This week only, I’m running a special deal on Amazon US and Amazon UK. If you haven’t purchased SEELIE PRINCESS yet, get the discounted ebook now. Offer is available until Sunday, November 24.
My debut novel SEELIE PRINCESS is now available as ebook on Amazon. Grab a copy today for $0.99 by clicking on the image below.
Kayla never lost hope that her father is still alive. When Seelie Princess Fay sweeps her off to the land of faeries, Kayla strikes a bargain: find her father, or never return home. As her chances are threatened by a rivalry between two courts, Kayla’s heart is drawn toward the enigmatic Fay—and closer to the trickery of the Seelie Court.
It’s the last #FaerieFriday before the release of my debut novel SEELIE PRINCESS on September 19. And I have something special planned for today. In previous posts, I’ve introduced various creatures of the Celtic Fair Folk. Today, I want to introduce the Celtic Otherworld: Tír na nÓg.
According to A Treasury of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, Tír na nÓg (also spelled as T’yeer-na-n-oge) is “the Country of the Young, for age and death have not found it” and it is “the favourite dwelling of the fairies”. Tír na nÓg seems to exist everywhere—in the lakes, the hills, and the forest—and nowhere at all. It’s a place that only few have found—and even fewer have returned from.
The land of faeries is often simply called Faerie, but I was intrigued by the name Tír na nÓg the moment I saw it (and not only because it looks hard to pronounce). I’ve read some stories about Tír na nÓg during my research; in the end, I made up most details of the land myself. I created my own interpretation of Tír na nÓg. Today I’d like to share what that looks like.
Tír na nÓg in SEELIE PRINCESS
This is a sketch that I worked on myself, using Inkarnate. Almost all the names are fictional, though some are inspired by Celtic mythology or the Irish language. The only term that I adapted without a change is Uffern, which is the Celtic version of Hell. It’s just a rough draft of the map to give you a general idea (if you’re interested in something more visual).
Previous #FaerieFriday posts:
One week to go! In honor of the upcoming ebook release I’m now sharing Chapter 2 with you. In Chapter 1 (which you can read here) you met Kayla, the human girl who is desperate to find her father. Read below to meet the Seelie Princess!
MORE THAN CHANCE ENCOUNTER
It had been some time since Fay last visited Chicago—or since she’d been to this world. Cool fall wind tugged at her hair and clothes as she hurried across the Millennium Park and toward the nearest subway station. No matter how long she stayed away, she would always remember the L train and the sharp wind off Lake Michigan. They were old friends greeting her and for a moment, as she stood at the crossroads, a feeling of warmth spread through her.
The light at the crosswalk switched to green and the flow of people carried her to the other side. She walked in a daze and suddenly the city felt less like an old friend and more like a recurring nightmare.
A car to her right honked. Fay flinched, startled by the unusual noise. She’d forgotten how loud Chicago was, and the air was stale and smelled of exhaust.
Another gust of wind swept across Chicago, carrying along a drizzle of rain. Fay drew her jacket closer around her. She’d put on a floaty black dress and a denim jacket, something she thought humans would wear in the summer, but she’d misjudged the weather. It was never easy to tell what season you were heading into when coming to this realm. Luckily, Fay didn’t get cold as fast as humans did.
She reached the subway stop and rifled in her jacket pocket for her ticket. Or at least what she would use as a ticket. She pulled out a large leaf she’d plucked from a tree, cast a quick Glamor, and pressed it against the scanner. With a peep, she was admitted.
She filed onto the platform with the other commuters. No one was paying much attention to her, which was a nice change for once. Back at the court, Fay was often the center of attention. And if she bowed to the queen’s wishes, she’d be of even more interest.
Not if she could find the girl first.
Fay took out the stone the queen had given her. It was opaque, about the size of an egg, and it fit smoothly into her hand. Deep pulses emanated from it in a slow, rhythmic pattern. She turned south and the pulsing faded, but when she faced north, it gave off powerful beats. She was on the right track then. The train rolled into the station and Fay got on. As it rushed north, the beating of the stone grew more intense. At one stop, the beating got so fast that Fay pushed through the crowd and out of the train seconds before the door shut again.
Using the same technique as before, she walked up to each crossroad, turned each direction, and followed the one that the stone indicated. Even after all the time she’d spent at the court, she didn’t fully grasp what made the stone work. It was a kind of magic she hadn’t seen before. One that only the queen had access to.
On and on Fay went, houses and unknown faces flashing past her, but even without looking, she knew where she was heading. The area around Lincoln Park Zoo had always been one of her favorites. Years ago, when she was little.
The stone was now beating fast and hard; it was hot to the touch. Fay turned a corner and hurried down a one-way street with brick houses. One last beat and the stone fell quiet.
She had found it.Continue reading → SEELIE PRINCESS: Excerpt #2
So far we’ve covered Seelie and Unseelie faeries, pookas, faoladhs, and merrows. But we should not forget about the tiniest member of the Fair Folk: the pixies.
These small, childlike creatures are mostly benign, but they might enjoy playing the occasional trick. They’re known to live in moors, forests, or even gardens.
In Cornish Folklore, the pixies are led by their queen Joan the Wad. The name “Wad” means torch and many believe that Joan will light the way to safety and good luck. She is often associated with Jack o’ the Lantern, the king of pixies. Some might consider the two will-‘o-the-wisps, who lead travellers astray from their path.
Either way, one would do well to be cautious when meeting a pixie.
Previous #FaerieFriday posts:
Writing a book can be a long process. When I started this journey 5 years ago, I had very little knowledge of writing itself. But through continuous effort, hard work, and persistence, I finally achieved my goal. Today I want to take stock of the individual stages that I worked through with SEELIE PRINCESS.
Summer 2014 – Spring 2015
In this first phase, a vague idea was formed into a plot through meticulous research and brainstorming. I spent hours upon hours researching Celtic mythology, writing up character profiles, plotting, and experimenting with various different scenes and dialogues.
Spring 2015 – Fall 2015
I think it was in March that I finally found the courage to actually write the book. The first few weeks were slow, and I was weighed down by fear. Could I do this? Or am I just setting myself up to fail? My sense for perfectionism slowed me down even further, because I felt like I had to write the perfect first draft. In the end I guess it was thanks to heartbreak that I was able to let go of my perfectionism and just pour my heart and soul onto the page.
After I finished my first draft, chaos ensued. I had finally done the seemingly impossible—I had written a book. But what now? In those two years, periods of collecting feedback and editing were interspersed with periods of absolute silence. Life kept getting in the way, and I grew more and more anxious about my project. The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to find my way back. But I never stayed away entirely. The way I can explain this is if you think of your mind as a web browser, and the tab called WRITING was constantly open. Sometimes it was shoved to the background, sometimes it was at the very front. But it was never truly gone. In those two years, I explored writing shorter stories, read several books on writing (which I guess would have been helpful before I started out), went to workshops, took a writing class during my semester abroad, and tried to hone my skills as best as I could.
Spring and Summer of 2018
That’s when I truly found my way back to my manuscript. I don’t know why it happened exactly at that point—perhaps because I had a bit less on my plate than I had the previous years. Or perhaps because I could no longer bear the idea that I might never finish this book. So when a friend of mine told me about Pitch Wars, I jumped right back into editing mode. Equipped with the skills I had gained in the previous years, I tore through my manuscript with a red pen in my hand. And while I did not get picked in the competition, I’m glad I tried because it was the motivation I needed to keep going.
Fall and Winter of 2018
But of course being rejected can take a toll on a person. It was the first rejection I received for SEELIE PRINCESS and it was overwhelming, to say the least. It took a couple of week to get back on my feet. I submitted my manuscript to another competition, queried a few agents—and collected some more rejections. But just as I was about to fall down a deep dark hole, I realized that I might be on the wrong path. That the traditional route might not be the right one for me or my book.
Spring and Summer of 2019
After a few months away from my manuscript, I was ready for more. I had collected some ideas and started working on a revision. Going back felt familiar and new at the same time. I was filled with a new kind of excitement, and I rushed through my revision. A couple of feedback sessions and edits later, I was heading straight for the finishing line. In July, I sent off my manuscript to my editor. Another round of edits and my manuscript was up for final proofreading at the beginning of August. And all of a sudden, though it had happened gradually over years, my book was finished.
The end…is the beginning
If you self-publish, the journey doesn’t end there. There’s still formatting, distribution, and marketing, but you should also take a moment to pat yourself on the shoulder and say, “You did it. You really finished that novel.” And then you should hold your little book baby and show it to the world. Because in the end the hardest part of writing a book is letting it go. At least it was for me. But today…
Last week I introduced the faoladh, the Irish werewolf. This week’s creature is the Celtic folklore version of a mermaid. However, the merrow is not part mermaid, part human. It is a sea-creature, with pale skin and see-colored hair. The females are said to be unearthly beautiful, while male merrows are hideous.
Some legends say that merrows wear a red, feathered cap. It’s what gives them the ability to dive into the depths of the sea. Often humans would steal this cap to prevent the merrow from going into the water again. Especially men took an interest in female merrows as their partner. Their offspring would be human, with webbed fingers and toes.
Like the faoladh, the merrow is not always considered part of the Fair Folk, but it certainly holds a special place in the Celtic mythology. It’s one of my favorite creatures, because I like the idea of a mermaid that’s a sea-creature, rather than a hybrid being.
Previous #FaerieFriday posts:
With only three weeks left until the ebook release of SEELIE PRINCESS, I want to give you a sneak peek at what’s waiting for you. You can read the entire first chapter below.
On some days, missing her father was only background noise. On others, the hole he’d left behind sucked all the sound from the world around her.
Today was one of those silent days.
Kayla was gazing out the window at the dull sky, her reflection blurred by the glass vibrating as the train rushed over the tracks. The image vanished as a ray of sunshine broke through the thick clouds, making Kayla squint. Her eyes took some time to adjust to the sudden brightness, but when they had, the train was already approaching the station.
“Kay, are you even listening?”
Turning away from the window, Kayla blinked at her friend Abby, who had her phone held out toward Kayla. “Did you see this? It’s a new club opening tonight,” Abby said. “We should go.”
Kayla frowned. “Can’t you ask Meghan?”
“No,” Abby said curtly. She took her phone back and shoved it into her handbag. Kayla glimpsed several textbooks, all dog-eared and worn, but that was what happened when you took a handbag to school. “Meghan’s not my best friend, is she? Besides, we didn’t go out for your birthday last week.”
Kayla hugged her backpack closer to her chest. “We went to the movies,” she said. “With popcorn and everything.”
Abby raised an eyebrow. “That’s not the same as partying. Anyway, I’ve got to get off.” Tossing back her long hair, she leaned in for a hug. Kayla held on for a second, the scent of Abby’s coconut shampoo tickling her nose.
“Text me if you change your mind,” Abby said. She stood and filed out of the train, waving at Kayla through the window.
Kayla watched Abby grow smaller and smaller as the train pulled out of the station. Once she was out of sight, Kayla took out her phone, scrolling up and down without reading any of the words. Her eyes stung with an exhaustion she couldn’t shake off.
People around Kayla rose to their feet as a crackling voice on the intercom announced their next stop and the train slowed down again. The platform was packed with commuters, impatiently waiting for the arriving train.
The brakes squealed, and the train came to a stop. As soon as the doors slid open, people pushed outside, while those waiting on the platform tried to squeeze inside. Kayla let her gaze wander over the crowd, taking in all the different people: short and tall, thin and thick, young and old, black and white. Unfamiliar faces. Except…
Brown eyes, tousled russet hair. A face she hadn’t seen in years. As the platform cleared, her father turned the other way.
“Dad, wait!” She leaped to her feet. People cursed as she pushed her way through to the exit, her eyes fixed on her father out on the platform. He was heading toward the stairs. A voice sounded from the speakers, announcing their departure. Kayla pushed and shoved.
“Dad!” She stumbled out of the train, the doors slamming shut the moment she stepped outside. The wheels of the train screeched as it left the station.
The platform had cleared. Kayla hurried over to the stairway where she’d last seen him and sprinted down the stairs, almost slipping on the last step. She skidded to a halt on the sidewalk.
Cars were rushing by, people walking along, but her father had disappeared. Heart thrumming in her chest, Kayla spun around, scanning the area. She could hardly breathe, and the rush of her blood was so loud in her ears that she couldn’t hear either.
Tears stung her eyes. She sank to the curb, hugging her trembling arms tight to her chest. After all this time, had it really been him?
It couldn’t have been him. He hadn’t been standing on that platform, just like he hadn’t been in the crowd of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade five years ago. Or in that restaurant back in her home town. Or at the lake where they went camping when she was younger.
It never was her father, just a ghost she kept chasing through the dark.
Kayla reached into her jacket pocket for her phone, but her fingers brushed something round and rough. She pulled it out and stared at the object in her hand. It was an acorn, larger than any she’d ever seen. Not that she’d held many acorns before.
Frowning, she looked up and down the streets, but the sidewalk was empty. As she twisted the acorn in her fingers, the cap came off, revealing a hollow inside. Stuffed within was some paper, which Kayla pried from it and unfolded.
For a second, the entire world stopped, shrouded in white noise, and Kayla stared at the paper in her hands. Only four words were scribbled on it.
Your father is alive.Continue reading → SEELIE PRINCESS: Excerpt #1
Looks like the hot summer weather distracted me from my blog for a while… but I’m back and ready to share some facts! Last time, I introduced you to a creature of the Fair Folk, the Pooka. Today I want to tell you about a mythical being that might not be part of the Fair Folk in Celtic mythology, but fascinating nonetheless.
The Faoladh (which is the Irish word for “wolf”) is not quite like a werewolf. He’s a shapeshifter. Faoladhs often live in pairs and have to remain in their wolf form for seven years. You might mistake this creature as a bloodthirsty monster, but the Irish werewolf acts as the guardian and protector of children, wounded men and lost persons. It is not a cursed creature, but rather one that’s devoting its life to the safety of other people.
The most famous of the Irish werewolves were the people of Ossory.
If you are interested to learn more about this wonderful creature, you might want to check out this blog post: https://earthandstarryheaven.com/2015/05/13/irish-werewolves/
Previous #FaerieFriday posts:
I’m beyond excited to finally reveal the cover of my debut novel SEELIE PRINCESS. And I’m also thrilled to announce that the ebook will launch on September 19, 2019. Just one more month!
“Your father is alive.”
Kayla never lost hope that her father survived that fateful night. But she knows she won’t find him in Chicago—or anywhere else in her world. After years of searching for the faeries he told her about, she encounters the Seelie Princess Fay, who saves her life and sweeps her off to Tír na nÓg. Kayla finally has a chance to bring her father back home, but it comes with a price.
She must find him,
or she can never leave the land of faeries.
Cast among strangers, Kayla must resist the magnetic pull that draws her toward the princess of her dreams and closer to the trickery of the Seelie Court. Soon she uncovers answers to questions she never even dared to ask, and a rivalry between two courts threatens her chances of returning home with her father…