Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Saltire and what it means!



Saltire and St. Andrew's Day 

The 30th November, St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland, is usually just like any other day. People go to work, children to school, and life goes on as normal.

Except today, for some Scottish people, it isn’t quite like that. There’s a group of people in the city of Glasgow (the city of my birth) who aren’t finding anything normal about the day since a serious incident happened at around 10.30 pm last night. The crashing of a police helicopter into a pub near the River Clyde could never be called normal. For the survivors of this horrific event, their St. Andrew’s Day will be one of mixed feelings. Those who have survived will rejoice that of the 100 plus patrons who were in the pub, they are alive (there are no official figures or firmed-up details yet). Some of those pulled from the wreckage, the helicopter having landed on the roof, will likely have terrible injuries – others perhaps less so. As I write, it’s good to know that the emergency services have procedures for minimising such traumatic happenings, their contingency plans having been immediately activated. Therefore, it may be a memorable St. Andrew’s Day for them of a negative sort.

St. Andrew’s Day being a Saturday this year may have meant some celebrations happened yesterday. It’s not standard or uniform across the country but some schools have a Scottish focus day during which they may learn the story of the patron saint of Scotland and they may celebrate the works of Scottish authors and poets. Being the end of the Book Week Scotland initiative, the idea of that being to encourage more people- old and young- to engage in the pleasure of reading, the chances are that at least some classes will have been discussing how the Saltire flag came to be the symbol of Scotland.

What is the Saltire, or St. Andrew’s flag, all about?
This is only one version of the tale - you’ll find other variations.

The Patron Saint of Scotland is St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles, a disciple of Jesus. Like Jesus was nailed to a cross to die so, too, was Andrew. It is said Andrew did not think himself worthy of being on the same shape of cross as Jesus, who had an upright (plus) cross. Instead, Andrew’s was a ‘multiplication sign’ cross. After his death, Andrew’s remains were buried in Greece, in Patrae.
By almost 400 AD, the Roman Emperor of the time, Constantius, declared Patrae was not a suitable place for the relics to lie and ordered the remains to be brought to his capital city of Constantinople.

  
wimimedia
 (St. Andrew is the middle top figure in this stained glass window in St. Giles high Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scottish_Saints_Window,_St._Giles_High_Kirk_Edinburgh.jpg?uselang=en-gb)

At that time, the keeper of the remains was Regulus. Regulus had a dream where an angel told him that instead of Constantinople the remains should be taken to the edge of the world, at that time known as Caledonia.

After a hazardous journey with the casket, Regulus arrived at Mukros, on the east coast of Scotland. He buried the remains there and set up a church. The English translation for Regulus is ‘rule’ and to this day there is a stone tower at St. Andrews, in Fife, called Saint Rule’s Tower. It lies next to the ruined cathedral in St. Andrews. It’s said the stone tower replaced Regulus’s original wood, mud and turf church and the bones of St. Andrew lie buried beneath it. 

We then skip on to the year 761AD when the kingdom of the Picts (then only a part of what we know of as Scotland today) was battling against the Anglo-Saxons (northern England of today). The two armies were encamped near each other ready to do battle when Angus, king of the Picts, had a dream. He saw St. Andrew come towards him bearing a silver cross (saltire) which shone out white against the blue of the sky. The next day the Picts won the bloody battle and henceforth the saltire was adopted as the badge of the Picts.

Many years later, the badge of St. Andrew was adopted as the standard for the whole unified Scotland, the land of Scotland as we know it today.

In this way, the saltire cross came to represent Scotland.

Click the link below to find out more about St. Andrew

I’ve organised a Book Week Scotland event down at one of the tiny Caf├ęs in my village. Along with an author friend, Glen, We’re hosting a Drop-In ongoing quiz today with Scottish themes. I’ll give updates on how this goes later.

Whatever you are doing, enjoy St. Andrew's Day.

Slainthe!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Familiarise Friday meets Di Horsfield



On Familiarise Friday I'm welcoming someone who describes themselves as... 

I'm a slighty mad writer of short stories, wife of 1, mother of 4, Nanna of 4 munchkins, lover of dogs and cats and am addicted to reading blogs and using Facebook as an avoidance technique.

I can relate to some of those- in particular using Facebook - because that's where I've met this bubbly lady from South Yorkshire. I've asked Di questions so that we can get to know her world a bit better and her answers are fantastic!  Settle in and let's get to know Di...

Describe yourself using only 6 words.
Happy, talkative, inquisitive (or nosy depending on your point of view) stubborn, huggy, technophobic

I think that sounds perfect from interaction on Facebook but how would the person closest to you describe you?
I hope they would say I’m loyal, ready to listen, prepared to laugh, cry, hug or push and defend depending on what they need and that I’m only a yell away.

You're a great neighbour from the sounds of that! What do you find most fascinating about people?
Oh, people fascinate me! I love to hear life stories and it never fails to astonish me how people cope with the most traumatic events and how they celebrate every achievement. No two people experience the same event in the same way. Everyone has had ‘flu for example, but each person will have their own individual symptoms and coping strategies, remedies, or tips. It’s this diversity that enthrals me so I guess I am probably considered nosy, because I ask questions about people; (I really will talk to anybody!) but I prefer to consider myself inquisitive or curious.
That’s probably why I became a social worker. I loved to listen to their stories and help them break down the difficulties they were facing then enable them to develop ways to deal with their situation or find ways to change it.

Where are you from?
Barnsley Town Hall -England
I am a born and bred Barnsley lass. I love this town. People are friendly and pretty open minded. They tend to let people live their lives without judgment. It was a very close knit community and in many respects it still is, but when the pits closed people started to move away for work or training rather than, as was the custom, staying very local. There’s an old saying in Barnsley that if you talk to someone for long enough you’ll end up finding out you’re related. Although it’s not AS true now, there still is truth in it.


This is the best image I can borrow from Wikimedia but that looks like a lovely Town Hall. Where are you currently living?
I live on the same street where I was born. I can see the house where my parents lived when they first married from my living room window. I’ve lived here all my life, except for two years when I first married and we lived in a village about six miles away. I was unbelievably homesick and my husband agreed to move back here at the first opportunity. 
When we moved in to this house, my husband was more than a little perturbed by the fact that everyone knew everyone else. He’d be walking down the street and a neighbour would ask him how we’d settled in and how the kids and I were. He had no idea who they were, but they knew him. As the kids were growing up, it was as safe for them to play on the street and in the fields as it had been for me and my friends. My husband quickly realised the value of the community because if one of the kids got hurt (as my kids seemed to do quite regularly) a neighbour would start patching them up while dispatching a child to get one of us.
Now my mobility is limited, I am not scared of falling in the garden or getting my mobility scooter stuck on the kerb because all I need do is shout and one of my neighbours will come and help. I feel very safe and extremely lucky to live where I do.
Wikimedia- Barnsley Pit

There are few people nowadays who can say that, Di. Not many live anywhere near where they were born since they've had to move away for work, or other reasons, and they don't have that 'extended family feel' around them. What are the best things about living in Barnsley?
It’s so central. 10 minutes in one direction and I can pour salve on my shopaholic tendencies at a major shopping mall. 10 minutes in the other direction and I’m in the middle of open countryside watching birds squabble in the fields or smell the bluebells in the woods.

Name your most favourite place in the whole world/universe.
France. If I lived anywhere other than here it would have to be Brittany or Vendee. I love the scenery, the culture, the coast line, the language and the people.

That sounds lovely reasons, Di. I've travelled quite a lot in the past but have not often visited France, and never the Vendee area. The ironic thing is that French was the language I took on to University level but I've never used it much. Who would be your ideal holiday companion if you took off on a sudden unplanned trip to Vendee?
I keep asking my friend if we’re going to Outer Mongolia! Sometimes when ‘stuff’ happens it feels like the only place to escape. We have been friends since our first day at secondary school and she knows me better than I know myself. She is funny and knowledgeable and more reserved and calm than me, so she’d be an ideal companion.
I would escape to anywhere with my husband. It’s sloppy, but he really is my soul mate and although we might annoy each other at times, we can’t bear to be apart for too long.
Wikimedia Vendee France

Now that's a really lovely thing to say- about your friend and your husband! What’s your favourite way to travel?
Car. I need freedom. I don’t like being stuck in one place for too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be perfectly happy lying on a beach with the sun blasting down and waves mumbling in the background but after a day of doing not much I get bored, so I like to get in the car and explore. I also like that when we go anywhere by car, we can take a route that suits us and stop wherever and whenever we fancy. Oh and I can take as much luggage as the car will hold, because I don’t do light travelling!

My husband and I will travel long distances by plane but we tend to hire a car and do the same as you since we're not beach huggers. We travel around the area and get a 'big' feel of the place. 

Back to the questions, though. You have a background in social work, I believe. Can you tell us how you got into that?
I started doing a Social Sciences degree with the intention of being lecturer or researcher, but found my dyscalculia very limiting and although it was diagnosed and recognised, I decided it was all a bit too much. I’d been working as a community youth worker for a couple of years and had done some voluntary work with families in crisis. It seemed like the logical path to take was into social work and I can say hand on heart, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

As a former Primary teacher of the upper stages,  it wasn't often a child had something equating to a Maths dyslexia but it meant a lot of frustration for the kid who had this kind of problem because they could excel at many other areas of learning. As a teenager, did you think you’d end up with a social work profession ? If not, how did you view your future?
I always wanted to be a nurse. I went for all the interviews and got a provisional place to train as a Registered General Nurse, but I failed my O level maths exam and I’d not got the energy to re-sit it. I was sort of wandering around a bit aimlessly when I met the man who, six months later became my husband. I was 17 and I’m sure my parents thought long and hard before agreeing to sign for me to marry. Of course, no one thought it would last. 31 years on and maybe they still think that!

What’s your main occupation just now?
I have Multiple Sclerosis and a weird type at that, so I can’t work now. I occupy myself starting stories that will probably never get finished, I spend time visiting my friends and I’ve just started driving again so I’m enjoying a little bit of independence again. I am addicted to Facebook and spend more time chatting on there than anything else.

Your health problem sounds really debilitating but I'm glad you've got some mobility back- that bit of independence sounds like it must be a great boost. If there was no Facebook, I'm sure you'd be outside your door in good weather chatting to the passers by - though rainy days might be pretty boring. Describe a typical day- if you have one.
With MS there’s no such thing as a typical day. I can feel well, not have pain or be tired one minute then the next; I’m flat on my back unable to lift my arms to wipe my nose. It certainly means there’s never a dull moment. I can’t do anything spontaneously but when the MS is behaving itself, I try to do everything I feel like doing.
I’ve learnt to be very selfish in how I spend my energy and unless something is vital, unless I want to do it, I don’t. My once very tidy home now languishes in dust and there are collections of dog hair in most corners. I’d rather visit a friend, read an article, or now I have my e-reader thingy, read a book than do housework, and I am very fortunate to be in a position to do this.

Finding coping strategies sounds like the best way forward, Di. Not easy, but less frustrating if you work out the best at any given time. Now for the imagining bit. Health issues aside - You’ve been granted a whole week where you can choose every single thing you want to do. What would that be?

www.123rf.com
Hahaha Oh I’d have a bath! A proper, lie down, skin-reddening bubble bath at least once a day. I love my showers, but I miss my hot baths. I’d drink red wine (it makes me too ill now but this is a magic week isn’t it?) I’d walk my dogs for miles and miles, that way they might not wake me up at silly O’clock of a morning so I’d get to lie-in. I’d visit my friends in other countries and counties and have coffee and cakes with them and I’d go to sleep every night with a book in my hand. There’d have to be some retail therapy in there somewhere and possibly a swim!

What’s your favourite reading material?
My granddad used to say that I’d read the back of a sauce bottle if there was nothing else to read! I’ll read just about anything. The only thing I don’t read is horror stories. I see pictures as I read almost like watching a film, to me that’s the sign of a good book. If after the first chapter I can’t see the pictures, I put the book down. It doesn’t mean I’ll never pick it up again, just that at that particular time, it wasn’t the right book for me to read. I’m as happy reading my grandchildren’s’ nursery rhyme books as I am Patricia Cornwell or Caroline Ahern.

Ha! Ha! I did read the sauce bottles as well, as a youngster, and anything else around! Can you tell us about the writing you’ve done, please?
I’ve had a couple of e-books published, but they are certainly not the kind of story any readers of your blog will have found and I have one story published in an anthology in the same genre. I’ve had a few articles published in newsletters for families who have a child with a life limiting illness and have written an article about End of Life Care for my GP’s practice that he asked me to do. I have also got a short story being published in an anthology to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s sufferers and carers. It should be published very soon but no date has been finalised. I tend to write for my own and my friends’ pleasure and don’t look for publication. It’s more of a happy coincidence than good management when things I write get released to the wider world, but who knows, maybe one day?

That sounds great, Di. I’ve made contact with you via Facebook. Did you know any Crooked Cat authors before you became a member of the CC Readers Group?
I was introduced to the CC group by Ailsa Abraham. (if you know how would you put a link to her blog in please?) We met through a couple of mutual friends on Facebook and I haven’t looked back since. There are so many inspirational authors on the CC page and everyone has been very kind and generous and I now have a much wider circle of friends than I ever thought possible.

The CC Cats are a great bunch, I totally agree with you there. Are you a gadget freak, or a technophobe?
Technophobe!

I'm a bit of a tentative Technophobe meaning I'm okay with things I'm shown how to use, but beyond that a bit challenged! What is your biggest goal for 2014?
To be at the birth of my grandchild. I’ve been there for three of my four grandchildren’s births, though my youngest was a bit of a near thing as he was born on the living room floor!

Now that sounds like a story to write. It sounds like he had a mind of his own over exactly how quickly he was entering the world...

One word answers, please, to the following:
Which do you prefer?

Night in or night out? Out   Walking or skydiving? Walking   Classical or Hard rock music? Hard Rock!  Vienna or Magaluf? Vienna   Meat or fruit? Fruit   City or countryside? Countryside
Reading or walking? Reading  Travel or stay at home?  Stay home

I'm with you on so many of these answers, Di! Thanks for coming to be interviewed - it's been fantastic getting to know you through your wonderful answers. Best wishes for any writing projects you undertake and a wish that your health is the best it can be for you. 

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Purgatory - you're welcome!


It's Welcome Wednesday!

I'm extending a huge hello to Denise Moncrief today. She's just had her Rosebud novel - Purgatory- published and is sharing it with us. Congratulations on this second book in the Colorado series, Denise. 

It's a very arresting title and a really  lovely cover. 

Here's a little about it but keep reading on since Denise is sharing a fabulous little excerpt as well.

Five years ago, a tragic accident robbed Chris Smith of a normal life. Left with only a jagged scar, a set of wedding rings, and bits of memory—smells, sounds, and fleeting feelings—she copes with the loss of her identity. Amnesia has made her life a living purgatory…until she meets Steve West.

Steve’s construction company is remodeling the ski lifts in Purgatory, Colorado. However looking at Chris is seeing the face of his deceased wife. Now the truths he’d been forced to believe have him searching for answers.

Murder, deception and missing ransom money. Can Steve protect Chris…and prove she’s the wife he never believed dead before the killer tries again?

Buy from Amazon

Learn a little about Denise....
is a Southern girl, who’s lived in Louisiana all her life. And yes, she has a drawl. She's been writing off and on since she was seventeen. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children. They not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her passion. 

She wrote her first "novel" when she was seventeen. It was seventeen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. The urge to write wouldn't let go of her. In her twenties, she started another novel, only to abandon it after Chapter Four or Five. She started writing seriously about eight years ago and has already published several stories.
http://denisemoncrief.blogspot.com/2013/10/merry-holidays-and-happy-book-year.html

 And now for some great atmosphere...

A swoosh of wind burst through the front door as a man entered the building. Dragging her attention away from the magazine, she turned to greet him. He hesitated for a fraction of a second as if to get his bearings before trudging through the lobby toward her. As soon as their eyes met, her words of welcome froze on her tongue and the pain began—flashes of light across her vision—tightness in her throat—intense, piercing sensations in her head. Panic and the desire to run soon followed.

She massaged her forehead, trying to rub away the stabbing pain that throbbed between her eyes, and then returned her attention to the man in front of her, pulling the computer keyboard toward her, determined to do her job despite the sudden fear gripping her insides.

She attempted her most professional tone. “Good morning. Welcome to the Inn at Purgatory. How can I help you?”

No response.

She glanced up at him. To her dismay, he presented all the indications of a panic attack. She recognized the signs well. His forehead glistened with tiny beads of sweat. The vein in his neck pulsed. Anxiety flashed in his eyes as he struggled with each new breath he took.

“Mister, are you all right?”

He braced against the counter and rubbed a hand over his face. “Yeah. It’s just…you look like someone I used to know.”

Chills ran down her spine. He wasn’t creepy, not in the least. On the contrary, she sensed an unmistakable connection to this stranger. She recoiled from the feeling, but nothing could have pried her eyes from his for a few brief, intense moments.

Wow! Thank you for stopping past on your launch tour, Denise. My best wishes for Purgatory. 

Slainthe!

Monday, 25 November 2013

After Whorl: Bran Reborn






Happy Monday everyone!
I'm delighted to present my latest book trailer video for my next novel. After Whorl: Bran Reborn will be launched in 20 days time! Look out for it all happening on the 16th December.

Till then the video will give an idea of what my Garrigill Brigante warrior is up to After Whorl....

I'm not sure why the image above is the one that YouTube keeps focusing on. My fantastic new front cover is the first slide of the presentation but for now enjoy it here, as well.

Slainthe!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Where am I jumping on that bandwagon?

It's that second Saturday of the month time again and I'm out visiting- blogging at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

I'm talking about me jumping on the bandwagon. Please join me there.


Do you know about Dan rice?

What kind of wagon am I on for next week?

Here's a little clue....



Slainthe!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Familiarise Friday meets Aristomenes

Hello and welcome to Familiarise Friday. 
Today, my guest has come from a long time ago to share some things with us. I met Aristomenes a few weeks ago when I read the story that he features in.  
Zeus Of Ithome, by T.E.Taylor, is a novel I loved reading. It's a story full of Ancient Greek mythology, history, geography - a tale of a young man called Diocles who matures very quickly into a leaader of his people. Aristomenes played quite a part in that.

Let's see how Aristomenes manages to answer my usual set of Familiarise Friday questions...

Hello and welcome to my Familiarise Friday slot, Aristomenes. Some of these questions might appear a little strange to you, but see what you can do for my readers, please.

Describe yourself using only 6 words.


Messenian rebel, getting on a bit. 

A rebel? I think we need to learn more about that! Can you describe where you are currently living?
In the cellar of a ruined house on Mount Ithome in Messenia. Eight foot by twelve.  No running water, furniture or windows.  Heated by an open fire.  The occasional rat for company.  

That doesn't sound very pleasant, and not particularly comfortable. Have you been there all of your life?
No, I have been all over the place.  I was born in the town of Naupactus, in Locris on the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth. My family and other Messenians were settled there by the Athenians after an unsuccessful revolt in my grandfather’s time.  Since the Spartans threw us out of Naupactus after their war with Athens, I have been wandering all over Greece - and beyond, to Italy and Sicily.  But I suppose this is where I feel most at home.  Ithome is the historic sanctuary of the Messenians, and our patron God, Zeus Ithomatas, dwells here still, even if his temple is in ruins.

What’s your main occupation just now?
I suppose I’d call myself a vagabond, though I am not a beggar.  I support myself by hunting hares and other small animals with a sling and gathering fungi and berries.  And occasionally I impose on the generosity of friends, when I’m on my travels.

Does your lifestyle make you happy?
Happy?  That’s not a word I use much.  I suppose I’ve got used to this life.  By now, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable living in a fine house in a town, though I sometimes think it would be nice to give it a try.

As a young man did you think you’d end up in this situation? If not, how did you view your future?
Did I think I would be doing this forty years later?  Absolutely not.  I thought that I would be fighting to liberate Messenia from Spartan domination, and later helping to build a new Messenian state.  The sad fact is that, throughout all these decades, that has always been what I wanted to do, and still is, though there is little to show for it.

What’s your favourite reading material?
You don’t get to read much in this kind of life.  On those rare occasions when I do get the chance, I like to read about history, especially the history of my own people, the Messenians. It makes me angry when I read about how the Spartans seized our country for themselves and turned us into helot slaves, but it keeps the fire burning in my belly. 

If your life was in a bit of a rut, what would you do first to change it?
“If?” I have been in a rut for decades!  If I had known what I could do that would change it, I would have done it by now.  There have been signs from the gods that things really are about to change, that it will soon be time for Messenia to seize its freedom.  If only I knew where to begin.  I have recently acquired a companion - Diocles, a runaway helot.  He has a lot to learn, but perhaps he was sent to me by the gods to stir me out of my inactivity.  

Who, or what, is the love of your life?
The only woman I ever loved was Eirene, the daughter of a local Locrian family in Naupactus.  We were engaged to be married, then forced to separate when I was expelled from Naupactus with the rest of the Messenian community.  I never really got over it, nor did she, I suspect – she died not long afterwards.   

What is your favourite way to travel?
I have been in ships a few times.  I don’t get seasick, so it is a lot more pleasant than tramping around Greece on foot. 

What is your biggest goal in the coming months?
The same as it has always been – to instigate revolt in Messenia and free the country from the Spartans.  But more immediately, to obtain guidance from the Oracle of Delphi on when and how I should do this.  

Quick answer section. Which do you like best?
Meat or fruit?   Meat.
City or countryside?  Countryside.
Reading or walking?  Reading?  Are you having a laugh?  I get to do a lot of walking, though I don’t do it for fun.
Travel or stay at home? Travel.  If I stayed in this place for too long, I’d go mad.  Probably mad already, some people would say.

It's been wonderful talking to you today, Aristomenes. I hope your scribe, Tim Taylor, has had lots of people reading the story of your time with Diocles. Thank you so much for coming all this way to Scotland to meet me. You are such a nice man (Most of the time that is, though you do have a few questionable moments in the book).


Tim Taylor was born in 1960 in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent - home of Josiah Wedgwood, Robbie Williams, Phil 'The Power' Taylor (no relation) and Lemmy.  He grew up just outside the city in Brown Edge, then at the age of 11 moved to Longsdon, near Leek.
         Tim went to Newcastle-under-Lyme High School, then studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford. After graduating he moved to London and spent a couple of years playing guitar in a rock band. When it became clear that he was never going to be a rock star, he sadly knuckled down and joined the Civil Service, where he did a wide range of jobs, including Chief Executive of the Veterans Agency.
         Tim married Rosa Vella in 1994 and their daughter Helen was born in 1997. In 2001 they moved to Meltham, near Huddersfield, to be nearer family, and have lived there ever since.
         While still in the Civil Service Tim wrote two unpublished novels and studied part time for a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, finally achieving it in 2007.  A period of illness in 2007 caused him to re-evaluate his priorities.  He took a career break in 2009 in order to spend more time writing, and subsequently left the Civil Service altogether in 2011.
         Tim now divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
         As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry, which he often performs on local radio and at open mic nights (where he also plays the guitar).  He is involved with several local writing groups. He also likes walking up hills.
Find Tim at: 
See Tim's Website/blog at:  http://timetaylor.wix.com/tetaylor


Three Hundred Years of Slavery. Greece, 373 BC. For three centuries, the Messenian people have been brutally subjugated by their Spartan neighbours and forced to work the land as helot slaves. Diocles, a seventeen-year-old helot, has known no other life but servitude.
After an encounter with Spartan assassins, he is forced to flee, leaving behind his family and his love, Elpis. On Mount Ithome, the ancient sanctuary of the Messenians, he meets Aristomenes, an old rebel who still remembers the proud history of their people and clings to a prophecy that they will one day win back their freedom. A forlorn hope, perhaps.

But elsewhere in Greece, there are others too who believe it is time that the power of Sparta was broken. 

Thank you for visiting today, Tim, and for bringing Aristomenes. Best wishes with sales of Zeus Of Ithome. 

Slainthe!






Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Welcome Wednesday says hello to Adele Elliott!

My guest on Welcome Wednesday is fellow Crooked Cat author and artist - Adele Elliott. It's her first novel with Crooked Cat, though I know she also writes other non-fiction work and fills her days with many different artistic pursuits.

The arresting book cover for her Crooked Cat novel - Friendship Cemetery - I think, says a lot about the sub-genre, but let's get to know Adele, and find out more about her work.

Hello and welcome, Adele, having come all the way from Mississipi to visit me in Scotland.



Your typical week sounds like it has a lot of varying types of activities. Let’s take your non-writing tasks first. How much time in a typical week do you devote to your artistic pursuits? There was a time when I worked in my studio every day. Lately, I am tied up with the business of promoting “Friendship Cemetery”.

Yes, Adele, I can understand that- it's a task we all have to devote a lot of time to! But you are still painting? 
This year, my work has been in several local exhibits; also one in Louisiana and one in Indiana. I have a degree in fine art (painting), and really love to paint. Writing is painful and difficult. I have no idea why I write.

Now for the writing that you do - your bio indicates that you write for an opinion column. Can you tell the readers a little about that? My husband and I, along with two cats and one dog, landed in Columbus, Mississippi just as Hurricane Katrina was hitting the Gulf Coast. After that, the city of New Orleans was under water and closed for several weeks. When the mayor re-opened the city, we discovered that our home, our business, and all of our possessions were lost.
We decided to stay here in Columbus, and try to make a life in this alternate reality. We threw ourselves into the community.
At an art opening, I met the editor of the local daily newspaper. We chatted and he offered me a column. The original idea was a sort-of comparison between the two places. He wanted his readers to see the area from an outsider’s point of view.
I have been writing for almost eight years now, and there is nothing left to say. I want to write bigger, but my hands are tied. He wants everything to have a local hook.
As it turned out, my perspective was way to the left of the people here. In New Orleans, I considered myself middle-of-the-road politically. In Mississippi, I am the poster girl for liberals. I get hate mail, and some scary face-to-face encounters. I believe the editor likes this, because I sell papers.


Adele- That is a pretty shocking thing to happen. Not only dealing with the devastation after Hurricane Katrina, but also the aggressive backlash to your writing. I'm sure that has to have made you adopt some really strong ways of handling with such negative reactions. 

Let's move on to a slightly different tack, though -What sort of written preparation do you have to do for your internet radio shows? My show, “Dialogue,” requires a great deal of prep. I come to the show with about 20 questions for the guests. Since most are writers, I read their work beforehand. I research anything that I can find about them on the internet.
The guests are primarily creative people and those with an interest in the paranormal. I have welcomed poets, novelists, ghost hunters, visual artists and musicians. My other passion is animals. Some guests have been the organizers of animal rescue groups.
I send them some questions ahead of time asking about their bio, and asking for anything they wish to include.
Many people panic when they realize that the show is an hour long. (The local TV station gives three-minute interviews.) However, with all that prep, I usually run out of time before I run out of questions.
They are encouraged to invite their friends to listen, so that listeners will email comments or questions.
 “Ask The Psychic” is a bit different. The questions are posed to me via email. I answer with tarot cards.
I begin with a talk about the placement of the planets, and how they might affect us. After our commercial break, I talk about the moon phase.
This show has regular listeners, which I love. I am beginning to feel that we are friends.
I close both shows with a quote or a poem that is appropriate for the guest and the subject. That, too, takes a bit of research.

That definitely sounds like a lot of preparation, and a lot of fun too! I was a guest on an internet radio talk show earlier this year and I was petrified, so I know how it feels to be on the other end of that microphone!

Okay, next question. How long have you been writing fiction? I was a painting major at the University of New Orleans when a friend asked me to enroll in a fiction-writing class because he was afraid to do it alone. That was in the mid-nineties. As it turned out, I did well, and during my college years I won several awards for short stories.
After graduation, I tried to keep writing, but never finished anything I started. So, the answer to your question is that I have been writing in stops and starts since about 1995.
My mother always said that I was a better writer than a painter.

Can you describe what Friendship Cemetery is about which wouldn’t be in the book blurb available on the Crooked Cat Bookstore? I think the book is quite funny. You can’t tell that from the description or the cover.
This book can be read on many different levels. There is a story on the surface - action, plot, that sort of thing. But, for those who wish to “read between the lines” there are messages about acceptance, judgment, and superficiality.
I hope readers will see beyond the very shallow world of Columbus, Mississippi, and realize that we are all part of the same vast universe.

I’ve read that you are a psychic. How much has that influenced the plot of Friendship Cemetery?
Everything we do influences everything else. My psychic ability strongly affects my writing style and descriptions. I think psychics see beyond cold facts. It is as if they see the space between objects, the movement of light, the puddle of shadows in corners. I describe things the way I really see them. I once had a teacher who told me to get my eyes checked, because I was probably going blind. That was many years ago. I can still see. Other people may not see things exactly as I do, but I hope they will enjoy the descriptions.
Of course, my visual art training is just as valuable to the “art” of writing.

Here comes that question authors tend to be asked, but maybe with a slight difference. How many different sub-genres do you think that Friendship Cemetery fits into? I think this book is humor. I consider it an adult book because the themes are universal. It has been described as “young adult”, with which I totally disagree. However, it can be read by people of any age because there is no graphic sex or violence. Although the protagonist is quite young, it is as much a YA book as “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “The Member Of The Wedding”.
“Friendship Cemetery” may be considered a mystery; it falls into a paranormal category. I hope it is also “literary”.
I think the term “Southern Gothic” confuses people. This book is not a Bronte story.

I've got a copy on my kidle to read, and will let you know what I think when I find time to get through my huge pile of to be read books! 

How is Friendship Cemetery being categorised on the media- say on Amazon listings? Of course, I don’t expect the people at Amazon to read every book to slip them into convenient categories. I was a bit put off by the “horror” designation. This book is no Stephen King novel.

How are you tackling the mammoth task of advertising and marketing Friendship Cemetery? I am so lucky to have a great deal of help from my husband, Chris.

Yep! I've met Chris (virtually speaking) and he's doing a great job!  What other things are you doing?
I have had a TV interview, and three book signings/readings. Of course, we have a Facebook presence.
We have three local papers, all of whom have done a feature article on me, and put the signings on their calendars.
A quarterly magazine has mentioned the book with a photo of the cover. Another monthly magazine has a feature in November.
I have been asked to speak at the monthly meetings of three clubs. So far, one book club is reading my novel. I will have a Skype interview with the book club (in Oregon) when they finish reading it.
I will donate a couple of books to the local library, which will result in another photo-op for the papers.
My family and cousins are promoting it to their Facebook friends.
All of these (except the book club) are local and result in small sales. Because the book has regional appeal, we will send a press release to newspapers in Mississippi and neighboring states.

That all sounds so positive. And hopeful of sales, Adele. 


Do you have any tips to share on how an author can get those all-important reviews? This may not be kosher, but we ask for them. We have inserted a slip of paper on the last page of the book suggesting that if they enjoyed it they can write a review in Amazon and Goodreads. This, of course, only works for the books that we sell directly, not those bought on Amazon and other places.
Many of my reviews come from strangers. I think some just saw the book on Amazon and bought it. It is scary having strangers grade me. So far, so good; at this time I have only five star reviews.

Brilliant! We all love those 5*s.

What fiction writing are you currently working on? I have started a new book, “Witch Ball”. It is going much slower than “Friendship”. I have more distractions. There are no ghosts in this one, but still lots of mystery and quirky characters.
I try to write short stories, because I love reading them. Evidently, they are considered out-of-style. I have only written two this year. One, “Flight”, was published in the Summer edition of Allegory. The other, “The Tooth Fairy”, was published in Pen and Plot, in October.
I have been hired to ghost-write a memoir for a local businessman. I suspect a great deal of that is fiction.

I think there's a big market for short stories just now, but I'm afraid mine are only ever really long ones. Do you have plans for any other new fiction releases in the near future? I hope “Witch Ball” will be completed early next year. Perhaps that can be released in the autumn.

Anything else you might want to tell the readers?
 “Anything you can do, or dream you do, begin it: boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I love this quote. I suppose that I would add that beginning is easy, finishing is hard, but still worth the blood, sweat and tears.
Many thanks for letting me “speak”!  

You're welcome!


Adele Elliott is a painter, a psychic, and a designer of fantasy tiaras. She is a New Orleans native who has been exiled in Mississippi since her home, and most of her sanity, were blown away by an evil wind named Katrina.

Her debut novel, “Friendship Cemetery,” was released by Crooked Cat Publishing on September 20, 2013.

She lives in a big purple house with her wonderful husband, Chris Hannon, and three “children”, Charlotte Ruse (the wild dingo dog), Freda Jolie (lady dog), and Loa (a magical boy-cat).



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Thank you so much for coming, Adele. Best wishes for great sales of "Friendship Cemetery". 

Slainthe!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Popping across to Australia today!


I'm across in Australia today being interviewed by Carol Bond. There's an early scoop about After Whorl-Bran Reborn, the second book in my Celtic fervour series of adventure novels. If you've not yet read no. 1 The Beltane Choice, you could snap up an ecopy today and read it before No. 2 launches on December 16th. Join us at

http://www.theunseenpromise.com/new-release-interviews/nancy-jardine-bran-reborn/


An e-copy of The Beltane Choice is going to one lucky winner today! Leave a comment and it could be you!







Slainthe!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cover sneaky peek!

The day dawned beautiful after such a gorgeous sunset last night, and my day has just got better and better.

I've been awaiting news of the cover art for my next historical adventure AFTER WHORL-BRAN REBORN  and it is now going public today. It is absolutely stunning!

I confess to being more than a happy gardener this afternoon since I was on tenterhooks to find out exactly what was going to be revealed.


For those followers of THE BELTANE CHOICE the story of the Garrigill brothers continues. There will be more updates on my full cover but here a sneaky peek at what you're going to see...



Enjoy. I'll be back soon with more updates. 

Slainthe!

I'm back with the fantabulous full cover design! I really, really  love this cover! Here it is with the extra 'front cover only' added to the right.


What do you think? Please let me know in a very quick comment.
Slainthe!