Cate: Please welcome Annie Marshall to my special Halloween celebration. Annie, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Annie: A grand hello to everyone from South Carolina! As Cate said, my name is Annie Marshall. I’m a Scottish Paranormal Romance Annie, Photographer, and the Managing Cover Artist for DCL Publications. I’m also a proud Army wife and mom to two wonderful teenagers. (Coughing, taking a sip of my tea, and clearing my throat.) I almost couldn’t get that last part out. Ha! I’m teasing, of course. I’m truly blessed with two wonderful kids! I’m owned by two devastatingly handsome Pembroke Welsh Corgis named Hamish and Aonghus and a beautiful, affectionate, and demanding black cat named Miss Aella Boo. Plus there are a couple of my long and not so long dead relatives hanging around keeping an eye on me. Life is never boring in my house.
Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?
Annie: This really is my favorite time of year! The rich colors, the cool crisp weather, and the leaf piles that are oh so fun to jump into! I love the spooky feeling in the night air that gets those creative juices flowing about ghosts and goblins! It’s usually this time of year that I’m able to write my ghost stories.
Cate: Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?
Annie: It was a blustery day, Halloween 1996 that changed my life forever. It was a day I’ll never forget as long as I live! I tried my hardest to keep from screaming out loud even though I really wanted to. Amidst vampires, a Klingon warrior, and Raggedy Anne, my son was born. No, I wasn’t at a costume party. This is how the nurses were dressed in the Labor and Delivery room at St. John’s Mercy Hospital!
Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?
Annie: Several times! Ghosts seem to like to make themselves known to me. They don’t talk to me in like normal conversations but I feel them and once in a while, I’ll catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye. Out of respect for this particular town, I won’t name it, but about 16 years ago, we were searching for a place to live in a rural part of Southeast Missouri. The realtor took us to this small town that the moment we past the welcome sign, I grew sick to my stomach. We pulled up to this house that looked to be only five years old but something wasn’t right. He unlocked the door and invited us in to take a look around. I walked around the living room then into the kitchen and was still feeling nauseated. Then I walked down the hallway towards the bedrooms and I began to feel really hot and my ears sizzled like I was going to pass out. I excused myself and went to the car. After a few moments, my husband and the realtor asked what I thought of the house. I told both of them that there was no way I’d live in this town. My husband understood immediately but the realtor just looked at me like I was crazy.
Cate: I don't blame you! What frightens you the most?
Annie: Oddly enough, it’s not the paranormal that scares me but things like snakes, spiders, and creepy crawlies that really creep me out! Yes, I know I’m bigger than them and they can’t hurt me, however… (Shivers) Nope, don’t like them. Not at all.
Cate: Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?
Annie: Yes I have! Both! I’ve been on ghost tours and hunts in St. Augustine, Florida and Alton, Illinois. And of course in my own houses. Yes, my own houses. Apparently, my dead relatives find it funny to keep me company from time to time. I don’t complain about them however. They’ve chased away and kept the bad spirits from bothering me.
Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?
Annie: I love making Apple Butter in October! When I was a little girl, we used to make a large cast iron cauldron full of Apple Butter over an open fire! We would start before dawn and finish late at night. Grandpa would build the fire and kept it going during the day. Grandma would peel, core, and cut up the apples. Mom would add all the ingredients together in the pot. And then we’d all take turns during the day constantly stirring so the batch wouldn’t burn. We had so many fun and wonderful memories around that pot.
Approximately 3 lb. apples
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground fresh nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup water or fresh apple cider
A dash of salt
Fill Crock-pot 3/4 full with peeled, cored and sliced apples. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. Cover and cook on low setting overnight. In the morning, stir with a whisk then replace the lid and wait for another hour then stir again. Repeat until the butter is of a thick, spreadable consistency. If apple butter has too much liquid, remove lid and cook on high until thickened. Stir often as butter thickens to prevent scorching. You can either freeze or can the butter to keep for longer storage.
Cate: Yum, sounds delicious. Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Annie: My latest release, “Her Island Destiny” is the third installment in my Warriors of Destiny series.
You can purchase and download a copy of “Her Island Destiny” from Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, and Fictionwise.
Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
In the days of Wallace and Bruce, two worlds and centuries collide on the breathtaking Isles of Orkney and Skye.
Cian MacKyleakin, known as the dreaded Wolf of Moal has dedicated his life to fighting for Scotland, but when his lineage is challenged, adding fuel to the rumors that are circulating through the English court, Edward Longshanks declares that the only way he can retain his lands is to marry the only daughter of the MacKinnons. But when she’s found dead, things get complicated very quickly.
Isla MacKinnon, call sign Valkyrie, is a CH-47 Helicopter pilot for the United States Army. Isla's helicopter is attacked and crashes in the Afghan mountains. As the only survivor, she is ordered by her doctor and her command to take R&R to recover. Instead, she finds herself fighting for her life when a simple picnic on the beach turns perilous.
Can these two fallen warriors find the passion they need within each other’s embrace when they are from two different worlds and centuries?
Cian had stayed behind after Isla excused herself explaining she was tired and wanted a bath. Truth be told, she’d had enough of the festivities for the evening.
It hadn’t taken long for Cian to grow bored of the revelry as well. After she’d left the great hall, all other conversations were a blur. He could only think about Isla. He’d even downed a couple tankards of ale to make him drowsy so he could sleep.
As he lay in his bed, all he could think about was how wonderful it would be to gaze on her naked body again, how incredible it would feel to have her underneath him. He rose from his bed to pace the floor. It was driving him insane this hold she had on him. “Christ’s teeth!” he exclaimed out loud as he pulled on his trews and walked across the dark corridor to her room.
Cian leaned his forehead against the outside of the closed door with both hands on either side of the wooden door frame, listening to Abi and Isla talk about various things from that night from food to music.
He knew he shouldn’t be there. The last thing in the world the lass needed was to have him chasing after her like a lad who’d found his first love, but he couldn’t stay away from her.
He was half listening as Isla was giving Abi advice where Támhas was concerned when the sloshing of water caught his interest.
Damn it, he thought she’d have finished with her bath by now. Even though it was just Abi in with her, he felt the pang of jealousy hit his heart as he wanted to be the one assisting with her bath.
Slowly he turned the door handle and quietly opened the door to a dimly lit room. Near the fireplace he saw Isla with her eyes closed as she slowly sank deeper into the tub.
Abi poured a pitcher of warm water over Isla’s tilted head and the light from the fire illuminated the streams down her shoulders and back. He knew he should leave the room but he couldn’t pull himself away. The sound of her voice with the sight of her bare flesh forced him to admit that he had more than a fondness for this woman. He wanted her more than any lass. He wanted to protect her…provide for her…lay with her.
“Abi, Lady Isla won’t be needin’ yer help for the rest of the evenin’,” Cian said as he took the pitcher from the girl and motioned for her to leave.
Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Annie: I wanted to show a softer side to our female warriors. Show that they are not only fiercely dedicated to their country, but that they are also fiercely passionate women. And I’ve always loved time-travel and Scotland so combining the three seemed fitting.
Cate: Love it. :) Anything else you’d like to share?
Annie: This is a photo that I took in St. Augustine at one of their cemeteries. Apparently, the spirits didn’t like the fact that I caught them dancing because this photo fried my lens. It was truly a one in a million shot that cost me a new camera lens.
Cate: Wow, what an incredible photo! Love it.
Readers, Annie has a giveaway!
Annie: Anyone who wants an autographed postcard, all they need to do is email me their address and I’ll send them one! firstname.lastname@example.org
Cate: Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Annie! And sharing in the Halloween fun.
Wow, Annie's stories are amazing. Hard to follow that! So I'll leave you with something lighter, a clip from one of my favorite movies to watch this time of year (though it's not a Halloween movie), Young Frankenstein.
Blucher! *neigh!* :)