Calling all readers! Spring has sprung, and you’re all invited to N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Spring Break Bookapalooza. Thirty-two books will be featured this month, and you’ll have a chance to win a $75 Amazon gift card.
I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. Return of the Raven, one of my time travel romances, will be spotlighted on April 7.
Besides an excerpt from the book, I’ll be sharing where I’d go on spring break if money were no object. Even though money is tight–as it is for so many of us–my family and I are actually traveling to our dream location this summer. I can’t wait!
I’m thrilled to welcome my dear friend, Mary Morgan, back to the blog to celebrate her new release, Rorik! It debuts tomorrow, and it’s the second book in her historical Scottish Viking paranormal romance series, The Wolves of Clan Sutherland. What inspired her to write the series? Let’s find out as Mary takes the stage…
Hello, Judith! I’m delighted to be visiting your lovely blog today and talking about my new release, Rorik, The Wolves of Clan Sutherland, Book 2. Let me share a wee bit of my journey to Orkney and Scotland which helped to inspire this series.
During our trip several years ago to Northern Scotland and the Orkney Islands, my husband and I were fortunate to have a personal guide escort us. David Ladd was exceptional in his knowledge—from referencing the names of flowers in the most obscure places to the wildlife and history, especially during our travels on Orkney. He took us on an amazing adventure, oftentimes off the well-worn path, revealing spectacular vistas. I shall always treasure our time with him and for allowing me to crawl into the Tomb of the Eagles in South Ronaldsay, Orkney. For a few hazarding moments, I worried David and my husband when I had trouble getting out of the small tomb. Was I worried? No.
Before I entered, rain and wind pelted us on our mile walk up the hill. Once I crawled inside the small tomb, I stood and encountered utter silence—no howling wind and no rain leaked through the crevices of stone. It was as if I entered another time and place—literally. Here were my immediate reactions within this cairn: Peace. Stillness. I am not alone.
Let me explain further about the Tomb of Eagles…
Located above the dramatic South Ronaldsay cliffs, the Isbister Chambered Cairn—better known today as the ‘Tomb of the Eagles’—is one of Orkney’s top archaeological sites. Discovered by a local farmer Ronnie Simison in the 1950s, the Stone Age tomb revealed an amazing collection of bones and artifacts, placed here some 5,000 years ago. Among the human bones, there were many talons and bones of the white-tailed eagle.
The Tomb of Eagles played an important part in the book. I took my experience and wove it into the story and through the first book, Magnar.
For Rorik’s story, I brought the Seer of the Orkneyjar Isles to Scotland. The landscape in Northern Scotland is vastly different. Rugged, wild, and ancient as well. My heart beat fiercely as I settled my gaze outward at the North Sea on a mist-filled afternoon. To this day, I continue to process all my emotions and experiences from my travels there.
Here are Ragna’s first impressions as she steps onto Scottish soil…
Her body trembled. How Ragna loathed traveling across the wide-open water. She glanced to her left at the towering cliffs of dark stone. The waves crashed behind her, and she resumed her progress slowly.
Bending down, she dug two fingers deep within the gritty shore. Coldness seeped into her skin as she tried to get a sense of this country. Others whispered to her from the land—ancient and unfamiliar. Wild and strange this Scotland. Never had Ragna considered leaving the Orkneyjar Isles.
A little more about Rorik:
The Dark Seducer is known throughout Scotland as a man who charms many women into his bed. Pleasure is his motto as he obtains information for his king. Yet Rorik MacNeil harbors one secret buried beneath his heart of steel. An unfulfilled conquest plagues both man and his inner wolf, and Rorik would rather suffer death’s sharp blade than confront his greatest fear.
As the Seer for the Orkneyjar Isles, Ragna Maddadsson confronts an unknown destiny when she travels across the North Sea to Scotland. In her quest to deliver a message from a powerful vision, she fears the warrior will not listen. If Rorik ignores her warning, Ragna must find a way to forestall his impending death. If unsuccessful, she risks having her heart cleaved in two.
To unravel their true fates, Rorik and Ragna must trust in the power of the wolf.
A peek between the pages:
If he could, Rorik would remain on this boulder by the river for the duration of the evening and into night. His stomach growled in protest, and he realized he had little food this day. He reached for his aleskin and took a sip.
Even the thought of entertaining Hallgerd left a hollow ache within. “For all I ken you might have the face of a goat.”
Rorik sensed the intruder’s approach behind him before the first footstep sounded. He lifted his left hand and rested it on the hilt of his sword by his side.
“I happen to cherish the faces of my goats, though they are stubborn creatures.”
The ale soured in his gut. “Seer.” He released his hand from his sword and continued to stare outward.
When silence greeted him, he dared to glance over his shoulder. Wariness from her all-knowing eyes reflected at Rorik, not the bitter coldness she often imparted to him. “Why have you come?”
Ragna lifted her chin. “I have a message you must hear fully.”
Shrugging, Rorik resumed his gaze outward. “Then speak your words.”
Again, the woman remained silent. Rorik pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.
“Do you not deem it best to put on your tunic?” she suggested, stepping closer and brushing the garment against his arm.
Slowly, Rorik lifted his head to look at her. Even her words sounded different. They were almost a plea, not filled with terse venom. A rosy stain had blossomed on her ivory cheeks, and her breathing appeared labored. He pondered two things—either his naked form disgusted her or perchance appealed to her. Surely, she despises me, nothing more.
The barb he wanted to fling out at her became trapped on his tongue. He guzzled deeply from the aleskin. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he dropped the empty skin next to his sword and swiftly got off the boulder.
Ragna gasped and clutched his tunic to her breasts. Yet she did not avert her eyes.
He dared to move toward her.
Her eyes widened and she stumbled back, dropping his tunic.
Rorik reached out and grabbed her hand, preventing her from falling. The contact of her skin against his sent a tremor of warmth up his arm. This time, his breathing became labored while he stared into her gray eyes. He found no hatred there—only beauty within their depths. His gaze traveled down to her full red lips, partially open and begging to be kissed.
Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.
One night in the summer before my senior year of high school, I kicked off my bedcovers with a vengeance. I snatched my glasses from the nightstand and glared at the ticking clock.
1:00 a.m. and all was NOT well.
I’d fidgeted for almost two hours, and sleep remained a stranger. Rolling my eyes, I abandoned my bed, then slunk through the house and out the back door.
Humidity hugged my skin like a second aura. With a sigh, I pushed up the sleeves of my nightgown and scanned the backyard. Spanish moss dangled from the oak trees. Moonlight touched the pool. Frogs croaked their hardest, but the sharp drone of crickets stole the show.
“Why am I so restless?” I asked aloud. “How can you yearn for something you can’t even name?”
As though sharing a private joke, the stars above winked.
The night held no answers; the mosquitoes showed no mercy. So I stole back into the house to worship the miracle of air conditioning and find something to read.
In the living room, I searched the shelves until my gaze locked on a book I’d never seen: Ireland – A Picture Book to Remember Her By. I grabbed it and settled on the velvet couch.
From the moment I opened the book, I changed. Waves of emotion rushed over me: love, sorrow, and strangest of all, homesickness. Gratitude flooded my heart and mind, for this was what I’d sought. I turned each page with reverence, melding my being with the images thereon.
It was crazy. I was born and raised in blazingly hot, equatorial Florida, about as far from Ireland and its blissfully cool climate as you can get. Before that night, I’d never considered the Emerald Isle. Not once. Now my whole life seemed to have led me to the discovery that I was somehow linked to that distant land.
Desire and will swelled within me, and I squeezed the book to my chest. I knew what I must do.
I jumped up and raced to my sleeping parents’ bedroom. “Mom! Dad!”
My father grunted, but my mother bolted upright in bed. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just wanted to tell you my decision. I’m going to Ireland.”
She squinted. “What, tonight?”
“No, but soon. I have to go.”
Dad rolled over. A rumble of complaint sounded, either from his throat or his stomach.
Mom glanced at the clock, then sank back onto her pillow. “Fine. But let’s talk about it in the morning, okay?”
When morning arrived, I did more than talk. Truth be told, I ate far too many donuts, but I must’ve burned off the calories during my impassioned plea. It was Ireland or bust! My unsuspecting parents didn’t know what to make of my new obsession, but Dad informed me my great-grandfather had emigrated from Ireland in 1914. How this fact escaped my notice for 17 years is beyond me, but now that I knew of my Irish heritage, I was unstoppable.
My grandfather had the address of our Irish cousins in County Kilkenny, and I obtained it faster than you can say Éirinn go Brách. Soon after, I became pen pals with one of the cousins, and we exchanged letters, photos, and even a phone call over the next 10 months.
My enthusiasm for Ireland was contagious, and by senior graduation, three round-trip plane tickets waited on my parents’ desk. The Three Musketeers—Mom, Dad, and I—were bound for Shannon Airport.
Excitement forbade sleep on the long flight over, so after we’d shuffled through customs, traded dollars for pounds, and procured our rental car, we drove straight to our bed-and-breakfast in the village of Bunratty and took a nap. When I awoke hours later, Mom informed me I’d spoken Irish in my sleep.
My instincts implored me to pay attention. From the moment I stepped foot on Irish soil, I felt I’d come home. This was no shallow sentiment; it was a gut reaction, a reunion with a piece of my soul.
Ireland’s landscape was as gorgeous as its people were gracious, but my response to its beauty seemed greatest in Killarney. There, while bouncing in the back of a jaunting car, I became one with my surroundings. The cool wind caressed my cheeks and whipped my long, blonde hair into a wild mass which would’ve made any banshee proud. Low-hanging, purple clouds harmonized with rippling lakes, and the gentle slope of mountains accompanied them. Flowering bushes, rustling trees, and fertile soil moist with promise completed the symphony. Each note had perfect pitch. Every phrase was pure magic.
When our driver reined in his horse, my parents jumped from the carriage, eager to tour Muckross House. I shared their enthusiasm but was so caught up in nature’s melody I didn’t want the ride to end. Still, history summoned me, so I followed their lead and strode toward the house.
Abruptly, I hesitated. The lake to my right seemed familiar. The adjacent parkland beckoned, but I had to resist its pull. With our jam-packed schedule, an amble through the woods was out of the question.
Years later, I would explore those woods and discover a surprising piece to add to my life’s puzzle. Once again that night, Mom heard me speaking Irish in my sleep.
In my latest release, The Cauldron Stirred, seventeen-year-old Ashling Donoghue has a similar experience. And she not only visits Killarney, but gets to live there. Ah, the magic of fiction!
Over the past two months, I’ve introduced you to a number of authors who love writing medieval. Maybe it’s time I tell you why I do!
Some of the first romances I read as a teen were set in medieval England. I loved the passion of the period—the High Middle Ages (11th – 13th centuries) in particular—and the lure of the British Isles. Ultimately, that love led to a degree in history and a minor in British Studies.
During college and grad school, I studied in England, Scotland, and Sweden. I jumped on every opportunity to explore castles, monasteries, and other medieval buildings throughout Europe. The older the structure, the better! In ruin after ruin, the whispers of the past seduced me. I hear their voices still. With any luck, they add a magical twist to the medieval romances I feel compelled to write and give my readers a world they’ll want to enter again and again.
I hope you’ll check out my medieval romances, The Novels of Ravenwood. I just turned in the third in the series–Shadow of the Swan–to my editor!
In the summer of 1993, after living in Sweden for six months, I flew back to the States. My flight had a three-hour layover in Iceland’s Keflavík International Airport, just outside of Reykjavík. I remained in the airport for the duration, but I couldn’t shake the curious murmur of destiny that tickled my ears.
This place is important. Not Keflavík or Reykjavík, but farther out. One day, you must return.
Six years later in Virginia, after I moved in with my husband (then fiancé) Dan, I had a vivid dream. I drifted with the wind over fjord and field to what seemed a farewell scene. A woman with long, dark blonde hair stood beside a horse and rider. The man astride the horse had shoulder-length red hair and a full beard, and I sensed he held a position of importance.
I floated toward the woman’s back and suddenly became her. The mergence held long enough for me to exchange good-byes with the man. Then I shifted back out of her and hovered in the air, regaining my modern identity.
Without warning, as though whacked over the head with Thor’s hammer, I became infused with knowledge. It was the 10th century, and we’d spoken Old Norse. There’d been a meeting of chieftains, and the red-haired man was setting out on a long journey. I (as the woman) had used precognitive skills to verify his safety and success. I knew he cared for me and hoped we’d be reunited soon. Less clear was our exact location. I received a strong impression of Iceland, but murmurs beyond it hinted at the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, and a land of promise far to the west.
Then it dawned on me: the character on horseback was Dan. The one looked nothing like the other, but their essence was the same. It didn’t feel like a dream; it resonated as a moment in history, from Dan’s past and mine.
One week later, we snuggled on the couch and watched the film Smilla’s Sense of Snow, part of which takes place in Greenland.
As the movie ended, I sighed. “I have to go to there someday.”
“Yeah.” His voice was wistful. “That’d be cool. You know where else we should go? Iceland. Do you want to?”
Did I?! By week’s end, we’d booked a five-day excursion departing in mid-February. His willingness to make the trip in the dead of winter confirmed what I’d come to believe as truth: I had met my match.
Here was a fellow fan of wind and snow. Here, too, was the bearded man I’d known and loved in a distant but distinct dreamtime.
We spent a couple of days in Reykjavík and its environs. Two of the more impressive sights were the Strokkur geyser and the majestic, half-frozen Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Honorable mention goes to a “Viking restaurant” in Hafnafjöđur. During our meal, traditionally clad men serenaded us with old Icelandic tunes whose meter and mode conjured visions of longships on the prowl. The food was delicious…until we tried an Icelandic delicacy called hákarl. That’s putrefied shark to you and me! Thanks to a chaser of brennivín, an Icelandic schnapps, we stomached it and lived to tell the tale.
Next, we flew up to the “capital of the north,” Akureyri. For three days, we braved the elements to cover as much ground as possible. The snow was deep, and the wind was fierce, which translated to lonely stretches of road where our rental car was the only vehicle around.
There seemed a definite shortage of fellow tourists, but we did come across a group of Icelandic horses. They squinted and blinked at the icy blasts, and they acknowledged us with quizzical expressions.
I could almost hear their thoughts. Are you two crazy? Even we would rather be indoors!
Still, we carried on, from the old whaling town of Húsavík to the towering lava formations called Dimmuborgir (“Dark Castles”) of Lake Mývatn. One afternoon as we drove along yet another windswept, deserted road, the clouds parted, allowing a shaft of light to illuminate a giant shape in the distance.
It was a volcanic hill, but it had the aura and majesty of a mountain. Its relatively flat top was rounded at the edges, which softened its otherwise looming presence high above the snow-covered plateau. We nicknamed it “Valhalla” because (1) it attracted the only ray of light for miles around, and (2) its brilliance seemed blinding to eyes now accustomed to leaden skies.
Those skies remained our constant companion as we explored numerous craters and other volcanic creations around Mývatn, but whenever “Valhalla” came into view, it shone like a beacon. We had to laugh. It seemed preposterous that the sun should ignore every feature of the landscape but one.
That night, in our Akureyri hotel room, a strange sound woke me. I rolled over in bed and stared at Dan.
He was talking in his sleep, but not in English. It was a Scandinavian tongue, similar to Icelandic, and I almost understood it. I felt right on the verge, like when a word or thought is on the tip of your tongue. Given a slight, indefinable shift, I would’ve comprehended it.
All at once, I knew. He was speaking Old Norse.
I didn’t wake him, and after a couple of minutes, he stopped. But his easy pronunciation, fluency, and the authority of his speech echoed in my mind.
I thought of my mom. Twice before, she heard me speak another language in my sleep: Irish in Ireland and years later, Welsh in Wales. For the record, I’ve never learned those languages, just as Dan has never learned a Scandinavian one.
That was 17 years ago this month. The experience lent the trip a touch of magic. But all travel has the potential to be magical. Distant places and different cultures expand our horizons and wake us up in profound ways. I can’t help thinking of a quote from the movie Dune. “The sleeper must awaken.”
In The Novels of Ravenwood series, the heroes of Books 1 and 3 are knights who’ve recently returned from the Holy Land. They experienced the horrors of battle, but also learned to appreciate aspects of the cultural mix they encountered. I’m still writing the third book, Shadow of the Swan. But you can check out the first book, Flight of the Raven, to learn how the hero’s time overseas influenced him. Happy reading!