Saturday was a glorious day for a book launch party at the Hockessin Book Shelf in Hockessin, Delaware! I was thrilled to see so many friends, former teaching colleagues, fellow writers, and young readers come to celebrate the release of The Morrigan’s Curse. I even got to see a friend from high school who I haven’t seen (except on Facebook) since our 5th class reunion. (Which was only a few years ago — HAHAHAHA!)
Here are a few photos:
As I was getting ready to write this post, I remembered writing a similar one at the beginning of February 2015 for the launch of The Inquisitor’s Mark. Then I got a little curious about what I was blogging about in previous Februarys … and I took a little time machine tour, via the archives, to find out.
* Engage the machine that makes everything swirly*
2015 — Celebrating the release of The Inquisitor’s Mark.
2014 — Housebound by an ice storm. Using the opportunity to write 9000 words in The Morrigan’s Curse, specifically the first draft of the climax.
2013 — Finishing up the first draft of The Inquisitor’s Mark and getting ready for pre-release promotions of The Caged Graves.
2012 — Thinking about leaving my comfort zone to attempt an urban fantasy about a secret day of the week, even though I considered myself a historical fiction writer. Wasn’t sure I was going to do it. (!!!!)
2011 — Bemoaning the fact that I was feeling my way through the first draft of a WIP like I was playing Blind Man’s Bluff. (Interesting, since I’m doing that again this year …)
2010 — Alternately ranting about standardized testing and posting historical tidbits related to We Hear the Dead that nobody read because my blog was brand new and I didn’t have any followers.
*Let’s swirly ourselves back to the present*
An interesting trip! And a bit scary, since I’d forgotten how close I came to NOT writing The Eighth Day, which, as you can see, consumed my next three years.
I’m not exactly dancing for joy — but I am WALKING again, which is excellent. Three weeks of immobility was more than enough, so even if I’m hobbling along slowly in a knee-high “boot,” I’m thrilled to be on my feet for the launch of The Morrigan’s Curse!
I had a lot of fun researching this book. A LOT of fun. And since I wrote the first draft all the way back in 2014, I’ve been sitting on all this cool stuff for a long time. With the book finally releasing next week, I’d like to talk about the myths and legends that produced some of the characters – and magical objects – in The Morrigan’s Curse.
As with the first two books, I drew on Arthurian legends for my Transitioner characters. In The Morrigan’s Curse you’ll meet Transitioner lords Calvin Bedivere and Ash Pellinore. The Sir Bedivere of legend had only one hand, so I assigned my Bedivere “the hand of power” as his family talent. Sir Pellinore was known best for his pursuit of a great Beast. Therefore, I gave Ash Pellinore … no, wait. I’m going to keep that one a secret. It’s worth it. You’ll see.
Because some of the major characters in Morrigan are Kin – loosely based on the Tuatha de Danann – I also had the opportunity to delve into Celtic mythology. Each Kin character is linked to some god or goddess out of Celtic lore: Corra is an oracle, Aeron is the god of war and strife, Ratis is the god of boundaries and fortification.
Lloyd Alexander drew on this same mythology in his Prydain Chronicles, and I found myself needing to use some of the same names: Llyr, Mathonwy, Arawn. I did my best to make my characters as different as possible from his, even using the alternate spelling of Arawen so as not to draw a parallel with Alexander’s Death-Lord, Arawn.
One of the best and most fun people to write about was the titular character, The Morrigan – a three-in-one deity who embodies chaos and destruction. She appears as either an old crone, a middle-aged woman, or a young girl (named by me as Girl of Crows). When I first stumbled across the Morrigan in my preliminary research, I knew at once that she needed a place in my third book. And when I was hit by THE IDEA, THE DELICIOUSLY SHOCKING IDEA about how to use the Morrigan, I had to go back into the second book, The Inquisitor’s Mark, and revise major sections to set up for her arrival.
Finally, what’s a fantasy story without a few magic items? Especially ones that might be trickier than they first appear! Here I called upon the Treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan: The Cauldron of Dagda, The Spear of Lugh, the Sword of Nuadu, and the Stone of Fal. In the legends, each one had a very specific magical use, but when I stumbled upon a website describing the symbolic purpose of each item … well, then I had the backbone of this story.
I hope that readers will enjoy how I put this all together! One of the best compliments I received from my editor was, “I kept having to Google the names in your manuscript because I couldn’t tell what you were getting from legend and what you were making up!”
I’m sorry to say 2016 didn’t start off on the right foot for me. In fact, it started on a broken foot.
I actually broke it on Christmas day, but didn’t realize it until the following week. On New Years Eve, my horrified foot doctor (“You walked on it for a week!?!?”) put me in a huge boot and ordered three weeks of no weight-bearing and no driving. After that, I will hopefully graduate to a walking boot.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my household has become Plague Central. We’ve had ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, and some feverish viral thing. Three-fourths of the people in the house have inhalers. They all look the same, so we had to write our names on them.
I have to say it pretty much sucks that I can’t walk, can hardly breathe, and can’t complete a sentence without a coughing fit. So, what’s getting me through this month?
The Morrigan’s Curse releases on Tuesday, January 26th! My editors slipped me a couple advance copies, and this is how the beauties look on the shelf beside the first two books:
HarperCollins will be offering a giveaway for all three books later this month, and I’ll be giving away 2016 Eighth Day calendars with Grunsday slipped between Wednesday and Thursday. Stay tuned for details.
One of the first things I did with my forced immobility was create a Which Eighth Day Family Do You Belong To?quiz via uquizz.com. Check it out below and — if you feel like helping out a sick and crippled blogger friend — share the results on Facebook or Twitter to promote the release of The Morrigan’s Curse.
How’s your 2016 so far? Better than mine?
P.S. — For those of you who asked, no, I didn’t break my foot doing something exciting — like climbing a pyramid — or athletic — like skiing. I slipped in the kitchen. Like a goofy klutz. 🙁
I have some good looking calendars up for grabs this month! Check out this gorgeous 16-Month Transitioner’s Calendar for September 2015 thru December 2016.
All the character sketches are done by the talented teen artist Rachel Gillespie. My daughter Gabrielle designed the family crests and the layout of the calendar itself, with a Grunsday conveniently inserted between Wednesday and Thursday to record all your eighth day adventures.
You’ll even get a sneak peek at characters from the forthcoming third book, The Morrigan’s Curse, which releases on January 26, 2016. I’ll autograph the back of the calendar and throw in some temporary tattoos for fun.
If you have a tween/teen reader at home who enjoyed The Eighth Day and/or The Inquisitor’s Mark (or if you just want one for yourself), all you have to do is send me a message through my CONTACT page.
Put “I Want a Calendar” in the Subject Heading — and in the body of the email, tell me your favorite part of the book. (Yup, that’s right, I’m soliciting strokes for my ego. I love it when people tell me their favorite parts.) You can enter up to 3 times, (but you’ll have to tell me 3 different favorite parts). I’ll be accepting entries up until midnight of August 31 (ETA) and notify FIVE winners on September 1.
Heck, if I get a lot of entries, maybe I’ll give away more than five …
In other news, it’s been a very busy summer so far — and it shows no signs of letting up! I’ve been on author visits to Baltimore, Maryland, York County, Pennsylvania, Moorestown, New Jersey, and I have an upcoming visit to Brookville, Pennsylvania. I’m teaching a literary club at a youth community center in Parkesburg, PA, and preparing to teach a Writer’s Workshop Course at the Delaware County Community College. (Or as we like to call it DC3)
We said a fond good-bye to our teen French guest at the end of July. We had a lot of fun and took her on many adventures — including almost drowning her in the Lehigh River:
That’s my husband, me, and Clelie making the acquaintance of a nice family from New Jersey as we desperately cling to the side of their raft. My daughter Gina had already been swept downstream, where she was temporarily adopted by a different family. I guess Clelie forgave us, though, because she had us pose for a good-bye photo holding the sign we’d greeted her with on her arrival 3 weeks prior. She posted this to Facebook and called us “the most adorable family of America.”