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Friday, October 24, 2008

Author Spotlight: Sheryl Brennan


Today's author in the spotlight is Sheryl Brennan and her November 2008 release, Celtic Sacrifice, available for pre-order from Underdog Press.


Historical Romance Author Sheryl Brennan brings the past to awe-inspiring light with her debut book Celtic Sacrifice. Sheryl is not only an author, but also a mother, has a degree in business, and volunteers her time and expertise. Sheryl's writing experience ranges from journalism and corporate communications for non-profit organizations to Web content editing. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Kentucky Romance Writers, and Louisville Romance Writers. She currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her three beautiful daughters.

Why I write:

Have you ever stopped an activity that you REALLY enjoyed doing, then picked it up again one day and asked yourself, "Self, why in the world did we quit doing this?"

That’s exactly what happened to me in July of 2007.

I had just graduated from college with my degree in Business Management. It took me ten years to earn that degree. I should’ve been breathing a sigh of relief. Instead, I felt incomplete. Like a part of my life was still missing.

So, I did the only thing I could to compose my thoughts and figure out why I felt this way. I wrote. Over the course of days, my journal entries went from how I was feeling, to new characters that popped into my head and pleaded for me to tell their stories.

In six short weeks, I’d completed a historical romance manuscript and was working on the sequel. I wrote during my lunch hours, when I got home from work (in-between homework, dinner, etc.), and from the time the kids went to bed, until sometimes one and two a.m.! The next day, I’d get up and start all over again. On the weekends, I’d sneak in as much writing time as I possibly could. And you know what? I COULDN'T HAVE BEEN HAPPIER.

It had been nearly twenty years since I put on my writer’s hat, but in that short period, my world came into focus. This was what I’d been missing. So now, I’m making up for lost time. The ideas and characters just keep coming: from the American South, Ireland, Wales, and Italy. I’ll be writing a tale for each, and I’d love to share them with you.

BLURB:


“Do you know how to make the gods laugh, Ceana? Tell them of your plans.”

When members of her dead mother’s clan of O’Connor come to claim Ceana O’Hagan on her eighteenth birthday, she believes her destiny is clear: to marry Cian O’Connor, become a druid priestess, and restore the mystic powers of a long-lost ancestor.

The path becomes muddy when a mysterious stranger captures Ceana’s heart as well as her body, setting an alternate course of events into motion. Dangling within the chasms of religion, duty, and newly discovered emotions, will Ceana’s desire to fulfill her tribal obligations force her to give up the love of Cian, her country, and her culture, or will she refuse to become the Celtic Sacrifice the English crown craves?

See the book trailer for Celtic Sacrifice at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVcYxsdl84Y

Pre-order your copy of Celtic Sacrifice at http://www.underdogpress.com/

Contact Sheryl at http://www.sherylbennan.com/


PROLOGUE

Sacred Grove of Brigid in Leitrim, Ireland
September 15, 1581

A mere wisp of a lass, Kelly O’Donell timidly rapped upon the solid oak door of the High Priestess’s chambers. She could not know that this morn of her novice, a vision changing the heart and fate of druids and of Ireland would be gift to her.

Kelly’s apprenticeship to the convent Grove of Brigid these five years past did nothing to squelch the knots in her stomach upon hearing the booming voice of Philomena. Whenever in the druidess’s presence, Kelly cringed from stares of those penetrating green eyes, believing the priestess could read her inmost soul.

“You are late, child. Enter and bolt the door. You have much to learn this hour.”

Kelly took her place before the large scrying bowl dominating the chamber. The divining instrument rested within a cove atop a hawthorn altar. Philomena poured water from a decanter into the bowl uttering unintelligible spells. A blessing? A curse? Intercession? With the high priestess, all were possible.

“Place your hands beside the bowl and gaze into the water.”

Kelly slid into position obediently feeling the warmth of the wood beneath her touch.

Standing at her back, Philomena placed her palms over Kelly’s hands. Gooseflesh prickled Kelly’s forearms as supernatural energy surged through her veins.

“Watch the emerging shapes, child. I will help you interpret them.”

Shadows danced across the water. Indistinguishable at first, then with striking familiarity. Philomena’s deep alto whispered in Kelly’s ear:

“One soul, wandering in Tir-Na-Nog.”

A ghostlike shadow wavered at the top of the bowl, steadily growing larger. “A soul with great

power,” Philomena predicted.

Kelly angled her head, squinting her eyes to see the silhouette descend and abruptly split into two distinct humans at the bottom of the bowl. “Fell to earth, and being too much for the world, the soul split into two?” she asked.

The forms seemed to touch hands, then turned to float in opposite directions until neither remained visible. The end became the beginning.

“With separate destinies for each,” Philomena answered.

Questions swirled in Kelly’s mind. “Of whom does this vision speak?” To her surprise, a giggle escaped the high priestess’s lips.

“This is your vision child. Only you can answer that question. Concentrate and the goddess will reveal all you seek.”

Kelly felt Philomena’s grip on her wrists grow tighter. Pictures flashed before her eyes at lightening speed.

Swiftly as the images began, they ceased. Daylight snuck through moth eaten holes in tapestries covering ancient windows, chasing visionary shadows away.

Philomena whispered in ragged breath, “Dungannon. Una’s power is to be reborn in Dungannon.”

“May I accompany you to the birth?”

“Brigid bequeathed this prophecy to you, Kelly. Not only will you be with us, you will bestow the goddess’s blessing. Although only ten, you have the gift of foresight. Many of our grove endure a lifetime of training to experience what you have seen in moments. Perhaps I stand in the presence of our next High Priestess?”

Kelly threw her shoulders back and puffed her chest. A prideful smile stretched her lips.

***
Dungannon, Ireland
September 21, 1581

Muireann O’Hagan burst into the bedchamber, excitement and confusion filling her voice, “Aodhan, you must haste to the courtyard. Philomena is here, come to visit Nessa.”

“Philomena,” Nessa cried, clenching her husband’s arm. “Why is she here? Aodhan¼ no! She must not sing to me.”

Nessa’s anxious words churned the nervous pit gnawing the chieftain’s entrails. The priestesses of Brigid’s Grove came to sing the dying to sleep, hastening the soul’s flight to the netherworld.
Nessa’s body went rigid with birth contractions. Aodhan motioned his sister to Nessa’s bedside.


“See to her comfort, Muireann. I entrust to you my greatest treasure.”

An entourage of priestesses and novices filled the manor hall. Their blue, green, and white cloaks swayed in rhythm. Aodhan drew aside his two wide-eyed sons.

Philomena smiled, extending her hands in greeting. Aodhan kissed her cheeks. Worry shook his voice. “Nessa’s labor has begun. Please honor us tomorrow and receive a proper welcome.”

“We have come to aid the birth. Go. Tend your sons. They have need of you.”

For the sake of his sons Déahglán and Glaisne, Aodhan strove to remain strong, trusting the high priestess’s words.

Philomena entered the bedchamber, Kelly following close behind. The holy woman offered prayer to the great mother, then instructed Kelly to close the wooden portal.

Nessa’s head turned, a look of terror shadowing her face.

“No, Philomena!” Nessa entreated. “I cannot die. Not now.”

“Hush child. I am a priestess, not a banshee.”

Philomena’s hand touched Nessa’s swollen belly.

“You carry within your womb one holding the seed of power that will return to the Clan O’Connor what was once lost.”

Nessa drew her breath sharply. Birth waters pooled beneath her. “My labor goes too fast. Something is wrong.”

Philomena assisted Nessa to the birthing chair by the hearth. The priestess recited Kelly’s vision. “One soul, too much for the world, split into two and sent to earth, with vastly different destinies for each. Your body must work harder to deliver both babes into the world. All is as it should be.”

“Both?” Nessa’s parched lips stretched into a grin.

“Anu has called us to bear witness to this blessed event.”

Hours later, a baby girl made her entry into the world. Her squalls that of a scalded cat, rang loud and shrill. A crown of sparse red curls adorned her head, proclaiming her druid ancestry.

“She has a strong countenance, Nessa. It will serve her well.” Philomena raised the swaddled infant into the air, then handed the squirming bundle to Kelly.

“Gather your strength, Nessa. You are nearly finished. One more awaits entrance.”

Kelly watched in horror as a familiar blue hue covered the crown of the second infant. Her thoughts flashed back to the many women who lost their precious ones. Philomena slipped her finger down the side of the infant’s neck. Beads of perspiration dotted her forehead as she coaxed the umbilical cord’s release.

“Push, Nessa.” In slow motion, the limp, lifeless form dropped into Philomena’s hands. After severing the cord, she searched the features of the babe who refused to breathe. "Open the chamber window, quickly!"

Kelly ran to the porthole and threw open the casement.

Philomena rubbed the small chest, muttering words in the ancient tongue. A gust of chill wind rushed across his body.

With a start, he let out a sweet cooing cry. Kelly noted he was small and frailer than the first.

Philomena swaddled the baby while the novices assisted Nessa to the newly made bed. Releasing a pent up breath, she handed the child to Nessa. “A fine son. Aodhan will be pleased.”

The druidess nodded to Kelly who brought the girl child and laid her into the crook of Nessa’s free arm. With ceremony, Kelly placed her hands upon the infants’ tiny heads and whispered words in Gaelic rhyme. When her intercession ended the babies cooed in unison. Kelly could not help but beam at their innocence.

Muireann sat beside the weary mother. “They are beautiful, Nessa. And finally, the daughter you have longed for.”

Philomena drew closer and reiterated the prophecy: “One soul, too much for the world, split into two and sent to earth, with vastly different destinies for each. Teach them the healing arts. Instruct them in the druid ways. Help them to grow strong in the Celtic faith. They will need all of this to live up to the fates set before them.”

“A daughter.” Nessa smiled. “I will call her Ceana. Is she the chosen one, Philomena? Will she inherit Una’s power?” She paused to gaze into the eyes of her new son before questioning further. “He will be called Cailean. Have you seen his future as well?”

Kelly moved forward, but Philomena drew her back. “That is all Anu has revealed us, Nessa. The rest, we lay into the hands of the goddess and the life choices of the newborn.”

11 comments:

AJ Llewellyn said...

Wow! A new author for me and a book that totally intrigues me. I'm going to be reading Sheryl's work for sure. Thanks so much for introducing us to her Eliza.

Eliza Knight said...

You're welcome AJ, thanks for your always fabulous comments!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks AJ! Don't forget to enter my holiday contest at www.sherylbrennan.com. You might be the next supporting character in the Celtic Druidess series. :)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I agree, Sheryl's writing is quite intriguing and I look forward to getting to read her book. I also was interested in writing for a long while until I joined RWA and got serious. Continued good luck with your stories.

Marie-Claude Bourque said...

Hi Sheryl and Eliza,
Great post. Sheryl your book looks jus wonderful. Thanks for giving us a taste of it :)

Renee Knowles said...

Sheryl,

You book sounds fascinating. I have it on my TBB list now!

Thanks, Eliza, for bringing us this great post :)

Renee
www.reneeknowles.com

Desirée Lee said...

Way cool. This is in my TBB pile. Love the cover too.

Carpe Noctem,
Des

Desirée Lee
Putting the Romance Back in Necromancy
http://www.desireelee.com
des@desireelee.com

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks Paisley! I hope you enjoy reading about Ceana, Cian, and Patrick!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Your very welcome Marie-Claude. It was a pleasure. Many thanks to Dark Diva Reviews for giving me the opportunity.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks Renee! What a compliment from a published author herself.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks Desirée! And happy birthday to you fellow Libra :)

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