Happy Halloween!

It should come as no surprise to you that when I started my current WIP “Where the Angels Dream” I fell down a LOT of rabbit holes. The story, set sometime in the late 1890s, is about Devon and Sara Amaris, a brother and sister with a strong affinity for the dead. There were so many interesting subjects in this story to explore: ghosts, cemeteries, creatures of other planes, clairvoyants, hauntings, practitioners of magick, zombi, possession… not to mention Halloween in the 1890s!

Liam’s dreams the night before had been anything but restful. He had met Sara, as usual, that morning, and afterward had set off to get a candle for Gertie and find some work for the day. Unfortunately, he had not had a great deal of success.

He had had better luck getting work that evening, but he found himself having a hard time settling into it. That same bad feeling from the night before had kept gnawing at him. Silas had had the right of it when he had said the devil was in the air. So Liam had not even looked for more jobs after he had picked up the pay from his first one. Instead, he had turned his restless feet in the direction of a certain boarding house on Winding Street.

There had been plenty of people out and about, mostly drifting down towards the town square where the bonfire would be. Some had been wearing costumes of witches, devils, angels, and the like. 

He had passed a few houses with jack o’ lanterns in their windows or on their walks; their pumpkin faces leering at him as he had walked by. Or maybe they had been watching the figures that were lurking in the shadows with their flour bombs and string at the ready. Of course, no one had bothered him, and in fact, more than a few had whispered out a hello or an invitation to join them in their fun. He had waved them all away, having left that sort of nonsense behind long ago.

Liam soon found himself standing outside Mrs. O’Toole’s garden gate just after the street lamps had been lit. A single light shining from the garret window of what he was pretty sure was Sara’s room had told him someone was home, but he had not quite been able to bring himself to go up and knock on the door of the dark house. He had not been able to bring himself to leave either. Instead, he had found a place in the narrow alley that ran between the boarding house and the house next door where he could keep an eye on everything. He was still there ten minutes later, leaning up against the neighbor’s garden wall as a cold fog rolled in from the ocean. 

If he had seen someone else doing what he was doing, he would have thought him a creep. But a niggling worry had kept him where he was, half hidden in the wall’s shadow. His eyes watched the people as they made their way down Winding Street, occasionally glancing up at the square of golden light above him where he could sometimes see the flicker of a silhouette ghost across the room’s ceiling. A few people moved further down the alley, sometimes even passing by the spot where he stood, but no one seemed to notice him.

One of these passersby, a woman, stopped beneath an old oak tree that was growing just outside Mrs. O’Toole’s garden, its huge trunk doing its level best to slowly swallow the iron fence as it leaned over the garden like a nosy neighbor peaking into the boarding house’s windows. She stood there for a good while, her hair shining like copper pennies as she stared up at the same window that Liam was watching. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end, and if he had been a dog he would have growled. Why was she standing there? He went to leave the spot where he had been standing with the vague idea that he would go ask her, but he found he could not move, not even an inch. It was like he had been turned to stone and the air around him was icy cold.

A man, tall silk topper on his head, came strolling down from the other end of the alley just then, humming a low tune as he walked. The woman looked over her shoulder, then drifted along as though she had never stopped at all. 

The gentleman moved passed the spot where Liam was loitering, the light from the gaslamps on Winding Street made him into a thing of quicksilver and ebony. His eyes shone uncannily from the shadow of his hat as he glanced unerringly over at where Liam stood. His lips quirked up in a tiny smile as he touched his cane to the brim of his top hat, like a larger dog taking notice of an overly ambitious pup. Anger burned away the cold and Liam thought he might have actually growled then because the man’s smile grew.

– unedited excerpt from Where the Angels Dream

Below are some of the links I came across in my wanderings, if you are curious.

And if you have any links that you think I might find interesting, then please share them in the comments below. I will happily lose myself down them as well.

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Wikipedia – Spirtualism

Victorian Spirtualism

Wikipedia – Mediumship

NPR – Occult America

The Difference Between Magic and Magick

The Occult Magic of the 1890s Writers

Wikipedia – Zombie

Yumboes and African Ghost Lore

Wikipedia – Jumbee

Wikipedia – Werewolf

Berserkers and other shamanic warriors

Wikipedia – Jack-o’-lantern

When Halloween Was All Tricks and No Treats

Yep, cheese! Or more accurately, how to make it. When I was writing The Broken Court there was a sentence, this sentence actually…

Some of what was left, she set near the hearth with the plans that she would make cheese with it.

which sent me off into an hour-plus long search on making cheese. I wondered, could you really make cheese at home? Do you need special equipment? Is there a particular way in which you need to do things? Or a certain kind of place where you should store it? The answer to all of those questions is yes, by the way, depending on what kind of cheese you want to try to make. I did end up making homemade ricotta which was interesting, and it didn’t turn out half bad! (by the way, that whole thing led me to look up spring houses :D)

That was not the only sentence that had some sort of off-hand reference which ultimately sent me off into internet Wonderland.

 For some company and a bit of honeycomb, he was happy to allow her to gather clay from a particularly fine deposit residing in the pond’s banks.

Yep, next thing you know I am looking up how to find clay in the wild!

The journey is neverending! So here are the links, if you’re curious, as well as some more complete quotes to give the above sentences a little context. Of course, you could always read The Broken Court (if you haven’t already), then you would really know what was going on. 🙂

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Homemade fresh cheese

Cheddar Cheese Recipe

Farmhouse Cheddar

Things to for in traditional cheese

How to make a cheese cave

Cheesemaking – ripening

Affinage and Aging – How We Make Cheese

Clay – Digging your own

The Spring Cellar

Also, if you are interested in seeing some of the pictures that helped set the mood for my Stolen Away series, go take a look at my Pinterest here.

Quotes:

Despite the phooka’s tendency towards needling her, the eld woman had to admit the rest of the day was a peaceful one. She took great pleasure in seeing the obvious joy Lumina felt in sharing with them how much her glade had recovered. And it seemed the land around them preened under its mistress’s praise, so much so that the air itself gleamed. It was a vivid contrast to the dullness of the wood they had just come from. 

It was well past midday when they left Lumina’s merry company. They returned home in the warm haze of a golden afternoon, and the eld woman soon set to work skimming the cream from the top of the milk. Most of it went to Thom who happily began to churn it into butter. Some of what was left, she set near the hearth with the plans that she would make cheese with it. The rest was poured into earthenware crocks to be used later. She put the phooka to work carrying them to the spring cellar. He did so cheerfully, though she suspected a few were lighter by the time they had made it there, payment taken for a job well done.

-The Broken Court, Chapter 4 – Portents and Ill Airs

They had headed out that particular morning with the intent of visiting the quiet pond where a urisk lived. For some company and a bit of honeycomb, he was happy to allow her to gather clay from a particularly fine deposit residing in the pond’s banks. 

The rising sun found them already walking down one of the ancient roads that ran through the goblins’ wood. Beside them a bright silver ribbon of a stream tumbled over ebony boulders as it hurried along. 

Thom was a little way in front, with Hoax and herself following unhurriedly in his wake. The phooka, as an oddity, was in his human skin, possibly because he was tired of her loading him down with things. Of course, she still had him carrying the large basket which she herself usually carried on her back, so he had not really escaped.

-The Broken Court, Chapter 6 – The Broken Court

You might have read my post back in July about A.J. Lancaster’s Stariel series. (You didn’t read it?! Then click here). I still love this series, and when I found out at the end of the last book that one of my favorite characters was getting his own book, I couldn’t wait to read it. I meant that literally, by the way. As soon as I was offered an ARC I jumped at the chance to read it, even though I had already placed a pre-order for the book. And I regret nothing! In fact, I will most likely read the whole series again once Rake of His Own comes out on October 28th.

Another beautiful cover!

I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for Marius. His quirkiness, insecurities, and inner dialogue (especially his inner dialogue!) have really endeared him to me. In the previous book, The King of Faerie, he discovered a number of things about himself that really shook his world. In this book, he is still trying his best to come to terms with those revelations, in particular his ability to read others’ thoughts and the ethics that go with that. He is not having an easy time of it, though. Add to that, one tempting and tempestuous fairy prince and one unexpected mystery, and it is no surprise that the poor man is teetering on the edge.

I enjoyed the interplay between Marius and Rakken quite a bit. Seeing them trying to work themselves out was both sweet and frustrating at the same time (in a good way). The mystery was not what I had expected it to be. Marius and Rakken end up traipsing though both the mortal world and the faerie realms in their search for clues, which was no hardship for me. The worldbuilding in this series is one of my favorite things about it. However, I could see how some readers might have a hard time keeping up with all the different places they end up going to in this book.

The conclusion was satisfying (and unexpected in the case of the whodunit), and I was happy to see a number of familiar characters make an appearance throughout. From some of the goings on, I also suspect that this will not be the last story told in this wonderfully imaginative world, which makes me very happy indeed!

I cannot believe it has been 10 years since I first published Butterscotch & Me! But it has been and it seemed a perfect time to send them back out into the world again. Paperback, 8.5 x 11, these new editions were a lot of fun to put together. I enjoyed going back through all the illustrations. Seeing them with fresh eyes, I found I still loved them all. Each one holds so many wonderful memories for me and I can only hope that they will bring joy to others who read them.

And keep an eye out. I hope to have them available in ebook format in the near future. There is a fun interactive version of Molly the Mermaid on Reading’s a Breeze which you can find here.

Butterscotch & Me

With dreams as the canvas and their imagination as the brush, there are no limits to where a child’s mind will take them. Come along as a young girl and her friend Butterscotch set off on their dream-time adventures in this whimsical bedtime story. Drift on clouds through the starry night sky, play hide-n-seek in the miniature world of the garden, and swim to the deepest depths of the sea.

Butterscotch & Me shows us that there are no limitations when we use our imaginations.

Molly the Mermaid

Have you ever leapt over the rolling waves as they crashed on the beach and knew… just knew that you were meant to be in the sea? Follow Molly and her friend Penelope below the sunlit waves into the mysterious ocean blue. Search for silver combs and mirrors – a mermaid’s favorite things, explore long-lost cities and have tea with a leafy seadragon in this delightfully illustrated story celebrating the joys of a child’s imagination.

What Every Dragon Needs

What does every dragon need? Why a princess of course! Or so says the wise old frog. Join a young dragon named Percival as he sets off on a quest to find out what a princess is, and most importantly… where to find one.

Given my Stolen Away series is about fairies, it should be no surprise that I did more than a few web searches about them. No, the surprise was just how far down the rabbit hole I fell for just a few paragraphs.

Lumina and the Goblin King – when Lumina first sees the Goblin Host at the Fairy Queen’s court

Lumina’s eyes searched through the goblin host of their own accord, passing over its bogels, boomen and powries, henkies, glastigs and bodachs without stopping. She saw the blue face of muilearteach and brown fur of the wulver, but the familiar dark coat and feathered visage which she had hoped for, was nowhere to be seen. There was, however, another in the throng who caught and held her gaze. The Goblin King watched her as she spun past in a dance that now seemed infinitely slow. His eyes captured her as neatly as a butterfly in a net.

Lumina and the Goblin King – when Lumina first sees the Goblin Market through the mirror gate.

When she looked, the reflection in the water was no longer that of a crumbling ruin, but a great stone keep, whole and proud.

“Turn around, fair one,” Crow said, his taloned hand gently turning her back towards the Keep. 

When she looked, the same crumbling ruin greeted her, but the doorway was no longer filled with a crushing darkness. Instead it opened on to a busy market. Goblins of all kinds wandered through the stalls: bucca, brownies and barguest. Here a gruagach, there a hogboon; she even saw a human or two browsing amongst the merchants’ wares.

Yep, the writing of those couple of paragraphs set my feet on the path into research wonderland, and when I finally emerged, literally days had past. Or course, I enjoyed myself immensely! Here are some (but certainly not all) of the links that led me down that rabbit hole, in case you want to follow.

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Zeluna.net

Gruagach

Quaerentes in Extremuis

Into the Wonder

Scotland in my Heart

Wikipedia – Bauchan

Wikipedia – Bodach

Wikipedia – Wulver

sacred-texts.com – TheFairy Rade

There were also several books, because rabbit holes are not always confined to the internet. *wink* You can find a list of them on any of my previous posts titled “The Goblin Host”

There are so, so many out there nowadays! And everyone has a particular one they tend to gravitate to. For me, that would be Instagram. Seeing all of the amazing pictures that people post never fails to bring a smile to my face. And I have had the chance to meet people from all over who share my interests, whether they be fellow authors or cat lovers, or just people who, like me, enjoy the beauties of nature and allowing their garden to grow just a little too wild. There’s something kind of magical about being able to find those little commonalities, touching souls all over the globe.

So here are a few pictures, little bits of my world I’m sharing with you.

If you are interested in seeing more pictures of cats, gardens, my books and the sea, hop over and take a look at my Instagram.

Have you ever decided that you were going to “just take a moment” to look something up, only to emerge from your internet adventure hours later? Or, have you ever started out looking at one thing only to find yourself, again hours later, reading about something so far removed from where you started you would need a complex chart the size of a wall to trace back how you got there?

For me, the answer to those questions is a resounding YES! I have frequently fallen down the rabbit hole while looking something up for a story I am writing. And it’s usually for some small, insignificant little detail that really has almost no bearing on the story itself! I thought it might be fun to share some of these little side trips with you and what it was that led me there. So here is the first in a series of posts I’m calling Down the Rabbit Hole.

– Coffeehouses

” “Vandercroft? Not Amaris? So, your family follows the matrilineal line. How interesting,” he said as he held open the door of the coffeehouse for Devon. “That is a very old custom, and not one I often see used, even during this age of invention and enlightenment.”

The inside was much bigger than it appeared from the exterior, and surprisingly well lit by its numerous gas lamps. Tables and booths filled most the space, arranged so that one could have a small intimate conversation or a large heated debate with equal ease.

In one of my current WIPs, Where the Angels Dream, I wanted a place where various conversations between two particular characters could take place. Some place people might naturally gather but that would still allow someone to speak privately. That led me to look up coffeehouses in the late 1800s.

Did you know that coffeehouses originated in the Middle East in the late 15th/early 16th century? They made their way to Europe, England, and the Americas in the 17th century and were immensely popular. They did indeed become gathering places where people (mostly men) went to have quiet discussions and lively debates. Of course, this led me into looking up coffee and the various methods of making it: press, pour-over, vacuum pots and percolators…

Needless to say, over half the day went by before I wrote a single word on my manuscript, but I regret nothing! 😀 Here are some (but certainly not all) of the links that led me down that rabbit hole, in case you want to follow.

A quick note – I am not affiliated with any of the sites whose links I have shared below. I make no money if you click on them, and any of the ads or opinions seen there do not necessarily reflect my own opinions or suggestions.

Coffee History

The History of Coffee Houses – Driftway Coffee

Coffeehouse -Wikipedia

How Coffee fueled Revolutions – and Influenced History

The Surprising History of Coffee Houses – Coffee Affection

English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th century – Wikipedia

Coffee Preparation through the Ages (Part I) – Comestibles

The History of Coffee Brewing

Interested in seeing out what I’m working on? Check out my WIP’s page, coming soon!

It’s true, reviews are a book’s best friends. So if you have recently enjoyed a book, any book, take a moment to write a review for it. The next person who spends several enjoyable hours reading it will thank you for introducing them… and so will the starving author who wrote it 😀

As many of you already know, I have a deep fondness for classic fairytales. That fondness extends to their illustrations as well. The bold pen and ink drawings, the intricate block prints, for me, they are part of what makes those classic tales so compelling.

“Through the night sky they flew, the stars a blanket above them. Below them rose seven high mountains, which fell into seven deep valleys with seven wide rivers winding through them like silver ribbons. On and on they flew until he saw in the distance a dark hill crowned by a house that shone like fire”
“The Swan Maiden landed in a great wide field that lay only a few miles from the king’s castle. It was there that she told the prince to open the first egg.  He did as she suggested, and what should he find inside but the most beautiful little castle, made all of gold and silver. He set the palace on the ground and it grew and grew until it covered a whole acre of land.”

When I saw fellow author and artist Anne Nydam’s block prints, I fell in love with them! Here are two she made for my retelling of Howard Pyle’s The Swan Maiden. Take a moment to check out her post about them on her blog Black and White. Or, for more wonderful art (of which I own a few) go to Nydamprints.com.