Before Beltane is on its way!

This post is by Nancy Jardine.
Before Beltane, the Prequel to Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour Series, is now a few days old and it has gained its first review on Amazon. The 5***** star review has come from a paperback book reader and is a brilliant start to sharing impressions of the stories with potential readers.

Here’s the review:

The Prequel to the Celtic Fervour Series by Nancy Jardine is a very enjoyable read which takes the reader back to the early years of the first century AD in Iron Age Britain before the full Roman invasion of Brigantia. The book gives an early sense of the Celtic people and has something for every reader of historical novels.

Nancy Jardine (and Ocelot Press) heartily thanks the reviewer. Receiving a review really helps to give the book visibility in online settings and it endorses the writer’s time, diligence and effort in creating the fiction.

Before Beltane is effectively Book 0 (Zero) and is the introduction to the Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures set in late 1st Century Roman Britain.

Before Beltane and the other 5 novels in the series can be bought from Amazon in kindle and paperback formats. You can also order a paperback in bookstores like B&N, WH Smith, Waterstones or independent bookstores.

Happy Reading!

A launch day celebration!

There are now only five days till the launch of Beathan The Brigante, the fifth novel in Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour Saga Series – the official e-book launch day being on the 20th August 2020!

To celebrate the newest book in the series, Nancy has a super offer for new and existing readers. The first four e-books of the series are now on offer from Amazon at 99p/99c/ 0.99 euros for a few days prior to the launch day for Beathan The Brigante (#5).

(Note: All are full length historical novels of around 80+ thousand words.)

If you have read Books 1-4 already, then there is always the wonderful possibility of being able to gift the ebooks to someone else!

If you have read only part of the series, this would be an excellent time to stock up on those not yet read. You’ll then be able to follow all of the adventures of Nancy’s Roman Iron Age warriors from the Hillfort of Garrigill. And after reading the novels, Nancy will be delighted to learn your thoughts on the novels – in a review on Amazon, or by contacting her directly.

Also please note: Beathan The Brigante is currently on Pre-order at £1.99, but this price will rise again from launch day (Usual price for the Celtic Fervour Saga is £3.99)

The links below should make it easy for you to access the books on Amazon.

Happy reading!

Antique road , Via Appia Antica in Rome, Italy on sunset

Book 1: The Beltane Choice 

Book 2: After Whorl: Bran Reborn  

Book 3: After Whorl: donning Double Cloaks  

Book 4: Agricola’s Bane 

Book 5: Beathan The Brigante

A Novel Approach – Out today!

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We’re excited to celebrate the first non-fiction release from Ocelot Press today – A Novel Approach, from Jennifer C. Wilson.

Here’s the blurb, to whet your appetite:

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer

Is there a novel in you? Let me help you find out…

Based on my series of workshops held throughout 2019 and into 2020, this book is designed to help writers work through each of the key stages of their story, including:
– Idea generation;
– Creating characters;
– Describing your settings;
– Showing vs telling; and
– Keeping the words flowing when you find yourself stuck.

As well as the above, I have also added sections on hooking your readers in, leaving them wanting more, and useful resources as a writer, including how to dip a successful toe into the world of social media.

The workshops were fun, helping writers of short stories and novels alike, and I hope these exercises can help you too!

In A Novel Approach, the goal is to get you away from the stalling-point which can be the blank page. We have exercises and prompts to help you start (and keep) the words flowing, create characters your readers will engage with, and put them in deliciously complicated situations people won’t be able to look away from…

Good luck with your writing!

 

Location, Location, Location: the Art of Landscape Painting in Words

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One of the first things you hear, as a writer, is ‘write what you know’. This is at best ambiguous advice, as the great joy of writing comes from exercising the imagination, from learning and writing about things you don’t know. And wouldn’t it be tedious, frankly, to only write about your actual experiences? I’d never be able to write a murder mystery, for instance, due to a lack of personal research that I have no intention of remedying.

However, I find real life experience very useful when it comes to creating scenes. The better I know a place in reality—the better I remember not only how it looks, but how it sounds (is there traffic noise? Or just the wind shushing through the dunes?), how it smells (brine? earth? smoke?), how it feels (the coarse rasp of sand, the smooth slick of oil)—the better I can bring it to life for my readers.

One such place for me is the Isle of Mull, in western Scotland. I’ve lived on the island for twenty years, and my first four novels are at least partly set here. In Walking on Wild Air I describe an unnamed island: its white-sand beaches, green fields and heather-clad hills, its views of distant mountains, and its small towns and single-track roads. All my descriptions, from the opening ferocity of a thunderstorm to the peaceful dance of hilltop grasses in a gentle breeze, come direct from my own experience.

The Calgary Chessman is the first in a trilogy of archaeological romances with a contemporary setting, and it opens with a walk along the sands of beautiful Calgary Bay in spring.

The wind was too cold. I was a fool to have come out without my coat: my calendar said it was spring, but no-one had told the wind off the sea. Sand stung my legs as I plodded down the beach, meandering just above the high tide line. Sparse grasses bound the sand around their roots, but much of the fine, white powder was loose, and the sea breeze blew it around my feet…

…I pushed my hands into my pockets and pulled my cardigan more tightly around myself, but the chill air crept in anyway.

Is it working? Do you feel the chill? Later we visit the bay again, busy with visitors on a summer’s day, and Cas Longmore, our heroine, walks around the headland to gaze out over the sea towards the other islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

I climbed steadily for a few minutes and then, as I turned the headland, the hubbub died away and the still clearness of summer air enveloped me. A slight sea breeze sprang up and I tucked my hair behind my ears, although it blew straight out again. I stopped and gazed northwest across the vast, blue ocean, feeling the heat of the sun strike square between my shoulder blades, as palpable as a physical blow.

Calgary Bay is beautiful in any weather, be it a gale off the sea so strong it dents the eyeballs, or a bitter winter trudge in full wet-weather gear, hunching your head between your shoulders against the icy strike of a hailstorm, though it’s at its loveliest on a calm, warm day, when the white sand and turquoise sea are as inviting as any tropical resort. But watch out:

Sam charged into the sea and straight back out again, hardly more than damp above the knee. “It’s freezing,” he shouted. “I thought it was supposed to be summer.”

…”It’s always cold,” I reminded him. “You’ve been here before.”

His face was rueful. “I never remember,” he muttered. “It looks so shiny and blue, and the sun’s so hot, and I always think it’s going to be warm.”

I’ve seen the Bay in all its weathers and I hope I’ll pay many more visits to add to my memory stock. It’s a very different story when I describe the other touchstone location in The Calgary Chessman: hidden Huna Bay in northern South Island, New Zealand. ‘Huna’ is a Maori word meaning ‘secret’, and the hidden secret of the book is that the location is as hidden from me as it is from you.

I grew up in New Zealand, and had two notable missed opportunities to visit the glories of Abel Tasman National Park, both trips cancelled at the last minute after a great deal of forward planning. To my disappointment, I’ve never made it back. But Cas Longmore’s grandparents run their family farm on the edge of the National Park, and Huna Bay is the sanctuary Cas’s mind goes back to in times of danger or loneliness.

Here I’m using the full power of my imagination, buoyed up by the descriptions of friends or other writers, and many photos and paintings that I’ve seen over the years. This is the polar opposite of ‘write what you know’. One day I hope to go there, and to walk the Abel Tasman track or kayak the shoreline, to see how accurate I’ve been. Here Cas is dreaming of her favourite place in the world.

At first blinded by the sun striking molten silver off the sea, I could see nothing but the shocking turquoise of the water. Ahead, the warm sand edged away into a sparkling sea. The sun stood high in the vault of the sky and bathed me in its beneficent glow.

I turned a full circle, taking in the crescent of beach backed by a small cliff, itself topped with a green tapestry of leaf, fern, and creeper; a verdant brocade spilling over the cliff and weaving itself over every surface. At the foot of the cliff a tiny creek emerged from a green pool, filled by the constant curtain of drops trickling down the cliff face.

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If you’re thinking about taking up the pen (or keyboard) of the serious writer, or if you already write and are looking for ways to extend and improve your work (and we are all, always, doing that) it can be both pleasurable and useful to sit down, close your eyes, and imagine a single location in detail. Get all those senses working: really feel yourself to be there. Then, while it’s still fresh in your mind, write it down. It may never end up in a book, but I guarantee it’ll sharpen your sense of the place you’re trying to describe.

I wrote my first description of Huna Bay as part of a mental health exercise, where I developed an imaginary safe place to which I could retreat in my mind if real life became too difficult or threatening. It remains my sanctuary, just as it is for Cas, and I hope its magic never fades.

The Calgary Chessman is available in e-book and paperback, and if you decide to read it I’d be delighted to hear what you think of it. I hope its locations are evocative, and that one day, when all the present troubles and restrictions are over, you have the opportunity to visit it in person, and not just via my imagination.

mybook.to/TheCalgaryChessman

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You’re all invited to my Facebook event 8am-midnight BST on Sunday 26 July 2020. Drop in any time to join the conversation, with music, competitions, and book-related chat.

You can follow me at my Facebook page and friendly group, on Twitter, or my blog, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, and I’m always happy to answer questions on Goodreads.

An announcement, and a birthday offer!

What’s new? Well, this week, for me, quite a lot… Two things in particular, that I’m excited to share with you. 

This week, I’ll be celebrating my birthday in Lockdown, and as I type out this post, I’m very aware that I should have been out in town, celebrating with friends, and having a general giggle about all sort of things. Happily, I am lucky enough to have a very good friend living just a couple of hundred metres from my flat, and I’m hoping, weather-permitting, to pop around to her front garden, and enjoy a slice of cake and glass of fizz, all from a safe distance.

The Raided Heart

I did still want to celebrate though, and so I’m also offering you all a gift from me. For a limited time this week, I’m delighted to be sharing The Raided Heart, free as an ebook! Click here, to be taken to your local Amazon domain, and download your copy today…

And to tempt you in, here’s what reviewers have been saying so far about The Raided Heart:

Exciting, passionate and ultimately the ending keeps the spirit of true love alive.”

The Raided Heart is a Story of forbidden love, a marriage of convenience, heartache, survival and hope.”

A beautiful, realistic romance with dark undertones…”

And the second thing? Well, I’m thrilled to announce my first non-fiction title is now available for pre-order!

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A Novel Approach brings together my 2019/20 series of writing workshops, and a talk I delivered during Swanwick 2019. Have you ever thought about writing long-form fiction? In A Novel Approach, I’ll talk you through every step of the process, from generating ideas, creating believable characters, and tackling the ever-thorny issue of ‘showing vs. telling’, all the way through to developing your presence online.

The book itself will launch on the 8th August, and I’ll be sharing more details as we get nearer to the date.

I can’t wait to share this with you!

 

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