Category Archives: Ireland 2011

Samhain/Halloween

Samhain, pronounced SAH-win, (Irish for ‘Summer’s End’) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. Samhain is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. At this time of the year, the veil between the worlds is thin. Like indigenous shamans all over the world, Celtic druids and seers were believed to enter the darkness to contact the spirits who dwelled in the hidden realms and brought back wisdom for their people.

Two hills in the Boyne Valley were associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, Tlachtga and Tara. Tlachtga was the location of the Great Fire Festival which begun on the eve of Samhain (Halloween). Tara was also associated with Samhain, however it was secondary to Tlachtga in this respect. The entrance passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is 4,500 to 5000 years old, suggesting that Samhain was celebrated long before the first Celts arrived in Ireland about 2,500 years ago.

Mound of Hostages

According to Wikipedia, Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, could more easily come into our world. It was believed that the fairies needed to be appeased to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the fairies.

In the 9th century, Western Christianity shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.

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Winter Solstice 2016

The Winter Solstice has come and gone for 2016, but I wanted to share a photo of the famous Irish landmark: Newgrange during the winter solstice at dawn. newgrange-sunrise

Tickets for this special couple of days are selected by random lottery. I’ve never been lucky enough to get selected, and I’ve not been able to visit Ireland during the 3-4 days surrounding the winter solstice.

Some interesting facts about Newgrange: It was built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. Its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, when sunlight shines through a ‘roofbox’ and floods the inner chamber. It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Newgrange plays a large role in my novel, The Keepers of Éire. After each murder, the killer places the human victim’s body propped against the Entrance Stone at Newgrange. Check out the Entrance Stone.20140722-183723-67043575.jpg

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Filed under 2014 Ireland /Scotland Trip, Ireland 2011, Writing

Breaking News! I am thrilled to announce

Breaking News!
I am thrilled to announce THE KEEPERS OF ÉIRE has won the 2014 Global Ebook GOLD Award for Fantasy/Contemporary. It is an honor to have won this year, and a validation of all the work that went into writing and publishing my first novel in “The Keeper” series.
Authors know their greatest challenge is getting their work known, read, loved, and recommended to others. One predicament authors have is finding readers. And, of course, the best publicity is “word-of-mouth”. So tell your friends and neighbors to take a chance and check out a new author’s work. There are some really great writers in the world today.
http://ow.ly/i/6B5GM

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My Writing Process: A Blog Tour

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Acknowledgement

G.KarlKumfert

G. Karl Kumfert

Thanks to G.Karl Kumfert for inviting me to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour.

According to Karl’s website bio he is “an idealist technocrat with a passion for teens and storytelling”, but I know him also as a wickedly humorous, down-to-earth family man who works his magic for the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch as our website guru and runs our social media group.

I encourage everyone to check out his website.

 

Four Questions About My Writing

1.  What am I working on?

The Keepers of Éire

The Keepers of Éire

I published my first novel in a series, The Keepers of Éire, in November of 2013 through my company, Dragon Wing Publishing. It is a NA/Adult contemporary dragon fantasy set it Ireland, with mystery and romance woven throughout. I’d like to think that if Anne McCaffrey ever had her dragons from The Dragonriders of Pern series ‘go between’ back to Earth, they would be the forefathers of my dragons.

I am currently setting up a book tour in Ireland for July 2014. I plan to return to the scene(s) of the crime, so to speak—travel to the various murder and other prominent locations in the novel.

In addition, I am researching and writing the second book in the series. This story takes place predominately in Scotland.

 

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

First, my stories are written for the New Adult and Adult market because as an avid reader, I felt there weren’t enough new fantasy stories that were written specifically for adults. Don’t take me the wrong way, I loved J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I just wanted to immerse myself in themes and characters that were already adult in nature. I hope I captured different facets of the human condition and wove their stories into a fantasy setting, I myself wish was real.blue-dragon

Second, I write stories of magic and dragons that take place in modern day.

 

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love all things dragon. I’ve been fascinated with dragons since I was quite young. I have several favorites authors, including Anne McCaffrey and J.R.R.Tolkien because they seamlessly interweave the world they have created with characters I want to be my friends. For romance: So it makes sense that I’d write with these authors in mind.

About five years ago I wanted to learn more about my own heritage. I discovered Irish, Scottish, and Spanish from my father’s side and a bit of Irish, Scottish, and German from my mother’s side. I chose Ireland for the setting of my first novel because the plethora of myths about faeries and heroes lent itself more to the possibilities of actual dragons and magic existing in modern times. I had always had a burning desire to see the places of my ancestors. What better way than to research and write of these places? When I finally visited and

St. Declan's Well, Ardmore

St. Declan’s Well, Ardmore

traveled to many of the locations in The Keepers of Éire, I fell in love.

I so wanted to be a dragonrider. In writing The Keepers of Éire, my wish came true.

 

4. How does my writing process work?

First, I write the gist of my scenes in longhand because I have medical issues that prevent me from typing on the computer for any length of time. Then I transfer each scene to my MacBook Air via a voice recognition program, Dragon Dictate. I listen to my iPod when I write. I can block out everyone around me and let the rhythm of the music take me into my story.

When I write, I work for 3-4 hours and don’t check email. My writing time is used only for research, writing, and editing. I endeavor to write Monday through Friday; however, finding the best writing location is an obstacle for me. I must leave the house because of distractions and therefore must lug everything with me. I’m a blend between a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) and an outliner. Contrary to what my writer friends think, my outlines aren’t detailed, but they give me a guideline as to where the story is going next. Once in a while, my characters take over, and then I’ll let them tell their story until they run out of steam.

I outline, research, and put together what I call my “Bible” for each manuscript. The “Bible” binder contains all my research, along with my character profiles, scene locations, language, etc. Heavy. I’m looking into Scrivener for my second novel because it should do all the same things my “Bible” does, just on my computer.

I receive monthly feedback from my critique partners (the three friends you’ll meet below) and go from there. I learn from their constructive feedback, then draw the line at what I must keep for myself.

To find out more about me, check out my website, www.jordanbernal.com.

 

Next Week

Continuing on the blog hop are three friends of mine, let me introduce my SF/F critique partners.

Marlene Dotterer

Marlene Dotterer

Marlene Dotterer, author of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder (Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for 2014), The Time Travel Journals: Bridgebuilder, Moon Over Donamorgh, and Worlds Apart, writes Science Fiction and Fantasy. Marlene and I share a fascination with Ireland.

 

 

 

 

Lani Longshore

Lani Longshore

Lani Longshore, along with her writing partner, Ann Anastasio, invented a new literary genre—quilting science fiction. Their debut novel, Death by Chenille, can be found as an e-book on Smashwords.com. The second in the series, When Chenille is Not Enough, was published as both e-book and hard copy in 2013.

 

 

Ed Miracle

Ed Miracle

Ed Miracle says he “writes as a means to explore the social and emotional impacts of certain ideas–specifically those with the power to transform our lives.” Ed’s first novel, Freemaker, is near completion. He has several of his short stories and personal narratives published in various anthologies, including his award-winning non-fiction story, “Submarine Dreams”.

 




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My Irish Journey Began Two Years Ago

Another year has passed. Yes, that’s correct, it has been two years since I boarded an airplane for my “across the pond” journey into the lands of my characters in The Keepers of Éire. I can’t adequately express my love and exuberance of that journey. The people I met were inspirational. The locations matched my dreams. I can’t wait to go back (Book Tour?).

I’ve begun work on my website: www.jordanbernal.com   Check it out when you get a chance. I am still adding content, so have patience.

Here’s an update on the novel: I have completed the draft and several / many revisions. My manuscript has been read like a book (cover to cover) by my critique group and several “Beta Readers”. These readers have heard bits and pieces of scenes in either my edit class or at open mic nights. Their feedback was positive and constructive. I have made additional revisions based on their insights. I am now sending the latest version to several “Cold Readers”. These readers have not heard anything about the novel other than it is a fantasy involving dragons. In other words, these readers are my target audience.

I am working on finding an editor and hope to have someone lined up soon.  My thoughts are to self-publish in the coming months. Stay tuned.

I am also working with a terrific person, Christine McCall, on the cover. With my ideas, she has already designed the front cover and we are working on the back cover.

Have a peek:

TKoE Cover

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Filed under 2011 The Keepers of Éire Trip, Ireland 2011, Writing

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Please check out the video of my poem and photographs entitled: Coming Home: To The Place Where I Belong

Slainte

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Filed under Ireland 2011, Scotland 2011, Writing

2012 Blog Information

Crunchy numbers

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

In 2012, there were 9 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 39 posts. There were 11pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 34 MB. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 9th with 55views. The most popular post that day was May 9.

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Filed under 2011 The Keepers of Éire Trip, England 2011, Ireland 2011, Scotland 2011, Writing