THE STONE MANOR IS HERE!

Book Cover

After almost three months of working on updating this blog site, it’s finally up and running. (Thank you, Andrew Hale and Andy Fronius!) AND, after beginning my novel, THE STONE MANOR, over six years ago as a short story, it’s finally published! I’m beyond excited. It was a very long pregnancy. The labor was intense, but a labor of love. Now that my baby is here, I just sit and stare at it.

I attempted to have it published by October, but realized it just wasn’t going to happen. Things always take longer than you think. I started looking at dates in November, as in, what happened in history, famous people’s birthdays, famous and infamous inventions. You know me. Why wouldn’t I? Suddenly, a thought came to mind. I should look at the birth dates of my MacDonald ancestors, since the story is partially based on them. AND GUESS WHAT? The first MacDonald in my line born in the US to my Isle of Skye ancestor was born on November 6, 1788. There it was!

28 Violin and Fam Pic

(This is a photo of my great-grandparents. My great-grandfather, James Rueben Little, was the great-grandson of our MacDonald ancestor. This is also his fiddle!)

I realized I had very little control over the exact date my novel would be for sale. I knew November 6th was a long shot. However, my novel is all about ancestral dreams, fairy glens, and fate. In keeping with the fairy tale theme, it was, in fact, published on November 6th. This just makes me smile.

IMG_1971

(Your dreams are worth your best efforts to achieve them.)

Last night, Jim and I went to our favorite Thai restaurant in Percha, Germany (near Munich) to celebrate my dream finally coming to fruition. This was my fortune at the end of the meal. The dream theme continues. This also made me smile . . . and laugh.

Dreams do come true. I’ve loved the journey, from putting the first words to paper to pressing the PUBLISH button on my laptop. I know newbie novels don’t sell themselves. I’ve a lot of work ahead of me. But, I’ll be doing it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, a fairy song I once heard in my dreams.

 

I Am My Father’s Daughter

12 Me and Dad Andes Chile 1974

(Dad and me, in 1974, in the Chilean Andes outside Santiago.)

My dad commented yesterday, Father’s Day, how great it was to share “the dream” with me. Let me explain. The recurring dream I have about the stone manor is evidently an “ancestral memory.” Don’t mean to sound creepy or heretical. Just stating the facts, ma’am. Besides many of you know how much I love faeries, fantasy, AND if I could have only one Super Power it would be flying!

Back to the dream. I was watching a Discovery Channel program a few years ago with Dad about Scotland. There was a beautiful one-track road with breath-taking views surrounding it, and Dad made the comment that it looked a bit like a dream he’s had for years. He began describing it, and I told him I’d had the exact same dream, beginning when I was eighteen years old. Crazy, we thought. Then later, I was in the car with my husband and our three sons, and I began to tell them about the dream and before I could explain what it was about our eldest son, Trevor, said, “You mean the one about the castle? Well, it’s not really a castle more like a great stone manor.” He was eighteen. He’d had the SAME dream. Can we all just let out a big CRAZY SCREAM right now? (Thanks for that.) Anyway, this dream helped form the main  “magical” element of my novel.

We took a trip to Scotland in 2002 with our three boys, all teenagers, and spent some of that time looking for the “dream” manor. No luck. We DO have a lovely daughter, but she was married and did not make this trip with us. Another time!

When I found ancestors from the Isle of Skye, I was elated. The fact that they’re on my mother’s side did not dissuade me. I KNOW my dad has ancestors from south-western England, Ireland, and Scotland. Somewhere there is a stone manor, and someday I will find it! In the meantime, I’m borrowing my mother’s ancestors, the Macdonalds, who immigrated to America around 1774 from Skye and grafting them into the stone manor dream. Sometimes I forget I’ve mixed the two. Like when Jim and I spent a week in Skye in 2008, researching for my novel. I was actually looking for the manor. Hey, it could happen!

A couple of years ago, my husband graciously agreed to accompany me on a search to the far south-western edge of Wales to look for a stone castle where one of my dad’s ancestors had lived. It had been described as a Fortified Manor House. Hmm. Could this be the one? It was awesome! We drove up in the rain, which is the only way one should see a castle in ruins in Wales. Alas, it was not our dream manor, but will make for a great setting in another novel.

13 Woebley Castle, Swansea, Wales

(Weoley Castle, Southwestern Wales. Photo by Jim Hale)

My dad is a STORYTELLER in the truest sense of the word. I’ve inherited this from him, and I am grateful. I love you Dad. Thanks for the FANTASTIC heritage.

The Stone Manor: A Dragon Worth Riding

24 Armandale Castle

(Photo above: Armadale Castle, Sleat, Isle of Skye, Scotland. Photo taken by Jim Hale)

I’ve written a novel. It began as a dream, which turned into an idea, which found its way into words in a short story April 14, 2006. Lady of the Glen, as it was called then, was 3,800 words short and an assignment for my second Creative Fiction class at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Dr. John McDermott was my first ever writing professor, now good friend. In the Fall of 2006, I took a Fantasy and Magic Realism class from John’s wife, Dr. Christine Butterworth-McDermott. my second ever writing professor, now good friend. By November, Lady of the Glen had grown to 5,700 words and Christine planted the seed that this could be something bigger. A novel. I’d never seriously considered writing a novel. I continued working on the story and expanding it. Spring 2007 found me in my fourth Creative Writing class with Writer-in-Residence, Joe Lansdale teaching. He continued to encourage me to pursue writing seriously and helped with the “business” end of the craft. I am forever indebted to these three amazing writers.

11 The Stone Manor Book Cover Photo

I decided this was a dragon worth riding. It’s been a LONG HARD ride, but well worth it. I’ve loved almost every minute of it. Apart from the dreaded query letters and synopsis. My novel now stands at 81,000 words and is titled The Stone Manor. It’s Women’s Fiction with strong elements of romance and magic realism. I think my favorite part about this novel is it’s based on a dream I had. A recurring dream that began when I was eighteen years old…of a stone manor. As I started to write this novel, I decided to search for ancestors in Scotland. I’d heard we had lots of Scots blood on both sides, and I just knew the manor of my dream was somewhere in the Highlands. I’ll never forget the day I was researching on Ancestors.com and hit the jackpot. Macdonalds from the Isle of Skye! I screamed out-loud. The plot thickened and characters were born. A trip to Skye followed. But I’ll save that for another post…another day.