This blog is for those 18 and older.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Author B.J. Scott on Hogmany



HOGMANY
The origin of the word and custom is always under debate.
Did it come from the Anglo-Saxon word Haleg Monath, meaning Holy month?
Did it come from the Gaelic word meaning New Morning—oge maidne?
Did it come from the Scandinavian word Hoggo-nott?
Did it come from the French word Homme est ne, meaning man is born?
Some believe it came with the Norsemen, the history based in Celtic religion while others believe it dates back to the Picts.

Regardless of where it began it has been celebrated for centuries, remains an important date on the Scottish Calendar, and is steeped in traditions.

Perhaps the most common is First Footing. After midnight neighbors visit each other bringing gifts. The first guest who crosses the threshold, preferably someone tall, dark and handsome, brings luck for the new year. They bear gifts of coal, black bun (fruit cake) shortbread and an ample supply of whisky. If a red-haired man or worse, a red-haired lady is the first to cross the threshold, it is considered bad luck.

As with many Celtic festivals, bonfires are lit as a means of cleansing and to drive away evil spirits. Children visited neighbors hoping for gifts.

Among the traditions is a good spring cleaning called redding. Homes are cleaned, ashes removed from the hearth and debts paid. In preparation for the new year.

And let’s not forget the singing of Robbie Burn’s version of Auld Lang Syne.

Whether you celebrate a traditional Scottish Hogmany or have your own New Years tradition Bliadhna mhath├╣r! (pronounced BLEEne vah OOHR)
Happy New Year! 

Author BJ Scott:

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with four dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, doing a variety of hand crafts, camping, or antique hunting.

For more on BJ's books check her out at

To win your choice of either of her books, be sure to leave a comment. The winner will be notified if contact information is left, or check the Winners' section on the right on Wednesday. Here is an excerpt from her latest book HIGHLAND QUEST.


Loch Ryan Scotland, 1307
“Wa . . . water,” Bryce mumbled, but there was no one there to listen.
 His throat was parched and he ran his tongue over dry, cracked lips, but his action offered no relief. An entire loch lay only a few feet away, but he couldn’t muster the strength to drag himself to the bank and quench his thirst.
“Cold . . . so cold.”
 Despite the sun beating down on him, he’d swear he was encased in ice. His life’s blood seeped from his wounds, soaking the ground beneath him. He tried to raise his head, but the excruciating pain radiating across his chest stole his breath away.
Was this what it felt like to die? If so, he prayed the Almighty would be merciful and take him now.
Bryce moaned, a shift in his position bringing on another nauseating wave of agony. He sucked in a short, sharp, gulp of air and stretched his arm out as far as he could, his fingers grappling in the dirt.
If only I could reach my sword.
Beads of perspiration dampened his brow. As the strength slowly drained from his body, drawing a simple breath became more difficult. The end grew near. No time to make amends for sins of the past, and he had committed his share.
Regrets? He had those, too. “Fallon.” He whispered her name then heaved a ragged sigh. He could see her beautiful face, her soft, porcelain-like skin with just a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Raven tresses hanging loose in a riot of curls down her back. Her petite, slender body had just the right curves to drive a man wild with desire. Mysterious sapphire eyes that held him captive and a heart-shaped mouth he’d never tire of kissing. If he had one wish before he died, it would be to hold her in his arms one more time, to find himself nestled between her thighs, making love until neither of them could take anymore.
But he’d missed his chance when she left Fraser Castle after his brother’s wedding, returning with her clan to their home in the borderlands. Determined not to allow Fallon, or any woman, to breach the protective wall he’d built around his heart, he’d let her go.
A restless spirit, he longed for adventure. While he admired his two older brothers, he was tired of living in their shadows. Alasdair had turned down the position of Laird when their father and older brother were killed at Berwick on Tweed. Connor, the next in line, had accepted the responsibility and did the Clan proud. He was happily married and Bryce was certain his wee son, Andrew, would be raised to follow in his father’s footsteps.
 Bryce held no land or title. Until he had made a name for himself and earned these things, he had nothing to offer a wife. But marriage and family were not part of his immediate plans. He loved women, all women. Be they large, small, short, tall, fair, or plain, it made no difference as long as they were willing to warm his bed, and expected no long-term commitment in return.
A rogue many would say, but he made no secret of his intentions. So far, this way of life had served him well, and should he die in battle, he’d leave no one behind to mourn his loss.
When he was a lad of sixteen, he’d made the mistake of falling for the daughter of the village smithy. Totally enamored with each other, they’d vowed their eternal love and he believed they’d marry some day.
He swallowed hard at the ball of emotion rising in his throat, and clenched his teeth against the sudden ache gripping his heart. He’d heard when a man is about to die, his life experiences flash before his eyes. But some memories were far too painful to revisit.
He balled his fists at his sides, his nails digging into his palms. He didn’t want to think about the past and didn’t want a woman in his life. While Fallon was the only lass who had tempted him to stray from his chosen path, she was better off without him. Or so he’d told himself when he returned from a morning ride to learn she’d left Fraser Castle without saying goodbye. 
Clinging to the memory of their brief time together, Bryce closed his eyes and waited for death to take him. But distant voices and the sound of approaching footfall alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone.
“Over here,” a man shouted. “I think this one is still breathing.”
“Aye, he’s alive, but for how long? The lad has lost a lot of blood,” another man commented and clucked his tongue.
Hovering on the edge of consciousness, Bryce heard the conversation going on between two men, maybe more. He tried to open his eyes, but the lids proved too heavy.
Judging by the familiar burr, these men were Scottish, but so were the traitorous bastards who had attacked them.
For a sennight, he’d ridden day and night. However in the end, he was too late to warn the Bruce’s brothers and their small group of Irish and Scottish islanders of the impending threat. Rushing headlong into an ambush and outnumbered four to one, their fate was sealed.
This wasn’t the first time the MacDougall Clan sided with the English. Staunch supporters of John Comyn’s bid for the Scottish crown, they’d turned their swords and their loyalty against their countrymen when Comyn was murdered at Grey Fryer’s Abbey and Robert the Bruce was accused of the deed.
After the massacre at Methven—the last major battle fought between the English and the Bruce before he went into hiding—the buggers lay in wait, attacking the Scottish survivors as they tried to make their way to the Argyle Mountains to regroup. The battle of Dail Righ would forever be a stain on the MacDougall clan’s name, and a battle Bryce would long remember.
Nor would he forget their leader. Today he’d had the long-awaited chance to make good on his oath to see the blackguard pay for his treasonous acts, but he’d failed. Instead, he’d found himself on the receiving end of Dungal’s sword.
“I canna believe Scots would kill Scots. These poor fellows dinna have a prayer of making it to shore unharmed,” the first man said.
“Aye, the ship was run aground and there must be at least fifty dead men on the bank of the loch. There appears to be a mix of Irish and Scots, but nary an English soldier or a MacDougall plaid among them.” The man speaking nudged Bryce’s shoulder with the toe of his boot. “This appears to be the only one alive.”  
A dizzying wave of excruciating pain shot through Bryce’s chest as he was rolled onto to his side.
“What do you plan to do with this fellow, Donald?” the second man asked. “We canna just leave him here to bleed to death.”
“We’ll take him with us. My niece has some knowledge of healing. She cared for my wife when she had the pox . . . rest her soul.” Donald paused for a moment before he continued. “After Mairi died, the lass decided to stay on for a while. Mayhap there is something she can do for him. Best we make haste. I dinna want to be here if the bastards return.”
“I’ll be surprised if he survives the journey. But we can always bury him along the way if need be,” the second man responded.
Strong hands slid beneath Bryce’s shoulders, raising him to a sitting position, then someone grabbed his legs. A few garbled words of protest were all he could manage before darkness closed around him.

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: THE VALCOURT HEIRESS by Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter has a way of letting us know that feminism is alive and well in all ages including the thirteenth century England.

Merry of Valcourt detested the idea that her mother, whispered to be a witch, arranged for her marriage to an evil man, Jason of Brennan, who had no considerations for Merry’s wellbeing.  The best Merry could think of was to disappear.  She’d think later of where to go.

In a disguise, she escaped and found herself overrun by Jason and his men until her knight in shining armor, Lord Garron, saved her.  Garron didn’t realize she was a female in stable boy’s clothing as she hid in the woods amongst the confusion.

He also didn’t realize she was the same “boy” he saved when she appeared at his newly inherited Wareham Castle, which he found in ruins and most of the residents slaughtered.

Merry worked hard at organizing the rebuilding of the castle in order for Garron not to send her away or question her background.  It’s highly unlikely that a priest’s bastard, as she insisted of herself, is educated and can run a castle.

Garron had more on his mind than the beautiful wench running his home.  He needed to find and kill the one who massacred his people.

Coulter depicts the age with language, setting, and characters that I could not help but feel transported to medieval times as I lived the danger of the hunt of Jason of Brennan and the fight against the unprecedented attraction between Garron and Merry.  Long live the Lord and Heiress!

Enjoy!
Dawn

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Guest Author Caris Roane: Warm Up Your Winter Blog Tour



Hi, everyone!  I want to thank Happily Ever After Thoughts for having me today as part of my WARM-UP-YOUR-WINTER BLOG TOUR.  On most of the blogs on this tour, I’ll be revealing excerpts from the sixth book in my vampire series called, GATES OF RAPTURE (12/24).  I created the tour with the hope that you might get to know my Guardians of Ascension, who are my most beloved winged vampire warriors.  I know the covers have wings on them, but the books aren’t about angels AT ALL…just vampires…with wings.  I also have goodies for you to win, details to follow!

GATES OF RAPTURE is the sixth installment of Guardians of Ascension and features Warrior Leto, a famous, ancient Warrior of the Blood, six-six, long straight black hair, piercing blue eyes, and built to battle death vampires for centuries and drive the ladies crazy!  Major yummy!  Romantic Times Magazine gave GATES OF RAPTURE a 4 ½ Star, TOP PICK review!  I couldn’t be happier!

As for the excerpt, I couldn’t resist.  If you’ve been following the tour, you’ll know that the excerpts are mostly in order.  And in this case, the portion I plucked from the manuscript picks up from the previous excerpt as Leto begins the process of opening up Grace’s blue obsidian flame power…yeah, I know…I really went for it when I built Guardians of Ascension!  Anyway, Leto is trying to break open Grace’s power in something I’ve called ‘deep mind engagement’.  But the couple is struggling to figure things out – imagine that!  So, here is a continuation of how Leto goes about attempting to open up Grace’s power…

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 7:
Not surprising, Leto withdrew from Grace’s mind.  The sensation felt a little rubbery, and as she opened her eyes, she had to blink several times before she could see him clearly. 
He leaned up on one elbow and rubbed her shoulder.  “I know you didn’t want me to go there with you.  I could feel how much it troubled you.  We don’t have to do this.”
There it was again, his light hands with her, his kindness, his patience.  If he had been strident, she might have recoiled, even made other decisions.  She might have worked to protect herself instead of moving forward.
Instead, she gripped his arm and nodded once.  “It’s okay.  I still want to do this.  I must do this.  I’m not going back to the life I knew.  I know this changes things, but so be it.  This is my path.”
He leaned over and kissed her full on the mouth.  “I’m so grateful that you’re here with me and that you’re so accepting of my beast-state.  I confess I don’t understand all that’s going on with the breh-hedden right now or with you and your obsidian soul-based power, but I want to be here for you as much as I can.”
She rolled toward him slightly and kissed him back.  “This is new ground for both of us.”
He looked so worried, his brow heavily furrowed.  “I just don’t want you to have expectations of me.  We’re being pushed toward this profound degree of connection, but I’m not sure how much of a heart I have to give.”
She sensed how troubled he was because of all he’d been through.  He carried with him a level of guilt that was a constant companion. 
She smiled and placed her hand on his cheek.  “How about we take everything one step at time, no matter how messy or strange it gets.”
He nodded, stroking her cheek with his thumb.  “Okay.”
“But I do have one suggestion.”
“Sure.  Anything.”
“Why don’t we lose the clothes.”
His eyes went wide and he grinned.  His expression was so male right now that she laughed.  Not a bad thing to lighten the mood.  “I’m in no way opposed to the idea, but why?”
She shrugged but felt her cheeks growing warm.  “For the closeness, I think, and maybe even the vulnerability.  If I can be open physically right now, I think it will help the rest of the process.  Besides, I’ve heard the whole thing becomes pretty exciting.”
He leaned over and kissed her, drew back, then waved a hand the length of his body.  Clothes gone.
She let her gaze drift over him.  He was so beautiful, his arms heavily muscled, his pecs thick, his abs sculpted. 
She returned the favor, also waving her hand to encompass her clothes.  When they disappeared, he let out a solid groan.  He reached over and put his hand on her stomach, touching the sapphire-studded ring at her navel.  But she caught his hand then rolled onto her back.  She chuckled.  “Try to focus, if you can.”
“What?  I didn’t quite hear what you said.” 
She met his gaze.  His beautiful blue eyes were suddenly alive with laughter.  She once more put her hand on his cheek.  “Okay, beast-man, come bust open my obsidian power, then I’ll let you do whatever you want to me.”
His body did a full shudder.  “Okay, so what do we do now?” he asked.
“Try diving into my mind again and this time I want you to go soul-hunting and not tunnel-searching.  I think I’m built a little differently than either Marguerite or Fiona.”
She closed her eyes and lowered every mental shield she could find.
* * *   * * *   * * *
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt!  I’ve had an extraordinary time creating and writing this series!  Let Guardians of Ascension be a new journey for you.  GATES OF RAPTURE releases on December 24th.

To Learn More about Gates of Rapture and to read the opening chapter:  CLICK HERE!!!

To Order GATES OF RAPTURE   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iTunes

Here are the giveaway details (all international with appropriate compensatory prizes as needed):  On each stop of the tour, I’ll be giving away the same awesome collection of prizes as listed on the Rafflecopter form, so be sure to stop by each blog on the tour for a chance to win at each blog.  Be careful to follow the directions on the Rafflecopter form at each site.  And be very careful of the dates!  The contest at each site will last 3 days only, and those dates will be listed on the Rafflecopter form as well!!! 

For links to all the other blogs on the tour:  CLICK HERE!!!

The Grand Prize Drawing - VERY IMPORTANT:  to be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing of the Nook with Glowlight, you must leave a comment at the bottom of this blog!  (And for more chances to win the Nook, you can go to every site on the tour and enter that many times—totally up to you!  But comments must be left!)  The grand prize drawing will be selected by random.org in the following manner.  On January 18th, three days after the tour ends, I will enter the number of blogsites into the random number generator, which will deliver up the winning site.  I will then go to the winning site, count up the comments one by one, and enter that number into random.org.  Random.org will then provide the Grand Prize winning number matched to the comments on the winning blogsite.  This means, that if you travel to all the blogs on this tour, you can enter the GRAND PRIZE contest on every single blog you visit by leaving a comment at each blogsite!  Good luck to all!

The Goodies as listed on the Rafflecopter form are :  a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble (or similar for International),  a replica, antique typewriter key bracelet that spells ‘dream’,  a signed copy of ASCENSION (the first novel in the Guardians of Ascension series), Romance Trading Cards and bookmarks.   

The Grand Prize drawing for a Nook with Glowlight, will take place on January 18th, three days after the tour officially ends!  Good luck!

For links to all the other blogs on the tour:  CLICK HERE!!!
* * *   * * *   * * *
Caris Roane has published nine Paranormal novels and novellas and writing as Valerie King, fifty Regency works.  In 2005, Romantic Times gave her a Career Achievement award in Regency Romance.  As Caris Roane, she currently writes paranormal romance for St. Martin’s Press and also dabbles in a few self-pubbed projects.  www.carisroane.com  

TO FIND CARIS ROANE ON THE WEB…
Website Home Page:  www.carisroane.com
Twitter handle:  @carisroane
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/caris.roane
Email:  carisroane@gmail.com

Again,  to be eligible for the Nook with Glowlight, leave a comment below like this:  carisroane at gmail dot com!  Good luck to all!

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