Monday 30 September 2019

Inchtuthil- The Fortress on the Wing?

Welcome to my Monday Musings!

I've taken some time off my writing in progress to jot down some of my research on the fabulous Legionary Fortress at Inchtuthil in Perthshire, Scotland. This blog post is also intended for the shared blog posts associated with the Historical Writers' Forum where you'll find a huge range of eras  and subjects covered by the group of historical authors that I'm delighted to be a part of.   

Inchtuthil - Pinnata Castra, The Fortress on the Wing!

Mapmaking details of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy), writing around A.D. 120-150, name an Ancient Roman Fortress in Caledonia as Pinnata Castra. This is translated as ‘the fortress on the wing’. The exact position of this fortress is hard to discern since the medieval map created from Ptolemy’s assembled references is oddly skewed with Scotland appearing at right angles to the rest of mainland Britain

No large legionary fortress has ever been identified near the Moray Coast where it is sited according to the medieval version made using Ptolemy’s projections. Ptolemy also names a fort as Victoria, some historians believing that one to have been named after the Battle of Mons Graupius as mentioned by the Ancient Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus - the name Victoria often conferred after a notable Roman victory over enemy tribes. However, there has never been a large fortress identified near the Victoria location as detailed by Ptolemy.  

It, therefore, makes sense that the huge fortress (21 ha/50+ acres) positively identified at a site named Inchtuthil in Perthshire was the one Ptolemy calls Pinnata Castra since it’s the only large legionary-sized fortress ever identified in northern Caledonia. Or it may be that Victoria was built further north at the Inchtuthil location and mistakenly plotted on the map!  I chose to name Inchtuthil as Pinnata Castra in my Celtic Fervour Saga series since I like the idea of the fortress being on the wing, essentially at the edge of the fortifications that were built north of the Forth/ Clyde line.  

At Inchtuthil there's evidence of a legionary fortress likely to have been mainly built and garrisoned by the Twentieth Legion (Legio XX Valeria Victrix). Built to garrison as many as 6000 men (a full legion plus additional specialist troops), its position was highly strategic and placed on a natural plateau with outstanding views over the surrounding countryside. On the north bank of the River Tay, it had access to sufficient water supplies and it was in the best place to monitor one of the main natural routes into the Caledonian highlands. The River Tay was also a navigable inland waterway which was ideal for small vessels of the Classis Britannica (Roman Navy) to ferry in essential supplies from southern supply bases. The building work at Inchtuthil is thought to have begun around A.D. 82/83 on the orders of Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, Commander of the Britannic armies and Governor of the province of Britannia between c. A.D. 77 - 84. Inchtuthil was not a long-lived fortress, though, since it was probably dismantled and evacuated sometime around A.D. 87 ‑ more about this at the end of this post.

Since General Agricola was familiar with the creation of the Eboracum Roman Fortress (York), while he was serving as the Commander of the Twentieth Legion, some historians believe he chose the site and layout of Inchtuthil using prior knowledge of the successful fortress at Eboracum. The fortress at Eboracum was sited close to the navigable inland waters of the Rivers Ouse and Foss and this may have influenced Agricola's decision to choose the location for his northern 'powerhouse' fortress. 

The operations of the small vessels of Agricola’s Roman Navy were crucial elements in the success of the Caledonian campaigns. It’s likely that only smaller vessels of Agricola's fleet could have navigated up the River Tay but they would have played a regular role in supplying the north of Caledonia. It's always worth mentioning that Agricola was innovative in using his Classis Britannica (Roman Navy) for more than in a supply role – he also appears to have given the fully armoured mariners an aggressive role in subduing the natives who lived close to the eastern coastline of Northern Britannia. This seems to account for the fact that coastal forts or fortlets in north-east Caledonia are quite rare.

Though the only legionary fortress in northern Caledonia, Inchtuthil was part of a line of strategic defence structures intended to control movement of the natives between the highlands and the fertile plains of current-day Fife, Tayside, Aberdeenshire and Moray. Experts of Roman Scotland refer to two main lines of defences built during the Agricolan invasions as the Glen Blocker Forts (Drumquhassle to Cardean) and the Gask Ridge defences (Doune to Bertha) which were used to encircle the highland massif. (N.B.Use the blog archive to access other posts about these installations). 

South of the Gask Ridge, Agricola also had sufficient defences controlling the Forth/ Clyde line which effectively monitored the southern accesses to the highlands.

The fortress at Inchtuthil was the lynchpin of all of these highland defences. Agricola’s aim was probably to use this fortress as a supply base for all future operations north of the Central Belt of Scotland, there being many tribes and territory still to subdue in the far north.

Since the site of the fortress was never built over in ensuing centuries after the Roman occupation, and remained pastureland, it allowed for thorough archaeological excavation (Richmond 1952-1965), though some small-scale investigation of the site had been undertaken in the very early 20th century. Because of its location and undisturbed condition, Inchtuthil is the only site across the Roman Empire that provides the best complete plan of a legionary fortress.

Inchtuthil’s main barrack accommodation blocks (64) were built close to the perimeter but behind the intervallum – the space left free inside the rampart walls the distance of it being set to be the widest extent that missiles from outside the walls could fall. The intervallum space was probably also used for mustering and rapid deployment of troops, and used regularly for drills. Larger than normal workshops (N) were created for manufacturing all of the iron requirements needed for a permanent stay in northern Caledonia (for tools, weapons, and fort building components like nails and brackets). A very sizeable hospital was also built. An outside rectangle of small rooms faced a smaller rectangle of rooms, the rows separated by a walkway (K). To the interior lay an open courtyard.
courtesy of SCRAN/ RCahMS
The timber walls of the above buildings alone had an approximate perimeter of 7 miles so the wood cut to create the whole fort would have denuded forests for miles all around the area. It’s estimated that building such a large installation would have taken a few years, the troops living in tented accommodation in the temporary camps situated outside the fortress till the barrack buildings were completed.

There seems to have been construction priorities at Inchtuthil. Some of the expected buildings were never completed and others were unexpectedly small. Generally in a fortress of this size there would have been a sizeable headquarters administration block (P - principia) and a generously-sized building to quarter the legionary commander (praetorium) built in the centre of the fortress behind the via principalis – the main road that ran transverse between slightly offset side gate entrances. At Inchtuthil, there is an unusually small principia and no evidence that a praetorium was ever constructed on the empty space that was laid out for it. This meant a fairly empty centre to the fortress. And some of the Tribune's officer accommodation wasn't completed.

There's evidence for 5 massive granaries, designed to hold months, perhaps even years, worth of grain. It's possible their size was designed to accommodate grain 'payments' from the locals -  although there wasn't really all that much fertile soil for grain crops in north-east Scotland. The locals mostly grew oats and barley, the latter being a ration apparently hated by the Roman troops. It's possible that space for a further 6th granary was laid out but not used. Agricola's concept of Inchtuthil being a huge supply fortress for an offensive further north at some future date was sound, especially in the amount of food stocks that were necessary to feed his four Britannic legions spread throughout the whole island of Britannia. The general troop diet was mainly a wheat-based one - bread and a form of brose/ porridge, and hard tack biscuits when on campaign - but it took tons of grain to feed those men. 

The small principia functioned as the headquarters building, the records store, the place where justice was meted out and where religious ceremonies took place. The aedes - the rear section - would have housed the precious emblems and standards of the legion, the emperor’s image, and altars for worship with the strong room beneath for storage of the legion pay-chests. There may have been a plan for this building to have been enlarged at some point but that never happened. Outside the fortress walls there was a temporary camp officers' compound which seems to have been used during most of the construction phase. It may be that the principia was small because official business was still being conducted from the officers' compound. Interestingly, the remains of a small personal bathhouse were found near that senior staff compound. 

General Agricola was recalled back to Rome in early A.D. 85 but it's not clear who his successor was. It may have been G. Sallustius Lucullus [executed in A.D 94 and there's a nice story for this for another post] but, if him, his tenure as Governor of Britannia would have been incredibly long. By the time Agricola was recalled to Rome, and his almost unparalleled 7-year tenure  ended, Emperor Domitian had already been withdrawing troops from Britannia for some years. Caledonia was seriously undermanned when Agricola left and the troops stretched too thinly across the island of Britain to maintain control over all of the areas invaded. Inchtuthil may have been Agricola's 'pet project', built for sound reasons when in aggressive invasion mode but Agricola's successor may not have had the authority from Domitian to continue to man the northern areas of Caledonia, or even the will to continue with Agricola's ambitious plans. It's not clear when all of the troops retreated from the north and were deployed in southern Britannia after Agricola left Caledonia, but most historians think the troops withdrew down to around Trimontium (Melrose on the Scottish Borders) by the late A.D. 80s. 
General Agricola- Wikimedia Commons 

The fortress at Inchtuthil was probably dismantled and evacuated around A.D. 87 (coin evidence indicates before A.D. 90), the likeliest reason being that Emperor Domitian needed more troops because he was heavily involved in war in Moesia (Balkans)/ and Dacia . Domitian recalled troops of the Legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis from Britannia to stem the unrest. This left the northern areas of Caledonia undermanned. It's thought that most of the troops of the Legio XX moved south to man the base at Deva Victrix (Chester) when it was evacuated by the Legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis. 

The dismantling process at Inchtuthil was an organised one. If there were elements in the fortress that could be used elsewhere in Britannia, or even across the wider Roman Empire, they would have been packed up and carted off during the withdrawal. Items unwanted like already chipped pottery, unrepaired fittings tended to be consigned to the rubbish pits. In general, nothing was left that the enemy could use to their advantage. Since iron seems to have been the most prized commodity in Late Iron-Age society in Caledonia, probably even more esteemed than gold or silver, it is highly unusual that a massive amount of iron was left at Inchtuthil. Naturally the iron stocks weren’t just left lying around! 

Since the workshops were up and producing early in its history, it’s thought that there were huge stocks of nails ready and waiting for major fort building further north, the Caledonian campaigns expected to continue for some time. Nails of varying sizes, from very small to the huge spikes that were used to connect thick upright posts, were purposely packed into a deep pit and covered over before the fortress buildings were set alight prior to the evacuation of Inchtuthil, a normal procedure when abandoning a fortress. It seems as though the almost one million nails (875,400), iron wheel rims and fittings - upwards of 10 tons worth - were impossible to cart away and this was an attempt to deny the locals from finding them and melting them down to make valuable weapons.

When Richmond excavated the site at Inchtuthil in 1960 it must have been a huge thrill to find this amazing treasure chest beneath the ground. When the pit was first dug, they found a large slab of iron, and under the slab which was in fact multitudes of fused iron nails, they found the cache of intact unused nails. Collections of nails were gifted to museums, some sold off to interested buyers and I read somewhere that some of the remainder ended up in a steelworks in the Central Belt of Scotland. Atomic scientists have studied some of the nails to estimate corrosion effects on barrels of nuclear waste. Click the link below to see a photograph of those amazing nails! 
I’m currently writing about this amazing fortress in Book 5 of my Celtic Fervour Saga series. My character Agricola has been summoned back to Rome from his campaigns in what is now north Aberdeenshire and Moray. Agricola is determined to see the progress at Inchtuthil on his way southwards since he knows it’s the pinnacle of his achievements in Caledonia.

Happy Reading.


Monday 23 September 2019

The Taexali Game by Nancy Jardine with Ocelot Press

Brand new #promotional #video for #The Taexali Game!

Good Morning Monday!

My Sunday wasn't idle since I decided to make a promotional video with new-to-me software called 'InVideo'. So far I've only ventured an attempt with the free software to gauge how easy was it was for me to learn and to see whether, or not, it has any effect on my very short PRE-ORDER period for the new Ocelot Press version of The Taexali Game on Amazon.

The software was a tiny bit more difficult to use, initially, than the 'MovieMaker' that I'd tried some years ago. I must also say, though, that I haven't explored all that's available on the FREE version and I'm sure there are lots more options on the paid access. When I can free up some time I'll have another go for my other published novels.

Here it what do you think for a first try?


Wednesday 18 September 2019

What categorises #HistoricalFiction?

Wednesday Wonderings!

Part of this article was written as a potential guest post for use during the recent blog tour for The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Saga series. It ended up being surplus to requirements but it's a good one to post here today on what is the day after the fantastic 7-day blog tour officially ends. The post topic is highly personal, as it's part of my publishing history, but I imagine that there may well be some other authors who can readily relate to it.

Pigeonholed…or not?

Thankfully, these days, an author can cross some traditionally held parameters and publish stories that don’t fulfil restrictive categorising.

When I wrote The Beltane ChoiceBook 1 of my Celtic Fervour Saga Series – I had priorities for my characters and the setting of the story, though in all honesty as a new author (2011) I wasn’t really aware that my choices might prove difficult at the classification stages for publishing on internet sites like Amazon. 

My intention was to write a tale of a relatively ordinary clan, set in an era of great turmoil when armies of the invading Ancient Roman Empire were decimating any Britannic tribes who were resistant to adopting Roman rule and daily ‘Roman’ lifestyles. The setting would be northern Roman Britain, because few authors tackle fiction set in this location and the period I chose was during the first invasions of the barbarian north of Britannia. (Ancient Romans termed pretty well everywhere that wasn't included in their empire boundaries as inhabited by barbarians)

Early research gleaned virtually nothing written about Brigantia (present day Cumbria/Yorkshire/Northumberland), and even less about over the high hills into the probably even more barbarian territory of the tribes of Caledonia (modern-day Scotland). However, I had discovered that Brigantia had had a special ‘Client Kingdom’ status during the rule of the Brigante Queen Cartimandua, who made deals with the Ancient Roman Empire. These took place sometime after the Claudian invasion of Britain in A.D. 43, till approximately the civil war across the Roman Empire in A.D. 69 - often termed The Year of the Four Emperors. During this period of 'Client Kingdom' status it seemed that Rome held back from totally controlling Brigantia, so long as the Brigantes didn't attack any nearby Roman military installations, or the armies of Rome. An exchange of gold was probably the motivator for Cartimandua to ensure that her tribes obeyed, but that 'bribery' situation fell out of favour with King Venutius in the late A.D 60s. The tale that Cartimandua divorced him around this time and took up with Vellocatus, his erstwhile standard bearer, added salt to a very exposed wound. That Cartimandua had done some dastardly deeds like delivering the rebel King Caratacus to emissaries of Rome didn't make her very popular either.

from historic Queen Cartimandua giving up King Caratacus (Caractacus) 
Since I’d read at least one novel which included Cartimandua as a main character, I chose not to write about her as my main character, and not her ex-husband Venutius either, though both of them are mentioned in passing in the The Beltane Choice.

Back in 2011 - although an avid reader of everything I came across in historical fiction and historical non-fiction - I wasn't discerning enough to acknowledge the fine nuances that determine traditional historical fiction. As a reader, I enjoyed well-written historical fiction whether or not the main protagonist was a 'historically known' figure. A novel ringing true to the era, full of accurate description  of settings and authentic depictions of fictional main characters was still historical fiction in my mind (even when not characters documented as historical figures). I was to find that some authors and publishers didn't think like I did!

The Beltane Choice was conceived as being about tribes who would normally be at war with each other. People who would find a need to unite together as a stronger force to fight against the Ancient Roman invading scourge. Though, what might unite them?

In A.D. 69, the Brigante federation of tribes endured a civil war where forces loyal to Queen Cartimandua fought against forces of her ex-husband King Venutius. During the same period the Roman Empire itself was in the turmoil of civil war, but when General Titus Flavius Vespasian(us) became emperor (A.D. 69) he took firm control. By A.D. 71, Vespasian’s Britannic empire expansion was well underway and Brigantia was invaded with gusto!

A.D. 71 became my start point for The Beltane Choice but who would be my Celtic clan? I got out a current Ordinance Survey map and looked at the area that would have been northern Brigantia in A.D. 71, the territory which most likely would have bordered the tribes of southern Caledonia.

Copyright- Nancy Jardine
The only mention of tribal names for these locations wasn’t actually documented till around A.D. 130-150, when the mapmaker Claudius Ptolemaeus wrote down his map references. Ptolemy’s information records the tribes north of Brigantia, in Caledonia, as being the Novantae, Selgovae and Votadini from west to east, north of what’s currently the Cheviot Hills.

From this map information, I decided my main female character would be of the Selgovae tribe and the main male character a Brigante.

I searched current north Yorkshire and Cumbria for suitable remains of a Celtic hillfort and settled on the name Garrigill for my fictitious Brigante clan. Similarly my O.S. map indicated a Celtic hillfort in the vicinity of Tarras, so that would be my Selgovae hillfort.

I set to writing an early 2011 version of The Beltane Choice. I did some research for UK publishers who might accept my manuscript but found that most submissions were only accepted via an agent. The processes all seemed to take a huge amount of time and the success rate was pretty low. (even dire)

However, since that research was mainly via the internet, I discovered that there were a good number of Ebook publishers who accepted manuscripts without an agent. The slightly negative side to that was that many of them were romance-only publishers.

Some might say it was mercenary of me, and others that I was super-keen to be published, but I made the decision to make my historical novel have a strong romantic theme in order to be published quickly. I made many changes to the early drafts of The Beltane Choice, ensuring there was an HEA ending, which all good historical romances needed, without losing my focus on the authentic heavy historical detail. It was first published in 2012 - a huge relief to me and a time of great celebration - but that's when issues over its categorisation began.

  • The strong central romance and HEA ending makes it an exciting and enjoyable historical romance novel for many readers who appreciate great settings and detailed description.
  • BUT...for other readers who favour lighter romance there's far too much historical description and too many strong secondary characters for them.
  • Some readers who don't enjoy romance love the strong historical aspects of the writing but don't call it historical fiction because of the central developing relationship. 
  • Readers who appreciate the adventure elements to the historical background are divided into two camps: 1) some enjoy the tussle between historical tribal loyalty and personal happiness 2) others don't enjoy the emotional character development arcs between Lorcan and Nara. 
When first published by Crooked Cat books in 2012 The Beltane Choice was marketed as HISTORICAL ROMANTIC ADVENTURE. 

From Book 2 onwards the series is a lot less about a central romantic development and more about the historical environments of what readers are happy to term my 'credible characters'. I'm now marketing the series as a HISTORICAL SAGA because those early main characters of Book 1 age to become the older generation.  It's mid-teenage Garrigill warriors who take centre stage in Book 4 Agricola's Bane. My current manuscript (work in progress) of Book 5 Beathan the Brigante is mainly about Beathan, the baby boy who is born at the end of Book 1. 

As in many sagas, there's continuity across the books, with 'next parts' to the life stories of my characters - some Celtic and others Ancient Roman. 

In conclusion, I'd like to say that the recent excellent blog tour organised by Rachel Gilbey of Rachel's Random Resources, for Book 1 The Beltane Choice, has garnered an excellent clutch of new reviews. Most of those bloggers have enjoyed the romantic aspects of Book 1 but have been overawed by the historical settings. 

I'll know later in the year what some of them think of my change of writing style and intentions when they (hopefully) comment on the later books when they are on their own blog tours.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that those readers still love my characters even though not all of the series are books with 'Happy Ever After' endings. Time will tell...

What do you think about the categorisation of novels with historical content? I've recently read other blog posts about strict categorisation of historical fictional writing. I'll be really interested to know what you'd need to read in a novel for you to call it HISTORICAL FICTION. 


Day 3 of The Beltane Choice Book Tour!

Friday Felicitations! 

It might be Friday 13th, some might say an unlucky one, but it's been a great day for me as The Beltane Choice is visiting yet 3 more blogs today. It's an exhilarating feeling keeping up with the latest reviews comments and features, while also readying The Taexlai Game for re-publishing (The paperback version is almost ready!)

I love that the review comments are reflecting what different readers enjoy or like less in a book -  and especially in one that's hard to quantify for marketing purposes.

Today's bloggers are:

Dashfan Book reviews which has a general book feature, an excerpt from The Beltane Choice, and the opportunity to add your name again to the Rafflecopter for a SIGNED copy of The Beltane Choice  (UK only) and an ebook (worldwide).

ReviewsFeed where you'll find a completely different perspective after a read of The Beltane Choice. It's absolutely true that some readers of historical fiction are not readers of romance so don't like those aspects so much in the novel. I'm very pleased to say that I'm looking forward to Rebecca of ReviewsFeed's comments after she reads Book 2 later this year. Hopefully she'll appreciate the greater historical context, the fact that it's not as romancy as Book 1 and will have an answer to these comments:

"I can’t wait to see where events take us in the later books; how will the Selgovae and Garrigill tribes meet the Roman threat?" Rebecca of ReviewsFeed

Over the Rainbow blog is the third on the schedule today.


Tuesday 17 September 2019

#The Beltane Choice fantastic Blog tour!

Hello again!

This is now the last day of The Beltane Choice 'Rachels Random Reads' blog tour and it's been phenomenal to see how many of the bloggers have loved reading the novel. There are so many fabulous comments that I can use in various future marketing  posts. 

The tour organiser - Rachel Gilbey - I can't thank enough for her professional expertise and general helpfulness. It's impressive to see how many bloggers she has contact with. 

I appreciate and heartily thank each and every one of the bloggers who spent time featuring The Beltane Choice; or who posted a guest post written by me; or who interviewed me; and those who wrote the wonderful clutch of reviews. 

In between visiting the blogs who featured The Beltane Choice, I've been busy getting the second edition of my time travel historical novel The Taexali Game onto Amazon. I'm presently waiting for a paperback proof copy to be delivered and if I'm happy with the colour I've chosen for the back cover, and happy with the interior, I'll be pushing that 'PUBLISH' button asap. I'm expecting that delivery by Friday 19th so fingers crossed! 

Tomorrow, I'll be posting a guest post written by me that was surplus to requirements for the above blog tour so...look out for that.


Thursday 12 September 2019

#The Beltane Choice blog tour Day 2

What an exciting day 2 of The Beltane Choice blog tour with Rachels Random Resources! 

Book 1 of The Celtic Fervour Saga series, The Beltane Choice, has visited another 3 blogs today and I'm utterly excited to tell you there are already 4 new super reviews for the novel.

The blogs visited today are Ellesea Loves Reading;  Curled Up With a Good Book; Herding Cats. See below for the links.

Here are some of the wonderful recent review comments:

From Stephanie Jane of 'litflits' posted recently on Amazon
"...I enjoyed Jardine's portrayal of late Iron Age life and the landscapes through which our travelling - and sparring - protagonists pass. As she says in an epilogue essay, archaeology is constantly changing our understanding of how these people lived, but I felt I got authentic and honest descriptions from The Beltane Choice.." 

From The Book Reader:
"The Beltane Choice has many good aspects to its story and is thus a good start to a series that I’m excited to follow further .... it was a good reading experience and I’ll recommend it to my fellow readers who love romance novels!
"...What shines brightly within the narrative are the details the author has meticulously researched to create not only an intriguing romance between two people from different clans but an insightful portrayal of the lives and struggles of these people during the early Roman occupation of England. I feel truly educated having not only learning about the late iron age era but the culture of the people of this time. It's riveting, making compelling reading along with the fascinating relationship rituals woven in between."

From 'curledupwithagoodbook'

"This is BRILLIANT! If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I love historical fiction, and love a good romance and this brings both together spectacularly! The historical aspect of this novel is superb – it’s well researched and true to what we know historically.  The descriptions of the people, places, tribes etc are phenomenal – I literally felt like I was there.  I could imagine the scenery and the characters and thoroughly felt immersed in the story.  I genuinely didn’t want to put it down and wanted to find out what would happen with Nara and Lorcan, the tribes and the Romans.

And I am literally over the moon that I’m on the blog tour for all FOUR of the books in the Celtic Fervour series and cannot wait to read book 2 now!

If you’re a historical fiction fan and love a bit of romance, then you NEED to read this!  Even if you’re not I would definitely suggest giving this a try.  A thoroughly well written and enjoyable novel that comes highly recommended by me! BRING ON BOOK 2!!!

This is BRILLIANT! If you’re a historical fiction fan and love a bit of romance, then you NEED to read this!"



I'm so pleased the bloggers loved reading The Beltane Choice and heartily thank her for taking the time to review. the third blog stop for today

You can read what Nara from The Beltane Choice is like in my guest post for the Herding Cats blog HERE

Look out for more details tomorrow.


Wednesday 11 September 2019

#Celtic Fervour Saga goes on a blog tour!

Good morning!

My Celtic Fervour Saga Series begins a super exciting blog tour today- 11th September 2019- with Book 1 The Beltane Choice being featured first. The tour is organised by the very lovely, very professional, Rachel Gilbey of Rachel's Random Resources. I'd recently heard super things about Rachel's tours, some of my fellow @OcelotPress  authors having loved using her services and am excited to get the reader feedback from organising this multiple book tour with her.

I've never used a professional tour service like Rachel's before so I'm hoping it'll give the series a lovely boost. Each book will feature on a number of blogs (21 for The Beltane Choice) over the duration of approx. a week. The other books will tour in Oct, Dec and Jan 2020.

And...By the time January comes around, I'm hopeful that I'll have more news about when Book 5, Beathan the Brigante, will be published.

The work that I've been beavering away on recently - writing different author guest blog posts, choosing unique extracts, and answering author interview questions - is for all of these tours.  I'm so looking forward to reading what some of the blogger say having read the books.

Today, The Beltane Choice is featured at 3 places.

Click this link to find an extract and a #GIVEWAY of a SIGNED paperback copy of The Beltane Choice to one UK based winner, or an ebook copy worldwide!

Click this link to read the blogger's review comments at  about The Beltane Choice. I love what she has to say, since it so perceptive and very true!

This is the third place it's due to be featured at today:

I'll update the blog visits on a top tab page when the post tour stops are live! Go to Celtic Fervour Saga Series Blog Tour to find the tour stops.


Wednesday 4 September 2019

#Was reading #18, 19, 20, 21 during August

Lady of the Tower by Francine Howarth

As before, I  really enjoy reading the work of Francine Howarth. I thoroughly appreciate the attention to historical detail and the author's character depiction is impeccable. For me, the best thing is always the skilled use of language, used in such a way that I'm right in there along with the characters in their setting. There's a ring of 17th century authenticity in the dialogue, yet the words still flow in twenty-first century fashion. I've read and highly enjoyed a number of novels by this author and will, I'm sure, read many more.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys a quickly read, enjoyable Historical Romance.

The Secret diaries of Miss Anne Lister edited by Helena Whitbread

Having followed the highly watchable series on TV, I decided to read the diary extracts. I normally like to read first and then watch but found as I read that the actor who played Anne Lister was vividly jumping off the page at me. 

The diaries are extensive and without the editing would clearly have been less easily read. The conclusion has to be that to have been somewhat different from what was supposedly normal back in the 1820s was a nightmare to live through. Suppress any inclination to be different or pay a dreadful price if 'in society'. I think only the very strongest, as Anne Lister must have been, were able to lead any semblance of a happy existence. 

Did I enjoy reading of her travails? Enjoy is not the correct response but I'm glad to have read her perspective of how she perceived her life, and of course, it is her interpretation of what life threw at her. Would I have liked her had I met her in society? I'm not so sure. 

Bridles Lane by Johanna Craven

I've read a number of similar books set in the west country involving smuggling and pirating. This story has some interesting twists along the way. The question of who to trust is a recurring theme that doesn't get old and right to the end there are some niggling doubts but to say more might mean some spoilers! An entertaining read.

A Sinful Countess by Francine Howarth

This is a very quick read, though just as entertaining as all of Miss howarth's writing. When I need a swift zip back t the past in a romantic setting, I know exactly which author never disappoints. Perfect for those who like Recency Romance with a spicy twist!


Blog more!

Hello again, after a long absence.

It may seem as though no writing related work has been done lately but that’s not quite true. During the last couple of months, I’ve been involved in lots of non-writing related time-sucks, almost all of them highly beneficial, though a recent illness isn’t one of those. That said, I’m on the mend. One of the best aspects of being ill was being able to get on with some of the writing tasks that were in the pipeline.  

Having signed up my Celtic fervour Saga series for an exciting blog tour it was my job to write lots of unique guest posts and answer lots of author interviews, all of them requiring individual responses. During the last three weeks, I’ve selected 12 different ‘unique’ extracts across 4 books (meaning the sections haven’t been used elsewhere); I’ve written 12 different guest posts and (so far) 8 interviews. I’ve also written a separate guest post and author interview bringing the total to 34 substantial ‘writing tasks’.

The current task on my writing list is preparing a slightly updated version of The Taexali Game  for self-publication with Ocelot Press. The intention will be to have that up-and-running very soon and there will be more updates on that as and when it gets a firm date. 

The 2nd Edition will have very slightly reduced introductory chapters, some new front and back matter and best of all, I intend to create a map for easier reader understanding of where the action is taking place. (I'm not sure why that didn't happen when I first self-published it!) 

The front cover design will remain similar, since I still adore Neil Saddler’s creation.

Currently The Taexali Game is on Amazon at a reduced price of £1.99 ($1.99 equivalents). If you've not read it yet, you can get a copy HERE.

As soon as The Taexali Game is ready for republishing, I'll be back to my manuscript for Book 5, Beathan the Brigante. 

I've also managed to read a few novels as well as non-fiction lately so I'll be adding some ratings for them on Goodreads and Amazon, and short reviews if I can squeeze them in. 

I can't finish off this post without mentioning that one of the most frustrating non-writing part of my recent days has been keeping up with the utterly sad and ridiculous politics taking place in the UK. The UK government is a total shambles. Independence for Scotland can't come soon enough. I've wanted Independence for Scotland for literally decades and always accepted that when it happens there will be a certain turmoil. However, nothing can be worse than what's going on just now and about to happen when Brexit with a deal or without a deal occurs (if it does). Nothing about any kind of Brexit is good for Scotland.

My eyes are glued to the Parliament channel when not presently hitting the keys on my keyboard...