Wow! It’s National Bridge Day!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

I’m endlessly amused when I check in to Facebook, or Twitter, or Google+ and find that it’s a ‘National SOMETHING Day’. I just happened to pick up a reference to today, 15th October, while I was looking for some inspiration for a topic for this blog post and it led me to do a tiny bit of research. That was in between the larger amounts of historical research I do pretty well every day.

So what is the 15th October graced with? Should you prefer it you could celebrate it being National Grouch Day, National Cake Decorating Day, Global Handwashing Day, National Mushroom Day, National Chicken Cacciatore Day, I Love Lucy Day… and a whole lot more. (BTW – I love chicken cacciatore) Have a look at the following if you’d like to see what other crazy things are celebrated on the 15th October.   Or look at these ones for the whole of October…

grumpy-grover-nancy-jardineAs we all know, there are 365 days in a year (and 366 in a leap year) but amazingly there are over 1200 ‘National SOMETHING days’. I’m sure that’s just perfect for those canny people who sell National Day Calendars! But before I go on to National Bridge Day, here’s a little bit about having a ‘Grouch’ day. It seems this celebration was started by grouches who wanted to share their exceptionally grumpy lives.

Why not? Indeed….so if you’re a grouch, celebrating on the 15th October, then you could give seriously backhanded compliments and share them on Social Media. Hmmm…I personally think there’s a lot of that going on every day on Social Media.

Official National Bridge Day? I wondered if it had something to do with getting together with friends and playing lots of card games of Bridge. I know of a few women in my neighbourhood who regularly meet to play Bridge. They love the companionship, the pitting of their wits, possibly even the addictive gambling aspects should they go down that form of play, as well as honing their considerable skills in what some devotees would say is the most skilful card game of all. I, personally, would be a poor Bridge player, methinks, since some days I can barely remember the names of people around a table never mind which were the last five cards they have just played!

61781567_s – Japan

So what is National Bridge Day? It isn’t to do with cards, but it is for the daredevils among us who prefer much more physical thrills. You’ll love the 15th October if you’re like my son-in-law who loves things like jumping from bridges while attached to a bungee cord or a dangling rope. The image here of a gorge in Japan is beautiful, and I’d truly love to swim there, but dangling from a rope first doesn’t really appeal.

Fayettville, West Virginia, certainly has been doing the day proud. Since 1980, jumpers have been allowed to jump from the New River Gorge Bridge on this special day when all of the traffic lanes are closed, except to pedestrians…and to the paraphernalia that the jumpers need. The videos below show that it can be a great day out with many fun activities to watch, or even experience, BUT personally I’m not into leaping off a bridge today or any other 15th October. Day.

However, I did write about someone called Nairn Malcolm, in my contemporary humorous romantihigh-resc mystery Take Me Now, who does love all sorts of dangerous sporting activities. Nairn is the owner of an ‘extreme sports’ business and I had a lot of ‘armchair’ fun researching what might be the kind of sports he’d be offering to customers via his Adrenalinn Adventure Sports company.
He offers B.A.S.E. jumping type activities, and many others that I probably would try so long as dropping from a great height isn’t involved. I’ll happily manage to peer over the edge but a long dangle?…Oh, No!

BTW- I also call Take Me Now my corporate sabotage mystery because someone is maliciously targeting both Nairn and his businesses …and they’re not at all sporting about it!

How about you? Are you like me and prefer your daredevil leaping to be a bit more ground based? Whatever you might be doing this weekend, daring or not- enjoy! 

Nancy Jardine writes:

Contemporary Romantic Mysteries3 mysteries new TE




Historical Romantic AdventuresCFS words





…and TTG x1000Time Travel Historical Adventure for early teens and those who can’t resist a great adventure.   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords and various other ebook stores.


Small Victories


propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Small Victories by author Ann Lamont is one of my favorite books. She is an inspirational writer and one can learn a lot by reading her works.

I think as a writer I always look at the big picture and am devastated when things don’t go my way. It is easy to want to give up and quit, just because things don’t go as expected.

But wait – what about the small victories? Ms. Lamont reminds us that the road can be motivation-721821_640long and bumpy, but if we take it step by step and give thanks for each victory, either big or small, we will reach the finish line.

Sometimes I think I’ll never get done with a project and it gets frustrating and annoying, often to the point where I set it down and let it rest for a while. But do I stop to give thanks for the small victories I receive every day? Sometimes it’s easy to forget.

kindness-710209_640It may be a pat on the back from someone you admire, it may be finishing a sentence or chapter, it may be meeting with a fellow writer to discuss your book, or it may be a bit of research you have been waiting for that suddenly drops in your lap.

It’s easy to get frustrated as we write and it doesn’t seem to be working well, but when you do stop to take time for the small victories, you’ll find yourself a much better writer and in a much better frame of mind.

Even if you need to take a break and come back to your writing refreshed, it’s a small victory.

lotus-1205631_640At night I write down all the things that made me happy during the day, including small victories. It is good fodder for sleep as I give thanks for what has been given to me, even when I have been frustrated and am ready to give up.

Have you read Small Victories by Anne Lamont? If not, I strongly suggest that you do. It’ll make you feel different as you go through your everyday work and writing and will make you thankful for all the small victories that occur in a day.

smallIs this a new concept to you? Does it sound like one you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments!

Books by L.Leander:

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Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders



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Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)



13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an Ebook




You can also find L.Leander here:

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L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews





Fit Like?

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

I’ve said before on this blog that I love words. I love the diversity and elegance of the English language; I love to use really expressive words in my writing, even though they may not be easy everyday ones. What I’ve not done before on this blog (as far as I remember) is give the readers a teensy wee glimpse into the dialect that’s used by the indigenous north-easters of Scotland. That’s probably because even after 27 years of living in Aberdeenshire, I still canna spik a’ Doric!  (Can’t speak Doric) Fit’s this aa aboot en? (What’s this all about then?)

Doric is a very strong dialect that’s spoken in the city of Aberdeen, and in Aberdeenshire, but in the way of things they are actually slightly different in inflection and even some of the actual words differ between city and shire. The term Doric is thought to have originated from the Greek word for ‘rural’ or ‘rustic’. If you’ve seen the Disney movie ‘Brave’ Doric is spoken by one of the characters Lord MacGuffin, but it’s pretty easy to follow the film without understanding a single word of what he says!

(My apologies. I can’t seem to insert the video properly but this clip is funny and says everything about Doric in about 15 seconds flat!)

So back to the title Fit Like? That’s a daily greeting in the north east of Scotland whaur a bide (where I live) and is Doric for ‘How are you?’ My answer would be Nae bad…aye chavin awa (I’m doing fine, thank you)

Now that’s about the extent of my Doric spikkin though I can understand a little more of the spoken words so it’s with some trepidation that I venture out into places where Doric might be spoken. The combination of me being fairly clueless about the dialect and having a hearing problem makes for a fun situation. Last night’s gaein’ oot intae toon (visit into the city) wisnae sae bad (wasn’t too bad), in fact it was fine wee nicht (a lovely night) considering it was the start of Valentine’s weekend.

My husband and I have never been into the ‘Valentine’s Day’ commercialism during our nearly 42 years of marriage but Valentine’s weekend is still always a special time for us. My younger daughter was born on the 13th February so we try to catch up with her at some point during her birthday weekend—though that’s not always easy since she has an incredibly energetic social life. Today, the 13th Feb, wasn’t going to be convenient to meet up with her, though last night was. Since we’re aa’ teuchters (all rural dwellers in Aberdeenshire) we met up with my daughter, her husband and some of their toonser freens (city dweller friends) in the city of Aberdeen at the newest Brewdog Pub which opened just weeks before Christmas 2015. Find information about them here:  The Brewdog Pubs are special in that they serve craft beers and have become very popular throughout the UK and beyond… since they were started up by 2 guys from North East Scotland in 2007.

I confess to not being much of a beer drinker (though my hubbie always has been)  but I made an extra special effort last night because we were celebrating more than my daughter’s birthday. My son-in-law has recently ventured into being a part owner of a new craft/designer beer company named ‘Fierce Beer’. fierce beer Click here to read the menu of new beers.

Fierce Beer had arranged to do a ‘Take Over’ last night (that is what they call the process) at the Brewdog Pub.

It’s a bit like when authors talk about ‘Paying it forward’, when we help other authors by reposting blog articles, or sharing posts on Facebook or Twitter, or hosting authors on our own blogs to do their own bit of promotion of their books. The Brewdog Pub ideology is much the same in that they are very willing to allow new local beer companies to promote their new brews in the Brewdog premises. Last night Fierce Beer had 6 of its new brews available alongside the usual quantity of specialist beer Brewdog options.

When we got there at 6 p.m. the pub wis aready affa thrang (already really busy), fair loupin (lively, jumping, wall to wall people) and helluva lood (very noisy). There were cries of Fit ye haein’? (What are you having?) as a new patron coming in the door was greeted by a friend. Aa’ll hae a Ginja Ninja! Cheers min! (I’ll have a Ginja Ninja. Cheers man, and thank you!)

I’m totally glad that although there was Doric to be heard aroon an’aboot  (around us) it’s also a  place filled with the young business crowd of Aberdeen (formally called ‘Yuppies’) so any Doric tends to be used in one-to-one chat and English used in the general conversations since Aberdeen is a very multi-cultural city these days. My answer to my daughter’s question of what would I like was ‘I haven’t a clue—surprise me!’ My son-in-law presented me with a ‘Fierce Beer- Cranachan’ which is a pale ale made with raspberries and cream and oats and it did taste like the Scottish dessert named Cranachan.cranachan

( )

I’m very partial to Cranachan the food…and now the beer! The Ginja Ninja is like a ginger beer with lemongrass and would be perfect on a hot summer afternoon. I also tasted the Peanuts! a dark and delicious porter made with…you’ve guessed it…peanuts. I’m still sitting on the fence regarding the Dirty Sanchez which is a dark porter made with chipotle smoked chillies!

If my hubby and I hadn’t needed to go and find a restaurant to fill our bellies I’d probably have tried the other Fierce Beers and maybe some Brewdog ones as well. The Italian restaurant we went to rounded off our night.

And guess what? There was a very young couple (maybe late teens) sitting next us on a Valentine’s date. The hesitant Doric conversation and long pauses with no conversation at all indicated they didn’t yet know each other very much, but I hardly understood a word. I tried not to watch them pouring over their bill, quietly whispering over who was paying for which part. The man paying for the Valentine’s meal might not be the norm any more but the bouquet of roses the young loon (boy) had the server present to the young quine (girl) was very touching.

I was quite chuffed when my hubby paid our bill and the waitress asked Ye gaan doon a’ steers tae a’ cabaret? Were we going down the stairs to the nightclub with a cabaret? Err. No. I could have replied No yer aaricht. A’hm wabbit!  (No thanks. I’m exhausted.)

We ordered a taxi.

Too many beers followed by a delicious bottle of merlot! 😉

Have a fun weekend—Valentine’s dates, or otherwise.

ps-Shares in both Brewdog and Fierce Beer is a great idea! 😉
CFS End Sept 2015Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series).   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

3 mysteries no wordsAmazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.The_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_Kindle





Hangover: A Source of Inspiration by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Now that the holiday season has passed, some people’s thoughts turn to the effects of drinking too much on New Year’s Eve. Did you know that a hangover isn’t necessarily related to consuming a lot of booze? According to, a hangover can also be defined as “any aftermath of or lingering effect from a distressing experience.”

For six years, I cared for my late husband who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. People who have never been family caregivers don’t understand the trauma involved in such a role. Bill could do little for himself. I had to dress him, take him to the bathroom, and even help with his computer from time to time. With children, you know they’ll eventually grow up and become independent, but when your spouse is no longer able to do for himself, your family caregiving obligations will only stop when he dies.

It has been three years since Bill’s passing. Because he could do little for himself, I couldn’t be away from home for more than a couple of hours at the most. Even now, on occasion, when I leave the house and am not home in a couple of hours, I become anxious and have to tell myself that Bill is in a better place where he can go to the bathroom, change the channel on the satellite radio, and find another book to read, all on his own. He’s not waiting for me to come home and empty the urinal or get him out of bed so he can sit outside and listen to the Colorado Rockies being creamed by almost every team in the league.

I occasionally have trouble getting to sleep at night. I nod off and am jerked awake by a feeling of anxiety or restlessness. I tell myself that Bill is not calling me to get up and empty the urinal, that I can go to sleep and not be interrupted. I eventually do and usually sleep through the night.

I have developed sciatica in my right hip, probably as a result of lifting Bill from the bed to the wheelchair to the recliner to the commode, etc. It occasionally flares up after I’ve been exercising and becomes more prevalent during cold and humid conditions. Adville and ice packs are my best friends.

This type of hangover is not something that a Bloody Mary will cure. It will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. The good news is that it’s not as bad as a hangover you get from excessive imbibing.


The above was inspired by an activity we did recently during a Range Writers meeting. Now, it’s your turn. I’m pasting below definitions of “hangover” from various sources. See if any of them apply to you, and feel free to share your insight in the comment field.


–   the disagreeable physical aftereffects of drunkenness, such as a headache or stomach disorder, usually felt several hours after cessation of drinking. (Americanism 1890-1895)

  • –  something remaining behind from a former period or state of affairs
  • –  any aftermath of or lingering effect from a distressing experience (
  • –  continuing or remaining in effect, as a hang-over fire
  • –  something that remains from what is past, as a surviving trait or custom
  • –  The effect of a period of dissipation after the exhilaration has worn off. (Slang U.S.)

from the Big Fat Dictionary at the library


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Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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If you go up to the woods today…

Susann 2 croppedThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

No, the ‘up’ isn’t a mistake when I’m referring to the woods at the top of Tuach Hill (pronounced too-ah), the hill that I can see from my kitchen window in the village of Kintore, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Tuach 1It’s a low hill of approximately 75 metres above sea level, typical of the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire where the landscape is of rolling fertile countryside dotted with low hills and knolls—some natural and some man made. Neolithic long barrows (burial mounds) and ancient standing stone circles are also dotted around the area, many of which have been excavated and documented. You can’t see it because it’s behind the trees but to the far right of the photo above there are remnants of an ancient stone circle.

huntersIt’s important to me that these are still accessible by the public – like my ‘hunter-gatherer’ grandkids – but the downside of that freedom is that over the last centuries many of the monuments have been considerably eroded. That erosion isn’t necessarily from intended damage to the stones but constant foot traffic and the wearing away of soil on the hillside has taken its toll. Tuach Hill is a well-liked place for dog walkers and it has been a popular spot for teenagers to hang out for many decades—probably even centuries. Lots of those users have been, and are still, blithely unaware of the antiquity within the area.

It’s a great place to go exploring when you’re only 4, and 1 and ½, years old—and it’s totally amazing just what grandma sets you to find along the way! Our collection of pine cones, twigs and forest floor debris increases each time we go for a wander, though we’ve yet to find anything seriously ancient. On my own blog HERE you can find out a bit more of the history of Tuach Hill;  archaeological finds over the last 150 years on the hill; and its associations with the village of Kintore. (the partially reblogged post is named  – Book Week Scotland & The Taexali Game)


Tuach Hill has also been called Gallows Hill however,  I haven’t managed to find out why this should be so. I wonder, though, if you could make a guess like I have in The Taexali Game

In The Taexali Game – my time travel novel for Middle Grade/YA readers set in Kintore in AD 210 – the local Taexali chief is called Tuadh. In the earlier drafts of the novel he was named Tuach, and then Tuoch, but in my final version I settled on the spelling of Tuadh. The reason for this change has to do with the local mystery that my time travelling teens have to solve, in addition to completing their interactive game task list whilst remaining alive – seriously deadly threats coming at them from both the invading Ancient Roman legions and some local Celtic tribesmen. For me to tell you why I changed the name of the chief would be to give the game away – so, I’m afraid you’d just have to read the novel to find out!

A reviewer of The Taexali Game says “(I)… soon became drawn into this fast-paced quest with a strong sense of history, and can only admire the skill of grandmother Nancy Jardine in using a meld of fiction, research and fantasy to educate the young of today in the world of ancient Roman Britain.”

The_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_KindleNext week, 23rd to 29th November, is Book Week Scotland. This is an annual event which is a week long celebration of reading during which activities are held throughout Scotland intended to encourage and promote the pleasures gained from reading. In 2013, a local author friend and I held an afternoon Drop-In Quiz in a local cafe; and my 2014 contribution was an author talk at a nearby Public Library.

For Book Week Scotland 2015, The Taexali Game will be reduced to 99p (dollar equivalent) from 23rd -29th November. There will also be a ‘giveaway’ of signed paperback copies of The Taexali Game via my Rubidium Time Travel Series author page on Facebook.  Image1Look out for those details coming here on my late Saturday night (I’m out selling my books at a Craft Fair today and won’t return till the evening):

That’s my way of celebrating this year, since I’ve been incredibly busy lately, though I did wonder what else I could have done.

What would you have organised?

Enjoy your weekend!

Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventure for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series). She finds all historical eras are enticing to research about and ancestry research is a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs; loves to have guests invade her blog; and FaceBook browsing is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds. Grandchild-minding takes up a few days every week and any time left is for gardening, reading, writing and watching news on TV( if lucky)…and the occasional  historical drama.   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

CFS End Sept 2015




Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

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Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Barnes and Noble KOBO; iTunes;; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.

 The Taexali Game



Celebrating this week in (old) York- Roman style!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Happy 4th July to those who mark this as a very special day- a day for a declaration of independence.  If you’re doing something special with family or friends, my best wishes for a great get-together.

I won’t be having a celebration today, though I will be having a get-together with friends since I’m out selling my books with my FOCUS Craft group (FOCUS- Festival of Crafts Unique to Scotland). However, a special celebration for me will come next Tuesday.

I’ve recently been commenting a few times on this blog (in answer to other posts) that I’ve never yet managed to go to a huge author get-together or conference, though I am heading off next week on a round trip of approximately 700 miles to go to a Crooked Cat Publishing Seminar. I’ve been to fantastic Crooked Cat author get-togethers twice before but they were for purely social reasons. They were designed so that author friends and colleagues at Crooked Cat Publishing, who normally interacted via the internet and especially on Facebook, became ‘real’ colleagues. Those party events were great fun but this time it’s down to more ‘serious’ business. Crooked Cat authors who are attending will be enjoying a day long conference/ seminar. I’m hoping to learn a lot about marketing and how to make my books sell a whole lot better than at present. brainstorming cropped

Of course, we’re also going to be doing a bit of the ‘party’ thing after the seminar is over!

We’ll see how that all pans out after next week!

The venue for this seminar is also huge draw for me. The Edinburgh meeting in 2013 was followed by London in 2014, but this 2015 venue is York, England. I absolutely love to visit York. I have many favourite places and York is definitely one of them. It’s a city that’s very dear to my heart since its origins go back to Roman times and those readers of this blog who know me, know that I’m a bit obsessed with Roman Britain.

York MinsterI first visited the wonderful city of York around 1975 and came back loaded down with Brass Rubbings from the many fabulous ancient stones and tombstones. (I’m not sure if that kind of activity is still on offer since it can be incredibly damaging) Subsequent visits over the decades have seen me make return visits to the many tourist visitor centres but I also love to go to new attractions as well.

York is famous for its Roman Wall, which can still be walked along but it’s equally famous for its Viking and Medieval history. The Yorvik Centre (Viking York) has changed a little over the decades since its opening but the experience remains much the same. It’s one of those experiences where the tourist senses the sights, smells and yes almost a taste in the mouth sensation of Viking York. But York isn’t only about those time periods. A walk around York will give you an architectural experience that is indicative of all historical eras from Viking onwards to the twenty first century.

York Minster front wiki

York Minster is a fantastic church to visit, even for the non-religious like me. The majestic building is equally as impressive as many churches I’ve visited in mainland Europe – the history of its construction being a fantastic read. The present building was begun around 1230 but wasn’t completed till 1472. That’s a long time but standing beneath the facade you can see just how much it was worth it.

Every time I return, I try to take in whatever is new on Roman York. I wholeheartedly agree that many tourist attractions can trivialise real historical data but I like to separate my historical research from the theatrical attractions that are designed to encourage people to enjoy history more than they otherwise would. The best of the attractions have a neat blend of good sound historical facts presented in an entertaining way.

Some visitors may not like the Roman ghost tour/walk but I found it an enjoyable experience. I don’t get bored easily if a guide is telling me useful information- though some might if they really expect ‘spooks’ to appear.

On my Roman ghost tour what was most memorable was being down in some cellars, a few levels below street level, and being told that some visitors could sense ghost horses walking alongside them. Of course what they were purportedly seeing was only the upper halves of the beasts because down to the hoof level meant it was below the cobblestone floor of the cellar we were walking on. York is a city that has been successively built upon, layer after historical layer over the two thousand years of its occupation. I’m not a ‘seer’, nor do I feel I have any such sensitivity to ghosts, but I found I my imagination was sparked sufficiently for me to feel a definite frisson when we passed through that small stone cellar. (Of course, the October chill and slight fall of snow outside might have had something to do with that!)

Wikimedia Commons

When I wrote Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour SeriesAfter Whorl: Bran Reborn—I researched York back in Roman times of AD 71. Of course, there isn’t much data available since the Romans were only just invading the area around AD 71 or perhaps a little earlier, but at that time (AD 71)they built no permanent structures and left only traces of temporary encampments. My own walk along the Roman Wall was memorable but I couldn’t write about that because it wasn’t built till much later than AD 71.

What I had to do was imagine what the land around York was like back in AD 71 and describe my ‘view’ of what my characters—Brennus and Ineda—were seeing as they spied on the building of the first wooden Roman Fortress down by the River Ouse.

This link is to a post on my blog about Eboracum/ Roman York giving much more detail.

I’m hoping to come back from this visit with a barrow load of useful photos – but I only have the one full day of sightseeing on Wednesday, the seminar being on Thursday. I’m also looking foward to the train trip on Tuesday and the return on Friday, because once I’m on that train carriage I’ll be doing only reading – catching up with my always full kindle pile!

What are you doing to celebrate this weekend?

Nancy Jardine writes

Historical Romantic Adventures 20140903_083446 (1)

Final Nancy Jardine x 488Time Travel Adventures for Middle Grade/YA readers

Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014


Contemporary Mysteries.

Amazon US author page

Novels are also available from B & N; Smashwords and other major ebook stores.


About Me

The Summer Solstice is nigh upon us!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine

So…am I the optimist that says the June summer solstice marks the beginning of summer and is the harbinger of warmer days, leading to the maturing of healthy and plentiful crops? Or…am I the pessimist who says—yeah, the June solstice is the longest day but that also means the days are about to decrease and lead to darker times ahead?

I suppose I’m a bit of both.

When is the summer solstice? The generally accepted answer is the 21st June.

The first memory I have of reading about the June summer solstice was at around ten years of age and I have to admit I was flummoxed back then that something that was a natural process could scientifically/astronomically fall on different days between the 20th and the 22nd June, yet was generally celebrated on the 21st June. It took me a little more learning to understand the reasoning behind the ‘floating’ event—the fact that our use of the Gregorian calendar, with its leap year accounting for the inexact 365 day year (solar), means there seems to be a bit of date manupulation. The summer solstice being the exact moment at which the sun strikes down on the (imaginary) Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere was an amazing thing to absorb.

How could the sun be shining on something imaginary? That our earth’s path around the sun was influenced by the pull of the other planets also orbiting our sun was equally an astounding concept to my young brain.

But to then learn that the earth had a ‘wobble’ in its axis was scary! ‘I don’t understand’ and ‘why’ were the order of the day till accepted that I wasn’t going to be thrown off the planet when the earth did a ‘wobbly’ close to the solstice, or even on the solstice, but the sun rising on the longest day of the year was definitely going to happen.

My imaginary eye tried very hard to make some sense of the information but it was still almost as incomprehensible as this schematic diagram on the left!

Working out what the ancients did, and thought when they built their impressive monuments, is a very mysterious and serious business.

Callanish , Lewis , Western Isles

My non- scientific brain at the age of ten hasn’t really matured much over the decades and I put myself into the category of one of the masses who just accept the natural events of this earth.

In the era that I write of in my Celtic Fervour novels, approximately AD 80, I would have been one of those worshippers who believed without question what my druid masters were telling me at times of the main celebrations. Like those ancients, I would have seriously marvelled that the druid priests and priestesses were able to time the solstices to such perfection that they stood waiting at the aligned openings of buildings like chambered cairns and the henge portals of places like Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland, which their predecessors had built.  That these important ‘openings’ catch the rising sun’s emerging rays on the morning of the solstice was no accident.

Ring of Brodgar wiki

Or take the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney. This stone henge circle (NB. not Stonehenge in England) originally had 60 majestic standing stones of which less than 30 now survive (approx. 27). I have visited this ring and scanning as much as is possible around 360 deg turn makes an impressive impact. My visit was made years ago, but it was one of those places where it seemed to me that from a recumbent position on the ground the sky was racing above me and I felt was lying on a floating cloud as though levitating.  (It might just be better explained that a force eight gale would do that anywhere in the world, but it’s more poetic to emphasise the mystique of the ancient henge circle!)

As a wannabee historian, I love the idea that there were druids (or earlier ‘un-named’ leaders with similar functions), and learned people, who read the signs in the heavens and the earth so very accurately. To me, it’s completely plausible how those pre-historic leaders must have seemed as though they were truly vessels of the gods. Being at one of the many stone circles that are found in Britain to witness the solstice sun appearing through a narrow gap at a predicted time must have been an intensely moving and motivating experience. This would have been even more profound as part of a learned ritual, the communal worshipping aspect of it enhancing the whole event.

I haven’t yet written about a solstice event in my Celtic Fervour novels but I’m planning to add something to Book 4, one of my works in progress.

I personally won’t be at any of the many standing stone circles to be found in my part of North-east Scotland tomorrow morning at 04.12 hours when the sun peeks though the portals but later on (like 8 a.m.) I will be enjoying a nice long drive into the Grampian Mountains on my way to Ballater, where I’m selling my books at a FOCUS Craft Fair. It’ll be a long day here in my part of the earth since sunset won’t be till 22.09 hours. But, I’m also not going to be outside with a stopwatch watch on the 22nd June making sure that we’ve gained/or lost a second since the solstice!

I just hope we will get some sun tomorrow to make the event a memorable one for all of the contemporary worshippers who WILL be at sites like Stonehenge (England) to celebrate that ‘standing still’ (sistere) of the sun (sol) .

Enjoy the solstice wherever you are- in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Oh, and Aela Cameron in Take Me Now, my fun contemporary mystery, might just be flying Nairn Malcolm over the Callanish stone circle on the Isle of Skye this very moment, since the events of the book take place towards the end of June and Nairn’s Scottish castle on the island of Mull is close by! I know for sure Aela will be wowing over the sight of the sun’s rays hitting the centre of Callanish on the summer solstice. (Callanish is also a place I recommend visiting).

Have a nice Solstice Sunday!
Nancy Jardine writes historical adventures, contemporary mysteries and time travel adventures for th eMiddle Grade/ YA markets.

Amazon US author page

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Novels also available from Smashwords; Barnes & Noble; and other places.

Early Colorado Christmas Part 2

Post written and copyright Doris McCraw








This is a second of two post on early Colorado Christmas. If you would like to read part one here is the link

A unique feature of Colorado is the difference in weather from the high plains/desert and the mountains. Weather on the plains can get very cold, but not receive snow like the mountains. On the plains you will get blowing snow and drifts. The mountains are sometimes warmer than the plains, but tend to received large amounts of snow.

The Moffat Road, along Coal Creek Canyon, was a feat of engineering as this 1909 photo shows. M. R. Campbell Photo, Courtesy USGS.


On one train ride a woman and her two children were leaving Kansas to go to Denver to live with her mother. The ranch she had tried to maintain after her husband’s death had been too much for her to handle. As the train proceeded from Kansas to Colorado, it was stopped by a large drift across the tracks on Christmas Eve. The two children were upset that they would not be able to spend Christmas with their grandmother. The train crew and the three male passengers made the children comfortable, placing their coats etc, near to the stove. While the children slept they filled the wealthy ranchers socks with gifts and on the morning of Christmas day the children had their Christmas thanks to the kindness of strangers.

USGS Marks 134 years of Science for America: A Most Unusual Birthday


For another family in the high mountains, their father had gone to a nearby town to purchase sweets and some gifts. On the way home, he and his traveling companions were caught in a blizzard. They dug down the three feet of snow to the bare ground and burning wood during the night along with the insulation of the snow were able to keep from freezing. Although he returned later than expected he made it home to spend Christmas with his family.

The 1874 Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the 1887 St. Francis Hospital (which later had a 1929 sanatorium building) was near the National …


Most towns and Colorado Springs was one, would have Christmas balls usually sponsored by fire hose companies or other organizations. The churches would also have celebrations.  For those living in town, there was always something to do during the holidays.

Even in the early days of Colorado’s history, Christmas was a time of family, sharing and celebration.


Product Details
also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

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Getting ready for…

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine

I will…in a minute!

No NaNoWriMo for me this November, though I did make myself a simple target FINISH THE WIP. The one that’s been going on for months now. I’ve added around twenty thousand words, and completely changed the whole ending, which has also meant revisions to lots of other bits in the plot. I’ve now made so many versions of the story I might change the title to ‘The Umpteenth Version of My Time – Travel Adventure’. I could have been around the universe and back – it’s taken me that long. I’m desperate to type ‘the End’ and have it as my next year’s novel, but what’s stopping me from completing it?Nov promotional poster Nancy Jardine

I’m a well- practised procrastinator. I spend lots of time doing marketing tasks that should take me only a little while, but I really like dipping out from my writing to do things like make a new advertising poster.

Of course, says I, I’ll hold the baby or play with the toddler (my irresistible grandchildren) and that’s concentration zapped again. I won’t go into our serious daily domestics but an 8 month old and 3 year old seem to create such a huge amount of laundry, and other sundry mess, not to mention that it’s feeding time at the zoo all day long. (**insert two big smiley faces here **) – Concentration out of the window!

And it’s so easy to get sidetracked by something simple like a new item dug up from my back garden, which is now the building site for the new house for my daughter and her family – hence them living with us 24/7 since February 2014.

First rip out of plants
First rip out of plants

The immense building delays now mean the house won’t be ready till summer of next year since foundations can’t be done till after the winter- and you can imagine a very flexible schedule on that one.

However, building warrants demand that the plot has exploratory holes dug for drainage inspections. This week’s exploration was an interesting one – the site engineer had to be sure that the Early Nineteenth Century Aberdeenshire Canal hadn’t run right through my garden.

Really? I knew only a little bit about the canal, knew it had been near my house…but not in my garden! My house was built in 1820; the cellar can be a wee bit damp at times…but surely not because of a canal?

Naturally, I had to know a bit more about the ill-fated canal that was only used as a transport waterway for a relatively short time, given the excavation that was done to create it. Opened in 1805, it was a spectacular failure when many engineering projects of the era were fantastic successes. There’s some information in this article


but my local library has some original documents that are incredible primary sources. Sadly, by 1845, the Aberdeenshire Canal was deemed an unnecessary item. A lot of the canal bed was filled in or re-used for the first railway line track that ran through my village. I’ve only dipped the surface regarding the research, but do want to find out a lot more about it for another time-travel adventure that’s ‘sort of forming’ in my scattershot mind.

Another result of the exploration this week is that even more research popped up and waved itself in my face.

Veno's Cough Bottle - Nancy Jardine
Veno’s Cough Bottle – Nancy Jardine

This bottle came to the surface completely intact from that little soil turn over on Wednesday morning. It’s not the first bottle in my collection of ‘dug up items’  but this one is in excellent condition.

Veno’s Lightning Cough Cure.

Well, I just had to go and investigate how old it might be and find out more about the mixture. As a child, I was fed a similar mixture, but I needed to try to find out if this bottle was a lot older than me.  I blogged about my research findings on Thursday. If anyone is interested, I found the story of MR. VENO an enjoyable one. Read a little about his American and UK exploits  at NANCY’S NOVELS

Eight days left now to finish that WIP. The clock is ticking.

Today is accounted for. It’s ‘Christmas Craft Fair’ number 4 where I’m selling my novels (done 3 already in November, and have another Fair on the 28thNov)

Monday 24th  also marks the start of BOOK WEEK SCOTLAND’ (click to find out more). This is an annual event set up to encourage more reading by everyone. There are lots of events planned across Scotland – in schools, libraries and other public venues. Individuals, like me, are also involved. This year, I’m doing author presentations at  nearby Inverurie Library (not my local) where I’ll be outlining the highs and lows of getting published; doing book readings and hopefully selling some more books.

SALTIREThe 30th November is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland. Although it’s not a national holiday (ie no day off work or school),  some people do celebrate it. My family and I always have a ‘haggis, neeps and tatties’ dinner, sometimes followed by cranachan ( a decadent raspberries, oatmeal and cream dessert) and shortbread. We might even have a wee nip of whisky– except I have to admit I’m not fond of it. The sweeter version of Glayva whisky liqueur is more to my taste.

St. Andrew legends can vary but here are some St. Andrew’s Day links:

This ONE has a funny little animation.



Will I get my WIP finished? (*insert smiley winks here *) What do you think?

Have a lovely weekend!

new blog header 2

Nancy Jardine writes Historical Romantic Adventures, Contemporary Romantic Mysteries

(and hopefully in 2015  a Time-travel Adventure for early teens)

You can find her novels on:

Amazon US Author page,

B &N, Smashwords, www.crookedcatbooks, and other major ebook retailers.

Pop in to her:

WebsiteBlog,  and Facebook sites

ps- Haggis, turnips, mashed potatoes.

Haggis, neeps n' tatties
Haggis, neeps n’ tatties

The Juggler by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1In a recent post I discussed how I find autumn to be a time of reflection. Over the last few days I’ve been asking myself “what was I thinking?” The past several weeks have been very busy and I’ve had no time to ponder life beyond the next item on my to-do list.

This has been a year of challenges starting with the Great Flood in February culminating in the new freelance writing gig with its steep learning curve and constant deadlines. In addition I’ve been helping a friend with her craft shows (Megan creates stunning jewelry pieces of silver and natural stones) as well as working a few of my own to bring in some extra dollars. I’m also teaching art classes, which I love, and helping my daughter with homework. Seventh grade math is killing me.400951370_refi_clock_ticking_xlarge

Our kitchen is still unpainted, the entryway closet is a shell with no storage capacity, and the dining room holds the boxes of all of the dishes and other things I can’t put away due to lack of said closet and a missing kitchen island. We are hosting Thanksgiving soon, with several of my family members staying with us so the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking. We are soon reaching the point where we will need to finish these projects or plan to have everyone eat dinner on TV trays.

Fortunately my family loves me and the most important thing is that we are all together rather than whether the trim is painted in the study or the dishes all match. We will have a wonderful time, talking, playing, laughing, and generally enjoying each others company.

Normally I am fairly calm and focused but now I am a juggler, struggling to keep all of the balls in the air. A few have gone splat, others have been dropped into the “completed” bin, juggling1but most are tossed from hand to hand, into the air and back, on their journey from the top of the to-do list, to the middle, then bottom, and back to the top again. I can’t complete a task without seeing ten more behind it and the weight gets heavy.

Just when I am ready to throw my hands in the air as a sign of surrender, my daughter comes home with a hysterical story of middle school life or my husband unexpectedly takes care of some of my chores and my burden is eased just a bit. Still, the projects line up and there is always something else that needs to be done.

Christmas is coming on the heels of Thanksgiving, and the house will be ready or it won’t. We might eat Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen and maybe the Christmas tree will thanksgiving-dinnerbe set up smack in the middle of the study, yet it will all be good. Life is sometimes messy and disorganized but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating it.

This fall is not one of reflection but work and projects and chores, but that’s okay. I have family coming to visit, holidays to celebrate, and a husband and daughter I love. Who needs nostalgia when you have that?

Learn more about me at:

ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_