The Old Lady’s Lament

I was in a stadium at first, surrounded by concrete and not really sure where I was.  Then, I heard music, quickly accompanied by a chorus of voices.  Soon the voices swelled to that of thousands and almost drowned out the music.  The music changed and I recognised the Italian national anthem, then the French one and finally the Irish.  I turned a corner and there before me were people from all over the world, in various colours signifying their countries and all of them were singing the different national anthems.

I was delighted to hear the Irish national anthem and happily joined in.  Then the music started to  fade and, as is the way in dreams, a door appeared before me.

It seemed to beckon to me so I opened it and walked through.

I found myself in a beautiful riverside setting.  The landscape was verdant and lush.  My feet sank into moss-like grass as I walked along the bank of the gently flowing river.  The water was clear as glass and ran over earthen coloured stones.  Here and there it darkened to the point where I couldn’t see into its depths.  I was mesmerised by its constant flow. However, something drew my attention away from it, a noise, a movement.

I looked up and a beautiful apple tree had sprung up on the far bank, it’s branches laden down with bright red orbs of goodness reaching out and dipping into the water.  Then I noticed a figure.  She almost seemed part of the landscape at first but as she moved the cloths on her aged form became clearer and more defined.

She moved towards the bank of the river.  Another movement caught my attention upstream.  I looked and saw that a bridge had formed.  I knew instinctively  I should cross over the river via the bridge and make my way to the old woman.

I followed my instinct and soon I was only a few feet away from her.  From this distance I could see her ancient clothes were made from some type of sackcloth and yet they moulded to the shape of her body like velvet.

I moved closer and could see she had something in her hands.  It was a primitive style basket woven from reeds.  It was wet and it was obvious she had taken it from the river.

The feeling of overwhelming sadness emanated from her in waves.  She continued to look down at the basket as if it had contained a great treasure and she had lost it.

I was concerned for her and moved closer.

“Are you okay?” I enquired, “have you lost something?  Is there anything I can help you with?”

She lifted her eyes and looked at me and it seemed that her face stayed the same but was constantly changing.  One second she was old, the next she was youthful, the next a little girl, the next a middle aged woman.  Her eyes constantly changed colour – so fast that I only had a sense of them changing  – all the while they looked grey, like that of a wolf.

“No,” her voice sounded inside my head, “there’s nothing you can do.”

She returned her gaze to the basket and her feeling of profound sadness permeated through me.

“If you need food or sustenance of any type, I can get it for you,” I assured her.

She looked at me again and half smiled.

“There was a time,” she told me, in a voice that seemed to wax and wane, “a time when these baskets were full of gifts from those who had more than me – food, clothing, books, even little treats such as sweets and perfumed soaps.  And at one time, for much of my life, I had a great need of these things and I was deeply grateful for the kindness of strangers who would send these baskets of kindness upon the river to a poor wretch like me.  Thankfully I no longer have a need for the items in the baskets.  Life is better now.”

She paused.

I noticed her clothes started to change. The sackcloth was now intertwined with silver and soon her clothes started to shimmer.

“But you are so sad,” I said to her.

She looked at me, her eyes, the eyes of  millennia, sad and resigned.

“My child,” she responded, “I am not sad because I miss the gifts. I no longer have a need for them. I am sad because the kindness behind the gifts is dwindling, it’s almost gone. There are others as I once was and all they can hope for is an empty basket.”

With that she conjured up a kind smile, turned and walked in the direction of the tree. A shimmer now surrounded her and I blinked and she was gone.

I followed in her footsteps and sat underneath the tree and contemplated her words.  I thought about all the times I had benefited from the incredible kindness of strangers – crucial times in my life, times of great hardship and loss. The kindness itself couldn’t change what I was going  through but it was the difference between me making it and not.

I thought about the state of the world and all the sad events in recent times and how much just a little kindness could bring about change.  I resolved to try and open my kindness valve some more and try and be part of the change.

I can still see that beautiful river in my mind, flowing constantly, like life itself.  I hope some day I meet the old lady again and this time she is happy because once again the river is abundant with baskets of kindness.

 

 

RELEASE DAY!!! RELEASE DAY!!!

It’s finally here!  In just a few hours Someone To Come Back To is live!

STCBT-print-for-web

In honour of the day that’s in it, lets have an excerpt.

“The cabin was illuminated by a number of lamps and the fire was crackling to life in the hearth.  Maggie came around by the side of the fireplace when she stopped dead in her tracks.  Over beside the bed, his back thankfully to her, stood her rescuer, totally naked.  Maggie clamped her hand over her mouth to stifle the gasp that was rapidly making its way up her throat.  She had seen thousands of bodies in her time but never one quite like the one before her now.

Christ, thought Maggie, even this guy’s muscles have muscles.

She knew she should retreat in to the bathroom to give him enough time to get dressed but she stood transfixed.  The breadth of his shoulders and the way his muscles flexed as he reached down to the bed for his shirt held her spellbound.   The perfect form of his back as it tapered flawlessly down to his hips and the tightness of his ass, followed by the incredibly toned muscles in his legs all combined to immobilize Maggie into a state of almost euphoric appreciation.

She had never seen a man quite like this before and she couldn’t help but gape.  However, as she looked closer, she began to notice scars and the more she looked the more she realized the embodiment of male perfection before her was covered in them.  Some seemed a few years old but her medical knowledge told her some were quite recent.  Worryingly, she noticed a few were gunshot wounds.

Oh God, she groaned to herself, who is this guy?

He threw the shirt over his head and she started to back up towards the bathroom when he turned around.

“No need to leave because of me,” he grinned at her.

Maggie blushed the color of her hair.

“I….I….I’m sorry,” she stuttered as she tried to look anywhere except between his legs.

“It’s ok, I’m not the shy type,” he chuckled as he pulled on a pair of boxer shorts and slung a pair of jeans across his hips.  He left the shirt hanging loose and it was then Maggie realized, as she looked into his laughing brown eyes, just how incredibly handsome he was, like Henry Cavill and Eric Bana all rolled into one.  She didn’t think it was possible but she blushed even more.”

You like? Go read some more by clicking the link below and then clicking “buy”!!!

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B01E25PE86&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_RgBdxb0QEYK5T

 

The Editor’s View – Someone To Come Back To

They say time flies when you’re having fun but let me tell you it completely disappears when you are trying to launch a book!  I can’t believe my last post was on Valentine’s Day – which seems like a lifetime ago.  Since then I’ve had the big Cover Reveal for my upcoming novel Someone To Come Back To and the response was so phenomenal I’ve hardly had a second to spare since.  The irony wasn’t lost on me, however, that my cover was out there on a plethora of blogs across the globe and not on my own!  So, let me correct that right now.  Here it is – the cover (ebook and paperback) for Someone To Come Back To  – releasing April 13th 2016.

STCBT-for-web

STCBT-print-for-web

 

In my next post (which shouldn’t take as long as this one!) I’ll be talking about the amazing people involved in the production of this beautiful cover but today I’m going to introduce you to another person who has been crucial to the development of my story – editor extraordinaire – Miss Sheryl Lee.

Shery Lee

Sheryl very kindly stepped in at the last minute when another editing arrangement I had organised didn’t work out and am I so glad it didn’t because I could not have imagined a better editor for me!

Sheryl is quick and efficient and my goodness does the woman know her stuff.  Misplaced modifiers and dangling participles – watch out when Miss Lee is about!

On top of being a superb editor Sheryl is a very warm and kind-hearted person and deeply respectful of another author’s work but she’s kinda hard-ass when she needs to be (I’m still smarting over one particular scene!)  She makes the gruelling editing process almost bearable and Someone To Come Back To is all the better for having had her sharp editor’s eye thrown over it.

As I was sending out ARCs the other night it occurred to me that I should ask her to write a few lines about the story – considering she was the only other person in the whole world, apart from myself,  who had read it!  And this is what she had to say:

“A couple of days ago Roisin asked me to write a few lines about what I thought of her new book, Someone To Come Back To. An impossible ask, for how can you write a few lines about a book you loved?

As her editor I got to read this book before almost everyone else and that’s one of the perks of the job!

I love this book, I loved it so much that I kept forgetting to do my job with it. In the end I had to read the whole thing and then go back to edit. That’s how compelling this story is.

The main protagonists, John and Maggie, are wonderfully and realistically complex. Essentially good people, they are shaped by their environment and circumstance. They both have a lot to learn about themselves and what is important to them, and they don’t learn the easy way.

This is a love story, between the main characters, between friends, between family. It has love, romance, action, humour, tears, good guys and bad guys. It has a lead man who will have you swooning, a feisty female lead you’ll be cheering on, and supporting characters you will want to know more about, and will once Roisin gets her writing mojo on with the rest of the books in the series.

I had planned to give out a few teasers, but you know what? I’m not. This is a great book, read it and be enthralled. It’s a world you will not want to leave.”

So there you have it, the Editor has spoken!

If Someone To Come Back To sounds like your kind of read then log on to amazon on 13th April and click on it and buy.  It will be at a special promotional price of $2.99 (U.S.) for the first two weeks.

If you are an author in need of a top class editor then click the link below

http://sherylleee.wix.com/editor

 

STCBT-FB-promos-3

Love – Perfect, Even When It Isn’t

So, here we are, Valentine’s Day 2016.  Another year and another day where the magic of love is celebrated across the globe.  To mark the occasion I’m going to share one of my favourite poems about love with you.

It’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 and those of you who are familiar with it might be scratching your heads right now and wondering why I chose these particular fourteen lines where Shakespeare basically derides the physical attributes of the object of his affections.

However, for me, that is the point.  There is a truth and a reality in this Sonnet that is not present in so many other works.  Here, Shakespeare lays bare the fact he doesn’t find the lady in question particularly attractive and that others exist who are far more beauteous than her.  She is far from perfect but he loves her all the same, if not more so than he could love any of those other goddesses.

The last two lines are so beautiful – where he admits that it is the sum of all her parts and all her physical imperfections that make her a rare find indeed.

Love, even when it (seemingly) isn’t perfect, it is.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all  – Roisin.

SONNET 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

 

Trust

One of the things I love about living in Brisbane is the preponderance of exotic blooms that are to be found on every street and their magical scent that almost makes the oppressive heat of summer bearable.

My most favourite of these blooms is the delicately scented and aesthetically beautiful frangipani.  I cannot walk past a scattering of them on the footpath without picking them up and inhaling their intoxicating scent.

I am lucky to have one at the entrance to the property in which I am currently living and love being surprised by its wonderful fragrance every time I go out the gate.

Frangipani Blossoms

Beautiful Frangpani Blossoms

Yesterday morning I was opening the front door to let in some much needed air when I spotted a single frangipani blossom out on the little deck.  I immediately went out and picked it up and wondered as to how it had gotten there as the frangipani tree is at the bottom of a set of stairs and there had been no wind sufficient enough to blow it up.  I picked it up and inhaled it’s mesmerising aroma.  I looked at it, beguiled by its simple beauty and asked it, “how did you get here?”

No sooner had I asked the question when a voice sounded in my head and it said, “wonder not about how we get to the places where we want to go, just trust that we get there in the end.”

Well you could have blown me down with a frangipani blossom!  Never was a message so apt and so badly needed.

Trust is not something that comes naturally for me but maybe that little flower was telling me to inhale, breathe and for once in my life trust that there are greater forces at work in my life that will lead me to the places I want to be.  Just for once maybe I don’t have to steer my ship through unknown waters, perhaps it’s time for me to let go of the wheel for a while and let another shipmate take control.  As life throws me yet another curveball, maybe just this once I will trust and let go.

Happy Christmas

It’s been a while since I’ve been here and I’ve missed this space.  A lot has been happening in the past seven weeks.  I got to reconnect and spend time with dear friends.  I finished my first full-length novel.  I somehow managed to keep the balls of mother, wife and writer in the air.  I watched my darling Billie, my little four-legged soul sister, come down with cancer and I had to make the impossible decision and let her go.

black dog on beach

Miss Billie

All in all, it’s been something of an emotional roller-coaster since I last connected with this space and to be honest I’m feeling a little wrung out. As regular followers of this blog will know, one of the things I most like to turn to when I’m not feeling the best is poetry.  And as luck would have it, I came across the perfect poem to lift my mood this evening and I’d like to share it with you this Christmas Eve.

The Poem Of Snow

In the loud snowing space as I am waiting for my turn

I can see…

So much snow! Which way to go?

Skate on ice? I don’t know!

I can feel…

I am so cold even with my woolly hat

No-one can get this cold… but

I have my doubts

I can hear…

The last hot chocolate calling my name!

Outside I can hear kids laughing and giggling

I can smell…

The fresh new smell of the old barked trees

That smell is the best, when it comes with a breeze!

I can taste…

The sweet chocolatey taste of the hot chocolate as I drink

But as I come outside again I start to sink!

ALL THE SNOW HAS RISEN!

Oh, no! Oh, Yes!

**********************************************************

This poem was written for me by my daughter last year and she presented it to me as a present on Christmas morning.  It’s very much her and I love it!  I hope you enjoy it too.

Here’s wishing you a joyful and peaceful Christmas.

Love, Roisin.

 

Happy Halloween

It’s that time of year again where children of the western world dress up in an array of costumes and go out, under cover of darkness, to knock on doors, whereupon they trot out the words, “trick or treat” to whoever answers the aforementioned door before sticking a bag under their nose into which they expect to receive all manner of sweets and treats.  Ah yes, Halloween, the great American festival of carved pumpkins and children hopped up on sugar and additives.  Except it isn’t.

Photo of a pumpkin with a smiley face for halloween

A Classic Halloween Pumpkin

I was shocked to see a number of posts across social media in the last few days where people clearly believed Halloween started in America.  Okay, perhaps its current incarnation of pumpkins and candies has more to do with popular American culture than anything else but the tradition of Halloween is thousands of years old and has its origins in Celtic culture and many of the activities associated with this night of chaos and mischief come from Ireland.

The ancient Celts celebrated Samhain, which signified the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It was believed on this night the barriers between the worlds of the living and the dead became unstable and the souls of the dead could come back to earth.  Candles were lit to guide the paths of loved ones and a place would be set for them at the table, where food would be left for them (treats). Of course not all the returning souls were good ones and just as the barriers between the living and the dead of the human world were less stable on this night so were the barriers between the human world and the “other” world, the world of supernatural creatures such as fairies, puca and banshees. All manner of magical creatures were believed to roam the earth on the night of Samhain, so precautions were taken such as leaving food outside the house in the hope the hungry creatures from the otherworld would take it and pass by your door.  People also dressed themselves in costumes and disguises in order to trick the souls of the dead and the creatures who may wish to take them back to their worlds.

Photo of old cloth mask in display cabinet

Old Halloween Mask From Ireland

Due to the increased presence of mystical creatures on the night of Samhain it was believed the human world was richer in magic than at any other point in the year and that this aided the druids in making their predictions for the year ahead.  Therefore, Samhain also became associated with divination.  One of my favourite childhood memories is of the barnbreac, a traditional Irish fruitbread. On Oiche Shamhna (Halloween) the breac would be baked with a tiny piece of cloth, a ring, a pea and a coin.  If you found the piece of cloth in your slice then this would signify hard financial times for the year ahead.  The pea signified ill health if it was black, the coin meant prosperity and the ring meant your were going to meet the love of your life or become betrothed.  It was always great fun to see who got the ring!

Photo of a fruit cake

Barnbreac – Traditional Cake Eaten On Halloween In Ireland

All sorts of divination formed part of the traditional celebrations but sadly very few of them have survived to this day, even in Ireland.  As the centuries passed the Celtic festival of Samhain became intertwined with the Roman feast of Pomona – celebration of the harvest and then of course the Catholics came along and hijacked the event altogether with Pope Boniface in the seventh century declaring November first, All Souls Day.  The night before became known as All Hallow’s Eve from which we get Halloween.

It’s still a big night in Ireland even though we no longer have bonfires or fireworks. Barnbreacs still get eaten with big mugs of tea around blazing fires but only the ring has survived as part of the Samhain fun.  Nowadays, the celebration is more likely to resemble the American version of carved pumpkins and children going from house to house looking for treats but I like to think that underneath it all our ancient Celtic heart still beats.

Black and white representation of the banshee

Cover Your Ears If You Hear the Call Of The Banshee Or Your Death Will Surely Follow!

Tick Tock, Bomb O’Clock

It was 1976 and Northern Ireland was a war zone and into this war zone came a little girl, with a newly discovered talent for mimicry, and her mother, who could best be described as having a writer’s imagination.

The little girl, her mother and the rest of the family had spent the day navigating checkpoints and unapproved roads, visiting family and friends and the little girl had stared open-mouthed as soldiers with real guns had interrogated her mother each time as to where they were going and who they were visiting.  Barbed wire was everywhere along with an all pervasive tension that hung thick and heavy in the air like an invisible fog and each time they were stopped at a checkpoint the little girl could feel unseen eyes watching her.

Photo of soldiers in a warzone

British Soldiers In Northern Ireland

The same little girl had a fascination with cars and loved the sound of the engine of the Ford Cortina MK II  as it responded to the touch of her mother’s foot on the accelerator and zipped along the twists and turns of the country roads.  She loved the smell of the leather and the feel of it under her hands and she loved the squeak that came from the boot every time they went over one of the many bumps, which drove her mother crazy but made her smile secretly to herself.  And this day she realised the car she was so fascinated with made another sound.  Every time her mother put the indicator on there was the most satisfying tick tock sound, like the loud but dull ticking of a clock.  The girl loved the perfect timing of this sound and started copying it in her mind.  Soon, she switched to mimicking the sound quietly to herself in the back seat.  The sound was soothing and the little girl loved how she could reproduce it flawlessly.

Photo of old ford cortina mark 2 in red with a black top

The Old Ford Cortina MK II – I Loved This Car

Soon the family arrived back at the rural farmhouse they were staying in and the little girl and her siblings were fed and put to bed.  However, this little girl always found sleep elusive and in the absence of a book to read she contented herself with practising the tick tock sound of the indicator. Soon she was fast asleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night she woke up and was surprised to see the reflection of a blue light flashing through the window.  She crept out of the bed and peeked out through the net curtains.  There were lots of men in black uniforms.  They were different to the soldiers she had seen throughout the day but they still had that hard look in their eyes.  No-one was smiling.  No-one looked friendly. There were also soldiers a little further down the road.  Soldiers and guns. They seemed to be guarding the entrance to the property. The little girl didn’t know what was going on but she knew when there was trouble, somehow she was usually to blame.  However, on this occasion she couldn’t see how it was anything to do with her so she crawled back into bed.  She resumed the tick-tock sound of the indicator and was soon fast sleep.

Photo of army personnel

A Bomb Squad Technician Getting Ready To Disarm A Bomb In Northern Ireland

The next morning she found her father fixing things on the car.  She thought this odd as she hadn’t realised there was anything wrong with it.  She mused to herself that maybe he was looking for the mysterious squeak.  Her father didn’t speak to her.  Next she met her great-aunties, Nora and Kate. They looked at her curiously and Kate even smiled but they didn’t speak to her.  Then she met her mother and her mother didn’t have to speak, the little girl knew from the thunderous look on her mother’s face that she was in trouble on an epic scale.

The little girl stood there waiting for the storm of her mother’s fury to hit.

“You,” her mother stuttered, “you.”

The little girl found it strange how her mother didn’t seem capable of talking.  Word failure was not a problem her mother suffered from.

She was also breathing hard as if trying to control herself and the little girl was reminded of a dragon and half expected to see smoke coming from her mother’s nostrils.

“You,” she choked out the word, “do you have any idea of the trouble you caused here last night?”

The little girl thought back to the men dressed in black uniforms and the soldiers but couldn’t for the life of her figure out how any of that had anything to do with her.  However, judging from the look on her mother’s face, her life very much depended on figuring her connection to these events out.

“N…o….” she replied, cautiously. Very cautiously.

Her mother took a step towards her and she quickly took a few back.

“You only had half the police force and the bomb squad out here last night, you little witch.  You and your weird little noises.”

Realisation was starting to dawn on the little girl…..

Her mother narrowed her eyes.

“If I ever catch you making your weird little noises again, I’ll kill you myself,” she exclaimed as her hands clenched into a pair of fists and unclenched again, as if she was seriously trying to control the urge to carry out that threat immediately.

The little girl didn’t understand how sounding like an indicator from a car could cause such trouble but she thought better of sharing this with her mother.  Instead she slinked off in the direction of the nearest field and decided to see if she could figure out how to talk cow instead.  It seemed like a much safer option.

***

The little girl was, of course, me and this is a memory from my childhood that I had completely forgotten about until I saw the photos of Ahmed Mohammed being led away in handcuffs from his school in Texas.

Photo of boy in handcuffs

Ahmed Mohammed Being Led Away From School In Handcuffs

Back in 1976 in Northern Ireland the main detonation device for the many improvised bombs was a clock.  On hearing an unidentified ticking sound, my mother called the authorities who thankfully didn’t arrest me when they discovered I was the source!

Poor Ahmed wasn’t so lucky but if it’s any consolation to him I’m sure his techie talents will see him  go on to have a stellar engineering career, which is more than can be said for a gift for mimicry which got me absolutely nowhere.