Iona Abbey Part 2
Above you can see St. Columba's Shrine just behind the St. John's cross replica.

This is a continuation of a post I did two weeks ago. You can see part one by clicking here.

St. Columba traveled from Ireland and founded an important monastery on Iona in 563 AD.

St. Columba was born in 521 or 522 as Crimthann, a child of the powerful Ui Neill family in northern Ireland where they were overlords. They were dominant in what is now County Donegal. Columba or Colum Cille ('Dove of the Church') was fostered by a priest and seemed destined for the church. In the 540s he studied at Leinster and under Uinniau (Finnian) at Moville or Clonard. No one really knows why Columba left Ireland in  563 though there are many legends, theories and stories. Some say he was unjustly excommunicated. Others say some of his writings were contraversal. While another story says he took sides in a battle between two branches of the Ui Neill. Anyway, he went to Iona and founded the monastery, one of many. He also founded them at Hinba, Mag Luinge on Tiree and Durrow in Ireland.


Columba did not come primarily to convert a pagan population because the Argyll area was already Christianized by that time. He acted as a priest who preached to the people and saw to their spiritual needs. He traveled around the different Scottish isles and visited the Picts on the mainland.

Columba's biographer, Adomnan wrote that Columba occupied his time by copying manuscripts, praying or meditating and leading his monks in worship and work.




St. Columba's Shrine.
 St. Columba's Shrine

Although only bits of the original building survive, it's likely that this small chapel was the main focus of pilgrimage for centuries. Most of the building standing today is from the 1962 restoration. The lowest levels of stonework are original and date from the 800s or 900s. The building was an oratory or chapel built to an Irish design. Tradition says that St. Columba is buried here, but no evidence has been found to support this.

Click to enlarge.

Interior of St. Columba's Shrine.

Well in front of the shrine.

Cradle of the North Wind.



View alongside the abbey.


 The Cloister

A cloister is a central court around which monastic communities in western Europe organized their domestic quarters. The covered walkways linked the church with the domestic buildings but they also served as a place for quiet contemplation and as a processional route.



Many of the fragments from the original cloister remain but most of the work seen here is modern and was created in 1958 - 59. Some of them contain leaf and bird designs.


Two of the above column pairs look as if they might be original. They look older than the rest.
The cloister was originally laid out in the 1200s but underwent changes in the 1400s. The restoration in the 1950s followed the original 1200s plan. Most of the buildings around the cloister date to the reconstruction. The sculpture in the center of the cloister is called 'Descent of the Spirit' and is by Jacques Lipchitz.

The Cloister
 This beautiful place was mostly reconstructed and brought back from ruin, but the arcaded walkways around the central garden appear as they did during the days of the Benedictine abbey, except back then they would've been decorated with bright colors. Several West Highland graveslabs are on display here around the cloister.

Grave Slabs in the arcaded walkways of the Cloister.
The abbey contains over a hundred whole and fragmented grave slabs. This style of carving developed in the West Highlands in the 1300s. These were made to commemorate 'the best men of all the Isles', leading members of the West Highland families including the MacDonalds, MacKinnons, MacLeans and MacLeods. They are decorated with foliage, swords, hunting scenes, galleys (birlinn). Most of these slabs were removed from the nearby burial ground Reilig Odhrain in the mid 1900s and placed here for their safety and conservation. In the mid 1800s, the Duke of Argyll had them all rearranged and moved into rows within iron railings so it was impossible to tell where they had originally been placed anyway.

Detail of a West Highland grave slab showing a galley or birlinn and other beautiful designs.

Detail of grave slab showing a two-handed Highland sword and other designs.
I hope you've enjoyed these glimpses of Iona Abbey.
Thanks!
Vonda

The French language edition of My Fierce Highlander (Le Guerrier Sauvage) will be released on Dec. 5! I'm excited to hear if French readers enjoy my books. I love the cover! What do you think?

For those who read French, this is the description on the French Amazon site including an awesome endorsement from Jackie Ivie. 

Magistral ! Les pages de ce livre se tournent toutes seules. Vonda Sinclair a une plume remarquable et un sacré talent de conteuse. » Jackie Ivie, auteure de « La Dame et le chevalier ». (Translates as: Masterly! The pages of this book are turning themselves. Vonda Sinclair has a remarkable pen and a sacred talented storyteller.)

(Thank you, Jackie Ivie!!)

Écosse, XVIIe siècle. Gwyneth est anglaise. Bannie du royaume par son père, elle est condamnée à mener une existence austère dans les Highlands. Elle tente de mettre son fils à l abri de la guerre qui déchire deux clans : celui auquel elle est liée, les MacIrwins et leurs ennemis, les MacGrath. Après une bataille sanglante, elle sauve la vie à un guerrier blessé du clan ennemi et ne tarde pas à tomber sous son charme. Si les siens découvrent la trahison, elle s expose à une vengeance sans précédent.

The English language Kindle version is only .99 cents!!

Gwyneth Carswell, an English lady banished by her father to the harsh Scottish Highlands, wants nothing more than to take her young son away from the violence of two fighting clans--her own distant kin, the MacIrwins, and their enemies, the MacGraths. She risks everything to rescue the fierce MacGrath warrior from the battlefield where he’s left for dead by her clan. She only knows she is inexplicably drawn to him and he wants peace as she does. When her clan learns of her betrayal, they seek vengeance. Dare she trust the enemy more than her own family? 

Laird Alasdair MacGrath is driven to end two-hundred years of feuding with the MacIrwins. But by taking in and protecting Lady Gwyneth and her son, he provokes more attacks from his mortal enemy. As the danger and conflict surrounding them escalate, Alasdair and Gwyneth discover an explosive passion neither of them expected. With the arrival of a powerful man from her past, a horrible decision confronts her--give up her son or the man she loves. 
Available at Amazon and all other online booksellers.
The Little Guy is TWO years old!
Hard to believe, isn't it? He's growing so fast and learning new things every day. Talking up and storm and definitely has a mind of his own. We are going to be spending the next three months in Florida to help my parents, and I am going to miss him SO much. (To the rest of my family who might read this post - OF COURSE I will miss you all too - but the amount of changes the little guy will go through in the next three months will make such a difference!)

He's loves to eat. Pasta is a favorite.


He dressed as a railroad engineer for Halloween.


The birthday boy with a Mickey Mouse hat:


It's hard to get a clear picture of the little guy because he is constantly on the move!


The lawn mower was a big hit!


Waiting for a piece of birthday cake.


And just so you don't think he's a perfect little boy - here's he is having a meltdown because his mommy cut his banana in half. LOL.


Happy Birthday, Little Guy! I love you.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com





New Releases! New Bears! Time Has Run Out…
KissOfTheVampire_TerrySpear
Kiss of the Vampire is now available with its new cover. The print version looks like it’s still not available with the new cover. They said 3-5 days and it was uploaded yesterday. It is also available in audiobook and still waiting for the cover to change on that.

Kiss of the Vampire

(Blood Moon Series, Book 1)
Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance » Fantasy
The motto of the vampires is that humans have to deal with problems on their own. But when Levka and his friends risk all to save human girls, he is injured and so the adventure begins. A cruise. A human girl who is terrified of water. And a vampire who has targeted her for his mate. But she has some secrets of her own.
Forced to take a cruise ship to babysit her foster sister, Caitlin has to face her own demons. But add to that her foster sister’s and her friend’s antics and Caitlin’s inability to use her witch’s magic over water and she has little hope to enjoy this trip. Until she meets a wheelchair-bound teen and wants to make friends with him in the worst way.
Levka and his friends make a hasty retreat from Dallas before the vampire elders stake them for getting involved in human affairs–again. But when he meets Caitlin on the cruise ship, hating that he’s so weak after being injured so severely that he has to use a wheelchair, he finds their troubles have just begun.
Kiss of the Vampire - Terry Spear
New Cover
The Vampire…In My Dreams is available in ebook. I’m still proofing the print version. And I just signed up the narrator for the audiobook version.

Proving a guy is a vampire for the glory it will bring seemed like a good idea.  At the time.  Until he needs Marissa Lakeland’s help to fight the vampire who made him the way he is.  No problem. She’s a witch.  Witches can handle it.  But vampires don’t exist, and there’s nothing in a witch’s training that deals with a creature that doesn’t exist.  So using her wits, she’ll manage, right?  If the creature of the night doesn’t get her first.  As a centuries-old vamp, Lynetta doesn’t lose ever, and she doesn’t intend to now.

Kobo
Smashwords
New Cover
Call of the Cougar is now available in ebook. I’m still proofing the print version. And I just signed up the narrator for the audiobook version.
Call of the Cougar FINAL WEB
Call of the Cougar: Looking for love can be dangerous…
Special Agent for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services, Tracey Whittington, takes down wildlife traffickers and more, but what she doesn’t expect is to be in a shootout, multiple times, when the business turns deadly. Nor does she suspect she’ll be working with Hal Haverton, who serves as a part-time deputy for Yuma Town, Colorado, and runs his own horse ranch. As long as he doesn’t stop her investigative work—she has been placed on administrative leave due to the last shootout—she’ll be just fine.
Hal Haverton has every intention of keeping the wild cat safe, even if it means helping her to solve the case when every time he turns around, she’s involved in another shootout. When her boss asks their good friend, the sheriff, to have one of his deputies serve as a bodyguard for the cougar shifter, Hal’s all for it. So is the other deputy, but Hal’s got this covered. Even if getting somewhere with the lady means having his gun ready at all times. There are definite perks to getting to know the Special Agent better—if they live long enough to do something about it.
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
All Romance Ebooks
Smashwords
Still getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, since I  have to have them early for my son and DIL and a birthday for my daughter. :) Some of them should be coming in today, I think. :)  But at least the house is decorated, clean and it’s time to visit. :)
Oh, and a couple of new bears!

Sparse Mohair Bear for the antique look
Sparse Mohair Bear for the antique look
Blondie Bear who has lots of fluffy fur!
Blondie Bear who has lots of fluffy fur!
Have a lovely Saturday!!
I’m off to proof the rest of The Vampire…In My Dreams’s print version, then need to get to work on Call of the Cougar’s print proofing. I’m afraid with the kids’ impending visit, time has just about run out. LOL

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Getting started on Christmas?


Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
www.terryspear.com
Connect with Terry Spear:
Website:
www.terryspear.com
Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/421434.Terry_Spear
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/TerrySpearParanormalRomantics
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/TerrySpear
Wilde & Woolly Bears
http://www.celticbears.com
Plotting and Planning - A Writer's Manual


Plotting and Planning--a #Writing Manual, Here for #NaNoWriMo! (@suzdemello #MFRWAuthor #iamwriting)

Hey there, aspiring authors! Ever wondered how an author plots and writes a book?

Wonder no more! Suzie deMello is here to tell you the secrets, or at least a few of them.

Plotting and Planning is Suzie’s second writing treatise, following the best-selling Write This, Not That! 

Here’s the blurb:

Another engaging, witty writing primer from Suz deMello, whose Write This, Not That! was an Amazon bestseller. Plotting, point of view, character creation, conflict and much more are examined in this brief but pithy writing manual.  A must for the serious writer who wants the basics without boredom. 

Says bestselling author Kylie Brant: “Sue has written a concise manual that is valuable for both beginning and seasoned writers. Going to write a book? Read this first!”

From Silver James: "Suz deMello's PLOTTING AND PLANNING is a concise, informative, and entertaining look at writing a novel."

Here’s an excerpt to pique your interest:

How does an author write a book?

Unfortunately for aspiring authors, this is not an easy question to answer. It's tantamount to asking, Where do authors get their ideas? which, believe me, is our least favorite question. I often tell people I get them at Sears—they're sold by the dozen in the basement between the barbecues and the bikes.

In reality, I get my ideas from almost anywhere. Maybe a magazine article about a place or event. Perhaps someone I meet or something a person says may trigger a train of thought that will eventually lead to a book. Maybe travel to someplace new ignites the creative spark that will inspire me.

Here's a better question: What are the building blocks of plot and story?

If you like what you read, here’s where you can buy the ebook:
http://tinyurl.com/deMelloPlotting


About Suz deMello:


Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for several including Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.


Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

 

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.


Check out Suzie's site: http://www.suzdemello.com

And her blog: http://www.TheVelvetLair.com
 

Thanksgiving Creep
Is it me, or did the holiday season get here a little too quickly this year? Is anyone else feeling in a rush to get ready for Thanksgiving? I know that I am, and I don't even have that much to do.

We're going to my son's for the big feast day, and so all we have to do is bring some small token of appreciation, like cookies or something. So I'm planning to bake cookies and I realize suddenly that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. How did that happen? I love the holidays, but seriously...did the earth start spinning faster or something? How did Thanksgiving creep up on me like this?

And what does that say about Christmas? Is it in, like, three days or something? Did we skip a month? Maybe two? Is it that time flies because I'm older? I remember when I was a kid that I would sit and wait for snow and the holidays and Christmas day and such. Now, I'm completely flummoxed by how quickly these big festivals arrive.

Still, I enjoy every minute of them. Even though I'm not prepared for the jubilation, I love the season of winter celebrations. The snow can be such a downer, so I'm happy to get a little festive respite from it.

How about you? Have the holidays crept up on you, too? Or were you fully prepared? Because if you were, I'd love to know your secret. Please do share!

Love Those Athletic Highlanders and GIVEAWAY

My Dark Highlander by Nancy Lee Badger

When you hear the word Highlander or see it splashed across a book cover, what ideas instantly come to mind? Scotland, of course, but I bet you think of muscled warriors draped in plaid wool, or castles full of lairds or chieftains who steal pretty women from neighboring clans. Romance is part of the charm, while kidnappings, battles, swords and bagpipes make a Highland story (like mine) bring these ancient, mystical warriors to life.

I haven’t visited Scotland yet, but I have experienced the sights, sounds, and flavors of Scottish life by attending Scottish Highland games and festivals. My recent excursion to a huge gathering in New England, here in America, has given me ideas for my romance novels. My next 2nd book in the Kilted Athletes Through Time series, My Dark Highlander, includes many aspects of both modern and ancients Scottish Highland games and festivals.

Carrying a notebook and my trusty camera, I snapped various photos. The New England games are so popular, this year Thor Bjornsson, ‘The Mountain’ from Game of Thrones, participated in the heavy athletic events!



To give you a taste of how I incorporate what I hear and see at the games, please enjoy this short excerpt, which depicts a moment when my heroine, veterinarian Jenny Morgan joins her friends.

Excerpt from My Dark Highlander:
Jenny shook her head, but was relieved. Danger averted. There was no need to share her recent time travel adventure with her friend.
Not until I’m sure it really happened.
“Rae, are you competing soon? I promised to help Dorcas with her tent.”
He managed to divert his attention from Denise, back to her. “I entered what they call the sheath toss, though where I hail from, ‘tis called a sheaf toss.”
“Really?” Denise stepped closer, “And what kind of a sport is that?”
Rae crossed his hands behind his back, stretching the cotton T-shirt tighter across his chest. The cad.
He knows he looks good.
“Several kilted men and women, if ye can believe that, will toss a burlap sack of straw over a high bar, using a pitchfork.”
“That doesn’t sound too hard, and I hope a woman wins,” Denise said.
Rae grimaced. “The program, a lightweight book of printed pages with paintings, says the sack weighs twenty pounds.”
“Sounds light, doesn’t it,” Jenny added, “but I heard that they will keep raising the bar far above the competitors’ heads, until only one person can make it over without hitting the bar.”
“Can you win?” Denise asked Rae, completely ignoring Jenny.
“Aye. I be quite talented in…many things.”
Denise slapped his forearm, and laughed. “We’ll watch for you. Buy you a drink, if you win.”
“Good luck. We’ll wait for you near the bleachers,” Jenny added.
His brow furrowed, so Jenny pointed to the set of raised aluminum seats, near the Information Tent. When he nodded, she latched on to Denise’s wrist and headed away.
“I need a drink. You?” her friend said.

This was only one example of athletic events held at Highland games and festivals. Enjoy the photos, as well!

My Dark Highlander Book blurb
Stranded in 1603 Scotland, veterinarian Jenny Morgan is eager to get home to New England. Hiding her ability to read auras, a powerful witch comes to her aid. All Jenny will miss is the man who stole her heart, one dark night. 

Laird Gavin Sinclair has a missing brother, a murderous father, and a dark-eyed beauty on his mind. When Jenny returns to a dangerous future, he sets aside his obligations and searches for her at the New England Highland Games. Jealousy and lust ravage his dark soul, until he and Jenny fight evil together.

Where can readers buy your book?

My Dark Highlander

Print ISBN 13: 978-1502558558

More About Nancy Lee Badger
She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers.  She and her family volunteer every year under the Information Tent at the New Hampshire Highland Games.

Connect with Nancy:
Blog     Website    Twitter

My Birthday is this month so
My gift to your readers…
FREE Amazon ebook of
My Lady Highlander
Book #1 in the Kilted Athletes Through Time series
This LINK is good through Nov. 22nd

GIVEAWAY!
WIN a Celtic Window Sticker*
*open to USA and International readers!
Winner will be chosen Nov. 22, 2014

To enter click below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Bound to Submit

    Bound to Submit
    Natasha Moore, 10/15/14

    Her Royal Rendezvous

    Her Royal Rendezvous
    Natasha Moore, 10/5/14

    The Cottage Next Door

    The Cottage Next Door
    Natasha Moore, 9/16/14

    Secrets Volume 31: Fantasies Fulfilled

    Secrets Volume 31: Fantasies Fulfilled
    Leigh Court, 7/31/14

    My Rebel Highlander

    My Rebel Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair 5/13/14

    Duke of Devonwood

    Duke of Devonwood
    Carly Carson, 4/6/14

    Silence of the Wolf

    Silence of the Wolf
    Terry Spear, 3/4/14

    Cougar's Mate

    Cougar's Mate
    Terry Spear, 2/27/14

    Once Upon a Highland Moon

    Once Upon a Highland Moon
    Gwyn Brodie, 2/20/14

    Playing For Real

    Playing For Real
    Natasha Moore, 2/4/14

    Programmed to Protect

    Programmed to Protect
    Jenna Ives, 2/1/14

    Her Royal Bodyguard

    Her Royal Bodyguard
    Natasha Moore, 1/1/14

    Fighting Love

    Fighting Love
    Abby Niles, 12/31/13

    My Notorious Highlander

    My Notorious Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 10/30/13

    The Highlander

    The Highlander
    Terry Spear, 10/14/13

    A SEAL Wolf Christmas

    A SEAL Wolf Christmas
    Terry Spear, 9/24/13

    Jaguar Fever

    Jaguar Fever
    Terry Spear, 8/6/13

    Extreme Love

    Extreme Love
    Abby Niles, 4/30/13

    My Daring Highlander

    My Daring Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 3/29/13

    Dragon Song

    Dragon Song
    Cameo, 3/11/13

    The Snow Job

    The Snow Job
    Cameo, 2/13/13

    My Brave Highlander

    My Brave Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 7/19/12

    My Wild Highlander

    My Wild Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 8/26/11