We are Blind to the Enchanted World

Have you ever sat in the evening to watch the sunset? Looked into its white rays during the last twenty minutes of its descent? What did you see?

Every land is different, and I can’t speak for city streets where no trees or wildflowers grow. I’ve never sat to watch the sun set there. But I can speak for the country.

Many times I’ve taken a break from gardening or working around the yard to admire the last moments of daylight. The best place to sit to watch Earth’s magic show is in shade. From this viewpoint, I look towards the sun. This won’t work if it’s cloudy. When the sun is in clear sky, it illuminates what I normally don’t see. In fact, looking to the right or left as the sun sets exposes nothing special. I must look directly towards the sun.

Continue reading “We are Blind to the Enchanted World”

Flight of the Graveyard Fairy

The heat from the grass and forest permeated the still air in the small clearing and when I breathed in, nature’s energy filled my lungs. Closing my eyes, I heard a slight rustling of leaves high in the trees and a distant cry of an unknown bird. Here, far from the city, people and motor vehicles, the earth relaxed, time stood still and the body felt at home.

As I made my way towards the headstones dotting the burial ground, I wondered if I had enough time to capture images of every marker. The kids were eager to get to the blueberry field and didn’t want to linger at yet another graveyard. They followed close behind, asking if that person was related, or what did the little lamb on the stone indicate and how much longer was this going to take?

To be honest, my kids didn’t often complain when visiting cemeteries even after they’d been dragged through several dozen. Something always appeared to entertain them even if it was just a hapless toad hopping across our path.

Continue reading “Flight of the Graveyard Fairy”

Character Introduction: Alaura of Niamh

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers fantasy series. This week, it’s Alaura of Niamh.

Alaura of Niamh

In short: hauflin/human; female; long dark-blonde hair; brown eyes; born in North Ridge, Petra, and currently living in Maskil; sorceress/healer; at the start of Shadows in the Stone, she was Catriona Wheatcroft’s apprentice.

Family and Teen Years

The Pledge short storyAlaura is the youngest child and only daughter of Niamh M’Egan (human) and Rasnil Egan (hauflin). She has five brothers, including Pym and Benjamin M’Egan. She grew up in the mountainous region of Petra and loved to explore nature with her brother Pym, who is only three seasons older than her.

We first meet Alaura, age 18, in The Pledge where her life changed forever. With Pym’s help, she fled North Ridge and safely reached Maskil where she began a new life.

In the opening scene of Shadows in the Stone, she helps Catriona as she assists Maura of Ealasaid to give birth to Isla of Maura. Before Maura passes into the Plane of Peace, Alaura gives Her Word to protect Isla. This bounds her forever to the child.

Where I Found Her Name

Shadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyverThe original name for this character was Anna of Niamh (pronounced ‘neev’). Niamh is an ancient Celtic name that was originally a term used for a goddess. It means bright or radiant. In Irish Mythology, she is the daughter of the sea god Manannan, and she was known as “Niamh of the Golden Hair”, a beautiful princess riding on a white horse. In Shadows in the Stone, Alaura rides Clover, a Haflinger pony with a red-chestnut coat and a flaxen mane and tail.

Wanting a more interesting name to go with Niamh, I searched for months. When I saw Alaura, I knew that was the name of this magical being.

History in Real Life

Alaura was not part of the original cast from the novel written in the mid-80s. She was discovered in the rewrites that took place in the late 1990s. I needed a female lead to challenge Bronwyn Darrow, and she proved herself worthy.

Role in Novels

Alaura played a major part in Shadows in the Stone as well as in Scattered Stones. Since Revelation Stones focusses on Isla, Alaura will have a much smaller role.

From Pixabay

She’s a confident woman who possesses unique magical abilities she won’t fully understand until they mature. She is faithful to those she loves and calls friend. Bronwyn thinks she’s the most beautiful woman who ever walked the Land of Ath-o’Lea, but his brother Joris thinks she’s “pretty by hauflin standards, but her human features dulled her beauty. She appeared too delicate for his liking, and her reserve manner told him she’d be a boring date.”

Character Introduction: Farlan Burkenshaw

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers fantasy series. This week, it’s the Private Burkenshaw.

Farlan Burkenshaw

In short: Human; male; rich brown hair; blue eyes; born Unknown; currently living at Maskil; started as a private with Aruam Castle when introduced in Shadows in the Stone; by the end of the novel, he was Sergeant Burkenshaw; loves to eat dried pumpkin seeds.

Family and Teen Years

Artist LeightonFarlan was raised in the Maskil Orphanage. He doesn’t remember his parents, but he remembers his older sister Saraline. She taught him about magic in the twilight.

When Bronwyn started out on his dangerous journey, Farlan told him, “At the orphanage, Saraline would take me outside in the morning light and tell me stories about our mom. I don’t remember her, but my sister did. Our mother died a few short years after my birth. My sister told me magic danced in the twilight. She told me to look to it for strength. The last day I saw her, before her new parents took her away, she led me outside before the sun rose. She told me all the hope one needed could be found in the twilight. Each new day I hope I’ll find her. And now, I’ll also hope you and Isla will return.”

He added, “Don’t ever give up hope. It’ll keep you alive when the odds are against you. Every sunrise, I want you to renew yourself. Think of it as a fresh beginning where the events of yesterday can be soothed in the twilight. There is power we don’t understand in the air when it isn’t dark yet is not yet light. I’ve felt it many times. It’s as if fairies are flirting with the air we breathe, poking us with needles to see if we’re still alive. Breathe it in. Let it wash away your fears.”

Where I Found His Name

I struggled to find a good strong name for this character. He was new to me, and I didn’t know his history and inner spirit. I wanted him to have a long last name, and that was found first. His first name changed many times until I came across Farlan. It reminded me of my cousin’s name, Farley. Farley is outgoing with a healthy spirit, the same as Farlan. The name stuck, and years later, it still works for me.

History in Real Life

Shadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyverFarlan in all sense of the word was an orphan, a boy who showed up without a past looking for a task to perform. He wasn’t part of the original cast gathered in my teens, so he was a stranger to me. Bronwyn needed a best friend at the castle, and when he met Farlan, the two got along as if brothers. It was a perfect match.

When Isla showed up, Farlan took on the big brother role. Together they go on many adventures, get into trouble and pick on each other as siblings do.

His Future

Farlan plays a major role in the first half of Shadows in the Stone, almost giving his life for Isla. Although he wants to continue on the quest, his injuries prevent him and he returns to the castle. In Scattered Stones, he plays only a minor role. Given that Revelation Stones focusses on Isla and her adventures away from Aruam Castle, I am unsure of how much screen time Farlan will get. I have a feeling he’ll show up—oh, that’s right; he does—but it’s in a minor role.

The future holds many surprises for Farlan, ones he’ll be happy and not so happy to receive.