to you!

It's been a busy day for me. In the virtual world I'm out guest blogging at Vanessa Couchman today being one of her 'History People. Just click the link to read that post.



I've also been out and about in Aberdeen, Scotland,  visiting the Deeside Golf Club to give a PowerPoint Presentation to the ladies of the Petroleum Women's Club of Scotland. 

I had a wonderful time speaking about my books and about Roman Scotland. They were a fantastic audience who asked some really excellent questions and even better some of the audience were from their book group which had read The Beltane Choice as their book for January. Their comments were wonderfully favourable.

I sold 18 novels to them and some of those were contemporary novels because the ladies had already read my Celtic Fervour Series. So rewarding to me as an author.

They won't be writing reviews on Goodreads or Amazon (sadly) but it's so wonderful to speak one-to-one with readers who love my writing,

It's been a long day so I'm off to bed in a bit. Sleep well.
Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Imbolc Greetings!

Imbolc

In the Celtic Calendar the festival of Imbolc begins on 31st January and goes into 1st February, the Celts beginning a new day at the end of each evening.

In my part of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, today was a dreich, dreary,  misty day with miserable rain. Not an inspiring start to what is effectively the beginning of the spring season though, in all honesty, we have not yet had a 'proper' winter so it's hard to imagine spring just around the corner. the festival of Imbolc was thought to have centred around the lambing time and the first appearances of particular plants so it's hard, for me, to imagine it as a 'fixed' celebratory day.

As far as I've read, there's no fixed evidence that Imbolc was definitely celebrated in north east Scotland in Celtic/late Iron Age times but when parallels are made it's likely if there was a Celtic/ Druid culture lasting for centuries in this area of Europe, then they probably had something similar to what has come down to us in writing regarding Imbolc celebrations in Ireland.

Instead of a dreary photo of my garden, here's a lovely fresh image of a well-bloomed yellow rose.

In past years at Imbolc, the beginning of February,  I've had signs of spring in my garden. The yellow aconites pop out around this time and brighten up the otherwise dull and tired  flower beds. However, since I don;t have as much garden as I used to, and since aconites can be a wee bit poisonous to the unwary, I don't really expect any to flourish any more. If any appear, they'll have somehow self planted themselves but since it's a tenacious plant that might not be an impossible scenario. Since I can't quickly lay my hands on one of my own photos, here's an image from Wikimedia Commons.
Wikimedia Commons

The weather might not be spectacular but I have beginning of February compensations.

Tomorrow, the 2nd Feb., I'm off to present an author talk to a prestigious and well established group in the Aberdeen area - the Petroleum Women's Club of Scotland.

My PowerPoint presentation is all prepared and I'll be giving my brand new projector screen it's first proper outing along with my dinky little projector.

Before then I hope to do some writing....

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Aye...that Ae Fond Kiss

Happy Burns Day! 

Since I was writing a post for another BLOG  today, on Burns Day, it seems very relevant, to me, to write a similar post for my own blog. I've written before on Nancy's Novels about Burns poetry and songs, HERE for example, but I don't think I've yet properly included the poem Ae Fond Kiss. 


One of a pair of inherited Burns plates. 
My dad was inclined to sing the songs of Robert Burns at any time, when the mood took him, but more so at New Year and around Burns Day. His very fine tenor voice contrasted so well with my mum’s equally fine contralto, their duets being highly popular during 'family and friends' gatherings. They each had their Burns favourites but it was Mum who remembered all of the words whereas Dad would hum till he got back on track. ( I definitely take after my father in that!)

Some Burns songs are lively and humorous but most of them are slow and heartrending—love songs and laments—mirroring Burns somewhat busy and very complicated love life as he fell in and out of love with one lass or another.

Burns was one who had an ‘eye for the ladies’ during his short life (he died in 1796 aged just 37) and some would probably be justified to say he couldn't 'keep his pants' zipped- this at a time when fashion didn't include a zipper! He had many relationships which resulted in a lot of children, some legitimate during his marriage to Jean Armour, though others were not. Yet, whether the relationship was fleeting, or long lasting, his praise of his lovers in poetry and song is legendary. 
My copy owned since 1970.

There are also many poems and songs which are said to be about non-consummated, wishful thinking relationships. Ae Fond Kiss is one the most famous of this category. It's about his passionate, said to be unrequited, relationship with a married woman named Agnes Craig MacLehose—known as Nancy to her friends—though separated from her husband by the time of their meeting.  Her life story is worth reading but in relation to Burns she met him in Dec 1787, when she was 29, he 28.

Having married the dissolute and mentally abusive James MacLehose when she was 17, Agnes produced four children in the four years after their marriage but had left him shortly before the birth of their fourth child. By 1787, when she met Robert Burns, she had been separated from James MacLehose for 7 years, though was no recluse. She was living in Edinburgh and reasonably well known in society when she heard of the fledgling poet Robert Burns. Burns had, in fact, been writing poetry for more than a decade by then but was becoming more renowned and feted in Edinburgh society after his first collection of poems was first published in 1786. Agnes was determined to meet this ‘talk of the town’ Robert Burns and organised, via a friend of hers, to be at a gathering which was attended by Robert Burns. (There are many sites on the internet with plentiful details of this first meeting.)
From my Burns edition -Collins publisher, ed. James Barke

When Burns met Agnes MacLehose, he was (technically) unmarried but had already seduced many women, had short term relationships and professed love for many others. Elizabeth Paton, his mother's servant at Mossgiel, gave birth to his first child (illegitimate), also named Elizabeth, in 1785. (As far as I know, this is the first documented bastard child) 

Shortly after his daughter Elizabeth's birth in May of 1785, Burns met Jean Armour, daughter of a local stonemason in nearby Mauchline. They had a complicated relationship from then on. Burns penned a statement attesting to a marriage with Jean Armour but her father tore it up- an unofficial marriage he would not acknowledge. The relationship was on a rocky footing from that point on but Jean Armour gave birth to twins in Sept. 1786 - named Robert and Jean.  

Being in and out of love continued to be the trend for Burns during the period between Sept. 1785 and 1787 and this brings us back to Agnes MacLehose. On Dec 4th 1787, he met her in Edinburgh. As well as having physical attributes that Burns was drawn to, ‘a comely bosom and big round eyes’, he also deeply admired that she was well-informed, could maintain a fine conversation and was said to also be skilled in penning poetry. For a woman to be so educated at this time was unusual. On December 7th 1787, Burns dislocated his knee during a carriage accident and could not get about as he might otherwise have done but not idle he took to penning a lot of letters.

During the ensuing three month period, Dec 1787- Feb 1788, Burns wrote some 50 letters to Agnes MacLehose but since she was still deemed to be married they chose to give themselves pseudonyms so he was Sylvander and she Clarinda. Ae Fond Kiss is about Clarinda. Consummated, or not, the relationship according to his letters and poems was a passionate one. 
Clarinda memorial -Wikimedia Commons 

You'll find a good article about them here: 

But all is not fair in love and war and Burns' relationship with Agnes MacLehose was also frustrating. It's thought that since Agnes would not allow the relationship to become physical, Burns turned some of his attention to her domestic servant Jenny Clow, who as a result bore him a son in Nov. 1788.

His love life already very complicated,  Burns reunited with Jean Armour in Feb 1788 and set up house with her, publicly testifying they were man and wife. Unsurprisingly Jean gave birth to twin girls on March 3rd, the babes having been conceived sometime the previous early summer though they only survived a short time. Over the years, Burns wrote beautiful songs and poems in praise of Jean Armour who bore him nine children, though only three survived into adulthood. 

But, again, back to Clarinda.

It got to me, every time, when my dad sang Ae Fond Kiss. At one particular point, his glance would seek me out wherever I was in the room and it’s a fatherly gesture I’ll never forget. If you read the lyrics below, you’ll guess at which point that was!

I think this is one of the best recent renditions. Robyn Stapleton has the most beautiful clear voice and my dad would have LOVED to hear this version.



Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae farewell, and then forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu’ twinkle lights me,
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy!
But to see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love forever.
Had we never lo’vd sae kindly,
Had we never lo’vd sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted—
We had ne’er been broken hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae farewell, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.

This one, by Andy Stewart,  is more like the versions I grew up with and I still have a vinyl copy of it in one of my cupboards.


Once again - Happy Burns Day!
Slainthe!

P.S. Eddie Reader is pretty good, too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27nEe5yFtr8

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_grave_of_%27Clarinda%27,_Canongate_Kirkyard.jpg