Writing

Can You Break My Code?

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I couldn’t just be a ‘normal’ 14-year-old. 😉 Don’t worry, this page isn’t what you have to decode.

Finally! I’ve been wanting to do this for months but one thing or another has kept me from it. Here it is at last!

Back in the day…

…I created a code so no one could read my super secret teenage thoughts. This is one of the pages and pages of my “code diary.”

At first I was going to simply post the above image and have you all try to crack it. But after getting several opinions, it was unanimous that this was too hard by itself. It’s difficult to see the word breaks, and it IS a lot of letters to decode. I’d probably only attract nerdy nutters like myself. While I LOVE nerdy nutters, I want this to be fun for everyone.

So instead…

Your mission…

…should you choose to accept it: decode the following Thanksgiving themed phrase.

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Each symbol represents a letter of the alphabet. As you can see, I gave you the vowels. 🙂

Email your entry to me at shea_ford@yahoo.com by November 29th. I will select a random winner to be announced on November 30th.

Your prize…

…an Amazon copy of The Stone of Kings!

Why is this kind of contest related to the story? I’m sure the Irish druids had a much different set of symbols on the rare occasions when they wrote things down. But when Bresal communicates with Taichleach via magic symbols in stones, these were the symbols that I visualized.

Just go with it. 😉

Wait…there’s more!

I have a big announcement to make on the 30th, so be sure to look for that when you stop in to see if you’re my winner! 😀

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Books I Love

Why Aren’t You Walkin’ the Walk?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s been almost a month since Dylann Roof shot nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. And wow. Folks far and wide have been acting like Chicken Little over the Confederate Battle flag and what really caused the Civil War.

But I’ve heard a common statement that I agree with, especially when it comes to the Battle Flag. We need to change our hearts and minds if we are to end racism. 

Yes. Good! Let’s do it!

So when my local Barnes & Noble organized a reading of To Kill a Mockingbird, I signed up as volunteer reader. Yesterday’s event was to promote the release of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman.

What better way to promote the change of hearts and minds than with a reading of a beloved piece of literature which illustrates the evils of racism?

I probably should have promoted the event. But I get nervous when I speak in front of crowds, so I figured I’d let B&N do the promoting. They are better at it than me anyway.

I also figured, hey, everyone says they want to change hearts and minds, so there should be plenty of people there supporting such a book, right?

Right.

I had signed up for the evening read slot because my five- and seven-year-old boys probably wouldn’t sit for a reading with the lure of the Thomas the Train table calling to them from the children’s section. So they stayed home with Daddy while I went by myself.

And then I sat…by myself.

B&N had a great set up with a banner and a large circle of chairs with several copies of To Kill a Mockingbird for people who wanted to follow along with the reading. But like Kathleen Kelly, I was a lone reed.

Where were all the people who wanted to change hearts and minds? Huh? Everyone was talkin’ the talk. So why was I the only one walkin’ the walk?

Apparently, there were people there reading earlier yesterday. Kudos to them for walkin’. It was an all day event and folks still have things to do. Like me. I wouldn’t expect them to stay for the whole day.

But after hearing all the talkin’, I expected to see SOME people there for all parts of the reading. I wonder how many people would be there if it had been a reading of Grey?

While reading comments whenever the news outlets publish an article about the Battle flag, I find the reactions dismaying. What I see as the problem has less to do with North vs. South and more to do with a breakdown of comprehension and communication. Everyone is talking history but hardly anyone is citing sources. When did everyone become a credible historian?

And then there are the ones who go completely off topic:

Original Commenter: “The Civil War was about slavery, not States Rights. “

Replier: “You ain’t taking my flag away. It’s my First Amendment right!!!”

That “argument” might as well go:

Original Commenter: “French Fries are made from potatoes, not cauliflower.”

Replier: “You ain’t gonna eat all the pepperonis off of my pizza!!!”

As a fellow writer friend pointed out, “When two people are shouting no one is listening.”

Pretty much.

The thing is, I’ve illustrated what I would hope would happen among arguing people within The Stone of Kings. This scene calls to me over and over because I wish there were a way to get more people to see it and use it to bring about peace.

If you’ll indulge me, here it is. Ireland has had their own North vs. South problem. In my book, Ciaran has tried to pull a Dylann Roof (remember, I published this almost a YEAR ago) by murdering innocent people in Northern Ireland. Thomas is tasked with talking sense into him. I liken him to the beautiful families of the nine victims who forgave Roof.

Ciaran fired back his answer. “Because he wants to be a Brit! He wants to defile his Irish blood by subjecting himself to the British crown. On our own Irish land, no less! It’s an abomination. The Brits must either clear out or die!”

“What have they done to you that you feel this way?” Thomas lowered his voice again, displaying an image of calm intelligence.

“They have seized the North of our country. The whole of Ireland must be free!”

“That is not what I asked. Did Robert, or any o’ the British, take your home, your land, your language? Are you prevented from representing yourself in a political assembly? Have they taken your livelihood, murdered your family?”

“Well…no. But they’ve maintained their grip on the North of our country.”

“Do you want to live there?”

“No.”

“Then why should you care?”

“Because they’re dirty Brits!”

“I see. And you are a true Irishman to the core?”

“Absolutely.”

“And no one from the British island deserves to live here in any part of Ireland?”

“Not even their dogs.”

“So how do you feel about Saint Patrick?”

“Huh?” Ciaran blinked and stared at Thomas, obviously unprepared for this turn in their conversation.

“Since only true Irishmen deserve our country, we ought to find a different patron saint. Better still, we shall leave off Christianity altogether since ‘twas Patrick who brought it to us. And we all know how villainous those Brits are.”

Thomas paused a moment to let his words stew. Ciaran opened his mouth, closed it, and frowned. He opened it again but could not seem to find the right word to say.

Finally, he said, “But that was different. That was Saint Patrick…”

“I wonder if Patrick would approve o’ you murdering your cousin and all those strangers in the pub. If he lived in your time, would you kill him simply because he was a Brit living in your country?”

I would love NEED to hear from you!

Do you think anyone will ever be able to “argue” as effectively as Thomas? Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? Do you cite your sources when discussing history? Are we EVER going to live up to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream? Please! Please, tell me there is hope. I’m so disappointed about all this bickering!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ciaran & Hamish

Bwaa haa haa! Caricature by J.J., SVG file by Gustavb via Wikimedia Commons.

Up to now, I’ve introduced you to most of the good guys in The Stone of Kings, with the exception of Mr. Reppenhaggan. The conflict of the book is primarily internal from the protagonist Ardan. However, there are a couple of villains, though they don’t show up till just before the dramatic high point at the end of the book. Since they mirror each other, I’ll talk about them both in this final “Meet the Characters” post. 🙂

What They Look Like

Ciaran is young, early twenties maybe. But he’s kind of scrawny. I imagined his back story to be a relatively good kid who got picked on a lot for his lack of muscle. That’s why he turns to drugs to numb the pain and the New IRA for acceptance.

As a side note, the current New IRA, aka Real IRA (classified as a terrorist organisation) does carry out vigilante work against drug dealers, but mainly through extortion and feuding. Times change, but bad judgment will always be bad judgment. Since this part of my story takes place in 2023, I didn’t see Ciaran’s drug addiction and IRA involvement as a very big stretch.

Hamish is a Scottish druid with an attitude. His attitude stems from being a Little Person in the 18th century so you can probably guess why he’s a bit grouchy. I really can’t blame him. Like the other druids, his hair, beard, and eyes are white.

Their Parts to Play

Ciaran is the literary foil for both Thomas and Hamish. (Still not quite sure how I managed to come up with that! 😉 ) He contrasts with Thomas, who has more right to hate the British than Ciaran. But Thomas knows how foolish it is to react as rashly as Ciaran does. Ciaran compares with Hamish, who identifies himself under the British crown, the very political power that Ciaran loathes.

I just love these kind of wild circles! 😀

Poor Hamish is just trying to make a better life for himself. He saw an opportunity to live a more aristocratic life in Ireland and jumped on it. Like Ciaran, he’s not all bad, just fed up with being picked on. He was partly inspired by the character Miles Finch from The Elf. 🙂

What They Mean To the Story

The name Ciaran means “little dark one.”  It’s probably meant to be literal for the Irish babies born with dark hair. But I gave Ciaran his name for figurative reasons. He’s a dark character and shows Thomas how not to react. Thomas is understandably upset that the English took his family’s land. His relationship with Turlough (whose family historically suffered the same fate) helps to keep his anger in check. Ciaran’s over-the-top violence proves to Thomas that he needs to let go of his anger. Then again, the faeries have even bigger plans for Ciaran and Thomas…

The name Hamish means “supplanter” or “representative,” which made it the perfect name for this character. Hamish represents England for the Irish Druids. Though the Irish welcome him into their number, he attempts to use one of their own weapons of power against them in order to make himself their leader. Let’s see how well that works out for him…

Their Failings

Ciaran is so wrapped up in having been accepted by the New IRA, he can’t see the forest for the trees. Even when the faeries make themselves visible to him, he believes that someone has set up some kind of elaborate “intervention” complete with holographic images.

Hamish gets too power-hungry. Due to his appearance, he would never have been able to life an aristocratic type life in Scotland, even with the help of faerie magic. He manages to pull it off in Ireland and the power goes to his head.

Their Strengths

In a warped way, Ciaran truly believes that he’s acting for the good of Ireland, even though he nearly kills his own cousin among many others.

Hamish is a talented druid. The fact that he can gain the wealth he has despite his appearance is a testament to that. If he could only remember what being a druid is all about…

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you ever feel kinda sorry for the bad guy? Do you know why they went bad, but you get frustrated because they go over-the-top with the meanness? Do you think there are really ALL BAD people, who have not redeeming qualities at all? Are they believable as characters?

The Stone of Kings · Writing

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.

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – The Reppenhaggans/Christian & Ana

Better shade of greyIn light of the 50 Shades of Grey movie coming out this Saturday, which in my opinion would be better suited for Halloween than Valentine’s (if they had to make it at all), I thought it would be fitting to introduce two of the minor characters from The Stone of Kings. Minor though they are, the Reppenhaggans reflect a major theme of anti-bullying which flows through the book.

And, if you’ll indulge me, they represent a more realistic view of Christian and Ana. And I would sincerely hope that Ana would eventually find courage as Mrs. Reppenhaggan does. As a disclaimer, I’ve never read FSOG and have no desire to. I’ve read enough summaries and excerpts to know that this is too much like some of the abusive relationships I’ve seen within even my own family. I really don’t find it at all sexy or remotely appealing.

What They Look Like

Mr. Reppenhaggan is a strong, burly man who usually leers or sneers. His beautiful wife usually stares at her hands and makes sure that her shirt-sleeves are pulled to her wrists.

Their Part to Play

They make Ardan and Thomas realize how much Hannah means to them. Her beauty has drawn Mr. Reppenhaggan’s interest and he couldn’t care less about the beautiful wife he already has.

Thomas and Ardan are compelled to protect Hannah from Mr. Reppenhaggan. THAT is love and romance.

I’ll say it again: protecting someone from a threat IS true love and romance.

What They Mean to the Story

Whether it’s the people of a country who must stand against tyranny and oppression, or a solitary abused wife who must find the courage to change her situation, victims must find a way an intelligent way to become empowered. Thomas and Ardan help Mrs. Reppenhaggan to realize that her husband’s behavior is unacceptable. She sees that he can be defeated and she is ready to make her own stand.

Their Failings

Mr. Reppenhaggan/Christian is a bully. That’s his failing. Period.

Until she meets Thomas and Ardan, Mrs. Reppenhaggan doesn’t feel as if she can get out of her situation.

Their Strengths

For all his muscle (FSOG: wealth) and attitude (FSOG: hot looks), Mr. Reppenhaggan (Christian) doesn’t have any strength. Unless you count being an example of how NOT to behave to be a strength, then…well, there’s that.

Mrs. Reppenhaggan has the strength to finally see a situation for what it really is. She uses the knowledge to dig deep and stand up for herself. EMPOWERED!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you been involved in an abusive relationship? If you got out, how did you become empowered? Did you need help? Have you read FSOG and been involved in an abusive relationship? Do you see the book for what it really is? Do you help victims get out of abusive situations? Please share success stories! 

This week’s Wednesday Welcomes dovetails with today’s post. This is totally cool, because I didn’t even plan it! 😉 You’ll get a peek at J.J. Nite’s YA Romance, Bruises of the Heart!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Hannah

Hannah’s eyes are bright blue. But the hair. That’s her beautiful red hair and I wish it I had it. *sigh* Image attributed to Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

What She Looks Like

I have been trying and trying to think of someone who could be cast as Hannah. My mind keeps thinking about Shayna Rose (the original “Marina” from The Fresh Beat Band) or a young Rachelle Lefevre. Then I was thinking of who subconsciously inspired the character. You know that girl in high school? The one you only have one class with and you wish you knew her better because she seems so nice and sweet and pretty? It was that beautiful curly red hair and bright blue eyes. And she was always smiling. Yeah, her. That’s Hannah.

Her Part to Play

But don’t be fooled, she has a serious side too. She’s a nurse fresh out of school, ready to infuse society with her optimism, but so far, her patients have been far from receptive and she’s a bit discouraged.

Then she almost kills Thomas with her car.

And they show her the magic glowing book.

And the oak trees start communicating with her. Just her.

What’s a girl to do?

What She Means to the Story

According to Baby Names of Ireland, the name Hannah is an “Ancient Irish name from the noun aine that means ‘splendor, radiance, brilliance.’ Aine is connected with fruitfulness and prosperity… Aine appears in folktales as ‘the best-hearted woman who ever lived – lucky in love and in money.'”

That’s Hannah in a nutshell. Although, “lucky in love…” hmm. Well, a forbidden romance with a man who should have died 300 years ago is better than no romance at all, I suppose. 😉 But “best-hearted” that fits exactly. Hannah does everything in her power to keep Ardan and Thomas from winding up in an asylum and pumped full of anti-psychotic drugs. And yet she is very sensitive to how they must view the chaos of modern life.

Her Failing

Hannah falls in love with Thomas. She knows that she can never be with him. He was born in 1694. He’s supposed to be dead long ago. Her head knows this. So why can’t her heart figure it out?

Her Strength

Selflessness. Hannah risks everything, even her own life, to protect Thomas and Ardan and to do what she knows is right. It’s what she does. She has become a nurse because of her study of Turlough O’Carolan and how he cared for the Irish people and strove to unite them through his music. What better way to care for modern people than through medicine? She just had no idea how close Turlough’s history would come into play.

I’d love to hear from you!

Has a historical figure influenced your career? Of all the people in history, who would you most wish to meet? What would you do if you discovered that trees could communicate with you?

Join me for Wednesday Welcomes when we read about M.A. Foxworthy’s debut book, The Village Green!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

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!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

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!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

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!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ardan

TheStoneofKings_500X750

What He Looks Like

Ardan has attributes that I wish I had. Curly, red hair. Blue eyes. Wide mouth. Probably freckled. Since I’m writing the screenplay, I tried to find an actor who I would cast in this role, but I’m a busy mom and just not in the know. Does Rupert Grint have a little brother who can do an Irish accent?

His Part to Play

Everything hinges on this kid. Ardan is a twelve-year-old orphan who is being reared by his mysterious foster-father, Bresal, who found him stuffing grass and sod into his mouth when the boy was two. As rich as I found the Irish landscape to be when I was there, eating grass and sod could only be a good thing. 😉 He has no memory of where he comes from and no desire to find out. Hmm, there’s something wrong with that… *wink wink*

What He Means to the Story

The name Ardan means “high aspiration.” My Ardan aspires to meet a real faerie. Perhaps if he had thought about the meaning of his name, he’d be more careful about what he wishes for. His desires distract him to the point of not only becoming involved in faerie magic, but he finds himself involved in a dangerous adventure, the likes of which he could never have anticipated. Nothing in his knowledge of the fae folk prepares him for dealing with a future time where carriages power themselves, bones are visible without cutting the skin, and eating altered grains can make him terribly sick.

His Failing

Ardan is a smart kid – when he can focus. Unfortunately, this is also what he must learn, how to focus better. Not only does his lack of focus lead him to the wrong conclusions, but he also finds himself to be rather clumsy because he’s not paying attention to where he puts his feet.

His Strength

Ardan is also fiercely loyal. When he realizes that his actions have put not only his new friend’s lives in danger, but also Bresal’s, it cuts him deeply. Ardan develops a deeper appreciation for the man who provides him with a home and education.

But is this really all the faeries want him to learn – a better appreciation for his foster-father? It’s an important lesson to be sure, but was it necessary to send him three hundred years though time to teach him that particular lesson? What else is he supposed to know?

Have you read The Stone of Kings yet? What parts of Ardan’s character can you identify with? Would you react to his situation in the same way? What would you do if you ever met an Irish faerie?

Next week – meet Bresal!