Monday, December 12, 2011

Celtic Woman

I watched Celtic Woman perform on television with a back drop of a beautiful Irish castle and was mesmerized by their talent. Granted, the show was in Ireland and I was only dreaming, but when they came so close to home I had to get tickets. I am so glad I did!

It didn't take long to convince my daughter to go with me to Heinz Hall and we had a blast. The women were beautiful, talented, and with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra accompanying them... need I say more? I have to admit, *bowing head* my eyes welled with tears on a couple of occasions. Angelic is probably the best word to describe the show. 

Although this was their Christmas show and they gifted us with songs such as Ave Maria and O Holy Night, they were still kind enough to grace us with Danny Boy and You Raise Me Up. Not to mention Máiréad's Irish jig's which are out of this world!

We were not permitted to take pictures once the show started, but this should tell you how fantastic our seats were. If you have the chance to go, don't miss it!

This was definitely a mother/daughter function that I will cherish forever. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Always My Baby

December 5th, 2000 was the year of my daughter's birth. Her bright blue eyes and shining smile warmed my heart the instant our eyes met. She was beautiful. She was my baby. The moment her tiny little fingers grasped around mine I knew I was destined to be a mother. I would always protect her--always love her.

I watched her grow over the years into the young lady she is today. She's in that wonderful stage of  prepubescent years where eye rolls and embarrassment are a frequent factor. You know exactly what I mean. It was perfectly acceptable to shop at Kohl's, but that was so last year. If it doesn't say Aeropostale, it can no longer grace her body. Christmas lists are no longer dolls and stuffed animals, but DS games, iPod Touch and Lady Gaga CD's.  

Her sense of humor is beyond compare. With some of the things that escape her mouth, she has me rolling on the floor. Good grades, travel basketball, a nice bunch of friends, what more could a mother ask for? I don't mind spoiling my kids when they are doing well. They work and play hard. 
Yesterday was my daughter's 11th birthday. We treated her to dinner at Olive Garden and took her gift to the restaurant. When her father told the waitress it was her birthday, my daughter's features turned to crimson. The waitress brought her a cake with a candle in it and asked if my daughter wanted her to sing to which she cringed and murmured a polite 'no thank you.'  
After dinner we sat around the table and handed her the gift. She opened the box which had a padded envelope inside. She opened it and reached in. When she pulled out the box and saw the iPod Touch, her eyes widened and she reached over and gave me a hug. My eyes welled with tears as I tried to blink them back. Seeing the expression of pure joy and happiness on her face was truly all the thanks I needed. She sprang from the booth and embraced her father. I gave a quick glance at my husband as his eyes reddened. That suit of armor is not so tough! 
At that moment, I became cognizant of one thing. No matter how old my daughter is, she will always be my baby.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Presents: On-line Shopping or Facing the Masses

This has to be the first time in my history of Christmas shopping I am 99% complete--not wrapped, but the gifts are bought.
Between running both kids to basketball, meeting editing deadlines and the day job, I have discovered the wonderful world of internet shopping. As my beautiful niece would say, "You punch on the keyboard what you want and they deliver it to your door the next day. Oh, and you don't have to pay." Wishful thinking, Maisy.
Now I don't normally do this. Every year the dh and I dredge through the mall, store to store, window to window and immerse with a ton of bags. It's hot, crowded, and by the end of the day we've had it. Of course we always encounter the slap to the head moments like, "Do you know what we forgot?" At times, it's downright frustrating.
I have to admit, it is rather satisfying to have the UPS guy ring the doorbell and my package is delivered. No fighting for parking, no crowds and no misery. There is a little thread of guilt I'm plagued with by not shopping the traditional way, but it quickly fades after meeting the first rude holiday shopper.
What about you? Internet or do you bravely face the masses?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Adventures

Halloween rocks. No really, it does. Not only is it fun for kids of all ages, but it's my birthday. Hey! Before you even think about it! I've heard all of the jokes before! You're not funny! Yep. I'm the super cool mom who shares her birthday on the day when the veil between the living and the dead are meshed. What can I say? 
Being on the lower side of 40-ish, I've had a lot of Halloween adventures over the years. You remember--the times when getting into innocent mischief was not risking a lawsuit or someone wasn't running out of their house with a gun in hand.  
Toilet paper, soaping, I've done it all. I have to say my favorite was corning. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure... You take a handful of popcorn kernels and whip it at an aluminum sided house (no windows, please!) The sound was unbelievable, especially when you strike at the same time from front to back. Yep, our neighbors would thunder out of the house cursing up a storm while we hid behind a bush. Good times and clean fun.
One of my fondest memories was when I'd hang with my neighbor, Jimmy. He had this amazing talent of always finding us different 'activities' to get into. It was around Halloween and he had a hideous monster mask. He stole one of his mother's sheets and borrowed his little cousin, placing him on his shoulders. When he covered them both with the sheet, they looked like a 7-foot hunchback. Directly in front of Jimmy's house was a stop sign. He'd wait for the cars to stop and then dash out from the side of his house and scare the--well, you know what he scared. Those were the days when we could stay out until midnight and play in the street with not a care in the world. *sigh* 
What were some of your best Halloween adventures?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Bad Boy is Done!

There is nothing sweeter than finishing a manuscript. All of the blood, sweat and tears, fist pounding, hair pulling, more gray hair (which in turn leads to coloring), swearing at the CP for yet another redo and a year of your life buried in your writer's cave... You better believe it was worth it! What a ride!
I am pleased to announce that Bewitching a Highland Rogue, Book 2 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands series is complete! Declan MacGregor. I think everyone will love his arrogant alpha arse. Think of him as the Gannicus of the Highlands--a Highland rock star. Of course the beautiful Lady Liadain Campbell sees right through his roguish act. In fact, she's been known to put him in his place a time or two. ;-)
Highland Savior, Book 1 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands series is scheduled for release in Fall 2012. Sourcebooks is deciding on the launch date this week. Woo-hoo!
That pretty much leaves me plotting Book 3. Mmm... Heroes and heroines are named, plot(s) are forming, I might need a few names for villains. Anyone tick you off as of late? Let me know and I'll slip them in or behead them. Frankly, I'll leave it up to you. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

With the kids starting school and wrapping up Book 2 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands series, I have not had a lot of time to basically stop and smell the roses. This weekend I put everything aside and took the kids to the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival. Nothing stirs an author's mind into inspiration more than taking a trip back to the past.

As you can see from the picture above and below, the costumes were absolutely exquisite. From the nobles to the commoners, everyone played their part well.  

The instrument pictured below was very interesting. It had TONS of piano wire braided across a wooden platform and this nice man told me he had put in countless hours of practice. At first, five hours a day! The music he played was very soothing.

I always enjoy the acts, but you have to be careful if you take the kids. Most of the sexual innuendos are over their head, but some are not. I did find the actors minded their manners when the kids were about. 

The poor guy below had to stand like that for countless hours. He threw endless insults at every passer-by and even more when you tried to bash him with tomatoes. I would not want that job! My daughter (who was a glutton for punishment) threw tomatoes at him and he screamed, "I see you're wearing purple! That's so everyone won't look at your face! You think your phone is broken, but the boys aren't calling!" Of course she laughed always being the good sport.
As we moved through the shire, I managed to find a Scot or two! I have this tremendous talent of being able to spot a kilt a mile away.
I think our favorite part was the jousting. Thundering hooves, swords, chain mail, man-to-man combat... If you weren't inspired before, you were now. Talk about inspiration. The gallant Sir Roderick battled the French knight Mitri.

The day was purely wonderful, but there was only one event that was truly delightful. Yes, this is my hand. Yes, I was about to swoon. Who doesn't like a knight in shining armor? Sir Roderick proved that chivalry is not dead. *sigh* Thank you for 'inspiring' me, Sir Roderick.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Foxburg Scottish Festival

The clan and I recently journeyed to the Foxburg Scottish Festival. This was the second time I dragged them *clearing throat* meant to say we traveled to the festival.
We started the day's events by walking along Clan Row. Why not start with my Campbell friends? This was an interesting tale for sure. For those of you that don't know, Book 1 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands series depicts the Campbells and MacGregors. In actuality, history portrays the Campbells as a beloved clan and the outlawed MacGregors were clearly that. I asked myself 'what if' a lot and ultimately decided to have the right hand of the king, Campbells, falling from grace. Imagine my surprise when I approached the Campbell tent to find this Campbell wasnae verra friendly. Perhaps history was mistaken.  

I can usually talk to anyone and make them smile. You know, kindness with kindness. I picked up one of the books on the table and examined it. I knew it was Kilchurn Castle since that was what Book 1 was based upon, the Campbell seat at Glenorchy. I smiled and said, "Oh, I see you have Kilchurn Castle. Was that the Campbell seat in Glenorchy then?" I am but a stupid female. Please enlighten me with your expertise.
If it was even possible, his scowl deepened further and he yelled to his wife, "Hey, come here and answer this lady's question." Bloody Campbells.
That did not dampen our spirits. In fact, we moved on to the vendors. Their wares consisted of everything under the Scottish sun. From kilts, sporrans, tartans, plaids, dirks and swords to Scottish short bread and the Scottish drink, Irn Bru. I always wanted to try it and the man who sold it insisted it tastes just like Bazooka bubble gum. He was right. It was great for the first couple of sips, but then I had to pass it to the kids. Too sweet for me. 
While the men showed off their prowess during the Highland Games,
some had colorful opinions and displayed them openly. If it's not Scottish, it's crap!
We meandered over to the sheep herding event. If you have never seen border collies in action, they are definitely something to see. Following only the commands of a whistle, these dogs are very agile and are able to herd the sheep from a specific area to another with minimal instruction. If only we could train our kids that way!
The people were colorful and dressed to the kilt. Pun intended! From the wee laddies to the pipers...
To the animals. The stuffed and the real...
Everyone wanted to be Scottish, if only for a day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Celebrating the Sale of the Bad Boys of the Highlands Series

In celebration of the recent sale of my Bad Boys of the Highlands series, I treated my three biggest fans to dinner at a local Scottish pub. My daughter, CP and Beta all joined me for a wonderful treat at Piper's Pub.
We started our enjoyable evening by my CP's recommended appetizer of Scotch Eggs. A hard boiled egg was encased in sausage, breaded and then deep fried. I almost forgot. It was served with hot sauce. I felt my cholesterol rising before I even took a bite, but it was so good. 
 The atmosphere was loud as you would expect from a pub, but that didn't stop me from toasting my three favorite gals for their unwavering support. I passed out gifts to all of them, including the necklace pictured to the right for my beautiful daughter.
The food was wonderful and plentiful. How could you go wrong with the traditional corned beef, cabbage and potatoes?
Not to mention the Beef Shepherd's Pie.
We topped off this hearty meal with a Scottish ice-cream sandwich. This delicious morsel consisted of vanilla ice-cream surrounded by Scottish shortbread and topped with a chocolate, raspberry, butterscotch and blueberry sauce.
Even though we will not eat for a week, a great time was had by all. It's fun to celebrate with friends and family. My heartfelt thanks go out to these three who have been and continue to be my biggest supporters.
How do you celebrate a special occasion with family or friends? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview with Author Maeve Greyson

I am thrilled to be chatting with the winner of RT’s Writing with the Stars, amazing author extraordinaire, fellow chapter sister of CHRW and my friend, Maeve Greyson.
Welcome, Maeve! I’m so happy to have you here for a visit. You’ve had quite an exciting jump start to your career and I’ve been amazed by the amount of support you’ve received surrounding the contest. Did this surprise you?

MG:  Before I answer, thank you so very much for inviting me over for a chat at your lovely blog, Victoria, and you are too kind with your lovely praise. I’m blushing!  I’m so glad to be here. Now --did the amount of support surprise me? Yes and no. I’ve always found the writing community to be a warm friendly bunch so I wasn’t really surprised by all their help and enthusiasm at the beginning of the contest. However, I was amazed, awe-struck, gah-gahed and all those other words you might use to describe a state of total disbelief when they all continued to rally around me throughout the duration of the contest. The challenges lasted a grueling six months and I couldn’t believe the patience of all my wonderful supporters. Even though they must’ve been sick of listening to me beg for their votes, they still supported me and didn’t hire a hit man to shut me up.

VR:  *waves hand in air in dismissive gesture* Of course we didn't hire a hit man! Your husband has done some pretty amazing things to show his support. Care to share some of his most supportive moments? (Can you tell the Stefan Pinto is my boyfriend story? That is hilarious!)

MG: Hubby is undoubtedly my biggest fan and supporter. He’s nudged me when I needed a push, held me back when I was ready to throw it all away and always reminded me that I matter. I have worth. I never had that before I met him so he’s worked miracles with my self-esteem. And yes, we still laugh about his “boyfriend” encounter at RT.

Hubby and I were at the Kensington morning mixer at RT in Los Angeles. Of course, Hubby was snapping photos of me with my new Kensington editor, my wonderful mentor, Rebecca Zanetti, and a host of other talented Kensington authors.

Stefan Pinto, a VERY NICE cover model and contestant for Mr. Romance, was also there and he was more than happy to have his picture taken with a shy writer from the backwoods of Kentucky. While Stefan and I stood there smiling into Hubby’s camera, Stefan asked if this was my first RT. I replied that it was. He gave me a quick hug and whispered in my ear, “Watch this. It will be very funny.” He dug around in his bag and pulled out two promotional buttons decorated with his scrumptious, bare-chested photo and some words written around the edge of the button. He pinned one on my collar, gave me a wink, then walked up to my hubby and pinned the button high enough on my husband’s shirt so that he couldn’t bend the button to see it. Then Stefan patted Hubby on the shoulder, grinned and walked away. I joined Hubby, read the button and started giggling. After twisting the button every way possible, Hubby finally looked at me and asked, “What does that thing say?” I winked at him and patted him on the chest. “It says that you have a new boyfriend and his name is Stefan Pinto.”

VR:  *giggles* Your husband is definitely your biggest fan and supporter. It's heartfelt to see that he remains by your side every step of the way.  Beyond a Highland Whisper was your first release and I could not put it down! What was your favorite part of the story?

MG: I love the part where Latharn is jealous of Nessa’s date with Gabriel. A jealous Highlander who’s not about to allow ANY man take what belongs to him is just my idea of a yummy scene. I adore a man who’ll fight for what he wants and then be damned if he lets anyone attempt to take it away.

VR: I loved that scene as well. Verra alpha male. When will your next book, The Highlander's Fury, be released? Are you able to give us a little sneak peek?

MG: I don’t have a release date yet for The Highlander’s Fury. Edits have gone well with this one as well as for Eternity’s Mark (release date: April 2012). Here’s a snippet from The Highlander’s Fury that I hope you will enjoy. But keep in mind – we’re still in edit mode, so this could very well change. ;-) In this scene, Ciara finds out exactly what her goddess mothers would like for her to do in order to save the world.

At Brid’s nod of encouragement, Cerridwen passed her hand over the waters once again. A new image shimmered into view. Wild. Furious. Pure, unadulterated strength. The man’s aura pulsated power and control. Sleek black brows knotted over angry flashing eyes. Hair the black of a raven’s wings perfectly matched his surly demeanor. His square jaw was shadowed with a day’s growth of beard. Nostrils flared on a slightly crooked nose that must have been broken at some earlier time. Full, sensuous lips curled back into a sneer. Teeth clenched in barely held rage. Ciara didn’t know who this compelling human was but it was obvious he was sorely displeased.

“Who is he?” Ciara leaned closer to the waters. This mortal might be worth her interest.

Brid smiled, nodding her approval. “That is the chieftain of Clan MacKay, their powerful and well respected leader, Faolan.”

Now she knew they plotted something. Brid loved dabbling with Scotland. Straightening from the cauldron’s edge, Ciara crossed both arms over her chest and fixed the smiling goddesses with a suspicious glare. “Laird Faolan MacKay. And in what year exactly does Laird MacKay reside and what does he have to do with your solution for Danu’s world?”

Cerridwen circled the massive black cauldron, bent to scoop her hen from the nest of pillows, and cradled the chirruping bird to her chest. “Ye are currently looking at the year 1415 in the Highlands of our beloved Scotland. As to our solution, perhaps Brid could explain the plan we’ve put together better than I.”

Brid turned to glide across the polished floor and held out her hand for Ciara to join her at the balcony. Gazing out across the mist swirling over the dusky waves, she smiled as the whorls of sparkling fog formed into her beloved eternal spirals. “The MacKay family has been very dear to my heart now for many a year. Many of their clan is mystically blessed and they’ve kept the legends and rituals alive. However, Faolan has experienced a great deal of loss in his life. Grief and heartache has turned him away from the Ways. He has abolished the workings of magic and ritual among the clan and has forbidden the practicing of the old religions.”

Ciara ran her hands across the smooth surface of the railing; the velvet-like marble soothed her emotions with its cool, solid touch. The life force embedded deep in the stone called out to her, begging her to save the beloved earth and all its denizens. “So, you want me to talk to him? Convince him to turn back to the Ways? You do realize diplomacy is not one of my strongest traits? And just how exactly is getting one man to return to the old religions going to save the fate of the world?” Ciara tapped her fingertips on the railing. She couldn’t believe they’d called her back through the veils for this. She could’ve vanquished at least three dozen unrepentant mortals and punished who knows how many lower level immortals in the time she’d been here at the keep. Why had they called her here for this task? Cerridwen and Brid were slipping.

Cerridwen joined them at the railing after shooing the fussing black hen back through the veils into the room. Cerridwen’s gaze met with Brid’s and she gave a subtle nod.

“We need a child, Ciara. Fathered by the magical wolf and blessed with the talents of an immortal mother. Such a child could help ensure the old religions would never be forgotten and the magic would never die.” With this statement, Brid faced Ciara and waited for her reaction.

They couldn’t be serious. Ciara opened her mouth then closed it again. No. Surely, they had something else in mind. Her mothers couldn’t possibly be suggesting what she thought they had just said. She looked to Cerridwen and then turned back to Brid. Taken aback at what she thought Brid proposed, she repeated the words to ensure she understood what Brid had in mind. “Fathered by the wolf? Born of an immortal mother? Are you actually asking me to join with that mortal from the Highlands and bear the man a child?”

“Is he not pleasing to the eye, Ciara? Any man able to hold such fury must be capable of great passion as well.” With a wave of her hand, Cerridwen floated the cauldron to where they stood so they could gaze once more down upon his image.

Faolan MacKay electrified the waters. He was dark and dangerous, a delightful temptation to watch. The man towered over most in his clan, the breadth of his shoulders balancing his mountainous height. Ciara’s palms itched to touch the cut of his muscles straining against the leather of his tunic. Her gaze traveled lower, appraising his fine narrow hips and his powerful, well-muscled legs. Cerridwen was right. Faolan pleased the eye and Ciara would bet her finest torque he pleased in bed as well.

VR: *fanning self* That was a great excerpt! I can't wait to read it! Since we are kindred spirits for our love of all things Scotland and Highlanders, what was your most awe-inspiring moment on your recent trip to Scotland?

MG:  It had to be the moment I walked onto the field at Culloden.

I felt such a sense of sorrow and loss that I couldn’t control my tears. I started shaking and felt a bone-chilling ache and the longer I walked among the clan stones the worse the feeling became. I finally had to leave the field and take refuge in the gift shop at the entrance to the memorial. It’s so difficult to explain but it was almost as if the land cried out. Almost as if the blood spilled from long ago wanted to make certain the carnage that occurred that day never would be forgotten.

VR: Extremely powerful words, Maeve. Can you tell us what's next for Maeve Greyson?

MG: Hmm…well. I’m working on the second book in my “Mystical Gateways of the Highlands” series. Eternity’s Mark is book one. I’m nearly finished with book two and book three is pestering the daylights out of me the rest of the time.

VR: Maeve, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today and sharing your stories. Maeve will be checking in today and answering any posted questions or comments.

MG: Thank YOU, Victoria. You’re a true gem and I appreciate all you do.

For more information on Maeve Greyson or to purchase her books, she can be found: 




The Wild Rose Press:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

I am a firm believer in practicing random acts of kindness.

An elderly woman lives down the street from us and is basically home bound. All of her care comes to the house 24/7. During the winter months, my dh plows her driveway so that her caregivers are able to bring supplies and see to her needs. During the summer months, he cuts her grass. 

In the mail today was a card addressed to my husband from this woman. As he opened it, a smile played the corner of his lips.   

Apparently, when he visits this lonely woman, he offers her a listening ear. One day she told him that she really enjoyed fresh pineapple. Last week without my knowledge, my dh went down to cut her grass and bought her a fresh pineapple. 

The card read: "You were so kind to give me that delicious pineapple and you really took me by surprise. My prayers are for the safety of you and your dear family as you travel to and from the beautiful country of Canada. May God bless and keep you and yours in his loving care. In gratitude for your kindness and generosity."

It brought tears to my eyes. It is incredibly touching that one random act of kindness is rewarded with another. I've been with my husband for 21 years and he still surprises me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Canadian Escape

The clan and I recently traveled to Niagara Falls, Canada. What an amazing time! The temperatures were in the low 80's, low humidity and no rain. Who could ask for more? The sound of rushing water was so incredibly peaceful--all 600,000 gallons of water per second. I wished we could've bottled it up and brought it home with us. *chuckle* I could have sipped some on the way home when it took us three hours just to cross the border, but that's another story...
We hit the usual jaunts such as Journey Behind the Falls, Whirlpool Aero Car and Clifton Hill. This year we tried something different and actually hiked down to the bottom of the gorge. Twisting trails led us through breathtaking views of the Niagara River. When we reached the bottom, I found a huge rock and sat for a long time. Clean air, no cars, just the sounds of nature herself. *sigh* The picturesque views of the Niagara River were truly beautiful.

We journeyed north through the wine vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you're ever in the area, the scenery alone is worth the trip. One does have to wonder what these residents do for a living. Passing two red Ferrari's and too many sports cars to name, it was definitely the Rodeo Drive of Canada. 
The charming little shops along Queen Street beckon any passerby. Of course, this Scottish historical author could not pass up her stop into The Scottish Loft. I believe some MacGregor and Campbell items may have fallen into my basket. The dh claims too many, but hey, it's research. Right? I also found a charming little shop called Irish Design and knew some of my writer friends would have loved it (Maeve and Pat!)
Have you been on an exciting trip lately? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Got the Call (Again)!

These past couple months have just been full of excitement. I signed with my wonderful agent, Jill Marsal, in April. The fabulous Rae Monet finished my website this week. Jimmy Thomas is the cover model gracing my website and blog and I just received the most important call in my career. 

I just landed a three book deal with Sourcebooks!

As any writer can attest, this was a tedious journey with many ups and downs. It's definitely been a roller coaster ride on the road to publishing. Fortunately, I'm still on that high and have not thought long-term about reviews and marketing. *waves hand in air in dismissive gesture* There's plenty of time for that later. Right now, I'm just living in the moment.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my CP, writer/chapter friends and family. I have a great support team and you make my job so much easier. Thanks to my husband who has made countless dinners while I'm knee deep in the Highlands. Thanks to my beautiful daughter for her endless support and praise. You were right. I only had to believe in myself. And how could I forget my handsome little lad in training? Even though you were the only one in Kindergarten speaking Scottish Gaelic, I appreciate your support!  

I'm sure I'll be up late tonight tossing and turning and pondering things to come. For right now, I've accomplished my dream. *sigh*

Career. Onward. Now. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jimmy Thomas is my Highlander!

What could be better than capturing Jimmy Thomas as my Highlander? Yep, I'm still trying to think of something too!

My new website is launched! Whew! I am so verra pleased (pun intended) with the design and the wonderful customer service received by the fabulous, Rae Monet. I have to share the experience for those of you still looking for a web designer. You found her!

Rae spent an hour with me going over my thoughts for design. One thing that was really important to me was that I wanted to capture the essence of all things Scotland. After all, I'm Bringing my love of Scotland to life...

When Rae called me two days later to say the draft was completed, I had to admit that I was a little hesitant. That was lightening fast! But behold the beauty that lies before our very eyes. It's Jimmy Thomas! I don't think many compare to our vision of a rugged, handsome Highlander. He fits the mold well. Verra well!

I was awestruck when I viewed my site. Rae not only listened to what I wanted readers to feel when they opened the site, but she captured it. She was very engaged throughout the entire process. I'm no artist, but I can tell you that I think it looks pretty darned good!

I'd like to thank the folks over at Rae Monet Designs for a job well done! You guys are truly fantastic. Jimmy Thomas was right. You gave me a kick arse design!  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shh... Don't Tell Him!

As I get older (not that much older) I have learned to appreciate the innocence of youth. Frankly, I miss it. In today's crazy world where our children are forced to mature much more quickly, I yearn for the blissful unawareness of being young. No longer can our children spend the entire day outside tossing the ball with friends. When darkness falls, they better be inside. Who knows what predators are lying in wait?

My son is six and my daughter is ten. Every day, I try to protect them, keeping the world full of rainbows and wishes. On occasion, the darkness creeps in and we have no choice but to deal with it. But on the bright, sunny days when it doesn't... I am reminded that they are simply kids. I want them to embrace life and treasure it. They will not always be young, but they will always be my babies.

As many other mothers can attest, their inquiring little minds ask many questions. Some of them are repeated over and over and over and over. :-) Let's not forget the comments that escape from said lips as well. For instance, the other day my son says, "I'm so glad I'm a boy." When I asked him why, this was his response that was presented to me in a sing-song voice.

"I can pee standing up. I can pee outside. I don't have to wear a bra. I won't have boobs. I don't have to shave my legs. I won't be grumpy like my sister." 

Wow. I did not see that one coming. Last Saturday, I showed my little lad in training how to run the vacuum. After much praise, he even put it away in the closet. Sunday morning we awaken to the question, "Is it vacuum day?"

Mom nods. "Yes, it is. Would you like to run the vacuum again?" Mom is also silently wondering how long it's going to take him to realize it's not fun. 

Jumping up and down, son claps. "Yes! Can I run it again? Can I? Can I? Can I?"

What kind of mother would I be if I didn't let my son run the vacuum? ;-) I love those adorable, innocent moments. Care to share some of your own?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Signed!

And I believed writing a manuscript was the hardest part! Yep, that's pretty much what I thought. Boy was I naive!

Between synopsis hell--I mean writing, query letters, hooks, marketing, agents... it gives me a headache even thinking about it. Finishing the manuscript is only half the battle. What's your strategy? How are you going to sell it? Who's going to represent you? How are you going to market it? It is by no means easy. 

I finished Highland Savior. I completed the synopsis. I fine tuned the query letter. I polished my hooks. Now I have the most exciting news of all...

I just signed with Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency!

Career. Onward. Now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Family Photographs

Nothing makes you appreciate the past more than finding old family photographs, generations worlds apart. What were they thinking in this picture? Where were they? How old were they? The picture above is one of my favorites of my dh's grandmother and grandfather. She was so sassy! I love it! Look at her hand on her waist posing for the camera, the other draped over her man.  

I can't tell you the countless hours I have spent rummaging through old family albums. Amazed and awe-inspired, I gaze upon their faces, their untold stories calling out to me. They were so young, so full of life. The picture below is another one of my favorites. I remember when my dh's grandmother gave it to me. 

I was sitting on the floor in her living room and there it was. "This is a beautiful photograph of you," I exclaimed, pulling it out of its binder.

Sitting back in her chair, she sighed, her eyes drifting back to a far away place. "Walter and I were just dating. That was taken at the waterfall at my Uncle Jerry's... so long ago." 

Even though her husband had passed away several years earlier, I will never forget the look upon her face. The love they held for each other was evident, never fading.
Every time I gaze upon this lovely photo, I think back fondly of my dh's grandparents.

Of course there are other pictures that just down right make me laugh. When I view the one below, this is a picture of my grandmother on her horse. Growing up, we heard the same story countless times. She was in the barn and that darned horse kicked her in the arse, embedding two hoof prints in her hind quarters. Running out of the barn in tears, my great-grandfather chased the horse with a pitchfork.

Do you enjoy old family photographs? What do you do to preserve the past? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And Let the Gaelic Begin!

I love the sound of a velvety Scottish brogue. Frankly, it fascinates me. Dragging the clan to as many Scottish festivals around the area as possible, my ears perk up as soon as I hear the rolling tongue. 

Writing Scottish historical romance, I love to place a little flair of Scottish Gaelic into my manuscripts. I think it gives the reader a little taste of Alba. My CP's only request is that I must put in the translation. It frustrates her when the novel she's reading has Gaelic and she must inference the meaning. Donna want to upset the CP! 

Last year, I was able to attend a Gaelic class at one of the festivals. Whenever I get my hands on any material, I'm like a kid in a candy store. Hand-outs? Hand them over! Books? I'll buy them! Class? Sign me up! My kids can speak more words in Gaelic than they can in Spanish. I still haven't decided if that's good or not, but they're supporting mom's writing career. ;-)

As a pre-published author, I have attended classes on GMC, synopsis and query writing, etc. Yep, a necessary evil, but what excites me is when I get to attend a class that I know I will enjoy wholeheartedly. Gaelic class starts April 1st with one of our resident chapter experts and I am so thrilled.

To all of those attending... I'll try not to be the annoying kid in class sitting in the front row asking all of the questions. ;-) Anyone else attending Sharron's class?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Channeling Your Muse

Sometimes she deserts me. Now and then she awakens me in the early hours of the morn. At times she's my biggest obstacle and every so often she's my best friend. My muse. *sigh* What a fickle creature.

I have to admit, she does cooperate the majority of the time, but there are moments when I could literally (no pun intended) strangle her. How can the words flow out onto the keyboard as if I am a mere vassal serving her brilliant mind and then other times I have absolutely no idea where her thoughts wondered off to? What was she thinking? My 6 year-old could have written better than that.

On occasion, she surprises me. Believe me... those times are not only welcome, but treasured. The other day while riding and writing on public transportation, *cringe*, I was deep into an emotional scene between my hero and heroine. Verbal swords were drawn like daggers and disparaging words were thrown like stones. "Last stop" is announced over the speaker just as I clicked off the Alphasmart. Perfect timing.

Bypassing the herding cattle, I show my ticket to the poor agent enclosed in the metal box and climb the stairs to my car. All of a sudden, I take a mental step back? What is the matter with me? My heart is racing a mile a minute. My blood is pounding. In fact, it's boiling. I was cognizant of the fact that I'm actually angry... for no reason. 

PMS? Not quite! The muse not only kicked into gear, but she was in overdrive! Almost as if I was an actor immersing myself into a role, my characters came to life within me. Needless to say, Liadain and Declan's sparring match impacted my mood. After a few calming breaths and laughing at the depths of my creativity, I only pray she decides to grace me with such gifts again.

Tell me. Has your muse ever influenced your life?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bear-ly Able to Watch... Cape Wrath, Scotland

I will be the first to admit that when I do occasionally get my hands on the TV remote, I force the dh to watch what I want. You know, skimpily clad gladiators, vampires, serial killers, men in kilts... It serves him right for all of the times he coerces me into watching every fishing, hunting, manly show under the sun. I'm sorry, but there are only so many times a gal can watch Alaskan crab fishing! Every episode is the same!

After being married for so many years, we read each other well. For instance, I will make him a nice dinner and say, "Do you mind if we watch...?" He usually caves. On the other hand, I'm more difficult to persuade. My son and daughter join in and we outnumber his vote, overthrowing the king's command. Due to our rallying efforts, it has influenced the dh to be much more creative.

One of his favorite shows is Man vs. Wild. Yep, I could not tear my gaze away when Bear Grylls drank his own urine the first or the second time and let's not talk about when he actually ate bear excrement. Any man that drinks his own man juice... *cringe* 

Anyway, the other night the dh says, "I taped something for you. I really thought you would like it. I think it was filmed in Cape Wrath, Scotland."

"Really?" I ask with excitement. "What was it?"

"Now before you say anything and roll your eyes, it was Man vs. Wild."

He has me cornered, knowing I'll watch anything about Scotland.

The show starts off with Bear jumping out of a helicopter, living in a life raft and then swimming to shore. Hey, this isn't so bad! The scenery is beautiful and it's Scotland. Wait, he realizes he's on the wrong island and must swim the channel. No big deal. Is that... a baby seal? He's not. Please tell me--he's not.

Pulling out his blade, he cuts the head from the seal. What is he doing? Oh, that explains it. He's making a baby seal wet suit to wear over his chest to protect him from the elements of the sea. Donning his stylish blood soaked skin; he swims the channel--not as shark bait. He made it. Mmm...

The remote scenery of Cape Wrath was breathtaking, but next time, I think I'll leave the Bear at home.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Olde Stonewall Castle

Who would've thought a castle was in your own backyard? More like an hour away, but close to home nonetheless.

The clan and I ventured to Ellwood City, PA to Olde Stonewall Castle and Shakespeare's Restaurant and Pub over Valentine's Day weekend. As if this historical author would pass up an opportunity to wander around a castle!

Sitting upon 269 acres and actually known for its golf course, Olde Stonewall was rated as one of the top 50 places to play golf in the USA. For me, the only interest I have in the sport is the miniature kind. I don't think dunking the ball into the treasure chest would quite fit in here.

Imposing wooden doors that are 12-feet high and weigh 800 pounds have matching intertwined gargoyle door handles. Once you enter the fortress, a 6-foot knight-in-shining-armor greets you in the entryway. Envisioning yourself in the 16th century, clouds are depicted upon the ceilings with medieval chandeliers casting their mystical glow. The owner has antiques displayed in corner nooks and along the walls, mostly which are imported from Spain.

Shakespeare's Restaurant and Pub has a delightful medieval theme. The waiters and waitresses dress in peasant tops--although no kilts are donned--to add to the European atmosphere. Hanging in the main dining room, chandeliers were recovered from former churches in the Pittsburgh area and restored. The food is outstanding and the choices vary from sandwiches to prime rib and lobster. The price fits anyone's budget.

The elevator takes you to the second floor which also boasts several antique rugs and medieval weaponry. Period pictures are also displayed in several additional banquet rooms.

Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to roam outdoors due to the weather, but there is a 20-foot oval water fountain and a flower garden in the back of the castle. We will definitely be returning in the summer months to enjoy the outdoors.

When Scotland is so far away, why not enjoy a Sunday drive to a castle that's so close to home?