Out of Control Secondary Characters

So the past few weeks I’ve had a time in hell with my current WIP. I’d been going so strong with this book, writing almost 40k in a little over a month. (And for me, that’s a crazy amount. I’m so not a prolific writer, no matter how badly I want to be one. LOL.) With the way I was knocking this story out, I believed I’d have the first draft done in less than six weeks. Yay!

Then I hit Chapter 8 and everything fell apart. I couldn’t figure out why the storyline was no longer working, why nothing no longer felt right, why I’d lost the drive to write. So I avoided the story. I did open it up over the last few weeks, only to stare at the pages, get frustrated because I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, and close it again.

Yesterday, I finally figured it out. You see, I have this secondary character named Brody in the story. He’s an extreme fighter, who really dominates my attention when he walks onto the page. The problem is he is also dominating the story. I had it in my head the issue was with my heroine or hero, so I focused on them. They weren’t the problem. Brody was, and then, of course, my hero’s reaction to Brody wasn’t ringing true because Brody was out of control.

I had to take the control back. I’m a pantser to the core. I believe in letting the characters do what they will and see where things lead. For the most part, this mind frame works for me, although, every once in awhile I do hit a snag. Like now.

I had to have a little talk with Brody about his behavior. He fought me at first, it’s just his nature, but he did finally relent after I promised him he would get his own story—just not this one. This is Tommy’s story and Brody needed to suck it up and let Tommy have center stage.

So after cutting almost 1500 words yesterday (I hate cutting words!) I feel like the story is back on the right track. I also woke up this morning ready to write. This makes me happy.

Have you ever had a secondary character try to control the story?


Temple Wood & Kilmartin Village

 Here are more sites on our tour of Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, Scotland. For the past two Tuesdays, I've shown other sites here, including Nether Largie South Cairn and Standing Stones and Carnasserie Castle.

Kilmartin Glen is chock-full of ancient historical sites and monuments, one of the richest areas in Scotland. It contains standing stone circles, rock carvings, henges, burial cairns and the ancient seat of the Dalriada Kings, the first kings of Scotland. And it is believed this was one of the busiest and most inhabited places during Neolithic times, 2000 – 3000 BC and earlier.

Temple Wood

Temple Wood consists of two beautiful small stone circles, among the oldest in Britain. This is the circle of thirteen standing stones, the southern circle. It may have contained twenty-two stones at one time. In the center, you will see a burial cist. This is the younger of the two circles, and is believed to have been constructed around 3000 BC based on the burials and pottery excavated.

Closeup of the cist in the center.
I didn't get a picture of the northern circle, but it is smaller and dates from about 3500 BC. It was in use for at least 2000 years. It was discovered that the builders had placed six wooden posts here so it could have been a timber circle. The radiocarbon date from charcoal on the site was 3075 BC +- 190.

Round river rocks fill both. It is said these circles have an Irish flavor. Experts believe one of the circles aligns with the mid-day sun on the winter solstice. The name Temple Wood was given to the site in the 1800s, when the trees were planted around it. This site is just south of Nether Largie South Cairn which I showed a photo of in my post two weeks ago.

View from Temple Wood over the Glen

The stone walls that surround Temple Wood.
Occupying the center of Kilmartin Glen, Kilmartin Village is only five miles north of the ancient fortress of Dunadd, the capital of the Scots Kingdom of Dalriada prior to the year 850. Dalriada covered most of what is modern day Argyll and even extended to the north-east corner of Ulster in Ireland.

Kilmartin Village is what most Scots would call a wee village. It is beautiful and peaceful, not many people about when we were there. It is situated 30 miles south of Oban.

Reconstructed Monk's Cell or beehive hut
Click on the photo above of a plaque on site to enlarge it and read about the Monk's Cell. This sits just in front of the museum and cafe. 

We visited the Kilmartin House Museum which is in the old Manse. We ate in the cafĂ© (above), probably the only time I’ve ever eaten parsnip soup. And I loved it! The cafe is said to be a refurbished old barn. This building also contains a shop with a large selection of books about Scotland and the local area.

Glebe Cairn is on the valley floor below Kilmartin Church and Kilmartin House Museum. I took this photo as we exited out the back side of the building. The cairn is the northernmost of the five cairns of the linear cemetery. It is 30 meters in diameter and 3 meters high. It was excavated in 1864 and two concentric circles of boulders and two cists were discovered. One cist contained a food vessel and jet necklace. The other contained a food vessel only. Both vessels are on display in the Kilmartain House Museum. A cist is a prehistoric tomb made of stone slabs or hollowed out rock or a box or chest containing sacred utensils. Later cultures would see these cairns as fairy-mounds or sidhe-mounds, houses of those from other-world.

Close up of Glebe Cairn

One of the ancient stone crosses in the museum.

The beautiful old stone walls here are covered in moss. This is the entrance to the museum and cafe.

Kilmartin Hotel, built in the 19th century.
I hope you enjoyed these views. Next time I'll share information about about Kilmartin Church and its medieval grave slabs.

My Hero

Happy Memorial Day!

Holiday weekends are always busy for me. This one seemed even more so. My future daughter-in-law's birthday was this weekend, so we took her and the son out for dinner Friday night. Hubby and I went down to camp Saturday, finally getting a chance to spend the night there for the first time this season. Sunday was a BBQ with friends. Now it's Monday already. Memorial Day.

Hubby, as a member of our local volunteer fire department, will be participating in a Memorial Day parade, driving one of the units through the streets. Now I consider the members of our emergency services to be heroes. They respond any time of the day or night, sometimes just to aid an eldery person who's fallen or to clean up after an auto accident. More often they're called to respond in life and death situations and they don't hesitate to leave their meal on the table or crawl out of a warm bed to help the members of our community.

And as well as being a member of our local fire department, my husband a Vietnam veteran.

This is a picture of my hubby sitting on a pile of sandbags outside his barracks at Ton Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon in 1968. He served two tours of duty in Southeast Asia, one each in Vietnam and Korea. I wouldn't meet him for another 7 years.

He came home to a country who didn't support their veterans as we do now. He settled down, raised a family, worked two jobs when he needed to, and joined the local volunteer fire department. Forty years later, the children are grown and he's recently retired, but he still volunteers with the fire department.

In the picture above, he's 2nd to the right, in the lightest colored jacket, fighting a house fire that was right down the road from where we lived.

Although he likes to tell anyone who'll listen that he's the inspiration for all my romance heroes, I have to say that it's no joke. He is my hero.

Have a great week.

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A night of passion has forever bound Jenna Morgan to a man she thought she would spend her future with. Instead, he dumped her with barely a word of explanation and left the state. Three years later, she’s a single mom struggling to provide for her son and young sister, and harassed by an obsessed stalker. 

After leaving home three years ago to run his aging grandfather’s ranch in Texas, Sam Strickland returns to Tennessee to discover a child he didn’t know existed. He thought he was saving Jenna’s future when he left home, and left her behind. He never dreamed he’d return to see a child with eyes the same shade as his own - and Jenna in serious trouble. 

Sam thinks his only dilemma is whether he can earn back the trust of the woman he loves and commit to the responsibility of fatherhood. But Jenna’s life is more complicated than he could have imagined and he finds himself involved in a dangerous situation that could threaten his new son’s life.

Amazon Reviews

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Showing off the Warrior Dash Pictures:)

As promised here are the pictures from The Warrior Dash that I participated in on Sunday. Guys, I seriously had some of the best fun I've had in a long time doing this. It was challenging, it was exhausting, but so well worth it. It took me an hour and twenty-six minutes to complete the course. Not the best time by any means, since there were some hardcore people who finished this thing in twenty-four minutes, lol. I still can't figure out how, but they did it.

I wished I had pictures to share from inside the actual course, but I don't. Once we got away from the crowd, it was just me and the obstacles. The first mile was all running then I hit the first obstacle. A balance beam. The first few were pretty easy, except for the single rope bridge I had to cross. That was a bit scary because it was higher in the air than I really care to be, but I made it across. Things really started to get hectic about a mile and half in when I came to the slug pit. It's really the only way I can describe it. Slug. Unfortunately, I'm short and it came to my shoulders. After that, I was wet and covered in goo the rest of the run. And the ground was saturated after that. Just a muddy, slippery mess. And it made the obstacles so much harder to complete because everything is caked in mud. Even as I'm describing this I'm smiling. Yeah, it was filthy, but the experience was so well worth it. I think everyone should try it once. As for me, this a new yearly tradition and I can't wait to do it again.

So the pictures.

This is me and my kids before the race:)

This is a very, very important button. Not only does it track my time, but gives me my free beer after I cross the finish line :)
Me getting pumped and ready for the race with my girls. The one in the pink is my sister and she did the race with me.

Viking Horns--the announcer is getting us pumped for the countdown. My friend took this picture and I love the sign hanging in front of us. Perfect!  

And now you get to see the aftermath as we come back into view after being gone for an hour and a half.

That's me jumping over the fire right before we enter the mud pit. As you can see my white shirt is already no longer white, lol.
Me on the far left, and yes, I'm smiling.
Me and the sis getting ready to cross the finish line together. I'm also trying not to fall here. Man, it was slippery. 
Proud as hell of myself. I earned that medal.
Me, my sis and my daughter's evil eyes. She's mad because she got mud on her from getting to close to me. LOL.
And I had to share this one because my daughter, who is very tall for her age, looks like a two year old next to the oversized helmet.
And finally us (including my son) posing in front of the mud covered sign. And yes, I did enjoy my free beer after this, LOL.
I'm sporting some nasty bruises and a few scrapes, but all in all I came through it all in one piece and I'm happy to report, that my back held up. Yes, I took my time, I was careful, and didn't let the competition go to my head. I stayed in the mind frame that I was there to have a unique experience and have stories to tell. And boy, do I have stories to tell :)

Thanks for letting me share. Esme

Carnasserie Castle, Kilmartin Glen

Today we continue our tour of Kilmartin Glen in Argyll, Scotland, with a visit to Carnasserie Castle. We walked across sheep pastures and up a hill to visit this castle, which is a couple of miles from Kilmartin Village. It is now owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.
Carnasserie Castle was built in 1565 by Bishop John Carswell who was the Rector of Kilmartin and Bishop of the Isles. He's best known for having published the first Gaelic translation of John Knox’s Liturgy.
Despite some of the design features, such as these double keyhole gunloops, it's evident the castle was not designed for defense but mainly as a home.
 View from the castle grounds of grazing sheep, trees and mountains in the distance.

Walled courtyard

A walled courtyard garden. An inscription on the archway reads: "SDC LHL 1681, for Sir Duncan Campbell, 4th Baronet and Lady Henrietta Lindsay, whose support for Argyll's uprising led to the castle's destruction."
View of the castle from the walled courtyard.
When Carswell died in 1572, the castle went to his patron, the Earl of Argyll. But Carswell’s son and grandson occupied the castle until 1643 when the 8th Earl of Argyll sold Carnasserie to Sir Dugald Campbell, 3rd Baronet of Auchinbreck. He had some changes and improvements made to the castle and gardens.
The cellar with a display of some broken architectural elements which fell from the castle. You also see the back side of the  double keyhole gunloop.

When the 9th Earl joined the failed Monmouth Rebellion against James VII in 1685, the castle was captured and destroyed by Royalist forces.

Click on the above picture to see a larger version. You can read about the design of the castle and Carswell.

The interior with newly constructed walkways which allow you to explore various parts of the castle

 We climbed the five-storey towers to the parapet walk and took in the great views over the Glen.
The exterior door.

A spiral stairwell typical of Scottish castles.

There used to be wooden floors separating these different levels.

I hope you've enjoyed this little visit to Carnasserie Castle. If you have visited it, please let me know. What is your favorite Scottish castle?

BDSM Backlist - Taste Of Honey

Continuing my monthly recap of my backlist titles that feature a taste of bondage, how about a TASTE OF HONEY? This story was the first I sold to Ellora's Cave, for their Caveman anthology, Season's of Seduction IV. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

It was released in December and this was the original cover. Later down the road, it lost its Santa hat. You can see the new cover here.


Cowboy Jake Manning is nursing a beer and a heart that's been stomped into a million pieces when classy Shauna Montgomery asks him to dance. Shauna had been planning a little revenge against the boyfriend who dumped her, but the steamy dance floor seduction leaves both her and Jake hot and hurting. They end up at Jake's place for a lesson in power, control and passion.


“How about a dance, cowboy?”

The come-on in that silky voice would tempt a saint, and God knew Jake Manning wasn’t hittin’ the Pearly Gates anytime soon. When the scent of expensive perfume drifted over the stink of beer, whiskey and stale smoke, his body stirred against his will. He’d ducked in here to nurse a draft and a heart that had been stomped into a million pieces. The last thing he needed was a sweet-smellin’ woman.

But he couldn’t stop from lifting his gaze off the condensation on his mug, and glancing over his shoulder. Sleek blonde hair. An even sleeker body molded by a tight fitting tank top and painted-on jeans. The damn high-heeled boots she wore probably cost more than he made in a month. He turned away and chugged his beer, hoping to rinse away the bitter taste of lessons learned the hard way.

The band slid from an upbeat twang to a slow drawl, bringing a few couples out onto the dance floor. Jake pushed away the image of that high-class body pressed up against his. He sure as hell didn’t need that.

She placed her hand on his shoulder and it sizzled like a branding iron. “Dance with me.” Her breath brushed his neck as she tempted him again.

He shifted on the barstool to glare at her. “Lady, why are you pickin’ on me?”

Her smoky gray eyes raked over him, starting with his beat up cowboy hat and heating him all the way down his faded Wranglers to his scuffed-up boots. Her slick red lips slowly spread into a smile. “You look like you’d be a good dancer.”

Dancer? Did she think he was some wet-behind-the-ears cowpoke? Jake shook his head. “Find some other sucker.”

“Come on,” she said in a voice as slow and sweet as the honey his mama liked to put in her tea. Her hand slid off his shoulder and stroked its way down his arm until she laced her fingers with his. “It’s just one dance.”

Aw hell. Jake pushed back his Stetson as he stepped off the barstool and then followed her onto the dance floor. He’d never been able to resist a taste of honey.


4 Days and Counting

This is so not writing related, but I'm super excited. A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about my friend that participated in the Spartan Race and how badly I wanted to try one similar. I'd made a comment that I planned to do the Warrior Dash in May, then didn't mention it again. Well, I did sign up. *nervous giggle*

On Sunday at 11:30 I'll start my 3.08 mile journey down a dirt path to obstacles I've never done before. Unlike the Spartan Race, I'm completely aware of what I'll face. The Warrior Dash consists of 11 obstacles, ranging from crawling over a net to climbing up a wall to wading in waist deep water to climb over logs. The one I'm most looking forward to is the one they call Muddy Mayhem. It's the very last obstacle where you have to crawl under barbwire in a mud pit.

I know this may seem like a weird one to look forward to, but I have my reasons. My kids will be there cheering me on. I can already hear my son's cackle as he watches mommy belly-crawl through the mud. I don't care how noisy it will be, I will hear that cackle and it will make everything I've done worth it. I love that sound. If I'm in another room and I hear it, I immediately smile. It's pure delight.

I also have personal reasons for wanting to do this race. Most of you know about my back issues and how bad it was for me about 18 months ago. It's been a very, very long road to recovery, one where I feared I'd never get myself back to where I once was. In truth, I never will. I've had to learn to accept that and the limitations of my life now.

Before, it was all or nothing. I was competitive. I wanted to come out on top. I wanted to prove I was the best in every class. When that was taken away from me, I had a hard time adjusting. In the last 2 months as I prepared for the race, I've grown as a person. I no longer get frustrated when the class is doing something I can't do. I simply do something I can.I have no issues now saying, "I can't physically do that, BUT I can do this."

It's a great place to be.

Will there be obstacles I might not be able to complete during the Warrior Dash? Maybe. If there are, it will take me out of the running for placement. And I'm okay with that. I don't need to place. I just need to finish, even if I'm the last one that crosses that finish line :)

I'll share pictures next week!

Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, Scotland

Kilmartin Glen in Argyll, Scotland has more than 800 important archeological sites in a 6 mile radius, 150 of them prehistoric. It is considered one of Scotland’s richest sites for prehistoric monuments. Some experts believe the area now known as Kilmartin may have been a very important center of activity to prehistoric peoples.

In addition to the fascinating historical monuments, I wanted to show you some views of the beautiful scenery. It is a very green with lots of farmland with mountains in the background.
one of the rain storms

The day we visited, the weather was mostly sunny but at times severe rain storms blew through. It was a good idea not to be too far from the car or some sort of shelter. One of these surprise rain storms happened when we were taking a short walk to visit Moine Mhor National Nature Reserve. Moine Mhor or ‘Great Moss’ has been here for more than 5000 years and once covered much of the glen but people drained it and claimed the land for farming. It is home to lots of wildlife. It has a boardwalk so you can walk out over the bog. It was sunny when we left the car in the parking area but by the time we reached the boardwalk, the sky grew dark and the rain started. We rushed back through the small stand of woods but were almost drenched by the time we reached the car. It was a fun time! LOL
a walk through the woods to Moine Mhor

Moine Mhor or 'Great Moss'

Nether Largie South Cairn was the first historic site we visited. It is the oldest of the cairns in the area. It is a Neolithic chambered tomb, called a ‘Clyde type’ of tomb. Many of these are found in Argyll. Apparently some people climb down into it. (Not me.) And I don’t know if the general public can climb down or only specific people. We didn’t know much about the area and missed seeing the North and Mid cairns.

Nether Largie South Cairn
I took the below photos of the information posted at Nether Largie South Cairn so you can read all about it.

Above is a map of the glen, showing Kilmartin Village at the top. Now you can see why we missed the first two cairns. They were on a separate little road which we must have assumed was a driveway or farm road. The area is filled with farms and a few houses here and there. There are very few signs for guidance.

Nether Largie Standing Stones contains 5 upright stones or pillars that form an X shape, two at each end and one in the middle.  Also in the middle is a small cairn. It is unknown what the site was used for. Some think it may have been a lunar observatory.

Much of Kilmartin Glen was covered in peat bog from the year 900 AD until the 1800s when it was drained, cleared of peat and used for farming. This is one reason so many of the prehistoric monuments were preserved. Unfortunately, some of the stones from the monuments and cairns were used (in the 1800s) for building other things like roads, walls and drains. Since the monuments were also exposed prior to the year 900 some of the stones may have been taken away before then.

I have so many interesting pictures, I’ll share more about Kilmartin Glen later.

To learn more about the history of Kilmartin Glen check out this article.

Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour!