Interview w/ 2013 GOLDEN HEART® Finalist Dawn Marie Hamilton, Author of “Just Beyond the Garden Gate”

Today I have a 2013 GOLDEN HEART® Finalist visiting! Author Dawn Marie Hamilton gave up a corporate training career to write what she’s passionate about—romance. And today she’s sharing some of her new book Just Beyond the Garden Gate with us. It’s a Scottish time travel with fantasy elements… She’s also giving away a copy of her book so take a peek below (no not the kilt, lol.)

Title: Just Beyond the Garden Gate
Dawn Marie Hamilton 
Series: Highland Gardens
Publisher: Self / Indy 
Release Date: May 18th 2013
Genre: Time travel, fantasy/contemporary, Romance
Length: 544 kb / 339 pages 
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The Scottish Highlands—a place where faeries and brownies and other fae creatures dance through time. On occasion, so do mere mortals.

Determined to regain her royal status, a banished faerie princess accepts a challenge from the High-Queen of the Fae to unite an unlikely couple while the clan brownie attempts to thwart her.

Passion ignites when a faerie-shove propels burned-out business consultant Laurie Bernard through the garden gate, back through time, and into the embrace of Patrick MacLachlan. The arrogant clan chief doesn’t know what to make of the lass in his arms, especially when he recognizes the brooch she wears as the one his stepmother wore when she and his father disappeared.

With the fae interfering at every opportunity, the couple must learn to trust one another while they battle an enemy clan, expose a traitor within their midst and discover the true fate of the missing parents. Can they learn the most important truth—love transcends time?

Journey from the lush gardens of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the Scottish Highlands of 1509 with Just Beyond the Garden Gate.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I’m a Jersey girl and Jersey girls don’t pump gas. Seriously, I was born in northern New Jersey and lived there most of my life. I moved to the Sandy Hook bay area when I married ten years ago. Loved living near the water. Four years ago, we moved to Southern Maryland and we consider this home. We like the milder climate.

What or who inspired you to write?  And how long have you been writing?

In high school, I had a wonderful English teacher who inspired me to write short stories. They all had tragic endings. I was a dark teenager. During my corporate career, I wrote computer manuals and technical training materials. Not what I wanted to do. On a business trip to Brussels, while riding in a taxi, I saw a hunk-worthy Highlander wearing a kilt, showing off a bare chest, and carrying a large sword. I decided I wanted to write Scottish inspired romance. My imagination can’t help focusing on fantasy and paranormal elements.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

My debut novel is ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’ and is the first book in the Highland Gardens series. Mix a matchmaking faerie, a burned out business consultant lost in the past, a wary Highland warrior, a mischief-making brownie, and stir in a couple of villains for spice.

I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?

Warning: vivid imagination—proceed only if you wish to enter the fantasy.

Do you have plans for a new book?   Is this book part of a series?

The second book in the Highland Gardens series, ‘Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon’, is planned for release in September.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I designed the cover for ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’. I participated in an on-line cover design course offered by one of the RWA chapters. It was great! The instructors put the lessons up as videos and walked the students through every step of the process, using Photo Shop. I created
the mock-ups for ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’ and ‘Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon’ during the class with comp photos. After the class ended, I purchased the photos and recreated the covers.

Where do you see yourself in five (5) years?

Writing, writing, and writing more.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Oh, that is a tough question. I’ve traveled to so many wonderful places in the US, Europe, and Asia during my career. My husband would love to move to Ireland. I’m partial to Scotland. We’ll see.

Either way, you’ll be in paradise!
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

I was a confirmed paperback reader until my husband gave me a Kindle DX for Christmas. Now, I prefer my e-reader.

Are you a self-published (Indie) Author or big trad published?

I’m working with a wonderful freelance editor and self-publishing. I like the control. I get to choose the titles and the covers and when the books are released. Promotion is time consuming, but that seems to be the norm these days.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

There will be several more books and a novella in the Highland Gardens series. ‘Sea Panther’, my 2013 Golden Heart® finalling novel is a Scottish inspired paranormal romance that bends the genre with a 300 year old sailing Highlander turned vampire/Florida panther shifter, and hit men, and pirates, and a voodoo priestess. Oh, yeah, and the hero and heroine get to travel back in time to Jamaica 1715 to reverse a curse. This is the first book in the Crimson Storm series.

How do you market/promote your books?

I’m still learning the ropes and starting the process with a virtual book tour.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer’s block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?

Occasionally, my mind gets jammed up. Usually a long walk clears out the jumble, and the ideas flow.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I enjoy cooking, gardening, and canoeing with my husband. When we really need to recharge, we throw the camping gear into the car and head to the mountains to hike and unwind. Our current favorite place is Shenandoah National Park. Love the waterfalls.

Have you ever read a book more than once?

Absolutely. I’ve reread each of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books just before the next book releases.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?

No. I prefer the book version of most book/movies I’ve read/seen. A great example is ‘Gone With the Wind’. I loved the movie until I read the book. I much preferred the book.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/ paperback/ hardcover)?

I haven’t had time to read lately, but the last book I read was on my Kindle. ‘A ghost of a Chance at Love’ by Terry Spear. I adore time travel stories.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Dare to dream!

Do you write under a pen name?

I use my maiden name as my pen name.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. I love shelties.

Favourite colour?

My signature color is peridot. Clothes, accessories, and jewelry. It’s my birthstone.

White wine or red?

Red, preferably a rich pinot noir.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon.

Favourite food?

Crab. I do live in Maryland.

Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Neither. Cookies and Cream.

Ohhh… I’m with you!
What are 4 things you never leave home without?

Data stick, paper, pen, and phone.

Laptop or desktop for writing?

Laptop. I like to move around.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

Early morning, either at my desk or in my plush reading chair.

One of your favourite quotes –

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." ~Michealangelo

List 3 of your all-time favourite movies?

Casablanca, An Affair to Remember w/Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, Pirates of the Caribbean or any movie with Johnny Depp.

Love me some Depp *swoon*
An actor you have a crush on –

Not an actor, but the cover model for ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’. Brooks Johnson. Shhh! Don’t tell my husband.

LOL, My lips are sealed! Winking smile

  Laurie opened her eyes a crack. Her head pounded, her pulse raced. This wasn’t good. Those couldn’t be two, huge, leather-clad feet inches from her face.

  She opened her eyes wider. Raised her gaze higher.

  Those feet—the ones that couldn’t be there—was it possible they were attached to two muscular calves wrapped in soft napped animal skins?

  Higher still. Bare knees. Plaid wool and saffron linen.

  Farther up, she took in all of the man who towered over her. Piercing blue eyes blinked. Crinkles appeared in the corners. He was grinning. Not outwardly. The perfectly shaped lips remained tight and straight, but something within this gorgeous man was pleased.

  She gasped with recognition. This was her man, the one from her heated dreams and visions. The man she didn’t believe existed. The man who made her insides flip-flop.

  Unsure what had just happened, she gave her head a firm shake. Mistake. Dizziness hit in waves. She swallowed hard. When the nausea passed, she pushed her palms against the ground and rose to her feet. Unsteady, she swayed. The stranger’s image blurred.

  Large calloused hands gripped her arms. A strange though familiar jolt of energy coursed through her, causing her heart to beat too fast.
He quickly released her. He must have felt it too.

  Again, she swayed. She reached for his support at the same time he took hold of her upper arms.

  She blinked to clear her vision and moistened dry lips. The flash of desire in his eyes made her shiver. He smiled for real this time, leaned forward, placed a hand behind her head, and brushed her lips with his. Gentle at first, then with vigor, his tongue delved into her mouth.

  Instinct insisted she struggle. Holding her body rigid, she fisted her hands, which he’d trapped within his embrace. She forced her fingers open and pressed her palms against his hard chest—a vain attempt to push him away.

  The current flowing between them became overpoweringly seductive. No man had made her feel this way before. For several moments, she wavered between fighting him—a familiar stranger—and succumbing to the delicious sensations swamping her. He deepened the kiss, and the internal battle ended. Desire won. She clasped hold of the front of his shirt with shaky hands and kissed him back with pent-up passion.

  Satiny lips anchored her in a storm of unfamiliar sensation. Pleasure vibrated along her body. She opened her eyes a slit. The intensity of the man’s shocking kiss matched the masculine power burning in his startling blue eyes.

  His grip tightened. His fingers burned through her clothing, searing her skin. She closed misty eyes and sank into the reality of her dream lover’s embrace.

Giveaway: A PDF copy of ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’ to one commenter who answers the question: If you were unexpectedly hurled back in time to the sixteenth century, what would you miss most?

(Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact the winner!)

Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a 2013 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories. She is a member of The Golden Network, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Celtic Hearts, and From the Heart chapters of RWA. When not writing, she’s cooking, gardening, or paddling the local creeks with her husband.

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    • Maria D. on June 19th, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Congrats to Dawn on her debut release! I think if I was hurled back to the 16th century I would probably miss everything from showers, to all of my electronic devices (phone,kindle,laptop) to modern medicine, modern clothing and women having equal rights! Thanks for the spotlight, excerpt and giveaway!

    junegirl63 at gmail dot com

      • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 19th, 2013 at 10:31 am

      Hi Maria. Thank you for the congrats! We do get used to our modern conveniences. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

    • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 19th, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Hi, Anya! Thank you for having me as a guest. 🙂 Love the look and feel of your blog.

  1. Dawn I’m so proud of your Golden Heart and now this release of your first and very interesting JUST BEYOND THE GARDEN GATE. I’ll want an autographed copy.

    I’d miss the convenience of modern travel and instant weather forcasts.

    • SHELLEY S on June 19th, 2013 at 11:17 am


      • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 19th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Hello, Shelly. The treatment of women was an issue. In ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate’ Patrick needed to be taught. Thanks for visiting. Have a great evening!

  2. Hi, Dawn! I’m reading Beyond the Garden Gate right now, and enjoying your rich descriptions along with the trouble-making faeries! Of course, the Highland hero trying to figure out what to do with his out-of-time heroine is fun to read, too.

    Good to see you again on your blog tour. Your cover is verra nice, by the way. 😉

    Looking forward to meeting you in Atlanta!


      • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 19th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Hey, Leslie. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re enjoying the read. 🙂 I’m getting very excited/nervous about Atlanta. Can’t wait. Enjoy the night!

    • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 19th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks, BJ! It’ll be a couple of months before I release print copies. 🙂 In the Highlands, they often traveled by foot and guesstimated the weather. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy the rest of the day.

  3. I love Karen Kingsbury, but haven’t read these two books yet. This would be awesome. Please enter me.

  4. Good Morning,
    I know I am not timely for the giveway, but still in time to gush! My goodness A Golden Heart finalist, I didn’t know I knew any of those very rare writers. A book about Scotland, faeries and time travel, then there is the hunk on the front. I am unsure how it could be more perfect. I am open for reviewing. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Check out my reviews on

      • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 22nd, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Hi, Morgan. Thanks for the gush and thanks for stopping by!

    • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 22nd, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Hello, Dane! Thanks for dropping by!

    • Dawn Marie Hamilton on June 22nd, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Congrats to Maria! Watch your email for your e-copy of ‘Just Beyond the Garden Gate.

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