Saturday, October 18, 2014

SAMHAIN

Credit to Irish Central.com:

1. Halloween comes from the ancient Irish festival of Samhain, a day when the undead are thought to walk among the living, and we must ward off the evil spirits.
2. Samhain marks the end of the long days, and the drawing in of winter. In the same way the Celts celebrated Lughnasa, the festival bringing in the harvest, Samhain represents the beginning of winter, the "darker half" of the year.

3. An old favorite Irish Halloween game was to blindfold a person and have them place their hand on items spread across a table. Landing in a bowl of water meant emigration, a piece of earth meant a death in the family, a ring meant a wedding was coming soon, and so on.
4. One of the greatest short stories by James Joyce, ‘Clay,’ refers to this custom – the main character, the spinster Maria, wants her hand to land on a ring, but touches a lump of clay instead, which implies death.
5. In a similar game, a ring was also hidden in the "Barmbrack," which is a bread-like fruitcake specially made for the occasion. The person who got the ring in their slice – if they didn't swallow it – would have a happy marriage ahead.

6. The symbolism behind appleseeds, and bobbing for apples, is fertility in the year ahead. The Celts believed that the pentagram shape represented fertility, and when an apple is cut in half, the seeds form a pentagram-like shape. When couples bobbed for apples together on Halloween, if one of them caught one, they would soon be blessed with a child.

7. In Celtic legend, orange and black, the colors of Halloween, are the colors of death.
8. Because of number 7, meeting an orange-haired woman was thought of as a bad omen, especially for fishermen. Legend further has it that for a man to meet an orange-haired woman on Halloween was even more dire. He had to turn around and go right back home.

9. Druids were especially powerful on Halloween, when the spirit world and human world was closest. Their visions and predictions were listened to quite closely at this time.
10. The custom of Halloween was brought to America by Irish famine emigrants in the 1840s. The use of pumpkins for Jack-o-lanterns only started in America, as they are native to the country. In Ireland, they usually used turnips instead.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Return To Ballycashel...

Hi Miriam, and a special greeting to all lovers of Celtic romance! It's so lovely to be back at the Celtic Rose. And I'm so thrilled to announce the publication of Everlasting, Book IV of the Claddagh Series!


Everlasting is Shannon Flynn's story, and it's set once again in that tiny, wind-swept west-of-Ireland village of Ballycashel that was the setting for the first two books of the Claddagh Series. Ballycashel, and all of its residents, are very dear to my heart, and when Shannon Flynn visited my dreams one night, whispering her story to me, I could hardly refuse to write it.

Everlasting is a story of revenge and redemption, of fathers and daughters and the love that draws them together...and tears them apart.

Blurb:

Where does justice end and retribution begin?
She was driven by anger
When her fiancé died trying to feed his family, Shannon Flynn vowed to punish those responsible…even if it alienated her from her family, even if it put her—and them—in danger.

He returned to exact revenge
Eight years after he was forced to flee his beloved Ireland, Liam Collins returns to Ballycashel to find his family devastated and the person he holds responsible for his exile dead.

Can these two wounded spirits come together to battle a common enemy? Or will anger and pride destroy them both?

Excerpt:


Ballycashel, Ireland, Off Galway Bay
January, 1874

“I see them! Sweet Mary be praised, they’re safe!”
Shannon Flynn gripped her mother’s hand so tight she felt the bones crack. On Ma’s other side, her sister Peggy let out a harsh sob. Little Fiona stood a few feet away, white-faced, hands pressed to her mouth in silent horror.
Icy needles of rain slashed Shannon’s face, and though they stood well away from the waves, she could still feel the sting of the sea, taste its sharp, briny tang. She blinked hard against the cloying mist. Was that really the Noreen, Da’s currach? That tiny craft bobbing over those vicious waves, helpless as a cork?
She flinched as the little fishing boat disappeared from view.
“They’ll be fine.” Nora Flynn’s voice rang out, stern and bracing even as she kept her gaze riveted on the storm-tossed sea. “Sure, yer da knows these waters better than anyone. He’s been through many a storm worse than this. He’ll be fine.” Her voice teetered on the edge of despair as wind and rain scored them with merciless claws.
He’s never had Mike with him.
The boat reappeared, teetered at the crest of a towering wave and tumbled sideways. Nora cried out once, pressed her fist to her mouth. The anguished sound echoed in Shannon’s heart. Before she could react, Nora drew a deep breath and set her shoulders. “Come ye, now. They’ll be needin’ us.” She threw a sharp gaze to her two younger daughters. “Peg, look after Fiona. Shannon, come with me.”
Hand in hand, they raced into the sea.
Shannon’s breath gushed from her lungs in painful gasps as icy water clawed up her legs and tangled in her long skirts. Had the sea ever been so vicious and cold? The waves so high? Oh, where was Da? Was he safe?
Was Mike safe?
She clung to her mother’s firm, strong hand as she slipped and almost fell on the sea-drenched shingle and sand. Thick strands of seaweed twined about her legs. Ma pulled her to a stop, her hoarse cry snatched away by the shrieking wind. Could Da and Mike triumph over the furious sea?
Sweet Mary protect them. Keep them safe. Bring them home.
Two heads, one dark and the other fair, burst from the waves, went under, surfaced again. Oh, God, was it possible? Could they really be farther out? The sea clawed greedily at them, pulling them under, down and down. Away from her. The wind tore her hair from beneath her red headscarf, and she lost sight of them for a moment. She swiped the flying strands away, staring harder through a stinging mixture of rain and fog and tears.
Dear sweet Lord, where are they?
“I see them! There’s Da!” Fiona appeared beside them, fighting to stay on her feet as a wave broke over her shoulders. She pointed a trembling finger. “Look, there’s Da!”
“Fiona, get back!” Shannon fought to make herself heard over the crashing waves and the devil’s howl of the wind.
“But I see him, Shannon! I see Da!”
Mike can’t swim! Even as icy realization swept over her, Shannon knew her father would fight to the death to save him.
To the death
She squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back the tears.
“They’ll be all right.” Peggy clasped her hand, swaying against the fierce current. “Please God, they’ll both be all right.”
Please God…
“Tom, look out!” Her mother’s scream reached above the greedy fingers of sea foam just as a mighty wave knocked Da under once again.
Please God… Please God…keep him safe. Keep them both safe.
Moments, hours, days later, Shannon stood frozen under the leaden skies. Da stumbled into the shallows and fell into Ma’s waiting arms.
Da stared into Ma’s eyes, touched her cheek. “Noreen. Ah, Noreen. The currach’s torn to pieces, so it is, but sure, we’re all right now.”
“Ye are, thank God.”
“Da?” Her own eyes wide and dry and burning with salt, Shannon searched her father’s beloved face, saw his anguish.
Fissures shot through her heart.
“Mike?” Shannon scanned the beach in desperation. The gray sea roared and frothed wildly. The broken currach lay on the strand like an exhausted shark. Rain and tears blurred her vision. “Da? Where is he? Where’s Mike?”
Her father’s dark eyes filled with sorrow. “He’s gone, love.” Tom Flynn blinked away tears. “The sea took him.”
“Gone? No!” Her heart ceased to beat. Something was strangling her. Ice held her feet frozen to the beach even as she swayed drunkenly.
“I’m sorry, a storín, so sorry, my dearest. I did everything I could.” Dimly, she saw her father release her mother, move toward her. “But I couldn’t save him for ye.”
He reached for her, his big hands open, his face etched with grief. She flung up her hands, shook her head. Denying. Denying. No. No!
Nonononono!
Then she spun away, ran from her father to mourn alone the loss of the man she loved more than life itself.


I hope everyone enjoys reading Everlasting as much as I enjoyed writing it!

You can buy Everlasting at Barnes & Noble





Monday, August 4, 2014

The Saxon Bride - the story behind "Abigail"

As some of you may know, my sister passed away a year ago July. She was really the impetus for me finally publishing my first book, The Bruised Thistle. How that came about is a great story-the "gives you goose bumps" kind. I hope you'll check it out at my blog (www.ashleyyorkauthor.com) but my latest release, The Saxon Bride, is connected to her as well.

I think it was just the two of us staying at our family's cottage in Maine. It was a great visit, we were getting close again. She told me about her boyfriend and his "hanger on" girlfriend that was making the relationship really hard. His name is irrelevant but her name was Abigail. Needless to say, my sister had some pretty strong words for Abigail.

I had been kicking around the idea of a story about a forced marriage between a Saxon and a Norman where he leaves her untouched only to return years later, meet her but not recognize her, and try to seduce her. I had already come up with my favorite line - "You know me not!" (little play on words there)

The idea of someone nasty like Abigail as a secondary character made the whole story come together.
I like to think Carol, my sister, would appreciate my characterization of the woman.

Here's an excerpt from The Saxon Bride when Rowena, the heroine, first meets the woman. 

"My lady!" Joan's voice preceded her flinging open Rowena's bedchamber door. "My lady!"

"What is amiss?" Rowena held her breath as she stepped toward her. "You look as if you've seen a ghost!"

On a whisper, Joan found no additional information much to Rowena's irritation. "My lady!" Shaking her head in disbelief, she stepped out of the door just as a tall woman would have pushed her aside. 

"So you're the wife my lover is saddled with."

Rowena was unable to exhale the gasp that had been sucked into her belly. Her eyes bulged as she tried to process what the woman had said. She couldn't possibly have heard her right. Like a tempest, the woman stormed into Rowena's private chamber as if she'd every right to be there. Her disdainful gaze did not miss a thing as she looked around the room. "I'm a little surprised he has stayed away from me this long."

Joan's mouth gaped open in disbelief as she looked from the regal woman with the black hair and green eyes and back to Rowena. The petrified look on her servant's face finally broke the spell.

"And who are you, pray tell?" Rowena stood a little taller as she addressed the woman who seemed to tower over her. The woman blinked as if discerning whether Rowena truly had the audacity to speak directly to her.

"No. Better you tell me." She paused, no doubt for effect, assessing Rowena from head to toe, finally lifting the corner of her lip and raising one eyebrow. "Are you 'the wife'?"


I think I succeeded in making Abigail pretty unlikable and obnoxious. What do you think?

Available at Amazon.com The Saxon Bride

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Dark Rose, by Cynthia Owens

Hello, Miriam, and all lovers of Celtic Romance! It’s so great to be back at the Celtic Rose on the eve of the summer solstice. And I’m very happy to announce the release this month of My Dark Rose, Book III of my Wild Geese Series and Dary Greely’s story.

If you’ve read the first two books of the series, Deceptive Hearts (Shane’s story) and Keeper of the Light (Cathal’s story), you might remember Dary. He’s the easy-going member of the group. The one who smoothes things over between twins Kieran and Cathal Donnelly. The solid friend who sat quietly with Shane MacDermott after the loss of his wife. He’s a likeable guy, and he’s everyone’s friend.

He’s also the lucky one. Everyone says so. He alone among his siblings survived the coffin ship fleeing famished Ireland. His father made money in construction and he was able to go to college. He returned from the War virtually unscathed.

But it’s not until Róisín Donavan comes into his life that he really believes it. She’s an Irish girl who lives in a Five Points tenement room. She dreams of a future as a great diva and sings comeallyes (Irish songs) at Paddy Ryan's Pub, the preferred pub of the Wild Geese. But her stubborn Irish pride won't allow her to abandon her family, even if it means sacrificing everything for them.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Sally Malone, Black ‘47
On the Atlantic Ocean
They slid into the water with scarcely a sound.
Dary Greely clung to his father’s hand, watching as the bodies, clad in little more than rags, were tossed over the side of the ship. The children first: his little brother and two sisters. Then Mrs. Morrissey, his new friend Declan’s ma. Shane MacDermott’s da, and the twins’ ma and their granny.
His ma’s thin fingers bit into his shoulder. She was sobbing into a threadbare handkerchief, her eyes red and swollen from crying. He looked up at her, then at Da. A shudder ran through him that had nothing to do with the cold wind blowing in from the sea.
Da’s eyes were dead. Their bright green was dimmed with sorrow. His dark-red hair blew across his face, but he made no move to shove it back with his big, callused workman’s hand. He stared out to sea, a muscle in his jaw jerking rhythmically.
Dary swallowed hard, glancing around him. He saw Shane, clutching his wee brother’s hand, one arm about his ma’s shoulders as she tried to soothe the fussy gossoon in her arms. Kieran and Cathal Donnelly stood close together, drawing silent comfort from each other as tears ran down their da’s face. Declan, self-controlled as always, stared into the water, his face full of sorrow, tears in his eyes that he refused to shed.
When the last victim of the ship’s fever sank to the bottom of the sea, the steerage passengers turned away, their muffled sobs and soft keening carried away on the rising wind. They’d left Ireland for a better life in America, but would any of them survive to see that land of promise?
As they turned to go, his father suddenly knelt before him, clutching Dary’s shoulders and staring into his eyes. “Ye are the last one, Dary.” His deep voice shook with the intensity of his grief. “The last o’ the Greelys. ’Tis ye will live on to tell the stories o’ us all. Ye’re the lucky lad, Dary, so ye are. Always remember that.”
The words rang bitter in Darys ears. The urge to vomit clutched at his throat with ruthless fingers. But he managed a nod. “Aye, Da. I’ll always remember, I promise. I’m the lucky one.”
At that moment, Dary made a fierce, silent vow to himself. He would survive to see America. He would go to school in America, make something of himself, just as Da had told him he could. He’d learn to read and write and do sums. He’d make his parents proud.
He was the lucky one.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR


Fresh from my friend Ashley York’s post last week at her blog, http://wp.me/p3ButH-3z, I’m going to continue with my own musings about My Writing Process.

What am I working on now?  Well, I’m smack dab in the middle of Book II of my Eagle Trilogy with “The Eagle’s Lady.”  Set in 800’s A.D. Ireland and Norway, it’s the story of Maeve and Ari.  Son of an impoverished, dying chieftain, Ari raids for booty to support his home.  He’s a raider, a heathen, a murderer. It is forbidden for any Christian woman to love him.  In Book II, Maeve fears she may have done just that.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?  I will let one of my readers speak for me. “I like your books. Fun! Reminds me of the books that I sought in my twenties. I outgrew those books but missed them. I tried to read them again but they were too poorly written for me to enjoy. You have solved that problem...your writing makes the stories more adult and therefore more believable stories. As I said: great fun!”

I was happy to see her comment not because I consider early romance poorly written but differently written—for a different time and market.  I loved those books, too, but I was 56 years old before I wrote my first one and from the beginning I envisioned a book with a gritty dose of realism.  I write primarily historical romance, about times and places when life was vastly different, and I try to portray it as accurately as possible without missing the timeless element of love. 

Why do I write what I do?  Ah…that’s an easy one!  Just for the sheer joy of it.

How does my writing process work?  If I knew that, I’d patent it, although I’m not sure anybody would want to buy what I’d be selling!  It all begins with my Muse, Persephone, and she is a heartless mistress.  Mostly she comes steaming into my life in a fit of temper and I sit down and write until she tells me to stop, which is usually when I’m so exhausted I’m of no further use to her.  She gives me just long enough to recover and—BAM!—there she is again, banging at the door or, more frequently, breaking it down.

My Writing Process Blog Tour will continue on April 21 at the blogs of my friends Denise Alicea and Patti  Koontz :

http://denisealicea.org/blog-tour-my-writing-process-1229 

A member of Romance Writers of America and several of its chapters since 2005, Denise has won two awards for her short stories and several finalist nominations.


Patty Koontz enjoys keeping a "wee bit of magic" or "the spirit of magic" alive by writing fantasy and paranormal romances set in the mystical glens of Northern Island and Scotland. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Scottish History Behind
Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton

It is a great pleasure to be at The Celtic Rose today to talk about the history behind the novel.

It all started with wanting to write a vampire pirate story. I write Scottish inspired romance so I spent time searching for a Scottish / pirate connection. In the meantime, I began writing to get a feel for the characters. Robert, the hero of Sea Panther, balked at being a pirate. "Too honorable," he said. Can you imagine an honorable vampire?

Researching pirates was fun. During the research, I stumbled across The Republic of Pirates—Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard. Written within the pages I found the wee piece of history needed to set the stage for Sea Panther.

In August of 1714, Queen Anne of England died, childless. The crown would have passed to her half-brother, James Stuart, if not for a law passed in 1701 declaring no Catholic could sit upon the thrown of England. Instead, George Ludwig, a second cousin of Anne’s and a Protestant from Germany was brought to England and crowned King George I. Many were displeased having a German who didn’t care to learn the language as king. The Scots were especially unhappy, having lost their independence in 1707, but at least they had had a Stewart (the legitimate royal family of Scotland) on the thrown. Now, they had a king hostile to their cause.

The noble families of Scotland, along with many Englishmen, became determined to place James Stuart on the thrown. Thus was born the Jacobite movement.
Lord Archibald Hamilton, Governor of Jamaica, was a Jacobite. Although he later denied it, it is believed he gathered together and commissioned a fleet of private warships in Port Royal intended as a Jacobite navy.

Lucky for Robert, he got out of being a pirate in Sea Panther and joined the ranks of privateers commissioned by Lord Hamilton. Though many later called them pirates. Of course, at that point in the writing of Sea Panther, neither Robert nor I knew he’d be cursed and become a shape shifting vampire.

Blurb for Sea Panther:

Can love mend a fractured soul?

After evading arrest for Jacobite activities, Scottish nobleman Robert MacLachlan turns privateer. A Caribbean Voodoo priestess curses him to an eternal existence as a vampire shifter torn between the dual natures of a Florida panther and an immortal blood-thirsting man. For centuries, he seeks to reverse the black magic whilst maintaining his honor. Cruising the twenty-first century Atlantic, he becomes shorthanded to sail his 90-foot yacht, Sea Panther. The last thing he wants is a female crewmember and the call of her blood.

Although she swore never to sail again after her father died in a sailing accident, Kimberly Scot answers the captain's crew wanted ad to escape a hit man. She's lost everything, her fiancé, her job, and most of her money, along with money belonging to her ex-clients. A taste of Kimberly's blood convinces Robert she is the one woman who can claim the panther's heart. To break the curse, they travel back in time to where it all began—Jamaica 1715.


About the Author:

Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a 2013 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories. She is a member of The Golden Network, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Celtic Hearts, and From the Heart chapters of RWA. When not writing, she’s cooking, gardening, or paddling the local creeks of Southern Maryland with her husband.

Visit Dawn Marie:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Once Upon a Highland Moon

Once Upon a Highland Moon, the second book in The Highland Moon Series, takes place in the early 1600's in the Scottish Highlands and on the Isle of Mull. The hero, Galen MacKinnon, heir apparent to Moorloch Castle, receives a missive that his brother, Ewan, is being held prisoner by Alexander MacPherson, the Laird of Blackstone Castle. After traveling to Blackstone with his two friends, Cin and Duncan, Galen learns the reason for his brother's imprisonment and offers to pay for damages done. But Alexander refuses to accept his payment. Galen angrily departs with a plan to return and take Ewan by force, if necessary.

Lady Sorcha, the heroine, is betrothed to Laird Archibald Campbell, a cruel and vicious man seventeen years her senior. Once she realizes the sort of man he is, she escapes from his castle one night accompanied by her two guards and a ladies' maid. The following day the small party is seized upon by four highwaymen, one of which tries to drag Sorcha, fighting and screaming, into the wood.

Galen and his friends rescue her and she is most grateful-until he learns she is the sister of the man holding his brother prisoner, then kidnaps her to trade for Ewan's freedom. As they travel through the Scottish Highlands, the attraction between Galen and Sorcha is undeniable, but before they can be together, Galen must dig deep into his soul and put his life on the line more than once for the woman he loves.

As I stated earlier, this is my second book in The Highland Moon series. "Beneath a Highland Moon" is the first. Kade and Jillian in that book are briefly in "Once Upon a Highland Moon"  I am currently working on Cin's story, "Chasing a Highland Moon," which I hope to release by the end of summer.

I love hearing from people about my writing! You can email me at www.gbrodieauthor@gmail.com, or contact me at:
https://www.facebook.com/gwyn.brodie
https://twitter.com/GwynBrodie

Available at Amazon and Smashwords