Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wind Raven on tour



Today I'm welcoming someone new to my blog - Regan Walker- who is here to tell us about her novel Wind Raven.

It's lovely to have you visit, Regan. You've a great post for us, to give us some background, and wonderful images which you've gained permission to use here on my blog. (Thank you)

As an author of historical fiction I know just how much time the simplest of words take time to research when the setting is perhaps not one that's familiar enough. 'Splice the mainbrace'? Well, much as I know roughly what that might mean, and I've read the phrase often enough, I would still have to go and research exactly what that means before I would use it in my novels but since I love to research it's no hardship! 
Over to Regan...
The Challenge of Setting a Story on a Ship
By Regan Walker

I love the sea and the ships that sail upon it. I also love a good pirate story. So, when I decided to set Wind Raven, the third book in my Agents of the Crown trilogy, a pirate Regency, on a schooner (well, among other places), it seemed like a grand adventure.

I had no idea.

Since I’m committed to making my stories historically accurate, I dove into all the ship terminology, pouring over my new 4-inch thick Sailor’s Word Book until late at night. But I realized just having the vocabulary was not enough. I wanted to be able to describe a storm at sea as huge waves crashed onto the deck and a battle that had shot bringing the sails down around the characters. And get all the ship parts right while doing it. So, I did gobs of research and studied diagrams of schooners and sail configurations until I was seeing them in my dreams.

But even that was not enough. I had to get the feel of the ship. I decided it was essential to take a ride on an actual schooner.


The schooner pictured right was painted by artist William Lowe. It’s the Californian, a reproduction of a topsail schooner that, fortunately for me, is berthed in San Diego where I live. It is the type of schooner Capt. Jean Nicholas Powell sails in Wind Raven. So, of course I had to experience the ship under sail. I wanted to listen to the sails luffing, feel the wind on my face as the ship’s bow cut through the waves and feel the moving deck beneath my feet.

In my half-day sail, I asked a hundred questions. I soon exhausted the knowledge of the docent aboard, at least as to the early 19th century. However, I found a jewel in the gunner, Chari Wessel, who became my technical consultant, and now my friend. Like my heroine, Chari is an impressive woman. Wind Raven is dedicated to her.


Chari led me through the things my research could not tell me. Even a simple question like whether the quarterdeck should be raised. You’d be surprised at how complicated the answer is. Some schooners were flush-decked, that is everything on the main deck is on one level, so that you could walk from the bow to the stern without going up or down any ladders—this despite the fact the ship had a “quarterdeck.” This is the case on the Wind Raven (yes the ship and the book have the same name!).

Some schooners had a raised foredeck (keeps water off the main deck) and a raised quarterdeck that did the same thing.  The "break in the deck" would be aft of the last hatchway on the main deck. Some schooners would have the helm on the quarterdeck, while some would have a cockpit or sunken area around the helm. Ships with high sterns--quarter decks and poop decks above them often had their steering gear on the main deck so that the helmsman was only looking at the compass (binnacle) and receiving shouted orders from the decks above, completely unable to see the sails, the sea, the ship at all.  The Californian has a small cockpit with the helm set down to "main deck" level, behind the quarterdeck. So to get from the bow to the stern, you walk up a small ladder to get to the quarterdeck, and then you walk down a small ladder to get into the cockpit. Whew!

See? Now was that simple? Or, perhaps not. If you compound that many times over with every issue from windows in the captain’s cabin (side windows in larger schooners), to what the captain might read (it’s in my novel!), to where the first mate bunks when my heroine takes over his cabin, to the size of the crew, you begin to get a picture of the depth of research required to “get it right.” The result was over a year of conversations between Chari and me and lots more research. But the end result, I believe, is an authentic sea faring romance.


I haven’t even mentioned the research I did on the ports of call…Bermuda (the picture above is of Elbow Beach, where one of the scenes takes place), Cabo Rojo in Puerto Rico and Baltimore. And then there was all the research for the real historic figures that are characters in my story.

The story is set in 1817, after the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 had ended. It was a time when piracy was on the rise. You’ll have to read my story to learn about why and how a tall, blond giant of a pirate decided he wanted the heroine for his own. Oh yes, he did. And few tangled with El Pirata Cofresí, a real historic figure, and lived to tell about it. But Capt. Nicholas Powell did!

The research sounds wonderful, Regan. I'd love to have joined you on that sail and learned even a fraction of what you did with Chari's help. Thanks for sharing such a great post. 


As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors encouraged her to pursue the profession of law, which she did. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.


Regan lives in San Diego, California in the US with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.



Ordered by the Prince Regent into the Caribbean, English sea captain and former privateer Jean Nicholas Powell has no time for women onboard the Wind Raven, especially not Tara McConnell. The impudent American forced herself aboard, and so she’ll get more than she bargained for: Instead of a direct sail to Baltimore, she’ll join their quest to investigate a rampaging pirate, the infamous Roberto Cofresi.
But the hoyden thinks she can crew with his men, and though he bans her from the rigging, Nick is captivated watching her lithe, luscious movements on deck. Facing high seas, storms, cutthroats and the endless unknown, he must protect his ship, his passenger, his crew. But on this voyage, with this woman, there is a greater danger: to his heart.

Buy Wind Raven from:


Twitter: @RegansReview (https://twitter.com/RegansReview)

Regan- Best wishes with Wind Raven.

Slainthe!




Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Z is for zinnia & zonked



Z is for zinnia & zonked

I didn’t sign up for the official A to Z April Challenge this year since I wasn’t sure if I could post for every letter, and also host some blog guests before the end of April. My posts this year are not so sound, in terms of depth of content, but I’ve managed something whilst holding a zonked recently-fed new baby grandson in my arms at some stage of probably every post. It was amazing how much I could do with one handed typing- slowly for sure, but possible.

My post for Z is really about Zinnias- a flower which can brighten any day.  Zinnias have nothing to do with my novel writing (yet) but then I wasn’t going to make my posts solely on writing aspects when I started with the letter A.

I don’t plant zinnias every year in my garden but I’ve liked them very much when I have. I like the bicoloured variety as a focal point in amongst those in my ‘cottage garden’ area. That’s really a euphemism for an area where a lot of flowers reseed themselves and grow every year. It’s a bit of a mish-mash but bursts of colour do well in it.

In the tubs on my front terrace, I like the deeper red zinnias and those are the ones I’m aiming for growing this year.


It might be a while till I do another A to Z challenge but I’ll be posting all sorts of things on the blog. Keep tuned to find out.

Slainthe!

Y is for YouTube



Y is for YouTube

Why do I pick YouTube for my Y?  I can’t say I’m looking at YouTube videos every single day but it's actually quite a regular occurrence these days.

I never ever thought I’d attempt to make any videos myself and post on YouTube.When it was suggested as a promotional tool I didn't at first have any idea of what a book trailer video was. It was only after viewing a couple of sample book trailer videos that I decided to have a go. At this point in time I had signed my first book contract, had already done all the edits (there were a lot for that one!) and was awaiting the release date coming. I think that was back in early July of 2012 and my first romantic novel had a launch date of late August 2012.

After some very hurried questions to authors in the know, who had already made their own videos, I learned about Windows Movie Maker which could be downloaded free - and that was perfect since my budget was zero. More questions followed the first ones and I chose www.123rf.com as my preferred image site since, from them, any image I purchase the use of can be used multiple times on my blog, videos, website etc. Music took longer to decide on but I was pointed in the direction of a few FREE Royalty Free sites.

After a very quick learning curve my first video was produced for my sensual contemporary mystery Monogamy Twist (Wild Rose Press). Since I’m not techie minded, I wasn’t aware that I could use only as much of a FREE Royalty Free piece of music as would suit the purpose. I chose music I thought fitted the story very well and used the whole piece which amounted to more than 2 minutes. Only later did I realise that it's really too long and the best videos are around the 90 second mark- short and snappy.

You live and learn, though, and my attempt for Take Me Now, my second Wild Rose Press contemporary romantic mystery was slightly shorter and great fun to do. I was able to use some of my own photographs which pleased me very much!


Since then, I've made book trailer videos for all of my published novels but I have to admit that on a zero budget finding the images for a historical book set in Celtic/ Roman Britain of the first century is very challenging. Doing 3 different ones is quite taxing! Yet, I’ve made the best I can and I’m quite satisfied that I’ve done them unaided. 

This is for The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures (Crooked Cat Publishing) set in AD 71 Roman Britain. I followed advice and made it close to the 90 second mark but put in fewer of the fancy transitions I used on Monogamy Twist.

For After Whorl: Bran Reborn, Book 2 Celtic Fervour Series, I settled on a pattern of a maximum amount of slides and kept the effects to simple transitions. 


After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, Book 3 Celtic Fervour Series, has similar aims. 


I also made a Book Trailer Video for Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat Publishing), my contemporary ancestral/dynasty based mystery thriller. I again enjoyed being able to use my own photographs for some of the slides.




My YouTube channel page also has a couple of other videos of me doing readings or a ‘talk’. So, yes, I’m very pleased that the possibility of using a Video design programme (Windows Movie Maker) was suggested. I like to think I’ve learned a little along the way though I steer clear of really fancy footwork!

I also find I'm taking a quick look at videos suggested on Facebook.How about you?

Slainthe!

Monday, 28 April 2014

X is for xiphoid and xyster



X is for xiphoid and xyster

It’s always a bit contrived doing an X post so I make no apologies. Here are the dictionary definitions for these two and here's how I can relate them to my writing!

Xiphoid: 1. shaped like a sword 2. of or relating to xiphisternum 3. also called xiphoid process and other name for xiphisternum from GK xiphos sword + eidos form

Xyster: a surgical instrument for scraping bone; surgical rasp or file. From GK xuein tool for scraping

I have to use a little artistic licence here, but I don’t think it’s too much a stretch of imagination to relate them to my historical novels.

Xiphoid- shaped like a sword. Well, Swords feature quite a bit in my Celtic Fervour novels though the shape really depends on who is brandishing it.

My Celts would have favoured the long Celtic broadsword whereas my Roman auxiliaries or legionaries would have used a shorter stabbing variety. 
www.123rf.com

The Roman gladius was very different from the Celtic broadsword. It had a searingly sharp double edge and formidable v-shaped tip but it was not originally a Roman weapon. The type of blade originated in ‘Hispania’, now named Spain, but was used so effectively against Roman troops during the early Roman conquest of the area that the Romans adopted the form and made their own versions. By AD 71-84, when my Celtic characters are confronting Roman troops I would be expecting the Romans to be using the Gladius Pompeii style, slightly shorter than the Gladius Hispaniensis and with the original curvature flattened out.    

The Roman soldier generally led with his shield and made stabbing motions with the  gladius, all infantry using the blade from the same side to avoid harming his ‘Roman neighbour’ in battle. The searingly sharp tip stabbing in between ribs was particularly effective, especially if the chest of the Celtic adversary was bare apart from some wode decoration!   Match this fearsome short sword with the rest of the armour of the legionary or auxiliary and the result was almost impregnable.

What would the Celt be wielding?

The long sword was used for cutting movements but was ineffective for stabbing motions since the tip was not so sharply pointed. The Celtic warrior needed more space in battle to swing his sword to make his slicing motions. The arms, areas below breast armour including the legs and the neck areas of the Roman soldier were the most vulnerable and were where the greatest success could be made by the Celtic warrior.




Now when it comes to a xyster  - a surgical instrument for scraping bone or a surgical rasp or file - a Greek.  I don’t imagine the tools my Roman surgeon, in After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, would be using would be much different from those of Greek surgeons of the era. 
 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sommer,_Giorgio_%281834-1914%29_-_n._11141_-_Museo_di_Napoli_-_Strumenti_di_chirurgia.jpg?uselang=en-gb

In amongst this splendid array I’m fairly confident that at least one of these tools would equate to a Greek xyster.

The surgeon Dioscorides, originally Greek, practiced in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Nero (AD 54-68) and then became a surgeon in the Roman Army travelling extensively across the Roman Empire. Though his written works are centred on the herbal and palliative uses of plant materials, he must have wielded a xyster at time or two!  

You can read about my Roman surgeon in After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks, though he's not too fond of my lovely lass, Ineda! 



Barnes and Noble P/B  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-whorl-nancy-jardine/1118872607?ean=9781909841574   Crooked Cat Books http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=128


 Book trailer video:

Slainthe!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

W is for Whorl



W is for Whorl

Whorl is the name used in the titles for Books 2 & 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series of novels -After Whorl: Bran Reborn and After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks.  
www.123rf.com

This is because Whorl is the site of a fictitious battle which is briefly mentioned at the end of Book 1, The Beltane Choice; a battle which rages between my Brigante Celts and the soldiers of the Roman Empire. This confrontation in AD 71, when many tribespeople from the Brigante Federation and their allies amass together, is a battle which has dreadful consequences for my Garrigill warrior brothers.

The name Whorl was not totally invented by me. There really is a place on the current OS map called Whorlton, in Yorkshire, which is not too far from Stanwick, the site believed to be the stronghold of either King Venutius or a settlement used by both him and his ex- wife Queen Cartimandua when she was the one holding the reins of power.  

Whorlton is on a hill which seemed to me to have all the qualities needed for a battle between the Celts and the Roman Empire’s armies. Higher ground was generally used for the strategic placement of rows of infantry warriors with a flatter plain below where the mounted warriors could assemble on the flanks of the charioteers who would ply back and forth on the middle level ground. 

Thus, Whorl emerged as my battle site. In The Beltane Choice, Whorl, unfortunately, wasn't kind to my Garrigill brother, Brennus, who is thought to be dead after the battle since he doesn't return to his home hillfort. After finishing Book 1, I felt I had done the character of Brennus a little disservice. He was such a likeable man that when I started to plan Book 2, I realised I wanted to be much kinder to him. Bran Reborn was then penned but, since Book 2 rolled on to Book 3 continuing the story of Brennus over the period of approximately a decade, I realised I needed to have some indication in the title that Books 2 & 3 were very closely connected. The events in Books 2 & 3 transpire as a result of the aftermath of the battle at Whorl so it seemed logical to give the titles the same beginning as in 'After Whorl'. Though the battle is only vaguely mentioned in The Beltane Choice there is more of the bloody scene at the beginning of Book 2 After Whorl: Bran Reborn.

For those who haven’t yet bought and read the novel, or those who need to have the scene refreshed in their memory, here it is.
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.
www.123rf.com

            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. 



After Whorl: Bran Reborn

After Whorl: Bran Reborn book trailer video URL

 
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks book trailer video URL
Slainthe!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

V is for Viroconium Cornoviorum



V is for Viroconium Cornoviorum

That’s quite a mouthful and in the third book of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures - After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks - I’ve taken the liberty (a minor detour into 21st century-isms which I couldn’t resist) of having my character, Ineda, refer to it as Viro Corno.

Viroconium Cornoviorum is the Roman name for the city which was later named Wroxeter. Claimed to be the fourth largest Roman city in Britannia, it started as a Roman Garrison fortress which in turn grew to become a thriving civilian town the central operations area and tribal capital of the Cornovii. For centuries, it grew and prospered. Remains of a forum and bath house complex can be visited, the site having been identified as Roman during Victorian times and the site donated to public use by the generous Victorian landowner.

 
The earliest occupation of the area, sited where the River Severn emerges from the Welsh foothills, was probably around the late AD 50s, by the Legio XIV who remained until AD 69 when the Legio XX took up occupation. The fortress site was mainly concerned with maintaining the territories gained from the Celtic tribes in Wales who continued to be resistant to Roman domination during that time. Viroconium Cornoviorum was also strategically placed to send out troops to control any unrest which arose in Brigante lands to the north of Cornovii territory.


It was the monitoring role of the Legio XX which sparked my imagination and gave me the impetus to have my Roman tribune, Gaius Livanus Valerius, be stationed there for a while after he captures Ineda of Marske. It is at Viroconium Cornoviorum that he forces Ineda to become his personal slave. 

Add caption

Ineda learns what it is like to live behind the fortress walls – she has no option about that since she cannot escape from the five thousand plus Roman legionary soldiers (like those reenactment ones above) and possibly half as many support staff who ran the garrison fortress. Though in AD 73, when Ineda is captured, the fortress was a wooden construction, the earliest stonework fortress not created till the 2nd century.  

For more information about Viroconium Cornoviorum these sites have useful information, though it's worth noting that they have some conflicting dates. 


After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is available from:
  




Slainthe! 



Friday, 25 April 2014

Um...U is for the fantastic prefix 'UN'



U is for unlock, uncovering, ultimate…

…and many more words beginning with UN which I've highlighted in bold letters for you.(Um...look out for a sneaky word which might not fit that bill)

www.123rf.com
In my ancestral/dynasty based mystery thriller –Topaz Eyes – there are many doors and avenues to unlock in order to reveal the mystery of the missing Tiru Salana jewels. There is also an ultimate mystery to solve since my third generation cousins are not only seeking what turns out to be 20 items from the collection of emeralds once owned by a Mughal Emperor named Tiru Salana but they are also seeking yet another mystery item which is concealed within the collection. A lot of unlocking is necessary but my protagonists are a determined bunch, especially Keira Drummond and Teun Zeger. They are

unremitting in their dedication to find the jewelley.

Along the way to unlocking the mysteries and uncovering the treasures Keira finds herself in a position where she’s not at all sure who of the family she can trust, perhaps not even Teun for whom she has an immediate attraction. Who are the hired thugs she realises have been tailing her as she moves from one fabulous city to the next in the quest for the jewels? That is... from Heidelberg, to Edinburgh, to cities the US state of Minnesota, to Vienna, to Amsterdam.

Suspicion is rife amongst all of the third-cousins, none of whom have ever met each other or even known of each other before Jensen brings them together in Heidelberg under very secretive circumstances. Keira is so spooked at first by the invitation she thinks there must be something underhand about it all, and yet it is so intriguing she can’t resist being part of it. There are so many unknown aspects to the missing jewels but that’s all part of the lure for someone who likes to have mysteries solved and answers found.
www.123rf.com

The quest is not long begun when she knows there has to be at least one unstable member of the family who will stop at nothing to get all the jewels for him or her self.

Eventually, as in all good mysteries, the whole set of jewels handed down to her daughters by Geertje Hoogeveen are unearthed. An exhibition is mounted by the cousin named Jensen and the jewels are unveiled for public viewing.   

Details of the fabulous jewels and how they are uncovered can be found by reading Topaz Eyes! 


Topaz Eyes is a finalist in THE PEOPLE'S BOOK PRIZE 2014. There will be a final round of voting for the WINNER taking place between the 21st May and the 28th May. I will be attending the 'black tie' AWARDS dinner in London on the 28th May when the announcement is made that night, and I would absolutely love to be the final WINNER for my book and for Crooked Cat Publishing. 

Keep tuned in to this blog for how to VOTE for me during that week in May.



Crooked Cat Bookstore http://bit.ly/12NR4z5



Meanwhile you can get a FREE ecopy of Crooked Cats' Tales from Smashwords, and soon from the Crooked Cat Bookstore. In it, you'll find my short story - Misgivings - which is about two of the secondary characters from Topaz Eyes- Zaan and Fenna.

Crooked Cats' Tales is also on Amazon for 99p/ 99c; the proceeds going to the charities: Medicins sans Frontieres and Barnardos.

Slainthe! 




Thursday, 24 April 2014

T is for Tales – Crooked Cat ones.



T is for Tales – Crooked Cat ones.

I'm back to my A to Z and it's time for the letter T.

My publisher, Crooked Cat, made an excellent suggestion, at Christmastime 2013, about creating a FREE anthology of short stories to be made available to the public to showcase the talents of Crooked Cat Authors. It was also suggested that if any charge had to be made for the collection it would be a very small nominal fee with all proceeds going to the same charities as was used for the FEAR collection which was compiled in 2012; Medecins sans Frontieres and Barnardos.

When asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance – even though I’ve not written any short stories for many years, not since I was a practising teacher. Those short stories weren’t written for publication but for using as ‘scaffolding’ in story writing classes.

Once committed, I set to in January and thought about what to write. My publishers had suggested something which might be compatible with titles which were already published and using characters I’d already created.


I immediately rejected any new additions to my Celtic Fervour historical series since Book 2 had just recently been published in mid-December 2013 and Book 3 was due to be published around March 2014.

That left me only one publication with Crooked Cat which was Topaz Eyes - my ancestral/dynasty based contemporary mystery thriller. There were quite a few characters I knew I could write about from it and it seemed like a great choice, since at that time Topaz Eyes was being voted on in THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE winter section.

I had already given Teun and Keira from Topaz Eyes their happy ending and had resolved the mysteries of the Tiru Salana Emerald collection, thus any short story needed to be about secondary characters. There are a number to choose from so I picked two very likeable ones:
- Zaan who is one of the third generation cousins from the progeny of Geertje Hoogeveen who scattered the collection amongst the family
- And Fenna, the archivist, who helps to uncover the written evidence to prove the ownership of the Tiru Salana Jewels in the 1880s, when Geertje was given the jewels.

My story in Crooked Cat’s Tales is called: Misgivings.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to grab you’re FREE copy from 
and from the 

Amazon has them priced at 99p/99c but the proceeds all go to the charities as named above.

Enjoy 20 fabulous TALES.
Slainthe!