Monday, March 28, 2016

Medieval Monday with Mary Morgan

Happy Medieval Monday! Today I’m hosting Mary Morgan. Fiona, caught in another world and time falls in love with Alastair, the Dragon Knight. Her love is deep and his betrayal is deeper. Here is an excerpt from the Dragon Knight’s Axe.  

Excerpt from the Dragon Knight’s Axe:

Panic gripped Fiona. Something wasn’t right. Why would he leave her? She thought he cared with all the time they’d spent together. “Why in the hell did Alastair leave?” she choked out holding back the scream.
“He didn’t want to watch you die. Each day that passed took you further away. There was nothing he or any of us could do,” replied Brigid.
Her voice quivered. “Got it….umm…he abandoned me.”
Brigid sighed. “I believe he cared for you so much, he could not stand to watch you leave him.”
Fiona’s tone turned bitter as she clutched the furs. “When you care for someone, you stay with them until the very end. No matter what happens. What? Did he say good-bye, kiss me, and then just walk out of here? I hope to God our paths never cross again.”
“Do you really mean that, Fiona?” asked Aileen in a soft voice.
Closing her eyes, she didn’t want to look at either of the women. Her head throbbed, and her heart weighed heavy knowing that the only man she would ever love had walked away from her.
“Please leave,” she murmured.
When the door closed, she finally opened her eyes. She refused to let the tears fall, so she bit her lip and swallowed. Digging her hands into the furs, she kept trying to breathe. Everywhere she looked there was something that reminded her of Alastair. The plaid he had given her to stay warm, a sgian dubh for protection, and glancing around the room slowly, her eyes caught sight of something on the chair by the head of the bed.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she counted to ten. Yet, when she opened them, there was no denying it any longer and sadness engulfed her. As she tried to reach for the object, her vision became clouded, the tears streaming down her face, as she was unable to hold them back.
Grasping the chess piece, she clutched it to her chest. “Why, Alastair?” Sobbing uncontrollably, she realized that he had given her the Dragon King as his parting gift to her.
And Fiona’s heart shattered completely.

Back Cover Copy from Dragon Knight’s Axe:

Alastair MacKay, a battled-scarred Dragon Knight flees to the sea to separate himself from his fae-given power connecting him to the land. But it is on land that he rescues a woman from a slave trader in Ireland. It is through Fiona he steps back inadvertently into a world filled with magic—taking on the role of protector and at the same time leading him on a journey to confront his greatest regret and fears. 
Research assistant, Fiona O’Quinlan loves translating ancient artifacts at Trinity College. When she falls asleep on an archeological dig, she awakens in another time. She soon discovers a Dragon Knight’s relic has been entrusted into her care. Determined to return the artifact to the Great Glen, Fiona is unprepared for the danger ahead—losing her heart and soul to Alastair “Beast” MacKay. 
Will their love be strong enough to soothe the beast and heal the man? Or will Death swing its axe, leaving them lost for all eternity?

Buy Links for Dragon Knight’s Axe

Friday, March 25, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Ruth A. Casie

Today at Books, Chocolate and Wine I’d like to introduce you to Professor Rebeka Tyler, from Kensington University in Upstate New York and Oxford University in England. Dr. Tyler has an interesting background that I think you’ll find as fascinating as the lady herself. Dr. Tyler, thank you for being with us today.

“Thank you for having me, but I’m really nothing special.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ The True Story Behind Second Chance by the Sea

Paul, Ruth, Alan, Eloise, Anya and Joe at the First Wedding
All during our working years, Paul and I never took a two week vacation. We both worked for major banks (not the same one) and had to take two consecutive weeks’ vacation but we never went away. We had kids and I always kept a reserve of vacation time in case the kids got sick. It was so engrained that we kept to one week vacations even though the kids are grown and on their own.

This year was different. There’s a certain freedom that comes with retirement. No clock to punch, no kids to take care of just Paul and me. So, we spent this February in Oceanside, California, a half hour outside of San Diego.

We chose San Diego because my brother and his wife, both retired, live there. We had the added boon of Paul’s brother and wife an hour away in Long Beach. The location was ideal.

So, what’s the story behind Second Chance by the Sea, my short story that’s In Timeless Escapes? It’s the story of my brother Alan and his wife Eloise.

During this year's long frigid winter my critique partners longed to escape to some place warm, the Virgin Islands. Soft warm trade winds, the sweet smell of tropical flowers, the pungent taste of island cocktails. Ah... if only we could. But wait! There was.

If we couldn't actually escape to the islands we could take a virtually trip and that's exactly what we did. We created Star Island, a fictional island off the coast of St. Thomas. The small island became the setting for our short story romances.

I decided to take my story from real life. My brother and sister-in-law, Alan and Eloise, were married twelve years ago in Atlanta. It was not the first marriage for either of them but this is truly a love match.

Two years ago when Eloise was Vice President of an all-girls college in California,  they were getting their paperwork together for the California benefits program when they found that their Atlanta marriage was never registered! Alan, always the jokester called to ask me to stand up for them at their wedding. What? You have to know Alan to understand that if this was going to happen to anyone it would be him. Of course I said yes.

So two years ago in October, I flew to California for their second wedding. I spent a week with them and had a great time.

When Lita, Emma, Nicole, Julie, and I started to brainstorm our summer read in 2014 I knew Alan and Eloise's story had to be part of it. I used their situation but that was all. Their true story is one of love and devotion and very happily ever after.

Ruth A. Casie ~ Second Chance by the Sea

Married for ten years, a couple at odds find their marriage was never registered. Will an impending disaster be the final straw that breaks them up or will it rekindle their love and send them back to the altar for a second chance?

Buy Links for Timeless Escapes:
Amazon Print:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Medieval Monday with Ashley York

Happy Medieval Monday! Today I’m hosting Ashley York. Tisa looks forward to her marriage to the man of her heart, betrothed to him since childhood. Betrayed by her own father, Tisa’s dreams are dashed when she’s forced into a marriage of political convenience. Here is an excerpt from The Seventh Son.  
Excerpt from The Seventh Son:
"Tisa. Yer betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed. Ye'll marry into the Meic Lochlainn clan of Inishowen. They'll be here in two days time."
The pain in her chest intensified with every word he spoke, like nails hammering into her heart, but her brain refused to understand his meaning beyond his first statement.
Your betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed.
Her betrothal to Tadhg? They'd been betrothed forever. They grew up knowing they would one day be wed. Tadhg was all she wanted in a husband.
Her father's eyes never wavered from her face. Surely he measured her reaction as if he cared.
"Ronan came here to make the agreement on their behalf. He has been a great help to our clan."
The kind eyes seemed familiar but no. Those would have been the eyes of her father that loved her. A father that wanted her to be happy. A father that wanted her settled nearby. This? This was a man that cared nothing for her. A man that would rip away her future dreams of happiness. A man that would send her away from him. A man that would give her to strangers. Strangers that saw her as nothing more than...breeding stock.
No. She was more than that. She would not stand here and be handed off to a stranger and not even a word of protest.
"Why?" Damn her eyes. The tears swelled and her father became a blurry figure. "How?"
He looked away. "The MacNaughton broke our agreement."
Her jaw dropped. A slap to the face would have hurt less. "No!"
"After Moira died, Padraig sent word he would not see his son married to an O'Brien."
"And ye did not think to tell me this?"
Her head reeled with the implications.
"And Moira? Tadhg's mother is dead?" Her breath hitched. Moira had been like a mother to her. "When was she buried? I wish to pay my resp—"
"Ye will not! Padraig would not allow us to come. None of us." Her father finally faced her. "We are no longer welcome on his land. He wants nothing to do with us."
"Nothing to do with us? They are our kinsmen."
"No longer."
"Ye canna just let him cut us off like this."
"I was given little choice in the matter."
"Then go to him! Beg his forgiveness for whatever you have done!"
"I have done nothing wrong! 'Twas Padraig's doing. He chose to give me no reason. I will abide by his decree."
Tisa's mind struggled to make sense of what her father was saying. There must be something he was not saying. "Why would Padraig treat us like this?"
He looked past her. "It matters not. What does matter is that the O'Neill threatens us to the west."
"When will Seamus and Ian return?" Her only unwed brothers had been away going on two years now.
Her father's eyes rounded in pain. "I dinna wish to upset ye but yer brothers will not be returning. They died in battle against the O'Neill."
Tisa cried out. "When?"
"We received the news spring last."
"Again ye decide to keep this from me? Do ye think I am a child? If that is the way of it, 'tis because my own father kept me from the truths in life, shielding me as if I would break."
"Ye brothers went against my wishes. My anger was at them, not ye."
"Be angry then. Be sad. Be devastated! But dunna keep me from the truth."
"A great loss." Her father closed his eyes against the pain.
Her own heart cried out. They were much older than her as were her sisters. The MacNaughton's were closer in age and felt more like family. Brighit was like her own little sister.
"I must make decisions that ye may not wish to abide by—but ye will. The O'Neill will not back down. We need an alliance with a strong clan. I need men I can count on, who will fight with me against them."
"The MacNau—"
"They will not fight for us now. 'Tis not their land that is threatened." He shouted the words, his nostrils flaring. "They have broken our agreement, daughter. We are defenseless. Ronan was good enough to make a new alliance for us."
"At what cost to us?" Tisa knew the answer as soon as she asked the question. The way Ronan had looked at her, assessing her worth as a mate.
"You will marry their tanist."
"So I am to be exchanged for the promise of protection?"
"Ye will have a place of prominence in their clan."
"I do not care about prominence! I want the life I had always been promised. The life I was raised for."
"That life is gone, Tisa. This is the life ye will have."
"I do not accept this...betrayal."
"Ye have no choice."
Buy Link The Seventh Son: Available for pre-order with March 30th release only on Amazon
Back Cover Copy The Seventh Son:
Drogheda, Ireland 1076
The sixth son bears a curse as certain as the seventh son bears a blessing. When Tadhg MacNaughton’s betrothed is ripped from his arms and married to another, he believes the legend is true.
Tisa O'Brien's life slams into a downward spiral at the news she is no longer betrothed to the love of her life but married to the tanist of a warring, prideful clan with dangerous political aspirations—the Meic Lochlainn. She faces her destiny with all the strength and dignity of her Irish heritage despite dealing with a husband who resents her, fighting off the lustful advances of her father-in-law, Aodh, and longing for the husband of her heart.
Tadhg MacNaughton makes a deal with the devil to ensure the survival of his clan as he is commanded to fight with Aodh who envisions himself the new Brian Boru, High King of Eire. Up close and personal, Tadhg must witness his true love's marriage and remain silent even as it rips him apart. When a sinister plot to over throw King William of England led by the exiled Leofrid Godwin and Clan Meic Lochlainn comes to light, Tadhg is faced with saving his clan or endangering his sister and her Norman husband.
An Irish beauty and a warrior betrayed—doomed in love from the start or does fate have something else in store for them?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Books, Choclate and Wine with Kayelle Allen

Whether you're an author starting out or multi-published, marketing your brand and your books is a challenge. Kayelle Allen has been a shining light offering information and opportunities to everyone (and not only romance auhors). Stop by Marketing for Romance Writers and see what I mean. She's also a damn good author. World building is hard enough but alien world building... I wouldn't know where to start. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate and Wine welcome to Kayelle Allen. How does she do it?
Kayelle, how difficult is it to write an alien hero?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Medieval Monday with R. L. Syme

Good Medieval Monday! Our theme this month, betrayal, continues. Today I’m hosting Becca R. L. Syme. Her excerpt from The Outcast Highlander is betrayal at its best! Let us know how you feel about it.

Excerpt from The Outcast Highlander

“Bring them forward.” The fat man reached across his table and picked up a charred leg of some animal. Broc had never seen a sheriff eat in court before and hoped this was a sign of his gluttony. Men with deep desires always had a price.
The front guards stepped aside and Elizabeth walked between them, leaving Broc in their midst. With his broad sword strapped to his back, it wouldn’t have taken him long to cut through them if he’d had to. Most of them were boys, even compared to his own years, but more importantly, they were not well-fed nor well-trained. The soldiers were in use elsewhere and those who remained filled what boots they could.
They would be quick fodder if someone threatened Elizabeth.
“My lord and sheriff.” Elizabeth’s voice wavered, but she executed a perfect curtsey, staying near the floor until he bade her rise.
Until he got a good eyeful of her spilling décolletage, more like. Broc shuffled uneasily. She played a dangerous game.
“Rise, lady.” The sheriff burped and set down the leg of fowl. A wild turkey, by the look of it. Large, browned skin, dripping with fatty juices. He licked his lips like the lecherous fool he was and leaned over the table. With a smile, he followed her rise.
“I’m here to beg you for the release of my husband, Lord Andrew de Moray, Twelfth Viscount of Avoch and Strathaven, servant to the king.”
Broc held his laugh in. Servant to which king? The sheriff would assume Edward, who had taken the rule of Scotland along with England. But when Andrew said it, he meant Robert Bruce, whom he considered to be the true King of Scotland.
The sheriff only leered at Elizabeth and grinned. “I’ve heard of your coming, lady. I trust you were safe, even with your company.”
“I am safe.” Elizabeth turned to the dungeon door and cringed visibly. “I’ve heard of my husband’s capture and impending doom. I wish to bargain for his life.”
“And what did you bring to bargain?”
Elizabeth straightened and lifted her chin. This was at least not the posture of a woman who planned to prostitute herself for her husband. For that much, Broc relaxed.
“I have a suit of armor made by Spanish monks in the 11th century for my lord’s father.”
The sheriff pulled a knife from his side pocket and began to pick his teeth. “Yes?”
“And enough gold and silver to fill three chests, but I’m sure I could get more.”
He kept picking his teeth, flicking pieces off the blade to toss at various courtiers. Each one looked disgusted at the act, but smiled in return. He had these men well-trained
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“My lord is wise, as always.” Elizabeth turned to Broccin and a hint of regret passed across her face.
She was about to offer herself.
Broc’s hand went immediately to the hilt of his sword, but before he could draw, ten long spears had come down around him. Each tip was so close to his neck, if he moved in any one direction, he would be a dead man.
“I have as my captive, the leader of the renegade group of Highland warriors that have been falsely raiding and plundering in my husband’s good name.” Elizabeth sank into another curtsey. “As a token of my good fellowship, rather than having him killed upon capture, I offer him to you in exchange for my husband’s release and the clearing of his good name.”
Broc couldn’t breathe. If there hadn’t been ten sharp edges within striking distance of his throat, he would have pushed forward and demanded she speak sense.
Beneath the spears, a boy snuck forward and twisted rope around Broc’s hands. Suddenly, the knot was so tight, he couldn’t move at all. The spears raised and one of the guards pulled his sword from its sheath, and tossed it forward.
The long weapon slid all the way through the circle of guards, almost to Elizabeth’s side, and she glanced back in her curtsey. Broc met her eyes and seethed, but her countenance did not change.
“They call themselves the Mac Ri Albannach.” Elizabeth over-pronounced the Gaelic like a true English, then returned to the refined, long tones of the court. “Sons of the Rightful King.”
Broc snorted. They did no such thing—they didn’t need to call themselves anything. But to the English, there was nothing more fearsome than an organized group of rebel warriors from the unknown mountains. He struggled against his bonds and one of the spears sliced into his shoulder.
The cut was deep and the hot, thick blood flowed down his back in double time.
“I hear tell there’s a real man behind this legendary Highlander who raids English strongholds and beheads shire magistrates.” The fat sheriff stood and walked around the table.
“I had friends at Carlisle.” The fat man spat from outside the circle of armed guards. “Friends who were killed by some band of rebels, intent on savagery and filth.”
He pulled Elizabeth to her feet. “And yet you captured this man? How do you intend to prove it was him and not your husband who led these raids?”
“Ask them.”
The sheriff called out. “Bring the raider out.”
From the corner of the room, a man in chains was pushed forward. Broc’s heart sank. The man they’d assumed dead, Tearny MacDonnogh, was almost no better off than if they had indeed killed him. His once muscular frame was now emaciated, with skin hanging from his arms. He was bare to the waist and the scars of beatings reminded Broc of just how long it had been since they had been to Berwick.
“Is this the man who led you at Carlisle?” the sheriff asked. “And is he leading the Mac Ri Albannach?”
Tearney’s greasy, matted hair swung around his face as he nodded. His eyes were half-closed and his mouth hung open, but he managed to make his affirmation known.
The sheriff cackled and threw Elizabeth to the ground. “I’ll be knighted for this for certain.”
With broad gestures, he pointed to Tearny and then the dungeon door. “Release both of them to her care, as we agreed. And take this one down to the bowels. I want the smithy to make him special chains with double-thick cast and no slack.”
He took his captain of the guard by the throat. “And by God, he had better be who she says he is, or it’s going to be your head on a silver plate instead of mine.”
“He’s the man, my lord.” The captain scratched at his throat where the fat hands had gripped him. “He bears the marks from Lord Hobble’s double-bladed Arabian weapon. I saw the scars on his arm.”
Broc swallowed. He did bear such a scar, and he had been the one to kill the perverted English lord in the battle of Carlisle, but only because the man had nearly killed Andrew and was about to disembowel him when Broc discovered and beheaded the man.
He was outnumbered, his weapon lost to him, bound, and soon to be imprisoned. Fighting back now would only mean Andrew’s certain continued imprisonment and possible death. At least if he kept quiet like a captive, he could know Andrew was free. Even if it meant he would rot in the dungeon himself.
Back Cover Copy for The Outcast Highlander
Kenesy MacLeod returns home after a failed marriage alliance in France to find her world in turmoil: her best friend married to an English sympathizer, her mother at death’s door, and her father imprisoned and thought dead. As an English lord descends to claim her father’s lands, Kenesy escapes north with her mother and brother, and runs straight into the arms of the outcast Highlander.
Driven from home and family by a crazed father, Broccin Sinclair refuses to stand aside while the English invade his beloved Scotland. But who should he champion? The freedom fighter who saved his life, the family who has forgotten him, or the woman who captured his childhood heart?

The Outcast Highlander begins the Highland Renegades series of medieval romance novels by USA Today bestselling author R.L. Syme (also writing as Becca Boyd). Please visit today to get The Outcast Highlander for FREE! Happy reading!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Casey Hagen

If you don’t know Casey Hagen take a look at her website! WOW. Personally, I love the signature line on her email. That’s just the prelude to her stories. To find out more about why she writes, how she writes and what she has in store for us, read on.
1.            How did you come up with the idea for Sunset at Lake Crane?
This book was born of conversations with my best friend Jill about twenty years ago. She was an avid romance reader, and at that point, I had never read a romance novel. She didn’t let that stop her from sucking me into conversation after conversation about the perfect hero and heroine. One particular conversation, we got into taboo relationships. We wanted to figure out a way to create a student/teacher relationship that might be accepted in the real world. I think it worked out that this book didn’t come out until twenty years after that conversation. The publishing world wasn’t ready for it then.

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Kathleen Gerard

Photo Credit NJ Media Group - The Record
Today we have a special treat, an interview with Prozac, a therapy dog (with a high IQ and an even higher opinion of himself!) on a mission to rescue blocked romance writer, Meredith Mancuso. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate and Wine welcome to author Kathleen Gerard and Prozac.
Remaining Open to Love - On the Page and Off
Hi Prozac! Congratulations on serving as a dual narrator in The Thing Is. Please tell us about yourself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ International Women's Day 2016

It has long been held that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy in the 14th century mostly because of the social and civic uniqueness of the city at that time.  The Renaissance was a cultural movement that saw the rise of literature, science, art, religion, and politics. It was an intellectual transformation that bridged the Middle Ages and the Modern era.
Women in the Renaissance were primarily the domestic caretakers of the children and the household. They were subordinate inferiors of men. Only a few wealthy women escaped the tasks of making clothes, the overall maintenance of the home, and production of food. In the Middle Ages master craftsmen worked out of the family home. The women of the house not only did their womanly chores but also took on responsibilities in the family business. In the 13th century, the family business was removed from the home to larger shops in a different location.  It’s during this time that crafts became a man’s trade thus removing women from participating. There were fathers and husbands who stood to profit from the careers of their daughters and wives were didn’t oppose their participation. It wasn’t a common situation but it did happen. Historians believe women filled a greater variety of professional roles, had more responsibilities, and made more of an economic contribution during the Middle Ages rather than the Renaissance.  
Like the Middle Ages, women of the Renaissance were denied all political rights and considered legally subject to their husbands. A woman was controlled by her parents throughout her childhood, and then handed directly into the hands of a husband, whom she most likely had not chosen herself, and who would exercise control over her until her death or his. Unmarried women were not emancipated but lived under the rule of a male relative or in a convent where she could become a nun, the only profession allowed to her.

Some of the great women of the Renaissance didn’t see boundaries but saw opportunities. They were women who influenced politics, literature and the art worlds. It is women like them that should be honored and remembered. To quote Heather Formby of the Financial Mail, “Women can be powerful if they have a passion, a mission and maybe even a rage.” 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Medieval Monday with Lane McFarland

Happy Monday, Medieval Monday! Our theme this week is betrayal. A young girl’s secret a promise to her dying mother to keep her clan intact, leads to intrigue and even betrayal. Today’s excerpt is from Lane McFarland’s Heather. Enjoy!

Excerpt from Heather
Alec’s chest constricted. How long had it been since he last saw her? Three years? Would she remember him? Would she remember his kiss?
The maid rubbed her mistress’ cheek, and Heather wiped the same spot with a cloth. When the servant nodded, Heather hurried toward him.
Did she stuff a black scarf in her sleeve? His eyes narrowed.
“Laird Campbell, welcome to MacDougall Castle.” She extended a hand. “Yer timing could not have been better.”
“Mistress MacDougall.” He bent and placed a kiss on her knuckles. Calluses covered her once soft palm. He straightened and studied her blue eyes. “Why so formal?”
“It’s been years since we last met. I’m afraid that young lass ye knew grew up.”
The gorgeous azure depths of her eyes mesmerized him. “Aye, she grew into a beautiful woman.”
A flush spread over her cheeks and she withdrew her hand. “I understand we’ve ye to thank for our lives.”
“One of yer da’s men—a young lad—is who ye should thank. He saved Laird MacDougall from certain death.”
Something akin to caution flittered across her eyes. Had he not been watching closely, he would’ve missed it.
She crossed her arms over her waist. “My da’s fortunate to have many good men defending the castle.” Her eyes widened, and she reached out. “Ye’re hurt. Forgive me, I didn’t notice.”
Alec caught her hand and rubbed her skin with the pad of his thumb. “’Tis nothing to worry over.”
“If ye’ll permit me, I’ll tend ye and yer men so ye can be on yer way. I’m sure ye’re anxious to return home.”
Was she eager to be rid of him?
He hesitated. “We are ready to be home, but we’ll repair yer keep first.”
Her back stiffened. When she smiled, it didn’t quite reach her lovely eyes. “Thank ye. If ye will excuse me, I need to see to Da.”
“I understand.”
Heather slipped past him. Her hips swayed as she stepped around a lass carrying blankets and hurried through the hall to her father.
Alec exhaled and raked a hand through his hair. He was needed out-of-doors. Rubbing the stinging cut on his chest, he marched past the injured. As he strode down the grey steps and into the bailey, his thoughts turned to the slender lad with the black scarf.
Why did he feel something was amiss? Why was the lad spirited away? And why did Heather make light of his fighting?
Back Cover Copy from Heather
Bent on overcoming the belief he’s failed his aging father, Laird Alec Campbell concentrates on proving his worth to his people. He provides for them and leads men into battle, vowing never again to disappoint his clan or lose his heart.
Bound by a promise to her dying mother, Heather MacDougall secretly leads rebel warriors in her quest to keep her clan intact and hold off those who plot to overtake her father’s land. She fights to keep her secrets safe, while resisting the lure of the handsome young laird who challenges her defenses.
They can’t deny their passionate attraction, but can their love survive their secrets?
Buy Link for Heather: Amazon

Friday, March 4, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Cynthia Owens

A true historian, Cynthia Owens has taken her love of history and her Celtic heritage to create Irish historical romances that warm the heart. Her Claddagh Series has gotten rave reviews. The fifth book in the series, Reluctant Betrayer, is no different. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate and Wine welcome to Cynthia Owens.

Author Interview with Cynthia Owens

1.            How did you come up with the idea for Reluctant Betrayer?
While I was writing Everlasting, (Claddagh Series, Book 4), my hero, Liam Collins, had a younger brother, Aidan. As a child, Aidan worshipped Liam, but when Liam fled Ireland after a raid on the local landlord, the burden of looking after the family fell on Aidan’s shoulders. Aidan felt there were better ways to bring peace and prosperity to their small village of Trasnavan, and during the course of Liam’s story, they argued bitterly. So when the landlord’s agent died at the end of Everlasting, I decided that Aidan fit the bill nicely. And so Reluctant Betrayer was born.
Of course, Maura Riordan, born into a family of rebels, is horrified that the man she loves has committed this ultimate act of betrayal.
2.            When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?
I like to think it’s a joint effort. I create the characters, using a detailed character sheet, and I interview them in order to learn their backstory. Then I put them where they need to be, both in time and place.
And that’s when the fun begins. I start the story as I think it should be written, but sometimes the characters jump up and say, “Hey, this isn’t where we want to go!” When that happens, I take a step back and listen to what they’re trying to tell me. Sometimes I have to rein them in a bit, but usually I allow them to tell me their story, and I follow their lead.
3.            Why did you decide to become an author?
I never really made a conscious decision to become an author. I was an author as soon as I discovered the utter joy and satisfaction of stringing a few words together into a sentence, putting those sentences into a paragraph, and putting the paragraphs into a sentence.
Of course, sometimes that joy and satisfaction got me into trouble. In high school, I was always getting caught writing during classes (particularly math class!). But even before then…
I was in the first grade, and I must have been about seven years old, when my teacher (who shall remain nameless) asked us to write a sentence about Dick, Jane, and their dog, Spot. I think she gave us about 15 minutes to complete the assignment. Well, in that time, I wrote a paragraph of about four and a half sentences. I was so proud of myself, until my teacher looked over my shoulder and began to scold me for not finishing that last sentence! Talk about stifling a child’s creativity!
4.            What books can we expect to see in the near future?
I’m thrilled to announce that Yesterday’s Promise (Wild Geese Series, Book 4) will be released from Highland Press. It’s Declan Morrissey’s story, in which he’s reunited with the beautiful battlefield nurse who served beside him during the American Civil War.
I’m also hard at work finishing up Wishes of the Heart, another Claddagh story. The hero is Tom O’Brien, second son of Rory and Siobhán O’Brien. It’s Cinderella-with-an-Irish-twist. The heroine is Neave Devereux, the beautiful, if misunderstood village healer. It also features my first non-human character, an intrepid and very loving magpie named Bron (Irish for sorrow).
5.            If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?
I’d love to be able to travel through time. I think it would be wonderful to visit all the historical times I’ve read about, and to mingle with the people who made that history. I’d love to meet and talk with some of the Irish heroes of old, such as Brian Boru, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stuart Parnell, and of course, Michael Collins. But I’d also like to sit with the village folk on a cold winter evening by the turf fire and listen to the local seanachie spin his stories.
6.            How would you describe yourself in five words?
Shy. Adventurous. Dreamy. Creative. Romantic.
7.            What is your favorite film? Music? Color? Food? Smell?
Favorite Film ~ Casablanca.
Favorite Music ~ Traditional Irish.
Favorite Color ~ Lavender or plum.
Favorite Food ~ Chicken with French fries and cole slaw.
Favorite Smell ~ A winter morning after a fresh fall of snow.
8.            What’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
No question there, it has to be Ireland, the true home of my heart, land of legend and song, of mist and magic. I’ve only been there once (at least up to now, but a return visit is in the works in the very near future), but the minute we drove off the ferry in Dublin, I felt I’d come home. There’s so much history there, so much tragedy and struggle, yet the people are the friendliest I’ve ever met, and the land…well, it really is forty shades of green.
9.            What comes first—characters or the plot?
Usually the characters…and with two series, that’s become even easier! ;)
When I wrote In Sunshine or in Shadow, (Claddagh Series Book 1), I intended it to be a stand-alone story—just one. But as I was writing it, Katie and Ashleen, the two young girls in the book, began to demand their own stories. So I considered turning it into a trilogy…and here I am on the seventh Claddagh story!
With the Wild Geese Series, it’s a bit more finite. There are five heroes, and I’d planned five stories for them. So I put them in New York City, and the stories went from there (though there may be a few spin-offs there, too!).
But it’s always about the characters, either the hero or the heroine, and sometimes even about the villain. And I build the plot around them.
About books you've read or written
10.        Favorite hero (include book title/author name)?
I’ve had a secret love affair with each one of the heroes I’ve written (just don’t tell my husband! ;) ), but my favorite is Cathal Donnelly from Keeper of the Light (Wild Geese Book 2). A tortured soul, he dreams about the Ireland he left, a land stricken by famine that he knows he’ll never see again. He’s a dreamer, a story teller and a singer of songs. He’s romantic, mercurial, and a hard-edged rebel willing to do anything for the Irish cause—and he does! In fact, it’s because of his activities with the Fenians that he meets Laura Bainbridge, the beautiful Loyalist who’s eager to travel to London to be presented to Queen Victoria, the woman the Irish call “The Famine Queen.”
11.        Book that made you cry.
Probably my own first book, In Sunshine or in Shadow. I put my heart and soul into writing that story, and I lived it with my characters. It was always my dream to become a published author, and when I held that book in my hand for the first time, I burst into tears.

Reluctant Betrayer

Sweet deception and hidden passion…

Trasnavan…a west-of-Ireland village bursting with charm, intrigue and treachery.
Aidan Collins grew up in the shadow of his heroic older brother. The steady one, the responsible one, he burns with anger against the landlord and vows to change the desperate straits of the village folk.
Raised in a family of rebels, Maura Riordan is horrified when she learns the man she loves has committed the ultimate act of treason.
But Aidan has his own reasons for taking the position of landlord’s agent. Will those reasons destroy him? Will Maura’s deception tear them apart?
Can their love survive the lies they’ve both told?
Review for Reluctant Betrayer
Cynthia Owens is an excellent storyteller and Reluctant Betrayer, had everything to please lovers of Irish tales! Aidan and Maura's story is filled with tenderness, betrayal and hope! Amazon Reviewer Nicole Laverdure
Buy Links for Reluctant Betrayer: Amazon, B&N, Indigo, iBooks
Excerpt from Reluctant Betrayer
Pity stirred Maura’s heart. “She was my bosom friend, Neil, even before she was yer intended.” She touched a tentative finger to his iron-hard jaw. “I loved her too.”
“Then how can ye even think o’ a man like Aidan Collins? Sure, he’s serving the enemy!”
“Can f-feelings just w-wither and die because you w-will them?” Her voice rang with defiance.
He caught her wrists in his hands, his fingers biting into her flesh. “Ye’ll no’ see him again, Maura.”
“I love him, Neil. And—and I know he loves m-me.”
His eyes widened, his mouth became a snarl. “And how are ye knowing that?”
“Because we’ve an understanding between us!” The words burst from her, and she clapped her hands to her mouth. Oh, why had she told him now, like this?
“Without me knowin’ about it?”
“‘Twas nothing s-sordid, Neil.” She stared appealingly up at him, her heart shrinking in her chest as she saw his unyielding anger. “‘Twas a few walks in the woods when we were going the same way, a stroll by the strand...”
“Ye’ll no’ be seeing him again.” He caught her shoulders, shook her roughly. “He’s one o’ them now. And if he were to learn of...”
“Of what?” Caught by the sudden tension in her brother’s voice, Maura stared at him, horror chilling the blood in her veins. “Neil, wh-what are you k-keeping from me?”
“Nothing. Ne’er ye mind. Just remember, ye’re no’ to see Aidan Collins again.”
“No, ‘tis not nothing.” A terrible conviction swept over her, weakening her knees and scalding her throat. She knew. “Dear God, Neil, no! You’re not—oh, Mary Mother of God, tell me you’re not involved in—in—you’re not m-mixing with a secret s-society, are you?”
“Don’t ask me that, Maura, fer ye know I can’t be tellin’ ye. I’ll no’ be putting ye in danger, love.”
“Dear sweet God!”
He shook her again, until her rich auburn hair tumbled from its pins and bounced around her shoulders. “I’ll no’ be tellin’ ye again, Maura Brigid Eileen Riordan. Ye’re no’ to see Aidan Collins again. D’ye understand me now?”
“And if I d-disobey you?”
Neil stilled, his blue eyes, the exact same shade as her own, boring into her. Angry. Passionate.
“If you see him again, Maura, then I’ll have to kill him.”
About Cynthia Owens:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.
My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.
A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.
I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.
I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
Cynthia's contact information
Social Media Links: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Amazon Author Page  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ Words

Every year, the Washington Post holds a contest in which it invites its readers to take a word from the dictionary, add or subtract a single letter, and come up with a brand new definition.

Here are a few you may enjoy:

Intaxacation – “Euphoria at receiving a tax refund, which lasts until you suddenly realize it was your money to start with.”

Bozone – “The substance surrounding stupid people that prevents bright ideas from penetrating.”

Foreploy – “Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting sex.”

Decafalon – “The grueling event that calls for getting through the day consuming only those things that are good for you.”

Glibido – “All talk and no action.”

Reintarnation – “Coming back to life as a hillbilly.”

The Post also has a yearly contest that calls for its readers to supply alternate definitions for common words.

Coffee –“The person upon whom one coughs.”

Flabbergasted – “Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.”

Circumvent – “An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.”

Abdicate – “To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.”

Negligent – “Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.”

Pokemon – “A Rastafarian proctologist.”

Oyster – “A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.”

Lymph – “To walk with a lisp.”

Do you have any words to add?