Monday, March 23, 2020

2 Things To Celebrate: Women's History & Irish/American Heritage Month

Statue of Molly Malone

With the coronavirus it's hard to remember that we have things to celebrate but we do. For March we're honoring Women in History and the History of Ireland because March is National Women's History Month and Irish-American Heritage Month.

My nonfiction Irish History book, Forged in Bronze and Iron: The High Kings of Ireland covers Irish-American Heritage as well as National Women's History with famous Irish women of history including Macha Mong Ruad —the only woman listed as a High King of Ireland. 
There is a nice twist with my nonfiction book—two bonus romance novels.
Here's the blurb:
A Legacy no one can steal
For centuries in grand feasting halls and around flickering peat fires bards sung of the exploits of High Kings such as Tigernmas—Lord of Death and Niall of the Nine Hostages, possibly one of the most potent men to ever live. 
Forged in Irish Bronze and Iron chronicles this mythic legacy from around 1700 BC up to 500 AD. This fascinating record of the High Kings is interwoven with modern scientific, DNA, and archeological evidence from the Bronze Age and the Iron age. 
Two bonus fiction novelettes are included. Romantic tales of the Bronze and Iron age and the High Kings. 
Queen of Kings
The only woman listed as a High King of Ireland
As wild and beautiful as the land she rules, all men lust for her, warriors and kings bow to her might and magic. Yet, only one champion comes forth to gift her with a white bull and true love. But can the handsome stranger best her skills and win her heart?
Timeless Voyage
Neither centuries that have come and gone nor the seas between us can keep us apart.
As the Celtic pirate, Anwen, presses her hard iron dagger against the Roman's throat, memories of fated lovers, druids, and sacrifice, stay her hand. But, in this lifetime they are foes, Roman and Celt. Can Anwen and Kaeso steer their timeless voyage to a happy destiny or will they be robbed of love once more? 
Excerpt:
Macha Mong Ruadh, (Of the Red Braid) daughter of Aedh Ruadh, demanded her father's fourth turn as High King, claiming it was her right as his heir. Dithorba and Cimbaeth said that they would not give the sovereignty to a woman. Macha’s only response was…War.
Macha battled Dithorba and his sons, and she was victorious. She then banished Dithorba and his five sons into the wildernesses of Connacht. Dithorba was slain in Connacht. Dithorba’s five sons, Baeth, Bras, Betach, Uallach, and Borbchas demanded their father’s turn at the sovereignty. Macha denied them, for she had defeated Dithorba on the battlefield and taken her right to rule by force. Macha learned that Dithorba’s sons were plotting against her. Macha Mong Ruad then persuaded Cimbaeth to wed her to combine their two armies.
Macha went to Connacht and disguised herself as a woman with leprosy. She found the five brothers hiding out in the forest, carousing around a cook fire as they roasted a wild boar. One by one the brothers were inflamed by her beauty, which she used to her advantage by overpowering them and tying them up. The Ulstermen wanted Dithorba’s sons killed, but Macha enslaved them instead, forcing them to build the hillfort of Emain Macha. One version is that she marked the great hillfort’s boundaries with the pin of her brooch. Emain Macha means Macha's brooch. However, another explanation for the name of the hillfort may be that a brooch’s large circular wheel shape, crossed by a long pin, looks a lot like the great circular rampart surrounded by a Celtic fortress.
In the late 1960s, archaeologists excavated the large mound at the center and found the site had been reconstructed several times, beginning with a ditched enclosure, 150 meters wide, that was built in the Late Bronze Age.  There was an incredible archeological find here, the skull of a Barbary ape, native to North Africa, that dated to 350 BC.
Moving from archeology back to the High King Cimbaeth: he served seven years in the sovereignty of Ireland after marrying Macha, but then died of a plague at Eamain Macha. He was the first king of Eamain.
Upon the death of Cimbaeth, Macha Mong Ruadh, daughter of Aedh Ruadh, became High King of Ireland. She took her place on the throne as sole ruler. After she had ruled for seven years, she was slain by Reachtaidh Righdhearg, son of Lughaidh. Geoffrey Geoffrey Keating dates her reign from 468 to 461 BC. The Annals of the Four Masters from 661 to 654 BC. So, with the death of Macha of the Red Braid, let us move into the Irish Iron Age.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Hottest Thing in Unicorns





The Unicorn and the Druidess, my latest book, the fourth novella in the Druidry and the Beast series, is set in Iron Age Britain during the Summer Solstice. In the ancient Celtic culture, the unicorn had a place in the turning of the seasons and the Summer Solstice festival. The Celts teamed up the White Horse with the Oak Tree to symbolize  Summer and the Unicorn with Holly to stand for Winter. The vigor of the White Horse carried the Celts through Summer, while the Unicorn's endurance empowered them through the re-birth brought by Winter. 

The unicorn was so important to the Celts that the Scottish adopted it as the symbol of their country. One reason is that it's the natural enemy of the lion - which represented English royals.  Another reason is that it's a proud and brave beast that would rather die than be captured. In fact, in the 15th and 16th centuries in Scotland, they used golden coins called unicorns and half-unicorns with the animal depicted on them. Also, Clan Cunningham's crest features the image of a unicorn's head. 

Unicorns were popular throughout Europe, including Italy. Did you know Leonardo da Vinci wrote about unicorns in his notebook? The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and fall to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.



Fun Facts about Celtic Unicorns:

  • The Celts believed unicorns had the power to see people's true character and value.
  • The Unicorn is the Celtic Astrology sign for people born from July 8 to August 4.
  • In Celtic mythology, the Unicorn's horn resembled a flaming spear and was a symbol of the sun's power. It could heal and kill.
  • The Celts believed a unicorn horn offered protection against evil, and the ability to detect and counteract poisons. If you set a unicorn horn on a table laid with food, the horn would sweat or become moist if the food was poisoned.
  • A group of unicorns is called a blessing of unicorns!
In The Unicorn and the Druidess my unicorn is also a god who comes to eath because he's attracted to Maelona the Druidess of the Belgae tribe. This god, who goes by the name Epon, can shapeshift from the form of a man to that of a unicorn.

Here's the blurb:
At Summer Solstice people aren’t what they seem—they could be… a unicorn …a god…or someone you fall in love with.

Druidess Maelona pursues a unicorn into the woods and returns with a runaway slave boy she takes under her wing. Before she can go back to look for the unicorn, a handsome stranger ignites a fiery attraction within her. But she can tell he's keeping something from her. She suspects that he may be a Roman spy.

God Epon’s blood burns at first sight of the gorgeous Druidess. Goaded by his desire for her he passes through the portal from the otherworld as a unicorn. Then he runs into the forest and she gives chase. There he shapeshifts into human form so he can get to know her better. 

Then, to win her trust, he fights the Romans and saves her tribe. But even then, will he and Maelona be able to overcome the surmountable odds of a romance between a mortal and immortal being anything more than a summertime tryst?

The Unicorn and the Druidess will be released in February, the month of romance, but it's available to preorder now. It's the fourth book in the Druidry and the Beast series. Please order it at https://www.amazon.com/Unicorn-Druidess-Druidry-Beast-Book-ebook/dp/B0841RJY9B/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+unicorn+and+the+druidess&qid=1579622613&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

You can see more about this novella series here at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=druidry+and+the+beast&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss and Cornelia's books at http://CorneliaAmiri.com 

Friday, December 20, 2019

The Winter Solstice December 21


It’s that time of the year, December 21st to 22nd, when the shortest day and the longest night of the year fall in the Northern Hemisphere. We call that the Winter Solstice. In Welsh they say Alban Arthan (Light of Winter).
To the ancient Celts this day signified the battle and defeat of the Holly King (ruling from Midsummer to Midwinter) by the Oak King (ruling from Midwinter to Midsummer). The Holly King, also seen as a wren bird, symbolized the old year and the shortened sun, while the Oak King, also seen as a robin, stood for the new year and growing sun. The Celts would act out the battle of the Oak King defeating the Holly King during the Winter Solstice celebration.
They also had wren hunts, signifying the death of the Holly King. In Ireland, Wales, and the Isle of Man, Lá an Dreoilín, (Wren Day) was celebrated December 26. Wrenboys dressed in masks or straw suits, usually had a hobby horse covered in a sheet, and it had strings which could close their mouths and make their legs kick. Wren boys were led by a captain and a boy who dressed as a female captain. These boys hunted and killed a wren as tribute to the light for overcoming the dark. They’d set the dead wren in a box decorated with evergreens on a pole and go from house to house asking for food and good cheer. The wren was buried at the end of the rounds. Nowadays, they use a fake wren instead. Both the Holly King and wrens are associated with the Welsh god Bran.
For the Winter Solstice, ancient Celts decorated Yule logs with holly and ivy, which are linked to the God Bran. Usually, they sprinkled ale or mead over the log before they lit it. They kept it slowly, yet steadily burning for 12 days in the fireplace before extinguishing it. To pass the light on from one year to the next, they kept part of the unburned log safely to one side and used it to light next year’s Yule log. Also, they stashed the log’s ashes away until spring, at which time they mixed them with seeds and scattered them on the fields, spreading the blessing contained in the Yule log over the land.
Mistletoe and oak were sacred to the ancient Celts. As an evergreen plant, Mistletoe symbolized continued life over the cold dark winter which is why druids picked it from oak trees five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. One druid climbed the tree and cut the mistletoe with a sickle, while others held an open a sheet beneath him to catch the sacred plant since it was taboo to let it touch the ground. The druids handed out sprigs of mistletoe to tribesmen who hung them over entranceways for protection. Mistletoe is also believed to be an aphrodisiac, so this might be where the holiday tradition of ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ originated.
The Celts livelihood depended on what they could raise, grow, or hunt. So, the long, cold days of winter were hard one them. Since they didn’t have enough grain to feed all the cattle during winter, many were slaughtered at this time. This meant fresh meat for the winter solstice feast. Also, ale and mead brewed during the year fermented by this time and were and ready for drinking.

The Bear and the Druidess

My Celtic Winter Solstice novella, The Bear and the Druidess is the third book in my Druidry and the Beast series. It’s available where ebooks are sold. Here’s the blurb:
Sometimes a secret must be revealed to move from the winter of love into its spring.
Romans stole all the winter grain from Druidess Bronwen’s tribe. Now, pursued by Romans, she ducks into a cave to hide. There she finds a handsome warrior who offers to help. He ignites a fiery spark of attraction within her but she can tell he’s keeping something from her.
The prayers of a beautiful druidess he can’t resist lead the Bear God Artaois into the cave where Bronwen is hiding. He pretends to be asleep until she finds him.
Artaois (Art) is determined to spend the longest night of the year with her. But Bronwen doesn’t realize he’s a god. He keeps his secret from her and even though he can transform into a bear, he only reveals himself in human form.
With the Winter Solstice upon them, can Artaois (Art) find a way to save her tribe from starvation? And, when Bronwen finally discovers his secret, will she leave the romance building between them out in the cold.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Some Ways Samhain and Halloween are the Same


Samhain, pronounced Sahvin, is the Celtic New Year. It falls on October 31st to November 1st, and it’s where we get many of our Halloween traditions. As an author of Celtic Fantasy Romance novels, my favorite holiday is Samhain or as some say Halloween.

The Celts believed that the veil between worlds was at its thinnest on Samhain. The dead easily crossed into our earthly dimension and were honored by their living kith and kin, who left plates of food out for deceased relatives, visiting for Samhain. 

Samhain was celebrated with games, (like hurling, foot races, and horse races) a rowdy feast, and a massive, blazing bonfire. In Ireland, druids held the Samhain celebration and lit the great fire at Tlachtga each year, about 12 miles from Tara.

Turnips, apples, and hazelnuts were popular food for Samhain. The ancient Celts carved out mangel-wurzels, a type of turnip, and placed tallow inside to use them as Samhain lanterns. The Celt’s believed that on Samhain, a type of shapeshifting fey—puca in Gaelic (pwca in Welsh and bucca in Cornish) spit on any unharvested apples rendering them inedible. That’s why the ancient Celts picked all the apples before the Samhain feast began. So, don’t buy any apples picked after Halloween, those puca could still be creeping around the orchards. Hazelnuts ripened in Autumn and were believed to impart wisdom as well as strength to anyone who ate them. Maybe I should try some hazelnuts and see if that works. Since Samhain was the end of the autumn season, any of the livestock (cows, sheep, pigs) deemed unlikely to make it through the coming winter were slaughtered at this time. So, there was a bounty of delicious boiled and roasted meat to feast on. And of course, there was plenty of heady ale or mead to go around.  

My Samhain romance is The Wolf And The Druidess.   

In days of old, deep in the dark woods, Druidess Seren discovers a wolf shapeshifting into the bare, muscular Celtic God, Gwydion. Seren's mind turns from the Samhain feast to wicked thoughts of Gwydion's gorgeous body Is the love Gwydion and Seren share strong enough to overcome barriers between an immortal god and a mortal woman? Or will a warning of danger from beyond the grave destroy the sensual magic brewing between the wolf and the druidess?


Samhain is also the festival of Caer Ibormeith, a goddess from Irish mythology, who was turned into a swan. Rhiannon is her closest equivalent in Brythonic mythology. Her story is told in the first part of the Mabinogion. So, Moon Goddess Wife, a romance, mystery, and fantasy about Rhiannon is also a fun Samhain read. 

From Welsh myth springs the tale of Rhiannon and Pwyll. Chief Pwyll's life is changed forever the day Goddess Rhiannon rides pass him on her magic horse. Forbidden romance smolders between the goddess and the chieftain. With the use of an enchanted bag, Rhiannon breaks free of an unwanted betrothal. Happily, she weds Pwyll, but a harrowing mystery tears them apart. Will Pwyll’s suspicion and duty as chieftain prevail or will love win out?




Saturday, October 19, 2019

Only Their Author Knows For Sure: You'd Be Surprised To Find These Books Were Ghostwritten

Readers are sometimes surprised to discover as much as half of all books traditionally published today are created with the help of ghostwriters or developmental editors. Even more so for self-published books. In fact, when you look at any nonfiction best seller list 50% of those books were ghostwritten. More and more fiction books are being ghostwritten as well. Plus, the majority of celebrity memoirs and biographies are ghostwritten. For example, John F. Kennedy’s classic Profiles in Courage was penned by his speechwriter Theodore Sorenson. 
Ghostwriters have been around for a while. Did you know that H.P. Lovecraft was Harry Houdini’s ghostwriter for Imprisoned with the Pharaoh, published in Weird Tales in 1924? Lovecraft also ghosted The Curse of Yig authored by Zealia Bishop. And, when H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer at 46 he left notes on a work he’d barely begun, The Lurker At The Threshold. August Derleth completed it, in other words, did pretty much all the writing on it. Derleth was credited as co-author
Have you ever wondered how authors are writing books years after they’ve died? Robert Ludlum, who wrote the Jason Bourne series, died in 2001. The books written after his death until 2017 were by the ghostwriter Eric Van Lustbader. Another author who appears to have been writing long after her death, over 25 years since she passed, is V.C. Andrews. Cleo Virginia Andrews penned seven books as V.C. Andrews before she died of breast cancer. Since 1990, the books have been ghostwritten.  The books by Mickey Spillane that were published after his death in 2006 were ghostwritten by Max Allan Collins.
 Popular series are often written by ghostwriters after the original author’s death or if the author wants to stop writing the series for various reasons. That includes such series as The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Babysitter’s Club. The Babysitter’s club originated with Ann M. Martin, who wrote the first 35 books in the series. But at the 36th book, the writing was turned over to Peter Lerangis. It was somewhat the same for Animorphs, the credited author, K. A. Applegate wrote the first 24 books. However, she mostly outlined the next 27 books in the series and a group of ghostwriters actually wrote them. In fact, not only did K. A. Applegate, unlike many authors, freely acknowledge this, she admitted that she was one of the ghostwriters on Sweet Valley High in her early career.
 Sweet Valley High like the Nancy Drew series has fictional author names on the covers. Those books were written by several ghostwriters based on a template and an expected style the publishers created. This is the case with many book series the authors’ names are simply made up by the publisher.
You’ve probably read many books you thought were written by the author on the book when they weren’t. You might be surprised to find that the actual writer of Tennis As I Play It By Maurice McLoughlin was Sinclair Lewis. Inside the Medium’s Cabinet by Joseph Dunninger was ghostwritten by Walter B. Gibson. My Chinese Marriage authored by Mae T. Franking was written by Katherine Anne Porter. And Robert Graves was the ghostwriter of Old-Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards.
However, ghostwriters do write in the style of their clients. That’s part of their job. Ghostwriters interview their clients and get all the information they can to write the book in their client’s voice. People hire ghostwriters to create books they can’t due to lack of time or know-how or in some cases the death of the original writer of a series. When you look at a book and think is it or isn’t it, often only the writer or ghostwriter knows for sure.

I am an author of 36 books of my own, and I’ve also ghostwritten memoirs, business books, and fiction for clients. I’m always available to discuss my work and what I can offer clients. Feel free to contact me at CelticRomanceQueen.com or visit my website http://CorneliaAmiri.com

I Was An eBook Author Before eBooks Were Cool

I submitted my first book to Awe-Struck eBooks in the year 2000. I decided to go to the Predators and Editors list of publishers and submit to recommended sites only. That means the authors that wrote for them thought—the contracts were good, they paid on time, were easy to work with, knew what they were doing, etc.  

I started at the front of the directory at A. Awe-Struck was the first on the list that was recommended and open to submissions for Historical Romances. Plus, they were interested in unusual time periods and mine was set in the dark ages, at the onset of the Saxon Wars. Awe-struck, the first publisher I submitted to, accepted my book and I signed a contract with them. The Fox Prince, later retitled The Celtic Fox, was released in January 2001. It came out in eBook format at that time and in print later that year. 
The eBook could be downloaded anytime, anyplace to be read on a Rocketbook reader, a palm pilot, a laptop, or desktop. Later other ebook readers came on the scene like Gemstar, Mobi pocket (a popular ebook reading software), and others. I had a Gemstar. 
These eBooks could also be autographed and sold at book signings, book-fairs, festivals, and conventions. The publisher sent a kit of 3.5” paper folders with the front cover on one side and the back cover on the other. The blurb, copyright, and publisher information were printed on the inside of the folder.  We got several of these in a kit from the publisher, I don’t remember how much the authors paid for the kits but it wasn’t much. I and the other authors put those tiny folders inside the little 3.5” square plastic cases, they were called jewel cases, and then we downloaded the eBook onto 3.5” floppy disks and put one in each jewel case inside the paper folder. Readers inserted the floppy disc into their computers and read them. Those little folders were what we autographed for readers when they bought eBooks at book signings.  
 Amazon purchased Mobipocket in 2005 and used the Mobi software to build its Kindle platform. This is why Amazon uses Mobi formatting for its eBooks though the other distributors use epub. 

In 2007 Amazon introduced the Kindle eReader. They also created Kindle Direct Publishing at that time, which lets authors bypass publishers and download (publish) directly with the distributor (Amazon). Later other eBook distributors, (Barnes and Nobles, Apple, Kobo and more) offered direct publishing to authors.

The other day, on an application for panels for a 2020 comic con, I had to answer the antiquated question, is your book an ebook? Some books, mostly picture books, comic books, or children books, don’t work that well at this time in eBook form. But, it can be said that if you publish a book for ages ranging from teen to Adult in 2019 that is print only and does not come in an eBook format then maybe you shouldn’t be in the publishing business.
When I first eBook published in 2001 people actually told me eBooks aren’t real books. Of course, whether print or digital, not a single word of the book was different, it was the same just in a different form. So, if one’s real then the other’s real too. People know that now.
 Most reviewers wouldn’t review eBook ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) back in 2001. It seems that back then print on demand books only came out on the release date.  So, we’d print the ARC out and take it to Kinkos and have it put it into a spiral binder with a clear cover so the cover-art on the first page showed through, and we mailed those ARCs to reviewers. One reviewer always asked me to sign mine for her. Who knows they and the 3.5 floppy eBooks disc might be valuable historical artifacts one day. I should have kept some. 
I could tell you a lot more about those early days of eBooks, but those days are gone. eBook publishing and eBook reading are much easier now. But, I’ve always been glad that I published my first book as an eBook in 2001. I’ve never regretted it. The Beatles song paperback writer always captured how I feel about being an eBook writer. When I sing it I substitute eBook writer for paperback writer.
I’m proud to have been an eBook writer back before eBooks were cool. To be honest, though, they were always some people who thought they were cool, including me. One day I might even be thought of as cool. It’s highly unlikely but possible…you know kind of like time travel.

Feel free to contact me any time to discuss the 37 published books I've written in my name, or my Ghostwriting or Self Publishing Consultation services at CelticRomanceQueen@gmail.com or visit my site at http://CorneliaAmiri.com




Why Self-Publishing is Hotter than the Big 5



In the past, if you wanted your book on the shelf in major book stores, in other words Barnes and Nobles, if that was the best way for you to sell your particular book, then it was advantageous to go with the Big 5.
The conglomerates who controlled the publishing industry for a long time are:
1. Hachette
2. Macmillan
3. HarperCollins
4. Simon & Schuster
5. Penguin Random House
Also known as the Big 5.
However, in order for a writer to benefit from having books on the shelf at Barnes and Nobles there has to be a Barnes and Nobles for their readers to go to in their area. There are fewer Barnes and Nobles than ever, but since they were bought June, 7, 2019 hopefully at least the stores that are still open will stay open.
Independent Bookstores, unlike Barnes and Nobles, will shelf self-published books and also order them at their customer’s requests. You don’t have to be published by the Big 5 to get your book in an indie bookstore though you may have to use Ingram Sparks as at least one of your distributors, but that’s easy to do.
If customers are shopping online and comparing books from Self-Published Authors to those published by the Big 5, the greatest difference the readers find is pricing. For those that think competitive prices don’t matter, keep in mind that if the publisher is pricing your books at a cost that readers won’t pay then you won’t sell books. That matters.
Many readers of late are making negative comments about incredibly expensive books. If readers think the books from the Big 5 are too high, they’ll try lower-priced but top-quality self-published books. If they find they like them just as much, they’ll buy them instead of your Big 5 published book. This is happening now. This practice will increase among readers.
As far as statements that some people make of self-published authors being less than Big 5 authors, keep in mind that many self-published authors are award winners, and many are also on the NY Times Best Selling List. A lot of them used to be with publishers but out of preference began to self publish their books.
Also, readers just want good books. They don’t care or even usually understand who publishes them. Readers care about quality and price. Writing is hard and takes a long time and books definitely shouldn’t be priced too cheaply but prices of $10 - $20 – even $30 more than most self-published books is considered by the majority of readers to be too high. I can certainly understand why. Honestly, that is an excessive markup. But, it’s not the authors doing it’s the publishers. Big 5 authors have no control of pricing. However, Indie Authors have control of their prices and discounts.
Please don’t be quick to dismiss self-published authors and self-publishing as less than Big 5 publishing, As far as self-publishing being inferior to traditional publishing it doesn't make sense. If the author's writing, the cover art, the editing, and the formatting are up to par with traditional publishing then how can the book be inferior to traditional publishing? It can't. If self-published books were inferior then why would the any of them show up on the New York Times Best Selling list? And they do, regularly.
If you're a writer, keep the above facts in mind and make your choice based on what is truly best for you and the book you’ve written. There are some exceptions but for most authors, it is advantageous to self-publish rather than publish with the Big 5.
As for me, I have worked with 5 publishers altogether. A couple of years ago, when I got all my rights back, I decided to self-pub all 36 of my books. And I have never regretted that decision.
I offer indie-publishing consultation and ghostwriting services as well. http://CorneliaAmiri.com