Tag Archives: The Stone of Kings

And the Winner is…

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Diane Davis! Congratulations! Look for my email about how to claim your copy of The Stone of Kings. 😀 Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I hope you had fun cracking my code. 😉

Here’s the solution: “My heart is full of thanks for my God, my family, and books. When my days are filled with all three, my days are happy.”

If your so inclined to decode my diary page, go for it – but it’s a poorly written account of how I got sick at a carnival in front of my crush. The only thing interesting about it is the code itself. *snicker*

And Now, Announcing…

Masterpiece Editing! Just in time for you NaNoWriMo-ers out there currently in need of a copyeditor. 😉

After much research, consideration, and discussion with my spouse, we have agreed that my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature would be best spent as a freelance copyeditor. Instead of killing myself to grade 350 high school papers a week for meager pay and even less appreciation, I can focus on the enhancement of one story at a time.

I sincerely hope that I can be a positive benefit to any writer who desires to make their manuscript sparkle. If you’ll notice, there is a new heading on my blog about my editing services. Feel free to take a look to see if I might be a good fit for editing your manuscript.

I’ve been through the process myself, and know first-hand how daunting it can be to put your “baby” in the hands of someone else. It’s rather like dropping your child off at daycare for the first time.

Of course I will continue my own literary pursuits between editing jobs. So Grannie’s story will eventually come. 🙂

Happy writing!

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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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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!

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Sometimes, Friday Is Not Fun

In light of the horrible massacre in Charleston this week, today’s post will not be my usual Friday Fun style. There are no words to express the sadness I feel over what took place in that church building. At the time of the shooting, I was doing the same thing as the victims. I was with my family, engaged in prayer and Bible study. Why should they have to die because their skin is a different shade than mine? They were people with as much right to happy life as me.

Someone said that haters like Dylann Roof are bent on bringing back “the good ol’ days” and not regarding how those days were not good for minorities and women. In what warped way can those days possibly be labeled “good?”

But this… this struck me worst of all:

Roof allegedly said, at the attack, that black people were “taking over our country. And [they] have to go.” These words echoed the sentiment that floored me when I was a teacher.

This attitude makes no sense to me. The white race wasn’t even here first! If people like that want to start shipping races back to their countries of origin, then they need to get on the boat too.

This is why I create characters like Ciaran. Please, learn from them.

The USA is country that is a tossed salad of cultures. If people like Roof and that former student of mine want a plate of plain lettuce, then they need to go somewhere else. I can’t imagine where ever they go to be very populated.

Personally, I prefer color and flavor in my salad.

My prayers are with the families and community affected by this senseless tragedy.

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Graduations, Birthday Parties, and Broken Bones…Oh My!

broken footWhat a whirlwind spring! I’ve been away (says Captain Obvious), because Murphy’s Law struck again, and when I put more things on my plate, someone came along to heap more on top.

I’m not gonna be able to eat all that! I think I just need to lay down.

See? My life has spun so much that I’m mixing my metaphors. *DEEP BREATH*

What I’ve been up to…

I’ve done some local author appearances complete with reading excerpts in my attempt at the Irish brogue. I’ve played harp when I can at a weekly Open Mic.

If you're ever in the Tampa, FL area and need a photographer, look up the fabulous James Geiger. He's  very down to earth and takes beautiful photos. :)

If you’re ever in the Tampa, FL area and need a photographer, look up the fabulous James Geiger. He’s very down to earth and takes beautiful photos. 🙂

And, of course, I’m writing. I’ve gotten down the first twenty-three pages of my next book…because the story wouldn’t stop traipsing through my thoughts. This is my first book that’s not Young Adult. It’s a Historical Fiction centered on the lifting of Prohibition in America. Most importantly, it’s inspired by the true story of my great-grandpa who owned a restaurant/bar during the Great Depression. He doted on my Grannie, who was 10-years-old at the time. The trouble was, great-grandma was a bad alcoholic.

And so the story goes…

And Yet…

First and foremost, I’m a mom. Sometimes, my writer/musician life gets in the way.

Charlie graduated from VPK and “Exceeded Expectations” in everything scholastic despite having brain surgery halfway through the year. *fist bump*

Charlie grad William started our annual birthday sprint (three birthdays within ten days). I’ve learned a valuable lesson about birthday invitations this year. When sending them to kids whose parents aren’t in my phone’s contact list (which was most), don’t assume that most of them know what Emily Post teaches about “RSVP.”

Cue frantic indecision about how much pizza and cake to order.

And as if there wasn’t enough stress in THAT weekend…

The evening before William’s birthday party, Charlie decided to perform some kind of daredevil stunt. Ya take your eyes off them for a second! We were in the gymnastics room at the YMCA and he tripped. Yep. That’s it. However he did it, he managed to brake the end of one of his metatarsals near his toes.

If you don’t know what a metatarsal is, then clearly you haven’t read The Stone of Kings. <=== *that’s a hyperlink right there (hint hint)* 😉 Who knew I’d use the information for my own kid?

Then hubby had to promptly leave for a few days on an out of town business trip. No wonder I managed to pick up some kind of stomach bug the last couple of days.

What? You’re exhausted? Why? 😉

At least this month wasn’t nearly as bad as when Charlie had his neurosurgery.

Now that Charlie is casted and can join day camp with his brother, I will hopefully be able to crank out my new book.

In the meantime, unless the earth swallows me up, I hope to resume blogging. But it won’t take away too much from my novel-writing effort since I’m starting a series called “Grannie’s Memories.” I’ll post the anecdotes and interesting bits Grannie wrote down. These are things she remembered about being a kid during the Great Depression. I’ve been reading them over and over for background for my book. You might like them. Grannie was quite a character. 😀

Till then, would anyone like some leftover birthday cake? …please?

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Do you mix metaphors when you get over-stressed? Are you looking forward to a bright spot of peace that’s almost within your grasp? Do you know what a metatarsal is because you’ve read TSoK?

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A RONE Award Nominee?! Wow!

TheStoneofKings_500X750Last February, The Stone of Kings was given a 4-star review in InD’tale Magazine. Little did I know that 4 stars qualifies it for being nominated for the annual RONE award! That was a nice surprise in my email this morning. 😀 This is the first literary award nomination for one of my books and I’m beyond honored.

To be a finalist and have my book read and judged by a panel of professionals in the publishing industry, I need YOUR vote. TSoK falls in the Young Adult: Paranormal Category. You will need to log in and/or create a FREE account in order to vote. Voting for the category I’m in begins today and goes through May 10th.

To vote, please click HERE. Thank you!

And if you happen to notice other titles in the other categories by my fabulous friends at Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press), such as S.G. Rogers, Calico Daniels, and Patricia Kiyono, I’m sure they would appreciate votes for their titles too. 😉

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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?

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