Christmas is something I do not do.  I am one of the many people who hold sad, old memories of awful Christmases which haunt me at this time of year.  Ultimately, no matter what I do, this becomes a big, nasty, awful, ugly depression-bubble.  That bubble doesn’t burst until after St. Stephen’s Day (December 26th). 

For years now, I have focused on the Winter Solstice as my holiday.  After all, that marks the time when more sunlight will soon be coming our way (at least, in the Northern Hemisphere), and as a Druid, December 21st is a traditional seasonal celebration.  But living in Ireland - indeed, in almost any English-speaking country - means that December is the time of year when one is constantly bombarded by Christmas junk.  And for people like me, that’s just . . . depressing.

This year, I’m trying something different to combat the December blues, and just in case you’re like me, maybe this can help you too. 

Most historians (whether they be Christian, Atheist, or anything else) agree that a prophet by the name of Jesus actually existed and was born sometime between 4 and 7 BCE . . . in the AUTUMN.   While there is no written record specifying a day and month of his birth, there is the fact that shepherds would most likely not be ‘abiding in the fields’ in December.  It was too damn cold.  Flocks were usually in the fields between Spring and Autumn.  Also, if you’re pregnant and being conveyed via donkey, winter would likely be a really stupid time to travel the 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  The more probable time of year would be late September. 

September 29th was the annual Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, when such travel was commonly undertaken. Also, later Christian tradition commemorated Michaelmas (or ‘Michael sent’), after the arch angel Michael, on September 29th.  It would be appropriate for Jesus to have been born on the Feast of Tabernacles, since some believe it was at his birth that ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt (literally tabernacled) among us’. 

So.  December 25th is three months too late to celebrate Jesus’s birthday.  Wouldn’t it be fun to start a new tradition?  Let’s celebrate ALL prophet’s birthdays!  Yay!  That’s a good idea. 

Let’s see, there’s Abraham, the guy who prophesized circumcision.  Hmm.  Not sure how to celebrate that.  Let’s move on. 

There’s Mohammed.  Yeah.  Not going there either. 

There’s Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and he even has a convenient birthday - December 23, 1805.  We could celebrate his idea of a Zion-utopia (and maybe skip the bigomy part). 

There was Cassandra, the Greek mythological prophet.  Snakes licked her ears clean so that she was able to hear the future.  Maybe not the best holiday idea for ophidiophobes. 

How about Gandhi?  His birthday, October 2nd, is now the International Day of Non-Violence. 

Then there’s Edgar Cayce, the ‘sleeping prophet,’ who could do remote cures.  He was born on March 18th. 

Sigh.  I’m not sure what the answer is, other than just muddling through the season.  And maybe holding on to the advice of Augustine of Hippo: 
In essentials unity,
In doubtful things liberty,
In all things love. 


Did you know the royal zygote already has a horoscope?  That’s right, Kate Middleton’s bump already has a personality profile.  For some reason, that bothers me a little.  All that expectation being placed on the poor little thing before it even has fingernails. 

They say Prince William is a Cancerian. His mother, Diana, was Cancerian too. And her grandchild is set to also belong to this sign. Babies born around the middle of 2013 will capture, in their horoscopes, the exceptional energy of seven rare ‘squares’ being formed from Uranus to Pluto. It will be over 60 years until the world comes under such an awakening influence again. Horoscopically speaking (yes, I did make that word up), it is believed the new heir to the throne will ‘play a crucial part in a consciousness revolution that inspires the children of tomorrow to create a dramatically different, far less fearful future.’  Yeah, no pressure there. 

Lately, I’ve been extremely fearful, so less fear sounds just grand to me.  My car died last week and now I have to buy a new one.  That alone is enough to induce sleepless nights.  But, there’s more.  In Ireland, as in most of Europe, most people drive manual shift cars.  I do not know how to drive a manual shift.  Automatics are costly and difficult to repair.  In fact, there is only one place in the entire country that works on automatic transmissions.  So, a few friends have been trying to teach me how to drive a manual shift car.  The result is a complete FEAR CIRCUS.  I’m absolutely no-frigging-good at it.  None.  Not at all.  The whole car thing is making me so nervous, I jump at every little bump or noise.  Yesterday, I had a nightmare during a day dream. 

So, you may say, get over it and buy an automatic.  Then the whole ‘we-can’t-repair-this’ scenario will probably repeat itself all over again, at some stage.  I live in the middle of nowhere.  A car is imperative. 

For the longest time, I wanted to be the reclusive writer who lived by the lake.  Far from the madding crowd.  It was a dream packed with such passion and drive that it kept me alive through some of the most emotionally challenging events in my life (so far).  Now I’m here and delighted to have realized that dream all those years ago.  But a funny thing happens when you get what you wish for.  It usually comes with an unexpected lagniappe.  [Lan-yap (noun) – gift with purchase; something that is added.] 

I’m thinking Kate Middleton was probably eager to make a baby.  But now she’s got morning sickness that sounds more severe than radiation poisoning. 

I wish those horoscope experts would/could warn us about these little added surprises.  It might not change the outcome, but it could ease the fear. 


It’s that time of year again – the new year in the old Celtic calendar.  Each day, the veil grows thinner.  Every day from now for the next week to fortnight (and especially on October 29th, the night of the full moon), it is possible to contact the Shining Ones – the spirits of nature, as well as our ancestors and loved ones.  Go outside and listen.  Come inside and light a candle.  Let us all be conscious, aware, opening our minds and our hearts to those around us we cannot see. 

For the great gates of the mountains have opened once again,
And the sound of song and dancing fall upon the ears of men,
And the Land of Youth lies gleaming, flushed with rainbow light and mirth,
And the old enchantment lingers in the honey-heart of earth.
-          A.E. (George William Russell)

Wishing you and all your friendly spirits a . . .

Happy Samhain! 


She’s baaaaaack.  Thanks to fellow blogger and literary genius, Crystal Collier, the Compulsive Creator, I have been tagged for The Next Big Blog Hop.  To be completely honest, I considered pretending like I’d dropped off the face of the earth.  But, while I am feeling pretty reclusive lately, I am NOT a party poop.  So, I will gladly play along and answer the ten questions about my most current WIP (or re-WIP). 

1. What is the working title of your book?

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

My personal move from L.A. to the rural west of Ireland.  (Write what ya know, right?) 

3. What genre does your book fall under? 
YA Time-Slip (slips between historical and contemporary)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Hmmm . . . maybe: 

In the 5th Century:  Kaya Scodelario and Liam Hemsworth

In the Present:  Hailee Steinfeld and Landon Liboiron

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A teenager, miserable about moving to rural Ireland from Southern California, discovers her past life on a remote lake island. 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Please, dear God, deliver unto me an agency. 

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
Um, well, if you include all the research, and interviewing old people who know about the past and unpacking and acclimating myself to my new home and having to buy and get used to a new computer after my old one died . . . three years.  Is that a run-on sentence? 

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Spirits from the past.  I get visits from dead people.  Sometimes they stay for lunch.  Leave their ideas behind, that sort of thing. 

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Have you ever found yourself in a new place and just known things?  Things you shouldn’t know, like where things are you’ve never seen or even heard of?  Or people’s names or place names?  There are a lot of possible explanations for knowing the unknowable.  This story explores one of them. 

And to:  
L.G.Smith at
Dianne Salerni at
Serena Lawless at

I say, ‘Tag, you’re it!" 


 Hurry!  Click over to Tammy McKee's blog: and join the mc speed dating party.  This week is Jennifer Hartsock's mc from BATTLEGROUND.  Jennifer needs your comments and suggestions to help make her first chapter irresistible.  So, come on.  Read, play, have fun! 


It seems most everyone has heard, but in case you haven't, the Dear Lucky Agent contest is in full swing, so if you haven't entered your MG fiction, you might want to consider doing so.  And if you don't have any MG, the contest happens periodically for various genres.  Last time it was mainstream.  Next time, it'll be something else.  Here's where to head:

The agent judging is Sara Sciuto of Full Circle Literary.  She's from my neck of the woods, Southern Calif, so she's probably a lovely person.  Who knows.  Enter and find out!  


Welcome to another MC speed date.  This time it's with Rachelle Pudelek's character Allura, from DARK WATERS.

So, please read the first chapter below and offer a comment or your thoughts on this MC's voice.  We're looking for honest comments here, any tips that will help Rachelle live happily ever after as a published author.  And definitely let us know your final verdict.  Would ya date this MC?  Or at least read chapter 2? 

Oh, yeah, and if you'd like to join the party with your MC, please email me (or you can email Tammy ) and let us know.  The next speed date will be on Wednesday, August 29th.  Thanks for playing!

Chapter 1

My nails dug into the bark as I clung to the side of the pine tree, and swung myself up to a higher branch. “I’m thinking the forest is a lost cause tonight, sisters.” I lifted my nose and took another whiff. Just to double check. “There’s nothing to hunt here.”
Arlana crouched on the solid branch of a mature, towering evergreen and shook her head. “Allura, why do you keep picking the thinnest limbs?” she called out, ignoring my food comment.
“What’s the fun in catapulting from the thick ones?” I positioned my body to leap from the narrow limb covered in pine needles to a thread of a twig ten feet higher, on a nearby tree.
“Um, I’d say not falling on your ass when the tiny, weak branch breaks!” My sister, Celine, laughed.  
I pulled my body low, my thighs clenched like powerful coils preparing to release their bursts of energy. There was no need to stay still, to concentrate on the movement of the wind through the trees, or to remind myself of the correct footing for such a jump. Our ancestors were some of the most feared women in folklore. Huntresses of the night. So, I pretty much had a knack for all things hunting related—jumping through trees, included.  
I aimed a quick smile at Arlana and launched myself from the tree. The night air greeted me with a gush, wrapping itself in my black hair as water droplets pelted my face. My hands, outstretched in front of me, parted the needles and pine cones before my feet found their place on the spindly branch.
Thanks to our ability to see in the darkest of places, I spotted Arlana roll her eyes. Having superb vision over long distances helped too.   
“Can we eat now?” Celine leapt to a tree closer to me, and my sisters, Arlana and Cara, followed.
“Yes. Please. I’m famished,” Cara whined.
“I could go for anything right now, so what are you guys in the mood for?” Arlana studied the forest floor from her perch, already scouting out our meal as though the frigid night hadn’t kept all animal life hidden in their warm burrows.
“Not land animals. They’re so gamey.” Cara pushed her blond curls behind her ear and shifted her weight on the sturdy, low branch she stood upon. Despite her distance from me, the sound of her empty stomach grumbled in my ears.
“The water’s that way.” I pointed toward the view I had been enjoying, as though my sisters hadn’t already sensed the Pacific Ocean nearby. The Puget Sound looked like an ongoing sheet of onyx glass. 
“Yes.” Cara’s fingers worked at pulling her shirt over her head as she sprinted through the heavy green laden trees, from branch to branch.
The rest of us followed, keeping pace, but in our own unique strides, at our own height preferences. In an instant, the four of us shot out from the tree line where the edge of the cliff plummeted into nothing but ocean and rocks. We soared off the side of the cliff, over the sharp rocks and crashing waves. Each of us tucked our faces down, and pushed our hands above our heads, creating arrows of our bodies to cut through the glass ocean top.
“Finally,” Cara exhaled, her body barely beneath the water’s surface. She grabbed the first fish she could reach and sunk her teeth into its scales. Cara kept hold of her appetizer as she swam alongside my sisters and me. One fish wouldn’t do. We needed lots.
Cara’s jeans floated in the water near Celine’s head and Arlana gave a disapproving sigh. “Seriously, we need to plan our meals out before we leave the house. This last minute shedding of clothes is going to eventually leave our dressers empty.”
“Yeah.” Celine grabbed the floating jeans. “If we aren’t hunting in the woods, we need to remember to bring our backpacks.”
Cara, cheeks full of fish, nodded as we rounded the edge of a star-fish covered boulder.  
We swam through the water in much the same way we’d soared though the trees, prowling for sustenance, on the hunt. Most animals, land and sea, knew of our existence—knew we were dangerous and to be avoided. Which, in my opinion, made hunting that much sweeter.
We tucked into a narrow, shallow underwater cave and waited, or bodies swaying to the natural movements of the water, until a school of unsuspecting fish swam by the cave opening. Without warning, four sets of arms thrust from the cavern. Each of us embracing a hearty amount of wriggling fish, we exited the shroud of the alcove and enjoyed our meal. Cara, of course, seemed to enjoy it most.
“After this, we need to get home.” Arlana titled her head toward the sky. “Night will be over in a few hours and we still need to get some sleep; tomorrow’s school.”
I licked my fingers and nodded.
Cara leaned toward her meal, examining the remains, searching for any morsel left on the bones. Her head jerked up and her eyes searched the area around us. “Did you just hear that?”
I craned my neck to study our surroundings. “I heard it too, like something…like a smacking noise or something.”
Cara dropped the fish skeleton she’d been clutching, morsel or no morsel, and followed the sound she’d heard. I caught up just in time to see her put her hand over her mouth and gasp. Celine and Arlana stopped short behind us.
“This is not good,” Cara whispered, her hand still covering her lips. 
A young woman, who appeared to be unconscious, descended through the dark water. Her knee length dress billowed out around her waist and her light brown hair wisped in free-flowing strands above her head. One single thread of red ribbon leaked from her nose in the most beautiful of ways.  
“We need to turn around and go home right now,” Arlana demanded.
“She’s out of it. She doesn’t even know we’re here.” My gaze stayed locked on the female who looked to be in her early twenties, as she descended into the depths.
“And she could wake up at any moment. Then what would you do?” Arlana turned her body from my view as if she were preparing to race off toward home.
“Taunting danger is one thing, but don’t be stupid about it.” Celine shook her head and swam to Arlana.
Celine was right. Breaking the rules was an act beyond stupid, and although the list of “do not’s” when it came to humans, screamed in my head, something stronger, an unbreakable pull of curiosity, glued me in place.
Cara freed her hand from covering her mouth and rested it on my right arm. “Come on. Let’s go.” Her fingers trailed down my arm and wove themselves between my own fingers. She started swimming away, gently pulling my arm with her.
Still, I didn’t budge.
“Go on, I’ll be right behind you.” My fingers freed from Cara’s as my sisters jetted off toward home, and away from the almost-dead human woman I was now fascinated with.
I meant what I had said. I just wanted to do one thing, touch the human, and I’d be right behind them. Just touching her wouldn’t hurt anybody. My aunts say human’s skin is not as soft as ours, but more pliable and squishy, and easier to tear, not that I had planned on tearing her, or even hurting her. 
I swam to the woman and reached out to stroke her bare arm as she drifted downward. Her hair, flowing freely, tangled around my fingers like wild vines. I shimmied my hand to pull it free making her body jostle a little bit, catching the glints of light strewn through the water by the moon.  A golden charm attached to her necklace sparkled for a spit second and I eyed the fancy cursive words on the heart-shaped pendant. “DAUGHTER”, it read. 
I dropped the small piece of jewelry as though it had been infused with poison. A tear welled in my eye as I watched the pendant ease its way back toward the woman’s skin. 
I was a daughter once.
Thoughts of my own mother filled my mind and made my heart heavy like it had turned to lead. This woman was a daughter. She had a mother—a mother who would miss her. Who would be heartbroken without her. I knew that heartbreak all too well.  
I forced my eyes away from the pendant. I had felt her pliable skin, now I needed to head home. I needed to do the right thing. Follow the rules. Plus, there was nothing I could do for this female. Except maybe drag her body onto the shore. I shook my head at the thought. A naked teenage girl running around the beach in the middle of a frigid fall night towing a probably dead body would raise a few eyebrows. Not that there would be any people on the beach at this time of the night.
I stared off into the darkness, rationalizing leaving the woman to her demise, when a quiet thump reverberated through the water. I peered down to where the noise came from—the woman’s chest. She was still alive, and from the strength of her heartbeat, she was nearer to life than death. If I could prevent the severance of a mother-daughter relationship, I had no choice but to try. I pushed all logic from my mind—every possible and probable consequence of what I was about to do—and looped my arm around her waist.
I turned to swim toward the shore. No one would see me unload the body onto the dark beach, especially if I picked a place near the cliffs. Though not near the cliffs I resided on. I headed south and began to pick up speed with my passenger in tow when something slammed into the center of my spine. A shriek exploded from my mouth as the throbbing pain ripped through my back muscles and sent the woman and I off course. Before I could adjust my unconscious passenger within my grip, what felt like a fist struck at my back again with a firm and forceful blow. My chest heaved forward and smacked into the woman’s face, leaving a sharp twinge of pain pulsing through my forehead.
As her body careened backwards and out of my grasp, a thick spurt of blood gushed from her nose until the liquid crimson clouded the water around us. I started to reach for her again, to remove us from the red billows wafting about, but I froze in place. 


Hurry, quick, run over to Tammy's blog and meet Mary Waibel's MC, Danielle, for today's speed date.  She's a girl in a terrible pickle (not Mary, her MC) and she might be just your type.

PARALLEL DIMENSIONS (or Reality is a Relative Term)

I’ve begun the querying process with my MG fantasy and, even though I understand that agents and publishers need to have labels on everything, I object to calling this story ‘fantasy.’  One of my CPs suggested it could be called ‘sci-fi,’ but that isn’t any better.  The terms Fantasy and Sci-Fi both imply that my story, which takes place in the 9th Dimension Parallel, could never happen in reality.  Well, in my reality, it could. 

If you think about it, doesn’t it seem like writers (especially those who write for kids) should believe what they’re writing?  If you can’t believe that your MC is actually a vampire or a zombie or a shape-shifting squid girl with snake hair, then how will your readers?  You have to at least entertain the idea that there might be shape-shifting squid people somewhere.  (Sorry, I just took an alliteration pill.) 

You know how when you dream, you go along with whatever happens?  Like, you may be dreaming that you’re vacuuming the living room and then you go around the corner and suddenly you’re in Paris.  You don’t stop and question, ‘Hey, how the hell did I get to Paris?’  You just go with it and keep on dreaming.  A mind at rest is beautifully open. 

Druid theory embraces the concept that, just because something cannot be seen, does not mean it doesn’t exist.  If you can’t believe parallel dimensions exist because you can’t see them, then I have two words for you:  Isaac.  Newton.  A lovely man, I’m sure, who went a long way in proving that something can exist even if you can’t see it. 

Heaven, Hell, the OtherWorld, Valhalla and Tír na nÓg (the Irish land of eternal youth), are all alternate dimensions.  My personal favourite is Alice’s Wonderland. 

Like Brian Greene and the string theory (which involves electro-magnetism and multiple dimensions), ancient Druids understood there are varying degrees of existence, varying levels of consciousness and dream states.  When you look at the world this way, almost anything is possible. 

I can’t help fantasizing that maybe some day in the future, a middle grader will be reading my MG novel and will find it hilarious that people used to think of parallel dimensions as fantasy. 

I also fantasize that Brian Greene and I are skinny dipping under a waterfall on a tropical island, feeding each other Goobers and Raisinettes, and then he moves really close and nibbles on my ear and suddenly I can understand quantum physics.  But that’s another post.  


Drum rolllllll, cymbal crash . . . Our first MC speed date is with Tammy's McKee's character, Addie, from the YA paranormal, THE BONE TREATY.  So, please read the first chapter below and offer a comment or your thoughts on this MC's voice.  Would ya date her?  Or at least read chapter 2? 
. . .  

Chapter 1


Shaking raindrops from my hair, I stepped into The Meeting House. The place looked nearly empty. It was early yet. Most of the church crowd wouldn’t be in for another hour maybe two, which was why Porter, Joplin and I always met here on Sunday mornings. There was nothing better than a little peace and quiet. Getting first dibs on fresh baked cinnamon rolls was nice too. Yeah baby.

 Easily, I spotted Porter’s slender frame lounging on the chaise. Obviously someone passed over the option of hair combing this morning. Given the latte he was nursing, he’d started without me. I cleared my throat. Lowering a magazine, he looked up, his ash grey eyes meeting mine. Since when did he read fitness magazines? Arching my brow, he grinned. 

I crossed my eyes, wrinkling my nose at him, making my best mentally- challenged face. Shaking his head, he smirked, extending a pinky finger. His ass better be glad we’re in Charleston South Carolina and not in China. Flipping someone off in any continental code. Unacceptable.

Sweet aromas of vanilla and caramel distracted me, wafting through the air, saving his ass and swirling around my early morning head with a silent, sticky promise. Something dark, rousing, and delicious was near, something way better than dork-face. Coffee.

Walking past the chaise, Porter leaned forward hoping to miss my slap. Too slow.

“Ouch! That’s why I didn’t get your coffee. You’re hateful,” he said, rubbing the back of his head.

I looked back over my shoulder. “You love me.”

“I have to love you. I’m afraid of you.”

Sniggering, I ordered a hazelnut latte and a box of cinnamon rolls for the three of us. Joplin would be here any minute. I was shocked she wasn’t already. She hardly missed an opportunity to be with Porter. The three of us had been friends since BPT (before potty training). It had been completely obvious since around kindergarten that Joplin and Porter would someday get married; have little Porter-ops running around unsupervised and scared of bugs. But, to my dismay, neither one of them seemed ready to move beyond the flirtation-ship level. Pathetic.

I dropped the box of buns on the coffee table then sat down on the sofa facing Porter. I smoothed out my plaid skirt and popped open the lid. The buns were still warm, the cream cheese icing dripping over the sides of each one in a delicious looking avalanche of sugary goodness. Starving, I dug in. My father had skipped the grocery shopping this week. The fridge was looking dismal. He had until dinnertime to hit up the Piggly Wiggly and then I was taking matters into my own hands.

Entranced by the scent of cinnamon, Porter tossed the magazine on the table and snatched a roll. Pulling a layer apart, he folded a gooey piece in half and stuffed it into his mouth.

“You’re disgusting,” I muttered.

“I’m charming,” he garbled through a mouthful of dough.

“Yeah, to a gorilla maybe.”

The door opened, drowning the room with the sound of pouring rain. It was September. Hurricane season. This year the coast had been lucky. We hadn’t had a memorable storm, nothing name worthy, just an occasional downpour.

Porter’s face changed, taking on that swoon-full glow as he looked over my shoulder. I turned in my seat not that I had to, I knew full well who was standing there. Joplin in all her Burberry glory, just standing in the doorway, folding an umbrella, and not looking anything like a gorilla.

Hanging her jacket over a hook, she set her umbrella down, propping it up against the window to dry out. Turning around, her eyes landed on Porter. Immediately he got up. Oh, so she gets coffee handed to her. So not fair.

Unable to help it, I smiled. It was hard not to when I watched them, the way they moved around each other, the little nudges, the half hidden smiles, the blushing. I should lock them in a room naked, with protection of course. The world was not ready for Porter-ops.

Jop sat down beside me, tucking long slender legs underneath her. Even first thing in the morning, wearing rubber boots over sweats, her hair pulled up into a messy bun, she was hot-mess beautiful.

She caught me checking her out. Her eyes narrowed. “What?”

“I was just wondering why I like you so much. You’re too pretty.” I shuddered.  

Joplin giggled, slapping me on the arm. “Shut up you bitch! I am not. I’d give anything to look like you. Besides, I have to look like crap after last night. I am totally dragging balls this morning.”

Porter returned bearing gifts infused with French vanilla. He looked at Joplin. “You do know that’s not possible, right?”

“Whatever,” she said, reaching for the cup. Her fingers brushed the back of Porter’s hand, their eyes clearing conveying silent little messages that hinted at lifting shirt hems and missing bra straps. Ew. This is ridiculous. Kiss already.

Looking away, I wondered if I’d ever know what it felt like to look at a guy like that. I wasn’t jealous, not of them. I was happy for them. Porter was off-limits brother material. We’d lived across the street from each other our entire lives. He was the first person I’d called when Mother Nature decided to make her incredibly late appearance. There was no way I was asking my father to go on a tampon run. Awkward. Porter was the kind of guy that didn’t care that he’d been spotted riding a bicycle with a box of OB’s sticking out of his back pocket. Thank God he got a car.

My non-existent love life was only slightly bothersome. At seventeen, I should be interested in someone. There were hot guys at school, a few had showed some real interest, maybe even a bit of potential, but nothing substantial enough to make my mouth water. What would it be like to be Pavlov’s dog over somebody, like Joplin was with Porter? Given the look she was giving him now, I contemplated placing a napkin on the floor beneath her. I had to intervene.

“What do you guys want to do today, head to the movies, grab lunch afterwards, plan your wedding?”

Joplin gave me a sharp look, a flush of pink rising to her cheeks. “No can do. I’ve got to help my mom at the new development again. I have to go soon. We’re meeting there in half an hour. She’s killing me,” she complained.

Joplin’s family owned a highly lucrative construction company. They’d just built a huge subdivision on the other side of town, and for some reason, Joplin’s mother loved staging the open houses herself, decorating to the fifth degree to increase sales potential. I’d helped a few times to earn extra money and had never been that desperate since.

Porter’s eyebrows shot up. “I could help out. I’m not doing anything today,” he said.

Joplin smiled, “Thanks, that sounds awesome. What about you, Ad?”

“Um—no way. That woman needs a self-help group. I love her. You know that. I just don’t love the OCD side of her. Gives me brain palpitations.”

Porter laughed. “There’s no such thing.”

“Tell me that later,” I said, getting up to drop my cup at the counter.

“Where are you going,” Joplin asked.

I turned around, “I might go grocery shopping, head on home, make some dinner for my Dad. He’s been busy all week. I haven’t seen him much. You guys go ahead,” I said and I meant it. With the rain, my own pair of sweats called my name. I could make spaghetti, hang out with Dad and my dog Traitor, the biggest mooch of all time.

Heading to the bathroom at the back of the shop, I rounded the darkened corner. A hand clamped down hard on my mouth. An arm locked around my middle jerking me backwards. I clawed at the hand pressing against my face, feeling like I could hardly breathe.

“Don’t cause a scene,” a man grumbled into my ear. His breath was hot on my neck. I shivered.

Steeling my head against his shoulder, he pulled me into the ladies room, locking the door behind him. Oh my God was this happening? Was I about to be raped and murdered in the bathroom of a coffee shop with my best friends yards away?

A burning sensation bubbled just under my rib cage. Nausea set in. My stomach felt like I’d been hugging a light bulb to my bare skin. Had he already hurt me? I started shaking. He moved to the right, freeing my head just enough. I moved my head forward, gaining force, then slammed my head backwards into the man. He cursed. Turning me quickly, slamming my back into the tiled wall, his hand never left my mouth. It looked like I busted his nose. Win. One.

Feeling the cold jagged steel of a knife pressing against my throat, my eyes settled on my attacker, I gasped. No fair. The guy was young, around my age, dressed like a businessman, utterly beautiful and refusing to look at me. I’d never seen him before. I was going to die at the hands of a well-dressed juvenile delinquent for no damn reason. No.

I stomped his foot as hard as I could then jerked my knee upward, heading for his groin. He blocked me easily, losing his hold on my mouth. I yelped as he slammed my head back into the tiled wall. Jesus H was porcelain ever unforgiving? Finally he looked at me. My breath caught. His eyes were as black as obsidian, boring into mine, flickering with hatred.

The heat at my ribs intensified. I tried to hold it back, but I whimpered in pain. My skin prickled. It felt like I was covered with static electricity. He sucked in a sharp breath. Releasing his hold on me, the knife falling to the floor, clanging against the tiles.  He took a step back, his eyes wide as he looked me over. You’d think he’d seen a ghost with the way he was looking at me. I wondered if I should yell, Boo! He shook his head.

“It can’t be,” he whispered.

Trembling all over, I wanted to move but couldn’t. My knees felt like they were turning to licorice. I tried to calm my breathing. One two, one two. I clutched at my chest. The air in the room seemed to be moving. Weird. Since when did air become so visible? It looked like it was traveling to the guy, becoming more defined like wisps of freezer air. I followed the tendrils, swirling around in circles from his feet to his smoldering eyes. It looked like the air was erasing him from where he stood. And for some reason, I didn’t want him to go. I wanted to know what I couldn’t be.

The sink lined the wall behind him, large square mirrors hanging above. Looking at myself in the mirror, I narrowed my eyes. His form growing more transparent, I looked like he was draped around me like a curtain of shadow. Closing my eyes, I blinked slowly, taking my time, hoping I’d stop hallucinating. This had to be the result of major head trauma.

 I couldn’t hide forever. My eyes opening, I slid down the wall to the cold floor, fighting back the sob rising in my throat. Looking at the empty space in front of me. Creeper guy had disappeared. I was alone. 


( for your main character)
Your manuscript is complete.  You’ve got a killer plot.  Your pacing is fabulous.  The dialogue is pithy, yet realistic, the setting great, and the story is a completely imaginative idea.  But your MC’s voice sucks. 

That means you’re out of the game. 

“I’m much more likely to keep reading if I know from that perfectly-executed first page that this character is someone who interests me, someone whose story I’d like to get lost in.”
– Holly Root, Waxman Literary

“We must admit a fondness for novels with memorable characters and a unique voice.”
– Josh Adams, Adams Literary

“What I look for is a strong voice that immediately sweeps me away, a strong sense of character.”
– Danielle Chiotti, Upstart Crow

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve heard/read it a million times.  They wanna fall in love with your main character.  If they don’t, your in-box will have more rejections than Viagra ads. 

So, how do you find out if your MC is boring as cardboard, or someone the whole world would want to date?  More importantly, if your MC’s voice isn’t quite right, how do you fix it? 

You come to the party! 

The first and third Wednesday of every month, Tammy and Fiona are throwing a MC speed dating party.  First Wednesday on Tammy’s blog (, third Wednesday on Fiona’s blog (  You send us the first chapter of your ms (no more than 2000 words), and we’ll post it here for comments specifically directed toward your MC’s voice.  Is it believable? Engaging? Provocative?  If not, why?  What will you have to change to make your MC someone we all want to date (or at least read more about)? 

Starting today, we’re accepting submissions of up to 2000 words.  We’ll post the first submission next Wednesday, July 18th for helpful comments.  So send us something.  Hurry!  Who knows?  We might even help you meet your dream agent/date. 

Submissions to:   eponamacroi at yahoo dot ie  AND  tmckee34 at gmail dot com


For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad.
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad. 
            -- G.K.Chesterton
To celebrate our National Holiday tomorrow, I’m offering this post on the myth, legend and history of the origin of Ireland, as covered in the famous Book of Invasions.  
The Book of Invasions, written by a Christian monk on the 12th Century, is a long historical and mythical account of the origin of Irish people.  It jumps around a bit because there are actually 10 books within this ‘Book’.  It starts with the Gaels and then returns to them near the end.  The Book of Invasions consists of stories that had been in existence for over a thousand years before they were ever written down.  In these stories, there are giants, sorcerers, epic wars, supernatural people, gods, magic spells, and quite a few facts.  That’s because Bards/Druids kept these stories alive by memorizing them and retelling them over and over again.  Druids believed knowledge was too sacred to be written down, so they kept it in their heads and, consequently, had amazing powers of memorization. 

So sit back with a pint of Guinness and read of the story of Ireland  . . .
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived the Gaels, descendants of a Scythian prince.  It is written in the Book of Invasions that Scota, daughter of a Pharaoh of Egypt, created the Irish language.  The Gaels lived in Egypt at the time of Moses, and then they wandered the world for 440 years before eventually settling in the Iberian Peninsula.  It is here, in northwest Spain, somewhere around 100 B.C.E., that a man named Íth climbed a tower and glimpsed Ireland, in the extreme distance.  After that, he was determined to reach this ‘distant emerald island’. 
Now the Book travels back further in time, to approximately 2400 B.C.E.  Noah (the guy who built the ark) told his granddaughter Cessair to flee to the western edge of the world because a great Flood was coming. (It seems absolutely hilarious to me that anyone would come to IRELAND, possibly the wettest country on the planet, to get away from a FLOOD.)  Cessair, her dad Bith, and quite a few others set out in three ships.  By the time they arrived in Ireland, two of the ships had been lost at sea. The only survivors were 50 women (including Cessair) and 3 men (Cessair's husband Fintán, her father Bith, and the ship’s captain, Ladra). The 50 women were divided among the men.  (If I were Cessair, I’d be totally pissed).  When the Flood came, Fintán was the only one to survive because he spent a year under the waters in a cave called ‘Fintán's Grave’.  He became known as ‘The White Ancient’ because he lived for 5500 years after the Great Flood and witnessed the later settlements of the island in the guises of a salmon, an eagle and a hawk.  Okay, this is the legend part (duh), but remember, all legend has at least a grain of truth.  Just because we don’t know how a man could live for over 5000 years and morph into a fish, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.   

Three hundred years after the Flood, Partholón, another descendant of Noah, settled in Ireland with his three sons and all their people. They were somewhat like gods of chaos and nature.  After ten years of peace, war broke out with the Fomorians, a race of cranky pirates.  The Partholonians were victorious, but their victory was short-lived.  In a single week, they were wiped out by a plague — five thousand men and four thousand women — and were buried on the Plain of Elta to the southwest of Dublin, in an area that is still called Tallaght, which means ‘plague grave’.  A single man named Tuan, survived the plague.   Like Fintán before him, Tuan survived for centuries and went through a succession of metamorphoses, so that he could witness later Irish history and pass these stories down.
Thirty years after the extinction of the Partholonians, Ireland was settled by the people of Nemed (Nemedians), whose great-grandfather was a brother of Partholón's. Their occupation reads like one long, continuous war, mostly with the Fomorians, a motley group of weird-looking types.  In one final, epic sea battle, both armies were destroyed.  A flood covered Ireland AGAIN, wiping out most of the Nemedians. A handful of survivors were scattered to the four corners of the world.

One group of Nemedians settled in Greece, where they were enslaved. 230 years later, they escaped Greece and made their way back to Ireland.  Known as the Fir Bolg or ‘Bag Men’, this group probably came to Ireland via a circuitous route through Scotland, as they had many Pictish characteristics.  They, and their King Aengus, held this island for only 37 years, being chased all the way across the country to the far western Aran islands, creating Dún Aengus fort, as their last refuge. 
Dun Aengus Fort
While the Fir Bolg occupied Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann, ‘The People of the Goddess Danu’ arrived from ‘the far north’ (possibly Scandinavia).  They were also descendants of Nemed, but, unlike the Fir Bolg, they were said to be beautiful and had learned magic and druidry.  This is the civilization most talked about in legend.  They are the ones who fought the Fir Bolg and chased them to the Aran Islands.  The Danann were god-like individuals who formed a human civilization and ruled for 150 years. 
Now, remember the guy from the beginning - Íth, who climbed the tower in Spain and became obsessed with finding the ‘emerald island’ in the distance?  Well, he hopped on a boat and made it to Ireland, only to be killed when he got here by some jealous old noble.  The Milesians, sons of Íth’s uncle Míl, come to Ireland to avenge his death and conquer the island.  Among this group was Amergin, the famous bard, who would have kept much of this history alive. 
When they arrived in Ireland, they advanced to Tara, the royal seat, and demanded the kingship.  On the way they were greeted in turn by three women, Banba, Fodla and Ériu, who were queens of the three co-regents of the land.  Each woman welcomed the Milesians and told them that her name was the name by which the land was known, and asked that it remain so if the Milesians were victorious in battle.  Amergin, the bard, promised that it would be so.  (Ériu won, by the way, and eventually this island’s name got anglicized into Erin.)  At Tara they were greeted by the three kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann, who defended their claim to the joint kingship of the land.  The Milesians were advised to return to their ships and sail out to sea to a distance of nine waves from the shore, so that the Tuatha Dé Danann might have a chance to mobilise their forces.  But when the Milesians were beyond ninth wave, the druids of the Tuatha Dé Danann conjured up a ferocious storm. The Milesian fleet was driven out to sea, but Amergin was able to dispel the wind with his own poetic magic.  In two ensuing battles, the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated.  They were allowed to stay in Ireland, but only underground.  Consigned to the Underworld or Otherworld, they became known as ‘Aes Sidhe’ or the people of the mound, faeries, nature spirits, and the like. 
The last part of the Book deals with a seemingly endless succession of Ard Rí or High Kings of Ireland, whose lives revolved around cattle raids and wars.  Tra-la.  

And that, in a nutshell, is the epic tale, spanning ten books, of the beginning of what is the Ireland of today.  Now, I wish you a most joyous St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m off to go celebrate by raiding my neighbour’s cattle.