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Soldiers in World War One – A Guest Post by Freda Lightfoot (@fredalightfoot) #giveaway

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. I’m happy to tell you a little of what I’ve been writing lately.

Soldiers in World War One

Their physical and mental stress was so strong at times that it blocked out their minds, filling them with fear, grim reality, tension, strain and anxiety whenever they approached a battle zone. They would fall into silence, asking themselves if they could cope with the dangers they were about to face. They always dreaded snipers, shell shock, infections and injuries, or to be damaged with shrapnel. It could make their mind go completely numb, particularly if they suffered the loss of a friend. Some could be walking wounded, or could only sleep on a groundsheet against the cold.

Infantry soldiers often knew very little about where they were or what was going on elsewhere. They lacked the facility of maps, news and information, relying on gossip and rumour. Food in Blighty was very much a problem. They might be given bacon and liver, brawn and kidneys, bread and dripping, but not too much food was available. They might have porridge with a few smashed army biscuits boiling in a mess tin with some water and sugar. Sometimes they were given a small drink of beer, and they would take a sip of rum and roll it on their tongue. Soldiers were also expected to keep their boots, caps, badges and buckles well-polished, and would hide them at night in case one of the other chaps might pinch them. Life was not easy, and they very much depended upon friends and letters from their family. It was a relief for them to be given a short break from the frontline when they were feeling worn out, perhaps to walk through the streets unthreatened by locals. Or to enjoy a performance.

War might drain men of energy, but Cecily firmly believed that their minds and spirit needed nurturing. Her team gave regular performances in the camp and at local hospitals. It was not unusual for wounded men to be wheeled out of the wards and lie on stretchers in order to watch, having been treated or were simply waiting for the necessary care. They often happily accepted they could be soaked as rain beat down on them. Cecily would regularly sing and on one occasion, they performed a play. Because some couldn’t be moved, following a concert Cecily would visit the hospital and sing to patients in their beds, or to one alone if he was blind or dying. It was exhausting but moving, her team’s situation ripe with danger too. They performed popular songs, poetry, Shakespeare, comedy and gave a glimpse of ‘Blighty’ often to an audience of thousands. The soldiers were always overjoyed to be entertained.

Excerpt of Cecily’s first performance in Girls of the Great War.

There was no proper stage, no curtains, dressing rooms or footlights, but they did have acetylene gas lamps glimmering brightly around the boxes. They worked for hours rehearsing and enduring more instructions from Queenie on what and how they should perform. Cecily suffered a flutter of panic as she became aware of hundreds more men gathering in the audience. A few were seated on boxes or benches, the rest of the area packed with a solid mass standing shoulder to shoulder. Many had been patiently waiting hours for the concert to start. Looking at the state of them it was evident that many had come direct from the trenches where they’d probably been trapped in horrific conditions for months. Those unable to move from their tent pulled the flaps open so that they too could hear the concert.

Heart pounding and nerves jangling, Cecily felt the urge to turn and run as the moment for the concert to start came closer. Was her mother right and she couldn’t sing well at all? Would they roar and boo at her as they had that time at Queenie?

She steadied her breathing, smoothed down her skirt with sweaty fingers and when she walked on stage the men gave a loud cheer of welcome. The excitement in their faces filled her with hope and as she stepped forward to the front of the boxed stage the audience instantly fell silent, looking enthralled and spellbound. She exchanged a swift glance with Merryn, counted one, two, three, four . . . and her sister and Johnny both began to play, sounding most professional. Cecily started to sing:

There’s a Long, Long Trail A-winding.

Into the land of my dreams,

Where the nightingales are singing

And a white moon beams:

As she sang, her fears, depression and worries vanished in a surge of elation, soaring into a new life, and bringing these soldiers pleasure and relief from the war. When the song was over she received a tumultuous applause, cheers, whistles and roars of appreciation from them. Smiling broadly she went on to sing ‘Roses of Picardy’, followed by ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag’ and many other popular favourites. Most of the Tommies would readily join in to sing the chorus whenever Cecily invited them to do so. Others would weep, as if fraught with emotion because they were homesick and felt greatly moved by this reminder of England. Then would again cheer and roar with happiness at the end, urging her to sing an encore.

‘You are doing quite well,’ her mother casually remarked during the short interval, a comment Cecily greatly appreciated. ‘Now sing some of those jolly music hall songs that I recommended.’

‘Right you are.’

Cecily went on to sing ‘Burlington Bertie From Bow’and ‘Fall In And Follow Me’. These brought bright smiles and laughter to all the Tommies’ faces. She finished with ‘Your King and Country Want You’, bringing forth loud cheers of agreement. How she loved singing to these soldiers. If she hadn’t been a star before, she certainly felt like one now.

Blurb
Cecily Hanson longs to live life on her own terms—to leave the shadow of her overbearing mother and marry her childhood sweetheart once he returns from the Great War. But when her fiancé is lost at sea, this future is shattered. Looking for meaning again, she decides to perform for the troops in France.

Life on the front line is both rewarding and terrifying, and Cecily soon finds herself more involved—and more in danger—than she ever thought possible. And her family has followed her to France. Her sister, Merryn, has fallen for a young drummer whose charm hides a dark side, while their mother, Queenie—a faded star of the stage tormented by her own secret heartache—seems set on a path of self-destruction.

As the war draws to a close and their hopes turn once again to the future, Cecily and Merryn are more determined than ever to unravel the truth about their mother’s past: what has she been hiding from them—and why?

Buy links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2wKaX2y

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2rGc528

My Biog

I was born in a small mill town in Lancashire. My mother comes from generations of weavers, and my father was a shoe-repairer. I still remember the first pair of clogs he made for me. After several years of teaching, I opened a bookshop in Kendal, Cumbria. And while living in the rural Lakeland Fells, rearing sheep and hens, I turned to writing. I wrote over fifty articles and short stories for magazines such as My Weekly and Woman’s Realm, before finding my vocation as a novelist and became a Sunday Times Bestselling author. I’ve now written over forty-eight novels, mostly sagas and historical fiction, my three latest books, including Girls of the Great War, out in May are published by Amazon Lake Union. I spend warm winters living in Spain, and the rainy summers in Britain.

Website: www.freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Freda-Lightfoot-Books/149641371839646

Twitter: @fredalightfoot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/448774.Freda_Lightfoot

My Blogspot: http://www.fredalightfoot.blogspot.com/

If you wish to be kept up to date on new titles and contests, sign up on my website http://www.fredalightfoot.co.uk  to subscribe to my Newsletter: I only send out 4 or 5 a year so your inbox won’t be flooded.

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here:  http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/freda-lightfoot-3/

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An Interview with Carol Warham, Author of Resolutions (@carol_warham @tirgearr) #tirgearr

Many thanks for inviting me along to your blog. I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions. You’ve really made me put my thinking cap on.

Interview

  1. What inspired you to write Resolutions?

Some years ago we were holidaying in Disney World Florida. While we were there we visited the Disney orientated town of Celebration. For those that don’t know it, it’s a master-planned community, a town specifically designed to integrate everything a community would need and developed by the Disney Corporation.

I was fascinated by the idea of the town and the stories that could develop there. It was then my idea of a town called Resolution developed with a plot that centred around New Year. A time, we think of, for making resolutions and maybe resolving past upsets and misunderstandings. Unfortunately I couldn’t have the town named Resolution, as we simply don’t have names like that in Yorkshire! However by adding an ‘s’, Resolutions became the title of the book and the theme of the story.

  1. Did you have any writers block while writing this story.

I don’t think I ever had writers block but there were many times I had a real struggle with the story. I originally wanted to place the story in the United States so that I could name the town, Resolution. That quickly became obvious it wasn’t going to work. I resisted moving the location for some time. However once I did change the location to Yorkshire the story flowed. I struggled with the characters also.  At first my heroine was a bit of a wimp and my ‘baddie’ wasn’t nasty enough.  I was lucky to have lots of advice and a fantastic beta reader and mentor.

  1. Do you have a favourite place to write?

I write mainly on my laptop. My desk is between two windows in the sun lounge, so I’m blessed with a view of fields and a small wood.  However I’ve been known to sit scribbling on a pad or to take the laptop into the kitchen if it suits me. I think rather than a place I have a favourite time, that is when I am alone and the house is quiet. The sun room is really the main thorough fare through the house and can be busy as the family trails in and out.

  1. What do I like to do in my free time?

We live in a small village and I’m often involved with some village events or a village charity. For example I taxi some of our older folk to the lunch club held in the Methodist church hall. I belong to a number of village groups including our book group and the Naturalists, a walking group. Our grandchildren live very close, so weekends are often spent with them.

My two favourite hobbies, when I have time, are reading and walking.

  1. Do you have anything new coming up.

As with most writers I do have a few WIPs I’ve started but they haven’t seen the light of day for some time. At the moment I’ve working on a story that will be set in Yorkshire, but this time in and around the east coast, particularly Scarborough, a place I love. This story will combine a romance and some of my favourite period of history. I can’t tell you which or it would give the plot away! However, this story is also putting up a struggle. I’ve started and discarded it umpteen times over the last few months. But one day I will win and it will be written!

*****

Extract

Steve was cool towards her but that was to be expected. More surprising was her lack of feelings for him. It was as if he was little more than an old acquaintance, a school friend or even a brother. If she had ever loved him, the love had vanished. But the minute she thought about Ben, her heart immediately flipped. Was it love or lust? Whichever it was, she wanted to see more of him, much more.

The clink of cups alerted her to the drinks being put down beside her. “Thanks. Mrs. C.”

Maggie settled herself into one of the easy chairs. “How’s Jim?”

“He’s poorly but looked okay. Abi explained that he has to have an angioplasty. Hopefully he’ll have the operation in a couple days, once all the tests are completed”

“I see. By the way don’t you think you should start calling me Maggie like everyone else, if we’re going to be working together for a few days?”

“Yes, you’re right.” Carly hesitated and glanced at Maggie. “What do you think of the town’s new doctor?”

Maggie shrugged. “He’s been here about eight or nine months now and seems to be settling in well, after what must have been a difficult start for him.  Anyone who took over from Dr. Mac would have a hard act to follow. A lot of people really like him and Jim and Abi have a lot of faith in him. Why?” Maggie grinned. “Do I take it you like him?”

Carly hesitated and sipped her tea to give herself a moment before answering. “I hardly know him. I only met him a few hours ago, but I can’t help wondering why a young doctor like him would want to work in a small place like this? I asked him earlier but he didn’t give me an answer.”

Maggie put her cup down. “Well, there is a rumour about him.”

“Oh? Are you going to tell me what it is?”

Maggie hesitated. “The story is that…well, some people say…”

“What?”

Maggie drew a deep breath.

*****

ResolutionsBlurb

Carly Mitchell returns to the small town of Yeardon in Yorkshire almost a year after running away on her wedding day. Now she wants to try to make amends with Steve, his family, and the townspeople who had prepared a huge party to celebrate her New Year’s Eve wedding.

She intends to stay only for a few days at the Resolution Hotel, owned by Steve’s parents. However, her plans change when Steve’s father is taken ill, and she feels obliged to step in and help with running the hotel. This also means having to deal with Steve’s antagonism since he has never forgiven her for humiliating him.

A further complication comes in the form of Ben Thornton, the local doctor, to whom Carly feels an immediate attraction. They enjoy getting to know each other and falling in love, until a famous model from Ben’s past arrives in the town, and stays at the hotel.

Steve attempts to get his revenge on Carly by driving a wedge between her and Ben, and by threatening to reveal what he knows about Ben’s troubled past unless Carly leaves town.

The resolution lies in Carly’s hands as she struggles between wanting to flee from the town again and wanting to stay with the man she has grown to love.

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ACs7gz

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ACrV0P

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resolutions-carol-warham/1126682700

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/resolutions/id1254717659?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/resolutions-11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/733425?ref=cw1985

*****

AUTHOR BIO

Resolutions is Carol’s debut novel and is set in a location close to where she lives.

Writing has been her love since childhood. She started by making small comics for her dolls, progressed to training as a journalist for a short while. Once the family had grown up Carol settled down to writing and published short stories, poems and holiday articles.

In recent years she has become a judge in the short story section for the HysteriaUK competition and also for the RNA’s romance novel of the year.

Carol lives in Yorkshire, surrounded by some beautiful countryside, which is ideal for her other passion of walking, often with a dog called Sam. This lovely area is the location for her first novel, Resolutions.

https://www.facebook.com/carolwarhamauthor/

https://twitter.com/carol_warham

https://carolwarham.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Blog tour organised by Writer Marketing Services. Follow the entire week’s tour here: http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/carol-warham/


New Beginnings

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This year has been a strange one in our house. Big decisions have been made, goodbyes have been said and the world of school has been left behind. There have been bittersweet moments, and lots of those sort of round-the-middle-hugs that only children can do. There was an amazing flash mob thing where they all danced on the playground for me and I thought it was some sort of new aerobics work out that Ofsted had introduced to make us work even harder. There were cards and letters and presents and tears. And cake. And gin.

Now we’ve had to say another goodbye  – this time to beautiful Phoebe who’s lived in this house for nearly 20 years, almost as long as I have. Phoebe has had way more than her quota of lives. She’s shared her fleas with us, done numerous surprise piles of sick and so on, developed her own special set of smells and yowled for Britain. Last time she keeled over and played dead, we took her to the vet’s, nerving ourselves for the worst, and she hopped out of her basket and did a lap of the surgery. We brought her home again.

So, it’s time for new beginnings. There’s time to write these days. Also, it’s probably time to get fit and lose some of these spare tyres and chins. I’m moving on to the next chapter. Farewell, lovely Phoebe. Missing you already.

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Release Blitz- Shopping for a CEO’s Fiancée by Julia Kent

SFACEO-high-res-ebook-683x1024Book Blurb:

We skipped right over the whole fiancée thing and went straight from girlfriend to wife.

At least, I think that’s what happened. I woke up after my brother’s Vegas wedding reception with my luscious girlfriend in bed with me. We’re both wearing wedding rings.

So is her coworker, Josh.

And our Vegas chauffeur, Geordi.

Who the hell am I married to?

Unraveling this mystery will be as difficult as figuring out why Amanda and I are having panic attacks over the thought of being husband and wife.

Or, whoever we’re actually married to.

Oh, ^%$#.

It’s true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, with one exception:

If she’s my wife, we’ll make it work.

If she’s not?

I’ll make it happen.

Get the 9th book in Julia Kent’s New York Times bestselling romantic comedy series as Andrew and Amanda sort out their wild Vegas night…and the rest of their lives.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1sBw3IN
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1sgnuDE
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/25nt9pC
Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1TKfjbz
iBooks: http://apple.co/1X94p1O
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1VKr5pI
BN: http://bit.ly/1rvtVlC
GP: http://bit.ly/1TA3zp4

*****

EXCERPT:

I finish my lukewarm coffee. Weed through more than a hundred email messages that Gina already triaged. These are the truly urgent ones. I pare them down to eleven that are impossible to solve in my first full day back.

By the time I’m in my spin clothes, my trainer, Vince, has arrived. He’s carrying a glass bottle filled with limp, brown seaweed and a foil packet.

“Here’s your kombucha,” he announces, handing me the seaweed.

“I’m not drinking that shit, Vince.”

“It’s fermented! It’s good for your gut.”

“Beer’s fermented, too.”

He shoves the foil pouch in my hand. Vince has long hair, thick and braided, with a clean-shaven, wide face and a nearly hairless body. In spite of his enormous size, he cycles competitively and does private training for a few CEOs in the area.

He’s also merciless.

Which is why I hired him.

“What’s this? Kelp botanicals in a druid-tear solution?”

“MCT oil.”

“Isn’t that illegal everywhere except Colorado and Washington?”

“It’s medium-chain fatty acids, not marijuana.” Vince begins reciting all the health benefits. It’s easier to eat it than to argue. I rip open the top of the packet and suck it down.

“Ugh.” It tastes like you think. I just drank a quarter-cup of oil.

“Muscle power.”

“If I vomit in the middle of my sprint, it’s on you.”

“Nope. My reflexes are better than yours. You won’t get any on me.”

I snort. He shoves me to the twin spin bikes in the workout room attached to my office. “Put up or shut up.”

I climb on my bike and wait for the music. The same song opens all of our 60-minute spin sessions for warm-up.

Queen’s Fat-Bottomed Girls.

Vince doesn’t start the music, though. His eyes are narrowed to slits, and he’s staring at my midsection.

“The fuck, Andrew?” Unlike everyone else who works for me, Vince doesn’t call me Mr. or Sir.

“What?”

“Something you want to share with the class?”

“What class?”

He yanks my left hand off the handlebars. “You got married?”

“Oh, that.”

“You’re wearing a wedding ring for shits and giggles?”

“No.”

“You gonna explain this to me?”

“No.”

“I have to spin it out of you?”

“Just try.”

“Is that a challenge?”

“Burn me to the ground, Vince.”

“Done.”

The music starts.

Five minutes into it and my legs are screaming.

Ten minutes into it and Vince is screaming.

Twenty minutes into it and I’m screaming.

Forty minutes later, the lambs are screaming.

With five minutes to go, Vince’s soundtrack shifts to a song I’ve never heard before.

“You changed the lineup?”

“Sure. Variety is the spice of life.”

“Don’t do that. Stick to the plan.”

“My plan, Andrew. You can’t make me do the same damn shit over and over.”

When I hired Vince, I told him exactly what I wanted. Technique, pacing, playlist, the whole bit. All he had to do was ride with me and hold me accountable.

“Fuck you,” he said that day. “I do what I want because I’m the best. Don’t like it? Don’t hire me.”

I hired him on the spot.

“Changing the music makes me lose my place,” I huff.

“Changing the music forces you to adapt. You’re too rigid.”

“Fuck off, Vince.”

“You only say that when I’m right.”

I don’t have the lung power to answer.

Five minutes later, I’m stretching. Vince is at the blender.

“Smoothie?” I ask, as I feel my pulse in my eyelashes.

“Bulletproof coffee with protein powder.”

“Coffee and whey?” I cringe. I uncringe. How did Vince make my face muscles ache like this? Damn. “Do I look like Little Miss Muffet with a latte?”

“Trust me.”

“I don’t trust someone whose primary diet source is rotten plankton.”

He just grunts, then shoves a pint glass filled with beige cream at me.

“Seriously, Vince, what’s in this?” It looks like a hot latte met an oil slick.

“Try it.”

I do. It tastes like milk blended with coffee and snot. I gag on the first try.

“You’re like a chick giving her first blow job, Andrew.”

“Now I really want to put this in my mouth. You’re so inspirational.”

“Wimp.”

“Asshole.”

“You have too much energy left,” he declares. “Let’s lift.”

Verbal abuse is my second language. I’m fluent in it when talking to other guys.

“I’m not lifting. I’ve got a call with some investors in Turkey.”

“Excuses, excuses.”

“If you haven’t noticed, I run a Fortune 500 company.”

“And you’re wearing a wedding ring you won’t talk about.”

*****

 

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken. She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links

Website:  http://www.jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor

Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1581883428728637/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter & Text Signup:  http://www.prosaicpress.com/jkentauthor/contact-us/newsletter-and-text-signup/

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Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.


Guest Blogger: Aleigha Siron (@aleighasiron) #tirgearr

tourbutton_findingmyhighlanderHi Celia, thanks for hosting me on your blog today. I want to chat about one of my greatest enjoyments, seeking out wild places to recharge my batteries. I’ll open with a favorite epigraph:

“In Wildness is the preservation of the world.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

At the outset, I must acknowledge that I’m not a great hiker, definitely not a mountain or rock-climbing enthusiast, but I do find wilderness the only place where my internal batteries fully recharge. So even if it’s just a drive up a jutted dirt road not on the map, along a twisted winding street that snakes through wooded areas rarely traveled, or a hike along a quiet trail by the sea, that’s enough to release the stress from this fast-paced, congested world in which we live.

Wilderness holds an exalted place in my heart and imagination. Thus, wild places and dense forests feature prominently in my stories and poetry. Any vacation that includes an excursion into mountains, under big trees, or into hushed wilderness where I can hear the scurry of small animals or spy an eagle in flight provides the perfect escape. If I encounter the thrashing sounds of some larger creature, one that raises the hairs on my arms and neck, well, I might consider that an added bonus (stated here with lifted eyebrows!)

24 May 2016 AleighaSiron wilderness

I recall just such a jaunt into the wilderness north of Vancouver on a peaceful lazy September day still warm enough that only light a jacket was required. At that time of year, the weather can be unpredictable, and easily drop in a sudden plunge to the first frosts of winter. But we were lucky, no hint of rain or inclement weather threatened the horizon and the sun shone bright above our heads.

We only intended to take a leisurely drive into the mountains north of the city and didn’t wear typical hiking gear. We carried a road map, water and a few protein bars, but no backpacks or other wilderness accoutrements. In typical spontaneous fashion, we stopped at a parking lot from where several trails launched.

Signposts indicated the lower part of the trail went from light to moderate difficulty with uneven surfaces and modest incline, transitioning to a more rugged difficult trail after a few miles. That sounded perfect, as we had no desire to go further than those first few miles. I’d be lucky to make it that far.

We passed no other hikers along the trail and heard no human voices in the distance. The forest seemed eerily quiet except for the racket of our feet kicking an occasional rock or stick, the sporadic tweeting and squawking of birds, and our voices, which were far too loud for the hushed surroundings. I always feel compelled to whisper when I’m in the forest unless the quiet seems exceptional, as it did that day. Then, I want to make noise. Some inner sense of self-preservation rises up and I think loud noise will deter any large prey. A ridiculous notion, really. If anything, the noise alerts all creatures to our presence, and a hungry beast might just decide lunch has arrived.

I readily identified Mountain Maple, Hemlock, Yellow Cedar, Lodgepole pine, and a variety of other towering conifers. These beauties reached heights of anywhere from 15m to over 85m (50 to over 285 feet!) Along the first half-mile of our climb, the sun laced golden streams of light through the trees and brush. But the further we climbed the thicker the trees and the denser the overhead canopy. It didn’t take long before this dense cover cloaked the brilliant blue sky and the afternoon sun dimmed to the shade of late twilight. After we’d traveled over a mile up the trail, we noticed a crisp drop in temperature and our climb grew precipitously steeper.

My husband and I froze mid-step when the birds suddenly quieted, and no scuttle disturbed the undergrowth. The hairs along my arms and neck had jumped to attention. We strained to hear something, anything besides the wind in the trees or occasional plop of a pinecone dropping.  Nothing.

Simultaneously, we bent to pick up a large stick but my husband reached it first. I grabbed two palm-sized rocks. A sharp crack of breaking branches sounded further up the steep incline to our left. Then another and another until it sounded as though a very large creature thrashed about tearing down trees and shoving large boulders into each other.

This certainly was not a mountain lion, he would have stalked us stealthily through the brush, coming from behind, gauging which of us (most definitely me,) would make the easier, tastier catch. Deer are not so careless as to alert predators to their passing, unless it was an entire herd escaping some threat. Though I’d feel bad for the deer, at least they possessed four legs and were fleet of foot. I, on the other hand, am clumsy and slow.

I thought the hill entirely too steep for those sounds to be a moose, though I might have been wrong.  Since no human voices accompanied the noise, we ruled them out too.

No, the loud thrashing noises came from a much larger, wild creature. If he wasn’t already killing something, he definitely sounded disgruntled and headed in our direction. That left the most likely candidate a bear. In those woods, it could have meant a black bear or a grisly, neither of which I had any desire to meet in close proximity. We certainly weren’t going to share our protein bars and engage in a pleasant chat about the weather.

The time for lots and lots of ruckus had arrived. We smacked our sticks and rocks against the trees, called out to make sure a person didn’t require our help (though what kind of help we might offer, I couldn’t imagine,) picked up bigger sticks, and scurried back to our car keeping a keen eye over our shoulders and on the hill above. We never caught a glimpse of that creature, which was fine with me because it could have been anything, even Bigfoot.

Exciting, enriching experiences like this will continue to show up in my writing, if for no other reason than I’m here to share the tale. I need to know that wilderness, though diminished by man’s intrusion, still thrives somewhere out there.

However, I’ll be honest; for all the recharging I crave and receive from wild places, I enjoy my excursions far better when observed from the safety of a sturdy cabin porch, a well-made boat on a placid lake, or a nice travel van. At the very least, I’ll take my wilderness experiences from a position close enough to retreat to one of those aforementioned enclosures, especially when bigger, meaner, hardier wildlife come to call. Even though I doubt I’ll allow characters in my stories the same luxury.

There are no four-legged wild creatures threatening my heroine in Finding My Highlander, but the story is set in wild, rugged terrain. And a twenty-first century woman landing in 1705 Scotland finds the two-legged creatures there are wild enough.

*****

Excerpt:

“Lass, can I help you?” His voice was softer than the others, his stance relaxed, composed, despite the dirt and blood splattered over his massive arms and clothing. He seemed to be a quiet, gentle man, though physically as imposing as the others.

“You could bring me my bag.”

He moved his hand from behind him and cautiously extended her mother’s old carpetbag. “Do I need to check it for weapons?” A slight crinkle lifted the corner of his mouth. A piece of leather cord tied wavy, light-brown hair at the nape of his neck and tight braids spilled alongside sharp, scruffy cheeks. His eyes were dark and shadowed.

“Thank you…it’s Rabbie, correct?”

“Aye,” he nodded.

Andra granted him a guarded smile. “I’ll pull no further weapons if you promise to be kind.” The slight attempt at humor from both of them eased the tension coiled in her gut.

He swept an arm gracefully in front of him and bowed, “Always, m’lady, as I learned at me mother’s knee.” Then he left her to tend the horses.

She searched her bag for the washcloth, hand towel, and first aid kit she always carried when traveling. The washcloth came to hand first. She dipped it into the cold water and wiped the dried and clotted blood from her face and hair. Then she dunked her head in the pool several more times.

“I seem to be awake,” she whispered, just for the comfort on her own voice. “My surroundings feel solid enough,” she pounded her fist on the dirt, “so it must be real. Accept it, Andra, and decide what to do next.”

She could hear the men speaking Gaelic, hushed yet clearly distraught about the condition of their clansman. They gathered near another pool of water several yards from where she knelt. She watched them over her shoulder for a few minutes struggling to fit the scene into her new reality. A million questions rose in her throat.

“Not now. Patience and observation are what’s required. All will be revealed in time.” What a stupid cliché.

Should she offer her help with their friend; would they accept it? She could not sit here and do nothing when one of them was seriously injured. Besides, anxiety always spurred her to take action. Her father had always said, “Move, keep busy, and don’t let dust gather under your feet.” With her father’s words ringing in her ears, she approached the men cautiously, keeping her eye on the mean one, Struan.

“May I be of assistance?” She stood with her feet firmly planted on the hard-packed, dirt floor, her head held high, one hand pressed flat against her side, the other rested on the cross dangling on her chest. It took an extreme effort to control her trembling body. Her palms moistened with sweat. She steadied her focus on Kendrick. His strong hands moved carefully over his brother’s body. The mean one harrumphed and growled.

A growl? Really?

Kendrick looked up, concern etched on his face. His dark, probing eyes bore through her. “Are you a healer, then?” he asked.

“Not a healer exactly, but I have cared for ill and injured persons and have some training in first aid. I wish to help if you’ll permit me.”

“I dinnae ken your meaning. What’s the first aid of which you speak? As you can see, we give him aid, but if you can do anything to help save my brother’s life, I will gladly accept your offer.”

The mean one growled again. “Don’t trust her, she’s the enemy and will just as soon slit his throat.”

Ignoring the slur, she continued, “Have you determined the extent of his injuries?”

“Aye, his shoulder is dislocated, several fingers broken, which we have straightened and bound as best we’re able. We need to stitch multiple, deep wounds, and he’s lost a lot of blood, though blood no longer flows freely.”

The injured man lay on a plaid, stripped completely naked, his kilt torn away from his battered body. Mud, blood, and all manner of vile debris caked the hard planes of his bronzed chest. Andra couldn’t identify the severity or location of all his injuries. He moaned but appeared unconscious, or so she assumed, since he hadn’t opened his eyes. Clumps of dried blood crusted over wounds on one leg and foot. Dark, matted refuse covered the entire other leg.

His manhood lay flaccid against his thigh, and none of the men seemed concerned about his state of undress in front of a strange female. She stood quietly, waiting for several breaths.

*****

FindingMyHighlanderbyAleighaSiron-200Blurb:

On a windswept cliff above San Francisco Bay in 2013, 27 year-old Andra Cameron, the last member of her family, prepares to scatter her family’s ashes to the wind. An earthquake catapults her to the Scottish Highlands in 1705. She wakes, aching and bloody, to the sound of horses thundering through the trees. Terrified and with no other options, Andra accompanies these rugged warriors. She can’t deny the undeniable attraction that ignites between herself and the handsome but gruff Kendrick. Will she trust him to provide protection in the harsh reality of 18th century Scotland and with her secret, or will she find a way to return home to the 21st century?

Laird Kendrick MacLean and his men, escaping a recent skirmish with their worst nemeses, clan Cameron and their Sassenach allies, are shocked to find an injured, unprotected female in their path. How could she not know her kin and how had she landed in the middle of the wilderness alone? His men suspect she’s a spy or a witch. Still, Kendrick will not abandon an injured woman, even if she speaks unusually accented English, and her name is Cameron. Will he ransom her to others or will their closed hearts open to each other? Although he questions her every utterance, this feisty, outspoken woman inflames his desire like no other.

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*****

AleighaSironAuthor Bio and Media Links

After more than twenty years writing and delivering management and other training programs for modest-sized to Fortune Five Hundred companies, and ten years developing community crisis-intervention training programs, Aleigha turned her writing efforts to her first loves, fiction, and poetry.  Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and university presses over the past few decades.  Following a difficult period in her life, she discovered solace in romance novels that inspired her to write in this genre.  As she says, “who doesn’t desire a guaranteed happy-ever-after scenario?” Always interested in the concept of time-travel, she knew her first few stories would follow that theme.

When not writing, her trusty four-legged companion/helper, Strider, accompanies her on sunset walks along the shore. During these quiet walks under an expansive sky, with the whoosh of waves across the sand and her gaze drifting over the rolling sea, her best glimmers of inspiration come to mind.  Following the recent discovery of distant Scottish ancestors, she embarked on a trip to the Highlands. Although she had already developed the characters for Finding My Highlander, her trip to the Highlands enriched the characters and enhanced the story direction. This is her first full-length romance novel.  Aleigha is working on a prequel to Finding My Highlander, and another time-travel novel set in a later period.

WWW (Aleigha’s WebPage): http://aleighasiron.com/

Aleigha Siron’s  Book page at Tirgearr Publishing: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Siron_Aleigha/finding-my-highlander.htm

Tirgearr Publishing Home Page: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/index.htm

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AleighaSiron

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Aleigha-Siron/

*****

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