Tracy Brogan is my guest today on A Blue Million Books. I'm happy to share her guest post, "Writing Rituals" and an excerpt from her historical romance, Highland Surrender.
Tracy Brogan is a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist who writes funny contemporary stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and also stirring historical romance full of political intrigue, damsels causing distress, and the occasional man in a kilt. Her first two books, Crazy Little Thing, and Highland Surrender, both earned a 4-Star review from RT magazine and have hit the Amazon Best Selling Books list.
Tracy lives in Michigan with her bemused husband, her perpetually exasperated children, and two dogs, who would probably behave better if they could understand sarcasm.
About the author:
Guest post:Writing Rituals
By Tracy Brogan
Writers lean toward the eccentric, perhaps a byproduct of spending more time in virtual worlds than with living, breathing human beings. It’s sort of a chicken versus the egg conundrum. Are we like this because we are often left to our own solitary entertainment? Or do we seek solitude because we know we can imagine a world more engaging than the one physically surrounding us?
Either way, I know I am decidedly eccentric. And perhaps a teensy bit superstitious/OCD. I have several rituals to put me in the mood (for writing, that is). First, I buy myself a venti-sugar-free-caramel-no-whip-soymilk-decaf-latte. It has to be this drink exactly. Venti because I need a big one. Sugar-free and no-whip because I’m always watching calories (usually watching myself devour them). Soymilk because no cows should suffer just because I need my fix. And decaf because I am irritable by nature and caffeine just makes me that much more hostile.
With beverage ready, I clear away the debris littering my desk. School papers from my above-average children, a reminder from Honda that it’s been two years since my last oil change, and copious notes to myself with Pulitzer-Prize-quality story ideas that I didn’t want to forget, which now make little sense to me at all. One simply reads, “Narcoleptic mattress salesman.” Not sure where I was headed with that.
Next, I gather my trinkets. A Jane Austin action figure l next to my computer screen stares at me with benign indifference, in much the same way she was once perused by Mr. Darcy. The irony is lost on her. Probably because she’s plastic. At her feet lies a metal disk bearing the likeness of Poseidon, an ancient coin from the coffers of an Atlantian nobleman. (Okay, so it’s from the Atlantis casino in the Bahamas. Close enough.) My bulletin board is covered with inspirational items: quips from successful writers, photos from a trip to Scotland, magazine pictures of yummy celebrities who have no idea I’ve cast them in a mental movie version of my books, and a Post-it note from my daughter. She left it for me when I was under a particularly difficult deadline. It says simply, “Mom, I believe in you.”
I also have a note from my publisher which I received just today congratulating me on the successful launch of Highland Surrender. It proclaims in big, bold letters that I’ve sold 30,000 copies in just six weeks. What an honor and a thrill. And next to that, I have a note bearing the worst review I’ve received (thus far :D) which reminds me that I’ll never please all of the people all of the time.
In this tiny corner of my house, I begin to write. The emerald green walls of my home office fall away, the drone of the washing machine fades, and my characters begin to speak. Sometimes slow and soft, sometimes shouting and animated. But they always have something to say. I like it here, in this room. They like it here, too. It’s a reunion of sorts, and like a typical family, sometimes they annoy me. Sometimes they make me cry. But always, I am happy that they’ve come to visit.
See, I told you... Writers are a little eccentric.
Commanded by his king, Myles Campbell is no more willing than his reluctant bride. Still, she is a rare beauty, passionate enough to warm even the coldest marriage bed. Buy Myles quickly realizes Fiona Sinclair is no common wench. She has a warrior’s spirit and a fierce pride that only a fool would try to tame. And Myles Campbell is no fool. Their marriage was meant to unite warring clans. They never imagined it would ignite a once-in-a-lifetime love…
Scottish Highlands, 1537
Fiona Sinclair could not reconcile the irony of nature’s twisted humor. For today of all wretched days the sky should be burdened with clouds as dark and dismal as her mood. But the morning dawned soft and fair, mild as a Highland calf, and she knew that God himself mocked her. At any moment, Myles Campbell and his father, the Earl of Argyll, would pass through the gates of Sinclair Hall, unwelcome, yet unhindered by her clan. Soon after that, she must stand upon the chapel steps and marry a man she had never met, and yet had hated for all of her life.
Through her narrow bedchamber window, sounds from the bailey filtered up. The smithy’s hammer tapped a mellow cadence as if this day were just like any other. Perhaps he shaped a horseshoe or a pointed pike. She smiled at the latter and imaged the heaviness of that same pike in her hand. Oh, that she had the courage to plunge it deep into the earl’s heart, if indeed he had one.
She rose from the threadbare cushion on the bench and moved without purpose toward the stone fireplace. A low fire burned, warding off the spring morning’s chill. From habit, Fiona slipped her hand into the leather pouch around her waist. She squeezed tight the silver brooch inside, its design and inscription etched as clearly in her memory as on the pin itself. A boar’s head, symbol of Clan Campbell, with words chosen by the king himself.
To Cedric Campbell, a true friend is worth a king’s ransom. James V.
The brooch had been a gift to the Campbell chief, the man about to become her father-in-law. But he had left it behind nearly seven years earlier, pierced into the flesh of Fiona’s mother so that all the world might know he had dishonored her. The priest found Aislinn Sinclair’s lifeless body in a secluded glen outside the village, stripped bare and broken, marked by Cedric’s lust and spite. Thus a feud, long simmering at the edges, boiled over.
But today the king thought to put an end to it with this farce of a marriage between a Sinclair lass and a Campbell son. It would not work.
Fiona paced to the window, restless and melancholy. She leaned out to breathe fresh spring air, hoping it might lighten her spirits. The too-sweet scent of hyacinth clung to the breeze, along with the ever-present brine of Moray Firth. Along the west curtain wall, more hammering sounded as masons worked to bolster the steps leading to the main keep. As if precarious stairs alone might halt the Campbell men from gaining entrance. But nothing would. Her fate as a Campbell bride had been declared the very day she drew in her first breath, and sealed when her father blew out his last.
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