Pitch for The Willow Branch

71rYAYxfZsL._SL1500_A healer must mend a fractured kingdom and unite two warring races before a greater greater enemy destroys them both.


Fate took Prince Maryn by surprise, leaving Celdrya fragmented and leaderless. Arcane magicks and a vengeful Celtic goddess swept the land into chaos, driving its sole remaining heir, Donyl, into terrifying flight. A century later, the fragments of the alliance have devolved into a sqaubbling mass of petty fiefdoms so centered on their internal struggles that they pay no attention to the looming danger that threatens all Daermad.

The Celdryans have earned their distrust, but recognizing a common threat, the Kin resolve to help the part-elven healer Padraig find the One’s True King. Padraig’s quest will take him the length of the kingdom while the young black mage Gregyn discovers his own untapped potential, the dishonored soldier Tamys seeks his way in the world, and the powerful Kin sorcoress Ryanna finds her calling.

Told in two times periods,The Willow Branch (Book 1 of the Daermad Cycle) starts an epic tale of rousing adventure, cunning political intrigue, and compelling mysteries with a conclusion guaranteed to leave readers excited for the sequel.



Meet My Character – Tamys

Tamys of Mulyn is a young soldier Padraig encounters in his travels and becomes curious about. He’s hard to pin down. We learn he’s from Mulyn and that he’s been dishonored — turned out of the warband with his clothes, a horse, his sword and … well, usually it’s two coppers, but in Tamys’ case, he seems to have some coin.

Is he noble-born? And what about his curious ability to guess at dice? Or to sense trouble coming a mile away … literally? He can read, he knows some Celdryan history …. Yes, Tamys is a mystery that requires solving.

The biggest question might be … could he be the One’s True King?


The other night, Brad (husband) and I were watching “free” teleivion. I’d call it commercial TV, but cable has as many commercials now as network TV so the distinction is moot. We normally confine our viewing to streaming because free television stinks since the advent of digital, which has a more limited range than analog and insists upon delivering a pristine broadcast. I could live with lesser quality in order to actually have television, but as it is, we get two channelS regularly and three if the atmospheric conditions are rright, even though the claim we now have seven or eight channels locally.

But I digress. We were watching freemTV because we wanted to know what the bus was about Under the Dome. We hadn’t seen it, friends love it, and hey, it was on when we were checking out freemTV.

This is not a bashathonmfor Under the Dome. I can’t judge a book NY its cover or a television program by the last half hour. It looked like it had potential. So bear with me.

Apparently this town that it somehowncut off from the world was experiencing a killer cold front. Now if there’s one thing an Alaska can empathize with it’s impending hypothermia. When Jack was hanging only the edge of that door, knowing he was going to follow the ship into the depths, my teethnwwre chattering in a 70 degree theater. Suspension of disbelief had been achieved.

So a girl and a guy are cuddled together in an ambulance with frosty  windows. Hernlips looked appropriately pinched and their voicesmwere strained with barely suppressed shivers. They turned to each other to express some last thoughts and … nothing came out of their mouths.

Alaskans KNOW cold. Here in Fairbanks, winter is, best case scenario and experience will vary, five months long. For nearly half of the year, when we do anything outside, fog comes out of our mouths. This happens from about 30 degrees and colder. Every time! And the lack is glaring. Willing suspension of disbelief just walked out then door. Their noses weren’t running, their lips looked pinched, not cracked and their eyes weren’t blood shot.

I get that actors don’t want to work in a freezer and shoes based in California can’t easily create hypothermic conditions, but really … you couldn’t find some 30 degree weather?

How about research? I will tackle all sorts of situations I don’t have personal experience with, but I research carefully. I find it hard to believe that a network broadcast a show without doing some very simple research on a critical element of the show – hypothermia.

I write fantasy. Write what you know is tongue-in-check advice in fantasy, but a certain acqaintence with reality is still a desirable goal.

Why Women Don’t Write Epic Fantasy

Actually, they — we — do. There is absolutely no reason why a woman cannot write a sword fight as well as a man. Really! Do you think George RR Martin actually went toe to toe with an armored knight to “know” what he wrote? Of course he didn’t.

I am a petite woman who does not swing a sword at people for a living. That hasn’t kept me from staging mock sword battles with my family in the backyard. I learned something from that. My construction worker husband is stronger than I am at swinging a wooden sword, but my daughter (a dancer) is faster both on her feet and with the blade. Guess who wins? Usually, she does if she can get him off balance quickly enough. On the other hand, her younger brother is better at reading your intentions and parrying your blows, which means that, though he wasn’t as strong as his father (until this summer) or as fast as his sister (still not), he wins most matches because you can’t get past his guard. Eventually, you wear yourself out and then he shifts his weight, gets you off balance and puts the blade to your throat. He was really cute doing that as a little kid.

There’s the drinking and the misogyny — I grew up in Alaskan bars. I just have to imagine my parents’ friends in breecs and siarcs and translate their dialogue from 20th century American to Celdryan. I daresay a woman writer could learn all about tavern scenes by hanging out at a Bikini’s on football nights.

Moreover, my female warriors (Ryanna, for example) in the Daermad Cycle will remain female. They don’t have to be men in shirts to be believable characters. They simply need to be strong women who have a cause to love and therefore to fight for. And because I am a woman, I don’t forget that they are too.

Then there’s the rough outdoor lifestyle that an epic requires. Again, I live in Alaska. I KNOW about building fires and trying to keep the rain off under a spruce tree.

At a keyboard, I’m as able to enter an epic fantasy world as any man. My anatomy does not limit my imagination. Does yours?


Why Celtic Fantasy?

I recently read an article about how European-based fantasy is ethnocentric and overdone. The writer lamented that English I speaking writers did not branch out into the other cultures of the world to mine their myths and history to base fantasies on.

Point taken. Europe is not the only culture in the world and other cultures present a rich, largely untapped resource for fantasy writers.

I based my main society on Celts. Maybe I was being ethnocentric. My own heritage is Irish, Welsh, Swedish and French-speaking American Indian. I mine the Celtic and Scandinavian cultures for the first book of the Daermad Cycle. At some point I may touch on the Wyndake culture. I hint that other Earth cultures exist in Daermad as well. If the Cycle goes long enough who knows where it will end up.

It’s important to know that writing what you know is good advice that even fantasy writers should heed. I am most comfortable with my own culture and, frankly, so are most readers. It’s hard not go wrong when you use one thing you know as a foundation to fiction. Then further you go into the story, the further afield you can roam because the reader feels comfortable with the world you started in.

Kate Elliott is one of my favorite writers and she often uses Asian or, most recently Caribbean and North African culture as resources. She does that very well and I admire her skill. Time will tell if I can do as well In my own way.

In the meantime, the Kin od Daermad are not Celts. What was my source for them?

Not sure I want to tell.