Tag Archives: English

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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Wednesday Welcomes: Heather Gray!

Whew! Summer is busy now that I’ve got a kid who’s been in school. It shouldn’t be any different than before he started, but somehow it is.

Weird.

Anyway, I can still do guest features pretty easily! 😀 So without further ado, I’d like to welcome back the delightful Heather Gray! Enjoy!


Back Cover Blurb:

Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?

 

 

Excerpt:

1810

A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.

Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.

Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.

Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.

Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.

Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.

Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.

He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

 

****

 

A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.

The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.

Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.

The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.

Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.

Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

 

Author Bio:

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that’s not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict.  Some things just can’t be helped.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

iTunes

 

Where to Find Me:

My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite

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5 Quick Tips About Irish Faeries

That hat is red. Trust me.

I’ve been so busy learning about screenplays this past week, that I almost forgot to write today’s post!

With all due respect to the movie The Labyrinth, which I grew up watching over and over… and over, I’ve learned that faeries command more respect than from a fear of being bitten by them as if they were nothing more than beautiful bugs. 😉 My Grandma Caroline didn’t talk about the faeries often. But when she did, she spoke about them as if they were real. She gave me W. B. Yeats book on Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore, and on page one I saw why she might have been so silent on them – “Beings so quickly offended that you must not speak much about them at all,…”

Huh, but we lived in America at the time. I guess old habits die hard.

But silence on the subject puts a damper in my story, so I did take a few liberties. I hope The Good People can forgive me. Which leads me to my first tip (many of these come from Yeats, some come from The Stone of Kings):

  1. “…never call them anything but the “gentry,” or else daoine maithe, which in English means good people,…” I’d much rather refer to them as Good People than Bad People anyway. 😉
  2. They are “…so easily pleased, they will do their best to keep misfortune away from you,…” I think I’d want these guys on my side…
  3. Don’t mess with the rath! – A rath is the faery’s fort. This can be a simple mound of earth. My mom says that the Irish even build some of their roads in such a way to avoid destroying a rath. And yet – we come to a bit of inspiration for my book – Yeats says, “Carolan,…slept on a rath, and ever after the fairy tunes ran in his head and made him the great man he was.” This leads us to…
  4. They love good music! My account of how O’ Carolan acquired his abilities is not completely accurate (you’ll just have to wait for my book to come out 😉 ). But I believe that it encompasses the ideas of how the faeries are easily offended yet appreciate a good tune. For more on this, read the story of Lusmore and the Fairies.
  5. If you want them to visit your garden, plant red foxglove. I believe this is something I borrowed from the story of The Priest’s Supper, found in Yeats’ book. When the priest comes along, “…away every one of the fairies scampered off as hard as they could, concealing themselves under the green leaves of the lusmore, where, if their little red caps should happen to peep out, they would only look like its crimson bells;…” In my book, anyone associated with fairies has red foxglove (lusmore) in their garden so the faeries have a place to hide. 😀

What are some tips you’ve picked up Irish faeries? Have you ever had a run in with them? Share your story! 😀

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Filed under Books I Love, The Stone of Kings, Writing

Wednesday Welcomes: M. Kircher!

Today, I’m so excited to introduce a new release by M. Kircher! The Dream On story line looks fabulous! I can hardly wait to read it! 😀

****

Seventeen-year-old dreamwalker, Em, might have to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.

Emily Dal Monte and her mother, Lily, are special. They’re humans with a glitch in their genetic code that allows them to explore the fantastic, and often terrifying, world of their dreams for as long as they choose to remain asleep. But when Em’s father is killed in a tragic accident and her distraught mother loses herself more and more in the dreams of her crumbling mind, Em is forced to support the two of them the only way she knows how, by writing down her mother’s amazing dreams and selling them as books. Enter Gabriel Sobel, the handsome punk newcomer at Em’s high school who realizes Em is the daughter of his favorite, reclusive author. Gabe can’t figure out why Em keeps brushing him off and makes it his mission to find out what’s really going at the Dal Monte household. He stumbles upon their shocking family secret just as Lily takes a turn for the worse. It’s up to Em, Gabe, and one very nosy book editor to hop from one extraordinary dream to the next to find Lily and convince her to wake up before she loses her mind…and before Em loses her first chance at love.

 

Excerpt:

Tiny shafts of sunlight stream down from the treetops above us, forming small rings that illuminate the red pine-covered ground below. It’s weird how quiet it is here. There are none of the sounds you’d normally associate with a forest, like the scurrying tread of small animals or the soft breeze rustling through the trees. Everything is completely still.

I rest my forehead against the warm bark of the tree and try to calm my racing thoughts. How do I get us out of this mess? Mom and Evan aren’t here with Gabe and me. At least, as far as I can tell, they aren’t here, and we don’t have any time to find them. Evan and Gabe need to wake up now, or they could die. It’s so simple, yet so complicated. Do I save Gabe’s life? Or do I continue to risk killing him and try to save everyone? If I pull Gabe out, I could risk losing both Mom and Evan inside this dream. I have no idea if Mom’s recognition of me was a moment’s clarity, or something more lasting. I might never be able to locate her and Evan again.

A sob rises in my throat. I can’t help it. I’m so tired and overwhelmed, and we’re all so deeply in trouble. Despite my best efforts, the sob escapes, and then I can’t seem to stop another one from bursting out of my mouth. And then another one. Huge, wrenching cries tear through me, and I double over, my face in my hands, as the tears stream through my fingertips.

It’s all just too much.

I hear Gabe come to stand beside me, and before I can protest, he draws me back into his arms. I can’t seem to stop crying. I’m so embarrassed, but I just can’t stop.

His rough fingers catch the bottom of my chin, and slowly he tilts my face up toward his, so we’re gazing into each other’s eyes. My breath hitches, and it’s not just from all the crying.

“I’m sorry, Em,” Gabe whispers, his soft words loud in the silence surrounding us. “But there’s no one I’d rather be with right now than you.”

Buy Links:

Love is dangerous for Emily, even in her dreams.

Author Bio: M. KIRCHER graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Gordon College. She devours YA, science fiction, fantasy, and romance on a regular basis and is immensely happy to pour her time and energy into creating stories for other people to enjoy. Bob Ross and J.R.R. Tolkien tie for her two favorite people of all time.

 M. Kircher lives in Connecticut with her husband, energetic son, and new baby girl.

 

Publisher: Astraea Press http://www.astraeapress.com/

Date: April 22, 2014

Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance

Pages: 223

Language: English

Website: http://mkircher.com/

Blog: http://mkircher.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mkircher83

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MKircher83

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7202354.M_Kircher

Amazon Author Profile: http://www.amazon.com/M.-Kircher/e/B00E8AKEGI

Wattapad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/MelissaKircher

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How Not To Be Below Average

Don’t get stomped on by making yourself less than average. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Do you remember the Monty Python sketch, “How Not To Be Seen?” I recently received a request on my blog that made me think of this. Here is the request that I didn’t actually approve because I don’t want to embarrass the person who made this comment on my Beowulf/Bilbo post and instead allow them to stay anonymous:

“What does Beowulf and Bilbo have in common in both stories? I need help for my English response… Can someone help me pleaaseee ?”

*sigh*

I have had to rewrite and edit today’s post more than usual to keep it from sounding condescending and mean-spirited. It was a challenge because the request posed was kind of over-the-top. A bit like Monty Python. 😉

I wrote a post last year about my thoughts on the Hobbit versus Beowulf and while I’m happy that it tends to be my most viewed post, I’ve often been worried that lazy students might use my words for their assignments. Indeed, all this anonymous person had to do was to actually read my post, and they would have found what they needed. But now I figure, that if they plagiarise me and don’t get caught, then their teacher needs to do a bit more legwork. I did when I taught.

The sad thing is, that those students who don’t get caught, begin to think that they will never get caught. And when their chance to learn, grow, and be great passes, they become just like Mrs B.J. Smegma of 13, The Crescent, Belmont who didn’t have the sense to learn from the mistakes of the guy ahead of her.

Kaplooey.

Okay, so maybe they won’t get blown up or shot, but eventually they will get caught. If not for plagiarism, then for some other shady deal they’ve gotten themselves into. Plagiarism IS stealing.

Notice how I’ve titled today’s post. I didn’t say, “How not to be average.” Average is fine. Average can be hard work that you can be proud of because you did it yourself. But keeping yourself below average, when you are fully capable of doing the work… well, you’ve just set yourself up for failure in life.

Those who don’t learn to become independent will forever continue trying to live off others. This doesn’t fly in the real world. No one is going to earn your living for you, no matter how nice your pleaaseee is. Oh, you may get away with it a few times, but eventually, your luck will run out.

So instead, to this person, I’ll give you a gift. Pride. The feeling you get when you work really hard on something and get a good score and the score  belongs to YOU. It’s YOURS. Not the person who secretly did the work for you. If you have enough gumption to have something to actually turn in to your teacher then you can push yourself to do your own work. Just imagine Jillian Michaels hovering over you – “Come on! You CAN do it!” – as you plow through the material. 😀

I’m allowing this person to remain in anonymity in hopes that they’ll read this post instead and understand why I did not respond with “write this verbatim for your assignment…” Though somehow, I doubt that will happen :/ but at least I’ve had my say.

I won’t do your work for you. It’s YOUR responsibility. OWN it. Or you will never own anything.

Have you ever been mooched from? How did you handle it? Did you try to teach a life skill instead?

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#20 Words Or Storyline? How Do Books Make Your “Favorites” List?

Image attributed to ALA TechSource from Chicago, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Words certainly count for a lot, but I’d have to say storyline. And even then, if something turns me off I shut the book. Conversely, if I really love the storyline, I’ll read it again and again. So I guess I’ll talk about the repeat favorites.

As a kid, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. I loved how the magic of a simple neglected garden could benefit the lives of two neglected children. Burnett didn’t even have to mention it, but you could feel Lily’s spirit helping her son and niece become happier and healthier children. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts but it’s fun to dream about them.

A Christmas Carol is another favorite. Another ghost story. Go figure. I suppose it’s nice to think of a spirit giving us a gentle nudge (or in Scrooge’s case not so gentle) in the right direction. But I’ve also favored books such as Pride and Prejudice, where a girl doesn’t give up her values and marry for money just because her family is in a bind. I was going to list Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, separately, but as odd as it is to lump them together they are both classic underdog stories. I’ve always loved the underdog.

Speaking of underdogs, Harry Potter is another favorite, but more so because of the lesson against bigotry that the books teach. A less epic, but more grown up version of this theme can be found in By the Light of the Moon. I love how the course of the story forces the characters to realize just how strongly they detest bigotry. The bonus in BTLOTM, is the words. Koontz is very descriptive, but I especially enjoy how poetic he seems to get during the more intense scenes.

One of the more frustrating books that I shut? Love In the Time of Cholera. I was enjoying the plot of life on a sugar plantation, but then it turned into page after page of details with prostitutes. What? Okay, really, I didn’t need that. Just a small description of how he went philandering, so I can get back to the plot that drew me in. Ugh. Never finished it.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 18,912 lol, don’t think I’m gonna make 50,000 by November 30th, but I’m loving how my plot is going. At least it’s been circumstances that keep me from writing and not writer’s block. 🙂 I’ll keep pushing though, to see how much I can manage this month.

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Filed under Blogging Contest, Books I Love, NaNoWriMo

#13 Thoughts on Shakespeare?

Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Image attributed to Tracy, from North Brookfield, Massachusetts, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Ha! I even already had an image from a long ago post on the subject. Well, feels like long ago, anyway.

I loved studying Shakespeare in college. I know I took at least three classes which focused on him and his plays. My favorite class was online at USF and studied how different scenes had been produced on-screen in different ways. We usually had to explain why we agreed or disagreed with the interpretation and cite our answers with evidence from the text.

Talk about an in-depth approach!

As a kid, my parents used to take my sister and I to Shakespeare in the Park. I remember being mesmerized by scenes, but of course, I had no idea what was going on. After all, the actors spoke (what I thought at the time to be) Old English. But the construct and flow of words still pulled me in and I was hooked on that wonderful iambic pentameter.

I have an easier time understanding the plays these days, though I still pull out my trusty Bevington if I want  to make certain that I’ve got a firm grasp of a scene. Some of the more archaic terminology continues to elude me unless I look up the definition.

But my, aren’t some of these words fun?

Robustious periwig-pated, bare bodkin, orisons, argosies, beshrew, peck of provender, scambling…

Why did they ever fall into obscurity?

My favorite play is Hamlet and my favorite production is the beautiful Kenneth Branagh version, though I enjoyed the 1980 BBC version as well. I loathe the Mel Gibson version. I felt Gibson put too much of his own spin on the character and lost all the charm that Shakespeare put into him. I’d go into more detail, but it’s been too long since I’ve seen that one, and I have no desire to subject myself to it again.

As a final note, yes, we named our first son William because of Shakespeare. Though hubby will tell you that he’s named for William Wallace. 😉

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 10,744

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