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Showing posts from May, 2014

Shamrocks of Stone - the Antagonists

Shamrocks of Stone is a historical murder mystery, so part of the storyline is solving who killed Aidan. For much of the story, the murderer remains silently lurking in the shadows, but that doesn't mean Orfhlait doesn't have some antagonists.

Much of the story centers around Orfhlait's attempt to remind God that He loves her. Dedicated to the Lord from birth, Orfhlait's position in her community is one she dislikes. She is a highly intelligent, energetic and argumentative woman stuck in a place where women cannot grow. In part this is due to culture, and in part it is due to her religious community.

Whether or not Orfhlait would have more chances outside the convent is debatable because as a woman, her avenues of further education are limited. She is a woman stuck in a man's world, with no way to find her path. The Mother Superior provides Orfhlait with all the resources she can possibly have, but even those aren't always enough.

External - Community …

The Christian Community: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the United States. It's the official kick-off for summer, and a day to remember those who died in service to the country. It is the day we honor those who died in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, US Civil War, Spanish-American War, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever else our country sent people to defend and die.

I am one of the fortunate: no members of my family have died as a result of war. I've had ancestors in most of the major wars in US history. For three of those wars, I probably had ancestors fighting on both sides of the conflict. My grandpa came home from Europe. My sister came home from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Other family members were never sent overseas.

I have been blessed.

The Good
It's all about community, really. Recognizing that God has gifted certain individuals to defend the rest of the community. Some of us are unsuited to go into battle. If we have to defen…

Shamrocks of Stone - the Good Guys

Every main character has a supporting cast they trust. These individuals are mentors, family, friends and lovers. They can provide the necessary reality check or cheering squad. They are invaluable to the development of the protagonist because they offer a slightly different view on the main character. In Orfhlait's case, these individuals often provide a better look at Orfhlait's personality and relationship to others in the community.

Orfhlait's world centers around her family, the convent and the greater community. She has an uncommonly wide view of her world due in part to her insatiable curiosity as well as her family connections. In this time period, like now, the wealthy upper-class often have relations and friends across the world. In Orfhlait's case, her parents are connected to individuals in London and Paris.

Her biggest supporter is her elder brother, Amergin. A few years older than she is, Amergin provides the necessary reality to Orfhlait's oft…

Artisans and Christianity

This past weekend, I was at an artisan market in Buffalo, NY. Though I only sold one item, it was a brilliant weekend. Why? Because I saw other artisans providing beautiful, handcrafted items at prices worthy of their time and energy. I met customers who understood that the quality provided was worth the price.

The question, of course, is what does quality artisan items have to do with the church? Besides the ancient connection between art and faith, I think there is a bit more. The least of which is honoring work.

I grew up in a family that valued hard work as well as creativity. Three of my grandparents created items both out of necessity as well as desire. Grandma wove; both my grandmothers sewed, and Poppop worked with wood. To this day, we have a table Poppop made, and a few rugs and purses Grandma made. I have nothing from my Mommom, but she and Mom taught me to sew.

For my grandparents, sewing and carpentry were a part of life. They appreciated craftsmanship, paid a little extr…

Shamrocks of Stone- Orfhlait

My book, Shamrocks of Stone is available on Amazon (click the book cover to take you to the page), but for the next couple weeks, I want to focus a bit more on the process of creating the book.

First up is Orfhlait ni Sorcer, the main character. Her name is pronounced as OR la nee SOR ca, and is a patronym since last names didn't come into common use until later.

Sorcer, Orfhlait's father, is the king in their little kingdom. During the early fifteenth century when the book takes place, Ireland is controlled by the English under law, but the English control very little. Their power is centered around Dublin in the area called the Pale. In the remainder of the country, the English and Irish have an uneasy relationship. The Irish continue to practice many of their traditions despite English laws.

Orfhlait enters this world through a deal made with God. Dedicated from birth to the Lord's work, Orfhlait struggles to find her place in her world. A world in which women are not al…

A Balanced Church

One of the elements of my writing centers around Christianity. I grew up in conservative Christianity, and by choice, have remained. That being said, however, there are times in which I really wonder about the church, in general.

Last week, I talked about sayings people offer singles in the church that intend to help, but often harm. Today, I want to focus on the church and singles in general.

A photograph of a loom might not make much sense, but it fits the point. The above photo is a close-up shot of one of my floor looms. Both my grandma and her mother-in-law wove, and I have inherited their looms. Floor looms come in three primary styles: jack, counter-balance, and countermarch. My looms are counter-balance looms which means I cannot weave an unbalanced woven structure such as a 2/1 twill (2 shafts up, one shaft down). A counter-balance loom requires an even amount of shafts (2, 4, 6, etc) with an equal amount of shafts up and down at any given time. Shafts are the elements throug…

Enter the Protagonist

So, I've been having fun researching Ancient Greece - more fun than I thought I would, actually. It's part of what makes writing interesting, but like all research it has its ups and downs.

Some of the ups, of course, include location. Obviously, I cannot travel to Ancient Greece, but neither can I hop on a plane and travel to modern Greece. Now, granted, I could if I had the money and time, but I don't. Therefore, what can you do about research in a time and place you cannot visit?

I think many writers long for the day where they can take a junket to whatever location they need to visit. Though I write about Ancient Greece, Medieval Ireland or Colonial Pennsylvania, most often my books take place where I live or have lived. It makes it easier for me to describe the locations. For example, I haven't lived in Pennsylvania for twenty years, but one never forgets the feel of the summer's heat and humidity.

Scholarly books provide a good foundation for research. Throug…

He is not Enough

I am probably going to step on some toes today, but this is something I've been struggling with for several years. I cannot recount all the times I've heard elements that lean towards one or two thoughts. First, the concept of running to God, and second, Jesus being everything we need.

Now, before I go any farther, let me point out that those two statements are true, but how we apply said truths can be a bit ... off, shall we say. I think they tend to be off not because they are untrue, but because of the hurt that accompanies them.

Run to God A piece of advice circulating among my Christian friends: "Run as hard as you can to God, and if you find someone keeping up, introduce yourself."

This is advice is primarily directed at Christian singles, and while it sounds lovely, it hits wrong somehow. I wish I could explain it other than it hurts when I hear that statement, and my hackles go up. Part of the reason is because I have run towards God, but rarely can find anyo…

First of the Month Book

To begin, let me say that I will be shifting the posting schedule slightly due to the fact that Saturdays are crazy in the summer. Because of that, beginning today, the First of the Month Book Review will be on the first Monday, not the first Saturday of the month.

Today's review focuses on fiber arts, and one of my personal dislikes - hems. I cannot describe how much I hate hems. In fact, if it is at all possible for a garment to be left unhemmed, I will use it. One can only imagine how much I enjoyed the "frayed hem" fashion a few years back.

Knitting on the Edge by Nicky Epstein was a book I first found in the local library, but has since disappeared from local library. Fortunately, I found it at a craft store for over sixty percent off. This book is a good, handy resource. She does have a second one out as well, which I will review as soon as I get a copy of it.

Knitting on the Edge provides individuals with a plethora of hems for knitted items. Granted, if you don'…

Gathering Ideas

One of the best parts of being a writer is finding the stories. Personally, it's one of my favorite parts of writing. I love seeking out stories, which is part of the reason why I enjoy talking with people - everyone has a story to tell, and finding them is interesting.

This past week, I went up to Niagara University to learn about the Women Weavers of Ancient Athens. Weaving was considered one of the most important things a woman could do; the other was to bear children.

Listening to the discussion about these women weavers, I found ideas for short stories, as well as new insight into a culture I really don't like. Much of the Ancient Greek culture just never interested me; besides, the older I grew, the more I realized how much the Ancient Greeks didn't like women. Respectable women didn't leave their homes, and spent their days weaving or raising children. Meanwhile, the men go to have deep intellectual conversations.

To put it mildly, I would rather visit Europe du…