Friday, June 24, 2011

A Highland Wolf in a Kilt!

My guest is author,Terry Spear. She writes Scottish Medieval Romance and paranormal romance.

Terry says, "I've been researching my Scottish and Irish roots for some years now.  Even in my own family there was political intrigue, ties to royalty, romance, and tragedy that inspires me to write medieval stories set in England and Scotland."

I can't say I love all books I've read set in the Highlands, but I understand the allure of reading about the Scots. There is something fiercely proud about highlanders. I'm of Scot decent and proud of my heritage. I know there are some present day Scots who take exception to us Yanks claiming to be Scot.


Being Scot, and a highland Scot, is more than living in the country of Scotland. Many had to leave Scotland for various reasons, but took traditions with them. For example, much of the old Scottish bagpipe music, folk tunes, some of the dances, would have been lost had it not been for the North American Scots who kept those identifying traditions alive in their new homeland. There were no laws here, you see, forbidding the speaking of the language, wearing of the kilts, or playing the bagpipe or having a form of the highland games, as there was in Scotland. 

In Terry's book, The Heart of The Highlander, she gives us a glimpse of that pride and a corrected view that many, even titled ones, are not rich. Some are still struggling to keep family lands. She talks a bit about what drew her to write about Highlanders and her own Scot heritage.

Welcome back to Over Coffee, Terry! 

Many authors write about Highlanders because they catch the romantic imagination. But I write about them because I have roots in the Highlands—the MacNeills and the Campbells and the tragic love story that was carried down from one generation to the next about a commoner MacNeill’s love for the Duke of Argyle’s daughter. Though her father was angry that she would marry beneath her, he offered for the MacNeill to step off as much land as he could in a day’s time, and he could own it. But the MacNeill was too proud and paid for passage to the Carolinas, and her father disowned her.

The ship sailed instead to the largely uninhabited Prince Edward Island, the captain of the ship being the brother of the man who owned a large amount of PEI and needed it settled by order of the king. So the settlers arrived without the tools to build homes and were unprepared to settle the land.

Lady Elizabeth died, unable to weather the harsh conditions, and two of her children, a very young daughter and a son, of whom we are directly descended, were raised by other families who had come over on the ship. And another son was raised maybe by his dad, being that he was a little older.

The Indians living there helped those struggling to survive to catch walruses to live off of until they could build homes and grow their own food.

My great grandmother didn’t think much of Lady Elizabeth for giving up the easy life she could have had, and we might have lived in the castle instead of those who do now. Her daughter, my great aunt, who was a twin of my grandmother, was so enamored with the Highlanders, she married a Scotsman.

At one point, the Duke’s line died out, and Scotland Yard was asked to locate family members who might carry on the dukedom. My great grandmother and great great grandfather were questioned, but no one had the family Bible that would show the family line back that far.

Nowadays, DNA testing could prove it.

So in my story, although I have changed the names and the circumstances, I did add one part that has all to do with the true story of the MacNeills and the Campbells. But with mine, of course, it has a happily ever after!

And a twist. It’s not about ye ol’ regular Highland hunks, but about a clan of Highlanders who are also a pack of gray wolves, and an American red wolf who has an agenda—which has nothing to do with filming a Highland film at Ian MacNeill’s castle. But even Julia Wildthorn, werewolf romance author, doesn’t know what exactly she’s to find hidden in the castle somewhere. And she didn’t know before she arrived that Ian and his clan are werewolves to boot.

Not only does she have the mission of gathering enough information about the clan to write a sexy Highland werewolf novel of her own, sure Ian wouldn’t like it at all, she’s got to find a way to slip into the castle sight unseen and retrieve the family box. But Ian MacNeill is wary about the little red wolf’s reason for being with the film crew. She’s already lied about her name, and her occupation—which makes him wonder if she’s in bed with the enemy’s clan.

He’s already got enough troubles with losing money to a crook that’s caused him to have to open up his castle to this American film venture, but now he looks to be losing much more than sleep over one hot little red wolf.

HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF is the first of the Highland wolf stories, and I hope you love them as much as I loved writing them!

  • Do you have a little bit of history that your family has passed down through the generations that’s fun to share?

One of my Texas friends had a great great grandfather who was hanged for robbing a stagecoach, which resulted in a man dying of a heart attack. Who says genealogy is all birth dates and death dates and boring?

Heart of the Highland Wolf Available now
  My review
Read the first Chapter here (on Amazon) 
Sourcebooks and Amazon is running a kindle special for $2.99 

Buy: e-book or mass paperback. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books a Million 

Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA fromMonmouth University and a Bachelors in Business and Distinguished Military Graduate of West Texas A & M. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, to include personalized bears designed to commemorate authors’ books. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's Musings: Digital Is Changing Everything...

There is an enormous amount of chatter, gnashing of the teeth, and good amount of jubilation, over the changes impacting publishing world today. Everything is changing.

On the surface, the changes seem rapid although they’re not really. We’re just seeing more concrete results of the impact digital technology has had on the market. These changes have been developing over the past fours years that I’ve been tracking them.  People don’t react well, for the most part, with change. It pulls them out of their comfort zones. So, what we’re really seeing is the knee-jerk reaction to that change.

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the debate over traditional publishing versus self-publishing, paper books versus e-books on blogs, industry rags, and forum chatter. I’ve seen authors devote a blog post on why their dear readers must help them out by buying their latest books as paperbacks or hardcover as opposed to e-books so they can reach the bestsellers list. I’ve heard the wailing over e-books taking away revenue of authors not smart enough to have their agents negotiate better profits on digital.

I’ve read about publishers decrying Amazon, and like online bookstores, for allowing low prices for e-books. How readers are shying away from buying the book at full price (Winged brow. Well, Duh) Then I came across another argument by a literary publisher against e-books, which had my brows climbing into my hair, followed by an unladylike snort (sorry, Mom), and laughter.

“This has always been my problem with e-books: they emphasize immediate entertainment — and gratification — over real 'reading,' which takes more commitment, patience, attention and time.”

Say what?

C’mon, reading is reading, whether you choose to read on an e-reader, paperback, or hardcover. I have news for him; reading is entertainment as well as a pleasure. Reading is also a learning experience. What difference does it make if I get my entertainment, or research, immediately via my kindle, or I-pad? How does this devalue a book, author or publisher? How is this not real reading?

So, we who use e-readers are basically lowbrow plebeians? Apparently we can’t read something of import on an e-reader and take the time to soak in the ambiance and beauty of the words and meaning unless there is an actual paper book in our hands? How screwed up is that reasoning? Shall I send him a catalog of “classic” literature now available as digital files?

Are we seeing a comparison to a certain little Dutch boy putting his finger in a levee thinking it will save life, as we’ve known it?

Don’t get me wrong. I love books and always have. I love the smell of a library, of opening a book, of holding it in my hand because it’s special. Reality is, it’s not the book itself, but what it represents to me, a portal to learning, adventures, new worlds and people. I have colIected books all my life. I have favorites I have read many times over. I don’t go anywhere without a book. I’ve crippled moving company workers who have carried 15 large metal (think 5 ft long x 5 ft wide, and 3 ft deep with locks and padding) trunks of books from one house to the van and unloaded them in another duty station. My husband and I got into one of our first major fights over not only the money I spent on books but also the space my books took up. He’s since learned to grumble under his breath and has accepted the fact that whither I goest so goest my books.

I now have a kindle. I love it--E Ink display is easy on the eyes and simulates  reading a printed page w/out any glare or back light and I can adjust font size. It's light and easy to carry around. I must have a couple of hundred titles (thank god for alphabetical order and author's names). My husband has said a quiet hallelujah to the heavens that they are on the kindle and not physically taking up space. He’s been eyeing my collection and I've given my trademark evil eye, sweet smile, and a growl--don't even think about it, 'cause we're talking death, dismemberment and itty-bitty pieces scattered to the four winds.

While we’re at it, let’s add my opinion to the heated discussion over the pricing of e-books.

I’m eclectic in my reading choices and always have been. My choices on Kindle are no different than what I buy in a bookstore, except I’m more inclined to try out ‘new to me’ authors.  I like how many publishers offer specials—free to $4.99. Publishers and authors recognize this is a perfect way to build a readerbase. I’ve found some wonderful books and authors that way. I’ve also gone back and bought other titles from those authors that weren’t discounted.

The most I’ve paid for an e-book is $12.99 and I cringed. I collect hardback copies of several authors and will buy those on Amazon.  Frankly, shelling out $17-30 for an e-book is not something I will be doing anytime in the future, unless it’s a research book I need and even then, I’m analyzing whether I really need it. If I can’t get it any other way, I’ll buy it.

My thoughts on this: I can understand the price of paper books being high. I don’t like it, but I understand it. You have to factor in all involved between the time the authors submit a completed manuscript (electronically as a digital file), buying the paper, ink, and running thousands of copies on a printing press for mass paperbacks (or even hardcover), the high cost of transporting to the market and exorbitant cost of returns. There is a lot of money built into that book I hold in my hand.

E-book. Transmitted electronically from author to publisher. Design is done by computer and attached to the digital file, format setup by computers to a digital file, electronically submitted to the market place, via digital file,where it is bought electronically, delivered electronically, as a digital file, from online to your electronic reading device.


Digital doesn’t have the same built in costs to produce. So why should I pay the same price for an e-book as I do for a hardcover paper book?  Especially when it's first released as a hardcover and the price is the same for the e-book.  As Spock would say, it’s highly illogical.

So, the debate over digital publishing and e-books will rage on until an effective compromise is reached. Pricing will have to factor in the cost of staff to produce a finished product and if we want paper books to hold in our hands or put on our shelf we’ll have to pay the higher price for the privilege.

I can work with that.

Although this article is somewhat of a rant and a bit sarcastic, this whole issue is a serious one.

Your thoughts? 

Trust me, you're not going to hurt my feelings if you don't agree.