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.

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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,

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.


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!

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
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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!