Pre-Order Changelings: The Rise of Kings!

Changelings: The Rise of Kings is now live for pre-orders in the Amazon Kindle Store! Between now and July 13, you can pre-order the kindle edition for $1.99! A print edition will be available on July 13 as well.

Ebook COverIrish teens Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew were lost in time. They fought alongside a pirate queen and raised the flag of a new nation. They defied the will of the Faerie king and set in motion a revolution that not only claimed the life of their friend and mentor, but barred them, the last of the Changelings, from Faerie, forever.

Or so they thought.

Facing expulsion for their misadventures, Maureen and Sean are sent to live with Sean’s aunt, deep in the Scottish Highlands. There, Faerie whispers reach out to snatch them once more – and this time, returning home is no longer an option. This time, to thwart the king, they must become myth themselves, and fight a war none may win without dying.

And, to tide you over, you can download Hunted, from the World of the Changelings, at Smashwords for free AND check out how it all started with Changelings: Into the Mist, which is free on Amazon for the next five days.

But wait! There’s more (it *is* my birthday after all – treats for everyone!)! As an extra special bonus to everyone for sticking with me as publication of The Rise of Kings was delayed, below is a special ‘epilogue’ of sorts to bridge the gap between Into the Mist and The Rise of Kings. I hope you enjoy!

The Sleeper

Niamh stood at the head of a silent host whose bodies melted and blended with the mist as they passed through Mag Mell.

The fallen warrior lay sprawled where he took his last stand against the tyrant. Nuada Silver Arm had not even bothered to strip his foe.

Faint wisps of green and white pillowed the man’s head. The vines with their tiny flowers twined about his arms and legs, as if the earth would claim him for itself.

Behind her, awe-struck whispers rose:

“The Plain . . .”

“So much green.”

“Mag Mell – it lives again.”

Niamh crouched beside the Druid and murmured in his ear. “Fallen or sleeping, you give your very soul for your people, Dubhshìth – and yet you claim you are no king.”

No flicker of an eyelid or twist of the lips betrayed his stupor.

“Is he really–?”

“No, though it is well Nuada believed it so. He travels beyond us, but we can bring him back.” Niamh brushed a stray strand of hair from the warrior’s face. “The gods are not yet done with my Druid.”

She stood and allowed her followers to gather the fallen warrior.

“We must make haste. Mag Mell is watched.”

“Is it true, my lady? Do we really go to Tech Duinn? It is said none return from Donn’s domain over the dead.” It was the young healer, Miach, who spoke.

She put a hand on his shoulder. “There are ways.” She looked out into the mist. “Áine will teach us how.”

# # #

Head over to Amazon to get the rest of the story!

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The World of the Changelings: The name’s the thing

First things first – how do you pronounce those names?

From Niamh Golden Hair and Nuada Silver Arm, Áine, Manannán mac Lir and Dubhshìth, to Tír na nÓg and Tech Duinn, the world of the Changelings is a challenge when it comes to cultural/historical/mythological accuracy and ease of reading. Not even for me!

The following is a true story.

The boy, who has just read the last two chapters because he was totally responsible for The Rise of Kings ending where it does: Ok, we have Nim… Nimeh? Nimmmm…

Me: “Neeve.”

B: But…

M: or is it “Nimuay”?

B: . . .

M: I don’t know how to pronounce them – I make up pronunciations in my head. Always have. To me, she’s “Neeve.” I’m pretty sure. Or is it “Nimuay?”  Whatever – it’s in the appendix.

B: (muttering to himself) oh my god mom…

M: I have to spell it like that. It’s her name! She’s a real mythological figure.

B: . . .

M: Don’t look at me like that. You know what I mean.

B: Ok.

M: (He has a look, so I keep talking) Don’t worry – aside from the real myths, I cut down on that authentic name thing. There are a lot of Martins, James and Roberts though.

B: And by a lot…

M: Well, see, names stay in families, and the story is cyclical, so it worked.

B: You’re going to have an appendix, right?

M: . . . .

B: (Forestalling the “is the pope catholic, and the sky blue” snark) Ok, so maybe put the pronunciation guide at the beginning?

From the mouth of babes. Even 16-year-old smart-arse babes.

So yes, I know the Irish-language (and some pict/proto-celtic) names can be a bit hard on the tongue to non-Irish speakers. Like I admitted to the boy, I make up pronunciations in my head anyway – you DO NOT want to know how I’ve pronounce words like Houghton Mifflin or even simple words like façade.

And because The Rise of Kings picks up right where Into the Mist left off, the mythology comes fast and furious. So yes, this time, the name guide will be in the front. Lesson learned!

Characters – and their pronunciation – from Changelings 1 & 2

Those with a slash after their name instead of parenthesis have an anglicized name by which they are also known.

Dubhghall, Dubh Súile, Dubhshìth, Dubh, (DOOgal/Doov Sul-e/DOO-she/Doov) Doyle – his name changes with the century, but he will always be the dark stranger, the warrior, monk, and prince.

Gods & Goddesses

Niamh Golden Hair (Neeve) is the rebel queen of Tír na nÓg, and Dubh Súile’s confidante.

Nuada Silver Arm (NU ah) is the king of Tír na nÓg.

Áine (AAN-yuh), Nuada’s onetime queen and Niamh’s mother.

Manannán mac Lir (MaNa-Nan mac LEER) is Nuada, Bres and Balor’s father and onetime ruler of Faerie.

Donn (Don) – brother of Manannán mac Lir, ruler of Tech Duinn, the Land of the Dead.

Lugh (Lu) – a warrior, craftsman, and bard – although known to man, Lugh is new to the pantheon established in Changelings.

The Dagda (Dada) – The father of Manannán mac Lir and Donn, he is the father of all, keeper of time, and god of the earth.

Fomorians (F’MoR-e-ans) i.e. the Fomorian Faction is the name used by Nuada’s enemies in the Fomorian War. Nuada’s brothers, Bres (BRESH) and Balor, led the faction.

Tuatha Dé Danann (TOO-ha da Dah-n’n) – at once old gods and historically, an ancient Irish race.

Warriors

Fionn mac Cumhaill/Finn McCool is the leader of the legendary group of warriors, the Fianna.

Oisín (Ush-EEN) is the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, a poet, and a member of the Fianna. He tarried in Tír na nÓg for 300 years.

Cú Chulainn (Coo-hullen), the Hound of Ulster, a warrior who many believed to be the son of Lugh. (Listen to his name here!)

The Purely Fictional

Mairead mac Tadgh (Mar-EAD mac Teague) is the love of Dubhshìth’s mortal life and the mother of his child. She was thought to have killed herself when Dubh disappeared in Ireland.

Mártainn mac Aindriú/Martin mac Andrew is Dubhshìth’s rival for Mairead’s affections. He married her when Dubh was presumed dead in battle, and pledged his warriors to help win the war Dubh had been fighting.

Domnall mac Aindriú/Donal mac Andrew is Dubh’s son, who he thought had died with his mother, Mairead. He did not, instead he lived to be an old man whose descendants may or may not include Maureen and Sean.

Places

Tír na nÓg (TEAR na’nog), the Land of the Young, is one of many Irish mythological “otherworlds,”

Tech Duinn (Tec Doon), the House of Donn, which became synonymous with the Land of the Dead.

Teach na Clochach (Tcha n Cluh-hu) House of the Rock aka Cloak Tower – or, in Aunt Margaret’s words: “To me, and to all your ancestors sixty times removed, the keep – as it were – has been called Teach na Clochach – House of the Rock. Clochach sounds an awful lot like a guttural ‘cloak’ to those who’ve lost their native tongue.”

Into the Mist characters – they’ll be back for Book 3

Dian Cécht (deeAAn kay-cht) is the king’s healer.

Credne (KRA-na) is the silversmith who created the king’s silver arm.

Macha (mOH-ka) is handmaiden to Queen Áine.

Miach (ME-ik) is Dian Cecht’s son and a young healer.

Moments to Remember: The Druid himself – An origin narrative

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The first appearance of the Druid – I think The Boy did a great job as a stand-in!

A: It’s the final piece of the D/A Dialogues origin stories, written in response to the Weekly Challenge: Reflections.

D: Because we all know that, for A, following the rules and only posting one thing in response to a challenge is boring.

A: Too right, Druid.

D: (Eye roll) Today, it’s my turn to speak about my origins – about the man I am in A’s books.

A: And don’t worry – he’s not blonde.

D: Thank the gods. Anyway, some of this is from the two defunct books that make up my back-story – the tale of my parents and that first-person narrative I mentioned yesterday.

A: Mentioned is a nice word – I would have said blabbed.

D: You say tomato, I say tomahto.

A: Indeed – and without further ado, the Big Tomahto himself, Dubh an Súile. . .

An old woman, a priestess of a goddess now banished from the minds of men, once laid her hands on my mother’s belly.  Long before my small movements could be felt, long before I even looked like the man-child I would become, the old woman felt my spirit, strong and true.  Bidden by this, she uttered words that, on the eve of great tragedy, gave my mother greater calm:  “They will know him as Dubh an Súile, and he will be a great leader of men.”

My origins – my life and its path – can be traced to that prophesy. Whether or not the old woman was correct, it followed me through to the end of my days. It haunted me as much as it bade men to follow me. It was, in turns, used as a curse against me and to rally me from despair of my own making.

The monks of the Christos and the priests of the Druid grove each had a hand in my education, but at seven years of age, it was to the grove I was sent. I was the second son, and while they knew I would not lead the clan upon my father’s death, it was hoped I would lead the grove.

It took me nine years to earn the right to sing at the hearths of my people, counsel kings and delve deep into the heart of men to see their path. I was a Druid true – not a magician but skilled in the Sight and a reader of the stars. I returned home only to have my homecoming interrupted by war. We – the mac Alasdair clan of Craig Ussie – went to aid our brethren against the Kingdom of Northumbria.

We were betrayed; my father and I were captured and held by our enemy for over a year. Our kin thought us dead, but fought on regardless. They said our deaths lead them into victorious battle. Our southern brothers were free once more, but I lost everything that mattered: my father, the woman who had given me her heart and the life we could have led together.

When we returned home, I knew I could not stay – and yet I could not lead the grove, either. I went to Éire – Ireland. I put aside my training as a mystic to earn my keep at whatever hearth could keep me. I roamed the country so long I thought I had escaped the life I once led – I sang tales of my own bravery in battle, and none knew that it was I.

The moment of my becoming – the moment when that old woman’s prophesy claimed my soul – happened as I stumbled upon an old hermit, living atop a sidhe mound. These mounds dotted the land – sacred and feared – and marked the places where once the Milesians led the Tuatha Dé Danann after they conquered the land. That he lived so close to the Fae was a temptation I could not resist.

It was a temptation that would prove the undoing of me – and be the key to my salvation.

D: I can’t actually say more, or A will interrupt me.

A: You know me too well, Druid.

D: Well, it could hardly be helped – you’ve been singing “spoilers” in the background for the last fifteen minutes. Singing off-key, might I add.

A: (Shrug) It’s what I do.

D: . . . I’m not going to suggest just what it is you do, but do you realize, A, that in all of this, we never actually gave the blog’s origin story?

A: I think we’ve been over that more than enough times.

D: Sure, but you know, the short version. . .

A: Okay, the short version is that I used to write notes between us in the marginalia of edits. Or in the back of my head. Or on napkins and notebooks. I’d giggle. I thought others would, too.

D: And . . .

A: Relentless much? And I was faced with the idea that if I wanted any agent/publisher/reader to look at me, I was going to have to learn to promote myself – otherwise known as putting myself out there. For an introvert of massive proportions, it was a big deal. Having a dialogue with you seemed like a great way to get started.

The Dialogues' very first logo - my poor, aching head.

The Dialogues’ very first logo – my poor, aching head.

D: Also, it lets people know, right from the start, that you are stark raving mad.

A: Well, it helps. It lowers the expectation threshold.

D: Indeed – and with that, I do believe we are going to bid the internet a fond evening.

A: We are at that, D. I have Spartans to watch with The Boy.

D: I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that – those Spartans—

A: D – D in no way is the movie we’re about to watch historically accurate. Just sit back and you know, think of England or something.

D: . . .

A: (Grin) Thanks for reading everyone – have a great weekend!

Part 1: A’s Writerly Origins | Part 1.5: Bookish Origins | Part 2: D’s Character Origins | Part 3: The Druid himself – an origin narrative

Hunted

I heard this wild cry of terror, as though hounds howled against the night.

Photo Courtesy Google Images, labeled for commercial reuse.

Photo Courtesy Google Images, labeled for commercial reuse.

The plain, Mag Mell, was empty – stripped of all lore, all magic and life – and Niamh Golden Hair’s curses rang in my ears.

I would rue the day I had turned from her cause, she had said.

As the sound caused dread to prickle my skin, a part of me laughed. There is a reason Mistress Niamh is Tír na nÓg’s greatest spell weaver and seer, though not many risk the King’s ire to say so.

The mists pressed down upon me. They started to dance. So wrapped up in my own misery – my own hot denial of her visions – was I that I did not see their grasping fingers twine ‘round my legs.

And then that cry. That hideous, desperate cry.

The King. It had to be.

I carry no weapon in the lands of the Tuatha. There would be no use – nothing man has made can harm them now. Once upon a time it was said they could be killed – that the Fae feared man’s iron and the cold touch of steel.

Fairy tales, I say. They were not driven to their hills. They did not retreat. These are bedtime stories to sooth the frightened Celtic heart, told reassure them that the Fae would trouble them no more.

Would that they had known that Fae had little interest in the world of man. Unless, of course, man came stumbling through the veils. Blundering, as I had, so many years ago.

The cry that rent the air told me I was hunted. It is always so for those who can travel between the worlds. Why did I think I would be any different?

Did it matter that I had won for him a war?

No.

Did it matter that donning the name of one I had heard since my days in swaddling – a man-god who saved his king – that I became the myth?

No.

All that mattered now was that I was a man outside of time, beyond the help of kindred, and I had just turned my back on the last of those who cared.

A haunting wail pierced the air, adding anguish to that wild cry of terror. We sang in tune, my hunter and I, and when he ripped the world from beneath my feet, I nearly wept with relief.

***

“What do you remember?”

Dubh an Suíle mac Alasdair lifted his eyes to the red-haired man before him. He looked smart in his uniform, and he was young, yet, his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question. What did he remember?

Everything.

And nothing.

***

For Papi Z’s prompt: “I heard this wild cry of terror…”

Also, the 450ish words  above are a slightly different version of the opening page of Changelings: The Coming Storm, the sequel to Into the Mist.

Sometimes, giving over to D’s voice is the only way to jump start a new scene, or, in this case, a new book. Don’t get me wrong, the core of this book has already been written – it’s the second part of Maureen and Sean’s journey. Yet, this part here – with D and the red-haired man – this is new territory. And as much as I have enjoyed researching it, it was not something I had anticipated writing… yet. It has not been easy to get into the flow of the relationships forged over a very brief span of time – relationships that are key to understanding why D risks life, limb and time to keep Maureen and Sean safe.

It makes me wonder, for anyone, when you’re shifting gears in a project at work, in the home or in your writing, is there a trick you use, or a method you employ, to help you find that ‘sweet’ spot so you can move forward with it? Or do you just ‘keep on truckin’ in the hopes that it will find itself? Is this where planning comes in?