What’s New Wednesday

Who doesn’t love a sexy Highlander?

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Kind of a rhetorical question, right?  Well, today we have a special treat. BJ Scott is here, talking about her trilogy and sharing insights about the Celtic culture.

Medieval Scotland: A society rooted in myth and superstition.

When the Celtic people emigrated from Ireland to Scotland, along with their Celtic religion, they brought with them a strong belief in fairies, superstitions, myths, and legends. This resulted in a culture that was governed by rituals intended to bring good luck, blessing, to promote prosperity, to help them to select a mate, to keep their children safe from fairies, to influence crop yields, increase fertility, and to protect them from evil and tragedy. Simple day-to-day activities, things like how to plant a field, to lead a cow, the order in which ingredients were added to a pot, and direction it was stirred, the proper way to celebrate feasts and sacred days were all carried out according to legendary practices. Breaking with tradition or going against the myth meant you were inviting trouble. Many a tale was told of those who had done just that and the grave consequences. All of the Celtic festivals and how they were celebrated were based on their beliefs in the ‘other world’ or superstition.

Perhaps one of the most prevalent beliefs of the Celtic people living in the Highlands was in the “gift of second sight.” The Gaelic name for this form of precognition was dà shealladh, which translated means two sights,  the ability of a person to not only see the world as all normal humans do, but they also had the skill to see the spirit world. Called a gift by some, it was often seen as a curse by those said to possess these abilities.

The taibhs (spirits) beheld by the taibhsear (person with second sight) in what was referred to as astaibhsearchd (the act of precognition) usually foretold of unhappy events and often of impending death. Sometimes the premonitions were clearly observed in a vision depicting the event exactly as it would unfold—a noose around someone’s throat, someone submerged in water and struggling to catch a breath, or a headless man—but more often, the events were seen symbolically.

The shroud, the corpse-candle or spectral illuminations, each held a specific significance.  The shroud of death and where it was wrapped around a person’s body indicated how long they had to live. Draped around the middle or below, meant death might not occur for months or even a year, but the higher it was positioned, the sooner the death would occur.  Wrapped around a specific part of the body could signify the way they would die. A full funeral procession, the way being lit by corpse-candles and other illuminations was also viewed as a sign of impending demise. If a spark of fire was seen falling upon someone’s arm or breast, this indicated the dead of a child, especially if seen in the arms of that person.  Seeing an empty seat when someone was sitting in it was a sign that sudden death was near.

The knowledge of when and where a person would die, to see the demise of friends and family, or simply being aware of people’s nature in general was a heavy burden to carry and often feared.  Even though the visions came on them without warning and was not by choice, the person with second sight often found themselves living in solitude. Be it by preference or forced upon them.

While thought to be hereditary, second sight was known to skip a generation or two and then reappear. When it might strike or who would be afflicted was never known for certain. Not all visions were of tragedy. On occasion, happier events were seen. If a woman was seen standing at a man’s left hand there was a good chance she would be his wife, even if he was already married at the time of the vision. If more than one woman was seen, the one closest to the man’s left hand would be his next wife.

In the second book of my series, Highland Quest, the heroine, Fallon, is blessed according to some with the gift, but in her mind it is a curse. She is shunned for her abilities because people fear her gift. She foresees the death of Bryce, the hero, and is afraid her love will lead to his demise. We meet Fallon in the first book and gain some insight into her prophecies.

ABOUT THE TRILOGY

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When I started my first book, Highland Legacy, Connor Fraser’s story, I was not sure if it would be a single title or a series. After the book was published in November of 2011, I received many requests for sequels involving the other two brothers, Bryce and Alasdair, so a series was born.

Book #1: Highland Legacy is available in e-book and print.

Faced with an abhorrent betrothal, Cailin Macmillan flees her father’s castle and quickly learns that a woman traveling alone in Medieval Scotland is an easy target for ruthless English soldiers. When Highland patriot Connor Fraser comes to her aid, his steadfast dedication to king and country is challenged by his overwhelming desire to protect Cailin—even if he must marry her to do so.

Accused of murdering one of her attackers and determined to rely on her own resourcefulness, Cailin dresses as a lad, intent on seeking refuge at the camp of Robert the Bruce. Can she elude an enemy from her past—a vindictive English lord bent on her utter demise—or will she fall prey to his carnal intent and be executed for a crime she did not commit?

Book #2: Highland Quest is in e-book format, print coming soon.

No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers, and on a quest to find his destiny, Bryce Fraser’s chosen path is fraught with danger, passion, and decisions. Can his unspoken love for spirited, beguiling Fallon be triumphant in a time of war and uncertainty, or will they both fall prey to the devious plans of a traitorous laird from a rival clan?

Book #3: Highland Homecoming releases Summer/Fall 2013.

The last thing Alasdair Fraser expects to find on an isolated beach along the coast of northern Scotland is a beautiful, unconscious lass. Unable to turn his back on someone in need, he delays his journey and tend so her injuries–an act that has him questioning his plans to rejoin Robert the Bruce and the fight for Scotland’s independence.

About BJ Scott

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A PAN member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.

Connect with BJ Scott

One thought on “What’s New Wednesday

  1. Thanks for hosting me today Cynthia

    If anyone has any questions feel free to ask. I will offer a free copy of one of my first two books to one commenter. (their choice)

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