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Erotic Romance, Ireland, Regency Romance, Romance, The Wild Irish Girl, Writing

THE WILD IRISH GIRL Cover Reveal Giveaway!

I’m so excited to share this beautiful cover of my new book THE WILD IRISH GIRL! This book is set to release on January, 22nd, 2018. I have it set for a low, pre-order price of .99 cents. Check out this gorgeous cover from Kimberly Killion from the Killion Group. I’m. In. Love.

Pre-order your copy here.

No one could tame her…

Audrey Byrnes doesn’t mind playing the wild Irish princess for London’s elite aristocracy—as long as they buy her novels. With her father’s Dublin theater in ruins and her sister’s illness growing worse, she’s the only person who can save her family from the gutter. As much as she enjoys the occasional passing dalliance, being the primary breadwinner of her Irish family means either marrying well or not at all.

Dr. Joseph Moorland knows it’s wrong to dress in disguise to hobnob with London’s high society, but he figures one night would do no harm—until he meets the charming and mysterious novelist, Audrey Byrnes. Too poor to marry, he hides his real identity until an accident reveals the truth, and what started as a mild flirtation turns to a complex game of secrets, passion, and desire.

Thrown together by circumstance, Audrey and Joseph find themselves in a tense alliance as they try to crawl their way up from their humble beginnings and into the highest echelons of the ton. But when one of the most formidable political players in London sets his sights on having Audrey for himself, she has to choose between saving her family from charges of treason or losing the man she loves forever.

Enter the Giveaway

To celebrate, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

I’m so excited about this new release. THE WILD IRISH GIRL is a historical erotic romance inspired by the wild love affairs of Sydney Owenson, an Irish writer I write more about in this post.

This is my first self-published book, and I’m over the moon about it. THE WILD IRISH GIRL will be the first in a four-book season which will focus on Irish women writers and the men who dare to love them. I chose to self-publish these books because I have an extremely clear vision as to how I want this series to go. It’s a bit different because it will feature first-person, dual point-of-view because I really wanted to delve into the issues informing these characters’ lives and the decisions they make. Also, my experience with writing THE CAPTAIN’S REBEL in first-person is that it helps me make it HOT. Hehehe…

If you want to read a the first chapter, I’ll be sharing it in my newsletter next month. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Sign up for my newsletter.

One last thing, by some miracle, THE CAPTAIN’S REBEL, my erotic historical romance with 4.5 stars on Amazon, is still on sale for .99 cents. This will end very, very soon, so don’t forget to snag your copy before it goes back to full price.

Thank you all for your support on my journey. 2018 is setting up to be an amazing year. Not only is there a great chance Trump will be impeached, you’ll also have so many great books to read to ease the wait between indictments.

Cheers!

Creative Process, Ireland, Literature, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing in the Age of Anxiety

When I first started writing commercial fiction, I did what every disciple of Hermione Granger does–I went to the library. I checked out every book on writing commercial fiction I could find. I spent years in my doctoral work poring over GREAT LITERATURE, but when it came to sitting down to writing a bestseller, I had very little understanding of the nuts and bolts of what makes for a compelling plot or engaging characters (arguably, I still don’t, but like everyone else, I’m a WIP). Eventually I stumbled upon Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel, and there, I found the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever read or read since. The gist is this: ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen right now?” And then you write exactly that.

In the story of America, as unstable and rocky as such a narrative is and has been, it seems our plot has turned. The worst has happened. All of us who are in the business of storytelling can see all the signs of a grand design involving a great fall, the dark night of the soul, the darkness before the dawn. Yet,such tropes speak to a hero’s journey, where eventually the chosen one will rise up, smote the enemy, and make things right again. As the days go on, though, and the news from Washington grows more and more terrifying, it’s difficult to see how that narrative could be possible. For those of who are in the business of writing commercial fiction, especially for those of us writing romance, we might try to grasp onto a Frodo, a Katniss, a Clare Fraser, a Harry Potter, but increasingly these characters’ plots seem, well, like the fantasies they’ve always been.

Glancing over my twitter feed, I see writers, like me, stunted by writer’s block, paralyzed in front of their laptops, hindered with anxiety and depression. The worlds we built in our heads are crumbling, and what’s left feels like the backdrop of Beckett’s Endgame, wherein the actors recite snippets of long lost dreams over and over again, grasping at something lost. Something they can barely remember and it wouldn’t matter if they did. Writing is hard, but writing in an age of uncertainty and anxiety makes it feel almost impossible.

After the election, I talked to my father. He’s also an artist–a composer–and he offered up this advice (please imagine his Mississippi accent. It works better that way).

“Colleen,” he said. “Look at this man. Look at him. Sooner or later, he’s gonna fuck up. He’s gonna fuck up! And these four years will be a blip in the history of America. Go write your stories. Go write your stories because he’s gonna fuck up.”

Something in these words signaled a turning point for me in my post-election grief, and I’ve been trying to sort it out. Perhaps it has something to do with the juxtaposition between our POETUS’s ineptitude and my own unwavering belief in myself, my ability to do great things, to prevail. Trump will fuck up, but I don’t have to. I don’t have to make these four years about him. I don’t know if a great hero or heroine will emerge from these ashes, but one thing I do know about purveyors of bigotry, violence, nepotism, fascism, and greed is that they tend not to have happy endings. Perhaps not in one generation or the next, but eventually. Villains fuck up. You might not find that chapter in Maass’s book. But villains fuck up. Bigly.

Today, I saw a writer who expressed feeling so deeply pained and anxious about the current political state of things, but she felt it would be “cowardice” to leave America. It’s in these moments I think of writers who chose exile over direct political engagement like James Baldwin or James Joyce. James Joyce chose to flee Ireland for the Continent in the heat of the Irish Revolution so he could pursue his writing career. Can you imagine? And yet, he  went on to write some of the greatest modern literature of the 20th century.

Reading through this writer’s tweets, I recalled a poem called Station Island by Seamus Heaney. Over the course of the poem, several ghosts visit Heaney who, himself, is haunted by his decision whether or not to leave Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Heaney had been very active in literary political activist groups, most notably the Field Day collective. Riddled with guilt and anxiety, at the end of the poem, Heaney visits the last station and the ghost of James Joyce confronts him. Joyce tells him:

‘Your obligation
is not discharged by any common rite.
What you do you must do on your own.

The main thing is to write
for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust
that imagines its haven like your hands at night

dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.
You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.
Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest,

so ready for the sackcloth and the ashes.
Let go, let fly, forget.
You’ve listened long enough. Now strike  your note.’

What Joyce (vis-a-vis Heaney) is saying here is there is no “common rite” to being an artist, meaning that there are no rules to this gig. The only obligation is to writing and to cultivating that “work-lust” for it. Heaney has listened to the many ghosts and speakers at Station Island, but now he has to take all that and go forward and “strike [his] note.” Joyce goes on to say:

‘The English language
belongs to us. You are raking at dead fires,

rehearsing the old whinges at your age.
That subject people stuff is a cod’s game,
infantile, like this peasant pilgrimage.

You lose more of yourself than you redeem
doing the decent thing. Keep at a tangent.
When they make the circle wide, it’s time to swim

out on your own and fill the element
with signatures on your own frequency,
echo-soundings, searches, probes, allurements,

elver-gleams in the dark of the whole sea.’

Basically what Joyce is telling Heaney is that following the rules and doing what is expected of him is keeping him from fulfilling his deeper artistic purpose: “You lose more of yourself than you redeem/doing the decent thing.” Writers need to swim out on their own, find their voices, keep seeking and searching. Like Heaney, part of that paralysis we might feel stems from having new boundaries hoisted upon us, new rules for the “politically-engaged writer,” obligations to speak up, but in ways that already seem prescribed for us. If we need to step away and find our more authentic voice, then that is what we need to do. Baldwin, Joyce, Heaney, and so many other writers learned that in their own time, and our generation under this autocrat will have to learn it anew.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t be both–politically engaged and creative–but that we need to forgive ourselves when we find ourselves needing to step away lest our writing becomes more slogans than seeking. More divisive than exploratory. After all, for many Americans in this generation we are in brand new territory without a map or even a light to guide us. If we need to go out on our own to create these new pathways, then perhaps, years from now, our children will inherit more than our fears and our anxieties. Maybe they’ll actually inherit a world worth saving.

History, Ireland, Uncategorized, women

Four Badass Women from Irish History

People often ask me why I love to write about Ireland. Is it the beauty of the scenery? Ireland’s warm and wonderful people? It’s music and poetry? The answer is yes to all of this.

But the number one reason I love writing about Ireland is that Irish history is full of badass bitches.

Whenever I feel insecure about myself, whenever I have to face a frightful foe, whenever I need to speak up, speak out (even if my voice shakes!), I call upon the spirits of these brave women.

So today, on this brilliant St. Patrick’s Day, I bring to you my top four badass women from Irish history.

Queen Medb (early Bronze Age)

MedbQueen Medb (also known as Queen Maeve) was chilling in bed with her husband Ailill one night and they got into an argument about who had more wealth (this is actually what I imagine Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s marital spats to be about). When she discovered that Ailill was one stud bull richer than she was, she decided to attack her ex-husband King Conchobar and steal his prize bull, Don Cúalinge.

Why Medb was Such a Badass…

Medb had three conditions for a husband: that he be without fear, meanness, or jealousy. A warrior herself, she couldn’t abide a weakling. She had also escaped an abusive relationship from King Conchobar and refused to put up with any mess. But the last condition was perhaps the most vital because she had several lovers in her lifetime and possessed an insatiable appetite for all the Celtic hotness in the universe. All of it.

During her last stand with the Irish Hercules Cuchulain, she had vicious cramps and so she got the hell out of there. See ya, suckers. I’m off to drink wine, eat chocolate and binge watch some Gilmore Girls. Not really, but she wouldn’t let a menstrual cycle ruin her Ulster cycle, and in spite of having epic PMS, she stole Conchobar’s bull anyway. Because she was a badass. And badass is as badass does.

Check out this exchange from the Táin Bó Cualinge with her chief warrior hottie  and part-time lover, Fergus:

  Then Medb got her gush of blood.
‘Fergus,’ she said, ‘take over the shelter of shields at the rear of the men of    Ireland until I relieve myself.’
“By god,” Fergus said, ‘you have picked a bad time for this.’
‘I can’t help it,’ Medb said. ‘I’ll die if I can’t do it.’

Seriously, Fergus, do your fucking job.

(Badass).

Grace O’Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603)

Also known as Grainne Ní Mháille, GracGrace O'Malleye O’Malley was a pirate (an actual girl pirate!!!), who amassed incredible wealth for a woman of her time and even went toe to toe with Queen Elizabeth.

Why Grace O’Malley was Such a Badass…

Oh, where do I even begin? As a young girl, she begged her father to take her on a trading voyage to Spain, but he refused, saying her hair will catch on the ropes. So right before they set sail, she showed up with all her hair cut off, because GOTCHA!

Like many women, Grace had to be a bit crafty to gain power, and she was not above using marriage to see to her own political ends. So with all that in mind she married this dude named Bourke, and under the ancient Brehon Laws a couple could decide after a year if they wanted to split up or not. Well. Grace was not pleased with Bourke, and legend has it that after a year she kicked him out of his own castle, calling out the window, “Bourke, I dismiss you.” Total badass move.

Another legend claims that after a local family the MacMahons killed her lover, Hugh de Lacey, she led a group of warriors to Doona Castle and went Kill Bill style on their entire tribe, slaying everyone responsible. She kicked them out and took the castle for herself. Not satisfied, she even stalked one of the MacMahons who was seeking sanctuary in a local church. In the olden days, her seeking this dude out in a church was against the blood-feud code. Even Shakespeare knew that! But Grace didn’t care. Grace was out for revenge.

When the English kidnapped her brothers, this pirate queen walked right into Queen Elizabeth’s court and demanded their release. Grace didn’t speak English, so she had to list her terms in Latin because, you know, a true badass speaks the language of the Enlightenment. Queen Elizabeth agreed, and Grace O’Malley saved the day.

Sydney Owenson (c. 1781-1859)

Sydney OwensonSydney Owenson, later Lady Morgan, was the penniless daughter of a poor, drunken, itinerant actor. Determined to take care of her sickly sister, she started working as a governess, but back then the work was pretty much slave labor. Owenson had to take matters into her own hands, and so she steered her sights to the only other real option for educated ladies at that time: novel writing.

Her book The Wild Irish Girl became a smashing success, and Owenson decided go a little wild herself by dressing up as the “wild” Irish heroine in her story. Her performance of “Glorvina” was so convincing that the ton confused her for an actual chieftain’s daughter, masquerading her around as a “real” Irish native. There was a run on harp brooches and green mantles in all the Dublin stores, and in London she visited all the major households, singing, playing the harp, and basically pulling a right old Michael Flately on anyone who would give her shenanigans an audience.

But the joke was on them because Owenson’s books were scathing critiques of Regency politics, English imperialism, and racism. Her book The Missionary was upheld by the Romantic poets of the day as a revolutionary text and a cautionary tale of the evils of colonial rule.

Why Sydney Owenson was Such a Badass

Aside from being a wild party girl and literary genius, Owenson had a wicked sense of humor and never backed down from a fight. One of her most infamous critics was this dickhole named John Wilson Croker whose antipathy for Owenson bordered on the pathological (Owenson was to Beyonce as Croker was to Bill O’Reilly) and he couldn’t stand her popularity. Here’s a condensed list of the critiques he threw at her:

“Attempting to vitiate mankind…undermine morality sophistry…bad spelling.”

            Bad spelling? Really? That’s all you got?

            Oh, but he’s just getting started.

“Bad taste—Bombast and Nonsense—Blunders—General Ignorance—Jacobinism—          Falsehood—Licentiousness and Impiety.”

            And THEN…

“she…gets drunk before noon.”

          spill

Well.

You would think Owenson would get all upset, but badass bitches don’t get upset. They don’t cry.

They write assholes like Croker into their novels.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. In her book Florence McCarthy, Owenson created the character Con Crawley, a small-minded, sniveling middleman who exploits the Irish and is basically just horrible at life. He became the laughing stock of the Irish literary scene while Owenson sat back with her morning mimosa and twirled all her haters. Because she was a badass.

Countess Markievicz (1868-1927)

Young CountessCountess Markievicz gave absolutely zero fucks during her lifetime. None. She started out the daughter of an Anglo-Irish landowner and died in solidarity with the impoverished people of Ireland she so desperately fought for. She was a celebrated landscape painter and married a wealthy Polish count, but after settling in Dublin, her life took a drastic political turn. She worked tirelessly as a suffragist and then later joined James Connelly in the 1913 Lockout to fight for better working conditions amongst the Irish. She started several nationalist women’s movements and became a key player in the fight against English rule.

Why Countess Markievicz was Such a Badass

Funny thing about being rich. You learn some pretty handy things like good marksmanship. Bearing this knowledge, Countess Markeivicz trained an entire generation of Irish revolutionaries how to shoot. During the Easter 1916 uprising, she stood at the frontlines to fight and inspired other women to stand with her. And she did it all wearing this killer hat:

Countess Markievicz

“I came here to slay, bitch.” ~ Countess Markievicz, probably

When the male martyrs of the revolution were tried and executed, she begged to be among them so she could die alongside her friends. But the English refused because she was a woman. Nevertheless, the Countess went on to play a key role in the new Irish government, and her legacy continues to live on today, particularly with her fashion advice for badass bitches everywhere:

“Dress suitably in short skirts and strong boots, leave your jewels in the bank and buy a revolver.”

Solid, Countess. Solid.

Of course, Irish history is filled with badass women, and this blog post cannot possibly contain all that awesome. Do you know a badass woman from Irish history? Maybe it was your grandmother or your aunt? Please share in the comments below!

Also, if you like badass Irish women, you might want to check out my latest release Through the Veil from Entangled publishing. There are girl pirates, sharp shooters, tons of warrior women, and maybe even some drinking before noon.

Now available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Amazon UK, and Amazon Canada

Also, there’s still a badass giveaway going on for Three the Veil. Check it out! It’s full of great goodies!

Here’s the direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1cb55495746/

 

Faeries, Ireland, Literature

Halloween: Irish Literature Edition!

I love a good ghost story.

When I was writing my dissertation I spent an inordinate amount of time watching shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, much to my pragmatic husband’s dismay (he’s my Scully to my Mulder). We spent several evenings fighting for control over the remote. “You don’t really believe in any of this crap, do you?” he would say.

For me the question of whether or not ghosts exist has always been the wrong question. Instead, we should always ask, “What is this ghost story trying to tell us?” A good ghost story reveals a great deal about a culture’s values, fears, and insecurities, but more than that, it unravels histories that are often marginalized–women’s history, the history of minorities and oppressed groups, children. To borrow from Kristeva, ghost stories are abject, filled with the horrors of humanity we push to the margins. Ghosts blur our distinctions between the real and the unreal and undermine our modern assertions of logic and science.  The fact that we still tell ghost stories reveals some innate desire in us for the unknowable, but also that in this information age, we may not be so secure in our knowledge of the universe as we purport to be.

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