What an extraordinary book! As a rule, I try not to dwell on the pain and suffering that evil causes. I know it does, and that's enough for me. When I hear mention of demons and hell, I usually push it out of my mind.
JL Rothstein's Atonement doesn't allow the reader to do that. Her guardians - the O'Mara family - experience every sort of agony -- physical, mental, emotional -- as they fight to protect the human race against evil.
In Chapter One, a demon tempts a young woman to kill herself... I won't say more except that from there, the story only gets more intense. Throughout the book, whenever there's rage, violence, or despair, a demon or demons are present. Evil causes terrible discord, something we would all do well to remember.
The demons are terrifying, cruel, and relentless.
But there's also love and laughter. The O'Mara's are a close and wonderful family. They are each just as relentless in their mission(s), as well as brave and prepared to give up their lives for the good of all. But even in this -- and it's the author's special gift -- even though the guardians aren't human, they possess very human traits. They make mistakes. They know love, fear, and pain. They exhibit grief, anger, frustration, and joy.
So, it's not just a story of good versus evil, but a story of family, a story of love. The O'Mara family and their allies are likeable/loveable characters. I was holding my breath through most the book and felt with them every step of the way.
Rothstein shares a generous dose of religious tradition as well as Biblical references. The Four Horsemen from Revelation make an appearance. It's epic. It's violent.
That’s my review. Today, I’m pleased to share my interview with JL Rothstein, the author of Atonement. Welcome, Jen.
I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to come on and talk about the book with you, thank you for having me!
Atonement is the first book in your Heaven Sent series. I have to ask, how in the world did you come up with the story? What was your inspiration?
I dreamt of the character Gabriel, I knew right away he was from Heaven, but that he was trapped and longing for a long lost partner. I tried ignoring it, but the character kept coming back in my dreams and telling me, you need to write my story. I don’t know what I watched on tv or what book I read that led my subconscious mind to have these thoughts. I decided to go with it and started writing. The nine siblings are named after my nieces and nephews. The inspiration for the women, really comes from a mix of my now adult nieces and my own relationship with my two sisters.
You dreamt of him. I’m in awe, and I absolutely love that you named the O’Mara siblings after you nieces and nephews. They must be so proud.
As an author, my peace is disturbed when I have to ponder a sad scene for a week, a day, or an hour. Your story has demons – really scary demons! Did you ever creep your own self out? The way you describe them… from what sort of resources did you pull? Art? Movies? Literature? Sheer imagination?
I have scared myself from time to time. There were a few ideas that didn’t make it into the book. I am reserving them for future stories in this universe, but some of those really kept me awake. I think as a writer you draw inspiration and spark your creativity through a multitude of mediums. I like looking at artwork, I enjoy researching old artifacts (especially things the Vatican keeps hidden) and I’m a fan of fantasy shows/movies like Game of Thrones, Constantine, and the Marvel Universe. All those have supernatural elements, which makes them even more fun and interesting.
Tense as the action can be, I consider Atonement a character-driven story. I like all the good guys and my favorite is Kelly. I love her spunkiness and how much she enjoys life, especially food! Won’t you tell us more about your characters? Do you have a favorite so far?
It’s funny the reaction people have had to the sisters. The first book was Gen’s story, but it’s pretty clear that Kelly made an immediate impression on people. Kelly is just fun to write. I love her toughness, her sarcasm, and her unapologetic nature. I think Kelly is reflective of a lot of our inner voices. I can’t pick a favorite, but I love the strong women in this story, there are not enough stories portraying women like this out there.
I also find Atonement to be very timely. When did you start writing it? How long did it take you to write? I ask because it seems to describe the general atmosphere of 2020. In other words, it feels prophetic. Or do you consider that’s the way the world has always been?
I think prophecy would give me far too much credit. I wrote pieces of this story and a very rough draft years ago. I queried it and it went nowhere because quite honestly it wasn’t good. It needed a lot of work. In 2016 I decided to apply to graduate school and take some Creative Writing courses, I started reading books on writing and a couple of online talks. I went down the path of learning everything I could about the craft of writing. My whole focus was to get better. I ended up re-writing the book, using the first draft more like an outline. When I was done, I sent it out for a professional edit and tried to follow all the advice that the editor gave me.
I think the world has gotten smaller with technology. We are inundated with mostly negative news on a regular basis. It’s hard to get away from the bad, but I suspect it was there all along. 2020 is a year where a lot of things have merged, like a perfect storm. You have a pandemic (never thought I would type that in my lifetime), a contentious environment riddled with politics, and we’re isolated. I just try and stay positive that this is such a low, it can only get better from here.
As I mentioned in my review, I particularly appreciated how whenever there is despair or division, you’ve slipped in a demon or demons. I must assume this is on purpose. Can you tell us a little more about it? What do you think about the concepts of good and evil?
This is fictional, so focusing on evil as a construct, with actual bad guys is entertaining. Perhaps it’s too easy, in truth humanity doesn’t need villains or demons. People have been hurting one another long before the concept of Satan or Hell. I do fear that over time people have less faith. No matter what religion you are, or what God you believe in, having faith can help keep you grounded. Belief and spirituality allow us to think of something bigger than ourselves. This in turn can make us selfless, caring, empathetic. Those are things the world can always use more of.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about Atonement?
Atonement is a book about family, faith, and the power of forgiveness, not just of others, but of ourselves.
I’m so grateful to all those who have read the book, given a review, reached out on social media to talk about the characters. I’m grateful for this space to talk about the story and reach your readers.
Those are themes we all need more of. It’s a wonderful book. I’m eager for the next! Last question – how’s work on the sequel going?
I have a deadline to finish book 2 by October. The editor who reviewed the first book is doing the second book as well. Everything should be done by early 2021. I am hoping that book 2 can launch in March 2021. More to come on social media, if people are interested, they can always reach me on social media or sign up for my newsletter on jlrothstein.com
JL Rothstein, thank you for sharing your time and talent. Looking forward to your future work.
JL Rothstein is a published author. She writes in the Fantasy genre with an affinity for the Supernatural.
Atonement, the first book in the three book series is the fictional story of the O’Mara family, nine siblings sent by Heaven to guard humans against the interference of those in Hell. Along the way the siblings come to realize the violent confrontations and disturbing behavior they encounter can only be overcome if they have trust and faith in one another.
Jennifer was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She comes from a large Irish family and spent twelve years in Catholic school. Having three siblings herself she understands the challenges, drama, rivalries, and loyalties between siblings.
Jennifer has a BS from Suffolk University and is currently pursuing her MBA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She is married and now resides in the western part of the state. Her first novel is launched and she is currently working on the second book in the series, Hellbound.
Atonement is FREE thru this Sunday, September 27. Don't miss out!
Excerpt from ATONEMENT
Gen looked up as the sky shook with thunder and lightning pierced the darkness. A large
reddish-brown glow formed around them, something was coming.
“Get back, go to the tree line, now!” Michael shouted as he ran motioning with his hands.
Gen watched her brothers run toward the trees and followed them. As they got to the relative
safety of the forest, they turned back just as a Hell Fighter and two Hellions arrived in the middle
of the field noticeably pissed at the number of fallen comrades that lay at their feet.
Hell Fighters hadn’t been seen on earth in decades. Gen couldn’t remember the last
time they encountered one.
At least it’s not a newborn, Gen sighed in minor relief. Watching the demon’s somewhat
labored movements she thought, He’s older, he shouldn’t be able to stick around too long.
The demon was set ablaze in Hell fire. His large frame, long arms, and dragon-like head
just a mere outline in a shadow of rolling flame. Once away from Hell, the flame dwindled, and
its skin cooled to a leathery black veined with streaks of red. The Hell Fighter’s blood was made
of venom, cast from those tormented in Hell, it was Hell’s deadliest weapon against Heaven.
The upper level demon’s venom was fatal, even its sweat was enough to cause serious
damage. Newborn Hell Fighters carried the most lethal dose of the venom in their blood,
because the essence of the tortured still lingered. Though the Hell Fighter’s venom was
poisonous, its physical strength faded over time, which meant they couldn’t stay away from the
source that manifested them for very long.
The arrival of a Hell Fighter would typically signal the end of the battle. In most cases a
Guardian would be forced to vacate the scene, but the O’Mara’s had a weapon of their own.
Before the Hell Fighter could make a move, Kelly arrived, taking a stance between the
demons and her siblings. One of the Hellions lunged wildly at Kelly’s head, but she ducked and
the demon’s momentum sent him tumbling across the field behind her. Michael stepped out
from under the treelined covering and stabbed the beast through the ankle, quickly stepping
back away from the animal in case its blood had been tainted by the Hell Fighter. The hideous
beast howled like a rabid animal. Michael’s blade had penetrated all the way through to the
ground, effectively pinning the hound in place.
Kelly threw a knife at the second Hellion’s ear landing a blow that sent the monster to
the ground in a heap. It attempted to gain relief by clawing at the blade, trying to remove it as it
rolled back and forth across the grass. Blood gushed from the dog-like creature’s head and he
squealed as his skin began to burn, puffs of steam wafted above its head.
She must have dipped the blade in Holy water, Gen presumed. Nice touch, Gen thought.
The odds were even now, it would be Kelly one-on-one against the Hell Fighter. The
demon stomped forward taking an enormous swing toward Kelly. She blocked it and then used
the demon’s own momentum against him. Kelly pulled down as the demon’s weight was
propelled forward. The demon fell to one knee and Kelly grabbed onto his neck and swung up
and onto his back, harnessing her legs around his shoulders and tucking her feet under his
arms for stability. The Hell Fighter got back to his feet, grabbing at her twisting and bucking as
he tried to pull her off, but she held on. She threw a katar at the second wounded Hellion’s heart
and its chaotic rolling movements instantly halted.
The pinned Hellion pulled at its leg until it ripped and tore away from the ankle still
tethered to the ground by Michael’s sword. The beast hobbled toward Kelly leaving a bloody trail
behind it. By the time the wounded Hellion reached its master, Kelly had killed the Hell Fighter.
As the Hell Fighter collapsed to the ground, Kelly jumped off the demon kicking the wounded
Hellion lurching toward her. Jumping onto the Hellion’s back, Kelly pulled out a long silver blade
and plunged it into its head, killing it instantly.
Getting to her feet Kelly turned to her siblings. “Sorry, I couldn’t find my stupid boots.”
Kelly’s sweatshirt smoked as the remnants of demon blood soaked through. She swiped hard,
but it would burn through to her skin if she left it on. Though she was immune to the poison, her
“I’m surprised the Hell Fighter didn’t put up more of a fight,” Michael commented.
“What do you mean?” Dan asked.
“Did you notice anything odd when you were engaging it?” Michael asked Kelly but then
didn’t wait for an answer. “It should have been harder to kill. Even though he was obviously
older, he should have put up more of a fight.”
“He was pretty feisty,” Kelly shot back.
Gen interrupted them. “Do you smell that?”
Kelly was quick with a retort. “Yeah, I know, Hell Fighters reek, it’s all over me.” Kelly
attempted to clean the venom off, huffing loudly she finally gave up and pulled the sweatshirt off
tossing it into the burning pile of debris.
“No, not that. It smells like a fire, a real one.” Gen was looking in the direction of the
building. She could no longer see nor feel Deb. “I can’t feel Deb. They didn’t want us walking
toward the building, they wanted us up here. Whatever pulled me here, it’s down there.” Gen
pointed toward the hillside. “This must have been a distraction from the real target!”
“We need to move. Go! Go! Go!” Xavier started running and everyone followed.
In the autumn, I gathered my sorrows and buried them in my garden… And when April returned and spring came to wed the earth, there grew in my garden beautiful flowers unlike all other flowers.
Sand and Foam -- Gibran Khalil Gibran
Here's to Autumn!
Less than a day to the Autumnal Equinox! It begins tomorrow (Tuesday), around 9:31 a.m., EDT. And so also begins the new round of the Medieval Monday Blog Hop, #MedMonFall20. It's my first and I'm so proud and excited to be in the company of wonderful, romantic storytellers. The theme this fall is Nature, a favorite of mine. Romance and nature -- could it get any better?
Authors will share links and snippets of their work. For some truly romantic reads that will appeal to all your senses, be sure to check out #MedMonFall20.
I'll be sharing snippets of Tremors, my medieval time travel romance.
He could never lose her. In the infinite vastness of time – past, present, future, past – he wouldn’t lose her.
Love was eternal.
Lachlann had lost his entire family to the plague. He’d lost himself by falling through time. He had to go back, to return to the fourteenth century and try to save his family, save his son. But how could he leave Deidre? He needed her like he needed air. And she needed him.
Would she want him if he told her the truth about himself? Would she even believe him?
Deidre had never known a man could be as beautiful and tender as Lachlann. She wanted to erase the haunted look in his eyes, to make him as happy as he made her. She wished he would confide in her. But was she ready to confide in him? To explain how she’d lost everything – her life, her family, her self-respect – because of her own poor choices?
Why did she have the feeling she could lose it all again?
Available at Amazon.
With the nature theme in mind, I thought to share snippets of Lachlann and Deidre's day at a Christmas tree farm in the piney woods.
“You really do know how to drive a truck,” observed Lachlann from the passenger seat of his vehicle.
Deidre smiled. “I grew up on a farm, remember? I also know where we’re going and wanted to treat you to a tour. I hope you don’t mind.”
“On the contrary, I’m enjoying this.”
“It’s different from driving in Scotland, isn’t it?”
“Aye, it is.” Especially fourteenth-century Scotland. Gazing out of the window, he changed the subject. “This is beautiful land. It reminds me of Scotland.”
They were driving through a pine thicket. There were plenty of pine trees where they lived, but they weren’t surrounded by them as they were now. The terrain wasn’t mountainous or even hilly, but it was rolling and pleasant.
“I’m glad you think so,” said Deidre. “I love it out here. The Christmas tree farm is beside a lake. It’s usually very peaceful and smells heavenly.”
His heart surged...
Isn’t it Autumn yet? We’re often away in September and October, which leaves me scrambling to start my garden late in the season. This year, we’ll be home and I’ve been looking forward to sowing and planting early in the season for a change. I was hoping starting this week.
But that’s not going to happen. The temps are still in the upper 80s, lower 90s – too hot for cool season flowers and vegetables. I knew it. I know it. But I’m still disappointed because, well, I’m not always reasonable where gardening is concerned.
It really is for the best, though. We’ve decided that since we have a few weeks, we’d might as well reinforce some of the raised beds. We’re also going to squeeze in one more bed. It will be great for my (mini) crop rotation.
And since I have time and will have a little more space, I’d might as well order a few packets of something wonderful that I haven’t tried yet.
And I have still have plenty of work in the garden, which is just beginning to show it’s lovely fall exuberance.
And an astronomer said, Master, what of Time?
And he answered:
You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?
But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, think of these things.” Phillippians 4:8
Not a lecture. Not a suggestion to bury our heads in the sand. It's permission to take a mental break, an invitation to opt for peace, choose the high road. Sometimes, especially if we're under siege -- of any sort -- it might not seem possible to find anything positive or hopeful to think about. But there is something, and we should try to find it and ponder it as a gift to ourselves because that's when we need it the most.
Wishing you moments of peace.
There’s a longstanding, wonderful, well-documented affair between writers and gardens. Oftentimes, it’s the gardener writing about his or her own garden and experience, sharing knowledge, joy, and goodwill. There are many wonderful, inspiring, and often hilarious books written by gardeners. But even with the most prosaic how-to gardening book, there is a strong, inherent undercurrent of passion.
Then we have the reverse. Through history, there have been countless writers – novelists, historians, poets – who not only looked to gardens for inspiration, but gardened themselves. To name a few are Beatrix Potter, Emily Dickinson, Ronald Dahl, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, all of whose gardens are now open to the public.
Eleanor Perenyi (1918-2009), author, editor, gardener, wrote a collection of essays about gardening that was published in 1981. Her book, Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, is now a beloved classic. I’ve decided to borrow part of her title for a series of posts about writers and their gardens. I will cover great writers of the past as well as some of today’s wonderful writers. For my first post, I am proud to introduce Vonda Sinclair, novelist and gardener par excellence.
Welcome, Vonda. We are ready and eager for a tour!
I call this the secret bench because it's difficult to see in the shadow of this huge 'Limelight' Hydrangea paniculata (not yet in bloom). I can see this small vignette outside my living room window. I wanted something pretty to look at there. I planted variegated hostas and ferns on either side of the bench. Beside that is raspberry pink hydrangea macrophylla 'Summer Crush', Heucherella 'Sweet Tea', Arborvitae fern (Selaginella pellascens), a prehistoric plant. The pink bloom in the foreground is Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® Hydrangea arborescens. A small stream runs behind the bench. It's a nice shady spot to sit and rest. I love benches in the garden and plan to add more.
Hi, Anastasia. Thanks so much!
I live in the beautiful North Carolina countryside, close to nature and the woods. I welcome wildlife into my garden (but I hope no bears or copperheads show up.) lol As I was growing up, my mom grew lots of flowers and vegetables, and she still does. I started gardening here on these few acres more than 30 years ago, right after I got married. My late husband built some stone walls, a pond, and other things. He helped me plant many of the trees and shrubs. I decided to start a remodel on the garden about two years ago because a lot of the plants had either taken over or disappeared during times when I didn't have time to devote to it or wasn't able to garden due to injuries. I noticed that my flowerbed by the mailbox looked best, but I couldn't see it from the house because of the large shrubs and trees. I decided I wanted a beautiful flower garden that I could view from the house and especially from the screened porch I use a lot. I enjoy writing there while I listen to the pond waterfall and fountains.
I've had this pond for around 20 years and I only grow my favorite pond plants. I've tried most of them and removed them all except for 4 colors of water lilies and variegated Japanese Iris. The iris is beautiful from the time it emerges in spring until frost kills the foliage in fall. It blooms purple in June. The waterlilies provide cover and shade for the goldfish in summer and they bloom off and on all summer. I have dark pink, light pink, white and pale yellow lilies. These are all easy care plants.
My goal in the garden remodel was to have a low-maintenance garden that is pretty in all seasons. I soon realized this would require a lot of thought, planning, and orchestration. And yet, I wanted to follow inspiration and have fun with it. I wanted to explore lots of color combinations and try out plants I hadn't before. Of course, it is also very hard, physically demanding work that I must do myself. I've discovered digging out plants, sometimes large clumps of plants or small trees is great exercise. Physically, I'm stronger than I was before, so it has been good for me in many ways. I find working with nature to be very healing and calming. Plus, looking at beautiful plants makes my soul light up. I don't know why, but plants bring me great joy.
I was surprised at how well this combination turned out. The 'Salmon Beauty' yarrow and 'Cheyenne Spirit' coneflowers will bloom for over a month each but the focal point here, the red Asiatic lilies, only bloomed for a week. Still, they were worth it. Hopefully, next year they will have more buds for a longer succession of blooms.
I believe we each have at least one guardian angel and I decided to create a garden to show this. I wanted the look of it to evoke the feeling of an old European walled garden where a forgotten angel statue is almost hidden under the overgrown shrubs and ivy with flowers.
As I said, I welcome wildlife into the garden. In addition to the goldfish that live in the pond, the water attracts a few different species of frogs and toads. There are turtles, songbirds of all types, snakes, lizards, chipmunks, rabbits, insects, etc. I don't use insecticides on my plants. I garden organically and plant many things specifically for hummingbirds, and I love watching them feed from the flowers. I also love to plant flowers for butterflies and bees.
Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all love the native coneflowers aka echinacea.
As for the garden makeover, I saw that many new plants or improved varieties have been introduced recently. They bloom longer or have better disease resistance. Some also rebloom. I've been removing problem plants and replacing them with improved varieties that require less work and put on a better show. The fun part is experimentation to see how plants perform and how they look. One example would be two plants I bought at the same time from a local nursery. One came down with a horrible fungal disease and will likely have to be removed, while the other has bloomed for months and has no diseases. The plant in this case that gets the thumbs up is Stachys 'Hummelo'. It was awarded perennial plant of the year 2019 by the Perennial Plant Association. I pay special attention to award-winning plants because they are usually great performers and require less work.
Stachys 'Hummelo' blooms for months in summer. It plays a great supporting role.
Almost any plant that blooms for over a month, stays healthy, and doesn't require constant coddling is one that I will enjoy. I especially love plants with beautiful foliage. And I love evergreens for winter interest. As for a favorite group of plants, I would probably choose hydrangeas, especially the blue mophead type (hydrangea macrophylla). Here in the southeast US, they're not bothered by pests or diseases and they put on a great show for months. They require little care and are easy to grow. I've been collecting a few more varieties to try. My soil is acidic and fortunately hydrangea macrophylla love that and turn blue as a result.
My favorite plant... blue mophead or bigleaf (hydrangea macrophylla)
My favorite garden style would be cottage garden or English country garden. I enjoy watching English gardening shows and find them inspiring. I love the romantic look of ancient, moss-covered stone walls and weathered statues, as well as arbors or gazebos enshrouded with roses and clematis. I find benches tucked away in hidden corners to be charming. I'm not sure if lots of writers also like to garden, but for me both are creative outlets or ways I can express myself. The palate being either plants or words to create a form of art. The feeling of inspiration in either writing or garden creation is wonderful.
In May, the roses, alliums, and purple dame's rocket put on a great show. These are my favorite colors.
I write Scottish historical romance and have traveled to Scotland seven times, I think. My favorite things to explore there are castles and many of them have stunning gardens. Scotland usually has a temperate climate, thanks to the Gulf Stream. The country also receives lots of rain, which many plants love. Some of the amazing gardens I've visited in Scotland are those at the castles of Dunvegan, Dunrobin, Inveraray, Crathes, etc. as well as Inverewe Gardens. Scotland's natural flora and scenery is most beautiful of all. Nothing can top the heather-covered Highlands and moors or the prickly yellow gorse blooming along the edges of dark lochs. I try to include as much of Scotland's scenery as possible in my stories. In my newest release, Highlander Besieged, the heroine is especially fond of growing roses. ;)
'Pomponella Fairy Tale' rose in front of the bird house. I put the bird house up as a focal point for the flower garden.
Vonda, thank you for the fabulous tour. There are a few plants I'm going to have to check out for my own garden, and I look forward to reading Highlander Besieged.
Amazon Author Page:
Newest release, Highlander Besieged
I’m proud and excited to be interviewing Mary Morgan, award-winning author of the series Order of the Dragon Knights. Mary is a prolific writer with a brilliant and beautiful imagination. I just finished reading/listening to the second book of the series, Dragon Knight’s Medallion. And yes, I do mean reading and listening. It’s hard to be very active and busy and enthralled by a story at the same time – but I’m managing it!
Mary has two other series, Legends of the Fenian Warriors and Highland Holiday Books. Her new romance, To Weave a Highland Tapestry, is latest in the Order of the Dragon Knights series.
I’ve already met a few of the Fenian warriors in the Dragon Knights series, and I have to say that I think I might already be madly in love with … all of them? But enough gushing. I have burning questions.
Welcome, Mary. Thank you so much for joining us. I’ve fallen in love with your beautiful characters and the world you’ve created. How in the world did you come up with these stories/legends? What was your inspiration?
Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome, Anastasia! I’m delighted to be here, and thrilled you’re enjoying the first few stories in the Order of the Dragon Knights series.
My inspiration began when I took my first trip to Scotland twenty years ago. The birth of a series--the Dragon Knights were born one evening while I was sitting on a boulder in the Highlands surrounded by the magic and the mists of the land. However, on the second half of my trip, I visited beautiful Ireland. As I wandered the soft rolling hills in various shades of green, the land spoke to my soul and urged me to place the Dragon Knights here as well. It would be several more years before I decided to use both countries—Scotland and Ireland as part of my stories. A perfect solution to a problem I had been debating on for the Dragon Knights—my mythical Highlanders.
It's a perfectly wonderful solution and we, your readers, are benefitting from your decision. You mention the magic of the land. You felt it, then? There’s no shortage of references to the magical quality of Scotland and Ireland. In your travels, have you found this to be true?
Definitely, Anastasia! In truth, I blame part of the magical quality on my own DNA: Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and a wee amount from Sweden. The land speaks to my soul, especially in Scotland and Ireland.
Your affinity for these lands comes across in your stories. Is there a particular location that has impacted you more than others?
The Highlands touched my soul first. Each time I’ve returned, I know the precise moment we’ve crossed the border from England into Scotland. No matter if I’m reading or eating on a train, I have this spark of awareness within my soul that I’ve come home.
I understand that feeling of homecoming. It’s a beautiful thing. With all this in mind, if you could magically transport to just one location at your earliest convenience, where would you go?
Whisk me away to Urquhart Castle in Scotland! I finally had a chance to visit these incredible ruins three years ago. My husband never uttered a word of complaint as I stayed and roamed the area for almost four hours. In addition, he took many phenomenal photos and captured the epic landscape and castle ruins.
I just finished reading and listening to Dragon Knight’s Medallion. It has one of the most emotional endings I’ve ever come across in a romance. I was stunned. Once I finished listening to it, I actually read it just to prolong the experience. I appreciate that you put your characters through torture, but not through unnecessary angst. Will you tell us more about your writing?
I write from my heart and soul. Life and love are messy. In my humble opinion, love is the greatest power—it can bring such joy and sorrow. Yet the rewards are epic. Everyone should experience love at least once in a lifetime. I’ve been blessed to find my own knight in shining armor, so I believe in happy ever after.
I’m really excited to continue the journey with your characters, especially since we get to move on to those gorgeous Fenian warriors. Did you always mean to have a special series for them, or did their characters demand it as you wrote?
Absolutely! The moment Fenian Warrior Conn MacRoich stepped into the scene in Dragon Knight’s Sword, I knew his story had to be told. And he made his demands known, too. By the end of the series, the MacGregor brothers (Rory and Liam) would also have tales to be written. As far as their leader, Aidan Kerrigan, I made a promise to my editor that I would write his and Rose’s love story. I won’t give away any spoilers for your readers, but let me say it was important to honor this couple with their own story.
It’s also such a boon that we have a new Dragon Knights book to enjoy. Will you tell us a little about To Weave a Highland Tapestry?
This is the third spin-off (Highland Holiday Books) from the Order of the Dragon Knights. I felt it was time to give the hero, Patrick MacFhearguis, brother to Adam MacFhearguis from Dragon Knight’s Ring his own happy ever after.
He’s been a secondary character since my first book and series, too. I sensed he was brooding at his home in Scotland. What he needed was a wife and a purpose. I wove his castle, Leòmhann, as the center of this love story, along with an ancient yew tree.
What began as a Highland holiday novel, morphed into a much broader story—one that connected the past and present-day Clan MacFhearguis. And incorporating the Dragon Knights (Clan MacKay) into the story meant I was in for an even larger scenic tale. If you’ve read my stories, nothing is straightforward with these two clans. They dominate every scene they enter, each fighting for control. While they started out as bitter enemies, they are now allies and good friends. With this friendship, there also came loss. I realized both clans still mourned the absence of family members.
Now that I’m in the middle of Dragon Knight’s Axe, I can really appreciate your giving Clan McFhearghuis some spotlight. With all of these wonderful characters, do you have a favorite or two?
Oh, Anastasia, all my characters are favorites. They are my fictional family within my mind and heart. The only time one will edge out above the others is when I’m writing their story. Currently, it’s a Viking/Scot hero called Magnar.
A Viking/Scot? Maybe Magnar is my favorite already! More seriously, that’s how I feel when I read your stories. My favorite hero is the one I am reading about, but really, I love them all. Can you tell us a little more, clue us in? What can we look forward to next?
I’m delighted to announce that this summer comes a brand new paranormal historical series set in thirteenth century Scotland and the Orkney Islands. Mercenaries, spies, thieves, rogues, and seducers. These men are known as the Wolves of Clan Sutherland—Protector of King William The Lion of Scotland. Look for the cover reveal of Magnar, known as the Barbarian and leader of the wolves next month!
I can hardly wait! So exciting!
Before we go, I feel it important to mention Mary’s wonderful website and blog. On her blog, Mary’s Tavern, readers can find book reviews and wonderful recipes. One of her last foodie posts is about honey – something the characters in Dragon Knight’s Medallion uniquely enjoy. Having just finished the book, I recalled the scene with delicious clarity and a big grin. I will definitely be trying her recipe for Honey Butter.
Following are links to Mary's books as well as her blog and social media. There is also a special treat -- an excerpt from To Weave a Highland Tapestry.
Mary, thank you for sharing your time and imagination with us.
EXCERPT: TO WEAVE A HIGHLAND TAPESTRY (A Tale from the Order of the Dragon Knights)
By Mary Morgan
Release date: December 9, 2019
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Time-travel/Scottish medieval/Paranormal Romance
Patrick MacFhearguis, hardened by battles won and lost, desires what he can never have—peace within his heart and soul. Yet, the ever-meddling Fae weave a new journey for him to conquer—a task this highlander is determined to resist.
When skilled weaver, Gwen Hywel, is commissioned to create a tapestry for the MacFhearguis clan, she embraces the assignment. While seeking out ideas, she finds herself clutching the one thread that can alter the tapestry of her life and heart.
A man conflicted by past deeds. A woman with no family of her own. Is it possible for love to unravel an ancient past, in order to claim two badly scarred hearts? Or will the light of hope be doused forever?
Gwen approached quietly by his side. “Pity. It was a great throw.”
“Aye,” he acknowledged softly. “One of my best. My brother, Adam was a champion at this game. I should have studied him more.”
“Interesting,” she mused.
Straightening, Patrick started forward. “I can help ye pick more mushrooms. Are they for the Midwinter feast?”
“Yes. Apparently, they’re for an onion and cabbage dish. Sounds delicious. I’m amazed at how all the women have managed here in this time-period.”
“I had heard it was a struggle in the beginning for them.” He glimpsed sideways at her. “How do ye find being here? I cannot fathom what ye must miss.”
She shrugged. “There’s simplicity here. I’d almost call it serenity. I’ve learned a lot this past month. Whereas, in my town you can go crazy trying to keep up with everything.” Gwen waved a hand outward. “And don’t get me started on city life. Traffic congestion, speedy drivers, people always on their cell—” She giggled. “Sorry. Too confusing for you.”
Patrick smiled, trying to perceive everything the lass was saying. Each time she spoke, her face would light up. There was a musical lilt to her voice that soothed him. He found her enchanting, regardless of the words spewing forth from her.
Noting a group of mushrooms, he moved away from Gwen.
“Since you have lost, what about my end of the bargain? I believe I can claim something of value.”
Patrick froze in his steps. Glancing over his shoulder, he stared at her in disbelief. “Ye wish to claim a reward?” Hope soared within his heart as if the sun’s rays stoked the emotion.
Her tongue darted along her lower lip. “Absolutely.”
He turned slowly around. “Name your reward.” Tension coiled within his muscles.
She approached him in an unhurried fashion. “You might have requested one kiss as your reward, but I’ll take four—the same number of times you skipped the stone over the water.”
His heart hammered against his chest. His mind refused to understand the magnitude of her words. “Four?” he uttered in a hoarse voice.
“Four,” she affirmed, stepping closer. “Do not keep me waiting.”
In one swift move, Patrick crushed her to his chest. Her soft curves were warm against his body. “Start counting, leannán.”
She never had a chance to respond as he hungrily covered her mouth with his lips.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry-mary-morgan/1134375461?ean=9781509229079
About the Author:
Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.
Connect with Mary at these places:
FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMorganAuthor/
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/
AUDIBLE AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.audible.com/author/Mary-Morgan/B00KPE3NWI
CAPTIVATING QUILL: http://www.thecaptivatingquill.com/Author/Mary-Morgan
I'm proud to welcome Brenda B. Taylor, author of more than one wonderful series. I'm a big fan of her Scottish historical romances. And now, I'll leave the post to Brenda.
I became interested in genealogical research after retirement which led to researching family ancestry. The lives of my ancestors grabbed my interest and curiosity. I researched and traveled to their homes and wrote about those in post-Civil War Missouri and Scotland. I found my Scots Munro ancestor who immigrated from Scotland to North Carolina early in the 19th century. Immediately a story about the adventurous Clan Munro of the Scottish Highlands turned over in my mind. Since historical romance was my favorite genre to read, I crafted romances into the plots of the stories.
The research for the Highland Treasures series was difficult but interesting and exciting. I traveled to Scotland four times for first-hand experience of life in the Scottish Highlands. Scotland’s museums, ancient castles, and other points of interest were filled with historical artifacts. On the first trip, my husband and I traveled from Edinburgh to Inverness in a rented car on the wrong side of the road. What a journey, but we arrived safely at our destination and enjoyed the stay in a lovely bed and breakfast. While there, I noticed an advertisement on the bulletin board for Munro Highland Tours. I immediately got in touch with George Munro, the tour guide. George took us on a beautiful tour of the land called Ferindonald, the clan lands of Clan Munro. He arranged a tour of Foulis Castle, seat of the clan and home to Chief Hector Munro and his family.
The chief’s mother, Mrs. Timmie Munro, took us on a lovely tour of the castle and grounds. I cannot describe the wonderful time my husband and I enjoyed during our first trip to the Scottish Highlands.
While in Inverness we visited the Scotland People’s Center and researched my ancestor, Duncan Munro. I found one entry for Duncan Munro born in Cromarty, Scotland consistent with the time I calculated for his birth. I then assumed Cromarty, on the Black Isle, as the place of Duncan’s home and mentioned the burgh in the three Highland Treasures novels. We also spent time in the Inverness Interactive Museum. While there, I actually donned a great plaide, a man’s garment of old Scotland, which required pleating on the floor, lying down on top, and then belting the plaid around my waist. All three novels in the Highland Treasure series includes a description of wearing a great plaide.
I visited and took photos where possible in Scotland’s National Art Gallery and the National Museum of Scotland while in Edinburgh. Each contained a treasure trove of life in old Scotland. Paintings helped me with the lifestyle in general of the clans—their dress, habits, homes inside and out, and of course the majestic castles, rivers, lochs, and highlands. The experiences and photos assisted me in recreating the rugged life in the 16th century Scottish Highlands.
On the two visits I made with cousins, we attended a Munro gathering with over three hundred Munros from around the world. What fun to meet cousins from the various countries. We found our hosts, the chief and residents of Foulis Castle, to be very interesting folk. They staged games and demonstrations of life in old Scotland. We also enjoyed present day entertainment of Scottish dancers and musicians. Hopefully, another gathering is scheduled for the near future.
George became the tour guide on three subsequent trips to Scotland that I took with cousins. We traveled from the east coast to west and from the farthest northern point on mainland Scotland to the south. Truthfully, I have been all over the country, but haven’t seen everything I wish to visit. Mayhap another trip is in the making.
The Highland Treasures series consists of six books—three novels and three novellas. The novellas tell the story of Davina and Alistair Munro, secondary characters in the series’ second novel, A Highland Ruby. The third and last novella, A Highland Home, is now on pre-order from Amazon.
Plot Summary: Despite intrigue, theft, and murder, Davina and Chief Alistair Munro fashion a home in the Highlands of Scotland with the bond of their faithful love for each other. Cattle reiving plagues the Munro lands of Fàrdach Castle leaving many clan families destitute during the fierce winter. When a faithful servant is slain in the castle stables, Alistair suspects Struan Sutherland, the husband of his former wife, Bridget. The couple controls the chief’s vast inheritance of Contullich Castle and lands through his young son, Blane.
Davina takes Blane under her wing when Alistair brings him to Fàrdach. She and the castle residents grow to love him, but the lad misses his mother. After the slaying of a faithful servant, Blane is kidnapped from Fàrdach and returned to Contullich Castle. With help from within the castle, Alistair takes his son from the Sutherlands. He kills Struan when the angry man demands a duel. Attacks on the Munros stop after Struan’s death, but the cattle must be found and returned to their owners.
While out trying to find the outlaws, a friendly MacKenzie tenant tells the Munros stolen cattle and thieves are located near his steading. Alistair and his warriors hurry to find them. The chief is wounded in a fight and taken to the MacKenzie’s cottage.
Davina learns she is pregnant while her husband is away. With the help of the Lord, she gathers enough courage to carry on and wait for Alistair. Will the chief return to his wife and clan?
Brenda’s Bio: Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.
Book Bub Author Page
I am pleased and honored to welcome author Sherrie Hansen, here to tell us about her latest novel, SEASIDE DAISY, a Wildflowers of Ireland Mystery. I’ve enjoyed Sherrie’s romantic Wildflowers of Scotland series and find it exciting that she’s now writing mysteries. Welcome, Sherrie, and thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell your readers about SEASIDE DAISY, my latest novel. SEASIDE DAISY is my first mystery, the first of my books to be set in Ireland, and my first attempt at self-publishing.
That’s a lot of firsts, but thankfully, there are also some familiar things that won’t change. My mysteries will still have a good dose of romance. I think my new “brand” suits both – Explore the Mystery of Love with Author Sherrie Hansen. Some of you are familiar with my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet, Sweet William, and Golden Rod, and know that I love drawing parallels between the characters and the flowers they’re named after, weaving the characteristics of the flower into terms and images that define the people in my books. That won’t change either, so you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that my next book is a Wildflowers of Czechia mystery called PLUM TART IRIS. But that’s another story!
Today, I’d like to tell you why I chose to write about Ireland and seaside daisies, formally known as erigeron glaucus. While seaside daisies may look fragile with their thin, tender-looking petals and pale colors, they’re the perfect plant for coastal zones and seaside gardening. Wind and salt spray won’t affect erigeron; in fact, these robust little plants grow well in sandy, dry soils and even prefer soil that isn’t too fertile. They thrive when dead-headed of finished flowers to encourage more blooms. Seaside daisies can be cut back at ground level to encourage new foliage.
I can’t begin to describe how hard the frigid, biting winds were blowing the day my husband and I found seaside daisies growing along the battered Irish shoreline on Dingle Bay except to say, we raced to climb back into the shelter of our car as soon as we’d snapped each picture because we could hardly stand up. And we explored the Wild Atlantic Way in early June! After visiting a living history museum and starting to learn a little more about the history of the Wild Atlantic Way, then seeing a shanty that had been constructed out of wood salvaged from a shipwreck, my mind started to whirl and the plot of SEASIDE DAISY was born.
Here’s a little more about SEASIDE DAISY:
When Daisy Fitzpatrick discovers a treasure trove of gold in a sea cave near her Granny’s shanty on Dingle Bay, she rents out her art studio in Dingle, buys an old mansion in Killarney, and overnight, finds herself a local celebrity with a wonderful new life. But when the real owner lays claim to the gold, she loses everything, including her fickle, new friends. Can Daisy find it in herself to start over? With Cavan’s help, the sea captain’s ghost, and her granny’s quilt to point the way, the quest for more gold is soon underway. But when a priest ends up dead and a pirate takes up the search, Daisy may have to learn the hard way that gold can be a blessing, or gold can be a curse. The Wild Atlantic Way might be a hard foe to tame, but the townsfolk of Dingle soon learn that even the roar of the sea is no match for a Fitzpatrick with her mind made up.
Like erigeron, my Daisy was trimmed back to ground level when she lost the gold she’d thought would solve all of her problems. Her spent blossoms were definitely pinched off. A less hardy plant may have stopped blooming, withered up and died. But like her namesake, my Daisy soon started sprouting new growth. As you’ll soon find out if you read SEASIDE DAISY, the more adversity that comes her way, the more she thrives.
I hope you’ll give my new mystery a try – I’m a firm believer that God makes beautiful things out of broken pieces… it’s been a recurring theme in my life, and in the novels I’ve written. Especially now, when we’re facing the difficulties of a pandemic, I think we’re all learning that the it’s not just the delicate-looking flowers growing along the Wild Atlantic Way – or anywhere the wind blows – that have to be strong and prepared to bounce back when frustrations threaten to get the best of us. Maybe it was fitting when all of my book signings and author appearances for SEASIDE DAISY, carefully planned to coordinate with Irish-themed teas, murder mystery dinners, and other St. Patrick’s Day festivities, were all cancelled due to a certain virus. All the more reason I appreciate Anastasia’s invitation to share at “A Little Romance.” Thank you again
Seaside Daisy is available on Amazon.
I was asked to provide an excerpt, and would like to share a song that I wrote for SEASIDE DAISY.
“Sing the Daisy song! Please?” Scully and Siobhan clasped their hands together and prepared to do the wee Irish jig they always danced to Cavan’s song.
Cavan smiled and took his baritone ukulele down from the shelf. He started to strum, and then, to sing.
Where my Seaside Daisy’s shanty’s
On the Wild Atlantic Way
There’s a treasure at the rainbow’s end
In the caves on Dingle Bay. In the caves on Dingle Bay.
In early morn out on the sea,
The fog gives way to sun.
You can hear the seabirds singing
As the waves come crashing in,
As the waves come crashing in.
Where my Seaside Daisy’s shanty’s
On the Wild Atlantic Way
There’s a treasure at the rainbow’s end
In the caves on Dingle Bay. In the caves on Dingle Bay.
The Captain’s ghost and Granny’s quilt
Are there to point the way
But the pirate’s gold and storms at sea
Are turning the blue skies gray,
Are turning the blue skies gray.
Where my Seaside Daisy’s shanty’s
On the Wild Atlantic Way
There’s a treasure at the rainbow’s end
In the caves on Dingle Bay. In the caves on Dingle Bay.
For gold can be a blessing
And gold can be a curse.
But true love is the greatest gift
Through better and through worse.
Where my Seaside Daisy’s shanty’s
On the Wild Atlantic Way
There’s a treasure at the rainbow’s end
In the caves on Dingle Bay. In the caves on Dingle Bay.
Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun. – Gibran Khalil Gibran