HAPPY RELEASE DAY!

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.

SEELIE PRINCESS: Excerpt #2

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!

2
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

#FaerieFriday: Pixies

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.

Pixie by Brian Froud

Either way, one would do well to be cautious when meeting a pixie.


Previous #FaerieFriday posts:

#FaerieFriday: Merrows

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.

Faeries by Brian Froud

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:

SEELIE PRINCESS: Excerpt #1

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.

1
ACORN

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…

Kayla gasped.

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

#FaerieFriday: Faoladh

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.

Faoladh by Nashoba-Hostina (Deviant Art)

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:

#FaerieFriday: Pookas

Last week I talked about categorizing faeries into the Seelie and the Unseelie Court, but the Fair Folk is so much more than faeries. One of those creatures that dwell with the faeries is the pooka, sometimes also spelled púca, phouka, or even pwca.

What is a pooka?

The pooka is an Irish goblin with the ability to change its shape. It often appears as a dark horse or goat and will bear some of those animal features when in human form. Like the Seelies and Unseelies, the pookas can be both benevolent and malevolent.

Below is a page taken from Brian Froud’s FAERIES. The text reads:

The Phooka is an Irish goblin with a variety of rough beast-like forms. He appears sometimes as a dog or a horse, or even a bull, but he is generally jet-black with blazing eyes. As a seemingly friendly, shaggy […] pony Phooka offers the unwary traveller a welcome lift, but once astride he is taken for a wild and terrifying gallop across the wettest and most thorny country, eventually to be dumped headlong into the mire or deposited in a ditch. The chuckle is that of the Phooka as he gallops away.

Illustrated by Alan Lee

A pooka means no harm

Some people fear the pooka because of that wild ride, but in truth the pooka means no harm. Pookas enjoy playing a few little tricks that might appear malevolent but aren’t meant to hurt anyone. For example, a pooka loves to chat for hours, but he will leave without a word and a trace that he was there in the first place. It is also said that berries killed by frost were turned poisonous by the pookas who spit on them.


Previous #FaerieFriday posts:

#FaerieFriday: Seelies and Unseelies

The term ‘faerie’ does not refer to one individual type of being, but rather encompasses a whole variety of beings. In Celtic mythology there are many ways to categorize faeries, for example into Trooping Faeries or Solitary Faeries. But one categorization that has intrigued me from the beginning was the Scottish notion of a Seelie and an Unseelie Court.

“[I]n Scottish legends the faeries are often divided into the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. The Seelie Court is comprised of the good, kind fairies, while the outright evil faeries tend to belong to the Unseelie Court (Briggs 1976: 222). These courts were not seen as very confining: the faeries of the Seelie Court could be violent when angered, while the […] members of the Unseelie Court could sometimes just have fun in non-lethal ways.”

Faerie Folklore in Medieval Tales – An Introduction by Mika Loponen

Beware: Seelies can be just as treacherous as Unseelies. The distinction, although implied (as seen in the picture below), is not light vs. dark, good vs. evil. All of the Fair Folk lack moral sense and are incapable of understanding human emotions; the Unseelies’ methods might just be a bit more savage. 

The first time I came across this distinction was actually in a fictional novel. In the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, faeries are divided into two courts. This idea always fascinated me, but I had more burning questions: Why were there two courts? Did they used to be one? What divided them? The beauty of story-telling is that we can make up our own answers. And so I went ahead and wrote The King’s Daughters, the first conflict between Seelies and Unseelies in my fictional world of Tír na Óg.


Previous #FaerieFriday posts:

#FaerieFriday: Fairy, Faerie, or Fae?

My upcoming novel Seelie Princess will be filled with all kinds of magical creatures. I based a lot of the story and characters on Celtic mythology, but not all of my research made its way into the novel. Over the course of the next few months, I will share bits and pieces of Celtic lore I found during my research. Leave a comment below if you’re interested in learning more!


Have you seen a faerie lately?

The May Fairy by Cicely Mary Baker

Whether you think faeries are real or just a story you tell little children, the truth is that many European cultures have their own faerie belief. Some think of the faeries as small and cute forest creatures, others would say they are more humanoid. Faeries might be benevolent little helpers sometimes, but they can also be tricksters, like Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The many names of the faeries

The faeries—also spelled ‘fairies’ or ‘fae’—go by many names. Some call them the Fair Folk. The Scottish refer to them as the Wee Folk, while the Welsh know them as Tylwyth Teg. One term that inspired me in particular is of Irish origin:

The (Aos) Sidhe – In Irish folk belief, the Tuatha de Danann, children of the goddess Dana, inhabited the island of Ireland early on. They were seen as a race of divine beings eternally young and unfading. With the arrival of the Sons of Mil, however, they retreated to live under the mounds (Irish: Sidhe; pronounced SHEE) and became thus known as the Sidhe or Aos Sidhe. They are the ever-present second race of Ireland, also called the Faeries or Fair Folk.  (Source: The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W. B. Yeats) 

Where did the faeries come from?

Same as with their appearance and etymology, the origin of the faeries varies depending on the culture. As explained above, the Irish think of the faeries as a second race living under the hills. Some believe them to be demons or demoted angels, while others think of them as demoted deities. But perhaps they are some form of elemental or spirit.

If you’re interested in learning more about faeries, here are some resources I used:

  • Fairy on Wikipedia (a good starting point, but not all of it is reliable)
  • Faerie Folklore in Medieval Tales (a wonderful introduction to the topic; available for free here)
  • The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W.B. Yeats (available for free here)
  • A Treasury of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales (available on Amazon)