Tag Archives: Culture

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Jim Jam and His Troope of Faeries

I couldn’t find pictures of red foxgloves. But this is what faerie hats look like, only red. 🙂 Attribution: W.J.Pilsak at the German language Wikipedia.

When I told my husband about Irish faeries being in my book, I think it put him in mind of Tinkerbell and adventures in tiny faerie villages with smiling bugs for sidekicks.

Er, no.

Irish faeries, aka The Good People, are not Disney-esque in the least and you must treat them with proper respect. If you don’t, you may regret it.

This was a difficult post to write because I didn’t want to risk giving away too much of my story. Also, there are tons of different myths and ideas about the Fae Folk. It can be a fascinating study, and I highly recommend it. But here’s a general rundown of how I depict the faeries in The Stone of Kings.

What He Looks Like

Most of the time, the faeries are invisible. If you are worthy enough to be able to see them, you’ll find that they disguise themselves to look like foxglove (or lusmore) flowers. Like the others, Jim Jam is tiny and green. He wears clothes styled like the aristocracy of 1715, but all in green hues. The only thing not green is his hat, which is tall and pointy like a foxglove blossom. It is specifically red, because red is a magical color in the faerie world. Jim Jam also has delicate wings which is an aspect that I chose to use for my book. Some of the faerie myths have them to be wingless.

His Part To Play

Each immortal druid deals with a specific faerie troope. Jim Jam is the chief of the troope that deals with Bresal. We really only see them at the beginning and the end of the story, but they are central to the plot, nonetheless. Like with the other druids, Jim Jam and his faeries have given Bresal his magical spells. But the law stands that he must not write down the spells. Jim Jam kind of knows that Bresal will break this law, and lets it happen.

Jim Jam has his reasons…

What He Means to the Story

I found Jim Jam’s name in the story “Frank Martin and the Fairies.” I don’t think there’s any great significance to his name other than that. I just liked it. 🙂

His Failing

The Fae Folk don’t have failings, in my opinion. 😉 But if you want to call it a failing, they like to make trouble for people who don’t respect them.

Respect the faeries!

His Strength

Jim Jam and his troope of faeries are extremely intelligent. They understand human nature better than humans themselves. They gift worthy people because they recognize how these people can make Ireland a better place than it already is. If you’ve ever been to Ireland, it’s hard to imagine it to need improvements (such a gorgeous country!), but the faeries know how to pull it off.

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some faerie myths that you’ve encountered? Have you ever seen a faerie rath? Do you have a faerie inspired story to share?

Join me this week for Wednesday Welcomes! We get a sneak peek at E.A. West’s brand new release, Pressure.

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Turlough O’Carolan

Oh! to have been one of those people in that audience! What fun it was making him a character! 🙂

I have done my absolute best to keep myself from going on and on about this fascinating historical figure for this post. It wasn’t easy. But if you’d like to learn more, other than by reading my book (which is a fictitious account), here is the link to his biography.

What He Looks Like

I didn’t have to imagine too much here. Turlough is the only character who was based on a real person hence the above image. I did TONS of research on this fascinating man from Irish history. I chose to illustrate him as a he was in his forties, fully recognized throughout Ireland and yet before he was married.

His Part to Play

The research I did for The Stone of Kings included William Butler Yeats’ book Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. What does that have to do with Turlough? Here is the crucial line from the chapter on the Trooping Fairies, “Carolan, the last of the Irish bards, slept on a rath, and ever after the fairy tunes ran in his head, and made him the great man he was.”

BOOM!

There was my story. A “rath,” by the way, is a fairy home or fort. Ideas blossomed in my head about Turlough’s music, his relationship with the faeries and druids, and how he influences both them and his fellow Irishmen. But I tried to stay as true to who he really was as I could, so I also read Donal O’Sullivan’s Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper.

A big chunk of my research is found right in the prologue which is in the Amazon sample. 🙂 As a little side note, I was crushed to realize that I wrote “County Mead, Ireland” when I know there is no such place. I obviously meant “Meath,” however, after further research realized that it should have been Roscommon (the prologue was added during editing). I blame gluten. But it doesn’t change the story anyway. 😉

What He Means to the Story

Turlough is, of course, the famed blind harper of Ireland. He had many guides to assist him in his travels, and at the time of my story, his guide is Thomas. Turlough is very fond of Thomas because they have a similar background, and he treats him as family. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a meaning for Turlough’s name, which doesn’t matter in the slightest. But he was occasionally known as Terrence, which is the alias that Hannah gives to Thomas while they stay at the Bed and Breakfast in 2023.

The most important thing about Turlough is that he underscores the idea of uniting the Irish despite creed, which is a major theme of the story and his own history. Turlough was a person I would LOVE to have known. He was a friend to anyone who did not oppress people. My kind of friend!

His Failing

He is a bit of a drunk and has a temper. In the story, he forgets that there is a time and a place for drowning your troubles in the drink, and not when you are on a rescue mission with an immortal druid. His temper, while justified, gets him in some tight spots. He also doubts his own usefulness while they attempt to rescue Thomas and Ardan. After all, he is merely a blind bard…right? Hmm…

His Strength

Like the others, he is loyal. Both to his friends, especially Thomas, and to his country. He also harbors no prejudices. He is kind and courteous to the English family they encounter, despite the fact that the English government continue to oppress him and his people. He allows the English family to prove that they are not an oppressive sort, and therefore judges them to be kindred spirits.

And, of course, there is his magical and mysterious music. But how can music bring Thomas and Ardan back to the year 1715 or save Bresal from the judgement of the druid council?

Have you ever heard of Turlough O’Carolan? Do you find him to be a fascinating character too? Are you familiar with his music? What is your favorite Carolan song?

Next week…meet Hannah!

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Thomas

This is a farm that was abandoned during the potato famine in 1845-49. But I can imagine that Thomas could have farmed such gorgeous, dramatic landscape in the 1700’s. It would build his physique and admiration of his country. Then it was taken from him. Ugh. Image attributed to Kevin Danks via Wikimedia Commons.

Sorry for the delay. Life got in my way yesterday. 😉

What He Looks Like

I am unashamed going cliché for this – Thomas is tall, dark, and handsome. He is by trade a farmer, but was forced to try his hand at becoming a blacksmith until Turlough O’Carolan came along and offered Thomas a job as his guide. Naturally, all that manual labor buffed him up. So yeah, he’s got some serious muscular action going on. Just wait till he ditches his 1715 garb for a modern-day T-shirt and khakis. 😉

His Part to Play

Thomas is illiterate and has no desire for higher learning. He has a tendency to live in the moment because the English have taken his family’s land. He LOVES his homeland. This is why being a guide for Turlough O’Carolan is a pretty cool consolation for not having land to farm anymore. He’s happy where he is at the start of the story, so he’s pretty livid when that world is turned upside down by Ardan’s curiosity. But when he meets Hannah… hmm. Well, maybe he should start thinking more about his future and his role to play in the history of the country he loves.

What He Means to the Story

Thomas’s name actually means “twin.” I could say, “Yeah, I used it because he has a dual life. He has a strong impact on Ireland’s past and future.” Because…he does.

*giggle*

I was probably more influenced by my four-year-old’s infatuation with a certain steam train character when choosing a name for Thomas. While Irish readers may not have an issue with names like Ardan, Bresal, Turlough, or even Taichleach, my hubby reminded me that American readers would probably trip over too many of those kinds of names. So Thomas, it was. 🙂 The fact that his name means “twin” is coincidental.

He is the male romantic figure in the story, the trouble is, he falls in love with Hannah who lives three centuries after him. He struggles to keep his emotions in check while he and Ardan are dependent on her for their survival of the twenty-first century.

His Failing

Thomas is too complacent. He is comfortable with his illiteracy and he is comfortable being the guide for Ireland’s greatest harper. He fails to realize that he has more to offer the country he loves. He thinks he is just a simple farmer and cannot do anything about the unfairness of losing his land. But everyone has something important to bring to the table…

His Strength

He is unfailingly loyal and trusting. He obeys his instincts and they almost never fail him. He is not so stubborn that he cannot switch roles. He starts out as the guide for a blind bard, and has no qualms when he needs guidance himself from Hannah. This proves an important quality when he faces a certain member of the modern-day IRA.

And there is the obvious, his old-fashioned strength, which comes in handy against leering scoundrels and brainwashed gunmen. 😉

Do you find yourself being too complacent? Would it take a wild faerie spell to wake you up to your talents? 😉 How would you feel if the land you loved was taken from you and you couldn’t do anything about it? 

Next week…meet Turlough O’Carolan!

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Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Bresal

Long lost cousins, maybe? 🙂 Image attributed to “GANDALF” by Nidoart – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GANDALF.jpg#mediaviewer/File:GANDALF.jpg

What He Looks Like

I’ve got a blending of Gandalf and Dumbledore in my head when I think of Bresal. Definitely a long, white beard. But it’s the eyes and clothes that make Bresal different from the two wizards. Bresal’s guise is of a simple 1715 Irish farmer. But it’s his eyes – if one was to question the pale blue color of his eyes, they might discover a taste of what makes Bresal so extraordinary.

His Part to Play

Bresal is an immortal druid. In The Stone of Kings, the Irish druids are given magic by the faeries for the purpose of keeping mankind distracted from a desire to worship the faeries. It is the knowledge of the magic gives their eyes such an extreme color. By 1715, Christianity is firmly rooted in the Irish culture, so that druids, like Bresal, had little purpose but to keep faeries safe from mankind and vice versa. Most of the druids are hermit-like, but Bresal has preferred to raise and educate foundlings – hence his fatherly relationship with Ardan. Even more disturbing to the druid community is Bresal’s love of written words – hence his creation of the illegally written book of faerie spells. *wiggles fingers mysteriously* Whooo! 😉

What He Means to the Story

Bresal’s name means “pain” or “war.” Well, there’s a big clue. By creating the book of spells, he inadvertently creates the conflict for the plot. Little does he know that his book will help highlight the war that mars the beauty of the Irish people and their history. As for the pain, well, Bresal himself knows that losing his little red book means certain death. Yet he is determined to compel the druid council to rescue Ardan and Thomas before the pain starts. He just doesn’t quite know how he will accomplish it.

His Failing

He breaks druid tradition and falls in love with the written word. Historically, druids never wrote anything down, which is why we don’t really know much about them. But Bresal can’t seem to stop himself from breaking this druid law, even though he knows he would be put to death if the council finds out about it. He also breaks tradition by fostering orphans. This habit isn’t illegal, but it is frowned on by most of the council and puts him in an unfavorable position within their ranks.

His Strength

He breaks druid tradition and falls in love with the written word. Yes, I said that was his failing. But it’s also his strength. Bresal recognizes that the changing world requires knowledge and that some traditions should be challenged. His ability to adapt and change allows him to acquire allies – even allies of different creeds and backgrounds. They unite for a common purpose, and unity = strength. But is it strong enough?

Have you ever broken a tradition? Did it make your situation better or worse? Did you ever find yourself writing or doing something even though you knew it could cause trouble?

Next week, meet Thomas!

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World Blog Hop – Redo

TheStoneofKings_500X750Alrighty then! Trying this again, despite the fact that the wind has died a bit from the sails. I was asked to participate in the World Blog Hop a few weeks ago, and between my computer eating my first draft and zombie porcupines destroying my guts, I was unable to get it done. But I got it now, so…

1) What are you working on?

Why would you assume I’m working on anything? Oh, yeah, I’m a writer. 😉

At the moment, I’ve been working on the screenplay for The Stone of Kings. And while it would be a dream come true if it were made into a movie, that’s not really why I’m writing it. I studied screenplays briefly in high school, and I’d always wanted to write one. What I’m learning in the process is fabulous. Writing in this style is forcing me to think about my story visually. We writers tend to slip into telling the story instead of showing it. Screenplay writing is a fantastic way to remedy that tendency. I may just write the screenplay before I submit any of my following works and cross check to see how I can make the novel form better. 🙂

A project that I have on pause right now is a mystery/suspense about the American Civil War. It’s about halfway finished and has been that way for almost a year. 😉 I’m stuck on the technicalities of a major plot point. Wrapping up and publishing The Stone of Kings has put it to the back burner.

2) How does your work differ from others in your genre?

My genre? Hee hee. That’s a funny question.

I don’t really have a set genre. Harp Lessons is a sweet romance, The Stone of Kings is a historical fiction/fantasy, my WIP is a mystery/suspense. After that I have two more ideas, one is a dystopia, the other is a historical thriller. But all of them share a general theme of investigation and getting “the whole story” before making a decision about a person or situation. It falls into my theme of finding ways of working together as people, instead of focusing on differences and using them to tear us apart.

Which leads me to…

3) Why do you write what you write?

The answer to this is basically in my author bio. It’s incredible to me that there are still parts of society haven’t moved past racism and bigotry. What I write is my effort to help.

4) How does your writing process work?

Gotta do it in longhand. I can’t seem to create on a computer. The words simply don’t flow.

I’m also a pantser. I have no idea how my story will end until I’m more than halfway through. I usually let the characters decide how the story goes. Sometimes, I get too bossy. That’s when my characters put me in my place and do the opposite of what I thought they would do. 🙂

I’d love to hear from you!

Are you a writer? How would you answer these questions? 

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Please Take Care of What We Teach Our Children – A Lesson from Ferguson

History quoteI know I was going to post my response to the World Blog Hop today, but I was struck with this inspiration and felt that this was seriously more important. It also falls in line with my theme as a writer. I was listening to NPR in the car this morning, and heard an interview with an anonymous black female officer from Ferguson, MO. I have scoured the NPR sites trying to find the interview so that I can hear it again and link to it here because some of the things she said resonated with me. If anyone has the link I would very much appreciate it.

Okay, so bear with me. I’m operating on a scattered gluten brain and wasn’t taking notes (since I was driving), but after explaining how she felt like an outsider in the police department, but was okay with it, the officer was asked about her thoughts on officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown. If I remember correctly, she was more concerned with what made the Wilson so scared of Brown, that he felt his life was threatened.

She went on to describe the stigma that is taught to you from a young age in that area. Whether you are white or black, you have to fear those whose skin is a different color. But she couldn’t explain why it’s that way.

How sad. And look where that kind of teaching has gotten us. An unarmed young man is killed, and a town riots.

We’ve been down this road before.

No one likes it. Except maybe the media (which is why I hesitate to talk about this at all).

What I’m most concerned with is why history seems to be constantly repeating itself. I challenge people to stop and think about why people have these fears and feelings. Were they taught to feel this way? Are they still unknowingly teaching their children to feel the same? I know from experience that children are very observant sponges and sometimes parents aren’t even aware that they are teaching their children to think a certain way.

Please, PLEASE think about how you respond to people who are “different” from you and your children. Whether the other people are white/black, fat/thin, disabled/”healthy,” etc., please teach your children to get to know people, before passing judgement on whether or not that person is a “threat.”

Chances are, a perceived threat can be a great friend. And you would miss out.

Please help to break this cycle of fear. It starts at home. Teach your children not to miss out on friendship.

I’d love to hear from you!

What do you think causes these cycle of racially charged riots? Do you think it’s caused by the parents teaching their children to fear? Do you think that we can finally end the cycle?

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Friday Fun! In Honor of Robin Williams

We will miss him. Image attributed to “Robin Williams Aviano” by U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tabitha M. Mans – http://www.aviano.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/071222-F-5397M-112.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robin_Williams_Aviano.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Robin_Williams_Aviano.jpg

Monday night, I went to check my email, and Yahoo news reported that Robin Williams had died. I was so shocked, I gasped and blurted it out to hubby before realizing that William was in earshot. He took a strong interest, probably because of the name Williams. He understands about death and that sometimes it just happens whether by old age, poor health, or accident.

But then he asked, “How did he die?” Hubby and I looked at each other. We silently agreed that six was too tender an age to learn about suicide.

I wish I had Robin Williams’ wit. He would have turned the question around to something hilarious. We took the lame route. “We’ll explain when you’re older.”

A couple of days later, William made it funny by accident. He asked, “Did they take that actor you like to the White House and bury him in the sand?”

What?

Oh! Ha! One of the boys’ favorite songs is Harry Belafonte’s “John Henry.” When John Henry dies at the end, they take him to the White House and bury him in the sand.

If William were older, and had seen Patch Adams, I would have quoted my favorite line from that movie. “And if we bury you [backside] up, I have got a place to park my bike.” I can only imagine the kind of gags Robin Williams would have come up with after being compared to John Henry.

While we are deeply saddened that Robin Williams suffered silently, we are also deeply grateful for the brilliant fun, humor, and wisdom he so generously gave us. The world is that much brighter because he was alive.

I’d love to hear from you!

What is your favorite Robin Williams line or moment? Have you ever had to explain suicide to a six-year-old? How did you handle it?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Stop by my Facebook page and check out the contest to try for a PDF copy of The Stone of Kings!

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