Introducing SWANSKIN…


Introducing SWANSKIN…

I’ve been fairly quiet lately. Some of you may even have missed me, lol! It’s because I am burying my nose in my latest WIP. It’s a novella called Swanskin, and it’s a YA love story with a difference… it’s based on Irish mythology, of course, particularly that which surrounds swans and shape-shifting.

I have written about both swans and shape-shifting on my blog before. Here are the links for both posts, if you missed them…

The Beast Within | Shape-Shifters in Irish Mythology

Irish Mythology | The Swan 

swanskin1Currently, I’m at 15,629 words, roughly 39% of the way through… woohoooooo! And I’m expecting somewhere between 30k and 50k. Its quite different from anything I have written before, and I’m quite enjoying the ‘lightness’ of it. I’m literally just about to write the first kiss scene, and I’m quite excited about that!

Here is a little taster of the story, taken from the beginning of Chapter Two…

Dad was right; the field was a mess. It was pitted with holes and little mounds of earth where the metal detectorists had searched in vain for buried objects beneath the soil. The holes were concentrated in and around the old fairy fort, which was ringed with trees.

I set down my shovel with a sigh, and sho0ed the cows away to the other end of the field. This was going to take longer than I’d thought. I’d have to keep a close eye on the cattle; they were gentle creatures, but curious, and I knew they’d be drifting back over before long to see what I was doing.

It was a lovely morning, cool and quiet. The sky was washed with pale blue, reflecting silver in the lake. I looked over at the crannog, overgrown with trees which reached branches down to the still surface and trailed them in the water like long, crooked fingers. Had the treasure hunters been over there, too?

A lone mute swan sailed gracefully across to the far side of the lake. For as long as I could remember, there had only ever been one swan on the lake. Swans mated for life; perhaps this one had lost its love and now lived a lonely life of sorrow.

I shook myself out of my reverie. No time for that, I admonished myself sternly. I’ve got work to do.

It was great to get away from my books, to bend my efforts to physical labour under the broad blue sky while letting my mind trip randomly up and down the lanes and alleys of my imagination. I was sweating by the time my work was done. The field was spotted with patches of bare brown earth where I had filled in all the holes; it was unsightly, but at least the cows would be safe.

I leaned on my spade, wiping the sweat from my brow. The swan drifted back into the cover of the crannog, where it no doubt had its nest. The cows had surrounded me; one of them gave me a gentle butt with her head, and laughing, I pushed her away.

“I haven’t got any treats for you today,” I said, but she was quite insistent. I sighed gustily. “I’d better be getting back,” I told her. “Before Mam loses it completely. If I don’t get home in time for lunch, she’ll come and drag me back to my books by the scruff of my neck. Just be glad you were born a cow.”

She blinked her big brown eyes, and wandered away in search of a fresh tuft of grass to crop. I sighed again. It was hard to turn my back on such a beautiful day and limit myself to dry, dusty old books. I lifted my spade and forced myself back towards the gate, and that’s when I fell into the one hole I had somehow managed to miss. Sudden sharp pain in my ankle brought me to the ground with a hefty bump.

Surely it was only slightly sprained? I groaned. How could I be so clumsy and stupid?

As I carefully lifted my foot out of the hole, a flash of colour caught my eye. There was something stuck in the mud, something tiny. I carefully loosened the earth around it, then prised it out with my fingers. My heart was pummelling with excitement now, sore ankle forgotten. What had I found?

Don’t forget, it’s still in first draft phase at the moment. Next week I plan to write another 4000 words; I’m making myself accountable to you now. We’ll see how much procrastination I can manage, I have practised quite a lot! If I do, there may be another sneak peek for you. Catch you this time next week!

Swan Fact No.1: Male swans are called cobs, females are called pens, and babies are called cygnets.

63 Comments on “Introducing SWANSKIN…

  1. Great to see you’re starting the year being so productive, Ali!! I should follow your lead with a 4,000 word goal next week. Good luck! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So that’s what you’ve been up to. And there was me thinking you’d been drinking coffee and wine all day, while tidying up the boy’s bedrooms!
    What a cliff hanger you have left us on. I could hear the birds singing and feel the warmth of the sun on my face while reading your extract. Then you go and leave us on a cliff hanger. Just what the heck is it, Ali? Tune in next week, maybe? 🙂


  3. Hey, this sounds good!
    And if there are shape-shifters, there’s no way I can resist. And you mentioned shape-shifters and swans, which made me think to the seven swans fairy tale wich is my favourite fairy tales.
    You evil…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this, Ali – can’t wait to read more! Congratulations on getting into your next book 🙂 I confess I have your last book on my Kindle but am only a short way into it – not because I wasn’t enjoying it, more that reading times were few and far between last year, something I’ve resolved to change this year. So I love what I’ve read so far, and offer myself up as a beta reader should you need an extra one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic, Ali! I’m already wanting to know what happens next. 🙂 Yes, I missed seeing a blog from you! I’ve been a bit absent myself, but hardly with your wonderful reason for it.


    • I think you deserve to just take a good long break after all the work you’ve put in over recent years, Éilis! Relax and have some fun. 😊


    • Yes, thank you Rachele, I’m quite enjoying it. Funny how these ideas just pop into your head. Got to make the most of it when they do. 😊


  6. That’s one thing i overlooked when wonderin why the French like me stories when I go off on a yarn, and they actually unnerstan a word i say – they love the sense of the dramatic, and they do just remember their stories from childhood. For Leps, substitute Lutins, headless horsemen they have a fair few, white ladies – no French chateau would be without one or six, (dame blanche confusingly the same name as the belovéd’s favourite ice cream concoction). Dramatic reenactments of battles – they’ve had a few here in the north of France. Oh if i just had your application Ali I’d write the books or short stories everyon has told me to do for past fumphtymutter plus years. The Celtic oral tradition is maybe a bit weak her in me new homeland, but it’s no deed yet. I dispute as best as I can in my crappy ungrammatical French against this generic “proper” French, as one time we were expected in the British Isles to speak “BBC English” (better than Queen’s English supposedly), and joined several societies who try to use local dialects (though not specifically Celtic). Dialects are the languages the stories were traditionally recited in – north or south in the island. I agin boastingly know a few southern dialects too. Possible to be multilingual in our own country and island. Even in the Gaeltecht i found a lot of things differ between Dun na Gall and Galway. I love reading these tales new an aul Ali. Keep up the tradition. We must never lose it, and never stop adding to it as you and your guest bloggers do. As an uncultured Ulsterman (religion damn all to do wie it really – I’m of a mongrel breed and background, and wouldnae throw a brick in a riot fer fear af hittin wan af me ain!) I have a reasonable sense of history, and joy of reading of the other provinces beatin the bayjayzus outta the Red Branch. For American, Australian, Kiwi, and other readers, this lady does actually know her history, and doesn’t just look at Wikipedia. This is the history, life, mysticism, of my island. I live abroad but feard til lose contact. Maybe Ali one day will do another lexicon of Irish words, in celtic, Irish Republic speak, and the two predominant dialects of Northern Ireland – Belfaws, and Coleraine/north Antrim – a.k.a. Ulster Scots. Now living abroad I am now more free to love the Republic too, where I have toured more extensively, when me poor aul da pays for me an the fiancée to come back til the aul sod, in past few years. I Love Westport touristy or no. Magic gettin lost on west Atlantic coast. Stop at a tiny bar for peeeeeeeeeee, have couple of pints (or non alcoholic drinks – other French half teetotal for 7 years – i sup fer the family now) a sandwich or few packs of crisps/chips (i’m learning) and admire the view – or as other half les “beau mechs Irlandais” (she eyed up the local talent the coquine!) Sorry for the waffle – so much the same here in France, but hard to get the storytellers to start. Merde alors!


    • Lol! You make me laugh! Really though, why don’t you try writing some of your stories down? I can see you are a performer, a real storyteller, which I am not, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t try transferring some to print. You might be surprised. I love Ireland, of course, but I think there must be so much to enjoy about France. They have fabulous history and archaeology for a start, and where the old structures are, that’s where you will find myth and folklore. How lucky you are being able to experience the best of both countries! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Murky buckets, as I have tried to convince the French, is the correct pronunciation of Merci beacoup. My glittering literary career stopped after i left the Civil Service where I edited, and virtually wrote all of a branch union newsletter, and odd articles for the main union newspaper. I enjoy the multicultural thing, and one day I may even finish writing a story, instead of starting, then saving to finish later, then getting self critical then deleting or binning. I prefer to leave the literary arts to the more talented folks like yourself Ali. My brief blogging stopped, as I discovered more and more interesting stuff on the interwebs to read, and found more interesting to read, than pour my verbal diarrhea onto the paper or computer screen. I’ll probably rest with the oral tradition, and leave the writing to you. Self discipline and editing were never my strong points. Bonne chance with the career petal. A joy to read.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you! I can see your skill lies in the oral tradition I hope you get lots of opportunity to use it, and that I get to hear you one day. Although I have to say, your comments are very entertaining to read…

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah so you use us as your conscience huh? They’ll be a price exacted. Just not sure what. Best of luck with it all.


    • Exactly, Geoffle! Unlike you, the stories have to be dragged out of me. I’m not prolific, struggle with finding inspiration, in spite of where I live. Don’t know why. Maybe I am just too anchored in the practicalities of real life.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is real cattle country round here! They’re everywhere, they are extremely nosey and love to stare. They come running to the fence to watch us when we are in the garden. They’re very funny.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lol! Thank you. But actually I have had a couple of scary experiences with cows. I’m fine with them so long as they’re on the other side of the fence. They’re not quite so placid and docile as we assume.


      • We’ve had a portion of life around here too. I posted a few things, and it proved therapeutic. Then I decided to quit whining about it, and things lightened up a bit. Turns out complaining isn’t all that helpful.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m also in the midst of writing a novel, based on the Children of Lir. Mine is more of a historical fantasy, not particularly YA. I can’t wait to see your take on it! I’m also about a third of the way through my first draft. Slainte!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. whoop whoop – I will be EXPECTING to hear an update Isaac…. no pressure, but Janes making me write something, so I will default that pressure on to you and demand words! :p

    Liked by 1 person

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