I know her name now…

Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions on FaceBook or my blog. It came down to: Willow, Lilea, Isabella, Julia (or Juliana), Aneirin, Anaela, Eilidh, Eala, and the name that won. Of those, I narrowed it down to Lilea, Eilidh and the name that won. I suspect the first two names will appear in other books. 🙂

So which name won? I have to tell you a little story first.

If you have read the Pocket Watch Chronicles, you will know that Gertrude is fond of saying “The universe unfolds as it should.” Well it does. I was drawing a blank on this girl. The only name that came to me was Davida, because King David II had done the girl’s father a great service. Naming her after the king is absolutely something her father would have done.  The problem was, I didn’t like the name Davida.

Therefore, I decided to create the contest and see if someone suggested something that really seemed to fit. Well one reader, who lives in Scotland, Emma Ruthven-Stevenson, suggested the name Vida. She said in Scottish it means friend and in Latin it means life.

I thought it was a lovely name, with a lovely meaning, but even better, it is a diminutive (nickname) for Davida–which is where I started. It is perfect. But here, my friends is where it gets really interesting: the heroine’s last name is Ruthven. 🙂

So, allow me to introduce you to Vida Ruthven, Laird Ambrose Ruthven’s only child. Some of you might remember Ambrose from Highland Solution. All I can say is what goes around, comes around.

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Name the Heroine Contest

With The Choice, the next of the Pocket Watch Chronicles in the can and releasing in a little over two weeks, I am on to my next project–the start of a new series Duncurra Legacy.
If you read the very first Duncurra book, Highland Solution, you might remember Tomas, a little orphan boy that Katherine and Niall adopted. The first book in this new series will be his story and you can help name the heroine.

Suggest names in the comments below. I will also run this on the Duncurra Facebook page and my Facebook page. Entries on all sites will be considered. I will award an electronic copy of the Duncurra book of the winner’s choice and a $10.00 Amazon gift card to the person who suggests the name I select.

This contest will be open until Sunday, April 16.

She is the only child of a man who is not particularly nice. In fact, he has a history of being a self-serving, abusive tyrant. But when his daughter was born, she became the light of his life. He dotes on her and would do anything for her. Considering this, you might expect her to be spoiled and as self-centered as her father, but she isn’t. She’s a sweet girl with a gentle heart. She accomplishes what she needs to with loving persistence.

I wish I knew her name…


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A sneak peek at the new Pocket Watch

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here.  We’ve been busy at Duncurra, building our publishing company and the YouTube channel. But I have also been working on a special book that I’m really excited to releaseCoverFinalMD-TheChoice. The Choice has been in the works for quite a while–I started it last July, while I was in Venice. In fact, I went to Venice planning to set the book there. However, what started as one book, became two.

If you’ve read any of the Pocket Watch Chronicles, you know that Gertrude is fond of saying, “The universe unfolds as it should.” But I started wondering, if she offers someone the pocket watch for a particular reason, what happens if they say no? After all, they do have free will. And from that, The Choice was born.

Gertrude meets Sara Wells at a sidewalk cafe on the Grand Canal in Venice and offers her the pocket watch. But in this story, you, the reader decides whether Sara accepts it or not.  Intrigued? Read the prologue to get a little taste of what’s to come.


The place you find yourself


Gertrude walked into the room and smiled. “Hello. Do ye mind if I come in?”

No response.

“Ye there…yes ye, reading this book. Do ye mind if I come in?” Gertrude smiled at the reader’s perplexed expression. “Surprised I’m here for a chat, are ye? Ye mean a character in a book has never spoken to ye before? Well, I guess I can understand that. It’s a bit like breaking the fourth wall, isn’t it—like a television character speaking directly to ye from the screen? It simply isn’t done.” Gertrude chuckled. Clearly, the fact that something simply isn’t done, didn’t bother her in the least.

“I do apologize if ye’re finding this a bit awkward but I really did need to speak with ye and I promise, I won’t stay long. Just keep right on reading. Frankly, if ye ever want me to leave, ye’ll have to keep reading to get past this bit.”

The old woman glanced about, taking in her surroundings. “Lovely place ye’ve got here.” She chuckled again. “No pet, I’m not talking about the room around ye—I can’t see that. This brain and consciousness of yers is absolutely remarkable. It allows ye to open a book and be transported into it. It affords ye limitless possibilities. ‘Tis yer mind that gives me life and form. Yer imagination very literally wills me into existence. So while, ye’re at it, ye wouldn’t mind shaving a few pounds off me would ye? Think of me as a stately—but svelt—elegant, mature woman of indeterminate age. That’s it, pet. Now, if ye don’t mind, could ye imagine a full-length mirror, so I can see myself?”

Without warning, at the mere mention of the word mirror, one appeared. “That’s the ticket.” She perused her reflection. “Well, it isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but then ‘tis what suits yer sensibilities, so I’ll take it.”

She glanced over her shoulder. “Upon my word, where did that pink elephant come from? There, ye saw it too, didn’t ye?” Gertrude laughed. “Oh, pet, I was just having one over on ye. ‘Tis the oldest trick in the book. Ye can’t not think of something, once the suggestion is made. So, do be a dear and think me up a nice place to sit, while we chat.”

And just as the pink elephant had, a chair appeared. “Come now, something a bit more comfy than that would be nice. Perhaps a rocking chair. Yes, there we are. Perfect. I do love a good rocking chair.”

Gertrude sat down, making herself comfortable. “Now, as I said, I won’t stay long, but there are a few things I need to make clear before ye settle down into the story. If ye’ve read any of the other Pocket Watch Chronicles, ye might recognized me, but even so ye probably don’t know exactly who I am. And if this is the first of the Chronicles ye’ve read, no worries. Ye’re on equal footing with everyone else. So don’t put the book down and go running to find another one. It absolutely isn’t necessary. This book completely stands alone.”

She frowned for a moment. “Where was I? Oh, yes, I remember now, I am about to tell ye who I am.” She sat up a little straighter. “I am an immortal spirit. I have existed since the dawn of time; from the first moment of creation. Throughout history we have been given different names. Among them are: angel, fae, muse, spirit guide, messenger, eudaemon, dakini, Deva, elemental spirit, Gandharva, watchers, Grigori, one of the ancients, or a servant of the Divine. Sadly though, all human language is painfully imprecise and human understanding limited. There is no one word that sums up our true nature. So choose the name that works best for ye.”

She smiled. “It’s perfectly fine if you don’t believe in any of these things, we can accomplish what has to be done whether ye believe or not. Our purpose is to guide humans, helping them to discern the Creator’s will. We are each given unique skills and tools to aid us and we have but three rules. We cannot lie. We cannot break a promise. And, above all else, we cannot interfere with a human’s free will.”

Gertrude steepled her fingers under her chin for a moment. “This last point is often the hardest to understand. What if the person we are trying to guide doesn’t listen, or says no or intentionally tries to circumvent the Creator’s will? Well, very simply put, when humans close doors, we open windows. There is usually more than one way to accomplish anything. The story ye’re about to read, illustrates this. In it, the heroine will be given a choice, and ye my dear reader, will be able to make that choice for her.

“If ye choose one course, the story will go one direction. If ye choose the other, it will go a different direction. I promise ye, both stories have happy endings. And the best part is, once ye’ve read one, ye can go back, make the other choice and read the other. It is a completely different story.”

Gertrude gave the reader a moment to let this soak in. “That’s right, one choice, two completely different full length stories complete with happy endings. If the concept is intriguing to ye, it’s likely ye’ll enjoy the adventure. But if it isn’t, close the book now and return it for a refund. I will not be offended. There’s no reason to waste yer time or money.”

The elderly woman, rose gracefully from the rocking chair. “Well now, I’ve taken up enough of yer time so I’d best be going. If ye decide to stick around for this tale, we may see more of each other. If not, I wish ye all the best in yer future endeavors. But remember…when humans close doors; we open windows.”

And in the blink of an eye, she was gone.



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Purple or no?

I mentioned in my last blog post that I have left corporate America behind me.

Today, it occurred to me that I no longer have to conform to traditional business standards. I can set my own hours, dance to the beat of my own drum, eat dessert first. I can even have mermaid hair if I wish.

Never heard of mermaid hair? Well here are some examples:

I said something about this on Facebook and received lots of messages telling me to go for it, a few telling me to try something less drastic first and one wise soul who said “For some reason I don’t see you doing this.” As soon as she said it, I knew she was right. I probably wouldn’t.

But part of me really wants to.

So I am accepting the challenge. If we can get 500 subscribers to the new Duncurra YouTube channel, I will do it. I will film it. And I will post it on the channel.

If you haven’t done it yet, click here to check out the channel…and while you’re at it subscribe.

❤ Ceci

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Duncurra…experience it!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that I have left the pharmaceutical industry to focus all of my energy on writing and publishing.

But while I was wrapping up the day job, exciting plans were underway. Over the last few months, Duncurra has signed some new authors, built our social media platform and revamped our website. However, most exciting is that author, Lily Baldwin, and narrator/screenwriter, James McCreadie, with a tiny bit of help from me (and I do mean tiny), have built a Duncurra YouTube channel that I think you are going to love.

We have content that ranges from stopovers at some of Scotland’s most beautiful places and moments of Highland history, to Duncurra book trailers. We even have a complete audio-book, Jack: A Scottish Outlaw, by Lily Baldwin. However, this is not your typical recorded book. It features dual narrators and sound effects making it a unique listening experience. And the best part? It is completely free.

If you have ever been curious about an audio-book you will never have a better way to try one.

We will be adding content weekly, bringing you a variety of videos including recipes, seasonal surprises and even an opportunity to meet some characters from Duncurra novels. And, of course, more free audio-books. Look for my book, Once Found: A Pocket Watch Chronicle, in the Fall.

Duncurra’s Scotland awaits…click here to experience it! Be sure to give us the thumbs up on videos you enjoy, leave comments if you wish, let us know what you’d like to see and, above all else, subscribe so you don’t miss anything.

❤ Ceci


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A rant about “lifestyle”

Today on Facebook, I saw the following statement, applied to the LGBT community:

“I don’t agree with their lifestyle.”

These words, when applied to someone’s sexuality make me cringe.

They make me shake my head.

They make me angry.

I try to avoid being overly controversial and I realize that some of my readers may strongly disagree with what I am about to post. I’m posting it anyway for the people I love.

I am tired of seeing a person’s sexual orientation described as a lifestyle.

It isn’t a lifestyle.

A lifestyle can be defined as a combination of opinions, attitudes, interests, values, needs, and wants. It can be molded by a multitude of factors including one’s family, community, faith, upbringing, even income.

So, if I say someone identifies themselves as a vegan, immediately certain things about how that person chooses to lead his or her life pops into mind. To say a vegan doesn’t eat meat, is oversimplifying it. Vegan’s don’t consume or use any product derived from animals. They don’t wear leather. They don’t eat Jell-O. They won’t take a vitamin containing Magnesium Stearate unless it is clearly identified as coming from a vegetable source. A person might decide to become a vegan for a variety of reasons that may differ from other people who choose to be vegans. But everyone who identifies as a vegan makes many consumer choices based on that decision. That is a lifestyle.

Choosing to enter a religious order is a lifestyle choice.

Choosing to sell everything, buy a sailboat and sail around the world is a lifestyle choice.

Choosing to live as green as possible is a lifestyle choice.

The key here is that generally one chooses a lifestyle. One does not choose a sexual orientation. For anyone who is reading this who identifies as heterosexual, do you honestly believe you chose that? Didn’t you always just know it? Did you reach a point in your life where you wondered, “Hmm, am I going to like girls or boys?” Maybe so, but I doubt it. There are certainly those who do question or even suppress their sexual identity, but I suspect the vast majority of people don’t. Furthermore, if I say I am heterosexual does that tell you anything about my lifestyle? No. It only tells you my sexual orientation.

Therefore, there is no such thing as an LGBT lifestyle, just as there is no heterosexual lifestyle. Someone’s sexual identity does not define the way that person chooses to live, it only defines the gender to whom they are attracted or the gender with which they identify.

I think it does real damage when we refer to something over which an individual has no control as a lifestyle choice. Defining someone’s lifestyle based on one aspect of who they were born to be makes no more sense than suggesting one’s lifestyle is dictated by the color of their eyes.

Rant over.

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Retiring…but not from writing

Fortune, croppedI have worked in medical research and pharmaceutical development for nearly twenty years–my entire professional life. I started my career as a nurse at the National Institutes of Health. After nine years, I became a Consumer Safety Officer/Regulatory Project Manager at the Food and Drug Administration. From there I moved into the pharmaceutical industry and have held leadership positions in both medical writing and regulatory affairs.

I am proud of the body of work I leave behind me. I am particularly proud of the people I have had the privilege to mentor.

All that said, the time is right for me to set this aside and take up the mantle of author and publisher on a full-time basis. There are characters in my head clamoring for their tales to be told; I want to be able to give them the novels they deserve. There are also authors who have stories to share with the world, who can’t do it on their own. I want my company, Duncurra LLC, to be able to provide publishing and promotional services to these authors, while ensuring that they are fairly compensated.

My daughter, Meghan Cusack, will be joining me in this endeavor. She holds a BA in English, with a minor in writing. Her specialty is multi-media communications, which is an invaluable set of skills for marketing and promotion in today’s environment. She, along with Lily Baldwin, James McCreadie, Debbie May, and Kathryn Lynn Davis will be teaming up to make Duncurra LLC a publishing and promotional team like no other.

This next chapter of my life begins July 1, 2016. Stick with me as the universe unfolds. I promise you wonderful things to come.

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