Happy Discoverer’s Day. How do you celebrate? I like to think of all the people who have gone before and those who will go boldly forward in the future.
The idea of visiting other places or planets is exciting. What will we find? A new species? How do they govern themselves? What kind of communities will they share? How do they procreate? Do they feel emotions? Have eyes and ears or are they telepathic?
As an author, I have the ability to answer some of these questions while writing my books. I am currently working on Aqua Magic, where my hero and heroine encounter an underwater world.
It was fun to decide how they govern themselves, what their cities look like and how their communities work.
I know it’s not the same as going boldly into the unknown, but I can get a sense of what that might be like as I build my literary new world. What do you think is the most important discovery in writing a story in a new world? Leave your ideas in the comment section below.
Thank you. I hope you have a great Discoverer’s Day!
Book Four of the Witch Guardian Romance Series
Brenna Ross is trapped in her own mind. Possessed by a Marwolaeth, that is slowly killing her, it used her to murder those she loves. As hard as she struggles to regain control of her body, she can’t break free. Still she will fight, desperately trying to tell her sister she’s sorry.
Marcus Ondine knew the minute the little witch and her older sister walked into his pub, The Blue Dolphin, that she was “the one” — what the magical folk call his “Destined One.” Now he’s returned to Earth to find her possessed by the Marwolaeth. Only by taking her to his home world of Aquarius can he save her from death, but what will happen when she wakes and finds herself in an underwater world?
‘Tis said a picture tells a story. In this picture, I see a portal to a fantasy realm. Perhaps a tale for a future book.
Portals in books can take a reader to a parallel universe, another time, or another realm.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, the wardrobe is a portal to another realm. With the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon uses the standing stones as a portal to the past. In my Highland Gardens series, the characters travel through an enchanted garden gate and a faerie mound to Scotland past. In Sea Panther, a wormhole in the Bermuda Triangle whisks the characters to Jamaica past.
What are some other memorable portals from books and movies?
An Excerpt from Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton
Without warning, the breeze quit. Completely stilled. Kimberly jumped into action, tending the sail while Robert engaged the engine. He shot her a strange unnerving glance as he shrugged into a black linen shirt.
She swallowed apprehensively and moved to stand beside him. “What is it?”
“The compass is going haywire. Spinning wildly.” His tone of voice revealed growing excitement.
Kimberly chewed on the edge of her lip, taut with anticipation. They’d been waiting for something to happen, though she hadn’t really believed the stories. The contents of her stomach shimmied. Was she ready to confront the unknown?
A cool mist advanced, quickly developing into dense fog, which expanded into an enormous semicircle not five hundred yards off deck.
“The RPM’s are dropping,” Robert reported.
The boat slowed to a near idle. Kimberly’s stomach lurched. She glanced at her watch. The second hand had stopped moving. She tapped on the crystal. Nothing.
She reached for Robert’s hand. “It’ll be okay,” she said, lacking true confidence.
Robert squeezed her fingers. “That’s my brave lass.”
The eerie fog swirled, encircling the sailboat yet kept a distance of about three hundred yards. Kimberly glimpsed the clear sky in the center—bright blue with no clouds. It was as if they were caught in the eye of a mellow storm.
Without warning, a large mass burst through the edge of the milky fog to hover about thirty feet above the surface of the water off their port side, throwing a huge shadow. The air smelled different. Like after a thunderstorm.
“What the hell is that?” Kimberly whispered.
“I dinnae ken.” Robert wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her tight to his side.
The elliptical shaped thing began to vibrate. She held her breath. A soft whirring broke the unnatural quiet. Lights on the bottom of the object flashed, alternating between red, green, blue, and white.
Off the sailboat’s bow, a hole opened in the fog, exposing a tunnel of sorts with swirling mist walls. Before Kimberly could blink, the floating object entered the opening and vanished. Just as quick, the tunnel entrance closed.
“Wow. Was that real?” Kimberly asked.
“I am not certain, but I read an eyewitness report within Patrice’s notes describing a similar sighting.”
“Do you think it was a UFO?”
“I hope not. If it was, then this isn’t a time portal.” Robert gave her arm a squeeze.
“It could still be. If the portal could take us back in time, why couldn’t it also bring someone, or in this case, an object from the future to our time?”
“Get rid of anything from the present time.”
As she checked her pockets to ensure she hadn’t accidentally picked up something that didn’t belong in the past, the amount of blue sky overhead shrank to nothing more than a small circle over the cockpit. Then the milky haze overtook even that tiny bright spot.
A fine mist moistened her face, and she tasted salt on her lips. The fog rolled across the deck, thickening and becoming darker and heavier as strands of vapor swirled around equipment and through openings. Visibility declined to mere inches.
Kimberly felt as if chilly fingers reached for her from within the ominous fog. She grabbed Robert’s hand. “Please don’t let go of me. I’m frightened.”
“I will keep you safe.” He wrapped muscular arms around her and pulled her back against his broad chest. “Remember to talk in the lad’s voice you practiced and if we get separated, tell anyone who finds you that you are my nephew, Ian, my cabin lad.”
Abruptly, she heard whispering within the fog.
“Ahoy there. Is anyone aboard?” The disembodied voice made her shiver.
Kimberly pressed tighter against Robert and the heat of his body. “Did you hear that?”
“Aye,” he said, voice muffled against her damp hair.
Within the fog, someone whistled a jig-like tune. The haze dissipated slightly. Three men dressed in old-fashion aviator gear stood off the bow of the sailboat as if they walked on water. One saluted, and then they all vanished into the vaporous mist.
“Oh. My. God.” Gooseflesh prickled the length of Kimberly’s arms. She leaned into Robert’s strength. “You did see that, didn’t you? I read about flight crews being lost in the forties.”
“I saw.” He gave a gentle squeeze. “I am certain we will see more unusual sights before our adventure is complete. Are you still willing?”
Kimberly took a deep, settling breath. She wasn’t letting him go alone. “Yeah.”
“Good lass.” He brought her down with him, and they settled on a cockpit bench.
The temperature dropped. Her blouse became soaked from the moist air and the cold seeped into her bones. Her teeth started to chatter.
“You’re freezing.” Robert opened the storage lazarette beside them, drew out an oiled canvas jacket, and helped her into the sleeves. When she was snug within the fabric, they resumed position with Robert hugging her from behind.
“Have I told you recently how much I respect you?” Love glowed in Robert’s tone. “How brave I think you are?”
“Thanks for the reminder.”
He kissed the top of her head, brushing lips across her hair. His arms wrapped her within comforting warmth. She sighed with contentment and burrowed closer.
Secure within Robert’s arms, Kimberly dozed until he stiffened. She flipped her eyes open. Not five feet off the starboard side of Night Thrill floated an intricately carved, wooden sailing vessel. The entire ship lay swathed in long strands of clinging seaweed, even the three rows of unmanned oars.
“What is that?”
“A Corinthian trireme…I think.” The boat rammed the side of Night Thrill, tossing them onto the deck. Robert clambered up only to lose balance as the two boats bumped again. He finally got his feet under him and stood. “Dinnae move.”
“Don’t leave me. I—”
The fog twirled, spinning fast, picking water up from the sea, tossing Night Thrill on its side. Long tendrils of kelp wrapped around Kimberly and tugged her away from Robert as seawater rushed across the deck. She reached for his hand, but their fingers slid apart as they both toppled overboard. A strong force dragged at her body, pulling her downward through a spiraling tunnel comprised of the oppressive haze.
She choked on the scream of terror caught in her throat as the world spun.
Time is almost running out. For only a short time longer, Sea Panther is part of a four author collection…
Get your copy before the set is withdrawn. Available at Amazon.
If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read this post–yet!
After having just watched the movie Arrival, I am marveling at the story telling. It was mind-blowing, but not in what we were told, not in what we were shown, but in what we weren’t told; what wasn’t shown. In the negative space of the story.
We were given all the facts. Aliens come to our world. A linguist works on figuring out their language. As she does so she has flashes of scenes of her and her daughter. The trick that the screen writers played on us was showing us the first scene in the movie out of context, and then slipping to the beginning of the movie. We assume that the story is linear (since most of the time that assumption would be correct) and therefore that the prologue happened before the start of the movie. It is only at the end of the movie that we realize that it was the end, the future that we were show, and that the scenes the heroine envisions are not flashbacks, but flash-forwards.
The most wonderful thing about the movie, and about any good book, is that it didn’t end when the screen went to the credits. The movie continued in our minds—indeed, we couldn’t stop thinking about it, deconstructing it, discussing it. That is a great story!
I’ve recently been working through Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius. She posits that great story comes from the journey, the change and the growth of the protagonist. But Arrival has taught me that a great story is not the one that the author writes on the page, but in the dots that the reader puts together themselves.
Give the reader enough information—in the form of scenes—and allow them to connect it into a cohesive story. What the reader will put together will be so much more meaningful, more powerful, than anything the author could have written.
Yes, as I’ve written before, writers can change the minds of their readers by emotionally involving the reader in a story, but it is so much more powerful and life-altering is it when the reader comes up with the meaning themselves. It’s doing, not watching that allows us to learn. It’s figuring out the meaning, not someone telling it to us that gives it power and significance. It’s the negative space, what is not told or shown, where the strength in good story telling lies.
Have you seen Arrival? What did you think? Have you read any books that had negative story telling in that way? What did you think?
It’s time to start a new story. So many possibilities.
So what am I working on?
Two stories for the Highland Gardens time travel romance series are in the works. One a full-length novel. Just His Fae Kiss will be Caitrina and Douglas’s story. And the other a novella. Just Within a Highland Mist is Emily and Gregor’s story.
We met Emily near the end of the first book of the series, Just Beyond the Garden Gate. She was working at the Whispering Pines Inn as a hostess and her boyfriend tended bar in the lounge. Well, since then, they became engaged. Unfortunately, her fiancé was murdered.
Gregor is a new character to the series. He fostered at Castle Lachlan in his youth and has returned.
Here is the working blurb. It is unedited and could change before the tale is complete.
Just Within a Highland Mist:
Gregor MacLachlan returns to Castle Lachlan where he fostered as a green lad, ignoring rumors of fae activity. As a warrior with his cousin’s elite private guard, he hopes to prove to the clan he’s matured and has worth. A trio of pesky pixies have other plans for his heart. While hunting, a wayward shot from his bow nearly hits a strange lass who appears as if by magic.
Emily Smith follows one of the lads within her care onto a forbidden mound and wakes in a strange bed, in a place and time not her own. Can she release guilt over the tragic murder of her fiancé and find love in the arms of the dark-eyed stranger who becomes her champion?
I’m working on the cover and hope to share it soon.
Since June is synonymous with weddings, I thought it would be fun to share an excerpt from Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first book in the Highland Gardens time travel romance series, where a wedding goes horribly wrong thanks to a meddling clan brownie.
* * *
The gilded chapel glowed with candlelight. Laurie’s gaze circled the small interior, filled with her new friends.
With a twinge of regret, she thought of her family. She would never take the long walk down the aisle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Uncle David’s arm. Nor would she see the expected smirk on her Cousin Finn’s face as she passed him on her way to meet her intended at the altar. She wholeheartedly wished they both could be here with her now, to share her happiness.
Lost in thought, she startled when the chapel quieted.
Laurie raised her gaze to Patrick, forgetting all else. Only him, the man of her dreams. The man she desired for her own, the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
Even if it meant staying in the past.
Her heart swelled and she smiled at him with love.
Patrick strode past those gathered, eyes only for her. His heated gaze scorched her. Her nipples puckered in response. Oh, how she wanted this man.
He came to stand before her. Their eyes locked in communion. Time and space no longer existed, they were alone, two souls united.
The old priest cleared his throat, breaking the spell. Directing them to stand together in front of him, he joined their hands and bade them kneel. He motioned for Elspeth and Archibald to step forward, for they were to witness this union before God and their clansmen.
Patrick squeezed Laurie’s fingers. The mass and ceremony buzzed by in a blur. She hardly remembered saying her vows.
Laurie accepted Patrick’s assistance to stand. With his hands on her shoulders, he twisted her to face him. He placed his fingers on her cheeks and lowered his head. His eyes smoldered.
His lips were warm and persistent. The kiss shot to her toes.
Everyone cheered, and her cheeks burned.
Patrick stepped back. “Wife.”
She stifled a giggle. “Husband.”
They left the chapel and crossed the passageway to the council chamber where they would celebrate their union with a wedding feast. Patrick’s warriors, some with their wives, and some with their sons and daughters filled the chamber when they arrived.
The cheer echoed from the rafters.
Laurie toyed with the large sapphire ring on her finger, the beautiful token of Patrick’s love. This was the happiest day of her life. Yet it was as if she walked within a dream.
Could this be real?
She sighted Patrick across the chamber, standing with some of his men. Jamie slapped his back with some jest and they laughed. Catching her eye, Patrick raised his cup to her, and she smiled.
The crowd moved in waves and she lost sight of him.
Her stomach clenched when Munn, the clan brownie, approached. He made odd sounds as if he couldn’t form words and handed her a beautiful bejeweled goblet.
Elspeth joined them. “He presents you with an offering of peace.”
The little man made a choking sound, but vigorously nodded.
“Thank you.” Laurie accepted his token and sipped the sweet wine. The ruby drink tasted delicious, fruity flavor burst on her tongue. More wonderful than any wine she’d ever tasted before.
Strolling around the hall, she accepted the best wishes from Patrick’s clansmen. She sipped from her goblet. The cup never emptied. Each taste was more luscious than the last.
She danced with Patrick, ate from the savory assortment of foods, and drank from the goblet given to her by Munn.
Later, she whirled around the floor with Stephen. When they danced past the trestle table where her goblet sat, she stopped to take more of the sweet wine. Delicious.
Laurie enjoyed the minstrels and more dancing. She moved to the side of the hall to rest her aching toes and sipped from the goblet. Whew. She blew out a puff of air. A feverish heat flushed her chest and neck, making her desperate for Patrick’s embrace. She wanted to consummate her marriage. She’d been waiting forever and didn’t want to wait any longer.
Taking another sip of wine, she spied him at the edge of the hall. She rushed across the oak flooring toward him. Everyone else faded away. She giggled as she stumbled into him. He caught her by the arms. He was so sexy, and tonight, finally, all of that glorious man would be hers. She wrapped her arms around him and breathed in his earthy scent.
He smelled different. Felt different. His eyes were different.
It gave her pause, but only for a moment. They were married now.
Everything was different.
She leaned into him. When she hit his hard chest with her sensitized breasts, she pressed even tighter to him. She kissed his neck, slid her tongue along his jaw.
“Lass, what are you about?” He chuckled, the sound rough against her throat.
Why was he trying to push her away?
Laurie wouldn’t allow it. She wrapped one leg around his hip, laced her fingers in his hair and shimmied up his body. Without losing her stride, she sucked his bottom lip into her mouth.
He let out a tormented groan.
* * *
When Patrick caught sight of Laurie on the other side of the hall, an intense, hot fury boiled within him. Her arms draped his brother’s neck and she smiled adoringly at Archibald as if he were her one true love. Couldn’t she tell them apart?
Did she prefer Archibald?
A red haze clouded Patrick’s eyes and angry words choked his throat. He strode across the chamber, his steps long and sure. Somehow, he managed to gain some control, forcing himself to swallow his rage before he made a public display of his disgust.
Archibald wrestled with her. She was an unruly vine, clinging to him.
“Archie, take my lady-wife to our bedchamber. I will follow,” Patrick ordered through clenched teeth.
His brother had the audacity to chuckle. He practically manhandled Laurie to move her. He lifted her through the doorway and up the stairs before anyone noticed. She attached herself to Archibald, wrapping her legs and arms around his body, kissing him with sloppy, wet kisses. He struggled with her. Finally, managing to get her to the bedchamber and off him, he dropped her onto the big bed.
“I am not Patrick. He is over there.” Archibald pointed to where Patrick watched the scene from the threshold, fury smoldering inside his chest.
“You’re mine.” She jumped up, reaching for Archibald once more.
Moving quickly, Patrick lunged across the chamber and grabbed her around the waist, pulled her away from his brother and dumped her back on the bed.
She laughed and swayed as she tried once again to rise. “Wow. Everything is spinning. Hey, there are two of you.” She giggled and fell back against the mattress like a heavy boulder.
“I never thought the day would come when you would covet my bride.” Patrick glowered at his twin.
Archibald raised his hands, palms forward. “I stand before you, falsely accused. Your lady-wife is in her cups. She is not herself.”
“How did she get that way? I saw her take but one goblet of wine. Nary enough to confuse us. She is a trifler, playing with us.” Patrick continued to glare at his twin, his disappointment and anger consuming him. “’Tis too late. I have wed the wench. I will have to teach her I am her only master.”
“You make too much of this. She is but drunk.”
“Leave. Before I forget you are my brother.”
Archibald pivoted on his heel and left the chamber without uttering another word. Patrick stared at his new wife in disgust. She sprawled across the bed, insensible, as intoxicated as a drunken warrior. Since he first found the lass, she’d been naught but trouble. Not in his thirty summers had he ever been this angry.
He reached for her and as if he held a rag doll, shook her. She didn’t stir. Cursing harshly, he dropped her onto the feather mattress.
If she loved him, she should be able to tell them apart.
* * *
Now would be a great time to read Just Beyond the Garden Gate and the other books in the Highland Gardens time travel romance series with the next book, Just Wait For Me scheduled for release on August 10th.
Coming August 10, 2016
The third match in the Fae Queen’s challenge is in play. Will fae magic change Stephen and Jillian’s destiny?
In the chaotic aftermath of the battle of Flodden, an injured Highland warrior makes a vow to a twenty-first century lass cast back in time by a meddling, matchmaking faerie. Stephen MacEwen promises to find a way to send her forward to her own time. But is that an oath he’ll want to keep after finding love in Jillian O’Donnell’s arms? And after saving Stephen’s life, will Jillian want to go?
No matter what the lover’s decide, Stephen’s wife—a woman who acquired the title through deceit—and an old enemy attempt to destroy the couple’s chance for happiness. Only with the help of Fae allies can Stephen and Jillian overcome and earn their reward—everlasting love.
In Celtic symbology, the labyrinth, or maze, represents pathway(s) leading to the center of one’s spirit. ‘Tis said one should release burdens on the way to the center of the maze then accept what is needed most on the way out . For Twelvetide, I used a holly maze to unite the heroine, Ashley, with her destined mate, Caelan, her other half, and thusly combine their spirits. Or at least, that is what I hope the book’s readers take away from the symbology.
The holly maze in Twelvetide was modeled after the maze depicted in this sixties vintage postcard featuring the holly maze at the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg on sale at Cardcow.com. I imagined the Twelvetide holly maze as more expansive and with only one tree, an ancient oak, at its center. The spot where Caelan awaits Ashley, first when she was seven and later, more importantly, when she was a grown woman.
Unfortunately, it is my understanding the maze at Williamsburg is now privet and shorter.
An excerpt from Twelvetide:
Ashley raced across the car park. The flame in the lantern flickered, its beam of light dancing crazily over the snow-covered, icy gravel. Slipping, she teetered, but regained balance. Hurry. She hadn’t come this far only to be too late. She slid to a stop at the gate and fumbled with the key. Dammit, her hands shook. Hurry. Hurry. She inserted the key and twisted. Crap. It didn’t fit quite right. With firm jiggling, she forced the key into position. The locking mechanism finally clicked. With a relieved sigh, she pushed the grille open and stepped within the ancient garden.
The maze wasn’t there. Was she too early or too late?
Precipitation no longer fell and the storm clouds slid away on a south-easterly wind. A bright half-moon cast silvery illumination over the landscape, diminishing the need for the lantern. She strolled toward the dolphin fountain. A dazzling light flashed in the sky, blinding her for a moment. When Ashley’s vision cleared, everything had changed.
The garden was as she remembered.
Bright sunbeams shimmered down from a cloudless cerulean sky. A warm breeze carried the mingled scents of roses and honeysuckle. Ashley parked the lantern on the edge of the fountain and dropped her wool coat to the ground as she had as a child. Pulse racing, she walk-ran over the stepping stone path to the holly maze.
With the key clutched in a firm grip, she hesitated at the entrance, swallowed hard, and entered the winding twists and turns. On her last visit, she’d had the blond-headed boy to follow through the maze. Where was he now? Would Cael be at the oak tree, if and when she found it?
Close your eyes and trust in your heart.
“Who said that?” The androgynous voice sounded corporeal, but no one was there. Was it a ghostly voice? Was Cael haunting the maze, trying to spook her with a disguised voice?
Why would he do that? He’d made her promise to return to him.
Believe in the magic and find your heart’s desire.
Ashley shivered, spooked by the voice in her head. Get a grip, Ashley. You’ve been waiting to return to the garden for what felt like a lifetime. She inhaled a deep breath and closed her eyes. Ignoring mounting anxiety, she groped with her hands like a child playing blind man’s bluff, and walked straight into a prickly holly hedge.
“Ouch!” She popped her eyes open and stuck a stinging finger into her mouth.
Damn. This wasn’t working and time was wasting away. She didn’t know how long she’d have with Cael before the magic expired. She shoved the key into a jeans pocket and took the first right. Hung a left. Another left. Turned right and hit a dead end. Grrr!
“Cael, where are you?” she shouted.
No response. With fisted hands, she retraced her steps then went right again. Left. Left. Left. Ending at a T-juncture. Ashley jammed her hands in her pants pockets and blew out a puff of air. Should she go right or left?
“Please, Cael, help me find you.”
Close your eyes. Believe in the magic.
That strange voice again. She swallowed uneasily, wary of such potent magic. Well, she’d just need to get over her apprehensions if she wanted to find Cael. And she did want to find him.
Okay. She closed her eyes, waiting, listening to silence.
Hmmmm. A faint humming. Should she? Slowly. One step at a time. Twisting and turning. She followed the hum through the maze. Astonishingly, she managed not to walk into the shrubbery walls. After taking a countless number of turns, the droning sound rose in pitch no longer mellifluous. She popped her eyes wide. The irritating noise instantly died.
In the center of the square clearing, the large oak tree stood proud as she remembered.
Her heart plummeted. He wasn’t there. Cael wasn’t there. Her shoulders drooped. Moisture pricked the back of her eyes.
Cael stepped from behind the tree, sporting a sexy grin. Damn, the man, the real man, was hotter than her dreams.
Ashley’s insides turned to mush. She ran toward him and stopped just short.
Twelvetide is available at Amazon in the Enchanted Highlands collection from authors April Holthaus, Victoria Zak, and Dawn Marie Hamilton.
In 2015, the Winter Solstice takes place on December 21st at 11:48 P.M. EST—the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year.
To many, the Twelve Days of Christmas fall between Christmas and the Epiphany. To others the festival of Yule begins on the eve of the Winter Solstice and continues for twelve nights ending on Twelfth Night—New Year’s Eve.
“During this time of Yule, we honor the beginning of the sun’s return and the breaking of winter. Let the evening’s feasting begin.”
~Lachlan Og, Chief of Clan MacLachlan
Excerpted from Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic,
an Enchanted Highlands novella by Dawn Marie Hamilton
Twlevetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic, one of three novellas in the Enchanted Highlands collection, begins on the eve of the Winter Solstice with the dark moment climaxing just prior to Twelfth Night. Twlevetide—the twelve nights of Yule.
A variety of celebratory diversions were enjoyed by the well-to-do during Yule, and perhaps shared with their people or clan: feasting, storytelling, masking, music, and dance, along with other revelry,
‘Twas also considered a time when supernatural forces roamed freely—when the spirits of the dead returned to earth.
“Every year on the winter solstice the veil between realms thins and then tears and as Twelvetide progresses the breach between the earth and the otherworld allows all manner of supernatural creatures, including the spirits of the dead, like me, to travel through and roam the earth.”
“Aye. During the twelve days, the fiercest of spirits—men, horses, hellhounds—follow their leader on wild hunts, riding the stormy night skies, causing havoc and mayhem.”
Excerpted from Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic,
an Enchanted Highlands novella by Dawn Marie Hamilton
Enchanted Highlands is available at Amazon for 99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited.