Thursday, October 22, 2015

Autumn & Samhain Sale

"Time and their kiss stretched, eternal, like the ancient grove itself. The forest was satisfied, basking in autumn’s molten glow and love’s wild breath."

In honor of my favorite season, 
Love Lies Bleeding: The Lady of the Forest is ON SALE!
Only 99 CENTS for a limited time! 

An autumn color palette on the cover design evokes the seasonal theme of transformation found in this folkloric fantasy romance.

Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

The forest is waiting...
Sale ends October 26th midnight EST

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Tapestry of Words

Words have power.

Perhaps because they are strung together to start a spell in a fantasy book:
"Black Dragon. From darkness to darkness/ my voice echoes in the emptiness."

Or because they are placed together in a character's catch-phrase that becomes a theme of a show:
"All magic comes with a price!"

Or woven into a phrase that also inspires other works:
"By the pricking of my thumbs/ Something wicked this way comes."

Words can craft together whole worlds, birth characters, and plant thoughts and inspiration, and just simply yet profoundly tell a wonderful story that changes the reader's life.

The power of words never ceases to amaze me. It is in the exhilaration I feel every time I get that certain sentence or paragraph to convey just the right idea or emotion or description when writing a literary article or a fantasy story.

"Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice...but it all comes down to you..."  
"Gypsy" by Fleetwood Mac, sung by Stevie Nicks

What are your favorite words or quotes? Which ones have changed your life or inspired you?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Believe: The Magic of a Garden

Nothing quite whispers "Believe" like a garden.

Believe in the possibility of growth...

Looks like a loaf of bread that somebody threw over my fence next to my Frog Prince, right?
That's what I thought.

It's a giant mushroom that literally grew overnight!

Believe in the beauty of nature...

"The earth laughs in flowers." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Believe in the magic of the greenwood...

Look'll see the little Green Man who guards the door to the Tylwyth Teg in my garden...

I don't have an enchanted way with plants, like the protagonist in my work-in-progress does (the third tale in the Wood & Stone Series), but I have had great pleasure and some success with my herb container garden in my backyard this year.

My pride and joy: chocolate mint...yum. Great in iced tea, as a hot infusion, or in a simple syrup poured over ice cream or tossed in fruit salad! 

And I have been deriving great satisfaction from drying herbs in my kitchen window and creating little sachets of lavender and chocolate mint. Sometimes I need a break from actual writing (egads!) to refresh my thoughts, and dried chocolate mint and lavender crushed together make an intoxicating scent that both calms the senses and clears the mind. The serenity I feel knowing that the green magic of nature is guiding me to express my own creativity is truly priceless. 

I've added a cleansed/charged bloodstone and a fabric leaf to this sachet. Bloodstones are a very dark green jasper, almost black-looking, with red and yellow inclusions that show up best in sunlight.
Bloodstone is one of my favorite stones, and it has an important part to play in the entire Wood & Stone Series...for example:

Aislin kept the necklace in her apron pocket, her secret talisman. She rolled the stone in her fingers as she walked to the market each day, her basket of pies slung over her arm, glancing now and then at the distant forest trees. How different they were from the splintered stalls in the town square, the grit between the cobblestones, the dreary faces of her neighbors peddling and buying their wares. The town was brown and gray, cracked and pale. But the forest exhaled life to her, which the necklace captured in its evergreen depths. Every night she pulled the soft leather through her thumb and forefinger, and the thought that he had braided it sent shivers through her. She slept with it under her pillow. When she was baking, she kept it on the windowsill, fascinated how the sun brightened the stone’s green color and revealed red and yellow sparks of firelight within. 
Excerpt from Love Lies Bleeding: The Lady of the Forest

Aislin's Necklace.
I saw this in a now-defunct shop on Etsy and knew it had to belong to Aislin.
And yes, of course I bought it! 
If you look closely you'll see it around Aislin's neck on the ebook cover...and around my neck in some of my bio pictures.

Bloodstones are quite true to their name: they help emotional centering and bring calmness, but also aid in courage, vitality, and creativity, all symbolic of the heart and the blood. And as with Aislin, their deep green color reminds me of the depths of the forest and the magic that lies therein.

As always, the forest is waiting...
and I would love to share its magic with fellow bookworms!
TOME TENDER BLOG is holding a fantastic giveaway where you can win a "Believe" swag package I've put together including a "The Forest is Waiting" sachet (chocolate mint/lavender/bloodstone) and an inspirational bookmark, 
as well as copies of my e-books.

AND, if you sign up for my CORVUS CALLING email newsletter, you'll also be entered to win a sachet every time I send a newsletter for as long as my herbs last!
 The sign-up form is over there on the sidebar.

What is your favorite herb, and how do you use it? 
I'd love to get some more ideas, so please feel free to comment below!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Writer's Digest Conference 2015

You are not alone.

Writing can be a solitary life. Sometimes loneliness creeps up on us while we are staring at a lined page or index cards or a computer screen with only our characters to interact with. Fun and creative...but lonely sometimes.

You are not alone.

This is one of the recurring themes I heard throughout my first Writer's Digest Conference. And I experienced it firsthand. Workshop teachers all showed we have the same highs and lows as writers. So many times we laughed as a commonality was pointed out, such as: 
"First. Drafts. Suck."

 But best of all, I made so many new writer friends. In just a short space of time we inspired, encouraged, laughed, and shared the stories of our characters and our lives with each other. We were so immediately comfortable because deep down we all knew each other, as only writers can.
Introverts unite! At the Writer's Digest Conference! 
Absolutely priceless.

By the way, how many writers does it take to pay a bar bill? 
Three. (I was one of them.) It was hilariously pathetic. Obviously Math is not our thing.
(Have to give credit to author Bernardo Montes De Oca for that line...he said it as he was watching us three fumble around with cash and calculator and credit cards.)

I've been tweeting out some #WDC15 Wisdom I gathered (Lesson #1: it's less stressful to ask for separate bar tabs to begin with), and here is some more:

  • Honor your reality. Life is part of your reality. You can't neglect a job or forget to feed the kids to write. But writing is your reality too. Figure out how to make it all co-exist, or...
  • You will get cranky if you don't write. Writing makes writers better people. So does coffee. I think we drained the hotel coffee supplies. I still can't believe I missed those cakes on Sunday. Where the heck were they?
  • Writing is hard. (Seriously, I know...but hearing EVERYONE say it made me feel better.)
  • Resistance (like Writer's Block, or the sudden urge to scour your kitchen) exists for a reason. It means that what we are doing is important or meaningful.
  • The craft of writing and the business of writing...learn both. Fear neither. (Jonathan Mayberry's Opening Keynote)
  • Sometimes the story knows more than you do....Writing is emotionally autobiographical - in the writing of it you are feeling it. ( Jacqueline Woodson's Central Keynote)
  • Whether it's creating a writing schedule or a story outline, don't feel you have to follow one way or someone else's way: experiment to find what is right for YOU.
There was just a plethora of excellent information and inspiration in all these workshops. 
My favorites were:
  • DIY MFA and Creating a Stronger Outline for a Stronger Story with Gabriela Pereira (who was lovely and funny and sincere...she almost brought me to tears at one point.)
  • Growing Your Iceberg: Creating a Seconday Story That Seems Ancient with Brooklyn fantasy author N.K. Jemisin
  • Revising a Novel: Step Away from the Blue Pencil with Hallie Ephron

And of course Chuck Sambuchino's Pitch Perfect session gave me the necessary tools (and the confidence) to talk to literary agents at the Pitch Slam!
I highly suggest looking into these workshops - many of them are online as webinars.

Overall, the Writer's Digest Conference was a game-changer for my career as an author. It inspired and energized me as well as introduced me to wonderful fellow writers! 
Total magic, and totally worth it!

Did you attend the Writer's Digest Conference this year? 
I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

All images are from Pinterest. If an image is yours and you do not want it used in this post, please contact me. Thanks!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sacred Groves and Writing: On Walls and Willow

Sunny afternoons of my childhood were often spent on the edge of a park's pond. I tossed bits of stale bread into the water for the ducks and geese. They nibbled the crumbs off the water's surface. My mother and I strolled the path that encircled the pond, crossing bridges and watching the waterfall at one end. The far side bordered a wood of densely packed trees.

 There was one tree that always drew my eye, enchanted me. She was immensely tall, her "hair" (in my child's vision) a beautiful bright green sweeping in feathery tendrils to the ground, wind-tousled and swaying, reaching out towards the water. She was the Weeping Willow Queen and I adored her as much as I was in awe of her.

Weeping willows were my mother's favorite trees, and so they became mine as well. I made up a song about willows, a lilting chant of their name, and whispered it into the air when I was alone, hoping the wind would bring it to them. I imagined their answers. 

When I was first drafting The Dragon's Message (published March 2014), I knew there had to be some sort of boundary that Rhiannon and Gwydion crossed over from her world to the Ruins of DragonsGate. Immediately a wall of willows came to my mind's eye. What better access to a magical realm than to pass through those curtain of branches that always were so enchanting to me?  And again, in Love Lies Bleeding, The Wood & Stone Series Part One (published May 2015) it seemed only natural to me for Aislin's favorite tree to be a willow.

In the Ogham alphabet, the writing system of the ancient Celts, the willow, or "Saille," is the symbol for the letter/sound "S." (The Ogham willow is technically not the weeping willow, but the pussy willow, although both trees are very similar in energies.) Willows thrive near water, of which they are considered queen. Like its kingly counterpart, the alder tree (featured in my last blog post), the willow at the water's edge crosses the boundaries between this world and the Otherworld. As such, the willow also represents intuition, imagination, and the ebb and flow of both the moon and tides.

As Stevie Nicks sings, "Like a willow, I can bend..."

The willow is sacred to the goddess Ceridwen, who rules over the moon and is the keeper of the cauldron of inspiration. Her cauldron bestows poetic vision, divine inspiration, and restoration of creative flow. Bards, the poets who are walkers between worlds, made their harps out of willow. Incidentally, a cauldron and a bard both have roles to play in Songs Within Stone (published June 2015) and Branch and Grail, the second and third parts of The Wood & Stone Series. Willow can also bring dreams, both as an access to the Otherworld and as a source for healing and comfort. The chemical salicin found in the willow was used in ancient and medieval times for pain relief.

In Love Lies Bleeding, the willow is a comfort to young Aislin, who plays by the tree to escape her mother's illness and feed her wild nature. It is the willow who delivers the message from the Otherworld to Aislin, starting her on the path to rediscovery and rebirth.

Pass through the wall of the Willow. Sit beneath her and let the ebb and flow of her branches in the wind enfold you in times of sorrow or when you need to get in touch with your intuition or creative spirit. She'll help you get through Writer's Block! The Willow has always given me inspiration and comfort. May she do the same for you!

Enjoy the inspirational music of these modern bards!

Speaking of Stevie Nicks...these ladies also play an incredible rendition of Rhiannon!

~ saille ~

Works Reference and Recommended:
Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest

All pictures are from Pinterest. If a work is yours and you would not like it to be used in this post, please contact me and I will remove it. Thank you. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Tea Party: Under the Stones and Sky

ParaYourNormal Blog is hosting a Blog Tea Party in honor of the Summer Solstice, 
and I am thrilled to be brewing my own pot of tea for it, along with some special treats at the end of this post!

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. In Celtic tradition, "midsummer" is the time to celebrate the strength and warmth of the Sun, which could banish negativity and bring abundance of blessings.
 Bonfires are lit and the Oak King, the King of Summer, is crowned at this time. 

So it would seem fitting to have a Midsummer Night's Tea Party in a magical grove
 underneath an old oak tree. 

Perhaps with some fairies to dance with...

“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.” 
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

But I want to take tea with you somewhere else.

I've mentioned before my memorable trip to England with my husband in 2003. On that trip we took a magical tour called "Stones and Bones" which brought us, among other places, 
to Avebury and Stonehenge.

The Avebury Stone Circle is the largest in the world, split in half by road and town. 

One of the most powerful ley lines in Britain tracks through its entrance stone. In the center, a "male" stone aligns itself with the "female" Goddess stone. I have a great picture of my husband resting in front of the Goddess stone, facing her with his head on his could actually have a tea party or picnic in this circle. (We opted to have a pint at the Red Lion Pub instead...the only pub in England that sits inside a megalithic henge!)

Our guide gave us dousing sticks, and sure enough, they spun around and aligned themselves to the energy path in the earth. (Unfortunately for this blog, my pictures are glued in a scrapbook. This is before we had a digital camera. So these are all from Pinterest!)

 We were privileged to be inside Stonehenge at sunset with a "special access" tour. 
We watched the magnificent sight of the sun lowering between the stones as our guide playing a haunting tune on his fife. 

Here is an excerpt from my scrapbook:
"The great expanse of land and sky that is Salisbury Plain made my soul billow out like a great wind. I caught my breath when I first saw the massive stones standing alone, waiting....The area has been etched in time; as I turned and looked at the plain around us, I could see several barrow mounds sloping the land. The Heel Stone in the distance marks the processional entrance to the henge. In fact, I could still see the creases of this road, the "Avenue," in the grass as it stretched out beyond the marker. This is the way that is aligned with the midsummer sunrise. At the Altar Stone in the center of the circle is a convergence of several ley lines -- so strong that I could feel the energy rumbling under the earth, and I lost my balance momentarily there. I will never forget that mystical feeling of standing on the track, and the magic touching me, moving me."

So I invite you to take Midsummer Night's Tea with me here, under the stones and sky on Salisbury Plain, so we can watch the Sun rise together along the ancient track.

“My soul is in the sky.” 
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

In honor of the Summer Solstice, 

The Wood & Stone Series Part Two is now up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon Kindle, and will be released on June 28th.

"He carved and sobbed and bled. He breathed stardust from the singing stone." 

The stones sing to William, filling his blood with music, compelling him to bring forth the magic in their timeless depths. But an appalling betrayal leaves the apprentice mason with terrible scars on his hands and a heart as hard as the stone creatures he carves. Banished from the cathedral guild, he is sent away in disgrace to work under another Master Mason, in service to the lord of a faraway town. 

But things are not quite what they seem to be, here in the town at the forest's edge...not the manor's statuary nor the ancient apple tree. And certainly not the Lord and Lady of Tylwyth Manor. What secrets do these hunters hold behind their strange eyes? 

Within the stone walls of manor and town, Will's heart must be healed for him to understand and control his developing power. And when a dire threat emerges from the forest to wreak havoc on the town, can Will use that power to save all that loves from destruction? 

Songs Within Stone is Part Two of Wood & Stone, a series of connecting tales of folkloric transformation, startling self-discovery, and love as timeless as a sarsen stone, told in medieval and modern settings. 

is on a 
Only from June 20th until June 27th midnight, 
so get it while it's hot! 

"Centered on the very soul of myths and legends, the Celtic world, magical beings, life, tragedy and the final ultimate enchantment of happiness is full to overflowing with the magic of Lori J. Fitzgerald’s words." Amazon Top 500 Reviewer 
"Love Lies Breathing vibrates with magic. This story BREATHES." Christine, Reader 
"Beautiful imagery and a unique fairytale-esque world." Alyssa, Reader

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sacred Groves and Writing: On Ravens and Alder

My favorite story in The Mabinogion, the collection of Welsh myths that influenced medieval Arthurian literature, is the tragic tale of Branwen, daughter of Llyr and sister to King Bran the Blessed. Bran means "raven," and his sister is White Raven, with "wen/gwyn" meaning "white" or "fair." Here is a wonderful video presenting their story:

The video does not mention the one part that always broke my heart in the story: "When Branwen saw her son burning in the fire, she made as if to leap after him from where she was sitting between her two brothers, but Bran seized her with one hand and his shield with the other....As each man went after his weapons Bran protected Branwen between his shield and his shoulder." I always imagined Branwen's struggle against the arms holding her, crying and desperately attempting to reach her dying son, who was probably the only light in her life. Branwen's son was named Gwern, which means "alder tree."

 The raven and the sacred Alder tree are entwined in their own Celtic knot.

The Celtic God Bran and the raven are both connected to the concepts of prophecy and fate. As the video mentions, Bran's prophetic head was buried at Tower Hill, where the ravens are cared for even today. In 2003 my husband took me on the trip of my dreams to England, and I saw those majestic birds firsthand. They took my breath away. It bothered me a little to see them caged and know their wings were clipped, but I got the impression they are well-cared-for, even revered, by all. The Tower Ravens are symbols of the timeless magic of myth and belief.

In Love Lies Bleeding, a raven draws Aislin's attention towards the door in the oak, sealing her fate that she is "destined for the forest."

The Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) is a Welsh medieval poem attributed to the bard Taliesin (who, by the way, is one of the seven warriors who survive the battle and return to Wales with Branwen and Bran's head). In the poem, Gwydion the enchanter animates trees to be his army. Gwydion identifies the god Bran as a raven and gains power by also identifying him with the alder tree, thus revealing his "secret" names:

"Sure-hoofed is my steed impelled by the spur;
The high springs of alder on thy shield; 
Bran thou are called, of the glittering branches.

Sure-hoofed is my steed in the day of battle:
The high sprigs of alder are in thy hand:
Bran thou are, by the branch thou bearest."

In the Ogham alphabet, alder is "Fearn," one of the peasant trees and representative of the letter "F." It likes to grow at the forest's edge and especially on riverbanks. Like Bran, who used his body as a bridge for his warriors, it was often used as material for bridges and viewed symbolically as a bridge between land and water as well as this world and the Otherworld. The alder is a tree of prophecy, like Bran's head and the raven that loves the alder's dark, damp groves, because it gives us a way to access the knowledge, tales, and energy of the Otherworld.

Alder was also the preferred wood for making shields for Celtic warriors. When cut, the alder's white inner wood turns red, thus "bleeding" and conferring magical protection upon the warrior who carries the shield. Alder is a warrior's wood, one of protection, defense, and preservation, just as Bran relied heavily on his shield to protect his sister.

The Alder Tree can protect us on our journeys and help us find the way to hidden knowledge. Follow the Raven lurking in its branches as it takes flight, for it can also lead us to the right path as we seek out life's mysteries to find who we really are. And speaking of which...

Introducing CORVUS CALLING, 
the new White Raven Writing Newsletter!
I named my shiny new email newsletter after the bird family that includes the mystical ravens. 
Get a glimpse into the "Otherworld" of my stories with exclusive content and first looks before they are announced on social media channels, as well as fun offers just for fans! 

Those of you who follow my Author Page on Facebook may have seen my lovely Oak Ogham pendant by
Bev Halstead, the talented crafter and shop owner, has created these stunning pendants especially for White Raven Writing...

Bev is also willing to PERSONALIZE this pendant for the winner!
Check out TOUCHWOODCRAFT SHOP ON ETSY...all her materials are made with local, sustainable sources, such as recycled Welsh oak, and she uses the old art of "Fire Writing" (pyrography). Bev is absolutely lovely to work with. And there is also an Alder Ogham Pendant for sale...unless it's been snatched up already!

TO ENTER simply SUBSCRIBE by typing your email address on the sidebar under 
Corvus Calling, "Subscribe to Our Mailing List."
Flying Raven Pendant Giveaway ends June 4th, 2015.
Winners to be announced in the first newsletter and contacted by email.

~ fearn ~

If you liked this post, scroll down to check out On Ogham and Oak, the first installment.

Works Referenced and Recommended:
Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest
The Mabinogion translated by Jeffrey Gantz

All pictures are from Pinterest, except the pendants courtesy of Touchwoodcraft. If a picture is yours and you do not want it used in this blog post, please contact me and I will remove it. Thank you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sacred Groves and Writing: On Ogham and Oak

All the tales in my latest collection, Wood & Stone, use words as markers between sections. I've written before about the power of words, but these markers are especially magical: they are the word meanings of Celtic Ogham sigils.

Ogham is a writing system, still found on stone monoliths throughout Ireland, Scotland, Wales and parts of England, used by the  Druids and poets/Bards of the ancient Celts. It was a message system, a recording system of important deeds and names, a symbolic device used for learning and remembering ancient lore, and a spiritual tool. Each sigil represented a letter or sound and was linked to a tree or plant, with a corresponding "kenning"or poetic description to explain its meaning. Sacred groves were important to the ancient Celts, so it is no wonder that their writing/magical system was connected to trees. Although there are none that remain, Ogham was probably also carved on wood staves, and it is possible that its messages were transmitted secretly by hand gestures.
Ogham is the middle column.

This is my stunning Ogham set made by WYTCHENWOOD on Etsy. 
Each stave is its corresponding wood.

In  Love Lies Bleeding, the word marker between sections is "duir," which is the Ogham symbol for the letter/sound D and the oak tree. It carries the same root as "Druid," which means "one with the wisdom of oak." In fact, the root of "duir" actually holds three meanings: oak, door, and stag.

"Aislin, find the door in the oak."

The sacred oak, its door to the Otherworld, and the grove of trees is central to the events in Love Lies Bleeding, and we will revisit that grove again in Wood & Stone Part Three, albeit at another time period. 

The oak was considered one of the primary "chieftain" trees (the other classifications were "peasants" and "shrubs") by the Druids because of its strength. It has a very large root system, which spreads through the earth to mirror its branches above. The roots of the old oak trees by my house are known to buckle sidewalks and tangle into water pipes below ground. 

Some famous oaks in England include Herne's Oak in Windsor Great Park, from which the Wild Hunt is said to ride out every Samhain, Major Oak of Sherwood Forest, and the twin oaks, Gog and Magog in Glastonbury. Gog and Magog were once part of a great avenue of oaks stretching up to the Tor (Avalon), but these trees were cut down in 1906 to clear the land for farms. Only Gog and Magog remain...2,000 year old trees.
"Each oak is a guardian and a marker of the way between the worlds, and how much more so must this whole avenue have been...Now these two are all that remains, but the hold all the power of the others within them, all their memories and sacred hidden knowledge. Gog no longer puts forth leaves, and sitting with him one can feel he is more than halfway to the otherworld. Magog is still strong, however, and she scatters her acorns far and wide. A small forest grows at her feet."
Excerpt from Celtic Tree Magic by Danu Forest
(See bottom of post for list of works consulted)

The oak tree is synonymous with the Oak King, King of Summer, and the Green Man, who represents sovereignty and fertility, and whose purpose is to protect and provide. 
The Green Man and a Standing Stone
The Forest Lord's first appearance to Aislin in Love Lies Bleeding echoes the Green Man. 

Celtic sacred groves were places where the Otherworld below, the sky above, and the earth meet, and a person could be granted access to the magical realm of the Otherworld. If the grove was a doorway between worlds, then the oaks were the guardian spirits of the soul's quest. 

The stag was a symbol of fertility, and often associated with the Horned God, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter.

Ogham is a key to enchantment in the Wood & Stone tales, and I hope as you read Love Lies Bleeding this explanantion of "duir" and the spirit of the Oak guide you to find magic and meaning in the story. 

But for now, "duir" is your key that unlocked the following excerpt! Surprise! Click and Enjoy! Happy Beltane!

(Just so you know...I have a bit of a flair for the dramatic...I was, after all, an English teacher...)


Works Referenced and Recommended:

Celtic Tree Magic: Ogham Lore and Druid Mysteries by Danu Forest (an informative and enlightening book!)
Celtic Magic by D.J. Conway
Myths of the Sacred Tree by Moyra Caldecott
Glastonbury Reception Centre and Sanctuary

All pictures are from Pinterest. If you are the owner of a picture and would not like it to be used in this blog post, please contact me and I will take it down. Thank you.