Monday 21 December 2020

#Jolabokaflod Christmas Blog Hop post for 21st Dec.

Hello again.  The HWF #Jolabokaflod only has a few more posts to go! 

Today's #Jolabokaflod post is a lovely little story for anyone needing to settle down an excited child a couple of days before Christmas! 

Hop over to Nicky Moxey's blog  - read her free story and check out her gift for a lucky winner. Click the link HERE  and enjoy. 


Saturday 19 December 2020

#Giveaway and #Jolabokaflod post for the 19th December

 Hello again! 

Today's post for the #Jolabokaflod HWF Blog Hop is by Paula Lofting who takes the reader back to the 11th century and to the era of the Viking influence in England.

Pop over and read an excerpt; take up Paula's offer of  a #FREE copy of Sons of the Wolf; and get to know Paula the person and the author.

Click HERE  to go to Paula's blog

...and enjoy all the wonderful books that have been shared during this blog hop. And the HWF's #Jolabokaflod isn't done yet-  there are more posts to follow during the next few days. 


Thursday 17 December 2020

#Jolabokaflod Christmas Book Flood!

Welcome to my post for the Historical Writers Forum #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop. 

This #Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood) Blog Hop is an exciting way for HWF members to share a bit of their writing, especially if it's set at Christmas time. It's also about entering into the tradition of gifting of a book since that's what the Icelandic #Jolabokaflod is all about. The gift of a book for Christmas Eve means a fabulous excuse to settle down, read and just....enjoy! 

You'll find details of my gift for you at the end of the post. 

Most of the Blog Hop contributions, so far, have included excerpts that are set during the Christmas period. I have just a wee bit of a problem with that because I've never included a 'Christmas' scene in any of my historical Celtic Fervour Series novels, or in my time-travel historical The Taexali Game. Since my historical novels are set in the late 1st C AD, and early 3rd C AD, my historical characters led a much more pagan lifestyle. In their day, a Christmas celebration - as is presently celebrated - was not yet invented. 

However, I have made a mention of a December Christmas-related tradition in Topaz Eyesmy contemporary romantic mystery thriller. Topaz Eyes has a deep and complex ancestral plot, my way of adding multiple historical aspects to a mystery. The story is effectively a 'somewhat deadly' treasure hunt for the missing 'Tiru Salana' emerald collection. They are fabulous pieces of jewellery - once owned by a Mughal Emperor - which were acquired by the Hoogeveens in the 1880s, an Amsterdam family who owned a jewellery business. The last family mention of the jewels was in 1910 when the matriarch separated the collection and gave it to her daughters.

My two main characters are Keira Drummond from Edinburgh and Teun Zeger, an American of Dutch descent. 

Keira, initially, has no idea why she's been included in the Hoogeveen family quest. She's not descended from the Hoogeveeens but she soon realises that she did know one of them quite well - an old lady named Neela. 

It IS Teun's family but he knows very little of his grandmother Marijke's life in Holland before she moved to the U.S. in the early 1930s. 

Keira and Teun pair-up to see if they can find any traces of the jewels in his uncle's house in Minnesota, and in items belonging to Teun's father who is currently in a nursing home. Though Keira and Teun have only met very recently, there's a little bit of a sizzle happening...

[Note: Teun's aunt was Marta (his father's sister); his grandmother was Marijke; and his great-grandmother was Martine. Neela, it transpires, was Marijke's sister.]


A pile of letters from the loft landed with a soft plop in Keira's lap, while Teun tackled the smaller pile from his dad’s stored possessions.

It struck her as being an infringement of privacy to read letters sent to his Aunt Marta, but Teun decided it was necessary. The first few were from friends: nothing in them about jewellery, or any historical references.

A small pile of carefully folded papers lay on her lap, tied with a faded pink ribbon. Reverently untying the bow, she opened the first one. It wasn’t in English. She wasn’t familiar with the dialect and reread the first paragraph again before it clicked she wasn’t reading German. Of course! It was written in Dutch. Confirmation came when the sender’s name was revealed. She just as carefully undid the rest of the pile and laid them flat on her knee: all from the same sender.


“Teun!” She nudged him with her knee. “This pile is to your grandmother Marijke from her mother, Martine.” As up in the loft, she couldn’t contain her excitement. Surely the letters had to have significant information?

He shifted beside her and lifted the first one, saying nothing till after he’d scanned it. Disappointment wafted from him. “I can read the Martine at the bottom, but nothing else.”

Keira absorbed his silent question as his grey eyes deepened, his brows a tight frown.

“I can make a reasonable guess at some of it, but I’d much rather it was properly translated by someone who is Dutch.”

“We can do it later.” Teun’s voice was clipped. “Let’s see what you can come up with first. Are you willing to try?”

They sat in front of Keira’s laptop, all six letters smoothed flat. In no time at all she’d downloaded a Dutch dictionary. She then made sure the letters were read in date order of earliest first; thinking that if it was her mother who wrote to her, the first letters would be about more practical things – like settling into a new home in a new country.

That was exactly what Martine’s first three letters were like, the letters over a period of three months during 1934. It was a multiplicity of questions which Keira was able to translate; reflections of day-to-day living. Both she and Teun found Martine’s writing style amusing as she translated, written Dutch much easier for her to read than she had expected, many words being similar enough to German though the grammatical structure was not alike. In the letters, Martine asked Marijke lots of questions, but also posed what appeared like enquiries about her own exploits. She’d written things like… I suppose you’ll not guess who I met at the Opera last week. Whether Marijke had been interested or not, the answer followed in a flowing style.

“Look, Teun!” She almost jabbed her finger through the fragile paper. “Martine’s talking about Neela bringing Gabriel Henke to their house.”

“Don’t keep it a secret.” He looked amused since she was all but hopping up and down on her chair. “Read it to me.”

“Give me a minute.” She mumbled at first, focusing on the meaning of a phrase she’d no clue of. A few clicks later, she turned to him. She couldn’t stop grinning. “I think she says something like… Neela brought this little know-all of a man home and introduced him to us. Marijke? You can have no idea of the dread in my stomach. He clearly adores our Neela, but he’s the funniest looking little man. His smile is constantly like the child who has won the only treat from Sinterklaas.”

“Who?” Teun nudged her to get an answer, since she was laughing her head off.

“St. Nicholas. Were you never told about Sinterklaas coming to little kids on the 5th December and giving the children gifts; sort of early Christmas presents?”

He struggled with an elusive memory. “Grandma told us lots of things. I don’t remember anything about this Sinterklaas guy, but she did say her Dutch traditions didn’t always fit well in Minnesota.”

She clapped him on the shoulder in commiseration, her chuckle whispering at his ear. “Ah well, that’s maybe because Sinterklaas comes up to Holland by boat from Spain, with all his booty in his sack…so maybe your grandmother thought coming across the Atlantic was just a bit too much, too far-fetched? And perhaps it’s why she embraced American traditions like Thanksgiving, which is quite close to Sinterklaas Day.”

They continued with the letter, Teun interrupting occasionally for clarification. “So, was Gabriel a weird looking guy?”


Sinterklaas -Oude Pekela, Gronigen 

The tradition of Sinterklaas arriving by boat lives on in Holland. The image below is of him arriving at Tilburg in 2019. It's generally in the late afternoon, or early evening of Dec. 5th that the kids in Holland receive presents from Sinterklaas. (prior to St. Nicholas' Saint Day on 6th Dec) 

My own children were too young to remember the occasion now, but one year when we lived in Holland, we visited friends on Dec. 5th. Their kids were a little older and had learned about Sinterklaas at their Kleuters class (pre-school/Nursery) Sinterklaas very kindly stopped by the house and not only left a gift in the kids' shoes left out on the porch, but Sinterklaas and his Swartje Piet helpers popped in to the house to meet the kids. (This happened in 1981, but nowadays Sinterklaas'  Piet helpers no longer wear the 'Swartje' blackening make-up that was once traditional.)

On that occasion our Sinterklaas and his helpers were my friend's Dutch neighbour and his sons. A pretty usual circumstance at the time, and possibly still the case. 

Sinterklaas arriving by boat from Spain- 2019 Piushaven canal- Tilburg

AND now for my #Jolabokaflod gift to you.

A #FREE ecopy of Topaz Eyes can be download from Amazon between Thursday Dec. 17th and Sunday 20th Dec.  Click the link HERE

But...if you would rather read a historical novel, my time-travel The Taexali Game is also #FREE in Amazon Kindle from Thursday Dec 17th to Sat. Dec. 19th.  Click HERE 
(NB. The Taexali Game is intended for a wider readership from early teens onwards, but adults have told me they love it, too!) 

You are. of course, welcome to download both copies and fill your Kindle even more.

Enjoy the rest of the #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop. Still to come will be posts from the following authors (links will be updated each day on this blog as the posts become live): 

Dec 18th Tim Hodkinson

Dec 19th Salina Baker

Dec 20th Paula Lofting

Dec 21st Nicky Moxey

Dec 22nd Samantha Wilcoxson

Dec 23rd Jen Black


Dec 24th Lynn Bryant

Happy reading, be safe, and enjoy what you can during this very unusual Christmas period of 2020. 


Wednesday 16 December 2020

x2 titles #FREE already on Amazon!

 Good Morning!

In anticipation of my turn to post on the #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop tomorrow, the 17th Dec., I set two of my eBook titles to #FREE across the Amazon network for a few days, as they are my gifts to you. You'll be able to read tomorrow why I've been so generous in giving away two of my titles as Free gifts, and not just one, but for now...

This morning I find that Amazon are very quick off the mark to change the prices on the UK site, so I can tell you now that the eBooks for my contemporary thriller Topaz Eyes, and my time travel The Taexali Game , are both #FREE to download for the next five days. 

If you've not read them yet, this is a great opportunity and if you do download them I'd truly love your opinions on them. A very brief review on Amazon would really help to get my novels more widely known. 

Thank you in advance and enjoy! 

Here are the links:

Topaz Eyes 

The Taexali Game 


Tuesday 15 December 2020

Another #Jolabokaflod offer for the 15th Dec!

Today, 15th December,  it's the turn of Wendy J Dunn on the Historical Writers Forum #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop

You can read an excerpt from her latest book on her blog, and enter a draw to win a personalised copy of it Click the link HERE and enjoy. 


#Ocelot Press adds another title!

I've exciting news from Ocelot Press to share today! 

My fellow Ocelot Press author - Sue Barnard - is adding another title to our Ocelot Press listings and Never On Saturday is one that readers will love. I've already had the opportunity to read this novella and was very taken by Sue's ingenuity in using a traditional tale to weave a very interesting contemporary and historical combination in this time slip romance. 

Welcome to the blog today, Sue. Please tell my readers about your news.


Today (15th December 2020), a new title joins the Ocelot Press catalogue.  Never on Saturday is a timeslip romance novella with a hint of mystery and a touch of the paranormal.  It is set partly in medieval France and partly in present-day North Wales, and is based on an old French legend.

Unfortunately I can’t be more specific at this stage about the legend itself, as that would give away too much about the story.  But here is the blurb:

Two stories, two heartbreaks: one past, one present…

Leaving her native France and arriving in North Wales as a postgraduate student of History and Folklore, Mel is cautiously optimistic that she can escape from her troubled past and begin a new and happier life. 

She settles into her student accommodation and begins work on her thesis, concentrating particularly on one fascinating manuscript: a compelling and tragic tale of a cursed medieval princess.

Then she meets Ray – charming, down-to-earth and devastatingly handsome. Within days, Mel’s entire world has transformed from lonely and frustrated to loving and fulfilled.  Despite her failure with previous relationships, she allows herself to hope that this time, at last, she can make it work.

But Mel’s dreams of happiness are under constant threat.  She is hiding a dark and terrible secret, which Ray – or indeed anybody else – must never ever discover… 

And here, to whet your appetite, is a short snippet:

Bangor, North Wales


“Wow, it’s impressive, isn’t it?” Mel gazed at the long, ornate Victorian structure [Bangor Pier], stretching out across the Menai Straits. From one angle, it appeared to reach almost as far as the Isle of Anglesey on the other side of the water.

Ray nodded. “I quite often come for a walk along here. It’s particularly good when the tide’s out; you see all sorts of seabirds on the mudflats.”

“Are you a birdwatcher, then?”

“Not a serious one, but if I see one I like to know what it is. I learned a bit about them when I was at uni.”

“Oh, yes? Why was that?”

“I studied marine biology.”

“Oh!” Mel gasped.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” Mel lied. She prayed that he hadn’t noticed her alarm. “It’s just that…” She thought quickly. “Well…I didn’t expect to find a marine biologist working in a coffee shop!”

“I must be honest,” Ray sighed, “working in a coffee shop wasn’t exactly my first choice! But jobs in marine biology are pretty few and far between. And even unemployed marine biologists have to keep body and soul together somehow. But hey, that’s more than enough about me. What about you?”

“What about me?” Mel asked nervously.

“What are you doing in Bangor? You’re at the university, you said?”

Mel stared out across the Straits, as if admiring the view of the island, as she tried to compose an answer. She didn’t want to tell an outright lie, but how much – or how little – could she get away with telling him?

“I’m studying history and folklore,” she began cautiously, without taking her eyes off the view.

“Oh yes? That sounds fascinating. Are you familiar with the Mabinogion?”

“No – what’s that?”

“It’s a collection of traditional Welsh tales. I studied it at school. I’ve got an English edition I can lend you if you’re interested.”

“Thank you.” Mel turned to him and smiled with genuine enthusiasm. “That would be lovely.”

“So, you come from France? Which part?”

“From the Vendée. It’s on the west coast, just south of Brittany. There’s a castle called Lusignan near the town of Vouvant. Or at least, there used to be – I think it’s just a ruin now. I’ve always understood that it was built by one of my ancestors. I think that’s where my surname comes from.” She smiled wistfully. “I don’t know how true that is, but it’s a nice story.”

Ray grinned. “I’ve heard people say there are some parts of Wales where you feel you could be anywhere in Brittany. Is that what’s brought you here?”

Mel shook her head. “Not entirely,” she answered quietly. “My parents died, and I felt as though I needed a new start somewhere else.”

Ray whistled under his breath. “I’m sorry to hear that. I…” His voice trailed off.

Mel got the impression that he was even less comfortable talking about this than she was. There was an awkward pause.

“But I’ve sort of got used to it now,” she said eventually. “I try not to think about it too much. And I love it here. I’m very much an outdoor girl. I walk, I swim, and, yes, I like birdwatching too.”

Ray’s face brightened visibly. He waved an arm across the Menai Straits towards the Isle of Anglesey. Its bright colours – the greens, reds and yellows of the landscape contrasting with the sharp blue of the sky above and the mellow green of the water below – sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

“Have you been across to the island?”

Mel shook her head. “As I said, I’ve only recently arrived here.”

“Well, how do you fancy going for a birdwatching walk over there? There’s a super beach down on the south coast where you can see all sorts of things.”

Mel beamed. “Thank you, that would be lovely. When did you have in mind?”

“How about tomorrow?”

Merde, Mel thought. Here we go again…

“Sorry,” she muttered, staring at the ground. “I can’t manage tomorrow.” Please don’t ask me why not

“Well, how about Sunday, then?” Fortunately, Ray appeared to accept her answer without seeming to be too inquisitive.

She forced her face back into a smile before looking up at him. “Sunday would be lovely. Thank you.”


But why can’t Mel meet Ray on Saturday?  You can find out by reading the rest of the story.  And for a limited time, the Kindle edition is available at the special early bird price of just 99p.  

Click here to be taken to your local Amazon store.


Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet who believes that an immaculate house is a sign of a wasted life.  Thus, her house is chaotic but her life is anything but dull.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.

She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  She is also very interested in family history.  Her own family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.   

You can find her on Facebook

Twitter (@AuthorSusanB)


or her blog

Also by Sue Barnard:

The Ghostly Father

Nice Girls Don’t

The Unkindest Cut of All

Heathcliff: The Missing Years

Finding Nina

Thank you for visiting today, Sue. Best wishes with your Ocelot Press launch of  Never on Saturday. 


Monday 14 December 2020

HWF #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop 14th Dec.

 Hello everyone! 

I hope you are enjoying our Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop and taking advantage of the opportunities to get some wonderful books, either totally free or at a reduction in price. My Kindle is stuffed and there are still plenty of posts to come. 

Here is the link for today post for the 14th December from Sue Barnard. It's a great book- enjoy! 


Sunday 13 December 2020

More from the #Jolabokaflod Blog hop!

The #Jolabokaflod post for the 13th Dec. is by Vanessa Couchman!

There is another wonderful opportunity today to read a lovely excerpt from Augustine, written by my Ocelot Press author friend Vanessa Couchman. And...there's an opportunity for you to win a copy of Augustine. The prequel to Vanessa's series gives a great insight into rural France many decades ago.  

Click HERE to hop on over to SW France- if only virtually. 


Saturday 12 December 2020

#Jolabokaflod post for Dec 12th!

The fantastic #JOLABOKAFLOD Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop continues with enticing excerpts and wonderful #GIVEAWAY opportunities! 

The post for Dec. 12th is by Janet Wertman and you can find it HERE 

If you love to read Tudor history, you won't want to miss the opportunity to get a copy of her novel Jane the Queen.  Enjoy the excerpt, and the novel. 


Wednesday 9 December 2020

Dec 9th -The busy #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop continues

The December 9th post on the Historical Writers Forum #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop comes from Angela Rigely.  She is offering FREE copies of her dual timeline novel - The Peacock Bottle- across Amazon for the next few days. 

Click HERE to read about this great opportunity! Enjoy. 


Tuesday 8 December 2020

#Jolabokaflod for Dec. 8th!

The Historical Fiction Writers #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop continues today with an excellent excerpt from the pen of Danielle Apple.

You can read a chapter from a work not yet published and enter to win what sounds like a very intriguing anthology.

Click HERE for more details. Enjoy!


Monday 7 December 2020

#Jolablokaflod post for Dec 6th

Here is the link for the Dec. 6th post for the Jolablokaflod Christmas Giveaway Blog Hop organised by the Historical Writers forum. 

On Dec. 6th, my Ocelot Press fellow author - Jennifer C Wilson -  invites you to a sing along! Well, not quite but she does ask you to think about favourite Christmas songs. 

Hop on over to read her post by clicking HERE and take part in her super #GIVEAWAY. I've read the Raided Heart already and can highly recommend it. 


Saturday 5 December 2020

The #Jolabokaflod Blog Hop continues!

Here is the link to today's post (Dec. 5th) for the Jolablokaflod Blog Hop!

Learn about a German tradition for Dec. 5th and 6th and read about the fantastic offer that 

Cathie Dunn has organised for you! 


Friday 4 December 2020

 December is here and so is the Jolabokaflod Blog Hop!

This December, the Historical Writers Forum decided to do something a little different from the previous Blog Hops where a participating author has published a blog post that's been historically appropriate for the era they write in. December 2020 is more about the authors sharing and gifting an opportunity to experience their actual writing perhaps more directly than before. 

The essence of the Icelandic Jolabokaflod is to gift someone a book on Christmas Eve for them to 'coorie doon' (Scots) and have a great read. 

You'll find wonderfully interesting content on the author's post but you're also likely to find an exciting offer you won't want to miss out on. 

The participating author list and their general blog link is below. Remember to pop into each blog on the scheduled day and enjoy the read.

Dec 3rd Sharon Bennett Connolly

Dec 4th Alex Marchant

Dec 5th Cathie Dunn

Dec 6th Jennifer C Wilson

Dec 8th Danielle Apple

Dec 9th Angela Rigley

Angela Rigley – Welcome to The Writing Den

Dec 10th Christine Hancock

Byrhtnoth | A boy who became a man. The man who was Byrhtnoth.

Dec 12th Janet Wertman

Dec 13th Vanessa Couchman 

Dec 14th Sue Barnard

Dec 15th Wendy J Dunn

Dec 16th Margaret Skea

Home - Margaret Skea, Author

Dec 17th Nancy Jardine    

Dec 18th Tim Hodkinson

Dec 19th Salina Baker

Dec 20th Paula Lofting

Dec 21st Nicky Moxey

Dec 22nd Samantha Wilcoxson

Dec 23rd Jen Black


Dec 24th Lynn Bryant