Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday Threads: The Highlander's Reluctant Bride by Cathy MacRae

The Highlander’s Reluctant Bride
Book 2 in The Highlander’s Bride series
by Cathy MacRae

Genre: Historical Romance set in the Highlands of Scotland, 1377
Heat Scale: Sensual

Cover blurb:
Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of the Lord of the Isles and marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.
Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.
Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a 4-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?

Excerpt:

“So, the king forced Eaden to wed,” Riona murmured. Her gaze caught Ranald’s. “What will he do to me?”
Ranald noted her sudden pallor, her grey eyes widening until they were naught but huge silver orbs glowing against her skin. Now was as good a time as any to tell her what King Robert intended for her, but he could not force the words.
“Ye are a laird’s daughter,” he reminded her. “And an heiress. Yer mother’s dower lands north of here are of great value to the king.”
“And I am of little worth, aye?” Riona flared.
“Nae. Ye are of great worth.”
“But a pawn to the king.”
Ranald sighed. This was not going as he planned. “We are all pawns in one way or another, Ree. The king willnae let ye stay on yer own. Ye are a ward of the crown, now.”
“So, he’ll marry me off to some rebellious laird he wants to drag over to his side, using me and my lands to hold him?”
“Nae. No’ so bad as all that.”
“Then, to a wealthy laird who’s all but doddering in his cups, hoping I’ll no’ breed an heir before he dies, giving title to the land to the king and my next husband?”
Ranald lifted an eyebrow. The lass was getting worked up over nothing.
“Marriage, yes. Doddering auld man, no.”
Riona snapped her head to one side, a glower on her face. “Then, who?”
Ranald swallowed and gave her a crooked smile.
“Me.”

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Transcribing Our Emotional Maps

In my third book of the “Hunted Series,” Hunted Dreams, my dreaming main character suddenly finds herself at a laden dinner table. She grabs a fork and digs in.  With each bite, she experiences an explosion of feeling, each one different than the one before: terror, disgust, and rage, to name a few.

This scene was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever written. I forced myself to describe in intense detail every sensation of each emotion: the taste and color of each feeling, the bodily sensations, the resulting thoughts and intentions. Doing so, I discovered something rather profound: describing feelings is tough!

The illustration for the below-mentioned study, found here

You can imagine my delight when I stumbled across this study. It uses self-reports to determine where people physically experience feelings. Looking at the picture, I’m flabbergasted by how our bodies literally feel more or less, depending on our current emotional state. For example, I find fascinating how many feelings find a home in the chest. Whether this is inherent in humans or because we Westerners discuss the heart as the seat of emotions, feelings tend to literally get us right here.

Even more interesting for me is the feeliness (totally a word, or at least it should be) of hands and feet. I can imagine hands clenching when someone is angry, but happiness and love make our feet tingle? What, so we can get ready to run into the waiting arms of our suitor? Whatever the reason, I would never, ever have thought to include feet in my descriptions of happiness.

The cardinal rule of writing is Show Rather than Tell©. This Finnish study, and its resulting illustration, give us a literal map of feelings. It’s color-coded emotions, folks. So, instead of saying “He’s sad,” we can talk about the pressure in the chest, the cold weightiness of limbs, the tightening of the throat.

What a delicious challenge and responsibility we have to describe holistically -- emotionally, physically, and intellectually – our characters’ emotional terrain.