ccnancyjardine copy
Author Interview, Opening scene

Opening Scene: Agricola’s Bane

Nancy Jardine is the next author to be featured in the Opening Scene series. Agricola’s Bane, the fourth in her Celtic Fervour Series, takes place in A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain. How does she start this novel? I’m going to let Nancy tell you herself.

Agricola’s Bane, the fourth book of my Celtic Fervour Series, opens in the 625x1000aftermath of a disastrous battle fought at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3) between the Celtic warriors of Northern Britannia and the legions of the Ancient Roman Empire. The Roman aggressors, under the command of General Agricola, have set up temporary encampments and Roman patrols are scouring the countryside in search of survivors of the battle. In turn, my Garrigill clan have taken refuge after the battle in the roundhouse village of a Caledon chief, Lulach of Ceann Druimin, but Lulach’s territory has to be patrolled to ensure the Romans don’t attack them unawares.

Enya of Garrigill is doing surveillance duty in nearby Glenlaff Woods. At only fourteen summers, Enya has already bloodied her long knife at the Battle of Beinn na Ciche and itches to dispatch more Roman soldiers to the otherworld. She’s on patrol with Feargus of Monymusk, a warrior only a little older, and someone she has recently been introduced to. Nith of Tarras is twenty and has been like a foster brother to Enya for many months during a long trek they made northwards which ended up at the battle site – though her feelings for Nith have become less-sisterly and more of a mature love, as time progresses. Chief Lulach’s son Colm is the fourth patrol member and the one who is attacked by Roman auxiliaries making Enya’s blade flash yet again!

My reasons for beginning Book 4 in this way were to introduce members of the next generation of the Garrigill warrior clan as main characters. Since Book 1 is set in A.D. 71, when Enya is a baby, and Book 3 has moved on to the end of A.D 84, I needed to give some of the second generation a chance in the limelight. Enya’s uncles, who are the main characters of Books 1-3 are still in the new story, as are her parents, but they now take on minor roles. My Celtic Fervour Series is not quite a family saga but, I believe, some readers might read it that way. And though Book 4 has General Agricola as one of my main characters, my series is essentially about what happens to the members of my Celtic clan when they become refugees, their only recourse from being oppressed and Romanised by the dominance of the Roman Empire.

AN EXCERPT:

Arddhu? I fear you are not a happy god.”

Enya’s disgruntled whisper might be unworthy thinking, but the local forest god seemed to favour no one.

A deep chill, accompanied by a squally wind, had descended after dawn causing a last cascade of colourful leaf-drop to glide down from the birches. The burnished butterfly-flutters might have been appealing had the day been a fair one but Arddhu demonstrated his anger at the bloody deeds of the warriors in his precious territory.

“Ouu…ouu…ouu…ouu…”

Down the slope from where she took cover, the thundering of capercaillie alarm in the undergrowth of the forest was followed by the strident tapping of a woodpecker.

“Tchik…tchik…”

The double woodpecker call repeated itself.

Two of them!

Her insides fluttered as she pressed her back closer to the damp tree trunk, her teeth clenched tight together to suppress the urge to rant. Her eyes pressed so wide she feared they might pop out of their sockets. After pulling the edges of her bratt tighter across her freezing cheeks for more protection, she sneaked her head round to peer down the hill.

They had not been the truest of capercaillie or woodpecker calls. Colm of Ceann Druimin and Nith of Tarras, members of her scouting patrol, had issued their warnings. Two Roman soldiers were in the vicinity. She had not encountered any of the Roman invaders since the disastrous battle fought at Beinn na Ciche, but she sincerely hoped the otherworld was ready and waiting for the ones she aimed to dispatch there.

ABOUT THE BOOK:  

Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledon warriors and the mighty Legions of the Rome. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been taken captive by the soldiers of General Agricola?

General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.

The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.

A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours. She regularly child minds them, those days being cherished and laughter filled.

NANCY JARDINE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website:www.nancyjardineauthor.com

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com 

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 ORDER AGRICOLA’S BANE HERE: mybook.to/ABsherenow

 

 

Standard
IMG_6313
Isabel Long Mystery Series

Portuguese Forever

I am a hundred percent Portuguese and proud of it. My grandparents came over on the boat, as they say, from the Madeira and Azores islands. The same is true for Isabel Long, the protagonist of my mystery series, including the latest, Redneck’s Revenge. She’s proud of her heritage as well.

Isabel was born with the last name Ferreira but took Long when she married. I used Ferreira because that’s my mother’s family name. (My father’s family name is Medeiros.)

Let me tell you a little bit about her. Isabel was a long-time journalist who lost her job as a newspaper’s managing editor when it went corporate. With time on her hands, she decided to solve a missing person’s case — her first big story as a rookie reporter. The case also happened in the tiny hilltown where Isabel lives in rural Western Massachusetts. Also, Isabel was also coming off a bad year that included the death of her husband. She was ready to reinvent herself.

Her mother, Maria Ferreira also moved in with her. Here, I’ll let Isabel tell you about it.

Ma moved in with me last year because she was tired of living alone. I was alone, too, after my Sam died. Our three kids, Ruth, Matt, and Alex, are out of the house although they don’t live too far from me. It’s worked out well with Ma. She’s a fun companion. Who would have thought when I was younger and wilder? She’s a good cook, and like the fine Portuguese woman she is, she keeps me in kale soup, a staple of our people. Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth. I’m a hundred percent Portagee and proud that I’ve invaded a Yankee stronghold in the hilltowns.

Yes, kale soup or Caldo Verde is a staple in their household, as it is mine, at least in the cold weather months. I love other dishes when I can get them, usually when I visit my hometown.

As a child I grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts, where many Portuguese immigrants settled. They found work on the fishing boats and in the case of my mother’s parents, the textile mills. It was a huge adjustment from the rural lives they once led “back home” although both sets of grandparents kept animals and large gardens to support their families. I have fond memories of the time I spent with them.

Let me tell you about my grandmother, Angela Ferreira. She was the youngest of a large family in Madeira. Her older sister worked for a wealthy family who wanted a companion for their daughter, so my grandmother went to live with them. Every day she carried the girl’s books to school and waited in the back of the room until they went home to play. One day the teacher caught her trying to read. She got permission for my grandmother to go to school.

When my grandmother was sixteen, she and her sister went by boat to the U.S., a trip that included a huge storm in which people were swept out to sea. I admire my grandmother’s bravery.

My childhood was a mixture of celebrating our heritage, especially at local feasts, still going strong in the New Bedford area, to being as American as possible.

I will admit there is a lot of me in Isabel Long. She’s sassy and savvy. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s got a good heart and cares. Plus she has that arsenal of skills she acquired as a journalist.

All of this comes in handy for her second case, in Redneck’s Revenge. A woman hires her to find out how her father, an ornery so-and-so, died. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. She says he was murdered.

But before she can take any case, Isabel has some business to attend to after the cops tell her there are legal requirements if she wants to be a P.I. She’s also a bit ungrounded after solving her first case — for personal and professional reasons. Here’s an excerpt.

Mostly, I moped.

Ma noticed it, too.

“When are you going to find something to do?” she asked me one day.

“What do you mean?”

“Like when you solved that mystery.”

“You heard what the state cop said about getting a license,” I reminded her. “I need to find a licensed P.I. to take me on.”

“What’s stopping you?”

Ma had a point. I have a hard head and an iron will. I suppose I’m generalizing when I say it’s because I’m a full-blooded Portagee. But I’m descended from people who went all over the world in tiny wooden ships. My grandparents came over from the Madeira and Azores islands in them.

Yes, try stopping us.

MORE ABOUT THIS POST: I wrote this post for author Sue Roebuck’s blog and decided to share it here. Sue, who is a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, lives in Portugal.

HOW TO GET MY BOOKS: Here, I’ll make it easy for you. mybook.to/chasingthecase mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THAT PHOTO ABOVE: That’s me at age 6, dressed as St. Teresa of Avila to march in the parade of Our Lady of Angels feast in my hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. I am posing in my parents’ backyard.

Standard
AngelaWrenAuthorPic
6Ws, Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Angela Wren

Angela Wren is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this 6Ws series. Her new book, Montbel, is the third in her Jacques Forêt Mystery Series, which is set in France .

Why does she write? She says she enjoys creating a world thatCoverArt doesn’t really exist.  “And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!”

Here are her responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Angela Wren?

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an actor and director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing creatively, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

What does she write?

Cosy crime novels, mostly.  But, my short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

When does she write?

Whenever I have a moment.  I spend most of my week at the theatre but that leaves me Sunday to Tuesday to do everything else — including writing — to keep household running.

How does she write?

From keyboard straight onto the electronic page.  Working in a very pressured environment taught me to be very business oriented and efficient with my time.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write — usually when I’m doing really mundane tasks such as the ironing or cleaning the bathroom, or whatever.  This means that when I sit at my keyboard I know exactly what I want to say and my fingers just scramble across the keys to get the words down.

Where does she write?

The smallest bedroom in my house is my office and library.  I have loads of books all over the house but the largest number of them are in my office along with all my notes for stories etc.  My desk faces the window and I can look out on the garden when I pause for a moment.

Why does she write?

Because I love it. To me it’s great fun to be able to create a world that does not really exist and to people that world with interesting, and sometimes evil, characters.  And then, being a crime writer, I get to choose who dies!

More on Montbel:

A clear-cut case?

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacque’s papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Available now to pre-order in e-format and print from Amazon and published by Crooked Cat Books

Her works:

Messandrierre (Jacques Forêt #1)

Merle (Jacques Forêt #2)

Montbel (Jacques Forêt #3)

Anthologies :

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings

Original Writing from Ireland’s Own 2011

Angela Wren on social media:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author: Angela Wren

 

 

 

Standard
IMG_6206
Isabel Long Series, Writing

Mystery Series: Why I Write in First Person, Present Tense

When I decided to write a mystery, I wanted it to be told from the point of view of my protagonist, Isabel Long. And now that I released the second, Redneck’s Revenge, I am glad I stuck with that format. I also used present tense because I want my readers to feel they are part of the action but more about that later.

First, let me tell you about Isabel Long. She’s a former long-time journalist who is trying her hand at solving mysteries. After all, she has a lot of time on her hands after she lost her job managing a newsroom when the paper went corporate. Besides, her first case was also her first big story as a rookie reporter — and one of the cold case files she snagged from the newsroom on her last day.

Isabel is savvy and sassy. She’s got a great sense of humor. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. But she is a great listener and can relate well with others. Basically, she takes what she knew as a reporter and applies it to being an amateur sleuth. This comes in handy because her second case takes her to a town she is unfamiliar with and also a rather rough group of folks.

For that case, a woman hires her to find out how her father died. The cops say he was drunk when his house caught fire. She says he was murdered. Could it be the work of two drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, or an ex-husband? Isabel is going to find out.

Anyway, I wanted you to get the full picture of Isabel by letting her talk her way through my two books so far in this series — Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge. The third, Checking the Traps, will be released next year.

I also wanted my readers to focus on Isabel. I know I sometimes get a little lost when there are so many POVs in a novel I’m reading. I sometimes have to remind myself who the character is.

Why present tense? It can be tricky to write. I have written only one other book, as yet unpublished, that way. But I believe it works with Isabel because sometimes she even talks directly to the reader.

Here’s an excerpt from Redneck’s Revenge, to put you in the mood. In this scene, she’s meeting with Lin Pierce, a licensed private investigator.

All right, Lin, enough with the dillydallying. Let’s get on with it.

“As I said over the phone… ”

He waves his hand.

“Yes, that. You said you want to work for me to fulfill one of your requirements to get a P.I. license.”

“That’s right.”

“So, what would make you qualified to be an associate? Have you ever worked in law enforcement?”

I shake my head.

“A cop? No. I was a journalist for over thirty years. I started as the Conwell correspondent for the Daily Star. Adela Collins’ disappearance was my first big story.” I watch his head bounce in recognition. “I knew how to chase a story. I found the pieces and put them together. I believe the skills are transferable, except I’d never carry a gun or wrestle anybody to the ground.”

He squints as he thinks.

“I recall reading your stories. Didn’t you used to run the paper?”

“Uh-huh, for fifteen years until it got bought out,” I say. “As I explained over the phone, I’m not looking to take your cases although I’d be willing to help if you need it. I’ll find my own.”

“Well, I’ve never hired anybody and frankly, I couldn’t afford you if I did.” His voice drops. “I’d say I’m semi-retired. I own this building, so it’s convenient to keep an office. It helps with taxes.”

I was prepared for this.

“How about a buck a day? Could you afford that?”

He chuckles.

“You work cheap, Isabel.”

MORE: This post appeared first in Zooloo Book Blog as part of a tour in Rachel’s Random Resources.

BOOKLINKS: Thank you if you have already read my books. If not here’s where you can find them on Amazon: mybook.to/chasingthecase and mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A creative use of old screwdrivers. Piece of art found outside a studio on State Street in our village of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Standard
IMG_1202-300x224
Isabel Long Mystery Series, kale soup

A Helping of Kale Soup in My Mystery Series

Now that it is getting colder, I made kale soup for the first time this season on Saturday, with enough left over for another round Sunday. Here is a post about the remarkable Portuguese soup and its place in my mystery series. (It first appeared in author Isabella May’s blog isabellamayauthor.com, but like the soup, it’s worth reheating for a second serving.)

Growing up, kale soup or Caldo Verde was a staple in my family’s household. It’s the same for Isabel Long, the protagonist of my mystery series. She and I are of Portuguese descent, and it’s one of the dishes of our people. In fact, it is the number one food mentioned — after bar fare — in Chasing the Case and the newest, Redneck’s Revenge.

Caldo Verde is one of those stick-to-your-ribs soups— kale, potatoes, white beans if you like them, sausage if you eat them. All you need is some good hearty bread. And it can last days as long as you refrigerate it.

And now that Isabel’s 92-year-old mother — her ‘Watson’ — lives with her, she eats a lot of it at least during the cold weather months.

Here Isabel talks about it in Chasing the Case:

The kitchen smells like kale soup. Ma’s been busy. Long before kale became the foodie thing to eat, we Portagees ate the green. No kale salads for us. No kale smoothies. We cook the kale to death in soup with white beans, potatoes, chorizo pork sausage, and cubed beef. That’s the way my mother makes Caldo Verde, and we eat it three days in a row. The soup only gets better, well, as long as it’s refrigerated. Being one of those natural food nuts who prefers not to eat red meat, I skip the chunks of beef when I make the soup, and if I have to use sausage, then it’s turkey or chicken instead of pork, which horrifies my meat-loving mother. I figure if it makes my ninety-two-year-old mother happy, I can eat a soup with pork sausage and beef cooked in it.

Kale soup is not haute cuisine, but the food of working people.

Here’s an excerpt from Redneck’s Revenge:

Ma moved in with me last year because she was tired of living alone. I was alone, too, after my Sam died. Our three kids, Ruth, Matt, and Alex, are out of the house although they don’t live too far from me. It’s worked out well with Ma. She’s a fun companion. Who would have thought when I was younger and wilder? She’s a good cook, and like the fine Portuguese woman she is, she keeps me in kale soup, a staple of our people. Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth.

Here’s a family legend: My grandmother, Angela, ate kale soup every day. If so, it may account for her longevity. She lived to be in her 90s and strong nearly to the end.

Yes, I make kale soup at home during the cold weather months. When I had a garden, I made sure I grew enough kale, and if I was lucky it lasted almost to winter. I even taught my husband, who is not Portuguese, how to make it.

There are times, when I’m not eating meat, I don’t add sausage, or I use a spicy poultry sausage. I add white beans (from the can). Other cooks don’t. I’ve even seen recipes that use chicken. I am not the kind of cook who follows recipes, except when I bake a cake. Besides, the original calls for a certain cabbage that isn’t available in the U.S. So kale — or collards, I suppose — it is.

Here’s how I make it. Because it contains white beans and potatoes, the broth gets thicker every meal it was served.

Kale Soup or Caldo Verde 

Serves 6-8 people

1 pound kale, washed carefully, chopped

2 quarts soup stock

6 ounces chourico pork, turkey or chicken sausage (any spicy sausage), thickly sliced

3 large potatoes, cut in chunks

1 can white beans

1 large onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro, chopped

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent. Add the soup stock, kale, potatoes, sausage, and the can of beans. Bring to a boil, lower, and then simmer an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with minced cilantro. Serve with chunks of good bread.

Optional: Add browned stewing beef; half pound should do it. Or a half cabbage cut into wedges.

MORE: It makes me happy to hear from readers who say how much they’ve enjoyed reading Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge. Like me, they love the series’ characters. Thank you very much.

Both books are available in paperback and on Kindle. Here are the links: mybook.to/chasingthecase and mybook.to/rednecksrevenge.

By the way, the third, Checking the Traps will be out next year.

And if you feel moved, please write a review on Amazon. One line will do it. You can even make up your name. I thank you if you do.

Standard