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?

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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!

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

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. 😀

 

 

Books I Love · The Stone of Kings · Writing

Introducing…The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750

It’s been live on Amazon since the wee hours of the morning, but I was waiting for it to roll over to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords before writing this post. So, without further ado…

If you love a good Irish adventure as much as I do, you’ll enjoy The Stone of Kings. I wrote this book for those who, like myself, have enjoyed the Harry Potter series and The Alchemyst series, with a touch of By the Light of the Moon and The Chronicles of Narnia. In other words, these are some of my favorite books, so that is the kind of book I wrote. I sincerely hope you enjoy! 😀

Here are the links where you can find it:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

The Stone of Kings · Writing

Just Look at this Gorgeous Cover!

TheStoneofKings_500X750

A huge thank you to Cora Graphics for the fabulous design! I had a hard time visualizing what would go on the cover, but when she sent this to me, it screamed “I’m perfect!” 😉 Remember the release date: August 12!

I’m having unfortunate computer issues at the moment, which is keeping me from accessing Microsoft Word. Ack! I was hoping to add the back blurb here for those of you who can’t quite read that blurry thing up on my banner (lol), but I can’t open the file.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get some blog posts ready in time for my guests spots on my friends’ blogs. *whispers* I may just have to borrow hubby’s new computer. Shh.

The Stone of Kings · Writing

3 Things I’ve learned about Screenwriting…So Far

They're doing their best imitation of Mommy.
They’re doing their best imitation of Mommy.

At the time of writing this post, I’ve got about 32 pages of my screenplay written. The goal, so I’m told, is to keep it around 120. While I’m having fun with this project, I’m also learning why books always seem better than their film counterparts.

I love details. I love the ins and outs of knowing why things happen. I love knowing exactly what motivated  a character to say or do what they said or did. I’ve always kind of known why movies can’t portray this as well as books, but I’m “getting” it better.

On the other hand, I also love the “Behind the Scenes” features. So this experience (whether or not it gets produced) is a real treat. 🙂 I feel like I’m getting a blast of “Behind the Scenes” for all the movies I’ve ever watched, by learning how they were originally created. So for all you “Behind the Scenes” junkies like me, here are some things I’ve learned:

1. Writing “meanwhile” scenes is tricky.

Okay, so maybe there’s a technical term here that I haven’t learned yet. You know when important things happen at the same time? That’s what I’m calling “meanwhile” scenes. Like, in The 5th Element, when Leeloo fights the Mangalores during Diva Plavalaguna’s concert. The way those scenes are presented would be very confusing to read if a novel presented them that way, and it wouldn’t have the energy.

So I’ve got two scenes where Thomas and Ardan discover Bresal’s book of faerie spells while Bresal is out with Turlough in the garden having a secret chat with a faerie chief. The scenes are written separately, but that doesn’t work visually. Figuring out how to chop them together so that they both end when the boys vanish in a flash of light was an interesting task.

2. Killing darlings is tough. 

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, I believe it was coined by Stephen King. He uses it anyway in his book, On Writing. Your darlings are the passages of text that, in the words of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, rarely have the words pour from your penny pencil with such feverish fluidity. But rather than having readers go over your work with the Romeo and Juliet theme playing in the background, their likely to give your beloved words a 2 star review (translated in my mind as C+). 

I killed many darlings already in the The Stone of Kings, but the slaughter continues, not only for the sake of time, but also for losing visual interest. In my book, I have Turlough play two songs that help to encompass who he is. But describing the performance is much shorter than presenting it. So he only plays the song which helps to set the tone of the story. I’ve read how the inciting incident (in this case, when the boys find the magic book and promptly send themselves 300 years in the future), is supposed to happen around page 30 of a screenplay. Killing more darlings helped me to be on track. 🙂

3. Research starts anew.

I thought I’d put my biography of Turlough O’Carolan away when I got the major edits done on the novel. But then there were things that I didn’t bother mentioning in the novel, that I had to mention in the screenplay.

After Turlough wakens from his fever with smallpox and realizes he’s blind, the scene in the book is written from his point of view, so I didn’t bother to talk about Mrs. MacDermottRoe’s appearance. She’s the lady who eventually has him trained as a traveling harper. But I didn’t think that having an entire scene from Turlough’s blind perspective would work for the movie, so I had to give some description so that if this gets produced, they could cast an appropriate female for this minor role. Mrs. MacDermottRoe was, in fact, only about 5 years older than Turlough.

Do you like “behind the scenes?” Are you frustrated when movies don’t quite capture the book? Are you understanding of filmmakers when they leave out your favorite scene from a book?

Books I Love · The Stone of Kings · Writing

5 Quick Tips About Irish Faeries

That hat is red. Trust me.

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

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

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

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

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

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