The Visitor by Catriona King - promo

Congratulations to author Catriona King who today celebrates the release of The Visitor, the latest novel in a gripping new 5* crime series.

The Visitor is book three in the modern D.C.I. Craig detective series. It takes Craig and his team into a dark world of cruelty and death, in a place where people most expect to be safe. Things develop for Craig's team in good and bad ways, while Northern Ireland is stalked by a killer intent on revenge.

Belfast is in danger. 

Murder in a closed Belfast world where evil goes undetected; where caring people have uncaring intentions. 

People should be safe in this place. They shouldn’t die unexpectedly.

D.C.I. Marc Craig and his team hunt across Belfast for a psychotic killer who targets the vulnerable and leaves their children to pay. 

The Visitor. 
The third in the D.C.I. Craig detective series. 



The room was in darkness when Evie woke, hearing a noise out in the corridor. She squinted at the watch her husband Brian had bought her for Christmas. Smiling at the thought of him with their new baby in two days’ time. 
It was four o’clock in the morning and she was wide awake. Great. No-one had told her how boring hospitals were - her side-room felt like a prison. During the day there was company at least. But all you ever heard at night were bleeps going and babies crying. Or some poor woman screaming the place down. She was growing more grateful for Wednesday’s Caesarean by the day. She didn’t fancy a normal delivery one little bit.
She reached for the side-lamp and flicked it on, her eyes blinking as they adjusted to the glare. Then the door opened and she turned and smiled, glad of any company.
“I didn’t expect anyone at this time. Is it for more tests?” 
“Just an injection.”
“Everyone here’s so clever. You all do everything, don’t you?”
Her visitor smiled, leaving the question unanswered. Evie held her arm out obediently, watching as the plunger emptied the syringe. She’d become used to the drugs and tests 24/7, and her Mum said it was rude to ask questions. 
“That should take effect soon, Evie.”
“Can’t you stay and chat? I’m lonely here on my own.” 
“Perhaps tomorrow.” 
Evie smiled and reached for the remote, thoughtfully hitting the mute button. “Night-night then.” 
An old Bruce Willis film was on Freeview. It was better than nothing. But it really didn’t matter, she wouldn’t see anything soon. 
Her brown eyes closed softly and her right hand fell gently to rest, palm-up on the starched cotton cover. The remote control slipped down towards the floor, caught quickly by her visitor, just in time to keep the silence. 
They held her hand calmly, curling her fingers over. And then stayed for a moment longer, leaning over the bed. Until Evie’s last breath left softly and they weren’t needed any more.


Author Bio:

Catriona King trained as a Doctor, and as a Police Forensic Medical examiner in London where she worked for many years. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast. 

She has written since childhood; fiction, fact and reporting. 

The Visitor is her third novel following A Limited Justice and The Grass Tattoo. It follows Detective Chief Inspector Marc Craig and his team through the streets of Northern Ireland in their hunt for a killer.

A fourth novel in the D.C.I. Craig series, The Waiting Room will be released on 31st May 2014.


Author Links:

Buy Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Crooked Cat Books

An Interview with a Sleuth!

Joe Murray, of Sanford 3rd Age Club fame, is visiting today, so I took the chance to quiz him before he starts pestering the locals for information about missing chocolate eggs.

Joe? Joe!! Ahh, there you are...

1)  It’s Easter. You’re in Weston-super-Mare. Whatever happens on the Great Egg Hunt?
I don’t wanna say too much, but I get my feet wet. That’s because it’s raining. It rained all the way from Sanford to Weston-super-Mare and when we got there, it rained even harder. And I think you’ll be surprised by what I did turn up on the Great Egg Hunt. It wasn’t just Easter eggs, although to be truly honest, it wasn’t my discovery. It was Sheila’s.

2)  You’re quite a way from home. How do the locals take to a stranger investigating a murder?
The police were okay… eventually. As usual, they called our Gemma in Sanford, and she put them right. It’s handy having a niece who’s also a Detective Sergeant. The locals were a bit more iffy. I think it’s a language difficulty. They don’t speak the same English as we do in West Yorkshire. I found some of them quite, er, confrontational, but I never expected them to throw a chocolate egg at me.

3) I hope Sheila and Brenda aren’t putting themselves into harm’s way. Can you keep them safe?
Hah! Keep ’em safe? It was the men in Weston-super-Mare I needed to keep safe from Brenda. They’re tough cookie, you know, Sheila and Brenda. It’s how they bring us up in Sanford, and the truth is, it was me who needed security, not them. Having seventy friends in town helped. You don’t argue with the likes of George Robson or Brenda Jump.

4) What’s in store for the STAC members in future? Any more (murderous) holidays planned?
We have any number of plans, but most of them have to be ratified by the membership. For the immediate future, we have a wedding to attend in the summer, and I do have business to run, you know. I’m already negotiating with a big distribution company in Sanford to cater for their Christmas thrash. Somewhere along the line, I’d like to get a proper holiday in, too. The girls are going to Majorca later in the year. Tempting to join them, but to be honest, I prefer Scarborough.

Thank you, Joe. Looking forward to a fancy summer wedding already...

You can follow the adventures of Joe, and his trusted sidekicks Sheila and Brenda in David W Robinson's chart-topping Sanford 3rd Age Club murder mystery series. 

Blurb - The Chocolate Egg Murders:
It’s Somerset for the Sanford 3rd Age Club and, at a busy charity weekend in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Joe, Sheila and Brenda are looking forward to a relaxing time.

But along with the chocolate for the Great Egg Hunt, someone has hidden a body, and even before the rain stops, the STAC are in the thick of it. Threatened with violence as he tries to learn the identity of the bad-tempered redhead wandering round town, embroiled in blackmail and hidden personal histories, while the body count rises, Joe and his two companions struggle to make sense of what is going on around them.

With the Easter Bonnet Parade to come, it’s obvious these are no accidents.

They’re MURDER... amongst the chocolate eggs.


About the Author:
A Yorkshireman by birth, David W Robinson is a retired hypnotherapist and former adult education teacher, now living on the outskirts of Manchester with his wife and crazy Jack Russell called Joe (because he looks like a Joe).

A freelance writer for almost 30 years, he is extensively published, mainly on the web and in small press magazines. His first two novels were published in 2002 and are no longer available. His third novel, The Haunting at Melmerby Manor was published by Virtual Tales (USA) in 2007. He writes in a number of genres, including crime, sci-fi, horror and humour, and all his work has an element of mystery. His alter-ego, Flatcap, looks at the modern world from a cynical, 3rd age perspective, employing various levels of humour from subtle to sledgehammer. David also writes gritty thrillers under the pen name, David Robinson.

Author Links:

Buy Links:
Amazon UK: Sanford 3rd Age Club murder mystery series
Amazon US: STAC

Spotlight: Suspense Author Helen A Howell

I'm delighted to welcome Australia-based author, Helen Howell. Helen's new suspense novella, I Know You Know, starts off with a shock - the cards don't lie... 

Here's what Helen had to say when I quizzed her...

1) What inspired you to use tarot cards in your suspense novella?

I think the element of being able to see someone's past, present and future in the cards has always been intriguing. Having read tarot myself for a number of years, I thought wouldn't this make a great element to jump start a thriller with. I asked myself the question what if not only could the tarot reader see something terrifying about a client in the cards, but what if the client suspected she knew his secret - what then?  It was easy for me to fictionalise the tarot readings, having an understanding of their meanings,  I was able to use this in a very basic way to weave this story. So I guess my inspiration to use them initially came from the idea 'write about what you know.' ^_^

2) How did you get into tarot reading?

I have always had an interest in the mystical, magical and supernatural if you like. The tarot was just an extension of this interest. I got my first deck back in the 70s. It was the Swiss 1JJ Deck.  I still have it in its original box.  This is the only deck I had for years and years. The next deck to come into my home was Crowley's Thoth - but that's a whole different story.
I spent probably 3 years studying the tarot, spending two or more hours a day on the subject. I never grow tired of reading tarot and am still amazed at how they can get to the root of a problem.

3) What's your next writing project about? 

Ah, my next writing project I am showing on my website as a serial at the moment. It's a fantasy fiction called Wizard and it's about  Micos, an apprentice sorcerer  who takes matters into his own hands to get rid of Lostan, a Dark Wizard. But to do so, he enlists the help of the wicked witch Octava. Little does Micos know that both Octava and Lostan each has something the other wants, their half of a sceptre that will make them all powerful, and both are prepared to kill to get it. Micos has in his possession a talisman the witch gave him, along with the spell to remove Lostan from his village, and she expects it to be returned. But Micos has other ideas, and he is intent on keeping it! 

Who will win the battle, Lostan or Octava and will Micos live to tell the tale?


The darkest cards in the tarot deck reveal the darkest side of the man sitting opposite Janice—Mr. Edgar Kipp.

She feigns an inability to read for him, but will he believe her?  

His parting words indicate that he knows she knows he's a serial killer. 

And he plans to return. 

The voice of her dead grandmother urges her to be careful, warning Janice she might be seeing her own future in those foreboding cards. 

But Janice doesn't want to listen. Gran's dead. 

How can she possibly help her?



This is from Chapter 5  - Janice who is sitting in a café looks out of the window and spots Edgar Kipp across the road watching her - she turns away in a panic, when she looks back he's gone. - we pick up in this excerpt the same time frame from Edgar's point of view:

Edgar leaned against a wall, while he watched Janice sitting at the table in the café across the road. She’s not spotted me yet. He smiled to himself.
He had been out during his lunch break to buy some sandwiches and decided to walk up this street for a change. How lucky was it to see her in that caféI couldn’t have planned it better. He reached into his pocket where he kept the card and stroked it gently as he continued to watch her.
His lips felt dry; he wet them with his tongue. Out of all of them, she looks the most like her. He grasped the card tighter. “I should give this back,” he murmured. It would give me another chance to assess her. He squinted through his thick round glasses, trying to decide how difficult she might be to handle. The more he watched her, the more excited he became; he grew hard at the thought of what was to come. Only now did he wish he was alone with this feeling, so that he could relish and enjoy it to its climax.
Edgar pulled his grey overcoat tighter around him and released his hold on the card. I must remove my finger prints before I give it back. I was lucky to get away with the other two. That second one didn’t look right, though. This one’s perfect. Maybe I’ll be able to stop with her. Maybe she’ll be my catharsis. Edgar dropped his eyes to stare at his feet. His black shoes were polished to a mirror shine. He looked into them as images from the past emerged to fill the rounded toes. The look on their faces when they realised. They always realise too late. He returned his gaze to the shop. I will be cleansed after this one.
Edgar’s eyes met those of Janice as she stared back through the window. Does she recognise me? It amused him to think she might be scared. He watched as she turned her head away. Now’s the time to go, I think. He stood up straight and walked away whistling to himself.


Author Bio:

Helen is a fiction writer, who writes in several genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour.
She has written several short stories, flash fictions and poems. Her work has appeared in both e-zines, anthologies and print publications. In July 2012 her debut Novella, Jumping At Shadows, a fantasy fiction for 9 years- adults, was published as an e-book. In February 2013 her Novella I Know You Know, a psychic thriller for adults, was published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
She is a member of Friday Flash Dot Org. and is a regular participant in writing Friday Flash.


Author Links:

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The House of Wood - promo post

Today, I'm thrilled to feature new Crooked Cat Publishing author, Anthony Price, whose first novel, The House of Wood, is due out on 5th April.

The atmospheric cover sets the scene perfectly for this dark horror story. No hiding behind cushions here... 



Dark.  Foreboding.  The locals steer clear of it. The House of Wood.  

Rachel James, a college student in her third year at The University of Maine, knows the house all too well. 

When she receives a phone call informing her that her parents have died in a house fire, she must return to her hometown.  Rachel is forced to confront her biggest fear when she discovers the house of wood has been rebuilt in the last three years.  But it’s not until she accepts a dinner date with the mysterious Dr. David Cochrane that things take a turn for the worse, as now she must recount the story of what happened at the house three years earlier. 

Past and present collide in a haunting tale of friendship, betrayal and fear.  The House of Wood is a story within a story, one that asks two questions:

What happens when a house sees so much horror it becomes evil incarnate? 

And can a person ever really escape their past?

The answers are waiting for you...



Silent it stood.  The house of wood on the hill.  Nothing surrounding it but fields.  A vast, open expanse stretching as far as the eye could see.  Ancient woodlands dotted the fields like pox marks.  But, the house stood like a solitary statue, alone and foreboding.  Its whitewashed wood shone out on the stark landscape like a beacon of despair.  The only decoration was a single, dead oak tree in the front garden.  A child’s swing hung limply from a lifeless branch.  No one lived there anymore.  They hadn’t for years.  Without love and care the building had fallen into disrepair.  Now, only the blackbirds were brave enough to land nearby.  Usually, nothing stirred, except the swing blowing in the cold breeze.  But not today.  Two shadows danced across the window.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Come on, it’s fun.”
“Please, I can help you.  Just let me go.”
“I don’t need help,” the standing shadow snarled.  Its hand whipped out, landing with a sharp snap across the face of the battered and bruised victim tied to the chair.  “No one can help me.”
The victim stared at the attacker.  There was no way out.  The rope bit the flesh of their wrists as they tried to twist free.  Pain filled them.  Tears welled in their eyes.
“Awww, poor baby.  Here, let me wipe your eyes.” A piercing scream filled the night air, as fingers jammed in to the sockets.  “All better now?”
“I just want to go home,” the victim sobbed, all hope evaporating.  “Please, let me go.”
“You’re not leaving me.  You’re never leaving me.” A perverse smile stretched across the attacker’s face.  “We’re meant to be, you know that, sugar pie.” 
“I-I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“But you love me.  You always have.”
“No I don’t, you’re deluded and you need help.”
“There you go again, denying your feelings.  Well I know how to cure that.”
The attacker’s shadow slid across the living room floor, stopping at the open fireplace.  Flames swayed like Egyptian belly dancers, hypnotic and seductive.  The face of McCain in the portrait over the mantel stared out.
“What’re you doing?  Look, someone will come up here and stop you.  Let me go now and you can escape, I won’t send the police.”
“Now, now sugar pie, I got a surprise for you.” The attacker turned towards the victim.  “You’ll like this.”
A petrified scream filled the night air.  A young girl stood silently by her swing, watching the couple, a dark red stain across her beautiful white dress.  She turned away, her expressionless face looking out over the desolate hillside.  She sat down on her swing, and listened to the agonising screams emerging from the house.  


Author Bio:

Anthony Price is a twenty-eight year old male residing in the UK, in Canterbury.  An avid reader and film fanatic and having always wanted to be a writer, he was first published at age fifteen and since achieving his MA in Creative Writing, has had several short stories published in e-zines and anthologies.  He’s also the author of his own horror anthology titled, Tales of Merryville, which is available to buy in e-book format on Amazon.  

His novel, The House of Wood, has been in the works for three years and started off as a small writing exercise on his MA.  Being a disabled writer, he has had his fair share of doubters, so this novel is extra special.  It’s out in paperback and e-book format April 5th.

Anthony is currently working on several creative projects to look out for in the future, including more horror novels, a feature film and a TV show.

Follow him on:
Twitter - @anthonyprice84

Shaman's Drum - an interview with Riga and Iamo

Today on my blog: A character interview! ~drum roll~

Meet Iamo and Riga from the highly entertaining futuristic fantasy romance, Shaman's Drum by Ailsa Abraham. Shaman's Drum delves into the world of darkness, where demons threaten to take over. Two lovers from opposite sides of the energy spectrum unite in their fight against the dark forces. 

Meet Riga & Iamo!

1) Riga, you're one feisty female. Your fighting skills are renowned. How do you reconcile the 'tough girl' image with your softer side? 
To be honest, Cathie, I didn't think I had one until I started having feelings for Iamo. Yes back in my teens I had a hopeless crush on someone very unsuitable but it came to nothing. After that I just decided to concentrate on my career. 
For a long time I found myself very uncomfortable with my feminine side. It is a cliché because it is true but when you meet a man that makes you feel like a real woman, then you live up to that. 
My tough girl image was the real me at the time, it went with the job of magical assassin. Face it, in the magical world I am the equivalent of your SAS soldiers and they don't tend to paint their nails, do they? Image counts a lot because the first impression I make on an enemy can usually decide the outcome of the fight. If he or she is taken off their guard by the sight of me in my fighting gear, twirling ceramic knives or casting fireballs, the battle is just about won before it starts.

2) Iamo, you're the thinker. The calm one, ruffled by nothing. What infuriates

Riga! No excuse me, Lady. That was flippant. It's a good question. I am by no means that placid. At the beginning of the book I think that what infuriates me is the Council of the Wise's hidebound attitude. They have placed rules written in stone and nothing is flexible but as we learn throughout the novel, all of life is flux. Even I change!
Also the ingrained snobbery of my parents, which again is an attitude of stasis; that could be what drove me away from home in the first place.
Now, after that particular tale is over, I think it is intolerance that infuriates me. People treat me differently according to whether they think I am an earl, a monk or wearing the face paint of a Black Shaman. That is shameful and should not happen. I wish we could all meet each other blindfold the first time and then decide if we can get along.

3) Riga, what makes you and Iamo such a dream team in fighting evil?
Again, I apologise (but I am a simple magic user, not a conjurer of words like our Scribe) it is a cliché. We are, or perhaps were, exact opposites. That means that we think differently, approach problems from a different perspective and have natures that are two sides of the same coin. If you can imagine in your human terms an artist and a mathematician given the same problem to solve, they might come up with the same answer, but their methods of doing so would be radically different.
Also we have telepathy on our side. We are natural empaths through our magic which is a great advantage in an actual fight. We communicate mentally so that if one of us notices a danger or an enemy who is hidden visually from the other, we can send a “check that” message instantly. Also, as everyone knows, those who love each other so very deeply can usually pick up on each others' thoughts.

4) Iamo, without revealing the ending of Shaman's Drum - where do you and Riga go from there?  
I am under strict instructions from Scribe not to reveal too much but, as she admits, there is a great deal of back history to Shaman's Drum at which she only hints during that book so she is in the process of writing the prequel which explains the situation leading up to the beginning of it.  
She is doing this in response to the many kindly readers who have contacted her to ask for the prequel as they felt that Shaman's Drum could have been Book II instead of Book I. After that she intends to continue our adventures and she has placed a spell of constraint on me so that if I tried to tell you the plot of Book III, I would probably lose my voice for a week, but yes, there will be more.

May we both thank you, Lady, for inviting us to your home today and say that Scribe would like to offer an electronic copy of Shaman's Drum in a draw. The question she poses is:

“The Spring Equinox is nearly upon us. What is the Wiccan name for this festival?” 

A winner will be drawn from the correct answers and a copy of the ebook is the prize.


England in the near future. 

Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again.
Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive.
Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust? 

Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga's Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths. 

It's a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting.



The Demon Prince held up one gauntleted hand to swat away my missile, completely unperturbed. He smiled evilly, his face squirming with larvae and his fangs dripping slime, as he sent me images of him taking my beloved; in a perverted parody of our own love-making he made me see Iamo writhing and screaming under him as he was raped and
robbed of his soul.

 This is how higher demons fight; why they win. They choose the image that will sap the target’s strength the most, the wicked, clever bastards! All I could do was fix my own picture in my head of Iamo and me, standing back to back, ready to fight or die to prevent this happening. The screaming from the Prince’s sending stopped as Iamo shouted at me from the altar where Elrich was bending over him, gloating and stroking his hair.

“Riga! Release me! Break the bonds!”

Reeling back from the shock of that hateful image and dodging a fireball, I pointed my wand at Iamo and tried to dissolve the oily black lines of dark energy that tied him to the altar. My silver light entwined with them and it looked like two cobras fighting. He struggled, tearing at the bonds. Of course he would have been under a disempowerment spell too.

Knowing that this was costing me valuable time, I took a breath and forced all the power of our love at him to break it. In doing so, I took my attention away from the lesser demons and priestesses who were sending snakes of energy towards me to suck my soul away.

The Dianics were casting immobility on me and a paralysis began to creep up my legs. Looking down, I could see their spell like live vipers twining up towards my knees. Still trying to free Iamo, I let my lower half get caught. With a cry of triumph, he finally rolled off the altar and sprang to his feet, grabbing the High Priestess’ staff of office and wielding it like a fighting stick. His first victim was Elrich who he punched on the jaw so hard that the fat priest fell to the ground with an audible thud.

Then, holding it like a club, he hit the High Priestess over the head, knocking her out; there was no magic, just brute force in that blow. He ran towards the demon as I directed power to untangle my legs and force the disabling energy field back. I couldn’t feel my feet, as the women blanketed me in a fog of negative energy, trying to suffocate my power. A sensation of total hopelessness smothered me and I had an almost irresistible urge to give up.

Suddenly, through the noise and turmoil, the sound of drums reverberated through the building like an impending earthquake. My Shaman brethren had arrived!


Author Links: 

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Make sure to take part in Ailsa's giveaway by answering the question above, noting your email address with your response. 

A lucky winner will be drawn later!
Good luck!

Discover Africa - with author Jane Bwye

Today, a wonderful writer is visiting - Jane Bwye, author of breathtaking drama Breath of Africa, newly released from Crooked Cat. Breath of Africa is a tale of life in Kenya, of love, danger and fate. And, most of all, of an incredible country.

You'll be amazed by Jane's story. I am. 
Over to Jane...


It all started in the early 1970’s. We’d sunk our savings into buying a mansion in the middle of a steeply sloping gum plantation in Tigoni. From the 11-acre plot you could see Nairobi on a clear day, fifteen miles to the south.

We knew we’d fill the double-storeyed house with our fast-growing family.

But the encroaching trees made everything so gloomy. And I wanted to have horses to ride with our five children over the hills and far away through the tea plantations of the Limuru highlands.

Tons of wood were chopped and stacked to stoke the roaring fires in the sitting-room, which often held hosts of children for parties and home cinema shows. Sacks of charcoal were filled and sold as the less steep land was cleared for paddocks and the debris piled up against the trees to create a barrier against erosion. Then, along the trickling stream at the foot of the valley which forked round two thirds of the property, the children discovered a gold mine. Of granadillas. Which provided us with delicious home-made juice for many seasons to come. The purple fruit, bursting with orange goodness, would literally jump into our kikapus (soft woven baskets) every season.

But I digress … the children went to school and I couldn’t spend all day hanging over the fence, watching the horses and cows, dreaming and planning the next improvement.

I’d written countless articles and several short stories. One, based on a wild and foolish school escapade, might make a promising beginning for a book. Another contained a vision of a lofty future growing out of the history of mankind’s past, and could provide a fitting end. All I had to do was devise a middle.

And so BREATH OF AFRICA was conceived. But very nearly nipped in the bud. For a whole week my mind was absorbed in writing the story. It would take me much longer than expected. And the family were beginning to complain. Meals were late, Mum’s mind was elsewhere, and she never answered questions. She even forgot to pick up somebody from school. This would not do. The typewriter was bundled back under its cover, and my notes hidden away in an untidy file. There is a time for everything…

… Until we moved to the UK thirty years later. A gigantic, scary culture shock. Time to look back and take stock, perhaps to pick up the threads of that story? But I’d got out of practice, and a strange reluctance held me back. Somewhere, I’d packed away a pile of blue air letters from my previous life – when I’d gone to Oxford, leaving behind someone special. We’d discussed everything under the sun and had kept each other’s letters. Maybe I could sort them into chronological order, and pick out bits which could be incorporated into a novel? For I had left Oxford prematurely to return home and marry him, much to the disgust of friends and family – only for him to die in a bizarre accident less than two years later, leaving me with a six month old baby, and unaware that I was pregnant again, with what turned out to be twins.

Again, the exercise took longer than expected. And the story developed a mind of its own. Countless edits and re-writes and over seventy rejection letters later, it has finally come to fruition.

Will I feel bereft? It’s too soon to tell. Relieved, perhaps, that at last a major goal in my life has been achieved. I can put it behind me.

Now – what’s next…?


Thirty years of Kenya's recent history unfold through the lives of Caroline, a privileged woman from the fertile highlands, and Charles Ondiek, a farm labourer with dreams of an Oxford education. 

Charles’s love for Teresa, daughter of a hated settler farmer, leads to a drama of psychological terror fuelled by Mau Mau oath administrator, Mwangi, who is held in detention for six years. 

On his release, Mwangi forces Charles and Teresa apart, then turns his attention to Caroline. But she has inner resources, and joins with Charles to seek out a mysterious ancestral cave. 

Against the backdrop of Kenya’s beautiful but hostile desert, the curse is finally broken. But when Caroline discovers the hidden reason for Mwangi’s hatred, she wonders if she'll ever, really, belong in the country she loves.



She tore her eyes away from the gaping hole before her and raised them towards the palm tree on her left. Its swaying trunk bent gently towards the grave. She looked up its ringed bark; up and up until the few green fronds swished against the blue sky. Her eyes squinted and watered at the merciless glare of the heavens, then found rest with a small white cloud.
Brian. Where are you? You know the Answer to Life, now. Can you see me here, my darling? Brian! Her heart cried out and tears welled. Brian – I love you.
Alone now.
The others were at the row of wreaths, reading the labels and standing in hushed groups. Nobody joined her at the graveside. She approached the flowers, and people started to pick them up and turn towards the mound of earth. She found a small wreath. Somebody had written on the label.
To my darling Brian, with love from Caroline and Paul.
Not alone. How silly of me. Thank God for little Paul.


Author Links:

Buy Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US 
Crooked Cat Books

Author Nancy Jardine goes shopping - Roman style

I'm delighted to welcome back fellow Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat author, Nancy Jardine. Today, Nancy chats about shopping. In ancient Britain!

Curious? Yes, I thought so. Let's find out...

Who loves shopping? 

Personally, I hate shopping, but I’ve recently had to indulge in a bit of hypothetical buying of goods. No, I’m not talking of internet shopping – though the internet has played a small part since it’s helped in my researches. 

My current work in progress (which seems to be a long haul since I started it last September) is a historical novel, a sequel to – The Beltane Choice - my Celtic/ Britain adventure. It follows on from the period AD 71 and journeys through to AD 84. There’s clearly no major time difference involved in my new work, but what is very different is that I’m focusing equally as much on the Roman perspective as on the Celtic one.
So, back to shopping. Today I shopped in Asda, only one of my possible supermarket choices. Maybe not the same choice as I’d get in Sainsbury, or the supermarkets which cater to the more delicatessen palate, but plenty of goods to buy, nonetheless. 

Zoom back to AD 75. What might my Roman slave, in Britannia, be out looking to acquire, and where would she manage to get the goods from? This is where the theoretical shop comes in. 

What’s her master looking for on his low table? Nowadays people lounge on their sofas eating pizza- is that what she would be expecting her master to do?

Some time ago I would have scoffed at that question, but after the 2004 archaeological dig in my home village I might even smile more readily and say…sort of! The dig at the Roman Marching Camp at Kintore uncovered literally hundreds of baking ovens, places not quite producing pizza as we know it, but flat breads that could have had an accompanying topping. 

My slave will be travelling along with her master on some of his campaigns. What does she need to purchase for the cook to make such bread? Wheat? The Celts already grew a kind of spelt and that could be easily transported. To eat along with the bread? Fish and seafood was a popular choice in Roman cuisine and that could be acquired from rivers, lakes or the sea. Some of the bread might be spread with liquamen or garum- deeply rich fish sauces that were stored for two months before use. They would travel well in sealed jars. 

Olives? They were shipped around the Roman Empire in sealed vessels, as was the olive oil used for cooking, the oil also excellent for dipping the bread into. To go along with the oil spread bread with olives, my slave would be purchasing the many herbs and seasonings that were easily transported around the empire - pepper, ginger, cinnamon, dried onions, parsley to name only a few possibilities. She would find them new, but no doubt an improvement on the basic Celtic stews she was used to. 

Tomatoes? No. They were not introduced to Britain in Roman times. They only came many centuries later – and were not really in use until closer to Victorian times.

The cook would be roasting meats – beef, pork, mutton, lamb and venison since they are journeying in northern Britannia and into what is now Scotland. 

While in a Roman Garrison fortress her master would be eating stored ham that had been pickled in brine or had been salted. Wildfowl was popular, as was chicken. 

Native berry fruits in season would add some sweetness to the table, and nuts some variety. They also ate - and drank - dairy foods as in cheese, butter and milk. Dates were also dried and stored fairly well. (I’d happily eat the dates along with bread, but I’m not sure of them as a topping.)

Imported wine would be the most likely drink as anything else was often suspect.

A form of porridge, or thinned down as gruel, was a staple diet of the Roman soldier – excellent choice since it is a slow release energy food. 

And my slave’s supermarket would be the market stalls while in the garrison fort. Before setting forth on campaign the jars and fresh or dried goods would be packed onto the wagons, or onto pack mules. The fresh meats and fish would be provided by the venator along the way. (A specialised hunter who accompanied the marching forces of Rome, mostly non-combatant since their duty was to forage for food). 

All in all quite a healthy diet!

So back to that WIP… (I’d rather do that than visit Asda. *see me smiling*) 

Thank you, Cathie for allowing me to indulge. 
Can the Celtic Tribes repel the Roman army? 
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?
Buy links: ebook only ebook only

“Leave me be, Brigante. By Rhianna, unhand me!” Her order had the effect she requested, though did not expect. Crashing to the ground, her swollen leg jarred a further time on the rough banking.
“You got what you wanted, did you not?” he gibed nastily, her attempt to hide the mutter of pain having been unsuccessful.
Unwilling to guard her tongue, she railed. “How would you know that? Revenge is all you care for.”
“Revenge? Aye, I want revenge, but I desire much more.” 
His tone controlled, Lorcan loomed, his questioning relentless with barely time for a breath in between. Nara’s refusal to answer remained firm, yet her silence fanned the flames for he insisted.
“The warrior riding this fine horse–who was he to have such a prized animal? I know now he cannot have been your husband!”
His gaze strayed to her chest. Again. Nara felt a flare of gratification when he appeared exasperated with himself on realising. Ignoring his hurtful probing, and the tingling at her chest, she rolled to her feet and hobbled to the other side of the filly, favouring her weight on her good leg. 
“Give answer. Was he your husband?”
“Nay, not my husband.” She confronted him, her words beseeching. “What did you do with Cearnach? I see no sign of him.”
Ignoring her plea, Lorcan tugged the horses away, keeping both reins when he agilely mounted the stallion.
He pulled her filly forwards, kicking his heels into Rowan’s flesh. Turning their direction south-eastwards he headed for the flat river’s edge leading to the deep forests far to their left. 
If she escaped, she would be done with the infuriating man. Whirling around, she darted off for the edge of the woods.
Again, a humming spear blocked her path.
Author Bio: 
Nancy Jardine, lives in the castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Ancestry research is an intermittent hobby: neglecting her large garden in favour of writing is becoming the norm. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.

A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel. She has been published by Crooked Cat Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.

Nancy can be found at: 
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Twitter @nansjar