Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wow, New Year's Eve already???

I can hardly believe it's New Year's Eve! But here we are. Resolutions, anyone?

I made one resolution last year - to bring cloth bags to the store and decline both paper and plastic. I have a couple dozen tote bags from writers' conferences and other various and sundry places - I figured I could put them to use to help save the planet.

So I put the big bag-o-bags in the back seat of my car. And then spent January forgetting to bring them into the store, remembering them only when I was at the checkout line. I then spent February recalling the tote bags halfway through my shopping trip.

March found me remembering once I entered the store. If it wasn't raining, I'd dash back out to the parking lot to get them. By April I usually remembered the bags, and the checkout clerks managed to fill them after I stopped them from using the plastic ones, even though the tote bags were awkward to fill - they don't fit in the handy shelf that holds the plastic bags open.

In May I decided to add cardboard boxes to my recycling effort. Our home recycler doesn't take them, but the recycler at my day job does, so I started breaking down the boxes and loading them flat into the trunk of my car and taking them to work.

In June I thought about riding my bicycle to the drug store, with a backpack to bring home my stuff. It's only about two miles, but there's a monster hill to go up on the way back, so I didn't get much past thinking about it.

By July I was remembering the tote bags most of the time. But then I'd forget to put them back in the car, which meant that when I remembered the bags at the store, about half the time they were in my kitchen, not in the car.

In August, it seemed like everyone was giving out free cloth tote bags. So I added about a half-dozen more bags to my collection.

In September, I tried to get my husband to carry a cloth tote bag into the store. Didn't succeed.

In October, I realized that carrying the bags was second nature. And I mostly remembered to put them back in the car after I emptied them.

In November, I realized my upper body strength had improved, because a full cloth tote bag is a lot heavier than a full plastic or paper bag.

So now it's December, and I think I've managed to make last year's resolution second nature. So what will my small green resolution be this year?

Electricity. As in phasing out the incadescent light bulbs in my house and replacing them with compact fluorescents or some other earth-friendlier option. As in turning off my computer and other energy sucking appliances when not in use. And bugging my husband and kids to do the same.

Okay, gotta go - I see a light in the next room someone left on!

Happy New Year!!!!!


Joy

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wired?



One of my Christmas gifts from DH was a new VCR/DVD digital tuner/timer/player that does everything but wash dishes and sing carols.


I have no idea how to operate it. Yesterday I spent half an hour trying to program channels only to find out he hadn't hooked it up to cable.


I want this VCR/DVD/Whassis? I like to watch movies and program television shows. I also like to read books. Like Dolce here, I am fond of my toys.


But a book is easier to operate. Open, commence reading. Jennifer Ashley's latest Immortals offering and Heather Graham's newest book are on my TBR pile, which is more like a mountain.

To wire or not to wire? Will I be ready in February when the GREAT SWITCH TO DIGITAL TELEVISION EVERYWHERE will come to my TV?

Or will I still be scratching my head, trying to figure out how to hook up the VCR/DVD/Thingie?

DH was busy trying to figure out the new cell phone I got him, and upload his contacts into it, while I tried to puzzle out the instruction manual. Then I realized I was reading it in Spanish.

Dh to me: "Take it next door, they know how to read Spanish."


Me: "Um, no, they're Brazilian. They speak Portuguese."


Dh to me: "They still can probably figure it out faster."


All the while the &#@*#&@ machine is blinking and winking at me, HELLO, HELLO. HELLO.


I shut it off in sheer frustration. It read GOODBYE. In three different languages, I think.


This is why I don't have a portable e-book reader. I'm afraid, very afraid of trying to figure it out, and accidentally deleting something. Not that it's possible, but then again, for me, I could probably find a way to do it. Like right in the middle of a steamy love scene.


"He tenderly kissed her and she stroked his... DELETE DELETE..."


I have two buttons lately. ON and OFF. I feel like the Epsilon elevator operator in Brave New World. "Up? Down?"


Ah, for the good old days of mere VHS when I could barely figure out the cable then... but felt proud when I knew how to plug in the electric!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Twilight

Christmas is over. We had a lovely day and hope you did too. In the wake of my surgery, I'm not up to standing for long periods of time, so I didn't fix the obligatory turkey dinner. My DH put a big roast in and my only contribution to the feast was to make homemade gravy. (Hmmmm. Wonder how long I can keep up this no-cooking gig?)

We opened our presents, which felt a tad anticlimactic to me because there was nothing under the tree that meant as much as the shining faces around it. But I was intrigued with one present that went to our youngest. Our oldest daughter gave our youngest the complete Twilight series. She "chain-read" them and thought her little sister would enjoy them too.

My youngest daughter has some learning disabilities that make reading a struggle, but she can do it if she's motivated. She read the Harry Potter books and the Chronicles of Narnia and loves the Cat Who mystery series. But she seems to do best when she sees the movie first. Then she can't wait to dive back into the fictional world to visit the characters she already knows.

So this afternoon, we'll take the T to Boston Commons and indulge in another of our Christmas traditions. We're going to the Twilight movie. I'm curious to see what the attraction is because personally vampires don't do it for me. My oldest daughter says the draw is Edward--an old soul trapped in a 17 year old body. He's courtly. He's full of honor. And he cares about his lady love's purity enough to guard it even from himself.

So that's what's driving all the tweeners to the theatre 8 and 9 times. The hero is a gentleman vampire. How unique.

If you've seen the movie or read the book, I'd love to have your take on this rising phenomenon. What do you think has catapulted TWILIGHT into the spotlight?

Don't miss Emily Bryan's 50 day/50 blog tour starting January 1st! Join Em in cyber-space for 50 chances to win a copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT! Sign up for her no-spam, no-advertisement newsletter to receive a personal copy of the blog tour itinerary!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

glitter graphics

Happy Holidays from the Chatelaines!

Best wishes from

Joy Gerri Jennifer Cindy
Bonnie C.L. Emily

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Santa does here in Florida

Merry Christmas from the Vanak house in sunny Florida to you, happy holidays and best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas


We're waiting for Santa. Here's hoping that everyone has a Christmas that's merry!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Repressed Sex is the Best Sex


Emily Bryan, here. Following up on Jenn's post yesterday about why we love historicals, I have a thought or two. While I'm recuperating from my surgery, I'm vegging out in front of the TV discovering the delights of "on demand" movies. Yesterday I watched The Piano with Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel and Sam Neill.


It's set in the Victorian era with English/Scottish characters in New Zealand. Right away, I'm fascinated--a period piece with the added zest of an exotic setting. Imagine the type of personalities that would travel half-way around the world under wind power. Of course, the men would be alphas, probably on the wrong side of respectable in their homelands. But what of the women? In this story, Ada is a strong-minded young woman, who plays the piano like an angel and otherwise is mute. Her hearing is fine, but she has not spoken a word since she was six. Her soul flows out her fingers whenever she plays her piano.


When her husband-to-be leaves her piano on the beach rather than haul it up to his homestead, I knew this arranged marriage was doomed. However, the Scotsman in the next glen trades some of his land for the piano and makes a deal with Ada to earn her piano back, trading a key for each time she comes to play it for him. His naked longing for her is heartwrenching. There's a scene where he becomes fixated on a dime-sized hole in her stocking. When he lays down beneath the piano to touch the circle of milky skin displayed there, the moment is electric. It was one of the most erotic moments I've ever seen on the screen.


Part of why we find historicals so compelling is the repression of desire so common in the stories. For whatever reason, the lovers aren't able to hop immediately into the sack as they might in a contemporary. So a man's fascination with a woman's nape, a glancing touch on the arm, a smoldering look across a crowded room becomes so potently charged with sensual tension, we invest in the characters and hope for them. The sex act is more than an exchange of bodily fluids. It's a mingling of souls.


Something desired with total desperation hooks us while gratuitous sexuality becomes numbing. I'm sure there are some contemporaries that succeed in creating the same level of tension, but the repression of desire is more common in historicals and I believe it's one of the reasons for their continueing popularity. In my next release, Vexing the Viscount, I follow the romance between an ancient Roman thief and a Celtic slave girl. Here's a link to an excerpt of Caius spying on Deirdre. http://www.emilybryan.com/Roman%20Forum.htm


What is the most compelling example of repressed desire you've read or seen in a movie lately?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lovin' the Historicals

After my mom and I met for our annual Christmas tea at The English Rose Tea Room, I started thinking about my love for all things historical, especially Victoriana.

What is it about historical novels that appeals to me? What appeals to you?

Not being self-analytical, I have to say: I dunno.

Maybe it’s the fact that the past is fixed. We know what happened (well, we mostly know what happened), so we don’t have to worry about it.

Maybe it’s the fact that novels let us enjoy the lushness of the past without having to experience the bad parts (using chamber pots, not bathing for weeks, and having lice. Eww).

I love reading about beautiful clothes I’ll never wear and exquisite parties I’ll never attend. I love riding through Hyde Park in a landau, racing over the Scottish highlands on horseback, living in a mansion like Blenheim palace, without having to worry about how cold it really was. (When I visited elegant eighteenth-century palaces in Germany, I always froze my butt off).



(This is Blenheim, BTW.)

I love the satin ball gowns, ropes of diamonds, and above-the-elbow gloves, and I’m always happy it’s not me stuck inside the corset and bustle.

That’s not to say I don’t like to see the less elegant side of the past. The historicals I like best don't gloss over the hardships people experienced. I like characters to come from all walks of life (not just the aristocrats).

I’m also not married to one time period. I like Regencies, Victorians, medievals, stories set in the ancient world and the United States. I also like historicals set in non-Anglo countries and ones that blend cultures, like Bonnie Vanak’s Egyptian Victorians.

I was thinking this morning that after I finish the Victorian series I just started (the first book, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, is already up at Amazon [a little BSP there]), I might try something else, like contemporaries or rom. sus.

Then I imagined a world in which I didn’t write historicals, and I screamed! No, no, no, no! Whatever else I write (I currently also write my other love, paranormals/urban fantasy), I will always write historicals! I have to.

But enough about me. How about you? What is it that makes you grab a historical romance and glom it?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chatelaines rock RT Awards

Three of the Chatelaines are up for awards at next years Romantic Times conference. They are Allyson James for best Shapeshifter Novel with DRAGON MASTER
CL Wilson with best Fantasy Novel with KING OF SWORD AND SKY


and Emily Bryan for best KISS Hero for Trevelyn Deveridge from DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS Woohoo! Here's hoping we're hearing your acceptances speeches come April in Orlando. Go Chatelaines!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crossing the Border to Canada

Last weekend my husband and I volunteered to help take our daughter's high school band on a overnight field trip to Canada so they could march in the Roger's Santa Claus parade. We chaperoned 144 teenagers. Such fun!

The parade was a huge success, but crossing into and out of Canada was a bit enlightening.

It took us about ten minutes to get four bus loads of kids over the border into Canada. Returning to the United States took much longer--one and a half hours. Those kind of crossing times should make 2010 a lot of fun when Vancouver host the Winter Olympics!

While waiting to clear customs, I had plenty of time to think about what it was like in the past, traveling from one country to another? Did they have early customs crossings?


Since most of my stories are set in Scotland, the border crossing in ancient times that I am most familiar with came to mind...Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall still stands today, though it no longer used as a military fortification.

Hadrian's Wall was built in AD 122 by the Roman Empire to prevent military raids on Roman Britian by the Pictish tribes to the north in Scotland. In addition to its use as a military fortification, it is thought that the gates through the wall would also have served as customs posts to allow trade taxation.


It seems only logical that there would be other such crossings. Do you know of any? And if so, have you visited them yourself?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Emily Bryan Going Low-Tech

I'm experiencing the best and worst of technology right now. I'm able to post today because I set this to post last Sunday. I'm actually in the hospital after my sucessful surgery on Wednesday and though I'm enjoying the highest quality of medical care, I don't expect to have access to the internet. Besides, the hospital recommends not bringing electronic devices, lest they go mysteriously missing. (Sheesh! They expect me to trust them with my colon but they can't protect my laptop?) Anyway, the thought of daytime TV is just too depressing. I'm looking for low-tech ways to amuse myself since I'll be officially unplugged for my week in the "health spa."

I'll be reading, of course, and I'll write in the old-fashioned way--with pen and paper. But if I want some mindless fun, I'll try my hand at sketching. The still life above is one I did while we were on our recent cruise. Unlike my heroine Artemisia (Distracting the Duchess) I don't pretend to any artistic talent, but drawing relaxes me. The world is reduced to light and shadow, planes and angles. The process is more important than the product. Other cares fade when I'm concentrating on trying to get my perspective just right.

I have a writer friend who is very visual and when she are brainstorming her stories, she makes collages. She cuts out pictures of people who will become her characters and arranges them on the art paper. It helps her see relationships and conflicts developing between them. I'd be interested to know how many other writers have tried this.

When you want to relax, yet not vegetate, what do you like to do? And don't think I won't check for your comments once the DH springs me from the hospit--er, I mean, "health spa," so be sure to post!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are you right-brained or left-brained?

This is kind of cool. If you ever wanted to know if you are predominantly right-brained (ruled by imagination) or left-brained (ruled by logic), check out the spinning dancer animation at Right Brain vs Left Brain.

If she's spinning clockwise most of the time, you're more right-brained. If she's spinning counter-clockwise more often, you're more left-brained. If you're like me, and you can make her spin either way just by blinking and looking back, you're ruled by both sides of the brain.

Hint: if all you can see is the dancer spinning clockwise, look away and read something, then look back. Reading is done by the left side of the brain, and chances are, she'll be spinning counter-clockwise when you look back.

And it's really weird, because depending which way the dancer is spinning, she has a different leg raised. In case you think the animation is just randomly switching directions just to fool you, try getting someone else to watch her with you. There will be times when each person swears she's spinning in a different direction!

So spill: Are you right-brained or left-brained??

Joy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A winner, Christmas, trains and more trains

We have a winner! COLORS OF ME has won the copy of Emily Bryan's PLEASURING THE PIRATE! Colors, please email me at bonnievanak@aol.com with your snail mail so I can send the book out to you. Thank you everyone who entered!

And please, keep Emily in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow as she goes into surgery.


I'll be giving away another book, a copy of my first Nocturne, THE EMPATH, at Harlequin's special open house this Thursday. The Nocturne chat is from 9 to 10, so stop by to say hello and have your chance to win my book and goodies from other authors.


Times are hard for many people this holiday season. So this year, DH and I decided to do an open house to offer holiday cheer.





We're running the trains. All of them. This is Dolce wearing his reindeer antlers, looking woeful as he sits in the circle of the first track, which is an O gauge. Inside that circle we'll put a G scale gauge.





You see, we don't just have a cute train beneath the tree. Nope, that's for AMATEURS.


When Frank and I bought our house years ago, we looked for a house that had a sizeable back yard. Reason? The trains. We knew we wanted to do a garden railroad, and we needed property. Frank built an outdoor layout. After Hurricane Wilma wrecked the back yard in 2005, we remodeled the back yard and he added MORE track.


This is the two-level layout. He'll probably run the circus train and maybe one of the smaller locomotives on it.





But having trains OUTSIDE wasn't enough for my darling husband. He decided, on the advice of friends (friends?!) to put trains inside our house.

So he built a train layout that goes over the kitchen cabinets, into the living room, into the garage, into the attic. Kids love seeing this train run, and "vanish" into the attic.


One time I was doing the dishes and the train derailed into the sink. Good thing I was fine. Can you imagine the 9-11 call he'd have to make? "Hello, my wife has been hit by a train. In the kitchen."

The trains are loads of fun. Sometimes when I'm in the back writing, Frank will be running the trains and I'll have the Coca Cola locomotive (one of my favorites) chugging by as I'm typing away on the laptop.

I don't know why trains fascinate me so much. Maybe it's the little kid still deep inside. Or the fact that the engines fascinate me with the gears and the power.

Or maybe I just like toys.

So that is what we'll be doing this Saturday. We'll have rum punch, and goodies and lots of trains. I may post photos next week of the trains actually running.
Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Assault of Laughter

Emily Bryan here. I really appreciated Jenn's post yesterday. It was a hysterical vid. I'm enjoying laughing more than usual lately. It might be because I was just diagnosed with colon cancer last Monday. If you care to know more about that, please visit my blog.

I'm scheduled for surgery next week (Dec 10th), so I'm getting ready to pack up for what I choose to think of as a visit to the "health spa." (What? They'll wrap me in warm blankets and deliver my meals on a tray while I lounge in bed all day. My surgeon is cute enough to be a cover model. Doesn't that sound like a spa to you?) And I'd like some suggestions on what books to take with me.

My friend Christie Craig has sent me her latest, Divorced, Desperate & Dating. I've been warned to read it with caution lest I bust a stitch with a belly laugh. Books deliver several layers of humor--the knowing smile, the soft chuckle, the Diet Coke shooting out the nose response. I'm looking for some fun reads for my week-long stay at the hosp--I mean, health spa. So what do you suggest?

My editor Leah just emailed me this morning with the advance news that my Distracting the Duchess (my first romantic comedy historical!) has been nominated for a Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times and my hero Trev is up for a K.I.S.S. Award as well. I'm thrilled. (I'm glad this happened now rather than later. I'd hate to think it was a sympathy nomination!)

Also, if you missed out on winning the Pleasuring the Pirate that Bonnie gave away earlier this week, you have another chance. I'm blogging at http://www.authorsandbooks.blogspot.com/ on Monday, Dec 8th and one lucky commenter will receive a signed copy in time to make a great stocking stuffer. I'll also be at http://www.dearreader.com/ next week starting the 8th. If you haven't signed up for this, it's a fun service. Each week, you receive snippets of a new book a little each day so that by the end of the week, you know if you want to read more. I'll be on the forum answering questions on Monday and Tuesday, but expect not to have internet access for the rest of the week. Cancer is just so dang inconsiderate of people's schedules!



Of course, I would appreciate your prayers and healing wishes. They mean a lot to me and I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, but I also invite you to laugh with me. Please let me know which funny books you recommend for my trip next week. Mark Twain said, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."



This includes cancer.


video

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Different Take on Historical Romance

First, don't miss Bonnie's big giveaway below:

http://thechatelaines.blogspot.com/2008/12/book-giveaway-emily-bryans-pleasuring.html

And now for my scitilating post: This vid will give you a different perspective on a classic historical romance. Enjoy it! (It goes through a bit of applause before the feature starts.) I hope this peps you up on a hectic day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BOOK GIVEAWAY! Emily Bryan's Pleasuring the Pirate

Dh and I went shopping this weekend, and one of the trips was to a bookstore.

I decided to spend. I bought. And bought.

One of the books I bought was PLEASURING THE PIRATE by our own Emily Bryan.

Featured here.

I'm giving away this yummy book as a Christmas gift. To enter, just comment below.

Here's a blurb from PLEASURING THE PIRATE. Yo ho ho!!

It's an ill wind . . . that blows a pirate into Jacquelyn Wren's life.

Her mother may have been a famous courtesan, but she's not about to give in to the passion that is her birthright. Still, she'll do anything to protect the orphans in her charge.

Even put up with a prodigal pirate!

When Gabriel Drake turns up unexpectedly alive, all Jacquelyn has to do is see the new baron suitably wed to a lady of quality. And a few lessons in courting should do the trick nicely.

But she forgot one thing.
What a pirate wants, a pirate takes!


Read an excerpt from Pleasuring the Pirate!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fallen, out-takes and edits


I was thrilled to be able to bring Connor Duncan back in Fallen, which is about John Murray Carrie's brother. If you've read Rising Wind then you know John is something of an ass, and that's putting it nicely. Okay he's a big jerk the entire book. Fallen is about the reason why he acts as he does in Rising Wind. It starts the year before Rising Wind and continues until the end of the Revolutionary War. I also have points of view from Izzy, John's true love, her father Donald and her brother Ewan.

This post is to help you see how the editorial process works. While writing the story I wanted the reader who hadn't read Rising Wind to know something that happened to John in the past. I'm also a big fan of dream scenes so I included a battle from Rising Wind in John's dreams so the reader would know about some of the things that haunted John. My editor suggested we take it out for a very good reason which I'll explain after the excerpt.

John's Dream sequence.

He could not see. He could hear the noises, he knew the enemy was around him, but he could not see them. He drew his sword and his pistol and moved away from his tent.
John heard the screams and yells. He smelled the blood. Carrie was here, somewhere, in the midst of the battle. All he saw was fog and smoke. He ran through it to where he thought she should be. Where was she? Where were his soldiers, his command, all the men that were his responsibility? He was to lead them safely to Fort Savannah. It was up to him. All him. No one else.
The fog and smoke dissolved around him. He looked around the ridge and saw the bodies of his men strewn about, all covered with blood and their scalps missing. He turned a slow circle to search for any sign of life but there was no one.
“Carrie?” John formed the words but nothing came out. He felt a strange need, an urgency, a desire. He knew he should run and hide before the savages returned but he couldn’t. He had to find his sister. He moved about, calling her name but no sound was made. His mouth moved and his throat was hoarse with his calls. Perhaps he was deaf. Could that be it? He turned again, calling for Carrie. All he heard was the emptiness. Not even a bird could be heard singing in the trees. But he had heard the battle earlier. Had he not?
John shook his head and moved onward. He turned over the bodies of his soldiers with the toe of his boot, hoping against hope that perhaps Carrie would be sheltered under one of them. He looked for a color other than the red coats of his soldiers and the red of blood. He looked for golden hair and a pink striped skirt. Was that not what she was wearing?
Finally, by a trampled tent, he saw what he was looking for. A woman lay face down. John ran to her side. He dropped his weapons and fell to his knees.
“Carrie?” He touched her shoulder and it was cold and still. “Carrie?” he said again as he pulled her body into his arms and turned her over.
Izzy…How? Why? He looked down upon her pale face, at the smattering of freckles across her nose, at her red blonde cloud of curls. There was not a mark upon her, yet she was dead.
He had left her to die. Just as he had his men. She was his responsibility and he failed her.
Izzy was dead.
The pain tore through him as if the Shawnee held a knife to his heart. The shock of it sent him flying upright and he stumbled from his cot with his legs twisted in his blanket.


Later in the story I had Donald talking with Connor. Donald told Connor about John and Izzy. The problem is, the reader already knows this stuff so for them its just repetition. So we took that part out also. By the way, I really enjoyed writing Donald. He had such a dry outlook on everything. He fought at Culloden and felt guilty about abandoning his wife and children to hide in the highlands afterwards.

Donald's version.

He wasn’t going to make it. Donald looked at the bruised, beaten and sweaty face beneath the filthy bandage. John Murray would soon be a dead man, either from the broken skull or the crushed leg. It was up to him to see that he lived long enough for Izzy to make her peace with the man.
Ewan best get back with her soon or the only peace she’d have would be from standing over his grave. They’d carried Murray into the makeshift hospital camp under a flag of truce then Ewan left, taking a few of the remaining English soldiers with him to show them where they’d found Murray so they could collect the dead and the wounded. The camp was nothing more than rows of cots with some canvases hung to shelter the patients from the rain. Surgery was inside a small cabin close to the meetin house and wagons held the dead awaiting burial.
The Quakers at New Garden gave him a wide berth. Mostly because of the rifle that lay across his lap. They did not approve of violence of any kind. The Doctors looked at Murray, offered to take his leg off and he would not let them. When Murray faced his daughter it would be as a whole man and nothing less. Donald had made his position clear and they left him alone after patching the man up as best they could.
They all knew Murray would not live much longer. As it was the man was lucky to be alive. Since Ewan left the man had sunk into a delirium from his wounds and there was no rousing him. Occasionally he would speak nonsense as he tossed his head back and forth on the cot that he lay upon. Words like father, mother, Carrie, duty, savages and Izzy. Donald could not help but smile when he heard his daughter’s name. The man still thought on her. It was a revenge of sorts since he’d left his daughter with a bastard child to raise on her own.
Donald raised his hand when he saw Connor walking among the rows of wounded with two tin plates in his hands. He was covered with mud and soaking wet.
“How is he?” Connor asked as he handed a plate to Donald.
“Near death,” Donald said. The plate contained a hearty stew and a chunk of bread which he used to sop up the meal.
Connor flashed a quick grin. “Donnae spare my feelings,” he said. “Please.”
“I ken he is your wife’s brother,” Donald said dryly. “But ye can tell by looking at him that he willnae last long.” There was no need to mince words. Duncan’s kinship with the man would not stop him from dying.
Connor drug over a short stool, sat down, and dug into his plate. He had to be as hungry as Donald felt, if not more so. And there was nothing he could do for Murray beyond sit and wait.
“I hae a friend,” Connor said between bites, “Efrem, a Cherokee who is wise in the way of plants and things. I wish he was here, but then again, I am glad he is with Carrie, watching out for her.”
“Ye buried her father?”
“I did,” Connor said. “Beneath a dogwood. It will be blooming soon. Carrie would like it I think.”
“Better than he would have gotten from this lot I think,” Donald said.
“He was a good man,” Connor said. “I owed him much, including my life.”
Donald nodded his head as he let Connor have his silent moments of tribute.
“Tell me how ye know John,” he said after a bit.
“I donnae really,” Donald said. “Except that Ewan used his horse to try to break me out of prison.”
“What about your daughter?” Connor asked. “Ye said he was Elly’s father?”
“Aye. Which makes her your niece.”
“Then it is no wonder she resembles my wee Jilly.”
Murray stirred feverishly on the cot. Connor pulled a kerchief from inside his shirt and stuck it out in the rain to gather water. When he was satisfied he wiped at Murray’s face and let some of the water drizzle between his lips. He did it all matter of factly and Donald could tell there was no love lost between the two men.
“Tell me the story,” Connor said when Murray had settled.
“It seems the man here fancied my daughter,” Donald began. “He was also the one who brought me in. He had no idea that Izzy was my daughter. I think she used her mother’s name for employment or so Ewan told me. She didnae have much patience with me in those days. She blamed me for her mother’s death.” Donald looked out at the rain. He still grieved for Ellyn. The pain of hearing the news of her death was as fresh now as it was all those years ago.
“My youngest son, Donnie.” He swallowed back more grief. He had barely known Donnie, the one who resembled him most. “Was the same coloring and size as Murray here. And with Murray’s white horse…”
“I have his horse,” Connor said. “He’s a great stud.”
Donald nodded in agreement. “Tis good to know that such an animal survived instead of being blown to bits on some battlefield.”
“Donnie pretended to be John,” Connor said.
“Aye. They had a letter and a seal and since the man here was new at the post Ewan thought they could get away with it. They waited until Izzy had plans with the man, drugged a bottle of wine and he got Izzy with child while Ewan and Donnie used his horse and uniform. They were bringing me up the steps of the prison when his friend came upon them and realized it was not Murray on the horse. His friend was killed, along with Donnie…”
“Did your daughter know of the plan?”
“Nay, not according to Ewan. But he thought she did and that was enough to destroy Izzy.”
“I would say it destroyed him too,” Connor said. “He seemed to have an unnatural hatred for all things Scots when I met him. I can now see why. Carrie puzzled upon it also. She said the man I knew was not the brother she’d grown up with.”
“Pride can make men do strange things,” Donald said.
“Aye,” Connor agreed. “This explains much about how he was with me. I think it nearly killed him when Carrie chose me.”
“He felt the lash,” Donald continued. “Along with Ewan. They made Izzy watch it for her part. We didnae see her again until we were put upon the ship. He was on it too. With his horse and his sister, your wife. And Elly was born on the voyage over. Izzy wouldnae let us tell him either. He never even knew she was on board.”
“Izzy…” Murray said as he tossed his head once again.
Connor wiped Murray’s forehead again. “He tried to have me lashed,” he said as he wiped. “Luckily his father stopped it. As I said, I owed the man much.”
“I donnae thing Izzy ever got over him,” Donald said. “She is much like her mother in that way.”
“Once a woman gives her heart,” Connor said. “It is hard to convince her otherwise.”
Donald smiled as a vision of Ellyn filled his mind. “Aye,” he agreed. “And since she has given her heart to this man I willnae have him die without knowing that Izzy did not betray him. He will look her in the eye and ask her forgiveness.”
I have not done much for her…my daughter…but this I will be sure of…
“I hope he lives that long,” Connor said.


My editor suggested that we have Connor tell Donald about what happened in the massacre in Rising Wind. It was interesting to get Connor's perspective of it several years later. Plus I just love writing about him.

Connor's version

He wasn’t going to make it. Donald looked at the bruised, beaten and sweaty face beneath the filthy bandage. John Murray would soon be a dead man, either from the broken skull or the crushed leg. It was up to him to see that he lived long enough for Izzy to make her peace.
Ewan best get back with her soon or the only peace she’d have would be from standing over his grave. They’d carried Murray into the makeshift hospital camp under a flag of truce then Ewan left, taking a few of the remaining English soldiers with him to show them where they’d found Murray so they could collect the dead and the wounded. The camp was nothing more than rows of cots with some canvases hung to shelter the patients from the rain. Surgery was inside a small cabin close to the meetin house and wagons held the dead awaiting burial.
The Quakers at New Garden gave him a wide berth. Mostly because of the rifle that lay across his lap. They did not approve of violence of any kind. The Doctors looked at Murray, offered to take his leg off and he would not let them. When Murray faced his daughter it would be as a whole man and nothing less. Donald had made his position clear and they left him alone after patching the man up as best they could.
They all knew Murray would not live much longer. As it was the man was lucky to be alive. Since Ewan left the man sunk into a delirium from his wounds and there was no rousing him. Occasionally he would speak nonsense as he tossed his head back and forth on the cot that he lay upon. Words like father, mother, Carrie, duty, savages and Izzy. Donald could not help but smile when he heard his daughter’s name. The man still thought on her. It was a revenge of sorts since he’d left his daughter with a bastard child to raise on her own.
Donald raised his hand when he saw Connor walking among the rows of wounded with two tin plates in his hands. He was covered with mud and soaking wet.
“How is he?” Connor asked as he handed a plate to Donald.
“Near death,” Donald said. The plate contained a hearty stew and a chunk of bread which he used to sop up the meal.
Connor flashed a quick grin. “Donnae spare my feelings,” he said. “Please.”
“I ken he is your wife’s brother,” Donald said dryly. “But ye can tell by looking at him that he willnae last long.” There was no need to mince words. Duncan’s kinship with the man would not stop him from dying.
Connor drug over a short stool, sat down, and dug into his plate. He had to be as hungry as Donald felt, if not more so. And there was nothing he could do for Murray beyond sit and wait.
“I hae a friend,” Connor said between bites, “Efrem, a Cherokee who is wise in the way of plants and things. I wish he was here, but then again, I am glad he is with Carrie, watching out for her.”
“Ye buried her father?”
“I did,” Connor said. “Beneath a dogwood. It will be blooming soon. Carrie would like it I think.”
“Better than he would have gotten from this lot I think,” Donald said.
“He was a good man,” Connor said. “I owed him much, including my life.”
Donald nodded his head as he let Connor have his silent moments of tribute.
“Tell me how ye know John,” he said after a bit.
“I donnae really,” Donald said. “Except that Ewan used his horse to try to break me out of prison.”
“What about your daughter?” Connor asked. “Ye said he was Elly’s father?”
“Aye. Which makes her your niece.”
“Then it is no wonder she resembles my wee Jilly.”
Murray stirred feverishly on the cot. Connor pulled a kerchief from inside his shirt and stuck it out in the rain to gather water. When he was satisfied he wiped at Murray’s face and let some of the water drizzle between his lips. He did it all matter of factly and Donald could tell there was no love lost between the two men.
“Tell me the story,” Connor said when Murray had settled.
“It seems the man here fancied my daughter,” Donald began. He told Connor the tale, as told to him by Ewan who lived it…and regretted it for the grief it caused.
“Did your daughter know of the plan?” Connor asked when he was done.
“Nay, not according to Ewan. But he thought she did and that was enough to destroy Izzy.”
“I would say it destroyed him too,” Connor said. “He seemed to have an unnatural hatred for all things Scots when I met him. I can now see why. Carrie puzzled upon it also. She said the man I knew was not the brother she’d grown up with.”
“My daughter seems to care for him. And he is my grand-daughters father. I know nothing of him beyond that. I cannae judge him as ye can.”
“I am not sure I can judge him fairly,” Connor said. “I spent more time thinking about how I wanted to kill him than anything else. From the first moment I met him we were at odds.”
Donald settled his stool back against a post and crossed his legs in front of him. “Tell me,” he said. “If by some miracle he survives this and I have dealing with him in the future it would help me to know something about him.”
Connor smiled. “He hated me from the start. That much was obvious. I think I understand it now but then I took it personally. Or course I had no love for anyone wearing the red coat at that time. For good reason.”
“Most highlanders can say that,” Donald agreed. “Tis the way of things.”
“Aye,” Connor said. “Add to that the fact that his sister caught my eye.” He chuckled. “She nearly killed me come to think of it.”
“From the looks of ye I think ye survived,” Donald said dryly.
“We nearly didn’t,” Connor said, suddenly serious. “We lost his entire troop up on the Blue Ridge.”
“Shawnee?”
“Aye. I was to lead them to Fort Savannah. It was back in ‘74. In April. They were just off the ship.”
“As were we,” Donald said.
“Carrie was determined to come with us. She wanted to see her father. And himself there was determined to march through the wilderness as if he were parading down the streets of London.”
“Might as well of invited the Shawnee into your camp,” Donald observed.
“I missed the signs,” Connor admitted. “And he was not inclined to listen to my opinion on much…”
“Because ye are Scot.”
“Aye,” Connor agreed. He leaned forward and placed his forearms on his knees. “The fog was heavy that morning. My friend, Efrem, had come into camp the night before. We rose early and went down to the stream to bathe… and talk. Efrem was trying to convince me to cut his throat and take off with Carrie.” Connor tilted his head towards Murray. “As soon as I heard the first shot I knew they’d come. My first and only thought was for Carrie. It turned out she was in the stream with her maid as she had the same notion for a bath.”
Donald knew what Connor was seeing in his mind’s eye. He’d seen it enough in his own lifetime. Different battles, different fields of valor, but always the same deadly results. “Ye did the only thing ye could do. Ye took the girl and ye ran.”
“We did,” Connor admitted. He smiled again. “Then she made us go back for him.”
Murray chose that moment to stir. He said something unintelligible. Was he reliving the battle as Connor told of it? Connor wiped the man’s brow again. He had a history with the man yet he took care with him. His love for his wife was strong enough to conquer the hatred he felt for his enemy.
Murray settled again and Connor continued with his story. “We were too far into the wilderness to go back so we moved on to Fort Savannah. He blamed me for all of it.” He stretched a long leg out and nudged a moccasin clad toe at a rock that poked up through the damp grass. “He nearly drowned when we crossed the New River. Efrem and I jumped in to save him and still he wanted to kill me. Carrie nearly died too, from a copperhead. That, along with the Shawnee on our heels…” His voice trailed off and he scratched at the growth of coppery beard that grew beneath his chin. “When we got to the fort he threw me in a cell and ordered me lashed. He was full of hatred. And pride. I think he went mad a bit after his men were killed. He blamed me for it ye ken.”
“Pride can make men do strange things,” Donald said.
“Aye,” Connor agreed. “I think it nearly killed him when Carrie chose me.”
“He felt the lash himself,” Donald continued. “Along with Ewan. They made Izzy watch it for her part. We didnae see her again until we were put upon the ship. He was on it too. With his horse and his sister. And Elly was born on the voyage over. Izzy wouldnae let us tell him either. He never even knew she was on board.”
“Izzy…” Murray said as he tossed his head once again.
Connor wiped Murray’s forehead again. “Luckily for me his father came and stopped my lashing. As I said, I owed the man much.” He looked over at Murray whose lips moved in silent communication with the demons who haunted his dreams. “I got the best of him yet,” he said. I have his great white stud and am putting him to good use.”
“It might give him some comfort inspite of his hatred,” Donald admitted. “We watched him on the ship with the beast. He treated him well.” Donald rose and stretched his arms over his head. The weather and Connor’s story, combined with the intensity of the battle had finally caught up with. “I donnae thing Izzy ever got over him,” he added. “She is much like her mother in that way.”
“Once a woman gives her heart,” Connor said. “It is hard to convince her otherwise.”
Donald smiled as a vision of Ellyn filled his mind. “Aye,” he agreed. “And since she has given her heart to this man I willnae have him die without knowing that Izzy did not betray him. He will look her in the eye and ask her forgiveness.”
I have not done much for her…my daughter…but this I will be sure of…
“I hope he lives that long,” Connor said.


I hope this gives you an idea on how the editorial process works. It's always helps me to have another view of the story since I tend to write in a vacumn. So what do you think? Is the story more interesting this way? Can you see the process behind the edits?

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