Saturday, 19 August 2017

Summer Surprises continue with Death in Dulwich by Alice Castle!

Saturday Surprise! 

Alice Castle
I've a special guest today, Alice Castle, who has popped in to share news of her soon to be released novel Death In Dulwich. Crooked Cat Books launch it on the 6th September 2017 but since I'll be away on my cruising holiday I'm sharing the update today, just in case I have no internet access on the 6th. 

Congratulations in advance of the launch and my best wishes that it's a fantastic and profitable day, Alice. I've got it pre-ordered and look forward to reading it very soon! 

Welcome to my blog and please tell us a little about what Summer Surprises are in store for us in Death in Dulwich ....  

A big thank-you to Nancy for having me today on her lovely blog. Nancy writes delicious contemporary romantic mysteries as well as historical and time travel novels so, as my book is a mystery with a dash of romance on the side, I’m hoping there will be a crossover appeal to some of you devoted Nancy fans.

I’m really excited about my book, Death in Dulwich, which is coming out on 6th September. It’s a nod to the Golden Age of crime fiction, in that I’ve set my story in a small, enclosed community where everyone knows each other, with all the joys and strife and intense claustrophobia that brings. The twist is that the community is set in the heart of south east London. As a major world capital, London is not the kind of place where you’d expect the neighbours to know what you had for breakfast. But then, Dulwich is no ordinary part of the city.

My heroine, too, is out of the usual mould. She is a single mum, widowed very young and now struggling to make ends meet and keep up with the mortgage payments. She lands a great job and then, on her first day at work, she stumbles over… oh, but that would be telling.

Suffice to say, she is pitched headlong into a situation where she has no choice but to clear her name. It’s a struggle which brings her up against the police, her bosses and, worse still, the judgemental yummy mummies at her son’s school.

I’m really thrilled to say I’ve already had some lovely reviews for Death in Dulwich. My favourite is, ‘a modern twist on Miss Marple.’ I have to confess, I did rather shout, ‘yesssss!’ when I read that. But the book has also been called ‘a compelling page turner’ and been described as ‘murderously good fun.’

Dulwich is undoubtedly one of the heroes of the book. I lived there for four years, my children went to school there and it is both a wonderful and daunting place to make a life. It’s at the heart of my series. The sequel to Death in Dulwich, The Girl in the Gallery, is coming out next year (also with Crooked Cat) and there will be at least two more instalments in the series to follow. I’m really looking forward to writing them and I hope you’ll read them with pleasure. I’d say the books are quite a light read, but hopefully deal with contemporary issues that affect parents, small communities and the society we live in.

Death in Dulwich
By Alice Castle

Already described by early reviewers as ‘murderously good fun’ (author TP Fielden), a ‘keenly observed page turner … highly recommended’ (Amazon) and ‘well-written, engaging and fun,’ (author Jo Blakeley), Death in Dulwich is the story of thirty-something widow Beth Haldane.

Beth has her hands full – she has a bouncy nine-year-old son, a haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and a ton of bills to pay. She loves her little home in plush south London suburb Dulwich, but life here doesn’t come cheap.

That’s why she is thrilled to land a job as archivist at top local school Wyatt’s - though she has an inkling the post is not what it seems and she doesn’t think much of her new boss, Dr Jenkins, either. Then, on her first day at work, Dr Jenkins is brutally murdered. Beth finds the body, and realises she is the prime suspect, with means, opportunity and a motive.

Beth has no choice but to try and clear her name, bringing herself into conflict with the police and the school. But who is the real culprit? And is the cause of the killing a horrifying secret buried deep in the school’s past, or does evil lurk behind the comfortable fa├žade of daily Dulwich life?

Beth grows in confidence during her dogged pursuit of the murderer and, by the end of the book, is ready for any adventures that may come her way. Which is just as well, because there’s trouble brewing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery ….

Pre-Order your copy  HERE 

Alice Castle
Twitter: @DDsDiary

Alice Castle was a national newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph before becoming a novelist. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.
Alice is currently working on the sequel to Death in Dulwich, The Girl in the Gallery. The second instalment in the London Murder Mystery series, it will be published by Crooked Cat next year.
Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing DD’s Diary at
She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Thank you for visiting today, Alice, and once again best wishes! 


Friday, 18 August 2017

Welcome to my Friday Feature! 

Miriam Drori
Today, I'm delighted to welcome a return guest, Miriam Drori, a lovely lady I've met many times both 'in the flesh' and virtually during the last few years. Miriam's a fellow Crooked Cat Books author who has visited this blog a number of times promoting her fiction titles but today she comes with information on a new venture, one fits into the newest category of non-fiction from Crooked Cat Books. 

Social Anxiety Revealed by Miriam Drori will be published very soon on the 22nd August 2017.

I'm very interested in the topic of Miriam's latest book because I believe that Social Anxiety can affect pretty well all of us at some time in our lives. Not all people experience it the same way, and it has more lasting and lingering effects on some more than others.

I'm very keen to have a read of what I know will be a very well polished book and Social Anxiety Revealed by Miriam Drori will be one of the books on my kindle that I hope to read during my coming holidays. I've already Pre-Ordered my copy from Amazon and all I have to wish for now is that I get sufficient access to the internet on my cruise holiday to download it onto my tablet! 

Welcome again to my blog, Miriam. What a great image for your latest book, it really captures the essence of your topic. Thanks for sharing with us your non-fiction journey...

That Question Again

“I’m an author,” I might begin. “I’ve had two books published so far and one more will be released very soon.”

“Oh really,” they’ll say with some surprise, because I didn’t give the impression I’m clever enough to write a book, let alone have it published. “What are your books about?”

“The first is a romance set in Jerusalem. The second is a novella written with another author; it’s the first of a series, based on a painting by Klimt. The third is non-fiction and it’s about social anxiety.”

Eyebrows are raised again. Then they’ll ask that question: “What’s social anxiety?”

And I want to shout at them, “How can you ask such a question? Social anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder there is. It’s the third most common mental health issue. About 12% of people will suffer from it at some time in their lives. And you ask what it is! You wouldn’t ask what depression is!”

But I don’t shout at them and I know I’d be wrong to shout. Because social anxiety, despite being very common, is hardly known about. Most people don’t even know the term and even fewer understand anything about it.

That’s why I’ve been so keen to publish this book: Social Anxiety Revealed, and why I’m delighted that it’s happening now (August 22). It’s a book I first wrote in 2004 and have recently updated. I began it when I became passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety. The reasons for that passion will appear in a different post on someone else’s blog.

The book isn’t just my story. It contains quotes from many other people with first-hand experience of social anxiety. It shows similarities and differences amongst those experiences, because people with social anxiety come from different places and have led different lives. And it contains humour, because humour provides a relief to the tension. And because even those who suffer from social anxiety can see the funny side of its illogicality. It is a fact that several stand-up comedians have or had social anxiety.
Miriam Drori can be found all over the Internet, including:

Social Anxiety Revealed will be available from Amazon from August 22 in paperback and ebook formats.

You can Pre-order Social Anxiety Revealed from Amazon HERE. 

Thank you for coming today, Miriam. Best wishes for a fantastic launch next Tuesday (22nd August) and for great sales of Social Anxiety Revealed


Thursday, 10 August 2017

A classic 'Ancient Roman' bestseller - Eagle in the Snow

Thursday top up...

This is about a recent read that took me a while since leisure reading time has been seriously curtailed over the last week. 

Eagle in the Snow: The Classic Bestseller by [Breem, Wallace]

I can see why this book, written around the 1980s, set a trend for later Roman military history authors. I didn’t find it read as easily as some other Roman legionary battles’ novels that I’ve read recently but the style was similar in that it told the tale via one main protagonist, in this case General Maximus. In parts the tale seemed longer than it needed to be but there was certainly plenty of enjoyable action in other places. Though fiction, I think it’s still a good read for getting a general gist of Roman military life both in settled peaceful times, as in northern Britannia, and in the horrors of engagement on the frontier in Gaul. (I confess to not seeing much in the novel that would have led to the script for a very famous film.) 

I'm not sure the addition of his cousin Julian/ friend of his youth was dealt with adequately. I can believe that some jealousy might have occurred between two youths when one got all the family 'rewards' and the other got less but as Julian pops in and out of the plot it seems irrelevant to the main storyline. 

Having read yet another piece of fiction set loosely around some factual Ancient Roman military details I'm glad I have personally chosen to write my novels predominantly from the Celtic perspective. That said, something like 'Eagle in the Snow' gives me some ideas for the creation of the roman characters who do appear as minor characters in my Celtic Fervour Series.

I'm sure that this novel will appeal to those who love a good tale that's brimful of Roman military details. 


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Travel weary Celtic gods and goddesses

Wednesday Wishes to you! (it's late GMT time but still Wednesday)

My summer surprise today is a whole gamut of questions for you to help me with.

How well travelled were the ancient Celtic gods and goddesses?

This is very much a possibly and probably post!

In my current writing set in A.D. 84, I have a number of *Celtic characters who are working towards a common goal even though their origins are from different areas of what we currently geographically term Great Britain. This means I have to work hard to discover which gods and goddesses might be appropriate for them to pray to since it seems that, in the Celtic culture, belief in their deities was likely to have been strong. Since I strive for historical accuracy whenever possible it means a bit more research to see if I can find any references I can happily use for my protagonists in Books 4 of my Celtic Fervour series.  

My Enya via

My main female character in Book 4 is Enya, a young warrior who was born at the hillfort of Garrigill in northern Brigantia (present day northern Yorkshire). Enya’s young life has been peppered with strife brought about initially by the invasion of the Roman armies of Quintus Petillius Cerialis, Roman Governor of Britannia in A.D. 71. In Book 2 of my series, when Enya is around the age of nine, she’s towed along when her family flee from Brigantia and head to her Aunt Nara’s homeland, Selgovae territory (southern Scotland), which lies north of Brigantia. In Book 3 she’s again on the move as her family move further north to the lands of the Taexali and the Caledons (north-east Scotland) to challenge the domination of General Agricola’s armies. By A.D. 84 (Book 3) she’s one of the young warriors involved in the confrontation that takes place between the armies of General Gnaeus Julius Agricola at Beinn na Ciche. (My version and location for the potential Mons Graupius battle)

Book 4 begins in late AD 84 in Caledon territory (north-east Scotland) and I have to surmise from scant historical evidence that although the peoples of northern Britannia were diverse tribal groups they most likely shared a common language—some form of Common Brythonic—and probably many of their religious beliefs were broadly similar. However, some historic references and archaeological finds seem to point to localised differences in the worship of deities. (e.g. My FutureLearn studies on Hadrian’s Wall makes mention of deities only ever mentioned in this geographical area on ‘tombstone’/monument evidence, though admittedly these remains post date my A.D. 84 period)

What language/s the tribes of north-east Scotland spoke in A.D. 84 isn’t known but from etymology studies it’s thought that some three hundred years later the Picts of the area were likely to have used a P-Celtic Brythonic based language. This form of Celtic is believed to have derived from the original Common Brythonic language which came with people who probably migrated from Europe. The Pictish language is grouped as a Brythonic language along with Welsh, Cornish and Breton and the extinct Cumbric language. For me that link with the language of Cumbria is an interesting one because my fictitious hillfort of Garrigill, Enya’s birthplace, is not so far from Cumbria.  

Back to my search for which gods and goddesses I might use and it seems feasible that I could use some of the god names of Welsh derivation and of Cornish, Breton and Cumbric. Searching for gods and goddesses of Celtic Scotland draws many blanks and few hits but there are more for the Welsh tradition. I have yet to investigate any Breton and Cumbric ones. I have to decide if it’s reasonable to assume that the god names may not have changed all that much from the earliest known Welsh use and before any Latin influences brought by the Ancient Roman usurpers changed some things. Hmmm…

It’s very tempting to use some of the gods and goddesses that are handed down via the Irish, Scottish and Manx traditions but they are grouped as the Q-Celtic Goidelic form of the Common Brythonic language. Here lies one of my big questions—if the language evolved differently in those areas from the Common Brythonic was that only after the Roman invasions?  Were the god and goddess names across Britain and Ireland the same pre- Roman influence and only changed some time after?

I’d love an expert to tell me the answers.

Till I find out otherwise, I’m using a mix of those thought to be the most common gods/goddesses across Europe and some nicely sounding local ones.

The older generations of my Garrigill clan in Books 1-3 have specific favoured gods and goddesses but Enya has not got to a point yet where she has her own favourites. I’ve no doubt that there would have been some powerful influences from parents back then and I’m making the assumption that adoption of personal deities was probably done before the onset of adulthood. (I’m not sure that any particular reference exists which states that everyone had to have chosen their gods etc by puberty-though again,  if anyone knows, please share!). At the beginning of Book 4 Enya’s feeling a bit let down by all of the deities and her faith in any of them is fragile. Will the events of Book 4 make that insecure faith totally crumble… or not? 

Nith- via
Another of my main characters is Nith. He’s a Selgovae and a distant relative of Enya’s aunt. Nith has not lost faith but has chosen to rely on his own guidance rather than the gods who let down his brother and allowed Esk to perish during the confrontation with the Legions of General Agricola at Beinn na Ciche (Book 3). Does Nith turn more to his gods as the book progresses? I definitely think so because he has a couple of agendas to solve…

Then there’s my young Taexali warrior named Feargus who journeys along with Enya and Nith. Are Feargus’ local gods and goddesses the same names as Enya’s or Nith’s? I don’t think so though some of his local deities will have similar functions to some of theirs. My thinking is that a good geographical distance separates the birth places of all three of the above. Feargus’ Taexali territory lies around 200 miles from where Nith was brought up and probably 300+ miles from Garrigill, Enya’s birthplace. Feargus has some well chosen names for his local goddesses which he definitely adheres to with a deep conviction.

(Note to self: I must get a working image for Feargus)

Wikimedia Commons
Another main character who needs his own pantheon of gods to pray to is General Gnaeus Julius Agricola, Governor of Britannia in AD 84 and Commander of all Britannic Legions, including those of the Classis Britannica. His Roman gods and goddesses might have some similarities to some of those of my Celtic clan members worship but my Agricola needs plenty of Roman deities to entreat to aid his decision making. Finding names for Agricola’s gods/ goddesses is proving easier than those of my Celts. Though having said that Agricola was born and raised in a region of Gaul called Gallia Narbonensis ( Frejus, France) and may well have been aware of some of the local Celtic gods and goddesses since his forebears were Romanised Gauls of local origin.   

Which gods might I be using for Agricola?  And which for my other main Celtic characters? That’ll be my next instalment. Watch this space…

*I use the term Celtic fairly broadly because I have no better name for the late Iron Age peoples who inhabited the island the Romans named Britannia by A.D. 71.