Thank you for stopping by today. It's a busy time of year for so many. We've already had the power out at our house for a couple of days. Our camper, 2Hoots saves us often. One pull of the generator and we have lights, heat and water. If you've been here before you know one of my favorite things to do is sit around the fire, and we even have an electric fireplace. It may be cold outside but we're tucked away nice and cozy with today's guest. Whether it’s away in a campground or at home in front the chiminea or fireplace, some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame. So, wherever you’re joining us from, relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. Okay, without further delay…
Please join me in welcoming Mageela Troche to the Around the Campfire. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine? I pretty much have it all.
Cocoa. Cocoa with marshmallows would be preferred.
Any self-respecting camper had marshmallows. Oh, and I have fluff too. Tell us Mageela, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
I camped when I was very little but have no memory of it. I had to be told about it by my mother and according to her, it was a disaster. And my brother went camping with the Boy Scouts when he was about eight and at the time we lived in Panama so they camped in the jungle. My brother shared a tent with his best friend. My brother returned home then a couple of days later, my mother received a call from his tent mate. She told how her son had a bump on the back of his head, larger than a pimple and it kept on moving but won’t pop no matter how much she squeezed so she took her son to the hospital. The doctor cut it open and a bug laid its egg under his skin. So, camping is not my thing.
Oh, gross! I'm cringing. My camper is totally a bug-free-zone. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My novella is called The Chieftain’s Secret. It’s a historical romance set in medieval Scotland.
I do love a man in a kilt. Do you have a tagline?
Love sails on unexpected winds.
Love it. It sounds quite poetic. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
The Chieftain’s Secret is the latest in a series of highlander romances. I had decided to write about my hero, Niall MacLean after I first wrote about him as a young boy in my debut novel The Marriage Alliance. But it took about two years and four novels.
Isn't it wonderful how a character calls to the author and tells them they need their own story. You have a few books under your belt and new one but is there anything you’re itching to get to? Another character demanding page time?
Too many. I’m editing a Historical romance in Scotland, writing a Highlander romance, a plotting a Regency romance and just developing a middle-grade novel.
Wow, you're a busy lady. As you know not many authors can do it without support, are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
I have to thank RWA/NYC members who shared their knowledge with me and helped me grow as an author and person. Alice Orr who did the same. There have been so many different books that have influenced me that I cannot name them all. We’ll be here all day.
What does literary success look like to you?
I don’t know. That changes all the time. But the most important is to be able to support my life with my writing and to write until the last moments of my life. That sounds good to me for now. Tomorrow that answer might change.
Success can be like a moving target. I think it helps us keep fresh. I've started a new section of the blog and call it Life Hacks for Authors. Do you have any tips, tricks or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
If you read one writing craft book then read The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri.
I'll have to check it out. Now the fun questions. Do you have a special object like a piece of jewelry or keepsake of some sort?
I have a name chain that my brother and mother bought me when I was a teenager. It’s special because my name is weird and I could never find my name written on anything so I had wanted to be named Jennifer. But when I got that necklace it felt like I wasn’t so different from everyone else.
I think your name is beautiful. Worst household chore?
Aren’t they all bad? I would say washing dishes, cleaning the oven.
If you could time travel, where would you go and when?
I would love to go to the Scottish court of Mary, Queen of Scots. When I first learned about her, I wept as if she was personally known to me. I still feel immense sadness when I think about her.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Unlimited first-class tickets every time. I don’t think I would ever be home.
What was your first job?
I was a bus girl at a café here in New York when I was 12 years old. I really liked it and made good money there.
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
Personal finances should be taught. We certainly need it.
Mageela, thank you for joining me today. Please let us know where we can find out more about you. Also if you'd leave us a sample of your book and where to buy it.
On a windswept Scottish Isle…
Many objects wash up on the shores of the rugged Isle of Mull. The Laird of Lochbuie never expected a pregnant wife to be included in that. Honorable Niall MacLean was wed to his childhood love when she died in childbirth. Now a widower, he struggles to get beyond his grief. Then a dear friend, Ermina Bruce pleaded for his help. His protective instinct came alive and he handfasted with Ermina to save her from an unsuitable marriage and one drunken night has led to forever after and a repeat of his past heartbreak.
The bonds of friendship…
Noble Ermina Bruce has loved Niall MacLean since he first fostered in her uncle’s home. But he loved another so she settled for the deep bonds of friendship. When her family arranged a marriage she didn’t want she knew Niall could save her from that miserable fate.
One night of passion…
That one night in Niall’s arms led to her pregnancy. Ermina has not told Niall of their secret baby. But his reaction isn’t her greatest fear. Her fear is even greater than the brave laird’s wrath. Every woman in her family has died in childbirth and all know the same fate awaits her. Once again, Ermina knows Niall is the only one who can save her. And if he fails, her last days shall be with the man she has loved since childhood.
Will love have a chance to come alive?
THE CHIEFTAIN’S SECRET
The church preached the Lord had a plan for all living creatures. Ermina Bruce wondered about her own divine design. Naturally, marriage, children, and a household of her own were included in the life plan. For Ermina, she would have liked a hint of what else awaited since her life had taken a surprising turn.
“Don’t fall into the fire.”
A scream squeaked from her as she spun around and nearly toppled into the hearth. Niall snatched her back and against his hard chest. She landed with a humph. Her nose and cheek smashed against him. She drew a breath into her empty chest along with the manly scent mixed with wine, leather, and musk. She planted her hands flat on his chest and straightened.
“Niall, you frightened me”—she shoved her palm hard against his chest, not that he wavered from her strike—“Sneaking in here without making nary a sound.”
He shrugged. “The skills of a Highlander.” Niall swayed on his feet.
Ermina grabbed him by his forearm to steady him. “The skill is made more impressive since you are drunk.”
“I am celebrating our handfasting.” He lifted his hand. He frowned as he realized his hand was empty. “I seem to have forgotten my cup.”
Ermina turned away from his empty hand hovering in the air as if it were curled about a cup. He couldn’t see her tears. He would ask her why she cried, and she couldn’t reveal the truth. Worse than her unreasonable emotions for him, she knew his reason for drinking until the world faded to the edges of his awareness. That knowledge never stemmed the roaring need to scream down upon his head. She hated seeing his eyes heavy from drink, his movement sloppy, and hearing his slurred speech.
“There have been enough toasts tonight. From all the warm wishes, if a wedding had occurred we would have had a very blessed lifetime. ”
That sounds wonderful. A lifetime with Niall.
“Your uncle scowled through the ceremony.” His befuddled voice snapped her free from her thoughts. His stance was wide but that failed to stop him from swaying.
She didn’t reach to steady him. Right now, with the dull ache thumping through her, she decided touching him was stupid.
Her uncle, the fourth earl of Annadale, and head of the family, had been snarling and growling since Niall and she informed him of the handfasting. There was no reason for his behavior to change on this day. “Aye, he did raise his cup begrudgingly.” She ambled to the bed and perched on the edge. “At least, we were both screamed upon but our lives were not in too much danger.” She put her feet up.
“I am accustomed to his temper. You were trembling like a new recruit.” Niall joined her and fell back. He threw one arm over his head and rested the other one on the flat of his stomach.
“I rarely witness that side of my uncle.”
“You thawed his plans but he gave in to your wants in the end. At least you will not be teetered to that auld man. I imagine Bruce will have more care in your next match.”
“I pray you are right. I do not wish to be bound to a man who believes a husband should not spare the rod with a wife.” Ermina fell back beside Niall. He peeked out the corner of his eye and stretched out his arm. She scooted over and propped her head on his muscular forearm.
This wasn’t the first instance that Ermina had been this close to Niall. This time, though, felt different. They were handfasted. Not that that knowledge changed anything. That was a falsehood. It changed everything for her. Her yearning for him sharpened.
She could bury her nose in the crook of his neck and breath in his scent. Just one whiff of his singular scent and a rush of warmth and pure happiness filled her. Then the longing came and the knowledge that she would never have his love smothered every ounce of her desire.
He rested his head against hers and let out a wine-scented sigh.
His lips were less than half a finger length from her own. Their breaths mingled. She could kiss him. She could finally feel the texture of his lips and discover if they felt as she had imagined.
That was wrong. They were friends. He had saved her from a marriage to a man she had no desire to be united with. A kiss would ruin their bond. That was one act she refused to allow.
“’Tis the first time we have lain together on a bed.”
“You make it sound sinful.” She hoped she put enough of a sneer into her voice so he couldn’t hear the rush charging through her.
He rolled his head to the side and wiggled his dark brows. “Most sinful.”
His intoxicated gaze flittered over her face and lost the stressed lines that pinched his face. His warm regard changed to one darkening with desire. His gaze slowly traced over the lines of her face then to her mouth where it lingered, tracing the shape. His mouth parted as if he were preparing to kiss her.
She stilled, unwilling to break the bond between them. Not once in her life had she been the focus of his smoldering gaze. She had seen glimpses of it when he spoke of Siobhan. Now, his narrowed eyes centered on her. His desire was meant for her and her alone. She had never been kissed. For Niall to be the first…Her whole body went hot and slowly melted. She went a little dizzy. He would kiss her. She licked her lips in preparation.
He blinked. Niall let out a heavy sigh laced with a groan. She understood its meaning. Siobhan. More than twelve months had passed since his wife’s death. Naturally, she understood the reasons for him losing himself in drink. Niall had loved his Siobhan since their childhood.
When Niall arrived at Annadale to foster at the age of eight, he had already been—as he said handfasted—to her. When he returned to the highlands as a knight, he had wed her. Ermina never met Siobhan, but she had been entertained and jealous of the highland lass as she listened to his countless stories that always centered around Siobhan. With each telling, she had felt the all-encompassing love he possessed for her. Aye, she understood the reasons for his drinking with each raise of his cup, and her heart ached for him.
“If I were to take another wife, I would be pleased to have you.”
He rolled on his side and placed a peck on her cheek. Instead of putting a proper distance between them, he rested his chin upon her shoulder. She leaned her head against the top of his head and listened to his easy breathing.
“I would be pleased to have you for a husband.” She felt that emptiness inside of her that ached to be filled. The sensation that hollowed her whenever she thought of Niall. If she had to name the turmoil within herself, she might have thought it longing. The corner of her eyes began to burn as if tears were forming. She blinked with such rapidness she could have started a storm. There was no reason for them. Niall would not be the man she would spend her life with.
He lifted his head. His nose brushed along her jaw and across her cheek, halting when he buried the tip in her hair. His lips hovered over her ear. His exhales blew across her lobe. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the lulling sensation.
“Ermina, you are a beautiful woman and shall have all the happiness life can give.” He kissed her—a simple peck that sparked goose bumps across her.
He drew back and stared at her. There was softness, nay, tenderness in his eyes. It wasn’t because of the color but the hooded shape that gave him an earnest expression. The hazy gloss dulled the brightness of his dark, burnished eyes.
“This isn’t right but I can’t stop myself. I don’t want to.” He fitted his mouth to hers with the softest of pressure. She should have turned away. Niall did not know what he was doing. She did.
With his top lip, he nudged apart her shocked mouth. The tip of his tongue flicked against her stiff one. She opened to him. Her mouth filled with the taste of wine. The tart flavor jolted her. The hairs on her arms stood as a current race through her.
This was foolish.
’Tis only a kiss…
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mageela-Troche/e/B00CHTIRFW/
Mary, Queen of Scots 1971
I haven't seen the 2018 version but remember this one.
And for a movie about camping in the Jungle?
1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces
½ cup sliced carrots
1 cup barley
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 leek, sliced
In a large pot combine the chicken, carrots, barley, water, bouillon and salt and pepper to taste. Bring all to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Skim broth as needed.
Remove chicken from pot and add leeks. Bring back to a boil; reduce heat, cover and let simmer another 15 minutes or so, until thickened.
Meanwhile, skin and debone the cooked chicken. Return chicken meat to thickened stew and cook for about 5 minutes to heat through. Serve hot.
“To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”