We belong to this nature conservancy group which is trying to study and save native plants of New England. They mainly show a lot of wild flowers, bushes and trees growing in their natural state. This is a beautiful place to walk at any time of year, except maybe winter.
Here is a bluebell plant.
They provide a sanctuary for small animals. Do you see the turtle?
School groups visit, so they have a fun, interactive section for children as they try to teach them something about the natural world. This is the gateway to the children's area.
Finally, they have a shop I love with lots of fun ideas. I really admire the efforts of this group to work to preserve our natural heritage.
And these are my spring daffodils (which are not native to New England, but I still love them).
Two weeks ago, I wrote part 1 of the post about Castle Tioram. If you missed it, you can click here to read it. Today I want to continue with more info about the castle.
My friends and I spent a few hours out in one of the most remote areas of Scotland, on the west coast. I don't know how many hours we explored and took thousands of photos (among the 3 of us) because time ceased to exist for me. I wore no watch and I didn't pay attention to the time on my phone. I love how wild and untamed the area around the castle is. The heather was in full bloom (early September) and it was a clear, warm day. This was the highlight of the trip for me and a dream come true. I'd been looking forward to visiting this castle for a long time, especially since it's the inspiration for the setting of Highlander Unbroken and My Captive Highlander. Below are more photos I took while walking around the castle and climbing over the piles of rocks and boulders. Good hiking shoes were a necessity.
As mentioned in my previous post, Ranald was the first chieftain of Clan Macdonald of
Clanranald. He was granted the "Castle of Elantyrim" (Eilean Tioram)
and this was confirmed by Robert II in 1373.
In 1411, Alan, the 4th chief of Clanranald,
fought in the Battle of Harlaw in which Lord of the Isles and his Highland army
defeated the forces of the Scottish Crown. Alan was known to have imprisoned
other Highland chiefs in his dungeon. In 1509, Alan was captured, imprisoned
and executed by James I. The 5th chief, his son Raonuil Ban, had
much the same history and was hanged in 1513 by the king. Dugald was the 6th
chief. His own clansmen murdered him and the chieftainship taken over by his
uncle Alexander. The 8th chief was John of Moidart, the natural son
of Alexander. Although there were more legitimate heirs, John was chosen by the
clan to lead them. He obtained a charter to the lands around Tioram in 1532.
Unfortunately this charter was revoked in 1540 when John went against the king
and supported the Lordship of the Isles instead. James V imprisoned him and
granted the charter to one of the legitimate heirs, Ranald Galda (the stranger)
who had been raised by his mother's clan, the Frasers. Clanranald rejected
Ranald Galda as chief and nicknamed him "Ranald of the hens" because
he had (inferior) chicken served at his inaugural feast instead of ox.
View from the beach below the castle.
After James V died in 1542, John of Moidart was released
from prison and headed back to Moidart where the clan reinstated him as chief,
rejecting Ranald Galda. In 1544, when the Frasers tried to reinstate Ranald Galda
as chief of Clanranald, a horrible battle ensued at Loch Lochy. Ranald and Lord
Lovat were killed during the battle and John was the victor.
This small stone building sits near the beach. Since it
doesn't appear on early site maps, it is believed to have been built in the
late 1800s and was probably either a bathing house or a smoke house.
John led the clan with without much of note over the next few years, although he was still rebellious to the crown. In 1554, Marie de Guise, the Regent, decided she wanted the Moidart area brought more under the control of the crown. She commissioned the Earl of Huntly to carry out her orders. But when Huntly reached the area around Fort
Augustus, he decided an overland advance through the Highlands would be impossible because of the rough, nearly impassible terrain. Instead, the Duke of Argyll brought his warships up along the coast to
bombard the castle with cannons and other artillery from the shore. John of
Moidart, the chief of Clanranald at the time, had gone overland to meet
Huntly's army, but once news of Argyll's attack reached him, he raced home and
was victorious over the shore battery. He sent the Duke of Argyll packing.
One of these cannonballs was found in the castle wall hundreds of years later. John retained possession of the castle and lands until his death at the castle in 1584.
The Clanranalds backed the Royalists during the Civil War of
the 1600s and retained Castle Tioram but under the overlordship of the Dukes of
The castle was expanded in the 1680s. They added another
story to the tower house and a new range of buildings were built along the
south west wall. It was not used very much however because Allan of Moidart,
the 14th chief, moved out of the castle to a less remote location.
In 1715, during the Jacobite Uprising, the castle was
occupied by government troops and reported to be in bad condition. Allan of
Moidart recaptured the castle and set fire to it so it couldn't be used by the
government. He was killed shortly thereafter at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. In
the 1745 uprising, Clanranald again sided with the (losing) Jacobites, but
still managed to retain ownership of the castle for the next hundred plus years.
The castle and island were sold in 1905. It passed through
several owners until being purchased by James Wiseman MacDonald in 1926. It
changed owners again, several times and was put on the market in 1996 for
100,000 GBP. But then the castle was purchased in 1997 by Anta Estates Ltd. For
What followed turned out to be a dispute between the owners and the Scottish Ministers because the building is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The
owners wanted to turn it into a private dwelling but also a tourist center
which would require access roads being built onto the island, electricity,
plumbing, etc. which would likely destroy much of the history and beauty of the
site. The narrow, one track roads leading into the area are not large enough to
handle much tourism traffic. So the two sides are in a standoff in which
neither can act while the building further crumbles. This to me is very sad. Even
the pigeons which live in the castle cause the masonry to fall, and the vines
and plants growing in the walls further pry the stones apart and loosen them. If
only the building could be repaired and preserved in its current state, which
would require a lot of work and millions. I've visited several ruined castles
which have been preserved, such as Kilchurn or Dunnottar. They are obviously
still ruins, but the masonry has been stabilized, the plants removed, and there
are no dangers from falling stones or further decay. And it's possible to safely go inside them. I hope this castle can be
preserved soon because it's one of Scotland's most amazing treasures.
Highlander Unbroken is receiving some fantastic reviews!
5 stars "Highlander Unbroken by Vonda Sinclair is one of the best Highlander Historical Romances of this year! Truly a masterpiece and a book that you will want to add to your collection! Vonda Sinclair's writing is pure genius, she writes with such passion and vigor. Her characters are each unique and spirited! She uses such vivid descriptions throughout her book that makes the reader truly feel as if they are there in Scotland; tasting the food, smelling the beautiful heather, walking the castle halls and marching with the highlanders into battle! I absolutely fell in love with this book and highly recommend this to anyone! I give this a high 5 stars and if I could, I’d give it 100 stars!" Teatime and Books Reviews
5 stars "Vonda Sinclair is a great writer, I am excited to receive each new story and read it as soon as I have it. When I read the stories I become part of the story and experience each moment with the other characters. Her descriptions of her characters reactions to each situation make me feel them. I can see the scenery as though I was there. Neacal and Anna are believable and I felt their pain and terror as they worked to reach the goal of freedom from the bonds of their past and present trials. She is a genuine story teller and holds you under spell till the last page of her books. I fully recommend her books to anyone to read." Susan F.
Torture has driven Neacal MacDonald to the brink of madness. As the new chief of the MacDonald clan, Neacal will do whatever it takes to honor his late father and to help his clan thrive. But whispers of his madness abound and many in his clan turn traitor, wanting MacDonald of Sleat to lead them instead. Conflict ignites between the bitter rivals when Sleat garners the help of the man who tortured Neacal in the past.
Can one woman's song pull him back and begin to heal his soul? Everything has been ripped from Anna Douglas except her angelic voice and the will to survive. When she meets Neacal, she recognizes something familiar in him—stark loneliness and pain. His past could be even more tragic and tarnished than hers. No one must learn her true identity or about the brutish man declaring she is his wife, for he will stop at nothing to reclaim her. Though Neacal vowed to never trust a woman again, he cannot resist the secrets in Anna's eyes or her spellbinding song, which threatens to break down the icy walls surrounding his tormented heart. A fun excerpt:
When she arrived at the
top of the steps in his corridor, Neacal stood waiting, tall and dark, leaning
against the stone wall. His great wolfhound sat by his leg, wagging his tail in
Neacal's long, midnight
hair was combed smooth and still damp. His blue eyes glinted with a bit of morose
wickedness. Good heavens, he was breathtakingly handsome in the light of early
morn. Surely he must have been a devastating rogue before his capture, one who
stole the hearts of all the lasses from many miles around. He had a profound
seductive air about him, though now 'twas overshadowed by a cloud of dark
intensity. This made him even more appealing to her.
"A good morn to
you, Anna," Neacal murmured in a husky, intimate voice, for her ears only,
making her imagine things she should not. Things like… waking up beside him.
"Good morn, Neacal."
lightened and she thought he might smile—hoped he would. Instead, he turned and
proceeded down a short narrow corridor, an offshoot of the main one, then opened
a small, almost hidden door. "Stay, Dunn," he told his dog, before
squeezing his broad shoulders through the doorway. Once inside, he held out his
hand to her.
She took it, the heat
of his roughened palm making her tingle, and stepped inside the confined dark
space. "Heavens. Is this a closet?"
hissed softly against her ear, his warm breath teasing her skin and giving her
delightful shivers. Goodness! He really shouldn't do that, for it inspired all
sorts of unladylike urges. Finding herself suddenly short of breath, she
inhaled his luscious, clean male scent combined with that of a spicy soap. Her
thoughts took flight and she no longer cared why they were in this small room.
She only wanted to press her nose against his throat and breathe him in.
He drew her toward a
square opening where light and the murmur of several conversations filtered up.
What was this? Where were they?
Holding her breath, she
eased forward and found herself staring down at the tables of the great hall,
filled with many people eating their first meal of the day.
Of course, this was a
laird's lug, or laird's ear. She had heard of these little eavesdropping
chambers but had never been into one. Neither of the castles she'd lived in had
them. How unnerving to imagine someone spying on her below, without her
knowledge, but 'twas also true that lairds had to be extra careful about
conspiracies and clan politics.
Neacal stood just
behind her, not quite touching, but the presence and heat of him were palpable.
His delicious scent surrounded her, sending her woman's instincts into overload.
"Do you see
them?" he whispered, his warm breath fanning the hair by her ear again.
She shivered as a more
intense heat and awareness washed over her. It took all of her strength not to
turn and melt into him. More than anything, she craved looking into his eyes… or
pressing herself against him, but she had more important things to do. She
forced her attention downward, into the great hall. She scanned the many
clansmen and finally found the co-conspirators sitting at the far end of a
table near the entry, their heads bent together once again.
She pointed at them.
"There," she breathed.
Neacal moved his head
forward, beside hers, to peer through the opening. With his tall height, he loomed
over her in the cramped space.
"The ones sitting
at the end of that table," she whispered. "It appears they are plotting
even now. The chubby, ginger-haired one has on a green doublet and the slim, brown-headed
man is wearing a blue doublet." She glanced aside at him.
Neacal narrowed his
eyes, observing the men with a sharp glare. "Roy and Parlan."
She was so close to
Neacal she heard his teeth grate together. Of a certainty, she would never want
to make an enemy of Neacal MacDonald. He would be a deadly foe. But with more
than one—perhaps several—in his clan against him, his life could be in danger.
Hard to believe that it's been a year since my youngest grandson was born. He's been and continues to be a joy. He's a master crawler but he's starting to take a few steps on his own. Won't be long before he's tearing through the house! When we were in Florida with my parents, his daddy sent me pictures every day so we could continue to watch him grow.
So in honor of his birthday, here are a few pictures to make you smile on your Monday morning!
In his jammies on his new Spiderman chair
Playing with all his new toys
Wild hair pose
I love balls!
I love birthday cake!
I hope these pictures of my happy little man adds some joy to your day. I know he does mine!
Ever have one of those days where your life seems to read like a novel? I had one of those several months back. It's almost as if someone somewhere was writing my story as I went, and I was the heroine in this little tale of the life of an aging hippie addicted to writing and with whom technology was playing stupid cupid.
It all started when I got a friend request from an ex-boyfriend. It wasn't a bad break up or anything dramatic; we just went our separate ways after dating about six months in our youth. Very bland. We remained in the same distant social circle for years but lost touch about seven years ago. I never really thought about him until I saw the request. It took me a minute to place him, and then I went through the whole friend-vetting process I go through when I get a request (Do I know this person? Do I like this person? Does this person look like he spends lots of time talking to a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh about waffles?) Finally, I decided--what the hay--and friended him. No big deal.
Yes, big deal.
At least to some of my friends--who I've now downgraded to acquaintances--who seem to think I'm on the road to destruction because I'm friends with an ex on FB. Am I unhappy in my marriage? Am I having a mid-life crisis? Don't I know how that looks?
Well, no, I don't know how it looks. I don't really care, and they shouldn't either. The only person who should care is my hubby, and he isn't bothered by it. As a matter of fact, he was really glad to find out what happened to someone from our past. Hubby has access to my account, so if he wants to go in and check it out, he can. But he doesn't because he's friends with at least three ex-girlfriends himself and doesn't see the harm in re-establishing old relationships if one doesn't plan to go any further with them that friendship.
So I tell my semi-pals this, and they get their feathers all ruffled. Certainly there must be something unseemly afoot because all of the sudden I'm friends with a guy I once dated. I just rolled my eyes and left the restaurant where we were having lunch, when I hear a ping. It's my cell letting me know I've got an FB notification. Guess who it's from?
So Barney, as I will call him to protect his identify, has messaged me to say hi. I put my phone away, grocery shop, do a bunch of other errands, and finally go home. About 10 I get on FB and answer his message, noting he's not online. And then suddenly, a minute after I hit REPLY, he pops up. "How am I doing?" he asks. "What's up?" "How's my world?" "Am I still married?" "He loved my pictures..." "I'm still as beautiful as the day we parted..." "Did I want to sex chat?"
Yep, Mr. Ex-boyfriend wanted to sex chat with me on FB. I politely told him no, and he said something about he figured I'd be a sex chatter because of the wild times we had when we dated.
If I remember correctly, a motorcycle ride where he didn't where a helmet (idiot) was the riskiest thing we did. I don't recall ever making out with him that much, let alone doing anything so wild in the bedroom that he would think it would automatically translate into getting my jollies typing with one hand and reading phrases that were sexual or could be, if taken out of context, the names of pro wrestlers, like "slick rod" and "wild stud."
So, through our rather short conversation that ended when he abruptly unfriended me, I figured out that he had confused me with a different hippie chick he'd dated way back when named Cassie. I told him so and he apologized, then he said he didn't want to be friends with me anymore. I typed "Seriously? LOL" and he disappeared.
It makes me laugh every time I think about it. I guess some people know what they want and a reasonable facsimile will just not do. I thought about telling my pals they were kind of right about the presence of untoward intentions, at least on his side, but then I thought, na, let them live vicariously through my perceived harlotry.
So how's your life going? Do you have any interesting ex-boyfriend stories? Please do share!
"Don't they call a strong attraction between two people chemistry?"
I've begun gaining the rights back to some of my older stories and will be releasing them with new covers as they become available. Some of these stories I may decide to revise, perhaps expand, but some of them I'm happy with and will send back into the world just as they are. And some of them will get new titles.
When I re-read the novel after many years, I was pleased to remember how much I loved the characters - a sassy, curvy, overworked waitress and a sexy, lonely, overworked college professor. On the surface they don't appear to belong together, but the magnetic pull they feel for each other is immediate and unmistakable. And as they get to know each other, we see how much they need each other.
Originally released as The Passion-Minded Professor, the title is now CHEMISTRY. Isn't the cover gorgeous?
It wasn’t supposed to be a love potion.
Roxy Morgan is finally in control of her life. After working
in the family diner to put her now ex-husband through law school, she's getting
her own chance at a college education. She’s vowed no dating until she gets her
degree, so what’s with the magnetic pull she feels toward chemistry professor,
Dr. Daniel Jennings? It’s almost as if she suddenly has no control over her
Driven, lonely Daniel has been working to perfect an
attraction elixir, just something to give those natural pheromones a little
boost. But when sassy, curvy Roxy accidently becomes part of his experiment, can
he risk losing her by admitting she’s under the influence of his new “love
potion”, and that neither of them have any control over the passion they’ve
found in each other’s arms?
watched as he unbuttoned the wrinkled white lab coat. When he stripped it from
his body, she sucked in a deep breath. Whoa, the Doc was buff. How did a guy
who spent all his time in a lab have a body like that? His legs were long and
lean, encased in worn denim. His shirt covered a broad chest and flat abdomen.
The shirttails were partially pulled out of the waistband of his jeans, making
her heart pound just a little bit faster.
“You’re not at all what I pictured when Gina talked about you,” she
said, needing words again to fill the charged silence.
He hung up the lab coat on a hook beside his desk and then turned
around. A lopsided grin spread across his face. Oh, he was way too cute.
“Oh, really? How did you picture me?”
“Well, you’re a lot younger than I thought you’d be.” He was probably
in his mid-thirties.
He chuckled. “That’s right. All college professors have thinning hair
and bellies hanging over their belts.”
Roxy let her gaze slowly travel over him, taking in again the long legs,
the broad chest, the crooked grin. “Obviously not.”
He cleared his throat and turned to grab his briefcase. “Ready to go?”
The click of Roxy’s heels echoed through the silent hallway. Dr.
Jennings didn’t say anything to her as they left the building, but she was
picking up some sort of weird vibe she’d never felt before.
No, that wasn’t true. She’d experienced something like it the first
time she saw Todd Morgan and his killer dimples in ninth grade homeroom. It was
almost like an electrical charge. Or a magnetic pull. It didn’t have any
logical explanation. It simply was.
Roxy stopped in her tracks. They were halfway across the parking lot,
headed for some low-slung black sports car parked under a spotlight. The last
thing she needed was a magnetic attraction to a man, any man, at this point in
The autumn wind blew around her and she crossed her arms against the
chill. She had all she could do to attend classes, work enough hours to pay the
bills, and do all the homework that was overwhelming her. She did not need to
get involved with a man.
Dr. Jennings must have finally noticed she no longer followed him. He
turned around, his face in the shadows. “Did you forget something?”
She’d almost forgotten what was important. Control was. Education was.
Magnetic pulls were not.
But he sure was good-looking. And nice. A gust of wind lifted her hair
and blew its icy breath along her neck. She shivered. What harm was there in
accepting a ride home after dark? It wasn’t like they were going on a date or
No dates until she had her degree.
“No, I’m okay.” She caught up with him. To stop him from asking any
other questions, she asked,
“This your car?” Guys loved to talk about their
cars. “Wow, a Porsche.”
“Um, yeah.” He opened the door for her, something Todd had never done
for her in four years of high school and seven years of marriage. How had she
let herself waste all those years of her life on a jerk?
She climbed in and tucked her long legs inside. Dr. Jennings closed the
door, rounded the car, and climbed in beside her. He folded his legs under the
He turned to look at her. They were nearly nose to nose in the darkness
of the vehicle. She could almost see the electrical charge sizzling between
them. Her hands tingled. Her body buzzed. Oh, this was not good. Not good at
“Are you sure you’re all right?” he asked, his voice soft.
“I’m fine, Dr. Jennings,” she said. Shit, that sounded a little shaky.
His musky scent seemed to fill her nostrils, flood her senses. “I…I have a lot
of homework tonight.”
“Then we better get you home,” he said, starting the engine. He didn’t
pull out of the parking space right away. He turned and looked at her again,
his face lit up by the spotlight. “You’re not in any of my classes, are you?”
“Chemistry? No way.”
“Good.” There was that grin again. “Then you can call me Daniel.”
If you enjoy fun and emotional romances, give Chemistry a try!
this is the second time my tomato plant container was blown over in a
storm. I took out the wrought iron trellis, figuring it was making it
too top heavy. Obviously, that didn’t make any difference. I’m going to
try putting the trellis in the ground and tying the tomato plants to it.
Maybe that will work….
And MAX! Leave the tomatoes alone.
Electricity went out so I kept the computer off. Bad electrical storm.
I found a used barrister bookcase at a real steal–a lady had it in
her laundry room and wanted to get rid of the 40-year old cabinet that
was her father’s. I had books stacked up in the corner of my office. So I
was thrilled. I either was putting books away, or digging up grass
around the plants I moved from out front to out back and planting
flowers. Or, one flower. A pine branch fell in the storm, and broke off
several of the flower stems for the ones I had sitting “safely” on the
patio until I plant them.
$80, when new ones cost around $600, it was a steal. :) Now I have to
organize the rest of the room and hang up pictures. Finally.
Okay, I’m off to write. Hope you have a lovely day!!!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
is not “new” news, but Samhain Publishing is closing its doors.
had two releases with Samhain – The Initiation Of Isabella and the Binding Ties
anthology. In fact, Samhain was the first publisher of a Jenna Ives title.
loved working with Samhain – my editor was great, the royalties were always on
time, and everyone in the company was super professional. I am very sad to see
them shut down operations.
Samhain’s closing, two out of the three publishers I write for have gone under.
It’s a challenging time to be an author, and even more challenging to be a
successful one. I believe that’s why so many of us writers have eagerly embraced
first attempt at self-publishing was the sexy fairy tale Snow White And Her
story sold wildly well, possibly because I timed it to come out when Kristen
Stewart and Liam Hemsworth and Charlize Theron released “Snow White and the
Huntsman” in theaters. In fact, I just did another blast of publicity for the
release of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” (Liam Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt) and got another nice uptick in sales.
next self-pub release was Programmed To Please, a slightly-futuristic romance
featuring a police agent who goes undercover as a sex robot in order to bring
down the planet’s most notorious arms manufacturer.
story has also sold very well, and I’m hoping the two sequels, Programmed To
Protect and Programmed For Power do as well.
self-publishing is a lot of work! You have to be your own editor, cover artist,
formatter, marketer and social media guru. Gone are the days when a writer
could just write a good story and a publisher would do the rest. Frankly, this
new world order can be exhausting.
it is what it is. We adapt. A writer writes. I would never stop writing, not
even if only my friends and family read what I write.
just sad today, because five minutes ago I sent Samhain an email asking for
rights reversion for The Initiation of Isabella and Binding Ties. And,
professionals that they are, I got an immediate response from Samhain’s Amanda
Brashear saying they will get right on it.
does a company like that have to go out of business?