Welcome to my home on the web. You may have noted the mountains in the banner are the misty Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Did you know time traveling Highlanders live there? Curious about the big cat? Florida panther~from the Crimson Storm paranormal novel, Sea Panther.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Celtic symbology and the holly maze in Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

In Celtic symbology, the labyrinth, or maze, represents pathway(s) leading to the center of one’s spirit. ‘Tis said one should release burdens on the way to the center of the maze then accept what is needed most on the way out . For Twelvetide, I used a holly maze to unite the heroine, Ashley, with her destined mate, Caelan, and thusly combine their spirits. Or at least, that is what I hope the book’s readers take away from the symbology.

Postcard available at  CardCow.com.

The holly maze in Twelvetide was modeled after the maze depicted in this sixties vintage postcard featuring the holly maze at the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg on sale at Cardcow.com. I imagined the Twelvetide holly maze as more expansive and with only one tree at its center, an ancient oak. The spot where Caelan awaits Ashley, first when she was seven and later, more importantly, when she was a grown woman.

Unfortunately, it is my understanding the maze at Williamsburg is now privet and much shorter.



 
An excerpt from Twelvetide:


Ashley raced across the car park. The flame in the lantern flickered, its beam of light dancing crazily over the snow-covered, icy gravel. Slipping, she teetered, but regained balance. Hurry. She hadn’t come this far only to be too late. She slid to a stop at the gate and fumbled with the key. Dammit, her hands shook. Hurry. Hurry. She inserted the key and twisted. Crap. It didn’t fit quite right. With firm jiggling, she forced the key into position. The locking mechanism finally clicked. With a relieved sigh, she pushed the grille open and stepped within the ancient garden.

The maze wasn’t there. Was she too early or too late?

Precipitation no longer fell and the storm clouds slid away on a south-easterly wind. A bright half-moon cast silvery illumination over the landscape, diminishing the need for the lantern. She strolled toward the dolphin fountain. A dazzling light flashed in the sky, blinding her for a moment. When Ashley’s vision cleared, everything had changed.

The garden was as she remembered.

Bright sunbeams shimmered down from a cloudless cerulean sky. A warm breeze carried the mingled scents of roses and honeysuckle. Ashley parked the lantern on the edge of the fountain and dropped her wool coat to the ground as she had as a child. Pulse racing, she walk-ran over the stepping stone path to the holly maze.

With the key clutched in a firm grip, she hesitated at the entrance, swallowed hard, and entered the winding twists and turns. On her last visit, she’d had the blond-headed boy to follow through the maze. Where was he now? Would Cael be at the oak tree, if and when she found it?

Close your eyes and trust in your heart.

“Who said that?” The androgynous voice sounded corporeal, but no one was there. Was it a ghostly voice? Was Cael haunting the maze, trying to spook her with a disguised voice?

Why would he do that? He’d made her promise to return to him.

Believe in the magic and find your heart’s desire.

Ashley shivered, spooked by the voice in her head. Get a grip, Ashley. You’ve been waiting to return to the garden for what felt like a lifetime. She inhaled a deep breath and closed her eyes. Ignoring mounting anxiety, she groped with her hands like a child playing blind man’s bluff, and walked straight into a prickly holly hedge.

“Ouch!” She popped her eyes open and stuck a stinging finger into her mouth.

Damn. This wasn’t working and time was wasting away. She didn’t know how long she’d have with Cael before the magic expired. She shoved the key into a jeans pocket and took the first right. Hung a left. Another left. Turned right and hit a dead end. Grrr!

“Cael, where are you?” she shouted.

No response. With fisted hands, she retraced her steps then went right again. Left. Left. Left. Ending at a T-juncture. Ashley jammed her hands in her pants pockets and blew out a puff of air. Should she go right or left?

“Please, Cael, help me find you.”

Close your eyes. Believe in the magic.

That strange voice again. She swallowed uneasily, wary of such potent magic. Well, she’d just need to get over her apprehensions if she wanted to find Cael. And she did want to find him.

Okay. She closed her eyes, waiting, listening to silence.

Hmmmm. A faint humming. Should she? Slowly. One step at a time. Twisting and turning. She followed the hum through the maze. Astonishingly, she managed not to walk into the shrubbery walls. After taking a countless number of turns, the droning sound rose in pitch no longer mellifluous. She popped her eyes wide. The irritating noise instantly died.

In the center of the square clearing, the large oak tree stood proud as she remembered.

Her heart plummeted. He wasn’t there. Cael wasn’t there. Her shoulders drooped. Moisture pricked the back of her eyes.

Cael stepped from behind the tree, sporting a sexy grin. Damn, the man, the real man, was hotter than her dreams.

Ashley’s insides turned to mush. She ran toward him and stopped just short.



Twelvetide is part of the Enchanted Highlands collection from authors April Holthaus, Victoria Zak, and Dawn Marie Hamilton and can be found at Amazon for a limited time.



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Secret Realm's New Year's Blog Hop with Dawn Marie Hamilton

https://www.facebook.com/events/1698285197068626/

Welcome to the hop!

Thanks for joining us and hopping along. If you need to pop over to the hop's Facebook event page, click on the above graphic.


Happy New Year! I wish you and your family all the best for 2016. But consider taking a wee trip to a magical garden with me today. To a place slathered with magic. To the Enchanted Highlands of Scotland. To a place where, on the winter solstice, the veil between realms thins and easily tears, and a soul might find oneself transported to another time.


The Enchanted Highlands collection:

Three magical love stories from three Celtic authors --
April Holthaus, Victoria Zak, and Dawn Marie Hamilton. Available at Amazon for a limited time at 99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited.


My contribution to the collection:


Twelvetide (Twelve Nights of Highland Magic)
By Dawn Marie Hamilton

He has twelve nights to gain her love.
She has twelve nights to save his soul.

Fulfilling a childhood promise, Ashley Dumont returns to an ancient Druid garden in the Black Hills of Scotland on the eve of the winter solstice—a time when magic hums and the veil between realms thins and tears, allowing all manner of supernatural creatures through. Will the ghost who claimed to be her destiny still be there?

Caelan Innes awaits her arrival. Unjustly murdered in the sixteenth century, a second chance at life depends on this woman. The Druids grant them the twelve nights of Yule to find love and save Cael’s soul. Will a trip through time and the treachery of enemies make the sacrifice too dear?

Excerpt:

“Then again…” The woman frowned. “I’m afraid the veil is rather thick this year. So few believers.”

“Believers? What do you mean?”

“Those who embrace magic.”

“What does magic have to do with Cael?”

“Ah, so it’s Caelan you seek. He is braw, is he not?”

Ashley had dreamed of Cael since the age of seven. First as a playmate, then as a co-conspirator, and more recently as a lover. If memory—and dreams—served, he was hot, sexy, and to live for. Long blond hair framed emerald eyes, gorgeous hair tumbled over broad shoulders. Tall. At least, he’d towered over the child she’d been. He stood tall in her fantasies. Her nipples hardened in response to the recollection of the last steamy dream featuring Cael as hero.

“You must believe in magic, in all its forms, to save Caelan from an undeserved fate within the in-between.”

She snapped attention back to Aileen. “Tell me what I must do.”

“Do you believe? Truly believe?”

“In magic? I think I do.”

“Your heart, your soul, your mind must be dedicated. Especially your heart.”

She’d lost her heart to Cael a long time ago. She’d do whatever it took to find him and learn what he meant when he claimed to be her destiny. She prayed he spoke the truth.

“There will be dangers.” Aileen’s earnest features put a knot in Ashley’s already churning stomach.

Ashley nodded. “I must find Cael. I promised.”

“Ach, well, then collect nine leaves from the holly tree.” She pointed to a berry-laden tree at the garden’s edge. “Prick your finger on one of the leaves, leaving behind a droplet of blood. Wrap the leaves in linen and add a teardrop. Tie the cloth with nine knots and tie the ends together in a lover’s knot. Place the packet beneath your pillow tonight and your dreams will come true within this ancient garden at the hour of the solstice.”

Before Ashley had a chance to ask a question, the woman slipped away as silently as she’d arrived. Ashley worried her bottom lip. What Aileen described seemed an odd bit of witches’ hocus pocus. But if one believed in ghosts…

***Giveaway***

I'll gift a kindle edition of one of my books to three hop visitors, who answer the question -- when does the veil between realms thin in the magic garden -- by leaving a comment, email address, and preferred gift book below. All my books can be found at Amazon. Good luck!

***Please leave your email address and choice of book with your answer in the comments. If you wish it to remain private, email the entry to author@dawnmariehamilton.com Thanks!***

*Note: the giveaway runs through midnight January 17th. Winners will be notified on Tuesday, January 19th. Thank you for participating in the hop!




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Now, to continue with the hop, visit Tina Donahue, and then Maureen L Bonatch, or return to the event page. Have fun hopping!


~Dawn Marie