Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Glimmering on Carpinello's Writing Pages

Young Adult Adventure with Ireland's Fairies! Award Winning author Cheryl Carpinello is graciously hosting me and the Glimmer Books today on her lovely blog, Carpinello's Writing Pages.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl's interview about writing Young Adult fantasy for teens. Stop by. You'll enjoy it too, and the Fairies would love to see you!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Brody's Banshee

Brody’s Banshee
by Pat McDermott

Some years ago, on a late autumn day, my mother asked me to accompany her to Ireland to visit her elderly parents. She said no more, except that we must waste no time. As I am a dutiful son and well versed in the ins and outs of travel, I gently guided the dear lady from Boston to Shannon on the next available flight.

Throughout the journey, she sat in silence, locked in some private distress. Black clouds greeted us on the other side of the Atlantic, though the wind-driven rain subsided as I drove our rental car south. The sun’s reappearance cheered me. My mother, however, brooded during the entire drive. After several unsuccessful attempts to learn the cause of her anguish, I resigned myself to a quiet ride.

We reached Killarney an hour later. I slowed the car to negotiate the narrow streets, taking in the colorful shop fronts and horse-drawn carriages. Then I drove on to the house my mother left when she married my father thirty years earlier.

The family homestead sat in solitary splendor on ten County Kerry acres. A circular driveway took us past well-landscaped grounds to the front door. Despite the lovely setting, My mother stared at the dwelling with unmistakable dread.

My nimble grandmother greeted us with her customary warmth, yet her lilting accent held no cheer. The pleasant aroma of pipe tobacco announced my grandfather’s presence. Sure enough, the old fellow emerged from his study and greeted us with hefty hugs, adding an arm-wrenching handshake for me. He didn’t seem to notice my grandmother’s solemn demeanor.

“Come in, Nora!” he bellowed. “Come in, Brody! Get those coats off and we’ll have tea!”

My mother’s eyes glistened; her lip trembled. I had lost patience with her reticence and resolved to learn what was afoot if I had to bully it out of her.

“Right after we settle in, Pa,” I said.

Hefting our luggage, I led my mother upstairs. As always, she claimed her childhood bedroom. I set her bag on a chair. “What’s happening here, Mum?”

She closed the door. “I didn’t want to tell you before, Brody. You wouldn’t have believed me, and I couldn’t bear your teasing.”
“I won’t tease you. I’m listening.”

She held her breath before she continued. “Your grandmother heard the banshee.”

I didn’t tease, but I couldn’t keep my eyebrows down. “Has she? What about Pa?”

“He hasn’t heard it. The one the banshee cries for never hears it. I know you don’t believe it, Brody, but I’m afraid for my father.”

I thought of the burly man downstairs and smiled. Even at his advanced age, he was stronger than most men I knew, including me. “You’re worrying for nothing. Let me put my bag away and we’ll go down for tea.”

I chose my favorite guest room, a small but well appointed suite that overlooked the front entrance and afforded spectacular views of the gardens. Pulling the red velvet curtain aside, I enjoyed the scenery until the rain abruptly returned in raging torrents. The wind howled and moaned, as it would in such an open area. I understood why my grandmother believed she had heard a banshee.

According to legend, the eerie wailing of these spectral females supposedly heralds death. My mother often said she had heard one the night my father died. Such superstitions—peculiar weather omens, outlandish remedies, and charms that guaranteed spouses and wealth—had always amused me. My mother, however, believed in such things. On her kitchen wall, a horseshoe still hangs “points up” to keep the luck from running out, for all the good it has ever done her.

My own beliefs were centered in science. After earning a business degree, I joined a high tech firm and traveled often to visit its worldwide branches. My level-headed logic would help calm the ladies’ fears during this gloomy visit. I released the curtain and went downstairs.

In Ireland, they call supper “tea.” The housekeeper had set out the simple meal in the dining room, where a gas fire danced in an ornate hearth. We chatted our way through scones, salad, ham, and potatoes. My grandmother had just called for dessert when a loud knock sounded at the front door.

The women froze. Pa, however, seemed oblivious to the rapping. He continued telling a favorite story of his boyhood. As I had heard the tale often, I permitted my attention to drift. Why would someone use the knocker rather than the doorbell? When the housekeeper failed to answer the knock—no doubt she couldn’t hear it from the kitchen—I set my napkin on the table, strolled down the hall, and opened the door.

No one was there. I returned to the dining room and stated my opinion that the wind had caused the rapping.

Pa was lighting his after-dinner pipe. Through his initial puffs, he said, “That’s what I think, Brody. We old folks don’t hear so well anymore, and the wind plays tricks on your grandmother.”

He resumed his tale. His old briar pipe was well-fired now. He held it by the bowl, waving it to emphasize the key points of his story. Outside, the wind still howled.

Without warning, the howling rose to a ghastly shriek that burst into pitiful, piercing cries. The women grew pale, but Pa continued his narrative, clearly deaf to the paranormal screams that gripped his wife and daughter in breathless horror. I must confess that an unknown terror chilled me as well.

The hideous lamenting ceased just as Pa concluded his yarn. He chided the women for fearing the wind and weather. Soon we all rose and retired for the night. Despite the mysterious keening—whatever it was, I doubted any supernatural visitation had occurred—jet lag had left me exhausted. I fell straight to sleep.

Several hours later, I awakened to the clip-clop of horses and the rumbling of a rolling carriage. The bedside clock read three a.m. Who would be coming at this hour in a horse-drawn cart? I stole to the window and pulled back the velvet curtain.

Outside the front door, not one, but two horses stomped the ground before an old-fashioned carriage set on high wheels. A coachman in antique attire sat in the driver’s seat. The brim of his top hat hid his face. Thinking that the window glass might be distorting whatever was really down there, I lifted the sash. Cold air blew away the last remnants of sleep. I decided I was witnessing a costume drama.

I watched spellbound as two men attired like the coachman carried a shapeless black mass from the house. The carriage door opened. With calm efficiency, they hauled their burden inside.

The door snapped shut. The coachman cracked his whip and shook the reins. He glanced up. Our eyes met. His skeletal face contorted into a hideous, mocking smile. He touched his whip to the brim of his hat and cried, “Come aboard, sir! There’s plenty of room!”

Too shocked to speak, I made no response. He let go a high-pitched titter and drove off into the starless mist.

I paced my shadowy room until I convinced myself that I had experienced a nightmare. The lingering horror crumbled away. I found my bed and fell into a dreamless sleep.

Just past nine o’clock, I prepared for the day and went downstairs. The sound of strange voices surprised me. In the kitchen, my weeping mother and grandmother sat with uniformed emergency personnel whose calm demeanor belied any emergency.

My mother stood and hugged me. “Your grandfather is gone, Brody. He died in his sleep and suffered no pain.”

I didn’t believe it. “Why didn’t anyone call me?”

I raced up the back stairs to my grandparents’ room, where doctor and priest conversed in low tones. The shell of my grandfather lay on the bed, his hands folded on his chest, his forehead glistening with the holy unction of last rites. I knew then that a death coach had stolen away my precious Pa.

For months, the events of that night haunted me. I never mentioned the costumed coachmen. My level-headed logic eventually convinced me that some trick of the imagination had deceived me, that the death coach had been a dream after all.

A year later, I was in Boston when the news came that my grandmother had followed my grandfather to eternal rest. No wailing banshee accompanied her passing, at least not on this side of the ocean, and not because the banshee couldn’t cross the sea. I convinced myself that the banshee only existed at all because legend and the mysterious Irish landscape had joined forces to plant her in generations of imaginations.

Twenty years have passed. I am president of my own electronics company now. A year ago, I established a division in Dublin. After several transatlantic trips to oversee the startup of my new branch, I visited Ireland’s capital to attend the theater festival.

A howling, wind-driven rain greeted me when I arrived at Dublin Airport that autumn afternoon. I had a flat in the city center and carried only an overnight bag. I waited at the stop for the Dublin shuttle. The minibus pulled up. The door opened, and the passengers shifted politely to make space for me.

“Come aboard, sir!” called the driver. “There’s plenty of room!”

My half-raised foot stopped in midair. I looked into the same eyes I had seen in Kerry twenty years before. The same skeletal face with its hideous, mocking smile stared back at me, as it had then.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll wait for the next one.”

Was I the only one who had heard his high-pitched titter?

Transfixed, I watched the shuttle drive away. It stopped before turning out of the airport and onto the main road. Just as it pulled out, a speeding fuel truck slammed into it. Both vehicles burst into flames.

No one survived.
* * * * *
Happy Halloween,

(Brody's Banshee is loosely based on an old story by the late Shane Leslie. Pictures courtesy of Photobucket.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Autumn Glimmer - Halloween Adventure in Ireland

Autumn Glimmer, Book Two in my Young Adult Glimmer Series, brings readers from County Wicklow's scenic woods to a fairy castle beneath an ancient Irish lake.

The Glimmer Books, which feature Ireland's mischievous fairies, are paranormal prequels to the Band of Roses Trilogy, whose "what if" premise supposes that High King Brian Boru survived the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. and established a royal dynasty still in existence. As head of state, the current King Brian upholds ancient traditions, as do his children, Princess Talty and Prince Liam. Teenager Liam stars in the Glimmer Books, along with his American friend, Janet Gleason, who can’t seem to stay away from the fairies.
In Glancing Through the Glimmer, Janet’s grandfather becomes the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. Janet lives in Dublin and attends an upscale boarding school. She still misses Boston, especially in autumn, when New England’s trees are so gorgeous and vibrant. But she’s settled into her new life well and landed the lead in the next school play. In Autumn Glimmer, King Brian invites the Gleasons to his country estate to celebrate Halloween, Janet is happy: she’ll be with Liam again. She should know Ireland better by now…

Blurb for Autumn Glimmer: Janet and Liam meet again for a Halloween weekend they’ll never forget… Fairies living beneath the lake on the King of Ireland’s country estate? Janet Gleason isn’t surprised. The American teen and her royal friend, Prince Liam Boru, have met the Good People before. Just before Halloween, three of the fairies, Blinn, Mell, and Lewy, leave their watery home to fill a magical bag with the flowers their queen requires to keep a hungry monster asleep. Blinn decides she’d like to see the mortal king’s house. Lewy wants to taste oatcakes again, and Mell goes along on a tragic ride that leaves poor Lewy lost and alone. Can Liam and Janet help him find the flower bag before the monster awakens? Or will Lewy’s misguided glimmer trap the young mortals forever in the palace beneath the lake?

Excerpt: Below the bubble, the water brightened to lustrous cobalt blue. Stars seemed to shimmer deep in the lake. A forest of vegetation waved on the lake bed. The impossible sight of crystal towers emerged beyond the greenery, and Liam wanted to dance.

Janet raised a hand to her face. “It’s lovely, but why does it smell so bad?”

She was right. A nasty whiff of something vile had seeped into the bubble.

Becula raised her arms. “Hasten!"

The bubble’s downward speed increased. The stench intensified. Trying to pinpoint its source, Liam scanned the ghostly lake. An amber mist glowed in the inky water beyond the light and seemed to be pursuing them.

“What is it?” he asked, dreading the answer.

“The Crogall Cú,” said Becula, her nonchalant tone at odds with the stiffened sags and bags on her face. “When it hunts, its nostrils blow foul vapors to confuse its prey. Fear not, young prince. It shall not harm us.”

A terrible roar tore through the bubble. Janet yipped and clung to Liam. Squashing his lips to keep from yipping himself, he hugged her to him.

The mist billowed into to a putrid fog that poured like custard to sully the water. Another roar, much closer this time, jolted the bubble.

Janet screamed. Liam’s heart leapt into his throat. A blood-red eye as big as an autumn moon stared in at them from the water. How could such a behemoth exist in the little pond? Liam tightened his hold on Janet and hoped the Invincible Orb lived up to its name.
* * * * *
The Glimmer Books / Available in Print and eBook

Book One: Glancing Through the Glimmer
Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.

Book Two: Autumn Glimmer
Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.

Book Three: A Pot of Glimmer
Amazon U.S.
Amazon U.K.

Friday, June 5, 2015

New Release! A Pot of Glimmer

A Pot of Glimmer
, Book Three in the Glimmer Series, is now available in both Print and eBook. As with the first two books in the series, Glancing Through the Glimmer and Autumn Glimmer, the story is set in Ireland and features Ireland's mischievous fairies. Adventure for Young Adults of All Ages!
* * * * *
A leprechaun’s feud with a Viking ghoul puts Janet and Liam in deadly danger…

 Ireland, January 1014
- Fledgling leprechaun Awley O'Hay leads a raid on a Dublin mint. The mission: steal a shipment of coins to aid the High King, Brian Boru, in his war against the Vikings. Awley and his team plan the heist with commando precision, but they hit a glitch and only escape a bloodthirsty mob with the help of Hazel, the uncommon sister of one of the leprechauns. Yet the money master's vengeful ghost troubles Awley for centuries. So do Awley's forbidden feelings for Hazel.

Ireland, July 2015 - Janet Gleason has had her fill of fairies. They've not only plagued the American teen since she arrived in Dublin, they've also damaged her romance with her gallant friend, Prince Liam Boru. When Janet's grandfather, the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, throws a Fourth of July celebration, Liam reluctantly attends with the rest of the royal family.

Also attending are several uninvited guests. A fairy witch named Becula arrives with Hazel, her clever and quirky protégée, to beg a favor of Janet. The unplanned appearance of Awley O'Hay and his leprechaun pals triggers a chilling visit from Awley's ancient enemy, now an undead monster hungry for human flesh.

Liam and Janet fall into a nightmare that tests their courage in ways they never imagined. Nor did they imagine that real leprechauns are nothing like the "little men" of Irish lore.
* * * * *

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Imbolc & St. Brigid's Day

Ireland abounds with stone monuments built by prehistoric tribes to help them divide the year into seasons: Samhain, November 1, the start of winter; Beltane, May 1, the first day of summer; Lughnasa, August 1, the beginning of autumn; and, Imbolc, February 1, the glorious arrival of spring.

The Newgrange passage tomb is famous for its roof box, which allows sunlight to penetrate its interior chamber during the winter solstice. A Neolithic mound in County Sligo’s Carrowkeel cemetery has a similar box that lets light in during the summer solstice. On the Hill of Tara, sunshine illuminates the chamber inside the Mound of the Hostages on both Samhain and Imbolc.

In ancient times, spring arrived during the first week of February. Imbolc (from i mbolg, old Irish for "in the belly") refers to the impending birth of lambs and calves, a time of renewal, the start of the agricultural season. The celebration belonged to the Celtic goddess Brigid, daughter of Dagda, the Irish equivalent of Jupiter, Zeus, or Odin.

Brigid was a triple deity, a benevolent mother goddess of healing, fertility, and fire, as well as the patron of poets and smiths. When Christianity arrived in Ireland, the church superimposed its saints and holy days over many pagan deities and festivals. Brigid became St. Brigid (Bridget, Brigit, Brighid, Bride, Brid), the female patron saint of Ireland, guardian of hearth and home. Born in the 5th century, she became a leader of the early Celtic Christian church. Her feast day, February 1, is the first day of spring in modern Ireland.

Brigid, said to be the daughter of a druid, supposedly fed on the milk of Otherworld cows, a rumor that gave her dual authority over both Christian and pagan ways. A generous woman, she fed the poor and tended both cattle and land, and is often portrayed with a cow at her feet. She became a nun and founded convents and monasteries. Of the many legends associated with her, my favorite is her acquisition of the land on which she built her most famous monastery.

In 470, Brigid petitioned the King of Leinster for some prime property. Thinking himself clever, the king said he would give her as much land as her shawl could cover. Brigid took off her shawl to measure the land, giving each of the four nuns with her a corner of the cloak. The women ran north, south, east, and west, and the shawl stretched to cover acres of land. Her monastery, built near a huge oak tree, became known as Cill Dara, the Church of the Oak. Cill Dara is now the Town of Kildare.

St. Brigid’s Cross, one of the best-known symbols of Ireland, is still made from rushes on St. Brigid’s Day to ensure health and prosperity in the coming year. The practice hearkens back to Brigid’s attendance at the deathbed of a pagan chieftain, who was curious about the new Christian religion. She drew rushes from the floor and wove them into a cross, and when she told him of its origins, he converted to Christianity.

Whether goddess or saint, Brigid symbolizes the renewal of life and the hope of abundance, and Christians and pagans alike still honor her on her day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Band of Roses Trilogy - Adventure and Romance in Ireland

April 23, 2014 marks the 1000-year anniversary of Ireland's bloody Battle of Clontarf. On Good Friday in 1014 A.D., the armies of High King Brian Boru challenged a host of Vikings and their allies on the plains of Clontarf, north of Dublin. Though Brian’s troops were victorious, he was murdered by fleeing Vikings as he prayed in his tent.

Many historians have speculated that Ireland would be a different place today if King Brian had survived the Battle of Clontarf. The Band of Roses Trilogy, a romantic action/adventure series set in modern Ireland, supposes he did survive and established a royal dynasty that still rules the Emerald Isle. The current King Brian upholds ancient traditions, as does his daughter, Crown Princess Talty, though Talty has a knack for landing in trouble. She wishes she were anyone but the heir to her father's throne—and she learns to be careful what she wishes for.

In Book One, A Band of Roses, Talty must hide her identity to outwit assassins, but she can't hide her ingrained training as a warrior sworn to protect her homeland. From Japan to California to an eleventh century Ireland, she finds romance and adventure, yet all she wants is to return to her family and Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin she secretly loves and cannot have—or so she thinks.

In the second book, Fiery Roses, the discovery of offshore gas ensnares the Boru clan in a web of blackmail and murder. When the residents of rural County Mayo object to pipelines on their land, an arsonist tries to change their minds. One of his fires sends newlyweds Talty and Neil to an ancient world at the mercy of a waking volcano, where they must fight not only to survive, but to save their fledgling marriage.

Book Three, Salty Roses, finds the dynamic princess believing her days of adventure are over. Her royal duties seem endless, and a day off with Neil is looking good. The royal couple accepts an invitation for a jaunt aboard a luxury submarine. As they view an eerie shipwreck, an unknown enemy lures them to an ancient tomb and sends them to a world infested with treacherous pirates. Talty takes charge of a pirate ship and its mangy crew, while Neil matches wits with a temptress who jeopardizes his wedding vows.

In this Excerpt from A Band of Roses, a military assignment teams Talty with her 'Veddy' English commanding officer, Richard Gale, who knows her as Major Christy McKenna. In an experiment gone wrong, they arrive in our world in 1014 A.D., just before the Battle of Clontarf. They've met a lady named Leesha, whose handsome son Gayth has his eye on Talty. In this scene, Gayth is leading his Dalcassian clan to aid King Brian in his fight against the Vikings—but Gayth has more than warfare on his mind.
* * * * *
For three rainy days, the Dalcassians rode two hundred strong. On the third day, Gayth called a stop to rest. Talty and Richard tethered their horses and made their separate camp. While Richard prepared a fire pit, Talty rummaged beneath the shrubbery to find dry wood.

“Can’t we cheat and use matches, Richard? I’m tired of being cold and wet.”

“So am I.” Richard poked through his toolkit until he found the waterproof matchbox. When the fire was burning well, they finished the last of their oatcakes and ale.

“So here I am, the protector of a holy woman. Who knew?”

Talty winced. She regretted agreeing to the deception. Gayth had told the men her presence would protect them. “I wish Leesha hadn’t started this. I’m not some saint who can heal battle wounds with a touch.”

“They don’t know that, darling. We have an edge as long as they think you’re no ordinary woman. Why did she say that, anyway?”

“She was afraid I’d spirit Gayth away to fairyland. She needn’t have worried, though. He seems able to resist me just fine.”

“Perhaps you married too young to learn how devious men can be. Our friend Gayth isn’t finished with you, holy woman.”

Gayth stepped from the darkness. “My kinsmen are grateful for your fire. The furze is too wet to burn. They invite you to join them in a game of spear fishing, Richard. There’s salmon nearby, and we need the food as well as the sport.”

“I’m reluctant to leave Christy alone.”

Talty bristled at Richard’s protectiveness. “You should get to know the men. I’ll be safe enough at my prayers.”

Gayth’s chocolate eyes sparkled in the firelight. “I will stay and protect you while you pray.”

Still smiling, Richard found a spear and went off to fish. Though Talty had encouraged him to go, his abandonment annoyed her. “I’m going to pray beside the pond. It could be a watering hole for game.”

“You hunt game, holy woman?”

“Even holy women must eat.” She left him by the fire and was soon scanning the ground at the edge of the pond. The twilight’s glow revealed animal tracks in the rain-damp soil. She walked toward a dense stand of trees, not quite sorry that Gayth and his sparkling eyes had caught up.

“Did you see any tracks?” he asked.

“Yes. Deer, I think. Smaller game as well, and I’m sure I heard waterfowl a while ago.”

“I like roast goose. Can you pray for some?”

Silently groaning, she studied the sky. “Do we have time to roast meat?”

“The men must eat. Once we’ve rested and refilled our food sacks, we’ll ride again. We should reach Dublin in three, maybe four days’ time.”

“What day is this?”

“Monday of Holy Week. What holy woman wouldn’t know that?”

Barely aware of his teasing tone, she supposed they could reach Dublin by Good Friday, though that would be cutting it close. Yet in this world, the Battle of Clontarf might not take place on Good Friday. Perhaps no battle would occur at all. Perplexed, she stole into the trees.

Gayth followed her.

“This will make a fine blind.” She spoke more to herself than to Gayth.

“You intend to wait here for deer? Praying?”

Ignoring him, she returned to the fire to bank the embers and fetch the Viking bow.

Gayth was right beside her.

She slung the quiver and arrows over her shoulder. Her hooded cloak went on next to protect both her and the bow from the weather.

Her preparations seemed to mystify Gayth. “Why don’t you simply rush the herd and cast a spear when they bolt?”

“This way I’ll get the deer I want, not one who falls behind because it’s old or sick.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“I need silence.”

“Yes, I know. To pray. I promise to be quiet.”

They stood in the natural blind together and watched the water’s edge. She didn’t resist when he pulled her against him.

“Lean on me, lady,” he whispered. “Rest a little.”

He wrapped his cloak around her. She leaned against him, breathing in smoke and sweat, banishing all thought until a small herd of deer appeared to investigate the clearing. Though tempted to forget them, she broke away from Gayth and uncovered her bow. Silence was critical now.

He caught her face in his hands and kissed her well. After the briefest pause, she kissed him back, grateful for the fading light that hid her burning cheeks. Then she nudged him away. The deer wouldn’t tarry long.

Kiyoshi’s words flowed back to her: See the target as a reflection of your mind, as a mirror. Your mind will find the target.

Gayth stepped back. Talty fixed on the biggest doe in the herd. She drew without breathing, released, and held her position until the arrow pierced the doe’s side.

Shot clean through, the doe hovered over the ground for the briefest moment before collapsing in a motion so natural, the other deer failed to notice. The arrow’s strange whoosh had alarmed them, however. They scattered into the forest.

Pleased with her success, Talty lowered her bow. The kiss that lingered on her lips unexpectedly angered her. “Why are you here, Gayth? You ran from me before.”

“I ran from a holy woman. Your warrior skills bestir most unholy thoughts in me.”
* * * * *
Thanks for reading!
Pat’s Website

(This post originally appeared on The Celtic Rose)

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Fairy Thorn: Bad Advice!

Get up, our Anna dear,
from the weary spinning-wheel;
For your father's on the hill,
and your mother is asleep;
Come up above the crags,
and we'll dance a highland-reel
Around the fairy thorn on the steep.
* * * * *
Bad advice, this first verse of The Fairy Thorn by Sir Samuel Ferguson. Everyone knows if you dance around a fairy thorn, the fairies will steal you away. Especially in Galway, home of Finvarra, the King of the Connaught Fairies.

Finvarra is usually a decent sort. He likes human women, however, and often kidnaps them as dancing partners, as Janet, an American teenager living in Ireland, learns to her dismay. Janet and Finvarra costar in Glancing Through the Glimmer, the first of The Glimmer Books, my young adult adventure series.

Here's the Blurb:
In the modern Kingdom of Ireland, few mortals believe in the fairy folk. Without that belief, the fairies are dying. Finvarra, the King of the Fairies, would rather dance than worry—but he must have a mortal dancing partner.
When Janet Gleason’s grandfather becomes the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, the sixteen-year-old orphan must leave Boston and her friends behind. Janet is lonely in Dublin and unused to her grandparents’ stuffy social life. An invitation to a royal ball terrifies her. She can’t even waltz and dreads embarrassment. Finvarra’s fairy witch overhears her fervent wish to learn to dance.
Seventeen-year-old Prince Liam Boru loathes the idea of escorting another spoiled American girl to a ball. In fact, he detests most of his royal duties. He dresses down to move through Dublin unnoticed and finds himself on his royal backside when Janet crashes into him. Intrigued, he asks to see her again, and she willingly agrees. Unaware of each other’s identities, they arrange to meet. When they do, the fairies steal Janet away.
Liam’s attempts to find her trigger a series of frustrating misadventures. Can he and Janet outwit a treacherous fairy king who’s been hoodwinking mortals for centuries?
* * * * *
Available in Print and eBook from
Available in Print from
Barnes and Noble

Monday, July 14, 2014

Children in Adult Stories

Blackmail and murder hardly make Fiery Roses a story for children. Yet a few vibrant moppets have stolen their way into this action/adventure fantasy set in an Ireland that might have been. Why include children in an adult story?

A child’s perspective can ease the tension, offer a simpler point of view, or add a touch of humor as it furthers the story along. In this excerpt, two girls amuse a reporter.

The sight of two red-haired demons bicycling straight at her frightened her until she realized the skinny legs pumping the pedals belonged to freckle-faced Mary Margaret Gannon and her sister Joanie.

"Allison! Allison!" Little Joanie skidded to a halt, braking with the toes of her sneakers. "An old, old man is visiting Aunt Betty. He must be a hunnerd-an-ten!"

Mary Margaret backpedaled to a stop. "He came to see her garden." Holding the handlebars, she straddled her bicycle and sighed. "He said none of the flowers in her garden was as beautiful as her, and then he kissed her hand."

"He’s going to court her," squealed Joanie. "Wait till we tell Daddy!"

No secrets with kids around. Then we have the adult character who flashes back to childhood. I used this trick to help readers understand Neil Boru, the adoptive cousin and newlywed husband of Princess Talty. Here, he shares a haunting memory of his first meeting with his grandmother.

"‘Come here, boy’, she said. ‘Let me look at you.’ My mother gave me a nudge, and I went and stood in front of Bridget." His eyes shut tight at the recollection. "I thought she was a witch, Tal. I can still see her weird purple eyes staring at me, never blinking. Then she said, ‘You look nothing like my Frank.’ She only spoke to my mother after that. While we were having tea, she said, ‘He’s left-handed. That’s no good,’ and other equally endearing things."

Fiery Roses takes Neil and Talty to a parallel world, where they meet Kavie, a darling eight-year-old who gives Talty a chance to demonstrate her archery skills.

Kavie stood with his back to the sun, shooting arrows into, or at least near, a moth-eaten hide thirty yards in front of him. Pieces of straw peeked from beneath the target, an old boarskin shaped to somewhat resemble the unfortunate boar who had once owned it.

Smiling at his comical lack of skill, she waited until he reached for an arrow before she spoke. "Hello, Kavie. You’re up early. Practicing your shots, are you?"

"Good morning, goddess," he said in his squeaky but endearing young voice. "I’m going to be a great hunter, like Papa."

"That will take lots of practice and hard work."

"I don’t mind." He stood tall. "I’m small, but I’m very brave."

Kavie will have a chance to prove his bravery, as will little Joanie, and yes, even Neil. The children’s presence undeniably enriches the plot of Fiery Roses. I’m glad they insisted on jumping aboard.

* * * * *

Fiery Roses, Book Two in the Band of Roses Trilogy, is available in print and eBook on Amazon, as are Book One, A Band of Roses, and Book Three, Salty Roses. Additional excerpts are available on my website.

*This post originally appeared on Jester Harley's Manuscript Page, August 30, 2012

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ride the Fairy Wind!

The fairies of Ireland star in my young adult adventure novels, Glancing Through the Glimmer, and its sequel, Autumn Glimmer. I couldn’t have written these books without learning more about the Good Folk and their ways, and my research has led to bursting bookshelves. Most of these volumes are my own acquisitions, though some are on loan from my aunts’ incredible library of Irish lore and history, books so old the pages are falling apart. Among my favorites are the authoritative A History of Irish Fairies by Carolyn White, and Meeting the Other Crowd, a fascinating collection of eyewitness accounts of “Them” from Irish oral tradition.

Autumn Glimmer features the Fairy Wind, a supernatural phenomenon known in Irish as the Sí-gaoith (Shee-gwee-ha). According to those who understand such things, the Fairy Wind usually signals the passage of a fairy troop. In its more sinister forms, the wind delivers a grave warning to mortals trespassing on or interfering with fairy property—and it inflicts dire vengeance upon those who foolishly ignore the warning.

The Good Folk aren’t all bad, however. Sometimes the Fairy Wind serves as a gift to those who require assistance. A farmer struggling to harvest his hay might find it suddenly blown into a tidy pile, thank you very much.

Mortals have, of course, provided every account I’ve seen of the Sí-gaoith. In this brief excerpt from Autumn Glimmer, I offer the Good People’s take on the Fairy Wind. As “They” have clearly allowed me to do so, who knows? Perhaps this is how it really happens.
A breeze arose in Crooked Wood, a whistling gust that rapidly grew loud and powerful.

Blinn shouted over the racket, "Line up, boys. We’re going for a ride!"

Lewy scooted behind her; Mell took up the rear. Around them, fallen foliage whirled like tiny tornadoes, gaining in speed and number until they formed a wall of buzzing, spinning leaves.

"Whoa ho!" Mell cried as they rose in the air.

He grabbed Lewy’s waist, and Lewy grabbed Blinn’s. A sudden upward tilt forced them to sit on the firm bed of leaves. The wind took off, soaring like a magic carpet, whisking them up and over the treetops. Lewy whooped. Blinn shrieked with delight. Even Mell laughed.

Secure in Blinn’s glimmer, Lewy held tight to her willowy waist and gazed down at the water. The small oval lake glittered beneath the slanted rays of the rapidly tiring autumn sun. Shadows from the approaching storm clouds speckled the falls at the pond’s northern end.

Their bird’s-eye view revealed the remains of the crannog, submerged near the reedy eastern shore. Or was it submerged? From so high up, the ruins appeared to break through the pond’s glassy surface. An illusion, no doubt.

On the western shore, a small bog sloped from a knoll to the edge of the crystalline water. Boulders littered the southern shore, the passage by which the Daoine Linn accessed Crooked Wood every seven years. The woods glowed in the autumn light as if an invisible hand had slathered the treetops with honey and marmalade. Lewy’s mouth watered to think of such treats, but he had no time to admire the show: Blinn veered sharply east.

Thousands of years before, the mortals had cleared the land of the rubble the big ice had left behind. They built walls of stone, creating neat squares for pastures and farmland. The familiar squares still checkered the emerald landscape, and the road to the house unspooled through the patchwork. In the distance, the mist-wrapped Wicklow hills endured, standing like phantom sentinels, a bulwark between the sinister sea and the midland lakes the Daoine Linn called home.

The carpet of leaves abruptly dropped. A trapdoor opened in Lewy’s gut. He managed to keep from screaming, but Mell roared in horror.

"Hey! You could warn a guy!"

"Sorry," yelled Blinn. "It went down by itself, and I can’t get it to go back up."

"I knew it," Mell said. "You’re tired. Lewy, call up your glimmer and help her!"

Lewy scrunched his eyes and tried. Feathers of glimmer tickled him from his toes to his ears. He had to coax it, expand it fast, make it fill his chest and shoot to his fingertips, but he couldn’t remember how. Many wheels of time had spun since he’d last summoned glimmer.
The Fairy Wind bucked and plunged through the air.
* * * * *
Glancing Through the Glimmer / Available in Print and eBook
 Autumn Glimmer / Available in Print and eBook
Amazon U.S.

Amazon U.K.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Proverbs of Ireland

"Yuh sleep wid daag, yuh ketch him flea.” Most of us know this venerable Jamaican adage as “He who lies down with dogs rises with fleas.” Proverbs provide insight into human nature that transcend nationality, yet their individual versions offer a taste of a nation’s soul—and none are more delicious than the proverbs of Ireland.

Irish warnings against misbehaving abound, such as “The road to Heaven is well signposted, but it’s badly lit at night.” Sweet sayings for lovers include “He who stares into the middle of a fire does be heavily in love” and “Where there is love, it’s easy to halve the potato.”

And when the glow of love wears off? “A woman’s tongue is a thing that does not rust” is well met by “Men are like bagpipes—they make no sound until they're full.”

The Irish word for proverbs is seanfhocail (SHAN-uck-will), which literally means "old words.” I read through several volumes of these witty gems in my quest to make the characters in my alternate Irish history tales sound more Irish.

My Young Adult stories, Glancing Through the Glimmer and Autumn Glimmer, feature a few proverbs, but these wise old sayings really shine in my "Band of Roses" trilogy.  A Band of RosesFiery Roses, and Salty Roses are a rollicking blend of historical fantasy, romance, and suspense starring the indomitable Princess Talty Boru, her devoted champion Neil, and a lovable cast of dauntless heroes and devious villains.

The trilogy supposes what Ireland would be like today if High King Brian Boru had survived the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. His descendant, modern day Princess Talty, wishes she were anyone but the heir to her father’s throne. An arranged marriage offers an escape from her royal duties, but she quickly learns to be careful what she wishes for.

To properly flavor the stories, I added a dollop of Dublin slang to the characters’ speech. A generous sprinkling of Irish proverbs added a complexity not only unique to the Emerald Isle, but also fun to read.

Honey is sweet, but don’t lick it from a thornbush.
Don’t show your teeth until you can bite.
Leave a little room for the fairies to dance.

One of Talty’s kinsmen describes her by saying, “A lion isn’t a fitting companion for all men,” and “It takes a woman to beat the devil.” The Boru family motto is “The Strong Hand Rules.” King Brian constantly reminds his family that “There is No Strength Without Unity,” but Talty learns the hard way that “Adversity is the Source of Strength.”

The climate, culture, and people of Ireland produced a wealth of these magical phrases. I barely tapped the proverbial well to enhance A Band of Roses. More than enough remained to enrich Fiery Roses and Salty Roses:

The new broom sweeps the house best, but the old broom knows where the dirt is.
Don’t be banging your shin on a stool that’s not in your way.
The finest shoe makes a sorry hat.
Hunger makes a good sauce.

and one of my favorites:

The world is quiet and the pig is in the sty.