Article, History, Rachel Rueben, Writing Process

The Research Process That Went Into Miss Mary Mack

Image via Pixabay

At the beginning of most writing projects there is a bit of excitement as well as fear when it comes to approaching certain topics.  Many authors love stirring the pot but at the same time we need to be sure that we’re making sense.  No matter how desperately we want to be articulate or intellectual, if we’re not making sense we’ve failed as artists.  For example, in one of my scenes in Miss Mary Mack, I had several scenes where the children were in school and back in the 1930’s, school was a much different place than it is today.

I wanted to begin the chapter with the children saying the Pledge of Allegiance however, there was problem with that, the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t officially accepted by the U.S. Congress until 1942 and even then it was revised in 1959.  So I had to find the right version for my book to recite.  That was my first hurdle, the next would be another scene where several kids were chosen to raise the flag but as you guessed there was a problem.  You see the flag we know today was different back then because there were only 48 states.  Alaska and Hawaii were still only territories.  So my scenes had to be rewritten to reflect that.

Regrouping & Redeploying

To say I was annoyed by all this would be an understatement but I was determined to learn how schools functioned back then.  I found interviews and historical sites that filled in the gaps and learned everything you possibly could about school.  I learned about burn barrels which were used for waste disposal in country schools and even what types of lunch children brought to school (mainly leftovers from dinner or breakfast).  This type of information enabled me to make this world more tangible and relatable.

Including Myths & Folklore

As I mentioned last month, Miss Mary was a compilation of people but she was mainly inspired by the character Rosa Carmichael, a matron of a Civil War orphanage.  Rosa was an infamous character who was accused of abusing children in her care however, there is no proof that she ever existed.  The story goes that she was tried and acquitted of abuse only to be ran out of town after being accused a second time.  There are no court documents mentioning such an event and no grave was ever found belonging to Rosa.  Yet this doesn’t stop the tale from being told by locals as well as tour guides.  I took pieces of the story and wove them into my own, for example, folklore says, that in the cellar of the orphanage, there were chains where children were beaten and tortured.  However, the folklore forgets to mention that the orphanage was commandeered during the Civil War and it was most likely POWs that were shackled in that cellar.  So in my story, I make the cellar a place where unruly children are disciplined.

Why Fuss Over Minor Details?

It’s true that most people won’t notice the finer points if you don’t tell them so would it have mattered if I had the children in my story saying the Pledge of Allegiance in 1930?  Probably not, but it would’ve been embarrassing if someone did notice.  Yes all books have mistakes or inaccuracies but that doesn’t let us off the hook.  It’s our responsibility as authors to make sure our work is as great as it can possibly be.  Things don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be professional.  If you can go the extra mile, why not?  Who knows, maybe your readers will go the extra mile for you and tell everyone about your book.  🙂

Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books.  Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad.  She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.

books, Cereal Authors, History, JD Holiday, review

Book Report: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates


Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates:

The Forgotten War That Changed American History
 by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.

I love American history: the good, the bad and the total ugly! Now I have found kids are not taught most of it. When my daughter was in high school she never learn, amount many historical facts, who Alexander Hamilton was and the great part he played in starting this nation, ty United States of America. She is now forty so I fear this lack of teaching American history, the Good, the BAD and the truth of both, have not be taught to a few generations.

Barbary States of North African practiced piracy for money. U.S. merchant ships were being boarded and raided by these pirates for personal gain. The young nation was near impoverish do to debts incurred from their war of independence for Great Britain. And up to this point, before the war of Independences, the United States had been under the British flag and British paid the bribes to the Tripoli/Barbary countries.

This history account shows how appeasement does not work. Some enemies only understand strength. This book is a timely account about USA history and how strength is needed to face enemies who hate our freedom and would take it from us. This fact-based history book gives a great overview of a war most Americans don’t remember or have not been taught at all.  ~JD

History, JD Holiday, writer's life, Writing Process

A Short Look at Typewriter History. NO, Really! In A NutShell.

Enter a caption

In A Nut Shell!

In A Nut Shell!



 A Short Look at

       Typewriter History

       by J.D. Holiday

Another Stoles’ Prototype

              I have always loved history of all types. It’s usually inventions that I take the time to look at.

Sholes’ One Key Prototype

I know, most people find this of no interest. But what can I say, I think if someone takes the time to come up with anything that would make others lives easier, they deserve to be admired. Even if it’s just by me!

             You might not believe this, but there are quite a lot of articles written about the typewriter.

I found some articles that say that it all started in the 1900’s when Christopher Latham Sholes, whose work on the typewriter is undisputed, asked for carbon paper at the Milwaulee Wisconsin Telegraph Company to use with his early gizmo he, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule would called the ‘typewriting machine’ in 1867.

                                                                                        A Christopher Latham Sholes’s machine

           As with many inventions that we so take for granted; the telegraph, the automobile, and telephones to name three, many people contributed to the invention of the typewriter. And many of these machines were listed as the ‘first typewriter,’ and almost all were slower than handwriting!

          I found that the whole invention really goes back as far as the fourteenth century. But in 1575, Francesco Rampazzetto, an Italian printmaker, invented a machine to impress letters in papers. And in 1714 the first patent was issued by Henry Mill, an English engineer. Many printing or typing machines were patented by inventors throughout the centuries. All those who worked on its invention that leads up to the present day took no less than one hundred prototype and more that 50 inventors worldwide. Amazing! Will we ever know all of these inventors names?

These Italians are among them:

              In 1802, Agostino Fantoni developed a particular typewriter to enable his blind sister to write.

Pellegrino Turri machine

              In 1808, Pellegrino Turri invented a typewriter along with carbon paper to provide the ink for it.

              In 1823, Pietro Conti di Cilavegna invented a different model called the tachigrafo or tachitipo.

              And then in 1829, William Austin Burt patented a machine. This machine used a dial rather than keys called an ‘index typewriter’ so unlike the other keyboard typewriters. He was never to find a buyer and the invention was never produced.

             Charles Thurber developed multiple patents starting in 1843 to aid the blind.


The TypewriterMYER c1910-Postcard

            Another Italian inventor, Giuseppe Ravizza created a prototype his called Scribe, a harpsichord machine for writing with keys that the person could see what they were typing in 1855.

In 1861, a Brazilian priest, Francisco João de Azevedo, made his own typewriter using wood and knives.

              In 1865, a Rector from Denmark, Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented his Hansen Writing Ball which was manufactured in 1870 and was the first typewriter sold commercially and still in use up to 1909. Malling-Hansen was consided to be the inventor of the first “electric” typewriter, though the world would not see the REAL “first” electric typewriter which was produced by the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company, of Stamford, Connecticut, until 1902.

(I had to add this since

 I write books!)

              Two of the men and staunch supporters of the typewriter as well as their own work on it leading to the eventual success of it in the 1880s were James Densmore and George W. N. Yost. They recognized the great result Sholes’s had made back in 1867 and purchased Sholes’s patents for about $12,000. Not a small amount in their day. They were successful in convincing Remington and Sons in New York who made guns, sewing machines and farm aquipment in their factory to manufacture the first typewriters known as the Sholes and Gliden Type-Writer. It was a QWERTYT keyboard and the one we still use today. At the time the Sholes and Gliden Type-Writer cost $125 each.

              I know there are many names I do not name here because to do so, I would be writing, or typewriting a book. A great thanks to all those who continue to image what could be for up until this inventions all writing by writers, authors, novelists, historians, speechwriters etc was written by hand.

© 2016  by J.D. Holiday

If you took the time to read this you might want to read more about the typewriter.

Here are some link for you to visit.

I added for fun. 😀
books, Fantasy, Fiction, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Odds, ends, crazy book ideas, and snippets from our book series

Some days the words come to our manuscripts so quickly that we can hardly type them out.  Other days it feels like we can do everything but write.

I’ve been having a dry spell for a bit.  Even though I had a few ideas for books after talking to a few other authors.

One other author and I were discussing what genre sold today.  He told me cozy mysteries sold so he wanted to write a cozy mystery with clowns which made me laugh and feel better, even though clowns scare me.

I came up with a cozy mystery involving a Wiccan that drew a comic cat series which he found amusing.  I want to call it  ‘One Fat Witch’.  Who knows maybe I’ll work on that a bit and post it here.  Please kick me in the backside and remind me to write.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of Morrigan’s Brood: Crone of War (book 2 in the series)


Marcus felt the cool, early morning breeze blow through the night sky, as the horizon began to brighten to the east. The calls of birds echoed through the whispering trees as he, the rest of the warriors, and the others who accompanied them walked back towards the dun.

A few minutes before, Marcus had dismissed the Deargh Du soldiers, instructing them to dig holes in the ground to serve as their shelter from the sun. Now, their grumbled complaints rivaled the sounds of the waking day.

He followed Claudius, Mac Alpin, and the druids on the path leading towards the dun. Marcus then noticed Maél Muire stray from the group, walking at a slower pace, with her head down as if lost in thought. Just as the others disappeared into the shadows that still remained, Marcus edged back towards her, matched her pace, and gazed into her now upturned eyes. It seemed her eyes reflected a growing astonishment. Perhaps the large gathering of Deargh Du and druids had been too much for her to take.

He broke eye contact with Maél Muire and then stared ahead of them, thinking about how to prepare for the next evening’s work, when she interrupted his thoughts.

“I have never seen this side of you,” she said in a soft whisper. “Marcus, how could you be so brutal? Your actions were vicious, even for a Gael, and I have seen many bloodthirsty Gaels.”

“As a general under the command of Julius Caesar, I had not the patience or tolerance for insubordination, or the outright defiance that these Deargh Du display, and–”

“You were a general?” He could barely hear her queried interruption.

He stopped walking and noticed that she had stopped next to him. “I have never lost a battle using these tactics, Maél Muire. My men were part of a unit, and we fought for the cause of Rome. We were all unified in our struggle.” He paused for a moment. “I am just doing what I feel needs to be done to save Éire. I do not wish to offend you, but the methods I use yield winning results.” Marcus chuckled softly. “Besides, their limbs will grow back.”

As he started walking again, she paced in step with him, her shorter legs having to take two steps to make one of his.

“How are Berti, Sitara, and Edward?” he asked.

“They are all doing well,” Maél Muire answered, though her tone seemed dismissive, as if she desired to speak on a more pressing topic. “We are going to see my aunt and uncle tomorrow so they can check on Sitara’s progress. My knowledge in such things is limited.”
A pregnant pause grew between them, but soon she asked, “So, how did you become Deargh Du? Why did Morrigan choose a Roman general? Before you, She only blessed the people of Éire with Her gifts.”

Marcus sighed while trying to think of an appropriate half-truth. “Maél Muire, I do not know why the Goddess allowed it,” he began to explain. “They left me to my own devices, abandoning me to the mortal world.”

“So, did the Deargh Du encounter you within Rome, or were you in Éire? When did your transformation take place?”

“I was in Éire,” he answered, hoping she would end the interrogation soon.

“When?” she asked. “Where in Éire?” Maél Muire’s questions grew more demanding.

“Near Loch Garman,” Marcus answered, “nearly six hundred years ago.”

He heard Maél Muire stop in her tracks. He then turned around to regard her and saw pain etched across her face.

She drew her sword from its sheath and stared at him while moving into a defensive posture. “You were the Roman general who led the invasion there? You ordered the slaughter of the villagers and the druids in that grove?” Tears welled up in her green eyes.
Marcus said nothing, and yet he knew is posture exuded the guilt he felt.

“And you participated? There are still stories told of your cruelty.” He heard her voice grow wrought with emotion. “They spoke of a Roman soldier in red and gold whose swords raged like lightning strikes, a man possessed by the elements and driven with bloodlust.”

Marcus opened his mouth to speak, but she continued. “They invented words in our ancient tongue to describe you.” She finally grew silent, awaiting his answer. Her eyes now swam with angry and fearful tears as her palpable emotions intensified.

“Yes, that was me,” he confirmed, “when I was mortal. I had my reasons for being that way, Maél Muire.”

She uttered a soft cry. “I will not hear another word from you. I–”

“Please hear my story before you judge me,” Marcus pleaded. “Caesar made a deal with Mandubratius. We pledged our assistance in helping him regain his lands in Britannia. We invaded Britannia, yet there was a stalemate, and Mandubratius led one of our ships to what we all believed to be the western coast of Britannia. Instead, we found ourselves in Éire, and while ten of us went scouting for Mandubratius’ comrades, the local chieftains and their warriors killed my men. The soldiers were scattered over the beach, their bodies desecrated.”

Marcus stopped speaking to let her brain digest the information. He then continued, “The Britons were nowhere to be found. The one survivor of my men told me, before he died from his wounds, that Mandubratius’ friends had spurned us and joined with the Gaels. We then turned our fury on Mandubratius.” He decided to leave out the details of the punishment. “Then, we went to find the killers, burning the forest as we marched, killing whatever dared cross our paths. It was about justice, Maél Muire, justice for my dead men. Don’t you desire justice?”

“But you still have not told me how you became Deargh Du!” Maél Muire raged. “The bards say Morrigan Herself came down to slay the invaders! Why did She choose you? How could a murderer such as you be accepted by Her? I cannot believe this!” Maél Muire then pointed her sword at him. “If you did not have the blessing of the Council, I would insist you leave immediately. However, because you do, I will only insist that you not present yourself in my dun. Bearach will bring your things to your dark hole,” she hissed.

Marcus watched Maél Muire storm off with her jaw and fists clenched in utter fury.


Again…please remind me to write.  😉

Have a wonderful August!

Fiction, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Dynasties of Night prologue

Normally, I would plan on putting together an interview or something interesting on writing.  However, as many of you know I’m still plodding through remodeling.  Today the new floors are going to be put into the master suite…or maybe the countertop.  I’m not sure to be on.

So I figured I’d toss in what I’ve been working on lately.  The hubby and I are working on a story that centers in Heian-era Japan, Japan in the 9th century to be specific.  It’s been a lot of fun, but the research is kind of difficult.  So here’s the prologue so far.


The sun kissed her body and Brigid sighed in absolute contentment.  She stretched out her right paw and then brought it back in to lick it and wipe the right of her face, then the left.  Such were the simple pleasures and joy in this form of her favorite animal.

Then again the reality of the predicament reared its head again.

What am I to do about Marcus?

She wished greatly to test him, but she could not decide how to accomplish that.  If only she could think of an idea.

Brigid considered returning to grooming herself, but the satisfaction from the act remained a distant memory.  She rolled over and stretched after getting to her feet.

She heard a sound and swiveled her ears to catch more of the noise.  A voice captured her attention.  She rotated her head to pinpoint the origin of the utterance.

A child sobbed into its hands.  Brigid narrowed her eyes.  It appeared to be a female child about seven or eight cycles old from the far eastern part of the mortal realm.  Nippon perhaps?

With her goddess eyes she could see the girl’s hidden form.

A Dragon!  How thrilling!

t had been so long since she spied a dragon.  Yet the girl seemed far from excited.  She sobbed in between pauses of silence, all while staring at a massive game board.

Brigid found it odd that a deity would bring a game to this haven.  For her, this realm was a warm sandy beach, with sea salt in the air.

The dragon child leaned over the board and sobbed again.

Brigid felt her curiosity rise beyond measure.  She stretched again and gathered herself into a crouch, loving the feel of sand between her feet, acting as a massage for her pads and paws.  She moved in closer to the girl and stopped ten feet away.

The girl looked away from her game.

“Oooo, kitty!”  She said.

A Goddess getting caught by a dragon?  How pitiful that I could be caught.

The girl rose from her seat and ran over to Brigid, but stopped short.  She smiled a toothy grin, lowered herself to her knees.  The dragon with a child’s face extended a hand.

Brigid extended her nose and sniffed at the fingers, even though she could smell the girl just fine.  Yet something made her purr.

“You’re such a pretty kitty,” the girl cooed.  “May I hold you?”

Brigid decided to continue the ruse.  She stood up and rubbed her body against the girl’s left leg, waiting to be lifted.  Tiny hands wrapped around her and lifted Brigid a short distance to her chest.

Soft and gentle lips brushed her brow.

Are dragon deities always so soft and gentle?

“I was hoping I could meet a friend to talk to,” the girl murmured.  “I really need a friend after what my brother has done.  I could use assistance or advice.  Let me explain.”

The dragon goddess stood up and hefted up Brigid, carrying her to the game board.  Brigid found herself on a wooden pedestal that appeared.  The high perch gave her a good view of the game board.  Yet the term ‘game board’ was not an apt description for this toy.

The board looked like the Nippon islands and many colorful tiles represented different things within the map.  There were armies, priests, an emperor, peasants, and crops, as well as other aspects of the life in the mortal realm.  The map seemed to zoom in on some point like a city.  Brigid narrowed her eyes again, watching individual pieces interact together in intricate detail.  She could see mortals, animals, and other beings.

“This is my land,” the child explained.  “My mother and father gave me these lands when they took on other duties.”  She moved her right hand over the board and the scale of the map increased.  The areas around the Nippon islands became visible.  The islands became a dark red as another land mass to the west of the islands turned jade green.

“These are my brother’s lands,” the dragon girl explained.  “Father didn’t think I could be responsible for such a large area.  In private I complained to my brother about it but he said not to worry because he had a plan.  He said it would be easier to control our lands if we built a great game board together.  This isn’t the main game board.  It’s in our realm.  It’s much larger than this of course.  I only take this with me when I wish to be alone.”

Brigid looked over at the girl a moment, impressed with the idea of a complex game simplified to this board.  It must take a great deal of work to get it to function correctly.  It reminded her of world-building games in the mortal realm.

“My brother is so good at this game,” the little dragon informed Brigid.  “I couldn’t keep up and I would walk away from the game to pout.”  The girl looked into the distance for a moment.  “Then my brother proposed that we just watch the game and not play it.  I didn’t think my side was in a good position to win, but at least he wouldn’t be interfering with the game anymore.  For a few hundred years, we watched.”

Her eyes teared up again.

Brigid stretched out a paw and the girl allowed her to wipe away tears.  The dragon girl rubbed Brigid’s head and back.

Brigid lost her concentration and rolled onto her back to get her tummy rubbed.

The girl continued to pet her.  “My brother’s people have become so dominate that my people’s culture has almost disappeared.  He swears he doesn’t play, but there are signs that he does and he cheats!”

The dragon goddess began crying again.  “Why would he do that to me, kitty?  He’s older and he has so many advantages?  Why does he have to be mean?”  Her sobbing grew louder.

Brigid decided she needed to do more than just listen.  She sat up again, and took on another form and embraced the other goddess.

“I understand why you cry, little dragon,” Brigid said.  “You said you needed help and I wish to help you.”

The other goddess hugged her in response.  “You do?”

“Yes.”  Brigid changed her form again, to her favorite maiden form, a blonde, freckled, green-eyed girl who might have seen seven to eight cycles.  Brigid beamed a full radiant smile to her new companion.  “Now, let’s get back at your brother!”

Her new friend stopped crying and grabbed her arm.

“This will be so much fun!”  Brigid promised her.


Hope you all enjoyed.  Now back to smelling fumes!  😛




books, Fantasy, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Morrigan’s Brood: Prologue

Hope you all enjoy!



Journal I

She gave me gall ink, quills, and several sheets of vellum today. Finally, I have a chance to record my past, what I can remember of it.

However, the legend remains forefront in my mind. So this is my first entry, the Legend of the Deargh Du. It is the story of my line, my people, and the Goddess who created us. The sun rises soon, and the fire is dying, so I must make haste. Here is the tale.


Morrigan, the Tuath Goddess of blood, battle, justice, destruction, and rebirth, gazed upon the expanse of the impending battle below. To the east, She could see the massive army of Mílesians disembarking from their crude, yet seaworthy, vessels. The Iberian invaders wanted to try conquering the rich land of Éire again.

As She exchanged glances with the others of Her family, The Tuatha dé Danann, She noticed Her consort, Dagda the All-Father, striding to Her side as they assembled for battle.

Morrigan licked Her lips in anticipation. Soon, spilled blood would mix with the green grass, causing a myriad of delightful scents. Soon, Her ravens could feast again. This time, She would join them.

“Remember what Lady Dana, mother to us all, told us, Morrigan.”

“Dearest, how could I forget?” Morrigan felt Her lips turn up into a grimace. Dagda always wanted to be fair, even to His enemies.

“I know that look,” Dagda whispered into Morrigan’s ear. “You are the Great Balancer. Practice some restraint.”

“They are our enemies,” She hissed in reply.

“Do not allow your anger at the invaders to overwhelm you. They are our mortal brethren, after all.”

Morrigan sighed, before drawing Her blade. While Her consort provided for Her and loved Her, Dagda’s little rules about peace and harmony always proved to be highly annoying. Life always involved highs and lows, even for immortals. Tipping the great balance toward good or evil always caused ripples in nature. Such ripples made Her duties more difficult.
Morrigan tilted Her head to the side in order to study the advancing Iberians. “Just another group of invaders.” She chuckled to herself. “They will never learn. Perhaps it is time for these rash Mílesians to learn not to tread on our lands.”

As soon as the Mílesians gathered into some semblance of a formation, their leader shouted out a blood-curdling battle cry. At that moment, the enemy charged full force.
Morrigan peered into the leader’s dynamic, diamond-blue eyes as he ran, and She could see no fear. Oh, how She would love to see fear in those eyes of his. Perhaps She would have that opportunity soon. “Attack,” She shouted as she began to charge.

In answer, the roar of the Tuath chariots echoed through Tara as they galloped over the hills to engage the enemy, but then Dagda shouted, “Hold back,” while waving his arms at them, and then the chariots slowed to a walk. Their drivers seemed anxious to charge.

Morrigan ceased Her charge to stare menacingly at Dagda. An itch to plunge Her blade into a mortal heart made Morrigan twitch. She could sense every mortal warrior’s heart beat faster and faster as they ran. The scent of blood created by each beating heart became an aphrodisiac for Her bloodlust. Her resolve to stand still and wait for Dagda to make up his mind dwindled in the face of Her hunger to enact vengeance. The Balance had to be maintained.

Finally, Her hunger for rash action won. “I can wait no longer,” She cried out. Morrigan then pushed Her way past the other swordsmen and charged the enemy.

She could hear Dagda’s grumble of discontent as He and the others joined Her mad dash towards the waiting swords. The roar of the chariots resumed.

Morrigan lost Herself in the tide of redness that overwhelmed the green, sloping hills of Tara. Spears whooshing through the air, swords clanging on other swords and shields, and the screaming, grunting, and shouting of men and women created a sweet song to Her ears.

One had to admire the Mílesians for their fighting skills and bravery. They cut down many immortal warriors. Flush with victory, they continued striking down the Tuaths, unaware of the invincibility of their foe.

However, fear soon flooded the ranks of the remaining Mílesians as they realized that the dead Tuaths returned to life, even after being hacked into pieces. The mortal warriors screeched in horror as the Tuaths impaled them with spears. Soon, sleeting rain hit the Mílesians, pummeling the warriors into submission.

Morrigan’s pleasure tripled as the majority of the remaining Mílesians took flight, heading back to their ships on the beach, and began calling on their druid Amairgin for assistance.
In short order, the ships pushed away from the shore, leaving behind the dead and wounded Mílesians as offerings for the carrion birds.

“Come,” She called to the others. “We will show them what we do to our enemies.”

Dagda held up both hands and replied, “Peace, Triple-One. We shall ask Dana first.”

“They are invaders, Dagda,” She argued in a hushed tone.

“The Iberian Invaders have no home, remember? The sons of the King Míl left for a new horizon after their enemy took their lands and cattle,” Dagda explained, while leaning up against an oak. “Have mercy and let them come forth. Perhaps they will wish for a truce, now. Perhaps they will want to join forces with us against the Fir Bolg. We could use such a worthy mortal adversary to our benefit. Tara and Éire will remain in our hands.”

Morrigan sighed. “Fine, work out a truce with our enemies.” She then thrust Her sword in the ground and stomped away, watching as the other Tuaths cleared out of Her path. They then formed a circle and began discussing what terms they should offer. She could hear them deciding that they would allow the Iberians either to join them, leave peacefully, or drown in the cold sea.

Fury inflamed Her as She recalled previous invasions. If the others wished to be peaceful, they could. However, She would enjoy tipping the balance against these warriors any way She could. Morrigan cawed as She transformed into a raven and took to the sky, leaving the others behind. Burning hunger grew within.

Morrigan watched cold flecks of snow fall as the Tuaths left the battlefield, leaving the dying Mílesian warriors behind on the hillside of Tara. The remaining ice transformed into slush as mud and blood mixed with the sleet. Deep red pools of vitae spilled from the dead and dying Mílesian warriors.

Morrigan the raven flew over the carnage. She then paused mid-flight upon seeing a pair of limbs flail about as a warrior tried to pull a spear from his torso. Intrigued, She hovered in closer for a better look. Morrigan soon realized that She beheld the leader of the Mílesian force. The spear, with which he struggled, held him to the ground.

As Morrigan watched the warrior’s blood escape from his lips, he soon ceased shivering. She could feel great warmth surround his soul as his spirit prepared to depart for the Otherworld. She then cast Her shadow across his broken form and turned the air around them as black as Her feathers. She would not let his soul depart so soon. Morrigan then landed on his chest and stared at the face of the prone figure in the snow. Fear greeted her gaze. Ah, how much She enjoyed finally seeing fear in his diamond-blue eyes.

Morrigan soon hopped to the ground and returned to Her previous form. She then knelt next to his prone figure, leaned forward in order to drown Herself in the aroma of his blood, and then closed Her eyes. She stretched Her neck, letting Her nose guide Her, and began licking away the reddened trails of blood from his skin, losing Herself in the fear exuding from his blood. His terror immersed in Her consciousness, pushing aside the other concerns of battle. She continued to partake of the man’s spilled blood.

These new invaders exuded life, and their memories tasted sweet and intoxicating. The coast of Iberia, home of the Mílesians, became clear in Her mind. Then, exhilaration swallowed Her whole when another emotion emerged from the warrior. Utter fury.  So delicious.

Morrigan opened Her eyes again, looked up, and noticed that the skies had darkened, signaling the time to return home with the others back to Dagda. She rolled Her eyes, thinking of Dagda’s displeasure at Her blood thirst. Defiant, She pulled back a lock of Her hair and turned Her head to regard to the dying enemy once again.

She slid Her tongue across his cold mouth, licking away the remaining blood. As his death drew near, the warrior shook and turned to face Her. She then began to pull out the spear pinning the warrior to the ground, watching him wince as She drew it out inch by inch. Her ears feasted upon his cries of agony. With the spear now withdrawn, She tossed it aside.

“Who…” he whispered, as confusion and anger covered his face.

She snorted a laugh and shook Her head. “I have many names,” She whispered. “Some call me Badhbh, Macha, or Neman. For simplicity, most call me Morrigan. You may call me Phantom Queen. I reign over battle, death, destruction, creation, justice, and revenge. I am She Who Maintains the Balance.” Morrigan paused and then added, “I watched you during the battle. You were magnificent, Adhamdh,” She purred his name.

Surprise greeted Her.

“Yes, I know your name. You were superb, just not good enough to survive my immortal clan.”

His ire sweetened his blood as he stared at Her. “I call you by your true name, Witch,” he whispered. “Stop taking my essence.”

Morrigan’s battle apron flapped in the cold winds as She sprawled next to him. She leaned over, traced the remnants of blood surrounding his lips with Her index finger, and raised it to Her mouth. She exhaled as the fury leapt from his blood into Her body. Morrigan then leaned forward and whispered into Adhamdh’s ear. “I will do as I please.”

Soon, however, his annoying impertinence grew tiresome. “You are nothing but a witch, trying to snatch my soul away to keep me from joining my brethren in the Otherworld.”

Morrigan snarled before regained Her senses. “Fine,” She hissed. “I will show you that I am no mere witch.” Morrigan sat up and tossed aside the bracer on Her right wrist. She then brought Her teeth to Her bare arm and tore away at Her flesh. She crawled over towards Adhamdh and raised Her hand over Adhamdh’s face.

“Now, watch a Goddess heal,” She whispered as she watched him stare up at Her.

“You bleed as I do,” he hissed, “and now I will take your essence back with me to the Otherworld.”

Without warning, he latched onto Her mending wrist with his teeth. Adhamdh then drank some of Her blood, before rolling over onto his side, clutching at his stomach, and gagging. His eyes glazed over as he began to giggle and then laugh in a maniacal fashion.

His body then began to transform to become more beautiful, more perfect.

Morrigan gasped, horrified that She had failed to prevent this heinous action. She needed to take care of this mistake and send Adhamdh to the Otherworld, but at that moment, She felt his mind tickle Hers. At first, She experienced annoyance at finding Adhamdh within Her mind. However, She soon felt a wordless acceptance and gratitude from him. Morrigan relished that the former mortal understood Her motives and the reasons behind them. He knew, and yet he did not flee like other mortals or turn away like Her fellow Tuaths.

She never realized that sharing Her essence could be so satisfying. For once, true calm settled over Her. The warrior Goddess closed Her eyes, enjoying the understanding between Herself and the former mortal about the need for balance and the hunger for bloodshed, destruction, and creation.

Adhamdh turned back to Her and began licking away Her bloody wound.

Morrigan watched Adhamdh’s wounds close as the harsh reality of what She had done grew more clear. A mortal man had ingested Her immortal blood. Her family, the Tuatha dé Danann, would be furious that She had permitted a mortal to share in Her essence, even though it had been an accident. She could still terminate him, but he seemed to fill a void previously unknown. She could not destroy him now. She needed him. Besides, he could help Her manipulate mankind for Her own satisfaction.

Adhamdh looked at the Goddess with his newly changed, glowing green eyes. Morrigan turned to watch him, and She felt Her face smooth into a small smile.

Morrigan clasped Adhamdh’s cold hand. “We must go now. There is much for you to learn,” She told him as she banished the darkness around them.

They flew far from the battlefield to the hills where the Tuaths held dominion.

The Gods, Goddesses, and fae-folk turned away from Adhamdh. They found him unnatural, but Morrigan enjoyed Her newfound child. Adhamdh’s thirst for blood matched Her own, and Adhamdh understood Her bloodlust unlike Dagda or the others.

The Tuaths and faeries called Adhamdh the “Deargh Du”. He spent his days hiding from the killing sun, and he hunted with Morrigan at night, feasting on the blood of mortals and the wild creatures of Éire.

As the years passed, others of Adhamdh’s kind stalked the night. Morrigan’s Brood became legendary, forever caught in the world of mortals with the blood of a Goddess in their veins.

Beautiful, immortal, deadly.


My friend, the young druid, leaves me again to rejoin her teachers. Despite her offers of friendship, there is something in her eyes that chills me to my bones. Still, she offers me the secrets of our race, and I long for the friendship of a companion, even a mortal one. I only fear that my hunger will rise again one night, and she will become my victim.

She promises to teach me more tomorrow night. Perhaps then the thick fog of the past century will clear.

– M.G.P.H

Dianna Graveman, History, Life, Musings, Nonfiction

The more things change . . .

Well, I was off the (Cereal Authors) grid for a while . . . about three and a half years. In that time, a lot has changed: my youngest moved to Jackson, Wyoming; my oldest moved to Tampa, Florida; two of my kids got married; and lots of other business-related and life-related stuff happened.

More changes are in the works for 2016. I don’t mean to sound like a politician here (God knows, we all get enough of that during the election season!), but change is good. It is life-affirming. It keeps me young(ish).

Recently, my coauthor/husband and I completed our fifth regional history for Arcadia Publishing: Legendary Locals of St. Charles. DurLegendary Localsing our research, we encountered the stories of many notable locals who weren’t afraid of change or of trying new things. For example, Sophie Hupe became a well-respected midwife after she was widowed at age fifty-one. Previously, she had worked as clerk, run a millinery shop, and partnered in the hotel business. Not bad for a woman born in 1848!

Kathryn Linnemann, another “mover and shaker,” started a library with donated books in her own home, later moving it to a small room at a local school as the library grew. In 1918 a fire destroyed the little library and several of its books, but Linnemann didn’t give up—she salvaged what she could and continued to operate in a small shed until a library board formed and a tax was passed to construct a new building in 1930. Talk about a woman who wasn’t afraid of change! Of course, she also embraced diligence, because she remained head librarian of that facility for forty years.

Spring is a great season for change: new wardrobe, new buds on the trees, new sprouts in the garden, new life. It’s a wonderful time to try a new hobby or pursue a long-neglected passion, like blogging! So here I am back with the wonderful group at Cereal Authors, wishing everyone a season full of jubilant changes and joyful happenstances.

To Spring!

Update: Legendary Locals of St. Charles was the #2 bestseller at area independent bookstores for the week ending March 27, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.