Friday, September 9, 2011

Scotland With Donna Grant

There are a few authors that are auto buys for me. If they have a new book out I don't even look at the story line, I just order it because I know the quality of writing and that I will enjoy it.  

Donna Grant is one of those authors.

I loved the Dark Sword Series from the first book and that love hasn't changed. What's not to like about fierce Scot warriors, as magical and  tough as the land that bred them? Women who are strong enough to stand up to and for their men when needed and with their own magic. 

Scotland is, in itself, a land of magic. It's been many years since I was last there but there's something about the land and history that has always called to me. When I found out Donna and her family were going to Scotland I told her, "You have to do a blog spot on your visit." 

So here she is to tell us about her impressions of Scotland.


Thanks, Sia, for once more inviting me to your blog. J

Sia asked me if I’d talk about my recent trip to Scotland.  Of course I said yes.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk about such a beautiful land?

I’ve wanted to go to Scotland for so long, that it was almost surreal to have finally gone.  I’d spoken so much about Scotland and what there was to do and what I wanted to do, that imagine my surprise when my parents wanted to come with us. So, we made it one big family vacation. 

As soon as our plane was wheels down on Scottish soil, I had my camera out.  We landed in Edinburgh, and then made our way northwest were we had rented a cabin for a week in a well known ski resort.

It was a fabulous base for us.  I was amazed at all the differences between home (the US) and there.  For one, there’s no litter there.  None.  You don’t see anything.  No huge SUVs or 4x4 trucks.  No four lane highways.  No McDonald’s around every corner.

Small cars were everywhere, and instead of huge chain restaurants, there were tons of individually owned eateries.  Which made picking which restaurant an eeny-meeny-miney-moe situation every day. J

Pictures just don’t do Scotland justice.  The land is as untamed, ancient, and magical as I’d always expected.  So many times I’d just stop and stare at where I was, wondering how many thousands of Scots (and invaders) had stood where I was, how many had died in battles, how many had loved.  How many had survived.

The history of the land cannot be ignored.  Scotland has taken great pains to keep the country much as it was hundreds of years ago.  Yes, there are roads, but not over every mountain.  The roads are few and far between, but the views are majestic.

So many times my breath was taken away by the landscape.  Even the kids would stare silently at what was around us, because words couldn’t begin to describe how we all felt.

Of course we went to several castles.  One was Dunnottar Castle in Stonehave, which was the basis for the MacLeod Castle in my Dark Sword books.   We spent so much time at this castle exploring the ruins, walking along the cliffs, and going down to the shore.

I took tons of pictures.  At one point standing in the tower looking out over the sea, you could almost hear the echo of history.  You could almost imagine the castle filled with people, the lord and lady reining over the land.  The sound of swords clanging over the sea breeze.

There were other castles, but none that held me like Dunnottar.  There was, however, something so special about being on Loch Ness.  The water is as dark as you think it is, and very peaceful.

It was thrilling to hear that Urquhart Castle was first held by a Grant, too.  The kids got a huge thrill out of that.  It was the first castle we explored, and not even a drenching rain could keep us from exploring.

But one of the best things we did while in Scotland was stay at a castle.  I knew if I ever went, there was no way I could go and not stay at a castle. J  I wanted somewhere north, and we found a gorgeous location at Mansfield Castle.  We took the tower suite (two bedrooms, bath, sitting room, and lookout from the tower).

Now, it was not my intention to stay at a castle with a ghost.  I believe in them.  I’m scared of them.  So I wanted no part of them.

But guess what we had?

Yes.  I’m not exaggerating.  I was touched.  Twice.  And I can attest to not sleeping at all that night.  My daughter also had an experience while she was reading in the sitting room in the tower a floor above us.  She heard footsteps above her and voices.  She thought it was her brother.  So she called for him, but he didn’t answer.  He didn’t answer because he was with me and my hubby.

Needless to say, my daughter ran down the stairs shaking.  I’d not told her of my being touched because we didn’t want to scare either of the kiddos, but she kept insisting there was something in the tower.

Knowing how frightened I was, my hubby waited until we were driving away before telling me he heard footsteps during the night, and even voices.  My son heard footsteps, but he’d thought it was me or his daddy walking around during the night.

My parents, who stayed in another room, never heard or saw anything, but then again, the ghost is only seen, heard, and felt in the tower.  Freaking stuff for sure!

I loved Scotland.  I loved the way they did things, the way they lived, the way they used everything local (even in their Burger King), and how proud a people the Scots are.

I never wanted to leave.  And I cannot wait to return.

Return we will because once we landed back home, we met my brother for dinner right off the interstate.  While we were inside eating, someone broke into our vehicle and stole every piece of luggage and tried to steal the truck.

Every souvenir we bought, every item of clothing (my favorite jeans!), everything you’d pack for an 11 day vacation, and my camera was stolen.

No one was caught, and nothing returned.  We lost hundreds of pictures, pictures that cannot be replaced.  Yes, we have our memories of a fabulous family vacation, but it isn’t the same. 

(The pictures you see here were taken from the web.)

I’m hoping to go back very soon and return with lots of wonderful pictures.


Available now from your favorite bookstore or online.


Sent on a dangerous mission into the shadowy world of the Druids, Galen must find a powerful ancient relic to defeat the enemies of MacLeod Castle. But what he discovers is far more powerful—and far more dangerous. A Druid lass whose beauty is as spellbinding as any magic...


Reaghan is the most enchanting woman Galen has even met—and the most enigmatic. She alone is immune to his mind-reading gifts. He alone makes her feel safe and secure. But Reaghan holds a secret power deep inside her that could destroy them both. And if Galen hopes to hold this captivating woman in his arms every night, he must defeat the darkness that draws closer around her every day...EXCERPT

The Dark Sword series captures all the power, passion, and magic of Scotland’s legendary warriors—sworn to fight for victory, in battle and in love… 

To find out more about Donna please visit her website at  To read more about the Dark Sword and Dark Warriors series, see pics of the Warriors, take the quiz, download wallpaper, search characters, or watch the book trailers, please visit

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Multi published author, Libby Malin, is visiting us again here at Over Coffee.

It's not that traditional publishers are trying to turn out cookie cutter books, they're not, but their focus is on making money. They look at trends and go with popular depictions of heroes, heroines, and plots. They're a hesitant to take on a story too different or one that doesn't fit a clear genre mold. 

Libby has been published with traditional publishers, been nominated for prestigious awards, but having contracts don't always equate to a steady income. But, I'll let Libby tell you of her writing journey.

Only the luckiest authors achieve publishing success without some rejection. In fact, it’s not unusual for lots of rejection to precede “The Call” from agent or editor offering a contract.

My story is no different. After writing for several years, having manuscripts rejected right and left, I finally reached publishing’s happy ending – first, a contract for young adult mysteries from Bancroft Press, and then a contract for a “chick lit” novel from Harlequin. After that, other contracts followed, from Dorchester (for paperback rights to my first two YAs), Sourcebooks (more chick lit – or romantic comedy), Five Star/Cengage (my first hardcover!), and even a film option deal.

Each step of the way, I thought to myself: This is it. I’ve made it. I can make a steady income from what I love to do best – writing fiction.

And every time I thought that goal had been achieved, I faced disappointment. An Edgar nomination for my first YA didn’t make sales soar, nor did it ensure future publication of other works with other houses. It did get query emails answered more quickly, though!

Some excellent reviews had the same effect—that is, they didn’t jack up sales noticeably but did help me get my manuscripts read by other editors. Even a film option deal, in the works before the print rights had sold, didn't guarantee that a publishing house would take on a project!

I also learned the hard way that when a publisher doesn’t get your book reviewed by the main trade journals, it can have a deleterious effect on your sales. A couple times this happened to me, each time for a book that was near and dear to my heart. While it’s impossible to tell precisely what reviews from the Big Journals (Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and the like) would have done for these particular books, I can’t help thinking that the lack of such reviews meant booksellers and librarians wouldn’t be paying much attention.

Nonetheless, like all writers committed to their chosen field, I struggled on. I snagged online reviews when none were appearing in print. I did book signings, virtual book tours, and paid for one full-page ad in a romance magazine.

And I kept writing, often finding, unfortunately, that my manuscripts were like “square pegs” that didn’t quite fit in the “round holes” of various imprints. Some of my rejection letters read like back cover blurbs.

Then something wonderful happened. The Kindle was released and vigorously promoted by Amazon. Other e-readers followed—the Nook, the iPad, and new life for the Sony E-reader.

Authors everywhere started to discover they no longer needed to be supplicants of the “Big Six” publishing houses in New York in order to reach readers. Self-publishing quickly and surely began to lose its negative connotation. It no longer implied vanity publishing, an ego-driven exercise by failed novelists (and isn’t seeking publishing by the Big Six an ego-driven exercise anyway?).

Now there is no such thing as a round hole into which your square peg of a novel won’t fit. Authors can publish their slightly-off-the-beaten-track novels on their own, and many are doing so.

Count me in with that crowd. I now have five novels e-published through my family’s e-publishing house, Istoria Books. One of them, an inspirational romance that had been rejected by editors in New York and beyond, is now regularly among the top 100 bestsellers in historical romance – in both print and e-books.

And my latest offering, a romantic comedy (Aefle and Gisela by Libby Malin), allowed me to explore satire – satire of academe, no less! Who in the traditional publishing world would have taken that on?

That’s the real happy ending of this story. E-publishing has given me the freedom to write the kinds of stories I want to write, without that pesky shadow editor on my shoulder saying things like: “But remember how that agent told you this kind of plot doesn’t sell or that one said the heroine has to be this way or another one suggested you try for this kind of hero…” Those voices have been silenced.

Now I can let my own voice sing.


Stopping a wedding -- what could go wrong? 

History Prof Thomas Charlemagne takes a dare and stops a wedding in an attempt to put his "Timid Tommy" reputation to rest at long last....Only problem? It's the wrong wedding.

Legal problems ensue that could wreck his career as the world's leading expert on a poetry-writing medieval monk, Aefle, and his secret love, Gisela, both of whom provide a template for Thomas’s own struggles with life and love.

A heady mix of outlandish comedy, sharp wit and biting satire, Aefle & Gisela is the perfect summer beach read. EXCERPT

 Booklist -- Malin creates a world of wit and chaos that is …smart and insightfully written (My Own Personal Soap Opera).

Buy the book for Kindle here. Buy the book for Nook hereBuy the book for other e-readers here.

Hurry—it’s on sale for only 99 cents as part of a book launch promotion!

Libby Malin is the award-winning author of romance, literary, mystery and young adult fiction. In an attempt to thoroughly confuse her reader fans, she writes comedy under the name Libby Malin and serious fiction under the name Libby Sternberg. Her first young adult mystery, Uncovering Sadie’s Secrets, was an Edgar nominee, and her first romantic comedy, Fire Me, was optioned for film. She lives in Pennsylvania, has three children and one husband, and confesses to watching “Real Housewives” shows despite enormous amounts of culture-guilt.

Visit the author’s website at:
Visit the Istoria Books blog to read an interview with the author by her alter ego:

Some praise for Libby Malin's other comedic novels:
Booklist -- Malin creates a world of wit and chaos that is …smart and insightfully written (My Own Personal Soap Opera).
Publishers Weekly --  A whimsical look at the vagaries of dating... an intriguing side plot adds punch and pathos to the story...(Loves Me, Loves Me Not)