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book news, meet new authors, interesting people, places, and fun tidbits.
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Muse Monday, Wicked Wednesday,
and Fearless Friday as told by my guests and me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

#Vacation #GiftCards #Books All Equal Fun

I'm four days back from a driving favorite kind...unless the destination is overseas. FDW and I traveled 4,000 miles from Arizona to Minnesota and back. We chose a different route each way, and on the way home we spent most of our time in the Rockies. I LOVE the mountains. While in Minnesota, we stayed with three different sets of friends in three different settings. It was a fantastic trip.

Now it's back to reality and writing. Because we left a few days later than planned, I'm scrambling to keep my schedule straight. I have some fun contests going on, and there are a couple of book signings on my horizon.

If you live anywhere near Prescott, Arizona, I hope you'll come by either or both of these fun events. I'll have the latest release in my Love and Murder Series available for the first time:

United Methodist
8944 E. Sommer Drive
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

Chino Valley Memory Park
Rd 1 West & Butterfield Rd
Chino Valley, AZ 86323

As for the contests, don't miss out on these. Really easy to enter and you could win books, gift cards, and a Kindle.

For the month of July, Coffeetime Romance, click the link below:

Also until the end of the month, click the link below:

And there's only 3 more days to enter this one. Hurry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 9, 2018

#Fire Fight No Extra Charge by Jo A. Hiestand #booksigning


I love Muse Monday when it's amusing. Fire? At a book signing! Please welcome Jo Hiestand with a good story.
The St Louis Scottish Highland Games were in full swing. We were housed in a field, which gave plenty of legroom for caber tossing, hammer throwing, and sheep dog herding—space-demanding activities that pesky, shade-providing trees could hamper. But the uncluttered area left the massed pipe band marchers and us sellers with no shade and baking under the summer sun. Our vendors’ tents provided cover, certainly, but they also seemed to act as traps for the heat. Forget the fried-egg-on-the-sidewalk test; I swore I could bake shortbread on the ground in my tent. But I was there to sell books, not cook, and The Games were a good venue for my British protagonist with Scottish roots. And although Michael McLaren had hitherto sleuthed exclusively in England, my current mystery, An Unfolding Trap, was based entirely in Scotland. I had high hopes it’d sell well.
I’d just finished guzzling my third thermos of iced tea and discreetly flapped the hem of my tartan skirt for air circular when a man with a cigarette jammed into his mouth came up to the book display. I smiled at him; he evidently was interested in looking at McLaren’s newest adventure. But the man had his dog with him, and held the lead in his left hand. He looked like he wanted to pick up a book and thumb through it, but he didn’t want ash drifting from the cigarette and coating my book. So he removed the cigarette, crammed it into his pocket, and patted his dog as he told it to sit. He then proceeded to leaf through the novel. It didn't take long before I noticed smoke coming from his pocket and the fabric turning a dark brown color. I hinted, "Sir, I think your pocket's on fire." He glanced at me, then at his pocket, then uttered something I’m probably glad I couldn’t distinguish. He spat on his fingers and dabbed at the inferno. I handed him my bottle of water so he could take care of the inconvenience. He did and safely continued his browsing.
He bought An Unfolding Trap. If it was in gratitude for my firefighting expertise or his interest in McLaren, I'll never know.
An Unfolding Trap by Jo A. Hiestand
“An Unfolding Trap” excerpt

Ross leaned forward, closing the distance between them. “You’re sure you didn’t get angry when you found Lanny this afternoon?” 
Of course I got angry!  Who the hell wouldn’t? The bloody git killed a man, frightened a dozen others who were there, kidnapped Miss Skene, held her hostage--”  McLaren took a deep breath. “But I didn’t kill him. I tied him up so he wouldn’t escape, then phoned you when I could.” 
“An hour later.” The voice was flat, unimpressed. 
“Yes. An hour later. Maybe ninety minutes. I didn’t write down the time, but I phoned here, in the village.” 
“Why wait so long to ring us?” 
“Pardon?” The suspicion that things were turning horribly wrong whispered to McLaren. 
“Why didn’t you phone right then? Did you want to put some space between you and the killing so you could establish an alibi?”

 “An Unfolding Trap” blurb 
Since his infancy, Michael McLaren has been the target of his paternal grandfather’s anger. So when the patriarch sends an invitation to heal the rift, McLaren travels to Scotland, eager to meet and finally end the feud.
But the welcome never happens. In fact, the older man is furious McLaren’s appeared on the family home doorstep, convinced it’s some trick.  McLaren, however, is confused. If grandfather hadn’t sent for him, who had?  And why?
In Edinburgh, a man standing beside McLaren in a bus queue is killed in a hit-and-run accident. But McLaren wonders if the driver got the wrong person. And after an attack leaves him for dead on a wintry moor, McLaren’s convinced someone from his past is trying to murder him.
As McLaren trails the hit-and-run driver from the medieval ‘underground city’ of Edinburgh to the Boar’s Rock--the MacLaren Clan’s ancestral meeting place--the assaults intensify, and he’s plunged into a very personal hunt for a World War II treasure. The puzzle is fascinating; he just has to stay alive to solve it. 
Buy Links:

Monday, June 25, 2018

Magical, #Fantasy, and #Horses by Helen B. Henderson


It's a fantasy Muse Monday. Please welcome Helen Henderson!

On Mondays, the muse is supposed to tell a story and it’s supposed to be personal, so I’ll tell a tale about horses. The pony of my childhood was large enough an adult could ride him without their legs dragging on the ground. He was smart and loyal to his friends, just not necessarily to his human ones. This pony’s friend was a ram. Old westerners have said a mustang could track its chosen rider through storm and dark of night. I took the attributes of that childhood pony (and the horses I’ve since ridden) blended them with magic and legend to create the falaire. Larger than a true horse, the falaire have speed and stamina beyond a real horse with more than a few surprises in their nature and abilities. Maybe the ability to fly?

As to the role of the falaire. The head stallion of the falaire was the mount—and friend—of Lord Dal, archmage and leader of all wizards. And as such, the stallion was in the thick of the action for he treated Dal as one of the herd.

Like the first book in the series, Windmaster Legacy started out as a sword and sorcery fantasy. And like its predecessor, Windmaster Legacy ended up bearing the additional label of romance. But not the kind where the meek heroine is rescued by the swashbuckling hero. Before she met the archmage, Ellspeth was a ship captain and leader of men. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Ellspeth is a woman to walk beside a man, not behind him.

The excerpt below blends the two tales, human and falaire as we see the golden falaire, Zethar, protecting her rider, Ellspeth.

If you like adventure and romance in your fantasy worlds of imagination, and like to hang out with wizards, you’,re invited to check out Windmaster Legacy. Or if you prefer to fly with dragons, there are the Dragshi Chronicles, but that’s a story for another time.

Windmaster Legacy

Blurb:  Ellspeth and the dark-haired archmage Dal, escort his mother to her ancestral lands. His mother is fatally wounded when mercenaries under the control of the rogue mage, Bashim, attack. Ellspeth is captured and her sole hope for escape is Nobyn, an untrained wizard going through the throes of awakening magic. However, Nobyn is under a rogue mage's total control.

Dal must make an impossible decision -- Rescue Ellspeth, save his mother, or thwart the rogue mage’s plans. As archmage, Dal might be able to survive killing the future of magic, but as a man could he live with the knowledge he caused the death of a loved one.

Amorphous shapes detached from the stygian shadows along the wall. Magesight turned what had been unrecognizable blurs into armed men. Dozens more spilled out of the open gates of the compound or leaped up from the low ditch that bordered the road. Their yells resounded off the wall and sent the herd of true horses scrambling. 
Hands grabbed at Ellspeth. Her sword slashed. One of the grasping hands fell away. Without a command, Zethar spun on her haunches. The mare reared and with a scream of anger struck out. A chime sounded as a sword hit the street. Zethar’s front feet dropped to the cobbles. Her iron-hard rear hooves kicked backward. Two of the shadows grunted and folded to the ground.

About Helen Henderson:  Although the author of several local histories, and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction. Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal-miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign. Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels. In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Saying No to a Major #Publisher by Judy Alter #Indie


Please welcome Judy with a most fearless story in the publishing world!
Ten years ago, when I first turned my attention to writing mysteries, I was bewildered by the publication process. I had written extensively for young adults on a variety of subjects as well as several historical novels for adults about women in the American West. I thought I knew the ropes, but I soon discovered the mystery world is a territory unto itself.
Take the search for an agent: it can last years, and I heard horror stories of authors who’d been rejected over a hundred times. My agent for westerns had died several years earlier. I did query others, but I knew that a writer’s relationship with an agent is like a marriage, so you better get it right the first time (and boy, did I get it wrong at least once). I never found an agent with whom I clicked. Besides, I was pushing seventy and did not have years to spend looking for an agent. I had stories to tell, and, like every author, I wanted instant publication. I’d paid my newbie dues years earlier.
When I was active in Western Writers of America, Inc. (I’m a past president), I met several agents, and I knew one was with Kensington, a major publisher for mysteries. I wrote him about my first mystery, thinking he might suggest a mystery editor. He replied that he was now editing cozy mysteries. I should have been leery, because his letter indicated he considered this a demotion. But he agreed to read my work. As we’re advised, the proposal also included a brief synopsis of my planned second in the series.
This unnamed editor wrote back that he liked the manuscript I sent him, but he really liked the idea of the second novel better. He wanted me to revise so that the second novel became the first in the series. I took a deep breath and considered.
Here it was—an “almost” offer from one of the important houses. Most beginners would jump at the opportunity to at least negotiate with the editor. I didn’t. I said “Thanks but no thanks.” The back story was built into the first book, and I liked the way it flowed and introduced the main characters. Instinct told me it was good. The editor lost interest in the first book, and I ended publishing with a small press that went out of business after I’d done six mysteries with them. Today I am an indie author.
Do I regret it? Not a bit. If I’d signed with Kensington, I’d have been subject to the pressure that goes with working with a major publisher—produce so many books a year and maintain certain sales goals. As it is, the novel, Skeleton in a Dead Space, was the first of a series that will, come October and publication of Contract for Chaos, have eight titles and will keep on going. In addition, I write the Blue Plate Café Series (four culinary titles) and the Oak Grove Mysteries (two academic titles). And I write at my own pace, without pressure (except my own) to meet sales goals.
So that fearless step I took almost ten years ago turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m for listening to instinct every time.


Dallas developer Silas Fletcher sees endless real estate opportunities in Wheeler, Texas if only he can “grow” the town. Blue Plate Café owner Kate Chambers likes her hometown just the way it is, thank you very much, without big box and chain stores. When Fletcher tries to capitalize on a thirty-year-old unsolved murder, Kate know she must fight for her town, and she uses historic preservation of the old bus depot as one of her weapons. A suspicious death and a new murder make her also fight for her own life.
Links for Judy: 


Twitter @judyalter 

Also available from Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and other platforms.

Monday, June 18, 2018

#Cooking Up a #Mystery by Cornelia Kidd


It's always interesting to see where a story originates for an author. Cornelia Kidd, aka Lea Wait, is sharing how her latest came about.

About eighteen months ago my agent asked if I’d be interested in writing a new mystery series set in Maine. I was already writing two mystery series, both under the name Lea Wait, but this new series would be under a new name.

Was it time to re-invent myself? Why not? I chose the name ”Cornelia Kidd,” the maiden name of my paternal grandmother, and dove in. I’d already set two mystery series in Maine – one along a tidal river (the Shadows Antique Print series), and one in a working waterfront town (the Mainely Needlepoint series.)

So I decided that the new series, which the publisher was already calling the Maine Murder Series, would be set on an island; an island connected to the mainland by a drawbridge, so it wouldn’t be too isolated.

Protagonists? I’d always had one main character (albeit with friends and relatives) but this time I decided to have two. Two sisters who had never met, or even heard of each other, until chapter one of the first book in the series, now titled Death and a Pot of Chowder. Anna would be in her thirties, an islander by birth and heritage, married to a lobsterman and the mother of a fourteen-year-old. Her sister, Izzie, was twenty-three, had grown up in Connecticut, recently graduated from the Culinary Institute and, oh, yes. Her mother was Korean American.

Add in a murder (of course,) some conflicts (naturally,) and a happy ending ... until the second book in the series. Include recipes. I’d never written a culinary mystery and this seemed the right time. And because I love connections to the past, so does Izzie, and each chapter includes an old quotation or recipe from a nineteenth century book on cooking and housekeeping.

Death and a Pot of Chowder debuted last week. And Anna and Izzie will be back next year.

Excerpt from Death and a Pot of Chowder

            No Quarry Island fisherman had been lost at sea since I was five or six. Everyone on the island had been at that funeral. I hadn’t known the fisherman whose sternman hadn’t been able to haul him up after his foot caught in the trapline that pulled him overboard. But I never forgot his story.
            Every May I cried during the Quarry Island memorial reading of the names of every man who’d been lost at sea since a boy had been hit by a book and knocked into the rough North Atlantic in 1689. It was a reminder that island life was challenging, and the sea couldn’t be trusted.
            “Maybe they’ll find him,” said Izzie. “Maybe he’ll be fine, and waiting for you at home.”
            Izzie didn’t know lobsters and ropes and waters. “Maybe.”
            I wasn’t usually the praying sort, but this wasn’t a usual day. I kept saying Carl’s name over and over in my mind. He had to be all right. He had to be.
But I was a lobsterman’s wife. I lived on an island. I knew the odds.
They weren’t good.

Links:  Lea Wait/Cornelia Kidd’s website: (includes link to free prequel of Death and a Pot of Chowder)
            to buy hardcover:’faCyXPe
            to buy ebook for Kindle:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#NewRelease #Rafflecopter Let's Celebrate!

Only two days until the official Worldwide Release of the fifth and final book in my Love and Murder Series. The Deep Well of Love and Murder is set in Chino Valley, Arizona, and we're back on the Meadowlark Ranch which was the setting for book two, Southwest of Love and Murder. I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to celebrate. Read to the end of the page for the Rafflecopter Entry Form.

After an abusive childhood and bad marriage, Laura Katz has finally found a home, stability…and possibly love. But her blissful refuge as nanny on the Meadowlark Ranch, miles from Flagstaff, shatters when her ex is released from prison, determined to reclaim her.

Randy Silva, the Argentine foreman, has plans for his own ranch, but a nasty land grab is underway. While the battle escalates, Laura steals his heart, but there are outsiders who stand in their way. He’s in a fight for his land, and the woman he wants by his side.

Stakes are high, as the attacks on Randy and his ranch draw blood. While the vengeful ex-husband stalks Laura, a mob-backed land developer teams with a desperate gambler. Randy can’t be sure where the next attack will come from—or who will be caught in the crossfire.

Although the novel hasn't officially released, it is available here and there for pre-order. Click on the links below:


And to celebrate, I'm having a Rafflecopter. Hope you'll join in and Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How to be #Wicked in the Kitchen by Dee S. Knight #recipe #chocolate


I should say Deliciously Wicked Wednesday. Please read on for Dee's yummy chocolate recipe.

For those who know me as an erotic romance writer, this might sound kind of kinky. But no. Today, I am not writing about prurient couplings but about something far more wicked and compelling. Today I address the wicked subject of…chocolate cake. Yes, that most enticing, desirable, delectable food, chocolate cake, is now available literally in five minutes, from start to finish for those who have the ingredients on hand and a microwave.
Now, I know that there are a lot of bad things to say about chocolate: the processed product has loads of carbohydrates, sugar, and cocoa butter (a fat). I realize that there are chocolate allergies and also (sadly) that cocoa production has some ties to human trafficking. I don't mean to downplay any of that. But I'd rather focus on the good things chocolate can bring about. It makes us happy. It gets us "through" and substitutes for rational thought when rational thought can't take place—like when our boyfriends break up with us, we lose our jobs, or our book proposal isn't accepted. It can be our very own wicked little secret.

 And considering all the forms chocolate can take, I like cake best. This recipe isn't my own but I'm not sure it's all that well-known. Why is it wicked? Well, it's fast, it's made with readily available ingredients, and it alleviates all guilt because you don't have a whole big cake sitting around tempting you for a week. I hope you enjoy my wicked one-serving cake!

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

1.     Add dry ingredients to 12-oz mug, and mix well.
2.     Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
3.     Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
4.     Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
5.     Put the mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high (1000 watts). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
6.     Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
7.     EAT!
This can serve two but only if you don't want to feel wicked.

Dee S. Knight has written erotic romance for more than a dozen years—taking time out of her writing schedule
for chocolate cake breaks as needed. Find out about her, her latest book, Naval Maneuvers, and some of her friends at She can also be reached on Twitter (

Buy Link : Amazon

Sunday, June 3, 2018

#Brainstorm With Me-Help Me #Write My Book


Hundreds of you read my blog, but you never leave a comment. Today, I'm hoping you'll break the mold and give me some feedback. Brainstorm with me. I have a new series simmering, some chapters written, and I'm vacillating on how to continue. Speak out readers and writers. Help me write these books. I don't usually find myself so undecided. I'm kind of a type A, do-it-my-way kind of lady. In this case, I see so many possibilities, I'm mystified. me write this series! Cool?

There's an old mining town, hanging on the side of a hill, turned ghost town, turned hippie/art community and is now a popular tourist stop in Arizona. Many of the old hippies who settled there in the 60s are still there.

I've renamed the city Joshua, Arizona. It's those early days in the 60s when the population was only one hundred people that my imagination took off. They were suddenly overrun by newcomers. They were not always happy with the free-wheeling, anything goes artists and anti-establishment people who ended up owning shops,
serving on the city council, and establishing an art community. They were about mind expansion, auras, crystals, vibes, and a little of the occult.

In 1969, Frank MacKenzie, an artist, and Susie Muse, a mystic who has a book/cafe, are part of the hippie settlers. This will be a love story, but also a story of suspense as they try to become members of the community. Two other books of romantic suspense will be about his sister and her brother.

I have three more books planned that take place roughly between 2018 and 2021. These three books will also be romantic suspense about their three children, Magpie, Harlan, and Elidor. Elidor is the only one to have inherited her mother's mystic charms. Magpie is book one, and the murder of her father's girlfriend and disappearance of her boyfriend twenty-eight years ago has resurfaced in some other worldly way. Harlan is book two, and he makes a discovery that is eerie and dangerous. Elidor has finally come home to face her mystical demons. (In the years between the 60s books and current era books, Susie Muse dies.)

Should I start the series with 1969?
Should I publish the current era's books and then go back and publish the books about the family's beginnings?
Would this be a 6 book series to you?
Would this be two separate trilogies?
Should I write the current decade books and drop in flashbacks to where the family began in the 60s so that I don't do a separate trilogy for those early years but combine them?

I'd love to hear your opinions. Have a hand in this!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Using #Affirmations for #Health and #Writing by Joanne Guidoccio


I'm so pleased to welcome Joanne Guidoccio back to Discover Yourself. What a great positive message for all of us. We'd love some input from you on this great topic.

Using Affirmations to Achieve Health and Writing Goals

During my cancer journey, I read Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, and developed an interest in affirmations. 

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation states an outcome or truth you wish to impress upon your mind. While the affirmation doesn’t actually make things happen, it can raise your vibration so that you are more receptive to the desired outcome.

At first wary, I slowly warmed up to the topic and adopted several of Louise’s suggestions:

Every cell of my body radiates health.
I relax and let my body heal itself.
I lovingly do everything I can to assist my body in maintaining physical health.

I also liked using the following mantra-like affirmation from French psychologist Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie:

Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.

Having experienced success with these health-based affirmations, I decided to use this technique to help achieve my writing goals. And I wanted to create my own personal affirmations rather than piggy-backing on someone else’s success. 

Here are the affirmations I’ve used during the past ten years of my writing journey:

 My words flow easily.
 Each day, I write with confidence and enthusiasm.
 I submit a manuscript that is well received by a publishing house.
 Joyful and creative, I delight in inspiring and motivating others with my written work.

Tips for Writing and Using Affirmations

1.      Use the first person and the present tense. 

2.      Keep the affirmations brief and limited. Focus on one or two until you’ve incorporated them into your psyche.

3.      Don’t sabotage yourself with an unrealistic goal. For example, “My book achieves best-seller status” is too much of a jump for an unpublished writer who is struggling with the first draft of her book. 

4.      Practice your affirmations each day. You can say them first thing in the morning, while looking in the mirror, or while exercising. 
5.      Write down your affirmations. You can stick them on your mirror or bulletin board, post them on your computer, or carry them in your purse or wallet.

Any affirmations out there? Please share.
While not usually a big deal, one overlooked email would haunt teacher Gilda Greco. Had she read it, former student Sarah McHenry might still be alive.

Suspecting foul play, Constable Leo Mulligan plays on Gilda’s guilt and persuades her to participate in a séance facilitated by one of Canada’s best-known psychics. Six former students also agree to participate. At first cooperative and willing, their camaraderie is short-lived as old grudges and rivalries emerge. The séance is a bust.

Determined to solve Sarah’s murder, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers shocking revelations that could put several lives—including her own—in danger. Can Gilda and the psychic solve this case before the killer strikes again?


One missed email. While I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain it was the only one I had ever overlooked, I knew this omission would haunt me. And matters weren’t helped when the cantankerous constable on the telephone said, “If you had read that email, Sarah McHenry might still be alive.”

Leaning back in my recliner, I closed my eyes and tried to recall Sarah’s face. But all I could see were curtains of blond hair or, more precisely, three sets of curtains of blond hair. The Barbies—Mean Barbie, Mellow Barbie, Moody Barbie—came to mind. How I had detested those nicknames and some of the more cruel ones the students tossed about like puffs of cotton candy, oblivious to the pain and potential scarring that could linger for decades and even lifetimes. I spent the first two weeks of my teaching stint calling out the children whenever they used those nicknames and giving detentions to anyone who persisted.

Moody Barbie. That had been Sarah’s moniker. Prone to tears and bouts of the silent treatment, she often retreated into her own world. A budding artist, she would take out her sketch pad and draw whenever she finished her work or needed to separate herself from the others. Had she decided life was much too difficult and retreated even farther? That had been my first thought when Constable Mulligan read the infamous email: We need your help. But the use of the first person, plural pronoun conjured up another meaning, one even more sinister.

Who was in danger? Family members? The Barbies? Other classmates? Why reach out to me after over two decades of silence? And how did she find my workplace email address? All these questions swirled through my mind, and I longed to ask for details. But I didn’t want to anger the grief-stricken constable who was bemoaning the senseless way Sarah had died, alone and exposed to the cool autumn evening. A shocking occurrence, but even more so in Parry Sound.
Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
Buy Links

Amazon (Canada):
Amazon (United States):
Barnes & Noble:
The Wild Rose Press:
In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio

Monday, May 21, 2018

#HistoricalRomance, Scotland, and a Highlander by Mageela Troche


History buffs as well as romance readers will love today's guest post!
Years ago, after I saw the movie, I was hooked on Scotland. Naturally, my new interest led me to the library to learn more of Scottish history. It was then I learned about the time when Scotland had a king—Alexander III—before war waged. 
Alexander III of Scotland was born in 1241 to Marie de Coucy and Alexander II. When he was seven years old, his father died and he was crowned at Scone in July 1249. His minority was dominated by the struggle ofrival factions yet Alexander was a boy of great will. In 1251, Alexander married Margaret of England, the daughter of Henry III of England and sister to Edward who would come to be known in history as the Hammer of the Scots. 
Because of the marriage, Henry saw an opportunity to demand homage from the young king. But Alexander showed his shrewdness and only gave homage for his English lands that he inherited from his father. 
In 1262, Alexander reached his majority. Now the young king sought to fulfill his father’s wish and get ownership of the Isles off Scotland’s coast. During the middle ages, the Western Isles also known as the Outer Hebrides were under the rule of Norway. King Haakon of Norway sent a large force that landed on the Isle of Arran and began negotiations with the Scottish king. Alexander though stretched them out until autumn when storms raged off the isles. The Norwegian navy was destroyed by these storms and Haakon sailed away to the Orkneys, where he died in December. 
Alexander now had the chance to grab the isles and with the Treaty of Perth, Scotland now owed the Western Isles and the Isle of Man only the Shetlands and Orkneys remained under Norway’s control. 
During this time, Alexander and Margaret produced three children, Margaret, Alexander—the heir—and David. His daughter went on to marry Erik II of Norway and produced a daughter also named Margaret and known as the Maid of Norway. Alexander married but no children were produced. Only David never married. But by 1284 all his children were dead along with his wife Margaret. 
In 1285, Alexander married Yolande de Dreux. Months after his marriage, the king was in Edinburgh meeting with his advisors. Alexander decided to ride through the night to be with his wife. His advisors begged him not to ride through the night because of bad weather. He did nevertheless and some time through the journey, he died. He was found with a broken neck. It is assumed that his horse lost his footing. 
His wife, pregnant, either miscarried or the child was stillborn and the crown now rested on the head of the child, the Maid of Norway, who died on her journey to Scotland to take the throne. These deaths left the Scottish throne empty. And many factions including Edward I of England to wage war for it. 
And I found a place that has captured my imagination that lives in my Highlander romance novels. 

Book Blurb of Claiming the Highlander 
First came marriage...will love come next?  
As children, stoic Caelan MacKenzie married feisty Brenna Grant for a parcel of land and an Earldom. Then the child bride and groom went their separation ways. 
Years later, Caelan is the feared Viking Highlander, a great warrior. His father lies on his death bed and now Caelan must return home to take his place as the Chief of Clan MacKenzie. Time has come for him to face his past and the secret he has carried. Some believe him unworthy to lead. 
All but his wife—Brenna knows the true man that he is from the letters they had been exchanging since childhood. Now at Castle MacKenzie  anticipates her husband's return.  Brenna must use her influence to protect the Grant clan or have her life destroy. And that she refuses to happen. 
From the Scottish Highland shores to the rugged glens, the alpha male and his brave heroine must battle against outside forces to save their wedded life even as they succumb to their sensual desire. 
Can they save all they hold dear including their growing love? Or will they be defeated and betrayed? 
Claiming the Highlander Excerpt 
Brenna shut her chamber door. The smoke from the wall torches filled the turret stairs and stung her eyes. She waved away the cloud as she descended from the top floor. That chamber had been her own since she was seven, when the laird and lairdess first fostered her. Brenna loved the space, since Caelan once rested his head there. Being in the chamber was the closest she came to sharing a bed with her husband.
Learning her role as the future Lairdess of Clan MacKenzie, her life consisted of watching, waiting and being a help or a hindrance. Lately, she had been a help. Only that mattered to Brenna, especially after she intruded upon the Lairdess weeping in the garden. That was her place of refuge. Brenna had moved forward and then stepped back, leaving her to her sadness. What did one say when death hovered near? The truth was, Brenna wished she could make the laird survive. Brenna took pride in her healing skills and knowledge of herbs, but in this instance, those skills were meaningless, so she strived to lessen the Lairdess’ burden. This day, the duties had been split between her and Rowen.
Rowen would see to the household, the meals, the cleaning of it, and other duties. Whereas Brenna was to assist the clan and handle any issues the clan-folk faced this day. Today, she would take her place as the Lairdess of Clan MacKenzie. Last night, she hadn’t gotten much sleep. Though, she had been trained in her duties, that knowledge did nothing to stop her from fretting. If only Caelan were here with her…with him beside her the day would be easier. He should return home soon. Perhaps this day or the next.
She reached the last step and halted. The smoke must have conjured images. Caelan stood at the end of the corridor. She blinked, believing the vision would vanish into nothingness. The arched doorway framed his muscular form, which was draped in plaid. His head hung down. His long locks draped around his face and blocked him from her view. Light flickered over his Viking blond hair. She blinked a few times, waiting for him to notice her standing here. She must have moved because his head flew up.
He faced her. A smile spread across her face and her cheeks hurt from it. She wanted to throw herself in his arms. Instead, she buried the urge. She even squeezed out a couple of tears.
Her feet skipped over the floor as she raced to him. She threw her arms around him and squeezed him tightly. She lacked the strength to hold him as she wished. Caelan was all hard muscle. He smelled of the outdoors—greenery, and of the fresh wind that whirled about him and caught in the weave of his plaid, along with a manly scent that was his own. She stroked her cheek against his plaid. The scratchy wool scraped her skin. An itchy tingle spread through her cheek.
She ran her hands over his thick arms. He had come for her. She linked her fingers with his. She leaned her head to the side to look at the shut chamber door. Last night had been a difficult one. The healers and servants had been going in and out through the night. Their muffled voices floated to her chamber along with the groans of pains coming from the laird—aye, the laird would be leaving this earth soon. Her smile dimmed along with the heady delight within her. You have finally returned.”
Caelan arched a brow, revealing his blue eyes. She loved his pure, blue hue that shined bright with shards of white, unlike her plain, brown ones. He pulled his hand away. She tucked her empty hand within the pleats of her dress. This was not the reunion she had imagined since she learned he was returning home. Caelan was supposed to grab her in his arms and swing her about. After holding her close for a drawn-out moment, he was supposed to slide her down his body, and then kiss her. After he ravished her mouth, he was to stare deep into her eyes.

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