Welcome Ceci! I’m thrilled you could take some time out and share your thoughts with us today.
KR: Tell us about your current release.
CG: Niall MacIan, a Highland laird, desperately needs funds to save his impoverished clan. Lady Katherine Ruthven, a lowland heiress, is rumored to be “unmarriageable” and her uncle hopes to be granted her title and lands when the king sends her to a convent. King David II anxious to strengthen his alliances sees a solution that will give Ruthven the title he wants, and MacIan the money he needs. Laird MacIan will receive Lady Katherine’s hand along with her substantial dowry and her uncle will receive her lands and title.
Lady Katherine must forfeit everything in exchange for a husband who does not want to be married and believes all women to be self-centered and deceitful. Mending Niall’s broken heart is more challenging that one might imagine because other forces are working against her.
KR: Sounds like a fascinating story and a mountain for them to conquer. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
CG: I loved writing, even as a child. I aspired to be a writer when I went to college so I majored in English. Eventually practicality nudged those dreams aside and I became a nurse. Ultimately I was able to combine both skills, becoming a medical writer.
KR: What drew you to writing Scottish historical romance? Would you consider another genre or sub-genre?
CG: It has been my favorite genre to read since I was a young adult. I loved the fairytale quality of historical romance. I loved being swept away to another time and place. My ancestry is Scottish so very quickly after discovering historical romance; I became intrigued with any book set in Scotland.
I don’t know if I would wander far from romance, but I do have several time-travel romances mapped out that don’t take place in Scotland. I have a fantasy “other world” romance mapped out (that may never see the light of day). However, the one that I love the most, and hope to get back to soon is a modern paranormal romance featuring a feisty fairy.
KR: Oooooh, sounds intriguing! Is writing your primary profession?
CG: Although I would love to primarily write fiction, I am a professional medical writer by day. Actually I have my own consulting firm and provide drug development expertise as well as medical writing services to small pharmaceutical companies.
KR: How do you balance a day job, family, and writing?
CG: Well, I didn’t start writing fiction until I left the corporate world to become a consultant, and my kids were old enough to be more self-sufficient. I work from home and have complete control over my own schedule. That means that I can work on business or fiction until the wee hours of the morning (my most productive time) and sleep late if I choose to. If I am having trouble with a medical writing project, I can put it aside and work on fiction and vice versa. If I can’t focus on either, I can cook or go for a swim. I am not forced into accomplishing everything business related during normal business hours and squeezing in the rest when I can. Still, I wish I had found the way to start writing fiction years ago. It is one of the greatest pleasures in my life.
KR: I couldn’t agree with you more. What’s your writing space like?
CG: I have a very large master bedroom and my office space is in one part of it. When I say, I have no commute–literally the coffee pot is farther away than my desk. That said, my desk tends to be cluttered and I work wherever I want to. Sometimes it is at the desk, sometimes it is in my favorite chair with my feet up, sometimes it is in the Florida sun, on my lanai. The one constant is the presence of one or both of my dogs.
KR: Kilts or tunics?
CG: Tunics. Currently my books are set in the 14th century, which was really before the advent of the great kilt. Still, kilts are so very attractive and romantic that I understand why authors, even those who write in medieval settings use them. I do refer to “plaids” which technically are the forerunner to kilts. The earliest plaids were blanket like outer garments or cloaks worn over tunics.
KR: I use tunics as well with a plaid as an outergarment for warmth. I envy those who can accurately use kilts. Such fun! Beard or scruff?
CG: Neither really, but between the two, beard.
KR: Is Highland Solution part of a series?
CG: It is now! I didn’t actually set out to write a series, but it has grown organically from Highland Solution. The next book in the series, Highland Courage will be released this spring. It continues the story of Tadhg Matheson, a secondary character in Highland Solution.
KR: What sparks your muse?
CG: I have no idea. I love music, but I cannot work to it. Sometimes I think it is seeing missed opportunities. When I was much younger (no kids and lots of free time) I read constantly. As everyone has, I read books that looked intriguing, but somehow missed the mark. I took those premises and imagined how I would do things differently.
KR: Sounds like you write to feed your inner reader. Makes total sense. What lessons have you learned?
CG: There isn’t enough space here. Three big ones are: 1) Make an effort to carve out time for the things that nourish your soul. 2) There are great, wonderful, kind, supportive people in the world, don’t be afraid to reach out. 3) There are mean-spirited, envious, cruel people in the world, try not to let them bring you down. Brush that dust from your sandals and move on.
KR: Great attitude! You’re an inspiration. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring historical romance writers?
CG: Do it. Write. Do the research. Delve into the facts. Build your world. Visit it daily even if only for a few minutes. Don’t plan to write the next bestseller, instead write something that you would love to read over and over again (trust me you will have to read it over and over again). Know in your heart that you are writing this for yourself. If that is your goal you will not be disappointed and you will succeed. Anything beyond that, a publishing deal, the opportunity to self-publish or a runaway bestseller, is purely icing on the cake.
KR: Those are wonderful words, Ceci. And fabulour advice. What are you working on right now?
CG: I am currently working on the third book in the series, Highland Intrigue. It continues the story of Niall’s brother, Fingal MacIan and contains a bit of a murder mystery.
Thank you so much for joining us here today, Ceci and for sharing your experiences and advice. 🙂
Want to know more about Ceci and her smash debut Highland Solution? Keep reading! Watch this space as well because I will be posting my review of Highland Solution very soon.
Highland Solution, Ceci Giltenan
Laird Niall MacIan needs Lady Katherine Ruthven’s dowry to relieve his clan’s crushing debt but he has no intention of giving her his heart in the bargain.
Niall MacIan, a Highland laird, desperately needs funds to save his impoverished clan. Lady Katherine Ruthven, a lowland heiress, is rumored to be “unmarriageable” and her uncle hopes to be granted her title and lands when the king sends her to a convent. King David II anxious to strengthen his alliances sees a solution that will give Ruthven the title he wants, and MacIan the money he needs.
Laird MacIan will receive Lady Katherine’s hand along with her substantial dowry and her uncle will receive her lands and title. Lady Katherine must forfeit everything in exchange for a husband who does not want to be married and believes all women to be self-centered and deceitful. Can the lovely and gentle Katherine mend his heart and build a life with him or will he allow the treachery of others to destroy them?
Excerpt, Highland Solution
Cotharach Castle, Central Scottish Lowlands, June 1359
“Lady Katherine, oh, Lady Katherine, there you are,” said an ashen faced chambermaid as she rushed into the kitchen. “You have to come quick. There are two Highlanders in the great hall with your uncle. Sir Ruthven bid me to fetch you there now.”
Hot, flushed, and certainly not prepared to receive visitors or face her uncle again so soon, Katherine sighed, saying, “You stay here. I’ll go to the great hall alone. It never pays to keep Uncle Ambrose waiting.” At the look of panic on the girl’s face, Katherine added, “I’m sure it’s nothing, don’t worry.”
Katherine froze when she saw at least a dozen rather imposing Highland warriors waiting in the courtyard. An even larger group of Ruthven soldiers kept their distance, observing the strangers cautiously. Knowing she’d pay for it later, she stepped back into the kitchen and asked Moyna to offer them food and ale. Then, fearing she had already kept her uncle waiting too long, she hurried into the great hall.
She entered with her head down. Sometimes a show of subservience tempered her uncle’s anger. He read from an unfurled scroll and didn’t acknowledge her immediately, so, with her eyes still downcast, she took a quick look to her right. Two sets of feet in the open leather shoes Highlanders wore caught her attention. Unbidden, her eyes followed the nearest thickly muscled bare legs up the length of the man’s tall, powerfully built body. He wore typical Highland clothing, a belted linen tunic that barely reached his knees, with a plaid fastened by a brooch around his massive shoulders. She had to tilt her head back to see his face. The grim expression he wore startled her. Clearly this man was not happy and she suspected Uncle Ambrose had something to do with it.
Katherine realized eventually that her uncle didn’t intend to acknowledge her. Unable to stand the tension any longer, she said, “Uncle Ambrose, you sent for me?” Chancing another quick glance at the Highlander she saw his grim expression replaced first by confusion, followed very quickly by anger.
Turning her attention back to Uncle Ambrose, his barely concealed glee worried her. Finally he answered her, “Yes, Katherine, my darling, we have received a missive from the king and it concerns you.”
This is definitely not good. She carefully kept her emotions masked. “Me?” she asked calmly.
“Yes, my sweet. This is Niall MacIan, Laird of Clan MacIan,” he said, gesturing to the angry warrior she had eyed, “and the commander of his guard, Diarmad. Our king has requested that you become Laird MacIan’s wife.” Katherine took a breath and, with supreme will, continued to appear calm and emotionless.
“Requested that I become his wife?” she asked slowly.
“Of course, my dear, it is a request.”
“I can decline this request?
“Of course you can, Katherine. However, His Majesty says if you choose to decline, it is in your best interest, and the best interests of Clan Ruthvan, for me to be named Lord Ruthvan and for you to enter the religious life.”
“And what happens to Cotharach and my people if I accept the proposal?” she asked, a note of panic creeping into her voice.
A look of smug satisfaction crossed her uncle’s face, and he spoke to her as if she were a very dull child.
“Oh, my dear, I have bungled this badly. I will start over and try to help you understand. His Majesty feels it is in the best interests of Clan Ruthvan for me to assume control as Lord Ruthvan and rule Cotharach. He is giving you two options. The one His Majesty prefers is for you to marry Laird MacIan and go with him to his home in the Highlands. As your husband, Laird MacIan will renounce his claim to your title and lands. In return, he will receive an exceedingly generous dowry. However, if this is not acceptable, you may choose to enter the religious life. The good sisters will receive a modest dowry, but His Majesty has determined that Laird MacIan will still receive the bulk of your dowry because of his willingness to aid his king in this matter. Does that make it clear, my dear?”
Katherine felt as if she had descended into swirling chaos and she trembled. Trying not to reveal her inner turmoil, which would add to his pleasure, she bowed her head and whispered, “Aye, uncle. I understand.”
After a moment, she looked directly into the eyes of each of the three men staring at her. In Uncle Ambrose’s expression she read joy, in Diarmad’s, pity, and in Laird MacIan’s, iron determination. She wanted to run—she needed to think.
Her uncle prodded, “Well, dear, which will it be?”
“You want a decision now? Am I to be given no time to consider this?”
In a colder, less unctuous voice, Uncle Ambrose said, “You must choose now. You can leave for the convent within the hour or, if you choose marriage, we will summon Father James and you can be married as soon as he arrives. Laird MacIan is anxious to return to the Highlands, so he wishes to depart immediately after exchanging wedding vows. Either way, you leave today.”
Katherine knew her uncle had won, she just didn’t know how he had done it. From the day her father died, Ambrose had wanted the title and lands that were to be held in reserve for her husband. How had this Highlander been convinced to marry her and relinquish all but a portion of her wealth? She didn’t relish either option. Finally she said flatly, “I will marry.”
“Very well, I will send for Father James.” As Katherine turned to leave, her uncle demanded, “Where are you going?”
She glanced down at the old gown she generally wore when working and realized the absurdity of this situation. She lifted her head, stared at her uncle, and said, “For the next few minutes at least, Uncle, I am Lady Katherine Ruthven. This is my keep. I am going to pack my things and dress for my wedding.”
Ceci GiltenanFrank, the creator of Ceci’s sixth grade class prophecy, decided that she was going to be an author. “But I want to be a nurse!” she said, in her typically bossy style.
“You can’t be a nurse because Jennifer is going to be a nurse and she asked first. Be a writer, you’re good at that.”
As it turns out, she became both. She started her career as an oncology nurse at a world-renowned research hospital, and eventually utilized her writing skills to become a successful medical writer.
At a friend’s wedding in 1989 she met her soul mate, a young Irish carpenter who just happened to be the brother of the groom. He returned to the United States a year later and they were married in 1991.
Although not raised in New Jersey, when she heard that “Jersey girls don’t pump gas,” Ceci decided that she wanted to be a “Jersey Girl” so they relocated there. The move might have also had something to do with the pharmaceutical industry but those details are a bit fuzzy now. Now sunny southwest Florida is calling and she and her husband are moving to North Fort Myers.
With their youngest off to college, Ceci is breaking away from “primary efficacy endpoints” and writing a few “happily ever after’s.”
She turned again to leave the great hall, and for the first time, she heard her betrothed’s voice, “Lass, one bag is all ye’ll be bringing.”
Ceci can be found on her website here.