Celebrate the 5oth Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing with a Sale on the Fantasy Romance ‘Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon’ by Dawn Marie Hamilton

Wow! July 20th, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Where did the time go?

The Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon’s surface at 4:17 p.m. EDT with, if I can believe what I read, less than thirty seconds of fuel remaining. The moon walk took place six hours later.

…one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.

-Neil Armstrong

I was at girl scout camp in Pennsylvania at the time. We hiked up the hill from the tent sites to the activity center where the counselors had set up a television and we watched the events unfold. ‘Twas exciting. When I returned home from camp, I learned my dad had named our new beagle puppy ‘Moon Shot Duke’. The thought still makes me smile.

I’ve held a special place in my heart for the ‘moon’ ever since.

What are your memories from when Apollo 11 landed on the moon’s surface?

Continue reading for an excerpt from Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon. And then, please share in the comments your memories from the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you were too young or not born at the time, share your thoughts on what you know of the event.

Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon

Full moon and cloudy sky
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Finn inhaled deeply. His lungs filled with fresh mountain air. For the first time in months, he was free of fawning women. Free of the awkward position they put him in.

Patrick’s sword sliced past his face, drawing him from his thoughts. Rain streamed over his bare chest, mixing with sweat. He needed to pay attention. If he weren’t more careful, he’d do a face-plant in the mud.

“You fight like a lass, MacIntyre,” Patrick taunted.

“Hilt is slippery.” Finn cursed under his breath and sought a better grip.

“You must learn to fight under every circumstance. That includes rain. Could save your miserable life someday.”

Grunting, Finn barely ducked the next assault.

Patrick pulled back. “Enough!” He dropped the point of his claymore to the ground and scowled. “’Tis obvious you are not paying attention.”

Trying to catch his breath, Finn gulped air. He glared at his cousin-in-law. “This is supposed to be just for fun.”

“Ach, then. You must try harder to have fun, lad.” Humor lit Patrick’s blue eyes, and he unloosed the leather strip holding back his long chestnut hair. Patrick MacLachlan was a primitive man; to him a workout with the large two-handed sword was child’s play. “At times I forget we live in a modern world.”

Finn shook his head. “You are my fiercest opponent.”

Patrick laughed and placed a hand on Finn’s wet shoulder. “Come. The bairns are at the inn for Rory’s Thursday morning story time. Let us go and warm ourselves by the fire and listen to the old Highlander tell his tales.”

Finn yanked on a soaked t-shirt and followed Patrick across the wet lawn.

About twenty-five eagerly waiting children sat on the plush carpet in the parlor of the Whispering Pines Inn while gossiping moms relaxed on overstuffed floral sofas. A few dads stood nearby, appearing disinterested. Finn knew better. Everyone loved hearing Rory’s stories.

The crackling fire brought much-needed warmth to the dreary mountain morning. Finn joined Patrick at the hearth, hoping his clothes would dry.

Conversation ended when Rory MacNaughton entered from the rear door, his carved walking stick at his side. The elderly gentleman wore dress slacks, a brown tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows, and a tam covering his white hair. He greeted individuals as he crossed the room and eased onto the tall stool at the center of the parlor. With an age-spotted hand, he motioned for his audience to move closer.

Alert eyes sparkling, Rory glanced at Finn and grinned. One of the men standing nearby snickered. Finn groaned, sure he knew the yarn the storyteller would regale them with.

Taking a deep breath, Rory began…

“The Sithichean, the faeries of the ancient Highlands, had a special affinity for moonstones. Enamored by the pale, lustrous, blue color resembling that of moonlight, they found the best of these unique stones on the shores of their sensuous faerie paradise Tir-nan-Óg—land o’ heart’s desire—having washed ashore on the tides when the sun god and moon maiden were in a particular heavenly harmony.”

Rory leaned forward. “Ye ken this miraculous occurrence happens only once in three, seven-year cycles of the moon…”

He held up an index finger. “Just once in a verra blue moon,” he whispered.

A hush fell across the parlor.

“Handfuls of these precious stones belonged to a beautiful flame-haired faerie with eyes the color and brightness of the most costly emeralds.”

“Caitrina?” a precocious little girl, with red curls and freckles sprinkled across her nose, whispered. Her blond-haired friend giggled, and Rory smiled at the pair.

“She bestowed upon the moonstones magical powers, gifting them to deserving mortals. Some of these charmed stones had the ability to reunite lost lovers. Others gave the bearer the gift of second sight. One especially large gemstone she forged into the hilt of a magnificent Highland claymore, and with a kiss enchanted it with extraordinary power.”

His eyes wide, a boy in front pointed at Finn.

Finn glanced down. He must be a sight, his soaked shirt clinging to his chest and his wet kilt slung low on his hips. He’d grown his hair long and now the knotty, wet strands hung around his shoulders in disarray. Beside him, his sheathed sword leaned against the stone of the fireplace, the large moonstone in its cross-section plain to see.

Rory chuckled, locking gazes with him. With tight lips, Finn shook his head  no. He didn’t want the kids to think his sword was the one of which Rory spoke.

“Over the ages, the sword brought many a worthy warrior fame and fortune. That was until the day an evil, dark power used it.” Rory’s voice rose and his pace quickened. “This could not be borne. With green eyes shooting flames of fire, the one who fashioned the splendid weapon cast it far away to vanish in the Sands of Time.”

The storyteller lowered his voice an octave and slowed his speech. “There are those who believe the lost sword of the fae has been found.”

Finn refused to listen to more of the man’s fantasy. He signaled to Patrick he was leaving.

Patrick followed him into the foyer. “Why the rush, lad?”

“My claymore doesn’t have supernatural powers. It’s just an antique sword.”

“Ach, well. Dinnae take offense. Rory means nae insult. He merely wishes for the bairns to believe in a wee bit of magic. Nae harm in that.”

 

Hope you have a magical day!

~Dawn Marie

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Things Heat Up In July

seabirdA recent trip to visit relatives in Florida opened my eyes to how different our world is from one place to the next. I love the sea and grew up within walking distance of our beach on the Long Island Sound in Bay Hills, NY. After college and marriage, we moved to rural Rumney, New Hampshire, with a big lake at one end of our road and a great river for swimming and canoeing down the other end.

When we moved into a house on a Belmont, NH pond that connected by a canal to Lake Winnisquam (New Hampshire’s 2nd largest lake) we enjoyed fishing off the dock, boating, and swimming at our homeowner association’s private sandy beach.

One day we decided to move closer to my family and headed to Raleigh, North cArolina. We are about three hours from the ocean and I miss it, but we try to find the time to head down to Daytona Beach where another relative has a pool and is about six miles from beautiful sandy beaches.

Daytona beachAfter a dip in the pool or the ocean (where, due to seeing a shark last time we visited, I kept to the shallows) we always bring bottles of water, beach chairs, sunscreen, and books!

Heaven-sent Highlander banner Reading a book is a great way to relax and reenergize, so check out all my titles and their buy links by heading HERE. Have a great summer!

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North Carolina Legends

I’ve been mining the old ghost stories of North Carolina for ideas (there are tons of them!) and ran across the Brown Mountain Lights. This one is personal for me, because growing up, my family had a cabin at Brown Mountain Beach and spent so many wonderful times there. Full disclosure – I was never able to see them but lots of others did.

Brown Mountain is a low ridge in Burke County and host to a real and long-lived mystery. When conditions are right, mysterious glowing orbs can be seen to rise up off the mountain, hover and wobble about fifteen feet up in the air, and then disappear. There’s no denying that the lights are real. They have been observed by countless witnesses and photographed on many occasions. But what they are has still never been identified.

The Brown Mountain Lights have been observed for centuries, and multiple legends have arisen around the phenomenon. The Cherokee were aware of the lights, and according to some accounts claimed that they were the souls of Cherokee women searching for their men who had died in a great battle between the Cherokee and the Catawba that took place on Brown Mountain. Another legend says that the lights are the ghostly echoes of lights that appeared during a search for a murdered woman in the 19th century.

As for the lights themselves, many different possible scientific explanations have been offered, from swamp gas to the reflections of automobile headlights from the valley below. But every explanation so far has been easily disproved. The lights have been observed since long before automobiles existed, so headlights don’t work, and the lights were even observed during the 1916 flood that shut down all automobile and railway traffic in the valley below. The swamp gas theory fizzles out by the complete absence of a swamp on Brown Mountain. The X-Files even did an episode on the phenomena (very unsatisfying for those of us who spent so much time on that mountain as kids).

Appalachian State finally caught them on video in January of this year and you can watch it here – Brown Mountain Lights

Whatever their cause, people still flock to see the Brown Mountain Lights, but spotting them is never guaranteed. Reportedly, your best chance to see the lights comes on a dry, clear night in October or November, after all the leaves are off the trees.

Love to have you check out some of my paranormals anytime and I’ll keep checking out those NC legends.

    

Happy Summer Solstice 2019

I love this time of year–more hours of sunlight means more time spent in the garden. Time to notice the little things. Like this tiny praying mantis on a daylily bloom.

Peach Daylily with Mantis

Time to spend sitting in the garden reading. Perhaps something from the Highland Gardens series…

 

Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon
Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon — Highland Gardens Book 2

* * *

Lively fiddle tunes greeted Finn as he parked his truck in the gravel lot near Laurie’s home and garden center. A portion of her garden and the crowd were visible through the iron gate. He was tempted to leave. He didn’t feel like making nice-nice with her business associates, but she’d never forgive him if he didn’t make an appearance.

The anniversary of opening her garden center meant a lot to her. He couldn’t hurt her feelings. And she just didn’t seem herself lately.

They had a falling-out several years ago when she handed him her resignation and moved to Anderson Creek. At the time, the thought of her in the country seemed ludicrous. But since she survived her adventure—at least physically—and married Patrick, damn if she hadn’t proved him wrong. Her garden center and gift shop, Foxgloves, had grown into a successful local enterprise.

He’d been a real jerk back then. So, yeah, he’d stay tonight. Laurie needed to know she could depend on him.

Finn got out of the pickup and entered the garden through the front gate. Geez. He hoped he could dodge Laurie’s two business partners, Jillian and Caitrina, for the rest of the evening.

His luck, Jillian was the first guest he saw. She leaned against the side of the tool shed, watching the musicians. Whenever they were thrown together, she tripped over herself to get his attention. Although it would make his cousin happy, he’d no desire to pursue a relationship with the mousy woman.

She had a kind heart and nice eyes yet the chemistry wasn’t there. No way could he picture her as the mother of his sons.

“Finn.” She waved her arms and lunged forward, knocking over a planted urn. The ceramic pot shattered on the stone patio, scattering shards and soil. She stared at him then bent to clean up the mess.

Shit, he should offer assistance. He struggled with his conscience. Good manners won, but before he moved, a couple of other guests jumped to her aid. Finn grasped the opportunity and strolled in the opposite direction.

He stumbled upon Caitrina almost hidden within the lush foliage near the rear gate. Their gazes met. An impish smile played on her lips.

The fine hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He wasn’t sure what it was about her. Beautiful, tall and willowy, she had intense green eyes. Her long auburn hair would set any man’s heart racing. In fact, his buddy Douglas was in love with her. Nevertheless, there was something unusual about her. Something out of the ordinary he couldn’t quite identify, which made him damn uncomfortable.

Caitrina always watched him, staring with her piercing emerald eyes, as if she knew something he didn’t.

She probably did. But still—

Annoyed he allowed her to unnerve him he tore his gaze away.

Before long, Jillian bore down on him.

He sidestepped a server with a tray of champagne flutes and strode to the sanctuary of the house, to the refrigerator for a cold beer, hoping she wouldn’t follow.

* * *

Caitrina stood amongst the rose-colored foxgloves, alone in the shadows near the garden’s rear gate. She smiled when Finn evaded Jillian’s clumsy attempt to attract his attention. As he disappeared into the house, Caitrina turned away to gaze at the silvery haze surrounding the full moon. The time neared, and she’d work to do.

She would set the match into action before the High Queen of the Fae learned the game had begun. Caitrina could almost taste victory. This round and one more—she’d earn her freedom and be returned to the royal realm.

She inhaled a deep breath and uncurled her fists.

From her peripheral vision, she glimpsed Douglas MacKinnon watching her. Didn’t he understand he no longer aroused her curiosity?

She pressed her palm against her chest. She must have ingested a stimulant with an unusual property capable of causing a faerie heart to beat too fast.

Douglas raised a dark eyebrow in question.

What a meddlesome man. Caitrina glanced heavenward, wishing he’d go away.

When she looked in his direction again, he gave her one of his devastating smiles, saluted, and walked off.

Oh, how she wanted to turn him into a horny toad. But she couldn’t waste time thinking about the beguiling man. She’d a challenge to win.

Taking note of the other guests, she made sure no one noticed as she shimmered, faded, dissolved into a fragrant fae mist.

Available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Apple.

 

What are your plans for the Summer Solstice?

Enjoy!

~Dawn Marie

Stormy Weather is Coming!

Storm WarningJune 1st was the official start of Hurricane season. I don’t know about you, but tornadoes don’t wait for a specific date and time! The storms and floods affecting the United States was devastating.

Preparation is key, so know where the safest place is where you can avoid any storm. A relative in Florida hides in the cupboard under the stairs (and always makes me think of poor Harry Potter!)

I grab my cat, laptop, medicines, radio, and wallet and spend time in our guest bath, which is surrounded by interior walls. The cat hates thunder, but I hate twisters more. However, heed all warnings! Blaze

If the power goes out, grab a good book and get comfy. Heaven-sent Highlander, the 2nd book in my Warriors in Bronze series with Soul Mate Publishing, is an ebook available from AMAZON.  The 1st book in the series, Heaven-sent Warrior, is available as an EBOOK or PRINT. Enjoy!

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European Spooky

A lot of traveling by our writers this month –

Spent the first part of May in Europe, vacation and research for the 4thbook in The Conall Clan series. I’ve never been on a vacation like that and we had an incredible time. Could have been a little warmer and drier but hey, it was glorious anyway. Wish we’d had more time in Budapest, where the story I’m writing is set, but we saw a lot.

The old world was a bit of a surprise with the mix of of their solar panels on 300+ year old houses, and wind turbines. I admit it delighted me. We ate at a 900 year old fast food place-literally!-They built it to feed the Romans who were building the stone bridge. Brauts on a roll.

     

I could see lots of inspiration for some spooky stories.

     

      

The “spookiest” story I’ve written is Before You, but now I’m going to have to rethink that…

An Author’s Visit to the 2019 EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival by Dawn Marie Hamilton

Tinker Magic 2017
From the 2017 festival and my favorite Disney character.

Fantasy and gardens are woven throughout my Highland Gardens romance series. Like many children from the US, my introduction to fantasy was by way of the imagination of Walt Disney and company. I love when a trip to Disney World in Orlando, FL includes time spent at the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival. The 2019 festival began on March 6th and will end on June 3rd.

 

 

This year, I visited Disney World with my family during the Easter holiday. We had an absolute blast.  My favorite part of the garden festival, besides the great food, is the topiaries. How about I share a few of the wonderful Disney couple character topiaries from this year’s festival…

Mickey and his love 2019

 

Beauty and the Beast 2019

Lady and the Tramp 2019

 

~Dawn Marie