The Stone of Kings · Writing

Loving and Learning from Reviews

Daddy motor scooterI haven’t finished introducing the rest of the Characters from The Stone of Kings. But I have an awesome reason for interrupting myself.

This month’s issue of InD’tale magazine has published their review of TSOK. And guess what? It got 4 out of 5 stars! 😀 Let the happy dance commence!

But I’m not stopping there. As happy as I am with that score, I’m even happier with what the review can teach me. This is my second review from a professional reviewer. As much as they liked the story, they both had trouble with the romantic aspect of the story and the scene changes for each chapter.

I thought that the common appreciation for Turlough O’Carolan and how he strove to unify Ireland would be enough to illustrate why Hannah and Thomas are drawn to each other. Not to mention that they save each other’s lives on several occasions. Maybe the romantic attraction simply needed to be more subtle.

This is why I LOVE these kind of reviews.

Honestly, I had much more fun writing the adventure parts than the romantic parts. I felt like I had to force the romance out whereas the adventure came naturally.

As for the scene changes, I wasn’t really expecting much of a problem with them, but *shrugs* I don’t plan to use the same structure with my future works. But at least I know that if I want to, I either have to change it up or not bother with it again. 🙂

I know I’m on the right track with my writing. But everyone needs a little help and guidance. 4/5 stars is excellent according to InD’tale standards. I know that I can reach the 5 star exceptional rating if I take what I’ve learned and apply it. That’s why I love that the reviewers, while they show what they love about my work, they also show where it’s weak. If they don’t, how am I supposed to know where I need to improve?

There are always going to be places where I can improve.

It’s nice to have experienced people who can be the motor for my scooter to help me out along the way till I get the hang of this writing thing. 😉

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you welcome helpful criticisms? Do the wheels start turning in your head, thinking of how to improve for the next time?

Join me for this week’s Wednesday Welcomes where we’ll take a peek at Ariella Moon’s latest installment of The Teen Wytche Saga!

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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

Finish What You Start

muse car seatDuring my blogcation, I also gave up writing in general (much to the chagrin of my muse) to focus on Charlie’s neurosurgery. The mother in me shoved Muse to the backseat, buckled it up, and let it listen once more to the audio version of the Harry Potter books just to keep it quiet so I could think more clearly about what was happening to my four-year old.

That worked for a little while.

But if you have kids, and even if you don’t, you’re probably well aware of how deafening the backseat can be. At least they’re strapped in. My ears are still ringing from the scream Charlie produced the other night. Nothing was wrong. He just felt like screaming.

Ow.

Muse did the same thing to me after we had to postpone the initial surgery date because Charlie picked up a cold. In full “Are we there yet?” mode, Muse gave me the desire to write-up a story based on my Grannie’s childhood and centering around the lifting of prohibition.

I wrote about ten pages.

Okay Muse, you need a bit of discipline. I’ve got an unfinished screenplay and the first half of another book in the works. I’ll never finish either of them if I keep starting other things.

Now that Charlie is fully recovered, Muse is brooding in time-out while I continue my screenplay to The Stone of Kings. Meanwhile, Inner Editor is shut in her room because she keeps reminding me that my page count is entirely too high for my characters to still be in Dublin and Kells.

**calls through the door** “I’ll fix it when it’s done!”

On the plus side, working on the screenplay immerses me once again into my story. So, in the spirit of finishing what I start, I’ll be resuming the analysis of characters for The Stone of Kings next Monday. Get ready to meet the fiery red-headed Hannah.

I’m picking up Wednesday Welcomes too! I’ve already got authors lined up for the next three months 😀 starting this week with the lovely Coleen Lahr! You’ll get to read a fun excerpt from her recent release, Accepted – maybe it isn’t where you belong, but who you belong with.

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have trouble finishing what you start? Do you sometimes feel like a jail warden for your inspiration? Does your muse scream louder at you during times of stress?

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!

The Stone of Kings · Writing

First Amazon Review of The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750I’ve got a post started to introduce the character Ardan from The Stone of Kings. However, the zombie porcupine has been pitiless. It kept me from finishing it today. I’m hoping to have it ready next week.

But I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing my first Amazon review for TSOK! I’ve refreshed the Amazon page more than is probably healthy. Some authors make a point to not read reviews. Maybe I’ve got a thicker skin, because I look for people to tell me what they like AND what they don’t like. I crave to make myself a better writer and need to know where my writing should be tweaked.

I definitely feel as if I’ve grown since writing Harp Lessons, and this first review (being a five-star!) for TSOK is a nice little validation. 😀

 

 

Writing

World Blog Hop – Redo

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

1) What are you working on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads me to…

3) Why do you write what you write?

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

4) How does your writing process work?

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

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

I’d love to hear from you!

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