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Thursday 20 August 2020

BEATHAN THE BRIGANTE - a guest post by Nancy Jardine

Today is a very special day for my friend and fellow-author Nancy Jardine: it is publication day for Beathan the Brigante, Book 5 in her highly-acclaimed Celtic Fervour Saga series of novels set in Roman Britain. 

Welcome, Nancy! Please tell us more about Beathan.


Hello Sue, and thank you for inviting me here today.  It’s been a nail-biting and stimulating few weeks for me getting the book ready for publishing. And now, I really can’t believe how excited I am that Beathan the Brigante officially launches today with Ocelot Press! It’s available in e-book and paperback from Amazon, and in paperback format via Ingram Spark for bookstore and library ordering.

Something different for your early readers is that the e-book versions of Books 1-4  in the Celtic Fervour Saga series are reduced to only 99p/99c/0.99euros each, for the 5 days prior to launch day in a Big Bonanza SALE! That offer might still be available, if your readers are quick. The link for my Amazon author page (to get access to the ebooks) is included below.

I’ve been excited about all of my book launches, but Book 5 brings one of the main themes of the series to a full circle. The birth of a son to Nara of the Selgovae, a son destined to become a famous tribal leader, happens at the end of Book 1. He is named Beathan, which means ‘life’. As the series progresses, book by book, Beathan grows into a young lad who is very responsible for his age, that maturity sculpted by the events and dangers that he lives through.  

Beathan cannot be found after the defeat of the Caledonian allies at Beinn na Ciche, a battle fought against the Ancient Roman legions of General Agricola, though his mother Nara knows in her heart he isn’t dead (end of Book 3). Choosing that event for Beathan was a pivotal point since I could ‘foresee’ making him into a famous rebel leader in a subsequent book of the series.

Though doing that in Book 4 was too soon, since a 13-year-old seemed unlikely to become a renowned ‘Celtic’ warrior. History, fortunately, has indications that it was not an impossible feat at a later teens stage. Another reason for Beathan’s tale not to be told in Book 4 was my desire to expand the Ancient Roman viewpoint. General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola needed some of the limelight in Book 4, since the genuine Ancient Roman Agricola was immensely important regarding the Roman expansion of Caledonia (present day Scotland).    

The research for my whole Celtic Fervour Saga Series has been a compelling study. Every Ancient Roman fort that Beathan visits was thoroughly investigated for me to glean some tiny, unusual, detail I could add to the tale. That process, naturally, became unwieldy! At one point the manuscript was sitting at upwards of 140,000 words. It was full of what I regarded as necessary, descriptive prose with lots of dangerous incidents happening to both Beathan and Agricola. But… like the Ancient Roman war machine destroying the tribes of Britannia, I did a high degree of ‘slashing and burning’ during my self-edits and whittled the manuscript down to a size compatible with the other books in the series.

Other themes of the series are further explored in Beathan The Brigante – honesty; loyalty; justice; fair-mindedness – sometimes these coming to the reader in surprising ways. Family love, friendships and less than usual ‘relationships’ are important across the series and Book 5 also features these aspects. Reuniting with family not seen for 5 years is a burning a desire for Beathan, but it’s equally balanced with a yearning for revenge against his Roman tormentors. 

Romance, too, plays a role to different degrees and in different ways across the books of the saga. After such a difficult time, Beathan deserves to have some passion in his life. However, enduring happiness rarely comes easily for my Garrigill warriors. Torrin is a feisty Brigante warrior-woman who has her own agendas. When creating her character, I found myself feeling a desperation to live life to the full seems realistic when young lives are likely to be cut short in what is essentially still a war-torn situation.

I do hope that readers of Bethan The Brigante enjoy reading about Beathan’s journey to ‘fame’ and about Agricola’s predicaments, since even a high-ranking Roman general can have enemies.


AD 85, Roman Empire

How can young Beathan of Garrigill – held hostage by General Agricola and dragged in chains to Rome – escape and wreak vengeance on his enemies?

Torrin is a strong-minded Brigante warrior-woman who forges her own future. She willingly takes care of Beathan in a time of need, but her own plans are paramount.

Agricola's career is in tatters. Attempts on his life are plentiful, having lost favour with Emperor Domitian. His gods have abandoned him, though assistance comes from a surprising source.

Will Beathan gain his freedom to return to his kin in Caledonia? Will Torrin be by his side? And how will Agricola survive without the emperor's benevolence?

Beathan the Brigante is the fifth in the bestselling Celtic Fervour series.

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction, time travel historical adventure and contemporary mysteries. When not writing or researching (a compulsion she can’t give up), she’ll be with her grandchildren, gardening, or reading novels. She loves to interact with her readers when regularly signing/ selling paperback versions of her novels at local Craft Fairs, and at larger event venues. She enjoys presenting author talks and gives formal presentations on her novels, and on Ancient Roman Scotland, to groups large and small.

She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland, the Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with Ocelot Press.

You can find her at these places:




email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page

Buy Links:

Beathan The Brigante

Paperback KDP

Friday 7 August 2020

A NOVEL APPROACH - a guest post by Jennifer C Wilson

Tomorrow marks a very special day for Ocelot Press: the launch of its first non-fiction title.  A Novel Approach is an excellent book, whether you're just setting out on the writing journey or are already an experienced writer.  And I'm thrilled to welcome the author - my great friend and fellow-Ocelot Jennifer C Wilson - to tell the world more about it.

Welcome, Jen!

Hi Sue.

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog today, to talk about A Novel Approach, my first foray into non-fiction!

I’ve said many times how much I love attending writing workshops. It doesn’t matter whether they’re on poetry or prose, on a particular skill, or a range of prompts to go off in any direction, I just love being surrounded by other writers, learning from them, and improving my own writing. It was from that place then, of finding workshops a great writing environment, that I decided to run a series of my own last year, and early into this one.

I called the series ‘A Novel Approach’, after a LOT of brainstorming, because I had the idea of walking attendees through some of the key elements of writing long-form fiction, starting with generating ideas, creating characters etc., building scenes each workshop, so that, although there wouldn’t necessarily be a finished novel at the end of things, there would be enough of a roadmap that they could see where it was going.

I’ll be honest, and admit that I don’t tend to get my actual story ideas from writing workshops. For me, the initial stories usually strike me as I’m wandering around a historical site, or reading a snippet of trivia about a place which sparks a thought to go and explore. However, once that idea has formed, I love workshops and prompts to keep the words flowing. For example, in the middle of April, a new historical romance idea came to me, but I was really struggling to put pen to paper. I signed up for a month of daily writing prompts, and following my synopsis, wrote a scene a day using the daily exercises. By the end of May I had ~15,000 words, and without the prompts, I don’t think I would have got anywhere near that word count.

It's often said that the most terrifying thing to a writer is the blank page. Whether in a notebook or on screen, having all that white, empty space starting back at you can be daunting. Especially when there’s an idea in your head that just won’t make that jump onto the page. I think this is where writing prompts are particularly useful. I used to use one at the start of a writing session, for an ‘easy way in’ and to get the words flowing, without having to think too much! As with the month of prompts above, when you have a scenario or set of characters in your head, but aren’t quite sure what they’re going to get up to, having somebody give you a scene to put them in, or something to think about, can be really helpful in getting those first few paragraphs down. Quite often, once that’s happened, you’re away, which is always the most important thing.

That’s what I’m really hoping people can get out of A Novel Approach, then; to find the prompts and exercises I’ve included a useful jumping-off point to get the ink flowing, whether on screen or on page.

A Novel Approach

Is there a novel in you? Let me help you find out...

Based on my series of workshops held throughout 2019 and into 2020, this book is designed to help writers work through each of the key stages of their story, including:

-          Idea generation;

-          Creating characters;

-          Describing your settings;

-          Showing vs telling; and

-          Keeping the words flowing when you find yourself stuck.

As well as the above, I have also added sections on hooking your readers in, leaving them wanting more, and useful resources as a writer, including how to dip a successful toe into the world of social media.

The workshops were fun, helping writers of short stories and novels alike, and I hope these exercises can help you too!

A Novel Approach:


About Jennifer

Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quite often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.

You can connect with Jennifer online: