Sunday, November 28, 2010


I first "met" Keena Kincaid through reading her novel "Anam Cara," a haunting tale of two souls caught on the karmic wheel.  I knew at once I had found an author I wanted to follow, so you can imagine how pleased I was when Keena agreed to be interviewed for The Celtic Rose.  Especially considering that she had just made a major, cross-country move with all that entails, I'm very grateful for her interest in the blog.  So without further ado, here is her interview:

Where are you from?  Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a small Ohio town just to the left of nowhere. I grew up on a farm that had all the accoutrements needed for a fun childhood, dogs, ponies, brothers and a small wooded area that served as Sherwood Forest for a few years.

What inspires you to write?
I’m a natural born storyteller (although my mother called it something else for a few years).  After college, I worked as a newspaper reporter and had a gift for personality profiles and features stories. To me, noveling is a natural extension of that. I’m still telling people’s stories, just a fictional person’s. The germ of a story can come from anywhere these days. A great, a shell on the beach, sometimes even from that single shoe hanging from street wires.

Do you find that your muse takes over when you write?
My characters take over. How much I get accomplished that day is solely determined by how talkative they are and how willing they are to spill secrets. It gets really interesting when my characters start to lie to me because they don’t want to face the truth about themselves anymore than the rest of us do.

Do you have any works in progress that you want to share?
I’m working on a medieval ghost story right now. The ghost is not the hero, by the way, but the catalyst that moves my hero and heroine to act. He betrayed his friends, and now he’s trying to set things to right. Initially, his motivation is to get out of purgatory quicker, but eventually he comes to desire his friend’s safety and his sister’s happiness before his own destiny.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers out there?
Write the book you want to read. I know it’s quite the cliché and the market doesn’t always love what we do, but writing is a long and sometimes lonely process. We spent months, sometimes years with these characters and often come to know them better than we know our spouses or children. If we don’t love and enjoy our characters, who else will?

What are your favorite books at the moment?
I just found a reprinted edition of a 19th century South Carolina cookbook. I love old cookbooks because they assume you already know how to cook, so the recipes all about proportions and ideas for customizing the recipe. They turn my kitchen into a playground.

What is your favorite word?  Least favorite?
One of my favorite words is gobsmacked, as in “he fell out of the plane and lived. I was gobsmacked when I heard about it.” I write historicals, so it’s not one I can use very often. My least favorite fat-fingered, as in “the article has a lot of typos because I fat-fingered the keyboard.” The word just makes me cringe.

It's been a pleasure to get to know you a little better, Keena!   Let me just share some of your book covers here.  Both are stories of the Sidhe and sure to appeal to readers of The Celtic Rose:

 For more information and buy links for these or any of Keena's books, just go to her website:

Thanks, Keena.

P.S.--Did you find your coffee pot yet?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Enya the Bride

(An Old Tale Retold by Pat McDermott)

As everyone knows, the beauty of mortal women attracts the fairies. Finvarra, the King of the Connacht Fairies, enlisted his minions to find and abduct the prettiest ladies in Ireland. The fairies bewitched the loveliest women and brought them to Finvarra’s crystal palace beneath Knock Ma in Galway. The women heard only fairy music, which lulled them into a trance. They remained enchanted, forgetting about mortal life and living as if in a dream.

Long ago, in that part of the country, a great lord had a comely wife called Enya. He held feasts in her honor and filled his castle from dawn till dusk with music. Lords and ladies danced with great pleasure in Enya’s honor.

At the merriest part of the feast one evening, Enya entered the dance. She wore silver gossamer bound with jewels that outshone the stars in heaven. Suddenly, she released the hand of her partner and fell to the floor in a swoon.

The servants carried her to her chamber, where she lay insensible all night. At dawn, she awoke and told them she’d spent the night in a beautiful palace. "Oh, how I long to go back to sleep and return there in my dreams!"

The servants watched her all day, and she fared well enough, but when evening fell, they heard music at her window. She fell again into a trance from which no one could rouse her.

The young lord set Enya’s old nurse to sit with her, but the silence enticed the woman to sleep until dawn. When she looked at the bed, she saw to her horror that Enya had vanished.

The household searched the castle and gardens but found no trace of Enya. The young lord sent riders into the wind, but no one had seen her. He saddled his chestnut steed and galloped away to Knock Ma to speak to Finvarra, the King of the Fairies, for he and Finvarra were friends. Many a keg of good wine did the young lord leave outside his castle to quench the thirst of the fairies. Finvarra would surely have tidings of Enya.
But little did the young lord know that Finvarra himself was the traitor.

When the young lord stopped by the fairy rath, he heard voices in the air: "Finvarra is happy now, for in his palace he has the bride who will never more see her husband’s face."

"Aye," spoke another. "Finvarra is more powerful than any mortal man, though if the husband dug down through the hill, he would find his bride."

The young lord swore that devil nor fairy nor even Finvarra himself would stand between him and his bride. He sent word to every able-bodied man in the county to come with their spades and pickaxes, and they dug to find the fairy palace.

They made a deep trench, and at sunset they quit for the night. But the very next morning they found that the clay was back in the trench, as if the hill had never been dug.

The brave young lord asked the men to continue their digging, and they dug the trench again. For three days they dug with the same result: the clay was put back each night, and they were no nearer to Finvarra’s palace.

The young lord prepared to die of grief, then he heard a whisper in the air: "Sprinkle the soil you have dug with salt, and the salt will preserve your work."

He scoured the countryside for salt. That night, his men salted the soil they had dug that day. At dawn, they awakened to find the trench safe and the earth untouched around it.
The young lord knew he had beaten Finvarra. He bade the men dig, and by the next day, they’d cut a glen right through the hill. When they put their ears to the ground, they heard fairy music, and voices floated on the air.

"Now," said one, "Finvarra is sad, for if those men strike a blow on his palace, it will crumble and fade away."

"Then let him surrender the bride," said another, "and we shall all be safe."

Then Finvarra himself spoke clear as a silver bugle: "Stop!" he said. "Lay down your spades, mortal men, and at sunset the bride shall return to her husband. I, Finvarra, have spoken."

The young lord commanded his men to stop digging. At sunset he mounted his chestnut steed and rode to the top of the glen, and just as the sun turned the sky blood-red, Enya appeared on the path. He lifted her to the saddle, and they rode to the castle like storm wind.

But Enya spoke not a word. Days passed, then months, and she lay on her bed in a trance.

Sorrow fell over the castle. The young lord and his people feared the enchantment could not be broken. But late one night, when he rode in the dark, he heard voices in the air.

"It is now a year and a day since the young lord reclaimed his bride, but she is no use to him. Though her form is beside him, her spirit is still with the fairies."

Another said, "She will be so until he breaks the spell. He must loosen the pin from the girdle she wears at her waist, and then he must burn the girdle. He must throw the ashes before the door and bury the pin in the earth. Only then will she speak and know true life."

The young lord spurred his horse and hastened to Enya’s chamber, where she lay like a lovely wax figure. He loosened her girdle and found the pin in its folds. He burned the girdle and scattered the ashes before the door, and he buried the pin in the earth, beneath a fairy thorn, that no hand would disturb it.

When he returned to his young wife, she looked up at him smiling and held out her hand.

Joyfully he raised her to him and kissed her, and she stood as if no time had passed between them, as if the year she had spent with the fairies was only a dream.

The cut in the hill remains to this day and is called "The Fairy’s Glen."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to wish all of my Celtic Rose friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! May you have a feast at your table and loved ones to share it with. I hope for safe travels for you and your family. Take care!

Monday, November 22, 2010


My paternal grandmother was Lillian MacBlain Wells.  A tiny, blonde, blue-eyed enchantress at the turn of the century (I have seen her pictures!), she was the spark who lit some fire in my taciturn Cornish grandfather, Herman Wells.  Grand-Dad said little of his family but Nana, like me, was a babbler.  That's how I learned her people came from Ireland but had first been transplanted from Scotland and were said to be descended from Druids.  Imagine my surprise years later when I learned MacBlain meant "son of the gentle folk."  The gentle folk, of course, being Druids.  It was my Nana who first said--when I was just a small child--that I had the Second Sight and would be fey.  She was the one to give me my first insight into the fact that I was 100% Celt on my father's side and that this was a good thing to be.  And it was Nana who said when my heart had been broken I would find it again in Ireland.  She was right on all counts.

She has been gone a long while now, leaving behind her stories and recipes--and the memories of a lot of very good parties!  No one knew how to party like my Nana.  In the quieter times, we had scones and teabreads washed down by so much tea I'm permanently immune to caffeine.  One of her favorite recipes and mine is this one for Scottish Bannocks.  You can also find this recipe and some other fabulous eats at Pat McDermott's


3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. milk

Sift flour, salt and baking powder.  Add butter, rub fine.  Mix in oatmeal and sugar.  Make a well.  Pour in milk, stir until it forms a soft, sticky surface.  Turn onto floured surface, knead lightly.  Roll out and shape into one or two 1/2" thick rounds.  Heat griddle, flour rounds lightly.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Turn once and cook other side.  Cool on a rack.  Slice thinly and serve with butter and jam.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today it's my distinct pleasure to introduce British author/actor/playwright Bill Haworth.

Bill's varied life experiences reflect very well in his general fiction short stories and books.  Retired from the Army, Bill has also been employed in offshore activity in the U.K. (North Sea), Canada, the Arctic and the Middle East.

Most recently, DCL Publications has released his short story collection, "Stonehenge and Other Short Stories."  My personal favorite is "The Ice Palace," a story based on a little-known event in Czarist Russia.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This retelling of the ancient tale out of Ireland will appear in an anthology to be released by Victory Tales Press in early 2011.  In the meantime, I hoped you might enjoy Part I of "Deirdre."

It was by the trickery of his mother that Conor MacNessa became King of Ulster.  Connor’s widowed mother Ness had no hope of a throne for him by right of his birth, but beauty she did have in abundance and she set out to seduce Fergus MacRi, king at that time.  Rich and powerful though he was, Fergus could not obtain her consent to marriage despite his constant courtship.  At last, when she had worn Fergus to the bone, Ness agreed on one condition—that he leave his kingship for a year, placing Conor on the throne during that time so that his issue could claim descent from the line of a king.
Now Fergus called it only a sop to her pride and was reluctant to concede this point and rightfully so.  For when he finally agreed and he and Ness were wed, she lost no time in suborning the people to Conor.  Rich bribes and abundant favors won them so that when Fergus went to retake his throne none would have him, saying if he had left it for a woman it could not have meant much to him.
Leaving Ness behind, Fergus and a band of followers departed for Connaught, where they were harbored at the court of Queen Maeve and her beloved, Aillil.   During that time, Fergus fought alongside the men of Connaught against his own Ulstermen in the Tain Bo Cuaigne where Ulster’s champion Cuchullain met with Maeve’s army.  It being impossible to prevail against the great hero, the men of Connaught were turned back and Fergus with them.   And Fergus descended into deep bitterness and grief for the loss of his lands, saying that he must have sight of them again before he died.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I scratched my head the first time someone told me Scotland was famous for its dragons. "You're kidding," I replied, then listened intently. I liked dragons, didn't I? I wanted a plot for a book that incorporated ancient Scottish life with the paranormal. Why not use dragons?

This kind of thinking led me to research. Dragons, legendary creatures, are typically pictured as having serpent-like or reptilian traits. Dragons are featured in the myths of cultures spanning the globe, not just medieval England. Since Scotland is where I base my newest novella, DRAGON’S CURSE, I'll talk about these mysterious creatures that settled there

Rumor has it that dragons are a mix of the serpent, the feline, and the predatory bird, the great predators of prehistoric times. Once man started to walk upright, he combined them into one terrifying beast, and the dragon was born. Sounds feasible, doesn't it?

From Cirein Croin, a sea serpent believed to be the largest creature ever, to the long, thick tailed wingless Beithar who haunted the quarries and mountains around Glen Coe, to the infamous Loch Ness Monster, dragons have been a part of Scottish folklore.

The Loch Ness Monster, also known as ‘Nessie’, is classified as a dragon even though many assume it is a leftover dinosaur. Some think its a lake fish that has grown to gigantic proportions. Tales of Nessie date from the sixth century and one story goes like this: When Saint Columba traveled through the country of the Picts, he had to cross the River Ness. He came across Picts burying a man said to have been bitten by the water-monster. Not a stupid man, Columba ordered one of his men to swim across and return with a boat. The chosen man, Lugneus Mocumin swam off, but the monster saw him and charged. All on shore stood in horror except Columba, who raised his holy hand and inscribed the Cross in the air. He called upon the name of God and commanded the beast, saying, “Go no further! Do not touch the man! Go back at once!” The monster drew back, retreating to the depths of the Loch. Unharmed, Lugneus brought the boat back. Everyone was astonished. The heathen savages who witnessed the miracle were overcome and came to know the magnificence of the God of the Christians. A good story, passed down through the ages.

Nessie and Loch Ness are the most famous tourist attraction in Scotland and the locals will tell you about the mythical sea creature that some have actually seen in modern times and is probably a stranded dragon. The dragon can be seen as a symbol of the Celts, Picts and other early heathens of the area.

Dragons have found their way into many modern books and movies. Shape shifters are a modern day paranormal storyline and several authors have used dragon lore to create stories to entertain us all. My story is slightly different. My hero has been cursed by a dead witch for a crime he did not commit. Cursed to transform into a dragon at inopportune times, Draco Macdonald decides to live out his years on the uninhabited island of Staffa. These plans go awry when Brianna Macleod arrives with a hunting party. Staffa is a real uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland and its huge caves would make a wonderful home for any dragon!

For more information concerning dragons and dragon lore, check your local library, book store, or these websites:

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing.
Visit my website: and
blog for info, buy links, and excerpts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Book of Kells

(Portrait of Madonna and Child)

The Book of Kells is Ireland's most precious medieval artifact. The stunning manuscript contains the Four Gospels. It is considered to be the finest illustrated manuscript to have been produced in medieval Europe.

It is believed that the Book of Kells was written at a monastery on the Isle of Iona, Scotland in the 8th century. This was done in honor of Saint Columba. The book was then moved to Kells, Ireland in the 9th century after a Viking raid.

The book is well preserved considering what it has been through. Sometime in the 11th century, the book had been stolen; it's cover torn off and thrown in a ditch. The book has suffered little water damage and the cover has never been found. It most likely held gold and gems.

In 1541, when the English Reformation was taking place, the Roman Catholic Church took the book and held it for safe keeping. During the 17th century, it was returned to Ireland. Archbishop James Ussher then donated it to Trinity College in Dublin, where is still resides.

(Portrait of John)
The book of Kells was written on vellum or calf skin. It was time-consuming to prepare the vellum properly, but this made for a smooth writing surface. 680 pages have survived. Only two of those do not contain some sort of artistic illustration. In addition to the character illuminations, there are entire pages that are primarily ornamentation which include portrait pages, "carpet" pages, and partially decorated pages with little writing on them.
It is said there are 10 different colors that were used in the illustrations. Some of them are rare and expensive dyes that were imported from the continent. You need to use a magnifying glass to see some of the workmanship because the details are so fine.
The Fine Art Facsimile Publisher of Switzerland and Trinity College of Dublin began a project in the 1980's to produce a facsimile of the Book of Kells. Faksimile-Verlag Luzern produced more than 1,400 copies of a reproduction of the manuscript.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The History And Meaning of Celtic Crosses

In the Gaelic language, the distinctive, ringed Celtic cross of Ireland is known as the Cheilteach...along with ancient High Crosses, these stone carvings were made to honor the dead and mark hallowed ground. The beauty and symbolism of these strong and rugged stoneworks also celebrates spiritual rebirth through Christ. However, according to some historians, Celtic crosses have a touch of Pagan ancestry...the ringed center of each monument is believed to symbolize the sun (which the Pagans worshipped in their nature rituals). For historians who reject the Pagan explanation, the ring is believed to represent a halo...

Over time, any connection there might have been between the Celtic Cross and the Pagans faded into the mists of time...Ireland converted to Christ (through the efforts of Saint Patrick and others) and the ringed cross became a Holy symbol that will always be linked with Ireland and Christianity.

Since the sixth century A.D., these crosses have appeared in Irish churchyards. Their artistic design, which often includes animal symbols and/or woven patterns (known as Celtic interlace) , is reflective of the Insular Art period. In early medieval times, monks (and metalsmiths employed by wealthy citizens) were often the creators of masterpieces decorated with symbols and knot work – famous examples include the High Cross of Muiredeach at Monasterboice, jewelry such as the Tara Brooch, and ancient manuscripts such as The Book of Kells.

Today, many tourists enjoy seeing these historic crosses up close. Some enjoy the crosses for their beauty alone...however, for others (and there are many), who share faith and heritage with the Irish, seeing these poignant reminders of the past can be a transcendent experience. Celtic crosses have a resonant beauty...their strong, clean silhouettes can be exquisite at sunset or nightfall.

During the 15th century, these Celtic and High crosses were no longer commonly used to mark graves. However, during the 1800’s, Irish people began to seek out the crosses again, as a proper way to pay homage to lost friends and loved ones...

Today, the Celtic cross is still a powerful symbol that is revered for its meaning and design. You will find these crosses in churchyards (as is tradition), but you will also find delicate gold and silver Celtic Cross pendants that capture the essence of Insular Art. Even tattoos of Celtic and High crosses are prevalent nowadays. This timeless symbol of Irish pride, faith, and tradition will always be a part of Ireland and its people...

This article has been been written exclusively for The Celtic Rose by Leigh Maher, from the Celtic jewelry store: Irish Celtic Jewels, which specilizes in the sale of Celtic engagement rings and wedding bands

Monday, November 1, 2010


In the spirit of the holiday, here's a little romp featuring faeries, four-footed creatures and two people looking for love in all the wrong places.  Set in the foxhunting country of Pennsylvania and Ireland, Confessions is a contemporary fantasy romance available as an ebook at

Stowed away in the trunk of a pharmaceutical representative from Killarney, a band of feisty Irish faeries is released in the outlying suburbs of Philadelphia, where Malachi McCurdy sets up bachelor housekeeping.  In need of a housekeeper, he is introduced to Shawna Egan, unaware that "his" faeries have taken up residence in her oak tree.  Shawna, who was raised with tales of the Fair Folk but never realized she can see them, learns it the hard way when she cuts down the tree in which they made a home.  She gives them another and faeries always repay their debts.  But Shawna has secrets, and although she knows Mal is what she is seeking, will he want her after he has heard the confessions of the cleaning lady?