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:

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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:

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!

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.

Revealed: Changelings: Rise of Kings

Ebook COverHey, looky here! We have cover art!

And to celebrate, we also have fiction!

The forming of the story that is now Changelings: Rise of Kings was fraught with many a darling, plot-hole, continuity error, and time-travel migraine. Great swaths of story were cut, re-fashioned, and re-purposed, but my favorite was the story of D’s time in England, 1944.

When he revealed to Maureen and Sean in Into the Mist (which is still FREE today if you haven’t picked up your copy) that he had known their fathers – indeed, had grown to care for them as brothers and was there the night they died – I wanted to tell the whole story. I wrote it, but try as I might (and I tried. I really really tried), it didn’t have a place in Rise of Kings – nor does it in the as-yet-untitled Book 3. I’ve teased bits of it throughout the life of this blog, but I’ve decided to release it over the course of the next few weeks – if anything, just to give it a cohesive finale.

Hunted: A Changelings Short

I heard a wild cry echo through the mists, as though hounds howled against the night.

The Plain, Mag Mell, was empty – stripped of all lore, all magic and life – and Niamh Golden Hair’s curses still 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 Niamh is the Fae’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 heated 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 – Nuada Silver Arm. It had to be.

I carried a sword, gifted to me by that same king for wining his war, but it’s blade mattered little. Nothing crafted by man can harm the Fae. Once it was said they could be killed – that the Fae feared man’s iron – but I knew that to be a fairy tale.

The cry which rent the air told me I was hunted. It is always so for those who travel between the worlds. Why did I think I would be any different? The war I won for Nuada Silver Arm had been over for an age – man had already forgotten it as they sped beyond us.

changelingsebookcover-flat4

Who is Dubh Suile? What are the Changelings? Get your free e-book and find out!

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?”

 

I gazed at the red-haired man who towered over me. He looked smart in his pilot’s uniform. He was young, yet his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question.

Every day I said the same thing.

“Nothing.”

It was a lie.

To be Continued…

Three Ghosts: A Post-Script (Spoilers!)

Whew, I never thought we’d get here – but here it is, the conclusion to the contemporary Irish thriller, Three Ghosts. Warning, just like yesterday, here be spoilers – but don’t worry – if you didn’t read along, and/or don’t like reading in serial format, the full novella – including all-new content – will be available to download on St. Patrick’s Day

Catch up: Part 1

Epilogue

Cover Art by Casey T. Malone

Cover Art by Casey T. Malone

Dee came to with a nasty goose egg on the top of her head. Emmet had been hauled off to the MI5 dungeons, Pat was arguing with an aide about being taken to the hospital, and Aiden, God rest him, had been zippered up and sent to the morgue.

“It’s going to kill his mother – first her daughter, then Aiden.” She choked back tears. It could have been worse, she knew. At least Marley had the decency to look distraught, but it wasn’t helping – in fact, the sorrow on his face was just making her madder.

“Where were you – what happened in there?”

“I was trying to get to you – it took me a while to realize the phone Pearse tossed me wasn’t for me to use, but for me to listen.”

Dee glanced at the monitors now being dismantled by agents draped in protective white suits. “The monitors.”

“Indeed,” answered Pearse, who was lying on his back on his own gurney, wincing only slightly as the ambulance crew patched him up enough for travel. “Emmet had eyes everywhere – put that bloody IT degree to good use, aye?”

“But I thought you were working for Marley—“

“Not for me, he doesn’t.” Marley snorted. His cell phone buzzed and he put up a hand asking for their patience before taking the call.

Dee watched him leave the room with a small jolt of desperation. Don’t leave me alone with my ex-husband, she wanted to say. An ex-husband who, until two hours ago, she was prepared to kill.

Pearse made restless noises in his gurney and she turned to him. “So, I guess I should thank you for not letting Emmet put a bullet in my head,” he said to his hands.

Dee gritted her teeth against the blush that spread up her neck. “Yeah, well, if anyone was going to do that, it was going to be me.”

“Cheers, love.”

Dee shrugged and stared at the blanket draped over the edge of the gurney. This was awkward.

“I’m guessing you have questions.”

A tiny laugh escaped before she could stop it. Just a few. “How did you know – about Emmet, I mean? How far back does this all go?”

“It started when you and I got together. You probably weren’t paying attention, but he was a pretty big agitator – Pat wanted him on the Shadow Council until he realized what a horrible, self-righteous prig he was. That’s why we recruited you, instead.”

“Wait, you recruited me?”

“Well, you had that trust fund – of course, I complicated things when I married you, so there’s that.”

Dee rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I suppose there’s that.”

“Emmet wasn’t too pleased you left politics behind to play with the lads – didn’t like that you chose me over him. It turned something inside him, and I noticed him watching you a few times – why do you think I kept him from you?”

Dee cocked an eyebrow and he grinned without a hint of embarrassment. “Okay I might have been jealous too, but there were rumors that he was getting involved in girls and drugs – running a racket, like. If there’s one thing the lads don’t like, it’s that sort of traffic.”

“Especially when they can’t profit from it.”

Pearse smirked. “Yeah well, there was no point in you knowing. To be fair, things progressed so far beyond Emmet and his girls that I forgot about him until after Pat got me out of Donegal. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but something didn’t sit right.”

“So, what – you played him?”

Pearse nodded. “I had a suspicion he’d advanced his racket. I got closer to him, let him think I was hell-bent on revenge and still blinded by Republican fervor – which wasn’t terribly hard at the time, mind – and needed a financier.”

“Which is when you realized it went deeper than girls and drugs.”

“Very clever, Ms. O’Brien,” Pearse smirked. “And, it went a lot further than just the regular players in Ireland and England. That’s when I turned – I knew he was going to use me, use the cause, which didn’t seem to mean anything to anyone anymore, all for his cronies, and I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Still fighting the good fight, Mr. Finnegan?” Marley asked as he came back into the flat.

“Someone has to – within reason, of course.”

“Of course.”

Dee looked between the two men, and over at Pat, who looked like he had reluctantly agreed to be carted off to the hospital – very reluctantly.

“Speaking of the good fight, what did happen at No. 10 – is the Prime Minister—?”

“He’s fine – the reports of those five deaths have been – how do you Americans put it? Greatly exaggerated. Looks like it was just a gas leak.”

“The London game, a fucking gas leak?” This was Pat as he was being wheeled out of the flat. “Hey there, Darlin’, glad to see you’re up and about.” He turned back to Marley “Oi, lad, we’re going to have to have a wee chat when I’m up and about – bloody gas leak.”

Marley spared Pat a look. “Look, you old hustler, it’s better this way – this way your empire remains, and so does mine.”

Dee waved Pat off – if he was truly angry about the outcome of the London Game, he was doing a good job of hiding it with cheerful bluster. Then again, Pat was, as Marley put it, an old hustler. He could make you think anything he wanted.

Pearse’s voice broke through her contemplation of Pat – or Rory Finley’s – tricks.

“So, Marley, what’s next?”

“Next, these people are going to take you to the hospital.”

“And after that?”

Marley grinned – and for the first time Dee saw just how much he loved his job. “Well, we need you to escape custody as soon as you’re able. I trust you’ll find what you need.”

Pearse saluted them with a wry smile as he was wheeled out of the flat.

As the door closed on her ex-husband, Dee turned to Marley. “So, if you didn’t know Pearse was an informer, why did you tell me your code name for him?”

“Sorry?”

“John Carol – there was an informer in Northern Ireland you lot called Agent Carol – wrote a book about it, yeah?”

“Two books, actually. I knew Pearse had been working for us–”

“But you said he wasn’t working for you.”

“And he isn’t. I’m not his handler – and he’s so deep undercover, I’m not even sure he remembers he has one. It’s one of the risks we run with informers. It doesn’t matter how long anyone has been the service – if the incentive is right, they can turn on you in a second.”

Cheerful thought. Dee grimaced and waited for the agent to answer her initial question.

He sighed.

“I told you his name to see if you knew – just testing the waters, Ms. O’Brien,” he added when she started to interrupt. “But, since you asked, Pearse picked out his own code name – from what I understand, it was a favorite Christmas movie. Speaking of which, you can stop spreading these around town.”

In Marley’s hands was a red, rectangular envelope. She took it and gingerly slid her finger along the flap.

Inside, the Mother and Child stared beatifically.

“This is the one I sent my mother. You promised—”

“Look again.”

She opened it. There was a date scrawled on the inside and an address: December 27. 9:00 AM; 18 Park St London SE1 9EQ, UK.

“And before you ask, I didn’t send the other one either. You can tell her Merry Christmas in person.”

She closed the card and tried to keep the smile off her face. “How’s that, then? It looks like I’m going to be a bit busy over the next couple of days – research, you know.”

“Easy. Your family is booked in an entire floor at the hotel. Thought it might be a nice surprise, all things considered.”

“Who did – you, or her?”

Marley grinned. “If I say me, will you invite me to dinner?”

Dee gave him her hand and let him pull her off the gurney. “You’re a glutton for punishment Agent Marley—”

“It’s Greene.”

“What?”

“That’s my real name. Jason Greene.”

“Oh. Well then, Mr. Greene. Let’s go have dinner. I’m starving.”

The End

Spotlight: Helena, the Memoirs & PubSlush, Oh My!

pubslushbuttonWhen we discussed the idea of Helena featuring some of her incredible work from the upcoming Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2 on the D/A Dialogues, I had no idea which piece she’d choose.

I knew they’d all be great – because, frankly, all of them are – but I can tell you right now, the one she chose is perfect.

I mean, perfect. A perfect read. Perfect for this blog, and perfect for me, your faithful author-who-talks-to-a-Druid-in-her-head (because before the Druid, there was Dorothy). So, without further ado, I present to you . . .

The Great and Terrible Countess of Oz

“It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” exclaimed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, which is, in this instance, a county in Kansas by way of Oz. It wouldn’t be the last Oz reference made this weekend. The sky swelled black like a bruise, and the wind howled and threw things around in a poltergeist tantrum.

The cat-like but never cowardly Countess and I had driven through it, swerving to avoid minor debris like small tree branches, and once, a stray shopping cart blowing across the road. I kept my white-knuckled hands tight on the wheel, while Penny twisted and turned in the passenger seat, looking this way and that to see where the storm was coming from; where it was going. We drove right through the middle of it and came out the other side, like we’d gone through a car wash. The rain beat and battered us but did not best us.

When we made it safely home, I made sure to park far away from any trees, and when I saw the debris the next morning, I knew I’d made the right decision. We got out of the car and ran to our door, both of us getting soaked to the bone just crossing the street, and then locked ourselves in for the night, lighting candles and huddling on the floor in the living room, just watching our big bay window in terror as shingles blew off our roof and tree branches broke and fell.

The next morning, we woke up sans power, which means sans air conditioning, and neither Penelope nor I woke up with the cheery disposition of a member of the Lullaby League. I told Penny I was heading out, and asked if she wanted anything. She buried her head in her pillow and told me to go away and come back tomorrow.

“Why don’t you get your lazy butt out of bed and come with me?” I suggested.

“Pay no attention to the girl beneath the blanket! I am the great and powerful…”

“Okay, get up,” I said, pulling the blanket off of her. “If you’ve got the energy for snark, you can come to the store with me.”

“Oh, have a heart, Helena! Can’t you see the circles under my eyes? I didn’t sleep all night!” And then she gave me the most pa-thetic, pitiable look – which she knows full well I am helpless against.

“You know, I shouldn’t let your puppy dog face get to me! I should be on my mettle, and yet, I’m torn apart. Okay, darling, you win. What do you want me to bring you?”

“Bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West!” She demanded weakly, still trying to sleep, before the humidity began to rise again, making sleep impossible. “Oh, and coffee. For the love of Oz, the great and terrible, bring me some coffee. I don’t care how many curly toed Munchkins you have to kill, fa la la la la, blah blah blah, just bring me some coffee.”

“Uh, bring me some coffee… what?”

“Now, bitches!” The Countess demanded mock-indignantly.

“That’s more like it,” I replied.

I went out to try to acquire coffee for the Countess and myself (as no one wants to live with an under-caffeinated Countess, dar-lings) and was confronted with debris the likes of which I’ve never seen. Tree branches had broken and fallen all over the place, and entire streets had been blocked off with yellow police tape. I had to navigate around a labyrinth of newly altered landscape, taking twists and turns, and more than once running into a dead end and having to turn around. There was one rather straw-headed guy trying to direct traffic, but when I asked him which way to go, it became rather clear that he didn’t know any more than anyone else.

“This way seems to be clear,” he said, pointing left, but before I could drive away, he pointed right and added, “but then I haven’t seen too much debris down this way, either.”

“Then again, people do go both ways,” I replied, and was given a confused look by the accidental scarecrow, who just waved me on, unappreciative of my witticisms.

As of this memoir missive, we are still without Internet (oh boo hoo, what a tragedy – do you want us to start an emergency fund, Helena?) and while your sarcasm is always appreciated, there is no need to be concerned for your favourite dilettante and her aristocratic accomplice – we are just fine, thank you very much.

Oh, but anyway, darlings, we’re home – home! And these are my memoirs – and you’re all here – and I’m not going to leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all! And… oh, darlings, there’s no place like home!

———–

If you want to read more, BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Overheard Over Coffee…

Back in November, Katie Sullivan released her long-awaited first novel Changelings: Into the Mist, the first in a series of adventure novels that blend the fascination of historical fiction with the wonder of Celtic mythology. While she is working on the second book, due out this Fall, she’s also been writing a serial thriller called Three Ghosts, which she will publish as both a paperback and e-book this month. Helena Hann-Basquiat currently has a Pubslush campaign taking pre-orders for Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two, and is also publishing a Shakespearean-style play, a tragi-comedy called Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. They sat down one evening to chat.

Overheard over coffee at Helena’s…

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Okay, then, well, I’ve just made myself a double cup of Chai Latte and the whole room smells like cinnamon and licorices.

Katie Sullivan

Yum. I love chai. I make it with coconut milk, because although from Wisconsin, dairy and I don’t get on, but even without that problem, coconut milk in chai is divine!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I’ll bet. If I ever buy one at Starbucks, I usually get a soy chai latte. That is kind of criminal, you living in Wisconsin and not eating cheese. But then, the leading cause of death in America is actually heart disease, if the film Thank You For Smoking has taught us anything.

Katie Sullivan

Oh, cheese is exempt. I can only give up so much (wheat, most grains, tomatoes, peppers, ice cream). I’ll happily die from heart disease for cheese.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Sounds like you’d be difficult to plan a meal for. But I’m sure you’d make it very worthwhile with the pleasure of your company. It occurs to me that we are coming up on having known each other for two years. But this is really the first time we’ve actually had a chance to sit down together and chat about the writing. Tell me about Three Ghosts. Where did that come from? How is it different from writing about D (your LONGTIME companion)

Katie Sullivan

Two years, that is crazy! Three Ghosts had a sort of round-about genesis (don’t they all?!). The germ of the story started when I was 18, with a young woman who moved to Ireland and fell in love with a rable-rousing charmer, who ended up dying for his ’cause’ forcing her to go underground. Well, I quickly realized at 18 that I had no idea what I was talking about – even if I was a young woman who moved to Ireland and fell in love with a charming rabble-rouser! Fast forward more years than I care to count, and a friend issued me a challenge via text message: “tell me something interesting.” I did, and he turned around and said: “That’s the first line of a a story your going to write. I want 500 words tomorrow.” Bossy. Anyway, I couldn’t stop at 500, and even after 1000 I was having trouble wrapping it up. Then I went to serialize it on the blog and realized there was more. So, the blog gets the serial, and then it will be downloadable in its full form on March 17 – on its own and as part of a promotion for Changelings.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

That’s a great idea. A musician friend of mine gave me some advice one time, and that was PUBLISH PUBLISH PUBLISH. Make sure you’ve always got something new or something around the corner. So I’ve been trying to do the same — e-books, novellas, etc…

Katie Sullivan

And I’ve taken my cue from that – believe me!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Can you give me a brief “what’s it all about?”

Katie Sullivan

Sure – Deirdre O’Brien, an Irish-American political activist, married the wrong man – and had to kill him to save the lives of thousands. Fifteen years later, he’s back from the dead, with a horrific plan to destroy the tenuous peace between Belfast, Dublin and London. She only has three days – three days, and three ghosts. She will confront them, or risk becoming one herself.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

That sounds amazing — like a thriller starring a young Harrison Ford or maybe that guy who plays the new Captain Kirk. And I really enjoyed how you started it off with the Dickens allusions — very classy.

Katie Sullivan

Thank you – it carries through, but only faintly – I can see which ghost is past, present and future, but none of them are particularly nice men! And yeah, Chris Pine can totally be in it – even as a bad guy, I’m okay with that!

The cover art debuted on the blog last week, graciously crafted by Casey T. Malone. It has a subtle, classic aesthetic that I really like and can never seem to achieve on my own.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

So you are going to do a print copy, then? That’s great! And then, will it be back to Changelings II – The Wrath of Khan?

Katie Sullivan

Yes, the print copy is sort of my conceit. I just really like doing it! And yes, Changelings 2, Benedict Is Dubh (almost as good as Richard Armitage) is underway. It has sat in the drawer for long enough and I’m almost eager to let D have his way with my inner dialogue again.

Here’s the latest blurb:

Fresh from their misadventures in Into the Mist, Changelings Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew have been abandoned in a world devoid of magic. Faced with expulsion, Maureen and Sean have nowhere to go but to the McAndrew estate, run by Sean’s mysterious Aunt Margaret.

But even deep in the Scottish Highlands, Faerie whispers spun by the treacherous king of the Fae, Nuada Silver Arm, reach out to snatch them in the night – and this time, returning home is not an option. This time, in order to thwart the king, they must protect the McAndrew family, no matter the cost to themselves.

Slipping between the shifting lands of the Fae, the last days of World War Two, and the heady months leading up to the Jacobean Rebellion of 1745, the war between Man and Fae will come to its dramatic conclusion in Changelings: The Coming Storm

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

You seem to take your inspiration from so many places — from the news, from history, and from mythology. In Changelings, you wrote about historical events, and then showed how there was a supernatural world behind our own that was influencing those events. It reminded me almost of how Christian mythology supposes that there are angels and demons behind everything, influencing events. Or maybe that’s just that show Supernatural.

Katie Sullivan

That was the idea – it didn’t start that way, but once D came in on the scene, my ex-husband and I had lots of conversations on what it might be like if the myths that make up so much of the social fabric of a slightly older Ireland, were real. Changelings grew from that.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I was wondering what other places you might take Sean and Maureen — Ireland has had such a violent history, especially in the 20th Century.

Katie Sullivan

I can give you a spoiler: After 2, Maureen and Sean are done – they will witness the 1745 Jacobean rebellion, but they evolve to become witnesses and protectors of history and family. Their daughter, on the other hand….

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

And here I almost hoped I’d see them make it to the swinging ’60s! Anyhow, I think it’s a fantastic concept — that world behind our own, influencing ours — and one which has saturated mythologies and religions of all sorts. I think that such a universal idea is easily grasped by people, because it makes for fantastic storytelling possibilities.

Katie Sullivan

It really does – there are so many ways a story can be told – is this the real aspect, or is that? And of course, you know yourself when you weave stories together to create the Memoirs. Your PubSlush is underway for Memoirs Volume 2 – can you tell me why PubSlush as a vehicle in particular?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I had been hunting for something different — I wasn’t unhappy with Kickstarter, I just wanted to see what other options were available. Pubslush is sort of a “by writers, for writers” community, and it isn’t just about crowdfunding. It’s a place for indie writers to discover each other, promote each other — and when the campaign is over — it doesn’t end there. My book will stay up on Pubslush for people to discover there. They’ve been really personal with the customer service — I can’t say enough good about them.

Katie Sullivan

It seems like an inviting place, which as a customer is always a plus. I know Three was a stretch for me – I’ve never written a thriller before (read loads though), and I know that included with some of your PubSlush perks, is a new Dilettante offering called Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. What is that all about, and where did you get that idea?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Penelope started out as a throw away joke — I thought I might get a blog post or two out of the idea — but it just seemed to CONSUME me — I wrote the whole think in less than two weeks. Without giving too much personal information, we had a pretty bad scare, as Penny was accused of misappropriation and outright embezzling from the student society she had belonged to when she was still in University. Long story short (because the fictionalized version is so much more fun) everything’s okay, and Penny didn’t go to jail, but for a few days there, it was NOT looking good. The person that made the accusation had crossed paths with Penny before — and I’d had so much fun lampooning that event, that I just HAD to do something with this. I wanted revenge on the person we call The Empress, and what better revenge than to be cast as the villain in a Shakespearean tragedy?

Katie Sullivan

I think it’s amazing, and I can’t wait to read it. It wasn’t until my son started reading Shakespeare, and then I picked up a Shakespearean Star Wars that I really started appreciating the form, so when you came out with the idea, I was cheering on the other side of the monitor, because I know you’re going to bring a flair and panache to it – but still make it relatable (a la star wars for me) for people to read. And I think that’s fantastic.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Well, I won’t spoil anything, but I do make a Mulder and Scully reference. And I’ve included You as an actual character so I can break the fourth wall as Helena is wont to do.

Katie Sullivan

Oh my goodness – that is hysterical, and so very appropriately Helena. Okay, so you have to do something for the Luddite over here: Explain to me the #WhereIsHelena thing. I’m a terrible person and I just found mine in a pile of mail that had been sitting by my other desk (as we were taking up carpets, no less).

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Ah.. this is a… well, I don’t want to say failed experiment because I’m still holding out hope that it will continue… as far as I’m concerned it can go on indefinitely. It’s my attempt at viral marketing. Sort of a chain letter/hot potato type thing. Find one, pass it on, but before you do, Tweet, take a picture, post it on Facebook, etc… with the hash tag #WhereIsHelena and I’ve been handing out prizes — music from my collection, e-books, even a paperback copy of Memoirs Volume One to one lucky person.

It’s not necessarily linked to this Pubslush campaign, but more of an ongoing thing.

Katie Sullivan

Okay! That’s a very cool idea – reminds me a little bit of the BookCrossing thing that started several years ago – find a book, read it, pass it on but before you do, there’s this log of where its been online, using the ISBN numbers (or something). Now that I have them, I’m doing my part, but not to be entered in for prizes. Can I exempt myself from prizes?

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I forbid it. You can always give your prizes away. So, you’ve been reading a lot as I’ve been posting some of the stories that have become volume two — what are your expectations for the book, how it might be different from volume one. A strange question, perhaps, but I’d like a perspective other than my own.

Katie Sullivan

Well, I definitely feel like the stories have matured in a way. There’s a variety of narrative threads, and while they still run the gamut of human emotion – from ridiculous to heartbreaking, I think this one is going to touch even more poignantly on story – Its been so long since I’ve read them in any sort of order, I’m looking forward to falling back into the life you’ve painted for us.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I remember that we really first started getting acquainted shortly before I’d wrapped up writing on Volume One — this would have been maybe May or June of 2013 — and it probably wasn’t even until that point that I realized what I had. At first glance it was just a collection of stories. True, near the end, I started linking up the narratives — the whole California/Halesowen back and forth storylines — but I hadn’t started out with any inkling that it was a book. When I began Volume Two, beginning very deliberately with Arcadia, I sort of knew what the book’s theme was going to be. It’s still not a novel by any stretch. More like a TV show where there are story arcs, but then they’re interrupted by stand-alone monster of the week episodes. But there is, I hope, a more cohesive feel this time around.

Katie Sullivan

I think it really does have that feel – and it’s one that is approachable. It has a conversational feel that lets the reader feel part of the goings-on – and this was true for Vol. 1 as well. I just finished reading Henry and June, and while obviously vastly different, the immediacy of Anin’s journal entries has that same sort of feel.

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

I don’t know if it was intentional, or how well I’ve succeeded, but I think a lot of the stories are more heartfelt, as if I turned the irony down to a more palatable level. I hope people relate, I hope they’re moved to laughter, and to tears. It’s my fondest wish that chocolate milk will shoot out of at least one person’s nose.

Katie Sullivan

I’m pretty sure you’re going to get your wish!

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettante

Good night, Katie! You’re awesome. Thanks for the chat.

Katie SullivanDescended of pirates and revolutionaries, Katie Sullivan is a lover and student of all things Irish. Born in the States, she is a dual US/Irish citizen, and studied history and politics at University College, Dublin – although, at the time, she seriously considered switching to law, if only so she could attend lectures at the castle on campus. She lives in the American Midwest with her son, two cats and a pesky character in her head named D (but you can call him Dubh). She can be found writing with said character weekly at her blog, The D/A Dialogues.

The first book in the Changelings series, Into the Mist is available in print and digital through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Changelings cover-page001 Three Ghosts Cover

The one, the only Helena Hann-Basquiat, everyone's favorite dilettanteThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE

Available now! image06 JESSICA image07

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

First Fridays: Chapter Seven

Another Friday, another behind-the-scenes look at a chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter Oneand be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Seven

20141207_140911~2Growing up at the edges of Clew Bay – shadowed by Carrickahowley Castle and Clare Island – it was hard not to have heard the tales of Grania Uaile. The woman was a pirate, an unspoken chief, and the mistress of several strongholds along the western coast, Carrickahowley and Clare included. No one seemed to care whether the woman was real or not, not when the idea of her was synonymous with Ireland – with freedom – itself.

Sean once attempted to research the woman, to see if there was any connection to Maureen’s family. The nuns said Maureen’s father had done some work himself, but his records were locked away in Dublin.

At first, Maureen had gone along with his search – listening to his findings and helping occasionally – eagerly enough. But when infamous ancestor turned into a possible fiction, the research lost all its appeal for her. It did not matter that Grania Uaile inspired poets and rebels for four hundred years; if she was not real, Maureen was not interested.

“Did you ever find out if my father’s people were related to Grania?” she asked now.

“You do remember! Why did you act like that while we were walking, then?”

Liam and Tomás had left them alone in the small room beyond the wooden door, while they presumably went to fetch their captain. Sweet rushes covered dirt floors and filled dim corners. Dust motes danced on the streams of light let in by the slit of a window close to the ceiling.

She rounded on him. “And let them think we’re here to cause trouble with a pirate? Do you think I’m mad?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?” He rolled his eyes and she grinned at him.

“I overheard Liam and Tomás while you were loading the ship. They think we’re runaways, or spies. It was a mistake to say we were from Dublin.”

* * *

Grania and Queen Elizabeth

Grania and Queen Elizabeth

D: Is it, or is it not true that you once read a book that claimed Grania Uaile was a myth?

A: I think I’ve read several books to that effect, but yes, one does stand out in my memory stating Grania’s non-existence outright.

D: Care to share?

A: No. I don’t want to embarrass anyone –

D: And you don’t remember the name, do you?

A: No. It wasn’t a valid research source. I have a hard enough time remembering names when I’m supposed to! Of course, his line of thinking was not inaccurate, depending on the time.

D: That would be a double negative, A.

A: I am aware – thank you, D. My grammar check is having a field day with this post. As it is, while many people would have accepted the reality of Grania’s life – much like they accepted the ‘reality’ of the Good Folk – there was some serious academic doubt until the Articles of Interrogatory of 1593 came to light, proving her existence.

D: Do you think that will ever happen for me?

A: What, a document will surface proving, once and for all, that a time-traveling Druid helped two orphans fight a war between Man and Fae?

D: Well, when you put it like that, you make it sound so silly.

A: . . . and yet . . .

D: Just you wait, A. Just you wait.

Word of the Day

Rushes are grasses in the Juncaceae family. At one time, fresh rushes would be strewn on earthen floors in dwellings as insulation. The ‘sweet flag’ Acorus calamus was usually favored for this purpose, and was often called a ‘sweet rush’ although that specific name is from a  different order, and has medicinal uses (Ref: Wikipedia).

Side note: a similar question was asked on the SciFi Exchange about Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire

Devil’s in the Details

Maureen is related to Grania – although, not descended from one of Grania’s children, but rather from one of Grania’s kinsmen. Of course, there is a lot more than blood to tie the two women together, as they will discover as the story progresses.

It’s also worth noting that Maureen has a wild imagination. She’s adept at making up stories, and often has to in order to explain her and Sean’s presence. Sometimes, those stories come back to haunt her because all she has is her own memory of her studies and a certain brand of impetuousness, to guide her (no smart phones here, and even if she had grown up relying on one, they certainly would not have worked in the sixteenth century). Sean, on the other hand, remains silent and watches – Maureen might know the history and facts of a situation, but he understands people.

Historical Footnotes

Statue of Grace O'Malley in the Westport House grounds

Statue of Grace O’Malley in the Westport House grounds

Grania Uaile is one of *my* most favorite ancestors, too – and I have some Wild Geese in the family tree. The following is taken directly from Changelings’ Appendix: Fact vs. Fiction. My apologies for the length; much of what follows pertains to the situation in which Grania finds herself as Maureen and Sean’s temporary guardian. This also explains why it was a mistake for Maureen to say she and Sean were from Dublin.

Grania Uaile was indeed the Pirate Queen of the Irish seas. She was born in 1530, daughter of Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille (Owen ‘Black Oak’ O’Malley), the chief of the O’Malley clan. In 1546, she was married to Donal O’Flaherty, who was heir to the O’Flaherty titles. They had three children, Margaret, Murrough and Owen. Grania returned to her family’s holdings when Donal died, taking with her a significant number of O’Flaherty followers. This was the start of her independent fleet.

In 1566, Grania married her second husband Richard “Iron” Burke. Popular history states they were married under Brehon Law, ‘for one year certain,’ and at the end of the year, she dismissed Richard, but kept Carrickahowley (Rockfleet) Castle, where this book is set. However, contemporary English records state they remained together – or, at least, allied for a common purpose – until Richard’s death in 1583.

There was one child of the union, Tibbot. Captain John Bingham raised Tibbot in his household as a hostage – a practice common at the time, not only to ensure the ‘good behaviour’ of the hostage’s family but also to ensure the Anglicization of the next generation of Gaelic leaders.

Politically, Grania submitted to the English Crown with Burke in 1577.

Despite said submission, she maintained her fleet and seafaring activities, and supported a number of uprisings among the Gaelic chiefs as England’s power sought to supplant their own. The prison stay she mentions when speaking with Sean took place in 1577-1579 thanks to the efforts of the Earl of Edmond (Limerick) in an effort to prove his loyalty to the Crown.

In 1584, Sir Richard Bingham was appointed Governor of Connacht. He and Grania played a cat-and-mouse game via the various rebellions the broke out in response to Bingham’s attempts to enforce English law.

In 1586, Bingham’s appointed lieutenant and brother, Captain John Bingham, confiscated Grania’s horses and cattle, and murdered her eldest son, Owen. Saved by her son-in-law, Richard “Devil’s Hook” Burke, Grania fled to Ulster, where conditions were more favourable for her various enterprises. Bingham was eventually sent to Flanders and Grania returned to Connacht to resume her activities there.

In 1588, Queen Elizabeth pardoned Grania, but as that was the same year Bingham was reinstated as Governor of Connacht, and was still bent on curbing Grania’s power, the pardon had little effect. The Queen also interviewed Grania via the Articles of Interrogatory in 1593. The two women finally met in September 1593 at Greenwich Castle, in England.

Although Bingham did attempt to intervene, Queen Elizabeth took pity on an old, seemingly helpless woman. Grania’s remaining sons were pardoned and their lands reinstated. Grania was also granted her own personal freedom to act and ‘prosecute any offender’ against the Queen – which meant she could still ply a trade by the sea, so long as her enemies and the Queen’s enemies were the same.

However, as Bingham continued in his position of Governor and curtailer of Grania’s activities, he was able to circumnavigate the Queen’s orders regarding Grania’s ability to eek a living out of the sea.

Despite Bingham, the Nine Year’s War that pitted Grania’s son Tibbot against her onetime allies in The O’Neil and The O’Donnell, and an impoverished west coast, Grania persevered. She was still an active seawoman well into her sixties, as much out of necessity as desire. Nevertheless, she finally laid her body to rest in 1603.

First Fridays: Chapter Six

Another Friday, another behind-the-scenes look at a chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist, this time, Chapter 6. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter One, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings  so you can follow along!

 Six

20141207_140911~2The sounds and smells of Carrickahowley Castle met them a good half-mile before they reached the stronghold itself. What was deserted in their time – with only the occasional fishing boat for company – was bustling with life. Nearly twenty ships filled the waters of the inlet, and the noise from their crews was rivalled only by a small market doing brisk business in the harbour. Overseeing it all was the stout stone tower. It glowered at them, even as it offered its protection.

Tomás manoeuvred his cart alongside a rickety dock and hailed two men standing close to the pier. They stopped their chatter and waved back. He turned to Sean and Maureen.

“Here we are. Hand those bundles off to young Owen over there.” He nodded his head at the younger of the two men as he approached the cart.

They scrambled out, eager to repay him – for his lack of interest, and the ride. Tomas tied off his pony’s reins and strolled over to the other man.

“No, that’s all right, lass. No need to strain yourself,” Owen said to Maureen as he took the sack of – well, of what, she was not sure. It was heavy, though. She handed it off and reached for a smaller pack.

“Ah now, you’re a bonnie bit of a thing, but breeches or no, the lad and I can manage this.” The young man laughed and sauntered off with two bundles under his arms. Sean looked at her and shrugged, but followed the other boy anyway.

She made a face and contented herself with unloading the cart and stacking its cargo close to the gangplank Sean and the boy had used to access a large ship. That was one mercy, at least. The gangplank was a flimsy thing, balanced precariously between the pier and the boat.

A shudder roiled her shoulders. Water, boats and swimming – these she did not mind. Heights, now? Heights made her legs weak.

Word of the Day

Gangplank: a movable plank used as a ramp to board or disembark from a ship or boat. Granted, as this NGram shows (and oh my god, aren’t NGrams the greatest thing ever for word nerds?!?)

D: I think that might just be you, A.

A: I don’t think so. There must be others. There’s a whole blog, called “Not One-Off Britishisms,” that uses it as a reference.

D: Okay, so you, and that guy.

A: Yeah, well – still not ‘just me,’ then, Druid.

D: Pedant.

A: Kill joy.

D: Fair enough. Let’s move on, shall we?

A: Right, where was I before you interrupted me?

D: Explaining why you used gangplank to describe the flimsy ramp between the dock and the boat when the word wasn’t even in use in 1584.

A: And the answer is simple: Maureen is describing the scene. To her eyes and ears, gangplank is a perfectly common, suitable word.

D: Scintillating.

A: Indeed. Cheers, D.

Devil’s in the Details

Tomás Conroy is the ultimate messenger. In addition to being the resident blacksmith, he is a storyteller with a strong superstitious streak, which predisposes him to accepting strangeness, even as he is willing to tell all and sundry about it. Most quest archetype stories need one (heck, most stories no matter where they fall on the paradigm need one) and Tomás is it. Not only does he deliver Maureen and Sean to the action, he conveys important messages to a variety of characters, and to the readers. Because I use a limited form of 3rd person narrative, messengers such as Tomás are necessary to keep things moving along.

Historical Footnotes

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

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

Carrickahowley Castle, today known as Rockfleet Castle, was just one of several strongholds held by a one Grace O’Malley/Grania Uaile, Pirate Queen of the Irish Seas. Carrickahowley is a tower house, built in the mid sixteenth century. It has four floors and is over eighteen meters in height. I took liberties with the location of the inlet, as currently the tower appears to have been built in the sea – at high tide, it is difficult to get into or out of the main door. Owned by an American, several years ago the castle was restored using traditional building methods and materials (Ref. Wikipedia).