Monday, 20 March 2017

5*stars for The Taexali Game!

Hello again. It's still a Mad Monday for me but in a very happy way!

As promised, the adjudicator of the SAW (Scottish Association of Writers) Award for the Barbara Hammond Trophy, where The Taexali Game was awarded 2nd place, has posted a superb 5* review on Amazon.  
  

Here's what she has to say...

"This combination of fantasy and history, linked by an interactive computer game, is sure to appeal to a wide audience. The geographical location of the story is used well in this tale of the attempts of the Romans to subjugate the peoples of the North and though there is little historical evidence of events, the writer skilfully creates a most believable world.
The characters are well-drawn and the action is fast-paced as befits the idea of a computer game. As Aran, Fianna and Bruce attempt to complete the tasks set by Callum, we are swept back to a time far more dangerous than our own and are able to explore the risks of time travel from the comfort of an armchair.
This is the first in a series and the underlying premise of a particular kind of time travel promises well for future stories."


My thanks to Myra Duffy, (aka the amazon customer)  who has posted this review.

Now I need to persuade a few more people (like thousands of) to try it out - 
The Taexali Game might be what you'd like to read, as well! 

Slainthe!  

2nd place - Conference Surprise!

Monday Madness is here again!

Now why is this Monday any more hectic than the usual? It would be mainly because I've got an extra piece of blog posting to fit in today. I also need to play domestic catch up after having been away for a long weekend.

My reason for being away was to attend my FIRST EVER  writers conference. I hopped into the car last Friday lunchtime and drove the 140 miles or so to get to Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, Scotland. The Scottish Association of Writers (SAW) conference was being held at the Westerwood Hotel, a very nicely appointed conference/leisure facility.

I wasn't attending the Friday evening session which kicked off the conference because I was staying with my relatives who live approximately a mile and a half from the hotel. That proved to be an inadvertent mistake because I missed hearing Myra Duffy, the adjudicator of the Barbara Hammond Trophy competition giving her updates on Friday evening. Unbeknown to me at the time, my time travel novel was placed second = and I missed the public announcement.

All of the SAW awards are only disclosed at the conference (some adjudicator updates are Friday night and some first thing Saturday morning) many of which are entered using pseudonyms to promote fairness during the selection/reading and finalising processes. This means that no-one knows in advance if they are a competition winner or are 'runner-ups'- but I din't know all of that till the Saturday when it was too late!

The Barbara Hammond Trophy for Best Self Published Novel is a fairly new award from the Scottish Association of Writers.

When I joined SAW a couple of years ago, I looked at their competition listings which are very extensive. Many of them are for poetry and short stories but there were a couple for full length novels, and ones for fiction for younger readers.

In autumn of 2016, I decided that my self-published time travel novel The Taexali Game fit the self-published criteria for the Barbara Hammond Trophy so I sent off my submission. Then I forgot about it till just before the 2017 conference. Since I found no updates anywhere to tell me who won, I reckoned that I hadn't been successful.

On arrival at the hotel I knew none of the sea of faces surrounding me, the conference being a large one with hundreds of attendees. However, I'd  'virtually' met a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, Rosemary Gemmell, and we met during the extremely brief coffee session before the first workshops. After greeting each other her words made no sense to me in the throng. I had to make sure to talk to a woman named Myra Duffy who particularly wanted to speak to me. The first opportunity came at lunch time. To my great surprise she commended my novel highly, told me she had really enjoyed it and had had a very difficult time choosing which novel should be placed first. She had ultimately chosen another novel to be first and placed The Taexali Game second.

Her adjudicatory comments on The Taexali Game are exceptionally well received by me and I look forward to the reviews she has promised to place on Amazon.

The conference workshops I attended were varied and entertaining and I had a thoroughly good day. The hotel is to be recommended for excellent decor, food and friendly service. I'm pretty sure that I'll probably do the whole '3 day ' conference next year.

Now to get on with more writing!

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mid March Madness!

Good Afternoon!

It's the Ides of March, the 15th, and it's always a great day for me since it's my birthday. I've been given some fabulous gifts so I'm returning the favour to my readers.

As I indicated in my recent spring newsletter, I have some special gifts for you on this day of Mid March Madness.



The Taexali Gamemy historical time travel adventure for early teens, is now available on Amazon at the seriously reduced price of  99p/ 99c/ 0.99 euros so now's a fantastic time to hope on over and get your bargain copy HERE!





And Here's a Mid March Madness 
FREE **competition** for you!




 My WINNER will receive a signed copy of one of the above contemporary romantic mysteries.

THE RULES are simpleTo WIN:
  • Tell me which of the covers shown above that you prefer and why.
  • Tell me which of the titles you think you would like to read and why. 
Please leave your answers in the comments section below on this blog to ENTER. Please also make sure I have a way of contacting you, if you are my winner. (e.g email address)

**Competition** open till Midnight Sunday 19th March 2017. (UK time) 

My winner will have the opportunity to choose which copy they would like to be personally signed for them. (worldwide entry)


To help you make up your mind...   Here are the blurbs for each contemporary novel.

Monogamy Twist When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he's never heard of— with quirky conditions attached—it’s a mystery he wants to see resolved immediately. But there’s a catch: he needs a woman to meet his needs, though just how far will he have to go to persuade her? 

The job of researching Greywood Hall and its fantastic contents is enticing, but can Rhia Ashton see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while. 
But neither expect love to enter the game.

Take Me Now Patience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when he finds himself and his business mysteriously under attack. He needs a general factotum immediately— someone with exceptionally varied skills who can ferry him around, help him keep his business running smoothly and be available to him 24/7. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who arrives at his Scottish island castle for an interview to be so competent…or so incredibly attractive. 

Aela Cameron’s range of talents is perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. She loves transporting him all over the globe, adores his restored Scottish island castle, and is thrilled with his hectic lifestyle. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings – yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract? 
Can Nairn persuade Aela she’s the woman for the long haul as the mystery is solved?


Topaz Eyes Edinburgh lass, Keira Drummond, becomes entangled in the search for a hoard of exceptional jewels last seen in Amsterdam, in 1910. Pairing up with Teun Zeger to find the once Mughal owned collection, the trail leads from Heidelberg to Vienna, to Minnesota and to Edinburgh. Deadly dangers dog their progress as they uncover the ultimate mystery item.

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love. 




Good luck! 
*Please consider leaving a short review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or in an email to me, if you read any of my novels. 
Slainthe! 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Out guest posting today!

What a Monday it's been! 

I don't know how I forgot to post this earlier but I've been out visiting Katy Johnson today giving her some ideas of what it was like when I was first published.

She's been doing a series of 'tips to help before and after your story is published'. I really was unprepared back in 2011 when I got my first publishing contract but with some help and guidance that needn't be the case for someone in 2017.

You can find my guest post HERE.

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Yet another novel recently read!

Sunday review catch up continues! 

This time it's called Thunder Moon by Joanne Mallory.

Thunder Moon - a beautiful tale of magic and love

What a fabulous cover from Crooked Cat!

This was a quick, easy-read romance with a touch of the paranormal. If you like to read a short novella this might be for you, especially if you love a sea side setting that’s atmospheric. I tend to feel short changed by short books but this was just enough to keep my interest throughout. 

The romantic relationship between Marc and Thea progresses smoothly and predictably and I feel able to guess at who might be in for a new relationship in the coming books. Because the story is very short, I felt that Marc’s initial personal issues weren’t fully explained, and neither was his ‘extra’ ability developed, though he’s a lovely character: similarly, with Thea. 

Maybe there will be more of the witchery in the next books which I personally hope will be longer reads.     The question now is who will be featured in Book 2? 


Slainthe! 

Delving deep into the legend

Never On Saturday by Sue Barnard 

Delving deep into the legend

If you like a short, easy read novella that nudges into the paranormal then I can recommend Never On Saturday as being something different!

I’ve really enjoyed Sue Barnard’s work, appreciate the excellence of her writing and this new novel meets those high standards. 

It is, however, in a different style from her other work but her love of history clearly shines through. Throughout the novel the historical detail is interspersed with the mythology within a contemporary love story. I’ll give no more clues on how that unfolds suffice to say that I’m glad Ray and Mel have a happy ending!  



Slainthe! 

Sunday Catch up with reviews

Happy Sunday to you! 

My day started with a fairly thick haar cloaking the view from my window. That means I could barely see 10 feet in front of me outside at 7 a.m. By ten a.m. the blue chinks were appearing and the misty haar burned off in that almost instant way that it does in Aberdeenshire. 

I had a plan but that didn't include writing all day. Nope, first pop was to go to a nearby town to help deliver leaflets giving an update on the local SNP MP's progress. First pop didn't quite happen but I was off on my delivery round by 10a.m, after the haar lifted. Driving around Aberdeenshire single carriageway (for some single track with passing places) roads isn't fun if you can't see in front of you so it's cautious to wait. 

My writing tasks today include catching up with reviews of books read so here's another I finished last week. 

Simon Scarrow Under The Eagle  - 4 stars


This was an interesting glimpse into the life of a centurion, Macro, in the Ancient Roman Army of c. AD 43. At times, it seems as though the story is more about the young recruit Cato since there are spells where the plot is described in his point of view, though that also happens with other characters, too. However, the omniscient author plus technique didn’t interrupt my reading flow. The details of fortress life in Germania were very realistic, the harshness of the military life thrust upon the new recruits being particularly brutal and as far as we can tell very authentic from written military texts handed down to us. Phraseology that works today give a sense of the earthiness of the characters but it doesn’t quite work for me for 2000 years ago, though I appreciate how difficult it is to give the characters a real depth that makes the reader empathise with them. This would be a great read for anyone new to Ancient Roman military history who wants to learn it though the medium of realistic action packed fiction. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Sanity? A review of Isolation by Neil Randall

Happy Saturday!

Once again I'm behind with writing reviews of books read recently. As well as getting more politically active in a local sense, I must find time to post more about the excellent raft of books I've read recently. 

Here's one of them: 

I doubt I will ever use the word nightmare again in any glib way. In Isolation’ Nigel has the most freakish nightmare ever, one that’s irresolvable. 

The writing is powerful, scary and compelling. I was rooting for the ending to be different but could sense the way it was heading in a definite bleak direction. Bleak is a word which appears earlier in the novel and it has many bleak aspects, yet it was hard to put down once started. 

It’s another Crooked Cat Novel that crosses many genres and sub-genres and is thrilling from page 1. Crimes abound with a plethora of mangled bodies but that brings us back to deciding as the reader- what is real and what imagined?


I posted this a five star read on Amazon and Goodreads - though I'm aware that the subject material might be just too graphic for some to handle. 

Slainthe! 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Topaz Eyes is featured today!

Friday Fun! 

Topaz Eyes, my contemporary romantic mystery is featured on Just Kindle Books today, Friday 10th March 2017.

I haven't  tried this site before for marketing my novels so I'll be keen to see if there's any movement of Topaz Eyes on Amazon.com.

If you haven't yet read Topaz Eyes but love a deep mystery that has yet another mystery to solve just when you think you've cracked it then you can grab a copy on the Amazon US site for only $2.45 or £1.99 on the UK site. Other Amazon domains have it at an equivalent of £1,99.

If you've been to #Amsterdam or #Vienna or #Heidelberg or even #Edinburgh you'll love the descriptions of these cities as my characters move around the world to find the Tiru Salana emerald collection that was once in the hands of Geertje Hoogeven, a member of an Amsterdam 'jewellery store' family in the 1880s.

Other locations in Minnesota and the US also feature as my main characters Teun Zeger and Keira Drummond avoid the nastiest of the cousins who are also seeking the long lost 'family jewels'.

Just click the link HERE if you fancy an engrossing weekend read.

Slainthe! 


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

New book launch for Ailsa Abraham!

It's Wednesday again and I welcome a very good friend, Ailsa Abraham, to join me today.

Ailsa and I met at a few years ago at a Crooked Cat Books event and she's no stranger to this blog, though it's been a little while since she last visited. She's here today to give us a little bit of advance warning about her latest book that's being launched this coming Friday 10th March

Ailsa's books are in my kindle pile and now there's another one to join the rest! Though this new one, I believe, is different from her other books...and she's here to tell you why.  

Hi, Ailsa.  It's great to have you back again and even more so since you're in the pre-launch frenzy of spreading the word about your new novel. Your blog guesting schedule this week will be hectic but please take a deep breath, have a wee break from scurrying around, and tell us a bit about it. 

BTW - It's a very arresting cover design! 

And now over to you, Ailsa...

Hello Nancy!
Thank you for inviting me to talk about my latest release today.

This is a departure from my previous series in magical realism. 

Here I take off on murder mystery. Why? Erm... limited attention span? Love of variety?

Attention to Death is released on 10th March and here's some info about it.

Please Find Attention to Death on pre-order on Amazon: http://mybook.to/AttentionDeath

"In Attention to Death, Ailsa Abraham pulls off something I wouldn't have thought possible - a steamy romance with a twist of murder and a splash of social conscience. A remarkable book that will have you turning pages as quickly as you can to find out what happens next."
~ India Drummond, author of the Caledonia Fae series

Finding a murderer among a group of killers is not going to be easy for two Royal Army Military Police investigators, Captain Angus Simpson and Staff-Sergeant Rafael ‘Raff’ Landen, whose Christmas leave is cancelled for an investigation into a suspicious death on a base in Germany.
The case is further complicated by unhelpful senior officers who make pre-judgements on colour, creed, race and sexuality. Yet the insight of the investigators helps them uncover a sinister plot, although they too have something to hide: their own fledgling relationship.
Will Angus and Raff be able to solve the murder without giving away their secret?
The best and worst of human nature is represented in this story, which is why it is suggested for over 18s only.

I delved into my past life as an officer in the Royal Air Force and my lifelong friendships with gay men to research this book.  Coming right after LGBT History Month in February, it highlights the problems that men who have to be “in the closet” and the sort of bigotry that causes people to refuse to read a book just because there are gay characters in it, although this doesn't stop them leaving reviews. Me? I've never been too sure. I'm gender-neutral which is why the first thing I wonder on meeting new people isn't “What do they do in  their bedrooms?”

Read it for yourself and decide. Is it an honest portrayal of two men doing their job who just happen to have started an affair?

Here's a bit more about Ailsa...
Ailsa Abraham  is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman's Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon. She also writes mystery romance.

She has lived in France since 1990 and is now naturalized French. She enjoys knitting and crochet and until recently was the oldest Hell's Angel in town . Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family.  She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care (pirate gear is her favourite!)

Thank you for coming today, Ailsa. As always, my very best wishes for a fantastic launch day on Friday.

Slainthe! 

Friday, 3 March 2017

Discovering Diamonds Review!

Friday Fun! 

It's a bright and lovely morning, a great start to the day. It was also lovely to find that one of my novels, The Beltane Choice, was given a Discovering Diamonds Award today.

The Discovering Diamonds site is a prestigious one and the awards are given out sparingly which means it's great to get one regardless of what the reviewer likes or dislikes about the historical novel.

I agree with the reviewer that The Beltane Choice is a more standard romance than the next two books in the series but it's also not a historical romance in the normal sense either.

There's a little point to mention, though, that the reviewer says that I mention Boudicca throughout the novel when I actually don't mention her at all- though I do mention the northern Brigante Queen Cartimandua a number of times.



I can now use the logo on my blog and will be delighted to do so.

Slainthe!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

That 'Bluidy Mackenzie' made some good decisions!

It's Wednesday and it's March 1st!

I was looking for a topic to write for my blog post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog today and wasn't inspired by what I started with. In my indecision, I googled what happened in history on March 1st with a specific focus on Scottish history. Here's what I came up with...that I was much happier to work on. 

This is almost a reblog of my Wranglers post but I want the content to be accessible to me on this, my own blog, as well. 

Internet research sites.

I’m regularly accessing sources of historical information from various internet sites as I write my historical adventures. Often a simple question will have me digressing for hours as I latch onto something only vaguely related to my initial inquiry, but which in its own right is engrossing.

Over the last number of years, I’ve found it increasingly easier to access useful information from highly respected sites because that information has been gradually released for public use. Just days ago, I picked up a prompt from an author colleague that more visual information had been released via The National Library of Scotland, specifically photographs of my birth city of Glasgow which were taken during the 1860s. 

http://digital.nls.uk/learning/thomas-annan-glasgow/explore/page-1/

Though the photos indicate the absolute squalor that existed in the slums of Glasgow, they’ll be very useful for one of my writing projects that I temporarily shelved some months ago in favour of my most current writing. Viewing the portfolio of photographs made me appreciate how much information they contain and which I can access free of charge.

I’ve been to many public buildings in Edinburgh but not to the National Library of Scotland. It’s possible to get a reader’s ticket for entry to some of their ‘lending’ rooms but that’s only practical if you live around our capital city. However, I have been using the online sources for years now and love how useful it can be. What I’ve never thought about before is how long the library has been functioning and who started it.

National Library of Scotland

Skip back with me to March 1st 1682. 

According to one historical events site it was the day that the library started though not called ‘National’ at that time. 

Sir George Mackenzie was the current Lord Advocate, a member of the Scottish Parliament. He was also a member of the Privy Council of Scotland which meant advising the monarch, an extremely exalted position to hold.

He was reputed to be a learned man with literal tendencies. He wrote several books and essays—legal and political and antiquarian. 

Sir George Mackenzie
As Dean of the Faculty of Advocates he was the founder of The Library of the Faculty of Advocates in 1682.

By 1689 the building was formally inaugurated and the collection of works grew and grew. 

In 1710, The Copyright Act meant the Library had the legal right to claim a copy of every book written in Britain

The collection continued and eventually outgrew its original building. 

In 1925 the collection became the National Library of Scotland, formalised by an Act of the UK Parliament. Since then the collection has been housed and re-housed in different places and we are now fortunate that much of it is available to the public online.

That’s all commendable but where does the ‘Bluidy’ Mackenzie bit come from. As well as being a man of letters, Mackenzie was also in a position of power during many of the Scottish Witch trials that I’ve blogged about earlier. He was also responsible for persecution of many of the Covenanters, sending large numbers to a nasty death, their tortured bodies buried near the Covenanter’s Prison.


Sir George Mackenzie is also buried close by in Greyfriars Kirkyard and it’s no real surprise that thousands of tourists flock past his 'Black Mausoleum' as they enter into a ‘Graveyard Tour of Edinburgh’. There’s a heavy chain kept in place by a stout padlock across the door which is said is there -  not to keep the dead in, but to keep the living out!

I took a Graveyard Tour some years ago and it can be a creepy experience. 

This post will tell you a whole lot more about adventures in Greyfriars Kirkyard.


Meanwhile, I’m off to do more research.

Slainthe!