Standing Stone Circles & FREE My Captive Highlander

Many settings across Scotland have inspired me and my stories. A few that I've found most inspiring have been standing stone circles. They are so mystical and mysterious. Do they have magical properties? Will they cause people to time-travel or find true love? Everyone wonders who built them and why. Not even the experts truly know all the answers, though they have many theories. All we know is that some of them were built around 5000 years ago and most have astronomical alignments.

I've always wanted to include standing stones as an important element in a story and I was able to in my novella, My Captive Highlander.

Can unexpected passion and a little ancient magic turn enemies into lovers? 

During a fierce storm on the west coast of Scotland, Shamus MacKenzie barely survives a galley wreck only to be captured and held for ransom by the enemy MacDonalds. Aided by the gift of second sight, Maili MacDonald, sister of the ruthless chief, senses the handsome, dark-haired stranger will somehow be important in her life. Compelled to help him, she insists on providing him food and a healer to see to his injuries. She knows she is daft to fall in love with this captivating warrior after one forbidden kiss but cannot help herself. With each visit from Maili, Shamus finds his thoughts consumed by the enchanting lass. Can he convince her to help him escape the dungeon and prevent the impending battle between the two clans?


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Now, about those standing stones, one of my favorites is Callanish Standing Stones on Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It is a circle that extends out into a cross shape.






Experts believe that the main circle at Callanish was designed over a long period of time and may have had input from seaborne travelers because of the similarity between Callanish, Stonehenge and Avebury in England and Carnac in Brittany.



Do you see how the central stone is taller? When you are reading my story, My Captive Highlander, and the scene that takes place among the standing stones, visualize this stone. :)



Callanish was almost hidden, buried beneath the deep layers of peat for many hundreds or perhaps over a thousand years. A nearby chambered cairn was just discovered in the 1990s and it is believed more standing stones and other ancient monuments could still lie beneath the peat at various places around Lewis waiting to be discovered.




Callanish is a circle with 13 main stones with a central monolith and five radiating rows of stones. The two rows of stones which form an avenue, aligning almost true north, links with Stonehenge, Avebury and Broomend of Crichie in Aberdeenshire. Some say the overall layout of Callanish is a Celtic cross design although it was built in pre-Christian times. The stones are 1 to 5 meters in height and they are made from local Lewis gneiss stone. The tallest marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains were found. The site was excavated in 1980 and 81 and they discovered the cairn was a later addition to the site. Experts believe the stones were a prehistoric lunar observatory. Others believe there is a relationship between the stones, the moon and the Clisham range on Harris.



One explanation for Callanish is that every 18.6 years, the moon skims especially low over the southern hills like a god visiting earth. Wise people who lived long lives must have noticed this unusual occurrence. A thousand years after it was built, Callanish was abandoned and the area inside the circle leveled. It is not known whether this was for agriculture of for ritual cleansing. The climate started to change around that time, becoming colder and wetter. This climate change caused the peat to grow deeper and deeper until the stones were almost buried. When the peat was cut in 1857, their true height was again revealed. In the 17th century local people called them "false men." In 1885 the main circle was taken into state care.



Thanks for checking out my post!
Vonda



Valentine's Day Fun Facts

Cupid will have his arrows aimed at hearts next week as we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I can’t take credit for these fun facts (below) about the world’s most romantic holiday… most of them were in an article by Julie Fishman. But I enjoyed them, and thought you would too!

Here’s to love, the Holy Grail for all romance writers. xoxo Jenna

-Most historians link the lover's holiday to an annual celebration in Rome that occurred every Feb. 15. During the boisterous bonanza, men stripped naked and spanked young maidens with animal-skin whips in an effort to increase fertility. While tame in comparison, modern Valentine's Day festivities are observed today in Mexico, Canada, France, Australia and the U.K., in addition to here in the U.S.

-While history buffs don't unanimously agree on who the original Valentine was, the most popular suspect is a clergyman in ancient Rome. When the emperor outlawed marriage during wartime (because he believed single men made better soldiers), Bishop Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies. It wasn't until 496 A.D., over 200 years after the bishop's death, that Pope Gelasius I officially declared Feb. 14 as Saint Valentine's Day.
-While Valentine greetings have been exchanged since the Middle Ages in Europe, the tradition didn't reach the United States until the 19th century. According to the Greeting Card Association, the person credited with starting it in the U.S. is Esther Howland, an American printer and artist, who published and sold the first cards on Valentine's Day in 1850.

-The Greeting Card Association estimates that 145 million cards will be sent worldwide in 2014 (not including children's packaged valentines for classroom exchange) and that more than half of Americans purchase at least one card, making Valentine's Day the biggest greeting card holiday in the U.S. after Christmas.

-According to a survey by American Express, 56 percent of Americans took a more digital approach to sending their declarations of love last year, but the trend may not continue. In fact, the Greeting Card Association expects printed valentines to far outweigh the sending of e-cards, texts or social media posts this year.

-The National Confectioners Association reports that Valentine's Day candy adds up to a sweet billion dollars in sales each year. Nearly three-quarters of that money is spent on chocolate, which has been lauded as an aphrodisiac since the 15th century. Candy hearts are a hit too, of course: Eight billion are made each year, and if you were to line up all those little candies, then the distance would reach from Italy to Arizona 20 times.

-Roses are the flower of love. The favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love? The red rose, of course. The bud stands for strong romantic feelings, so it's no surprise they make up the most popular Valentine’s bouquet.

-According to Woman’s Day magazine, true love is apparently not that hard to find. Over two million marriages take place in the United States every year. That means there are more than 6,000 a day!

So grab some chocolates, flowers, maybe some sexy lingerie, and enjoy!

            Until next month,
            Jenna
            www.jennaives.com



5 Free Books for Valentine's Day

Make your Valentine's Day happy. Sign up and get 5 FREE books in your favorite genre in any format you choose. (Including My Captive Highlander if you choose historical romance!) Also enter to win a $100 gift card.



Thanks!!
Vonda

Easter Bears with Free Lambs and Demon Hunter is Now Available!

Not only do I love to write, and photograph anything and everything, but I've been making award-winning teddy bears for a millennium. I had a couple of orders, and that always inspires me to make more. So here are the ones that sold:





And I have another one to finish this morning.
More for sale:




But I also received a contract for three more wolf books, well, one is the jaguar Howard's story. Which I started on yesterday.

And I finished the Demon Hunter, a teen demon guardian's story, the third one in the series.


Demon Hunter
Demon Guardian Series: Book 3
The Demon Guardians are back…
Hunter is half a Matusa demon, determined to help his human-raised demon friends return to the demon world to find their families. And to help Alana learn a way to keep portals from pulling her to them, and getting herself into all kinds of trouble. Not that she can’t handle some of the trouble on her own. She’s a half demon too, and half witch. Jared is looking for his parents. Celeste is looking for hers. Samson is there to protect Alana, though Hunter keeps reminding him Alana is his to protect.
It was a simple mission, but nothing for the demon guardians is ever simple. Between dealing with a demon who is organizing demon hunters—who go after Hunter and his friends, a major train wreck, and all sorts of havoc, it’s no wonder the demon gate guardians end up calling in reinforcements this time.
As long as Hunter can get Alana to agree to be his mate, he can save the world. Alana will never give up her hot demon, but she believes he should work a little harder to prove he is the one for her. And he’s not going to give up trying to convince her either. But they still have one little problem: staying alive long enough to do it.



Off to write on Howard's story, finish another bear, ship bears, feed puppies, and all that!

Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
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Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm holding a month long contest giveaway! Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card plus an ebook copy of Highlander Entangled. ENTER BY CLICKING HERE!
Thanks!!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

Highlander Entangled Available in Audiobook


I'm happy to announce my newest book, Highlander Entangled, is available on audiobook at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Dave Gillies is the narrator. He's incredibly talented with the perfect voice for my stories. He's a Scotsman with the ideal accent and his voice is very expressive when it comes to emotion.

Highlander Entangled is also available in print at Amazon and B&N and in ebook at all retailers including Nook.

Lady Kristina MacQueen suffered devastating injuries at the hands of a ruthless Highland chief, Blackburn MacCromar. Two years later, he kidnaps her for a journey across the chilly, windblown Scottish Highlands to flush out her sister, Anna—the woman Blackburn forced to wed him. Red Holme, Blackburn's second-in-command, is equally brutal and determined to possess Kristina. 

A Highland warrior and future chief, Colin Cameron has no intention of becoming entangled in the whims of another highborn lady. However, upon witnessing Lady Kristina being held hostage by the enemy, a knife to her throat, he resolves to rescue her and bring her to safety. When Red Holme sees Colin Cameron, he recognizes his enemy from a decade earlier and craves revenge even more than he lusts for the lady. But he is determined to have both. 

Colin is the most charismatic and heroic man Kristina has ever met, and he awakens her woman's instincts. He might be her only chance to experience a brief moment of passion. Even so, she holds no illusions about marriage, for no worthy man will find her blindness and scars appealing, or see them as beneficial traits in a wife. But she can't see how he looks at her. Though Colin has sworn to never fall in love again, he cannot defend his heart against the strong, spirited and lovely lass who is like none other he has ever met.


Listen to a 5 minute sample at Audible

Reviews for Highlander Entangled 

"Captivating! Stunning! Emotionally powerful! It took my breath away! 5 stars plus!!! Omg! Ms. Sinclair has written the most emotional story that will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat, until the very last chapter. I highly recommend this Gem of a Book!" Nicole L. (Kindle reader)

"This is one of the best books I have read this year. Excitement from beginning to end...I was unable to keep myself from reading it. When I would put the book down, I had to remember that I was not in the 17th century." Kimi C. (Kindle reader)

"Loved it! Vonda Sinclair has written another exciting story that will keep you reading to the end." Virginia (Kindle reader)

"I truly wish I could give this book more than 5 stars because it is amazing! It deserves more! Vonda Sinclair has a beautiful talent! This story was so beautifully written I felt like I was there!" Karen F. (Kindle reader)
 
​"​Amazing Highlander Romance! I've waited with great expectation for this book and I can honestly say I was not disappointed. I loved every word! Colin and Kristina are well-rounded characters and the attraction between them is undeniable from the moment they meet.... I highly recommend "Highlander Entangled" as well as Vonda Sinclair's other books, which I've also had the pleasure of reading.​​" DD (Kindle reader)
"Vonda does it again, it is captivating book you will not want to put down. And you will miss the characters when you finish reading it. Great read. Don't deny yourselves. It is worth it." ReJeanne (Kindle reader)
"Another heart pounding story from beginning to end. Romantic, intriguing... Another hit for Vonda Sinclair." April R (Kindle reader)

Thank you!
Vonda
www.vondasinclair.com

How To Stop Your Life Rushing By So Quickly

I have to credit this blog post to an article I read in The Times of London while I was there last August.

Columnist Jenni Russell had some wonderful insight on the ‘elasticity’ of time –  how on some days time seems to fly by, while at other times, like when you’re bored out of your mind at a business meeting, time seems to crawl.

And why we all wish we had “more time.”

The answer to having more time in your life, according to Ms. Russell, is two-part: novelty and emotional intensity.

Like so much of the body, the brain is designed to minimize the effort it needs to get its job done. It does this by recognizing patterns. For instance, if everything your brain encounters is familiar – the same office, the same friends, the same wine bar – then the brain hums along on autopilot. There’s no danger to confront, nothing out of the ordinary going on. So your brain doesn’t bother to concentrate on what’s happening because it has seen all this before. And when the brain isn’t fully concentrating, it isn’t registering much, which means very little memory is being created. So you can feel like “time flies” because, at the end of the day, you barely remember what you did. The brain says, “Meh. Been there, done that. No memory-making needed here.” (This is especially true as you get older and the years seem to get shorter. As in, how can it be 2018 already???)

On the other hand, if you present your brain with a new situation – like a job interview, going hang gliding, or a blind date with someone who unexpectedly makes your heart skip – the brain switches on the neocortex and starts processing information rapidly. The more unusual or exciting the situation, the more ferociously the brain concentrates and forms a mental memory. This is what makes time seem to slow and makes you remember vividly what you are doing.

It also makes you feel like you have more time, because you are aware of every minute.

What this shows us is that we have a choice over how we live life. How “fast” or how “slow.” Routines and familiarity may make our lives manageable, but they also erode the time we feel we have because, well, time flies.
  
All we need to do to prevent this is to surprise our brain and keep it on alert. Some suggestions:  take five 3-day vacations instead of a two-week one. Bike to work instead of taking the bus. Go to the concert of a performer you’ve never heard of. Drop into an art gallery after work. Learn a new language. Do anything that night give you a refreshing, memorable adrenaline shock.

The bottom line is: We can’t determine how long we’ll live, but we can choose how long our lives feel.

Some interesting thoughts!

Leigh