Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wednesday Summer Surprises #2

Welcome to my Wednesday feature - Summer Surprises! 

Today, I'm featuring two books I've recently read by Tim Walker- Abandoned and Ambrosius.

The period of the novels is the aftermath of the withdrawal of the Ancient Roman Armies in Britannia. According to the few records available, the 'official' end came around AD 410 when the last of the Roman soldiers of the garrisons in Britannia were recalled back to Rome by the (Western) Emperor Honorius.

Honorius  - Emperor at the age of 8
Wikimedia Commons
In AD 210, the Emperor Honorius was around 26 years of age and had been ruler of the Western Roman Empire since his father's (Theodosius I) death in AD 395, the Eastern Empire being ruled by his brother Arcadius. During this time there were many tribal conflicts across Honorius' western part of the empire and Rome itself was sacked by Alaric of the Visigoths.

By AD 210, the Roman Empire was in disarray and the remote garrisons of Britannia were told to get out/or look after themselves because Rome would provide no more support.

In reality, any legions who fled Britannia were probably deployed elsewhere across the Empire when they quit the shores of Britain- their destinations depending on the allegiances made with other rival Legionary commanders - and never ever set foot in Rome itself.

For me, the interest lies in those who were left to prop up a broken down society. Who continued to live in those garrison forts when the bulk of the armies of Rome left? Were the buildings, by then, already in a sorry state and just left to tumble into ruination because the Roman Empire had been under funding those garrisoned in Britannia for decades?

What was the situation of retired soldiers who had taken up the offer of land as part of their remuneration settlements- were they content to remain and continue their Roman way of life as much as they could? (given that they may have married local 'Celtic' woman and had families) Did these old veterans feel trapped into remaining on their property in Britannia when they would rather have removed themselves along with their fellow soldiers?

Were the patriarchs of the new generations of romanised Britons, formed from marriages or relationships with locals during the centuries of Roman occupation, well accustomed to their 'hybrid' status and content to create new dynasties with mixed religious beliefs and customs?

How much influence did the new versions of Christianity play in the lives of those left living around the abandoned fortresses and forts?

I have many questions but little is written about these times. 

In late 2016, I was delighted to find that my OpenLearn 'Hadrian's Wall' course dealt a little with this turbulent period. I'm also pleased to read the interpretations of authors who write fiction set in these times because their visions often differ from the most recent archaeological, and historical, interpretations. Sometimes the fiction writer's vision is added to by dipping into the legends that probably sprang up at the time, the oral traditions just as clouded in interpretative controversy but which can add colour and intrigue!

In my own historical writing, I try to interpret according to the archaeological and historical record and have, so far, tended to shy clear of the legacy of the legend -  but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading a version that merges the fantasy and the history.

It's for these reasons that I'm featuring Tim Walker's writing on this Wednesday Summer Surprises slot. Here are my reasons why I really enjoyed reading the following books...

Britannia lies shocked and exposed by the sudden departure of the Roman legions in the year 410. A hero arises - Marcus Aquilius - to protect the town of Calleva from an invading Saxon army. The townsfolk must decide if their town and way of life is worth fighting for, or if they should flee to the forest and revert to a tribal lifestyle. Marcus knows he must embrace change and makes his own personal journey to emerge as Marcus Pendragon.

Abandoned (Light in the Dark Ages Book 1) by Tim Walker 4*

This was an interesting interpretation of what might have happened in the aftermath of the Roman occupation of Britannia. I love novels set in the era and looked forward to reading this one. I’m sure there would have been some chaos and a lot of societal breakdown after the structure, and strictures, of Roman rule broke down. I can easily imagine scenes where the inhabitants of what would have been a well run fortress were in a state of limbo after the withdrawal of the Roman troops. After some 300 years of Roman rule, those who regarded themselves as natives (non-military) were probably very well integrated with the Roman way of life, especially with the fortress being in southern Britannia. However, the question of how quickly those locals shed off any Romanisation and reverted back to their Celtic inheritance is one that might never be resolved.  The lack of Roman routine in ‘Abandoned’ opens the doors for new invaders and those settler survivors really needed a strong leader like Marcus Aquilius to marshal them into as credible a fighting force as possible. 

Britannia lies open to barbarian invasions as it slowly adjusts to life after Roman rule. Cruel high king Vortigern has seized control and chosen to employ Saxons in his mercenary army. But who is the master and who the puppet?

Enter Ambrosius Aurelianus, a Roman tribune on a secret mission to Britannia. He is returning to the land where, as a child, he witnessed the murder of his noble father and grew up under the watchful eyes of an adoptive family in the town of Calleva Atrebatum. He is thrown into the politics of the time, as tribal chiefs eye each other with suspicion whilst kept at heel by the high king.

Ambrosius finds that the influence of Rome is fast becoming a distant memory, as Britannia reverts to its Celtic tribal roots. He joins forces with his adoptive brother, Uther Pendragon, and they are guided by their shrewd father, Marcus, as he senses his destiny is to lead the Britons to a more secure future.

Ambrosius: Last of the Romans is an historical fiction novel set in the early Dark Ages, a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

Ambrosius: Last of the Romans – by Tim Walker 4*

I really look forward to reading novels set in Roman Britain, the era being of particular interest to me. It’s such a hard period to research, there being very little written evidence available for the author to use as authentic background so I think the author has written an engrossing tale which blends some known historical and archaeological evidence with the fantasy of the oral tradition handed down to us in the form of legends. Just as the historians and archaeologists put forward their interpretation of evidence, Tim Walker has created a credible cast of characters with very human traits to fit the turbulent times that came after the withdrawal of the Roman Armies a little short of 400 A.D.

My best wishes to Tim Walker for great sales of the above and thank you for allowing me to feature them today. 

I'll be back soon with more of my recently read novels.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Recent Reads in April and May #2

Tuesday Tale

I'm continuing my intention to post short reviews of books I've read recently. Today's one was by fellow Crooked Cat Books author, Ailsa Abraham. I've enjoyed reading Ailsa's writing already and like myself she writes in different genres. The book I'm featuring today is one that she came to feature a few months ago, when it was launched.  Attention to Death is a contemporary crime novel, not one of her fantasies.

In thought this to be a 5* read!

Attention to Death by Ailsa Abraham

After hours…and keeping secrets.

This was an excellent read from start to finish covering tricky themes of murder within a tight knit group of British Army soldiers, and a still frowned upon sexual relationship between the two very likeable main male characters. There are other strands tackled as well as homophobia- there's racial and religious prejudice to contend with, too.

The pace is fast, the writing is crisp and the whole read compelling. The two specialist Military Police Officers have a particularly violent murder to solve while attempting to ignore an inevitable attraction. Love isn’t always easy but it’s heartening that Angus and Raff find a way.

There are gruesomely explicit details to work through; murder in most forms being violent, but the author has skilfully interwoven those horrors, balancing them with the tenderness of a new relationship.

Some aspects of the gay relationship in the novel may not be to everyone's taste but the novel isn't explicit, just sufficient to engage the reader as the both the romantic relationship and the details of the murder unfold.


Monday, 22 May 2017

Monday Moments-Books read #1

Welcome to my Monday Moments slot! 

During the past weekend, I've been out selling my novels at a FOCUS Craft Fair in Aboyne on Royal Deeside but I've also been catching up with writing short reviews for novels I've personally read during April and May. Similar reviews to what's on this blog have been posted on Amazon UK and Goodreads for the authors since I know how useful it is to have reviews for helping to raise the book's ratings.

To kick off a series of reviews that will appear on this blog this week, here's a 5 * read that I really enjoyed:

Dirty Weekend by Deirdre Palmer

What people say and what they don’t tell…

This was a very enjoyable and, at times, an amusing read though the themes running though it are not so funny at all. Hearkening back to 1966, the author tackles what would have been a very difficult subject to mention to anyone. I found the character of Jeanette a bit undeveloped at first, her loyalty to her friend Carol-Anne a little ambivalent but she changed towards the end as her 'horror' was revealed. I imagine a real victim (as in what Jeanette suffered) during the 1960s would have ended up keeping their own counsel, if there was limited parental support involved.

The four main characters are well portrayed with realistic, likeable characteristics that ring true for the era. The ‘Swinging Sixties’ are successfully evoked in all the little details mentioned by the author, some of which made me smile and others laugh outright! Particulars are remembered by readers who lived through the 1960s but there's social information included in the text which would also be valuable for a younger reader interested in learning more about the times.

A very enjoyable read which I can easily recommend.

Click the link above if you'd like more information from Amazon, or to buy.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Another go!

Happy Friday wishes to everyone!

Some Fridays are just the beginning of the weekend for me and other Fridays are charged with something different.

I've blogged a little before on attempts to encourage more book sales, some of the attempts being partially useful and others a total waste of money. Sometimes these 'special' events are also quite time consuming and as such, often a waste of precious writing time.

Never say never has to be the motto though, so I'm trying something new today.  From 1 p.m. GMT (my romantic mystery thriller Topaz Eyes is being promoted by a paid promotions site called 'eBookSoda'.

My fingers are crossed that I can sell a lot of ebooks at 99 cents/ 99p and equivalent to cover the cost of the promotion. The Ebooksoda promotion only lasts for 1 day, so...

If you've not yet read it, hop on over to Amazon and pick up a rivetting read for a truly bargain price since it took me at least 5 months to write it.

Looking back, I loved those exciting 5 months and I hope it shows in my writing. I really got a buzz when creating my family tree for the mystery and I loved making sure that the timeline fitted perfectly because it's quite an intricate and demanding mystery to solve.

Can you solve it before the last few pages?

HERE is the link for Amazon but it's also available from


Wish me luck...

Meanwhile I'm getting ready for the 2nd of my local paperback books sales and book signing events with FOCUS Craft Fairs. Tomorrow, Saturday 20th May the event is on Royal Deeside at the Victory Hall, Aboyne (Scotland) If you're anywhere near, pop in and say hello. You can browse my new table layout while you're there.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Flight of fancy!

I'm guest posting today! 

You'll find an article by me that's now live on the One Stop Fiction Website Blog for Readers section.

Click the link HERE to find out about how I write "Fiction from Reality".

Here's a teaser image to see if you can guess which of my novels is featured in the post.

So, which do you think it is?


Wednesday...Summer Surprise 1!

From Pixaby via Katharine Johnson
Summer Surprises!

Summer Surprises is the name of my new Wednesday theme which I intend to run for the next 14 weeks. 

I'm delighted that the series begins with a guest post by fellow Crooked Cat author, Katharine Johnson. Katharine's not new to the blog but her latest work  -The Silence - is. 

Her nail-biting tale, set in Tuscany, is due to be published on June 8th (2017) but she's come today to give us a sneak peak as my first Wednesday Summer Surprise

Katharine's also here with more surprises because there's an exciting invitation for you and a chance to win some surprises in her 'goodybag'. Make sure to read on to find out about them!
Katharine Johnson

Welcome again, Katharine. It's many years since I was on a Venice, Verona and Florence trip which meant a train ride through the Tuscan countryside. I don't remember all that much about that journey back in 1974 except that it was quite long, very hot, the train was overcrowded and for much of it we stood in the corridor there being no spare seats. But... I do recall being highly impressed by the sight of the hills clad with tall and stately cypress trees. I'm sure, though, that your latest novel The Silence will kick start my memories. That Italian trip was also memorable for me because it was my honeymoon (I'll say no more about that) but please tell us about how your characters find Tuscany... 

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Nancy to talk about my new novel The Silence which is published on 8th June. 

The story is about a summer in Tuscany that goes tragically wrong.

Here's the blurb
Can you ever truly escape the past? Doctor Abby Fenton has a rewarding career, a loving family, an enviable lifestyle - and a secret that could destroy everything. When human remains are discovered in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan holiday home she is forced to confront the memories she has suppressed until now and relive the summer she spent at the villa in 1992. A summer that ended in tragedy. The nearer she gets to the truth the closer she comes to losing her sanity. In order to hold onto the people she loves most, she must make sure they never discover what she did. But the reappearance of someone else from that summer threatens to blow her secret wide open.

Abby is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle in Tuscany while her father and stepmother are on honeymoon. Still traumatised by the death of her mother the previous year, she's a shy, anxious child whose life is transformed by her rebellious, free spirited cousin Philippa who has a theory about everything and a plan for the perfect crime. Abby is intrigued as to why Philippa's family left England so suddenly without telling anyone - but it soon becomes clear that everyone at the villa has something to hide.

From Pixaby via Katharine Johnson
I wrote it because it's the book I wanted to read. I like stories where people are taken out of their comfort zone and where a split-second decision changes the course of someone's life.

I chose Tuscany as a setting because I wanted the past event to take place somewhere that was beautiful, remote and very different from Abby's usual surroundings, a place with a dream-like quality which would make it easier for Abby to convince herself afterwards that none of it had really happened. It had to be somewhere hot so that as the temperature creeps up the tensions between the people at the villa also rises. 

Nancy says: I think the past often comes back to bite you and not always playfully! 

From Pixaby via Katharine Johnson
Here are some teasers...

"It was impossible to imagine now, just as it was impossible to recapture the blinding heat, the clouds of dust that peppered your legs as you walked and the incessant nagging of the cicadas"

"People drinking in the bars below the villa or lazing under the umbrellas around the pool must look up into those forested hills hundreds of times in a day and have no idea what they were concealing."

Special offer
Buy before 8th June at the special preorder price of 99p/99c Amazon - The Silence

Nancy says: It's a done deal, thank you! 

Here are some more Specials for you

Katharine says: "Show me proof of order (pm or email ) and you'll be entered into a goodybag prize draw which includes prosecco and chocolates, Amazon gift card and a signed paperback copy of my first novel Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings."

Nancy: Mmm... I'm quite partial to a glass of cool prosecco on a summer afternoon! 
Come to the party!
I'm having an online launch party on Facebook on 8th-9th June and would love you to come along. Discover more about the book, meet some visiting authors and win prizes. More details here: The Silence launch Party

From Pixaby via Katharine Johnson

Thanks Nancy. I hope you have a lovely summer. I'm off to Tuscany to work on the next Villa Leonida story.

Nancy says: Your image of the typical Italian red scooter reminded me of the little yellow 'Vespa' that I brought home last May from a visit to Rome for granddaughter. It has its very own spot on my granddaughter's 'special' bedroom shelf. 

About the author: Katharine Johnson is a journalist with a passion for crime novels, old houses and all things Italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. She plays netball badly and is a National Trust room guide.

Find Katharine at these places:
 Amazon - The Silence

Thank you for visiting today, Katharine. My best wishes for a great future for The Silence. 

p.s. Maybe some day I'll be visiting a National Trust Property and you'll be the guide, Katharine. You'd probably be saying 'Does this woman's insatiable questions never end?' I love to make use of the guides because I always learn lots of little extras that way. :-) 


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Roe Doe!

Welcome to a partially sunny Sunday update! 

Here's a little more about Roe deer that might feature in my current writing which is set in the north east of Britannia (Aberdeenshire) in October, AD 84. Has the species change very much since then? I doubt it because the Roe deer has been indigenous in this area of Scotland since the Mesolithic period. What follows is a description of what I'd be looking for if I were the one who was in the locale in October AD 84 and was a character in #4 of my Celtic Fervour Series.

How would I recognise a Roe deer? 

Wikimedia Commons
The adult female doe stands around 60 - 75 cm at the shoulder and weighs 10 - 25 kg. That means that the back of a female doe would be about half of my height (152 cm) perhaps coming up to my waist.

The Roe deer I’d expect to see around Tap O’Noth (Aberdeenshire) would turn from their reddish brown summer coat to a more greyish pale brown coat by October, giving them more camouflage in winter conditions.

I’d expect to see a black muzzle area and probably white patches at the rump. The buck’s short antlers are ridged with three tines.

Roe deer would be browsing within an original Caledonian forest habitat of Scots Pine, birch and alder (possibly other species) nibbling on the softer tree shoots. In the locale near Tap O’Noth they would likely be seeking the berries of late brambles, blaeberries (bilberries) junipers and other nutritious berries.  

Wikimedia Commons
Above the tree line, the natural point at which it is impossible for trees to successfully grow given the weather conditions and climate (anything which does survive the conditions are stunted and exposed), the heather moorland of ling and bell would provide good grazing. The roe deer are fond of heathers but the moorland would also be home to crossleaved heath, cotton grass, though in the wetter parts there would be a plentiful supply of slippy sphagnum moss- probably to be avoided.

The breeding season occurs July-August and if I was interested in any of the sometimes aggressive, chasing, mating ritual I’d need to be fairly limber to see them in the woodlands near Tap O’Noth. Territorial fights can result in serious injuries before the winner takes over the territory and the awaiting doe, or does, who then maintain a ‘catch me later’ policy till they are ready to mate. It is common for males to mate with several females and vice versa has also been observed.

Wikimedia Commons
Interestingly though mating occurs by mid August the fertilised egg passes into a ‘dormant no-embryonic’ stage till it is fully implanted and begins to grow (foetal growth) in January and continues for approximately 5 months, the does giving birth May-June.  (The technicalities of this require my further research some other time). I can see why nature has ‘delayed’ the gestation process so that the does do not give birth till well after the winter season is past. However, in today’s climate the seasons are not so defined to be sure of when winter conditions – including snow, frost and bitter winds – will occur. Living in north east Scotland for almost 30 years I’d say the most common time for snowfall is probably mid February but I’ve seen snow fall in September and June and all months in between. During a really harsh winter with lingering snow cover the more common time is probably December to January.

Roe deer tend to be solitary, though they also form small groups in winter. Their most active periods tend to be dawn and dusk though the hours of dark can be good grazing times if there’s strong moonlight.

What would alert me to Roe deer being nearby?

They give a short, often repeated, bark if alarmed by potential predators. If I hear a high-pitched piping call the doe is attracting a buck who in turn would be making wonderful rasping noises. At such times, I’d be best to make myself scarce!

I'd best get back to my writing now...


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Roe deer or Red Deer? A Bambi question!

Happy Saturday to you!

When I’m writing there are all sorts of distractions that come along. Questions pop into my head which need clarification.
In my ongoing current writing, my character Enya is stealthily moving across a landscape that’s flooded by General Agricola’s Roman legionary and auxiliary troops. It’s the month of October, AD 84, and approximately a half moon after a major battle confrontation at Beinn na Ciche (my version of Mons Graupius in # 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series). 

Enya is travelling in a west-north-westerly direction from the sands of Baile Mheadhain on the north east coast of Scotland towards Tap O’Noth where she’s learned there’s a congregation of Celtic survivors of the battle. Those warriors at Tap O’Noth just might have some good information for her.

Along with her friends, Nith and Feargus, she reaches her destination and is welcomed by the local warriors. Food isn’t often plentiful but their hosts have killed a deer which is nicely roasted by the time Enya and her friends climb up to their camp at the ancient hillfort of Tap O’Noth.

My distractions today have been…
  1. What kind of deer would most likely have been killed at this time of year in that locale, almost two thousand years ago?
  2. Was Tap O’Noth hillfort already ruined by then or was it inhabited during the time of this first Roman infiltration of the area? 
The first question is easier to decide since I’ve learned that only the Red deer and Roe deer would have been indigenous in the early first century AD. I’ve had to imagine what the landscape would have been like back then for the other books in my series so when writing # 4 of the series I have my own impression of the terrain.

Tap O’Noth is the remnants of an ancient iron age hillfort which had at least two known occupations from the identification of two different building phases.

Today, some parts of the lower slopes of the Hill O’Noth, which lies below Tap O’Noth, are covered in maintained planned forestry with cultivated fields on the valley floor. Two thousand years ago, I imagine there would have been some stands of ancient Caledonian woodlands above a few cultivated Celtic strip fields on the valley floors around the base of the hill but there would also have been uncultivated sphagnum mosses and damp areas. Above the natural tree line the hillside, I imagine, would have been heather clad, possible a little ferny, but otherwise fairly barren of vegetation.

If a deer had been killed, which type would it most likely have been?  
Wikimedia Commons

Roe deer only stand around 70 cm high at the shoulder. Red deer are much larger at around 110-120 cm at the shoulder. During October the rutting and mating season is over for both species and both types of animal tend to be solitary. If it was a Roe doe, she would not be giving birth till the following year- typically January - similarly for the Red hind.

Roe deer are fond of moist grass, their preferred habitat a woodland one, so I’ve decided that’s the species I’ll use.

There will maybe be more to follow soon on both Roe deer and on Tap O’Noth.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Post party blues?

Hello Wednesday people!

Family has taken up plenty of time during the recent days- hence the silence of this blog.

Am I in post-party-blues mood since the huge effort of planning, organising... and OH's and my B-I-L's joint 70th birthday party is now over? Absolutely not! Since the last guests left the weekend event late on Sunday afternoon, I've managed to square up the mess around the house. Hubby might do most of the usual cooking but the tidy ups are, sadly, my concern!

I've also been engaged in spending more hours delivering campaign leaflets for my friend and near neighbour - Glen Reid  - who is standing as a candidate for the SNP ( Scottish National Party) for our ward in the local council elections in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. I had sore feet from prolonged party preparation, cake making and cake decorating but any further discomfort after the 3 and a half hours of posting leaflets was totally disregarded because I'm definitely fervent about doing the best to create the brightest future for my grandchildren to grow up in.

Yesterday was spent in being 'back to the day job' of me grandchild minding and now it's Wednesday and normal writing life resumes. I've so many writing tasks to catch up with but I was drawn to check how my novels were doing across Amazon and to my absolute delight I have found that The Beltane Choice has a new 5 star review and that it's #91 in the TOP PAID Ancient Worlds Genre Charts on amazon UK.

The review is very much appreciated and my sincere thanks go to Ms Nedahl who posted it.

Format: Paperback
Nancy Jardine has succeeded in combining a powerful love story with a time in history seeped in danger. Lorcan and Nara are destined to share a future despite events appearing to thwart their happiness. Does the will of the gods prevail?
Another time in our history brought to life. A fantastic read.

Now for some other writing.

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.


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.


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.


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...


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.


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 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.


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."

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. 


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.


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! 


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!


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.