Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

My photo
I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big-Boned Romantic Suspense!

What you're looking at here, my friends, is the cover of Extreme Exposure's Japanese translation, the title of which, according to Google Translate, is "Carla the price of investigative journalism." Not sure who Carla is...

I came across this while trying to find Japanese text about the book and a an image of the cover for an update of my Web site. I found it so funny that I had to share. Google's translate function only goes so far. So let's see if you recognize Extreme Exposure in this description and review of the story...


Japan's first landing due to the attention of the writers of the romance, suspense erotic and thrilling non-stop!
Denver investigative reporter for The Independent newspaper in the cala a 4-year-old single mother raising her son. Busy busy everyday, and not a private good as her, a night with my colleagues in the force was below leasing in the bar and run into a handsome senator. However, Casanova is the lowest I was under the impression that his true face, was a surprise. That, and a factory on the outskirts of illegal disposal of contaminated materials have been舞IKOMU whistle-blower information. Police will be on the black giant, also involving political intrigue. Carla lease sway in the relationship with the enthusiasm of魔手creeping closer to the truth .... The first series of investigative reporter!


The author of the original only in the press, newspapers full of realism and the atmosphere of the real scene investigation perfect score! ... Handsome and gentle and strong as unrealistic, but a perfect hero, the romance is more like a description of the continuous pounding,羨MASHIKU really was a heroine. . . Read a pretty hot love scene to be the first time in many years is a big-boned romantic suspense!

The good thing is that I think the reviewer really liked it.

Now, for those of you who haven't read the story, let me assure you that Kara (not Carla or cara) is not 4. It's her son, Connor, who's 4. There is no black giant. And though the phrase "continuous pounding" might be intended as a description of a person's heartbeat while reading the story, it doesn't refer to the sexual content. Yes, there is some pounding, but it's not continuous because there's this investigation and political intrigue going on. As for "big bones," well... I'll leave that to your imagination!

Seriously, the book looks really cool in Japanese, and I'm sure the translator did a spectacular job. Google Translate, however, leaves something to be desired!
Monday, October 27, 2008

Starred review in Publishers Weekly

Just a quick post to let you know that I just got some really fantastic news! Publishers Weekly, the big publishing trade magazine, gave Untamed a starred review!

Here's what they had to say:

Untamed Pamela Clare. Leisure, $7.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5489-0
The captivating sequel to 2006’s Surrender continues the tale of the MacKinnon clan, Scots forced to fight for the British in the 18th-century French and Indian Wars. The French score a major coup when they capture notorious ranger Morgan MacKinnon, best known for destroying an Abenaki village after learning that the tribe’s warriors were scalping women and children. Brigadier de Bourlamaque plans on handing MacKinnon over to the Abenaki, who promise to torture him mercilessly, unless he betrays his comrades. MacKinnon despairs, but Bourlamaque’s ward, Amalie Chauvenet, captures his heart and persuades him to spy for the French against the English. Clare’s detailed attention to the history of alliances forged and battles fought near Fort Ticonderoga adds authenticity, and the characters evolve and change with a realism that readers will love. (Dec.)

I'm so glad that they appreciated the history in the story. I work very hard to weave it into the romance, so this means a lot to me!

I hope everyone is having a great (safe) day.
Saturday, October 25, 2008

Excerpt from Untamed / Contest

One month from today, Untamed will be on bookstore shelves!

I am so excited to share Book II of the MacKinnon's Rangers series with you all. I know you've waited a long time for Morgan's story. I hope you'll feel it was worth the wait.

To celebrate the impending release of the book, I thought I'd share this very special excerpt, something that's been in my mind for a week now since my visit to the "18th Century" on the eastern shore of Lake George.

From Untamed...

By the time they reached the campsite, the sun was low in the sky, and Amalie felt grubbier and hungrier than she could ever remember feeling. Joseph was waiting for them, crouching near a cook fire and turning something over the flames, his back to them, the scent of roasting meat making Amalie’s mouth water. Without looking over his shoulder, he spoke to Morgan, and Morgan answered, both of them using words Amalie didn’t understand.

It had been a long day and hard. Though she missed Morgan’s men — she’d grown fond of them and enjoyed their teasing banter — she’d been grateful for the slower pace. Morgan had helped her when she’d needed it, offering her his hand when the ground became steep or rocky, carrying her through deep marshes. And as she’d watched him pick a safe path for her, he’d seemed both alert to danger and utterly at ease in the wildness of the forest. And she’d realized that she was seeing him for the first time as he truly was — not just the gentleman and soldier she’d known at the fort, but Morgan MacKinnon, the Ranger of legend.

She glanced about and saw that they stood in the midst of a small clearing not far from a little river. The river, its banks verdant with ferns and blue forget-me-nots, tumbled down the rocky hillside in three small waterfalls before flowing off through the trees. All around them stood thick forest, primordial and dark. Her dream still in her mind, she shivered.

Chuckling with Joseph over some shared jest, Morgan grinned down at her, his arm sliding about her waist, two days’ growth of stubble and long, unbound hair giving him a rakish appearance. “Joseph has been busy.”

And, indeed, he had.

Not far from the fire stood a lean-to just like the one she’d slept in last night, but spread upon the pine boughs was a thick bearskin, its black fur gleaming. In the middle of the fur sat a small pile of what was unmistakably women’s garments — a gown of dark blue, ivory petticoats, and a clean, white chemise.

“Oh, merci!” She looked up at Joseph, who smiled. “Thank you, monsieur! Wherever did you find them?”

“Thank him.” Joseph nodded toward Morgan, his dark eyes warm. “He’s the one who gave up a good hunting knife. One of my men traded for them before we left Fort Elizabeth, hoping to surprise his wife.”

Morgan dropped his tumpline pack on the ground near the lean-to, unbound it, and drew out a long knife in its leather sheath. Then he handed it to Joseph. “Tell Daniel I wish him luck both on the hunt and in battle. And thank you.”

Joseph met Morgan’s gaze. “My brother who was dead has returned. I would do anything for him and his woman.”

His woman.

The words made something catch in Amalie’s belly, and she wished they were true. But this marriage had been forced upon Morgan and was still incomplete. Clearly, he cared for her and desired her, but did he truly want her for his wife?

If there were any way for me to stay wi’ you, I would. You are all a man could hope for in a wife, all a man could desire.

She remembered his words — and dared to hope.

Joseph ducked down, gave her a kiss on the cheek, then, with a nod to Morgan, he turned and strode into the forest.

“He is not staying with us?” she asked, as he vanished from sight.

“He has to see to his men.” Morgan sat before the fire, drawing her down beside him. “Sit and eat, lass. Joseph has a feast set out for us.”

Compared to the parched cornmeal she’d nibbled at since breakfast, it was a feast—roasted turkey, field greens, and tart wild raspberries. But there were no plates, no silverware, no serviettes. How were they supposed to—

“Like this.” Morgan grinned, shifting the wooden spit so that it no longer sat directly over the open flames. Then he took his penknife, cut off a strip of roasted breast meat and held it to her lips.

Amalie opened her mouth, took the succulent meat onto her tongue, and almost moaned at the savory taste.

“Now you feed me.”

Amalie rose to her knees, leaned in, and, using the penknife Brandon had given her, cut off a slice of meat, then brought it to his lips. He took her wrist and held it as he nipped the meat from between her fingers. Then he licked the juices from her fingers one by one, his gaze locked with hers, his tongue hot and quick.

Memories of that tongue licking other parts of her sent blood rushing into her cheeks and made her insides feel quivery. It was only two nights ago when he’d tasted not just her fingers, but her throat and breasts, as well, suckling her until she’d gone almost mad from the pleasure of it. Was he remembering the same thing?

Morgan watched her eyes darken and knew she still felt at least some desire for him. Despite Rillieux’s cruelty, she did not fear a man’s touch as some women did in the aftermath of such violence. Still, Morgan would not rush her. When he at last made love to her, he wanted her to want it as much as he did, wanted her to enjoy it as much as he did.

He cut off another strip of breast. “For you.”

Feasting with their fingers, they fed each other sliver upon sliver of rich, tasty meat, then turned to the greens and, last of all, the berries, Morgan following each sweet bite with a kiss, until one appetite was satisfied—and another was roused.

But it wasn’t time for that. Not yet. First he must woo her beyond shyness, beyond fear.

“Come.” Morgan stood, drew Amalie to her feet with one hand, grabbed his tumpline pack with the other. “It’s time for your bath.”

“My bath?” Her gaze flitted toward the creek.

“Aye, your bath.” He took her hand and led her up the hillside, over the ramble of rocks toward the middle waterfall. It hid a secret he and his men had discovered two summers past on their way back from a scout — a secret they’d kept carefully guarded.

“Watch your step. The stone is quite slidey when it’s wet.”

He led her behind the waterfall along a wide ledge where the rushing waters of the freshet had through the ages gouged out a row of deep pools in the stone. Once the freshet had passed each June and the waters had receded, the pools, filled with fresh river water, offered tadpoles a place to hatch and grow into frogs — and weary Rangers a place to bathe and ease their aches.

And now their waters would soothe Amalie’s hurts, washing away the day’s grime and the memory of Rillieux’s touch. She hadn’t said anything, hadn’t complained at all, but he knew she must feel it — the lingering taint of near-rape.

He dropped his pack onto dry stone beside the pools. “What do you think?”

“It is… enchanté!” She glanced back and forth between the pools and the waterfall and smiled, a smile of pure joy. Then she stretched out her hand, the tips of her fingers piercing the silver curtain of falling water, her laughter like music.

“Aye, I thought so, too, the first time I saw it—a place of magic. The water in the pools is warm. Feel it.”

She knelt down, trailed her fingers across the water’s surface, a look of surprised wonder spreading across her face. “But how can this be?”

“During the day, the sun warms the stone, and the stone heats the water.”

She smiled up at him. “Such a wondrous thing!”

Morgan knelt down beside her, dug in his pack for the soap and her comb, and set them down at the edge of the deepest pool. “Whenever we come this way, I reward the bravest among my men with the chance to wash away the grime of battle. But tonight, ’tis yours to enjoy in peace.”

She stood, her smile gone, her gaze shifting to the forest.

He knew what haunted her. He stood, grasped the folds of the blanket she held about her shoulders and drew her close, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “You’re safe, Amalie. There’s no one to spy upon you and naugh’ that can harm you.”

She gazed up at him, looking like a battered wood nymph, her cheek bruised, her green-brown eyes deep enough to drown a man. “And you—”

“I’ll be nearby.” He willed himself to step back from her, some part of him unable to believe he was doing this—leaving her here to bathe alone when he might have joined her. His mother’s Viking blood burned in him again, urging him to give in to his need.

You’re an animal, MacKinnon. The lass has been through hell.

“Call if you’ve need of me.” He turned his back to her, willing himself to walk away from her, to give her this time alone.
He’d gone but a few steps when he heard the whisper of silk as she undressed and the tinkling of water as she slipped into the pool. Then came her sigh of undisguised pleasure, and his blood went hot at the thought of her sweet body bared to the water’s warm caress. Yet, somehow he found the strength to take another step and another.

Amalie watched him go, disappointment welling inside her. She’d thought for a moment that he intended them to bathe together. The idea hadn’t frightened her; on the contrary, it had stirred her blood, made her pulse skip. Didn’t he know how much she needed him, how much she wanted to know the secrets of his body as he knew the secrets of hers? Did he not understand that she longed to give herself to him?

“Morgan?” The sound of her own voice startled her.

He stopped, kept his back to her as if he could not face her. “Aye?”

“M-must you go?” Stunned by her own boldness, she sought for the right words. “Is… Is it not customary for a wife to bathe her husband?”

She heard the breath leave his lungs in a gust, saw his hands clench into fists, and watched as he slowly turned toward her. She was afraid she’d gone too far and that he now thought her brazen. But when his gaze met hers, she saw only desire.

“Are you sayin’ you wish to share your bath?” His gaze dropped to her bare breasts, a muscle tightening in his jaw.

She swallowed, ignored the impulse to cover herself. “Y-yes.”

He strode toward her with slow steps. “Are you certain? I’ve a man’s need for you, Amalie. You ken what that means now, aye?”

She knew he was giving her a chance to change her mind, but she’d never wanted anything more than she wanted him. “Oui.”


CONTEST: Are you visiting this blog for the first time? Are you a lurker? Are you an I-Team fan who's never read one of my historicals? Send me an email at for a chance to win an Untamed bookmark and a signed copy of Surrender, Book I in this series.

BOOKMARKS: Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to my PO Box and I'll sign and I'll sign a bookmark and get it in the mail for you! The address is: PO Box 1582, Longmont, CO 80501.
Friday, October 24, 2008

Travel Diary: The sublime, the silly and the sweet

I can't believe it's been a week since we spent that afternoon out in the chilly north wind on Lake George, my mom bundled up in everything she could find, Benjy in his tricorne with his musket, and me in a very soggy pair of jeans and tennis shoes. I guess that means it's been a week since I saw Ben.

But we came back with so many photos, only a portion of which are on my blog.

So now for some that I want to share either because they're very beautiful or poignant or they're silly or they involve Ben, whom I find to be utterly captivating and charming. Hey, it's my blog.

And, by the way, you can click on any of these photos to enlarge them. Feel free to download them if you want. Right click or, if you've got a Mac, just drag the image to your desktop. That's true of all photos on this blog. But maybe you already knew that.

First, the sublime...

Here we are at the site of what is known as "The Bloody Morning Scout." British forces under William Johnson, with Mohawk allies, were ambushed by the French with their Mohawk allies. Reports say the Mohawk called to each other, telling each other to get the heck out of the fight, but neither side listened, apparently. Though the British claimed victory, Ephraim Williams was killed in the fray. This obelisk stands in memory of the battle and of Williams. It's in such a beautiful location. It's hard to believe that any bloody battle occurred here. But bloody it was. William Johnson was shot in the arse, no doubt a displeasing experience.

I could have wandered here forever... If Mike hadn't been there, I might have, and not in a good way. ;-)

My mother took this photo while we were hiking in the 18th Century. The forest was so beautiful.

The waters of Lake George are so clean they are rated as being potable. You can see to the bottom of the lake to a depth of somewhere around seven feet or so. This water was about two feet deep. Ben grabbed me a handful of dirt from the floor of the lake, which now sits in a bottle on my counter, a precious souvenir.

Here's another glimpse of the eastern shoreline of Lake George with it's phenomenal fall colors. With the water, it's so stunningly beautiful. I can't resist sharing these.

More fall color...

Another glimpse at that 18th-century forest...

We don't have moss in Colorado, really, except maybe near creeks that have water in them all year round and even then... Not so much.

The trees in that forest were so tall and straight! In Colorado, they often grown twisted or leaning or with branches bent to one side as a result of exposure to our near-constant wind.

And now for the silly....

Here's Ben acting out a moment of Last of the Mohicans on the actual site of the battle shown in the movie. He said he'd always wanted to do that — aim a musket from the walls of Fort William-Henry.

Here he is guarding prisoners in the so-called dungeon of Fort William-Henry. These little "cells" are not part of the original fort and are not historically accurate. But they are interesting and make the average nine-by-nine prison cell seem spacious. I don't think they comply with the Geneva Conventions, however.

Here Ben is again, guarding a couple of miscreants who got into trouble and were placed in the stocks at Fort William-Henry...

Another glamorous hair shot. I won't even tell you how fun this was to comb afterward.

As we were leaving the marina, Mike warned us that with the three-foot swells and the wind, it was possible that water could splash over the prow and get us wet if we sat up front. But Eileen and I apparently felt the view and the rush of riding up front were worth the risk. Then we hit a swell just right and — sloosh! — we were both wet from head to toe and freezing cold. Here we are shortly after getting splashed. You can see my hair is wet.

And lastly, for the sweet...

Here I am standing with Ben at Shelving Falls. Gosh, I miss that kid!

Here's my lovely mother, Mary, who came with us on this trip and took most of these photos. In fact, she spent so much time behind the camera that she was rarely in the photos. Thanks, Mom!

Yes, he's almost 19. But, doggone it, he'd had such a busy day of scouting, ambushing, firing guns from the walls of William-Henry and otherwise standing guard that on the journey back to the marina he simply... fell asleep. Eileen pointed to him, smiled to me and whispered, "Five hundred lashes!"

This concludes my travel diaries. I hope you've enjoyed them. I may have a few more stories to tell, particularly if I can get photos of the Indians who kidnapped Ben... That's one of the funniest (if not THE funniest) story to come out of the entire trip.

My deepest gratitude to Eileen Hannay, manager of the Rogers Island Visitor Center, for her companionship, patience and expertise and to Christopher Fox, curator of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, for sharing his time and knowledge. Both Rogers Island and Ticonderoga depend on the support of people who value American history in order to provide the educational resources and historic preservation that keep the past alive for all of us. Please pay them a visit online to learn more or to help out.

Thanks, too, to Mike Terenzetti of Pontoon Boat Tours of Lake George for the fantastic afternoon and for going out of his way to help me travel through time. If you're ever in the area, look him up. I hope to go out on the water again, hopefully when it's warmer and I have more time.

And thanks, of course, to Ben and to my mother, for sharing this grand adventure with me! It wouldn't have been as fun without them. And, believe me, they know now how very important it is for me to get my coffee in the morning. One day I didn't get coffee and grumped pretty much all day. The next day they were very focused on helping me get that latte. I recall one joking, "For God's sake find a Starbucks!" They found this funny. I found it less funny.

What they really found funny is how every round thing on a road sign looked like a Starbucks sign to me... but usually wasn't. My mom told me I was hallucinating.

I'm so sad it's over. The only solution is to go again!
Thursday, October 23, 2008

Travel Diary: Fort William-Henry and Lake George Part II

Hi, everyone,

Photos are starting to trickle in, and I have enough to do another post about our trip to Fort William-Henry and Lake George.

Just to recap... We set out from Rogers Island early on Saturday morning and drove northeast to the southern end of Lake George. Eileen Hannay, manager of the Rogers Island Visitor Center, was kind enough to drive — a good thing, given that we had absolutely no idea where we were going and roads in Upstate New York can be very confusing.

We'd been driving for perhaps twenty minutes, when Eileen pulled over and took us on a little hike down a trail into the forest to what turned out to be the site of what's known as The Bloody Morning Scout, one of the early skirmishes/battles of the war. On the morning of Sept. 8, 1755, British and Provincial troops with Mohawk allies under William Johnson were ambushed by French and Ephraim Williams was killed. The British claimed victory and went on to build Fort William-Henry.

There's a monument to Williams, who bequeathed his wealth to higher education, resulting in the building of what is Williams College. I don't have my mother's photos of the monument yet, but what I do have is a photograph of a young redcoat named Benjamin on guard against another ambush.

Yes, he was really getting into that tricorne and the wooden replica musket...

Then we visited Fort William-Henry, the site of a disastrous British defeat at the hands of the Marquis de Montcalm. Along the route we drove through the area of the post-defeat massacre, where Indian allies of the French, deprived by Montcalm of the spoils of their victory, attacked the retreating British and killed some folk (depicted in Last of the Mohicans and unfairly pinned on Montcalm, who had actually tried to permit the survivors of the battle to retreat with their possessions and dignity intact).

Don't yet have photos of that either...

But here's a shot from Fort William-Henry showing actual bricks from the original fort. There's very little from the fort that's original now.

After that, as you already know, we went on a boat tour of Lake George with Mike Terenzetti. It was freezing cold, and I ended up being drenched from head to foot by a big wave that hit the boat just at the right angle to send a huge plume of water over the prow onto both me and Eileen.

Here's another view of the 18th Century, the world of the Rangers.

Now, I'm from Colorado. In Colorado, we hike. A lot. Add that to the fact that I wanted to get as close to Iain, Morgan, Connor and the men as I possibly could, and you know I wanted to go ashore and hike around in the forest — hike with my Rangers, as Debbie H put it.

So, Mike, who is very familiar with this area and does a lot of hiking and climbing in these mountains, took the boat in to shore and helped us all out. He understood completely that I wanted as much firsthand experience with the area as I could get in four hours. I was still absolutely drenched from my socks to my behind by that wave. My hair had mostly dried by then.

Hiking in wet jeans in a piercing cold wind is not particularly fun, but I was able to ignore the discomfort because the area we were hiking through was so breathtakingly lovely. Red maples. Acorns on the ground. Tall oaks with golden leaves. Deep, thick forest. Dark earth. Green hemlock.

We hiked along under Mike's guidance, with Ben scouting for us and then alternatively ambushing us. He was really into the spirit of the place, that's for sure. Then we heard the sound of water, and there before us the forest opened to reveal a stunningly beautiful waterfall. It's called Shelving Falls.

Now, Mike hasn't read a thing I've written. He and I haven't talked about the plot of Untamed at all, apart from certain historical aspects. He just knew this waterfall was there and thought we might find it pretty. Of course, we thought it was absolutely lovely.

Then he started talking about it. It seems that near the top (to the viewer's left behind and to the left of the farthest-left waterfall) is a little basin that the water has eroded in the stone. It fills up with water when the river is running high, and then the water stays in it. The stone warms it, he says, and it's almost like a little natural bathtub. Kids play in it. People splash in it.

Standing there, listening to him, I got goose bumps. Which very quickly came close to tears.

Somehow, it seemed to me, he had brought us to the special place where Morgan and Amalie... Well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Those of you who've read the story know what I'm getting at. I was blown away. Standing there with Lake George below us, the silent forest standing tall and thick around us, and this little waterfall splashing down over rocks, I felt so close to my characters — so close — and yet I knew my time there was almost over. Once we got back to the boat we would head south again, and this place would fall farther and farther behind us. I picked up a few acorns and tucked them in my pocket as a remembrance of this place. *sniff*

Here's a photo Mike took of my mother, me, Ben and the lovely Eileen Hannay, who gave so generously of her time, sharing her expertise with us. You can tell I haven't been getting more than four hours of sleep a night on this trip. The bags under my eyes had to be checked at the airport.

We stayed at the falls for a short period of time, then started the hike back. Mike had told us that a large boulder we'd seen was split down the center. From where we passed it, one couldn't tell the rock was split. But knowing this gave me an idea.

As we started to pass it, I called to Benjy, "They're after us, Ben! Hurry!"

Then I took off running as fast as I could up the leafy, rocky hillside, dodging trees and doing my best to run like my life depended on it.

Ben, who'd pretty much been "in character" the entire time, didn't need an explanation. He ran up the hill after me, followed me into the split rock and told me to get behind him. So here's a moment of mother/son foolery, captured on film by Eileen:

From there, it was back to the boat for a trip up through the narrows and then back to the marina.

Here I am, finally mostly dry again (except for my butt, which stayed wet for the rest of the day because I kept sitting on it). My hair has been drenched and windblown. This would not work for a hair-product advertisement!

Ben is sitting behind me, so you can only see his legs. I'm talking with Mike, who was full of information on this region from where the rattlesnakes are to who owns which house. We saw Kevin Costner's new place and I had a strong urge to shout, "Chumani tutanka obwaci!" (Dances with Wolves in Lakotiye) but I managed to control myself.

There are more fun/silly photos to come...

And now for something different: Those of you who want bookmarks for Untamed, just mail a stamped self-addressed enveloped to my P.O. Box: Pamela Clare, PO Box 1582, Longmont, CO 80502. I'll sign the bookmarks and get them in the mail back to you.

Not too long before Untamed is out! I can't wait to share Morgan's story with you all...
Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel Diary: Fort William-Henry and Lake George Part I

Well, I'm home again.

My heart is still in New York with Benjy and with the places I visited and the wonderful people I met — Eileen Hannay of the Rogers Island Visitor Center, Chris Fox of Fort Ticonderoga, Jim of Jim's Broadway Cafe, Debbie of the Historical Inn of Fort Edward and Mike, who gave us a pontoon ride on Lake George.

I left off in my last post with our visit to Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga, where Chris Fox endured several hours of my company and incessant questions. That night we drove back to Fort Edward, almost getting lost in the countryside after a fatal car accident caused a major detour of the road. But we made it back to Fort Edward and were able to have dinner with Eileen and David Starbuck, the archaeologist who excavated Rogers Island, together with other members of the NY Archaeological Society's Adirondack Chapter.

The next morning, we got up as early as we could (I admit, I was very tired!), packed our stuff in the car, and headed to Rogers Island to meet Eileen. We left our rental car there, packed to the gills with our junk, and Eileen drove us to Fort William-Henry.

Along the way, we visited the site of the skirmish or battle that became known to history as The Bloody Morning Scout. There are photos of this, but they're on my mom's camera, not mine... So that will be in Part II. We'll skip that for now and press on to the site of Fort William-Henry

(Cue up Last of the Mohicans soundtrack)

I was disheartened to find that Fort William-Henry, a place where so many people lost their lives, is basically a tourist trap. The cemetery is beneath the parking lot. The fort is entirely reconstructed and not accurately. The biggest feature is a gift shop where you can buy the same kind of cheesy things you can buy at any tourist site across America. Altogether, it's a SAD way to remember such a significant place.

It's the battle at Fort William-Henry that forms the heart of Last of the Mohicans. I'm sure you all remember the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis. You are romance readers, after all. And who can forget THE KISS?

With Eileen generously acting as our own historical expert, we spent about an hour at the fort.

This historical marker is the most serious thing on the site. It remembers those who died at the battle and in the subsequent massacre. We paused for a moment to remember what one really ought to remember when standing on this land.

Here's a view of the outside of the reconstructed fort. There are few things that remain front the original structure, just a hole in the ground where the well was, a bit of masonry downstairs where there was once a hearth, and these remainders of a kind of moat. When you think about what occurred here -- Montcalm surrounding Munro in the night, digging trenches to get his artillery within range of the walls and then blasting the fort to bits...

Ben wore his tricorne and carried his musket all day. Inside the fort, he had the chance to "join" the King's Army and drill with a man in Highland regiment garb. Even though he was much older than the other "recruits," I encouraged him to go for it. The Highlander's musket fires, and when he shot it off, my mom screamed. Yeah, that was funny!

There were stocks and a pillory, as well as a whipping post, but that will be part of Part II.

After our brief and disappointing visit to Fort Plastic, er... William-Henry, we met Mike Terenzetti of Pontoon Tours of Lake George and set off on a four-hour tour of Lake George. William-Henry sits at the southern-most end of the 32-mile long lake. Mike, who rocks, asked what I wanted to see. I said, "Show me the 18th century."

So he did.

We sped northward along the lake, at first hugging the western shore, called Millionaire's Row, where lots of rich folks built their quaint summer cottages a hundred years past. I took no photos of this because, frankly, I don't care about rich people and their summer homes. I can't even tell you who the people are on People magazine, if it's not Brangelina.

There was a stiff north wind raising three-foot swells on the lake — not ideal weather for an October tour of the lake — and we were pretty chilly. My mom bundled up in everything she could find. I was loving it though, sitting right up front to get the most bounce for my buck, until a big wave came over the prow and soaked — and I mean soaked — both me and Eileen. Drenched from head to toe, we had to sit under wind-proof blankets to keep from getting hypothermic. But it was still lots and lots of fun.

At a certain point Mike crossed to the eastern side of the lake south of The Narrows to show us a completely undeveloped part of the eastern shore. And there in front of us was the 18th century.

This was the forest my Rangers walked.

This was the shoreline they would have known.

This was the horizon they would have seen.

At one point, Mike killed the motor and put the boat into a slow 360-degree spin. He told me to look around because there was nothing — nothing — from our modern world to be seen in any direction. There was only lake, forest and sky.

I got goose bumps thinking that this was Lake George as both my Rangers and the real Rangers would have known it. Somehow they managed to travel through this wilderness without modern equipment at all times of the year, accomplishing feats that modern men would struggle to duplicate even with high-tech gear.

You have to respect and admire men who were that tough.

We spent maybe a half hour in this area, getting just north of the Narrows, where Iain and Annie looked down at the French boats on the lake. Yep, I saw the hilltop where they camped. I soaked up the place through my skin. I felt so close to my heroes — Iain, Morgan, Connor — and to the other characters in the MacKinnon's Rangers series. I could feel their exhaustion. I could see what they saw. I could measure it in terms of its distance from home.

But there's more to this story than I'll tell you today...

More to come!!!
Friday, October 17, 2008

Travel Diary: Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga

O.M.G. My mind has been blown.

Today I walked where Morgan and Amalie walked, where le Chevalier de Bourlamaque walked in real life, where le Marquis de Montcalm walked. I walked where Rangers (real and fictional) died in the Battle of Ticonderoga (1758) and where Amalie's father was killed and looked up at the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain where Iain and his brothers and Captain Joseph laid on their bellies spying on Fort Carillon and the French. I walked through a forest that became a battlefield and now has become a forest again.

Today was such a rich experience! We traveled the distance between Fort Edward (Fort Elizabeth) and Ticonderoga, savoring the beautiful scenery along the way, then spent the afternoon getting a tour of Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga from the wonderful and patient Chris Fox, curator of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. I say that Chris is patient because, between me and Ben, there is never an end to the questions.

Note of interest: It took us 45 minutes to make the drive from Fort Edward to Ticonderoga. It would have taken the Rangers three long days of marching to cross that same mountainous distance.

So here are today's pictures and then someone has got to get some sleep!

The color in the mountains is at its peak, and we drove past vista after vista of rolling hills covered with trees in blazing shades of red, orange and yellow. So beautiful!

Near the hotel where we're staying is the memorial to Jane McCrae, who was killed and scalped by Indians at the age of 17. She'd been staying at the fort and stayed despite the British advance, believing herself to be safe because she was engaged to marry a British loyalist. But the Brits dragged her out of the fort by her hair. What happened next isn't certain, but what is certain is that she was killed and then scalped by Indians. Her fiance recognized her body. Her death not only forced him away from the British side, but also outraged so many colonists that men flocked to fight the British and defeated them at the Battle of Saratoga (which is near here). Jane was killed and scalped just south of the memorial.

Duncan Campbell was an officer with the Black Watch, which fought at the Battle of Ticonderoga in 1758. That battle, part of both Surrender (toward the end) and Untamed (the prologue), cost the Black Watch hundreds of lives. Duncan Campbell was injured under Nannie Crombie's inept command and brought back to Fort Edward, where he died nine days later. This is his tomb stone.

It was a very intense feeling to look at the grave marker of a man who fought and died in a battle I've written about twice.

It took us 45 minutes. It would have taken Iain, Morgan, Connor and the Rangers three days. Yes, I'm grateful for modern transportation.

Just outside the walls of the fort is a real bateau made this summer as part of a demonstration. Abercrombie (Nannie Crombie) put 900 or so of these on Lake George to carry his attack northward from the southern end of Lake George to Ticonderoga.

Here's a look up at the walls of Fort Ticonderoga. You can see the guns nosing over the edge. Those aren't original Carillon guns, but came from British holdings elsewhere. TIconderoga played a key role in the French and Indian War (7 Years War) and also in the American Revolution. It started as Fort Carillon under the French.

Here's Ben being funny. I'm certain those guns would have been loud.

Here's a view from Ticonderoga looking toward Rattlesnake Mountain. If you remember in Surrender and Untamed, the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain is the location from which the Rangers spied on the French at Fort Carillon. Yes, Rattlesnake Mountain was real. And real Rangers really did spy on the French from that summit. Seeing it, standing there and looking up and imagining Iain, Morgan, Connor and the men up there looking down on us was wonderful.

One of the things a person just has to do at historical sites such as this one is to pause and absorb it through the heart, eyes, mind and skin. Here, Ben is doing just this.

Chris Fox shows us some of the original stone foundation dating back to the original French construction of Fort Carillon. The rocks had drill holes grooved into them. We were able to touch them. It was amazing to think that these rocks had been there for more than 250 years. Chris was so helpful and generous with his time.

Here I am standing outside the gate to Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga. A real WOW moment for me.

Though most of Fort Ticonderoga is reconstructed, the iron work on the gate is the original French ironwork for the gate of Fort Carillon. It was found in the rubble of the fort right there in the gateway.

This is one of two moments that brought me to tears. The plaque names many of the significant historical figures to walk through that gateway, including George Washington, Ethan Allen, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold, Major Robert Rogers of Rogers' Rangers, le Chevalier de Bourlamaque and the Marquis de Montcalm. I ran my finger over their names and couldn't keep back the tears. (Sunglasses are great for moments like this!)

This is one of those things I search for that helps me connect to the past. The people who lived at Fort Carillon/Fort Ticonderoga would have seen this exact same view — a view of Lake Champlain through the gate. I wish I'd been able to visit before I wrote Untamed because I would have been able to include Morgan seeing this view and thinking of his brothers off in the distance, so far away. Oh, well...

Here's another view from the fort looking south over Lake Champlain. It's pretty enough to take away even the breath of a girl from Colorado.

Here's a view of the courtyard inside Fort Carillon/Ticonderoga. It's smaller than I imagined it would be. The building we're looking at in this photo is almost 100 percent certainly Bourlamaque's quarters. So for those of you who've read Untamed, that means this is where Morgan and Amalie lived and fell in love.

Ben and I lovingly caress a memorial marker for the Marquis de Montcalm. He's not portrayed very sympathetically in Last of the Mohicans, which we both believe to be a mischaracterization of a very decent man. He was killed during the war (not at Ticonderoga) and never returned to France to see his wife and children. A letter from him to his wife is part of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum's collection, and we were able to look at that.

In front of the memorial marker for Montcalm, there stands a gun from the original Fort Carillon. Here I am soaking it up.

Here, Ben and I are standing beneath Bourlamaque's front steps in front of some original French masonry. Yes, I touched that, too. A very touchy day for me. :-)

Here's part of the new exhibit at Ticonderoga, showing a Colonial militiaman in the midst of the battle. I chose it because it shows him reloading his musket on his back, as Colonials, especially Rangers, were known for doing.

And this choked me up. This is the Carillon Battlefield, where Abercrombie led his men to disastrous defeat. About 1,900 men died here in the span of a few hours, running up against the abatis the French had so hastily created. I was so glad to see this site was not a parking lot. It's sacred ground, in my opinion. To see it lovingly preserved was reassuring. It would have been all but devoid of trees right here because the French had cut them down to make the abatis, a hastily made pile of branches and trunks.

Here's the memorial for the Black Watch, which bravely charged against the French ramparts again and again despite the futility of getting past the abatis. Almost half their number were slain or wounded in the battle. Someone had draped a bit of plaid nearby. *sniff*

Here are the gently rolling remains of the earthen ramparts raised by the French against the British attack. Now they're overgrown by grass and retaken by trees. Still, when you pass through here it's very obvious that these are the remains of man-made structures.

Here is where the French lines stood. I would say more — a death that is significant to the story happens near here — but I don't want to post spoilers about Untamed.

When the French won against such overwhelming odds, turning back Abercrombie's army and keeping their hold on Carillon, Montcalm stood on this spot, proclaimed victory and gave the credit to God, erecting a cross in honor of the day. This isn't the original cross, but it was amazing to stand here and reflect on all of this anyway. My mom had taken the rest of these photos, so it seemed fitting I take a photo of her with her grandson standing on this important site.

Another moment that made me tear up... This powder horn in the case was Major Robert Rogers powder horn. It was his diaries I studied before I started the MacKinnon's Rangers series. It was he and his men who were stationed on Rogers Island at Fort Edward. So Iain, Morgan and Connor essentially displace him, but he was part of the inspiration for them. And here was the very powder horn that he carried into battle. There are no words...

And that concludes this evenings talk. Thanks so much for following along!

Tomorrow: A trip up Lake George on the water

And then back to Ithaca where I have to say good-bye to my son again. Oh, not looking forward to that part of this trip at all. I think I'll go hug him right now while he's here with me.

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