This blog follows how a romance novel set in the Borders of medieval Scotland is researched, written and hopefully *hopefully* published.

Join me on the writing journey and get inspired to try writing a little romance into your own life!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Toys, Great Diversions

Okay, so I just got an interesting tool for helping me get my novel even more organized, and although I was a little skeptical at first, I'm totally enthralled with this thing now.

So, it's this thing called "New Novelist" and it's from a British company and used in some UK schools (it boasts of meeting their curriculum guides). As I doubt I'll ever have the pleasure of actually attending a British school or taking a British-led class, this isn't a bad way to sate my curiosity, but more importantly, it's a great way to make me think about stuff I often suggest others consider.

When I was editing my brother-in-law's novel (he should get a copy of this program, too..Hmm...) I even made up a couple of worksheets for him to do so he could get in touch more completely with his characters and understand their motivations better (he was having some inconsistencies). He loved the worksheets and totally sang my praises about them. Yep, they were pretty cool (I liked them, too) but, even though this program doesn't address the exact same things in precisely the same way, it's got so many pull down menus to get you to truly define your book (by type) and all your characters, settings, and odds and ends it would have taken me MUCH longer to make the tools myself than to just buy the program and use it.

I'm already re-examining several parts of the book and deepening a couple characters that I just figured I'd "get around to." And it's given me a better format for saving all my notes and info (a far cry from scraps of paper written awkwardly and haphazardly and stuck in various notebooks). Anyhow, lovin' it.

Go, check out their site and maybe you'll find it useful, too.

Have a great night!
Saiorse

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Returning Refreshed

Ah, the shore! Sparkling sands and glittering waves, saltwater taffy, fudge-making demonstrations, surrey avoidance, shopping, shopping and more shopping! Okay, so most of my shopping was of the “window” variety. Still it was wonderful and relaxing, I feel inspired again to write more of my romance novel Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills.

I took the text with me in a printed or hardcopy version and actually flipped through it a few times, making notations. Cut an entire chapter (some of which will be interspersed as flashbacks, some will be saved for a possible "prequel"). Also discovered by deepening one scene (when Janet meets her potential husband) I can eliminate one that made me waAAay too uncomfortable. So, I got a little stuff done (had a lot of fun, though), and it looks like I'll pull a three-day writing excursion there in the off-season. Hopefully this book will be put "to bed" by then and I'll be working with something else.

Hope you're writing or doing something refreshing!

Saoirse

The Taming of the Duke

Just finished The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James, a very enjoyable read (and a quick read, too). Fun and spicy, but not blatant in its sex scenes. Even the chapter headings were enjoyable to read. All in all fun. Hope you’re all refreshed after getting through the Memorial Day weekend!

~Saoirse

Taste of the Tale Pt. 4

Final Piece of the Prologue...


"Did you hear him ride in?"

"No, he was just -- there."

"Did you watch him ride out?"

"No -- I was in shock," the man sputtered. "Why would a member of the Fae set to stealing from any of us above ground?"

McGregor smiled weakly. "When it comes to the Fae you don't ask why-- they just ask themselves: Why not? Carter's Hollow is full of the beasts. Buttermen, watersidhe, phooka, sheerie and grogochs. Rumor is the Grey Man even shakes out his cloak standing just above the hollow itself. Surely you saw the many little hills. And the three big ones?"

The man nodded.

"Split by a magician and hollow as a drum. Those woods are thick with the Fae. And wolves as big as ponies," he added as an afterthought.

"Dear God," the man whispered, "Then why does the road run through there?"

"Romans built the road. They were warned about the Fae, too. But the Romans weren't so good about listening to the superstitions of the people they were trying to enslave, unless they thought it would make conversion easier. So they built the road and thought they had Diana's blessing one day when a squadron came across a beautiful white hart standing right in the center of the road--in the thickest part of the woods. They must've thought it was sent to be a sacrifice because one of the poor bastards fired an arrow at it. The stag caught the shaft in its antlers and then it attacked the lot of them. By the time it was finished there were only three men left. And they weren't quite right after that."

"But that was many years ago--why isn't there a new road?"

"Roads cost money. I doubt you've volunteered to pay for many yourself," he added, perhaps too sharply. "And frankly there aren't too many of us around here who can afford a tax increase like that would require. That's why someone always makes sure signs are posted on the road before Carter's Hollow."

"What signs?"

"Damn," McGregor gritted his teeth. "I keep trying to tell people they've gotta' be blessed or the Fae'll just tear them down. You're sure you didn't see a warning?"

"Nothing," he answered tersely.

"Should've said: Fair warning--fae warning. I personally think it should say: don't f**k with the fae, but no one listens to me."

The girl was giggling again.

McGregor glanced at her as she leaned heavily on Dezdemona. "And your daughter? What happened to her?"

The little man whimpered. "I don't know. One minute she was there across from me in the carriage, the next moment she was gone and I heard this shriek and then..." he shivered. "Whispers. Her and a man's voice, but I couldn't see them anywhere. And then all I could hear was laughter. From everywhere in the woods. All God's good creatures fell silent, but I could hear her... She was laughing hysterically. Giggling, guffawing -- everything in between. And then--poof!" He flicked all of his chubby fingers at once. "She was back. Sitting across from me. And her clothes... She was--disheveled..."

"Girl--girl!" McGregor called.

"Her name is Miera. Mierabelle."

"Miera--Miera!" McGregor shouted, though she was barely more than an arm's length away.

The girl turned and looked at him, but it was as if she was seeing him from a great distance. A smile still twitched at the corner of her long lips. She blinked twice.

"Who did this to you?" McGregor asked sternly, but before Miera could even open her mouth to reply, he knew.

"Tam Lin," they both whispered and the driver shuddered, collapsing limply against Judge McGregor in shock.


Well, that's it for the prologue. Hope it was enjoyable!
~Saoirse

Problem Posting Friday

So Friday my computer rebelled against my attempt to post, so I apologize about not being able to "get it up" and make the next section of the prologue available. So now, without further ado...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Taste of the Tale Pt. 3

This is the 3rd part of my Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills prologue...

The old women who always dropped coins in Dezdemona's cleavage during performances were scandalized!

The lord dabbed at his brow with a frilly handkerchief and gathered himself to try again. "The journey was difficult and it has taken its toll on my daughter. Surely after a good night's rest her fine sensibilities will return," he apologized.

"Then come inside," Sirius offered from the Inn's still-open door. "I've still got a few rooms to fill this evening."

The lord looked down at his feet. "I do appreciate that, good sir, but I fear I have been parted from my money--"

"They say that soon happens to fools!" someone in the crowd offered.

The lord blushed furiously.

Sirius pushed through the crowd, still drying a mug with the edge of his apron. "Were you robbed, good sir?"

There was a choking sound and a nod.

"I was robbed, too, " the girl volunteered gleefully, "But not of any money," she teased.

"Who did this--and where?" Sirius demanded. Theft was never good for business and if Sirius had to ride out and strangle someone with his own two hands he would do it. Joyfully. He prided himself on being a proactive businessman. "I'll--"

"On the road through Carter's Hollow-- a strange man in a dusk-colored hood and cloak--on a white horse with silver shoes in front and gold behind..." the man trailed off, seeing the fire had drained from Sirius's eyes and Sirius blanched, shaking his head.

"I'm very busy here at the Inn," he remarked. Shrugging, Sirius turned to walk back inside but then said over his thick shoulder, "But you're welcome to stay in a room--the three of you--tonight for nothing." Then muttering, "It's all I can do," he stepped back inside.

"You," the lord turned to McGregor. "Can't a group be organized to root the villain out?"

"The Dusty Rider's not just some villain, he's--he's..." McGregor searched for words to work. In Roxborough the Rider was so often a topic of conversation it seemed all the words had been used up. And describing him to a stranger? McGregor shook his head. The crowd began to dissipate having seen the better bits of the sudden street show. "Well, we don't exactly know who or what," he paused for emphasis, "he is. Some say he's just a wily thief who's eluded us for the better part of six years, and some, well they say he's not just any thief. There's some that say he's a thief from the Fae."

"A Faerie?" the lord's voice shrilled.


*Please tune in for the final installment of the prologue tomorrow morning...
~Saoirse

Taste of the Tale Pt. 2

*This is the continuation of the prologue for my novel,
Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills.

The whining grew into a thin wail of horror... And all eyes fell upon the plump, well-dressed and aging man who sat across from a grinning girl of nineteen. He whined again.

She giggled.

The girl leaned forward and boldly addressed Dezdemona. "You! You have surely known it--" her eyes slitted conspiratorially, her voice a rich whisper. Dezdie stepped forward and was embraced by lithe, ivory arms. The girl slipped from the carriage seat, to the brass-edged steps and then down to the street so she hung about Dezdemona's neck and shoulders like a supple dancer's veil. All at once soft, sensuous and shining. "You have known the touch of man--the love of a man--"

"Yeah," someone cried, "Dezdie's known it lots of times." Laughter edged through the crowd, but Dezdemona's glare silenced them all.

"I have known such," she admitted coolly, eyes raking over the crowd dangerously.

The man in the carriage had begun to whine again.

"I, too--"

"Say no more, daughter!" the man shrieked, flying from his precarious perch on the embroidered velvet seat. He took the steps in a leap and standing before her on his tiptoes, desperately tried to threaten her into silence. His small stature was only accentuated by his attempt to look bigger as he seethed there, under his daughter's delicately cleft chin.

She just smiled at him sweetly, and reaching out, flicked the very tip of his bulbous nose. She laughed.

The little lord turned to address the crowd and regain some bit of his dignity. "The trip was long--"

"--And hard," she winked knowingly.


Pt. 3 later today...
~Saoirse

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Taste of the Tale Pt.1

Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills
by Saoirse Redgrave copyright 2006

Prologue:

The carriage came into town too fast, a wheel clattering and moving more from side-to-side than round and round. The horses' sides heaved with exertion, their flanks foam-flecked, eyes wide and rolling. The bay limped the final few steps, stopping clumsily when the wild-eyed driver finally dared pull them to a sudden and near disastrous halt. Even inside the Roxborough Inn where Dezdemona Dillamond was doing her raucous rendition of "Roll Your Leg Over" people fell silent at the din in shocked speculation.

Judge McGregor (so-named by optimistic parents) was the first to the door. Reaching up, he offered a hand to the driver. The stranger grasped it, all but falling from the padded leather seat. He stood on wobbling legs, grasping McGregor’s meaty hand with knuckles long before turned white. The driver’s slack jaw moved under what appeared to the few bold onlookers to be strong concentration. "Where--?"

McGregor clapped him on the back--an unwise decision, he learned, as he had to then right the poor weak-kneed fellow once more. "You are in Roxborough, my friend. Whatever your trouble on your way, it is surely far behind you now."

The man nodded slowly, eyes just letting go of their haze.

McGregor sized up the situation as he stabilized the man on the Inn's threshold. He could feel a half-dozen pairs of eyes sorting things out for themselves from the open door. Opinions were being formed and he always liked his to be among the ones that shaped those of others, so he made his observations quickly, drawing conclusions as he watched.

The carriage was dovetailed and gilded with a well-trimmed door and elegant curtains edged with lace and beadwork. Red as a harlot's rouge, its wheels were black and iron-rimmed, except for the wobbling one which looked to have been fiercely chewed by some severe obstacles. All in all, a rich man's transportation.

A sniffle came from inside the carriage and then a high-pitched whine. Hunting dogs? McGregor wondered. "Your passengers?"

The driver released McGregor, biting the palm of his own hand, brow furrowed, eyes filling with tears. "Oh--the Master--"

"Got it," piped up Dezdemona. She slinked past and threw open the door with all the drama she could muster at that moment.

The Inn's crowd poured out onto the threshold, agog with the sight.


***I decided to pause here with you today, more will follow tomorrow, tra-la-la-la-la!
~Saoirse

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tune in Tomorrow for Just a Taste...

Hey there!

So I thought tomorrow I’d start and give you a snippet of the story Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills itself. But before I do, let me tell you how I got there.

I familiarized myself with the ballads (lots of versions) and after reading through them each several times, I started jotting down notes of the order a story could develop in. Really, it wasn’t difficult considering a ballad is a story set to music. However, if I just followed the ballad’s action, I wouldn’t catch my audience early on and excite them enough to get them to “buy in” to the tale. Someone once said “You’ve got to shoot the sheriff on the first page.” Translated, this means that you need a strong hook to capture your readers’ imagination.

So, instead of starting the story with young Janet hearing the bard(or her father) warn of Tam Lin, I thought I’d start with a spicier beginning. So tomorrow when you're sipping your coffee, tune in here for a bit of the (supposed) prologue as it is so far…

Hope you LOVE it!
~Saoirse

Blending Fantasy and Romance

So I had heard of Tam Lin, researched the ballad(s) online (and listened to a few musical reels by the same name), and I had been involved off and on in SCA and Markland events when I was younger, so I had an inkling about medieval life.

I took a few courses in history in college and was an avid attendee of a Renaissance Faire or two in my wild teenage years. I had a fine appreciation of “fairy tales” and certainly read my share of fantasy works.

It wasn’t a big surprise then that I felt the Romance and Fantasy genres could beautifully blend. And certain Mercedes Lackey, Barbara Hambly, RA MacAvoy, Anne McCaffrey, and Robin McKinley books helped cement my opinion.

I (much later) attended a large Celtic-inspired event and spoke to a few families/clans there and gathered assorted information to further round out my research.

So the seed was planted long, long ago and only sprouted when I stumbled on the Tam Lin ballads, since then I've watered it with research and curiosity.

Here are a few great sites to encourage your research about Scotland (in case you're curious):

Electric Scotland

Rampant Scotland

BBC's Scotland

Scottish Timeline

Scotland

Go and explore!

Much LOVE!
~Saoirse

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Defining "Romance"

The act of romance is defined differently by basically everyone. We all can eventually define our personal interpretation of what it should be to us...But I was recently curious about how it is currently and officially defined. This is the noun "Romance" for others curious about such things.

Here I’ve abridged what dictionary.com defines “romance” as:

Romance...
()
noun


A love affair.

Ardent emotional attachment
or involvement between people; love.

A strong, sometimes short-lived attachment, fascination, or enthusiasm for something.

A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal.

A long medieval narrative in prose or verse that tells of the adventures and heroic exploits of chivalric heroes.

A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually in a distant time or place.

The class of literature constituted by such tales.

An artistic work, a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.

The class or style of such works.

A fictitiously embellished account.

Check out dictionary.com . They are certainly handy (and fun)!

Much LOVE,

~Saoirse

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Researching Romance (and Scotland)

Since then, I have also rediscovered my local library. Unfortunately they don’t have the specific books I want (they are a small town organization), so I’m going through their selection a little half-heartedly.

I also picked up a few books on sale recently—


Scotland: A Photographic Journey

By Iain Thomson; Photos by David Lyons

Barnes and Noble; 2006

A simply beautiful book including great photos of the Lowlands (including the Border region). I may not be able to scope out my locations in person (at least not yet) but at least I have a wonderful view of them as they presently are.

And…

Castles of the Celtic Lands: The Historic Castles of Ireland, Scotland and Wales

By Rodney Castleden

Barnes and Noble; 2006

This one also has lovely pictures and gives some great general info about major castles, cathedrals and abbeys. Lovely! Three sections actually pertain to what I’m writing, so WOO-HOOO! Nothing’s better than a pretty, fun and functional book.

Read, research and have fun while you write--I do!

~Saoirse

Unencumbered by Romances

Getting an initial idea’s never been a big problem for me. But I was seriously unencumbered by romance books and didn’t really know if there was one way of starting that was more “acceptable” or popular in published books than another. I thought back—Where could I get romance novels that had at least a few redeemable qualities, and for free? Then I realized that my husband’s mother and grandmother were in a sort of “reading circle.” One family member bought a book or two, read it and passed it on and so on until the last woman reading took all the finished texts to a local place to donate them. Some books were suspense, some were romance. I asked my husband’s mother to choose a few “smut books” to bring on her next visit. We laughed, and she hauled about a dozen north.

Prowling through the options, there were two that caught my attention and that I devoured. Here they are (along with my reviews).

Border Bride

by Amanda Scott

Zebra Books; 2001

Mary Kate, a young Highland lady, must overcome her pride and self-made political entanglements in this humorous romance steeped loosely in sixteenth-century history. One cold October night in 1586, Mary Kate meets the man she will marry, struggle against and eventually struggle for. Quickly getting into trouble, Mary Kate finds herself possessing not only dangerous political knowledge thanks to her eavesdropping, but also the affections of two intriguing and dangerous men. Returning home she is stunned to learn that her father has arranged a marriage for her to a young Border lord—the same man she knocked out cold at her relatives’ home. The rest of the novel is full of Mary Kate’s generously humorous attempts at maintaining her own dignity and sense of independence while learning to deal with her sometimes possessive and roguish fiancé.

One issue that may make the tale tougher to swallow by some is the fact that Mary Kate’s husband does spank her and discipline her as many husbands considered “proper” in certain historical periods and cultures. With that understanding in mind, this book still has a little of everything (and certainly a lot to offer for a light read): scandal, kidnapping, the trials of miscommunication and ex-lovers and the recurring idea that everyone has a place they can be content in life, even if they don’t initially recognize it. This romance is a unique brand of story--a page-turner guaranteed to make you giggle. A comedy of errors with similarities reminiscent to “The Taming of the Shrew,” Amanda Scott’s novel “Border Bride” is an entertaining read filled with passion and power struggles. Only Scott’s 2nd novel (writing it first as Lynn Scott-Drennan) it was originally a hard sell due to the humor interlaced in the somewhat harsh environment of the Scottish Borders in trying political times.


The Knight and the Rose

by Isolde Martyn

Berkley Sensation: Historical Romance; 2003

This enjoyable read was based somewhat around an actual medieval court case. Set in the 1300’s in Yorkshire area, the author even journeyed to key locations to better enrich her research. When Lady Johanna finds herself trapped in an abusive and loveless marriage, her mother contrives to prove that Johanna was married earlier to a young man who has only now returned to reclaim his bride. With Johanna’s father suffering from what appears to be a stroke, there seems little in their way to successfully getting the more recent marriage annulled by the Church. But her would-be husband has dangerous secrets of his own and the longer he stays to try and free her, the closer he comes to being ensnared himself. The language feels a little more authentic in this one but is still quite readable, and the research appears to run deeper.

Neat reads!

~Saoirse

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Ballad as Reference...

Child ballad #39A
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898 by Francis James Child (reworked a touch by moi for easier reading...)

I'll even highlight the spicier parts so you can easily see why this just asks to be a rollicking romance...

O, I forbid you, maidens all,
That wear gold on your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

There's none that goes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a gift,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their *maidenhead.

*Ohhh—quite a “gift” dontcha’ think? Can't be returned for a refund either...

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her breast,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can be.

Our gal here has got to check out the situation herself...

When she came to Carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But away was himself.

She had nearly pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
Says, “Lady, thou's pull no more.”

"Why pulls thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Without by my command?

Hmm...Obedience issues? And what a demanding hero we have already...

"Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I'll come and go by Carterhaugh,
And ask no leave of thee."

We see a bit of Janet’s attitude!

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her breast,
And she is to her father's hall,
As fast as she can be.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them all.

Yep, Janet's a pretty heroine. Typical!

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as any glass.

Uh-oh, morning sickness!

Out then spoke an old grey knight,
Laying over the castle wall,
And says, “Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we'll be blamed all.”

Even the old guy thinks she’s preggers! He doesn't want to get caught up in the inevitable dragnet.

"Hold your tongue, ye old faced knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I'll father none on thee."

So Janet says, “Shut up, you ugly bastard—I hope you die an awful death! I’ll get pregnant by whoever I choose, and it sure as hell won’t be you!” Hmm. Quite the "modern woman," right?

Out then spoke her father dear,
And he spoke meek and mild,
"And ever alas, sweet Janet," he says,
"I think thou goest with child."

Yikes! Daddy has his suspicions, too!

"If that I go with child, father,
Myself must bear the blame,
There's nary a laird about your hall,
Shall get the bairn's name.

“Well, Pops, if I’m knocked up it’s because I was knockin’ boots. And none of your knights gets the right to name the kid, ‘cause it’s not theirs.” Eek! A stranger has besmirched her?! Good heavens!

"If my love were an earthly knight,
As he's an elfin grey,
I would not give my own true-love
For no lord that ye have.

“My lover’s a Faerie knight—I wouldn’t waste my time on any guys around here!”

The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
With silver he is shod before,
With burning gold behind."

"My guy's even got a cool ride!"

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little above her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little above her breast,
And she's away to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can go.

The lady has to see him again, even against her family's wishes.


When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she found his steed standing,
But away was himself.

She had not pulled a double rose,
A rose but only two,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou pullest no more.

She knows how to get his attention. Good girl!


"Why pulls thou the rose, Janet,
Among the groves so green,
And all to kill the bonny babe
That we got us between?"

Tam Lin realizes Janet’s looking for something to abort the baby with.


"O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin," she says,
"For His sake that died on tree,
If ever ye was in holy chapel,
Or Christendom did see?"

Blah, blah...Is he mortal, perhaps even a good Christian boy? A girl's gotta' consider if he's marriageable material...

"Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide
And once it fell upon a day
That woe did me betide.

Ah, Tam had to be raised by his grandad, a childhood tragedy perhaps?

"And once it fell upon a day
A cold day and a snell,
When we were from the hunting come,
That from my horse I fell,
The Queen o' Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill do dwell.

A little hunting accident (hunting's manly--falling out of the saddle's not)and he gets captured by the Faeries, but not just ANY Faeries--the Queen herself. He must have shown potential, a handsome hero at least. Oh, yeah, in at least one version, it hints of his "service" to the Queen. Hmm. How to interpret that... Bwah-ha-ha!

"And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years,
We pay a tithe to hell,
I am so fair and full of flesh,
I'm feared it be myself.

"Life's okay in the Hollow Hill, but I think they're gonna' sacrifice me to the devil soon."

"But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, and ye will,
For well I want ye may.

"I think you could save me."

"Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that would their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they must bide."

"Here's the time and the place...Don't spend too much time primping--tardiness is not an option."


"But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Among so many uncouth knights,
The like I never saw?"

"But all you Faerie knights look the same, how will I know you?"


"O first let pass the black, lady,
And then let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pull ye his rider down.

"I'll be riding the white horse, baby, like a hero should."

"For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town,
Because I was an earthly knight
They give me that renown.

"They give me a special spot in the parade 'cause I'm a mortal hottie."

"My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cocked up shall my bonnet be,
And combed down shall my hair,
And there's the tokens I give thee,
Never doubt I will be there.

"But if you need a way to recognize me, I'll put my visor up."

"They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an asp and adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn's father.

"The Fae will turn me into some pretty scary beasties as you hold me--just hand on or you'll lose me forever! And raising a kid on your own's no cakewalk nowadays! They'll make me a --"


"They'll turn me to a bear so grim,
And then a lion bold,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child.

"--bear and lion(oh my!)--" So she's being tested...


"Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red hot gand* of iron,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do you no harm.

*Ok, so, honestly I'm not sure what a gand is, but I'd bet it's somehow phallic.


"And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed.

*And what's a gleed? Guess I better break out the Dictionary of Etymology. Doesn't really matter as different versions list different beasts and hot iron implements. My choice is different in the end anyhow.

"And then I'll be your own true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me with your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight."

"--and finally a naked knight. Cover me up with your dress to claim me." *Talk about making a weird excuse to get under her skirts!

Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Janet in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did go.

Janet goes to the rendezvous point.

At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

She's thinking, "I'm gonna' git myself a maaan!"


First she let the black pass by,
And then she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pulled the rider down.

She pulls him down and holds him...

So well she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Then covered him with her green mantle,
As blythe's a bird in spring.

She wins! She wins! The chick saves the guy (and beats someone who socially outranks her in the process)! Yee--haaa!


Out then spoke the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush of broom,
"Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom."

"Congrats, you got yourself a fine stud."


Out then spoke the Queen o Fairies,
And an angry woman was she,
"Shame betide her ill-fared face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she's taken away the bonniest knight
In all my company.

"But, as the Queen of the Fae, I curse you, 'cuz you stole my very best boy toy!"

"But had I known, Tam Lin," said she,
"What now this night I see,
I would have taken out thy two grey eyes,
And put in two eyes of tree.*"

"And as for you--Tam Lin--if I'd have known you'd trapse off with some little chickadee, I would've blinded you before you could've even set eyes on her! How ungrateful of you! Some people just don't respect the honor of being a sacrificial lamb!"

*Sounds like the classic “woman scorned” to me… So--Hmm. I think you'd agrees there’s some potential with this ballad!

So go out there and read something (or listen to something) and see what story's underneath.

Much LOVE,

Saoirse

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An Idea gets Sparked!

Ideas for writing will hit you at the strangest times and oddest places...

I attended a great SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) event a few years back (the Pennsic Wars outside of Pittsburgh) and it was there that I remember first definitely hearing of "Tam Lin." Sitting in a tent in Renaissance garb, a group of us learned some popular ballads of the medieval and Renaissance British Isles. My singing sucked, but my imagination caught fire with the possibilities.

The legend of Tam Lin was popularized as a ballad and dates back to the 1500’s thanks to the research and compilation work of Francis James Child. But I’m not here to dwell on what others have covered so well. If you want to learn more about Child’s work, check out this site www.tam-lin.org —there are fertile regions to explore within his old books and the webmistress there has done a bang-up job putting TONS of stuff there that's awesome!

But for now, let's look at one version of the ballad...Tomorrow (maybe later today) I'll post good ole' 39A. Then you'll see why Tam Lin is a natural choice for a spicy tale of love.

Much Love--

Saoirse

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Write a Romance?--Ha!

I NEVER thought of romance as something I’d want to write. Don’t get me wrong—I am a romantic at heart, but I always equated romances with smut. They were a lower form of literature. Their only purpose was to amuse, perhaps “inspire” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and be light reading on a beach somewhere. Their covers caused me to laugh—heaving bosoms, bare muscular chests, and those titles!

But I was a kid then. I had only seen the “trashier” novels. You know the ones—no significant plots (and certainly no subplots), books that you could stumble across a gratuitous sex scene at LEAST every ten pages, sometimes much more often. They were intriguing and light reads for a teen curious about “romance” and “relationships,” but they were thin on substance and often offended my slightly puritanical views. I often set them down before finishing them.

But romance (or at least sex and those things leading to sex and its aftermath) has always been around and that, in itself, should warrant attention in literature.

So when I stumbled across a particular Scottish legend (I LOVE the Scots) I immediately saw its potential for a sexy and strong medieval romance.

That legend is the tale of “Tam Lane,” "Tom Line" or “Tam Lin.” In short, it is a story of abduction by the Queen of the Faeries. She kidnaps a handsome young Scottish knight and makes him her servant for seven years (according to most versions). At the end of seven years he is to be sacrificed, so in desperation he seeks out a mortal savior (named Janet in most tellings) to break the Fae Queen’s power over him through her newfound love. But the tale is more complex than that—it includes issues of women’s roles in the medieval period, pre-marital sex, pregnancy outside of wedlock, the struggle to decide if abortion’s an option—the list of themes continues.

You can surely see that the tale has amazing potential, and in fact, many other writers have felt the same way. I am not the only one to write a version of “Tam Lin” but I am the only one to tell it with my particular voice.

I have researched my setting, time period and early resources rather extensively (and I intend on continuing up through the final draft) and have written snippets as they came to me off and on for the past year and a half or so.

This blog will show the steps I’m taking to write my first romance novel. It will include links to helpful sites for would-be writers, reviews of romances I’ve actually read, surveys for you to give input about romance as literature, research tips, and bits and pieces of my text as I build it.

Join me on the journey! Learn about this genre and its processes and pitfalls.

I’m a big one on titles as a definitory tool, so here’s what my book’s being titled: Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills.

My name’s Saoirse Redgrave and I’m here to tell you a spicy and magical tale of love and rescue…


Much LOVE...
Saoirse (that's SEER-scha)


What is the most interesting city or setting to you?

Woo-hoo! Didn't You Know It!


Which ancient leader are you most akin to?
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You scored as Ghengis Khan

you scored ghengis khan! He was a Mongol political and military leader or Khan (posthumously Khagan) who united the Mongol tribes and founded the Mongol Empire (�� �онгол Ул�), (1206�1368), the largest contiguous empire in world history.

Ghengis Khan

86%

Julius Caesar

80%

Henry V (England)

72%

Cleopatra

70%

Darius

70%

Napoleon Bonaparte

67%

Alexander the Great

64%

Pride and Prejudice

Which Pride and Prejudice Girl Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com You scored as Elizabeth

I am Elizabeth. I am headstrong and intelligent. I love to be myself, and am very loyal to my family. I can sometimes be prideful and "prejudiced," but I try to remain open minded and I usually regret past mistakes.

Elizabeth

95%

Charlotte

75%

Jane

65%

Mrs. Bennet

55%

Mary

50%

Kitty

35%

Lydia

15%

Super Me!


Which Superheroine are you?
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You scored as Huntress

You are the Huntress... No matter how many times you try and prove yourself to be good, you always seem to be stuck in the same rut, with the reputation as a "bad girl". Guys love to hang around you because you're easy to talk too.

Huntress

80%

Black Canary

75%

Supergirl

65%

Spiderwoman

60%

Batgirl

55%

Catwoman

40%

Spoiler

40%

Spidergirl

35%