Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Welcome Ceci Giltenan - Author of Highland Solution

Welcome, Ceci! I love Highland stories and your 'what if' question is an excellent way to brainstorm for a plot. It sounds like you have a winner here. Readers, be sure to leave Ceci a comment so your name will go into the drawing for an ebook.

The genesis of a Highland Solution

I am a professional medical writer, but I have wanted to write fiction most of my life. In biomedical research a scientist asks the question “What would happen if…?” and designs a study to find the answer. As a medical writer, I am usually given the data collected from the study and my job is to describe what happened. Essentially I answer the “What if?” question.

I guess I approached Highland Solution the same way. I wanted to write an historical romance. I asked a question that has always intrigued me, “What if a medieval woman in Scotland was forced to marry a stranger from the Highlands?” Obviously this is not a unique situation, there are many novels written with this basic design. The elements that an author adds to a standard plot are what can make each story exciting and unique.

After I had selected the basic premise for the novel, I collected my “data.” I spent time fully creating my characters and settings. I imagined each character’s entire history in detail. I built their personalities complete with biases, philosophies, flaws, and desires. I also imagined the details surrounding the settings, what everything looked like, where the castles would be located (if they actually existed) even how furniture was arranged within rooms.

Finally when I knew the characters well enough to imagine how they would react in any situation and could clearly see the settings where the action would occur, I inserted the problem. The story evolved as I imagined what would happen. Once I could see how the plot resolved, I started writing.

Don’t misunderstand, I didn’t decide one day to write a novel and start from scratch. Characters, settings, themes, and plot designs have floated around in my head for years. When I was ready to write, I selected the elements to more fully develop and use in this story. To do that, I applied the approach with which I was most familiar; collect the data and answer the “What if?” question.

Back blurb

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?

Copyright 2013 by Ceci Giltenan
ISBN 978-1-77155-086-4
Cover Art by Petra K.
Cover Model: Jimmy Thomas

Katherine entered the great hall 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.”
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.”

About the author

Ceci’s sixth grade class predicted that she would be an author. “But I want to be a nurse!” she said, in her typically bossy style. As it turns out, she became both. She started her career as an oncology nurse at a leading research hospital, and eventually became a successful medical writer. In 1991 she married a young Irish carpenter who she met at a friend’s wedding. They raised their family in central New Jersey and now with their youngest off to college, Ceci is breaking away from “primary efficacy endpoints” and writing a few “happily ever after’s.”

Follow the author on Twitter @CeciGiltenan and Facebook CGiltenan

Thank you for sharing a little about Highland Solutions, Ceci!

For you readers out there, please leave her a comment and include your email address. Ceci, please draw the winner's name on the 9th and forward their prize to them.

Happy Reading and Writing Folks!



  1. I love my highland romances!!! This is like a great read Ceci!!! Can't wait!!!

  2. Thanks Angela! I hope you enjoy Highland Solution.

  3. I envy those who can "plot ahead" in an organized way. Scotland is a rough area to wear a kilt. Those thistles can git you if you don't watch out.

  4. Sounds like a great read, Ceci. Happy new release!

  5. Julie, so true. Scotland is not always warm and fuzzy--there are more than just burrs in accents. I'm sure one does have to watch where one sits when a healthy breeze surrounds the privates. ;-)

    Ute--Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your own! It looks great too. I have to go back and read Sweet Lenora first!

  6. I enjoyed reading about you. Loved the excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks Ciara! I love your cover for The Keeper of Moon Haven. It is gorgeous!

  8. I am awed by your scientific approach to creating a book, Ceci! I write by the seat of my pants so this boggles my mind. But I know it works for you because I am reading Highland Solution now and it just reached out and grabbed me by the throat from the first paragraph. It is a page-turner for sure. I wish you great success with this first novel and those to come.