Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Reading history in the Landscape - Cailleach

It is a common misconception that if you want to find any evidence of the people from our ancient history, other than the usual recognised monuments such as stone henge or Hadrian’s Wall, you have to dig.
This is simply not the case.
When I was researching for the first book in the Albion Chronicles series I was stunned to see just how much information was at hand, especially concerning peoples beliefs.

Cailleach features strongly in the series, she is recognised today as one of the old pagan gods and many people will have heard her name before. I wonder though how many people realise just how much evidence there is to support the historic worship of her. Her name survives in the names of numerous mountains, streams and and glens in Scotland. Her husband Bodach is also there, scattered across the highlands and islands with his wife. Scratch the surface a little more and you will find Cailleach’s name altered into numerous other guises. One of the key ones is the mountain, Schiehallion or to give it its Gaelic name Sidh Chaillean. The name is now considered to mean the fairy hill of the Caledonians and it is rumoured that a secret faery pathway runs right through the heart of the mountain. Nowadays most people know the mountain as the place where the first attempt to weigh the world took place in 1774.

Schiehallion stands guard to the eastern end of Glen Lyon, at its western end the glen runs into the Crooked Glen of Stones, also known as Glean Chailliche. It is here where the oldest continuous pagan shrine in Britain can be found and it should come to no surprise to learn the shrine is dedicated to Cailleach and Bodach and their daughter Nighean. Known locally as either Tigh nam Bodach or Tigh na Cailliach or the house of the old man or old woman. The shrine consists of a small sheiling or dwelling, in this case the shieling is little more than a tiny hut. At Beltaine (early May) every year the stone is removed from the front of the sheiling and a number of shaped stones resembling the family are set out on the grass to look down the valley. Whether Nighean refers to just one daughter or the collection of smaller stones representing daughters has sadly been lost over time. Whilst the stones are outside the sheiling is re-turfed and any repairs made, then at Samhain (Halloween) the stone family is put back inside their home and sealed safely in for the winter.

For more information why not visit:
Nelly Harper website
The Albion Chronicles book 1 - The Girl of Two Worlds facebook page

Thursday, 21 January 2016

It has been a while...

Well it has been a long time since I posted anything here. 

I have been extremely busy with a number of projects, my latest novel was released in November and of course Christmas got in the way. For someone suffering chronic illness Christmas has to be approached like a military operation. Energy has to be stored up and used very carefully or I will not make it through without a health crash.

In December my work switches from writing to carving and markets. Each market takes a couple of days to recover from and the rest of the week is a balancing act between carving and resting. Unfortunately this year I pushed myself too hard and ended up floored. With Christmas looking very iffy indeed, I somehow managed to pull through in time to enjoy the week. It did however give me plenty of time to plan a new range of animal carvings.

The adventures of MeSelf are still underway but I have decided I am going to move him over to a dedicated page on my website.
The project has rapidly developed into the basis of a new children's book, a totally new direction for me.

I seem to be full of new directions lately. I also wrote my first non fiction book in time for Christmas, which I released under my normal name. The book is a guide for making polymer clay wizards - something I used to do years ago and have been asked about quite a few times. Whilst I am happy enough with the way the book turned out, the costs of producing a full colour book have forced the price to be much higher than I had originally envisioned. I am not convinced enough that it is a viable project to continue. Still I eagerly wait to be proved wrong.

I also have another non fiction book idea floating around in my head but this one will be entirely different again. More news on this one later in the year if I decide to go ahead with it.

So, that is it for now. In the meantime why not take a look at my website?

Nelly Harper - Welcome to my Fantasy World

For news on all my books, including non fiction.

Goblin House

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Exciting News x 2

I know the blog has been a bit quiet for a while but I have been busy editing my latest novel, a Pict/Viking saga called The Jet Necklace. 


I am very excited to announce that my debut novel The Girl of Two Worlds has been included, at number 37, in the 50 self published books worth reading 2015.
Considering the thousands of books that are self published every year this is quite an achievement. I understand there were over 5000 nominations and 10,000 votes.

Thank you to everyone who loved the book enough to vote for me. I promise the second book in the series is under way and will get my full attention very soon.


I have also been working on an exciting new project. 

The idea about a series written especially for this blog had been whirling around my head for a few days. Then, as so often happens with writers, a character popped into my head whilst I was busy with my novel and insisted on getting my attention. He stamped and shouted until I was forced to put aside my (time constrained) work and focus on him.

As a result my new story, which will be exclusive to the blog was born. The first part will be posted very soon and yes. The character is exactly as you would imagine from his initial appearance. Annoying, infuriating, cheeky and oh so much fun. I have already fallen in love with him and I hope you will too.

His story will be light hearted, hopefully amusing and of course fantasy. You will never again be able to look at a carving without wondering what on earth will happen the moment you look away.

Check out the 50 self published books worth reading here

or follow news about The Jet Necklace here

Monday, 27 July 2015

Meet Morrigan

Morrigan is my little black cat. I have had her since she was a tiny kitten who could sit in the palm of my hand (and if you could see my hands you would realise just how small that is.) She is also my health indicator and carer.

Two different types of crash.

My conditions often cause what is referred to as a crash - a flair up of symptoms that leave me incapable of doing much.
Over time I have come to realise that I have two different types of crash. The most common is where I have pushed myself too much and not had time to pace myself. I usually know when these are coming and have the chance to make sure I am alone. Feeling your body shut down bit by bit is not much fun but it is the price I have to pay if I go out anywhere. It is my bodies way of giving me a kick and saying enough is enough. These crashes last anything between a day and five, though if I have let myself run down over time it may be longer. They are as much a part of my life as sleeping and waking.

The other crash however is one I never see coming. It hits out of the blue and lays me out for at least a week. The pain involved is horrendous, like my body between my waist and mid thigh’s are burning constantly. The rest hurts in all the usual places but it is barely noticeable against the burning. I shake and tremble, feel nauseous, loose my appetite and can barely stand. I feel incapable of anything but staying in bed and trying to sleep through it as best I can. These crashes are a nightmare, they take away my ability to cope with anything especially thoughts of the future. I am literally reduced to a shameful wreck.

The sixth sense of the cat.

Morrigan however always sees these crashes coming. She starts to cling to me everywhere I go, rarely leaving the house. After a few days of decline I end up in bed and she stays with me pretty much the whole time. If she isn’t laid on me she is pushed up close to my side, only leaving to go out and catch a mouse or bird and bring it back to me with a yowl.
I used to find it annoying, especially when my body was so painful I couldn’t bear even her slight weight on me. Now I realise what she is doing and I am truly grateful. - I would much prefer that she didn’t try to feed me though.

I judge my recovery by the way she is around me. When she finally decides she can lay elsewhere in the room I know I have got through it and can relax. She stays a little clingy for a few more days and then she is back to her usual rogue self.

I hear lots of stories of pets that can identify illness in their owners, I would love to hear about yours.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook or check out my website

Friday, 17 July 2015

'Don't be daft. You can't do that!'

I have the kind of nature that doesn't like to accept limitations. Once I decide I want to do something there is no dissuading me.
If I want to cut my own hair - I cut it.
If the house needs re-decorating - I do it.
If I want to use something and its broken - I take it apart to find out why.
Whilst my hair may not have the perfect cut, my painting not perfect and the vacuum left sitting in pieces next to the dustbin. I will still have given it my best shot, sometimes I even manage to do a good job.

When I was younger I had assumed that everyone was like this but over the years I have been forced to accept that this is not the case. Countless times I suffer people telling me ‘You cant do that.’ It only serves to make me more determined to give whatever ‘it’ is a go. I may take more time to look into whatever it is, or wait for the time no one is around to laugh at my possible failure but unless I find out for definite that they are right I am rarely deterred.

I must admit, most of my efforts have been driven by lack of money. Often the only way I will get something done that I require is to do it myself but there have also been plenty of times where I have just wanted to give something a go. I once started a jewellery business, bought in all the component stock and even had a London solicitor prepared to write up all the legal contracts for my sales representatives at a massive reduction in price because he believed in the business model. All this without ever having designed or even made a piece of jewellery in my life. My designs proved very popular and the jewellery went on to sell in numerous tourist outlets across Scotland. Those that had told me how silly I was were soon eating their words.

The Jet Necklace
I know I am not alone in having such an ambitious nature. To me it is such a positive way to live your life, only accepting defeat when you have tried your best and not until. I really cannot understand these naysayers that love to pour doubt on peoples efforts. So what if we are trying to do something we have never done before? Why is it they think we cannot learn? Maybe the people who doubt so strongly are the people who would dearly love to be go getters themselves? It is true that some of my ideas are rather unusual. They can pop up out of the blue and seem to have no basis in common reason to most people but that doesn't reduce their validity. Each time I set myself a goal, however small or daft and I achieve it, my moral is instantly boosted. I can look back on the experience with a real sense of achievement, I can also look back on my failures with a chuckle and                                         know that at least I tried.

So come on all you doubting Thomas’s and Moaning Myrtle’s, next time someone you know tells you they are going to try something different. Maybe something daft, strange or just out of the ordinary for them. Instead of telling them all the reasons why they are wrong, mad or just plain stupid. Why not give them some encouragement, stand back and enjoy watching them giving it a go? You never know, you might even be inspired to try something different yourself.

To see the biggest achievement that I was told I could never do, visit my shop at:

Saturday, 11 July 2015

guest blog for the Alliance of Independent Authors

Guest Blog

I am a little slow in preparing my blog for this week, so in the meantime I will give you the link to a guest blog I was asked to write for the Alliance of Independent Authors.


50 self published books worth reading 2015

This week has been a little crazy. Apart from excellent reaction to the guest blog, I came home from a week away to find my debut novel The Girl of Two Worlds has made the short-list for the 50 self published books worth reading 2015. For any of you wanting to vote, you can find the link at the bottom of the page.
Occasionally the link re-directs to the sites home page. Should that happen simply click the link to vote near the top of the page, choose the fantasy category and the book will appear in that section. Whilst your there you can also vote in all the other categories or browse the lists of books to find your next read.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The History of the Albion Chronicles

So the Romans came, conquered and left. Along the way they developed some close links with the rulers they found here. These client kings and queens saw benefits to allying themselves and their kingdoms with the new Roman forces. Gradually the Romans took over and blended their gods and goddesses with many of those that had existed in Albion before and the Pre – Roman age was slowly forgotten.
…But what if things had happened differently?
…What if the people of Albion had managed to overthrow their traitorous leaders and drive out the invaders?

The true history of Britain
One such client Queen was Cartimandua of the Brigante tribe. The Brigantes were the biggest tribe in Albion, their territory centred on what is now Yorkshire. A number of key figures rose up against the Romans, one of these was Caratacus of the Catuvellauni tribe. Defeated in Wales he fled to Cartimandua for protection but she put him in chains and handed him straight over to the Roman forces. This displeased the druids and her husband Venutius who turned against her. After their divorce Cartimandua married his charioteer Vellocatus and they ruled the kingdom together. In AD69 Venutius made his second attempt to overthrow his ex wife. The Romans, facing revolts in various parts of their enormous kingdom could only spare minimal forces to send to her aid. They lost the battle but managed to get Cartimandua out of the kingdom, her name then disappears from history. Venutius only held the kingdom briefly before the Romans defeated him and took control of the area.

The alternate history of Albion

Venutius was a successful ruler of the Brigante nation. He not only defeated Cartimandua and her Roman allies he also went on to unite the tribes and drive the whole Roman army off Albion’s shores. Cartimandua was never heard of again but she had in fact made it safely to Rome, where her hatred of the Brigante people grew and festered. Through a network of spies in the Votadini lands to the North East they kept an eye on the throne and waited. Now the royal line is about to die out and Cartimandua’s line has a chance to return.

These ‘what ifs?’

It is one of the great joys of writing that we can get to explore these ‘what ifs’ in as many different ways as we want. There are so many alternatives to choose from after all. In the Albion Chronicles I used as much fact as possible to bring the story forward from that one known battle in AD69. In doing so I aimed to keep the development of the nation in line with how it may have been without such a strong Roman influence. Of course some of these influences would still have entered the country, coming over with the trade that would have continued from the continent. I have also allowed some leeway with certain aspects of life and dress, after all what is the point of an alternative history if everything is exactly the same? To me there is far too much negativity placed on the pre Roman people of our land. We are seen as being much greater people for having had such an advanced nation rule us for a time. I love the idea that in this series I can say – ‘hang on a minute, we were doing just fine on our own and we can prove it.’

For more on the Albion Chronicles or to purchase book 1 - The Girl of Two Worlds visit the website