Friday, July 15, 2016

Castell Dinas Bran

Situated high above the Dee Valley in north Wales are the remains of a medieval stronghold known as Castell Dinas Bran. It was built in the late 1260's by Welsh prince Gruffydd Maelor II. But this era was a turbulent time, and the fortress survived less than two decades before it was destroyed by the forces of Edward I, as part of his brutal subjugation of Wales.

The curtain wall of the fort encompassed an area of approximately 300 by 130 feet. At the east end was a two-story keep connected to a gatehouse. On the west end was a D-shaped tower that afforded a lookout over the most accessible approach up the hillside. There were also a two-story hall, where the lord would have had hosted banquets.

The hilltop was an important defensive site long before the medieval era. The earthworks below the ruins date from the iron age, indeed, "dinas" is an ancient term for hillfort. 

And the other part of the name comes from King Bran, who is mentioned in the Mabinogion, a collection of tales dating to the Arthurian era. Bran means raven, giving the site a further mystical appeal. 

The climb up the hill is steep, and even more challenging if, like me, you miss the marked pathway and end up bushwacking through the dense bracken.
Thank goodness for my fabulous boots.
But I would have happily struggled up a hill twice as steep to visit Castell Dinas Bran. The views are spectacular and the atmosphere magical.
I felt as if I had been transported back in time, and kept expecting to see a dark age army riding through the valley below or a lady garbed in a medieval gown walking through one of the stone archways.
And, as so often happens in Wales, I had the sense that this is a place where my spirit belongs. The genealogical research I've done so far hasn't turned up any Welsh roots, but they must be there somewhere. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Living on he Edge of Britain

In the next on my journey back in time I am transported to the late Neolithic era as I visit the Holyhead Mountain hut circles. The scenery is spectacular:  craggy moss-covered cliffs, meadows full of wildflowers, a heather-clad mountain, and on clear days, a glimpse of Ireland across the shimmering blue sea.

Holyhead Mountain is situated on the edge of Britain, with only the Irish Sea and Ireland between this point and the vast expanse of the Atlantic. Neolithic people settled within view of this mountain over 2,500 years ago, building the their round huts on the plain above the sea. They likely chose the location because the sea provided a year-round food source. 
The remains of nearly fifty dwellings dot the flower-strewn plain. They would have had conical roofs, and turf or thatch walls supported by poles. There's something very imoving about these ancient dwellings with doorways and hearths still visible.

Walking among the bluebells and foxglove, you can almost feel the presence of these ancient people who chose this place for their home so long ago.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I took over 1000 pictures on my recent trip to Dublin and Wales, and experienced all sorts of landscapes and environments. I also traveled back in time to some awe-spiring and magical places.

The the most ancient place I visited was the Great Orm's Head Copper Mine on the northwest coast of Wales. The name Great Orm's Head comes from the Norse word for serpent or dragon, and the promontory juts out from the coast like the head of such a beast rising from the sea. 

The top of the promontory itself is a beautiful place, with glorious views all around. 
It is also  the site of the oldest known copper mine in the world. Copper ore was first mined there over 3,500 years ago by people using nothing more than stone and bone tools. The mine was worked off and on until the 19th century, including several hundred years when it provided copper for the Romans. 
Some of the copper was probably used for jewelry and other ornamental purposes. But most of it was combined with tin, brought from Cornwall, 500 miles away, to make bronze. It's estimated that enough copper ore was mined from the site to forge 10 million bronze axe heads.
Axe heads traced to the mine have been found as far away as the Netherlands.

The mine is fascinating to visit, although I wouldn't recommend the tour for the claustrophobic or anyone who is unsteady on their feet. There are lots of stone steps and narrow passageways. Some of the mineshafts are so small that it's clear they were mined by young children.

 The most amazing part of the tour is the Bronze Age Cavern, which is 24 feet high by 78 feet wide (and too dark for me to get a picture of).

The exhibits and displays at the mine are also intriguing, providing a glimpse into what life must have been like for those early people.
I enjoyed the tour, and my pink hard hat, but was glad to return to the wide open grassy terrain around the mine.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A New Year and a New Book...Or Two

It's been months since I wrote a blog post. My excuse is that I've been focusing on fiction writing instead of blog writing. But I have finally finished the book I have been working on for a year. The End of the Rainbow went to my beta readers early this month. When they're done with it, I will send it to my editor and we will see what happens.

The End of the Rainbow begins where Call Down the Moon left off and features Megan, the heroine's best friend in that story. Or does it?  I call these books "reincarnation romances", which means names change and souls and spirits move back and forth in time.

In addition to being a reincarnation story,The End of the Rainbow is a time travel story. The hero is a Viking metalsmith from the 10th century, and he looks very much like the man/god in the image above. When he is separated from his "soulmate" in that era, he travels to contemporary Los Angeles to be reunited with her. You can imagine a Viking warrior in modern L.A., can't you?  He'd fit right in.

In this time, Kylan's love, known as Maeve in the past, is now Morgan, a young women who has moved to L.A. to take a job as an events planner. Morgan meets our hero, Kylan, at a medieval festival, where she and her boss have come to find resources for the extravagant medieval-themed wedding they're planning.

Kylan and Morgan, star-crossed lovers, reunited in the future and given a second chance. But it isn't as easy as that. Morgan has no memory of her life with Kylan. Not to mention someone else has also traveled from the past, bringing treachery and danger with them. They seek the sword that enabled the hero to travel to this time, the Sword of Destiny.

The Sword of Destiny has a long and complex history and is connected to two other series I've partially written. Because the sword is so important, I've decided to change the name of this series from the Soulmate series to The Sword of Destiny series. In a perfect world, I would have plotted out these books ahead of time and known what to call the series long ago. But my writing brain doesn't work that way. In fact, I was over halfway through Rainbow before I knew what would happen at the end. Yes, there's a happy ending, but there are also a lot of questions left. Which means there will eventually be another book.

In the meantime, I'm rewriting a medieval romance that was published fifteen years ago. It's a book that nearly ended my career and caused me to quit writing altogether. But now the story has a second chance. This time I'm going to the tell the tale of Lady of Valmar the way I first envisioned the story.   

Look for The End of the Rainbow to be available sometime later this year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's been months since I posted. What have I been doing?  Well, first of all, gardening.

Secondly, traveling.

The Renaissance Faire in Larkspur, CO

Victoria, B.C. Butchart Gardens.
Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

I also spent the summer trying to finish up the second book in my Soulmate series. This one features a Viking metalsmith who comes to L.A. to be reunited with his beloved, who was an Irish sorceress-in-training the past and is now an event planner planning a medieval-themed wedding. Tentative title:  The End of the Rainbow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Two Giveaways!

To celebrate the release of Wicked Wager. (Now available)

I'm offering two giveaways:

 To enter to win this beautiful solar lantern (I have one of my own and love it.) go to this link: and follow the instructions. This one ends May 31.

 I'm also participating with a bunch of other authors in a contest to win a $500 gift certificate. 

Link to enter is:

Wicked Wager available at : 

The Wild Rose Press:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Shrimp, a horse-mad hoyden and a Wicked Wager

I am a child of the 60’s. In fact, I was a child in the 60’s since I didn’t hit puberty until the decade was over. But like many children, I wanted to grow up fast, and I remember poring over my sisters’ Seventeen magazines for make-up and fashion trends, and buying Tiger Beat fan magazines at the local drugstore to read about the bands of the era. While my first Barbie was a doll modeled on the 60’s icon Twiggy, my main role model was Jean Shrimpton, who many people consider the first supermodel. Jean promoted the Yardley cosmetic line and their pink and orange striped “slicker” lipstick, lavender and turquoise striped “glimmerick” eye shadow, and “Londonderry” hair products had an almost magical appeal for me. As soon as I hit puberty and began wearing make-up (against my father’s wishes), I started buying Yardley products.
Some images of Jean shown with part of my Yardley collection
Yardley was actually going out of fashion at the time and being replaced by new trends like Love’s cosmetics, which promised a more natural look, rather than the swinging London allure that Jean represented. But I never got over my fixation with “the Shrimp”. There was something so real about Jean, some quality that made her easy to identify with, despite her extraordinary beauty. Later, reading interviews with her, I learned she had been a serious tomboy when she was young, and she really didn’t care for the world of fashion and the life of a celebrity. In fact, she married a regular guy and ended up running a bed and breakfast with him in Bath. I’ve thought of visiting there sometime in the hopes of meeting her, but knowing that my infatuation with her is connected to the life she left behind, it’s probably better if I just leave it alone.
But there is one thing I could do to honor my heroine, and that’s make her the heroine in a book. When the idea for Wicked Wager came to me, I knew instantly that Penny (Penelope) Montgomery would look like Jean Shrimpton and share her disdain for the glamorous world of London. Penny is a complete tomboy, or “hoyden” as it was called in the Regency era. Her passion is horses and running her family’s estate, and she has no interest in society or fashion or any of those superficial things. But her dream of living quietly in the country is dashed when her cousin and guardian Adrian wagers the estate in a card game and loses.
Adrian is a clever and sneaky sort, and he thinks that once his opponent realizes that the only way to take possession of the estate is to marry the heiress who comes with it, he will relinquish the property in disgust. With most men, that might work. But not with Marcus Revington, who makes his living playing cards. Marcus sees marriage to this unknown heiress as a mere inconvenience. Little does he know that he has met his match in Penny.
I loved writing about Penny and Marcus. They are both so stubborn and determined to get their way. And the chemistry between them is just electrifying. Marcus thinks that gambling is all about odds, skill and knowing when to back down. Penny thinks she has Marcus figured out and if she sticks with her plan, she will prevail. But all bets are off—for both of them—when the name of the game is love.
When hardened gamester Marcus Revington wins Horngate Manor in a card game, he is delighted to finally own property. Even discovering he must marry the heiress of the estate doesn’t deter him. The heiress, Penny Montgomery, is happy with her life raising horses at Horngate and has no desire to marry anyone. When she learns about her guardian’s Wicked Wager, she schemes to convince Marcus she’s unsuitable as a wife so he’ll forget his plan to wed her.

Wicked Wager is available at:

Barnes and Noble: