Wednesday 18 December 2019

AD 210 25th December Worship

Today, it's my turn to post a contribution to the fantastic Historical Writers Forum December Blog Hop! 
During the hop, there's an excellent selection of authors posting about all sorts of December topics set in many different historical eras. (See the end of the post for a list of participating authors) Given that Christmas Day is looming, it's likely that many of the posts are Christmas themed and are geared towards the Christian 25th December. 

My post, today, also contains information about the 25th December but since my historical novels are set in Roman Britain, it's not about Christianity. My time-travel historical adventure - The Taexali Game -  is set in the early 3rd century. This is an era when the main deities worshipped by my characters would have been mainly of the Celtic and Roman pantheons, with a smattering of gods worshipped by some Ancient Roman soldiers conscripted from the North African and Eastern Mediterranean territories of the Roman Empire.    
Emperor L. Septimius Severus
Wikimedia Commons
The Ancient Roman Emperor Severus and his son Caracalla are characters in The Taexali Game. My question for today is who might they have been worshipping on the 25th December, when they were in Northern Britannia in A.D. 210? 
25th December ... devotees and fragmentary evidence
For some time prior to A.D. 208, the Maeatae and Caledon federations of tribes (north-east Scotland) seem to have been reneging on treaty obligations made with Ancient Rome. In response to a plea from the Governor of Britannia, Emperor Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla travelled to Britannia in 208 with a huge entourage, including Severus’ wife Julia Domna and his younger son Geta. 

Leaving Julia Domna and Geta in Eboracum (York), Severus and Caracalla (nominally joint Emperor with his father from 198) marched northwards with 40 - 50,000 troops to teach the northern barbarians a lesson they wouldn’t forget in a hurry – though the campaign was actually spread out over a period of approximately three years. ( A little like this post because there's a wheen o' reading before I properly get to the 25th Dec.)

An Ancient Roman army marched with military might and associated weaponry, but it also sported a variety of religious adherences. Sometimes a particular devotion depended on where a unit of men originated from; or which faith was their personal one; and it could even be the ‘god-cult’ their legion collectively supported.

obverse Caracalla/ reverse Sol Invictus - Wikimedia Commons 
Since festival worship was ritually common across the Ancient Roman Empire, it's likely that Severus and Caracalla paid some sort of homage on the 25th December in 208, 209 and 210 while in Britannia - since the 25th Dec was a 'more major' festival than some others. They may have wintered in Londinium; Eboracum; Brigantia (Hadrian's Wall area); or further north in Caledonia. Sadly, a month by month calendar of their whereabouts during the campaign eludes me.

Mithraic worship-
Wikimedia Commons

Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus) is thought to have worshipped the gods Serapis, Sol and the associated Mysteries of Mithras. Coin evidence (above) was minted in his time depicting Sol Invictus wearing a typical sunray crown and at some point Caracalla added Invictus to his titles. 

Though it’s not known if Emperor Severus had a specific ‘god’ preference, it’s thought by some scholars that he was likely to have been influenced, to some degree, by the religion and cult worship that his wife was associated with. Julia Domna's father was descended from Syrian royalty and served as a high priest in the cult of the sun god Elagabal /Sol Invictus
Head of Serapis-
London Mithraeum
Wikimedia Commons

Severus was known to have been of a very superstitious disposition, though it has to be said that religious-based superstition was common across the Ancient Roman Empire. Severus was hampered by a debilitating condition for a number of years before he died and was sometimes carried in a litter on campaign, presumably when riding was physically impossible for him. He consulted his soothsayers on all aspects of his daily life and appears to have been given a ‘death-sentence’ even before he left Rome. It is written (e.g. by Cassius Dio) that Severus was told that he would die while on campaign in Britannia, but the dire forewarning didn’t stop the emperor from setting off to subdue the troublesome Caledonian tribes. 

There is also the fabulous tale that Severus' sons were delinquents and one of Severus' reasons for coming to Britannia was that some proper army campaign discipline would be salutary for the naughty nickums! (From what I've read of Caracalla's exploits - killing his brother Geta not so long after Severus' death - meant that strategy didn't work so well!)   

During the Severan Caledonian campaigns of A.D. 208 to 210, Severus and Caracalla spent time, huge amounts of money, and immense effort in renewing and reinforcing the forts along Hadrian’s Wall. A heavy Roman presence had likely been absent from most of Scotland during the last decades of the second century A.D.  but there’s archaeological evidence to show that there was a programme of renewal and renovation of permanent forts in southern and central Scotland during the very early third century. Re-garrisoning, and strengthening, was also undertaken in forts along the Antonine Wall (Glasgow /Edinburgh) and as far north as the legionary fortress at Carpow (Dundee). 

Sol Invictus and the god Jupiter as an old man- Wikimedia Commons
In some of these forts, evidence of Sol; Sol Invictus (the unconquerable sun god) and Mithraic cult worship has been found. 

Head of Mithras-
London Mithraeum
Wikimedia Commons
The cult of Mithras is thought to have appeared in Rome during the first century A.D. and gradually spread across the Roman Empire.  During the third century A.D. a temple dedicated to Mithras was built at Walbrook in Londinium (London), possibly during the Severan era. The marble head of the god Serapis (an Egyptian god of the Underworld) found at the London Mithraeum, dates from the second to early third century; and the head of the god Mithras also found there is dated A.D. 180-220. 

Exactly how Serapis and Mithras worship was connected is a subject of great speculation but Caracalla, or Severus, could probably have told us! 

At some later date, possibly around the fourth century, the heads had been deliberately buried along with a head of Minerva and a figure of Mercury when a new temple to Bacchus was built on the same site. 

It was common for Ancient Roman campaigning troops to spend the winter season in a place of relative comfort and safety. Severus and Caracalla may have spent some winter-time in Eboracum with Julia Domna and Geta in 208, 209 and perhaps even 210 - though these details are unknown.

Nominally, the Ancient Roman summer campaign season traditionally ended on 19th October with the festival of the Armilustrium. This was held in honour of the god Mars, when the weapons of the army were ‘ritually purified and stored’ till the following year. (The Tubilustrium, on the 19th March, was when similar ceremonies began the new campaign season) It's not clear exactly how long these already ancient traditions continued into the late Empire phase, but since Severus was so superstitious, ritual ceremonies of some form may have marked an October Armilustrium wherever he was stationed. However, it’s highly unlikely there was any literal downing of weapons in troublesome Caledonia. Yet, paying proper observance to the god Mars would have been a symbolic boost.

When practical, a number of festival days may have been observed in some form, or other, by the Severan armies between late October and December, the Saturnalia of 17th to 23rd December being one of them. (N.B: The Saturnalia may be written about by another author of the Historical Writers Forum)

Leaf disc dedicated to Sol Invictus
Wikimedia Commons
The end of the Saturnalia was followed by the Brumalia, traditionally celebrated on the shortest day – bruma meaning short day – and included the following few days when the sun is reborn after ‘staying still’ on the solstice. In the darkest days of mid-winter, during the rainy and cold grey days in northern Britannia, celebrating the sun god Sol would have been an important lift to the spirits of many Roman soldiers. 

Offerings to Sol/Sol Invictus were given on the nominated day of the 25th Dec. which was then regarded as the winter solstice. Evidence from forts on Hadrian’s Wall and southern Scotland forts like Trimontium (Newstead) support Sol worship.

The distinctions between worshipping Sol (the sun god) and that of Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun god) are not clear, but it wasn’t till the end of the 3rd century that worship of Sol Invictus gained much more prominence and Sol Invictus became an official state god.

(NB: We now assign the date of the winter solstice to the 21st or 22nd of Dec. as a result of subsequent calendar changes after the Roman period)

I like to think that wherever Emperor Severus was on Dec 25th A.D. 210 (by the Julian calendar), he was worshipping Sol Invictus and was asking for a more definite date of death, or even a respite from the gout, severe arthritis, or debilitating crippling disease that he had been beset with for many years. He may also have been asking his soothsayer for more clarity about the incident where his nasty son Caracalla attempted to assassinate him while on campaign in Caledonia. I had great fun creating a scene which included this incident in The Taexali Game.  

Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus died in Eboracum on the 4th February, 211. Whether or not Caracalla urged his doctors to hasten the emperor's death is not proven - the jury is still out -  but again, ancient writers mention that there was a 'bloody clearance' of people who had been present at the death of Severus, or who had regularly attended the emperor. 

Worshipping the sun on the solstice seems like a great idea for the ancients on a cold and frosty, northern, 25th December day! 

You can click the sidebar link to read more about my Romano/ British fiction using the Amazon 'look inside' facility. They are also available to read  FREE with Kindle Unlimited and available in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon

The next post in the Historical Writers Forum December Blog Hop will be by Wendy J Dunn - look out for that coming tomorrow! 

Happy Reading to all and I wish you a joyful  festive season. 


Tuesday 17 December 2019

#Blog Tour for #After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks

Success Number 2 (in December)

My last blog post indicated I have had some, eventual, successes of late. The second POSITIVE of December has been the fabulous blog tour organised, once again, by Rachel Gilbey of Rachel's Random Resources. 

From 21, or maybe even 22 tour stops, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks has gained 10 new wonderful reviews. It's so good to find reader/bloggers who are appreciating my Celtic Fervour Saga and who are telling their blog readers how much they are enjoying the novels.

Here are a few of the wonderful comments from satisfied readers, and also from one reader who found some aspects less to her taste.

My thanks to all of the following because I do want to know what readers think! (p.s. the names of the blogs are on the poster for accessing the full tour reviews, till I add the tour info to the top tab.)

"For those who enjoy intriguing historical stories wrapped around absorbing facts, The Celtic Fervour series is a must-read. Nancy Jardine masterfully writes a flowing narrative full of detail. I particularly enjoy learning about how the Romans and the local tribes lived their days to day lives."

“I’m getting more spy-related vibes from this one. The title should give that away automatically but who is our spy? Read and find out! I believe that these vibes are a stroke of ingeniousness from Jardine because it makes the story more wholesome in my opinion and its easier to engage with the story too. I mean what’s an occupation without a proper spy right? This aspect of the story creates the ‘good against evil’ perspective in the book and of course we side with the Celts! Down with the evil Romans!”

"Nancy Jardine has done it again. This series is brilliant and I can’t get enough of it. Not every author gets better with each book, but this author sure does and I already can’t wait for the next book.

The world building is perfection. I could feel, see, hear and smell what Nancy Jardine wanted me to. I love how detailed and realistic this feels. The characters are just as fantastic too. I love when I’m reading a character driven novel that has great world building too.
I highly recommend checking this series out. I don’t think you will be disappointed and I think you will enjoy each book progressively getting better!"

"Each book is told from different character perspectives. It keeps the narrative really fresh and is done so well that the character relationships allow us to keep track of everyone throughout their gallivanting over the country!"

The action is just as thrilling as in the other novels. It is told from several different POVs. I was especially intrigued by Valerius’s passages. He was quite a complex character. He was the enemy, but he did have some redeeming qualities. There were also times where my heart was literally in my throat, not knowing what was going to happen next. This was my favorite book in the series so far."

"The author has written the book at just the right pace to keep you engaged and to hold your attention as there is plenty happening in the story and each chapter is well developed.  The characters were very good and I enjoyed getting to know more about them and their lives as the book progressed. The author has done a really good job of bringing the past to life, I would love to be able to experience this period in history (just as a visitor as I don’t think I would last noh without my creature comforts though!)"

"Brennus - or Bran - however seemed to be left out on his own so I wasn't as keen on his storyline. Jardine gave herself a lot of ground to cover which I felt left insufficient room for readers to get to know characters such as Lleia. Consequently they didn't feel as authentic to me and important scenes seemed to rush by too quickly. I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't read Donning Double Cloaks yet, but I wanted more to be made of some of the intensely emotional moments. Instead we got to learn a lot about how the different factions of the Roman army worked and fought together. I enjoy visiting ancient sites like Vindolanda so could envisage their forts and newly laid roads across the countryside!"

"When heartache strikes Ineda, and she gets her chance to escape the Roman fort, the story seems to pick up an even more urgent pace, as we spend alternating chapters with Brennus and Ineda, tantalisingly close, geographically. Now, of course, I won’t give the game away, but this book was the most addictive of the series so far for me, as I raced through the final chapters, keen to find out what happens to everyone we’ve met along the way."

" will know I’m a fan of this series.  They are so well researched and it gives us a brilliant insight in to what the lives of the Celtic tribes may have been like, and how the Roman’s came and invaded our country.  This story follows their journey north as they continue their campaign to rule the whole of Britannia, and to bring the Celts to their way of life.  It’s great to read about the Celts fighting back, and continuing to rally together for the sake of their lands.  I also love that Nancy always puts a bit at the end of the book, around the actual historical significance of bits mentioned throughout the novel."

"There is a lot of action and politically intrigued and spy's in After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks that kept me on the tip of my toes while I was reading this book and I also held my breath in a couple of the scenes. All the characters are diverse and amazingly well rounded especially the main characters which I won't say who they are because I don't want to spoil them for anybody. But my heart broke no shattered in a million pieces with everything the main characters were going through in After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks, especially what the main female characters were going through with her life in After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks she was struggling majorly in this book that I was rooted for her until the end."


#IngramSpark publishing #tips!

Does my blog silence mean that I have been doing nothing, of late? 
Not quite - though it seems almost that way. It depends on what an author might term as successful progress. I'd love to say that I can only measure success in terms of getting new writing done, or in selling shed-loads of my novels, but that would be utopia. I don't inhabit utopia so there have been plenty of distractions during November and into December. But here is the first post on the POSITIVES!!! (more blog posts to follow) 

Success number 1 
After a heartache process of uploading to Ingramspark, I'm eventually delighted to say that all 8 of my novels are now on the Ingramspark distribution catalogues and are available for printing. I was going to write a hugely long blog about the pitfalls I fell into, but it's now almost Christmas and I've now no time to do that. Suffice to say, if I were to give any advice at all as an indie author, it would be bullet-pointed to the following: (still a longish post)
  • Ensure that you understand the Ingramspark file interior file creation requirements. They DO mean what they say when they want a perfect interior file PDF. You DO need to ensure that your interior file is set to your desired page size PLUS the bleed they recommend for whichever cover size you choose e.g. for a 5 x 8 inch novel add what they recommend for bleed. Also check that the  PDF has that correct final page size and that you have ALL of your FONTS successfully embedded. Check the file is a single page layout, portrait, and has mirror margins (if a novel like mine).
  • Make sure that any interior images used DO fulfill the NO ICC profiles requirement (learn how to do this in 'Colour Management' if you don't understand what that means, like I didn't initially) 
  • Check all of your page formatting if you have had to re-jig your interior file (say from a KDP file or original manuscript.) Make sure that the amount of lines to a page is consistent and correct (physically count them if necessary) because I didn't find it easy to check this on the IngramSpark Downloadable PDF proof. Check page numbers are correct, especially if you use e.g. Latin numerals in the Front matter.
  • Ensure that whatever process you used to create your interior manuscript (e. g. MS Word doc) doesn't add any sneaky lines in the headers or footers. 
  • MOST OF ALL - make sure that you have taken off any 'extended distribution' you may have enabled on Amazon in plenty of time, if you also publish there. Do NOT assume like I did back at the end of June 2019 that when I 'unticked' that extended distribution' box on my KDP published files that the process would automatically happen. Acting on great advice, and knowing I was likely to want my novels on IngramSpark by the end of November, I 'unticked' all extended distribution boxes at the end of June on my KSP dashboard on Amazon. I was advised that the process could take a couple of months so I didn't check back at the end of July or Sept. It was only when I tried to input my own ISBN numbers into my IS book detail pages, in early Nov., they were showing as 'unavailable' to IS. That's when I realised that Amazon had NOT stopped the extended distribution on most of my 8 novels. You do not want to go through the 3 weeks it took for Amazon to sort what should have been a relatively simple process to 'FREE' up the ISBN numbers. And you don't want to have the confusion of Amazon trying to upload your KDP files to IngramSpark because, in my case, I knew they would not fit the IS requirements!!  (I had commissioned new cover files for the IS page sizes and age counts, at my expense.  I had also formatted the brand new interior files myself, which is a very big time suck!) 
  • Give yourself plenty of time to input the book detail pages because they do take a while, especially inputting the most appropriate BISAC codes and Thema Subjects (for library and catalogue listings) 
With hindsight:
Many of my initial problems stemmed from using an ancient MS Word 2003 package to create my manuscript files, which I later tried to convert to Word 2007 before creating PDFs- but that didn't work! I now have an upgrade to MS Office 2019 and hope that will keep me up-to-date for a good few years. I also couldn't make a PDF properly with my old laptop software, so I now have a monthly subscription to Adobe Acrobat Pro DC for PDF making (and hopefully over Christmas I'll learn how to use it for more applications). I consider these two big expenses as investment, along with what I paid for new cover files to be created. 

Therefore, getting my novels up on Ingramspark hasn't been cheap but as a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) the actual publishing process was FREE to me. It would have cost me $49 for each interior and exterior file upload ( X 8 novels for me) and it would have cost $25 for every revised file change (and there were quite a few). I am so very glad to be a member of ALLi and will continue my membership, even if Ingramspark no longer do the deal they currently have in place with ALLi members. ALLi is fabulous for other help and advice and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
I'd like to particularly thank Laurence Patterson (Darkstroke/ Crooked Cat Books) for creating the revised cover designs for my IS publishing. Huge thanks also go to my Ocelot Press colleagues for their unfailing support - you are all stars!
Lastly- although I had problems with Amazon I have to commend them on responding quickly to my emails and to many of the operatives for trying to solve the problems. They were very polite and apologetic during the transfer processes. Similarly the IngramSpark support staff were very patient and polite and eventually helped get the job done ( Maybe I should go and check regularly?) 

Phew- I look forward now to persuading some local bookstores and libraries to stock my novels via the acquisition/ distribution services they use. That is the main reason for me publishing with Ingramspark. 

Definitely time for me to celebrate! 

(p.s. I can now do the accent and properly spell my 'Cheers' in Scots Gàidhlig since I'm officially learning with Duolingo! Must now go and do my lesson for today.) 

Thursday 28 November 2019

#LoveLostinTime launches today!

Today, historical fiction & romance author, Cathie Dunn, takes you to the south-west of France, to Carcassonne and its stunning surroundings.

Love Lost in Time, Cathie’s new release, is a dual-timeline mystery set in 2018, and from AD 777, during the expansion of the Franks under Charlemagne into the region of Septimania, the area on the western shores of the Mediterranean Sea and inland. Raids from Saracens were rife north of the Pyrenees, and sites like Carcassonne were fortified to repel those attacks. But as so often, the real danger lay far closer to home!

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the main female characters - Nanthild -  a few weeks ago as part of the Ocelot Character Blog Hop and she's a lady with many talents and many secrets! I loved reading an ARC copy of the novel a couple of months ago, but I have now bought my own kindle version of the final novel to revisit these lovely characters and the amazing setting. Read on to find out more about Love Lost in time. 

A tale of love, death and redemption…

AD 2018

Languedoc, south-west France

Madeleine Winters discovers ancient female bones under her kitchen floor. How did the woman end up buried, all alone, in that particular spot in the Cabardès hills? 

And why was her back broken?

AD 777

Septimania, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea

Seventeen-year-old Nanthild must marry Count Bellon of Carcassonne, a Visigoth, as part of his peace agreement with Charlemagne. As a wise-woman, she continues to visit those in need of her help during Bellon’s frequent absences. But dangers lurk on her journeys…

Cathie Dunn
Love Lost in Time is currently at 99p / 99c for a few days only, and *free* to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Amazon international buy link

Cathie Dunn’s Amazon link

Thursday 21 November 2019

#BookWeek Scotland 2019

Can I believe the past week is almost gone? And that BookWeek Scotland 2019 has been active for many days now? 

The answer is easy - no, yet the days have passed in a blur of all sorts of issues both writerly and domestic. It's been busy this week though entirely different from last year during BookWeek Scotland 2018 when I launched Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Saga Series - Agricola's Bane. It's incredible to believe that a whole year has passed, but Book 5 of the series will come in due course, not swiftly on the heels of Book 4, but in its own time! 

On the writing front, I haven't done anything specific this year for #BookWeek Scotland but it's a time of year which I definitely celebrate! Reading has always been a hugely important factor in my life and during my time as a practising primary teacher reading of some sort was a daily task. Teaching the importance of reading was never a chore since it was ingrained in my own personal development. 

I can never imagine a day going past without me reading something or other. Fortunately, I've had few instances of being seriously ill and unable to read anything at all for a day. 

Reading can be an escape to another world, and it can easily transport you to a different existence, providing the writing is good. When under any kind of stress, my escape route will probably always be to immerse myself in a novel. That said, I've been trying to fit in as much personal leisure reading as possible this week since my publishing trials with IngramSpark have ground to a halt, hopefully a temporary one. Updates on that front as soon as the procedures are completed. 

Tomorrow, given some free time from pressing domestic issues, I'll be trying to catch up with reviewing books that I've read during the last couple of months. 

Whatever you're currently reading - enjoy! 


Tuesday 12 November 2019

In praise of #BlogTours!

The joys of having your book feature on a Book Bloggers Book Tour!
 Since my first novel was launched in 2012, I’ve organised different types of launch events including organising a book tour for each new publication. Till August 2019, I had organised those launch blog tours myself which was wonderful to get some exposure for the brand-new novel. However, what those tours didn’t do was garner any new reviews.  The tour stops that I had organised were on the blogs of authors I know who were delighted to have me guest with them but who either were too busy to read and review the new novel or it wasn’t the genre they were interested in reading.
Add caption
What I’ve recently done since Aug 2019 was to employ the services of a Blog tour organiser. Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources came highly recommended as someone with a great track record for success – Rachel being someone who has a large list of bloggers who are prepared to give over their blog space. The bloggers who feature the novel aren’t paid, though Rachel’s time in organising the tours is well paid for because her time and organisational skills are excellent!  
The kind of tours I’ve chosen via Rachel Gilbey include some reviews, though it can never be guaranteed that a specific amount of good reviews will result. I’m delighted to say that I feel very honoured that I’ve now had 12 super new reviews for After Whorl: Bran Reborn, Book 2 of the Celtic Fervour Series and 12 reviews for The Beltane Choice, Book 1 (most from the same bloggers but not all).

The wonderfully complimentary comments in the reviews make me a very happy author because the effort of trying to depict a bygone era that’s almost pre-history is very rewarding.
Notification of this last review popped into my Twitter feed today and I’m so glad I didn’t miss yet another happy reader of After Whorl Bran Reborn. 

 This was from Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews: 
“…She does a great job of capturing who Bran and Ineda are, both determined individuals who will do anything to survive. Bran has to learn how to live his life as a new person, and she illustrates his strength to live again. Ineda will also need to rely on her strength if she is to survive.
As with the first book, the author gives readers a map with locations in the book and a list of characters which helps understand the book and the timeline better. I always love the historical context she includes at the end of the book. It really put things in perspective for me. I will anxiously be awaiting the next book to see where Jardine takes us next.”

My thanks once again to Rachel and the bloggers who took the time and effort to feature my novel. 


Saturday 9 November 2019

Nanthild visits! #Ocelot Press Character Blog Hop

Happy Saturday wishes to you!

It's my turn to interview during the Ocelot Press Character Interview Blog Hop!  I can't be more delighted because it's a truly exclusive interview with Nanthild since Love Lost In Time is only now at the Pre-order stage! 
It's a fabulous story ( I've read an ARC and loved it) and Nanthild is a very interesting character. There were some really empathetic moments as I read, some almost creepy ones, and others that left me stunned. So, it's with great pleasure I've been able to interview Nanthild, sometimes known as Hilda. 
Welcome to my blog, Nanthild (I love that name) and make yourself comfortable. Let's start with this question...

On your arrival at Bellon’s home, just before your wedding, do you think you were determined to find fault with him because you imagined he would curtail your freedom to make many of your own choices. Or was there an even greater fear involved?
Oh, I was so annoyed, let me tell you! First, at my father for making me travel in rain and sleet – what was he thinking? And at Bellon, too. If it hadn’t been for him, I likely would have stayed at my home at Vaulun, safe and dry. But I guess my greatest fear was that of discovery. Women are now treated very unfairly by the Church. We used to have far more freedom in preceding centuries, but lately, these old bishops have nothing better to do than to vilify us and curtail our influence. If word about my pagan beliefs had escaped, I may have been killed. Just look at what King Charles did to those Saxons! ~shudders~

After the wedding, what excited you most about your journey with Bellon around the countryside?
Mostly I wanted to get to know ‘our’ area. It was all new to me, and it’s such breath-taking countryside. You can see the high peaks of the Pyrenaei mountains to the south, their peaks glistening with snow. The sweeping hillsides around us where deer and boar roam ancient forests, and of course the vines, which the Romans brought with them all those centuries ago. Our wine is delicious, by the way.
That trip made me appreciate Bellon’s challenge to keep the peace in such a vast area. Oh, and he asked me for my opinions. He sounded very interested in what I had to say. I was positively surprised. What more could I ask?

Carcassonne-courtesy of Carcassonne Photography Tour

What dismayed you most when King Charles arrived at Carcassonne after the disastrous battle at Roncevaux? 
Oh, don’t remind me! He left my father and my husband to die! I’m still furious about it. It had been weeks since the battle (if you can call it such; it was more like carnage), and I had no tidings from Bellon. The king disappointed me greatly for simply leaving Father, his adviser and friend for decades, behind. How could he?!

Clovis wasn’t a nice man, ever. When Bellon returned after Roncevaux were you more relieved that he came home in timely fashion or more disgusted with Clovis’ behaviour?
Bellon couldn’t have chosen a better moment! I had run out of ideas of what to say or do, and then there he was. I’m no match against Clovis’ physical strength, and Dagobert was fortunate not to get booted out by that cur. You can imagine my utter relief when Bellon appeared. The Goddess was truly smiling upon me at that moment.

Bellon has many wonderful qualities. If you were asked to number the five best in order of which you admire most - what would they be?
Oh, only five??

There is his shrewd intelligence. I don’t appreciate stupid men, and Bellon thinks before he speaks or acts. He is different from many young men at court who are all full of fancy words, with little of substance to follow. 
Then, of course, he is a handsome man. Perhaps the moustache could be trimmed a little shorter, but it’s his style, so I don’t mind too much. And it tickles… Well, we’re getting into personal territory here! 
Bellon is loyal. Say what you want about us Franks, but we are committing some vile atrocities! Yet Bellon maintains his loyalty to the king. He swore to follow him, and so he does. Unlike many regional leaders…
He is a wonderful father. Overseeing our sons’ training in the yard, they have so much fun together, but the boys learn valuable lessons in fighting and battle techniques. And he adores Alda, our daughter. If something were to befall her, he would pursue the culprit until the end of his days.
And lastly, he is a supportive husband. He is caring, seeks my advice, much like Father did, and I couldn’t have found a better man. Little did I know it before my arrival, but I was very fortunate.

I warmed a lot to Bellon, too!  But back to the interview: You’re a headstrong character but do you have any regrets about being so determined to tend to the sick and needy, even at the expense of your own safety?
I do not really have any regrets other than having to watch my daughter grow up without me. I’m heartbroken, but we never know in advance what fate has in store for us. In hindsight, a larger group of men-at-arms might have kept me and poor Amalberga safer, but it may have been too intimidating to those who sought my help, or Bellon may have stopped me. Now, I shall never know.

What do you think is your greatest legacy, Nanthild?
My children. The boys are wonderful. They don’t fight, like the sons of many titled men. (Just look at the king – his brother died in ‘mysterious’ circumstances. We all know what that means!) My boys have each other’s back, and they are over-protective of their little sister. I have a feeling Alda will turn out like me, and my mother before me. I only hope she won’t ever come across a brute like Clovis again.

Thank you for inviting me to chat. I have enjoyed talking about my family and our life in beautiful Carcassonne.

It was my pleasure, Nanthild! It's been excellent to meet you since I know very little about early medieval France. Here are some more details about the Dual-timeline book that Nanthild wasn't able to tell you herself...

A tale of love, death and redemption…

AD 2018
Languedoc, south-west France
 Madeleine Winters discovers ancient female bones under her kitchen floor. How did the woman end up buried, all alone, in that particular spot in the Cabardès hills?
And why was her back broken?
AD 777
Septimania, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea
Seventeen-year-old Nanthild must marry Count Bellon of Carcassonne, a Visigoth, as part of his peace agreement with Charlemagne. As a wise-woman, she continues to visit those in need of her help during Bellon’s frequent absences. But dangers lurk on her journeys…

International buy link:

About Cathie Dunn:
Cathie writes historical mystery & romance.
She has been writing for over twenty years, and she loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites. 

Cathie Dunn
For three years, she has been teaching creative writing in south-west France and runs writing retreats twice a year in the beautiful Languedoc countryside. She also works as a freelance editor.
At the moment, Cathie is working on two novels: The sequel to Dark Deceit, and the first instalment in the Loup de Foix Mysteries, a medieval murder mystery series set around Carcassonne in the 13th century during the Albigensian Crusade.
Cathie's stories have garnered praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic depiction of the past.

Twitter:  @cathiedunn
Instagram: @cathiedunnwrites

My thanks to both Nanthild and to Cathie for visiting, today. Very best wishes for the launch day of Love Lost In Time.


Thursday 7 November 2019

#AfterWhorlBranReborn 's limelight time continues!

Thursday Thinking for you!

Today, it's Bran of After Whorl: Bran Reborn's turn to be the spotlighted character in the Ocelot Press Blog Hop character interviews. Bran had a set of amazing questions to answer at Jen Wilson's blog that you can read in full HERE.

This is one of the thoughtful questions that was asked of my lovely Brennus... and of course my equally lovely wounded  Bran.

Q: It must have been terrifying when you first realised you were in the care of a stranger; how did you relax under her care, as you seemed to develop an incredibly close bond by the end?

Bran's answer: 
Close to old Meaghan? I suppose we became close, of a kind. When the mist of her herbal potions eventually ceased, and left me feeling more clear-headed, what infuriated me was that the old crone had tied me down to the cot! You talk of relaxing? That never happened. How could it when I felt she had made me live and condemned me to being only half a man. She forced me to take stock of myself, badgered me to think forwards and not backwards. It took many weeks before my temper subsided, and by the time I accepted my new state poor old Meaghan had given me her all. When she died I was ashamed because I had never allowed her to see how important she had become and I never thanked her properly for giving me a new life.

Pop over to Jen Wilson's Blog and read the rest of his answers. Don't forget to #enter to #WIN a free ecopy of Book 1 of the Celtic Fervour Series on her blog.  Or hop on over to Amazon and get copies the Celtic Fervour Saga for 99p (Books 1 & 2) and just a tiny bit more for Books 3 & 4!

Look out for the last of the Ocelot Press character interviews here on this blog where I get an exciting *exclusive* pre-launch interview with Nanthild from Cathie Dunn's Love Lost In Time. (currently on pre-order)


#BlogTour Round Up!

What a fantastic Blog Tour!

Once again, I'm really impressed with Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources blog tours. The tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn is now officially finished and the last posts and reviews are now in- and fabulous they've been!

Here's the gist of the ones from the second half of the 7-day tour (If you can halve 7!)

Click the links below to see the full reviews of After Whorl: Bran Reborn because these lovely bloggers have a lot more to say about their favourite elements! 

From Chelle of Curled Up with a Good Book  

"...Again, this is well researched and I loved that it gives you an insight into Britannia when the Romans were here and the tribes were fighting for their land and livelihood.  It’s an area of history that truly fascinates me.  And I love that the Druids are in here!
As with the last book, I now can’t wait to read Book 3 to see what pans out!..." 

"Another thing I also enjoy is how we get to view the Roman forces from the outside perspective. We all read about them in school but then we viewed them from a different angle. The way Jardine has managed to make the Roman so «foreign» to her readers is really amusing to witness. I think this is one of the things that really kept me engaged whilst reading this story. That, and that you, of course, get the feeling that you really want to root for team Brigante! Who wants those filthy Romans on their lands? We sure don’t want them! There are also some elements of from a spy novel here."

"...I can keep on gushing to you on how much I loved and enjoyed this amazing sequel so much, that I actually read this book in one sitting I couldn't put this book down at all I had to finish reading this book in one day.  Ohh my what an emotional ride was reading After Whorl: Bran Reborn was for me...."

My thanks to all of the reviewers and those who featured my writing during this tour - you are all a joy to work with and to have experience of. I wish you lots of happy reading.

Massive thanks, again,  to Rachel Gilbey for organising the event- you're a star.  


Sunday 3 November 2019

Blog Tour and Blog Hop

Touring and Hopping!

Blog Touring and Blog Hopping  - Are they the same thing? In a way they are but the current ones happening this week have two different emphases. 

The Blog Tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn has 3 main elements for the 21 bloggers who are involved in featuring the novel. During the Rachel's Random Resources organised tour the bloggers are all featuring the book details: some with a unique excerpt chosen by me; some who have interviewed me; and others who have read and reviewed the novel. At each stop there is the opportunity to ENTER the draw to win #FREE copies of the novel- a signed paperback and an ecopy.

**Till Sunday 10th November 2019 After Whorl: Bran Reborn is reduced in price across Amazon to only 99p. Snatch your bargain if you haven't yet read it. **

I've already posted some of the excellent reviews received so far and will add more to the end of this post. 

The Ocelot Blog Hop, on the other hand, centres around character interviews. Each participating Ocelot Press author is interviewing a character from someone else's novel. you can look forward to me posting next week my interview with Nanthild from Cathie Dunn's Love Lost In Time. My fellow Ocelot author Jen Wilson will be interviewing Bran from Aften Whorl: Bran Reborn and that will happen on Thursday 7th November. 

Stephanie of Litflits Blog had some wonderful things to say about After Whorl: Bran Reborn.
(With all of the blogs below please click the links to see their full reviews)
"I think that Jardine has done an excellent job of depicting the Romano-British world in the Celtic Fervour series and I felt that After Whorl: Bran Reborn was an even more engaging novel than The Beltane Choice. I'm now looking forward to the third in this series, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks."

Donna of Donna's Book Blog   has highlighted the connections between Books 1 and 2 and quite rightly recommends reader take full advantage on the continuous story by reading the series from the beginning. 
"I thought that the story was addictive and after I had started I wanted to carry on reading to see where it would go and I thought that the ending was great."

The Over The Rainbow blogger is another satisfied reader. 
"The story is historical with a lot of action and a bit of romance to keep the reader absorbed in the story. I thought it was a very entertaining read and I look forward to reading more in this series."

Here's a bit of Jen's review on  Historical Fiction with Spirit 
"In this series, there’s so much about the politics, geography and sentiment of the time, and yet, it never feels like it is being ‘told’ to you, as a reader. Instead, the relationships between clans, and the Romans, and the individuals involved, are shown through great character development, and interactions."

I am so delighted that all of the bloggers involved in the tour have taken the time to feature my novel and thank every one of them. 


Saturday 2 November 2019

#This Blighted Expedition by Lynn Bryant

Happy Saturday and Welcome Back Lynn Bryant! 

I'm delighted to have Lynn back today with a guest post about her brand new novel This Blighted Expedition. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Paul van Daan from her Peninsular War Saga and have more books of that series sitting waiting for me to read on my kindle. Having now read today's post, I think I'll have to find more leisure time and get on with my reading pile because I'm sure to enjoy this new Manxman Series too!  The question will be how to slot them in! When you've read Lynn's excellent post below, you'll see why I'm saying that.....

The Peninsular War Saga and the Manxman Series: the Links between the Series

This week has seen the publication of This Blighted Expedition which is set during the disastrous Walcheren Campaign of 1809. It’s the second book in the Manxman series, which began with An Unwilling Alliance and on Nancy Jardine’s blog today, I’m going to talk about both the Manxman and the Peninsular War Saga, and how the two series connect.

For anybody new to both series, the Peninsular War Saga is a series which follows a fictional battalion of Wellington’s army and its colourful young officer through the long years of the Peninsular War. The series begins in An Unconventional Officer, with the twenty-one year old Paul van Daan joining the light company of the 110th infantry which is about to set off for India. During the course of the series, we follow Paul’s progression up the ladder of promotion, and in book five, the most recent book, he has reached the rank of full colonel and is in charge of the regiment in the field. He has also been appointed by Lord Wellington, who is his mentor and his friend, to command the third brigade of the light division, under General Charles Alten. In reality, there were only two brigades in the light division. In my fictional world, we have arrived in winter quarters at the end of 1812. Paul’s intrepid wife Anne has just given birth to her second child, and the army is recovering from the horrors of the retreat from Burgos.
Middleburg Abbey -
Army HQ during The Walcheren Campaign
Courtesy of Lynn Bryant

Two years ago, I was being regularly asked by friends and family, if I was going to write a book set on the Isle of Man, which has been my much loved adopted homeland for the past seventeen years. I could see no easy way of connecting my army series to the island, but it occurred to me that many Manxmen served in the Royal Navy, the most famous of whom was Captain John Quilliam, who was first lieutenant on the Victory under Nelson at Trafalgar. I read up about Quilliam and decided that I wanted to write about a character who took a similar but not identical career path. I began an intensive crash course on Nelson’s navy, and Captain Hugh Kelly, the Manxman of my title, came to life on the page.

An Unwilling Alliance proved popular with my readers, and was shortlisted for the Society for Army Historical Research fiction prize in 2019. I really liked the characters. By the end of the book, Hugh had married his Manx love, Roseen Crellin and I could foresee more adventures for him. I was also very taken with his awkward, loquacious, highly intelligent first lieutenant, Mr Durrell. But what really appealed to me was the fact that I had linked the book very firmly to my main series, by giving the newly-promoted Major Paul van Daan, a big part to play.

Paul was only supposed to have a walk-on part in this book, but as always he walked on and took over. In An Unconventional Officer, I mentioned that Paul and his battalion had sailed from Ireland to Copenhagen with Wellesley to take part in the joint operation between the army and the navy in 1807. This was the campaign Hugh Kelly was about to join. I did not give details of what happened to the 110th during that campaign; the book was long enough already. Suddenly, I realised I could write a book where my two leading men could not only meet, but could get to know each other.

In 1807, Paul is still only twenty-five, newly purchased up to major and still has a lot to learn. Hugh is thirty-two, has been in the navy since he was a boy and is a post-captain, which was roughly equivalent to an army colonel. Paul has ambivalent feelings about the navy since his experience of being mistakenly press-ganged as a boy. It was clear that this relationship could go either way. Without giving away too much of the story to new readers, by the end of the book Paul finds himself in a disciplinary mess which Hugh and young Durrell help to pull him out of and a friendship is cemented.

It’s a long-distance friendship. In the period between the two books, it’s clear that there is an ongoing correspondence. The Iris is on blockade duty off Gibraltar and Paul spends a very memorable period in Yorkshire and then sails with Wellesley to Portugal. He fights at Vimeiro and Rolica but manages to avoid Corunna due to an outbreak of camp fever. In 1809 when Hugh, Durrell and the Iris set sail for Walcheren, Paul is marching with Wellesley into Spain and the bloody field of Talavera.

One of the complicated things about running these two series, is that I am writing two different timelines. In the Peninsular War Saga, Paul is married to Anne by now and they have two children. At the end of This Blighted Expedition, when Hugh receives a letter from him, he is still married to his first wife who is carrying their second child. To maintain the links between the two series, I constantly have to remind myself who knows what, at which point in the story.

Paul and Hugh are not the only characters to move between the two series. Until the end of 1810, the seventh company of the first battalion were not with Paul, and in 1809 they sailed for Walcheren along with the second. This gave me the opportunity to go back in time to the early days of one or two characters, particularly the young Lieutenant Giles Fenwick, who is later to play a significant role in both the Peninsular War Saga and my associated Regency romance novels. Vincent Longford and George Zouch also make an appearance during This Blighted Expedition.

Bridge over the Coa-
featured in An Unconventional Officer
It’s quite odd, this two-way time travel because I know a lot about the future of some of my characters, since it is already written. After the end of This Blighted Expedition, off camera, as it were, I already know that Giles, Longford and George Zouch are about to receive orders to go to Portugal, and will arrive in Lisbon in the middle of An Irregular Regiment to add to Paul’s headaches with the commissariat and the 112th infantry. I also know, from a brief reference in book 5, an Untrustworthy Army, that while in Madrid, Paul receives a letter from Hugh Kelly, who is serving off the coast of Spain, once more under the command of Sir Home Riggs Popham.

The next episode in the Manxman series, will follow Hugh’s adventures during the 1812 campaign with Popham. As for the next book in the Peninsular War Saga, without giving too much away, it is definitely going to feature one or two guest appearances from characters in This Blighted Expedition.

Is anybody confused yet?

Essentially, all my readers really need to know, is yes, the series are very much linked. In fact, if you include the two books in my Regency romance series, all three are linked, which is why I have decided not to write any more Regencies until the other series have reached the end of the war, since it is impossible not to introduce too many spoilers. Certainly, reading the Peninsular War Saga and the Manxman series will enhance the reader’s enjoyment of both. While each book covers a particular campaign or section of a campaign, and can be read in isolation, the two stories and the lives of the various characters weave together, touching hands and then drawing apart again until the next contact. Characters meet and then separate, letters are exchanged and shared experiences may be mentioned.

Eventually, it is my aim that the two timelines will catch up and run seamlessly together. This should happen. There are more Peninsular books than Manxman books, mainly because there was a lot more action in the army than in the navy. Poor Hugh is likely to have another long spell of blockade duty at some point, and since he is a good officer who does his duty, he’ll stay aboard his ship and endure the boredom which doesn’t make for a good novel.

I have a sketch plan in my head. It may not work out, we will have to see. If it does, we should see a campaign where Paul and Hugh are once again in the same theatre of war. It is called San Sebastian, and it’s going to be a rough ride.

On a final note, there are two other books which were published before the Peninsular War Saga, and are of a different time period. Both are currently standalone novels, but because I have that kind of brain, I wanted there to be a link to those too.

In a Respectable Woman, the hero, Kit Clevedon, had some financial independence from his objectionable father because he inherited his childless uncle’s estate. The same uncle helped him obtain his first commission in the army. It is mentioned several times in the Peninsular War Saga, that Major Gervase Clevedon was the younger brother of an Earl. Gervase is, in fact, Kit’s uncle.

A Marcher Lord is set on the Scottish borders in the sixteenth century, so there can be no close link. But Jenny and Will Scott had children and the name endures through the centuries. Don’t be terribly surprised if at some point, a red-headed borderer turns up somewhere in the Peninsula. It could happen.

In the meantime, please enjoy the latest book. I’m currently embarking on the madness of my first attempt at NaNoWriMo so follow my progress on my blog or on social media, and please feel free to contact me with any questions about any of the books. I love talking to readers and I will answer.

Nancy Says: I'm breathless and in complete awe just reading about your connections, Lynn. I do understand, though, the difficulty of keeping things straight in your own mind when writing about slightly different eras. I have to be really careful with aspects of Ancient Roman Britain history when creating promotional materials for both my Celtic Fervour Series set in A.D. 71-84 and The Taexali Game set in A.D. 210. No anachronisms allowed!! the Roman Army was not the same all through the Roman Britain period. 

This Blighted Expedition is available on Amazon kindle HERE and will be available in paperback very soon. 

Lynn's website and blog, Writing with Labradors HERE

Find Lynn on Facebook HERE

Lynn Bryant
About Lynn

Lynn Bryant was born and raised in London's East End. She studied History at University and had dreams of being a writer from a young age. Since this was clearly not something a working class girl made good could aspire to, she had a variety of careers including a librarian, NHS administrator, relationship counsellor and manager of an art gallery before realising that most of these were just as unlikely as being a writer and took the step of publishing her first book.

The first book in her Manxman series, An Unwilling Alliance, was shortlisted for the Society for Army Historical Research fiction prize 2019. She now lives in the Isle of Man and is married to a man who understands technology, which saves her a job, and has two grown up children and two Labradors. History is still a passion, with a particular enthusiasm for the Napoleonic era and the sixteenth century. When not writing, she waits on the Labradors, reads anything that's put in front of her and makes periodic and unsuccessful attempts to keep a tidy house.

Thank you for sharing your news about your latest book, Lynn, and best wishes for a really super launch week.