‘Twas the night before. . .

As I was putting the final touches on Rise of Kings a few weeks ago, a suggestion from one of my beta readers led me down the path of -gasp- prose I’d written as a way of getting inside D’s head. While I don’t consider any of it *good,* it is insightful. None of this made the cut in the book, but I wanted to share it anyway – there were plenty of easter eggs to be had, which I enjoyed and I hope you do, too.

Originally posted on April 17, 2014 as Lives Entwine.

Warning: Prose ahead! The Daily Post’s challenge-of-the-week was to write a post in prose. Now, I know quite a few excellent poets, and I know I am not of their number. However, as my brain steadfastly refuses to leave D’s world, I thought a bit of prose introducing the players in Book 2 might be in order.

As I said, prose ahead – you’ve been warned!

Maureen

I live.

Queen and goddess,

He said, the mother of kings.

Yet, power withers in my hand

And nothing to claim but portents and lies

Out of the way of history I step,

Out of the way of kings.

Let their magic die upon the Plain

I will be their pawn

No more.

*

Sean

I stand.

Stalwart and true

Hers is the gift of whispers

Twisting a song of power

While mine screams loud with terror.

For her I’ll taste the bitter sting of steel

In wars of men and battles of Fae

Yet his fate we will not echo

For our time, I swear,

Will come.

*

Dubh

I fall.

Crippled druid,

A thousand times I die,

A sacrifice, upon the Plain.

Now I move as myth amongst men – a god

Of terrible vengeance,

A father of kings.

At my call, the sleepers shall arise

And his tyranny will be

No more.

*

Niamh

I fight.

Daughter of gods

Weaver of spells, I see far.

Magic withers upon the Plain –

Death and decay mark his reign.

I will call to the heart of my people

And weave their songs once more.

With his champion at my side,

The age of peace

Will come.

*

Nuada

I rule.

Sons of mac Lir we were

And fierce were our battles

‘Till the day he graced my door.

Cloaked in mist and forgotten power,

He won for me my crown.

Lies I twisted, all to tame him

Until the day, he slipped from my side.

My kingdom is myth,

No more.

*

Mairead

I love.

I stand through the centuries,

A guardian and friend.

Mentor and mother,

The lineage of gods in my keeping,

And his word my only salvation.

I know when wars be over,

And kings awakened,

On that day my love

Will come.

***

Get your copy of Changelings: The Rise of Kings (Changelings, Vol. 2) today – ebooks and paperbacks available at Amazon, and signed paperback copies available here

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First Fridays: Chapter Three

20141207_140911~2D: You know, A, I’ve been thinking.

A: This ought to be good . . .

D: What was that?

A: Nothing. You were saying?

D: . . . Yes, well, I was thinking perhaps we could skip this chapter.

A: What?! But D, this is a pivotal chapter.

D: Oh, there are far better chapters than this in the book. Take Chapter 19 for instance. That one was brilliant.

A: Well, thanks – but we’re going to get there eventually. Right now, we’re on Chapter 3.

D: I know, but . . .

A: We’re. On. Chapter. Three.

D: Pedant.

A: Are you pouting?

D: Maybe.

A: Don’t pout. It will give you wrinkles.

D: I’m over 1300 years old. I think I’m past wrinkles, A.

A: (Sigh) Now who’s pedantic?  Stop stalling. We’re reviewing and titbit-ing and footnoting chapter three – and you will enjoy it. Got it?

D: Yes, Master.

A: Stop lisping and pretending to have a hunched back.

D: Yes, Master.

A: (Eye roll). Anyway, If you’re new to the First Friday feature, check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and don’t forget to pick up your own copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Three

Maureen’s green eyes glowed in the half-light as she sailed out of the kitchen doorway. Sean followed, feeling slightly sick. He listened to the night, and found himself holding his breath. He was waiting for an alarm to sound – an alarm he knew in his gut would never be raised. After his earlier daring, he did not know what to say. This had been his idea, but it was her show. What happened next was all on her.

The fieldstone church was separate from the rest of the abbey, and built at the top of a hill that commanded views of the surrounding countryside. It was a short trek, and they walked in companionable silence. As they crested the hill, the newly risen moon came out from behind low clouds. Its light threw into stark relief a circle of young oaks that would, one day, tower over the little building. Their branches strained towards the sky, and the moon painted them in silver.

It was eerie and beautiful, and not quite of this world.

He shook himself and reminded himself why they were here. This was no time to allow the power of the morning’s vision to carry him away. He looked around for his friend.

She was gone.

The heavy oak door, the gateway to the church, opened with a grating sigh of wood and age. Panic seized his chest. He nearly bolted until he realized it was only Maureen, opening the door. He wondered where she had gotten the key – or if she had a key at all.

He shook his head. Some things were better left unknown.

She motioned him inside with a jerk of her chin and closed the door behind him. He waited for her to lock it again, hesitant to step foot into the nave without her. She touched his shoulder lightly as she passed him.

“What are we hoping to find in here?” he asked. His voice bounced off the stones and he winced.

* * *

D: What was Maureen hoping to find in there?

A: You know exactly what she was hoping to find. And you know that not finding it (or you, as it happens) is exactly what precipitates the rest of the story. Of course, your particular role in Maureen and Sean’s adventures is why you didn’t want to review Chapter Three. . .

D: Am I so obvious?

A: You’re a character in my head, D. Of course you’re obvious.

D: Now. There was a time when you had no idea what I was on about. Years, in fact.

A: (Sigh). Yeah. Those were the days.

Word of the Day

Schematical illustration of a plan view of a cathedral, with the coloured area showing the nave. "Langhaus" by Benutzer:Leonce49 at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Schematical illustration of a plan view of a cathedral, with the coloured area showing the nave.
“Langhaus” by Benutzer:Leonce49 at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Nave: The nave is the central part of a church building, intended to accommodate most of the congregation. In traditional Western churches it is rectangular, separated from the chancel (the space around the altar in the sanctuary) by a step or rail, and from adjacent aisles by pillars (ref: Wikipedia).

Technically, the nave extends from the entrance to the chancel, but I separated them slightly as the entrance is also called the vestibule, and I wanted to indicate that while Sean was inside, he was waiting for Maureen to set foot in the church proper. Plus, so many different words… it’s supper/dinner/lunch/tea all over again!

Devil’s in the Details

Readers may note that Maureen and Sean had to trek to the church, which should not have happened in a traditional abbey – those are generally self-contained structures, with everything – from kitchens, bedrooms, churches, dungeons (kidding!) – linked together. Not so at the fictional Carrickahowley Abbey, where the convent and school are at the base of the hill, while the small chapel commands the top. This was done for two reasons: 1) Sean and Maureen did not start out as orphans and the church was just a community church. Frankly, time travel is easier without parents around, so the elder O’Malleys and McAndrews had to be written out of the story, and the church was changed into the Abbey chapel – but in my head, the church was still all by itself at the top of the hill. Why?

Enter reason No. 2): there have been monuments to some sort of god on the top of that hill since man acknowledged such things – from Dubh’s hermitage to a small chapel of nuns. The lonely chapel is an homage to the mysticism of the hill. The chapel exists by itself, as though home to a power separate from any religious community – old, new, pagan or monotheistic.

Historical (Astronomical) Footnotes

"Lunar Corona" by Wing-Chi Poon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Lunar Corona” by Wing-Chi Poon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

In Part One, the moon – and its phases – features heavily. Not only was the moon a reliable timekeeper, in the generalized ‘Old Religion’ at use within the pages of Changelings the moon is a powerful magical gatekeeper – but only if used correctly. Dubh, being – as he says – over 1300 years-old, is well versed in the old magics. Maureen and Sean, born in 1943, are not.

Because the moon is used so specifically, I took pains to ensure I had the correct phases for the day/week/month as described in the book, which meant more than a little research to discover not only the phase of the moon, but also the sign. I finally found an online tool to help me – and once I knew that on August 31, 1958 the moon was three days past full, in Aries, I had an approximate date for when they could potentially return home (Feb 14, 1585 – when the full moon was in the opposite sign, Virgo), thus setting up the pacing and timetable for Parts One and Two.

I was very lucky that the tool I found was able to help me with the mundane timekeeping function of the moon as well. Listed on each day is a sun-and-moon rise-and-set time, which helped enormously. There were more than a few times where I would reference the moon only to realize it had not even risen in the sky yet – or, had set hours before.


Enjoying First Fridays so far? Don’t forget, if you haven’t already, grab your very own copy of Changelings, available as an ebook or paperback, from Amazon!

First Fridays: Chapter Two

Every Friday, for the rest of the year (and then some – there are actually 55 chapters in Changelings), I am presenting the first page of each sequential chapter in the book – but the real fun comes after the chapter, with behind-the-scenes goodies, historical footnotes and a bit of dialogue with a certain Druid. Enjoy it as a stand-alone treat or read along with your very own copy of Changelings. Check out Chapter One and follow along!

20141207_140911~2Two

Maureen clasped two identical boxes beneath her arms as she slipped into the boarding school common room. She shot a bright smile at Sr. Theresa, but the woman barely acknowledged it. She was sitting comfortably in the corner with a dog-eared James Stephens novel. It was a hard-won indulgence in the nun’s otherwise austere life, and Maureen knew she would be a complacent chaperone for the abbey’s only summer residents.

Sean was perched on a chair in the opposite corner, reading a comic book – another indulgence. As soon as he saw her, he leapt to his feet. Brightly coloured pages fluttered to the floor.

“There you are!”

She curtseyed. “Here I am.”

They always met in the common room on Sunday evenings, after chores were completed and supper eaten. Sean always finished first, but tonight she had not been delayed by some creative punishment. She shifted her cargo and grabbed his comic. He would be annoyed later if he’d left it there.

He squinted at her and then eyed the prize in her arms. “Oi, those are—”

“Our boxes.”

The squint turned into an arched eyebrow. “But mine was in my room.”

“And I went to the liberty of getting it for you.” She tried to sound nonchalant as she deposited said boxes on the low table in the middle of the room. It was not the first time she had collected them – she knew where to look.

“I wasn’t aware I wanted it.” He ran his hands through his short, jet-black hair and laced his fingers behind his neck. The arched eyebrow was firmly in place.

“You did. You want to help me find the man.” She stopped and clenched her hands. She had no idea what he had actually seen during mass, and she found herself not wanting to say too much. If Sean had not seen—

* * *

D: If Sean had not seen what? My brilliance? Of course he saw. He was stunned by it, overawed, and if Maureen were paying any attention to him, she would have noticed.

A: Could you not revel in spoilers, D?

D: She takes the boy for granted, A, and you know it.

A: Oh, and picking up his comic when it fell to the floor was taking him for granted?

D: Pure reflex.

A: She’s trying to protect him – and herself, D. It’s the 1950s—

D: But that’s hardly—

A: In Ireland—

D: But of course Ireland, A – it’s a land full of mystics and seers.

A: (Eye roll) Just the same, visions in church are grounds for the asylum.

D: But–!

A: Or candidacy for the priesthood for Sean–

D: Surely you’re reading far too much into this, A.

A: Or the nunnery for Maureen.

D: Oh. That would be bad.

A: Uh huh.

D: As bad as you going into the nunnery. Talk about nightmare–

A: Oi, Druid! That is quite enough of that!

D: Oh, ahem. Well, I see your point, now. Indeed – bad business those visions. Remind me to apologize.

A: I’m pretty certain there’s going to be a list of things to apologize for before we’re done.

D: And now who is reveling in spoilers? Hm? Don’t you have historical footnotes and other flotsam with which to delight and entertain?

A: (Eye roll) Indeed, I do, D. Indeed I do.

Word of the Day

Supper: Often used now interchangeably with dinner, in Ireland and the UK, supper was/is often described as a light repast later in the evening (i.e.: slice of buttered bread and water at 10 pm). Dinner is the midday meal, and was often much heavier, especially on Sundays. Of course, to complicate things, in Ireland ‘supper’ was sometimes used interchangeably with ‘tea,’ especially if that light meal, eaten at 6 pm, had some added accoutrements…sigh.

Regardless, I found ‘supper’ sounded more Irish to my Midwestern American ears, and while I could have used ‘tea,’ many American readers may not have known that tea is a meal as well as a beverage akin to the lifeblood of most Irish men and women.

Devil’s in the Details

James Stephens (1880-1950) was an Irish novelist and poet. Sr. Theresa’s ‘dog-eared’ novel in question is In the Land of Youth, a direct reference to Tír na nÓg. Despite being a Benedictine nun, Sr. Theresa is a believer in – and lover of – faerie stories (or, the Good Folk, as she calls them) and often shared that love with Maureen and Sean.

James Stephens also wrote Insurrection in Dublin, in reference to the 1916 Rising, as well as numerous other retellings of Irish fairy tales. While researching just who Sr. Theresa should be reading, stumbling upon James Stephens’ name was kismet. Given his writings, and given Sr. Theresa’s stubborn refusal to give up this one ‘indulgence,’ may indicate Sr. Theresa has a greater roll to play in the lives of the Changelings.

But of course, you’ll have to wait until Book Two, The Coming Storm to find out.

Bonus: Maureen’s punishments often include peeling potatoes in the kitchen, polishing the silver or, if she’s been really bold, embroidery.

Historical Footnotes

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara Ireland | Photo Courtesy: WikiCommons

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland*

‘…The abbey’s only summer residents.’ Carrickahowley Abbey is not an orphanage; rather it is a boarding school for international and local students. Just as the Abbey itself is based off  Burrishoole Friary, the school is based (very) loosely off Kylmore Abbey, an international boarding school and local school for girls in Connemara, Ireland.

The main difference between Carrickahowley and most other church-run boarding schools is that it is co-ed. One could argue that there were two different schools housed on the grounds but in my vision of the school, that is not the case (and in case you’re wondering, Carrickahowley

Glenstal Abbey School* - This is Carrickahowley, only a lot bigger!

Glenstal Abbey School* – This is Carrickahowley, only a lot bigger!

looks more like a squat version of Glenstal Abbey School than it does Kylmore – especially since they were built around the same time). However, proprieties have been observed and Carrickahowley has separate dormitories – even if Maureen insists on stealing into the boy’s dormitory to fetch Sean’s orphan box.

 

*Photos courtesy WikiCommons


Enjoying First Fridays so far? Don’t forget, if you haven’t already – grab your very own copy of Changelings, available as an ebook or paperback, from Amazon!

 

A Year of Fridays

Ah, January – every year you inspire me to get organized, lose a pound or two (or ten), rededicate myself to writing every day, and lately, actually make a plan for the blog. And, usually by March, some of that inspiration manages to slip into a sort of inglorious oblivion.

Wisconsin winters, wine, potato chips not to mention a few sugar plums, turtles and Wassail make keeping to a diet so not easy.

Wisconsin winters, wine, potato chips not to mention a few sugar plums, turtles and Wassail make keeping to a diet difficult indeed.

Now, the writing thing almost always succeeds, and while I can’t speak to why my diet fails every year (oh wait, yes I can: ridiculously long Wisconsin winters, wine, and potato chips), my lack of inspiration for the blog comes from a confusion of what I want it to do. Up until November of 2014, I had nothing to offer beyond the dubious wit of one druid hanging out in my head (and the dubious sanity of one writer). I am my greatest fan, so obviously, I think I’m hysterical, but now there is this book baby waving valiantly at the world. It’s here, it’s real and it’s beautiful. . . and it’s given me something to write about, regularly (I swear, angels are singing. And no, it’s not just because it’s still Christmas in my house).

Thus, each Friday, for the next fifty-six weeks, I’ll present the first page of each chapter and/or an epically awesome page from Changelings: Into the Mist, complete with historical footnotes, tidbits, and dialogues with a certain Druid. If you want to grab a copy and read along – even discuss your interpretation of my background notes in the comments – well, by all means, you can pick up a copy on Amazon (or, if you live in southeastern Wisconsin & parts of Illinois, you might be lucky enough to have it at your local library – squee!).

And so, without further ado, the first page of the first chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist.

One

My little stash - plus, an awesome poster!

My little stash – plus, an awesome poster!

I sat in the grove of my own creation and stared out at a world and a people descended of mine own. As I watched, trees gave way to stone and the Many lost their claim to the priests of the One.

Then the wheel turned. The sacred trees grew around my effigy of stone and the Many came out of hiding. I sat in my grove and watched a world outside my imagination, willing it to see.

She saw. She saw me with uncanny green eyes – the green eyes of my mother and her mother before her: witch’s eyes.

Joy rose in me. It was time – time to join the world after years of solitude, time to act after centuries of stillness.

I closed my eyes and reached across the barrier, to touch my future and my past.

†  †  †

Maureen O’Malley’s eyes snapped open. The grove of ancient trees with their twisted branches disappeared.

Daydreaming. She took a shaky breath. It had just been a daydream.

Slowly – too slowly – her senses acknowledged the church, the hard pew beneath her, and the drone of Father’s voice as he said the Epistle.

She was not stranded on a hilltop mired by mist. There was no stand of oaks, and their gnarled branches were not creaking and groaning in the breeze.

There was no breeze, and the curls that had escaped her veil were not brushing her cheek – no, they were plastered against it. The late August heat, trapped amid the dusty black skirts of the nuns surrounding her, pressed in on her and stole her breath.

She gave her head a slight shake, as if the movement would free her from the grip of that dream world.

* * *

D: So is this where you tell us that Maureen’s inattention at mass – her daydreaming which is about to lead her to a glorious vision of yours truly – is just a re-imagining of your own ‘vision’ that eventually gave birth to the book, right?

A: Actually—

D: Of course, since you had that daydream in church when you were merely 14, it means that for a full five years, you had this story – this first book – without my brilliance.

A: Sure, but D –

D: No wonder you put it away.

A: D!

D: What?

A: You are insufferable.

D: (Preens) I thought that was why you liked me.

A: I think you’re mistaking like for loath.

D: No, no I’m pretty sure you like me.

A: Depends on the day, Druid.

D: And is today that day?

A: Don’t push it.

As long-time readers of this blog know, there was a book a few years before D came on the scene. Historically sketchy, it had only a scant reference to Irish gods and mythology, and nothing to do with a time-travelling Druid. That started to change when I was bequeathed a new character who existed within the tale, but had a hard time fitting in with the story as it was. Fifteen years later. . .

D: I’m brilliant, and the story isn’t too bad either.

A: (Sigh) You are brilliant (a brilliant pain in the head). When first we “met,” I wrote the first few lines of this chapter, which are italicized above. Those alone kept me going through ten years of writer’s block, because I knew if I could write the story etched within those scant 140 words, I would have the story to which you belonged. Fifteen years later . . .

D: I’d say you did it.

A: Cheers, D.

Word/Phrase of the Day

The Many vs The One: The Many refers to the pantheon of Celtic gods vs. the coming of the One, the Christos or Christ. In my research, I got the feeling that there was little argument between the Druids and the priests, particularly priests of the early Celtic Catholic Church (that concept alone is a whole other book, or four – in fact, it’s Book 3 and 4), but as Catholicism incorporated and supplanted the native beliefs, much knowledge and lore, I feel, was lost. It is this the Druid laments.

Devil’s in the Details

Nothing – not a single word – has changed in the opening 140 words of this chapter since it was written fifteen years ago. The same is true for the opening sequence of Changelings 3, which was written (and will be re-written next year) 13 years ago, while I played at being a stay-at-home mom with Tom.

Historical footnotes

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

Carrickahowley Castle; Photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

The year is 1958 and the place is Carrickahowley Abbey, located just outside Carrickahowley (now Rockfleet), Ireland. The place exists but the Abbey does not, although it was based – very loosely and rather after-the-fact – on the Burrishoole Friary, run by Dominical friars. The Friary, a historical monument, was operated well into the eighteenth century, despite the dissolution of religious orders following the English Reformation. It was abandoned in 1793. That said, boarding schools and orphanages similar to Carrickahowley Abby were established between 1880 and 1950.

It’s also worth noting that Maureen grudgingly wears a veil and thinks Father is pretty boring during the Epistle. Before the reforms of the Catholic Vatican II, women wore veils over their hair and masses were said largely in Latin. Unless Maureen was a very good, attentive student of languages – which she is not, we will find out later – Father’s voice as he said the Epistle would have indeed droned on for her.

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?

I solemnly swear. . .

De Havilland Mosquito Yorkshire Air Museum Image Courtesy Google Images

De Havilland Mosquito
Yorkshire Air Museum
Image Courtesy Google Images

D: You are never up to any good.

A: Yes, I am. I’m up to researching-good.

D: Researching-good? Never mind your abhorrent abuse of words, I thought this was going to be about resolutions.

A: Yeah, that ship could have docked last week. If it had, I was going to mention something about organization, staying tuned because the blog is about to have a baby sister called “author website,” please don’t mind our dust as we reorganize, and that whole thing about only posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (I mean it this time). As it was, that ship found incredibly cold waters, had to take a detour around the Rock of Hibernation and has since sailed.

D: You are taking that metaphor much further than it ever needed to go.

A: Yep, where no man, woman –

D: Or character –

A: Has gone before.

D: Hyperbole, too.

A: I aim to please.

D: Or distract.

A: Don’t look at the man behind the curtain, D.

D: You are a man?

A: (Eye-roll). No. No, I’m not, but thank you, D. That, again, was a figure of speech.

D: Pardon me for being a seventh-century Pict (you know that is not what we called ourselves, right?)

A: (Yes, but no one has determined what exactly it was you called yourselves, so I’m going with Pict for the mo, ‘k?)

D: (Was that English?)

A: (Nope). Anyway, writing Book 2 to completion and drafting all of the Catherine books is my first resolution of the year, and organization is my second. My third is research. Hence, researching-good.

D: Any research in particular?

A: At the moment, anything on Pathfinder Group 8, Squadron 109 and the Battle of Berlin, specifically the attack on Nuremberg on March 30, 1944. I took one look at the Mosquito planes and knew that was the plane Patrick O’Malley and James McAndrew flew.

D: Oh, you’re going there. Oh, joy. I thought you were waiting until my story to tell that part of the tale.

A: Try to contain your excitement, D. I was going to wait, and then I realized I needed to know why you were kicked out of Faerie. The readers will need to know, too. They need to know what the kids are up against. It eases the transition between the first book and the second book. I’m excited.

D: Or you just thought the Mosquito plane looked ‘really cool’ and you wanted to write about it.

A: . . .

D: Don’t deny it. I heard you.

A: Okay, fine. I’m not denying it. But, considering I know nothing about planes (besides wanting to fly one), or WWII (beyond the basics) I was actually hoping to postpone the research, but I just can’t. So, off to the library I go!

D: Can I make one request?

A: Yes?

D: Don’t turn me into Captain Jack. I know you have been watching an awful lot of Torchwood lately, and I’m a bit concerned . . .

A: I would never!

D: . . .

A: His name starts with a J, and your alias’ all start with a D. Any other similarities between you are coincidence.

D: (Mutter, grumble) Bloody woman.

A: Cheers, D!

With that, I’m off to the library – tomorrow, when it’s not below 0° Fahrenheit! Wish me luck! Good night, folks!

The Billy the Kid and D Files, Pt 2


They were found on a roadside, deep in the Nevada desert. Part of a cache of documents obviously intended for a secure location, the files have been kept secret until today. Their earth-shattering contents will amaze, possibly frighten and answer the question: what happens when an infamous Old West gunslinger and a centuries-old time-travelling Druid meet up?

 Chaos. Card games. Drinking. And chaos.

Part 2: Lover’s Walk

D: Miss Angel, Billy, it’s great to see you again!

Angel: Just call me Angel. I’ve always just been Angel. You’ll spoil me with formalities.

D: A good lady deserves to be spoiled, Mi–Angel. Now, Billy, you said you’d tell me more about your adventures with Pat Garrett and Angel here! You must begin, friend – I can’t wait any longer.

billy 500 reward

Photo Courtesy: Flickr Commons

Billy: It was the adventure of a lifetime. Anyway, it was for my Angel. I was a fool and thought she was dead. Of course, how could I have known otherwise? She’d been shot multiple times.

D: Wait, shot?! Gods, that’s horrible! Who would shoot a woman?!

Billy: Patrick F. Garrett.

D: Sounds like a dastardly fellow. I’ve known a few Pats… they’ve never ended well. Tell me he got his comeuppance!

Billy: The foolish rat! He was the only one who’d dare shoot the love of my life.

Angel: Just breathe, Billy. And thank you D! You are so sweet!

D: I do try, really I do. You sound like a brave woman, Angel. Billy is lucky to have you at his side.

Billy: I surely am! I’d have died long ago if she’d been taken from me!

Angel: You are such a darling, D! Thank you, but really, I merely followed my brave leader.

D: I know how you feel. Well, Angel, he’s lucky to have you by his side – willing to follow him into danger and brave what the fates will throw at him. Makes a man a stronger fighter, I think.

Billy: Do you have a girl out there somewhere, my friend?

D: I do and I don’t . . . she lived long ago but had to make a choice between saving our clans and our way of life, and her heart. I think fate may have given us a second chance but we’re both going to have to wait a few lifetimes in order to see if fate is truly kind.

Briana: How did this turn into a love story? I thought it was just going to be Billy and D telling tall tales and making jokes! Perhaps inviting Angel wasn’t such a good idea.

A: I know, right? It’s always a love story. D doesn’t talk about Mairead very often, but he does love a good old fashioned love story.

D: Do not. I just appreciate a good woman who fights with her man. They’re in short supply!

Billy: Well I’ll be! Briana, please do give us a moment, will you? Being a woman, I am sure it is hard for you to see how us menfolk love and appreciate our true loves. Angel and Mairead are both one-of-a-kind and it brings us great joy to speak about them. But for me, I get to hold my Angel’s hand and tell her how much she means to me. I am so very sorry for your loss, D. Your Mairead sounds like one wonderful gal. I hope fate is kind to you and you will see her again.

Briana: Um, well, I suppose it won’t hurt for me to step out for a moment. What do you think, A? Is it safe to leave these two alone to talk for awhile? I can only imagine the chaos it could cause…

A: I think it’s … well, not safe per say, but I think I can manage to step away and let the boys have their chat!

Briana: Okay, if you can do it, then I guess I can, too!

Billy: Yippie! D! We’re free!!!

D: Huzzah! . . . Wait, I’m not sure what to do with this freedom! What do we do, Billy? Is there a train to rob?

Billy: I honestly don’t know, D. I think I’m a bit rusty at the outlaw stuff. Besides, I was never much of a locksmith, and I hear that nowadays, there are some pretty snazzy ones when money is concerned.

D: So I’m told – I’m rather used to the barter system myself. What do you do for fun nowadays, Billy?

playing cardsBilly: Well, I’m hardly ever let out of Briana’s imagination, so I’m a little lost right now. Not hearing her voice is something of a mystery to me….Anyhow, I’m not going to spoil my one glorious chance at complete freedom! For fun? Well, I am sort of addicted to poker. How are you with cards, D?

D: Truly, I wish A would let me play for her when she finds herself in front of a hand. I spent some time with some RAF pilots back in WWII. I love the cards!

Billy: I can’t say I’m a professional gambler, but I’m no cheat, either! What do you say? Up for a little game?

D: Certainly! I have a deck of cards here … how shall we go about doing this?

Billy: You pick the game, my friend. I’ll bring the gold nuggets!

The transcript ends here in a mess of unreadable squiggles. Considering what happened later, we’re fairly certain they were off-their-heads drunk by the time the night ended.

Read more about Billy and Briana at her blog, When I became an Author.

Read Part 1 of the Billy the Kid and D Files.

Wondering how D and Billy met? It all started when A decided to go on hiatus

The Billy the Kid and D Files

They were found on a roadside, deep in the Nevada desert. Part of a cache of documents obviously intended for a secure location, the files have been kept secret until today. Their earth-shattering contents will amaze, possibly frighten and answer the question: what happens when an infamous Old West gunslinger and a centuries-old time-travelling Druid meet up?

 Chaos. Card games. Drinking. And chaos.

Part 1: Introductions

Billy: D! D? Where are you, Partner?

D: I am… trying to angle myself around herself over here as she eats and types. And the Romans considered my people to be barbarians.

Billy: I know my Ma never used to let me eat and talk. I’d be backhanded for sure! Or bonked on the head with her old wooden spoon!

D: You are speaking my language, Billy. These (what do you call it A? A: First world? D: That’s it.) These First World Europeans and their American cousins don’t know what life is truly like. Plus, they have no manners.

Billy: I know exactly what you mean. Anyway, I think I do. I don’t know a lot about history, but I do love to read. Maybe one day you’ll loan me a book from your time. Well, I’m assumin’ that you’re from a different time than I am, anyway. Earlier than the 1800s, I’d bet.

D: I am – I was born in 667 AD … a good 1100 years before you, Billy! But your world and my world really aren’t that different. That’s why I love the Old West. It was the last time men did battle with the elements, rode on horseback and counted their livelihood through cattle. I never did get a chance to spend much time in the American west during my travels through time, but when I read about it… well, it reminds me of home. We counted our fortunes in the number of cattle we had. And my family – my clan – was wealthy in land and cattle. Never did get to lasso one, though – Sigh.

Oh, and I’ll hunt up a scroll for you – my people didn’t write much – no written language (Except for my mother, but that’s a whole other story!), but other cultures wrote about us. We scared the Romans and the Vikings fled before us, for a time, anyway! What about you, Billy – I’ve heard all sorts of tales about you – sometimes written by people who weren’t always too kind in their words!

cowboy-hatBilly: Thanks D, I’m not sure what a scroll is, but thanks! You sound like you come from a great place. The forefathers of cowboys and outlaws. That makes it an honor for me to know you, partner. And about me, well, there’s some who love me and some who hate me. Some look at me as an old west Robin Hood. But others have argued that I was nothing more than a bloodthirsty monster. I cannot say I have a heart of gold, but I didn’t kill for fun. Yes, I stole more than my share of money and cattle, and even some right nice horse flesh. But I never took anything from people who couldn’t live without it. I just couldn’t steal from the mouths of motherless youngsters, or take the only means of transportation from a lonely widow woman. Some say I had a streak of meanness a mile wide in me, but I don’t. That’s not to say I won’t fight for what’s mine and protect those that I love.

D: I think that goes a long with living a full life and having your name remembered well past your death, Billy. I think those that call you infamous are just jealous! Tell me, do you have a favorite heist? One that really sticks in your memory? And how does Briana feel about your adventures? A never tires giving her opinion when she’s writing mine.

Billy: I suppose you’re right. But I must say, I’ve always liked having and ‘infamous reputation’. It has a nice ring to it. And I have a memory that comes to mind right away. It wasn’t a heist, but an escape. It’s the greatest escape I ever made. I’d been sentenced to die, and only two weeks before I was to make my last walk through freedom and end at the gallows, I made the most glorious escape in all my history. But even that memory has a sour note. I had to kill a man who I thought of as my friend. He was the kindest lawman I’d even known. *sigh*

Briana: I love Billy. Really I do. If I’d lived during his time, I’d have hunted him down and–

A: Oooh!

D:A, get your mind out of the gutter!

Billy: Briana, please. I am trying to talk to my friend. You hardly ever let me out of this place and I do still like to have fun. My land! D! Can you believe these women???

D: They’re terrible! I’m all for equal rights (you’ve never seen terror until you’ve seen Celtic women fighting beside their men in battle), but these two are beyond decency.

I like your infamous reputation too, Billy – but I’ll fight any man who says you have a meanness. *You* didn’t make fun of my spurs. I’m sorry about your friend, though. Those are tough choices to have to make. I’ve watched men – friends – die. Sometimes I was the cause, and others – well, they were bloody and lawless times too. Who do you consider the biggest outlaw of your time? Who were your biggest rivals?

Billy: D, I won’t lie to you. I thought you looked just dandy! And your spurs were the best part! I had me a pair like those, back when I lived in Texas. They were about the niftiest gadgets ever invented. And actually, I don’t mean to sound vain, between the years of 1878 and 1881, I was the biggest outlaw out there. Everyone wanted me dead. And of course, Sheriff Pat Garrett was my worst rival. He would lead to my undoing, one way or another. And ah yes. It is the loveliest of all visions when the woman you love fights by your side. Speaking of, it is a good thing I brought a friend with me. D, I’d like you to meet my girl. This is Angel. Angel, this is my pal D.

Angel: Howdy. Nice hat you have there, Cowboy.

D: Did you hear that, A – he called me his pal and said the spurs were fine.

A: D . . . focus, D. There’s a pretty girl – kiss her hand or do something druidy…

D: Druidy?

A: You know what I mean.

D: *blushes* Why thank you, Ms. Angel. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Angel: The pleasure is all mine, Good Sir. Billy has told me ever so much about you. All very good things, of course.

Billy: *chuckles* This is the girl Pat Garrett tried to take from me.

D: Thank you, Ms. Angel – Billy! She’s divine. I can see why the Sheriff was keen to steal her from you! Tell me, was it a rousing adventure? How did you get away?!

Billy: I’m afraid that is a tale for another day, D. Briana’s telling me we have to step aside now. Care to continue this later, partner?

D: Do I ever, Billy! I’ll see you soon.

Read The Billy the Kid and D Files, Part 2

Find out more about Billy and Briana at her blog, When I Became an Author.

Wondering how D and Billy met? It all started when A decided to go on hiatus

Oddments and triflings

D: A, you are an oddment and a trifling.

A: Gee, D. With compliments like that it’s a wonder you spent your life alone!

D: Oi!

A: See, two play at the insult game. It’s not just yours to monopolize!

D: (Grumble).

A: Exactly.

D: If not you, then what are our oddments and triflings?

A: They are a highlight of some of the lovely posts I read today, that made a typical Monday a delight, when I had a chance to breathe, that is.

D: I see. A joint tale-telling, so?

A: Indeed.

First, at We Drink Because We’re Poets

D: Uh, A, Excuse me, but you’re not a poet.

A: And?

D: What’s your excuse?

kombuchaA: This isn’t a drink as such, D. It’s Kombucha.

D: It’s fermented, though.

A: Sure, but only a little. It’s good for you. All sorts of pro-biotic goodness for the gut to heal it from all those delightfully-inflammatory potatoes I ate over the weekend.

D: I think you’re some sort of witch.

A: Thank you, D. Moving on:

The prolific Charles and the delightful Rara go head to head with some incredible poetry. Stop by We Drink Because We’re Poets to vote in Round 1 of the Championship For The Ages Final!

Also at We Drink Because We’re Poets–

D: I think you just like saying the name.

A: And?

D: . . .

A: As I thought. There’s a new exercise/prompt debuting on August 11. Read more about it, mark your calendars, and participate, because it looks to be great fun!

D: This means we’re taking part, correct?

A: You bet your Pictish, Time-Traveling arse.

D: It’s such a pity she uses her words for things like that. It could be so much more. (Sigh.) Regardless, the Community Storyboard Creative Writing Challenge continues with this day 3 Prompt: Write a story set before 1950. A of course cheated and used a chapter opener that she wrote last night, which she’s titled, “Where do we go from here?”

A: What, is it my fault I rarely write anything set after 1950? No, I think not. Finally, Charles did a guest-post on Green Embers’ blog about character classes in Dungeon and Dragons. D, I’d like you to take notes on the Druid part.

D: I’m not that kind of Druid.

A: I know, but –

D: You’re mocking me.

A: Yes, I am, but –

D: I am a teller of tales; I hold the clan’s record of births and deaths within my soul, I gaze at the stars and interpret their patters, I have the magic of the ancients in my veins, and you’re telling me that all it amounts to is having antlers in my hair—

A: D, chill. I like the antlers.

D: . . . I give up.

A: Ha! I win. Good night, folks!!

Where do we go from here? (Prompt)

D: A, this is a spoiler!

A: No it isn’t, D. It’s a teaser.

D: There’s a difference?


A: Yes.


D: And . . . ?

A: D, it’s Monday. Let’s just let it be a teaser for Part 4 of the book, okay?!


D: (Sigh) As you will.