Medieval Monday with Cathy MacRae

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Welcome to another Medieval Monday!  My guest today is Cathy MacRae, and it’s her turn to tell us why she writes medieval romance.

Welcome to my world of Medieval Romance! I have always been drawn to historical romance, and love re-reading some of the first books that welcomed me to that special time and place. Books by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Judith McNaught still hold much-loved places on my bookshelves right alongside more current favorites. They are a whirlwind of drama, passion, and promise, where trust is everything, and sometimes love develops in the most unusual places.

I am intrigued by history. The what-ifs and whys; the research into the actions of a few people who set the course for many. You will find often gritty history coloring the background of all of my stories.

My books in the Medieval Era are a blend of high drama and romance set against a backdrop of treachery, hardship and duty. And in a time when women were stronger than history tells us, and marriage was rarely for sigh-worthy reasons, I find it fascinating to relate stories of relationships that blossom into love.

More about Cathy

Cathy MacRae is an Amazon best-selling author whose stories feature strong heroes and feisty heroines set in the Highlands of Scotland. Her hobbies include gardening, photography, travel and cooking. Cathy lives on the sunny side of the Arbuckle Mountains with her wonderful husband, three dogs and a cat (who runs the house), and enjoys spending time with sweet granddaughters who are the heroines of her heart.

You can find Cathy’s books on her website at http://www.cathymacraeauthor.com

My Path to Motherhood, Part Three

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Boys in NICU 001At 5:00 a.m. on the morning of June 3rd, I sat bolt upright in bed.  I hadn’t moved that fast in months, but I had good reason.  Niagara Falls gushed between my legs.

I shook Dan awake.  “I think my water broke.”  I slid off the bed and waddled to the bathroom.

He followed me.  “I can’t believe it.  Six weeks early!”

I shook my head.  “This shouldn’t be happening.”  Then a strange calm settled over me.  “No.  It is happening, so it’s meant to be.  We’ve got calls to make.  The doctor, our parents…”

All at once, the Reiki Master’s words came back to me.  Whoever this is, he’s going to be present at the birth.  Actually, a lot of spirits are.  I don’t know why, but it’s like they’re crowding around, vying for the chance to be there.

No wonder!

We made it to Nantucket Cottage Hospital, and the staff there organized an ambulance to the airport.  By the time it arrived, minor contractions had begun.  One paramedic started timing them, while another strapped me onto a stretcher.

I grimaced.  “I’m sorry you guys have to move me while I’m so heavy.”

The paramedics exchanged grins.  “That’s our job,” one said.

In the space of 15 minutes, they wheeled me into an ambulance and onto a plane.  Then we were in the air.

When we reached the mainland, a second ambulance stood at the ready.  The original paramedics wished me well, and the new team took over.  I felt like we were playing some bizarre game of musical medics, but there was nothing to do but go with the flow.

During the 40-minute ride to Beth Israel, Dan rode in front with the driver.  The paramedic on my left seemed determined to keep me calm and struck up a conversation.

“Were you shocked when the doctor said you were having twins?” he asked.

“No.  I already knew.  There were signs, and I’d had a dream about it.”

He smiled.  “You sound a lot like my wife!”

By the time we arrived at the hospital, we were chatting away like old friends.  Then new hands whisked me onto an elevator, along a maze of corridors, and into the long-awaited hospital room.

My doctor was away—en route to Nantucket, believe it or not—but his colleagues stepped in.  They gave me magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions, hoping to buy another 48 hours.  Their primary concern was the boys’ lungs.

“Every minute counts when you’re dealing with premature birth,” they told me.

Everyone expected the magnesium to work.  Translation:  no epidural!  It actually lengthened my labor, and by mid-afternoon, the contractions were brutal.  First one pain gripped me, then another slammed it home.  Over and over again.

One nurse gaped at the monitor.  “I’ve never seen this before.  It’s like double contractions.”

Dan squeezed my hand.  “Well, you are having twins.”

The “twin peaks” went on for hours until just before 6:00 p.m.  At that point, the doctor discovered my cervix had dilated from three centimeters to ten in as many minutes.  The babies wanted out, and nothing in this world was going to stop them.

The nurse who’d refused me pain medication all day gave me a nod.  “I guess you really were in labor.”

You think?!

If the pain hadn’t been so severe, I might’ve laughed, but there wasn’t time.  Connor’s butt was lodged in my cervix, which meant an immediate C-section.

Dan was bustled out of the room and into sterile attire (complete with blue shower cap and booties), and I was rushed into surgery.  Once again, I apologized to the staff for my hefty frame as they hoisted me onto the operating table.

“Don’t you worry,” one of them said.  “We do this all the time, and we’ve moved bigger patients than you.”

I took his word for it and buckled under the force of a new contraction.  Time was of the essence, so an anesthesiologist gave me a spinal, which mercifully removed all sensation from the abdomen down.  Then I met the surgeon in a “hi and good-bye” fashion, and Dan was at my side.

Soon after, a tiny cry rang out.  It was Connor, and the fact that he’d been able to cry boded well for his lungs.  One minute later, it was Geoffrey’s turn to rage against the light, and he did so with utter abandon.

They weighed 3 lbs. 6 oz. and 3 lbs. 9 oz. respectively.  Dan cut their umbilical cords, while I lay like a slug on the table.  Even so, the nurses tried to include me.  They held the babies where I could see them for five seconds, then bundled them off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Our family had just doubled, and incredible as it seemed, Dan and I were parents.  We were totally responsible for two new lives whose tiny bodies and delicate features were perfectly formed.  They were indeed identical, to each other and to the faces I’d seen in my dream.

Rewind half an hour and travel to Florida.  My parents, who’d been with us in spirit and prayed all day for the babies’ safety, went out to dinner.

A short while into their meal, a toddler at the next table let out a single cry.  He’d been calm and well-behaved before then, and his cry sounded more like an infant’s.

Comprehension seized my mom.  One of the babies was just born.

She asked my dad to check his watch.  It was 6:15 p.m.

One minute later, the same child emitted a second cry, which also resembled an infant’s.  Dad glanced at his watch again.  It read 6:16 p.m.

Mom had no doubts.  “There goes the second one.”

The toddler kept quiet for the rest of the meal.  First thing after dinner, Mom called Dan on his cell phone, and he confirmed the twins had arrived.

“What time were they born?” she asked.

His answer came as no surprise.  “6:15 and 6:16.”

What did surprise us all was a related phenomenon.  Three women who were knitting blankets for the boys stayed up most of the previous night to complete them.  Even though the due date was six weeks away, a sense of urgency compelled them to finish the job.

Everyone and everything is connected.  The events surrounding the boys’ births erased any doubts we still harbored on the subject.

Medieval Monday with Sherry Ewing

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Welcome back to Medieval Monday!  My guest author today is Sherry Ewing, and it’s her turn to tell us why she writes medieval.

My love for everything Medieval began with the very first historical romance novel I ever picked up as a teenager. For many of us, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss paved the way for the type of novels that would overflow my bookshelves for many years to come. Then I stumbled across a hard copy of Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, and my fate was sealed. It was only natural that when it came to writing my own novels years later that I would write a historical romance. Since I began my writing career later in life, I am lucky to be able to do any type of research on the internet. Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, knights breaking down the walls of a keep, and then sometimes throw in a modern day woman who has fallen through time and a series was born. I can’t help but constantly say I was born in the wrong century and continent.

Although I do also write Regency era romances, my true passion lies with my Knights of Berwyck in the 12th century. I can still remember the day when I was just about finished with my very first manuscript. The image of a castle sitting high upon a cliff came into my mind. Before I knew what was happening, I had all these characters forming, along with my plot, and I had to tell them to take a back seat while I finished my current book. Yes it’s true… authors really do have voices inside their heads! My characters continue to battle inside my head wanting their turn at having their story told, sometimes even keeping me up at night when we could have had such conversations during the day. Medievals, time travel, and Regency era novels… all with a happily ever after, all to awaken the soul one heart at a time!

More about Sherry

Sherry Ewing is a bestselling author who writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Her debut historical romance, If My Heart Could See You, hit Amazon’s top ten bestseller list for the eBook only two days after the paperback release. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a national and local member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde and The Bluestocking Belles. She is currently working on her next novel. When Sherry is not busy writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

Visit Sherry on her website at www.SherryEwing.com.

Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1TrWtoy

My Path to Motherhood, Part Two

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My dreams were correct; I was pregnant.  From day one, I told the doctors and nurses I’d have twins.  They listened to my belly, then smiled and shook their heads.

“Just one healthy heartbeat,” they proclaimed.  Repeatedly.

Even my mom, who’d always wanted twins herself, warned me not to get my hopes up.

I sighed.  “Hope has nothing to do with it, Mom.  I just know.”

After the ultrasound, everyone knew.  My mom fought tears, then laughed.  “Even as a little girl, you had to make things even.”

I’d made it even, all right!  The babies were monozygotic:  two embryos with nearly identical DNA formed by the division of a single, fertilized egg.  Because they shared both placenta and sac, they were also considered the riskiest kind of twins.  Frequent ultrasounds were necessary to ensure their safety, but I felt certain they’d be okay.

The one thing I didn’t know was their sex.  To the doctors, they were Baby A (from my perspective, on the right side of my growing abdomen) and Baby B (on the left), and apparently, babies never switch sides during a twin pregnancy.  Dan and I decided on four full names, two for boys and two for girls.  The baby on my right was either Connor Tarian or Gwyneth Sterling; on the left, it was Geoffrey Debrett or Evelyn Fay.

When Dan announced the names to his mother over the phone, her response was instantaneous.  “They’re going to be boys!”

Her reasoning was simple.  At work, the coworker on her right had a child named Connor; the one on her left, a son named Geoffrey.

Sure enough, my next ultrasound confirmed it.  The babies were boys.

On the heels of this revelation, I met with a friend who was a Reiki Master.  She worked on me for a bit, then wanted to chat.

“I don’t know if you noticed,” she said, “but my hands were farther away from you this time.  When someone’s pregnant, it’s good to form a protective bubble and work around it.”

Immediately, I recalled the odd experience with the other energy worker.  Whoever—or whatever—had lifted her hands and pushed her back must’ve shared this view and resolved to protect my body’s precious cargo.

The Reiki Master continued.  “The babies seemed so excited about coming to earth and having you and Dan as parents.  They can’t wait to experience everything and don’t seem to remember how difficult life on this plane can be.

“I also kept seeing a strong individual around them in spirit.  This is going to sound strange, but he looks like Albert Einstein or Mark Twain, with white bushy hair and a moustache.  Did anyone in your family or Dan’s look that way in life?”

I racked my brain for images from old family photos.  “Not that I know of.”

“Well, whoever this is, he’s going to be present at their birth.  Actually, a lot of spirits are.  I don’t know why, but it’s like they’re crowding around, vying for the chance to be there.”

As my pregnancy progressed, I discovered the joys of projectile vomiting, day and night.  I started to waddle, and my feet disappeared under a near comical girth.  My niece’s prediction was correct.  I was fast becoming a big, big mama.

Dan was offered a job on the island of Nantucket, so we left Virginia and moved into the only place we could afford:  a shoebox apartment above someone’s garage.  I was five months pregnant and big as a whale, prompting jokes about the return of Moby-Dick.

It wasn’t long before my new doctor dropped a bombshell.  The complications inherent in multiple births made them impossible to perform on the island.  Our twins would need to be delivered at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.  Even worse, the likelihood of premature birth meant I had to move to Boston six weeks before the due date and remain there until the twins were born.

We had no clue how we’d cope, financially or emotionally, because Dan had to stay on the island to work.  Both of our families lived far away, and there hadn’t been time to make many friends.

Like magic, everything we needed unfolded before our weary eyes.  A specialist, one of the country’s leading authorities on multiples, visited the island once a month for the ultrasounds.  Hospitality Homes set me up with a family in Brookline; they’d provide me with free lodging on the third floor of their Victorian house for the duration of my stay in the Boston area.  One by one, the details worked themselves out.

On the night of Wednesday, June 2, I donned my white, cotton granny nightgown.  Then I heaved myself onto the bed beside Dan and rested my hands atop my voluminous middle.

The babies were at it again.  It never failed.  Whenever I settled into bed, they perked right up, doing God knew what.  Tennis, gymnastics, Irish jigs…nothing would’ve surprised me.  We even joked that one of them fancied himself “Lord of the Dance.”

I tried to take a deep breath, but it was impossible with two babies pushing against my diaphragm.  “Dan, I’ll miss you when I’m in Boston.”

He kissed my shoulder.  “I’ll miss you too.”

“I might end up having these babies alone.”

“Jude, don’t worry.  Once I know you’re in labor, I’ll catch the first flight out.”

Everything was set:  the ferry, the rental car, my estimated arrival time in Brookline, and my first appointment with the specialist in his Boston office.  Early Saturday morning, in just two days, the plan would commence.

Or so we thought.  The boys had hatched a plan of their own.

 

We have a release date!

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I just learned the release date for The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series:  July 21, 2017!  If you’re wondering what it’s about, here’s the scoop:

Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

Medieval Monday with Elisabeth Hobbes

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Welcome to Medieval Monday!  My guest author today is Elisabeth Hobbes, and she’s sharing why she writes medieval romance.

I’m sure my love of the Middle Ages is mainly due to where I’m from.  The city of York has a rich history dating back to the Vikings and Romans but many of the surviving buildings are medieval.  We have The Shambles (the low rows of cottages looming towards each other that housed the city’s butchers) the magnificent Minster and Guild houses, streets of Medieval buildings too numerous to mention and the magnificent gated walls which still encircle the town.  I spent most of my teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep me off my feet. Sadly this never happened but growing up somewhere like that it was impossible not to develop a passion for the period as I walked to and from school past castles and ruins imagining the lives and loves of the people who came before me.

The Medieval period had very clearly defined conventions, social structure and strict codes of behaviour, and transgressing these had real, life threatening consequences.  Not for my characters the genteel Regency ballroom and risk of being ‘cut’ by the Ton. Put a foot wrong in my world and you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of the sword not a snapping fan!  It was a time of conquest and conflict, tournaments and battles.  Life was harsh and dangerous, life expectancy was low but the period gave rise to the code of chivalry and some of the greatest architecture still standing.

More about Elisabeth Hobbes

Elisabeth’s writing career began when she entered her first novel, Falling for Her Captor, into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest.  She finished in third place and was offered a two book contract.  She has since written five novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon with settings and eras ranging from the turbulent events of post-Conquest Cheshire to the thrilling tournaments of thirteenth century York.

As well as writing Elisabeth is a part time teacher and full time mum to two children. She spends whatever spare time she has reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book. Elisabeth’s other hobbies include horse riding, skiing, Arabic dance, fencing and exploring dreadful tourist attractions, none of which has made it into a story yet. She loves ginger mojitos, historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.

Elisabeth lives in Cheshire because her car broke down there when she was house hunting and she never left.

Find Elisabeth’s books here:  viewAuthor.at/ElisabethHobbes

My Path to Motherhood, Part One

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Over the next four Saturdays—leading up to my twins’ thirteenth birthday—I want to share with you my bizarre, yet magical path to motherhood.  It began four years before their conception, with my three-year-old niece’s prediction in Florida.

Becca (said niece) stood with me and my mother in my parents’ living room.  She pointed to the photo of me and my husband, Dan, which my mom displayed atop the piano.  When Mom handed it to her, Becca placed her palm over the image.  Then she looked up at her grandma and smiled.  “Aunt Judy’s gonna be a big, big mama!”

Her repetition of the word “big” struck me as important.  I wonder if that means I’ll have twins, I thought.

Three years later, Dan and I were married and living in Virginia when I had an intriguing dream.  I wandered alone through a vast library.  Then a voice whispered from behind the books.

You’re pregnant.

I frowned.  “That’s ridiculous.  You’re just telling me what I want to hear.”

YOU’RE PREGNANT.

Abruptly, I awoke.  Darkness enveloped me, and my husband slumbered on.  But I was wired.  I knew I’d received a message.

The next day, I bought and completed a home pregnancy test, which came out negative.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was certain conception had occurred mere hours before the dream, yet the results were clear.  Of course, I didn’t know then the pregnancy hormone takes its sweet time to show up in a woman’s system.

A week later, I met with a friend who was learning energy healing.  Happy to be her guinea pig, I lay on the table so she could practice her skills.

A minute after the session began, she giggled.  “Whoa!  Okay.  Something big just stepped in my way.”

I opened my eyes.  “Something big?”

“An angel.  My hands were the usual distance from your body, but it lifted them higher.  I wasn’t sure at first, so I tried to lower them.  Then it moved them up again and pushed me backwards.”

“I wonder why.”

“I don’t know, but the angel must know something I don’t.  I’d better keep my hands where it wants them.”

Three weeks after that, a wave of nausea and dizziness hit me in the bookstore where I worked.  “What the hell was that?” I said under my breath.

A woman approached the counter with an armload of paperbacks.  As I calculated her total, she struck up a conversation.  One remark stood out.

“I have twins,” she declared.

I glanced up as I finished loading her books into a bag.  “That must be a lot of work.”

I might’ve forgotten her comment, if not for a second conversation with a different woman an hour later.

“I’ve gotta get these home to my kids.”  She shoved a handful of children’s volumes into her tote bag and smiled.  “I’ve got twins, you know.”

“Really?”  That’s twice in one day.

After dinner that night, Dan and I watched the film Shakespeare in Love.  Within the first 15 minutes, the title character mentioned having twins.  I rolled my eyes.

As the credits rolled, we recalled that my hairstyle for our wedding was an exact copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s in the movie.  Dan shut off the VCR, and The Ellen Degeneres Show sprang onto the TV screen.  Her guest was Gwyneth Paltrow, who just happened to be talking about her pregnancy.

I turned to Dan.  “That does it.  I’ll bet you I’m pregnant, and it’s going to be twins.”

After work the following evening, I bought another pregnancy test, to perform in the morning.  I went to bed and dreamed.

I was lying on my side at one end of the bed.  On the opposite end, a newborn baby lay on its side facing me.  A powerful connection stretched between us.  After a moment, its face misted over.  A new face emerged, virtually identical to the first.

I woke with the dawn and completed the test.  The signs were correct.  I was pregnant.

Medieval Monday with Lane McFarland

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Welcome to Medieval Monday!  My guest author today is Lane McFarland, and she’s sharing why she loves writing stories set in medieval times.

My passion is writing historical romance novels. Throwing my imagination into years gone by, researching dark periods of strife and violence, justice and quests for freedom, and dreaming of what it might have been like to live and survive during these hostile periods have been the most rewarding aspects of writing historical romance.

I’m fascinated with medieval history and can get quite sidetracked in my research, absorbed in reading about the goings on at the time from the political climate and issues of the period to what foods people ate, the clothes they wore, the pastimes they enjoyed. I can get lost reading about the era and have to limit the time I spend immersed in history.

My Daughters of Alastair MacDougall Series begins in May 1297, a time of unrest between Scotland and England. It has been such fun to delve into this period and imagine living amongst the clans. The Turnberry Legacy Series picks up in 1301 with Robert the Bruce vying for Scotland’s crown, much like other power-hungry nobles who fought for control.

Bio:

My name is Lane McFarland and I write historical romance, spanning the early Middle Ages through the American Civil War. While my books are fiction, each one is based on historical facts, and you will often see known figures such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, or The Red Comyn make guest appearances. All my books revolve around human struggles, sacrifices survivors are forced to make, and their resilience to live and thrive.

I’m a southern girl living on top of a mountain in North Georgia, and I’m most happy when surrounded by family and friends. If I am not writing, you can find me hiking with my husband, or fiddling around in my flower and vegetable gardens, feeding the birds and watching black bears and deer. I am blessed to have a wonderful son—my pride and joy, my buddy who, along with my husband, have made my life complete.

My website: http://www.lanemcfarland.com

My Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lane-McFarland/e/B00G7UQZNI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

The Drew in the Dreams

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Yesterday, Nancy Drew turned 87.  Tomorrow, I turn 49, but many memories from my childhood are clear and indelible.  I’ll never forget the thrill of reading my first Nancy Drew book, The Haunted Bridge, when I was 10.  I’d found a kindred spirit, albeit fictional.  We both welcomed adventure and felt driven to solve the mysteries that confronted us.

Some puzzles I solved while awake; others, while asleep.  I had a number of lucid dreams (when one is conscious of dreaming while the dreams are still in progress, thereby allowing one to control them).  I also experienced what could only be called “serial dreaming” over a two-week period.  On the first night, a mystery worthy of Nancy Drew began to unfold.  I was the detective, but Nancy and her friends, Bess and George, were right by my side, investigating a haunted house.  Each successive night, I dreamed the next “chapter” of the story.  By the end of the fortnight, I’d solved the mystery.

Some of what I write today—whether medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult fantasy (Guardians of Erin)—is inspired by dreams.  Sometimes the opposite occurs, and the characters I create wend their way into my nights.  But I’ll never forget the magic of those serial dreams which brought excitement and intrigue closer than fiction and made my favorite girl detective proud.