Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Hogmanay is almost gone-my thanks to my readers



Still Hogmanay

The time is 23. 43, 31st December 2013,  and Hogmanay is almost gone.

Hogmanay, New Year's Eve, has a few more minutes to go before 2014 is ushered in. My preparations for the transition into the New Year are as done as they are going to be. I have cleaned and tidied the house, emptied the rubbish to the outside bin and ensured the dishes of 2013 are all clean and away.

While growing up, my mother would have made sure that by five minutes before midnight we had all washed our faces and hands and had donned clean clothes, ready and presentable for the 'bells'. The striking of the clock of  'Big Ben' on radio or TV would be eagerly awaited. My father would have the tray prepared with glasses for our New Year toast and the shortbread and fruitcake would be cut ready to eat. My mother and father had a whisky toast and my sister and I had blackcurrant cordial, or my aunt's home made ginger wine.

When the last chime of the clock heralded the New Year we would share kisses and wish each other a Happy New Year. It was also my mother's birthday on the first of January but her birthday wishes always came after those for New Year. That was the way of things. Priorities. After an exchange of a gift for my mum I'd down my drink, gobble a bit of cake and a biscuit and would be off out the door clutching a piece of coal and some other gift for our neighbour.

I was sent to do this duty since I was the darkest haired person in the vicinity of our 'close', the tenement block of apartments where I was brought up. As soon as I visited the first neighbour I set off a 'chain reaction' releasing the man of that house to go visiting another neighbour. Within the first half hour of the New Year I usually had visited at least five houses and was wending my way back home to join the party. It wasn't ususual for a gathering to happen in my house since my parents were very welcoming, but more importantly for mercenary reasons, my mother was also the best baker around. Her tray bakes and shortbread were valued by adults and children alike!

It was a happy time and although alcohol was part of the affair for the adults there was a happy atmosphere and never any disagreement- it was NEW YEAR!

I live 150 miles away from that place of my upbringing and don't live in the same sort of community but that doesn't mean that I don't do the cleaning on Hogmanay that my mother did. I still do those household preparations, and I still go and wash my face and don clean clothes. My husband prepares the tray with drinks and shortbread and we await the 'Bells' with the same anticipation....


Since it's now 23.46 I have to go and get that face wash and other preps done in time. I won't be online at Midnight so I'll say my greetings now.


To the readers of my novels and the followers of this blog I say a huge THANK YOU to you and wish you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

MAY ALL GOOD THINGS BE YOURS IN 2014! 

Slainthe!






Saturday, 28 December 2013

Saturday Spotlight at the Romantic Historical Reviews Blog and also at Diane Burton's Blog

Happy Saturday morning to you!

I'm being featured on the Saturday Spotlight at the Romantic Historical Reviews Blog today. I'm discussing the reasoning behind me choosing the tribes - Brigantes and Selgovae - in THE BELTANE CHOICE. Please join us!

You'll find me HERE



I'm also sharing information on AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN at Diane burton's Saturday slot.

You'll find me HERE 




There's a FREE ecopy of the novel that's featured going to a lucky commenter at each blog, so be sure to pop in and say hello and you could be the name drawn from the visitors! 
 
Slainthe! 


End of YEAR SALE! 
You'll find the links below will access my Crooked Cat Books which are on sale at 99c/79p Saturday 28th Dec and Sunday 29th Dec.  





Friday, 27 December 2013

Bargains before the 'next stages' in my Celtic Fervour Series!


Hello! 

My family Christmas activities and festivities are now over. Having spent a few days away from the keyboard and the internet, I have returned home to find that my Crooked Cat Publisher is being very kind to all the kindle and e-reader owners out there by reducing the ebook prices of my novels for a few more December days across the Amazon network.

If you haven't yet bought my Celtic Fervour series of historical romantic adventures, or my ancestral based mystery thriller that has been nominated for the current section of THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE, then you need to jump in and buy at seriously low prices to fill your e-reading device for those cold nights in January.

You'll find my Crooked Cat Books available at Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

and Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388180532&sr=1-2-ent


Meanwhile, I'm back to doing another of the things I really love doing and that is re-checking my research notes. My memory is so fickle that retention is quite pathetic, so just one little momentary doubt in my writing sends me to re-read my notes. 

AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN, the second novel in my Celtic Fervour series of historical adventures, launched well on December 16th. The third book of the series - AFTER WHORL: DONNING DOUBLE CLOAKS - is already written and accepted by my publisher (Crooked Cat Publishing) and awaits the editing processes before launching sometime in Spring 2014. However, before embarking on Book 4 of the series I've been rechecking what I can find for the time of AD 73/74 in Britannia.

The adventurous action in AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN culminates at a point when King Venutius of the Brigantes is vanquished. That doesn't mean all Brigantes are ready to lay down their weapons and cow-tow to all Roman dictates. Far from it.


Though written evidence is almost non- existent, and what is available is highly prejudiced in Roman favour (written by Roman and Greek historians), I do not believe that resistance to Roman occupation was dead. The years of Governorship of Quintus Petilius Cerialis Cesius Rufus were busy ones, so busy that recent archaeological evidence appears to be pointing to the fact that he, and his forces, were more active in northern Britain than was thought some decades ago. How many of the Roman forts, signal posts and fortresses can really be attributed to him is difficult to pinpoint but what have I found out about him? Here are some of my notes...


Who was Petilius Cerialis? Why was he important during the Roman conquest of the island the Romans named Britannia? What legacy did he leave in Britannia?

Petilius Cerialis is documented in at least three of the major annals of the Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus. The history of Celtic Britain is scant as the Celtic peoples believed in the oral tradition. They were unlike the Romans in that they did not leave us written legacies to study. That lack of evidence means studying the era of the 1st century B.C. through to c.  A.D. 450 relies heavily on the records of Roman generals who served in Britannia and the few other Romans who wrote their own histories of the times- Tacitus being one of them, Cassius Dio another. How accurate their records are, biased or not, is conjectural since commanders in the field would most likely have wanted to show up in good light to their superiors when the documentation arrived at high command, and historians like Tacitus wrote their records not from personal memories but from the narrated accounts of other people.
Quintus Petilius Cerialis Cesius Rufus was the Governor of Britannia from A.D.71 to A.D.73/4. At that time Petillius Cerialis was probably around the age of 40, this approximation being based on the fact that to become a praetor one had to be a minimum age of thirty, and a commander of a legion was generally a praetor first.

Before that time, Petilius Cerialis became legate (commander) of the Ninth Legion Hispania (Legio 1X Hispania) in A.D.60, under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, Governor of Britannia from c. A.D. 58 to 61. This was a time of great instability in the region. The successful revolt of the Iceni-a Celtic tribe of the south east of England-when they sacked Londinium (London) meant Petilius Cerialis had to retreat with his forces to a place further north, now named Peterborough. (Tacitus Annales xiv.32.6). It is assumed that he did not achieve a consulship (cursus honorum), the usual next stage of advancement, since he was being held accountable for the initial success of Queen Boudicca when she led that successful revolt on Londinium. The fact that Queen Bouddica was afterwards publicly humiliated, along with her young daughters, and disappeared presumed a suicide did not matter. The reputation of Petilius Cerialis was perhaps tainted.

Yet Tacitus also makes note that Petilius Cerialis had more success when he served in A.D. 69, in Germany, as the legate of the Fourteenth Legion  (Legio XIV Gemina). Petilius Cerialis was noted as having managed to successfully overcome a revolt of the Batavian peoples. This was during the time of the five emperors- a very unstable time for the Roman Empire when one leader succeeded another as their factions removed the competition, forcibly and purposefully, after the suicide of the Emperor Nero. The role of Petilius Cerialis during this time of upheaval is uncertain, perhaps even suspect in favour of Vespasian, but what is documented is that the fifth emperor of the time, Vespasian, conferred a consulship on Petilius Cerialis in A.D. 70.  Cerialis’s success merited him being sent back to Britannia to suppress the insurgence of Venutius, the former husband of Queen Cartimandua, a Queen of the Brigantes federation of tribes.

Petilius Cerialis is documented as …“having at once struck terror into their hearts by invading the commonwealth of the Brigantes, which is said to be the most numerous tribe of the whole province: many battles were fought, sometimes bloody battles, and by permanent conquest or by forays he annexed a large portion of the Brigantes.” (Tacitus)

Petilius Cerialis is noted as being the Governor of Britannia till around A.D. 74 when he quit Britannia. He, also, had acquired a second consulship around that time, not generally the norm. During the years between A.D. 70/74 he had led some successful campaigns in the north of England, suppressing many Brigantes and other Celtic tribes but he had also signed a number of treaties with unvanquished Brigantes. That negotiation ran along the lines of …if the Celts did not put up any revolts then Cerialis would not make any new surges north.

Petilius Cerialis mainly settled, during these years, at his garrison in Eburacum, also written as Eboracum, (York). This settlement, and subsequently a fine city, became a great legacy to the people of Britain. York to this day has many fine Roman visitor sites which excite the imagination, and is a fabulous city to visit. Yet, Cerialis also made other encampments in the north of England that, in some way, have also survived to the present day. They are also worth a visit.

In the duration of the governorship of Petilius Cerialis another very famous, and important, Roman served in Britannia. Gnaeus Julius Agricola was a commander of the forces in Britain. After the exit of Petilius Cerialis, Agricola took up Governorship of Britain in A.D.77. Agricola broke the existing treaties that had been made with the Brigantes and made surges northwards, all the way into the north east of Scotland.

It was the reading of the treaties formed between Petilius Cerialis and the Brigantes, and the later breaking of the treaties by Agricola that made me want to include them as pat of my plot for my novel, The Beltane Choice.

Research from:
The works of Dio Cassius


Slainthe!








Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone.

After dreadful storms yesterday, the morning has dawned a beautiful blue. It's still a little windy and pretty cold but otherwise a lovely morning.

It's calm now with just my husband and I but the day will get a lot busier very soon when the influx arrives and we begin our Christmas festivities.

Wishing you a happy day- whether you follow the Christmas tradition in a religious manner or not, if you  are gathering with loved ones enjoy whatever you do.

I may not get any time in the next few days for doing any writing, editing or planning of stories but I hope to spend a little time whittling down my reading pile.


If you need something new to read then I have plenty of novels on offer.

At this very moment THE BELTANE CHOICE is sitting at #5 on the Amazon ranking for ancient worlds historical fiction with AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN at #35. the ranking s change every hour or so but it's fantastic to see any of my books getting so close to number 1!  #5 for The Beltane Choice




Amazon.com   http://amzn.to/16Xifgn

Amazon.co.uk   http://amzn.to/17y282a


Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/19SXX22

W. H. Smith   http://bit.ly/183TFuu





After Whorl: Bran Reborn
After Whorl: Bran Reborn is available from Amazon UK


After Whorl: Bran Reborn is available from Amazon.com



After Whorl: Bran Reborn book trailer video URL

Slainthe! 

Monday, 23 December 2013

I'm popping over to Ireland today to visit my friend Catriona King!

www.123rf.com
Happy Monday!

I'm out visiting Catriona King today discussing Christmas expectations and visiting nowadays, and contrasting it 2000 years ago with what my characters from After Whorl: Bran Reborn might be doing.

Join me at Catriona's Blog

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Something different today!


Hello and a Happy Sunday to you.

As a pleasant change from promoting my latest historical romantic adventure AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN I've been on kitchen duties, today.

My heavy fruit and brandy laced Christmas cake was baked some weeks ago and the marzipan layer done last Friday. That meant today was 'decorating it day'. I had thought to make a tastefully, delicate, traditionally decorated cake this year but changed my mind.

Here is the result - the idea for it pinched from a post shared by a friend on Facebook.

I think he's quite cute. What do you think?

You maybe can't see it from my quick pic but he's making snow angels!

Now I'm off to make some fondant creams... mmm sounds sweet and delicious.

Slainthe!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Not done yet!

Hello everyone.

My launch tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn, Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour series, is not quite over yet.(I know I keep saying that!) :-)

During Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd you'll still get
After Whorl: Bran Reborn for the special launch week price of 77p/99c.


After Whorl: Bran Reborn is available from Amazon UK 

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is available from Amazon.com



My characters Bran and Ineda have been visiting Ailsa Abraham's blog to celebrate the Winter Solstice and share YULE with her characters from Shaman's Drum

You'll find them at:  http://t.co/DgjwMnDiNK

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is also featuring at http://christineelaineblack.blogspot.com 


And I'm doing my every-second-Saturday-post at http://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com
where I'm talking about Santa train rides and family outings.





Please hop on over and join the pre- christmas fun.

Slainthe!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Exclusive coffee break read from AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN



77p/99c is the SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE of AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN for just a few more days! 

Copies are available from:
Amazon UK 

Amazon.com  

I'm sharing a little excerpt so get your coffee, or whatever your preferred drink is, and settle down comfortably.

But first at little background information. 
My Celtic Fervour series so far is:
Book 1- The Beltane Choice
Book 2- After Whorl: Bran Reborn.
Book 3- After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks (due for publication spring 2014)

The title for books 2 and 3 are specially chosen since what went on in the aftermath of the battle of Whorl, as mentioned in The Beltane Choice, isn't described in Book 1. Books 2 and 3 both continue the story of Brennus of Garrigill who is a secondary character in Book 1. He is such an honourable man, he deserved to have his own story. 

Book 2 begins with Brennus on the battlefields at Whorl....
Note: I've used a few Scottish Gaelic phrases to give the 'feel' of the Celtic language though no-one actually knows what the Celtic speech of the area sounded like. The phrases are explained in the speech following though there is a glossary included in the novel. 
 


Chapter One
AD 71 After Beltane – Whorl
Fóghnaidh mi dhut! I really will finish you! I have you now, invading scum!”
            Another couple of whacks would have the shield gone. The Roman auxiliary’s arm already showed signs of fatigue as Brennus slashed below the man’s chain link protection, his full power backing each blow of his long Celtic sword. The man was brawny, a practised opponent at the edge of the tight cluster of Roman bodies, but was much smaller than he was and rapidly weakened. Brennus knew the advantage he had. A drained grin slid into a grimace of pain as his sword jarred on the Roman gladius when the soldier’s stab interrupted another of his blows, the impact juddering his weakened elbow, an injury sustained with a previous combatant.
            Diùbhadh! Scum!”
            The gladius flashed upwards. To reach his head the angle of the auxiliary’s attack had to be higher than the usual, demanding a different force to succeed, and the Roman just did not have the strength any more.
            A cry of frustration emerged from the Roman, the clenched teeth an indicator of the man’s tenacity as the gladius prodded forward yet again. Brennus understood none of the man’s tongue, the battle ground not the place for meaningful talk, but the intent was clear.
            “Come! Come forward! A ghlaoic! You fool!” Brennus’ hollering taunts and crude ridiculing gestures gained him a little ground as the auxiliary broke free of the rigid formation, desperate to gain conquest over yet another Celtic adversary, the shorter gladius slashing and nipping at his chest but not quite breaking the skin.
            The tight group of Roman soldiers had been almost impossible to breach; their raised cover of shields an impenetrable barrier. He had been toying with and provoking this particular soldier for long, long moments. Yet, even with his superior strength, he knew he could not sustain such weighty combat for much longer either, before he would need to retreat to regain his reserves of vigour – though only a little more wearing down of the man’s resistance should be enough. He knew that from an earlier experience. Drawing breath from deep inside he slipped back a pace, and then another as if giving up the pursuit.
            “Come forward, you piece of Roman horse dung! You demand the blood of the Celts? Let it be so! Have mine!”
            Powerless to resist the lure the Roman soldier surged at his bidding, his shield swinging, his gladius jabbing. One last twisted swipe of Brennus’ longer Celtic sword detached the blade-nicked shield from his foe and sent it sailing aside. Abruptly unguarded, the auxiliary pulled his gladius in front of his rippling mail in a futile attempt to cover his chest.
            “Too late!” Brennus’ snort rang out as he whacked the soldier’s fist with his shield when his opponent readied his blade for another stab. It was enough: all the leverage needed to topple his foe. Witnessing the Roman’s slithering attempts to right himself he allowed an exultant smirk to break free, knowing victory would be his over this particular rival. “Death to all of the invaders!”
            The sounds of battle all around him seemed all the sweeter as he slashed his blade towards the Roman’s vulnerable neck, the man’s cloth wrap having unfurled from under the chin during the tussle. It was the weakest part of his well equipped adversary that was uncovered above the waist. He knew that a blow to the head was wasteful since the glinting copper-flapped helmet fit tight around the Roman’s skull.            His first swipe was met with the flailing gladius, the clang and screeches of blade on blade an exhilarating challenge. Triumphant warmth flashed through him, the sweat of the combat a bitter taste in his mouth as it streamed his face. The auxiliary was doomed as Brennus spat through his teeth, “I hate every last one of you!”
            The shrieking, the neighing and squealing behind him he ignored, the battlefield noises a tremendous din all around. The stench – of heated combat; of the blood tang and of faeces of man and horse; of the already putrid reek of entrails; of the stale sweat and battle lust essences – he also disregarded. His attention was only on his quarry as he felt the edge of his sword slice in under the man’s chin. He prepared himself for the spurt of warm blood that showered on him as he angled his neck away from the first gushes.
            What was totally unexpected was the crushing mass that slammed into his back, so powerful it lifted him off his feet and propelled him onto the blinking gladius he had successfully parried.
            “By Taranis …” His yell muffled into a spluttering squelch. “An cù! The bastard!”
            Down he went, onto the slippery blood drenched grass, his sword sliding fully through the auxiliary’s neck. His dead opponent softened his fall only partially since the horse that had slumped into him followed on at his rear. As the agonised cries of men and the squealing of the horse echoed around, his fist relinquished the grip on his sword, the blade having snapped on skidding impact with the ground. The frantic, writhing animal that pinned him to the Roman gladius totally overpowered him. Devastating agony seared at his back; blood filled muck crammed his mouth. A blinding white-red haze gave way to darkness.
            Felled by a mighty powerful beast, and not that Roman blade, was Brennus’ last thought.

AD 71 After Beltane – Near Marske
Ineda checked over her shoulder, yet again, as she crept through the forest heading for the rock face at the bend of the river. If her grandmother, Meaghan, was anywhere around it was likely to be near the cave. She would have been sheltering there since fleeing their roundhouse village at Marske some five days past. Meaghan’s last word to her had warned that the cave was where she would run to.
            The day was early-summer warm, the sweetness of new foliage a fragrant sniff, the sunbeams creating pretty slashes on the ferny undergrowth. Usual forest sounds greeted her as she trod a light-footed pathway over tree roots and avoided the deteriorating debris of winter cold, which still remained a slippery rotting mess in some deeper grooves. It would have been pleasant to hum her way across the last stretch of undulating forest floor before the land dipped down to the riverbank, but it was not the time for such frivolity. Chirping and fluttering chiff-chaffs, and lightly buzzing insects were a fleeting glimpse as they went about the business of pecking and first-nectar gathering. A herd of deer crossed over to her right, their progress a delicate and graceful dance amid the green in her peripheral view, their passage through the trees with nary a sound to be heard. They were a good example to Ineda to remain vigilant – silence being crucial. Her reasons were two-fold. She never unnecessarily disturbed the peace of the forest god, Cernunnos, or his creatures.  
            More importantly, she did not wish to be tracked by inadvertent noise.
            Soon burbling water gently rippled and twinkled in the sun, way down below her, the eddies around the large flat stones flashes of slow movement since the river level was very low at this point on its traverse through the forest. Skittering down the last earthen slope Ineda halted her slide, grabbing a tight hold of the sun-warmed brackens.
            The cave was close by. It was a haven often used by her and her grandmother if the weather was inclement while Meaghan was instructing her in the lore of healing herbs.
            The light tap at her shoulder had Ineda swivelling in a flurry. Not the touch of a hand, it was the smallest of pebbles that pinged off her shoulder. From behind a tree to her rear an old woman emerged, her voice light and cheerful.
            “You still have much to learn, Granddaughter, if you think to surprise me.”
            Ineda rushed into the bony old arms for a welcome hug. “That will never happen and was not my intention. If I try to evade anyone, you know it is the Roman patrols.”
            Ciamar a tha thu? The old woman’s inquiring look was intense.
            Ineda grinned and answered the question. “How am I? I am fine. All the better for seeing you.”
            “It is good to see you well, Ineda, but not so good about the persistence of the Roman Army. Come, and give me your news.”
            Meaghan’s gnarled fingers feathering at her braids, to tidy them, was a gesture she had missed so much during the last fraught days.
            Ineda had a lot to tell as they tramped their way along the riverbank towards the cave. “The tribespeople of Witton have given us shelter, as Father had hoped they would. We use roundhouses that lay empty after the Roman Army first descended upon the settlement about a half moon ago.”
            “Were many Witton people slain?”
            “Aye. Many from Witton and the nearby villages.” Ineda’s tongue dripped contempt of the Roman blade. “Anyone who put up the slightest resistance was put to the sword. Men, women and even children.”
            Meaghan’s hand clutched at her arm, halting her stride. “Your father?”
            A reassuring tap on Meaghan’s bony fingers was returned by a surprisingly tight squeeze from one so riddled with twisting knuckles. She was careful with her reply knowing Meaghan’s concern for her only living son.
            “Ruarke is unharmed, apart from his earlier foot injury that now heals well. Our trek to Witton was a sore trial for him, but I tended the wound as you instructed. The bindings are kept tight and the sole of his foot has not suppurated, though the injury remains red and angry. Your stitches to the skin hold firm. The crutch slowed our escape, but without it to help him hobble he would not have made the distance to Witton.”
            “Witton is farther than you expected?” Meaghan tottered a little, grasping the ferns and low twisting willows as she skittered along the narrow strip of pathway right on the river’s edge as it followed the curve of the water.
            Ineda trod along making sure not to trail too swiftly or she would topple her grandmother. Accepting the pulled-back branches which concealed the cave mouth, she ducked inside, allowing the cover to slap back into place behind her. “Aye! We were two full days travelling before we reached it, though if Ruarke had been fit and healthy it would have taken us far less than one day. Unseasonable marsh mist and cloying rain also sapped our strength.”
            “I journeyed to Witton some time past with your aunt Caitlin, but the weather was favourable and we were eager to arrive there.” Meaghan’s tone was wistful.
            A deep sadness trickled through Ineda. Stepping closer to Meaghan, who busied herself about the fireside, she clasped her grandmother’s shoulders, turned her and buried in for a hug. Her next news was bad.
            Meaghan’s touch at her hair and the deep sigh that escaped to ripple from chest to chest indicated her grandmother already guessed the worst.
            “My daughters have already gone to the otherworld, I know this Ineda. The Roman gladius has struck fiercely and has left me bereft of my family, save you and your father.”
            Ineda’s tears ran freely, soaking Meaghan’s woollen dress. “Aye. We three are the only ones left now.”
            She felt Meaghan’s strength of character as the old woman put her from her and gave her a little shake at the shoulders, the elderly voice strong and determined. “Our blood has been drained by the Roman Empire but we will not lay down our lives willingly, Ineda. Remember that! It is part of your future to resist!”
            “I do not want to lose you as well, Grandmother!” Her plea met with a small shake of Meaghan’s head and a beaming smile which revealed yellowed, yet healthy enough teeth for one of so advanced an age.
            “You are the child of my son, but also the child of my gift, Ineda.”
            Ineda could not doubt the fervour in her grandmother’s eyes, a vital life force lighting them with a bright green fire. If she had inherited her grandmother’s gift she had also the look of her grandmother in eye colour, height and shape. Another bony hug reassured her before Meaghan put her from her at arm’s length, the old eyes penetrating, yet tired at the same time.
             “Ineda, though you but realise it, you are also my future! My craft is in you.”
            “I cannot understand you, Grandmother.” She faced Meaghan, asking a further silent question. When no answer came to enlighten her, she added, “Yet.”
            The soft finger pats to her braids were gestures well learned. Ineda knew it as an unspoken signal for patience.
            Meaghan’s voice softened to an amused chuckle. “Neither of my two daughters had the power, or the will, that you possess. You will always have me with you in spirit, my girl. My healing force is within you and binds us.”
            Meaghan’s fingers flicked away the tear trickles that still ran down Ineda’s cheeks, the tutting and clucking as though they had been a waste of precious spirit, her old rheumy eyes reassuring and endearingly warm with love. “Never fear for me, Ineda, my girl. I tell you this, now. I will not depart this realm with a Roman weapon the cause of it. My passing will come, ere long, but I have more healing to do before then. My next task is important to our Celtic brethren and not just to me alone.”
            Looking into Meaghan’s face Ineda did not doubt a single word. She forced her tears gone. Courage did not come easy but she willed it so, the wobble to her lips only momentary before she found the control Meaghan demanded.
            “I will find strength to resist.”
            The cackle that followed was typical of Meaghan, any weakness put aside and barely worth a mention. Sliding away from their embrace her grandmother almost bent double to poke at the embers of the tiny fire that lay a little inside the overhang of the cave. It was a fire small enough to slowly cook by but not fiery enough to create noticeable smoke. “You will resist, my girl! Now, tell me how your father finds Witton.”
            Ineda sat down and ate the fish Meaghan handed her, a fish which had been slowly roasting between two hot stones at the fireside. Wrapped in wide leaves the flesh had not dried out, the taste of it reminding her that she had not eaten since the previous day. In between welcome mouthfuls, she gave answer.
            “Father is dispirited that we fled so ignominiously from Marske, but he accepts that we had no other choice. We need the shelter, and support, our distant family at Witton affords us. He also accepts the Roman yoke dished out to us at present, though not willingly.” She picked a small bone from between her teeth before continuing, shaking her head in disgust. “I could not persuade Father to return to Marske now, even if the Roman scum left it alone.”
            “You are sure of this?”
            “I fear he feels safer at Witton where there are more men to protect everyone.”
            Meaghan halted her tending of the fire and stared at her, shocked by her words. “Your father has grown into a coward?”
            “His fighting strength is gone, sapped away by those moons of Roman threats and attacks. He snaps at assistance, yet rejects any measures of friendship.”
            “My son feels less than a man?”
            Ineda did not answer that question. It needed no answer. “He still strives to protect me but has lost his sense of our village unity. I am not so certain he would defend anyone from Witton against Roman attack, and I do not understand that, Grandmother.”
            “Ruarke would stand back and allow others to do that for him?” Meaghan’s voice was pained.
            Ineda shrugged her shoulders, her gaze on her grandmother unwavering. “Perhaps. The settlement is well down in numbers of original people, but it is still very large compared to our own tiny village, now that there are many unfortunates that the Roman Empire have forced to live in it. Though we have not sheltered there for long Ruarke seems befuddled about our future.”
            “Yet he would not return to Marske? This behaviour does not match.”
            Ineda knew her words seemed contrary. “Aye. I have no understanding of why he accepts succour, yet resents the friendship tendered to him.”
            “Guilt must lie heavy on him. My son was always a deep one, not easy to understand.” Having picked at a little fish Meagan rose again and stood hovering by the doorway. “Come. I have some healing herbs to show you.”
            Wiping her fingers on her dress Ineda followed her grandmother, thinking how unalike the mother and son were. Her father was a good man but was prone to making some strange decisions.
            They made a slow climb back up the banking. When she crested the rise and was up onto the flatter ground she felt Meaghan’s bony fingers plucking at her dress to halt her progress. Dropping onto a raised level stone her grandmother drew hard won breaths before speaking again, her whole torso trembling. “I have crept back to Marske a few times. The Roman Army still sends patrols every day to pilfer more of our stored goods, but they have no notion I have been anywhere near. The past nights I have spent in the cave, but as soon as they have cleared out every vestige of our supplies and tools they will cease to visit our roundhouses. By then, they will have another place to plunder. And I will return to my home, even if your father refuses to do so.”
            “Grandmother!” Ineda made no mistake about her plea as she clutched Meaghan in a tight hug. “It is far too dangerous to go back. They are still bent on destroying any Brigante who flaunts their authority. We must make no show of being armed now, and groups of warriors of more than two or three are held in suspicion. Any more out on the hunt together incur the full wrath of Rome as they are deemed to be on the attack. I have been tending to some stripling warriors this morn who thought to challenge one of the patrols, though their wounds were not as serious as they could have been. I suspect them having come as more of a warning from the Roman gladius than any other purpose.”
            “I hear you, girl. I will do nothing to put me at risk. Now, tell me of any risings against these Roman oppressors.”
            Meaghan put her away from the clutch and looked deep into her eyes, demanding answers she did not have, although her grandmother’s gentle hand pats were soothing and reassuring, indicating that she would do nothing rash.
            Drawing a deep breath, Ineda related all she knew. “It goes ill for the tribes of mid-Brigantia. I have heard that those from further north congregate at Whorl where they may be battling as I speak. A few Witton warriors escaped the patrols before dawn yesterday morning and headed there.”
            “Then those Witton warriors will either triumph, or will go to the otherworld knowing that they fought for our Celtic heritage.”
            “I do not want them to die in vain, but the Roman Empire is a mighty foe!” Ineda could not prevent her anger from spouting forth, her voice strident and scathing as she looked across the river. She could hardly face Meaghan since her next news seemed worse and yet might be the reason for her father’s apathy. “More could have gone, I am sure of it, but they chose to avoid the conflict.”
            Meaghan’s reaction was not what she expected. The old woman’s laugh rang out over the river noises, drawing back her gaze. “Then they will live to clash with their heart. These battles with the Roman scourge are intended to subdue the warring tribes of mid-Brigantia. The Roman Army floods our territory now, their presence a direct threat. They will drag us into their Roman province – which they did not properly do when Queen Cartimandua made her long-ago treaties with them.”
            Ineda did not even try to hide her scorn. “Aye! As their client-Queen Cartimandua kept their marauding tendencies at bay, their main presence remaining in southern lands.”           
            “Girl, you do our former queen a disservice. You may not have liked Cartimandua’s methods but in her own way, for long moons even when you were a tiny child, she afforded us a form of freedom from their constant presence on our Brigante soil.”
            Ineda jumped up from the stone and paced around, her temper roiling. “Cartimandua is long gone – dead or elsewhere – but King Venutius still lives! He survives and will continue to rebel against the Roman scum.” Shocked at her grandmother’s words she dared speak as she never had before, her tone berating. “Do you now give these Roman oppressors your allegiance, Grandmother?”
            Unable to look Meaghan in the eye, betraying tears hovering, she gulped down her anger and frustration as she stared across the water. There were so many people whose actions and speech now confused her.
            Meaghan’s arm snaked across her shoulders and squeezed her tight to her breast, her fingers a reassuring stroke down her braided hair. “Never will I do that, Ineda, my girl. You tell me Venutius lives, and I believe you. Aye, this may be true, but who is left to follow him and rise up against the Roman Empire’s army? ”
            Lifting her face to view Meaghan, she kept her voice low, the vow in it unmistakeable. “There are still northern Brigantes who will repel the Roman Empire. It may not look that way just now but there are many, like me, who will continue to resist.”
            Meaghan’s arms held her stiffly out at length, fingernails inadvertently nipping into her flesh, before her grandmother’s gaze took on a cloudy look, her eyes flickering and rolling skywards, as though seeing an inner vision. “You are only a thin sapling, my oftimes foolish granddaughter, but there is strength to build and grow on…” The old voice trailed off.
            Ineda had watched her grandmother trance like this before, and did not fear it. The twists and grimaces at her old cheeks indicated both pain and pleasure, the flickering of her eyes a frightful sight, but the tight grip of her fists remained firm. Ineda watched and waited knowing she could do nothing to speed, or safely halt, the progress of the vision. After some moments, Meaghan came to herself and smiled before she spoke again. It was not a smile of worry, but one of promise: an affectionate twinkle was there in her eyes…and love. Meaghan’s love never failed to warm her.
            Her grandmother’s words were firm. “Ineda, child of my son, you have a warrior’s heart – even if you never have proper warrior training. I see your time is coming, though it is not here yet. Do nothing rash. Act according to your clever head.”
            Ineda watched as Meaghan’s bent finger rose up to tap her on the forehead. The old nail was strong and firm as it made contact with her skin. They now stood so close the flesh around Meaghan’s eyes was crinkled and worn, her eyelids almost covering her view as she smiled and cackled. Not daring to stop the tapping, she returned her grandmother’s smile, sensing there was more to come when the finger drifted lower and pointed to her chest.
             “Your heart will know the way you must fight the Romans. Let that knowledge come naturally to you, Ineda, and do not force it. You have a valiant part to play in your future and in the future of those around you. The path ahead for you will have much frustration, hardships and heartbreak, but there will also be equal joy. You must face what occurs with courage. Wear two bratts when that time is revealed, and continue to wrap yourself thus till the sun shines again. The skills of healing I have taught you will rest in your mind, but bring them forth when they are most needed. Bear your future well, accept the difficulties and live through the very bad times. Always work towards the good.”
            She accepted her grandmother’s words, acknowledging them with a nod. Though she did not know what Meaghan meant she knew it was likely to happen. Foretelling was a gift her grandmother rarely used, but when she did, it had always been accurate.
            “You have only taught me some of your healing skills, Grandmother. There is so much more to learn.”
            “Aye. That is true, but you have learned all of the most important. What is to follow will come naturally to you, from the teaching you have already gained. You have the skills to build on, and you are fine and quick. Believe that this will happen.”
            Meaghan drew her back down to sit beside her on the flat stones as though nothing unusual had happened. “Tell me more of what happens with our Roman overseers.”
            “I know very little except that many Brigantes are said to be gathering at Whorl where there is a suitable low hill and flat plains for battlegrounds. Many at Witton are rejoicing at this news, yet there are also terrible rumours of every village and settlement around these parts needing to make treaties with the Roman Governor, Cerialis – like Witton has previously done. Some say Brigante delegates have already decided to journey to these parts in preparation for talks instead of engaging in futile battles. If that is so then those negotiators may speak for the Brigantes, but that does not mean every Brigante warrior has given in to the Romans!”
            “You are in the right, Ineda. I must remain here for one such as you speak of. He will never give in and accept the Roman yoke.”
            Ineda looked deeply into her grandmother’s eyes. “Who do you speak of?”
            Meaghan’s head shaking was accompanied by a wan smile. “I have no answer, yet, to that question…”


            A sudden flare of metal glinting in the sunshine across the narrow stretch of river set them both fleeing…in opposite directions.


(iamges acquired from www.123rf.com)






Wednesday, 18 December 2013

#77p/99c SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE

Since it's launch week for AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN you can get it across the Amazon network for the amazingly low price of 77p/99.

Amazon UK




Amazon.com









If you've not yet seen my book trailer video yet, here it is:



Slainthe!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tomorrow's Anecdote



I'm delighted to feature Tomorrow's Anecdote by Pamela Kelt. Pamela is a fellow Crooked Cat author and I have only recently finished reading this excellent story. I've not yet managed to write my full review of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would highly recommend it. The world of journalism, to use that 'cliched' phrase really does 'leap off the page'. It is a fun read with an exellent pace to keep you engrossed. 

Pamela Kelt first managed to avoid any semblance of a day job by taking Spanish at the University of Manchester. On completion of the degree and after a subsequent six brain-fogging months on a local paper, she fled to Oxford and completed her M. Litt. thesis on ‘Comic aspects of satirical 17th-century comic interludes’, which was not only much more fun, but strangely relevant to coping with the vagaries of the 21st century. After becoming a technical translator, she discovered that English was easier, and did copywriting for anyone who would pay.
On a stint in Australia, she landed a job as a subeditor and returned to journalism, relishing the chance to come up with funny headlines in a variety of provincial papers. Ah. Once a pun a time.
As her academic husband became a chemistry professor in something even she can’t spell, Pam moved into the more sensible world of educational magazines and online publishing – for a while, at least. A daughter arrived and reintroduced her to the delights of fiction, which she’d sort of forgotten about. So, one fine day, while walking the dogs at a local beauty spot, thinking ‘to hell with a career’, Pam took the plunge into writing for herself, and is now the author of six books to date (including one co-written with aforementioned prof) ranging from historical drama by way of teen fantasy to retro mystery.


Just another day in the the newsroom? Hardly.
October 1987. Clare Forester is an overworked and under-appreciated features subeditor on a provincial paper in Somerset. She spends her time cheerfully ranting about her teenage daughter, the reclusive lodger, her spiteful mother, the Thatcher government, new technology, grubby journalists, petty union officials, her charming ex – and just about anything else that crosses her path.
If things aren’t turbulent enough, on the night of Thursday, October 15th, the Great Storm sweeps across Britain, cutting a swathe of destruction across the country.
Things turn chaotic. Pushed to breaking point, Clare finally snaps and loses her temper with gale-force fury – with disastrous results.
As she contemplates the chaos that her life has become, Clare soon comes to a bitter conclusion.
Never trust the past. It lies.
Pamela is sharing an excerpt with us:

No-one could have seen the line of trees falling like dominoes as they toppled towards the A36 under cover of darkness that Thursday evening. One minute, I was driving back in a rental car from Brighton to the West Country, my shoulders aching with keeping it on the road as a crosswind buffeted. The next, I was slowing down to tackle a tricky bend when a giant tree trunk landed on the bonnet with an almighty thump.
As the car juddered to a standstill, I rammed on the brakes out of instinct. The seatbelt cut into my neck as I lurched forwards, then back, just like a test mannequin. For a moment, I sat there, pulse palpitating, still gripping the wheel. Then I counted to ten, opened my eyes and found myself staring out at a confused mass of branches and yellowing leaves. They glowed oddly in the light of my remaining headlamp. It was like being upside-down in a tree house, but much less fun.
If I’d arrived at that spot a split second later, the tree would have landed plum on the roof. And me. My chest hurt. I realised the steering wheel was crushing my sternum.
The crash had shunted my seat forward. Hands shaking, I fumbled for the belt release, and pinged it loose. Wincing, I bent down and yanked at the floor-level bar, shoving backwards with the balls of my feet.
Nothing. Grunting with the effort, I tried again to no avail. The sliding mechanism must have jammed in the crash.
At that point, the electrics gave up and everything went pitch black. My forehead ached. I must have hit my head against the steering wheel. Darkness seeped into my mind and I slumped in my seat, semi-conscious.
My brain seemed to float away from my body and I began to relive the past three days I had spent in a ghastly Portakabin where I had endured the vilest form of professional torture … that most feared phenomenon of all, The Management Course.

Thank you for visiting, Pamela, and best wishes with sales of Tomorrow's Anecdote. 
Slainthe! 

After Whorl: Bran Reborn promo continues!

Hello everyone! 

Well the Facebook Launch Party, yesterday was fantastic fun. Exhausting but amazingly rewarding.

As I write this After Whorl: Bran Reborn is sitting at the wonderful achievement of 12,246 on the rankings. That may sound like a big number but that means yesterday I definitely sold some books!


Yet the promoting continues. My Celtic/ Roman themed blogs still continue and I'm out visiting 2 places today.

Pop in and read about Celtic hunky strong men at

 Willa Blair


and at Margo Hoornstra I'm discussing how I chose the names fo rmy characters! 

Please join me and leave a comment ot enter the draw for an ebook copy of After Whorl: Bran Reborn.

Monday, 16 December 2013

AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN LAUNCHES TODAY!

Hello! Today is the official launch of After Whorl: Bran Reborn and the Facebook launch party is well underway! 

Click HERE to join if you've not already popped in.


Pop in at the launch tour stops, leave a comment and a way of contacting you and you could WIN yourself an ecopy or even the mystery tour prize for the person who leaves the most comments! 

See all the tour stops I've been to and those for today on the blog sidebar to your right. Click the link to take you on a journey into the world of the Celts and Romans of my Celtic Fervour novels. 


At the Facebook Launch Party you can also win one of 5 ecopies and the ultimate gift of a Celtic Triquetra necklace. (worldwide) .

Click for the Facebook party and join the fun! 


Good luck.
Slainthe!