Friday, December 28, 2012

HOGMANAY by Nancy Lee Badger

Hogamanay celebration in Edinburgh, Scotland

While researching my Highland Games Through Time series, I filled binders with oodles of neat facts. I thought I would share a few things I learned about Hogmanay 

My books take place in both modern day New England as well as sixteenth century Scotland. Hogmanay (also spelled Hogamany or Hogamanay) is the Scots term for the last day of the year, the day we all now celebrate as New Year’ Eve.  Like many of us lucky enough to have the following day ‘off’, Hogmanay also includes celebrating all the way through the next day and, sometimes, through January 2nd.
 
When I looked deeper into the origin of Hogmanay, I found that many scholars believe that the holiday has its roots in ancient times when the Nordic tribes acknowledged the Winter Solstice, the Vikings enjoyed the Yule, and Scots celebrated Samhain.   

One of the first things I ever read was a folk tale that mentioned the first guest who walked across your home’s threshold after midnight on the last day of the year. Some call this first-footing. Since hubby and I usually head to bed once the ball drops in New York City (watched from our North Carolina home, where the split screen also shows the NC Acorn drop) we rarely think about whom the first person is that enters our home in the New Year. This year I will take note!  

I am still confused about what this first-footing person does for us. Further research says that the Scots exchange certain gifts, and what I read made me laugh. These gifts include salt, coal, shortbread (yum), and fruit cake (yuck). 

Then I came across an interesting tidbit that mentioned another gift the Scots share with their neighbors on Hogmanay…whisky! Now, that is a Scottish tradition worth continuing! 

Happy Hogmanay!
Nancy Lee Badger

More About the Author

Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games and she is a proud Army Mom.
Find out more at: 
Website     Blog    Facebook
Twitter        Goodreads  
 
Latest Release:  My Banished Highlander
Series: Book #2 of the Highland Games Through Time
Genre: Scottish Time Travel Romance
Length: 82,000 word Novel
 
Buy Links:
KOBO    AllRomanceEBooks     
Smashwords       
Also available in PRINT! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Celtic Holiday



A Special Celtic Holiday Greeting
from Bil & Bon Franks
New CRW Members


To all our new friends at the beautiful Celtic Rose Writers site: we wish you joy of the season, and tremendous success in your writing endeavors this coming year.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

THE HIGHLAND SERIES BY B. J. SCOTT






I'm very excited to have author B.J. Scott with us today talking about her great Highland series.  Before I let her take it away, I'll just mention that one extremely lucky commenter will win a copy of her new release, Highland Quest, so please don't forget to leave your email address with your comment.  And do NOT miss the trailers.  That's all I'll say!


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HIGHLAND QUEST Book 2 of the Highlander Series.




Blurb:
No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers, Bryce Fraser rejoins the fight for Scottish independence, but arrives too late to inform his fellow patriots of a surprise ambush. Seriously wounded and left for dead, Bryce awakens to find Fallon MacCrery tending his wounds, a twist of fate that rekindles passion and desire he’d vowed to forget.

Gifted with second sight and having lost everyone she ever held dear, Fallon believes her ability and her love  are curses that if pursued will mean Bryce’s demise. But when she learns the English army plans to destroy the Bruce and his followers, she risks all to warn them, even her heart.

Can their unspoken love stand the test in a time of uncertainty and war, or will the plans of their enemy, a traitorous laird from a rival clan keep them apart forever?


Author Bio

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A PAN member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.
C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with four dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, doing a variety of hand crafts, camping, or antique hunting.
Excerpt
Loch Ryan Scotland, 1307
“Wa . . . water,” Bryce mumbled, but there was no one there to listen.
 His throat was parched and he ran his tongue over dry, cracked lips, but his action offered no relief. An entire loch lay only a few feet away, but he couldn’t muster the strength to drag himself to the bank and quench his thirst.
“Cold . . . so cold.”
 Despite the sun beating down on him, he’d swear he was encased in ice. His life’s blood seeped from his wounds, soaking the ground beneath him. He tried to raise his head, but the excruciating pain radiating across his chest stole his breath away.
Was this what it felt like to die? If so, he prayed the Almighty would be merciful and take him now.
Bryce moaned, a shift in his position bringing on another nauseating wave of agony. He sucked in a short, sharp, gulp of air and stretched his arm out as far as he could, his fingers grappling in the dirt.
If only I could reach my sword.
Beads of perspiration dampened his brow. As the strength slowly drained from his body, drawing a simple breath became more difficult. The end grew near. No time to make amends for sins of the past, and he had committed his share.
Regrets? He had those, too. “Fallon.” He whispered her name then heaved a ragged sigh. He could see her beautiful face, her soft, porcelain-like skin with just a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Raven tresses hanging loose in a riot of curls down her back. Her petite, slender body had just the right curves to drive a man wild with desire. Mysterious sapphire eyes that held him captive and a heart-shaped mouth he’d never tire of kissing. If he had one wish before he died, it would be to hold her in his arms one more time, to find himself nestled between her thighs, making love until neither of them could take anymore.
But he’d missed his chance when she left Fraser Castle after his brother’s wedding, returning with her clan to their home in the borderlands. Determined not to allow Fallon, or any woman, to breach the protective wall he’d built around his heart, he’d let her go.
A restless spirit, he longed for adventure. While he admired his two older brothers, he was tired of living in their shadows. Alasdair had turned down the position of Laird when their father and older brother were killed at Berwick on Tweed. Connor, the next in line, had accepted the responsibility and did the Clan proud. He was happily married and Bryce was certain his wee son, Andrew, would be raised to follow in his father’s footsteps.
 Bryce held no land or title. Until he had made a name for himself and earned these things, he had nothing to offer a wife. But marriage and family were not part of his immediate plans. He loved women, all women. Be they large, small, short, tall, fair, or plain, it made no difference as long as they were willing to warm his bed, and expected no long-term commitment in return.
A rogue many would say, but he made no secret of his intentions. So far, this way of life had served him well, and should he die in battle, he’d leave no one behind to mourn his loss.
When he was a lad of sixteen, he’d made the mistake of falling for the daughter of the village smithy. Totally enamored with each other, they’d vowed their eternal love and he believed they’d marry some day.
He swallowed hard at the ball of emotion rising in his throat, and clenched his teeth against the sudden ache gripping his heart. He’d heard when a man is about to die, his life experiences flash before his eyes. But some memories were far too painful to revisit.
He balled his fists at his sides, his nails digging into his palms. He didn’t want to think about the past and didn’t want a woman in his life. While Fallon was the only lass who had tempted him to stray from his chosen path, she was better off without him. Or so he’d told himself when he returned from a morning ride to learn she’d left Fraser Castle without saying goodbye. 
Clinging to the memory of their brief time together, Bryce closed his eyes and waited for death to take him. But distant voices and the sound of approaching footfall alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone.
“Over here,” a man shouted. “I think this one is still breathing.”
“Aye, he’s alive, but for how long? The lad has lost a lot of blood,” another man commented and clucked his tongue.
Hovering on the edge of consciousness, Bryce heard the conversation going on between two men, maybe more. He tried to open his eyes, but the lids proved too heavy.
Judging by the familiar burr, these men were Scottish, but so were the traitorous bastards who had attacked them.
For a sennight, he’d ridden day and night. However in the end, he was too late to warn the Bruce’s brothers and their small group of Irish and Scottish islanders of the impending threat. Rushing headlong into an ambush and outnumbered four to one, their fate was sealed.
This wasn’t the first time the MacDougall Clan sided with the English. Staunch supporters of John Comyn’s bid for the Scottish crown, they’d turned their swords and their loyalty against their countrymen when Comyn was murdered at Grey Fryer’s Abbey and Robert the Bruce was accused of the deed.
After the massacre at Methven—the last major battle fought between the English and the Bruce before he went into hiding—the buggers lay in wait, attacking the Scottish survivors as they tried to make their way to the Argyle Mountains to regroup. The battle of Dail Righ would forever be a stain on the MacDougall clan’s name, and a battle Bryce would long remember.
Nor would he forget their leader. Today he’d had the long-awaited chance to make good on his oath to see the blackguard pay for his treasonous acts, but he’d failed. Instead, he’d found himself on the receiving end of Dungal’s sword.
“I canna believe Scots would kill Scots. These poor fellows dinna have a prayer of making it to shore unharmed,” the first man said.
“Aye, the ship was run aground and there must be at least fifty dead men on the bank of the loch. There appears to be a mix of Irish and Scots, but nary an English soldier or a MacDougall plaid among them.” The man speaking nudged Bryce’s shoulder with the toe of his boot. “This appears to be the only one alive.”  
A dizzying wave of excruciating pain shot through Bryce’s chest as he was rolled onto to his side.
“What do you plan to do with this fellow, Donald?” the second man asked. “We canna just leave him here to bleed to death.”
“We’ll take him with us. My niece has some knowledge of healing. She cared for my wife when she had the pox . . . rest her soul.” Donald paused for a moment before he continued. “After Mairi died, the lass decided to stay on for a while. Mayhap there is something she can do for him. Best we make haste. I dinna want to be here if the bastards return.”
“I’ll be surprised if he survives the journey. But we can always bury him along the way if need be,” the second man responded.
Strong hands slid beneath Bryce’s shoulders, raising him to a sitting position, then someone grabbed his legs. A few garbled words of protest were all he could manage before darkness closed around him.

Book trailer for Highland Quest http://youtu.be/P-T5WWSFBGI
Highland Legacy On sale from Dec11th to Dec 25th for $2.99
Highland Legacy, book one in the Highlander series. An Amazon best seller in historical romance and finalist in the Oklahoma RWA International Digital Awards 2012. Is available in print and e-book
Trailer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Playing For Keeps, Book III of The Claddagh Series


Hello everyone, I’m Cynthia Owens and I’m thrilled to announced that Playing For Keeps, Book III of The Claddagh Series, has just been released from Highland Press! Miriam, thanks so much for allowing me to visit the Celtic Rose!

It started with Rory O’Brien and Siobhán Desmond of In Sunshine or in Shdow. Gambler and survivor. Landlord and tenant. A love that couldn’t be denied. It continued with Coming Home, when Ashleen O’Brien showed an Irish-American war hero that you can find a home and a family in the most unlikely place.

And now there’s Playing For Keeps, Katie’s story. This half-Irish beauty has finally returned to Baltimore to visit the family she barely remembers.

She was a descendent of the kings of Ireland ~ but in Baltimore, Katie O’Brien is just “Irish.”
Lucas was the despised younger son ~ a dreamer whose negligence had caused a family tragedy. He’s left his family’s home to prove that he can make something of himself ~ something he wants to be.
Excerpt
 Prologue
Philadelphia, 1850
Luke stared in silent horror as glowing red flames devoured the warehouse.
What have you done this time?
The words resounded through Luke’s brain, condemning and inevitable, in his father’s disapproving tones.
What had he done? He’d secured the warehouses. He had, he was sure of it. He’d made certain all the forges were out.
Hadn’t he? Or had his head been too full of the play he’d been studying in secret, the characters he was determined to flesh out, the pages he’d obsessively filled with his own dreams and interpretations?
Clanging bells and pounding hooves hammered in his ears.
Thank you, God.
But as quickly as relief flared, terror chased close on its heels.
Dear God, was anyone still inside? Tobias, his father’s most trusted clerk—surely he’d left long ago. And the two young men Matt hired last month—hadn’t they spoken of going to The Dancing Horse to spend their first pay packets?
He struggled for breath, the acrid smell of burning wood and molten steel tearing at his throat.
Bleak realization swept through him. It was his fault. It had to be. But it was an accident
Matthew. Matt would take care of everything. Matt always cleaned up his little brother’s messes, covered up Luke’s many shortcomings.
“Mr. Lucas? Mr. Lucas!”
Dazed, Luke stared in disbelief at the normally impeccable clerk. Tobias had lost his coat, his once pristine white linen shirt was torn and covered with soot. Luke’s gut clenched as he took in the other man’s wild hair, the bloody gash slashed cruelly across one cheek.
“Mr. Lucas!”
Luke grabbed Tobias’s arm, his head thudding, his fingers gripping convulsively. Fear struck ice cold in his heart. His entire body shaking, he ran his dry tongue over his ash-covered lips.
“Tobias, where’s Matt?”
The clerk gazed at Luke, pity darkening his eyes. Tears trailed slowly down his soot-blackened face.
“Mr. Matthew’s dead, sir.”

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Interview with Author MARY GILLGANNON



Mary Gillgannon in Wales.


When I released my historical fantasy The Silver Wheel, I sub-titled it “A Novel of Celtic Britain”. Since then, I’ve had several people comment that they never thought of Britain as being Celtic. To them, Celtic refers to only the fringes of the British islands: Ireland, Scotland and Wales. But the fact is, before the Romans arrived, the whole of the British Isles was inhabited by native tribal groups who shared a culture most people today would recognize as "Celtic". They wore vividly-dyed garments of checked, plaid and patterned wool (which would eventually evolve into the tartan). They adorned themselves with jewelry in complex curvilinear patterns, often in animal motifs. They wore their hair long and often braided. The men were generally unshaven, although some tribes shaved their chins and had long mustaches. They lived in round dwellings in fortified settlements that were often on built on hilltops. They worshiped a variety of male and female deities that were strongly connected with animals and the natural world. Their religious leaders were an educated class who transferred their knowledge orally.


These religious leaders are often called druids, which probably means “from the oak”, and they held their ceremonies in oak groves. They possessed a strong belief in an afterlife and otherworld. They were also reputed to practice human sacrifice. In fact, the initial story idea for my book came from reading about a bog body found near Lindow, England. The body was of a healthy, aristocratic young man (his hands showed he'd done very little manual labor and was healthy and well-nourished). The man had been strangled, had his throat cut and been bludgeoned (the triple death) and was then pushed into the bog. Because the body dates from the time of the Roman conquest of Britain in the early first century A.D., some researchers have surmised that this man was offered as a sacrifice to petition the Celtic deities to aid the British in their struggle against the invading Romans. We know for certain the Celtic Britons made sacrifices of weapons, jewelry and even chariots, as caches of these items have been found in lakes and springs throughout the British Isles.

The Romans characterized the Celts as warlike, boastful and ostentatious, and described them as utterly fearless in battle. The Celts were also known for their love of music and poetry, feasting, drinking, and for constantly fighting among themselves. Throughout history, invading peoples used this Celtic propensity for tribal conflict to their advantage. It can be argued that if the Celts had put up a united front, none of the successive waves of invaders—Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Norse, Normans or English—would ever have been able to establish any control over this region. At the end of The Silver Wheel, when the Roman victory seems inevitable, my priestess heroine sets a spell on the highlands of Wales, calling upon the gods to protect her people from Roman influence and keep their Celtic spirit strong. If you visit Wales today, you will find little evidence of the Romans, while Celtic aspects are everywhere. They still speak Welsh, a Celtic language, and use Celtic patterns in their art and design. They retain a love of music, a strong independent spirit, a mystical connection to the land and a fondness for tales and storytelling, all things that were characteristic of their Celtic ancestors.



Based on that, I think you can say my heroine’s spell was successful!



For more information about her books, visit Mary’s website http://www.marygillgannon.com.

She can also be found on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/mary.gillgannon



Friday, December 7, 2012

Salty Roses: Book Three in the Band of Roses Trilogy

Hi, Pat McDermott here, announcing the arrival of Salty Roses, a rollicking pirate adventure. Arrrrr...

The Band of Roses Trilogy, a series of romantic action/adventures set in modern Ireland, supposes that High King Brian Boru survived the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD and established a royal dynasty the rules Ireland to this day. As head of state, the current King Brian upholds ancient traditions, as does his daughter, Crown Princess Talty, though Talty has a knack for landing in trouble.

In Book One, A Band of Roses, the indomitable warrior princess finds romance and adventure from Ireland to Japan to an eleventh century Ireland, yet all she wants is to return to her family and Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves and cannot have—or so she thinks.

In Fiery Roses, the residents of rural County Mayo object to plans to run gas pipelines over their pristine bogs. An arsonist tries to change their minds. One of his fires sends newlyweds Talty and Neil to an ancient, Roman-like world beset by a waking volcano.

Book Three, Salty Roses, finds Talty a wife and a mother at last. The dynamic heir to the Irish throne believes her days of exotic adventure are all done and dusted, yet her royal duties seem endless, and a day off with handsome husband Neil is looking good. Former naval officer Talty eagerly accepts an eccentric billionaire’s invitation for a jaunt aboard his luxury submarine, but as she and Neil dive beneath the waves to view an eerie shipwreck, a sinister plot unfolds. An unknown enemy lures them to a megalithic tomb in Brittany and sends them to a world infested with treacherous pirates. Talty takes charge of a pirate ship and its mangy crew, while Neil matches wits with a steamy temptress who jeopardizes his wedding vows. As he and Talty fight to save their marriage, they learn that the door to parallel worlds swings both ways.

Excerpt - Neil visits Talty in her Tara Hall office—an office she suspects is haunted.
Muffled thuds whacked the wall on the other side of the door to Talty’s office. Neil cringed at the sound. "How long has she been at it this time, Denis?"
"Not long, sir. Go right in. You’ll be safe enough if you don’t distract her. Shall I call the kitchen for tea?" From his chair behind his paper-strewn desk, Talty’s ever-smiling assistant spoke cheerfully, as if the strange activity on the other side of the door was the most natural thing in the world.

Neil supposed it was, for Talty. "Tea for three, coffee for one, please. Colonel Gale and Major Tomasi are on their way up."

Neil twisted the bronze doorknob and stole into the room. Talty stood on the far side of her office, her back to him, her right arm rocking, her fingers gripping the glinting blade of a throwing knife. The round red bull’s eye on the wall before her looked like a numberless clock with three black-handled knives set at three, six, and nine. A heart-stopping blur later, a fourth juddering knife neatly filled the twelve o’clock spot.

Neil could throw a blade well enough, had learned it as part of his Fian training. Talty had mastered the skill, and many other martial arts, during her Japanese sojourn several years before. He was proud of her, and more than a little in awe of her Shurikendo proficiency.

These knives, a set of four ten-inch carbon steel blades, had been a Christmas gift from her samurai mentor. She claimed that throwing them not only kept her eye keen and relieved stress, it had also helped her regain her sleek, thoroughbred, pre-baby shape.

"So," she said, still facing the target. "Are you enjoying the show?"

"Always, darlin’."

She turned so fast he nearly ducked. "Neil! I didn’t…I’m…How are you?"

If she hadn’t known he was there, to whom had she been speaking? He crossed the room and kissed her. "Having a tough day, love?"

"Tough? Of course not." She plucked the knives from the target, set them on the table, and prepared to throw them again. "I thought my father being back would help lighten my schedule. So I can see my son before he—" Thwack! The first knife pierced the target dead center. "—forgets who I am. And where is my father? In his office with his tailor, looking over swatches of material for new suits. ‘We’re still on vacation, Tal,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t stand that hot sun anymore,’ he says. ‘So I’m taking your mother—’" Thwack! "‘—to Scotland for a week!’" Thwack! Thwack! The knives quivered on the target in a neat vertical row.

Neil stared in admiration. He knew from stolen ISF reports that Talty’s deadly aim had saved more than one life. "Did you tell Uncle-Dad about our submarine outing next Wednesday?"

Again, she pulled the knives from the target, this time carrying them to the wall safe where she kept them. "Yes. He said it was a great idea. Said it’s about time I learned to manage my schedule."

"He’s right."

She stopped. "What? You know very well this isn’t my normal schedule!" Her tone was indignant, her face flushed.

Quickly closing the gap between them, Neil caressed her soft auburn hair. "Tal, what if, God forbid, something happened to your father and it was your normal schedule?"

She met his gaze and sighed. "Then I’d make some serious adjustments. But I’m thinking, Neily. We shouldn’t go on this submarine cruise Wednesday. We should spend the day with the baby."

"We’ve already agreed to go. It’s only for a few hours. Donal is perfectly safe with Nanny Maude."

"He’ll think Maude is his mother. He won’t remember me!"

"Hell, you’re so busy, I don’t even remember you." He’d said it to make her laugh, but she looked as if she’d either start crying or tossing those knives at him. Hustling to derail either development, he squeezed her shoulders and kissed her. "We both grew up with nannies, Tal. It did us no harm, and we both love our parents."

In true Boru fashion, her tiny pout curved into a spectacular smile. She placed the weapons in the wall safe. As she shut the hinged portrait of some medieval Boru prince over the safe, she spoke to the oil painting: "What are you looking at?"

"Tal, are you all right? How long have you been tossing knives?"

Still smiling, she turned from the portrait. "For years, Neily."

"I know that! I meant today. You’re talking to people who aren’t here, darlin’."

"Am I?" She returned to the bull’s eye and closed the small double doors that concealed it. When she’d first found the old dartboard hidden in the paneling, Neil had helped her transform the secret recess into a training target. Besides himself and Talty, only Denis knew her elegant office housed the setup.

"I’ve been practicing about fifteen minutes," she said. "Not long enough." She approached him with one side of her mouth turned up in a provocative smile he knew well. "Did you have some substitute activity in mind?"

His arms slid around her, and hers around him. Her thigh-pressing hug left him struggling to remember why he’d come to see her. "And they call us poor fellas rascals."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Author Renee Vincent



I am so happy have for you today, Author Renee Vincent. Her new book, THE TEMPERATE WARRIOR is finally here!




The Temperate Warrior
Book 1 of the Warrior Sagas
By Renee Vincent



Turquoise Morning Press
December 2012
ISBN: 9781622370924

Genre: Historical, paranormal romance, Viking Buy Links: Kindle | Nook | All Romance Ebooks | Smashwords | Turquoise Morning Press | Book Strand



He was her champion. She was his weakness.
Together, they loved with wild abandon.



Blurb:
Gustaf Ræliksen lives by the blade of his sword. After avenging his father’s murder and reuniting with his family, he wants nothing more than to settle down and have sons of his own. Only one woman will do—a fiery redhead he saved from the spoils of war. No longer forced to warm the beds of the men who've taken everything from her, Æsa has nothing to offer the noble warrior but her heart. When someone with a deep score to settle seeks revenge upon her, Gustaf's world is torn asunder. He has but one vow—saving the woman he loves from the ignorant fool who dared to best the temperate warrior.



“Dying a thousand deaths in my head to protect you is better than losing you one time in the flesh. I would never recover if I let anything happened to you.”

His voice was devoid of emotion, monotone as he laid open his heart for her. Most would think he was just being aloof, uncaring as he rattled off sentimental words in an impersonal way. But Æsa knew better. He was not only bearing his soul to her, but doing so the only way he knew how; by occupying his mind and body with a simple task so his heart couldn’t entertain the idea of failure.

 Moved by his words, she stood and made haste to join him on the hide. Dropping to her knees, she laid her hands atop his wrists, impeding his progress with the knife.

His eyes met hers and they stared at one another. Long, heartfelt seconds ticked by as she absorbed the magnitude of his pain. She plucked the tools from his hands and set them at his feet. “I am so sorry for bringing this burden upon you.” Gustaf opened his mouth for rebuttal, but she pressed her finger to his lips, feeding his words back to him. “Yesterday, you were without burden, at peace knowing you had fulfilled your duty as a loyal son. Ready to start your life anew…remember?”

He closed his eyes as if forcing himself to hear her and wait his turn.

“And now, I have thwarted your future happiness with a dark past that follows me everywhere I go. You can deny all you want what I used to be and pretend that I am a woman of worth if it makes it easier for you to accept my shame. But I know what I used to be and I will not let you add me to the list of things you will punish yourself for should you fail. I am not worth it. I am not worth any man’s grief. Or death,” she added.

Slowly, Gustaf opened his eyes and stared at her. His lips drew a straight line across his face. He removed her finger from his mouth and held her wrist in a tight grasp. “May I speak?”

 Æsa nodded, steeling herself for the tongue-lashing she knew would follow. He took his time replying, which was worse than having him berate her on the spot. The look in his eyes foretold of his disappointment, and his quiet reserve prefaced the exceptional temperance this man was capable of.

 “I shall do my best to make myself clear,” he began, his eyes never leaving hers. “We all have a past and oftentimes we have an unfortunate moment in our existence we would rather erase from our memories. But it matters not what we have failed to do, but what we succeed in doing from those failed moments onward. In my past, I have failed to protect my family, as I am the only one left, save for my nephews on Inis Mór. While their deaths, brought about by various regrettable circumstances, were not a direct cause of my own negligence, the burden is still the same. Like you, I face that demon every day of my life.

“That being said, our demons do not become us. They are not the bones and flesh of our bodies, nor the substance of our hearts. They are recollections of what used to be and what is no longer. Your demon—or your previous life as a whore, as you like to beat upon my brow—is not who you are inside. Your worth is diminished only by the demon you place across your shoulders like a royal cloak. Divest yourself of that, my dearest Æsa, and you will understand the depths of my love and the extent to which I will go to protect you. Gladly protect you,” he reiterated. “Until then, you will just have to take my word for it.”





Author Bio:

I am an author with a passionate interest in Irish and Norse history. I live in the rolling hills of Kentucky with my husband and two children on a beautiful secluded farm of horses and hay fields.

I am a sucker for a good cup of coffee (lots of cream and sugar...and whipped cream if I can get my hands on it), great conversation, and a lilting Irish accent. I love to read and I can't resist watching great epic historical movies.

From an early age, I've always had scenes playing out in my head. Whether it was a story with a moral or a tale with a twist, those ideas have never let me sleep until I wrote them out. And considering I have an eclectic ensemble of stories swarming in my brain at any given time, I write under a couple pen names to accommodate the various genre categories. Renee Vincent (Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance) From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you'll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love. Visit my website at http://www.reneevincent.com/

Gracie Lee Rose (Lighthearted, Fancy-free Women's Fiction) For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories that your mother, sister, friends, and daughters can enjoy. Visit my website at http://www.gracieleerose.com/  



Author Links:
Website: http://www.reneevincent.com/
Blog: http://pasttheprint.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/reneevincentauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ReneeVincent
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Author Renee Vincent

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

COMING HOME by Cynthia Owens




Hello to everyone, and especially Miriam, my Celtic Hearts Clan sister and friend. Thanks so much for having me here, and thank you for allowing me to talk about my historical romance novel, Coming Home, the second book in my Claddagh Series. I’m so pleased to be here. AND I’ll be giving away an autographed paperback copy of Coming Home to one lucky commenter. So put the kettle on the hob, settle into your favorite chair, and share some of my memories of Ireland.

Coming Home is the unintentional sequel to my first book, In Sunshine or in Shadow. I hadn’t planned to write a sequel, but the characters called me back to Ballycashel, the tiny, wind-swept West-of-Ireland village where both books are set.

Visiting Ireland was a long-held dream of mine, not just for research purposes, but because I’ve always felt connected to the country somehow. And on July 11, 2009, when the ferry docked in Dublin, I felt I’d arrived at my heart’s true home.

We drove off the ferry and into a curtain of magical mist that turned into a true Irish downpour. It rained steadily throughout the day, as we drove from Dublin to the village of Feakle, in County Clare. Our cottage there could have belonged to Ashleen and Cavan Callaghan, hero and heroine of Coming Home. Its stone walls, thatched roof, and the lovely warm hearth sizzling with sods of turf made me feel as if I’d gone back in time. That night, I sat in a rocking chair before the turf fire, listening to Irish music and just absorbing the Irish atmosphere.

And I felt like a character from one of my own stories.

Naturally a visit to Ireland isn’t complete without touring at least one castle. The first one we visited was Bunratty Castle, located in County Clare. It’s a spectacularly beautiful castle dating back to Medieval times, complete with winding staircases and amazing views from the battlements. It was also a gold mine of research opportunities because it has a folk park designed to look like a Nineteenth Century Irish village. It was at Bunratty Castle that I found Tom Flynn’s cottage. Loop Head House was the cottage of a farmer/fisherman, just like Tom Flynn, one of my favorite characters in Coming Home, and one of my favorite secondary characters in the Claddagh Series. A minor character in In Sunshine or in Shadow, Tom plays a major part in the love story in Coming Home.

On another day, we had the great good fortune to visit Thoor Ballylee, a fortified 13th Century Norman tower, once home to the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. The grounds were lovely, the “Winding Stair” dizzying, and the view from the very top of the tower was both breathtaking and terrifying – at least for me, as I’ve always been afraid of heights. We even got to see Yeats’s bed! Three years later, I feel incredibly lucky to have visited Ballylee. The autumn and winter of 2009 were severe, and the tower was damaged by heavy flooding. Sadly, the tower remains closed to visitors to this day.

It was hard to leave Ireland. The green fields, the soft mist, the incredibly friendly people, the atmosphere, was sheer magic. Ireland is like a lover, and once you meet her, she’s impossible to forget. She takes your hand in a gentle clasp, urging you forward into a world of mist and magic. She touches your heart, fires your spirit, and fills your soul with a yearning to remain always.

And I can’t wait to go back!

Miriam, thanks so much for hosting me on your lovely blog!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Coming Home.

And watch for Playing For Keeps, Book III of the Claddagh Series, coming soon from Highland Press!

Book Blurb:
“A woman’s love is strong, more powerful than all the ghosts in Ireland..”

Daughter of an Irish village girl, step-daughter of the landlord, Ashleen O’Brien has lived between two very different worlds. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.

War and betrayal have taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade at Antietam, he’s searching for the family he never knew.

Love and deception await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.

You can find me at my website: http://authorcynthiaowens.com/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaOwens  


Follow me on Twitter: @Cynwrites1
Buy Coming Home here: http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Home-Cynthia-Owens/dp/0983396000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303209296&sr=1-1  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

THE SOUL OF SCOTLAND

Well, I know of at least one lady who believes the Soul of Scotland is exemplified in this video.

Here is something for your weekend viewing pleasure:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYPVPIugjzA&feature=related

Friday, November 2, 2012

Due to the storm and some internet issues this is a bit late.
 
Observed for centuries in Ireland, Scotland and most of the Isle of Mann, Samhain, one of four Gaelic seasonal festivals, traditionally falls on Oct 31-Nov 1. Half way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Soltice it celebrates the harvest and beginning of winter—the dark half of the year. Like Beltane, it is believe to be a time when the door to the ‘other world’ opens and the souls of the deceased and other unearthly beings can enter our world. Described in some of the earliest Celtic literature, it has been linked to All Saints Day since at least the 9th century. With a deep rooted belief in myths, superstition, omens, magic, the power of good and evil the Celts believe many a legend took place or began on Samhain.

Oíche Shamhna (Irish), Oidhche Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic) and Oie Houney (Manx), all meaning Samhain night, falls on 31 October and extends through Nov 1st (Samhain day).  The entire festival is known as Lá Shamhna (Irish), Là Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic) and Laa Houney (Manx)

At this time of year, cattle and livestock are brought down from the pastures and slaughtered for winter. Bonfires are lit and like during Beltane, the Celts walked between two fires and drove the animals ahead of them as part of a cleansing ritual, and the bones of the slaughtered animals were cast into the flames. The smoke was believed to have protective powers and it became tradition for families douse the fires in their hearth and to use the flames of the bonfires to relight them. This was seen as a means of protecting their home and a bond with the other families in the village.

In Scotland, these bonfires were called samhnagan, and they were usually made from anything that would burn. It was later believed that in some parts of Scotland, a ring of stones was laid round the fire. Each stone was meant to represent one of the people present.  Once the ring was arranged, they ran round the fire with a lit torch and continued to do so well into the night, chanting and honoring those from the spirit world.  In the morning, if any of the stones were not in the same place, it was said that the person for whom it laid would not live out the year. A similar practice was observed in north Wales and other areas of Brittan.

 Feasts are prepared and the souls of the dead loved ones were invited to join in, a place set for them at the table. They told stories about those who had passed and it was believed they would be rewarded and blessed by these spirits.

Along with their fascination and curiosity about the occult, fear of evil souls and spirits prompted the need for protection. Fairies were also thought to steal humans on Samhain and avoided going near what they believed to be the fairy mounds. People stayed close to home or, if they had to walk at night, they turned their clothing inside-out and carried bits of iron and salt to keep the fairies away. Offerings of food were left by the door for the fairies to avoid angering them and to make sure they had their blessings in the new year.

The need to protect against fairies and spirits on Samhain led to rituals like guising, or as it is known in west Scot dialect ‘golshans’. In the 1800s there are records of people dressed costumes, carrying hollowed out turnips as lanterns, and visiting from house to house, collecting cakes, fruit and coin.

While Halloween has replaced Samhain festivals in most areas of the world, it is still seen as a spiritual holiday for Wiccans and Celtic neopagans.

 

So light your fires, hollow out your turnips, and don you disguise, for tonight the fairies and spirits will roam the earth and one can’t be too careful.

I write primarily historical romance set in medieval Scotland, but also have WIPS set during the Civil War, War of 1812 and ones dealing with Native American Culture. I also have a few Romanic suspense, time travel and paranormals on the go
To learn more visit my web site BJ Scott. www.authorbjscott.com
Get your copy of Highland legacy at http://www.amazon.com/Highland-Legacy-ebook/dp/B0065KX8P8  or at Barnes and noble, kobo or Soul Mate Publishing!
Available in e-book and Print
The Sequel, Highland Quest is due for release in Dec 2012.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

THE VIKING LIFE



My romance about Vikings in Ireland, The Eagle's Woman, has gotten 5-star reviews from both readers and professional reviewers since it was released on August 2.  Recently I returned from a trip to Ireland where I did research for Book Two, The Eagle's Lady.  I was expecting horrendous weather, but actually we had only one day when a gale was blowing.  Of course it was the one when I visited the Cliffs of Moher, towering 300 feet above the Atlantic Ocean!  I have stood on those cliffs on calm days, but no way was I going out in an 80-km. gale, so I lived to write my sequel.  :)

Cliffs of Moher
 ****

My research into the first book of The Eagle series was mostly set against the stark, cold coast of Norway.


   I had had the plot in the back of my mind for quite some time, but what did I know about Vikings?  I was amazed and a little intimidated when I realized just how much work bringing about that back-of-my-mind dream was going to entail.  I knew about the Viking longships, the Berserkers…I even had a notion about how their concept of trial by judge would filter down into English Common Law via the Norman invasion to become our modern trial-by-jury. 
But I didn’t know much about the private code of conduct so integral to Viking life.  Viking society was permeated by the notion of honor, or drengskapr, and shame, or nior.  In stark contrast to our present-day image of heated Berserker frenzy in battle, the Viking in his private life was valued for self control, bravery, generosity, sense of fair play and respect for the right way of doing things.  A stoic and imperturbable manner was considered highly honorable.  Cowardice, treachery, kin-killing and oath-breaking constituted dishonorable, shameful behavior that could even result in temporary or permanent banishment.  Taunts issued through—of all things—poetry could get you outlawed (the Irish bards were pretty vicious, too), and accusing another man of effeminate behavior was signing your own death warrant.  Viking law allowed for lethal reprisal.
Matters of honor were often settled by duel with swords, spears and axes. 

 This took place before witnesses in the context of a carefully orchestrated ritual.  In Iceland, men were required to duel within the area which could be covered by a cloak, often on a small island in a river, which prevented retreat or interference.  The first man to become disarmed was the loser.  If his opponent then cut him down, he could be outlawed, which meant he was banished and was essentially free game to anyone who wished to kill him, and someone usually did.  Quite a difference from our image of the out-of-control raider decimating peaceful villages, isn’t it? 
           That wasn't the only surprise I found and you will see some of these illustrated in the character of Ari Bjornsson, second son of an impoverished, dying jarl.  Pagan himself, still he spares priests though he sells them as scribes.  He's a heathen, a murderer, and it is a sin for any Christian woman to love him.  Yet when he abducts Maeve from her peaceful Irish fishing village, he may have found the only one who can. 

SEE “THE EAGLE’S WOMAN” AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS:



Friday, September 28, 2012


Five Stars for The Eagle's Woman

Miriam Newman is currently somewhere in western Ireland, doing research for the sequel to this new release The Eagle's Woman. In her absence, her friends have been allowed to go "behnd the scenes" of this blog to post celtic-themed articles.

What better article to wish Miriam "bon voyage" and to celebrate her latest book? This is a review published by YouGottaRead Reviews on September 28, 2012--in time for her leaving for the shores of the emerald isle--and we publish it here on her own lovely blog.

Review – The Eagle’s Woman By Miriam Newman
SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 
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Title: The Eagle’s Woman
Author: Miriam Newman
Publisher: DCL Publications
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Eagles-Woman-ebook/dp/B008RZD4Q2/ref=sr
Rating: pastedGraphic_1.pdfpastedGraphic_2.pdfpastedGraphic_3.pdfpastedGraphic_1.pdfpastedGraphic_3.pdf You Gotta Read

Blurb:
Son of an impoverished, dying Norse chieftain, Ari raids for booty and slaves so he can feed his people. Pagan himself, still he spares priests though he sells them. He’s a heathen, a murderer, and it is a sin for any Christian woman to love him. Yet when he abducts Maeve from her peaceful Irish fishing village, he may have found the one woman who can.

Review:
Reading The Eagle’s Woman was to me like sipping a rare wine. The taste, the aroma, the heady fire of the words–I wanted the sensation never to end. Ah, Miriam Newman, you are the keeper and dispenser of poetic prose. You make me drunk with the pleasure of reading.

Like the two other novels by Newman I have read, The King’s Daughter and Scion, this latest one focuses on one powerful man and the woman he has come to “own.” And like those two books, the man is strong, resilient, even sensitive; while the woman keeps herself at an ironic distance, measuring and unyielding, yet irresistibly drawn to him.
Unlike those previous novels, which were set in almost fantasy universes, The Eagle’s Woman takes place in a setting cold, beautiful and real–the ninth-century Norway of the Vikings. Newman describes longships on the rough sea, steamy sauna baths and fire-lit longhouses with the sureness of a writer who has been in those very places.

Ari is a Viking whose latest foray has captured Irish slaves for selling in Denmark. Among the women is Maeve, a gold-haired beauty who fights her captivity from the beginning as she is almost raped by one of the rude plunderers. She fights her confinement on the longship, and most of all she fights the nearness to Ari, to whom she now belongs by right of seizure.  Even while struggling against him, she finds herself conflicted emotionally, seeing his compelling body and handsome face: “Well, he was a beautiful man, that was all. A beautiful, savage, murdering heathen.”

Ari himself is larger than life, almost like the majestic figurehead we imagine on the prow of a proud Viking ship. He is utterly enraptured by Maeve. Gazing on her, “His parts ached with immediate urgency." At first he will not abuse her because he plans to sell her in Hedeby, a Danish port and center of a thriving slave trade. Later, as he begins to understand his own needs, he will not force her because he feels an honest admiration, and he respects her fighting instinct: “You could not put your heart in a woman’s hands. It was like handing a razor to a child–they would only cut it out without meaning to.”

The pace of the novel is swift and sure. The author takes us from the longship to Ari’s home in Norway; and from there to a distant coastline where Maeve has been brought as a captive again–this time by Ari’s malevolent half-brother.

At last Newman moves the reader to a long-awaited consummation of her characters’ passions, until finally Ari murmurs to his woman: “I want inside you. All of me, inside all of you.”

Here’s to beautiful writing, and to a satisfying love story. I raise my glass to you, Miriam Newman, and to your latest triumph The Eagle’s Woman.