First Fridays: Chapter Seven

Another Friday, another behind-the-scenes look at a chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter Oneand be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Seven

20141207_140911~2Growing up at the edges of Clew Bay – shadowed by Carrickahowley Castle and Clare Island – it was hard not to have heard the tales of Grania Uaile. The woman was a pirate, an unspoken chief, and the mistress of several strongholds along the western coast, Carrickahowley and Clare included. No one seemed to care whether the woman was real or not, not when the idea of her was synonymous with Ireland – with freedom – itself.

Sean once attempted to research the woman, to see if there was any connection to Maureen’s family. The nuns said Maureen’s father had done some work himself, but his records were locked away in Dublin.

At first, Maureen had gone along with his search – listening to his findings and helping occasionally – eagerly enough. But when infamous ancestor turned into a possible fiction, the research lost all its appeal for her. It did not matter that Grania Uaile inspired poets and rebels for four hundred years; if she was not real, Maureen was not interested.

“Did you ever find out if my father’s people were related to Grania?” she asked now.

“You do remember! Why did you act like that while we were walking, then?”

Liam and Tomás had left them alone in the small room beyond the wooden door, while they presumably went to fetch their captain. Sweet rushes covered dirt floors and filled dim corners. Dust motes danced on the streams of light let in by the slit of a window close to the ceiling.

She rounded on him. “And let them think we’re here to cause trouble with a pirate? Do you think I’m mad?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?” He rolled his eyes and she grinned at him.

“I overheard Liam and Tomás while you were loading the ship. They think we’re runaways, or spies. It was a mistake to say we were from Dublin.”

* * *

Grania and Queen Elizabeth

Grania and Queen Elizabeth

D: Is it, or is it not true that you once read a book that claimed Grania Uaile was a myth?

A: I think I’ve read several books to that effect, but yes, one does stand out in my memory stating Grania’s non-existence outright.

D: Care to share?

A: No. I don’t want to embarrass anyone –

D: And you don’t remember the name, do you?

A: No. It wasn’t a valid research source. I have a hard enough time remembering names when I’m supposed to! Of course, his line of thinking was not inaccurate, depending on the time.

D: That would be a double negative, A.

A: I am aware – thank you, D. My grammar check is having a field day with this post. As it is, while many people would have accepted the reality of Grania’s life – much like they accepted the ‘reality’ of the Good Folk – there was some serious academic doubt until the Articles of Interrogatory of 1593 came to light, proving her existence.

D: Do you think that will ever happen for me?

A: What, a document will surface proving, once and for all, that a time-traveling Druid helped two orphans fight a war between Man and Fae?

D: Well, when you put it like that, you make it sound so silly.

A: . . . and yet . . .

D: Just you wait, A. Just you wait.

Word of the Day

Rushes are grasses in the Juncaceae family. At one time, fresh rushes would be strewn on earthen floors in dwellings as insulation. The ‘sweet flag’ Acorus calamus was usually favored for this purpose, and was often called a ‘sweet rush’ although that specific name is from a  different order, and has medicinal uses (Ref: Wikipedia).

Side note: a similar question was asked on the SciFi Exchange about Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire

Devil’s in the Details

Maureen is related to Grania – although, not descended from one of Grania’s children, but rather from one of Grania’s kinsmen. Of course, there is a lot more than blood to tie the two women together, as they will discover as the story progresses.

It’s also worth noting that Maureen has a wild imagination. She’s adept at making up stories, and often has to in order to explain her and Sean’s presence. Sometimes, those stories come back to haunt her because all she has is her own memory of her studies and a certain brand of impetuousness, to guide her (no smart phones here, and even if she had grown up relying on one, they certainly would not have worked in the sixteenth century). Sean, on the other hand, remains silent and watches – Maureen might know the history and facts of a situation, but he understands people.

Historical Footnotes

Statue of Grace O'Malley in the Westport House grounds

Statue of Grace O’Malley in the Westport House grounds

Grania Uaile is one of *my* most favorite ancestors, too – and I have some Wild Geese in the family tree. The following is taken directly from Changelings’ Appendix: Fact vs. Fiction. My apologies for the length; much of what follows pertains to the situation in which Grania finds herself as Maureen and Sean’s temporary guardian. This also explains why it was a mistake for Maureen to say she and Sean were from Dublin.

Grania Uaile was indeed the Pirate Queen of the Irish seas. She was born in 1530, daughter of Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille (Owen ‘Black Oak’ O’Malley), the chief of the O’Malley clan. In 1546, she was married to Donal O’Flaherty, who was heir to the O’Flaherty titles. They had three children, Margaret, Murrough and Owen. Grania returned to her family’s holdings when Donal died, taking with her a significant number of O’Flaherty followers. This was the start of her independent fleet.

In 1566, Grania married her second husband Richard “Iron” Burke. Popular history states they were married under Brehon Law, ‘for one year certain,’ and at the end of the year, she dismissed Richard, but kept Carrickahowley (Rockfleet) Castle, where this book is set. However, contemporary English records state they remained together – or, at least, allied for a common purpose – until Richard’s death in 1583.

There was one child of the union, Tibbot. Captain John Bingham raised Tibbot in his household as a hostage – a practice common at the time, not only to ensure the ‘good behaviour’ of the hostage’s family but also to ensure the Anglicization of the next generation of Gaelic leaders.

Politically, Grania submitted to the English Crown with Burke in 1577.

Despite said submission, she maintained her fleet and seafaring activities, and supported a number of uprisings among the Gaelic chiefs as England’s power sought to supplant their own. The prison stay she mentions when speaking with Sean took place in 1577-1579 thanks to the efforts of the Earl of Edmond (Limerick) in an effort to prove his loyalty to the Crown.

In 1584, Sir Richard Bingham was appointed Governor of Connacht. He and Grania played a cat-and-mouse game via the various rebellions the broke out in response to Bingham’s attempts to enforce English law.

In 1586, Bingham’s appointed lieutenant and brother, Captain John Bingham, confiscated Grania’s horses and cattle, and murdered her eldest son, Owen. Saved by her son-in-law, Richard “Devil’s Hook” Burke, Grania fled to Ulster, where conditions were more favourable for her various enterprises. Bingham was eventually sent to Flanders and Grania returned to Connacht to resume her activities there.

In 1588, Queen Elizabeth pardoned Grania, but as that was the same year Bingham was reinstated as Governor of Connacht, and was still bent on curbing Grania’s power, the pardon had little effect. The Queen also interviewed Grania via the Articles of Interrogatory in 1593. The two women finally met in September 1593 at Greenwich Castle, in England.

Although Bingham did attempt to intervene, Queen Elizabeth took pity on an old, seemingly helpless woman. Grania’s remaining sons were pardoned and their lands reinstated. Grania was also granted her own personal freedom to act and ‘prosecute any offender’ against the Queen – which meant she could still ply a trade by the sea, so long as her enemies and the Queen’s enemies were the same.

However, as Bingham continued in his position of Governor and curtailer of Grania’s activities, he was able to circumnavigate the Queen’s orders regarding Grania’s ability to eek a living out of the sea.

Despite Bingham, the Nine Year’s War that pitted Grania’s son Tibbot against her onetime allies in The O’Neil and The O’Donnell, and an impoverished west coast, Grania persevered. She was still an active seawoman well into her sixties, as much out of necessity as desire. Nevertheless, she finally laid her body to rest in 1603.

Spotlight: Three Ghosts & The Coming Storm

The wonderful, delightful, wise, caring, amazing (seriously, I can go on all day) Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay tagged me in her Work-in-Progress post, in which she showcased her novel, Clemency.

Marie is one of the loveliest people I know, and it has been my honor and privilege to get to know her these last two years. She reminds me to enjoy my life, and what I’ve accomplished with it – and not sweat the small stuff. When one tends to live in her head most of the time – as many of us do – that reminder is huge. All the more so, because Marie means it – her sincerity wraps me up just like a warm hug, and I don’t know what I’d do without her! So, thank you, Marie.

The rules for the WIP blog hop (which are more like guidelines anyway, thank you, Captain Barbarossa), are as follows:

  1. Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.
  2. Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress.
  3. Nominate some other writers to do the same.

I’m working on two things right now: an expanded edition of Three Ghosts, which can be read in its on-going serial form every Monday, and editing/finessing/loophole-closing/time-travel-induced-head-banging The Coming Storm, Book Two in the Changelings series.

As that is the case, I am going to have my merry way with the rules, and reveal the cover for the Three Ghosts novella first, and excerpt-away with The Coming Storm.

Three Ghosts

Cover by Casey T. Malone

Three Ghosts cover by Casey T. Malone

What do you do when the decisions you’ve made come back to haunt you? How do you make them right? Can you, when one wrong move will mean lives lost?

Deirdre O’Brien, an American living in Dublin, and one-time political activist, married the wrong man – and had to kill him to save the lives of thousands. Fifteen years later, Pearse Finnegan is back from the dead, with a horrific plan to destroy the tenuous peace between Belfast, Dublin and London. Once Dee shared Pearse’s madness, but no more, and saving the day – or at least London – means throwing herself at a seedy underworld, where nothing is what it seems, and trust is a commodity too short in supply.

She has three days – three days, and three ghosts. She will confront them, or risk becoming one herself.

Three Ghosts will be available on March 17.

Changelings: The Coming Storm

Fresh from their misadventures in Into the Mist, Changelings Maureen O’Malley and Sean McAndrew have been abandoned in a world devoid of magic. The gateway is closed and the one man who could teach them to use the power in their blood is dead. Faced with expulsion, Maureen and Sean have nowhere to go but to the McAndrew estate, run by Sean’s mysterious Aunt Margaret.

But even deep in the Scottish Highlands, Faerie whispers and sinister magic spun by the treacherous king of the Fae, Nuada Silver Arm, reach out to snatch them in the night – and this time, returning home is no longer an option. This time, in order to thwart the king, they must protect the McAndrew family, no matter the cost to themselves.

Slipping between the shifting lands of the Fae, the last days of World War Two, and the heady months leading up to the Jacobean Rebellion of 1745, the war between Man and Fae will come to its dramatic conclusion in Changelings: The Coming Storm  

Chapter 1

The wind tore at his face and bit his hands as he gripped the blade that had been his prize for defeating Nuada Silver Arm’s enemies. Now, Nuada, king of the Fae, stood before him and pulled terrors from his soul.

Chapter 2

“Do you have any idea what you put us through, Miss Maureen?”

Maureen avoided Mother Superior’s cool grey eyes and stared down at her hands. She tried not to pick at the frayed tear in the trousers she’d been wearing for – well, for almost a year, now.

Not really. She and Sean had spent less than a day in the Faerie otherworld, Tír na nÓg, but it seemed like a year. To her, and to the good Sisters of Carrickahowley Abbey.

Chapter 3

“What do you remember?”

Dubh lifted his eyes to the red-haired man standing over him. He looked smart in his pilot’s uniform. He was young, yet his green eyes spoke of many battles.

Every day it was the same question.

Every day he said the same thing: “Nothing.”

It was a lie.

The Coming Storm will be available Fall 2015.

And now, for the fun part – I hereby invite Bradley Corbett to tell us a little bit about himself and his various projects. Bradley is in charge of what I call the Green Embers Experience – he blogs, he encourages via The Building Rome project, and he reviews at Green Embers Recommends. He even manages to corral me into something resembling order so that we can bring you the occasional podcast, The Not So Shocking News Dialogues. In addition to all that, he writes fiction and draws comics, and I definitely want him to showcase all the work he’s put into the world of Green Embers.

A little bit about Brad, in his own words:

Bradley Corbett

Bradley Corbett

My name is Bradley Corbett and I am a bonafide blogger. My day job is working on a special escalation team within a customer service organization. This has granted me the great opportunity to work with individuals from around the globe, which provides a great sense of challenge and fun. I currently reside in Utah.

… When I started blogging, I discovered that the only person keeping me from being happy, was me. So every week I make a concerted effort on improving myself to be the best man I can be. It is a slow process but one that I feel I am succeeding in. These thoughts of improvement and overcoming personal obstacles is what brought about the Building Rome weekly event that I host.

I absolutely love blogging. This has been my favorite hobby even over watching TV, playing video games or even reading. I feel it is because it is not passive but an active hobby where I have to create things – things ranging from my messy writing to my messy art. Content you may find on this blog are my opinions, thoughts, flash fiction and random doodles. I say ‘this’ blog because I have others as well.

If you would like to know more about me, I have 101 facts about me that can be a fairly amusing read.

First Fridays: Chapter Six

Another Friday, another behind-the-scenes look at a chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist, this time, Chapter 6. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter One, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings  so you can follow along!

 Six

20141207_140911~2The sounds and smells of Carrickahowley Castle met them a good half-mile before they reached the stronghold itself. What was deserted in their time – with only the occasional fishing boat for company – was bustling with life. Nearly twenty ships filled the waters of the inlet, and the noise from their crews was rivalled only by a small market doing brisk business in the harbour. Overseeing it all was the stout stone tower. It glowered at them, even as it offered its protection.

Tomás manoeuvred his cart alongside a rickety dock and hailed two men standing close to the pier. They stopped their chatter and waved back. He turned to Sean and Maureen.

“Here we are. Hand those bundles off to young Owen over there.” He nodded his head at the younger of the two men as he approached the cart.

They scrambled out, eager to repay him – for his lack of interest, and the ride. Tomas tied off his pony’s reins and strolled over to the other man.

“No, that’s all right, lass. No need to strain yourself,” Owen said to Maureen as he took the sack of – well, of what, she was not sure. It was heavy, though. She handed it off and reached for a smaller pack.

“Ah now, you’re a bonnie bit of a thing, but breeches or no, the lad and I can manage this.” The young man laughed and sauntered off with two bundles under his arms. Sean looked at her and shrugged, but followed the other boy anyway.

She made a face and contented herself with unloading the cart and stacking its cargo close to the gangplank Sean and the boy had used to access a large ship. That was one mercy, at least. The gangplank was a flimsy thing, balanced precariously between the pier and the boat.

A shudder roiled her shoulders. Water, boats and swimming – these she did not mind. Heights, now? Heights made her legs weak.

Word of the Day

Gangplank: a movable plank used as a ramp to board or disembark from a ship or boat. Granted, as this NGram shows (and oh my god, aren’t NGrams the greatest thing ever for word nerds?!?)

D: I think that might just be you, A.

A: I don’t think so. There must be others. There’s a whole blog, called “Not One-Off Britishisms,” that uses it as a reference.

D: Okay, so you, and that guy.

A: Yeah, well – still not ‘just me,’ then, Druid.

D: Pedant.

A: Kill joy.

D: Fair enough. Let’s move on, shall we?

A: Right, where was I before you interrupted me?

D: Explaining why you used gangplank to describe the flimsy ramp between the dock and the boat when the word wasn’t even in use in 1584.

A: And the answer is simple: Maureen is describing the scene. To her eyes and ears, gangplank is a perfectly common, suitable word.

D: Scintillating.

A: Indeed. Cheers, D.

Devil’s in the Details

Tomás Conroy is the ultimate messenger. In addition to being the resident blacksmith, he is a storyteller with a strong superstitious streak, which predisposes him to accepting strangeness, even as he is willing to tell all and sundry about it. Most quest archetype stories need one (heck, most stories no matter where they fall on the paradigm need one) and Tomás is it. Not only does he deliver Maureen and Sean to the action, he conveys important messages to a variety of characters, and to the readers. Because I use a limited form of 3rd person narrative, messengers such as Tomás are necessary to keep things moving along.

Historical Footnotes

Carrickahowley Castle, photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

Carrickahowley Castle, photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

Carrickahowley Castle, today known as Rockfleet Castle, was just one of several strongholds held by a one Grace O’Malley/Grania Uaile, Pirate Queen of the Irish Seas. Carrickahowley is a tower house, built in the mid sixteenth century. It has four floors and is over eighteen meters in height. I took liberties with the location of the inlet, as currently the tower appears to have been built in the sea – at high tide, it is difficult to get into or out of the main door. Owned by an American, several years ago the castle was restored using traditional building methods and materials (Ref. Wikipedia).

Spotlight: Helena Hann-Basquiat

pubslushbuttonBy now, everyone knows that Helena Hann-Basquiat is, by far, my favorite Dilettante. And it’s not just because I don’t know too many, either. I do, in fact, know quite a few, although they may not consider themselves as such (usually ‘raconteur’ is a word I hear tossed about, but whatever). But what makes Helena my favorite by far is her passion, her writing, and the creativity that pours out of every facet – and every identity – she owns. Because as we all know, Helena is a construct, just like the mistress of creepy, Jessica B. Bell, is a construct. The brilliance of that construct – and of the man behind it – astounds me every time Ken says, “Hey, get a load of this idea…”

So yes, favorite dilettante, and everyone knows it – but what I’m not certain of is whether or not everyone knows about Helena’s PubSlush Campaign, which went live on Monday.

What is PubSlush?

To use Helena’s own words, the PubSlush Campaign is a way for her to conduct her business and sell her writing direct to her readers and fans (like the Druid and myself) — like a musician selling CDs after the show, or like a street performer passing the hat after a performance.

It’s also the only way to get a signed/personalized copy of Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2. You’ll also have the opportunity to pick up deals with multiple books (signed and unsigned). There are all sorts of wonderful things to be had over there – so you should go. No, it’s okay, I’ll wait.

So, What’s this Dilettante been doing lately?

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

Vol. 2 of the Memoirs, Cover art by Hastywords

I think the better question is what hasn’t she been doing lately! Seriously, the Dilettante Machine is prolific in the extreme and I love it.

In the last two years, Helena has written and released Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 1, written the sinister bayou serial, CHUK, and developed the short story collection, VISCERA, which will be available for purchase later in 2015. She also tried her hand at NaNoWriMo this November, completing the first book in the People of the Manatii Trilogy. Then there is much-anticipated Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2 and the Shakespearean-styled play, Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. Add to that the variety of creative endeavors she’s treated us to on her blog, Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante, and you have a body of work that is inspiring, to say the least.

Added Fun – More ways to get involved:

The #WhereIsHelena postcard hashtage social media extravaganza! Read more about it here. So long as those postcards keep moving, being Tweeted, etc., Helena will keep handing out prizes – maybe even an e-book of Memoirs, Vol. 2 or Penelope, if you’re lucky!

Bio of a Dilletante

helena-h-bThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she then bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming.

She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn’t think that the general populace or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

Earlier this year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell – VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat

BECOME A FAN at PUBSLUSH and pre-order Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two and Penelope, Countess of Arcadia

First Fridays: Chapter Five

I interrupt the blog’s Valentine tomfoolery to bring you the first page of Chapter 5 in Changelings: Into the Mist. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter One, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Five

20141207_140911~2Sean woke with a gasp and a sickening heave of his stomach. The waking was so sudden, he forgot where he was. He forgot he had spent the night back-to-back in the dirt with Maureen. He forgot they had travelled through time – he even forgot they were now stranded. It came back to him in a rush and his stomach twisted even more.

Behind him, Maureen was stirring. He started to turn to her but she hit him and ‘shushed’ in his ear.

“Do you hear that?” she hissed.

His protest at being smacked in the shoulder died on his tongue. He closed his mouth and listened. There it was – the sound that first woke him.

“Someone’s chopping down the trees.”

Maureen nodded slightly. “Aye. I was having a nightmare and the noise blended with it, somehow. It woke me up.”

Something about the shadows under her eyes, and the steady beat of a handsaw and axe made the hair on his neck stand. “I don’t think we should be seen by whoever is up there – doesn’t feel right.”

She eyed him for a second – hunches and wild suppositions were her area of expertise – but nodded. “Nothing has felt right since yesterday morning. Let’s get out of here.”

They helped each other stand and quickly brushed off the leafy debris of their night under the stars.

Sean stretched and rubbed at his face. “If there’s any civilization here at all, we’ll find it closer to the bay. There’s probably a road or path at the base of the hill – if we can get to it without being seen.”

A shout and the ear-splitting groan of a monarch’s fall overshadowed this last. They stared at each other as the birds jeered above them.

Word of the Day

Monarch: ruler of a kingdom, in this case the oak tree is the monarch of the forest, a common symbol. Oaks have long been associated with royalty – not only because it was valued by the Druids, but because of its durability (Ref: Fine Dictionary).

Devil’s in the Details

The Mighty Oak Tree

The Mighty Oak Tree

Dreams, visions and “wild suppositions,” as Sean calls it, figure heavily as motivating factors in Changelings. While only hinted at here, Maureen’s dreams – much like the oaks and the mist – become an important player in the ongoing mystery surrounding the Changelings.

D: Wow A – is that all you’re going to say?

A: Um, yeah. Why?

D: You’re ‘details’ aren’t exactly detailed today, are they?

A: I can’t say more – it would be a spoiler. It’s important. It’s probably the most important thing on this page of the book, besides their emotional elasticity – which I talked about in Chapter Four – that allows them to accept their current reality.

D: Bla, bla bla, words, words, words. You’re just not willing to admit this is kind of a boring opener for a chapter.

A: Would it be better if I’d stuck you in there, despite the fact that you were likely gallivanting around the Continent, leaving Maureen and Sean on their own?

D: . . . well, at least it would have been entertaining.

A: (Sigh) Yes, D. Whatever you say, D.

D: That’s better.

Historical Footnotes

How many miles is it really to the bay?  As the hill is technically fictional, it could be as many – or as few – miles to Clew Bay as I wanted. However, I had fun with maps (fun fact: I have several atlases. While I can get lost crossing the street – true story – maps are some of my favourite things.), and explored an elevation map for a reasonable spot to plant my fictional hill, abbey and chapel. As it happens, the other side of Carrowbeg Lough was just hilly – and empty – enough to be favourable. Using roads, that general area is roughly 2.3 Kilometers from Carrickahowley Castle, or 1.42 miles (See below – source: Google Maps).