Writerly Optimism Big Time

nancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine

Castle Fraser side
Castle Fraser

I love visiting Castle Fraser…usually!
Castle Fraser, around 4 miles from my house, is the nearest property that’s owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). It’s reputed to be one of the grandest of the Castles of Mar and has a very elaborate Z -plan structure. Its building was started in 1575,  it was completed in 1636, and was the ancestral home of the Fraser clan. However, there have also been changes and additions to the original building during later centuries.

The Castles of Mar are so named since they are sited on the very large province of MAR, a huge tract of north-east Scotland which was one of the 7 divisions of ‘Celtic’ Scotland during ancient Pictish eras – those formerly and loosely named the Dark Ages (approx. 5th/10th centuries). The province of Mar, it’s believed, was named after Mormaer. A mormaor is the Scottish Gaelic name for the stewards of land who were the next level down from the Pictish king. (N.B. there are different spellings of the word) These 7 areas, later named ‘earldoms’, were found north of the Central belt  – i.e. north of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

When we moved to Aberdeenshire 27 years ago, we took out NTS family membership and visited many of its sites (members pay no entry fee). However, the NTS doesn’t only maintain castles. It has loads of different types of properties in its portfolio. There’s a palace, smaller houses and cottages, fabulous gardens, small museums, historic monuments, country parks, a water mill, nature reserves…some 129 venues and too many to mention here individually, though you can see them listed here: http://www.nts.org.uk/Buildings/Properties/

image courtesy of NTS/Graham McKean
image courtesy of NTS/Graham McKean

Some of these places require visitor entry fees to see interiors, though many don’t if you’re only visiting gardens or outdoor venues. Having the totally free option of wandering the outside of a castle appeals to many tourists who either aren’t interested in seeing the historical interiors, or more likely have limited time to appreciate the amazing collections of artefacts each site may contain.

Over the intervening years since 1988, we’ve renewed our annual membership (currently approx. $112) and have continued to visit more ‘new to us’ properties across the length and breadth of Scotland. We’ve revisited many favourites and enjoy reading the NTS member magazines three times a year, the latest being the one shown here. (image courtesy of NTS/ Graham McKean)

Inside the magazine are details of what’s happening regarding conservation in some properties; updates on newly opened venues; and very importantly for me – the events which are organised on some of the properties.

I’ve attended outdoor theatre performances on NTS lawns and music recitals in the Great Halls of NTS castles. I’ve walked nature trails and visited Steam Fairs and special exhibitions– my membership card getting me reduced entry price to some of these extra events. I’ve even taken a Hot Air Balloon trip, leaving at dawn, from Castle Fraser. (photo is a bit dark I’m afraid)

Castle Fraser from the hot air balloon basket at dawn

…& this brings me to my Writerly Optimism Big Time!

The extra events at NTS properties across Scotland are incredibly well organised and some can accommodate a few thousand people at specific venues, but what Scotland isn’t known for is its reliable weather when it comes to those outdoor displays and demonstrations.

This time last year, I signed myself up to take a stall at the Roman Chariot Event at Castle Fraser to sell my books. It was a completely drenching wash-out, hardly anyone turned up, and it came with authentic thunder and lightning as an added ‘free’ extra. I didn’t see the ghost of the Castle Fraser green room floating past my stall, but the thunder peals were certainly loud enough to disturb her!

So will I ever learn about chancing Scottish weather in order to sell some of my books and get some local exposure as a novelist? Probably not, because if The Devil’s Horsemen can attend straight from filming The Game of Thrones to come to this year’s Rumbling Romans and Wicked Warriors’ event – then so can I. I’ve been avidly watching the weather reports this past week and willing it not to rain. Is that likely? Nope. Not according to recent updates. In addition to rain, it might also be pretty windy and I’m not sure my gazebo will withstand that either. I guess, optimistically speaking if the gazebo remains pegged down, I’ll be getting my first chance to see if the waterproofing done to it on a sunny day in June 2015 has worked.

Am I mad? Would you have another go if there were potentially 3000 visitors to the event even though the turnout last year was maybe around 400? 

As an author wearing my promotions hat, I’m also hoping to be able to take some great photographs that I can use in future internet promotion– though if I’m busy selling my books ( fingers crossed) I’ll be too busy to do that. Since my last blog post here on Writing Wranglers and Warriors, I’ve been to my publisher’s seminar and learned that I’m – apparently – already using many of the recommended techniques for promoting my work. The pity is that I can’t manage to do them consistently.

a) I’m blogging (sometimes)

b) having guests on my blog and doing some guest posting myself (recently there’s been a slow down on that one)

c) using related images to enhance my blog, Facebook, & Twitter posts  is highly recommended (so I need those lovely photos, rain or not!)

I’ll be making sure to have lots of plastic sheeting available to cover my precious stock of Celtic/Roman Britain adventure books.

NOW– where’s my rainjacket, and the largest umbrella in the house? Wish me luck? (wink, wink, insert smiley face here)

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Nancy Jardine writes: 

New covers x 3historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series set in Roman Britain)

mysteries x 3contemporary romantic mysteries;

Final Nancy Jardine x 488

time travel historical adventure for Middle Grade/ YA readers and older (Rubidium Time Travel Series)

Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook stores.

Nancy can be contacted at: BlogWebsite  Facebook  and loads of other places as Nancy Jardine.


20 thoughts on “Writerly Optimism Big Time

    1. Thanks Abbie. Saturday it was dry but very windy and today it was light rain. Strangrely enough the sun has come out at the end of the event on both days. We never can predict the situation!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Cute post Nancy. I do wish you luck. I’ve sat at many of those kinds of festivals trying to sell my Art. I usually sold some, but not enough to make a living. That’s why I drive a truck. LOL. I’ve sold some books at the couple of festivals that I’ve been too. You have such lovely history to visit. I love the castles, and hope to get there some day to see them myself, especially the one that is 4 miles from you. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Cher’ley. Sat was dry but very windy so we were holding down the tents – almost literally. Today (Sun) only a tiny wind but it rained in the morning. What I like best about these events is that the performers just do their thing regardless of what the weather throws at them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This summer has felt very much like we got moved to Scotland here in West Virginia! Nearly every outdoor event has been washed out or altered by rainy weather.

    I love reading your posts. Seeing Ireland and Scotland (I’m of Irish lineage from the O’Holleran clan) are high on my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joe. i feel I’m always going on about Scotland in these posts, but I guess…that’s because I live here and I’m steeped in it. It’s disappointing when long planned events are a disaster but it we’ve got to keep trying. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kate. The answers would be -Yes and no. The weather wasn’t so great (high winds and rain) which meant turnout was low but I still met some great people who stopped by and enjoyed talking to the re-enacters who were wandering around the field area. As well as selling some 16 books, I have the possibility of meeting another fledgling author who lives relatively nearby ( met her husband today) and I’ve also the possibility of doing a school visit. And that’s what’s really good about hanging around at these events.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mike. My life seems to revolve around going to interesting places to sell my books…and that’s because my weekends are tied up doing exactly that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, S.J. It’s all too easy to let promotion slide, I’m afraid. I can be accused of doing the ‘soft option’ stuff just now since I’ve been favouring that ‘get out into the public for real’ and sell. The internet’s supposed to be easier but I don’t find it so. Good luck with yours.


  3. I’ve done a few outdoor venues, too, and it’s nerve-wracking to not know how the weather will turn out! I love mingling with “dog-minded people” and my books usually do well at such events. I’m scheduled for one locally in August — hoping for not too hot, and not too rainy, when the day arrives! Hope you did well, Nancy, and connected with some potential new readers!


    1. Hi, Gayle. I sold some books and met great people so that was the highlights. I might even have a school visit out of it, later this year.


  4. Nancy, I’ve tried twice to leave a comment. I love this stories you tell about these wonderful places in history. I hope you had a fun and profitable weekend. Doris


    1. Thanks, Doris. Sorry you’ve had commenting trouble. It’s very annoying when that happens. I’m glad I did it. If nothing else, I got lots of fresh air!


    1. Travis- that sometimes happens at these events. Some stalls gain from there being only a few available. I was next to the ‘Fudge’ stall this time, so plenty of customers were coming my way but it’s human nature I suppose that most of them spent £7 or £8 on buying three pieces of luxury fudge – instead of my books priced at £7, books which took months to write.


  5. I love your posts about Scotland. I envy your living in such a beautiful place with history preserved and in plain view. Believe it or not, I envy you that climate, all the rain. So please keep going on about Scotland in your posts, and I’ll sit in Texas and read them and turn green as all the lovely grass and trees around the castle.

    By the way, years ago I dropped in at a celebration of the Battle of the Alamo and was surprised to see several men wearing kilts. I assume they were related to the native Scots who died there. Their presence gave me a new perspective on that part of Texas history.


    1. That’s interesting, Kathy. I think you were probably right about why they were there. Many British regiments of the time you are talking about (late 1830s) wore a form of kilt as their ‘battledress’, so they may have been ‘recreating’ their Gordon Highlanders, or the Seaforths, or the Black Watch ancestors. I fell I witte on too much about Scotland but I’m glad to get the feedback that you like it- even about the rain. 😉


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