Monday, 17 June 2013

Christy Nicholas: Ireland: A Guide to Hidden Ireland

Today is an extra special day for Tirgearr Publishing. Not only do we get to announce another book release and have a chat with a fabulous author. We're also releasing another nonfiction book! Last winter we saw the release of Just Desserts, a collection of holiday dessert and drinks recipes by all of the staff and authors at Tirgearr. Today, we see the release of our first travel guide. Not just any travel guide, but a guide to Ireland! We're sure it hasn't passed your notice that we're an Ireland based company, so this guide is near and dear to our hearts.

And no better woman to produce such a collection of photographs, stories, and valuable travel information than Christy Nicholas. Christy has traveled to Ireland numerous times and traveled with a focus on the non-traditional aspects of Ireland . . . the mythical, the magical, and the mystical!

First let me say, as a former travel consultant who specialized in Irish travel, this is a fabulous book. In it, one will find information on some of Ireland's historical past, those places nearly forgotten by time and modern life, those places tucked deep into hills and mountains, buried deep within the soil, those places it may take a little extra effort to see. But every one of them a worthy journey. Just don't forget your camera.

In this book, Christy focuses on various facets of non-traditional Ireland travel, but also includes some invaluable information for anyone who's planning a trip to Ireland . . . from researching airfare, to booking a car and accommodation, to what kinds of food to expect, money handling, and more. This book is a must have for *anyone* traveling to Ireland, whether you're visiting for traditional attractions or wish to be swept back in time to a land fueled by bigger than life heroes and pirate queens.

Christy isn't your average writer. By day, she's a mild mannered accountant. On her off time, she's an incredibly accomplished beader who sells her designs in craft fairs, she's a talented artist who creates magical images by using her own photographs (yes, she's a talented photographer too) and combining them with digital wizardry, and she's a writer on top of everything else.

As you can probably imagine, she's a very busy lady. So we're very happy she took a bit of time out of her schedule to have a chat.

Welcome, Christy, and congratulations on the release of this really interesting guide to traveling in Ireland.

So, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's curious about how you work. With such a demanding day job as a CPA and all of your artistic endeavors, you must have a room dedicated to each of your crafts, right? What's your creative space really like?

I write mostly at my computer – dual screens, surrounded by crafty things and some photos I took in Ireland. I usually have stuff open on my second screen for research, inspiration, or just a momentary needed break. I prefer to have something on in the background – Irish music or Raidío na Gaeltachta – to break the silence. I’ve never been comfortable working in silence, as every creak, every book closed, every shuffle distracts me. If there is background noise, I can filter it all out at once. I used to do my studying in the crowded cafeteria, it was much easier for me than at the library.

Dual screens? I tried that but the desk isn't big enough. With so much going on at your place, I can see how having multiple screens would come in handy. And I know what you mean about the silence. While I write in a quiet environment, when I'm creating something else, I love having something on in the background. Keeps the dogs quiet too, I must admit ;-)

With everything you have going on, you must have a massive to-do list, or at least have a strict routine to keep everything in order. Right? Tell us what your daily routine is like.

My daily routine isn’t daily – it’s in bits and spurts of maniacal writing, followed by long bouts of dry and nothing.  It’s sort of like my writing muse (which timeshares with my photography muse, my digital painting muse, and my jewelry muse) can only show up occasionally, and must get ALL of her inspiration out quickly before she must move on. When I do spout out 20 pages at a sitting, I then have to wait a day or two before I re-read and edit it. I’m awful at self-editing, truly.

Don't feel bad. I haven't met a writer yet who can self-edit very well. We're just too close to the work.

I LOVE the description of your muses . . . time-share muses! Brilliant. I know just the feeling.

I would ask what you enjoy doing when you're not writing, but I think we already know ;-) But tell us about your time away from your day job. How do you get all of the things done you enjoy doing?

I love multitasking, and that usually involves beading or some sort of handcraft. I watch TV while I bead, and play games on the computer at the same time. Sometimes I am out walking, or at a medieval event. I enjoy running my booth at art shows, and meeting all sorts of interesting people.

If there's one thing I can take away from our chat today is that you are one busy woman! But I can tell you love everything you do. I've seen some of your beaded work and it's truly stellar.

Thanks for chatting with us today.

Now, let's catch a glimpse of Christy's guide to hidden Ireland.

• • •

Do you find yourself drawn to the magic of the Emerald Isle? Would you like to see places beyond the typical tourist traps? Come, join me on a journey through the mists of legend, into the hidden places of mystery. Immerse yourself in the legends and myths, the history that has made this island precious in the hearts and minds of millions. Along with the tales and history, there is practical information on planning your trip, budgeting your costs, and finding the best places to while away the magical hours of your holiday.

The Mythical Facet – History and Myth-tery
The Magical Facet – The Fair Folk
The Mystical Facet – Gods and Saints
The Personal Facet – Friendly Folk
The Musical Facet – A Song and Dance
The Stunning Facet – Photo opportunities
The Tasty Facet – Irish Fare
The Practical Facet – How do I…?
The Frugal Facet – Budgets, Discounts, and Deals
The Hidden Facet – Undiscovered Places

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Ireland?’ Perhaps you envision fairies dancing around a mushroom circle in eerie starlight? Enormous pints of Guinness lined up on an antique wooden bar? Men with jaunty caps riding wooden carts pulled by tired donkeys?

Every person has a different impression, a different idea and ideal, when they think of a particular place. Ireland itself has such a varied past and present that the images conjured up are many-faceted, like a huge emerald, glinting bits of its life into each aspect of your mind and memory.

I’ve been to Ireland several times, and it holds a special place in my heart and in my head. Ireland is mo anam an bhaile, my soul’s home in Irish. It is a place I feel comforted, warm, and welcome. I wish to share some of this peace and serenity with others. Please, feel free to join me in my journey through Ireland, its history, mystery and magic.
In this book, I will explore many aspects of Ireland. It possesses a rich mythical and historical culture, and a great part of this culture relates to the magic of the land and its people. There have been, and remain, many mystical parts of the island, but the people are what make Ireland what it is today. Of course, music is also an integral part of the culture. I will explore some stunning landscapes and architecture for the photo bugs, and will then explore some of the practical aspects of travel in Ireland. I have listed some advice on ways to save money while on your journey, and delved into some hidden places which most tourists pass by. In the back of the book, you will find several maps and resources to help with further research and information.

Please, enjoy your journey through my book. And, if I have convinced you to travel to this magical place, please let me know. I think everyone should visit Ireland and be enriched by its incredible sense of the mystical, magical and mythical.

• • •

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

Find Christy Online --

To enter today's drawing for a copy of IRELAND: Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland, just leave Christy a question or comment with your email address to be automatically entered.

Or if you can't wait and want to buy a copy of this book, be sure to visit Christy's page on the Tirgearr Publishing website which has all her buy links.

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Dellani Oakes: Under the Western Sky

Welcome, welcome, Dellani Oakes. Or should I say, welcome back? Dellani was with us last September with the release of her first book with Tirgearr Publishing, The Ninja Tattoo. This book has gone on to become a highly sought-after romantic suspense. I'm sure we all remember sexy Teague McMurtry and the lovely Vivica Rambo, and all the trouble that seemed to follow them.

Well, now Dellani brings us another wonderful read with Under the Western Sky. This one is a bit of a retro-read, as Dellani takes us back to the mid 1970s. While most of America was squeezing into pants that fit like a second skin and boogieing to Disco, Bobby Mendez and Libby Marshall are living in a small town in Nebraska where life should have been idyllic and peaceful for two people learning their way with each other. Instead, racial tension and violence rears its ugly head, putting Bobby and Libby right in the middle of a race war.

While the characters are seniors in high school, they're all 18, an age when American kids are declared adults, and as such find ways to stretch their wings. Unfortunately, not all young adults use their new-found powers for good. I must say, this book is by no means meant for a young adult audience. This is a gripping read full of adult drama.

Dellani touches upon all of the emotions while following Libby and Bobby through this multifaceted story. From the innocence of young love to the harsh realities of adulthood, from testing the bonds of friendship to fighting for the lives of loved ones, this story has it all.

We were fortunate to snag a moment to talk with Dellani on a rare break from working. Believe me, this woman is busy. Writing full time, book reviewing, blogging, hosting her own radio show, and all the stuff that comes with motherhood, getting a moment alone with Dellani, one has to be quick on the mark and ready to jump when she sits back to take a breath. But in we got, and here's the result. Afterward, we'll include an excerpt from Under the Western Sky, and don't forget our competition!

Welcome, Dellani, and thanks for letting us monopolize a few moments of your time. I know you're busy with a capital B-U-S-Y, so I'll get right down to the nitty gritty (and we're not talking about the Dirt Band here!).

Your schedule is insanely busy. I don't know how you do it all. You must have a Tardis of an office, a Batcave of nifty gadgets, a mad scientists laboratory where minions work in your stead. Really, describe your writing space for our readers.

My writing space used to be the north end of our dining room. Since my second youngest moved out, I have his room as an office. HOORAY! I don't know if it makes me any more or less productive. It has certainly made monitoring dinner more difficult since I am an entire house width away and before I was only about 15 feet. I have my desk with my PC (I'm old school) and two printers. One is a scanner and the other has better ink usage. I have my former dining room table to my left as an additional space to put stacks of things. The rest of the room is ringed round with a small, wooden file cabinet and an array of plastic bins and drawers that hold a variety of items necessary for an office.

I also have five guitars, none of which I play, left over from my son's collection. They are in the corner gathering dust, along with my entire Mary Kay inventory. Anyone need makeup, cleanser or perfume? I have you covered.

The room also serves as my sewing room. It's cluttered, but it's home.

That's wonderful. The last time we chatted, you were on the kitchen table with your laptop. I bet you're thrilled to be able to stretch out now.

So with all that extra space, what is your daily writing routine like?

I can't say I really have a routine. It's more like unsnarling the chaos. I have breakfast and read one of the novels I'm reviewing. After that, I head to the office and start on various tasks. Sometimes, I check my e-mail -- Not often enough, but some days; it is overwhelming.

Wednesday is Fun in Writing day. This is a small, informal writing group I attend. It's hosted by the local Council on Aging. I'm not really old enough to go, but they list me as a volunteer so I can attend. It's odd to admit that most of my dearest friends are old enough to be my mother. We don't really have any goals, we just bring in things to share and have fun reading them. We also do five words from the bag. We each draw five random words and use them to write something. This provides a lot of laughs.

Every other Friday, I attend my own writing group. My friend and I started this group and it's more targeted. We bring in things we're working on and want to have feedback on. We also play the five words from the bag game there. Even the youngest members enjoy doing this. We have a good time with it.

That does sound like a lot of fun with both writing groups. I bet the five words from the bag has inspired some very funny moments.

So, when you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing? How do you relax? With your schedule you must have ways of relaxing.

When I'm not writing, I'm reading, updating my blogs, arranging Twitter posts and chatting on Facebook. I also play a couple of games on there. If I'm not doing any of that, I like to watch movies or TV shows on Netflix. I don't like commercials and don't own a DVR, so I watch my favorite series a year or so late. Please don't tell me about this season's Grey's or Bones! I'll catch up eventually.

I know what you mean. Over here, we tend to get American's top programs 3-9 months later. Don't tell me about Castle. It's just started over here!!

Thanks for chatting with us, Dellani, and best of luck with Under the Western Sky. (have I told you how much I LOVE that title?)

Now, here's that promised excerpt --

• • •

It's small town Nebraska in the late 1970's and life in the small Midwestern town is quiet and uneventful. That's what Libby Marshall and Bobby Menedez think until Bobby's cousin, Ramon is beaten by a group of white boys because he is dating a white girl. Libby and Bobby realize that their relationship might make them targets, but they believe their love is stronger than hate. But is it? Something quite evil lies hidden Under the Western Sky.

Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table lining up her shot, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she eyed the table. Bobby Menendez stood behind her enjoying the view. His hands moved forward, tingling to touch her.

"Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez."

"Man, how did you know?"

She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, snapping her pool cue, nearly nailing him when her arm came back.

"Shouldn't stand so close," Danny said across the table from her.

"Oh, man, the view!"

Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well tanned face.

"View's damn good over here, and safer," Danny grinned.

He'd been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no bra look was great! Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.

"Boys, behave," Toni's father said from his office behind them.

Funny thing how Toni's old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his work room fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn't mind them coming over, but they weren't going to be unchaperoned either.

"Yes, sir," they chorused.

They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. Fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg, didn't go away. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.

"Girls, Mom's got dinner almost ready. Why don't you hustle up and help her set the table."

"Yes, sir," Libby replied, setting down her cue.

"Sure thing, Daddy," Toni leaned hers against the wall, leaving a blue streak of chalk.

The boys hesitated, unsure how to proceed. They hadn't been included in that request. Captain Cristo solved that for them by setting aside his work. He stood stiffly, old war wound tightening up on him. He motioned them into his work room, closing the door behind him.

"She may not be my daughter," he said without preamble. "But you ogle her like that again, or put a hand on her," he looked right at Bobby. "I'll break all three of your legs."
 • • •

Author, journalist, photographer, teacher, reviewer, radio show host—Dellani Oakes has worn many hats.

Addicted to writing, she spends as much time at it as possible and gets cranky if she's late getting a fix.

Under the Western Sky is Dellani's fourth published novel, though she claims to have enough, still unpublished, to keep a publisher busy for the next ten years.

Dellani also enjoys writing short stories and novellas, several of which have received Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Dellani currently lives in Florida with her husband and two of their four children.

Dellani loves hearing from her fans. You can contact her here --

Dellani Oakes
Dellani's Choice Blog
Writer's Scantuary Blog
Tirgearr Publishing

To enter today's drawing for a copy of Under the Western Sky, just leave Dellani a question or comment with your email address to be automatically entered.

Or if you can't wait and want to buy a copy of Under the Western Sky, be sure to visit Dellani's page on the Tirgearr Publishing website which has all her buy links.

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Cathy Mansell: Her Father's Daughter

We're very pleased to welcome back Cathy Mansell to Heart of Fiction. Cathy visited us back in February when her debut book, Shadow Across the Liffey, was published. Since then, she has been on a whirlwind ride with interviews from all of her local papers, speaking engagements, and photo shoots. And if that wasn't enough, she was a finalist for the 2013 Romantic Novelists' Association's annual Joan Hessayon Award! This is a very prestigious award for debut authors in Great Britain, and I can tell you, the excitement on the lead-up to the announcement at the award ceremony was so thick you could cut it with the proverbial knife.

Cathy has graciously shared her experience with the award, but first let's talk about her new book, Her Father's Daughter, out today!

Her Father's Daughter takes us back a little to 1950s Ireland. Primarily set in Cork City, Sarah Nolan has taken a job with the Cork Gazette, much to her parents' protests. But she's 21 and anxious to stretch her wings as an adult with a great job opportunity, even if it's in another city. It's a turning period in Ireland's culture -- a time when women are anxious to be in the workplace and not tied to the cooker, a time when women are starting to feel some independence -- and Sarah wants to be part of it.

Things don't get off to a great start for Sarah. Her new landlord is a letch who instills some fear for her personal security. She's also trying to find her footing in her new job, meeting new people, and learning the layout of her new home city.

When she befriends young Lucy, pregnant and abandoned by the man who got her that way, Sarah promises to help. She's just not prepared that along the way, some of her own family's secrets start revealing themselves, and she learns why her parents so strongly objected to the job in Cork.

Then she meets coworker, Dan Madden. He's sweet, attentive, and supportive. But he's also engaged. Not just to anyone. Ruth is Sarah's boss's daughter.

Oh, my! Sarah just wants to take advantage of this amazing career opportunity and find herself as a strong Irish woman. She never imagined such drama was going to reveal itself the moment she steps off the train at Kent Station.

Cathy takes us all around Cork City and environs in this story, following Sarah as she finds her way in the world, and how her relationships unfold with the people she meets. And what you think will happen next will, undoubtedly, surprise you. I'll just say that this story touches on the infamous Magdalene Laundries in Cork City, which will rev your emotions into high gear. Have a hanky nearby while you're reading. Cathy is not one to shy away from gritty storytelling. Equally, she plays on all of your emotions. You will chuckle and you will sigh, and you will shed a tear. Every great story should bring about readers' emotions, and Her Father's Daughter is top of the list of great stories. A must read.

So, let's hear from Cathy about her experience with the Joan Hessayon Award, then we'll share an excerpt from Her Father's Daughter.

• • •

Welcome, Cathy, and thank you for sharing your experiences with the Joan Hessayon Award.

2013 Joan Hessayon Award Finalists
photo courtesy Romantic Novelists Association
I was fortunate and honoured to be one of the finalists for the Joan Hessayon Award last month, one of many coveted awards presented to members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

The RNA has run the Joan Hessayon Award since 1962 to encourage fresh talent. Experienced published authors read manuscripts submitted by new writers to the New Writers’ Scheme. Any manuscript subsequently published as a debut novel is then eligible for the award. Dr. David Hessayon sponsors the Joan Hessayon Award in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a most ardent supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s for a number of years, I sent in my manuscripts for assessment in the hope that, one day, I would get lucky and become a published author. Joining the new writer’s scheme was one of the best things I have ever done. I was encouraged right from the beginning, by the various scheme organisers and received invaluable feedback from generous readers, busy writers themselves, who volunteer to become readers each year for the RNA.Their constructive advice helped me to hone my craft and eventually get my debut novel published.

When Tirgearr Publishing agreed to publish Shadow Across the Liffey in October 2012, I was over the moon. In fact, I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. Then four months later, I was offered a second contract for Her Father’s Daughter. What could be better than that?

Becoming a published author meant that I would no longer be a new writer on the New Writers’ Scheme, but a fully fledged member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It felt so rewarding. Furthermore, my book, Shadow Across the Liffey, was immediately put forward as a contender for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award the following May 2013.

I have been to most of the RNA’s awards, especially the Joan Hessayon. And along with many other unpublished authors, I never thought it would happen. This was something that only happened to other lucky people. So, this year as I stood up there with nine other contenders for the award I felt honoured and proud to be a finalist. Win or lose, it was fun to be part of it all.

The lovely Liesel Schwartz took the prize, a silver rose dish and a cheque for £1000 for her debut novel, A conspiracy of Alchemists. Sure, we were all winners. Each finalist received a £50 cheque and a certificate. It was a wonderful day. Fourteen supporters from Leicester, including my two lovely daughters, Sharon and Samantha, were there to support me and wish me luck. How could I not feel like a winner?

• • •

You're a winner with us, Cathy!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. It definitely sounds like an exciting time.

Now, onto the excerpt from Her Father's Daughter.

• • •

Set in 1950s Ireland, twenty-year-old Sarah Nolan leaves her Dublin home after a series of arguments. She's taken a job in Cork City with The Gazette, a move her parents strongly oppose. With her limited budget, she is forced to take unsavory accommodations where the landlord can't be trusted. Soon after she settles in, Sarah befriends sixteen-year-old Lucy who has been left abandoned and pregnant.

Dan Madden is a charming and flirtatious journalist who wins Sarah's heart. He promises to end his engagement with Ruth, but can Sarah trust him to keep his word?

It's when her employer asks to see her birth certificate that Sarah discovers some long-hidden secrets. Her parents' behaviour continue to baffle her and her problems with Dan and Lucy multiply.

Will Dan stand by Sarah in her time of need? Will Sarah be able to help Lucy keep her baby? Or will the secrets destroy Sarah and everything she dreams of for her future?

Sarah glanced towards the far end of the platform as she boarded her train and wondered if her parents would appear and try to drag her back home. Being at odds with the two people she loved most in the world upset her. She hauled her suitcase into an empty compartment.

Sliding the door behind her, she lowered the window and had one last look along the empty platform. The couple she imagined were not the mother and father she had loved and understood all these years, but the man and woman they had become when she had so joyously told them her news. It was difficult for a woman to get into journalism and Sarah found it hard to believe that she’d done it. She hoisted her case onto the overhead rack, and slumped into the nearest seat.

Would they ever forgive her for going off like this? Her parents were the reason that she had stayed in Dublin so long. Then, there was her long-standing friendship with twenty-two year old Derek who worked for the Telegraph Office. He had wished her well, and had tried talking to her father. He wouldn’t listen.

The train began to move, great sobs of steam filled her ears - and her heart, too. She hauled on the leather strap to close the window against smoke and smut. Now, as, she watched the city and the countryside she loved slipping away behind her, she felt overcome with disappointment. This wasn’t how she’d imagined it would be leaving home for the very first time. To be at such odds with her parents was something she had never experienced before. Never.

A job on the Cork Gazette was a dream come true, so why were they so desperate for her to stay in Dublin? She had been shocked to the core by the speed and ferocity the row with her parents had taken, and she was left with no choice but to withdraw her savings from the post office to make this journey. She knew her insecurity and her lack of financial support was going to make it hard to carry on, but she vowed there and then to manage on a shoestring until she received her first pay packet.
Growing up, she’d had many disagreements with them, like the time she wanted to be a girl guide and they wanted her to take up Irish dancing. Thoughts of having her hair in ringlets every week had been a major factor, but she had won them over in the end. Then, when she was fifteen, she had wanted expensive high heels to go ballroom dancing with her friends.

‘Time enough for shoes like that when you’re older,’ her mother had ruled.
But this was different. She was twenty now, and journalism was what she had been trained for. Why weren’t they pleased for her?

Trying not to think about the blazing row, she reached for her handbag. Her mass of chestnut hair fell across her face as she re-read the letter from the editor, Neil Harrington. In spite of everything, a smile brightened her face. As she planned the economies she would make, the click clack of the train caused her eyelids to droop, and she fell asleep.

• • •

Cathy Mansell writes romantic fiction. Her recently written family sagas are set in her home country of Ireland. One of these sagas closely explores her affinities with Dublin and Leicester. Her children's stories are frequently broadcast on local radio and she also writes newspaper and magazine articles. Cathy has lived in Leicester for fifty years. She belongs to Leicester Writers' Club and edited an Arts Council-funded anthology of work by Lutterworth Writers, of which she is president.

Find Cathy Online --

• • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Her Father's Daughter today to one lucky commenter. Leave Cathy a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

If you can't wait to see if you're a winner, grab a copy of Her Father's Daughter here.