Thursday, November 24, 2011


For may years I was an avid attendee of Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions, from Anaheim to Pasadena...even to driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for one which had been advertised in a magazine and turned out to have been cancelled,  I marvelled at the creativity of not just the fans, but the guests of the conventions... authors, special effects designers, directors, prop makers, budding filmmakers...all of them amazed me with their talents and their insights.

There was one year I recall when a Creation Con had called for a costume contest, and I responded by making garb for myself, my husband Jay and our friend Jim to go as three Klingons in rehearsal for Macbeth.  Under the watchful eye of the judges, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actor Rene Aubergenois, we found ourselves the winners and shared the myriad prizes between ourselves and a talented young woman named Kelly who had made the Klingon heads for us.

Little could I have expected that after all the Equicons, Loscons and Creation Cons I would one day be asked to be a speaker at one myself.

Tomorrow, Friday, November 25, I will be doing two panels at Loscon 38, the first, at noon, on the subject of the influence of Celtic mythology on modern fantasy and science fiction, and the second, around 8:30PM, on the transformation of the Vampire from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" to the creatures envisioned by today's authors.  I will also be signing all 6 of my novels during the balance of the day and most of Saturday and Sunday.

I am absolutely thrilled with this opportunity and hope to see some of my good friends there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Rose Above The Sword

I have been asked by several people to say something about my newest novel, "The Rose Above The Sword", Volume IV of  The Glastonbury Chronicles.  The title itself refers to many things, from the Order of the Sword and the Rose to the symbolism carried by the Order.

The rose has long been the symbol of secrecy.  The phrase sub rosa which means that something should be kept secret literally translates as "under the rose" and in early days was indicated by a rose being brought into a secret meeting to warn the participants that anything said there was strictly confidential.  It has been used this way through the centuries in various art forms and by such groups as the Rosicrucians, both modern and ancient.

The very fact that the rose id placed at the crosspiece of the sword is symbolic in more than one way.  It signifies that the sword is to be kept secret (and hence the actions of the sword) and also is placed there as a symbol of the heart in relationship to the body of  the sword..  Not only is the Order secret, but the knowledge of its true nature and the focus of its protection are also, in the long run, secret.

On a third level, the rose is the symbol of the feminine, placed over the masculine symbol of the sword.  The rose was an ancient symbol of the Dark Goddess and therefore is a token of the hidden aspect of the feminine, in this case the fact that there was any female involvement in the Order.

When the outward signs of something that has been suppressed, in this case, both religion and the Monarchy (the rose and the sword once again) symbols are transmitted in even more abstract manner and both history and mythology are recorded in monuments, in the language of flowers and plants, and in the pictures on Tarot cards.   Those who know what they are looking for will find them, right under the watchful but unseeing eyes of the oppressor.

The book is now out, and the first review is in:


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Myth and Mystery

There is something in the psyche of mankind which needs a good mystery.  I'm not referring to the Agatha Christie variety, or even the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, both of whom had personal mysteries of their own, but mystery as in the Eleusian Mysteries...symbols and mythos which resonate within the unconscious minds of humanity and reverberate within our souls.

Mankind has existed long before the concept of monotheism, its group mind nourished by images of Demigods and Heroes, and as the late, great Joseph Campbell discussed so eloquently, the pattern of the Hero's Journey which is common to the mythology of all from Perseus and Heracles or Hercules of the Greeks and Romans to Cuchulainn of the Irish Celts.  All of them had a God  for a father and a mortal mother.

With the coming of Christianity, Jesus, (with God as a father and the mortal Mary as a mother) became in a monotheistic belief system, the only Hero, and the mythos attributed to him took on a very narrow, totally religious and non-secularly heroic aspect.  The normal needs and wants of the psyche of the societies involved in this relatively new religion (in the scope of the history of mankind) were put on hold, replaced with the acts of apostles and the works of saints, not necessarily figures of action. 

Somewhere along the way the needs of the group mind reached out and called for the Hero or Superhero once more, and Fantasy and Science Fiction became the mythos of the New Age.  We had Superman, only surviving son of a lost civilisation who became the protector of humanity, Luke Skywalker, orphaned child of dubious lineage who wielded, like one of the Celtic Gods, a sword of light against evil, and all the other heroes from Aragorn to Wonder Woman who have stood up for humanity against the forces of Evil.

Somewhere in my deepest heart of heart it all resonated as well.  Somewhere the concept of the Sacred King, old before ever the historical Jesus walked this Earth, before ever that Sacred King had died for the good of all, the original concept of a Sacred King who shed his life's blood so the Land might live, that archetype that came again in King Arthur with the concept that "The King and the Land are One" struck me somewhere deep within my soul.  The seeds of The Glastonbury Chronicles were sown.  Somewhere over the last eighteen years they have borne fruit, and continue to grow.

The mythology I write is not new.  It is based on all that which has come before, brought once again into the present and the future in hopes that, as Joseph Campbell might have said, others may "find their bliss."

I know writing it has given me a chance to find mine.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What's In A Name?

At about 4 AM today the Muse came back from whatever holiday Muses go on and informed me that I needed to get up and work on the book,  A wonderful idea, I thought at the time, little realising that by 8 AM I would be sorely missing the 3 hours of sleep I had sacrificed for so noble a cause, but then that's what I write about...sacrifice, though in this case, with the day I am facing, I would have rather parted with blood.

Did the Muse dictate to me wonderful words of inspiration?  No,  What I got in stead was a reprimand for choosing a name for one of my characters which I had used for another character in the previous book.

"But that;s what he told me his name was," I protested sleepily as I opened the first chapter and set up the command to find and replace his name.

"You obviously were not listening well.  His name is not Gavin,  It is Gareth."

So Gavin became Gareth in all 31 chapters I had written to date and the whole experience set me to worrying about the fact that his lady love is named Gwyneth and the similarity of the names which might cause confusion in the reader,

"Balderdash!: said the Muse, or something to that effect,  "Good Welsh name. Lots of "th" sounds in Welsh names.  Now get some rest.  You will be needing it."

In the background I heard the radio alarm clock going off and knew it was too late to do more ta do more than pop a handful of dark chocolate covered espresso beans into my mouth and hope for the best.

"Nine tanna leaves to give it motion," came the memory of a line from "The Mummy", unbidden into the embers of consciousness I needed to fan into a bright enough fire to get me through the day.

Nine tanna leaves and a cup of good, strong tea.

I may not be awake, but at least I am civilised.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Word Is My Oyster

These days it seems that the business of being an author is more exhausting than the act of writing.  Keeping up a blog (which I apologise for have been very lax at writing recently), dealing with the taxes and licences necessary to run a business...and oh yes...being an author is considered running a business...and all the other mundane concerns have infringed upon my precious time of actual creativity.  Left brain paperwork and right brain storytelling do not necessarily go hand in hand, and even this Gemini is sometimes getting whiplash from changing hats so often.

The West Hollywood Book Fair is coming up 2 October, and I will be doing a reading in the morning and signing books till early afternoon.  So far, so good.  It is not, however, solely about the reading and the signing, but about all the preparations which go before the actual event.  New head shots; the old one was in black and white and colour was preferred.  Bookmarks...I know I didn't order enough.  Even the silly little annoyance of trying to find the little adhesive-backed pieces that transform a photograph and biography sheet into a stand-up, only to discover they need to be ordered in quantities of over a hundred and even then the company won't ship unless a minimum dollar amount is met, and  they won't guarantee delivery in time to meet my deadline..  Fortunately I have a creative husband who was able to make them...probably not as pretty, but hey...who's going to look behind the stand-up to see?

And now comes the worry...will the books, ordered in what should have been ample time...get here by the end of September?  I can always pass out business cards, but it's not exactly the same thing.  Will the weather hold?  Early October in Southern California can range from triple digits to poring rain, and this event is outside.

Yes...everything will come together all right.  Yes, the event will be a great success.  Those wonderful people at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society and the Chamber of Commerce of West Hollywood have a track record with this event, and I should just relax and sit back and do what I do best...write fiction.  However....

I tend to write scenarios of disaster and death, of unexpected revolutions and battles of historical proportions.  I tend to expect the unexpected and imagine "What if...?" in a myriad of timelines and possibilities.  It is all fantasy and I can control it all with the flick of a delete key and the tapping of my fingers upon the white letters set into the blackness of my laptop computer.  The word is my oyster and I can open it and pull forth a string of pearls if my imagination so dictates.

This is life, real life,


Friday, July 29, 2011

Straddling The Worlds

One thing which has always been easy for me is straddling the worlds.  It could be because I'm a Gemini, or maybe just because I have been an avid daydreamer since my early days at school, eventually being encouraged by a wonderful teacher, James Thomas Michael McMahon, to write down my stories and chiding me when he knew I could do better.  He was the man who made me re-think creativity and to listen to the little voices in my head when they wanted to tell their tales, to let the stories flow from them and tell them just as I heard them.

I must have been all of thirteen when that happened, and I quickly learned how to jump back and forth between what worlds were being born within my imagination and the questions the external voices of the teachers in the other classes were asking, and somehow never lost my place in either.  It actually became easy to absorb history by adding new characters to events.  I found the Middle Ages were especially good for this, for I had grown up with Robin Hood and that ilk and imagining castles, swords and bows and arrows was no stretch to an already fertile imagination.  

The one place it did not work was math class.  There was no way I could add or subtract anything from the dry theorems in geometry.  Science was easier.  In my chemistry class I began to experiment with the glass tubing and Bunsen burners and made some wonderfully twisty glass straws, which of course was not what I was supposed to be doing.   Astronomy was like an old friend, especially when we began to study the constellations and got into the mythology behind the names they were given.  I learned to play at being an ancient astronomer, connecting the dots and seeing the patterns the mind formed by so doing.

I have never forgotten that lesson.  I try to connect the dots now with words instead of lines, picking up chance incidents in history and mythology and making a pattern out of them, seeing a picture that others have missed.  I hope my readers can see it too, and will learn to straddle the worlds of  what is and what may be with me.

If you are in the area of Burbank, California tomorrow (Saturday, July 30), I will be signing books at Dark Delicacies at 2PM.  Here's a link to the information:

Please stop by.  I would love to meet you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quid Fiat Si...?

I asked my favourite Latin professor to translate my motto, "What If...?" into Latin for me.  Quid Fiat Si...?  (What would happen if...") was the answer. 

What if...?

It's not only the premise of every book I have ever written, it is the premise behind every piece of fiction anyone has ever written.  What if characters with certain backgrounds and certain characteristics were put together under a certain set of circumstances>  What would they do?  How would they interact?  How would they change their own lives and the lives of those around them?

It's not just the basis of literature, but of all art and science.  What would happen if two chemicals were combined?  What would happen if certain chords were played in a certain order?  What would happen if we put a space capsule with people in it atop a huge rocket and shot them off into space?

Two small but magical words, "What if...?"...two small words with a huge potential to launch the most wonderful of all vehicles, the human imagination.

The Latin translation of this motto  may not have the grandeur of "Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense", the motto of the Order of the Garter , but "Quid Fait Si...?" is enough of a motto for this author.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Next?

The next volume of The Glastonbury Chronicles, "The Coin of the Realm", will be out May 1, and the second instalment of Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe "The Great Queen's Hound" (sequel to "Son of Air and Darkness") will be out June 21.  Earlier today I finished Volume III in that series, "The Pale Mare's Fosterling", which is slated to appear June 21, 2012, filling the schedule of three books per year through the end of October 2012.

The post-partum depression is beginning to set in, as it does with the finish of each book.  I have been writing at a frantic pace, five novels in under 14 months comprising two series.  Not to be awakened in the middle of the night by one or more of my characters demanding to be heard is going to seem odd for the next couple of days, but I know it won't last much longer than that.

There will be at least three more Dubhghall books...probably six.  I just need to get back to Britain and France for a refresher course on the lay of the land, the smell of the air, the colours of the clouds and the topography and practical geography that cannot be learned by reading two-dimensional maps and trying to figure out how far a horse can ride in a single day or night in the rain or sunny weather or whatever else the conditions might be.  There is no substitute for real research, the kind that finds a writer noting the taste of the water in a certain place, the colour of the ocean in a certain season, the shade of stones in the walls of a certain castle; some of these can be invented in pure fantasy in a world which exists solely within the author's head, but when the author is creating a fantasy around historical events, that author had better be able to ground in fact.

I hope I have done my homework so far.  In the events which take place in the future I have tried to base that world upon that which is known and project that which is yet to be.  In the events which surround the past history or legend I sometimes feel like an ancient astronomer, seeing the bright points of stars in the sky and playing "connect the dots" with them to form patterns and pictures possibly not seen before by others and then trying to influence others to see the same shapes and picture as I do.

With all these novels in the can do I plan to take a break from writing?  Not for long...a few days at the most.  Spring cleaning is calling and it's time to get the house I moved into three years ago organised at least enough to be able to find some of the things I have not seen since the move, including the beginnings of a couple of novels I had started before then.  There are a couple of mystery series in the works, one of which managed to get all the way into the middle of Chapter Four before Dubhghall bullied it out of the way and demanded to have his third story written down.  I have told Dubhghall he may have to wait until the autumn to get his chance again, as I am trying quite hard to get back across the pond for at least a couple of weeks in October and November to block out some of his movements and look into some of the historical figures he will be tangling with next time.

What next?  Whatever The Muse has in mind, I'm up for it.  Meanwhile I shall grab a few hours of sleep while I can, until the 2:00 AM call to the keyboard is sounded once more and the cats start gazing up at me with that knowing look of creatures who have answered the call of the night winds and the mysteries that are whispered only when the world is still and the mind receptive...

But for now, my pillow awaits.  Who knows what I'll dream up next.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When The Characters Kidnap You (or This Is Not The Book I Thought I Was Writing)

You start with an idea, a premise, the inkling of where you're going and how you're going to get there and then BLAM!  Somewhere about Chapter 15 you realise that your main character has definite other ideas and hasn't bothered to let yo in on any of them. 

Sound familiar?  Well, if you're writing from the aspect of the third person omniscient narrator who knows all, sees all, and generally plays God in the world being laid out in words, probably not, but when it's all first person and you're more or less taking dictation from your character, it's bound to happen sooner or later.

In the first volume of THE GLASTONBURY CHRONICLES, "Uneasy Lies The Head", Stephen Windsor gave me my first taste of that.  He was a bit wilful, arguing with me that yes, in fact, that was the way the story went, and more or less ordering me to shut up and take down what he was telling me, as it was his life, his story, and he knew better than I what was happening.  He also assured me I would see why it had to be that way later on.  Damned if he wasn't of the things of which I had voiced the most ardent criticism turned out to be a major subplot in the next book. 

I had learned my lesson and was content to let him take me along his merry way, often having no idea what was to come next, as he had not yet experienced that part of his life, and often the surprises were very fortunate and very important to the growth of the character and all around him.  Sometimes the fate and future of an entire world hinged on his decisions.  It all worked out.

That was that series.  That was Stephen.  He was telling the story as he knew it, from the point of view of one man, one of several lives, pretty much contained within the framework of one story.

And then there's Dubhghall, the narrator of the second series, TALES OF THE DEARG-SIDHE, whose appearance was first made in last year's "Son of Air and Darkness".  The second book of his saga "The Great Queen's Hound" will be out in June and is all nicely finished, edited and tucked away.  It's the third book that I am working on now that is literally keeping me up at night.

Did I call Stephen Windsor "wilful"?  Compared to Dubhghall, he is a lamb willingly being led to slaughter!  (Well, I guess that is is an apt description, all things considered.).

Dubhghall is infuriatingly immortal and defiant, with a continuous life spanning centuries.  This book was supposed to, for a giggle, open with the first chapters set in one place, and then jump a dozen or so years and spend the rest of its time and plot in another country.  No, Dubhghall likes the English countryside too much to go to France just yet, and has found his real niche with the group of characters who had captured him in the beginning of the story.  They're as thick as thieves, and that's saying a lot.  And he's saying a lot, so I guess I'll just sit back and listen and let him take me, and hopefully the reader, where his story leads him.

I can hardly wait to find out how it ends.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Of Muse and Men

It doesn't take an alarm clock.  I go to bed, exhausted, some time before 10 PM.  It is stormy outside, and the staccato of the rain soothes me rapidly into unconsciousness.  To sleep...perchance to dream...aye, there's the rub...

Somewhere around 2AM I''m awake again, the siren call having nudged me back into wakefulness, back into touch with the Muse who controls my time and tides, and I find myself once more at the keyboard of the computer, taking dictation from Dubhghall or Stephen or Kevin, or whomever is out there eager to talk, eager to have his story told.   Seldom a woman, seldom anyone whose story is something to which I can relate, can tell the tale from a woman's point of view. 

Often I argue with them, tell them it's ridiculous, they can't have done that, can't say that...and invariably I am told to shut up and take down the dictation I am receiving...I will see why later..  It always turns out that something at which I have scoffed, something I wanted to delete, something that I have thought was an impossible piece of rubbish turns out to be an important plot point, not aleays in the book I am writing, but perhaps in another book down the line.

Last night was no different.  Went to bed at 9:30 PM, and at 2:30 I was up again, plunking away at the computer  till 4:30 AM, turning out pages which took the story in a direction I had no conscious notion it would be going,

C'est la vie. 

I have a Muse who lives on Greenwich Mean Time.  I'm on Pacific Daylight Time.  Somewhere along the line we get together and pages are written.

Sleep is for wimps.

Monday, February 21, 2011

So Much For The Holiday...

It was ill-conceived, I suppose, now that I think of it, a serene and glorious long weekend signing books and rubbing elbows with those I knew, those I hoped to meet and utter strangers at PantheaCon 2011.  After all, what could be simpler...riding up with and spending the weekend with two of my dearest friends?  Linda I have known for nearly half my life; her husband Peter, my wonderful publisher, for nearly two decades.  And then, on the verge of packing, on the verge of having another dear friend house sit and look after the adorable kittens, Peter fell ill, ill enough to land him in hospital.

Of course we were concerned.  All the scenarios we had been through up to this point had not made any room for illness, any shadow of a possibility that we would not be going, and above all for the fact that there was a potentially serious set of conditions affecting two such dear and wonderful friends.  And so we visited him in that utterly impersonal and dreary cubicle where he lay in pain, praying, hoping, knowing he would be well, and quickly too.  At first there was a chance, a thought, a dream, a flicker of a hope that miracle drugs were indeed miracles and that he would be well enough in hours, even in a couple of days, and that we would all have a fabulous weekend together in San Jose...but soon the hard truth of the matter that such things took time became starkly evident and we realised such things were not to be.

What did happen was we realised several things about ourselves.  We are a resilient lot who care deeply for one another, and this resilience has made us strong in both our friendship and in our lives in general.  When things go awry, we know we have each other to turn to.  We have also once more had a close encounter with our own mortality and the fact that no matter how we live our lives and how positive we may be in our thinking, sometimes we are not the boss of us.  Sometimes there are outside Forces which knock us up beside the head and say "No, you may not," and it may be for a really good reason.  The weather this weekend was wild, to say the least.  Road conditions were unsavoury.  None of us would have wanted to be a statistic.

Peter is now home, on the mend, well on his way to total recovery.  I rediscovered and was delighted to help him and Linda discover the joys of one of  Johnny Depp's priceless gems, "Don Juan De Marco" which we watched on DVD this evening.  The world is turning as it should be, though not as we had expected.  We are alive, fairly well, and warm and dry in the crazy inclement weather which lashes out around us.

PantheaCon 2012 will be all the sweeter for having to wait for it.  Meanwhile, life is what we make of it.

Life is good.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Torn Between Two Lovers

It has always been difficult for me to work on more than one project at a time.  Dubhghall as been nattering at me to start Volume III of TALES OF THE DEARG-SIDHE:  THE PALE MARE"S FOSTERLING, which is due out June of next year.  I am about two pages into it. And then there's this detective novel which has been in the back of my mind for about fifteen years, featuring P. C. MacGregor (the P. C. stands for Phillip Culloden) and his partner Nancy Higashida.

Somewhere around chapter four in this one Dubhghall was adamant he be heard, spewed forth eloquently, and totally distracted me from my original intentions of finally bringing the detective novel to life.  My publisher loves it, I love it, but Dubhghall can be...most persuasive.  How do I tell poor P. C. MacGregor he will have to have his story (hopefully the first of many) told?  Poor dear, he has been so patient with me, and Nancy (that's Nancy Higashida, his partner, not Nancy O'Connor, his High Priestess), well Nancy Higashida is a Buddhist and a very patient person.  MacGregor, on the other hand, is not, especially when a murder has been committed and he is in the midst of an investigation.

Perhaps over Presidents' Weekend, as I sit at a book signing table at PantheaCon at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, I will be able to plunk away on my new laptop computer and give MacGregor the attention I have not been able to give him this week at home.

But then, what if Dubhghall finds out?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Here We Go Again

The June 21 release of Volume II of Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe, THE GREAT QUEEN'S HOUND (aka Dubhghall 2)  has been edited and is on its way to the publisher. 

I had promised myself at least a weekend off before I started anything new.  I was going to go to archery practice today, to work it all our with the feeling of the bow in my hand and the hand-eye coordination it takes to hit the target with that all-fulfilling sound of arrow piercing paper.

But the Gods had other ideas.  Last night it started to rain. OK, granted it was wet at Agincourt, but that was Agincourt.  We who live in Southern California have forgotten what rain is, for the most part, even if we have come from wetter climes and our appreciation of historical precedent does not factor into the desire to avoid mud and the craziness of drivers who have no idea what cars do in the rain.

So last night I stayed up way past the hour I would have stayed up till had I really supposed I was going to be on the range this morning, and The Muse bent my shell-like ear and said those magic words "What if" again, and I, resolute as I can be, said "NO!", but not before I had, in fact, typed the dread words "Chapter One" into the electron stream which has become my life.

And then I erased it, determined to go to bed.

She was not finished with me yet, however.

Somewhere, in the deep dark recesses of my brain there lurked a memory of a novel  had started some 16 years ago, a mystery novel entitled "AROUND IN CIRCLES" and The Muse guided my hand to the file, somehow preserved and transmitted to this computer, several generations newer then the one upon which this had been written, and I opened it and read the first chapter and saw that it was good.

The words "CHAPTER ONE" were already there, in caps, and about 10 pages of text which needed a few changes to bring them into this century, but I was hooked and my publisher was hooked when I sent him the chapter this morning, and...

...and I face this with a smidge of trepidation on many fronts.  First, I have never written a real mystery before, though I have had mysteries surface in the course of my other novels.  Second, the style of writing is very noir, something not my usual style at all.  Third, I am taking on the persona of Yank detective, based in Los Angeles., which means I have to change my spell check to U. S.  English and hope for the best.


At least I'm a Gemini.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Birthing A Book

For some reason this one went easier than the last.  No more 4 AM feedings of the Muse, no more  coming to bed at the crack of dawn with the words "Finished another chapter" on my lips.  This one left my keyboard yesterday afternoon, with no sense of post-partum depression, only the sense that I had taken another step along the journey as my characters took theirs.

"THE GREAT QUEEN'S HOUND" is the second installment in the saga of Dubhghall mac Cu, "Tales of the Dearg-Sidhe", who finds himself in the midst of the 12th Century  anarchy between Stephen of Blois and Empress Mathilda, both claiming the right to rule England after the death of Henry I, but there are darker forces at work than mere politics, forces which have been lurking for centuries, forces which Dubhghall first encountered during Boudicca's rebellion against Rome.  With the fall of the Roman Empire being succeeded by the new Holy Roman Empire in which the Old Faith has gone underground, will The Morrigan, the Great Queen of Battle and Sovereignty and Her foster-son Dubhghall be able to protect Britain against this old evil which threatens annihilation of all that stands in its way, or will the Dark Ages return in an even darker, even more sinister fashion?

Find out June 21, when "THE GREAT QUEEN'S HOUND" is released by Pendraig Publishing.