We have a winner! Janine, congratulations! You are the winner of Leigh Ann’s giveaway. She will be in touch! Thanks for always stopping by the blog–I sure appreciate your support and so do my Spotlight authors!
It’s always a pleasure to welcome back my fellow Tule authors to the blog and today I’m delighted to have Leigh Ann Edwards in the Spotlight.
Leigh Ann’s fascination with history, romance, magic, fantasy, time-travel and Ireland sparked her interest in creating the Irish Witch Series and her growing collection of published novels. Growing up in a very small Manitoban village on the Canadian prairies left a lot of time to create stories and let her imagination soar.
An author for nearly thirty years, Leigh Ann has almost completed writing her fourth series with Tule Publishing and will soon begin a fifth. Besides writing, Leigh Ann loves spending time with her four grandchildren, reading, traveling, doing intuitive readings and reiki. Leigh Ann and her husband, their two cats, one large dog and their Boston Terrier puppy, live near Edmonton Alberta, Canada.
I’m thrilled to be back in Nan’s Author Spotlight today to talk to you about my latest book. I’m really grateful to Nan for continuing to offer these opportunities to fellow authors to highlight their writing and new releases.
Winter’s Haunting Pledge is the second installment in my five book Maidens of the Mystical Stones series with my amazing publisher, Tule Publishing. The series takes place in a small fictional village in Wessex near Stonehenge, during medieval times before various kingdoms united to form England.
In the first book, Autumn’s Magical Pact, four female friends with very different personalities, backgrounds, and life circumstances––a healer, a harlot, a castle servant, and a princess, meet at the sunstones one autumn night bemoaning their futures and envying the others. A magical crone appears and offers them the chance to live a season in each of their friends’ lives. All but Rhianwyn are eager to accept. Eventually, to protect Selena, she agrees.
In Winter’s Haunting Pledge, the magic is about to begin.
I remember my very first editor telling me that I had a tendency to build up to something unhappy or terrible happening to my main characters, but then I’d pull back a little, softening their troubles. I suppose it’s because authors become really attached to their characters and almost like a parent, we want to shield them from anything unpleasant. Still, as my editor explained, a writer has to torture their characters to make the stories intriguing. Without conflict, either inner-conflict or between characters, the storyline soon becomes dull.
I’ve certainly done my share of torturing Rhianwyn, the main heroine in this series. She goes through lots of heartache and tribulations. Most heroines do. And in historical or fantasy series they often deal with inequality, disrespect, and sometimes evil dark magic or otherworldly creatures along with more typical conflicts or antagonists.
Rhianwyn was only fourteen when she lost her mother, Mererid. They’d been very close and Mererid taught her to always attempt to find something positive, no matter what she was facing, claiming it would take her mind off her woes even for a little while. On her darkest days, she honors her mother by remembering her wise advice, even if what Rhianwyn tries to spin as positive, is sometimes amusing.
The first four books in this series focus on one season. The last is titled, Fate’s Final Season.
Today, I’d like to talk about months. Most people have some they like better than others. We tend to like the month we were born. My birthday’s in June and as a child, I always found lots to like about June. Besides my birthday, there was the beginning of summer. It was usually lovely and warm and summer holidays would soon begin. There were longer daylight hours to play outside.
As an adult, I still like June. The shade trees are green and full again, the garden vegetables are growing, flowers are blooming, including wild roses and they’re my favorite flower. Pink is my favorite color and I love the smell of wild roses. Although I’ve developed a sun intolerance, I can still enjoy an early morning or late evening walk if I wear a hat. I adore being outside with my dogs, having my morning tea and listening to the birds, but the days of sunbathing are long gone. With my Irish/ Norwegian roots and pale skin, I was never a sun worshipper like a lot of my friends. I’ve had numerous sunburns and sunstroke once.
November and January are my two least favorite months. I’m from Canada and winters on the prairies, are really long and cold. I also don’t participate in winter sports anymore.
November, especially if it hasn’t snowed yet, is gray and dreary with the trees bare and the grass brown. I lost my little brother in November, too, so those sad memories always resurface.
December is always exciting because there’s Christmas, and music everywhere, colorful lights and decorations, parties, concerts, and family celebrations often with fun traditions, baking cookies and making special foods.
February’s shorter. As a child I looked forward to Valentine’s crafts and parties, and our small town’s curling bonspiel. Now, I enjoy a nice Valentine’s dinner with my husband, with wine and sometimes chocolates. There’s usually some warmer days in February, too.
March brings spring and even though there are often blizzards and unpredictable forecasts, still, we know winter weather can’t last that much longer. (Now, I’m being an optimist because I’ve seen blizzards in May, snow hang around till June, and July’s the only month I’ve never witnessed a snowfall.)
In January, we celebrate a new year, but it always seems a long month and tends to be bitterly cold, with lots of snow. The windchill here has reached -55C. In fact, last January we had a few days where our temperatures were colder than the arctic.
With cell phones and social media, it’s easier to keep in touch with friends and family now, but as a child, other than seeing friends at school, the first month of the year was sometimes too cold to go skating or tobogganing, even all bundled up, and sometimes we were snowed in and didn’t have school. It left lots of time to read and write stories, but January wasn’t ever in my top ten favorite months. Both my nana (my maternal grandmother) and my mum passed away in January, adding to my dislike of that month.
However, nine years ago, I started feeling much different about January. My youngest grandchild was born the last day of that month. The birth was a planned C-section. At the time, when my daughter told me the date, I remember thinking, couldn’t it have been February 1st? But that year the first of February was a Saturday and hospitals don’t typically book weekend surgeries.
Now, it’s given me an amazing reason to love January. My grandson is just such a bright, beautiful, affectionate, ball of fire. He gets so excited planning his birthdays, who wouldn’t get caught up in that? Winter’s Haunting Pledge release date was on his birthday this year. He thought that was really special and so I dedicated the book to him. One of my dogs was born on the same date five years ago, and I’ve had a few other books released that month, so I’m grateful for many reasons to be joyful in January. The hoar frost has been stunningly beautiful this winter, too.
Thank you so much, Nan, and to everyone who stopped by.
GIVEAWAY! For a chance to win a signed print copy of Winter’s Haunting Pledge and a few different bookmarks, tell me your most or least favorite month and why?
Winter’s Haunting Pledge
Newlywed, Rhianwyn Mulryan is blissfully happy. But a magical pact she made with three close friends foretells the impending end of her enchanted life. Over the next year, as the seasons change, the women will exchange lives. With the first transformation, Rhianwyn will experience her friend Selena’s life as a harlot where she’ll need to fend off the cruel brothel owner and evade a mysterious murderer. Worse still, until she’s herself again, Rhianwyn must battle the powerful attraction to her husband, Broccan—or risk destroying everything she loves most.
Celebrated knight Sir Broccan Mulryan is unexpectedly content in his harmonious life with his beautiful wife. But jealous rivalries and disturbing visits from his past force a dangerous journey to another kingdom. Upon returning, Broccan is distressed to find his beloved Rhianwyn completely changed. Not only that, but he’s suddenly absurdly attracted to her best friend, a harlot.
As winter’s chill descends, the fires of friendship and romance flicker. Can true love weather the season? Or will the magical spell destroy them all?
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To set up the scene, the friends, Rhianwyn, Selena, Elspeth, and Lilliana have returned to the stone circle where they’d agreed to the magical pact. Tonight, the first transformation will occur.
“Do you think it will be painful––when it happens?” Selena quivered as she spoke.
“I hadn’t thought of that!” Elspeth snapped but her usually strong voice trembled, too. “Thanks for planting that possibility in my mind.”
“Will you be able to cope with being a castle servant and living with Godric as your husband?” Rhianwyn asked Lilliana.
She lifted her chin, insulted. “I’m a princess, but I’m stronger than you think.”
“Do all of you really still want to go through with this?” Selena looked around as if the old woman who’d sealed the pact, might overhear.
They all jumped as the old crone did indeed magically appear.
“There’s no way to get out of this,” she croaked, looking at the walking stick she’d left behind last time they’d seen her––the one Rhianwyn now held. “You each agreed to the pact!”
“I’m frightened.” Selena was near tears. “I thought I’d be excited, but I’m afraid.”
“Selena, you’re always bloody afraid!” Elspeth said, but by her expression, she was equally fearful.
“When you have your turn at being me,” Selena replied with uncommon spite, “maybe you’ll all know what it is to be afraid.”
The old woman ignored them. “You’ll experience the joys, heartaches, happiness and pain in the lives of each of the others,” she intoned. “But be warned, you shouldn’t be together when the magic happens. You could take on characteristics, traits and memories of each of your friends, simultaneously, which might be too much for your minds to endure. Besides, Druids will soon gather within the sunstones for the solstice and their magic could interact with mine. Who knows what might occur? I wouldn’t want to find out!” The crone’s voice was disturbingly eerie. Then she vanished as quickly as she’d appeared.
“God’s bones.” Rhianwyn’s heart raced. She wished she’d never agreed to this infernal pact. “We’d better heed her and leave straightaway.”
“I agree.” Princess Lilliana, always reserved, hoisted up her skirts and hurried away in a most unprincess-like manner.
“We shouldn’t even walk together.” Elspeth glanced at Rhianwyn and Selena before hastily running off, too.
“I don’t want to be alone,” Rhianwyn.” Selena began to whimper.
“I wouldn’t leave you. Take my hand. If the transformation should occur now, it’s you and I who’ll be trading places anyway.”
“Thank you, Rhianwyn.” Selena’s tears began in earnest.
“Don’t be fearful, Selena. My life’s wonderful in many ways. After the transformation, you and I’ll still see each other. The old woman didn’t caution us against that.”
Selena nodded but quietly sobbed.
Rhianwyn gathered her in her arms. “We’ll get through this together, my dear friend.”
“But what about when I’m living Elspeth’s life and wed to Godric? How will I survive that? You won’t be able to protect me then…or as Lilliana when I’m off in Welshland so far away from you. You’d better give me a lust potion if I’m truly expected to share Broccan’s bed. This was so very foolish. Why didn’t I listen to you? Why didn’t we all listen to you?” Selena could barely catch her breath now.
Rhianwyn clasped her hand. “It’ll be a thrilling adventure. I’m excited to see what’s before us.”
“You can’t lie convincingly,” Selena cried. “You’d best drink more of the ability to speak falsehoods potion. And what of all your potions and elixirs? How will I know which…?”
“You’ll come speak to me,” Rhianwyn interrupted gently grasping her friend’s shoulders. “Living my life, you’ll have more freedom.”
Selena nodded but sniffled as they continued walking. When they reached the guesthouse, Rhianwyn accompanied her inside. Selena was quivering so badly, Rhianwyn helped her undress and tucked her in like a mother might, then kissed her on the forehead, and hurried to the manor.
Once there, Rhianwyn sat upon the bed. She was trembling now, too. She glanced at the candle clock. It was nearly midnight. She looked out the window at the full moon, praying Broccan was safe. Clasping his pillow, she inhaled his musky scent, fainter now, when she felt something. She reached inside the pillowcase to find a letter from her beloved.
After reading it, huge teardrops fell soaking her gown. She rejoiced in his words of love and his mutual sorrow at them having to be parted, but her heart ached, knowing when he returned, it wouldn’t be her who greeted him.
She was holding the note to her heart when she heard the monastery bells chime out signally midnight. The candle on the stand flickered. Perhaps a draft from the hearth, but then the bed began to shake. She became disoriented––everything seemed hazy. She lay upon the bed, trying to fight the unsteadiness. Now the room spun. The bed turned, too––the opposite way of the chamber. She held Broccan’s pillow tighter, tucked the note beneath the mattress and loss consciousness.