'the past and present are stitched together with threads of magic, if we could only open our eyes to see them…'

Welcome to aliisaacstoryteller!

I blog about my writing, my experiences living with a special needs child, and anything else which takes my fancy. Feel free to have a look around.


The Friday Fiction featuring R.J.Madigan

Extract from The Sword of Air.

Sword of Air

The moon was like a cold sun and the stars stopped their navigating. Twilight fell through stained glass, casting the great hall in pale reds. The sword of air shone like an ancient candle. I opened the glass case and ran two fingers along the precious steel. I lingered over the point, then pushed down hard. Blood trickled from my fingers like spilt wine. I felt nothing. The sound of boots clicking against the stone floor echoed along the corridor. I snapped the cabinet shut and massaged the blood into my skin. The metal door clanged open and Lorcan entered. I drew a deep breath through my nose and sat on the emerald throne.

‘Your majesty.’ He growled, bowing before me. His reptilian eyes narrowed and cast a shadow across his blunt nose and mouth. The thick scales of his skin were scared from a lifetime of war. It was as if a half man, half dragon stood before me.

‘I hope you bring me news of the child.’

‘No my lady.’

‘No!’ I said standing.  A sensation of increased strength flowed through my body.  The terror in his face was reflected in the polished floor as he bowed again.  This time his head almost touched the step in front of him.

‘Stand.’  He rose, his skin a pallid green.

‘My lady, we have searched the forest from Tara to the south coast, burning every settlement in our way and…’

‘Enough of your excuses,’ I said cutting across him.  An overpowering silence rang in my ears.

 Lorcan’s tendons stood out in his neck, his pulse visible.  ‘Please madam, but how do you know if this child even exists?’

‘You dare to question me?’ I said stepping down from the plinth so that I was level with him.  He stepped backwards and I could smell the sweat on his skin.  Rotting fish and driftwood.  The foul smelling sea, that gave birth to the Formor’s.

 I walked forward and caressed the side of his face.  His skin was rough like leather.  His pupils dilated swallowing the yellow of his eyes.

‘Lorcan, do you love me?’

‘Yes my lady.’

‘Why?’ I whispered still holding his head in my hand.

‘You freed my people.’

‘Yes, and what do I ask of you in return?’

‘To find the child.’

‘And is disappointment anyway to repay me,’ I said, my grip so tight my knuckles were now white.

‘No my lady.’

 I dropped my hand, turned and make my way back to the throne.  I stared at Lorcan, and blew out a long breath that rattled my lips.

‘I will see that you and your men enjoy yourself this evening.  There will be enough food and drink to make yourselves sick, and you will have your pick of the Fomor women.  Then tomorrow you will continue your search for the child.’

‘Yes my lady,’

‘Do not let me down Lorcan.  I will hold you personally responsible if this child is not found.’

‘Yes my lady,’ he said blinking rapidly.

‘You may go now.’ He turned and walked stiffly out of the great hall.

I watched the flames in the central hearth.  They twisted and flicked in a way that reminded me of my sister’s golden hair.  Everyone had loved her, especially our father.  He would never have sold Shania the way he sold me to settle a political grievance.  I ground my teeth together and heat flushed through my body.  He indulged her, turned her into the kind of child who thought she was Queen of the universe.  The kind of child who thought she could command the stars and sea.  When my sister closed her eyes at night she imagined the rest of the world stopped too. What she wanted she thought she should get and what she wished for she deserved.  It was his fault she became involved with a mortal.

I rose from my throne and stepped down onto the floor.  There was a chill in the air and I wrapped my robe across the front of my body.  I left the great hall and walked silently to my chamber.

The door creaked open.  Flames cast shadows that waved and dipped on the red walls.  The candles in the chandelier were bent like witches fingers.  Ona lifted her head and yawned, her pink tongue lolling between fanged teeth.  I make a clicking sound with the back of my throat.  She moved her head but her golden eyes remained fixed like an owl.  A purring sound filled the room. I sat next to her on the four-poster bed that I never slept in.  Her ears moved forward and her whiskers relaxed as I massaged her fur.  I held my arm out and she left a trail of sandpaper kisses on my skin.  I had the greatest respect for animals.  We shared a point of view that most people tended to forget: life was about survival.  I leaned my head down to her and we bumped noses.  Her fur smelled of summer grass.

I heard a low rustling sound.  The window had been blown open by the breathing of the stars. My cloak hanging over the chair of my dressing table flapped in the breeze.  When I was sixteen and my sister had just turned ten, our father gave us two cloaks made entirely of feathers.  ‘Faery wings’ the Danann people called them.  My sister’s cloak was made of eagle feathers.  Like her golden hair, its brightness delighted and charmed anyone who saw it.  The sight of it made my chest burn and my stomach harden.  The cloak he gave me was the colour of midnight and made of raven feathers.

‘Cloaks from the magical isles’ he said.  I remembered the sensation when my father first laid the cloak across my shoulders.  It was as though I was being squeezed from within.  I suddenly felt weightless, and before I knew it I was floating.  I looked down and watched him lay my sisters cloak over her shoulders.  He pulled her close and kissed her forehead before letting go.  Suddenly she was in the air too.  With her gold hair floating around her she was as beautiful as the sun.  I looked down at my father staring up at her, his dark eyes pools of adoration.  My breath became coarser and faster and there were spots in my vision.  I knew my father expected me to look after Shania on our first flight, but instead of taking her hand I turned my gaze and flew towards the horizon.  The wind rushed through my hair and around my ears, and for the first time in my life I felt free.

When I returned that evening I learned it would take more than a pair of wings to release me from the shackles of patriarchy.  I remembered my father’s eyes, cold and hard like flint.  His chest heaved and his nostrils flared.

‘You will be married before the waning moon is full’, he said and they were the last words he ever spoke to me.

I distracted myself by getting up and walking over to my dressing table.  I stared into the mirror.  I did not look a day over thirty, but I was as old as the earth.  My eyes burned like green fire against my porcelain skin and my raven hair fell in glossy curls about my shoulders.  My coral lips were full of life, not thin like an old woman’s.

The night air smelled of burnt leaves.  Mmm, I said to myself.  I snatched my feathered cloak and in the next moment I was airborne.  My skin and blood ripped into bone and feather.  I slipped out of the arched window and unfolded my wings.

As I hovered over Tara, only the silence breathed.  I dived downwards, my feathers taking on a blue-purple iridescence.  Pine needles scraped my skin as I entered the forest and headed towards the Grogoch’s house.

I caught the smell of copper on the wind.  My eyes scanned the forest floor for prey.  I spotted a dead deer and swooped down.  I perched on its antlers.  The bloody contents of the animal’s twisted insides were laid out beside it.  Wolves I thought smiling to myself.  I hopped along the deer’s warm, limp body.  Spotting a deep incision in the animal’s fur, I stretched out my wings and stabbed my beak into its flesh.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you that Ravens go for the eyes of a fallen creature first.  The flesh cut like steak when raw, but was even richer in taste.  Strength flowed through my wings and body.  My feathers were wet with blood.

I flew inches from the forest floor and slipped through the smallest of gaps.  Split second timing, always a breath away from collision with a tree.  Wings in, twist right, twist left, long tail taking over for fine control.  A full three hundred and sixty degrees for recovery.  A lightening strike of branches loomed overhead.  I soared high into the night sky.  I wheeled back on myself, then dived down, every branch a near miss and landed at the foot of the Grogoch’s tree.

I shook my feathers until I was nothing but a black blur. The blackness bleeds apart and forms the shape of a woman.  I placed my hand on the thick bark, closed my eyes and allowed my mind to become silent.  A cracking sound filled the air and the trunk splintered in half revealing a staircase.  In three great leaps I was at the top.

I listened for the Grogoch’s heartbeat.   Unbroken silence wrapped itself around me.  I looked around the dark room taking a mental note of the blankets strewn on the floor and the unwashed breakfast dishes in the sink.  I walked over and picked up the blankets.  One at a time I tossed them aside until I found what I was looking for.  I smiled to myself pulling a single strand of golden hair from one of them.  It was like the wind had swept through and left me proof of the girl’s existence.  I held the blanket to my face and breathed in the child’s scent.  She smelled of jasmine and elderberry just like Shania.

There were three unwashed breakfast dishes so the girl had at least two companions with her.  Damn the Grogoch, I should have known he was too weak to ever hand the girl over.  The hardened grease, shining in the moonlight on their plates, also told me they were a whole day ahead.  My chest tightened and my limbs tingled.  Could they have made it to the stone circle by now?  I threw my cloak over my shoulders and was a raven again.  I flew down the staircase and into the night air.  My wings beat slow and purposeful.  The feathers flexed and extended like fingers with every motion.  I had no time for acrobatics now.  I wanted to get to the stone circle as fast as I could.  The stars overlapped each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a thick forest.  Their light made the evergreens appear like stalks of wheat.  I flew past rivers and mountains that looked like long silver snakes and castles children had built in the sand.  I tasted salt on my tongue.  I lowered my head and saw the restless sea.  As I descended I heard the waves speak the oceans language.  Water crashed against the rocks and the spray stung my feathers.  The stone circle rose from the sea.

The Raven Queen

R.J. Madigan is a London born writer who has taken a slightly different route to other authors by publishing her first YA Fantasy novel ‘The Sword of Air,’ as a multi-touch iBook.  Inspired by the Pharrel Williams quote ‘Kids today need visual,’ she has used iBooks author to include stunning photography, cinematic soundtrack, HD video and 3D modelling to colour the world of The Sword of Air to give her readers a much more visceral experience. Decades ago writers like Issac Asimov and Neil Stephenson envisaged a world where books were more than just print, they came alive and talked to you, reacted and interacted with you.  That world is now with the iPad bringing science fiction into reality.  No one has really taken advantage of this new technology so R.J. Madigan has decided to shake up the publishing world by using it for her storytelling.

You can view The Sword of Air book trailer on Youtube, and download the first three chapters for free from the iBooks store to experience R.J Madigan’d magical storytelling and the incredible multi-touch features for yourself.  When you have read The Sword of Air, R.J Madigan would love to hear what you think of the story, the technology and how you think this will all develop in the future.

You can follow R.J Madigan and The Sword of Air at www.swordofair.net, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

Researching a Fantasy Story, and How Mythology Helps by Guest Author Craig Boyack


If there are two things you have learned about me from following this blog, it’s 1. I love mythology, and 2. I love researching mythology! It seems I am not alone; fellow author and blogger, Craig Boyack, has dropped by to tell us how mythology helped pave the way for grounding one of his recent novels, Cock of the South, which I recently reviewed on this blog, and which featured on The Friday Fiction. So without further ado, here’s Craig…

Ali asked me to visit today with the topic of researching a fantasy. Many people think there is no research involved in fantasy, and that authors make it all up. This isn’t true, and we must ground our readers in some kind of reality they can relate to. This is more than having air and gravity. Readers have expectations and it’s important to consider those.

The Cock of the South is a Dwarven fantasy. I’ve already made a promise to my readers that I must fulfill. It must have dwarves in it. Everyone knows dwarves are small, hairy, semi-grouchy miners of some kind. They’ve all read a book, or heard a fairy tale to cement that in place. Many of them watched some pretty popular films about dwarves recently.

This isn’t to say I can’t change things up, but somewhere along the line I need to fulfil this promise.

My Southern Dwarves are a conquered people at the beginning of the story. They’ve scattered to the four winds as refugees. I wanted to bring something new to the characters, so I placed them in an area with no valuable minerals at all. Mining was off-limits. This is where my research began in earnest. I wanted them to be characters of the Earth, but adapted to their environment. I made them into quarrymen, stone carvers, masons, glass blowers, and potters. This led to even more research into what kinds of stone they work with, what a pit kiln involves, etc.

I avoided putting them in the typical Scandinavian setting. Southern Dwarves, hmm? The Cock of the South is set in a Greco-Roman environment. Looks like my stone is going to be marble. I also made another promise to my readers. This setting comes with its own expectations.

The setting led to another round of research. I bought a copy of Bullfinch’s Mythology. I poured through reams of data about both Greek and Roman religion. I needed monsters too, and found a wealth of them. It would have been easy to let Gods and Goddesses take over the story, but they don’t. There were minotaurs and rustics that failed to make the cut. The story is full of cyclops, centaurs, and satyrs. I even wound up checking part of the Bible when researching the cockatrice.

I also twisted one of the oldest myths on its head. I needed to establish the dominant civilization in the area, and still have the freedom to change things. I decided that Remus killed Romulus, and Rome was never founded. Remus took its place, and while they are similar (they were brothers after all), I had the freedom to change weapons, tactics, trade routes, and more.

At this point, I’ve managed to ground almost everyone who reads this story. They have a reference point that allows them to move forward with the tale. It may be The Lord of the Rings for one reader, the Odyssey for someone else, and maybe even The Bible for another.

There was a huge amount of research that came after this. Grecian pottery, the Cambodian Plain of Jars, and the recipe for Dwarven sand. (Which probably landed me on some NSA watch-list. Don’t make this at home kids.) I even researched dwarf breeds of milk cows, but you’ll have to read the story to find out why.

I needed other humans around too, so I learned about the Paeonians, Goths, and slaves. When I used these characters, and the fantastic ones, they all needed to be distinctive. Each society demanded a period of research. The Internet became my best friend.

The promise of fantasy, the Greco-Roman setting, and Dwarves, are all fulfilled. There was still a ton of room to play and make things up as the tale came together. The research helped me build fences to focus my story on where it needed to go.

All stories require research of some kind. Medical thrillers, police procedurals, inter-racial romances, science fiction and all the rest need to be grounded in reality at some point. They also need to keep in mind the promises made on the cover and in the blurb.

I went down the rabbit hole again today with a paranormal tale I’m writing. The New Orleans cemeteries I want aren’t working out for me. They still might, but I have more research to do. Where has your research led you?

Craig’s other books

Boyack photo (2)

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Follow Craig’s blog      Check out Craig’s novels      Tweet to Craig onTwitter       Craig on Goodreads

Irish Mythology | Saint Patrick


A typical sight on St Patricks Day.

Saint Patrick has been gatecrashing quite a lot of my posts on Irish mythology recently, so I thought I’d give the poor man a page of his own!

He’s most famous for being Ireland’s patron saint, and is celebrated around the world, even by non Irish people, on the date of his death, March 17th, known as St  Patrick’s Day, which is also an occasion for celebrating Irishness in general.

Although accepted as being active during the latter half of the C5th, his birth and death cannot be dated. Some records claim he came to Ireland in 432AD, and that he died in 462AD, others that he died in 492AD. The Annals weren’t compiled until the mid C6th, and combine stories seen as both historical and mythological, and unfortunately, as such, they cannot be relied upon for accuracy.

Patrick himself wrote two letters which survived into present times, in which he recounts parts of his life. These documents are known as the Confessio and the Epistola, and give us a great insight not only into his life and motivations, but also into life in Ireland at that time. You can read both documents here.

It is generally well accepted that Patrick was born into a Roman British family in the UK, possibly at Ravenglass in Cumbria, which is not far from where I come from, actually. His father was Calipurnias, and was a deacon.

st Pat with shamrock

When he was just sixteen, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and brought to either Slemish (in Irish Sliabh Mis), a striking mountain near Ballymena in Co Antrim, or Fochill near Killala Bay (in Irish Cuan Chill Ala), the estuary of the River Moy, where he was sold as a slave, and subsequently worked as a shepherd for six years.

During this time, he seemed to go through some kind of spiritual epiphany, when he came to know God, praying up to a hundred times a day. (I would too, if I thought it might help me escape slavery and find my way back home!) In his Confessio, he claims he heard a voice in a dream instructing him to leave Ireland in a ship that was waiting for him in a port two hundred miles away.

Some say this port was in Wicklow. When he got there, there was indeed a ship about to sail for England, but the crew refused to take him at first. Patrick turned to prayer, which God duly answered, for before he had even finished his devotions, the Captain had a sudden change of heart, and agreed to take him on board.

After three days at sea, they landed, not in another port as expected, but in a strange wilderness where they wandered for twenty eight days without coming across any signs of civilisation. At this point, they had run out of food, and the crew asked Patrick to pray to his God to provide for them. Clearly, their own pagan Gods had forsaken them. Patrick readily obliged, and immediately they came across a herd of wild boar. They killed many and feasted for two days, before continuing their journey.

Patrick returned home and devoted himself to Christianity. After a few years, he had a vision in which a man named Victoricus (probably Saint Vitricius, bishop of Rouen) gave him a letter which came from the people of Ireland, begging him to return and teach them the new religion. It was a calling Patrick could not deny.

Returning to Wicklow, Patrick was met with hostility from the locals, and sought refuge off the coast of Skerries (where I first lived when I came to Ireland!), before continuing with his mission.

It is said that he founded his first church at Saul (in Irish Sabhall Phádraig, meaning ‘Patrick’s Barn’) in Co Down.  Apparently, strong currents had swept his boat through Stranford Lough and into the mouth of the Slaney River. The local chieftain, Dichu subsequently converted and gave him the barn.

It was here that he was brought when he died, and was buried nearby at Downpatrick. St Patrick’s Memorial Church is reputed to be built on the site of his grave.

The Confessio and the Epistola are fascinating, because they seem to relate to some transgression for which Patrick was put on trial. It’s not clear exactly what happened, but it is thought that the writing of the Epistola resulted in Patrick writing the Confessio.

King Ceretic Guletic had taken some Christian Irish converts and sold them into slavery. Enraged, Patrick had tackled the King only to be confronted with ridicule. He therefore wrote the Epistola to Ceretic’s warband, effectively excommunicating them all. This leads to fellow Christians, once thought of as friends, making accusations against him which are not given in the letter, although he writes that he gave back all the gifts given him by wealthy women, that he did not take payment for all the baptisms he made although he made many thousands, or for ordaining priests, and that he himself paid for all the gifts given to the kings and judges; were these bribes to allow him to convert their clans, I wonder. In any case, this protestation of innocence and denial of receiving gifts and money smacks of financial misdemeanor to me. Perhaps St Pat wasn’t quite as saintly as we thought.

St Patrick banishing the snakes. Attribution: Lyricmac at en.wikipedia

St Patrick banishing the snakes. Attribution: Lyricmac at en.wikipedia

As well as his own letters, his life was recorded by two late C7th writers, Tírechán, and Muirchiu moccu Macthenni. Both drew upon the earlier lost Book of Ultán, written most probably by Ultan of Ardbraccan, who was Tírechán’s foster-father.

Interestingly, they portray quite a different figure from the good saintly character we have been led to believe. They claim he was something of a tempestuous warrior, attacking druids and their idols, and cursing kings and their kingdoms. This ties in well with some of the myths about him, which do not describe a peaceful benevolent man of God, but rather a zealous tyrant.

They also intimate that he targeted the conversion of females, preferably those of royal status and wealthy noblewomen, accepting gifts from them, and persuading them to become nuns and found religious orders, much to the chagrin of their families. He also targeted slaves and the poor, who were only too eager to find a way out of the drudgery and hardship of their lives.

There are many stories and legends in which St Patrick makes an appearance. He must have been a very busy man indeed, if he truly was involved in all the events he is credited with! I’d go so far as saying a fair bit of time travel must have been involved, and a sprinkling of Sidhe magic and portal manipulation, too,  at times.

Most famously, Patrick is said to be responsible for driving all serpents from Ireland. This is an interesting story, because, according to naturalist Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, “at no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish.” He should know, having searched extensively through Irish fossil collections and records.

In the absence of a reptile population, this has been explained as a reference to ridding Irish shores of the Druids, who were known to revere the serpent, and the circle of life it represented. If he was as war-like as Tírechán and Miurchu claim, perhaps this story disguised an ugly truth, a battle or even a massacre… it would not be the first time in history that Christians waged holy war.

Lone standing stone at Magh Slecht.

Lone standing stone at Magh Slecht.

Closer to home, for me, is the story of Patrick saving the Irish from the worship of Crom Cruach on the plain of Magh Slecht. This is a grisly story involving the annual sacrifice of the nations every first-born child by smashing their heads on the idol stone known as the Killycluggin Stone, and sprinkling the blood around the stone circle in return for a good crop. Fortunately, Patrick showed up, smashed the stone, and banished the devil which flew out of it to hell.

As this was happening, ‘three quarters of the men of Ireland’ (the High King’s warband) and the High King Tigernmas were mysteriously slaughtered as they knelt in their devotions, allegedly by their own god, according to Christian observers. Sounds like the work of an army sweeping down upon them, to me.

We already know how sacred the number three was to the ancient pagans; it is a pattern seen repeated over and over again in all things considered important and powerful to them, such as the maiden-mother-crone aspect of certain female Irish deities, birth-life-death, mind-body-spirit, and so on. The pagans had long considered the shamrock as a sacred symbol, its three heart-shaped green leaves representing rebirth and the cycle of life. It comes as no surprise, then, that Patrick should choose to use it to illustrate the Christian Holy Trinity. Clearly, it was a symbol the  pagans resisted giving up, and the church was very clever at adopting the pagan customs they couldn’t destroy, and usurping them to suit their own beliefs.


Croagh Patrick. Attribution: Bart Horeman

Today, there are many places in Ireland which still bear Patrick’s name. Croagh Patrick is a mountain in Co Mayo where he was said to have fasted for the forty days and nights of Lent before vanquishing the serpents of Ireland. At 764m, it is the third highest mountain in the county.

In pre-Christian times, it was called Cruachán Aigle, although it is not clear what this means. Once the site of pagan pilgrimage for the summer solstice, it is now climbed by thousands of people every year on the last Sunday in July, some of them bare-foot or even on their knees, in honour of the Saint. There is a little chapel on the summit where mass is said, and sadly, the side of the mountain has been heavily eroded by the passage of so many feet.

The Hill of Slane stands 158m high in Co Meath, and is said to be the burial site of Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela. A mound is located there, along with two standing stones which are all that remain of a pagan site. There are various other ancient sites on the hill, including the remains of a church or abbey. From here the Hill of Tara can clearly be seen, and it was here that  St. Patrick was said to have lit a Paschal fire in defiance of the High King Laoire.

Patrick well understood the ancient sacred customs of the fire festivals; he knew that all fires across the land must be extinguished while the need-fire was kindled, and he knew that his fire on Slane would be easily seen by the King at Tara. The King demanded the fire was put out, but the story goes that even the Druids with all their magical powers were unable to extinguish it.

bealtaine fire (2)

In the end, the King acquiesced to the saint’s higher power, and allowed him to continue his missionary work, although he did not convert himself. I’m surprised the King didn’t clap him in irons for his inflammatory (pardon the pun!) and disrespectful act, but perhaps he didn’t see the new religion as a threat. Patrick does make mention in his letters that he was once imprisoned for sixty days, but does not say what for; he also says he was often beaten and robbed. Small wonder…

I must finish by saying that Patrick has never formally been canonised by the Pope, and therefore is not actually recognised as a saint by some. In the early years of Christianity, saints were made on a local level by a local church very soon after their death… which perhaps explains why there are so many in Ireland.

St Patrick’s life is one of semi-historic, semi-mythological proportions. As with much of Ireland’s past, it is impossible to pull apart fact and myth. He pops up in the most unlikely places where I wasn’t expecting him. I believe that in many cases, the scribes who assembled the oral traditional stories into some order of a history for Ireland, who were mostly monks, tried to combat the wealth of pagan lore by tempering it with Patrick’s presence.

There is no doubt however, that this man made a huge impact on the people of this land, whatever your view.


Please note: I am not anti-Christian, or anti any other religion. I dislike oppression of any kind. Forcing religion on others is oppression, in my view. Many bad things have been done in the name of religion, and I’m not just talking about Christianity, both historically and ongoing, crusades and witch hunts, for example. To ignore that is, well, ignorant. In Ireland we are still uncovering mass graves in cess pits at mother and baby homes, listening to stories of the ‘dying rooms’ and abuse of children on a huge scale by those who work for God, not to mention the Magdelane laundries. Sadly, large scale organised religion is as susceptible to the more ugly human traits of power, control and greed as any other organisation, it seems.

Public Service Announcement

Ali Isaac:

This is not my usual type of post, but my blogger friend Craig has asked for his story to be shared in the hope that it will inspire someone out there to get his bits and pieces checked. Its an important message. Craig’s story has a happy ending. Make sure yours does too. Dont ignore it. Get yourself checked out.

Originally posted on Entertaining Stories:

I’m going to invite everyone to re-blog, tweet, and otherwise share this post today. We all wish our posts got that much love, but this one is important. If you are a man, love a man, or maybe both, this post is important.

I debated long and hard about sharing this at all. It involves personal information, and I like to keep a bit of privacy. I had to weigh the fact that my mother reads this blog, along with at least two co-workers, against the possibility of helping someone else. Someone else won.

Popular rumor holds that a man should have certain things checked medically once he turns 50. In typical male fashion, I waited until I was 53 and 8 months to schedule my colonoscopy. This is a degrading procedure that involves shoving a camera into places that aren’t visible by design. I thought it was degrading, but…

View original 1,217 more words

Winners of #Grámochroí Twitter Poetry Competition

clover heart on wooden backgroundIt wasn’t easy. We had a lot of entries, and Jane and I had to short-list them down to only ten. The lovely Nina of #Fieryverse then chose the winners. Without further ado, here they are, the glorious shining stars of the #Grámochroí twitter poetry competition!

Deep water forests
of kelp and the moss
green bones of lost ships:
your city of silence
whose streets I cannot walk.

By Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

She writes her love on the wind
In light upon the water
In the pure line of a tern’s dive
From blue to blue
Reading, he smiles.

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

the warship left.

in hawthorn trees
he twist a twig ring

now in grief,
hand on the back
of her neck

it became gold.

By John Feaster ‏@JohnFeasterB Feb 9

In addition, we felt that there were others of an equally high standard, which were also worthy of a mention, so here are our four runners up, too.

She meets her love by starlight
A shiver & a shimmer
Two swans rise from the black water

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

In a howling wind
the hunt goes past,
wild geese in skeins.
Herne himself,
writhing in mist,
shakes his spear

By  Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

Arise with me
Before dawn
Awakens with its golden flame
Alone together
We’ll weave a fire
So bright it puts the sun to shame

By Éilis Niamh ‏@EilisNiamh

Niamh wept emerald tears
for her lover of so many years
she kissed his lips
bid him farewell
the isle of Eire
his death knell

By Merry Maiden ‏@QueenofCups99

Thank you to everyone who took part; it was quite addictive and a lot of fun passing poem tweets back and forth of an evening! This is not the end of #Gramochroi, so please continue to send in your mythology love poem tweets, and don’t forget to include the hashtag.

neverlastingThank you to Nina of #fieryverse for judging, who was very busy in the final stages of publishing her new book, Neverlasting: Poetry of Love Lust & Lechery, an anthology of love poems which includes three from our very own Jane Dougherty, so please be sure to follow the link and check it out.

If you fancy a bit of extra reading, you can find all Jane’s books at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, and mine are here (uk) and here (us), and you will also find Grá mo Chroí there, if you haven’t yet got your copy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Irish Mythology | Happy Valentine’s Day – The Persuit of Diarmuid and Grainne

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all, I hope you’re getting some lovin’ today! In the spirit of all things #Grámochroí and true everlasting love, I thought I’d bring you something special.

In Grá mo Chroí, one of the stories I tell is about the fated love of Diarmuid and Grainne. Grainne was destined to marry Fionn mac Cumhall, but he was old and grey. Instead, she fell in love with the young, darkly handsome and dashing Diarmuid. Their story is full of great passion, love which lasts beyond the grave, hate and jealousy which leads a friend to kill, tragedy and deep sorrow. It is a love story unlike any other love story as we know them, and told as only the Irish fili can tell.

If you follow this blog, you know how passionate I am about connecting with our ancient ancestors whom we hear so much about in Irish mythology. One of the ways I love to do this is by visiting the places associated with them.

Sheebeg, the mound of Grainne and Diarmuid's Grave

Sheebeg, the mound of Grainne and Diarmuid’s Grave

Diarmuid and Grainne went on the run so they could escape Fionn’s wrath and be together, never sleeping more than a night in one place. Today, there are still many places around Ireland named for their brief sojourn there. Their presence seems so ingrained into the landscape and the Irish psyche thousands of years later, it’s quite impossible to believe it’s just a story. I think the foundations are rooted as deeply in truth as their final resting place is in Ireland’s soil.

Here is one of the places where they were said to have laid their heads.

Guest Post | Chris Graham aka The Story Reading Ape on Mythology

Looking cool, Chris, looking cool...

Looking cool, Chris, looking cool…

Introducing Chris Graham, otherwise known as The Story Reading Ape, champion of Indie authors and all round good ape. What you may not know is just how cultured an ape he actually is, but I had realised this from his many intelligent comments on my mythology posts. Impressed, I asked him to write a guest post for my blog. This is what I got…

When Ali asked me to consider writing a guest post for her blog; on my interest in mythology, my first reaction was ‘WHAT?’

Then I thought ‘How on earth can I avoid sounding like a furry Erich Von Daniken?’

Finally, I realised that everyone already thinks I’m just a crazy / Mad as a Hatter / eccentric (minus the riches) old ape, so I might as well GO FOR IT…

Have you ever wondered where all the strange and exotic creatures may have come from in our myths and legends?

Plus, what actually happened in the past to make legendary events… well…


I’m sure we’ve all got different opinions, but bear with me for a while (go fix yourself some refreshments, this might take a while lol)

For the purposes of this article, let’s look at a list of some mythical creatures (this will NOT be all of them, but these are believed in almost worldwide with only the local names differing):

DRAGONS have to be top of the list.








Still here?


I better get on with it then…

Cough, clears throat, takes drink of water (WATER you doubting Thomas at the back…some people…I don’t know…)

Now, where was I?

“DRAGONS” I hear someone shout…


Time for an interesting (and colourful) map:


Imagine yourself as a pre-historic person out foraging for food and generally minding your own business when SUDDENLY, sticking out of the ground / hill / riverbed / seashore sand / bog you see what looks like a… a… what the heck IS that called?

So, it’s a quick scamper back to the village / cave / tree / whatever, to ask the Chief / Shaman / Witchdoctor / Wise Woman / oldest person you know, what the thing is called.

Have YOU ever tried describing something you’ve never seen before?

After a while the person you’re asking will say something like “Shut up and take me to it you idiot” and you duly comply…along with probably the rest of the village / tribe / family / whatever (apart from those whose duty it is to make the meals).

Upon arrival at the scene of the find, everyone gathers round to hear the words of wisdom and knowledge from the wise and knowledgeable person…who looks long and hard at the object, sends the smallest (and most expendable) person over to touch it, and bring it back with them (if it hasn’t killed / destroyed / made them burst into flames / eaten them first).

The wise person didn’t get to be wise by being stupid…

Anyway, possibly with more help, the object is uncovered completely, cleaned up a bit and brought over to the wise person to inspect closely (now that it has been established as safe).

Today, any two year old would immediately identify the object as a DINOSAUR skull…a four year old could probably identify WHICH ONE…but wise as they are, the wise person does not have the benefit of watching National Geographic on his cave / hut wall so has to take a calculated risk and make up a name and story to go along with it…(have you ever told someone the name of something they’ve never heard of, then ended up describing it, complete with a story that describes how it works?)


Thereby were DRAGONS BORN…

Don’t believe me?

When the Ancient Greeks uncovered some long extinct Mammoth bones and skulls during one of their City State Capital projects, or cutting tunnels through mountains to bring water from somewhere else to it, they arrived at the considered opinion that giant one eyed man-like creatures existed in the dim and distant past, during the AGE OF HEROES…



Right that’s enough waffling from me on this subject.

Any questions?

What’s that?


Oh that’s a story for another day I think, besides, to quote the Sce’ali (Storyteller) in the pub in the movie ‘The Quiet Man’

“Me TROAT is very dry”

Thanks Chris! I am truly honoured to have you on my blog today!

If you don’t already follow his blog, take the time to drop by now, as not only does he interview and review authors and their books, guest post them, and promote them, but he lists a wealth of information and resources perfect for the Indie, and can even create book covers and trailers at very reasonable rates! There’s just no end to this multi-talented Ape’s skills…

Interview Special: The Creation of Grá mo Chroí with Jane Dougherty and Ali Issac

Ali Isaac:

Another outing on Bodiciasapple! Jane and I answer some questions about how we got together to write Grá mo Chroí and about our love of mythology…

Originally posted on A Woman's Wisdom:

220px-Deirdrê,_A_Book_of_Myths Deidre

It is a delight to welcome Jane Dougherty and Ali Issac to A Woman’s Wisdom today. I have always been personally intrigued by myths and legends and so I was keen to ask Jane and Ali some questions about their new book collaboration and their opinions on myths.

Tell us more about writing your new book Grá mo Chroí

Writing these stories was a tremendous experience, taking us back to Iron Age Ireland, trying to get under the skin of the ancient people who very likely really did live in the forts that litter the Irish landscape, even if the accounts of their exploits might have got slightly exaggerated in the telling. Our retellings had to do justice not only to the artistry of the original storytellers, but also to the people the stories are about.

We wanted Grá mo Chroí to be free, to give readers a taste of…

View original 1,979 more words

Grá mo Chroí by Ali Issac and Jane Dougherty

Ali Isaac:

Another great review for Grá mo Chroí! While I’m not in the habit of posting my book reviews, this is something new and different for me, so it is interesting to see what readers think of it…

Originally posted on A Woman's Wisdom:


Amazon UK

Amazon US

Book Blurb

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology. They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

My Review

I ended up reading this before bedtime last night after opening it up for a quick peek and then reading it to the end. I do like this sort of medieval story; the…

View original 349 more words

Hugh's Views & News

A Man with Dyslexia writing about this and that and everything else!

Write of Passage

Toni Betzner: writer, avid reader, blogger, and fantasy geek

Authors to Watch

Author Interviews and Book Features

Pouring My Art Out

Ripping out my guts for your entertainment

Chimera Poetry

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl

"The Journal of Wall Grimm"

A fictional journal written by SAGE DOYLE

Bealtaine Cottage

Cottage, Garden, Smallholding, Permaculture, Crafts


'Two loves I have, of Comfort and Despair' - Reading and Writing

Hari's Got Tales!

Sharing My Culture, Stories & Other Things I Love


The blog of Luther M. Siler: Author, Educator, & Data Nerd

The Hill of Slane Archaeological Project

Exploring the archaeology, landscape and history of Slane, Co. Meath


Blogging about writing and books. I am a debut author

A Poet in Time

A Weekly Poetry Practice


A great WordPress.com site

WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review

Feature Screenplay, TV Screenplay, Short Screenplay, Novel, Stage Play, Short Story, Poem, Film, Festival and Contest Reviews

Leona's Blog of Shadows

Book reviews and writing related stuff

Autumn Orchard

Showcasing the stars of tomorrow

Kev's Blog

Thoughts and Expressions

The Silent Eye

A Modern Mystery School

The Story of the Four

Forays into Fantasy, Myth, and Culture by Josh Bertetta, Ph.D.

Dreoilin's Weblog

Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein

Angela Cavanaugh

An emerging writer trying to find her way through the perils of self promotion.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,176 other followers

%d bloggers like this: