Old Blind Dogs

Old Blind Dogs

Today’s new rule: There are some words that contain a “d” in one dictionary and a “t” in another. It depends on who writes the dictionary and what the trend is at the time.

Ha! (which means “Yes!”) We’re learning a more interesting rules and words and it’s wonderful. I love every brain wrinkling minute.

By the way, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but while the Gaelic classes are happening, there are also vocal and fiddle classes.

Tomorrow they will perform. I’m really looking forward to hearing them. What I’m kind of excited about and kind of dreading is that our little Level I class is also going to sing a song in Gale (Gaelic.) It’s a Puirt.

If you’re an Outlander fan you may remember the scene where Clair urinates in a bucket and then the ladies dipped the cloth they were working in the pee. They sang a song while stretching the fabric. That song is called a Puirt. It helps them keep the rhythm. But trust me, there will be no buckets of pee or stretching of cloth—unless it’s me nervously pulling on my sleeve or something.

Speaking of music, tonight we had a concert by Old Blind Dogs. They were fantastic. I’d love to insert a you tube video but those things are rarely good. So instead I added a link to their website. They are Celtic music at it’s finest. If you like reels, or sad Gaelic songs, check them out!

https://www.oldblinddogs.co.uk

And because I stayed out late I’m going to end here.

Oidhche Mhath

A Taste of Gaelic

A Taste of Gaelic

Blas Den Ghaidhlig (A Taste of Gaelic) 

Last night we had a meet and greet wine welcome. There are eleven of us in Level One. Most of us sat together commiserating on how nervous we were about class. United in our fear and excitement and sat together again at breakfast.

To our relief, we have a wonderful and patient instructor, Coinneach—Kenneth in English. We all mess up equally so we moved quickly past the nerves and embarrassment. I am the only American. Most of our class is from Scotland but there is a German and a French woman and nobody laughed or gave stink eye to anybody.

Even the upper level students seem to remember what it was like to be a fledgling in the language.

Things I’ve learned about Gaelic so far:

It was a spoken only language for many many years. Then linguist tried to write it down but apparently they had either an evil streak or a wicked since of humor because there is no correlation with another language.

The letter h seems to be randomly thrown into words and sometimes it’s silent, sometimes it’s not.

If the letter T appears before a word, then it kills the first letter of the next word. For example,

D`e ‘n t-aimn a th’ ort? Is pronounced Je t inim a horst. It means Where are you from?

The Scots surnames are often Mac – something which means son of. MacInnes means son of Angus. But, if Murchadh MacInnes gets married, his new wife, Margaret, is now called Mairead NicInnes. Simple right?

My name, Mary, is M`airi unless you are speaking directly to me, then it’s a Mh`airi  pronounced

A vadi. See, it’s those h’s again.

Is your head spinning? Imagine 8 hours of this.

Actually, it’s been fun. Sort of like reading a fantasy novel, you have to suspend disbelief or in this case suspend logic and just go with it. Coinneach’s wise words to us. Learn to say the word before you see it. Because if you see it first, it’ll mess you up forever. You have to forget all you know about English.

Other things I’ve learned about the Scotts besides that they are the most lovely people on the planet:

It’s just a wee walk, means at least 2 miles and probably 10. I learned this last year but after one of my classmates discussed taking a wee walk to the next village—6 miles away—I felt it was important to include here.

It’s a wee breeze, (Ha i gaothach beagan) means there are gale force winds coming off the water.

Highland Dance is super fun and great for the legs and cardio. How do I know you ask? Well I attended a highland dance class after dinner (also called tea here.)

Forget bar, put away palates, don’t even think about Zumba. I think it should be the new fling—er thing. CAUTION! If you’ve just consumed a large plate of Lamb stew, it might not be a good idea to go jumping about in a crowded room. All that action could cause a couple of farts to escape—just saying for a friend.

I’d hoped to post a picture of the Highland Dance class but forgot my phone. You know, the one I upgraded to because it had a fancy camera. Yeah. I’ll try to get some new pictures tomorrow. Afterall, the evening’s entertainment is a concert by Old Blind Dogs!

Anyway, after dance class, it was up to the pub for a wee dram and Pub Quiz. Trivia in another country is difficult. Trivia in Gaelic in another country is impossible. English translations were thrown in but it was so mixed in with the Gaelic it didn’t help much. Score one for me, I managed one correct answer for our table. I picked up the word Twilight and guessed Stephanie Myer. Whoop!

Day One was everything I’d hoped and more. I can’t wait for tomorrow! Until then.

Oidche mhath – Good Night.

 

 

Time to Breathe

Time to Breathe

I made it to Skye! I’m in my little dorm room and in a couple of hours I’ll meet the rest of the people attending classes here.

Excitement has built over the months, weeks, and days as time neared for me to go on this crazy adventure.

I’ve diligently studied Gaelic via the short course Sabhal Mor Ostaig ( The University of Highlands and Islands in Sleet, Skye) recommended. I’ve spent way too much time wondering what the classes will be like and if I’ll really catch on to this difficult language.

As T-3 months became T-3 weeks I decided to upgrade my phone to an X. Yep I did it, I went for the better camera and the app that allows you to send a text as a talking unicorn. I mean, after all, the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. It’s true—look it up!

And then, while I was upgrading my phone, my gotta-have-it brain kicked in and I purchased an Apple watch. It’s super cool with all sorts of important built in bells and whistles—like the Breathe app. With a gentle vibration it reminds you it’s time to breathe. And if you engage the app, it will take you through a 1 minute exercise.

So with watch on hand and I-phone X in purse I packed my bags and made my way to Scotland.

Other than discovering in Denver that I needed 4 new tires, everything has gone right on schedule. I even scored a business class upgrade on my Denver to London flight!

But as I lay on that fancy bed trying to sleep, anxiety crept into my daydreams of Skye.

What if I can’t learn the language? I’d been at it for weeks and every time I’d turn from the computer screen, I’d forget what I had  just learned. What if I’m the oldest person there? What if everybody else is Scottish and gives me the stink eye when I butcher their language. Holy Cow! What was I thinking?

In London, I handed the customs agent my landing card and stepped up to the booth. I shoved away my anxiety and smiled brightly as I prepared for him to ask a few simple questions, stamp my passport, and allow me into the UK. The first thing he did was look at my occupation and ask if I was really an author.

A question I’ve asked myself over the years. But I smiled and with my strongest fake-confidence said, “Yes, sir. I am

Agent: Well, I’ve never heard of you. Is it really your job?

Yes, sir.”

Agent: Well I don’t read much so I guess that’s okay. Why are you here?

I straightened my shoulders and said, “I’m going to the University of Highlands and Islands in Skye to study Gaelic.”

Agent: Are you really going to study Gaelic?

I could hear the squeal of my false bravado escaping like a leaky balloon. “Yes-s-s, s-sir.

Agent: Do you have proof?

I handed him my class schedule. I thought he’d take one look and let me pass. Nope. He studied for about an hour – or a minute. At this point time was wonky.

Then he looked up and said, “I can’t read this. It’s in Gaelic.”

“The English is beneath the Gaelic.”

I’m not sure he understood that my statement was not a commentary on his mother tongue. Because, he removed his glasses and studied scheduled harder.  People in line behind me began to dance around either in hopes or in dread that I was about to be hauled away to wherever they take slightly over middle aged writers with a desire to learn Gaelic. At last he let out long exaggerated sigh, stamped my passport, and allowed me to cross the boarder into the UK.

Once across, I should have been relieved. Instead, all of the anxiety that had settled in the base of my belly awoke. It hit me full force choking my airway, churning my gut, and screaming into my brain that I was a fool for doing this, that I was going to be laughed at.

And then…my watch jiggled my wrist and purple letters scrolled across the screen.

Time to breathe.

And I did. I followed my little watch’s instructions and I thought about what an adventure I’ll have. Even if I leave only slightly more educated, I’ll have tried. Even if I am laughed at, it’ll make a great story.

I’ve made it to Skye and I’m sitting in my little dorm room waiting for time to meet the others. I’m still nervous but as long as I have my watch to remind me to breathe, I know I’ll be okay.

 

 

 

Everything is New!

Everything is New!

 

It’s the first day of March. Spring is on its way. Soon the ski season will come to a close, the snow will melt, and wildflowers will blanket the mountain side. And,  just as mother nature is making way for a new season, there are changes in my life too.

First off, Welcome to my new website! I want to give a big shout out and thank you to my web designer, Nate Whidden.  I couldn’t be happier. It’s beautiful!

Secondly, I’d like to introduce you to my new fantasy series.

I haven’t left my small town Texas books behind but I’m taking a break to focus on these exciting new books.

The first book, Magic Harvest, is about fairy trafficking in the human world. Think Taken meets Tolkien. I’m anxious to show off the cover but we’ll all have to wait until the big reveal on May 29, 2018.

The release date is September 18, 2018.

Set in Scotland, these books have fed my obsession with Scottish folklore or should I say, have increased my obsession. I’ve added a Creature Companion page to my website to feature Scottish mythical critters. The first few are from my imagination but soon I will post traditional folklore creatures as well.

My passion for Scottish folklore led me to The University of Highlands and Islands in Skye. I will be traveling to the university in a few weeks to take an immersive Gaelic class. I hope to be accepted into the Celtic Heritage MA program as well. Wish me luck!

Don’t forget the release date of Magic Harvest. September 18! Pre-orders will be available soon. To celebrate this new series, I will be giving away great prizes straight from Scotland. I hope you can party with me! More on that later…

If you have questions or would like to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Mary

Fauth

Fauth

A fierce dragon with a taste for fairies. He was captured after the horrible massacre at the Fairy Harvest Festival stripped of his magic, changed to human form, and banished to the human world.

Dark Harvester

Dark Harvester

Unfortunate creatures who are forced or stumble into the bog of the black fog. They lose soul to the bog and in exchange they are given the power to harvest another being’s magic. Dark Harvesters steal the magic of others but with nothing to bind to it will fade. So they go on stealing and killing to maintain their magic. They are often controlled by the one who forced them into the bog.

Description: Their skin tone is a golden brown and their eyes are beautiful the color somewhere between dark blue and steal grey. Beautiful and deadly, the dark harvester’s looks are meant to mesmerize. Once trapped by their eyes, the victim’s magic is pulled from their essence leaving them with a burned out hull of a body.

Cràdh

Cràdh

A spiritual parasite that enters the body of an unsuspecting creature and invokes feelings to suit its pleasure. Often it feeds off feelings of doubt. It is also known to invoke hate and is also known as the spirit of war.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

IMG_6132

Although we’ve had a dusting of snow, we are waiting for Mother Nature to do her thing and dump loads of the white stuff. It looks like the ski area opening will be delayed but we know it will eventually come. It always does.

Last month I mentioned my hot chocolate obsession. It’s out of control! But if you are interested in joining me in this delicious decadence here’s my special recipe.

  • 1cup  organic whole milk with DHA Omega 3
  • 2 HEAPING tablespoons of Nestles Quick
  • Mini marshmallows – enough to cover the top of your mug
  • Whipped cream
  • Baileys Irish Cream – 1 ounce (If it’s been a stressful day 2)

Pour milk in microwave proof mug or measuring cup. Zap 1 minute. Add quick. Stir. Zap 1 minute. THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART:

Pour heated chocolate/milk mixture in a mug. Add Baileys. Cover the top with mini marshmallows, Drizzle a little more Baileys on top. Cover with whipped cream. Drizzle a little more Baileys on top.

Enjoy!!!

NEWS!

patty_red_256

I am featuring Patty Blount in my November newsletter. (A little late, yes I know. I need to get on a first of the month rotation.) Sign up for my newsletter ( if you haven’t already) for a chance to win Patty’s newest novel, The Way It Hurts.

Also I want to give a warm thanks to Jean Baxter for being my October featured author!

Here’s wishing you all a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving. Please pray for all of the snow to be sent to Taos Ski Valley. And if you haven’t asked here, check us out. We not only offer world class skiing, we are making improvements every year. This year we have a new Kids center. It is AMAZING.

 

 

 

 

 

September Newsletter Winner

September Newsletter Winner

Welcome Fall! I hope your days are cool and crisp. We’ve had nights in the 30’s and 40’s and days in the 60’s and the mountain is displaying her fall colors.

As many of you I have a serious hot chocolate addiction. With cold weather, I don’t have to sweat while I’m drinking it. So what makes my hot chocolate so great? Watch for my newsletter to get my special recipe.

Once again I want to congratulate my September featured author Pricilla Oliveras on her debut book His Perfect Partner. Check it out on Goodreads.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33889426-his-perfect-partner

The winner of His Perfect Partner is: Meggans Bowen! Congratulations!

October’s newsletter is full of exciting stuff too.

The featured author will be Jean Baxter.

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter don’t forget to sign up by the end of October for a chance to win a copy of Jean’s book Salvageable.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35158010-salvageable?from_search=true

And, AND, AND  I’m giving away a Kindle. Yep. One lucky newsletter subscriber will win a Kindle.

If you haven’t had read Hickville Redemption it’s on sale!

https://www.amazon.com/Hickville-Redemption-High-Book-ebook/dp/B073ZL8T3V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507081917&sr=8-1&keywords=Hickville+Redemption

 

 

Why Are Reviews Important?

Did you know that reviews help an author’s book become visible?

According to Amazon, “General consumer data on how popular your item is will influence search result relevance.” In other words, the more reviews there are, the further up in the search results the title will be.

For example, if you search Young Adult Romance, there are over three MILLION titles. That’s a lot of books! A book with 15 reviews will probably rank somewhere around the three millionth book on the list. In other words, it’s invisible. A book with 50 or 100 reviews will move up dramatically. Not to mention, reviews drive sales.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. I see books on the first page of my search results with only three reviews.” You are correct. There are exceptions to the rule. If the author has had best sellers in the past, they get a bye on new releases. But if sales tank and reviews don’t come in, they’ll drop further in the search. Maybe not to the three millionth level, but certainly off the coveted first page.

So how do you write a review?

It’s easy. It doesn’t have to be more than a sentence or two. Pretend your friend has asked what you thought of the book and answer just as you would to them. It’s okay if it’s not a five-star review. It’s okay to mention weak spots in the book. Just BE NICE!

Is Amazon the only place you should leave reviews?

No. I chose Amazon because they have more than the lion’s share of the market—as in 75% of it. Apple iBooks is number two at 12%. If you purchased a book from another source, iBooks or Nook for example, leave a review there. If you’re a member of Goodreads, that is another fantastic place to leave a review. If you loved the book, tell the world via word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media platform you frequent. You can’t imagine how much this helps an author.

One more thing—if there is an author you love, join their mailing list. Go to their website. I don’t know a single author who doesn’t enjoy connecting with their readers. Some will even give away free stuff. Some may invite you to be a part of an exclusive readers’ group, where you can talk with other readers about the books you love.

So that’s the skinny. Keep reading and please post reviews!