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

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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

 

Happy Spring! Happy Spring Equinox!

daffodils 2019

Happy first day of spring! I love this time of year. Bulbs blindly planted during the autumn are emerging from the soil, providing bright smiles. Day length–amount of sunlight–is increasing. And the weather is warming. Oh, happy days!

Spring begins in the northern hemisphere this afternoon with the vernal equinox at 5:58 PM EDT. The length of day and night will be nearly equal. And guess what else? A full moon will brighten our skies at 9:43 PM EDT. This will be the third and final supermoon of 2019. How special is that? Very! According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the last time a full moon closely coincided with the spring equinox was in March 2000. The last time they happened on the same date was on March 20, 1981.

I’m sure hundreds will swarm Stonehenge to celebrate the equinox.

What do you plan to do on this first day of Spring?

Since there will be a full moon tonight perhaps a vampire / shapeshifter story is in order. Have you read Sea Panther yet?

Sea Panther
e-Book available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple.

Can love mend a fractured soul?

After evading arrest for Jacobite activities, Scottish nobleman Robert MacLachlan turns privateer. A Caribbean Voodoo priestess curses him to an eternal existence as a vampire shifter torn between the dual natures of a Florida panther and an immortal blood-thirsting man. For centuries, he seeks to reverse the black magic whilst maintaining his honor. Cruising the twenty-first century Atlantic, he becomes shorthanded to sail his 90-foot yacht, Sea Panther. The last thing he wants is a female crew member and the call of her blood.

Although she swore never to sail again after her father died in a sailing accident, Kimberly Scot answers the captain’s crew wanted ad to escape a hit man. She’s lost everything, her fiancé, her job, and most of her money, along with money belonging to her ex-clients. A taste of Kimberly’s blood convinces Robert she is the one woman who can claim the panther’s heart. To break the curse, they travel back in time to where it all began—Jamaica 1715.

 

For more information about the full moon on the spring equinox check out this Farmer’s Almanac article by Bob Berman.

~Dawn Marie

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

romantic read

During my dating years, I dreaded Valentine’s day. When the day arrived, I’d smile bravely at the gals who received flowers at the office from their significant others. More often than not, I didn’t have a guy in my life because I worked too much. Or the guy in my life wasn’t into sending flowers.

My way of enjoying Valentine’s day was with a romantic book.

Now that I’m married to my hero, I don’t worry about receiving flowers on a specific holiday. We celebrate our love every day of the year. But I still enjoy a romantic read on Valentine’s Day.

This year I’m reading A Royal Christmas: Featuring Waiting for a Duke Like You and A Prince in Her Stocking by Shana Galen.

What are you reading?

If you haven’t decided on something yet consider a book from the Highland Gardens series and travel to the Scottish Highlands—a place where faeries and brownies and other fae creatures dance through time. And on occasion, so do mere mortals.

HG-Series-Teaser no text 1000

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

~Dawn Marie

Supernatural Birds from Dawn Marie Hamilton

After singing its heart out, a wren joins the cardinals, titmice, and chickadees at the feeders. Juncos (also known as snowbirds) swoop in from the mountains and mingle with sparrows and doves foraging within the garden beds. Herons wade in the creek.

Birds–symbols of power and freedom–have often been featured in the mythology and folklore of many countries. From prominent figures in creation stories to messengers of the deities to mediators between humans and the supernatural world, birds represent, strength, love, and wisdom.

Perhaps that is why so many of us enjoy watching birds. Birds have uncanny smarts. If you’re lucky, you can observe supernatural bird behaviors in your backyard.

Many birds build elaborate nests without ever getting lessons. They just know how to do it through instinct.

hummer

Some birds are born knowing how to navigate by instinct. Hummingbirds hatch during the summer in North America then fly solo a thousand miles or more to their wintering habitat in the tropics, without the guidance of a parent or a flock. In the spring, a hummingbird may return to the place where it began its journey, using its amazing memory. Perhaps you might see one in your backyard hovering around the spot where your sugar feeder previously hung, even though you haven’t put the feeder out as of yet. I’ve seen this occur in my backyard. When I do, I rush to get the cleaned feeder hung. I want to keep the hummers coming to my backyard.

raven2

 

 

Members of the crow family–jays, ravens, magpies, etc.–have incredible memories. They excel at hiding things and then finding them.

 

 

green heron

 

 

Green herons dine on small fish. They’ve been seen dropping pieces of bread or other bait to lure fish to the surface. Amazing. Right?

 

 

 

I enjoy writing birds into my romance stories…

From Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon, Book 2 in the Highland Gardens series:

She marched across the ridge, her hair blowing in the wind. A loud, rapid kek kek kek kek kek sounded before the whish of wings and the large bird landed on her outstretched arm.

“Trystan, you’ve returned to our mountain. I’m glad to see you, my friend.”

The peregrine falcon murmured close to Caitrina’s ear.

“Ah, you want to feel the sun on your face again. Aye, I imagine the northern tundra was verra cold.”

 

Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon

What happens when a twenty-first century business executive is expected to fulfill a prophecy given at the birth of a sixteenth-century seer? Of course, he must raise his sword in her defense.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

 

~Dawn Marie

The Wren, the Wren, the King of all Birds by Dawn Marie Hamilton

It’s that time of year again. I so love the Christmas season. One of my favorite things is the Christmas music. We have a large collection that we start listening to the day after Thanksgiving.

Again this year, while listening to The Chieftains’ The Bells of Dublin and the Wren in the Furze song, I wondered aloud how the wren became the king of all birds. My husband jumped on it and did an internet search. He found a site, The Little Brown Wren, which explains via folklore. It seems the world of birds decided they wanted to have a king same as the humans. But how should they choose who among them should be king. They decided to hold a contest…whichever bird could fly the highest would be the king of the birds. On the day the contest was held, the eagle climbed ever higher into the sky. After the other birds gave up and fell to the ground, he smugly began his decent, believing he was the king of the birds. But above him, a wee wren fluttered her wings and sang a beautiful song. Having hidden within his feathers, she’d ridden into the sky on his back and became king through cleverness.

There is more to the story. Check it out at The Little Brown Wren.

There is a tradition in Ireland to ‘hunt the wren’ on the feast of Saint Stephen, which is celebrated on December 26th. On Wren Day, the wee bird is secured to a decorated staff and paraded through the village with music and dancing and much celebration. Fortunately, in our modern times a fake bird is used.

I’ll think of this tale every time I watch the wren in our backyard flutter from the shrubs near the house to the suet feeder.  Or when it sings its beautiful song mid-winter.

wren cutout

The Chieftains, The Bells of Dublin (1991)
Wren in the Furze

The wren, oh the wren; he’s the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day he got caught in the furze,
So it’s up with the kettle and it’s down with the pan,
Won’t you give us a penny for to bury the wren?

Well it’s Christmas time; that’s why we’re here,
Please be good enough to give us an ear,
For we’ll sing and we’ll dance if youse give us a chance,
And we won’t be comin’ back for another whole year!

We’ll play Kerry polkas; they’re real hot stuff,
We’ll play the Mason’s Apron and the Pinch of Snuff,
Jon Maroney’s jig and the Donegal reel,
Music made to put a spring in your heel!

If there’s a drink in the house, would it make itself known,
Before I sing a song called “The Banks of the Lowne”,
A drink with lubri-mication in it,
For me poor dry throat and I’ll sing like a linnet!

Oh please give us something for the little bird’s wake,
A big lump of pudding or some Christmas cake,
A fist full o’ goose and a hot cup o’ tay (Tea),
And then we’ll all be goin’ on our way!

The wren, oh the wren; he’s the king of all birds,
On St. Stephen’s Day he got caught in the furze,
So it’s up with the kettle and it’s down with the pan,
Won’t you give us a penny for to bury the wren?

 

gorse

Furse is another term for gorse; a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

~Dawn Marie

*images from Pixabay

 

Holiday Novellas by Dawn Marie Hamilton

One of the things I love about the holiday season is the abundance of wonderful holiday novellas.  Holiday novellas are sometimes part of an author’s on-going series, or part of a collection with other authors, or stand alone. What ever the case, they bring the joy of the season.

I just finished reading a fun, contemporary romance by Roxanne St. Claire from her Dogfather series–Bark! The Herald Angels Sing. Loved it! Made me cry! Made me laugh!

I have a Christmas novella from my Highland Gardens series on sale. Just in Time for a Highland Christmas is $0.99  through the end of December… 

Cover for Just in Time for a Highland Christmas

Can a determined brownie craft a perfect match in time for Christmas?

Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or Kobo.

And…

Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic is exclusively available at Amazon for $0.99!

Twelvetide-200

He has twelve nights to gain her love.
She has twelve nights to save his soul.

Get it at Amazon.

 

~Dawn Marie