Friday, 23 September 2016

#SALE TODAY ...and Those summer suns are still a glowin'
This will be my last addition to my 'Summer Suns are a glowin' and how they affect our writing' theme since we just officially passed into autumn.

Today is a beautiful sunny morning in my part of Scotland (yes, for a change it is) and I'm delighted to complete my theme with a visit from Tim Taylor, a very supportive and lovely friend at Crooked Cat Publishing. 

I've really enjoyed reading Tim's Crooked Cat novels and can thoroughly recommend them. If you've not read them yet, grab them TODAY at the huge bargain of 99p each while the Crooked Cat SALE is on. 

Welcome again, Tim, it's great to have you visit again. Please tell us about your summer writing. 

Hello, Nancy, hope you had a good summer.  It’s a great pleasure to visit you again.
I believe you’re inviting visitors to discuss how the summer has affected their writing output. Well, for me, I think the answer has to be ‘mostly positively’, though it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster.

Summer is usually a good time for my writing, because it is the long academic vacation, so I’m not working (I do part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities). However, this summer started off badly when my mother had a fall in the middle of June and was in hospital for two weeks. She wasn’t badly hurt, but she lost a lot of confidence and needed a lot of assistance at first.
Anyway, the good news is that both she and the summer have got a lot better since then. After a period of wondering what to do next, I began a novel (as yet untitled) in the spring. Since then I’ve been making steady progress and have just passed the 40,000 word mark. It’s about a woman’s relationship with her father as he loses his memory. There are periods of his life – in particular his experience as a tail gunner in RAF bombers during World War II – that he has never talked about, but as his more recent memories are lost he begins to live through those events as if they were happening in the present.
Nancy says: Congratulations, Tim, on your WIP progress. It sounds very interesting and I can say that there were plenty of men who fought in World War 2 - like my father - who wouldn't talk of their experiences. 

So this novel is rather different from either of my first two, although it has some things in common with both. It shares with Zeus of Ithome the fact that it deals with real history, although the events that feature in the two books could hardly be further apart (Zeus tells the story of the struggle of the ancient Messenian people to free themselves from three centuries of slavery under the Spartans, in the 4th century BC).  I’ve enjoyed doing the research for it – you can see some of the results here:

And although the subject matter is very different from Revolution Day (which is about a fictional Latin American dictator whose vice-president is plotting to overthrow him) there is a definite structural similarity between the two – each has both male and female central characters, and combines a real-time narrative in the present day with more distant events recounted by one of the characters.

I received notice of the end of summer this week with the arrival of an e-mail containing my teaching allocation for the coming semester at Leeds, and a ‘back to work’ meeting at Huddersfield. The challenge now is going to be keeping momentum going through a busy autumn and getting the novel finished. Perhaps I might be able to visit you again in a few months’ time to let you know how I got on?

You'll be very welcome, anytime, Tim.

Your readers might like to note that both Zeus of Ithome and Revolution Day are available on Amazon for 99p/99c for today only, as part of the Crooked Cat autumn sale. More information about the novels is available via these links:

Zeus of Ithome

Revolution Day

Many thanks once again for inviting me round, Nancy, and best wishes for your own writing.

Other Links for finding Tim: 
Facebook author page 

Tim Taylor
Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.
Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife Rosa and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

Thank you for coming today, Tim, and best wishes with your work in progress. 


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

SALE time! 99p across #Amazon

Wednesday Welcomes to you! 

It's #SALE time at #Crooked Cat books. All 150+ of their titles are reduced to 99p/99c across the #Amazon Network 23rd- 25th September 2016.  Go grab a bargain! My titles are in there if you've not yet read and reviewed.
Have a go at:

This is a humorous romantic mystery- the one that I lovingly call my fun corporate sabotage mystery. 

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?

Or try this ancestral based romantic mystery
set in the Yorkshire Dales.

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, but 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. 

Then there's this one. Solve the mystery within the mystery!

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910. 

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife. 

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota? Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger – a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery? 

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposé. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels? 

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

And... there's my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures. They really are romantic! Follow the stories of my Garrigill Celtic clan. There's more than the normal historical details you'd find in a historical romance and plenty more characters to empathise with. I also love my covers and hope you do, too! 

AD 71.

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara. 

When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?

The Beltane Choice tells a tale of war and love in Celtic Britain.

RAVAGED BY WAR ...AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she's too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran's feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda's father. 

When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes. 

Pursued by Rome. 

AD73 Northern Britannia 

After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome. 

Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche. 

Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again? 

If you don't fancy the genres of my novels, there are loads of other genre choices at Crooked Cat.

Click this link to go straight to my author page and see what's available.

If you're looking for gritty crime, dystopian, historical fiction, chick-lit... just about any other genre, put Crooked Cat in the search box at Amazon and it'll show you all of the  options, or try this link HERE for Amazon UK.

Enjoy your choosing and your reading. Please remember that authors thrive on reviews at Amazon and Goodreads- and the more the merrier since Amazon will push sales of those with more than 50 good reviews ( or so I'm told). I need lots of reviews since my books are languishing in the doldrums and I can assure you that any posted will be very, very welcome. Thank you!


Monday, 19 September 2016

US Road Trip # 6 - San Gabriels!

Monday Moments on my US Road Trip #6

Monday, what a Monday trip! Up the San Gabriels.

Come out, Come out, Wherever you are- Los Angeles!
Los Angeles really is in the middle of this photo with the Pacific Ocean at top. 
Blog diary from Wed 31st Aug to 5th September:

My last blog diary entry about my US Road Trip (#5) mentioned returning to Las Vegas on the evening of Wednesday 31st August. The Thursday morning, 1st September, saw us all piling back into our rental vehicle for our drive from Vegas to Pasadena, Los Angeles. My brother-in-law had indicated that the drive via the desert on Interstate Route 15 might be a bit boring after the sights at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park but I can honestly say I didn’t think so. I loved the changing colours and was intrigued by the fascinating hill terrain and different vegetation on the constantly changing hues of the desert floor- not in the least a monochrome sandy colour.

We took a tiny detour during the 4 hour drive to lunch at Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner at Yermo, a little way off Interstate Route 15 

What a FUN place to stop at (even if a bit of a tourist trap) with fabulous selections and plentiful food! The attached shop is groaning with interesting goodies lots of which I’d like to have bought but were too weighty for my luggage on the flight home.

By late afternoon we were all checked in to our rental house in Pasadena and were meeting up with other family members who were attending my niece’s wedding the following Saturday. 

The house we rented in Pasadena had nostalgic 1960/70s decor. It was perfect for our stay during the next six nights and gave me the opportunity to catch up with my nephew and his wife who had also joined us from Scotland. The gardens and the pool of the house were fabulous for the 7 of us to relax in, but only for short spells since the wedding was looming!

Friday through Sunday was taken up with pre-wedding and post wedding get-togethers with our US family and old friends from Glasgow who had also come to Pasadena for the wedding- some of whom I’ve not laid eyes on since 1974. 

The Saturday evening wedding was in fabulous gardens, where the bride and her entourage of 8 were radiant – as was the groom and his 8 best men! The venue, normally a Riverside park setting in south-west Pasadena, was lush and beautiful and it was fascinating for us from Scotland to experience a US wedding.

Monday the 5th September was itchy feet time again. 

We dragged ourselves from our gorgeous pool and spent the day driving from Pasadena up into the San Gabriel Mountains

A guest at the previous day's (Sunday) post-wedding ‘Pool and Brunch’ party at my brother-in -laws house had told us about going up to the observation area on Mount Wilson, one of the peaks above Pasadena. He raved about the view from the top being spectacular. 

Coming from Brooklyn, New York, he had been bowled over by the huge spread that lay before him all the way out to the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

I’m so glad we took up his recommendation though the day for us wasn’t as sunny as his had been the previous Friday. Even though there was a haze over Los Angeles it was still a stunning drive with superb views. 

However, in addition to the stupendous mountain terrain and deep tumbling valleys there was the additional attraction of being up at the Mount Wilson Observatory.

My husband is the scientist, his masters of Science degree including studies in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He knew about the very famous scientist who had spent a lot of time at the Mount Wilson Observatory but I admit, it was news to me. 

The 100 inch telescope Hubble used. 
I certainly had heard of Edwin Hubble. I vaguely knew that he had broken the barriers of astronomy by claiming that the universe is constantly expanding and was able to prove it with a particular new telescope or its era. I didn’t know that it was at the Mount Wilson Observatory that he discovered and proved his theories, along with the other astronomers who inhabited the facility at the same time as he did.

The observatory buildings complex lies near the top of the peak of Mount Wilson at around 5, 710 feet, one of many similarly high peaks in the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.

The little Observatory FREE Museum displays interesting static information about the foundation of the Observatory back in the late 1800s, and further information about its role into the twentieth century. 

The Hooker 100 inch telescope, used by Edwin Hubble from approx. 1917 through to 1949, is still in use today though the function is limited at times by the smog which often permeates the area. It's situated in the original observatory that's now open to the public. (We'd have paid to go in but it was free entry)

Technical specifications for the Hooker telescope are available elsewhere on the web for anyone interested but I was particularly intrigued by the wicker chair used by Hubble while he made and proved his theories and which still sits precariously on a raised plinth for the visitor to appreciate.  
The wicker chair used by Edwin Hubble
The road up to the Observatory winds its way around and up the sides of the range, the views absolutely stunning and not easily forgettable. I thoroughly recommend a trip up – even if you’re only interested in the views and not in viewing the continually used scientific facility, part of which is open to the public.

The route back down isn't for the faint-hearted driver. I's so glad to have a really competent son-in-law driver who made the trip possible. My thanks for that day's driving, and for the rest of the US trip go to Dave and to my daughter, Sheena, who did some driving too!

A selfie taken in the observation room showing the 100 inch telescope at the observatory. 

I enjoyed the trip- I hope you're enjoying my memories!