Writing

And the Winner is…

editing example

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!

Writing

Can You Break My Code?

IMG_0506
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! 😀

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!

Uncategorized

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.

Writing

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?

Courtesy of The Writer's Circle
Courtesy of The Writer’s Circle.

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?

The Stone of Kings

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. 😉

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 – John Grady

Journey prank kidWhat He Looks Like

Always smiling. John is a man who takes everything in stride. It takes a lot to crush his spirit. It doesn’t really matter what he looks like because he’s simply likable.

His Part to Play

Turlough knows that Bresal is right. He needs to be sober for this particular journey, but he’s not used to soberness. John’s lighthearted candor helps distract Turlough better than Bresal’s deep intellectual knowledge. But Bresal sees John’s company as problematic because they can’t tell him anything about immortal druids or faeries. But John has a secret of his own…

What He Means to the Story

John is a supporting character. Though his role is small, he is significant. He is observant and without him the story might have ended very differently.

His Failing

John loves a joke as much as Turlough. Sometimes, it’s a bit inopportune. He and Turlough pull a prank on Breasal and while it hinders the start of their day’s journey, it does attract somewhat helpful attention.

His Strength

John loves a joke as much as Turlough. Here again is a character who’s failing is also his strength. We would all slide into deep depressions if we could not see a glint of comedy in the most dire of adventures. It’s the fun in life that gives us purpose and makes us keep going. John reminds Turlough of this many times.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Do you have a friend like John? Someone who always seems to smile no matter what? Do you have a friend who’s antics sometimes get in the way? How dull will your life be without them?

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!