The Magic Starts Here

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am an author. I know we all got gobsmacked by the results of our national election last November, and we’ll be dealing with the fallout from that for years, maybe for the rest of my life given the speed at which the world I know is being dismantled right before my eyes.

Anyway, for that reason, I’ve decided to write this blog post about writing.

I am now (trumpets blaring) at 92,000 words and nearing completion of the third book in my fantasy trilogy-that-may-not-stop-at-three-books.

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For any of you who haven’t read Rising From the Ashes and The Portal, what in the world is wrong with you? For those who have, thank you!

So, for the uninitiated, this trilogy (we’ll stick with that for now) is set in ancient Ireland, about 700-800 CE. This era in Éire’s history is fascinating. Christianity had been introduced only about 300-400 years previously. We really don’t know how stubbornly people clung to the old ways because the monks who wrote the histories had their own agenda. (And we thought fake news was a new thing…)

In my world, the old ways and magic aren’t giving up that easily. Mages and keepers of the old ways are still finding children born with magic, training them and teaching them the old traditions.

We know the Romans never bothered to cross the Irish Sea to conquer Ireland. Too much trouble, I guess. So the Irish Celts were left to the rival clans fighting things out amongst themselves although they had a High King… sometimes. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on just how widespread the High King’s influence was, and there’s a lot of evidence that the rival clans continued to war with one another.

I took a bit (or more than a bit) of liberty with the political environment of Éire in my stories in terms of which clans were Christianized versus which still straddled the line between the old ways and the new.

And then, just to make things interesting, enter… the Vikings! These seafarers from the north countries – modern-day Norway, Denmark, Sweden – were expanding their territories, either for trading, raiding and/or settling. The Viking invasions of Ireland began in this same era that my stories are taking place. The invasions were sometimes successful, sometimes thwarted. The Irish gave as good as they got, and the fighting was by all accounts pretty brutal. We know monasteries throughout Éire and Britannia were sacked repeatedly. Eventually, the Vikings did manage to conquer enough territory in Ireland, that they had their own settlements, such as Dubhlinn, now the capital city of Dublin, as well as Cork, Waterford – mostly coastal settlements.

So the factual part of the history was all stuff I needed to research. See the folder in this photo?

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This is where the magic begins!

This is my treasure trove of most of the research I’ve done for this trilogy. There are tons of bookmarked websites as well, but this folder has traveled with me daily for well over a year and a half. It has all kinds of scribbled notes, lists of Irish names, tons of maps of which clans ruled where in which era.

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It even has a page detailing the sexual habits of badgers. They are horny little critters and apparently quite loud while doing it. They love sex almost as much as they love digging! And female badgers can hold their embryos in a kind of suspended animation so that they implant in the uterus when conditions are favorable for the cubs to survive. They really are fascinating. As we all know. Broc and Cuán were two of my favorite characters in this trilogy.

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Anyone who writes historical fiction can tell you how much research goes into tracking down authentic details. You really have to get it right, because someone out there knows more about everything than you do, and if you mess with the details, they will let you know about it (hopefully kindly).

Not everyone enjoys doing research, but I do. I’ve learned so much in the historical novels I’ve written. Only a tiny bit of the research actually makes it into the stories, but hopefully, the knowledge base that is there comes through in a feeling of authenticity when you read the books.

The magic comes when  readers say they felt transported into the world you created. When that happens, it all comes together.

Soon, you’ll be able to delve into The Standing Stones, the third book in The Dragonmage Saga! I’ll reveal a cover and blurb soon.

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The Portal

One of the absolute coolest things about writing a fantasy is getting to create a world and make up the rules for that world. I had no idea when I sat down and started my fantasy trilogy, The Dragonmage Saga, how far this story arc would take me and how it would stretch my writing muscles.

I have now completed the second book in the trilogy, The Portal. It is scheduled for release December 1st, but I can’t wait to show off the gorgeous cover for this book! A HUGE thank-you to Jane Morrison for the use of her wonderful photo and Patty G. Henderson for her cover work.

Drum roll…

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The blurb:

“The Dragonmage Saga continues as Caymin and Péist return to Ireland. Together, mage and dragon seek allies to try and stop a pending war with a fanatical monk determined to rid Éire of magic. But the spreading tide of Christianity isn’t the only threat. An ancient evil—one that dates back to the last dragon war a thousand winters ago—threatens the present.

The Portal into the otherworld is the only way to the past, but the otherworld is the realm of the gods and goddesses and other creatures of the old stories, and it is unforgiving to those who do not belong. Caymin and Péist soon learn that, in the otherworld, the deepest desires of their hearts become traps. While there, the young dragonmage and her dragon realize they are pawns in a struggle for power that was set in motion long before they were born. Even those they trust have been using them. Only through their bond with each other can they hope to survive the trials awaiting them and find their way back through the Portal to this realm. But returning may not be an option if they have to sacrifice all to bring peace to a world that no longer holds a place for dragons and mages.

Book Two of The Dragonmage Saga”

For any of you who haven’t yet read the first book in the trilogy, Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin, what are you waiting for?

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I know not everyone likes to read excerpts, but for those who do, here’s the Prologue:

Prologue

Shadows

Deep in a cave, a slender woman rose from her bed. Rubbing her arm, she neared the fire and flicked a hand to bring the flames to life. The dancing light threw shadows against the rock walls. Nearby, nestled in a depression in the cave floor padded with many skins, a solid black shape lay. One eyelid opened, revealing a yellow eye.

“What is it, Ailill?”

The woman shook her head. “I do not know. I am restless.”

An enormous black head rose on a sinuous neck, and the edges of scales gleamed in the firelight. “Your old wound pains you. I can feel it.”

“Yes.” Ailill rubbed her shoulder again, kneading the muscles. Her eyes and mouth were marked by fine lines and her dark hair glinted silver in places. She sighed a sigh that was weary with age and time. “Do you feel it, Ríona? The weight of all we have seen and done?”

“We did what we had to do. It was war.”

Ailill turned to look at her companion. “And it is coming again.”

The great black dragon laid her head on the rock floor of the cave next to Ailill. “What have you seen?”

Ailill shook her head. “It is not clear.” She unfurled a scroll, holding the parchment so that she could read by firelight. “He wrote of a girl and a white dragon. The time is drawing near. Somehow, they will meet.”

She rested a hand on the dragon’s jaw. “All is shadows. I can see that they have left Inishbreith, but beyond that, nothing. What I can see is that they will be hunted and tested in ways they are not prepared for. I wish they were not alone. They are but cubs themselves.”

The dragon sighed, and sparks flew from her nostrils. “What choice did we have? Whom would we ally with if we were there? Our presence would only put them in more danger.”

“You are right,” Ailill said. “They are the only ones who can do what must be done.”

“They are strong and true. They will not fail.”

They sat looking into the fire for long heartbeats. Ailill fingered a crystal hanging from a leather cord around her neck.

“It is out there, somewhere. I feel it calling to me in the deep places of the night.” Ailill’s voice was heavy with trepidation. “If it is found, all we fought for will have been for naught.”

“No,” said Ríona. “We bought the world a thousand winters of peace. That was not for naught. But… you are right. I, too, have felt it. If it calls to us, it must to others as well. If it is found, the world will be torn asunder.”

“What if we helped them to find it first?” Ailill tilted her head as she considered. “If it is to be found, mayhap we can assure it is found by Caymin and Péist.”

“But how? Even we do not know where it was hidden.”

“There may be clues to be found in the scrolls here.” Ailill frowned. “Have we been neglectful? Content to retreat to this land to lick our wounds and forget the world we left? Or were we just blind to think that our part in it had ended, and we would never need be troubled with that world again? Either way, we must try to help.”

“It may be that we can guide them from here.” Ríona nudged her head closer and Ailill obliged with a scratch on the ridge above her eyes. “We will call to them and pull them to us in spiritwalks. In the spirit realm, we may be able to teach them what they must know.”

Ailill leaned against the dragon, drawing comfort from her nearness. “I fear the days of dragons and mages are coming to an end, even here.”

A low rumble came from Ríona, echoing within the cave. “Two-legs will reap what they sow. If they permit a world with no magic, no connection to the earth, no balance among the life forces, they will have to live with the consequences.”

“Those are the shadows I cannot see past. If humans do not act now to restore balance in the world, it will be too late.”

Ríona closed her eyes. “It may already be too late.”

© 2016 Caren J. Werlinger