Introducing: The Heresy of Before

When I said goodbye to Maureen, Sean and Dubh – and Margaret, Gerry, Catherine, and the whole crew my orphans managed to gather around themselves as the Changelings wrapped up – I thought I would take a break from writing. Play a few video games. Read a few books. Maybe learn to knit.

And then the July Camp NaNoWriMo started ramping up. As I put the finishing touches on the Memory of Myth paperback, I knew: it was time to start the next series. The Heresy of Before has been stewing in my subconscious since 2013; starting today, I’ll be plotting its escape into the real world.

Below is a snippet of The Heresy of Before, which first appeared here as a piece of flash fiction in 2013. Samuel has stuck with me all these years and I’m looking forward to finally meeting him, and his entourage.


The Heresy of Before: The Song

Oh, little Jack Frost get lost, get lost

 Little Jack Frost get lost

 You know you don’t do a thing but put a bite on my toes

 Freeze up the ground and take the bloom from the rose

“Shaddap!”

“What’cha singing for? Don’t you know singing’s forbidden?”

Singing is forbidden – and songs from Before, well those were a heresy all unto themselves.

My mother remembered singing. She sang defiantly, even as they cut her down. She taught me her songs, just as I will teach them to my young – provided I ever get out of this rat-hole called the Big C.

My mother was brought here as a child of 12, not long after the carnage in the sky eclipsed the sun.

There were other camps – places other children were sent – but they all lost contact with one another as the lines failed. Some days it feels we are all that is left of humanity – gathered into the sprawling gutter of the camp.

The Big C is all I know. The world beyond its tall walls – the Zone, or the O.Z. to the older folks – was too toxic to venture forth for years, and though the sky has been clear for almost a decade, the land remains blighted.

Cursed, it’s said.

Mother said it was hogwash: calling it cursed was just Fat Jimmy’s way of controlling the desperate.

But Mother is gone. And Fat Jimmy goes by the Oligarch now, and those who do venture into the Zone never come back.

Tosh said the Oligarch is recruiting for snatchers – training people to bring back those who have managed to escape. Us drones barely have enough to feed ourselves – I can’t imagine why Oligarch needs people to come back – and why, if the land is so toxic. But Tosh said he was joining. It was something to do – and he was guaranteed rations for service.

I’ll never see him again, either.

Mother showed me pictures of the Zone, once – before the wars. Before the sky exploded.

They’re outlawed, of course – everything from Before is outlawed.  I cannot imagine what she had to go through to keep them private. Here, in the bowels of the city, nothing is sacred. Nothing is pure and nothing, absolutely nothing, is your own.

Oh, little Jack Frost—

“Knock it off, Caroline. You’re going to get us all in trouble.”

“Leave her be. She can sing if she wants to.”

I looked up at the new voice.

He was tall and lean. Covered in stubble, and with more than a few cuts and scars, his face wasn’t something I’d call handsome, but there was something about the eyes.

They twinkled.

Down here, among the drones of Big C., nothing twinkled.

I smiled, and the stranger hunkered down next to me.

“Caroline?”

I nodded. I liked the way my name sounded when he said it.

“I always knew I would meet you. I always knew I would love you. You and me, we’re going to have a baby one day, and he’s going to lead these people out of here.”

If my eyebrows could have taken off from my head, they would have. Twinkly or not, this man was nuts.

“Oh yeah? And what’s that baby’s name going to be? Jack? Or maybe Frost?”

“No, his name is Samuel.”

Shivers ran down my spine that had nothing to do with the cold. My mother had been crazy the night the squad took her. But her crazy was something that terrified the Oligarch, and maybe that’s why he’d authorized her murder. She’d told me to remember that name. She told me to remember Samuel.

I held out my hand. The man before me took it and planted a soft kiss on the palm.

“My name is Doyle. If you come with me now, I can promise you singing – as much as you want. That’s about all I can promise right now, but if you give me time, there will be more.”

“Will there be love?”

He pulled me to my feet. “There already is.”

The Memory of Myth – Paperback Now Available!

The third and final chapter in the Changelings series has been live for a month, and now I’m happy to report I have a paperback edition share! Get it here on Amazon.

In other good news, today begins the Changelings E-Book Summer Sale on Amazon!

Summer Sale


Changelings: The Memory of Myth

Pirates ~ Rebels ~ Wanderers

Changelings

The war between Man and Fae is over.

Nuada is dead, but so too is Sean. Dubh has disappeared back into the mists of time, and Maureen is alone.

When all the magic is gone, what remains?

Family.

Aunt Margaret, torn from her own time, remains, and she is waiting for Maureen to come home and bear witness to the family she saved.

With Aunt Margaret’s help, Maureen will unearth the secrets Dubh did not have time to tell her and unlock the tragedy at the heart of the family she created.

The war between Man and Fae is over, but the War of the Gods is just beginning.


Dubhshìth

I had known war. I had fought Bres and Balor, those fearsome brothers whose combined might could not match Nuada’s force – Nuada, who could command the Fuathan and their host of evil, which travelled the watery byways of the worlds of man and Fae. Nuada, who commanded the wandering malevolence of all the realms – who created it, and nurtured it – who would finally, by the grace of the gods who fought at my side, lose by it, too.

I had known war, but not since my days as a man, reeling from my father’s murder, had war so consumed me. My blood surged as Maureen crossed the barrier to stand at Sean’s side. Their kinship tingled at the edges of my senses, and their radiance, as they prevailed at the head of a column of Niamh’s forces, slowly woke me from my screaming fury as I stood in the maelstrom of Nuada’s demons.

Demons I once led into war at Nuada’s command.

I stared across the battlefield at my kin and nodded as our eyes met. Their foes lay scattered before them, their malevolent power stripped.

With my nod, Maureen, body before the fire at Dunn Ussie, shimmered and winked out of Faerie as the landscape shifted back to the Moor, and the two worlds Sean and I straddled collided.

I noticed the soldier before Sean did, but I was powerless to stop him.
As Sean’s body fell to the Hessian’s sword, his fierce love swept across the battleground.

His love rendered the seething masses of Fae on both sides of the battle mute. Nuada’s host of gnashing fiends stood adrift in the mists. Hate melted from their faces and they blinked as if just woken.

The king howled into the night, defeated as those who rose to his standard quaked and abandoned his side.

And yet, only part of Sean fell to the sword which cleaved his skull. The other part stared at me, the understanding that an earthly tether had been severed stark in his dark blue eyes.

Nuada saw it too, and though beaten, he smiled.

“Do it now, Druid – end my war – my life,” he said as he sank to his knees before me and barred his neck. “Let him pass from this plane with this knowledge in his heart. You can’t save him, but you can give him peace.”

“You’re wrong.”

Yet, even as my sword sang through the air and fell, so too did Sean.

† † †

I was falling again.

Again, and again and again.

The sword cut through the air in one land, while Sean’s triumphant face fell into lines of shock in another.

Wars won and lost in the same breath.

Maureen faded from the shifting mists of the Fae battlefield, and I swore I would never forget the sorrow and betrayal on her face as she realised Sean was no more.

I promised her.

I made so many promises.

And I did it again.

Again, and again and again.

“You are all in my keeping. I will make us whole.”

There was movement and shouting, figures flitting to-and-fro as I held Sean’s limp form, but I could not even compel myself to look up.
This must not end here. It must not, and would not.

Niamh was calling to me, but I ignored her, so she grabbed my chin and forced me to look at her.

Miach was at her side.

“He shall not be the sacrifice.” My voice was rough with screaming and tears. “Heal him. Please.”

Niamh’s golden head bowed as she touched my forehead with a kiss. For a moment I knew peace.

“You must give him to Miach, Dubh. He cannot pass here.”

I turned to the young healer and offered up my charge.

Immediately, Miach and the boy vanished.

“No!”

Her hand was firm on my shoulder. “He has taken Sean to Tír na nÓg. The life which stood on Culloden Moor was beyond repair. Healing him in Donn’s realm – with Donn’s magic would create—”

But I was no longer listening.

“He—I did not mean for him to die.” This war was not meant to be the boy’s final battle, although it was the last for every other king arrayed on the battlefield.

“No, nor will he,” she said quietly. “We can save him, but we will need your help.”

She hesitated.

I stood and wiped the blood and tears from my face. “And?”

“And saving him will come at a cost.”

“I don’t care. Take whatever you need of me. I gave them my promise.”

“You shall keep it, my friend.”


Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, is available NOW on Amazon.

Other books in the Changelings series:

The Memory of Myth – Available Now!

Happy Birthday to me!! The third and final chapter in the Changelings series is now live and available for purchase as an EBook. If you’re waiting for the paperback, watch this space, as it will be available shortly! And, as an added bonus, the rest of the Ebooks in the Changelings series are free today and tomorrow (May 30 and 31)!

As challenging as saying goodbye was, I’m so excited to share Maureen’s journey and Catherine’s story!

Changelings: The Memory of Myth

Pirates ~ Rebels ~ Wanderers

Changelings

The war between Man and Fae is over.

Nuada is dead, but so too is Sean. Dubh has disappeared back into the mists of time, and Maureen is alone.

When all the magic is gone, what remains?

Family.

Aunt Margaret, torn from her own time, remains, and she is waiting for Maureen to come home and bear witness to the family she saved.

With Aunt Margaret’s help, Maureen will unearth the secrets Dubh did not have time to tell her and unlock the tragedy at the heart of the family she created.

The war between Man and Fae is over, but the War of the Gods is just beginning.


Another Homecoming

1961

I could go back to Dublin, Aunt Margaret told me. My inheritance was waiting – the entire world was out there, waiting.

I stumbled out of the trees, a year to the day Sean and I had gone looking for standing stones. It would be romantic to say tears were running down my cheeks, but by then, they had all been spent.

Sean was gone. Lost to the war between Man and Fae. Lost to a Hessian’s blade on Culloden Moor.

But not lost to me. He was there, at the centre of the void which called to us – to our Changeling blood. He was in the shimmer of Faerie magic, which coated my skin, and he was there in the space between each breath, caught between the beats of my heart.

His smile – his laugh – teased at the edges of my awareness, and when I looked into the dove– grey eyes of the woman who called herself Aunt Margaret – Mared, Mairead, Sean’s great– grandmother sixty times removed – I saw in their depths the same fierce protectiveness, the same wary watchfulness, which often shaded the deep blue of Sean’s eyes.

I could, I told her. But I think we could also bring the world to us if I stay.

I stayed.


Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, is available NOW on Amazon.

Other books in the Changelings series:

The Memory of Myth: 1964

Changelings: The Memory of Myth is two days away!

I took a different approach to the book this time around – both stylistically, and in terms of practicality. The E-Book will be available on Saturday, and the paperback a few weeks after that. Instead of the pages and pages of an in-book appendix – lovingly termed The World of the Changelings – in the e-book, readers will be directed to this site, where I’m working on creating an ever-evolving repository of historical fact vs fiction, reference links and general tidbits. The print book will still have the appendix, however.

Stylistically, The Memory of Myth is an all 1st-person narrative, from three different perspectives. I did not intend it to be that way, but it turned out, it was the best way to capture the now-adult Maureen best.

In the first few drafts, I had a chapter or two from Margaret’s perspective. Ultimately, I struck them from the book because I did not have enough of them for it to make sense, and their themes were easily integrated into other parts of the book. They did give me an excellent insight into the story, however, and the one below particularly gave me the strength to continue with the book at a time when I hated everything about it.

Enjoy!


Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, will be available via Amazon on May 30, 2020.


1964 ~ Margaret McAndrew

The house was empty without her, but – thankfully – not as empty as it had been. Gerry remained – and Patrice and Jenny, as always – but gone were their worried stares and hushed silences which befell a room when I would sweep around the corner.

As if I could still sweep at this advanced age. I am spry, certainly, but I had never been particularly majestic. Even as a chieftain’s wife, I was more lithe and willowy than imposing.

But, I supposed, if I had been imposing, they never would have taken to me.

“They would have.”

“Perhaps,” I allowed after a moment, without turning to address him. “But not as quickly.”

“I was taken with you the first moment I laid eyes on you.”

“You were but a pup, and a bit teched.”

I turned then, but I knew he was not there.

He came to me often like this – in snatches of conversation, in small whiffs of humour or sympathy.

Were they truly gone? Had war stolen the heir to our legacy – my grandchild more than sixty times removed?

I supposed Dubhshìth’s voice was my foolishness, and though we had made plans – so many plans – to say he and Sean were gone, now and forever. . . I did not believe it.

Maureen did not believe it, either. Not really.

Maureen still waited.

She waited in the hallowed halls of the University of Edinburgh. She waited while she presented the findings of her genealogical search to the trustees of the estate.

She waited while she teased Colin McAlister with the treasure troves I kept hidden from him, and the possibilities of what lay within the Dunn Ussie broch.

Maureen and her professor had begun the preliminary work to excavate the grounds. It would take a year or more before they found anything of note – anything the National Trust would give them credit for. I bit my tongue almost daily to stop myself from giving too many hints about where to find what.

As if anything had survived the last 1,275 years.

Yes, Maureen waited, even as her life continued, as full, if not more so than if she and Sean came back from that faerie war unscathed.

Just as I waited.

Waited while I married a rival chieftain, so he would send his soldiers to save my lover and his clan.

Maureen waited as I had as the lady of Teach na Clochach, for that lover to return to me, and again through Culloden, and again through both World Wars – waiting for men who never came home, or who came home forever changed.

“You promised me.”

“And I shall keep my promise. I swear it.”

† † †

“It’s different this time.”

“I’m sorry – what did you say?”

I saved my spot in my book with my finger.

Gerry and I always took tea together in the library – and sometimes in the back garden if the weather was nice, but the rain hadn’t stopped lashing at the windows in three days, so it was definitely not nice.

We took tea, sometimes chatting, sometimes perusing the papers, or a book, or our faraway thoughts.

Without Maureen, and the rigours of managing the day-to-day of the estate, faraway thoughts and dreamy escapes in books and magazines were often the rule, not the exception.

What day was it, even?

“Tuesdays are for art, I know – and forgive me for interrupting your novel. You’ve read that one before, aye?”

“Whether or not I have read the book before does not mean I do not glean enjoyment from it, Mr. Ballard.” I tried to keep my voice arch.

“Ah, so you forget bits and pieces too.”

I sniffed. “What is different this time?”

“The air. The quiet. Before, it was so sad. I mean, I miss the young lass and all, and Master Sean – I just–”

Gerry pulled out his handkerchief and made a lot of uncouth noises to cover the hitch in his breath.

“Aye well, that one still hurts, but with Miss Maureen gone, the quiet is not so bad as it once was. We know where she is, and the Mach 10 can bring her home any time she likes.”

“Yes, Mr. Ballard. I was thinking much the same myself.”

“Aye, I thought so. When you get to thinking about them, you get to thinking about him, too, and it’s almost like your thinking summons him.”

“Him?”

Gerry snorted. “Aye. Him. The one you loved and lost. The one who spirited them away.”

One lonely night, not long after Sean and Maureen disappeared into 1745, I had confided in Gerry – told him of my part in it. He, in turn, trusted me with the part he played in their lives in Ireland.

“There’s this look you get around your eyes, and the tilt of your head is like you’re listening to someone – and the air shimmers around you. Sister Theresa told me what to look for. She thought maybe I was like herself – canny, like, but not able to move about. I reckon she wasn’t wrong either.”

“But I am not like they are – not like you and Sr. Theresa, either. I see no shimmer, or eddies of mist when Faerie is near.”

“No, but he is – and it’s like he’s there. Just beyond seeing.”

It was my turn to cough over a hitch in my throat.

I reached over to pat Gerry’s hand, and he covered mine with his big paw.

I smiled.

“Well, my dear friend, if he is just there beyond seeing, then perhaps Sean is too.”

“Oh aye – I’ve thought that myself. I hope he is. I hope. . .”

“I hope so too, Gerry.”

† † †

The rain had subsided to a mere drizzly trickle – the sky might even stop its weeping tomorrow. Perhaps then the meanderings of memory would leave me in peace.

Maureen still had three years before she completed her doctorate – and a residency after that.

Did this old body – which, the history books and my memory said would not have seen me past 50, much less the 85 I was today – have four more years?

Would I be able to see Maureen to the end?

Would I be able to see myself to the end?

“You promised, my love.”

“And I shall keep it – I swear it.”


Other books in the Changelings series:

Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, will be available via Amazon on May 30, 2020.

The Memory of Myth: A Look Back

Well, there are 6 days left. The third – and final – book in the Changelings series, The Memory of Myth comes out on May 30. 

The Memory of Myth is my birthday present to myself – a stressful present, but still a present. The book also tells a story I never expected to tell and follows Maureen to a place I was personally reluctant to go to. Maureen, Margaret, and Catherine have made me alternately cry and tear my hair out in frustration. 

The Memory of Myth may not be the hardest story I will ever write, but it certainly is the hardest I have written to-date. And, if I am honest, it is the most rewarding story too (which may come as a surprise to the people who know me, given how much I complained about the bloody thing). Harder – and more rewarding – stories will come, but for now, I am happy the Changelings trilogy is finally complete.

I wrote the piece below for Changelings: Into the Mist – wrote, and then removed and posted here as an outtake. Rereading “The Race” was eye-opening, especially since I have been living with Maureen as a twenty-five-year-old for at least two years now. Going back to who she was as a young woman. . . well, the former girl-pirate was definitely a character! 

This piece plays a part in The Memory of Myth, so I hope you enjoy it!

The Race

“You let that horse lead you too much,” Maureen scolded.

Sean looked up, startled. He had been daydreaming, not watching the road. He trusted the horse to know her way home. Maureen’s voice jolted him to the present, which was, oddly enough, the past.

Today was November 30, 1584. They had been part of Grania Uaile — Grace O’Malley’s — crew of pirates for three months. In that time, they had crossed the breadth of Ireland, rescued Maureen from Sir Richard Bingham — the newly-installed English Governor of Connacht — and thwarted said governor’s plan to destroy Grania Uaile’s hold on the western coast.

Now, they were back in port, back at Grania’s stronghold, Rockfleet Castle. Now, they were home. The only problem: he and Maureen had been born in 1943. Home was a relative term.

“What are you doing here, Maureen?” he asked. He kept a wary eye on her as she sidled up to him on her own horse, Baibín.

Maureen ignored him and instead, leaned over and patted his mare’s neck.

“You have him wrapped around your hoof, Mistress Réalta ” she whispered. She looked over at Sean and winked.

Sean rolled his eyes. He did give Réalta too much lead, but it was a compromise he was willing to make with the horse to remain seated. He was no horseman.

“I’ll ask again, since you obviously didn’t hear me the first time: what are you doing here, Maureen? Didn’t Grania tell you and Owen to clean the stables?”

It had been Maureen’s punishment for refusing to take a knife to her hair. The dark curls always threatened to escape the tight, coiled braid Maureen wrapped around her head. It posed a real hazard when one spent her time among the rigging and ropes of an Irish galley.

After Grania’s decree, Maureen had stated, rather boldly, that she had no desire to earn a nickname like Grania’s own: Grainne Mhaol — Grania the bald.

She would keep her hair bound while on board, thank you.

Shooting the room a look, Maureen had dared anyone to contradict her.

Sean had stayed out of it. He was not going to be caught between the two formidable women — one old and one young, but both determined. Eventually, Grania yielded and Maureen had been tasked with mucking out the stables.

Now her hair was flowing free over her shoulders, the sun catching the hints of red within its dark waves and making them glow.

Sean shook his head and stared ahead, smiling ruefully.

“We finished,” Maureen was saying now.

He didn’t believe her; he believed Owen — youngest of the O’Neil lads, who were Grania’s most trusted associates — was mucking out the stable by himself.

Réalta the horse wasn’t the only one who knew how to take advantage.

With a blithe shrug, Maureen turned her mare and kept pace with Sean. “I thought I would ride to meet you. It’s too lovely a day.”

Translation: she had nowhere else to go where she would not be caught shirking her duties, and she was jealous of Sean’s freedom.

She smiled brightly at him and he smiled back. Whatever Maureen’s reason, it was good to have her company.

“How was Tomás?” Maureen asked.

Sean had been sent to Tomás Conroy, a smith who lived about three miles inland. The once-empty bags straddling Réalta s rump were bulging with metal-worked, lethal goodies.

“You just missed him — he came out part of the way with me. He said there have been people along the road, unusual people.”

“More unusual than us?”

Tomás had been their first encounter after arriving in 1584. Thanks to Maureen’s wild story about being orphaned runaways-turned-minstrels — to account for their unusual clothes — he had taken them for spies and delivered them to Grania.

“Ah, you know Tomás — he’s worried about the hill,” Sean replied.

They were approaching the hill now. It was a fairy hill — a sidhe mound — and within it was the power bridge the gap between centuries. Sean often wondered how many other superstitions were really truths buried by centuries of lost knowledge.

“He says they — whoever ‘they’ are — have cut more trees. He’s afraid the good folk are mad. Given we’re here, I’m inclined to agree with him.”

Maureen nodded her head and gazed up at the hill.

The sun was starting its descent. As it slipped behind the hill, a shadow spread across the path.

Sean would never admit it aloud, but the hill scared him. At the sight of it, dark premonition slithered over his shoulders. Dubh’s letter had said they would be able to use the hill to return home in three months’ time. How — and by what power — he did not want to know.

He shook her head, banishing the thoughts, and turned to Maureen.

“Moseying past the hill seems a bit like walking on our own graves,” she said, as if reading his mind. “I’ll race you back to Rockfleet!”

“Maureen,” he protested, “I’m no horseman — you’re the one who had the lessons, not me.”

“The way Liam tells it, you did fairly well on the trip to Dublin.”

“Don’t remind me.” Sean rubbed his backside. There was a reason he preferred life in Grania’s fleet to life on land — in the sixteenth century, anyway.

He looked at Maureen. She was waiting patiently for his acquiescence. He made a face.

“Fine, woman. We’ll race — but no cheating this time!”

“What, me? Cheat? I’m offended, Sean!” Maureen leaned over; there was a wicked gleam in those green eyes and Sean held Réalta s reigns tightly.

“Just for that, I’ll give you a head start!” Maureen whistled and slapped the horse smartly on its behind.

Réalta snorted and shot ahead. Sean bounced on her back and tried to hold on with his knees. Maureen laughed behind him and he cursed, loudly. Réalta took it for encouragement and somehow galloped faster.

They rounded the bend which skirted the hill, its shadow damp and chill in the already-cold November air. Something snapped in the scrub and Réalta gave a startled whinny.

†††

Maureen chuckled as Réalta took off with Sean clinging to her back. She dug her heels into Baibín’s flank; Réalta was a fast horse, but Baibín was faster.

She was within a tail’s length of horse and rider when she heard Réalta s frightened whinny and Sean’s desperate call. She watched, helpless, as he nearly lost his grip and struggled to keep his place. The panic in his voice was real, and she urged Baibín on.

They were hurtling through the countryside. Its barren winter splendour was a blur as they raced, yet Réalta was not tiring.

She would have to do more than muck out the stables if they ran roughshod through the huts, carts, and stalls of the village abutting Rockfleet Castle.

“Try to avoid the stronghold, Sean,” Maureen called out. Just beyond the stronghold was a protected dune and shallow inlet. If Sean could steer–

“You think I’m in control of where she goes?” Sean managed to shout back.

Maureen grinned. At least he had not lost his wits.

“Hold on!” she called out. To Baibín. she muttered: “Go fast, girl — fly!”

And they flew. She caught up to Sean, and with Baibín close to her flank, encouraged Réalta to veer off the path. They cut through tall grass and bramble, ignoring the sting as thorny branches slashed at their legs. The inlet was ahead; Maureen hoped the sandy dune, the pebbled beach or the shifting waters would stall Réalta s frantic gallop.

“Maureen, get me off this thing!”

“I’m doing the best I can!” she shouted back. She did not trust her skills as a rider to reach over and grab Réalta s reigns — was not sure it would even work.

They careened over the dunes and slammed into the shore faster than she thought they would. Both animals reacted too quickly for Sean and Maureen to do anything other than scream as the horses deposited them into the shallows.

Recovering first, Sean sputtered and wiped seawater from his face. He grabbed at Maureen and helped her stand. Baibín and Réalta up to their knobby knees in the water, snuffled at their drenched heads.

“Well, that was fun,” Maureen muttered as she pushed Baibín away.

“Fun?” Sean shot back, his blue eyes wild. “Maureen O’Malley, you’re mad.”

“Aye well, Sean McAndrew, you’re off the horse and alive, aren’t you?”

Sean slapped at the water and Maureen shrieked, laughing. She splashed back, and they giggled — giving into hysterics as they tried to help each other out of the water.

†††

Liam O’Neil, Grania’s first mate, and his brother Owen observed the spectacle from the dunes. Owen turned to Liam.

Carrickahowley Castle, photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

“So, who do you think won the race?”

It was not the first time Maureen had challenged a fellow rider.

Liam turned to see two older women from the stronghold rushing towards Sean and Maureen and attempt to help them out of the shallows.

He laughed shortly. “The washerwomen.”


Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, will be available via Amazon on May 30, 2020.

Other books in the Changelings series:

Changelings: The Memory of Myth

The war between Man and Fae is over.

Nuada is dead, but so too is Sean. Dubh has disappeared back into the mists of time, and Maureen is alone.

But not quite. Aunt Margaret, torn from her own time, is waiting for Maureen to come home – to bear witness to the family she saved. With Aunt Margaret’s help, Maureen will unlock the tragedy at the heart of the family she created.

The war between Man and Fae is over, but the War of the Gods is just beginning.


Changelings: The Memory of Myth, Volume 3 in the Changelings series, will be available on Amazon on May 30, 2020.

Other books in the Changelings series:

Day 3: Dream

D: This is such a spoiler, A.
A: I know! I know but I can’t help it!
D: You must!
A: But! But it was so perfect and everything made me cry yesterday but this really made me cry. And I just had to share it, because, crying.
D: Who are you, and what have you done with A?
A: I know, right?!
D: You don’t really get all emotional . . .
A: Well, not with you.
D: Gee, thanks, A
A: No seriously – I’m so used to you and your theatrics and dramatics–
D: My what now?
A: Oh, come on. You know what I think of you – you have this . . . this feel to you that’s a little overblown. We all know you lost your true love. You’re pained. You’ve hidden yourself away bla bla bla – but Sean and Maureen. . . They were separate from all that.
D: This is why you don’t like me.
A: Well. . . . yeah. Yeah, that is why I don’t like you. Your story was known to me from the beginning. And seriously, it’s soooooo melodramatic. I mean, I like it, sure, but gods, there was nothing for me to explore there.
D: Or perhaps you’re just exploring it from Maureen and Sean’s point of view.
A: . . . Don’t make points I can’t argue with, Druid.
D: Ha!

Score one for the Druid; he’s not wrong. And weirdly, not upset with me for that whole melodramatic bit.

Whatever. He knew his author when he took up residence in her head.

Some days, writing can suck. It can be lifeless and uninspired, uninteresting and meaningless, and all the other un-and-less words out there.

Last night was not one of those nights.

Until last night, I hadn’t read what I wrote for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

This book is a definite challenge for me, and re-reading what I’ve already done either confuses me because it’s not linear, or makes me want to get down to the granular details, which is not in this book’s best interest, yet.

Last night was different. I re-read what I wrote in April and I was surprised – hell, I was moved.

It wasn’t the jumble of words I thought it was – I mean, there was enough of that to last a lifetime, sure, but it wasn’t all bad.

It took me by surprise; it made me cry – for real! And most importantly, it reminded me that there is a story here – it reminded me that I’m completing a story and it’s hard. It hurts. These characters have been hurt and – no pressure – it’s up to this book – it’s up to me, and them, and everything – to address it, to write it out, and complete the story.

There’s something to this week – maybe it’s the new moon, maybe it’s the eclipse, maybe it’s some magic I can’t quite name – but for once, I’ve acknowledged I’m a writer. Or storyteller. Or something.

It only took 6 years.

Dream, Maureen.

Dream.


Day 3 Camp NaNoWriMo Total: So far, 560 (the post above), but I still have a goal of 1,000 WIP words, so those 560 don’t count.
Words To Go: 47,211
Day 3 Brainwave: We need more (spoiler).
Day 3 Reminder: Just because they’re not likely to end up in the final draft, some scenes just need to be written so they’re there. It’s a repeat of Day 2, but honestly – this might just be the standing reminder.


Welcome to the World of the Changelings. Pick your Poison:

Day 2: Mouldering Detritus

Aunt Margaret collected bits of silver and books, mouldering paper and the detritus of our families’ lives like other people collected coins, or stamps.

Aunt Margaret collected bits of silver and books, mouldering paper and the detritus of our families’ lives like other people collected coins, or stamps.

D: Moulding Detritus? Oh, that’s just a delightful turn of phrase, A.
A: Like it? I thought it was lovely, myself.
D: You would.
A: Whatever – read on, D.

Besides Maureen, my favorite character in the Changelings series is Margaret McAndrew, Sean’s Great-Aunt. Of course, I had no idea who she really was – or rather, the entirety of who she really was – until midway through the redrafting of Rise of Kings. I’ve always liked her though – ever since Margaret tossed a pot of paint at Maureen for entering her art studio unannounced, I knew I finally had a female character who could go toe-to-toe with my very headstrong, determined Changeling.

Grace O’Malley, in Into the Mist, could have been that too, but she was very much concerned with leading her men and staying one step ahead of the Crown – and I was very much concerned with not ascribing too much to an already-known historical figure.

Grace was someone Maureen looked up to – idolized, even. I suspect – and hinted at it in the text – had Maureen and Sean stayed, as Maureen wanted, eventually she and Grace could have had a relationship like the one she shares with Margaret. Of course, Maureen would have become a dyed-in-the-wool pirate and heaven help Queen Elizabeth, the Realm, and everyone else, then!

So, I’m glad it was Margaret who popped up when she did – she’s less an ideal and more a human. She’s eccentric, certainly, but she’s strong, smart, independent – and still shows her scars. Despite everything she’s been through, she’s not afraid to love Sean and Maureen. She doesn’t just protect them as was her task; she guides them, teaches them, and loves them. Their relationship humanizes her as well, as much as it humanizes Maureen (see: pirate).

D: I like Margaret, too.
A: Well, I would hope so, D.
D: No, I mean, of course I do – but I don’t know her as Margaret – I only get to read about her and . . . and . . .
A: And pop in occasionally and cause her a great deal of anguish?
D: I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t causing brooding somewhere, A.
A: (eye roll) No kidding.
D: But that’s what I mean – I do only pop in, as you so eloquently put it. So, seeing her from Maureen’s eyes. . . it’s–it’s gratifying. Thank you, A, for giving me that.
A: I’m not sure how to react to this, so I’m just going to go with it. You’re welcome, D.


Day 2 Camp NaNoWriMo Total: 1,171 (not including the post above)
Words To Go: 47,211
Day 2 Brainwave: Explore Catherine’s childhood. It can be a spoiler if you’re not careful, but that’s ok. Right now, she has no tether, no humanizing influences. It’s needed to understand why she has a certain comfort with where she is.
Day 2 Reminder: Just because they’re not likely to end up in the final draft, some scenes just need to be written so they’re there.


Welcome to the World of the Changelings. Pick your Poison:

Day 1: Kicking off – where I left off

I dreamed we were young again. . .

We were in Grace O’Malley’s stronghold, the first time we traveled in time… We were bright with the belief we were simply biding our time… that winter day, we had no knowledge of what was to come.

And so, Day 1 of Camp Nano begins where I left off – with the dream sequence that put me over the edge for my April goal.

Separated from her best friend, and first love, Maureen lives quite a bit in her head in this book. It’s a change I wasn’t exactly prepared for – she was the driving force of almost all the adventure in the last two books. Her headstrong drive landed her and Sean into quite a few scrapes – as this passage later explores.

It was an interesting experiment, to have her review her memories through the haze of dreams – particularly since I wrote the original scene for an early draft of the first book, but only published it on this site, as the short story, The Race.

Maureen is still the driving force in the narrative – hers is the frame for Catherine’s story – but she really is alone now – and while–

D: Alone? She’s not alone. She has Margaret.
A: Well, yes but it’s not the same thing. And gee – thanks for interrupting me.
D: You weren’t going anywhere with that sentence and you know it. Anyway, Margaret has some of the same memories – some of the same experiences–
A: Margaret is there. You know she’s there. You left her there.
D: Ahem. Spoilers, A.
A: It’s not the same, D. You know that. That’s why you feel guilty.
D: Guilty? Me??
A: . . .
D: Ok, ok point taken. But honestly, where am I in all this?
A: Excuse me?
D: I thought this was my book?
A: It is, but–
D: And you’ve written near-50,000 words to date and I think all I’ve gotten out of it is a pithy ‘I am born’ statement.
A: Are you really calling David Copperfield pithy?
D: No, I’m calling your reinterpretation of it pithy.
A: . . .
D: But I digress – where am I?
A: That’s a good question, D. One Maureen is currently asking.
D: Oh… oh dear.
A: Yup.

Why did Dubh never come to say goodbye – or hello? It was not he who had died that day, and it had been a year – 215 years – and at least a day for him since that horrible morning.

Was he afraid, or ashamed? Or was he still fighting on the Plain?  Would he fight every day, every moment of his life, to try to reclaim the one who’d passed from the realm of men before his time?

The fierce blue eyes shone bright again in my memory. They blazed across the seething battlefield, just as they had when he revealed himself across the sea of flame as a ship was lost, and again through the faerie mists, which boiled red at my command.

Always apart from us – always on his own. Always promising he’d make it right.

But he’d always kept his promises – even as he kept his secrets.
Excerpted from Changelings: The Memory of Myth (c) KM Sullivan/ktirsh


Welcome to the World of the Changelings. Pick your Poison:

Ready. Set. Go. Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is kind to me – always has been. I’ve attempted the official NaNoWriMo in November three times, and three times, I’ve failed – or rather, allowed a variety of life events take precedence. I even have a category here dedicated entirely to that failure!

I’ve done a camp three times too – and all three have been a success in their own way. While April and July tend to be chock-full of their own particular brands of catastrophe, I’ve always managed.

The ability to adjust one’s goal at camp probably helps – but really, I think it’s the 30-day forced focus combined with the lightheartedness of the ‘camp’ atmosphere that works for me. I mean, I write blog posts with a character in my head – lighthearted is always going to win the day!

Of course, The Memory of Myth – book 3 in the Changelings series – isn’t exactly lighthearted. It’s really kind of a monster. It makes me cry (which is good, but still…). It writes differently than the other two – it’s more a series of vignettes than a book right now. I also never expected to be with these characters at this stage in their lives – Catherine’s story originally had a much different genesis, but here we are.

D: A? A, I have the oddest sense of déjà vu. A: {Sigh} Oh, do you? D: Yes, indeed. It seems as though we were just here... but years ago. Several years. Decades, even. Eons-- A: Two years, D. It has only been two years.  D: Only?! My dear A--  A: You're a time traveler - you of all people should know time is just a construct.  D: . . .  A: Fine. Yes. I've kept you waiting for 2 years. At least it wasn't another 20. D: At least?! Wait, that's a threat, isn't it? A: You do catch on quick, Druid.

The dialogue still lives!

And here – in the July Camp NaNo – I hope to finally put “the end” on the first draft of book 3. And, I’m going to do it with the help of a project that makes use of the several gigabytes of pictures I’ve taken over the last few years while I wasn’t writing. There’s a collection of about 80 photos I’ll be choosing from to inspire scenes, vignettes and whatever else it takes to get into the heads of these irascible characters of mine and finish these books! I’ll be posting them here with some “daily line” and D/A commentary – and on Instagram!

FREE STUFF

In April, I found the calendar on the NaNoWriMo blog really helpful (ok, I found the stickers I rewarded myself with really helpful, but whatever), so I made one of my own for July. There are 2: a blank one to write in your daily goals/daily word count, and one that’s editable in PDF, if you want to be paper-free – it’ll even tally up your goal/daily word count!

CampNano July Calendar – blankCampNano July Calendar – now updatable in the PDF itself!


Welcome to the World of the Changelings. Pick your Poison: