OUT with the Old…IN with the New

So Long 2013!

How do I sum up a year in which I achieved a lifelong dream and became a bestselling, multi-published author, with even more books under contract?

WOW!

800px-Hanabii_in_Adachi-ku9

So where do I go from here, now that I’ve checked several major items off my Bucket List? Quit while I’m ahead?  Not likely!

Keep on keepin’ on…

I still have “authorly” goals to achieve  And I’ve learned a few things along the way.  So I’ve organized new goals into this OUT/IN list, based on what I think didn’t work, or what could have worked better, during the past year. Some of the IN list might also work for you, but I’d love to hear your ideas as well!

Computer_keyboard

OUT                                        IN

Uncertainty                          Resolve

Procrastination                   At least two hours a day spent writing books

Endless Social Media         Targeted social media and my monthly Newsletter

Blog tours                             My blog

Book signings                      ‘Signed book’ prizes for my Readers & Newsletter Subscribers

Do it all myself                    Hire an assistant

Do it all myself                    Street Team

Do it all myself                    Collaborate on marketing with other authors in my genres 

Traditionally published     Hybrid:  traditionally and indie published

2 books a year                       At least 2 books a year

Write in 1 genre                    Write in at least 1 other genre

Too much sitting                 At least 3 hours of exercise a week

What do you plan to change for the better in 2014?

Leave a comment below, and you might win a signed copy of one of my books!

Whatever your goals may be, I wish you a happy, healthy, productive and prosperous New Year!

400px-Pouring_two_champagne_glasses

Hello 2014!

My Favorite Christmas Job

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI grew up working in a department store after school, and every summer and holiday break.  Eventually, I worked in all of the departments in the store except Shoes and Men’s.  My least favorite was a toss-up between Accessories, which included Jewelry where there were always broken chains that needed to be fixed, and Children’s.  Not because of the badly-behaved children, but because of the badly-behaved parents who let their kids run wild all over the store.  But that’s a topic for another day.

My favorite job in all the years I worked in the store was wrapping gifts during the Christmas season. Yes, I must be one bulb short of a full string of lights.

holidaywrappingAt the time, I probably would not have put gift-wrapping at number one, but in hindsight, it was the most fun.  Picture it: pretty papers, fancy ribbons, and package decorations everywhere!  Other than the occasional paper cut, gift wrapping was usually easy to do.  Most things people brought to be wrapped fit into one of several standard size boxes.  That’s not to say there weren’t the occasional challenges, such as luggage, a large stuffed animal, or drapery hardware (really).

On Christmas Eve, regular customers often brought Christmas cookies, or even eggnog, to share.  The  store’s PA system played upbeat holiday music to keep everyone in a shopping mood.  Christmas Eve in the store almost qualified as a party, except for the rushed periods when a line would form, and we’d scramble to wrap packages as fast and neatly as we could.  During those times, the office staff was called upon to help. They wrapped packages on the back counters, but getting to the paper, ribbons and decorations became a bumper-cars exercise in trying not to get stabbed by scissors or tangled in ribbon.

Shopping-bag-5-120x120The best part of the Christmas Eve rush was watching a man approach the window with a shopping bag in hand.  It was a safe bet that by Christmas Eve, romance had gone out the window, and desperation had set in.  The ladies in Lingerie could sell him anything, especially if it was black, sheer and lacy.  Of course, the wife or girlfriend would be back the day after Christmas to return the frothy lingerie and choose something more to her taste.  But that didn’t deter their men, though some of them were beet-faced-embarrassed to hand their selection to a high school girl to wrap.

When the store finally closed, I’d head home exhausted, but definitely full of Christmas spirit.  Or on a sugar high.  Either way, I’d had a great time.  After all, who besides Santa – and me – knew what everyone was getting for Christmas?free-adorable-old-santa-claus-picture-wallpaper_1366x768_88114

Nancy Jardine Takes Us Back to Roman Britain

As you know, it’s rare for me to open my blog to posts by other authors, but I couldn’t resist having Nancy Jardine visit today.  Nancy is a Scottish author from the Aberdeenshire area who writes both historical and contemporary novels.  Her latest, After Whorl: Bran Reborn, has just come out, and she’s here today to tell us about it.  And to offer a special prize!  Her links are at the bottom of this post – do look her up.  You’ll enjoy her stories!

Mmm – Celtic Warriors! Don’t we love them?  

frontx 1000Hello Willa. I’m so pleased to be joining you today, just after my launch of After Whorl: Bran Reborn, the second book in my Celtic Fervour series of novels set in Celtic/ Roman Britain AD 71. We all love hunky Celtic warriors, so today I’m going to be talking about my ancient Celtic men of Brigantia. When the subject of Celtic warriors is raised there’s a tendency to think of the brawny kilted warrior brandishing a Celtic broadsword. It’s a fantastic image, but just not quite accurate for the time period I’m writing about.

Whizz back to AD 71 Brigantia. What were my Brigantian Celtic warriors like? In general terms, they might be farmers – men of the soil if not in war mode.

Back then working the plough meant driving a beast of burden to pull the iron ploughshare, or else you did it yourself. In Brigantia, the landscape varies tremendously (the northern England of today) so some of the flatter, valley field areas might have been worked by oxen-driven ploughs, but much of the land was hilly and rugged. Those Celtic farmers were more likely to have done much of the turning of the soil by themselves, or by using their small Celtic horses. Breeds of Celtic horses tended to be a lot smaller than today and generally a lot smaller than those the Roman Army imported from Europe when they arrived in greater numbers, during and after the invasion in AD 43.

All of these reasons made the tendency towards strong and healthy men working the land. Those not strong, I imagine, just didn’t survive!

If a Brigante Celt wasn’t a farmer tending his strip field, then he might have been a horse-handler. The Celtic tribe valued their horses very much and being a horseman was quite a prestigious position in the tribe: training of the horses a serious business. A horse bred for the yolk was important for the agrarian economy. A horse bred to carry a warrior into battle had to be trained to become inured to the noise and stench and frenzy of the engagements they were involved in. A horse trained to pull a Celtic chariot in battle was sometimes crucial to the success or failure of war. Therefore, a horseman was a valued commodity- think strong and fit…and if like my Garrigill warriors, they were a handsome bunch!

If not a farmer, or a horseman, then a Celt might have been of the warrior classes or a trainer of the youth of the tribe. Being adept at defending the tribal lands was crucial to the psyche of the Celtic tribe and as such defence was very important. All men and most women (to some extent) were warrior trained- excepting those who for some reasons or other didn’t merit the usual tribal status e.g. someone who had broken tribal rules or was an implant from another place. It’s thought that Celts in northern Britain, of the time and place that I’m writing about, probably didn’t have slaves as such. It’s more likely that captives from warring tribes were given the menial tasks- still a sub class but probably without the ownership factor that the Roman Empire put on slaves. Making and keeping the tribe able to defend their territory was a constant business and it was the duty of all to ensure they were ‘fit for the task’.

Upper echelons of the tribe included those with special training: the bards, the druids, the spokesmen for the tribe and maybe the healers (I say maybe, because female healers –who were midwives and for general treatment- were not quite the same as those who might be named ‘more skilled healers’). These men and women were probably also trained in defence- though their daily undertaking was more peaceful.

Then there were the topmost classes: the chiefs and offspring of the chiefs. These men (and women) would have had warrior training but would also have needed to be able to learn negotiating skills to do well as ambassadors of the tribe. It was not a certainty that the offspring of a chief would become the next chief of a tribe. A man or woman had to earn the job, they had to be nominated and then voted into the slot by the elders of the tribe. If you were not fit for tribal leadership it appears you’d be rejected- why have a weak leader? (I’m sure in reality there were exceptions and weak leaders did occur)

Can you now see my healthy and handsome warriors? Those toned and brawny bodies naked… from the waist up?

If you need a bit of the visual, then maybe my book trailer videos will help. Here’s the link to see my Brennus.

After Whorl: Bran Reborn book trailer video.

Thank you for allowing me to witter on about handsome Celtic hunks today, Linda!

Blog launch Tour Special Prize

A special Blog Tour ‘friend’ will WIN a mystery gift for the most commented visits to blogs during the launch tour for After Whorl: Bran Reborn. (i.e., most comments between 9th Dec and 18th Dec wins the prize)  To be sure you don’t miss any blog posts check Nancy’s Blog regularly between the 9th Dec and the 17th Dec. http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com

Nancy Jardine
Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine lives in the fantastic ‘castle country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband. She spends her week making creative excuses for her neglected large garden; doesn’t manage as much writing as she always plans to do since she’s on Facebook too often, but she does have a thoroughly great time playing with her toddler granddaughter when she’s just supposed to be ‘just’ childminding her twice a week.

A lover of all things historical 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 The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing.

You’ll find Nancy at the following places: Amazon UK author page    Amazon US author page   Blog    Website   Facebook  Goodreads   About Me   LinkedIn   Twitter @nansjar  Google+

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.