image credit: Christopher Rynn, University of Dundee
Happy Medieval Monday!
In 2017, Professor Susan Black of the University of Dundee, Scotland, was on an archaeological dig on Black Isle, Ross-shire, Scotland with Dr. Christopher Rynn and three PhD students when they discovered the remains of a man buried in a cave.
According to Professor Black, he had been brutally beaten to death, but buried carefully, laid in an unusual position, and in a protected location in the back of the cave.
Despite his battered skull, researchers at the University of Dundee were able to reconstruct his face using digital imaging. To me, the man looks strikingly modern. Why do I feel a bit surprised? What else should I expect of anyone without worldly trappings affecting their appearance?
It's so easy to dehumanize others -- whether in the past or, worse, even in the present. He might have been a bad guy. He might have been cruel. He might have been a great leader, betrayed. We will probably never who he was. But from now on, when I think of the Picts, his face will come to mind.
There've been a lot of archaeological discoveries all over Scotland the past few centuries. One very impressive site is the hillfort at Burghead. Radiocarbon dating shows that the fort's construction began as early as the 3rd century, and it's presumed to have flourished between the 4th and 9th centuries. Over 12 acres, it's the largest pictish settlement ever discovered and surely a main center of power for the Picts. Findings at the site show it was a center of both commerce and religion.
I owe it to the Picts to write at least one more post about them -- about their writings, their art, their body-paint. But it will be a few weeks. I'll be away and mostly offline for a little while. I can hardly wait to tell you all about it!
Be sure to visit the marvelous, medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis!
Wishing you a happy, wonderfully medieval Monday!
"The True Picture of a Woman Picte", engraving by Theodor de Brys, 1588
Happy Medieval Monday!
It's been a fascinating time, learning, un-learning, and repeating the process several times over as I've made the acquaintance of the ancient people called the Picts. I have to say, I absolutely love them.
No one seems to have a really firm grasp as to who they were, where they were from, or how their language sounded. Possibly the biggest mystery of all -- since they were a known people during recorded history -- is what happened to them?
It would seem that someone should know something. Right? Yes, I'm a bit cranky about it. To be fair, it's only because the Picts didn't leave a lot for us to work with -- at least, not a lot has been uncovered yet. But archaeologists continue to make amazing discoveries.
They lived in northern and eastern Scotland. Growing evidence shows they were there in the Iron Age which, in Britain, was from roughly 750 BC to when the Romans invaded in the first century AD.
It's hard to even know which question to address first! I've decided to go with their name. After all, that is usually first in order when getting to know someone. Then, since it sort of ties in, I will add a few words about where they came from.
It's worth pointing out that no one is even sure what they called themselves. I've found a few resources that suggest they might have referred to themselves as the albidosi, as in of the Kingdom of Alba (Scotland). I like that.
So where does the name "pict" come in? The most popular theory is that the Romans gave them the name. “Pict” or “Picti” in Latin means “painted people”. It is assumed that this would have been the Romans' way of painting them (no pun intended, but HA) as savages, referring to their blue war paint.
But there’s another theory out there that I personally prefer -- that "pict" might be a word of proto-Celtic origin. Cruithni (Irish), prydyn (Welsh), and pretani all mean "ancestors". It's been suggested that pict or pecht (Scottish Gaelic) comes from these old, indigenous words.
That brings me to where they came from. Some sources suggest that they came from Scythia. Others, from Ireland. These are the most popular theories, but not the only ones.
There's one theory gaining steam that I personally feel is the obvious right choice. Of course, all the work has been done for me. Moreover, what do I know? I'm just getting to know these folks. But I appreciate the suggestion that the picts were indigenous to the land -- indigenous to what is now Scotland. To me, that makes the most sense.
Ancestors. Right. To say nothing of Iron Age evidence... I'm going with it.
But that's just me.
Before I go, I thought to share this astonishing, digital image (University of Dundee) created from the well-preserved remains of a Pictish man. He was handsome and died a violent death. I'll tell you more about him next week.
For more medieval fun, be sure to visit these medieval ladies, Barbara Bettis and Mary Morgan.
Wishing you a great week ahead!
The digitally recreated face of the Pictish man. (Image credit: Christopher Rynn/University of Dundee)
Mysterious History: Medieval Scotland
I was so excited for this week’s Medieval Monday! After struggling through my last few posts -- more to the point, struggling out of the deep and fascinating rabbit holes I had dived into head first – I finally hit upon a plan! The weekend and Monday morning were busy, but I was fine. I knew what I was going to write. I would settle at my computer in the early afternoon and the post would be up in no time.
I wasn’t expecting a cable outage. And then, suddenly, our Wi-fi was gone. No internet, no phone for approximately fifteen hours. I’m typing this at four o’clock in the morning. I could have waited -- slept -- but I had so many things on my mind that I finally decided to give up and write. And then I realized that our services had returned. The rest of the neighborhood will doubtless be glad when they wake in a few hours.
Onto my Medieval Monday post!
The pyramids at Giza, the classic philosophers, the architects of Greece and Rome, runes, hieroglyphics, cuneiform… Some civilizations left us a vast legacy, evidence not only of their existence, but of their way of life, their beliefs and traditions. Others left almost nothing at all.
Why is that?
It all has to do with the way the people lived, which was, in turn, reliant upon their surroundings. Was it an agrarian society? Warlike? Was the society stable enough to support creativity and education? Were there cities? Was there a wealthy leisure class? An educated one?
What’s really fascinating to me is that even of those civilizations that left behind a brilliant collection of writings, immense monuments, and well-preserved artifacts, there’s still so much we don’t know.
History is mysterious and (probably) unfathomably vast. Even when broken up into eras, there are innumerable aspects to consider – for every civilization. And so, for study and research purposes, the eras are divided.
For the medieval era, we have the early period (500 A.D. to 900), high (900 to 1300), and late (1300 to 1500). The dates are rough/approximate.
You can imagine, in this span of 1,000 years, that a lot changed. People and landscapes, conditions and circumstances -- basically, the world -- changed drastically in the course of a millenium. If you consider how much our modern world has changed in just one hundred years, well, you get the idea.
For Medieval Monday, in order to keep my blogposts reasonably focused and book-centric, I’m going to largely focus on Medieval Scotland. Moreover, I will concentrate mostly on the Highlands, although not entirely.
The posts will be shorter, too, due to my new focus.
There was so much more going on than is commonly assumed. But first things first!
Are we all clear on the difference between Dal Riata, the Kingdom of Alba, Pictland, and Scotland as we know it today?
During the next few Medieval Mondays, we are going to see what we can find out.
If you haven't already, be sure to visit Mary's Tavern and Barbara Bettis' blog for more of Medieval Monday!
Wishing you a great week ahead!
There are more books in this series. I listened to these three audio versions, but I enjoyed the books and characters enough that I will take time to read the rest and hope for more.
My favorite character in the series is the setting. Donna Kauffman describes an absolutely gorgeous, fictional area in the Blue Ridge mountains. But I love ALL the characters. Most make at least brief appearances in all the books.
In the series, every couple has to overcome self-imposed obstacles to be together. At times, I found it exasperating, but their hesitance to move forward is probably more realistic than not. In both Blue Hollow Falls and Bluestone & Vine, the characters have to decide whether or not they are willing to make drastic moves in order to be together. In Lavender Blue, Hannah and Wilson must overcome pain and fear of loss. To my surprise, Lavender Blue is my favorite even though it is the heaviest of the three. All three books are beautiful. They encourage choosing joy and life.
I did not know that Donna Kauffman died in 2020. She left a wonderful legacy of books behind that I believe reflect her spirit. May she rest in peace.
The Blue Hollow Falls series consists of six books:
Blue Hollow Falls
The Inn at Blue Hollow Falls
Bluestone & Vine
Lavender & Mistletoe
Under a Firefly Moon
I’m proud and excited to welcome Author D.V. Stone. Today is the launch day of her new release! Welcome, Donna! Congratulations on Jazz House!
I have to tell you, I’m a fan! I eagerly look forward to your posts on the various social media venues. You always seem to be doing something interesting. Before we delve into writing and your upcoming release, won’t you please tell us about yourself?
Thanks so much not only for your kind words but for having me over today. As I’m doing this interview, we’re returning from a camping trip that included Maine and Massachusetts. I’m blessed to have retired from full-time employment and now can focus on the things I love. Hubby and I love to travel, history, and camping. We are both avid readers and enjoy opening a book or, in my case, a device and reading around the campfire. Cooking is one of my hobbies, and I recently was invited by Still Moments magazine to contribute a recipe and short blurb about the recipe to each of their issues starting this fall.
I look forward to your recipes! I love the premise of your blog, Around the Fire with D.V. Stone. You have such a warm, relaxed style and you very generously showcase and interview a lot of authors. How did you come up with the idea and how in the world do you find the time?
Thank you! One of the things about camping is if you light a fire, people will join you. Discussions often lead late into the night, and you learn so many interesting things. Other people interest me. Anytime I can talk about books is a bonus. Time management is much easier now that I don’t have a nine to five.
Tell us about your writing! Where do you write? When? Do you have a favorite spot or time of day?
When my son moved out, my DH turned his room into an office/library. I spend a lot of time there. However, I move around a lot depending on the weather. A lap desk makes me mobile. The deck is one of my favorite places, and my camper has a bunkhouse that doubles as an office when we hit the road.
Okay (rubbing hands together), let’s talk about your Impact Series. How did you arrive at the name for this series? Tell us more about your inspiration and research.
I believe we should all we can to make an Impact in our world. Each of our lives touches so many others for the good and the bad. Choices we make, or don’t, have repercussions. As a former EMT, both as a volunteer and a professional, was an important part of my life. When I learned about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I took what I knew and loved. Rock House Grill was the first book and combined my love of Rock/music-House/family-Grill/cooking into a novel about love and how our life choices can help or harm others. Jazz House easily followed with a continuing theme of First Responders.
That sounds like an amazing combination! Jazz House – it looks intense! Please tell us about your latest release!
At the end of RHG, Shay and Olivia are getting ready to take on the restaurant world by opening Jazz House. They listen to a demo tape for their dinner club’s entertainment, and we hear about Madeline Cielo. One of my favorite characters in the first book is Michael Michau, a police officer who had a crush on Shay. I needed Michael to have his happily ever after. In the same way, Shay makes an Impact on the House family, as Michael does in Madeline’s shattered life.
Were some scenes hard to write? Did you ever get emotional?
One day I’m going to finish Olivia’s story. Liv is like the spoke of the wheel the series revolves around. Her story is tragic, and every time I write a scene with her, my heart breaks.
I realize this might seem a crazy question, considering we’re celebrating the launch of Jazz House. But we’d really like to know – is your next book in the works?
Honky Tonk House is being drafted. Along the lines of First Responders, this one will focus on a female firefighter. I’m a huge fan of 80s and 90s country music, hence Honky Tonk. I have a couple of lost souls looking for love and haven’t decided which male character will find his soul mate. Both Nick (Shay’s ex-husband) and Zach, another EMT, have been requested. We’ll see. I’m also working on several Indie projects. One is a fantasy series, the other a historical paranormal adventure.
Oh, wow -- it all sounds great! Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to share?
We live in very difficult times. Be kind. You never know what someone else is going through. Make an Impact for the good. One of my favorite quotes is—let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
I respect and appreciate that. Thank you, Donna. I look forward to reading Jazz House and the Impact Series. I wish you happy travels and much success!
About the Author
D. V. Stone is an award-winning, multi-genre, traditionally and independently published author. She writes books people want to read. Whether romance or fantasy, her stories are about the importance of friends and family. About overcoming obstacles while doing it with humor.
Around the Fire is a popular weekly blog where she introduces both established and new authors, giving an insider’s look into their lives and books and tidbits about her own life.
After retiring, she is now a full-time author and incorporates her life experiences into her books.
A former Emergency Medical Technician, she volunteered in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She worked as a professional EMT in a women’s state prison. She was the proprietor of a coffee shop and a small restaurant/ice cream stand in the years that followed. The years following were as a manager in an animal emergency hospital, while her last position was in a human medical office.
When not behind the wheel of 2Hoots—a 41-foot long 13.2 feet high 5th Wheel camper, she rambles around town in Northern New Jersey in a white Camaro. She also loves travel and history.
D.V. is wife to an amazing husband, mother to one son, and not your average grandma to three beautiful grands. A woman of faith, she believes and trusts in God.
“My greatest pleasures are spending time outside with friends and family, cooking over the open fire, sipping a glass of wine, and reading.”
Hali, her rescue dog, always reminds her to let readers know, “Woof, woof.” Which is loosely translated as support your local animal rescue.
You can learn more about D. V. by following her on social media.
For one-stop connections Link Tree
Amazon Author Page
Around the Fire Blog with D.V. Stone
Jordan Vasilakis is on the run, living under an assumed name. After a disastrous marriage to a notorious Greek business tycoon, she flees to the States and starts rebuilding her life. But her ruthless husband is determined to destroy her…once he finds her.
Michael Machau is drawn to the new singer at Jazz House restaurant, but the guarded woman is harboring dangerous secrets. The dedicated police officer may have to risk more than just his heart to forge a connection with the woman he knows as Madeline Cielo, especially when he discovers she’s living a lie.
Worlds collide. Lies entangle. Survival, much less love, is in question. They must quickly distinguish friends from enemies or risk losing everything—including a future together.
Excerpt from Jazz House
Jordan scrambled to the other side of the limo.
“You sing good tonight.” He scrolled through his phone.
Outside the window, massive cruise ships docked in the port. Happy older people made their way up the gangplanks toting bags filled with souvenirs, while the younger ones debarked dressed for the nightlife. Sparkly sequins flashed like diamonds as one young woman twirled on the pier.
God, how had she come to this life? She willed her hovering tears not to fall. Kyrios wouldn’t approve.
When she was offered a place in the touring group ten years ago, she thought it was the beginning of great things. Standing in the cabaret with the lights shining down was her dream come true. When she was the woman in the sparkly dress.
Until he showed up.
Each night, Kyrios Vasilakis, Greek business tycoon, sat at the front table watching her. Yes, he was older but so very handsome. Dark hair with silver at the temples, he cut a dashing figure in his black suits.
Jordan began to sing to him. It was the beginning of the end. After a whirlwind romance, she found herself a prisoner in marriage to a brute.
Other Books by
D. V. Stone
Rainbow Sprinkles by The Wild Rose Press
After the storm come the rainbows.
Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks
Rock House Grill by The Wild Rose Press
One man’s choices. One woman’s Impact.
Amazon Barnes & Noble iBook’s Google Books Kobo
Australia Burns by The Wild Rose Press
Agent Sam Carter
The Mystery at Branch Lake https://a.co/bb0HlkS
The Mystery at High Pointe Tower https://a.co/bb0HlkS
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Author Cherie Colyer. Her paranormal romance Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss just launched yesterday! The title alone sounds scrumptious and as you will see from my review, so is the story!
Welcome Cherie, and congratulations on your new release! Before we get knee-deep in questions, won’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks for having me on your lovely blog! I’m the mother of four amazing sons, a senior technician for an IT company, a bit of a solitary witch, lover of nature, Harry Potter geek, author, wife, and friend to some amazing people. My happy place is in books, from reading great stories to creating my own contemporary worlds.
You write children’s books, YA fantasy, and adult paranormal romance. There’s something always a little magical in your writing, which I find impressive, appealing, and clever. It takes a lot of imagination to write fantasy. To me, adding even a little magic or other-worldliness also softens – sometimes even disguises -- an important lesson or a painful truth. On the other hand, it can also be sheer fun. I’m all for that!
So why do you write magic and fantasy? From where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve always been drawn to stories with magic in them. The idea that people can possess magical powers or be supernatural fascinates me, and whose to say there isn’t a bit of magic in us all. I certainly believe there is.
My inspiration comes from all over the place. Peyton, the protagonist in Salted Caramel Bliss and a Wedding Kiss, was Cassie’s best friend in Merry Little Wishing Spritz. The inspiration for these characters came from my desire to step into the world of adult paranormal romance and an idea I had for a stories that happen to include three witches. When the Wild Rose Press announced their call for submissions for their series, I stole the characters from my unfinished WIP and created these new books. And I’m so glad I did!
Do you have a favorite place to write?
I usually write in my family room. I’m pretty good at ignoring the TV and my husband. (Shh, don’t tell him I said that.)
What sort of books do you read?
This probably won’t come as a surprise, but most of the books I read have a touch of the paranormal in them. From Harry Potter (I’m a proud Gryffindor!) to The Midnight Library. Really, put a little magic or a witch, vampire, or faerie in a book and I’ll check it out.
Now, for Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss! Was it fun to write? I looove Roman, Travis, and Peyton. Spoil us. Tell us a little about your main characters and how the story evolved.
I had a lot of fun with this story. As I mentioned earlier, Peyton is the best friend in Merry Little Wishing Spritz, so I knew her pretty well. She’s a witch and a seer, and it’s a premonition that brings her to the small seaside town in Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss.
Roman, though not without his flaws, is selfless. He cares about the people around him and tends to do the right thing. Well, most of the time. He really screwed up with Peyton when they had been together.
This is their second chance, even if neither of them asked for it. But I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just say that I loved writing this story.
Excuse me, but I have to ask – what’s your favorite ice cream?
Usually, it’s cappuccino mocha chip, or any coffee flavored ice cream, but I can’t resisted the chocolate peanut butter ice cream at the ice cream parlor by my house. And normally, I never get chocolate ice cream.
Mmm, that sounds delicious! I must admit, I have a weak spot for pretty much all ice cream.
I know that you’ve just launched a book. I do. But do you have something else in the works? We’d love to know.
I do! As far as WIP, I’ve been playing around with another spinoff with the characters in Merry Little Wishing Spritz and Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss. It’s been a bit slow going, because I’ve had to stop to work on edits for this book and a middle-grade fantasy, Atticus Everheart, Fifth Grade Tutor…and Monster Hunter? which comes out this fall.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before we close?
I love to hear from readers, so drop a comment below or find me on Instagram or Facebook. Although, I’m better with IG than FB.
Thank you for joining us today, Cherie. Wishing you joy and great success with your wonderful, imaginative books!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s been a lot of fun!
About the Author
Professional network technician by day, novelist by night, Cherie lives a quiet life in the Chicago suburbs with her charming husband. She has four amazing sons who she loves dearly. Cherie magically weaves together stories with a paranormal twist. She’s the author of the Embrace series, Challenging Destiny, Damned When I Didn’t, and Friends to the End. She waltzed into the adult novel world with Merry Little Wishing Spritz. She’s delighted to be back with Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss.
To learn more about Cherie and her novels, visit www.cheriecolyer.com.
Award winning author of fiction with a paranormal twist.
A kiss to remember... if only she could.
Roman Briggs built a life for himself in Siren’s Cove. He restored the Sugar Cones Ice Cream Parlor and turned it into a popular stop along the boardwalk. He has everything he needs until a certain blue-eyed woman wanders back into his life.
Seer and witch Peyton Woods isn’t sure why her latest visions feature a man and boy she’s never met. Determined to find out, she casts a spell that leads her to a small beach town in Maine and, to her utter surprise, the man who broke her heart eight years earlier.
Peyton's left with one question. Why didn't her magic show her him?
Salted Caramel Bliss with a Wedding Kiss by Cherie Colyer
“We’re meeting up with Henry and some friends,” Roman said. “We always watch the fireworks together during the summer festival. You’re welcome to join us.”
Since I was there to see Henry and Travis, I couldn’t say no.
I expected to stop at a picnic table, but Roman strolled past them on his way to the docks.
“We’re going on a boat?” I asked. On land, if the metaphorical shield protecting my heart from breaking cracked, I could leave. But on a boat, I’d be trapped.
“Just a mile out. We can see the fireworks better. Come on.” He jerked his head to the side. When I still hesitated, he added, “I don’t bite.”
I remembered him nibbling all the right places when we dated. The memories sent an elated shiver through me. Sex with Roman had always been amazing. At least, I thought it was. Roman obviously enjoyed love-making with Travis’s mom more. The thought added a new layer of protection around my heart. I reminded myself that I was over him. His endless brown eyes and smoky voice no longer had any sway over me. Now, if I could just convince the fireflies in my stomach to settle down, I’d be okay.
I could do this. I could be held captive on a boat with Roman and not let old emotions ruin the evening. Maybe we were destined to be friends all along.
That thought had me agreeing to go with them to watch the fireworks.
Roman led the way to the pier and a battered blue- and-white fishing boat. I stumbled. The boat looked as if it had made hundreds of exhausting voyages and was ready to sink.
“She isn’t pretty,” Roman said as he lifted Travis onboard. “But she’s safe.”
“Sturdiest fishing boats on these waters,” Henry said from the back of the boat. He sat on a folding chair next to an older Black couple.
“It’s the only fishing boat docked in this harbor,” a white-haired man said, clapping Henry on the back as he walked by.
“Don’t listen to Mattie.” Roman climbed in and then held his hand out to help me.
I glanced over my shoulder, finally second-guessing this whole trip. What had I been thinking, racing off to follow a vision and then sticking around even after I found out Roman was here? I should have fled Siren’s Cove the moment Karly said his name.
But then Henry coughed as if choking, and Travis patted his back, just like I’d seen in a vision.
Jinx jumped on my legs. She wasn’t worried about boarding the vessel. I scooped her up and whispered, “Don’t get attached to these people. Hanging with them is a onetime thing.”
Jinx licked my face. I seriously wondered if I should trust the instincts of such a young familiar. Maybe magical companions grew into their sixth sense instead of being born with it. Past the boat, a spark shimmered above the water. Was the spell that led me here telling me this was the right course to take? Or was the glow of the evening sun reflecting off a buoy? I hoped to soon find out.
This book fills all requirements for a relaxing, enjoyable read: there's sand and surf, an adorable kid, a cute puppy, a gorgeous, single-dad, and a loveable, relatable heroine who just happens to be a witch.
The discomfort and sexual tension between Peyton and Roman had me rooting for them immediately. They have a history, and they really aren’t sure how to deal with each other. But Roman’s son Travis has no issues. His sweet, innocent presence bridges their awkwardness perfectly and adds charm to every scene he’s in.
And I can’t leave out Jinx, the smart little puppy who is Peyton’s familiar. I can’t imagine the story without her. Neither, I’m sure, could Peyton.
There are some unexpected twists and turns, and the story flows easily. Lightly, deftly, Colyer weaves ice cream and magic throughout the book, lending fun and whimsy to this summer romance. She is an excellent storyteller.
I could read a book like this every day. Whether you’re actually at the beach or just wishing you were, this story will engage you, relax you, and make you smile. Highly recommended!
Welcome, Silver Dagger Tours and Author Susan Stradiotto!
by Susan Stradiotto, author of Raine of Fire
When writing fantasy, there’s a concern that magic will be seen as the proverbial dues ex machina, or the thing that suddenly happens that allows the main characters to get out of an impossible situation. A classic fantasy example is the golden eagles in the Lord of the Rings. I’ve always felt that magic in any world or story should have limitations. Therefore, when I was building the world for Raine of Fire (and what will be come the world for the series to follow), I wanted to make sure that each and every bit of magic used had its own unique drawback.
There are so many books out there where the magic user loses energy when they access magic. That’s one way to do it, but I felt like there could be some more specific consequences. When dealing with the Fae, I couldn’t assign a limitation to Faerie magic as a whole, because their magic is granted by the goddess Danu and is tied strongly to the realm of Faerie. So, I looked for other options.
One of the scenes in Raine of Fire shows the main characters Raine going on a “memory walk.” This is a fae ability where the faerie can relive a person’s memories through their eyes. There are actually a number of limitations associated with this ability.
First, the faerie must be touching the person. There is no walking by a person and getting a flash of their memories.
A second limitation is that the faerie cannot sense how the person was feeling at the time the memory occurred, only how the person feels in the present. This allows events to be viewed objectively or with almost an analytical lens. However, it also restricts the faerie from knowing immediate reactions. For example, when walking through a criminal’s memories, there might be a separation the criminal has created between themself and the crime.
Finally, there is the big consequence. When a faerie can take on physical or mental characteristics of the person they memory walk into. In Raine of Fire, the example is a hip problem, so Raine limps away from the encounter with the same affliction. This is temporary, of course, because Fae are immortal.
There is also an unwritten rule: Never memory walk with the dead. I’ll let that one sit with you for a while.
Sparks fly when an exiled Fae prince and a straight-laced detective team up to solve a murder.
Banished by his mother from Faerie, Raine Abarta wants nothing more than to entertain people on the streets of Wickney, Wisconsin. But when the daughter of a prominent senator stumbles upon his show, he’s drawn into her world and her mother’s murder.
When Raine takes his act down to the police department with intentions of helping solve the puzzle–or, uh, the “case”–he meets the ultra-serious Detective Kennedi Craine. To his dismay, she views him as nothing more than a charlatan, but when has that ever stopped him?
Kennedi’s latest case is open and shut, more of a paperwork and media hassle than a case. Senator La Point, after all, was holding the smoking gun over his wife’s lifeless body. So, when a random guy off the street walks in telling her she’s wrong, she sends him on his merry way. At least she thinks she does. As he keeps popping up, she begins to wonder if he’s on to something. And when he broaches a situation from her past, she just can’t leave him alone.
Raine helps her solve another small case, and she starts to wonder if there might be something more to both mysteries before her.
Fabulous read for fans of the TV shows Castle and Bones.
Susan Stradiotto is passionate about the written word, whether it is in her own writing or her editing practice. She is a fan of well-told stories. Susan is always searching for unique voices and stories that tell a truth. As Neil Gaiman said in his master class, “Write the truest story you can.” She believes that is what makes a story sing.
Susan is an author of fantasy and romance and has professional editorial experience with genres such as romance, memoir, mystery/thriller, cozy mystery, fantasy, and women’s fiction. She attended Capella University for her BS in Information Technology and the University of Chicago’s Graham School for her professional editing certification. She lives in Eden Prairie with her husband, a hoard of Bernese Mountain Dogs, and one Miniature Dachshund.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
What an amazing book! Beginning with a fascinating examination of the evolution and dissolution of Scottish Gaelic, which in turn leads to a brief history of the Scottish Gaels, Wilson McLeod and Meg Bateman then move on to explain the different forms of Gaelic poetry. The poems, from the seventh century to the seventeenth, are in full text, not shortened, and presented in Gaelic as well as translated into modern English. As I said, amazing.
I fell in love with a couple of poems, circa 1200, attributed to Deirdre, a famous character of Gaelic legend. I named my character Deidre after her. Her name means sorrowful or broken-hearted, and her story is, indeed, tragic. She lived in ancient Ireland and was to marry an Irish king. But she fell in love with a young warrior named Naos (Naoise, Naisi). They ran away together to Scotland, along with his two brothers, and enjoyed a happy interlude there. But in the end they returned to Ireland because they were urged to to do so with the promise that they would be safe and welcome. But they were betrayed, resulting in the murder of Naos and his brothers and Deirdre's suicide.
I cannot not reproduce the poems as they are translated in this excellent book due to copyright restrictions. But if you enjoy poetry or are interested in Scottish literature or history, I encourage you to look into it. Meg Bateman, who translated the poems from the Gaelic, states in her note about the translation that she has given "pre-eminence to rhythm". It certainly shows in her work.
However, since the poems attributed to a medieval legend are (obviously) very old, they are translated and shared elsewhere. The most famous ballad, Deirdre's Lament, is a heartrending love song to Scotland. I found the following translation at Glen of the Red River, which is a great website.
No one knows for sure who composed the ballad, but Deirdre (of legend) gets the credit.
“My love to thee, yonder land land in the east,”
“and sad it is for me to leave the sides of thy bays and harbours,
and of thy smooth-flowered, lovely meadows,
and of thy green-sided delightful knolls.
And little did we need to do so. ”
A land dear (to me) is you land in the east,
Alba with (its) wonders,
I would not have come hither out of it
Were I not coming with Naisi.
Dear are Dun-fidhga and Dun-finn;
Dear is the Dun above them;
Dear is Inis Draigen, also;
And dear is Dun Suibhne.
Caill Cuan !
To which Ainnle used to resort, alas!
Short I deemed the time
With Naisi on the coast of Alba.
Glen Laidh !
I used to sleep under a lovely rock ;
Fish and venison and fat of badger ;
That was my food in Glen Laidh.
Glen Masain !
Tall its sorrel, white its tufts;
We used to have unsteady sleep
Above the shaggy Inver of Masain.
Glen Etive !
There I built my first house:
Lovely its woods after rising
(A cattlefold of the sun is Glen Etive).
Glen Urchain ! (Glenorchy)
It was the straight, fair-ridged glen :
Not more gallant was a man of his age
Than Naisi in Glen Urchain !
Glen Daruadh (Glendaruel)
Dear to me each of its native men ;
Sweet the cuckoo’s note on bending bough,
On the peak above Glen Daruadh.
Dear (to me) is Draigen with its great beach ;
Dear its water in pure sand :
I would not have come out of it from the east,
Were I not coming with my beloved.
Deirdre sounds homesick even as she's leaving, doesn't she? And knowing what happens afterward makes it all the sadder. But at least she experienced love in a beautiful land.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit authors Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis -- magnificent Ladies of Medieval Monday!
Wishing you a wonderful day and week ahead!
Tremors Through Time
Available at your favorite online bookstore.
Welcome, Silver Dagger Tours and N.J. Walters!
Forgotten Brotherhood Book 5
by N.J. Walters
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Nothing was supposed to wake half dragon, half human Lucius from his Deep Sleep. Nothing. And yet something, or rather someone has. The unexpectedly attractive human not only touched him. She kissed him. Now Lucius is awake, and more powerful than he has ever been in his 4,000 years of existence. And once he finds out who led her to his cave, he’ll deal with his 300 years of hunger…
College professor Raine Carson spent her life obsessed with myths and legends. And now she’s woken one up. Only, Lucius is nothing like anything she’s ever seen or read about in her history books. Because this man is part sexy badass and part terrifying…monster. Yet she wants him with a hunger like nothing she’s ever felt before.
Lucius used to be part of the Forgotten Brotherhood—a ruthless group of paranormal assassins. Now he’s unsure if his former Brothers are their allies…or enemies. All he knows is that someone is hunting him, and Raine is just as tangled up in this mess as he is. And he’ll protect her—even if it means unleashing his Dragon and all of its power.
Each book in the Forgotten Brotherhood series is STANDALONE:
* Fury Unleashed
* Arctic Bite
* Burning Ash
* Bjorn Cursed
* Ancient Desire
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.
One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks--all vie for her attention. It's a tough life, but someone's got to live it.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
I’m honored to welcome author Kim Janine Ligon on the eve of her new release. Her romantic suspense novel Polly’s List launches tomorrow! Welcome Kim, and congratulations.
Thank you for the invitation, Anastasia.
How are you feeling about your imminent book launch?
It’s still a little bit surreal. Even though I have my author copy and can look it up online, I still can’t hardly believe it is finally happening.
I have so many questions! But first, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I had a demanding career in healthcare information technology and after I retired, I finally had the time to pursue things that interested me like writing, spinning, weaving, and all kinds of needlework. I’m the oldest of ten children and grew up in Wisconsin. I live now in Alabama with my husband and encourager of forty-seven years.
I find it fascinating that you spin and weave! Have you done it for long? What made you choose this ancient craft? Do you have a spinning wheel at home? Please, will you tell us a little more about your amazing hobby, how you started, and why?
I knew before I retired that I wanted to learn to spin. I was a history major in college and I’m fascinated by the arts that were necessary to survive before so much technology invaded our lives. Spinning is one of those things. It doesn’t require electricity, only patient creativity. I have a spinning wheel that I got about six years ago. It is a space-saving upright model rather than a “Rapunzel” looking one. It has two treadles which makes it a little easier to get in a rhythm. I hadn’t realized until I brought it home how many simultaneous things have to happen at once to spin a consistent even yarn. You are treadling with both feet at, hopefully, a smooth, slow pace. With one hand you control the twist of the yarn and with the other you are stretching out the fiber to feed into the yarn twisting on the bobbin. It is easy to mess up. The best analogy I have is when you were a new driver on a three lane highway for the first time. You are in the middle lane and have to change to the right lane to exit. Traffic is heavy. You have to use your side and rear view mirrors, maintain a consistent speed, and plan for how soon to move over. It’s a lot to keep track of when you first start. Now, I find it very peaceful and rewarding. It’s fun to experience the sensations of the different fibers running through your hands and great to be able to knit or crochet things from the yarn you spun yourself. I’ve created over ten miles of yarn and I’m still spinning.
"Ten miles of yarn" -- that's fabulous! I enjoy needlework and appreciate fine yarn, but I've never even mastered basic stitches. It must be very rewarding from start to finish.
I love how you compare spinning yarn to “spinning romance”, but do you suppose you might incorporate an aspect of your craft into future books?
As you know from reading Polly’s List that Polly is a spinner. I think some part of a writer’s hobbies get into their stories like your love of gardening brings people together in Tremors Through Time. It’s part of writing what you know.
That's so true.
Now for your writing! I thoroughly enjoyed Polly’s List, as my following review shows. But why romance and why suspense? Please, tell us about your writing and what inspires it.
Many of my early romance books were passed along from my mother. I’m basically an optimist who loves a happy-ever-after ending. I firmly believe there is someone for everyone out there. You just have to be aware enough to grab them when they come by. I add the suspense element because there is nothing like a little danger to drive people into the safety of one another’s arms. And right now, I’m writing sweet, not steamy, romance so you need a little something to spice it up.
And what about Polly’s List? How did you come up with the plot? The first inkling of the plot came while I was spinning and looking out my window one day thinking about how interesting it was to be able to observe the world outside in relative anonymity.
Was it fun writing the characters?
Absolutely. I wanted to use the name Mikal because I liked the gender ambiguity of the spoken name and potential for confusion. CJ just seemed to put himself out there and insist on having a story. We actually had a dog named Rhett when I was growing up, although he was a German Shepard, not a Basset Hound.
Do you have a favorite character?
A “mom” shouldn’t have favorites, but mine in this story is Will, without a doubt. I love being an observant auntie and Will is a composite of my many nephews, great nephews and great-great nephews. Leave it to a child to tell the unvarnished truth and force adults to shed their pretensions.
And talk about suspense – both with the romance and the mystery! Were you laughing gleefully-- like an evil genius -- when you added each new twist? Did you have it all planned or did the story and/or characters surprise you sometimes?
Sometimes I will confess to laughing out loud at what I’ve just written. I’ve also gotten too teary to see the keyboard. I think that’s good because hopefully my readers will have the same responses. To paraphrase Stephen King: no tears or laughter in the author; no tears or laughter in the reader. I have a basic outline—basic being the operative word. But my characters are almost as strong minded as their creator. Mine appear in my dreams to straighten me out. They insist on name changes sometimes and usually send me down a trail that I hadn’t originally conceived—like CJ’s old love interest having a role. (I won’t say more to keep from spoiling it.) They almost always make their story better in the end. I appreciate the help!
Have you started working on your next book?
Yep. I have five different books that are works in progress. One, however, is complete and being reviewed. It also takes place in Lansdale, Wisconsin. Some of the characters overlap with Polly’s List, but it is a standalone novel too. I learned so much on this first publishing experience that I wanted to be able to use it again.
Wow! Five books! That's amazing!
Is there anything you’d like to share in closing? I am so pleased with my experience with The Wild Rose Press. My editor is top notch and the camaraderie of the authors in the Rose Garden is beyond anything I could have imagined. It is nice to have so much talent cheering you on and helping you down the path on this new adventure. I am truly blessed.
I agree. It is a wonderful publishing house and the authors are as generous as they are talented.
Thank you for joining us, Kim. Wishing a great launch for Polly’s List and all the best to you!
Thanks, Anastasia. It has been fun.
Find Kim at her website, Spinning Romance.
Kim Ligon has been writing stories for most of her life—some on paper and some only in her head. She has lots of source material growing up as the oldest child in a large family in a small town in Wisconsin. Her father was a veterinarian so there were not only lots of children around, but all manner of house pets and farm animals too. Her love of reading comes from her mother who was seldom seen sitting down without a book in her hand. After a demanding career in healthcare information technology, she is now getting to do all the creative things she loves which includes writing her stories to share with you. She lives with her chief encourager and personal romantic hero, her husband of almost forever, in Alabama. Please follow her further adventures at www.spinningromance.com.
CJ Reynolds couldn't wait to escape his hometown. He's loving his bachelor life as a software developer in California. So much so that he hasn't been back in years to see the grandmother who raised him.
Mikal Benson believes her small town is perfect for raising her son, Will, alone. When Mikal finds her neighbor, Polly Rogers, sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood, barely clinging to life, she calls Polly's grandson--CJ Reynolds--and insists he must come home. Now!
From her coma, Polly whispers three words that change everything. Did she fall or was she pushed? CJ, Mikal, and Will form an unlikely team coming together to discover the truth as danger engulfs them and love transforms them into a family.
Excerpt from Polly's List by Kim Janine Ligon
Why is the Bassett baying? Mikal Benson hurried across the yard and pushed her neighbor’s unlocked back door open. It groaned loudly. The still howling dog rumbled into the kitchen – as quickly as his short legs would allow.
“What’s wrong Rhett? Polly, where are you?” she called as she crossed the worn linoleum-covered kitchen floor. “It’s me, Mikal.”
The dog loped into the front entryway. She followed. What happened? Was the purple-flowered heap with legs and arms akimbo Polly? Blood pooled beneath her head . The body was lying in front of the door. Was she still alive? Mikal knelt beside her neighbor’s crumpled body. She gently picked up her arm and felt for a pulse. It was faint. Polly took a ragged breath and moaned. Mikal pulled her cell phone out and called 911.
A blood stain circled Polly’s head like a dark, expanding halo – blotting out the muted colors of the antique rug and spreading into the cracks in the parquet floor. Something had to be done.
Polly’s List had me at the edge of my seat from Chapter One and kept me there throughout the book. Talk about suspense – on multiple levels!
The action begins immediately. What a shocker!
The mystery: will the victim survive? Will there be more victims? Will the main characters be all right? There are so many twists and turns!
The romance kept me every bit as anxious! At first, Caleb – or CJ, as he prefers to be called – is stand-offish and abrupt. I could not imagine him with Mikal, who is warm and caring. But he finally begins to thaw. The dynamics between him and Mikal and Will ease into a sweet and natural rhythm. Then, of course, the twists and turns begin!
I loved all the main characters. I was rooting for them from the beginning – even Caleb! Despite his rough first impression, it’s clear that he’s a good person. Mikal, on the other hand, is loveable right from the beginning. Warm-hearted and thoughtful, she's the neighbor anyone would hope for. Her son Will is absolutely adorable. He has an important role in the story and shines every step of the way. The title character Polly is an irresistible little, old lady. Her dog Rhett rounds out the ensemble perfectly.
The setting offers a warm, cozy, small-town atmosphere. I'd like to emphasize the cozy aspect of this story. Polly’s List really is a cozy mystery and romantic suspense all rolled into one!
If you’d like to spend some time with characters you love and a story that will have you turning pages fast, do yourself a favor and read Polly’s List. Five stars!
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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