Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Another 5* #review for Bran Reborn!

 #WhatsHappeningWednesday?

I've mainly been beavering away for the last few days at preparing slides for my online Zoom talk for the Aboyne and Deeside Heritage society next week. Finding fresh new material has meant a bit of lovely new research - it's been more than a year now since I've done an author presentation due to Covid 19 restrictions and I feel the need to upgrade the last ones. I generally do some changes anyway since my PowerPoint presentations are geared to the actual group I'm visiting, so although I might be sharing information I've learned on Roman Scotland, there is always a need to fine tune according to the audience. Some smaller groups want general Ancient Roman information and more of my novels, Some larger groups want more localised information i.e. Roman Aberdeenshire. 

The length of the talk also determines which slides are used. 

Old maps research is now much easier since I can access some really useful material online via the National Library of Scotland catalogues. Searching their online database has been a huge but entertaining distraction! I totally recommend their resources. They are FREE for me to access, provided I registered with them, but that cost nothing. (I am resident in Scotland so you'd need to check what rules apply to you)


During a short break before dinner this evening, I was alerted to a brand new 5* review for Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Series- After Whorl Bran Reborn. Getting reviews is a huge excitement these days since they don't come all that often. I take the opportunity here to thank Dorothy (an unknown reader) - the review is very much appreciated! 

The link is below but these are her comments: 

5*

"Well written and researched, this is a continuing story of the Brigantes in the battles of Romano-Britain. I enjoyed the storytelling. The characters have substance and one truly gets a feel for the early Britons in their fight for survival against the Roman usurpers. Can’t wait to read the next book."

I'd love to think Dorothy won't wait too long to read the second part of Brennus of Garrigill's story. 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3928182922

Slàinte!


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Yvonne Marjot interview!

Good Morning! 


Tuesday 6th April means it's time to welcome my guest Yvonne Marjot, the Ocelot Press author of Book of the Month for April - The Calgary Chessman. Yvonne has very kindly allowed herself to be asked lots of lovely questions and she has some great tips for you whether you're a reader or writer, or both as many of us are!

Can you please tell my readers a little about yourself? 

I was born in England, grew up in New Zealand (where I ran wild in the hills and forests behind our back garden) and eventually washed up on the Isle of Mull in Scotland as a lone parent with two tiny boys and a grown-up daughter who had already left home. Now my boys are both away to new lives on the mainland, and my daughter (and grandson) live just down the road from me. I’ve always loved to write, although it doesn’t pay the bills, and living in Scotland has proved to be an inspiration. 

What inspired you to become a writer/author? 

The first books I remember consciously imitating were the Moomintroll books by Tove Jansson. Tove has a great grasp of character, and character has always been at the centre of my stories too. The grown-up book I most admire is Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, with three wonderful character arcs, and exemplary ecological science underlying her stories.

Nancy says: My elder daughter got a copy of Moomintroll when she was little and I loved reading it with her. After daughter 2 had had her fill, it ended up in my little classroom library that my pupils could access if they had completed their work. It's still upstairs and a very battered copy, indeed. 

What is the best thing about being a writer/author? 

Reading! Any excuse to read a good book. Honestly, I think every writer would tell you the same: we write because we love to read. 

What is your writing routine like? 

Normally I run the public library, four afternoon/evenings a week and all day Saturdays. I try to write in the mornings three days a week. During the pandemic I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to do any writing at all, though I’m focusing on editing the Calgary Chessman series for republication (with Ocelot Press) 

How much time is spent on research?

Loads! If I’m stuck with the writing I can take a nice break by looking something up, or reading an author who’s written something similar. Because I try to get the history/archaeology right in my fiction I read a lot of non-fiction as well as indulging in fiction as much as possible.

Nancy says: I indulge myself too much with lovely engrossing research. It's so easy to find that time for writing slips away...

How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it? 

Almost none. I need to know my characters before I start, and I usually write (or at least plot) the climax/ending, so that I know what I’m writing to. Someone described my technique as ‘mosaic’ which is a very polite way of saying ‘all over the place’. Sometimes I have several important scenes written, and then have to patch them together. Plan? Synopsis? They come after the first draft. 

What do you think is most important when writing a book? 

The plot needs to make sense, the story arc needs to rise, climax, and resolve. But the really vital thing is character. I want my readers to believe in those people, to sign up to their lives and their beliefs, at least for the duration of the book. I like my characters to feel as though they are really speaking to you off the page.

Nancy says: Your characters really do speak directly to the reader, right from the beginning of the books. 

What is The Calgary Chessman about? 

Archaeological mystery; Contemporary romance; Memoir of survival 

Cas Longmore, a New Zealander recently divorced from her English husband, has ended up living in the family’s summer home on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. Life is tough but she’s loving her new independence. One day, walking on the beach at beautiful Calgary Bay, she discovers a mysterious object buried in the sand. Finding out what it is, and the people she meets through this discovery, go a long way to making her feel more connected with the world. In the meantime, her son Sam comes home from boarding school with a startling revelation of his own. 

What inspired it?

Back in the mists of time (about twenty years ago) I watched a TV program about the British Museum’s top ten treasures. One of them was the Lewis Chessman. Later that night I had a nightmare about being chased by a faceless monster at Calgary Bay. I woke with the idea for a book, and the rest (eventually) was history.

What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?

Do it for love. Be as organized, professional and hard-working as you can be, but ultimately do it because you love it and can’t imagine stopping. Isaac Asimov once said, “I write for the same reason I breathe: because if I stopped I would die.” And I really feel that’s true.

What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?

Be prepared for many years in the wilderness. Most writers don’t make any money (or, at least, not enough to give up the day job) so you need to love this expensive and demanding hobby. Find your tribe: the people online who think like you, and will support and challenge you. Work hard. And love it.

Nancy says: All excellent advice, Yvonne! 

What is your all-time favourite book and why? 

Favourite book by a dead author: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, which inspired me from childhood to this day. I reread it every year. Favourite by a living author: Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. This is the book I wish I’d written—lush and loving, and with impeccable background research credentials. 

What are you currently reading? 

I’ve just finished a fab Space Opera published in 2020: Arkady Martine’s “A Memory Called Empire”. Not so much big space-ship battles and mayhem, more psychological warfare and strange human interactions. It’s set in The City (whose name also means “The World”): a vast urban complex run by an AI where a murder has just taken place. In some ways it reminds me of the best of Asimov – and in particular his detective Elijah Bailey, who took basic common sense and ‘earthman’ prejudices into an alien situation to solve a detective mystery.

What is on your To be read list? 

I’m working my way through the ‘Falco’ series by Lindsey Davis, more hardboiled detective fiction set in the Roman Empire at the time of Vespasian. A favourite re-read. 

Nancy says: I read some of Lyndsey's Falco books in the 1990s, when the first ones were fairly new and found them so refreshing. Books about Roman life that were humorous were such a novelty to me. Then I followed them with Andrew Wishart, again so entertaining. At the time I never imagined I would also write about Roman Britain but in quite a different style and tone. 

Where can readers find you, Yvonne?.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheCalgaryChessman/ and group https://www.facebook.com/groups/613652062059888/


Yvonne Marjot is a lost kiwi, now living in the Inner Hebrides. She has been making up stories and poems for as long as she can remember, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition. Her archaeological romances, beginning with The Calgary Chessman, are published with Ocelot Press, along with her paranormal romance, Walking on Wild Air.
 

She lives on the Isle of Mull where she is volunteering during the Covid19 pandemic, but normally runs the local public library. She has three grown-up children and a very naughty cat.

Thank you for a really great interview and some excellent tips. I'll have to get back to Mull and visit you after the pandemic. Mull is a favourite island of mine and even more so if we can meet up again, even for another quick visit. For my readers, here's a photo Yvonne has sent on of the two of us on the hillside a little bit above Mull when I made a short visit in 2015.  I can't say exactly how much Yvonne has changed since then but I'm almost white with messy lock-down hair! 


Till the next time...

Click HERE to get your bargain copy of The Calgary Chessman. 

Slàinte! 


Monday, 5 April 2021

Ludi Megalesia Part 1

I can't resist the temptation to write about an April festival held in Ancient Rome!

Cybele

Between the 4th and the 10th of April, the people of the Ancient Roman Republic celebrated the Ludi Megalesia in honour of the goddess Cybele – the Magna Mater or Great Mother.

The Megale part meant great and the Ludi were the games, worship and entertainments held during some of the religious festivals.

Acquired after the wars against Carthage, the sacred stone representing the goddess Cybele – who had been importuned to give favour to the Roman side – was heralded on arrival to Rome with a magnificent procession. However, although the arrival of the goddess was solemnised, the annual celebrations of the Megalesia in her honour did not begin till around a decade later.

By 191 B.C., the temple Matris Magnae Idaeae was built and the sacred stone of Cybele was transferred from its temporary resting place in the Temple of Victory on the Palatine Hill. The temple in honour of Cybele also being built on the Palatine indicated that she was not seen as a foreign goddess but was from Ida, the home of Roman origins.

The rites were officiated by a Phrygian priest and priestess and later on the numbers of priests and priestesses increased, attested in various inscriptions. The priestly garb included a mitra (special headband), a veil, a necklace, a purple dress and an image of the goddess was pinned to the breast (an aedicula). He bore a basket of fruit, cymbals and flutes. The celebrations included general rejoicing and feasting.

Cybele- Luca Giordano

It’s likely the entertainments included plays based on religious themes, perhaps written by well-known playwrights, which would have been performed on the steep approach to her temple. During the days of the festival, there were exchanges of lavish invitations where wealthy Romans hosted each other, a bit of one-upmanship going on to be the one to lay on the most impressive banquet, or entertainment. It seems to have got out of order, though, since the Senate made a decree in 161 B.C. limiting the amount of expenditure on the food and utensils needed to provide the feasts.

During the Empire the rites were more ceremonial and much more elaborate, which I’ll write about soon…

Slàinte!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cybele_Getty_Villa_57.AA.19.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luca_Giordano_(1634-1705)_-_Cybele_-_1530094_-_National_Trust.jpg

Friday, 2 April 2021

5* Award Finalist Topaz Eyes is FREE across Amazon!

 It's Good  Friday for those who celebrate Easter,



...but it's also a Good Friday for getting a #FREE copy of my Award finalist mystery thriller Topaz Eyes. 

A very recent review states: “This book is fun to read -- it has all the delightful elements of a page-turner: intrigue, mystery, romance and action”.

Topaz Eyes is #FREE in Kindle across the Amazon network for the next 3 days-  Friday 2nd- Sun 4th April 2021. 

If you haven't yet read this mostly 5 star reviewed thriller, then click the link and get your #FREE copy now. From the comments of reviewers, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

Click HERE

Enjoy the read! 

Slàinte! 

The Calgary Chessman is the Ocelot Press Book of the Month!

The Ocelot Press Book of the Month is The Calgary Chessman by Yvonne Marjot!



This is a lovely read set in a beautiful Scottish location. I'll be doing a longer post later in the month but, till then, this is to let you know that the ebook will be reduced across Amazon to 77p/99c for the whole month of April. 

You can find general information on the Ocelot Press Readers Group on Facebook. Why not join us there? 

You can get your bargain copy of The Calgary Chessman  HERE. 

Slàinte!