Wednesday, 20 March 2019

#Launch News from #Joan Livingston

Welcome to Wednesday!

Today, I've got a very welcome visitor in Joan Livingston, my Crooked Cat author friend, who has returned to this blog to share information about the latest novel in her Isabel Long series. I confess I'm a bit behind in my reading of the series because a) I can't seem to get through my kindle pile quickly and b) I just don't have enough time in a day! Excuses, I know, but the fact that this is the third novel about this interesting journalist-turned-detective - Isobel Long -  means I'm not writing hard enough either.

Since I'm currently (honestly) reading Book 1 - Chasing the Case I feel I'm already familiar with Isabel, her hometown situation, and her chatty style of delivery. Today, Joan has sent along lots of lovely information to give us an idea of Book 3, so I'd best get cracking and get on with my reading of Bks 1 & 2!

Welcome, Joan. Spill the beans about Checking the Traps...

Meet the Big Shot Poet

By Joan Livingston

His name is Cyrus Nilsson. But Isabel Long, the protagonist in my mystery series, calls him the Big Shot Poet. And he is a suspect in the third book, Checking the Traps, and an unusual suspect, I would say.

Let me back up here. For her third case, Isabel, a longtime journalist turned amateur P.I., is hired to look into the death of a man. The officials say Cary Moore jumped from a bridge known for suicides. His half-brother, Gary Beaumont, says he was pushed. So, he’s paying Isabel to get to the truth.

The Big Shot Poet turns out to be a suspect. Why? Cary Moore was a highway worker who also wrote poetry. They were neighbors initially, and Cary got good enough that the Big Shot Poet put his name on several of his poems. They appeared in what turned out to be an award-winning book.

What’s Cyrus’s backstory? He grew up poor, went to an Ivy League college, and became a sensation in the poetry world when he made the right connections. His manners and style belie his humble upbringing.

So, naturally Isabel, being such a smart ass, came up with that nickname.

I’ve known many poets, and, no, none of them inspired the character. But as I wrote about Cyrus, I imagined someone who has worked hard to overcome his humble beginning. He likes being famous, but not the interference on his personal life, which includes fans who show up at his house or bother him in public.

He did take Cary Moore under his wing, reading his work and encouraging him to write more. As Cyrus tells Isabel, it’s the first and last time he would ever do that.

Among other scenes, I show Cyrus in action at a poetry reading — as well as his adoring fans. Isabel and her ‘Watson” — her 93-year-old mother — go there to coerce the man into an interview. Here’s an excerpt from Checking the Traps.

As I’ve said before, I’ve seen Cyrus in action although that time at the Penfield Town Hall, the atmosphere was different. Most of the folks who came were curious locals. He was decent not talking down to them, so he came off more like an understanding schoolteacher than a famous poet. That had to be twenty-five years ago. But for this reading, he is definitely the Big Shot Poet. I figured rightly his audience tonight would be filled with educated poetry fans, well, except for Ma and me. We’re only pretending. I even bought his new book for him to sign. It’s a ploy to meet him. Plus, I figure it’ll be a tax write-off.

Cyrus reads from his memoir and a few of the poems it contains. In between, he banters about the poet’s life. He finds inspiration wherever he goes. Yeah, right.

“At this stage in my life, I can’t help it,” he says.

Many in the audience go “ah” and laugh along with Cyrus’s knowing chuckles.

Good grief.

The man has aged well. I will give him that. He’s kept most of his hair, which is now white, and his face has the right amount of lines to make him look distinguished and smart. His white shirt is open a few buttons. His legs are spread apart in a rather manly pose, a thrill, I’m certain, for his middle-aged groupies.

“That poem practically wrote itself,” he says after reading one called “The Crossing.” “It came to me as I was standing on the bow of the ferry taking me to Nantucket. I stepped to the side and recorded it on my phone. What you heard tonight is pretty much what I got down that day.”

A woman in the second row moans. Actually, she moans whenever she thinks she hears anything profound, which seems to be about every third line that comes from the Big Shot Poet’s mouth. Her response is a cross between a moan and a gasp. It’s her way of saying she is moved big time, I suppose. Honestly, I find it annoying. So does my mother, who cranes her neck to see who’s making all that noise.

My mother mouths, “Do you think she’s in pain?”

I stifle a laugh.

The reading is over after Cyrus fields a few questions and agrees to sign copies of his book. He takes his place behind a table. Fans, clutching his latest, form a long line. I expected that. So instead, I sit and wait beside Ma.


Isabel Long is a bit banged up from her last case with a broken collarbone and her arm in a sling. But that doesn’t stop her from pouring beer at the Rooster Bar or taking her third case with Gary Beaumont, a local drug dealer who once terrorized her. Gary is convinced his brother didn’t jump off a bridge known for suicides. Somebody pushed him.

Gary’s brother was a boozer who drove for a highway crew. But what interests Isabel and her ‘Watson’ — her 93-year-old mother who lives with her — is that the man wrote poetry.

The chief suspects are one of Gary’s business associates and a famous poet who plagiarized his brother’s poetry for an award-winning book. Yes, he was that good.

As a journalist, Isabel did regular meetups with her sources for stories. She called it checking the traps. She does the same as a private investigator, and this time, she’ll make sure she doesn’t get caught in one.

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Checking the Traps, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the third in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first two are Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure. Recently, she was named editor of the Greenfield Recorder.

After living eleven years in New Mexico, she has returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

 Find Joan here on SOCIAL MEDIA

Redneck’s Revenge: http://mybook/rednecksrevenge
Checking the Traps: http://mybook/checkingthetraps

Twitter: @JoanLivingston

Fabulous! Thank you for visiting today, Joan. Best wishes with this latest launch and with future writing. I'll be posting a review when I get my current read finished, which is presently around 65% read on my kindle! 


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

#Special Promotions #Celtic Fervour Series

Tuesday talk...

Special promotions are ongoing for the books in my Celtic Fervour Series this current week!

  • Monday 18th (March) and Tuesday 19th - Book 1 The Beltane Choice is #FREE across Amazon.

From a recent Amazon 5* review of The Beltane Choice
"...I hissed at villains, cheered the heroes, and found this delightful novel thoroughly entertaining."

  • Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th  - Book 2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn is a featured author on the Book Hippo site at #99p. 

5* review of After Whorl: Bran Reborn:
"As in The Beltane Choice, the author brings the culture and society of celtic Britain vividly to life - and in this book there is also an intriguing contrast with the ordered, militaristic lifestyle of the occupying Romans. An engaging tale, with fascinating insights into Celtic and Roman Britain."

  • Wednesday 20th - Book 2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn is featured on Ereader News Today and on #JustKindleBooks at #99p/99c.

My fingers are crossed that there's a little buzz of sales this week, to boost the impact of my Celtic Fervour Series (and to pay for the paid promotions).

To make things even easier for buyers and browsers Books 1, 2 & 3 will be on sale at 99p till early Friday 22nd, with Book 4 reduced to £1.99.

They are all excellent bargains for full length novels- with realistic experiences of what life was like in 1st Century Ancient Caledonia/ Northern Roman Britain with my Garrigill Clan as the main protagonists in this series that has also been called an ancient saga.

Readers should note that although I have tried hard to make each a standalone novel, they are very inter-connected, with some clan members taking the limelight in one book and then continuing the struggle to thwart the Roman usurpers as secondary characters in later books. and as in all good sagas by the time a reader reaches Book 4 it is the second generation clan members who are the ones featuring. Similarly it is a second generation clan member who is the main character in Book 5 which is currently being written.

Click the links below to get your copies on Amazon!

Bk 1 - The Beltane Choice

Bk 2- After Whorl: Bran Reborn

Bk 3 - After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks

Bk 4 - Agricola's Bane

p.s. All books are on #KindleUnlimited if that's how you prefer to find your quality reading material.

Enjoy the reads...


Saturday, 16 March 2019

#Saturday Selection with #Tim Walker

Saturday Special!

Today, I'm delighted to welcome back my author friend, Tim Walker, who has come to share news of the latest release in his A Light in the Dark Ages Series. Where I have chosen to focus on the earliest part of the Ancient Roman invasions of northern Britannia, Tim has been setting his sights, and imagination, on later centuries of Roman occupation, and beyond into the virtually unrecorded haze after the Romans retreated from Britannia. 

Neither of our chosen eras are easy to research, so I truly appreciate the effort it takes to create a credible world for the protagonists in the novel, and for the reader to believe in them when work is set in those formerly named 'Dark Ages' A.D.

I've very much enjoyed Tim's previous adventures in Ancient Britain and have this next book on my kindle where he gives us a new perspective on the intriguing figure of the fabled King Arthur. I'm looking forward to reading Arthur Dux Bellorum  very soon! 
(I have to find more pleasure reading time since my kindle pile is still too large!)

Along with details about Arthur Dux Bellorum, Tim's sent along an excerpt today to give us an idea of what to expect and to whet my/our appetite... so make sure to read all the way down...


BTW- Tim mentions an author unknown to me - Mathew Harffy- so I'll just have to go onto Amazon and fill up my kindle even more.

From the ruins of post-Roman Britain, a warrior arises to unite a troubled land

Britain in the late Fifth Century is a troubled place – riven with tribal infighting and beset by invaders in search of plunder and settlement. King Uther is dead, and his daughter, Morgana, seizes the crown for her infant son, Mordred. Merlyn’s attempt to present Arthur as the true son and heir of Uther is scorned, and the bewildered teenager finds himself in prison. Here our story begins…
Arthur finds friends in unexpected quarters and together they flee. Travelling through a fractured landscape of tribal conflict and suspicion, they attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, whilst keeping a wary eye on Saxon invaders menacing the shoreline. Arthur’s reputation as a fearsome warrior grows as he learns the harsh lessons needed to survive and acquire the skills of a dux bellorum, a lord of war.
Tim Walker’s Arthur Dux Bellorum is a fresh look at the Arthurian legend, combining myth, history and gripping battle scenes. Although in a series, it can be read as a standalone novel.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Dux Bellorum.

You can buy the book using this link HERE

Tim Walker is an independent author based in Windsor, UK. His background is in marketing, journalism, editing and publications management. He began writing an historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages (set in Fifth Century Britain), in 2015, starting with Abandoned, set at the time the Romans left Britain. This was extensively revised and re-launched as a second edition in 2018.
Book two, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, was published in 2017 and the third installment, Uther’s Destiny, was published in March 2018 (winner of One Stop Fiction book of the month award, April 2018). The adventure continues from March 2019 in the fourth book, Arthur, Dux Bellorum.
His creative writing journey began in July 2015 with the publication of a book of short stories, Thames Valley Tales. In September 2017 he published a second collection of short stories – Postcards from London. These stories combine his love of history with his experiences of living in London and various Thames Valley towns.
In 2016 he published his first novel, a dystopian political thriller, Devil Gate Dawn, following exposure through the Amazon Scout programme. In 2017 he published his first children’s book, The Adventures of Charly Holmes, co-written with his 12-year-old daughter, Cathy, followed In 2018 by a second adventure, Charly & The Superheroes.
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From: Arthur Dux Bellorum 

Arthur and his father-in-law, Chief Meirchion Gul of the Rheged, are leading an army north of Hadrian’s Wall to secure an alliance by evicting Hibernian settlers (the Scotti) from Galway

BY MID-AFTERNOON on the second day, the army of Meirchion and Arthur had reached the settlement of the Scotti on the rocky, windswept coast called Galwydell. Meirchion sent Gawain and his cavalry to by-pass the coastal village and surround them. Arthur waited with his father-in-law on a sandy dune looking down on the feeble picket fence that enclosed a settlement of no more than fifty dwellings in a crude semi-circle, their ships lying on the beach behind. These were single-mast ships that could take eight oars on each side and carry about fifty men. The Scotti, a fierce tribe from the island of Hibernia in the western sea, knew of their presence and had their men lining the inside of the fence, armed and ready. Meirchion kept looking out to sea away to his left, until he saw what he searched for – the sails of a fleet of at least half a dozen ships.

“Ah, there they are. Those are our cousins, the seafaring Setanti. I ordered them to come and cover our sea flank. We have yet to establish the numbers of Scotti settlers on this coast, so their presence can help us count and corral them.”

“What do you intend to do with them?” Arthur asked.

Meirchion laughed and jabbed his heels into his horse’s flanks, pointing ahead of him with his short spear to where Gawain’s banner could be seen fluttering on a dune on the far side of the settlement. Horn blasts signalled the advance, and his foot soldiers marched through the sand and tufts of wild grass to take up a position within a hundred yards of the fence. Gawain did the same from the far side – a shallow stream separating the two forces.

Meirchion gathered his commanders to him. “These warriors, Arthur, are from the Novantae clan on whose land we are standing,” he said, pointing to a group of stocky warriors with weathered faces, their dark eyes under thick eyebrows burning with passion. “They are keen to evict the Scotti and take back their lands, and we are here to aid them.”

He pointed to the guarded settlement where ragged black banners fluttered in the strong sea breeze, and continued. “But first we must talk to their leaders. I will invite them to leave, provided they swear allegiance to me and give me warriors for our campaign further north.” He instructed three deputies, including one who spoke the Scotti tongue, to ride to the gates and request a meeting with their leaders. By now, the Setanti ships had blockaded the harbour, cutting off any chance of escape.

They had not long to wait before the rickety gates of the stockade opened and three men walked out. Meirchion nodded to Arthur and they took a central position, out of arrow range of the platform above the gate, and waited for them. The Scotti leaders had plenty of opportunity to see the thousand or more men lining the dunes around them as they walked out. Their leader spoke through a bushy grey beard in the language of the Gaels, his arm bands jangling as he gesticulated. Meirchion waited patiently for the translation.

“Tell him that I am Meirchion Gul of the Rheged and this is Arthur of the Brigantes. Together we speak for the entire north of this land, below and above the wall. They have seized this place from our friends, the Novantae, who now want it returned to them. They also want your heads on spikes to adorn their hall.” Meirchion paused for the translator to catch up. The startled looks on the faces of their opponents showed that they understood the full nature of the threat.

A garbled reply was translated as, “We have lost our home lands to raiders and have been forced to travel here, across the narrow sea. We are at your mercy, mighty lord, and ask only for land to settle.”

“Who is your leader?” Meirchion demanded.

“They are led by their king, Fergus Mor, who is in a settlement to the west,” the translator replied.

“Another king. That’s all we need. Don’t translate that,” Meirchion muttered.

Thank you for sharing with us today, Tim, and very best wishes for a great launch of Arthur Dux Bellorum. 


Thursday, 14 March 2019

#FREE #indieBRAG Ides of March!

It's coming!

The 15th March tends to be thought of as the ides of March, though technically I believe that the ides can straddle the middle days of the month. Looking at the Julian Calendar of Rome it was quite a system they had for describing each day with relevance to festivals, or its position as the month progressed.

The indieBrag site which awards medallion status to books of quality are having theme days this year and the 'Ides' is one of them so tomorrow, 15th March, is an Ancient Roman theme.

Since my time travel novel has an #indieBRAG medallion it was perfect to join their promotions so in honour of that I've made it #FREE on Amazon for 2 days (14th and 15th) .

Grab your copy quick- I can't be sure exactly when Amazon will do the price changing in your part of the globe.


Click this link HERE to get your #FREE copy. .


#presentations and challenging #plenary questions

Happy Thursday!

Yesterday, 13th March 2019, I was giving a presentation on the Roman Invasions of Scotland to a group of retired Professional and Business Men in Aberdeen. The talk went smoothly and, as always, I get so involved in relating information about my current passion - Ancient Roman invasions of Scotland - that the time flies past. 

During the plenary session a number of the 37 or so strong audience asked some very pertinent questions, which I was glad I knew most of the answers to. Only one was an 'I'm not sure' answer, since I was asked when the Christian influence would have begun to make an impact amongst Roman invaders in Scotland. As far as I've read it was very unlikely that any of Agricola's Roman legions and Auxiliary units would have been practising Christians, though I could never rule out that they might have heard of what was a relatively new religion in Rome itself. What I could say was that during the Severan invasion amongst soldiers in southern Scotland - e.g. at Trimontium Roman Fort - there is evidence that the Cult of Mithras was popular and there is evidence of this for the era around A.D. 210. To my knowledge the evidence of Christian worship in the Hadrian's Wall area is dated to the later third and early fourth centuries but I'd need to do a little re-reading to remember that exactly.

The point is that I love being asked challenging questions as well as easy ones!

Ten paperbacks will have been sold as a result of the presentation and a few ebooks. What was a first was an email popping into my inbox even before I got home after the presentation to ask if I'd be interested in giving a presentation to another history group in Aberdeen in June 2019. Yes, I answered, even though I know that these small groups cannot pay me proper author rates. Some day soon I will learn to say no...maybe! 

I love this part of my author job - talking about a subject I'm pretty well obsessed with and which I'll probably never stop researching. 


Friday, 8 March 2019

#review 9 of books read in 2019

Friday Greetings to you!

I didn't get this review posted on here the other day since my grandchild minding duties were in high demand. I read the novel below very quickly when I got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon.

A Highland Captive by Cathie Dunn

I thoroughly enjoyed the Scottish locations in this enthralling medieval adventure, the descriptions of highlands and islands very atmospheric. The choice of which faction to back during the late thirteenth century Scottish Wars of Independence was a tough one and many clansmen ended up being on the wrong side of a sword blade. Sometimes this was through gullibility, though treachery was also rife as we experience in A Highland Captive. 

Isobel de Moray has some tough choices to make since placing her trust isn’t easy when faced with unenviable situations. I very much enjoyed how the author portrays her vulnerability, though Isobel’s definitely no wimp. When options for a woman of status were limited, it was great to follow Isobel’s reasoning, even if it seems skewed as seen through my twenty-first century lens. 

The endearing hero Cailean makes decisions that are honour bound but he’s also got some deep personal issues to work through which he manages very effectively. There are some well-described secondary characters, balanced by some nasty double-crossers that you would not want to meet on a little boat carrying you between the Scottish mainland and the islands.  

A Highland Captive is definitely recommended for readers who enjoy a historical Scottish romantic adventure!

Wishing you enjoyable reading...


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

#Reviews 5-8 of 2019

It's time to catch up with a bundle of review comments on books I've recently read in February!  

Here are a few of them... more to follow soon.

The List: A WWII Story Set in France by Vanessa Couchman

I’ve read full length novels by this author before, thoroughly enjoyed them, and the high standard of writing and attention to detail continues in this short novella. The characters speak easily off the page to the reader and the excellent description creates vivid images of the circumstances. The task of staying alive under occupied forces during wartime is not the easiest of subjects to write about but this is done with great sensitivity in The List. Making the correct decisions in time of war, that will not have crucial repercussions for your own family, or close friends and neighbours, must always be a very difficult thing to do – but I think the author managed to get the balance just right in this story between the heroism of protecting someone highly sought after, and the caution needed for self-survival. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a French setting to a story or to those who love to read WWII fiction with little time for longer reads.

Secrets in the Heather by Gwen Kirkwood 

Being stuck in a niche isn’t inevitable!

I very much enjoyed the plot of this novel, the upbringing and situation of the main character, Victoria, very believable. The past isn’t always easy to bury or escape from and sometimes people like Victoria need to meet it head on to ensure that the past doesn’t shape the future. The settings are realistic and well-described, as are the characters. It was a pleasant, quick read. 

The theatre of Dreams by Rosie Travers

The world really can be a very small place!

The interesting plot lines of this novel make it an unusual but very rewarding read. The characters, main and secondary, come with interesting weaknesses and strengths and are well-drawn. The changes of setting help the pace to skip along, the descriptions vivid and realistic. The mysterious elements were fairly easy to work out early on but didn’t detract from the read since my suppositions had to be proven! I’m a little sceptical about someone being accepted at face value as being suitably experienced and qualified for taking on children’s dance classes these days but that apart, I really enjoyed the read. 

Moment of Truth by Joan Fleming

First impressions are not necessarily the last ones!

People are not always how they seem at first meetings. Sometimes it just takes a little persistence to change initial impressions and so it is for the main characters, Mandy and Gavin, in this heart-warming novel set in Scotland. The pace of the novel moves along nicely, the characters are well-drawn and there's sufficient twist to keep the 'non-romantic' interest going. The fact that I’m familiar with the territory mentioned - although some of it fictitious - added an extra dimension as I skipped through this pleasurable read. Which character did I like best? That’s a leading question but I’d be quite happy to meet Gavin any time and his grandmother sounds like a lady I’d like to get to know, as well! 

Happy Reading...


Sunday, 24 February 2019

3rd week of #pressjournal feature!

The Weekend (for me) is almost gone!

I've had two days of heavy pruning in my garden, mainly Lilac trees and bushes but also apples and weigela. Pruning so heavily at this time of February during some years would be a recipe for disaster, but in my part of Scotland we haven't really had much of a winter. The forthcoming week is set to be mild for the time of year, even record breaking temperatures of above 15 Deg C. which is truly amazing. I'm hoping now to burn off my many piles of cuttings on the garden bonfire, tomorrow if there is no wind of note.

That doesn't, of course, mean we won't still have deep winter conditions, because that happened this time last year at the end of February into March when the 'Beast from the East' descended. The weather pattern of deep and prolonged snow and very cold temperatures was named thus since it came to Scotland from an easterly direction.

But... my weekend isn't over yet, not before I make mention of the 3rd week of my Press and Journal Weekend Magazine feature. Saturday 23rd's edition of the Press and Journal newspaper, the largest newspaper in NE Scotland, ran the second excerpt from Agricola's Bane. This time it is Agricola who is introduced the newspaper the readership.

I've been really honoured to have been given the opportunity to have my work read and noticed by more potential readers- even if the statistics don't show that I've sold all that many copies. New readers are always a great thing! 

It's not easy to read from a scan of the newspaper, as below, but the novel is readily available from Amazon HERE.


Friday, 22 February 2019

#indieBrag Medallion NovelConversations

Friday Greetings to you! 

#What'shappeningFriday ?

If there is such a hashtag then my answer would be that for a change one of my characters from The Taexali Game is getting an outing. Aran Bruce, my 13 year old main character, has escaped from the pages and is being interviewed by the amazing Helen Hollick in her new blog series designed to feature books which have received indieBrag Medallion status.

You can choose which answer you think was Aran's favourite by popping in HERE

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Week 2 #Press&Journal feature

Hello Saturday! 

It's the 16th Feb 2018 and it's also the second week of the feature of my writing, Agricola's Bane in particular,  in the Weekender Magazine of the Aberdeen Press and Journal newspaper, the main newspaper for NE Scotland.

Today, they have printed the first of two extracts from Agricola's Bane.

I hope the readers enjoy it!


Friday, 15 February 2019

#FREEread #4AgricolasBane #CelticFervourSeries #The Press and Journal Weekend Magazine

Hello Friday!

The second part of my feature in the Press and Journal Newspaper Weekend Magazine (NE Scotland) will be printed tomorrow Sat 16th Feb 2019. Enjoy the first of two extracts from #Agricola's Bane! (the other extract will be published next Sat 23rd Feb)

You can buy the series from Amazon or read it #FREE with #KindleUnlimited


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

#interviewed #Mearns Radio Wendy's Book Buzz

Wednesday Wonders,

Today wasn't a normal Wednesday - well, in truth for me there are probably no predictable Wednesdays. Instead of tapping away at my keyboard, or continuing with my Beta Reading tasks, I spent some time being interviewed on Mearns Radio, a local internet radio station that broadcasts to a huge chunk of southern Aberdeenshire.

Technical hitches apart -  when I lost telephone contact with the radio presenter, the Dundee Crime writer Wendy Jones - it was a fine experience. I've only done one other 'phone' radio interview in the past so I'm not exactly a seasoned warrior! dialling a number when under time pressure to re-establish contact is quite an art when the pointing finger is shaking!

The whole hour can hopefully be revisited HERE . Select Wendy's book Buzz 13th Feb 2019 and click the link! The technical glitches meant some music playing before the questions were asked and explanations or answers given but - no worries- just enjoy!


Monday, 11 February 2019

#Ocelot Press #reblogged

Good Morning Monday! 

I've been asked a couple of times why I chose to self- publish with Ocelot Press - a co-operative of authors - rather than just branch out as a totally self-published author on my own, after I received all my publishing rights back from my previous publisher Crooked Cat Books in 2018. 

This blog post of today on the Ocelot Press Website is exactly why I'm delighted to be part of a group with such supportive and talented authors. When the opportunity arises, we Ocelots are all about sharing, which includes helping to spread the word of any successes of our author members. My heartfelt thanks go to Vanessa Couchman who has undertaken the additional role of maintaining our Ocelot Website, squeezing valuable minutes from her own time-pressed schedule to share our Ocelot news.

Her post begins like this....

Look at the History on Your Doorstep, Advocates Nancy Jardine

"Ocelot Press author Nancy Jardine is a mine of information about the Romans in the north of England and Scotland, knowledge that she’s put to good use in her Celtic Fervour series: four novels, soon to become five. The series concentrates on a particular clan and its struggles to oust the Romans. Each book focuses on a specific character. ..." 

You can find the rest of her super supportive post HERE about my recent feature in The Press and Journal Newspaper's Weekender Magazine, which I'm informed has the third largest Scottish national daily press uptake.

Now, I'm off to play my part as a  contributing Ocelot author because, as well as supporting each other with publicity, we are sharing our other skills. Today, I'm doing some Beta Reading for an Ocelot. For those unfamiliar with Beta Reading, it's support given pre-final professional editing and my job is to read the manuscript that's approaching final stages. I'll be looking for aspects like continuity issues, character development, believable storyline, punchy beginnings and super endings with all of the loose ends well-tied up and other structural issues that an author is sometimes too close to their work to  notice might need a bit more tweaking.  

It's not an editing job, though I have to say I find I can't not jot down things that I feel could be improved on like a misspelling or an awkward sentence.  Beta Reading is a skill that I'm just learning! And later today I'll be squeezing in time for more of my Book 5 new writing. 


Saturday, 9 February 2019

3 part #Magazinefeature!

Saturday Smiles! 

It's a very good day for me today, 9th Feb 2019, since a NE Scotland newspaper- the Aberdeen Press and Journal - has begun a 3 part feature about my writing in it's Weekender Magazine. While I can't say what the reporter wrote is 100% entirely accurate, according to what was discussed in the telephone interview, I'm delighted with what Phillipa Gerrard has written since it's about 99%! 

The next 2 Saturday editions of the Newspaper Weekender Magazine will feature 2 different extracts from Agricola's Bane, Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. 

All exposure in the media is very encouraging and may lead to more people reading my work. That makes the sometimes hard slog of research and writing all the more worthwhile! 


Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Lack of writing time?

Wednesday Woes...or is it?

On checking my calendar, I see it's been days again since I posted here. Life is full of excuses for some and I'm no different. It only takes some tiny (and not so tiny) domestic routine change to throw me off schedule.

As well as writing novels, and reading novels, one of my favourite activities - and it's not actually leisure time - is house redecoration. I actually do enjoy wielding a paintbrush and applying the paint to  walls and doors etc. Since hubby and I had a new exterior door and a couple of new interior doors installed last week, I was straight into redecorating around them. 

Two coats of bright white emulsion on the walls; two coats of white silk gloss on some wood panelling and skirting;  and two coats of varnish on the new wood of the interior doors took some time away from my writing and reading! 

Yesterday's job was buying a new light fitting and a concrete repair kit to sort out the uneven floor where a recessed door mat used to be. This morning's job was applying that concrete (very inexpertently) before a laminate floor can be laid. That will probably need to wait till Friday since the concrete needs time to dry out properly.

Excuses? Yes. But since I'm the DIY person, it needed to be done. 

Now I'm back to some new writing. I just wish I could combine mindless painting with a better flow of ideas for my current manuscript. Some ideas came to me but shall I remember them? Let's see...

But first, I need to update my reviews done for books read by other authors. See another post (today) on 2 new reviews. 


Fiction and non-fiction paperbacks

It's review time again of books I've recently read!

I don't often read paperback novels these days since I prefer to use my tablet for reading novels in bed. However, I've just finished a paperback non-fiction book and a paperback novel. 

The non-fiction book was a very short read which I'll no doubt use again as a handy reference. It's called Domitian by Suetonius -a translation of Suetonius' work by Rise of Douai. I bought this one since I'm waiting for a copy of another non-fiction text about Domitian, which has the reputation of being a definitive work on Emperor Domitian. I'm presently interested in reading up on Domitian because he is critical regarding what happens to the characters in my historical Celtic Fervour Series, since he seems to have been instrumental in recalling General Agricola back from northern Britannia to Rome in c. early A.D. 85. 

The other paperback is a signed copy of The Warrior Princess by K.M. Ashman. I acquired the signed copy from Kevin Ashman at a session he undertook at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2018 in Cumbernauld, Scotland. It's taken a while for me to read it since my paperback pile is as high as my kindle pile.  

I've read other novels by Kevin Ashman before, thoroughly enjoyed them, and found this one a really interesting journey back in time. I know almost nothing about the history of Wales so could not comment on any accuracy, but I found it very credible.

When reading The Warrior Princess I kept recalling Kevin's lovely Welsh lilt saying that for him the story is the 'key'. For him historical accuracy is important, he said, but a believable story has to be the overriding factor in creating the novel. This novel, about the attempts of Gwenllian and Tarw to oust the English invaders who have settled in Wales A.D. 1135, reads very fluently. There are multiple well-portrayed characters in the novel and I would be hard put to say that Nesta, wife to Gerald of Windsor and sister of Tarw (Gruffydd ap Rhys), is the main one even though the back blurb seems to indicate it may be so. Nesta' s part in the failed rebellion which results in the death of The Warrior Princess Gwenllian, is a tragic one.

If you like reading historical novels with more than a touch of adventure in them, I'm sure you'll love reading The Warrior Princess. 

I now have a couple of novels to read as a beta reader next up in my schedule. I'm not experienced in this type of reading, but I'm looking forward to them. More about them at a suitable opportunity when they become published novels. 


Friday, 1 February 2019

#Kindred Spirits: York by #Jennifer C. Wilson has launched!

Friday News! 

I'm absolutely delighted that my friend Jen Wilson has popped in today to share news of her latest addition to her Kindred Spirits Series. To date, I've enjoyed the previous books in the series which have a totally refreshing way to highlight historical figures. The entertaining novels come with a huge twist - in that we are introduced to them via the paranormal historical genre of writing. They are the ghosts the accompany you along the routes in the famous settings chosen by the author, whether you believe in ghosts or not! The next time I'm wandering around in York, I'm sure to be appreciating it from a different perspective. 

Welcome to the blog, Jen. Please tell us more about Kindred Spirits: York.

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!

In the fourth of the series, we’re heading to York, and a whole new community of ghosts are ready to greet us, including some visiting favourites, taking advantage of a much speedier transport system than they were ever used to…

Kindred Spirits: York
Release date: 31st January 2019
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genre: Paranormal historical fiction

In the ancient city of York, something sinister is stirring...

What do a highwayman, an infamous traitor, and two hardened soldiers have in common? Centuries of friendship, a duty to the town, and a sense of mischief – until they realise that someone is trying to bring chaos to their home.
Joining forces with local Vikings, the four friends keep an eye on the situation, but then, disaster strikes.
Can peace be restored both inside and out of the city walls?

Praise for the Kindred Spirits series
“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you'll enjoy whether you like history or not.”
“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”
“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”
“A darn good read.”

Praise for Kindred Spirits: York
Another joyous ghostly romp from the pen of Jennifer C. Wilson. The nightly ghost walks around the ancient city of York will never seem the same again after you read this – with its tales of kings and queens, saints and sinners (Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes anyone?), spending their afterlives among the iconic streets and sites of the town they frequented in life. But this is no sleepy existence: unruly spirits are disrupting the lives of both the living and the dead. With Romans, Vikings, medieval warriors and traitors to the Crown never the most natural of companions, it takes little to stir them up to wreak some light-hearted ghostly havoc – until, that is, events take a shocking turn....
With early special guest appearances from some of my own favourite Yorkists (and a less-agreeable Tudor hanger-on) visiting a city they once loved, the book offers another sparkling cast of the dearly (not-quite) departed. What’s not to like? Except thinking once again ‘I wish I’d had that idea!’ – Alex Marchant, author of The Order of the White Boar.

I love this series and it’s going from strength to strength. This one was great, the author has created a little gem. From Richard III taking a day trip to Harry Hotspur, Dick Turpin and Guy Fawkes protecting their city, this is probably my favourite so far. Really looking forward to seeing where the author has us visiting next. – Amazon Reviewer.

About Jennifer
Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since.

In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press.

She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

Congratulations on your launch, Jennifer. I've got my copy on my kindle and look forward to reading it. Thank you for coming today.