3 out of 5 Stars
A witch falls in love with a Highlander who fears her powers
Good, even though there are a few major plot holes. Would be better if those were ironed out a bit more.
3 out of 5 Stars
A witch falls in love with a Highlander who fears her powers
Good, even though there are a few major plot holes. Would be better if those were ironed out a bit more.
Jessabel is a writer that has been experiencing one bad event after another, until she wins a writing contest after drinking her sorrows the night before. Along with her sister, she takes her free trip to Scotland and end up in 1501 Scotland. Not the exact trip she had planned.
She has no idea how to get home, stop her sister from falling in love or save their heads from a blood-thirsty ancestor. Jessabel also has to contend with a jealous housemaid, intent on drowning her as a witch.
Overview: Millie Canvers just quit her job, squatting in an abandoned house and gave her last bit of food to a girl worse off than she is. The only thing she has going for her is a strange pull to an old castle and the original family’s ancestors wanting to help her. An old man gives her a crazy mission, to cross time and save his family from ruin. Knowing that he is probably crazy, she listens and goes for it. Making the jump she lands in the 1300’s with no clue how to complete her mission, with out falling for the enemy.
Review: Pretty good. The girl is down on her luck and you feel so sorry for her, but admire her fight to survive after everything she has been through. It’s a short and sweet story.
Hi Julia Brannan, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi Courtney, thanks for asking me to answer these questions! I’m based in the UK, and am lucky enough to live in the beautiful countryside of Wales. I’m an only child, and was brought up in Manchester, England. I’ve had a variety of jobs, including office work, teaching, gilding, call centre work, and I now edit for a few very successful authors. I love travelling, and have been on extended trips to many countries. Well (if Google Translate can be trusted) Helo!
Discuss your newest book. My newest book will be published at the beginning of July, and is the third in a series of historical novels about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. The series is set in England, Scotland and Europe, and deals with the lives of Beth Cunningham, her family and friends during the build-up to the rebellion, the actual rebellion itself, and the aftermath. There is a romance at its heart, but I’ve taken great pains to ensure the historical setting and events are accurate. Sounds great, and like you should have been my history advisor for a book I’m working on.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My interest in writing originated with my mother, who taught me to read before I went to school, and who showed me just how magical and influential the written word is. I wrote little stories from the age of 5, and she encouraged me all the way. #MothersDay
What are your current projects? At the moment I’m editing book three – The Gathering Storm, and preparing it for publication, and spending all my free time doing background research for the next book.
What books have most influenced your life most? That’s a difficult one, because there are so many. I would say as a child that Heidi gave me my love of travelling, because I wanted to go to Switzerland. I also loved the Moomintroll series, and really identified with Snufkin, who goes off travelling alone for months at a time. The dark and brooding Wuthering Heights helped me through a very turbulent puberty, because it matched my dark and brooding moods!
What inspired you to write your first book? In honesty, the wish to make lots of money inspired me to write my first book, a long time ago when I was 18. I foolishly believed that it would be really easy to write Mills&Boon romances and make a fortune, even though I wasn’t really interested in the genre, and I spent a long hot summer slogging away at writing one, only to (quite rightly) have it promptly rejected.
Later I realized that it’s far more important to be passionate about your subject, and write for the sheer love of writing, which is what I do now. Dreams have to start somewhere.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? There are two main characters. Beth is a fiercely independent woman who has to fight for her freedom against a family and society who believe women should live very restricted lives ruled by men.
Sir Anthony is an effeminate, foppish man of fashion, a flippant social butterfly, but there is clearly more to him than meets the eye.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? I would like to inspire my readers to love history as I do, and to realize that although laws and customs may change, the dreams and desires of human beings remain constant. History is amazing in my opinion.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? I really have no idea at all. I’m sure my readers will have some thoughts on that, though!
When did you decide to become a writer? I always wanted to be a professional writer, but life got in the way for many years, as it has a habit of doing!
Why do you write? Because I have to. I can’t imagine not writing something. For many years I wrote for my own pleasure alone, keeping a diary, writing poetry, then experimenting with ideas for novels. But I’ve always written, since I learned how to form letters.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I went on a walk across Spain – the Camino de Santiago – and just for a joke, I sent emails to my boyfriend about my adventures, but wrote the whole thing in a Tolkienesque style. I became an elf going into the west, and meeting hobbits, orcs etc along the way. It was enormous fun, and every time something happened, I’d work out how to turn it into a Lord of the Rings type of event. He showed the first email to his friends, who loved it, and after that they were all waiting for the next episode. I really enjoyed having an avid audience, and it gave me confidence to start writing with a view to publishing once I got home. That’s sweet! and AWESOME!
Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time at the moment. I have another job that pays the bills, but it’s my dream to write full-time.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Actually sitting down and starting.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Finding the time to do it. I have a very full life.
What is the easiest thing about writing? It’s fun! Once I start, it becomes an obsession, and I live in the period I’m writing about.
What book are you reading now? At the moment I’m only reading research books. My current one is about poverty in the eighteenth century.
What is one random thing about you? I have trekked to Everest Base Camp, and once there, got to sing ‘Tom Dooley’ with guitar accompaniment, with the Swedish Climbing Expedition. Cool.
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I use a computer for the actual writing, but I keep handwritten index cards with details of all the characters, and a hand-drawn timeline of historical events etc. I also carry a notebook with me everywhere to jot down ideas that might come to me at random times.
What does your writing process look like? I start by researching the historical period in general, reading anything and everything I can get hold of – biographies of historical characters, books about the period, military books about the battles, newspapers from the period, etc. Then I plot out the storyline and start to research in more depth the specific events etc. Once I start writing, I may change my ideas about certain things, or decide to include a specific skill etc, so then I research again. I write chronologically, unless I suddenly have a full scene from further along the book come into my head; then I’ll write that as a separate document and rework it later.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? Not when I’m actually writing, but I did astonish the neighbours somewhat by teaching myself to throw knives at the door of the garden shed, because one of my characters has that skill, and teaches it to another character, and I wanted to know how it was done, and what mistakes you’d make when learning. So, readers, beware of flying knives while writing a review! Lol Jk.
How important are names to you in your books? Some of the names of fictional characters just pop into my head. Some of them are names of actual ancestors of mine. But the surnames of MacGregor and MacDonald were chosen because the clan histories fitted what I wanted from my characters and plot.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I think the hardest thing with historical fiction is to keep the characters as true as possible to the time they’re living in, whilst still ensuring that a 21st century reader can identify and sympathise with them. This can be extremely difficult at times.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I’m still relatively new to marketing, so am trying different promotional ideas and am open to suggestions!
What is your favorite motivational phrase? I’m not really a fan of motivational phrases. Sometimes I hear one that strikes a chord, but having worked in several office-based jobs over the years, I have realized that the worst employers are usually the ones whose walls are littered with motivational posters, such as ‘Every great journey starts with the first step’, when all the employees longed to do was take that last step out of their appalling job asap. I am, however, a fan of the sarcastic demotivational poster…
What is your favorite book and why? My all-time favourite book is Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s mastery of language and description blew me away, and decided me on studying English Literature at university. The world he creates is totally believable, and you just live there for the duration of the book.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t be discouraged if you get a one-star review, and never, ever respond to it. On the other hand, if ALL your reviews are one-star, then it’s worth having a look at why. Often it’s not because you’re a bad writer, but because your book needs editing or proofreading. That can make all the difference in the world!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love fitness training, reading, gardening, walking, travelling, and photography, although I’m not very good at it!
From where do you gain your inspiration? The inspiration for the Jacobite Chronicles came from family history research, when I discovered that one branch of my family were almost certainly Jacobites. I started reading a little background history to see how they would have lived, and became completely absorbed in the period. I had no idea the mid-eighteenth century was such a fascinating period of history until then.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I think the advantages of self-publishing are that you have total control over your book – the content, the cover, the blurb, the marketing, and when you publish. Also you get a larger percentage of the royalties. The disadvantages are that some people still think of independent publishing as somehow inferior, something you only do if your book isn’t good enough to be traditionally published. This view is slowly changing, though. Also, having all that control means a lot more work for the author, which is hard when you’re also trying to actually write the books!
How do you market your books? At the moment through social media, promotions, etc.
Why did you choose this route? As I said, it’s still early days for me, so I’m using media I’m already familiar with. I now intend to branch out into new avenues, though.
Would you or do you use a PR agency? I don’t at the moment, and don’t know enough about what’s involved to answer this, really.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? I wouldn’t like to give advice yet – I’m still learning myself.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Probably not enough! But I want to actually WRITE! And as I also have another job, I market as and when I see an opportunity, and am experimenting to see what might work!
What do you do to get book reviews? I periodically post on media just asking people, if they read my book and like it, to post a review. If someone contacts me directly to say they’ve enjoyed my book, I ask if they’d be kind enough to review it. That’s all.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? Not as successful as I’d like it to be!
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? No.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? As long as they’re constructive, or an honest opinion, I really don’t mind. Of course I love getting five-star reviews! I put an enormous amount of work into writing my books and it’s wonderful to get praise. But if someone gives me a bad review, then I try to look at it objectively, and take any comments on board.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Not as yet, but I’m sure there will be.
What’s your views on social media for marketing? I like it. I like the fact that your readers can contact you directly to ask questions and give feedback. It makes it more personal than just doing promotions en masse.
Which social network worked best for you? Facebook, possibly because I’m very familiar with it, but you have a huge prospective readership on there.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Set up an author page. Don’t pester people too much to read your book, or drown their newsfeed with your promotions. If you do, they’ll unfollow you.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I do a Facebook launch party and hire an excellent person to help me with it. That has been a very successful strategy.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? There are so many…but I would love to meet William Wallace, because he must have had enormous charisma to unite Scotland as he did, and incredible courage and dedication to his country never to waver for a moment in his loyalty.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Lord of the Rings. I would love to be able to invent a whole language, and write so beautifully.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Stop wanting to do it, and start writing. Write a journal, poetry, short stories, anything. It’s all practice, and it’s only by writing that you will improve, and find your style. Don’t write with the sole intent to make money; write about something you’re passionate about, and you’re more likely to do it well. #WriteOn
How can readers discover more about you and you work? (links – FB, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads. Web site coming…
Revealed picks up where Innocence leaves off, with Alexa-Jordyn learning she is a Legend and her boyfriend’s dad is a jerk. With the help of hunter friends and her best friend, Alexa-Jordyn searches for ways to control her new powers and track down her biological family. The head hunter intervenes with her plans, forcing the foursome to go on a rescue mission and into hiding after blowing up a building. Sneak Peak:
“You’re a Bean Sidhe?!” J.P. and his dad asked when they came through the door.
“What’s a Bean Shee?” I asked mispronouncing whatever they were saying.
J.P. came and stood next to me, “Dad, I think you should go spend time with Kavanagh before midnight. I need to talk with Alexa-Jordyn.”
“Yeah, what I said earlier just forget it. It was nice meeting you, even if we didn’t actually meet.” His dad tipped his hat to me and put an arm around the guy who still looked shocked.
I nodded back, too afraid to talk. I looked down as I pulled out my phone and started texting my best friend to have her do an internet search. She texted me back way too quickly to have done a search, “call me now!”
“Excuse me, where is the bathroom?” I asked quietly, afraid to leave his side.
J.P. pointed to a door behind his dad. “Through there. It’s OK he won’t touch you.” He walked me to the door, passed his dad and stayed outside of it as I closed it. I also locked it, not thinking that it was useless, because if they wanted to come in they could just break down the door.
I dialed Olivia’s number and waited half a ring, “Alexa-Jordyn? Are you OK? What happened? Was it J.P. you wailed for?”
“Olive, calm down. I’m fine. It wasn’t J.P., it was one of his dad’s thugs. He came at me to hurt me or kill me. But before he could get close enough I let out a loud earth shuddering scream. Then the rest came in talking about a Ban sid-hee or something.”
“It’s Bean Sidhe. I figured you would have picked up some Gaelic by now. It was a wail not a scream and it is normal. Get some rest I will be on the next flight out, my mom has already arranged it. I will explain everything when I get there.”
“Olivia, you don’t have to fly all the way out here just tell me what is wrong with me and how not to do it again.” I started freaking out, maybe there was something really wrong with me.
“No, I have to come and help. I can’t believe your mom sent you off to that island, she should have known better. My mom is all in a tizzy about it and sending you off to live with hunters that really was insane. What was the name of the guy you wailed for?”
“I think it was Kavanagh. Something like that.” I tried to remember. “Am I safe around Julian?”
“As long as his last name isn’t Kavanagh you are fine. I should be in by morning or afternoon. Just take it easy…and stay away from women. If you’re this upset about predicting a man’s death, I would hate to see what you’re like when you start predicting babies.”
“I what? What do you mean predicting babies?” I looked in the mirror to see if anything had changed about me, but nothing looked different about me. It seemed impossible that everything had changed and yet nothing had.
“Just stay where you are. I’m sure the bloody hunters can care for you.” She said.
“I’m out in the country not at the O’Reilly’s. How did you know they were hunters anyway?”
Camp NanoWriMo is coming up and I am preparing…as much as I can. I have decided to work on “An Author’s Romance” AKA “The Right Time to Write History.” So I went to the campsite and put in my information, but I am unable to post my cover because it is bigger than a megabyte. 😦 And I love this cover!
I recently went to Fiverr and had two cover drawn up as I have never had a professional create one for me and honestly I was drawing a blank on the cover design myself. So I picked two of my works in progress and sent them to a designer and she came back with these.
TPaV- An artist with minor psychic abilities, is used to being beaten and manipulated by men. After a night out with friends, she thinks she has found the one, but he is just lonely after ditching his psychotic twin sister, for a murder free life. She comes to her senses, a little to late and leaves him to find herself.
AAR- After a night of drinking, an Author submits a short story to a writing competition. Winning a trip for two, she packs up her sister and heads to Scotland the home of the ancestors. Once on family property the two take a tumble through time to 1501 and land in the middle of a feud. Meets a Laird, escapes death and finds a family she never thought she could have.
Alexa-Jordyn just found out she is a Bean Sidhee, but what does that mean? Things get even stranger as her best friend comes to her rescue in the form of a bird, friends turn on her and things become heated with J.P. On Amazon
Overview: Lowlander Meridith MacAlpin’s father has been murdered and making her the new Laird. Days after his funeral, she stands at the alter to be wed for the good of the clan. The accused murderer flies in killing her new husband and steals her away to his home in the Highlands. The more she struggles to get home, the more she is forced to see how the rumors of the “Highland Barbarian” are wrong. Even Mary, Queen of Scots, believes him to be a fair and honorable man. Meridith also learns the true nature of her dead husband’s family and their plot to kill her sisters and steal the family land. Though her heart belongs to her captor, she sneaks out in the dead of night and rides for home. With a minor detour she arrives safely just for a short rest before heading off for Edinburgh to speak with the Queen and settle all matters pertaining to her estate. Trouble follows her through the castle as she falls victim to one of Mary’s games, that sends Meridith home with a wound to her throat.
Opinion: The beginning is a little rough, but once you get into it, it is good. Sometimes it seems a bit heavy on the action, and sometimes there seems to be more that could have been done. It definitely keeps you on your toes and guessing about what is going to happen next. The few romantic sex scenes were short and a bit clumsy but that seems to be the biggest downfall.
Overview: Shannon MacBoyd is the only daughter of The MacBoyd and treated poorly by her father for being a woman. After raiding MacLeren lands, MacBoyd ships her off as a prize to the man who helped her and promised to help him (her bethrothed) become king. Torin MacLeren wanted justice for the loss of his kin, and to stop the overthrow of the king; so he kidnapped Shannon and told authorities what her father had done. While waiting for word from the ruling regent King, Torin falls for Shannon and persues her, she resists at first but eventually gives into him. When word comes with the fate of Laird MacBoyd. Torin is called away to MacBoyd land and Shaneonon is taken to court without his knowledge. It is decided that she is to marry the man she loves or be hanged with her father and brothers. She and Torin marry, and have a son that Torin believed he would never have.
Opinion: It is good, but Shannon was a weakly written character. She always made sure to tell everyone that she is not a coward, or imply she has more backbone then other women. When it comes time for her to resist Torin, there is little to no resisting and quickly gives in to whatever he wants. Her father used to beat her, either she is going to fight back or be afraid of men. She half-heartedly pushes him away or tells him no and does it anyway. Yes at some point this is going to happen, usually toward the middle after giving up a good fight, but it is from the get go. Plus she gets ticked off about everything but really does nothing about it. She says she wants to go home, but makes only one attempt at running away (even after being left alone for multiple hours), she doesn’t want to be his lover but becomes his, doesn’t want to wear his clan colors and ends up wearing them. The big one, doesn’t want to marry him or carry his child but she does. Shannon says she is strong and can handle anything, but really she is weak and submissive.
Overview: Evelyn is a grad student and a waitress at a strip club in Texas. Her best friend Piper, somewhat of a flake, moved to Scotland after learning of a great-grandmother’s death and her inheritance just three weeks ago. Evelyn hasn’t heard from her, save for one text message, and suddenly she has 14 missed calls while working. Hearing desperation in Piper’s voice, she agrees to fly out and help in whatever way she can. Once there Piper’s new friend picks Evelyn up from the airport and drives her out to the estate. Which happens to be a giant castle, half modernized and half still in the stone age. Piper allows them to get a few hours of sleep before discussing why Evelyn had to come, a man from the 1700’s had magically appeared in the tower a week before and Piper and Sam were at a loss as to how to get him back. As the three continue their search, an elderly lady is murdered, and a second 18th century Highlander is found to be on the loose. Evelyn starts to piece together what is going on, and accidentally transports her and Sam into the past. Sam is kidnapped and Evelyn is sort of kidnapped, sort of employed to help the witch get everything straightened out. Just when Evelyn thinks they will be sent home, the witch goes crazy and tries to kill Sam and starts a fire. Somehow they find their way back to their time and wake up in a makeshift home hospital, to find Piper watching over them.
While Evelyn and Sam are whisked away to the past Piper grudgingly figures out how to send her Highland lover back with the body of the murderous Highlander. She figures it out and sends him back, seconds later her friends are found in the tower hurt and singed from a fire.
Opinion: The concept has potential, but the execution was lacking. In the beginning, and for most of the book actually, Evelyn seems like an important side character; while Piper should be the main character but treated as a side one. It was really slow going until halfway through, then the author thought it necessary to break up the high-tension, vital action for quick sloppy sex scenes, slowing the story down more. The actual ending was weak and the epilogue sets you up nicely for the second book, and appears to have finally shifted Piper to her rightful place as the main character but I have not read it so I could be wrong in my assumption.