Davina McKie is a bonny lass of seventeen, as clever as they come and a gifted musician. Unable to speak since childhood, she is doted on by her belligerent younger brothers, Will and Sandy, who vow to protect their silent sister.
When the lads are forced to depart the glen, Jamie McKie plans to brighten his daughter's summer by escorting Davina to the Isle of Arran. Her cousins make her welcome at the manse, and the parish delights in hearing their talented fiddler.
But when she catches the eye of a handsome young Highlander on Midsummer Eve, sheltered Davina is unprepared for the shocking events that follow.
A timeless story of passion and revenge, of lost innocence and shattered dreams, Grace in Thine Eyes explores the sorrow of unspeakable shame and the gift of unmmeasurable grace.
Swept away to 19th century Scotland with characters that seem like I know them, this story made me weep and reflect on life in many ways. The heroine, Davina McKie, experienced an accident in childhood that left her mute. She communicates with with people through gestures, expressions, and writing words in her sketchbook. She has two over-protective brothers who feel guilty for her accident.
When Davina is sent to the island of Arran to visit with distant family, she meets the rogue, Somerled McDonald, a wealthy heir. They share a love of music and an attraction that will forever change Davina's life. Without giving away story, I'll suffice it to say that Davina becomes a victim of the man she loves, a bitter betrayal by her brothers, the whole island, and the village of people where she had grown up--and all the while innocent. She forgives, grieves, forgives, grieves, and finally healing comes--and with it a new love begins.
This book is wonderful, historically accurate, with deep and heart-felt characters, a plot that is thick and ripe with conflict and realistic circumstances. You will really enjoy Grace in Thine Eyes.
When I decided to write Highland Sanctuary, I wanted a setting that wasn't as well known in Scotland. I had heard and read many novels set in Galloway, Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. When I discovered Caithness, while researching historic castles, I found my ideal setting.
Caithness, is a now a county in the far northern tip of Scotland, nestled against the sea. Formerly part of the shire of Inverness, it gained independence in 1455 when the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of of the justiciary or sheriffdom.
It's beautiful--and different from the rest of the country. For instance, the land is open and flat, lacking trees and forest, known as moorland and covered in peat moss. A few hills are scattered about, but not the kind of mountains often associated in photos of the highlands. Caithness contains plenty of lochs and bog areas.
In Highland Sanctuary, I created the fictional town of Braighwick and the wee Village of Braigh. This gave me the freedom to create the people and layout of the town, as needed for the purposes of my story. Braigh Castle was based on the ruins of Brough Castle.
While my characters spoke the same English with a slight Scottish brogue as in my debut novel, Highland Blessings, it's worth noting the language variations in historic Caithness. The area was first inhabited by the Picts, whose language is unknown. By 800 AD the Norse occupied Caithness, and later the Gaelic speakers colonized the area from Scandinavia before the English arrived. Therefore, variations of Norse, Gaelic and English was spoken in different areas of Caithness.
Another important development in Caithness that affected my story in Highland Sanctuary, was the established religion. By 1473, when my novel takes place, The Church of Scotland, a Catholic denomination, was well established in Caithness and throughout the country. Civil administration parishes were the same as the Church. The Cathedral in my novel is also a product of my imagination after I read about the history of Dornoch Cathedral and Halkirk Highland. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 introduced Protestant theology and in 1689 established the Presbyterian form of church government.
The first photo is looking north toward Halkirk in which my characters ride through at one point in Highland Sanctuary.
Brough Castle was located at the northern tip of Scotland in Caithness on a long narrow promontory by the sea. It has also been known as the Castle of Braigh, and therefore, is the basis for Braigh Castle in my new novel Highland Sanctuary, scheduled to be released October 2011. There is also a Brough Castle in Cumbria, England, but it is a different castle known by the same name.
One of the reasons I chose this castle as the setting is because the original structure no longer exists and there is no documented history on the castle. We only have archaeological data to determine what we think it might have looked like and how it might have been designed, which leaves me lots of room for my over-active imagination.
Based on the layout features of what is believed to have been Brough Castle, it resembles the layout and size of Castle of Old Wick and was most likely built in the early 14th century. Andrew Spratt used this information to reconstruct a couple of drawings of what he believes may have been a likeness to Brough Castle.
These drawings were very helpful to me, as I created the fictional world of Braigh Castle and the characters that will appear in Highland Sanctuary. If you'd like to see these drawings, go here.Also, at this link are photos of the Brough Castle site from the air and more detailed information written by Robert Wilson Richmond, go here for the air photos.
It's time for the 2010 Foothill Highland Games, which will be taking place November 6th at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, NC. The games will begin at 9 AM and end at 4:30 PM.
Come, learn about heraldry from Mark Harden, Baron of Cowdenknowes, and how to design and register your own coat of arms. See how the Scots of old lived and fought from Clan Nan Con. Learn to throw a battle axe, and join in the battle ax competition.Enjoy Celtic Music, Highland Dancers, the Parade of Tartans, Pipers and Drummers, Sheep Dog Demonstrations, Hielan' Coos. the Caber Toss, and other Feats of Strength. Check out the details on their website, at: http://www.scotsfoothillshg.org.
I'll be there signing copies of my novel, Highland Blessings. I'd love to meet you if you can make it.
Huntingtower Castle was originally known as Ruthven Castle, built in stages by the Ruthven family in the 15th century near Perth, the center of Scotland.
In the summer of 1582, Lord Ruthven was involved in a plot to kidnap young King James VI, son of Mary, Queen of Scots. They held the lad as a prisoner for ten months. Through the "Raid of Ruthven" Protestant leaders hoped to gain power by controlling the king, who managed to escape. The king forgave Lord Ruthven, but he made the mistake of a second attempt at which time he was executed and his property forfeited to the crown.
The lands were eventually restored to the Ruthven family, but in 1600, two Ruthven brothers plotted to kill King VI again. Both were executed and the name Ruthven abolished. No succeeding heirs could hold titles and the castle was renamed Huntingtower Castle by royal proclamation.
The property remained in the hands of the crown until it was given to the family of Murray of Tullibardine in 1643. John Murray, 1st Duke of Athol resided in the castle in 1717 with his wife, Lady Mary Ross.
Huntingtower Castle is now managed by Historic Scotland and open to the public for visitation.
Sources: Castles of England, Scotland and Wales by Paul Johnson. The Free Encyclopedia of Wikipedia.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor, author of Highland Blessings is featured as the Celtic Heart of the Month on Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. In this interview she offers a candid glimpse into her writing routine, her take on love scenes in a romance, and free Kindle give-aways.
On December 5th the Scottish Society will be marching in the 2010 Charleston Christmas Parade. The event will begin at 2:00 pm. The location of the parade will start at the intersection of Calhoun and Meeting Streets, will proceed down King Street to Broad Street to Lockwood Blvd. The Scottish Society members participating will be wearing their kilts and will gather at the Knights of Columbus Hall shortly before 2 pm. The holiday tradition is better than ever as bands, floats, marchers and performers parade through downtown Charleston.
Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland by Samuel Johnson. This is a travel narrative of an 83-day journey that Johnson made with his Scottish friend, James Boswell, in 1773. In particular, they cover the islands of the Hebrides.
Burt's Letters by Edmund Burt. This is a collection of letters that Edmund Burt wrote in 1730 from northern Scotland, specifically from Inverness, to acquaintances in London. His accounts include daily life experience from cooking, personal hygiene (the standards of which shocked him), to weddings, funerals, public executions, and witch activities.
Everyday Life on an Old Highland Farm (Parts I and II), by I.F. Grant.
Memoirs of a Highland Lady, an autobiography by Elizabeth Grand of Rothiemurchus (1787-1885).
As a native North Carolinian with lots of Scottish ancestry, I've always wanted to attend the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. It was a special weekend to be selling my debut novel, Highland Blessings, as my first experience at the games. To put it into perspective for you, the Highland Games to those with Scottish ancestry is like the Olympics to the rest of the world--and even more with a tradition of culture and history combined.
The first thing I want to tell you is that I had a wonderful time. There was such great hospitality and I have a lot of respect and admiration for the Director, Frank Vance, and his whole team who pulled off a spectacular event--even with stormy weather. The program is excellent and detailed, I'm still reading about the people who were there and those who have made an impact during the early years to make the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games what they have become today. it is full of so much history that this program is a keeper.
The rains kept me from wearing my 16th century highland gown as I didn't want the hem ruined. Unlike a kilt, my gown reaches the ground. I'll have other opportunities as I hope to attend the Renaissance Festival in October and the Foothill Highland Games in November.
I sold out of books by 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. Next time, I plan to bring more books! It did give me an opportunity to walk around the games visit with some of our clan tents. We are members of the Fraser, Henderson and MacFarlane Clans. I plan to join Clan Gregor as soon as I can get around to it. I purchased my daughter a Scottish Clan bear and some bagpipe earrings for myself as souvenirs.
The games are actually held on McRae Meadow with a gorgeous view of Grandfather Mountain in the near distance. Bagpipes played the whole time and I can honestly say I was still hearing bagpipes in my head a couple of days later. The feeling and nostalgia of the Highland Games stays with you for a while and I think that is part of the magic of the event.
What kind of Games and Entertainment are at the Highland Games?
Competitions range from telephone pole toss (called cabers), bags of hay or (sheafs), Lochaber trump, pipes and drums bands, highland dancing, Scottish country dancing, Grizzly Bike Race, The Bear--a 5-mile foot race, hammer throw, stone toss, weight-bar throw, wrestling, rope tug-of-war. Children even have their own set of competitions and rules.
Track & Field events include: the 100, 220, 400, 880 yard dashes, 1-mile and 2-mile runs, long jump, high jump, triple jump, 26-mile marathon.
You'll experience modern Celtic bands, harpists, parade of tartans, border collies who are trained to herd sheep, fiddle playing, wool weaving, Scottish food and vendors with all kinds of Scottish memorabilia. Individual clan tents surround the outside of the track field where you can get information about the history of your surname an which clan your family line might have belonged to and how to join clans of interest and connections to your ancestry.
Killyleagh Castle is located in northern Ireland and is believed to be the oldest inhabited castle in the country. For protection for Vikings, it was built by a Norman knight, John de Courcy. Although the castle has been restored in parts, some areas date back to 1180.
During the early 1600's the castle owner was Chieftain Con O'Neill of Clandeboye. As a result of a quarrel, he sent his men to attack some English soldiers and was imprisoned. His wife made a deal with Hugh Montgomery, a Scottish aristocrat to help her husband obtain a Royal pardon and he would receive a portion of O'Neill's lands, including the keep of Killyleagh Castle. King James I granted the pardon, but divided the land three ways, the portion containing Killyleagh Castle going to James Hamilton, who later became the first Viscount of Clandeboye.
Originally, Killyleagh Castle was built with one stone tower, but Viscount Clandeboye's son, James Hamilton, who later became the first Earl of Clanbrassil, built the second tower. The gatehouse was destroyed during a siege in 1649 by Oliver Cromwell's forces. Jame's son, Henry Hamilton, the second Earl of Clanbrassil, rebuilt the castle in 1666. He married Lady Alice Moore.
While Killyleagh Castle has been in the Hamilton family since the 17th century and currently belongs to the family today, the ownership of the keep has caused its share of internal strife within the family. James Hamilton wrote a will stating that if his son, Henry Hamilton, should die without issue, the estate should be divided among the Hamilton cousins. His wife, Lady Alice, destroyed the will and had her husband, Henry, rewrite the will leaving the estate to her.
Needless to say, Henry Hamilton died of poisoning in 1675, without issue. His wife, Lady Alice, died two years later in 1677. During this time, the cousins knew about the original will and had been trying to pursue their inheritance rights. Twenty years later, a copy of the original will was finally discovered, but by then, all the cousins had died. The court then divided the estate among the living descendants of the last living cousin.
There are three apartments available in the towers of Killyleagh Castle. Each one has a private rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the countryside.
For the novel I'm currently writing, I'm researching the persecution of innocent souls who were condemned to be witches, heretics, or demonically possessed in 15th century Scotland. Even though Scotland is known to be a nation that was once deeply rooted in Celtic Paganism, they participated in these persecutions due to the influence of the Christian movement throughout Europe at that time.
When looking at the religious state of a country during a particular period in history, one must first consider the rulers in charge. King James III came to the throne of Scotland as a nine year old lad in 1460. His mother ruled as Regent until her death and Bishop Kennedy was guardian of Scotland. James III was a weak king and criticisized by much of the nobles of Scotland. They rallied his son against him, a lad of 15, who promised to help them only if his father wasn't harmed. In 1488, James III was killed and James IV harbored much guilt from it.
Christianity was introduced to Scotland in the sixth century when an Irish monk, St. Columba came to the Isle of Iona for his mission work. A generation later, Aidan, a missionary from Iona preached among the Angles between the present-day border of Edinburgh and England. St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, worked to spread Christianity among the lowlands of Scotland (d. 687). As you can imagine, some of the pagan rituals still existed in the highlands for much longer, but were eventually converted to Christianity--especially as a result of the persecution they suffered. If a person is given a choice between conversion and being tortured to death or burned at the stake--conversion was quite convincing.
As a Christian, I grieve for this part of our history. Jesus didn't go around beating non-Christians or torturing them or persecuting them to death. He gave them love and taught those who wanted to be taught, but he never forced His teachings upon anyone. God doesn't want puppets. That's why He gave us free will. He told His disciples that if they were not received in a city or house, to wipe the dust from their feet and when they depart, take their blessings with them. (Matthew 10:14)
By the 1470's, Scotland was deep into Catholicism and still clinging to the old feudal system and their long-standing alliance with France, a Roman Catholic country. The Church was very powerful and busy acquiring lands and material gains from the people. Tension and division rose between the clergy and the people. Since the Church always sided with the crown, people and even nobles, had no one to turn to for assistance in politics or to influence the country forward in new movements with new ideas.
In 1407, a follower of the John Wycliffe movement (or the Lollard Movement) pleaded for an open Bible and a more Christian daily life. He was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake. Bibles were only available to clergy, and people were at the mercy of hearing what the clergy chose to read to them and teach them. Also, most Bibles were printed in Latin.
Why was the most preferred method of torture and persecution burning at the stake? It's because of the old belief in baptism by fire. In actuality, when the Bible refers to baptism by fire, it is referring to a spiritual baptism, but people in their lack of knowledge and education back then took this meaning in a literal sense.
I've listed links in the above texts, but I've also used James G. Leyburn's book, The Scotch-Irish:A Social History.
Today has finally come. The BIG launch for my novel, Highland Blessings!
All month long I'll be on a blog tour giving away a few signed copies here and there with interviews and reviews. I'll start my first book signing at Barnes & Noble on May 8th in my hometown of Greensboro, NC.
If ever there was a dream to come true, this is it! Highland Blessings took 14 years to come to fruition and I want to enjoy this moment as much as possible.
There are moments when I become so overwhelmed by the feeling that all I can do is sit and let silent tears of happiness roll down my face. There are no words. These times come most unexpectedly. The one thing I love best about those unexpected tears, is the closeness I feel to God at that moment.
It's as if He's reaching down and stroking the back of my head and saying, "See, my child, you only had to wait and not give up and I had all this waiting for you."
Please stop by and visit the blog launching my book today. Sharon Kirk Clifton was kind enough to host me and I'm so grateful to her. She has become a dear friend to me and I'm so excited to be on her blog this morning.
Sharon Kirk Clifton wrote both a review and provided a review of Highland Blessings. I'll never forget after she read my book, how she described it as, "an aerobic exercise for the heart".
In April there is only one upcoming Scottish Highland Games event in the Carolinas. Please check out the linked site below for specific costs, location, and details. If you know of any others for the month of April, please list them in the comments section. Thanks.
Patrick was born to wealthy parents in Britain around the end of the 4th century. Most scholars believed he may have died on March 17th, (460 A.D.).
His father was a Christian deacon. At 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family's estate. He spent 6 years in captivity, working as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people in Ireland. It was during this time of loneliness and uncertainty that he turned to his faith for solace and became a devout Christian.
He finally escaped from prison after another 6 years. According to his writing, he believed God told him in a dream that it was time to leave Ireland. Back in Britain, Patrick experienced a second revelation in a dream in which an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick trained over the next 15 years in the ministry. He was ordained as a priest and sent to Ireland.
Since he was familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick used traditional rituals when teaching Christianity rather than attempting to destroy the Irish pagan beliefs. For example, to celebrate Easter, he used bonfires since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He included a sun on the Christian cross to create what is now widely known as a Celtic cross. These tactics helped to make things seem more natural to the Irish.
Celebrating in America
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in America, not Ireland. Irish soldiers in the English Army marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. The parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots and introduced their music to other colonists.
Even today, many Irish descendants gather to share a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. People are supposed to wear green and if they aren't, they might get pinched.
Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain how the Trinity represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. This custom came to America in 1737 in Boston.
So have a great St. Patrick's Day and be sure to wear your green!
This list is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I have omitted some names that are hard to pronounce and less common.The meaning and origin of each name is included if known, as well as various spelling variations. You may need to conduct additional research. These were mostly taken from The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, 2nd Edition.
Abertha - Sacrifice
Adara, Adaira, Athdara - From the oak tree (Irish, Scottish)