“Highlander Magick” in the Mystical Isle of Skye


Isle of skye Scenery

I’m delighted to have my good friend, Patty Taylor, with me to share her new Scottish time travel fantasy romance and the inspiration behind the story. Also, she’s giving away a $10.00 Amazon gift card to someone who leaves her a comment, to be chosen Friday evening. 

Patty: Good Morning! I’m excited to be here and wish to thank my dear friend, Beth, for inviting me back to her lovely blog. I’d also like to thank each of you for dropping by and helping us celebrate my début release of Mortal Magick, while I share some “Highlander Magick in the Mystical Isle of Skye”.

Patty's Mum

Many of you have sent me kind comments regarding the true love story between my beloved parents. My mother, Evelyn, was born and raised in Northern Ireland and served in the British Army during WWII where she met my Daddy, a US Sergeant. Her love, strength, and courage have always inspired me to pursue my dreams. I have her to thank for introducing me to the magical world of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis. Two years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the statue of the enchanted wardrobe outside the Belfast Library.

To learn more about my Mum and see some photos of her beautiful homeland, please visit Beth’s original post with me: “The Magick of Ireland with Author Patty Taylor”. Beth and I had such fun that day. It was truly a memorable experience and one I will always treasure.

patty's parents in Ireland

(Photo of Patty’s parents taken in Ireland.)

And now, I’m thrilled to share my lovely cover for Mortal Magick, a paranormal/fantasy time travel romance set in the 18th century mystical Isle of Skye.

PT_MortalMagic Cover

Blurb:  When an immortal Highlander falls in love with a human witch, “Mortal Magick” soon casts a spell of its own.

Doomed for eternity to wander nights as half man and half creature, rugged Highlander, Duncan McCord, discovers his curse is the least of his problems when he sets out for a cure and rescues the beauty determined to help tame his beast. 

When a reluctant witch, Keara, gets whisked back to 18th century mystical Isle of Skye to learn lessons in magic, she faces the true test of love when she meets the man beyond her wildest dreams burdened with dark secrets from his past.  

Forced together to journey through an enchanted country filled with mythical creatures and magical lore, will they survive in a world where evil sorcery reigns, or will a shocking twist of fate tear them centuries apart?~

A wee excerpt from the story:

Duncan McCord wanted a woman. His entire body and soul hungered for a special lass’ touch. The one destined for his love, whom he would call kindred spirit. His stomach tightened, a pain ripping through him like the slice of a broadsword. This canna happen. Not now, not ever. Reality hastily slapped him back to his senses. He vowed never to be foolish enough to let himself fall into another vixen’s treacherous traps.

Dark, threatening clouds rolled over Scotland’s glorious mountain peaks in the distance. The muscles in his legs rippled, gripping both sides of his mount. His stallion, Goliath, snorted and stopped short in his tracks. His enormous hooves stomped the hard ground.~

One more snippet

Duncan lunged from the damp forest floor. His splayed hooves clip-clopped on top of a boulder. His nostrils flared from the irresistible lingering lavender scent. He cocked his head to the side, his keen hearing caught her every breath as each step she took brought her dangerously closer. “Aye, the damn fool-headed woman! She’s done wandered off again.”

He snarled at a shooting star plummeting to the ground. Like a bubbling cauldron of fire, it spit an outburst of flames across the moonlit sky. “Aye, the bonny wee lass is headed straight for a trap.” Clenching his fists, he veered back his head and wailed.~

Giant's Causeway(Giant’s Causeway)

Coming from a family of storytellers, I feel blessed in having both an Irish and Scottish heritage. When growing up, I was fortunate to hear tales of the wee people, the leprechauns, fairies of Ireland, the magical creatures and brownies of Scotland, the Brown Man of the Muirs, dragons, selkies, witches, and much more. Fascinated by these magnificent realms of magick, I couldn’t resist centering one of my stories in the enchanting Isle of Skye. I’ve been very fortunate to visit my family homes in both Northern Ireland and Scotland. I loved visiting the gorgeous Giant’s Causeway after hearing about the legend of the famous giant, Finn MacCool. 

The Fairy Pools(Fairy Pools)

The first time I saw photos of the gorgeous Fairy Pools, located southeast of the lovely Glen Brittle Forest, my imagination ran wild. I love mythical folklore and handsome Highlanders. After doing a bit more research on the enchanting Fairy Glens, the grand seal island, Dunvegan Castle, home of the famous Fairy Flag and Dunvegan Cup,  the fairy knolls and bridge, and the Quiraing, I soon decided this was the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” setting for my fantasy, Mortal Magick.

Scotland Heather(Scottish Heather)

Mystic Fairy Glen(Mystic Fairy Glen)

If you’re like me, you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for men wearin’ kilts! When I visited Scotland two years ago, oh my, it was a dream come true. Since I didn’t have the nerve to ask permission to take a few photos of some of the men wearing their kilts, I thought you might enjoy seeing several pics that were taken inside a tartan weaving shop located in Edinburgh. I was amazed how the styles have changed over the years.

Scottish Highlanders in kilts

men in kilts

I promised Beth I would share a bit about fairies and brownies, so this is the perfect time to introduce one of my favorite characters in Mortal Magick, the whimsical matchmaker known as “wee Darby”. Being part Irish Fairy and part Scottish Brownie, wee Darby is quite the unique character with his caterpillar eyebrows arched above a crooked pair of thick rimmed gold glasses, while ivy leaves sprout from a tousled mass of his bright carrot orange hair.

It didn’t take long to discover that, just like working with my clay and glass, the more details I added to this whimsical character, the more I found wee Darby worked his magick, and found a permanent spot in my heart. He soon became an important persona in the story, instead of simply a minor figure as originally planned. Since Darby is descended from the Brown Man of the Muirs, he inherited the love for animals and uses his special herbal cures, which he stores in unusual vials, tucked safely inside an old tattered coat. 

***A special Darby alert: watch for the image of wee Darby that will appear on my blog later this year, created by Beth’s artistic daughter, Elise Trissel.

Isle Skye WaterfallA few interesting facts about brownies, not to be confused with sprites, pixies, or fairies. Brownies are small featured and range between two and three feet tall. Most Scottish brownies prefer living next to streams and waterfalls, but will occasionally visit farmers after harvest season. They have shaggy hair, wear tattered clothes, and are hard workers. People are careful not to leave gifts of clothing, for fear of offending them. If irritated, brownies can become mischievous and turn into nasty boggarts. But they can be soothed. They have a sweet tooth for honey and enjoy a refreshing drink of milk. In Scotland, the people refer to them as “Bockie”, and in the Highlands, they are the Bodach (Budagh). 

 Fairy with dragonBrownies are also regarded as guardians of dragons. Darby, of course, admits to knowing a few. Since brownies are adept at hiding from humans, I wasn’t able to share a picture of these elusive beings. Instead, I found this image of a lovely fairy holding a wee dragon. In the upcoming sequel to Mortal Magick, Sea Wolf Magick, I have included a miniature dragon, Kalista, as one of the main characters.

I realize I haven’t touched on Keara and her feline familiar, Samson, today, and there’s much more to share, but I must save a wee bit for another time. Beth has graciously invited me back this fall after I return from visiting my family in Northern Ireland, and I will share more pictures then. I plan to do additional research for my new young adult, Irish fantasy trilogy while visiting the magical fairy Glens of Antrim, and will also take the official tour in Belfast, where CS Lewis lived. My cousin plans to take me to visit beautiful old Donegal for a few days, where she promises I’m in for a very special treat. :)  

 Dunvegan Castle(Dunvegan Castle)

A heartfelt thanks once again to my gracious host and dear friend, Beth Trissel, for having me here today, and to all of you who took the time to stop by to meet me and leave your comments. I hope you’ll enjoy reading Mortal Magick and would love to hear from you.

Quiraing; Trotternish; Isle of  SkyeBefore I forget, please mark your calendars for Friday, October 30th, when authors Lane McFarland and Mairi Norris will join Beth and me on Facebook, as we celebrate the evening of Mortal Magick’s official Samhain/Halloween weekend. Stay tuned for more details about dressing in costume for the occasion and bringing your pets. 

Also, stayed tuned for updates on Sea Wolf Magick–the sequel in the works. Get ready for two magical adventures: Journey across the Mystical Isle of Skye,  to the Enchanting land of Fire and Ice.

(Quiraing; Trotternish; Isle of Skye, pictured above)

Visit: Patty’s website and blog: http://www.pattytaylorauthor.com 

Patty’s Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ZE65O0Q

Amazon Purchase Link for Mortal Magick

Follow Patty’s Facebook Author Page

About Patty: Writer of fantasy, paranormal romance set in various places located in Scotland’s mystical Isle of Skye, the magical Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland and the secluded wilderness of Alaska. Where shape shifters, werewolves, fairies, brownies and mythical creatures come to life. Writing romance with a wee bit of magick from the heart.

Patty outside the oldest pub in Ireland1

(Image of Patty outside the oldest pub in Ireland)

***Fascinating post, Patty! All of it. I look forward to your return to the blog.

History, Mystery, Romance, and Ghosts–Traitor’s Curse!


traitors curseGhostly, Gothic, historical romance novel, Traitor’s Curse, the sequel to Traitor’s Legacy, and the third novel in the series, is coming out November 6th from The Wild Rose Press. The print may show up a week or two earlier at Amazon, so late October for that format. Just around the corner, right?

Set in historic Halifax, NC, on the heels of the American Revolution, Traitor’s Curse builds on the central theme in Traitor’s Legacy. Both novels center around the hidden treasure collected by a band of Patriots to bribe a Loyalist into revealing the whereabouts of the infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold, the man they badly wanted to hang. Although America’s most wanted ultimately fled to England, the treasure remained in Halifax where the haunting mystery in Traitor’s Curse unfolds.

While the historical aspects of that era are authentically depicted in the story, intriguing paranormal elements are also interwoven; among them, a ghost. Other possibilities for his presence in the home are suggested, so choose as you will. It’s kind of a mind game, but significant clues are given for the discerning reader. Bear in mind that the author believes in ghosts and cursed treasure.

Enemyoftheking resizedEnemy of the King, the first book in the Traitor’s Legacy Series, isn’t listed as such because the series hadn’t yet been conceived when it was published by the Wild Rose Press. However, each story follows the other so it’s best to read them in order, though not mandatory. The novels are written to stand alone. So, hop in wherever you find yourself.

Those of you seeking familiar characters from Traitor’s Legacy will be gratified by their return and, I think, captivated with the new heroine, Hettie Fairfax. Hettie appeared to me in a sort of vision, while I was walking around our misty meadow. Quite an unusual experience, one of many that helped birth this story.

Graveyard

Story Blurb:

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783. Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her?

Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the battle against darkness tests everything the couple holds dear, including their love for each other.~

Coming soon to a theater near you. I wish.

For more on my work, I invite you to visit my Amazon Author Page.

Enemy of the King and Traitor’s Legacy are also available from my publisher, The Wild Rose Press,  Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Gardening–A Worthy Legacy


Emma in the garden with larkspur1Whisper blue sky days in the garden feed my soul, especially when the plants are fresh and the world is new. May and June in the Shenandoah Valley are as fair as any place on earth. I launched myself from winter slug mode into the garden in March. Since then, I’ve tended neglected nooks, (and entire beds) pulled weeds, thinned vigorous reseeding heirlooms to make room for other contenders, planted, pruned, and mulched with compost from our farm. I hear the envious sighs from gardeners who yearn after all the organic compost we have access to.

(Granddaughter Emma above with blue larkspur taken by Dennis)

perfect June roseGardening is an ongoing labor. Daughter Elise, my right hand and ‘colleague’, undertake many projects together. Our dreams are far loftier in January than when reality hits. That tends to pare them back. I also have the enthusiastic support of various small people. Some of the children work harder than others, but each one loves the garden.

Earlier this spring, 10-year-old grandson Ian asked who would care for the plants when I’m too old to manage.

‘You,’ I said, ‘and Elise, and anyone else who loves to garden.’ He pondered who that might include. I assured him I’m good to go for many years yet, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Despite my moaning about the–at times–backbreaking work, I can’t imagine life without gardening. Nor do I wish to. What a wealth to leave future generations, culminating from the love I inherited from those who’ve gone before me. Plus some still avid gardeners in their 80’s. It’s a family thing.

(Above, A David Austen Rose by Elise)

my gardening assistant1

Elise and my husband Dennis have taken wonderful pics of the garden, our farm, and several of the small people this spring. I hope you enjoy them.

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.” ~James Douglas,Down Shoe Lane

***I totally agree with this quote, but don’t have images at dusk or dawn on this particular post.

(Above, my most enthusiastic assistant, 5-year-old Owen, pulling the vintage wagon one warm spring day with his hoe and drinks to keep us hydrated.)

Emma and Owen beside the old pink rose with larkspur1 (The heirloom pink rose-bush the children are beside is 34 years old.)

“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

***Wow, is this true. Mine surely is. I suppose the way our garden(s) are allowed to assert themselves as much as they are, says something in itself.

Siamese barn kitty in herb bed

(Siamese barn kitty in the herbs, by Elise)

“I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I’d see the summer garden in rainbow clouds. ~Robert Bridges, “Testament of Beauty”

***What imagery. Quite enchanting.

“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

***Gardening has comforted and consoled many on this side of the veil.

Emma and Owen in the flowers with poppies

(My wildflower meadow border)

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

***You surely can.

“Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.” ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.” ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

***These quotes really struck me because Elise and I often imagine what could be. Especially in January, then we pare down those visions come spring, but glorious dreams rise ever before us. And who knows what might yet become reality. The possibilities are ever there. We have room here to dream.

pilgrim geese in spring meadow1

(We see the meadow from our garden. Image by Elise)

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

***A wonderful quote from Kate Morton, and yes, I am in accord with her.

From an aunt, long ago: “Death has come for me many times but finds me always in my lovely garden and leaves me there, I think, as an excuse to return.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

***I absolutely love this quote from Robert Brault, who has many excellent insights into gardening and all that it means, or should. And still can.

blue phlox spring blooming

(Wild blue Phlox divaricata above and Coral bells below by Elise)

Coral Bells 2

If you want to show your love for the earth, plant something and encourage others. Family and community gardens can make an enormous difference in a person’s outlook, no matter how old or young they are. Gardening feeds the five senses as well as the body and the spirit.

“In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there. To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe. I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.” ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com

***Wow. How well said. The farm pond in the meadow below. Rather like a very large water garden. We’ve planted trees and pussy willow around it.the farm pond with geese “It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.” ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936

***You really do.

“My garden is my favorite teacher.” ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com

***I’ve learned immeasurably from my garden. This past Saturday I took Emma and Owen on a garden tour and invited them to smell many of the herbs, as well as seeing and exploring. Fragrance is our earliest memory, and it’s my hope that someday, when they’re older, the scent of an herb will carry them back to this happy fragrance filled morning with their grandmother, as dill once did for me.

Emma and Owen in the garden1

Oh, the Inspiration in a Place


Blue Ridge MountainsFor me, in my writing, it’s all about time and place. Certain settings inspire me, like old homes, particularly haunted ones, castles, Southern plantations, and their opposite, rustic log cabins, but most especially, the mountains. I love the misty mountains. What stories they hold. Secrets, mysteries, ghosts…

Many accounts centered around the mountain people have been recorded. The late author and historian, John Heatwole, left a rich wealth of information in his books about the Shenandoah Valley and mountain people. Some of these stories are wonderful for inspiration. I’ll give you several examples from John Heatwole’s book, Shenandoah Voices.

Moonlit Night

“When Nelson Whetzel was a young man he had an interesting experience while walking home from work one evening. In Brocks Gap in earlier times the only things to light ones way were the stars or the glow from a lamp in a neighbor’s window. 

As he walked Nelson heard a horse coming up the road behind him.  Nelson stopped for a moment, thinking, ‘Good! I’ll have someone to talk to.’ But the sound of the horse’s hooves stopped when he did. He called out, asking who was there in the pitch-black.

No answer came and Nelson began uneasily walking again, this time a little faster. The sound of the horse picked up pace to match Nelson’s. He stopped a second time and the sound of the horse ceased to be heard. Nelson started trotting and the sound horse’s hooves were heard at a trot behind him, close on his heels. He grew very frightened and began to run as fast as he could.  The galloping horse seemed to be so close, Nelson thought he felt the breath on the back of his neck.

Up ahead Nelson saw the lighted windows of the cabin belonging to George and Mat Smith. He was so terrified that he hit the Smith’s front door at full force. He knocked it down and went right through the structure, knocking down the back door as he exited. The Smiths blinked at each other in wonder and amazement. They saw no phantom horse follow Nelson through their home.

Immediately after his encounter with the doors Nelson noticed the sound of the pursuing horse was gone, however, he ran on home as fast as his feet would carry him.”

*That tale reminds me of the headless horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Scary!

“The Roadcaps lived in a two-story log cabin just down the road from Gospel Hill Mennonite Church. All of the girls of the family shared a room upstairs.  One night one of the sisters, Peggy by name, went to the bedroom alone.  There she saw a woman sitting up on the iron headboard of one of the beds.

The woman didn’t say anything or move toward the frightened child, just sat there and looked at her. Peggy was rooted to the spot in fear but able to find her voice and call to her father to come to her aid.  There was something in her voice that demanded immediate attention and she heard his heavy footfall as he hurried up the stairs. As her father neared the room, the woman vanished into thin air.  Peggy never entered that room alone again.”~

“The children of the Roadcap family loved to play on the banks of the little Shoemaker River near their home. Once they came running home and told their father they’d seen a woman all dressed in white walking along the opposite bank of the river from where they played. They’d never seen her before and being shy had not spoken to her but only observed her progress.

Their father listened thoughtfully and then told them they had seen the spirit of a young woman who had died years before of a broken heart. They were told they would probably see her again and that she would do them no harm. They were to behave as they had before and refrain from calling out to the spirit.

They believed their father. There were not that many people living in those parts and the children knew them all. They promised not to disturb the apparition if they encountered her again. During their childhoods they witnessed her strolling along the river on several more occasions.”~

That story reminds me of the novel, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which was a very intriguing BBC mystery/thriller starring Tara Fitzgerald. I saw the film on Netflix and highly recommend it.

***If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the one I wrote entitled:

The Poltergeist in our Old Farm House

***John Heatwole’s books are at Amazon, but may only be available as used copies.

Not Cool but Definitely Qualify as Quirky


the writing fairyCool is a challenging state to achieve and highly difficult to maintain for more than short snippets of time. Consider the pressure involved. Even if I pulled out all the stops and had advisers on ‘cooldom’, I’d wobble like a kid on stilts and tumble from my perch. But weird–I’ve got that down.  Back in my wanna be hippie days, I was approvingly termed ‘freaky’, the hippie term for quirky. Gnarly was never ever within my reach. Granted, my hippie era was a few decades ago, but I’ve hung in there and expanded weird; lends itself well to being an author. We’re a quirky bunch. Mental also applies. Some of us believe in the writing fairy. We call her ‘the muse’.

teaI don’t know who among us in the author world actually qualifies as cool, but suspect not many. Authors live off of caffeine and chocolate until doctors take it away, and even then…I’m not supposed to have either one, but just try getting me through a day without them. Earl Grey is my favorite tea, hot, with milk and sugar, and dark chocolate, flavored with mint, sea salt, and almonds…the specialty kinds.

mountains in early summer

A writer’s residence of choice is a cave, or secluded cabin, in some remote location with good internet and cell phone connections. Here we dwell, or would, while we labor over our next story, snapping at anyone who intrudes in our imaginary world, unless they bring treats.  I swear with a week of uninterrupted time, I could finish my next book. But there’s no such thing, unless I run away. I’ve contemplated a mountain retreat.

Bilbo: “I want to see mountains again, mountains, Gandalf!  And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book.”

DarkChocolateSquaresMost writers fall into two different categories, those on meds and those who should be. I’m talking prescription, doctor monitored, meds. Rare are the writers who function well without them. And yes, drinking counts as a med. So does smoking. So does caffeine, but it’s the mildest of all addictions.

Quill Pen, Diary, Writing, Ink Well, Woman's HandApart from a death in the family, possibly our own, nothing matters quite so much to an author as how our work is faring. If the muse is with us, we’re euphoric; if not, we’re down, down, down. 1 star reviews never cease to annoy us, even if we’ve been in this rough and tumble world for years. And, if we have, 1 stars are not justified, probably not 2 stars either. You may not like the story, but that doesn’t mean it was written by an orangutan. Give us a little credit.

“To write is to be vulnerable.” – Unknown

By and large, authors do not take criticism well. After the gnashing of teeth passes, we may apply any constructive insights offered and grow in our craft. Or not. It’s all about the story. If you don’t ‘get it’ that’s your problem. We’re busy writing. It’s what we do. And what would this world be without the storytellers? What if you were fated to write your own?

Writing is a vulnerable state: you bare your soul.

Oh, and most authors like cats. Or dogs. Or both. We write with our furbabies.

Southern Gothic Mystery by Susan Coryell–Beneath the Stones


beneath the stones coverAs a Virginian who enjoys Southern themes with mystery, romance, and a Gothic flavor, I’m pleased to have fellow Wild Rose Press Author, Susan Coryell, here to share her new release, BENEATH THE STONES, published in April, 2015,. The story is a standalone sequel to A Red, Red Rose. Both are cozy mystery/Southern Gothics.

From Susan: I wrote the sequel to A Red, Red Rose because so many reviewers asked for one. Much research was involved for Beneath the Stones since it is a contemporary setting with a Civil War background as a major theme: Unresolved issues from the past can literally haunt us in the present.

Civil War, American Civil War, War, Ghost, Armed Forces,The Civil War letters included in Beneath the Stones are based on actual letters written from battle fronts by family ancestors, Joseph Franklin Stover and John William Stover. After my mother-in-law’s death, the family found a nondescript box in her file cabinet. Inside we were amazed to find fifteen letters hand-written in beautiful, flowing script. Since this occurred as I was in the midst of writing Beneath the Stones, I immediately seized on the idea of using excerpts from the letters in the novel. Though, for practical reasons, I omitted many details, overall the letters reveal a haunting picture of life for the Confederate soldier. A final note: The flute mentioned in one of the letters is very likely the same flute on display at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, Virginia.~

Fascinating, Susan! I love the depth this gives your work. Our family also unearthed a treasure trove of letters from my great-great-grandfather George W. Finley who fought and was captured at Gettysburg and became one of the Immortal Six Hundred.. He’s one of the few surviving Confederates who not only lived to tell the tale, but wrote it all down. These connections with the past are so meaningful and moving. My brother, John Churchman, is doing a nonfiction book on Grandpa Finley.

southern-plantation-homeStory Blurb for Beneath the Stones:

Mystery, suspense and romance flourish against a backdrop of Civil War turmoil and ancestral strife–where immortality infiltrates the ancient air breathed by all who inhabit Overhome Estate.

Ashby Overton has everything to look forward to, including a promising writing career and her wedding at summer’s end. But, Overhome, her beloved historic family estate in Southern Virginia, is in financial peril and it is up to Ashby to find a solution.

Interfering with Ashby’s plans is a dark paranormal force that thwarts her every effort to save Overhome. Supernatural attacks emanate from an old stone cottage on the property rumored to be a slave overseer’s abode, prior to the Civil War. As the violence escalates, Ashby begins to fear for her life. Who is this angry spirit and why is his fury focused on her?

small pro photo of SusanLinks for Susan

Her Website: www.susancoryellauthor.com

Facebook page:

Amazon Buy links for Beneath the Stones: Paperback and Kindle 

Wham! It’s Spring!


shirley poppies, larkspur, coreopsis tinctoria

(Larkspur, Shirley poppies, Coreopsis tinctoria, in bed along road by Elise)

We flashed from cold nights with the threat of frost and chill winds blowing when we worked in the garden, to full-blown, everything needs to be done NOW–spring. The valley is like that. Whimsical, enchanting, maddening May. I’m torn between admiration for the wondrous beauty bursting out all over, to how the heck are we gonna get everything weeded, planted, mulched, etc. The annual gardening challenge. Even with vital help from daughter, Elise, keeping up with our many gardens is getting beyond us. She has art projects and a job. I’m supposed to be writing stories, and then there’s all the things to do to keep a household afloat and maintain contact with friends and family. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, ball games, recitals…all that stuff called life.

dill and poppies

The fact that certain body parts are complaining about the sudden rush, also has to be taken into account. Mine, not Elise’s. She’s young and in better shape. That’s why we go with the carefree wildflower meadow look as much as we do, and just beat back the worst of the weeds; those declared pretty stay.

Our flower beds are a mix of reseeding heirloom annuals, wildflowers, and perennials that come back from the root, bulbs, some rose, and of course, a lot of herbs. We love herbs, and always want more.

The vegetable garden is a beast in itself to keep up and requires much diligence. although, it doesn’t always get it. We still seem to harvest an abundance of edibles, though. And yes, it’s all organic. We use composted manure, hay, and whatever else we can get our hands on that’s lying about the farm breaking down and no longer of use for feeding cows. The beds that reseed heavily get no mulch, just tending to keep plants in some kind of bounds. I spray an occasional herbal brew on them to feed and fight fungus and some bugs, but only with stuff that doesn’t hurt the bees and butterflies.. If anyone is interested in the particulars, I’m glad to share.

(Dill and heirloom poppies above by Elise)

fuzzy sage with blue larkspur

(Sage and larkspur by Elise)

Sometimes I also receive assistance from the ten and under crowed, but there’s a limit to how much you can count on from a four and six-year-old, or even those who’ve achieved the great age of seven. By the time the grandbabies are of old enough to really enter in, will they still be interested in gardening? That remains to be seen.

The cats are not much help in the garden, but the outside ones look on while I labor. My dogs want to be with me every second, which isn’t possible for tiny Sadie Sue when it gets too hot or cold or much of anything. She peters out pretty fast, so she sits by the kitchen door or looks out the windows and protests loudly. Jilly also wants to be by my side, but will head for the hills, I fear, if not on her lead. Good old Luca can come along. And that’s the gang. I need gardening elves.

wildflowers and reseeding annuals

***Larkspur and coreopsis tinctoria by Elise

I’ve written a book about herbs, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. available in print and kindle at Amazon. Many of these herbs are also used today. It’s also in print at Barnes & Noble.

‘An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.’

(Images are from late last May and soon to be repeating here, more or less,)