Saturday, 24 June 2017

Saturday free read!

Saturday selection! 

I've had a productive day writing, which tends to mean I lose track of the time so...since I'm out at Ballater on Royal Deeside (Scotland) with FOCUS Craft Fairs selling and signing books tomorrow, and I'll probably be out of WiFI range for posting anything, here's part of a scene for you.

The action isn't at Ballater but it's not so far away from there except it takes place in AD 84, almost 2000 years ago.

Enjoy!

A rush of pure hatred mixed with an unbidden fear almost had her snapping the soggy debris beneath her leather-clad feet as she sidled to the nearby mature beech. In the forest gloom, her thoughts were as murky as the wood around her. Alban elued was upon them, though she doubted there would be much to the ceremony around the fireside of her family when she returned to them. It was her habit to welcome this happy time, when the daylight shared an equal time with the dark and the last of the crops were gathered in but presently the forest god, Cernunnos, favoured neither her, nor her family.

The summer warmth of Lugh was only a memory. An early chill had rapidly descended since dawn causing a cascade of colourful leaf drop to glide down. The red gold of the leaves might have been appealing had the day been a fair one but Cernunnos was demonstrating his ire at the deeds of men in his precious territory. The mush of the soggy leaves was treacherous underfoot.
Reining in her anxiety, she snatched a breath before the cries of her answering crossbill call acknowledged she understood how many of the enemy needed to be dealt with. Hunkering down behind the trunk, she drew her bratt tighter around her head, her fingers numb and clumsy as she tucked in her wayward side plaits. The measure was poor protection for her shivering body, the relentless pelt of hail stinging her cheeks like she imagined a branding tine would do, though she had yet to experience that. Knowing observation was all that was required of her for the moment, she knelt down on one knee finding a better balance point, her woollen braccae sodden. The softest of plops hit the wet tree roots beneath her as she scanned the vicinity, melted hail trickling down from her chin. No part of her was dry but she could do nothing about that state. Not until much later and after her turn at surveillance was over.

After a long interval, her breathing shallow to suppress the complaints her aching muscles wanted to scream out, the faint bird-chat of Colm and Feargus was just discernible on her left before the signal came to move on. She couldn’t see Colm, only his spear, the tip of which nudged a gentle indication towards the edge of the forest. Progressively, and with great caution, she edged from tree to tree, winding her way through the wood which clad the foothills of Drumgoodrum. She knew by the responses from Colm and Feargus that the fourth warrior of their scouting party, Nith, was the only one of them who had the Roman soldiers in view.

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Out blogging today!

Hello again

You'll find me out blog posting at the Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog today 21st June. The post is titled - Summer Solstice Shenanigans!

Who is celebrating in my garden and what surprises are in store?


Slainthe! 

Wednesday's full of Summer Surprises!

Wednesday's Surprise for the Summer Solstice is a dark one!

Today, the 21st June, I have an exciting guest post by Eli Carros, author of The Watcher.

Newly launched today, The Watcher is a psychological crime thriller that's now on my kindle. I have to be honest, though, and say that it looks like a scary read so I'll probably not be reading it late at night!

Eli also extends an invitation to his launch party, today 21st June, on Facebook where you can join us to celebrate with him and enter to WIN his fabulous Launch prizes. Just click this link HERE and say hello. I'll be getting to know Eli today at the launch party, as well, since he's a fairly new +Crooked Cat Publishing  author.

Eli- thank you for coming today to share some of your secrets about The Watcher. I'll leave it to you now to tell us about them...

Unmasking a master predator
By Eli Carros
Secrets are something we’re all fascinated by but sometimes what is concealed can be deadly.  That’s the premise of my newly released crime thriller The Watcher, the story of a master predator’s deadly sexual obsession which results in extreme, fatal violence.
It’s up to one man to stop the serial killer terrorizing London’s streets, a man who preys on his young female victims ruthlessly.   But what to do when you’re hunting a man who leaves no trace, no evidence?
My lead protagonist, Detective Inspector Jack Grayson knows he must find out who’s responsible for the dead bodies that kept turning up, all artfully arranged, posed, as if the killer is taunting the police.
But when he delves deeper, opening up a 17 year old murder case with links to the current killings, he only becomes more confused, why is there not a single trace of the man he’s tracking?
Before writing The Watcher, I made a study of several serial killers and noted that a common thread running between many of the hardest to catch, was the innate ability to blend, to remain unseen.  In some cases, such as the deviant psychopath Ted Bundy, this even involved assuming another identity.   Bundy did this on December 30,1977 when he escaped out of a courthouse window in Aspen, Colorado, throwing several police forces into panic and embarking on a bloody crime spree.
I drew heavily from this particular character trait, the ability to shed ones skin, when I came to make my own fictional portrayal of a psychopath.  As I wrote The Watcher, I infused my antagonist with the characteristics that many of the world’s most prolific serial killers have embodied.  But I also gave him his own unique personal story, background, and past skeletons, all of which the harried Jack Grayson and his talented partner, Detective Gita Naseem must uncover, if they hope to catch him.
The Watcher is clever, a predator who stalks his victims silently from the shadows but as with nearly everyone, though it might not be obvious at first, he does have a past.  When Grayson discovers the secret that masks The Watcher’s identity, he’s knocked sideways, as it’s not something he had considered as a possibility at all.
Secrets and surprises are interwoven throughout The Watcher’s narrative, and are a central part of the novels plot.  Major and minor discoveries are revealed as the story unwinds, with the final big secret, the most shocking surprise, coming right at the books climax.  I’d be surprised myself if you see this one coming!
If you’re a fan of dark, psychological crime thrillers with lots of plot twists and surprises that keep you on your toes, then I wrote The Watcher for you, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you enjoy reading it.
The Watcher is released by Crooked Cat Books on June 21st, and will be available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple store.  

Readers who want to stay updated can visit Eli’s website at www.elicarros.weebly.com

check out the Facebook page at https://facebook.com/elicarros

or sign up to attend the Online Launch Day Event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541000742597845 to take part in author Q+ A’s, hear Eli give live readings from The Watcher, and be in with the chance to win a luxury food hamper and Amazon Giftcard.


Eli Carros is a crime fiction and thriller author from London, England. His debut novel, The Watcher, was inspired by the London landscape, and by what can happen when sexual obsession, psychological abuse, and madness collide.  Eli loves reading crime, fantasy, and mystery suspense, and is an ardent admirer of authors Steven King, Mark Billingham, Harlan Coben, and Patricia Cornwell.
In his spare time Eli loves sailing, camping, hiking, and sketching, and detests getting up in the morning without several cups of strong percolated coffee.

Thank you for being with us today, Eli, and my very best wishes for a successful launch of The Watcher.

Slainthe!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Another of last week's reads!

Some more Monday Moments with another book I read last week. 

This time it's a non-fiction book- The Roman Conquest of Scotland The Battle of Mons Graupius AD 84 by James E. Fraser.  


The Roman Conquest of Scotland
The Battle of Mons Graupius AD 84 
by James E Fraser 

I’ve read a good number of books now about Roman Britain though my particular focus is on Roman Scotland so I eagerly reach for anything new to me. The author of this book is one of the few I’ve encountered, so far, who adds something to the personality of General Gnaeus Agricola. James E Fraser’s interpretation of the ‘Agricola’ by Tacitus is broken down into small phrases which he backs up with any other record available to him. There were aspects to this book that I’d not considered before, or read in other texts, and these are worthy of another re-read.


The author presents his conclusions in a way that reaches out to someone like me who is an interested researcher and not an official historian or archaeologist. I don’t, however, agree with his reasoning in places. Though he mentions the advance marching camps of Agricola which lie to the north of Raedykes I don’t feel he has given them sufficient consideration, yet I understand that a study of the campaigns of Agricola are conjectural at best. 

The Gask ridge definitely covers a large area that’s peppered with many identified Roman installations, and other potential ones, but for the Battle of Mons Graupius to have been sited there makes me wonder why Agricola would have continued northwards with an extremely large compliment of soldiers. The approximate head count of soldiers at Kintore temporary marching camp is estimated at about 10 thousand ( Murray and Cook excavations 2000-2004) and the potential at the next three marching camps to the north east are upwards of 20,000. If Agricola had subdued the natives on the Gask Ridge would he have needed to march so many of his men northwards afterwards? Or if his march occurred before the battle why wait till so far south to confront the natives? 

I continue to be fascinated by the campaigns of Agricola, the writings of Tacitus and the Battle of Mons Graupius! 

Slainthe! 

Monday Moments with Katie Button!

Good Morning- it's another Monday! 

There was a hint of blue sky earlier on but now at 11a.m. it's back to a light grey sky but still lovely and warm for these parts.

In between my own new writing today, I'm posting some short reviews of books read last week. The first of these is another hit by +Crooked Cat Publishing Dreaming of a Happy Ever After by Lizzie Koch. 

This was another entertaining read from Ms Koch! 

Will it be Jack, James or indeed, Will? 

Having being introduced to Katie in The Adventures of Katie Button I looked forward to the next stages of Katie’s chaotic life. In the same vein as 'Bridget Jones' Katie is a young lady who finds herself in all sorts of ditzy situations. 

The dreams aspect of the story is one I find hard to relate to but that's because I never seem to remember any of my dreams! However, it's a good vehicle to use in a novel to demonstrate how people have different emotional instabilities and through various types of therapy can work through their issues. 

Once again, the author kept me wondering who was eventually going to be the true love for calamitous ‘coffee spilling’ Katie. The story flows beautifully, the dialogue sharp and realistic though I think I’d find Katie hard work if she were my friend.


This would be a great holiday read or if you’re looking for a light-hearted feel good story.  

I had no hesitation in awarding this 5 * stars as it really hit my entertainment button for this genre. 

Slainthe! 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Find my book on the @ManyBooks site!

Happy Saturday to you! 


The sun is shining and for once the weatherman says it should be sunny and hot all day for my part of north east Scotland. Bliss!

What better than for me to take my laptop outside to write - if I can adjust the shading well enough. And I just might read a lovely book as well.

If you're also in the mood for reading it just so happens that I''m over at ManyBooks.net today as their featured author and as part of their discounted books on offer. Topaz Eyes my +Crooked Cat Publishing romantic mystery thriller is the one to look for today at #99p/99cents across Amazon, Smashwords, KOBO, B&N NOOK etc.

Why did I write Topaz Eyes? Find out some of my secrets HERE and buy the book HERE

Slainthe! 

Friday feature meets... Enya

Here's a late Friday feature! 

The feature for today is Enya- one of the main characters of my current writing in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour series. What follows is unedited and may, or may not, end up in the final story.

At this point in the story Enya has decided to leave the fragile security of Ceann Druimin where her family has retreated to after the battle at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3 of the series). Her choice has been made because she is determined to find out the fate of her brother and cousin after the bloody and disastrous battle with the armies of General Agricola. No signs have been found of the young warriors' deaths on the battlefield so Enya has gone in search of them. A battle survivor, the young Taexali warrior Feargus of Monymusk has volunteered to lead her to the east coast where they have been told captives have been shipped south by the Romans. At this point Enya, Nith of Tarras (in Book 3) and Feargus are being helped by a young local lad.

I hope you enjoy it!

www.123rf.com


The lad  alongside Enya panicked. “I do not see them. Where are they?”
Enya wished she knew because she had no sight of them either. “Stay calm, Donnachadh. We will spy Nith and Feargus when they make a move.”
“I fear some mishap, Enya. Should we go closer to check?”
She was up with spear at the ready before Donnachadh had finished talking. Three black forms were now visible, one of them heading towards Nith and Feargus who had just begun to crest the dune. Praying to the goddess Scathach that she was in range she hurled her spear at the third figure, the moon glinting off the soldier’s helmet.
“Run!” Grabbing Donnachadh by the elbow she propelled him into motion and scampered away from the Roman camp, knowing that the other two would follow them. She did not stop for breath till she had covered two handfuls of dune crests. Flinging herself into a natural sandy hollow she flopped back onto the soft bed, her chest heaving. Donnachadh was likewise crumpled alongside. There was still enough room for Nith and Feargus when they plopped in alongside them, their longer legs having covered the distance faster than she had.  
Nith’s raspy words were full of praise, though whispered low since sounds travel further in the night dark. “That was a throw very well done, Enya. You have my heartfelt gratitude.”
 “A perfect hurl, indeed, but it is a pity she lost her one and only spear,” Feargus sniggered in sheer relief at having escaped detection by the Roman patrols.
Enya’s breath was still erratic after their hasty retreat. Though it was too dark for them to see her grin, her laughter was evident when she replied. “Aye, Feargus, but you can spare me one of yours since now you both know I can defend your backs, even in the dark of night.” There was a short lull while all recovered, then Enya spoke again. “If it was so perfect a throw, then you had an easy task in dispatching that guard?”
Nith reached over to pat her hand since he was lying next to her. “No need for our knives. Your spear went straight into his neck. No time for him to shout an alarm before he keeled over. It was the noise of his armour clattering against his pilum that roused our attention. Till then we had not realised that he was so close by.”
Another gentle tapping to her hand she found was more soothing, yet much more disturbing since her senses were already on full alert.
Nith continued, “Why he was outside the perimeter of the ditch has to have been unusual but whatever the reason it will not be long before he is missed. Before then, we need to a put a good distance between us and that camp.”
Enya calmed her strange feelings and gathered her breath for the next scamper.
“Donnachadh? Where do you suggest we go for shelter till the morn?” asked Nith.
Enya was pleased that Nith intended to use the local lad’s knowledge because her Selgovae friend could be stubbornly dismissive of help.
The boy was definite. “The Romans will trot the sands quickly if the sky remains clear of clouds and the moon full and shining bright as it is just now. They could reach the Usge Ythan in no time at all. Those Romans pace well.”
“We know that from experience, Donnachadh, but the coastal plains and the dunes will surely slow them down?” Enya said, propping up onto her elbows and then knees to peer over their hollow. Seeing no one approach she let them know.
“Aye,” he answered, “They will tramp less quickly over the dunes but by daylight their best trackers will note our flattened grasses and know our route. Due north of here is the Foveran burn. They will track us to it but if we pick our way up its waters it will slow down their progress, and hopefully stop them following us further. Some of my kin are in hiding near Hill of Fiddes and that is not so far from Foveran.”
“Is it a high hill?” Nith wanted to know.
“Nay,” Donnachadh’s high-pitched chuckle was full of regret. “There are no high hills hereabouts but come morn’s light, and if the day is still clear, we might be able to see if any ships leaving their base sail northwards.”
“Should we wait till dawn to head to this spot?” Enya was exhausted but being tired was preferable to being caught.
“Nay.” The lad was firm. “We should move now. If any of the Romans head inland in the dark, they are likely to be caught in the tussocky grasses and the bogs that I know how to avoid.”
“That seems a very good plan, lad.” Enya heard the praise in Nith’s answer as he pushed to a sitting position. “Lead us then, though I do not believe they will send out any patrols till day dawns. It is their way to remain sheltered behind their turf walls till they can see what they are doing and where they are going.”
Donnachadh’s youthful voice squeaked as he, too, sat up. “Did you get close enough to count the vessels and get any other information?”
Feargus answered from his still prone position, sounding reluctant to move anywhere. “I counted nine of them, two larger but most of the rest of a uniform size.”
“Aye, that matches my tally.” Before saying any more Nith popped up his head to view down the length of the beach. “I see no one coming this way. We should ready ourselves.”
Stretching her length and wriggling hard to get rid of the kinks in her muscles, Enya yawned. She purposely shook her head quickly, her eyes tight shut. Sleep was too inclined to sneak upon her when she rested. “What about troop numbers? Was the moonlight sufficient to make an estimate?”
“I counted enough tents to shelter three centuries?” Nith looked to Feargus for agreement with his assessment.
“It was hard to tell with the amount of horses tethered there. I would say a few less auxiliary infantry but my guess would be there is also a whole ala of mounted auxiliaries as well.”
“Aye, maybe so. That makes sense since they are patrolling a large stretch of sands.” Nith agreed.
Enya noted the respect in Nith’s voice at Feargus’ estimation. She grinned knowing how difficult Nith sometimes found it to be less than accurate about something.
Donnachadh piped up. “Every day since the battle at Beinn na Ciche we have seen mounted patrols ride in both directions along the sands, some going further north to monitor beyond the Usge Ythan. Our wide, flat sands are perfect for fast covering of the distances.”
Nith was up on his feet, fisting his spears as he turned to Donnachadh.  “Lead us now to your safety.”
When Enya was standing she accepted the spear Feargus passed over to her.
“I hope that you can use this weapon as well as your own ones.” His grin showed his confidence that she could do exactly that.

Enya grunted in acknowledgement. “But before daylight. One throw was enough in the dark.”

And now it's time for me to do some more new writing.

Slainthe!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Out and about signing and selling books!

Happy Saturday to you! 

After the rivetting General Election frenzy in Scotland and the United Kingdom which led up to the election day on Thursday 8th June 2017, I thought that going to my FOCUS (Festival of Crafts Unique to Scotland) craft fair venue today in Inverurie Town Hall would have been a refreshing break from politics.

Not quite.

A crafter had to pull out at short notice so I was given extra table space and was able to spread myself out around a corner instead of squeezing a heap into a small area.

One browser (he had no intention of buying but was bored because his wife was taking ages to look at the other crafts on sale) engaged me in conversation. This happens often and I tend to let conversations develop if there's a lull in footfall since they often make the time pass beautifully. Today's (ex-military man according to him) mannie from Aberdeenshire launched into politics in his sentence 2.

Since I'm very interested in what made thousands of voters in my part of Scotland (Aberdeenshire) vote Conservative, I was interested. Suffice to say after a couple of minutes I knew that the newspapers he is likely to read are not those I tend to reach for and I await with baited breath to see what unfolds between Ruth Davidson-whom he had a lot of admiration for- and Teresa May's (UK Prime Minister) alliance with the DUP (Democratic Ulster Unionist Party) since some of their views don't seem to conform to those of Ruth D. He was definitely an 'SNP bad' supporter and nothing that the current Scottish Government did was good, even issues wholly devolved to the UK Westminster Government over which the Scottish parliament has absolutely no say. The conversation remained polite though as I truly would like to learn why someone's views can be so different to mine.

It was just as well that on one of the extra tables I set up a 'Power Point' presentation about my books that provided another focal interest while I was busy talking to browsers and customers.

I'm delighted to say that other wonderful conversations were brilliant and I met two men who know a lot about General Agricola and his Ancient Roman advances into Aberdeenshire back in c. A.D. 84. As a bonus to the very encouraging conversation  I got a few references to material I haven't yet read and could be very useful in my studies. RESULT!
...and they bought some books as well.

When totted up I only sold 7 novels today but the leads for me to interested heritage groups and useful research materials means a block of time well spent.

I think I've earned a break so I'm now going to catch up with the 'Versailles' episode I missed on TV last night.

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Summer Surprise #3

Good Wednesday Wishes to you! 

My Wednesday Summer Surprises theme continues. Today should have been Wednesday Surprise #4 but since, to my very great surprise and consternation (read a lot of **** here ), I had no internet last Wednesday, so today is Surprise # 3.

My intention for this series is for my guests to tell us what surprises we might find in their work - some surprises being from newly launched novels and from other authors something in their back list.

My return guest today is Nik Morton, a very prolific author of many  novels across different genres. I've  known Nik for a few years now through Crooked Cat Books but you'll find that he has an impressive list of novels available that are published by others.

Nik Morton
Nik's come with a lovely surprise for you but there's also one for ME! It's not often I've been given the privilege  of reading another author's work when it's at the pre-publication stages so I was delighted, some months ago, when Nik asked me to read Continuity Girl the story that he's featuring here today. Knowing I'm a bit obsessed with Ancient Roman Britain, and the fact that his story is set near Hadrian's Wall, Nik thought I might like to comment on the story since I've also written a time travel novel.

It was a brilliant short read with a lot of twists and plot surprises - though I don't deal in spoilers so I'm not mentioning any of those. You'll just have to pick up a copy and read them yourself!

For me the surprise continues today because Nik has added my review comments to the blurb of the book. That's a first for me - I feel very honoured indeed!

Welcome again, Nik. Please tell us more about Continuity Girl.

Continuity Girl – Surprises

Thanks for inviting me, Nancy – and I appreciate your review which appears on the book blurb!

Nancy: It was my pleasure, Nik and a very enjoyable read!. 

There are good surprises and bad ones. We all like the good variety, and I was pleasantly surprised when a publisher sent an email asking me to consider writing for him again. The publisher is David Cranmer and his imprint is Beat to a Pulp. Previously, I’d written two westerns in his ongoing noir series about U.S. Marshals Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles; the first, Bullets for a Ballot, concerned female emancipation in the Old West; the second, Coffin for Cash offered a literary nod or two to Edgar Allan Poe. (A third is just completed, Death for a Dove). David sent me two books, science fiction time-travel tales: Carnosaur Weekend (#1) and Apocalypse Soon (#2) by Garnett Elliott, a writer living in Tucson, Arizona. Each book in effect contains two novellas. David asked me to write #3 in the series, which became Continuity Girl.

In our future, Kyler Knightly and his uncle Damon Cole are field agents for Continuity Inc, a private organisation that obtained the contract when the government Time Corps was deregulated. CI is dedicated to protecting human history.

They use the Zygma projector to travel through time and must carry a focus object from the period they’re targeting.

Kyler is also a dreamer with passive psychic talents, a precognitive.

The head of the group is an Artificial Intelligence character, Sennacherib. Their offices are in the West End of London, a disused theatre.

I’ve always been fascinated by time-travel stories, and indeed I have an unpublished novel that deals with that very subject; it might see the light of day some time…

With all of history to raid, the question was where to take the heroes. I grew up in the north-east, not far from Hadrian’s Wall and I’d visited that site and the auxiliary fort of Vindolanda more than once.

Kyler is helped by the Continuity girl Tertia Beynon. I created Tropes Unlimited, a film and publishing company that specialised in historical fact and fiction. It was set up by four academics who also worked for the Government Time Corps. Secretly, they duplicated the Zygma projector: Film director/writer Sebastian Bulmer. He directed successful Flix – Fall and Rise of Rome, Caligula’s Concubines, The Year of the Five Emperors. He’d researched his material first-hand. His next project was to be Death on Hadrian’s Wall, prompted by his last film project. But he didn’t return. The others are fiction author Mary Ellison, film producer Lucian Matheson and historian Tom Rusch. The Roman governor at the time (190AD) Clodius Albinus was forty. The scene was set to explain how by some twist of time Kyler’s present, our future, would be radically altered so that the Roman Empire never fell.

This story might be the first to reference ‘Brexit’, viz: ‘Shielded from the sun’s harmful rays by the soot-stained Plexiglas dome, this broad section of the London skyline shimmered before his eyes, and transformed slowly, uncannily. The Gherkin, the Shard, the O2 dome, the Third Eye, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Scalpel, the Cheesegrater, One Blackfriars (known as the Pregnancy Bulge), the Independence Tower (commonly known as the Brexit Finger), the New Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, they all dissolved to be replaced by classic Roman architecture, an enormous amphitheatre, tall blocks of dwellings fronted with Doric columns, aqueducts and viaducts that spanned the river and white marble temples faced with ornate friezes extolling battle triumphs and appeasing gods.’

[Any sci-fi fans might have noticed the names of famous authors: Beynon, Bulmer, Ellison, Matheson and Rusch!]

That established the first novella. The second sprang out of a few quotations from a book of poetry by David Cranmer’s relative who died tragically: Celebrations in the Ossuary by Kyle J. Knapp.

Still playing with time, and utilising another of those academics/writers, I would mix in fact and fiction again – but this time the horror fiction of Bram Stoker. The unintended consequences of time travel on this occasion could be truly horrendous, as the blurb hints.

I enjoy blending real events with fiction and have also done it for the Tana Standish psychic spy series Mission: Prague, Mission: Tehran and Mission: Khyber. Even though I follow a rough plot plan, there is always scope for surprises engendered by the characters as they interact.

Nancy: Read on to see the fabulous covers below for the Tana Standish series,which I also loved reading. 

Blurb
Continuity Girl

Kyler is accompanied by the delectable yet mysterious Tertia Beynon. Their mission is to trace an academic who has travelled to Roman Britain in 192 AD! Precog suggests that an interfering event in this past will radically alter the future. Arriving at Hadrian’s Wall in the freezing winter, the pair encounter blood-thirsty argumentative locals and then obtain the aid of Governor Clodius Albinus in their trek on the northern side of the wall. Here they are confronted by Ambrosius, a druid who possesses arcane power.

Nothing seems simple. Action abounds, with brutal sacrifices, deadly swordplay, a fraught chariot chase and an attack by a pack of wolves.

With all this going on, will they be able to save their future in time?

What an exciting zip back to the past with some really neat time travel twists! The story may be short but it’s packed with plenty of entertaining ‘what ifs’ and action near Hadrian’s Wall. And for good measure, the conclusion just might be something you don’t expect!’
- Nancy Jardine, author of The Celtic Fervour series
  
We fell below the Earth

Our duo are helped by Tertia and Chief Inspector Irving. Corpses drained of blood point to a clue, a letter from Bistritz in 1897. Kyler and Cole are sent to Transylvania.

The conclusions are inescapable: it seems that the discovery of time travel – even though it’s regulated and Continuity Inc strives to protect history – heralded in a sequence of parallel time-streams. Where before these time-streams were ‘what if’ scenarios, now they’ve split into different realities. In some, fiction is fact.

The deaths, the blood and gore point to vampires being real, and they’re certainly not your idealised romantic sort. The evil blood-suckers are intent on feasting in Kyler’s present and spreading their contagion…

Links

Continuity Girl
Paperback release shortly

Twitter - @nik_morton
Amazon author - amazon.com/author/nikmorton















My best wishes to you, Nik, for the latest launch of Continuity Girl. Thanks for visiting and please keep in touch!

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

June reads #1

It's still Sunday but here are my thoughts on the first novel I've finished in June and posted a short review of on Amazon and Goodreads.

New Blood: a romance with a twist by Lorna Peel
(published by Crooked Cat Books)

Does money matter?


Ah, to be an aristocrat with a stately pile and a pile of money as well. I’ve read a few books about the other type of aristocrat who is land rich, with a stately home needing constant repairs, but whose bank account is also sadly in need of propping up. Baron Thomas is one such titled owner who needs to open his home to tourists like me who love to visit. His new tour guide Sophia, a local lass who returns to her Yorkshire roots, is able to put up with his volatile temper and his innate shyness. The romantic development is slow and steady as the story progresses. The characters are interwoven in a quite refreshing way and unravelling the mystery kept me reading. I love stories with an ancestral theme so slotting the characters into place was great as the story developed. I warmed a lot to the irascible Thomas though he also came across as a bit wimpish at times. Sophie, on the other hand, was nicely rounded. There was that one character who (I’m choosing not to name in this review, so as not to spoil it for a new reader) was so well drawn as the baddie but was also the one who made me really perk up when she joined the conversation. Other secondary characters gave a lot of life to the story. 

Slainthe! 

Refugees? Yes, they are.

Happy Sunday wishes to you all!

If you have a day off and the weather is fine, it sounds like a perfect time to get outdoors, settle down somewhere comfy and have a good long read.

If you need to fill your kindle/ e reader then #1 The Beltane Choice is being offered again this weekend at the bargain price of 99p/ 99cents. That's an amazing price for a full length novel!

I'd like to say that reading outside would be lovely and relaxing for me today but rain is likely to appear around noon so a day inside doing some writing is a more likely plan of action.

I'm probably going to steer clear of reading more newspapers today, it now being after 10 a.m., but we'll see how that goes.

Recent horrific events in the UK - days ago in Manchester and last night in London - made for some harrowing reading in the newspapers. News coverage is less for similar attacks across the globe- suicide bombing and deliberate civilian targetting by vehicle - but, wherever these happen, the effect on the local population is utterly devastating.

The current methods of attack may be different from historical ones but killing and maiming innocent people across the planet isn't a new thing. It seems to me that we haven't learned much from history over the last few thousand years.

When some kind of threat attacks the people of an area there's initial and justifiable panic, and then there's a rallying round of those who try to alleviate and help the victims. Organised attempts by those in authority to catch the perpetrators of the atrocities also goes on, often successfully and at others the outcome may be more contentious. Resistance to such oppression may appear futile but often it's the only way to survive.

Whose side are you on is the question? The psychology of why these atrocities happen is crucial to know. What makes one person choose to commit acts that are disastrous to another?

Knowing why events happened historically should inform us and make us (mankind) make better current decisions  but we don't seem to have learned yet to live in peace across our increasingly frail planet. I've studied the Ancient Roman Invasion of Britannia (UK) a lot, with particular focus on the north and in Scotland, but what I've learned about the psyche of Ancient Roman Emperors and their intentions in Britannia still don't account for half of the reality of Britannia in A.D. 71- 84. Interpreting historical and archaeological evidence is very subjective and sadly doesn't give us the whole picture as much as it strives to.

Working out why things happen in our own times should be much easier - but it doesn't seem to be. Asking 'What is the real point of the atrocities that are currently being committed?' isn't bringing defining answers either.

The events in my Celtic Fervour Series of historical novels are nothing like the current situation in England, but in my series I've tried to write about what the effect is on the ordinary people who live in the northern geographical areas when catastrophe strikes.

When their usual way of life is untenable they become refugees and flee to territory that is not yet occupied- but as with other parts of the Ancient Roman Empire, it's only a matter of time before the relentlessly invading Romans are at their heels again.

In my series of novels, the Ancient Roman Legions are invading territory in the north where there is resistance from the people. The  Brigante Federation of  tribes don't want to have complete Roman rule imposed upon them. They see their way of life threatened, their customs and their religion being swept aside. Roman culture will be imposed upon them, as has already happened to tribes further south in Britannia since A.D 43 and the Claudian invasion, It's imperative for tribes to unify and come together to resist the Roman invasion, even when the tribes have been former enemies. Alliances need to be made to repel the foreign invaders.

The Brigantes engage in open pitched battle with their Roman enemy but when that still doesn't provide them with freedom they have to find other solutions...to survive!

#1 The Beltane Choice is only 99p/ 99 cents this weekend. You can get it from Amazon, Smashwords, B&N NOOK US,  Itunes, KOBO and maybe even more outlets.

Enjoy your reading.

Slainthe!


Friday, 2 June 2017

Have you read Shaman's Drum?

It's Friday again and the weekend is looming! 

It's going to be another busy one for me, which I'll update about tomorrow, but today I'm delighted to welcome back my lovely friend - Ailsa Abraham. 

Ailsa, a fellow Crooked Cat author, has been with Crooked Cat Books about the same time as I have and she's here with an update about her novel Shaman's Drum. I can thoroughly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good tale but it will particularly appeal to readers of science fiction/ fantasy though  Ailsa will tell you more about it the categories of fiction it falls into.

Welcome again, Ailsa and over to you... 

BACK FOR A LIMITED TIME

You thought you had lost it but Shaman's Drum is back on the market for six moths only. From 1st June it will be available in Kindle form for only 99p or cents as a special re-introductory offer.

WHAT? A mixed genre book which can be read as a stand-alone or as the sequel to Alchemy. It has variously been described as slightly futuristic magical realism, fantasy and romantic thriller.

WHEN? Set in our own word in just a few years' time after a world-changing scientific discovery frees mankind from dependence on fossil fuels.

WHY? The banning of public religious practices was thought to bring an end to terrorism and war but unexpected consequences turn the new ideal world into a nightmare. Pagans having been left out of the ban are the only groups left to combat the new threat and they are fighting between themselves.

WHERE? The Capital is never named so it could be in your country.

WHO? Iamo, a priest of the Goddess with an aristocratic background who has just been released from prison for breaking his vow of chastity. A woman Black Shaman avenger who was the cause of Iamo's downfall, rescued from her prison by her lover.
Between them they have to solve the mystery of who is allowing demons into the world of Men and find a way to stop them. Who can they trust in the chaotic world of pagan clans?


The author, Ailsa Abraham, knows her subject having been a student of religions and a practising pagan most of her life. Friend of Druids, Hedge-witches and other assorted magic-users she is the village shaman in her home.
Ailsa Abraham


Reviews on Amazon number 15 at the moment with an average rating of 4.7  Comments include : Shaman's Drum sucked me in and swallowed me whole!
Just the right mix of danger, mystery, history, a possible future, and tastefully exciting romance,.I want more of Iamo and Riga. I just want more! :-)
The sequel to Alchemy, brings heroine and hero back together for another scrap amongst the netherworld.
Fairly ripped through this cracking read, which for me indicates a winning combination of pace with great writing.
International Amazon Link http://bit.ly/1mgdIhL


Good luck with your re-launch of Shaman's Drum, Ailsa, and come visit me anytime! 

Slainthe!

Monday, 29 May 2017

#8 Books Recently Read - Search For The Light by Rosemary Noble

Monday Moments are with...

Search For the Light by Rosemary Noble

This is yet another historical novel that I've just finished reading. 



A moment's foolish mistake costs sixteen-year old Nora her freedom and her family. Sentenced to transportation she has to grow up fast to survive prison, the long journey and then life as an assigned servant in Van Diemen's Land of the 1820s. She is sustained by real friendships with other prisoners, Sarah and Helen. Can anyone of them overcome the pitfalls of convict life to become pioneering settlers of modern day Tasmania? This is a story of love and friendship amidst the trials of 19th century Australian colonial life.


My thoughts on the novel:

This was an engrossing story woven around the realities of female convicts sent from the United Kingdom to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) around 1825: the convicts often having had little or no proper trial before their sentence was pronounced. It was a fact that Australia and Tasmania needed women, there already being masses of male convicts whose sentences were almost played out and who needed a female to work the land they would be able to acquire after their ‘jail’ time was done. An expedient way to populate the country was to impose seriously harsh sentences for almost no crime. 

Though I knew of the practice of sending convicts there, from school history lessons, I knew none of the detail.

This novel sets a fine background for the harsh treatment these women had meted out to them, both in prison before they sailed, during the long arduous voyage and when they arrived at Van Diemen’s Land. The story doesn’t dwell too much on the horrors of the voyage but I’m sure it was a lot worse in reality. It was easy to warm to the characters of Nora, Helen and Sarah.

I found the point of view changes a bit abrupt at times, but got used to it. The ending also seemed a little rushed as it jumped over the decades. There were instances where the quality of editing was poorer than throughout the bulk of the story. 

Slainthe!  

Sunday, 28 May 2017

#7 Books Read Recently Who Does He Think He Is by Emily Kerr

It's still Sunday and here's another of my catching up with reviews posts! 

In early May, I took a day out to go and have lunch in Edinburgh with members of the Romantic Novelists Association, Scottish Chapter. I chose to spend a lot of hours on a coach rather than driving the 280 miles round trip. The drive would take me a little less than 3 hours if there were no hold ups along the route but parking in Edinburgh is diabolical- hard to find and cost prohibitive. Instead, I went by coach, which thanks to the Scottish Government issuing a Free Bus pass to people of my sensitive age, was a longer time away from my house but so very relaxing. To get to Aberdeen Bus Station I have a bus journey of about an hour so that was a good start for me into a new book- Who Does He Think  He Is? by Emily Kerr, published by Crooked Cat Books. 

The journey to Edinburgh is slightly less than 3 hours so I was able to nap...and to continue the read.

Here's my thoughts on this contemporary romantic comedy novel that has some mystery elements attached which is always guaranteed to appeal to me!

Lady Aurelia Osbourne-Lloyd has long wished her bank balance was as big as her name. But her home, Leydale Park, is more of a pile in a state than stately pile, and with her father off ‘finding himself’ in Thailand, it’s up to her to turn the family fortunes around by entertaining demanding tourists.

When – thanks to her father’s interference – a Hollywood production company chooses the estate as a location for a Regency movie, a whole new level of chaos enters Aurelia’s life. Her quiet days shattered and privacy non-existent, she has no choice but to go with the flow and let them take over.

Never mind the added distraction of dishy leading man, Xander Lord, who may have an ulterior motive for wanting to get close to her…

Can Aurelia keep her cool in light of all the upheaval?


My thoughts on this 5* read ...

Ah, what happens when the money runs dry, you live in an ancestral pile that’s in need of repairs and your titled father prefers to live far away in the sunshine of the Far East?  What does Aurelia have to do to put some meagre food on her table? Diversify, of course. Becoming a tour guide isn’t the most ideal job for Lady Aurelia but it’s either that or giving up her heritage and that isn’t to be countenanced. Aurelia is a fun character. She has naturally shy instincts but a tour guide has to pull out the acting hat and she does that so very well.

Along comes a film company needing an authentic building for their project. In a lead role as actor /director is the charismatic, gorgeous, slightly mysterious but pretty down to earth actor Zander Lord. Meredith, the other half of the Dawson /Lord Company plays the nasty ‘other woman’ vying for his attention extremely well – so well I wanted to have her towed away in the Winnebago more than once!  The mystery of the film company’s descent on Leydale Park is revealed, the cunning involvement by her father one that Aurelia despairs of.

The secondary characters play a lovely role and I particularly enjoyed the small village feel of the elderly, nosey, twins who run the local shop and who look after Lady Aurelia in their own way. Aurelia’s friend Lucy is the kind of loyal, fun loving character most people would love to have. The mystery of Zander is unravelled towards the end, the drama of the situation an amusing interlude.
This was a lovely quick read almost in the style of a dramatic farce.

I recommend this if you like chick-lit type romantic comedy! 

Slainthe!

Recent reads #6 Taming The Tango Champion

Good Morning!

Sunday is here and I'm still posting about novels I've recently enjoyed. Today's first one is Taming The Tango Champion by Cait O'Sullivan, a novel by Crooked Cat Books.


If you're looking for a satisfying easy read that you can zoom through in one sitting if you've got a few hours to spare, this is the kind of story I'd be reaching for. It'll keep you engrossed as you find out what the backstory is to the conception of Ava Whittaker's little boy.

I don't watch the dance shows that have been on TV during the last few years but If you do, then you've probably even more reasons to enjoy this novel. Here's what I've thought....

An entertaining romance…

Do I dance the tango? No, but if I had a partner like Matthias de Romero I’d probably want to practise till my legs fell off!  He comes across as a very sexy guy. The setting of the dance show is a refreshing change in a romance and the story flows nicely to a successful and happy ending for Ava Whittaker and her toddler - as all romances should. This was a fun quick read for me which pleasantly whiled away a long coach trip. However, I might have to read a second time to work out why Matthias was considered expert enough to be on the panel of judges- that is apart from his ability to be hot on both the dance floor and the bedroom! 

If it sounds like your kind of read, click the link near the beginning of this post.

Slainthe!





Saturday, 27 May 2017

Fit's a broch aboot?

Happy Saturday wishes to you! 

The sun is shining for the third day in a row and it's nice and warm which for the north east of Scotland is pretty exciting. (it's not seriously hot, mind but at c.18 Deg C it's comfy) It makes me want to be at home lazing about and trying to write outside, battling the inevitable screen glare issue rather than being elsewhere. It makes me really appreciate having a home and garden to step into. 

For these reasons, I'm re-blogging a post that I created for my slot last Wednesday (24th May) for the Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog. It is particularly apt. I think, since it's about ancient homes that were typical in Scotland some thousands of years ago. Mostly though the post is about a special kind of building that's almost exclusively found in Scotland. Yes, there are some examples in Ireland and in England but BROCHS are predominantly a Scottish ruin. 

The title of this post is in my best Doric, the dialect of the north east of Scotland and translated means 'What is a broch about'? Was it a home? Or was it built for defence? Or did it serve another purpose?  


Home Sweet Home…or was it?

You’ll find a multitude of sayings about ‘home’ on the internet. These few are particularly useful for my topic today.

Home is where the heart is.  Pliny the Elder
He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A man's home is his castle. Proverb

Skara Brae 1986
We all know of the huge variety of domiciles that we could call home, nowadays, but an assortment of architectural house styles wasn’t always the norm.

As a hobby historian, I’m quite fascinated by the earliest types of habitation and the effort it took to create them. Admittedly, I’m more familiar with the most primitive dwellings in my homeland area of Scotland than those in other parts of the globe.

I’ve crawled into a reconstruction of a hunter gatherer’s hide, a very primitive covering made from sewn-together skins, but that’s not quite the same as walking your way around someone’s home that’s connected to others, making them into a tiny communal hamlet. 
Skara Brae 1986
Probably the earliest type of collective living I’ve wandered around were the homes of ‘Stone Age’ Neolithic people on the island of Orkney at Skara Brae. What remains of these stone dwellings is totally remarkable, though only because they lay under sand dunes for millennia before the wind and waves uncovered them in the mid 19th century.


At Skara Brae we can envisage a day in the life of the people. The delineated areas of the homes (minus original roofs) are easily visible as in a ‘bird’s eye view’. Their cupboards are built into the wall, the fireplace is central and their sleeping cots are blocked off with large slabs. There is even a built-in channel that is essentially primitive drainage, as in for toilet use: functional but effective buildings.

Ring of Brodgar
Were the Skara Brae houses fortified in any way? It doesn’t seem the case but there are some new theories going around (resulting from recent excavation) that the nearby timber/standing stone circles in the Orkney Isles may have had a community aspect to their construction. 

It’s now believed by some current archaeologists that the earliest of these stone henges pre-date that of Stonehenge in England and that the culture of building such henges may have travelled southwards, rather than northwards. Regardless of the direction of architectural influence, the massive wooden and stone circles were most likely built for religious observance and of people to congregate for positive reasons without the need for defence from outside entities, as in human raiders. In the Orkneys some archaeologists now think there was a religious community living alongside the henge monument.

 This recent BBC programme covers the issues-albeit a little dramatically and some critics might say fancifully. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08819tl

Celtic Roundhouse Wikimedia Commons
Skip forward a couple of thousand years and sail south to mainland Scotland. Archaeologists have to work much harder to find evidence of Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age ‘Home Sweet Home’. Mainly because wooden constructions last a lot less than those that were stone built.

The Bronze Age and Iron Age tribes seemed to have mainly lived in hut circles, some with stone foundations (probably where wood was less available) and the bulk in wooden ‘Celtic’ roundhouses. There’s sufficient evidence around Scotland for some variety in shape - some were oval though most were circular.  Some individual roundhouse dwellings have been found but it was more common for them to have been erected in a small cluster situated near strip- field farms.


Crannog 
Crannog dwellings built on wooden platforms are a fine example of Bronze and Iron Age living. By the time crannogs were erected out over the water of inland lochs they were probably fortifying themselves mainly from marauding wild animals rather then marauding tribesmen. However, along with the Bronze Age and Iron Age technology—effective weaponry in particular—there came a greater need for tribespeople to defend themselves.

I’m currently very interested in a type of dwelling that’s almost exclusively found in Scotland – the Broch. But was it Home Sweet Home or not?

Dun Carloway - Wikimedia Commons
Broch building is very difficult to define. Until recently not enough time or effort was given to investigating this unique style of building. Broch remains are found in southern Scotland but the bulk are to be found in northern Scotland, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

So how does a Broch differ from a Celtic roundhouse, or from a crannog?

A Broch is a massive drystone built hollow-walled tower. Some of these towers were thought to have been as high as 50 feet with walls of around 4 feet thick- like the Broch of Mousa in Shetland. Staircases wind their way up the hollow wall structure to give access to upper levels and some of the evidence shows there could have been multiple platforms, circular balconies or partial floors, inside a broch.
 
Interior staircase Dun Carloway- Wikimedia Commons
Many brochs are thought to be from the Neolithic period but intriguingly others situated towards the south of Scotland have been dated to 1st century AD, during the Roman occupation.

Brochs have no windows and only one low entrance way so the interior would have been extremely dark. How damp they were inside, I don’t even want to imagine! What the roofs were constructed of is a matter of interpretation: possibly thatched like roundhouses. A corbelled stone roof is thought to be less likely, though that would have been a remarkable feat of engineering and the technique not unknown because Neolithic people used it in structures like the Maes Howe chambered cairn on Orkney.

Mousa, Shetland Isles - Wikimedia Commons
Earliest archaeological thinking was that Brochs were built as a defensive structure but that’s hard to believe since there were no windows to give access for repelling invaders. 

Some experts then thought they were built more as a status symbol by the local chief to show his superiority in the region. The broch at Mousa, Shetland is certainly impressive enough for that!

However, some recent archaeologists aren’t ruling out the idea that people maybe ‘holed up’ in them like in a self-sufficient ‘siege’ when invaders threatened the area, and that they normally lived outwith the broch in some other form of dwelling house. I’m not sure I’d want to be inside one for months on end.

The theories are all fascinating conjecture!

I’ve been following a Facebook page named the Caithness Broch Project which has an aim of properly identifying the multitude of Brochs that litter Caithness. They also intend to build a replica Broch to satisfy the curiosity of tourists like me. I’m eagerly waiting for that to be built so that I can pop up and visit it though that’s likely to mean a 400 mile round trip for me.

 What's your favourite ‘Home Sweet Home’?


Whatever you do today- enjoy! I'm doing more new writing and some gardening. See you later...

Slainthe!