Yes, I'm the author. Yes, I think I am an excellent writer. If a person doesn't believe in herself, how can she expect anyone else to? Asking people tYes, I'm the author. Yes, I think I am an excellent writer. If a person doesn't believe in herself, how can she expect anyone else to? Asking people to read my book is, in fact, applying for a job, over and over again. Who goes to a job interview, thinking they are unqualified, incompetent, and unemployable? You walk in ready to tell your potential new employer that you are the best they will ever find, and they will be lucky to get you. Then you hand over your resume' with its references. My resume' is my bio -- I've had a vast and varied amount of life experience, and I bring it all to my writing; and my references are the reviews that have already been posted here and on Amazon.
This is the second novel in my series, the Randolph Family Saga; the first, was THE BALLAD OF YOUNG TAM LIN, which was set in 1790. This, Book Two, is set in 1813, and intertwines the love-stories of the three young-adult Randolph children, Roselyn age 22, Robert, 19, and Rowena 15. John and Janet, still in love with each other, have important roles in the story, too. The family's adventures take them back and forth across the Veil between the mortal world (the Scottish Borders, London, Germany), and a variety of Elfin otherworld locations. As in BALLAD, the story blends romance, comedy-of-manners, danger, metaphysics, passion, satire, magic, tragedy, and redemption. Napoleon also shows up briefly.
Can't imagine how that all fits together seamlessly? Guess you'll just have to read it! I do recommend reading THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN first, but there is adequate back-story in this novel, to make it a stand-alone read....more
I wrote this. It's a fun, mildly sexy (no graphic scenes), magical story with Neopagan sensibilities.
This novella incorporates the same other-side-of-I wrote this. It's a fun, mildly sexy (no graphic scenes), magical story with Neopagan sensibilities.
This novella incorporates the same other-side-of-the-Veil cosmology (based on a fusion of authentic Celtic folklore, and my own metaphysical understanding) that underlie my novels. Once again, as in "Tam Lin," the romance crosses the Veil, bringing together a mortal and a being of another order of existence. It is semi-autobiographical, in that I incorporate an assortment of people, places and experiences from my own past, adding imaginative paranormal elements, to create a short, captivating tale which shifts smoothly back and forth between funny and creepy, romantic and melancholy.
An enjoyable short read -- perfect for a long quiet evening at home. Check it out -- only $5 from my online store. Or $4 if you use this code: NKX74PBX...more
This is a wonderful and infuriating book. First, the wonderful aspects. It’s a remarkable collection of reminiscences and anecdotes, which all have thThis is a wonderful and infuriating book. First, the wonderful aspects. It’s a remarkable collection of reminiscences and anecdotes, which all have the ring of truth, being accounts of “meetings” which have been handed down largely within families over some generations. The tellers, ordinary Irish people, commonly offer as confirmation of veracity, descriptions of the exact place where the meeting occurred, and/or the name of the family (or priest!) to whom the incident happened. It feels impossible to gainsay such a sincere simplicity of belief – that if one can actually go to the spot, or identify the people involved, then this should be incontrovertible proof that the story is true. Furthermore, the entire book has a consistent, enjoyably ethnic tone, in the coloring of Irish vernacular speech, without ever becoming either densely idiomatic in the grammar, or phonetically complicated in the spelling (thanks, no doubt, to the talented editing of C.E. Green).
The general tone, with its almost matter-of-fact references to “The Other Crowd,” “The Good People,” or “Them,” characterizes Ireland as a place where ancient mysteries are still vitally alive in the hearts and souls of the people. Indeed, Mr. Lenihan, storyteller and collector of these accounts, asserts that there are “few convinced skeptics” in Ireland, even today; and that once he has broken the ice with some of his own stories, individuals from almost any walk of life can themselves often turn out to have an uncanny tale to contribute. Moreover, eschewing coyness, he states in so many words, that he himself is a believer – refreshing honesty in a chronicler of ethnographic material which deals with the paranormal.
The book has been divided into three sections, on the general topics of “Who they are and what they want,” “Fairy places and signs of their presence,” and “Gifts, punishment, and other outcomes of fairy encounters,” although these are fairly arbitrary categories, because many of the stories could easily be ascribed to at least two, if not all three. Most of the accounts are in the two-to-six page range, with a few rather longer ones, particularly the two opening tales, and the final one. Still, the longest only runs seventeen pages. So, it is convenient to pick up and read in short increments – an easy, uncomplicated read for anyone whose days tend to be rather full. An interesting editorial choice, is the incorporation, at the end of each tale, of a commentary by Mr. Lenihan. In these, he employs an analytical, generally sociocultural tone, pointing out interesting or significant details, comparing and contrasting these to details in other accounts, and sometimes aspiring to explicate both the thinking of the person or persons having the fairy encounter, and/or the attitudes of the Fairies themselves. Less productive, in my view, is the use of introductory quotes, which, while usually having something relevant to say about Fairies, are too fragmented for my taste, and seem excerpted from interviews that have not been deemed worth complete inclusion in this volume. Without providing any story context, for me these add nothing to the credibility factor, and only serve as a tease, with no payoff.
And now for the most infuriating aspect – the very frequent referral to Christian beliefs and/or doctrine, in attempting to explain the existence of the Fairies themselves, and also their apparently arbitrary behaviors. According to the book’s information, there is a persistent Irish belief that fairies are, in fact, fallen angels – too bad for Heaven, too good for Hell. Here is the introduction to the first story: “The Other Crowd, they’re the Devil’s crowd. I wouldn’t be for saying that them’d see Heaven. No.” But like all the other top-of-story quotations, we are not told who it is asserting this. It introduces a fairy encounter on the part of a (Catholic) parish priest. A man, presumably one of Them, wants the priest to tell him, “What’s going to happen to the Good People on the Day of Judgment.” The next story is similar – a priest is asked, “Will the fallen angels ever be saved?”
For me as a reader, these sorts of concepts are a real stumbling-block, since I believe in neither the Devil, nor Heaven, nor a Day of Judgment. So I think that if Fairies do exist (and I certainly feel no need to dispute their reality) then they surely have existed since long before Christian conversion overtook Ireland. No doubt, in the absence of such Bible-based beliefs as Heaven, Hell, angels, devils, and the possibility of offending one all-powerful deity and thereby “falling,” the early Celts would more likely have perceived the Fairies as a separate but equal order of beings, as natural to this planet as ourselves – not damned, not corrupt, only Other from us humans, and for that reason, diverging from us in their culture and ethos.
Of course, throughout the world, virtually all traditional cultures know of other kinds of people – who live in a world parallel to our own, who may appear in different sizes, who only seem able to cross the Veil into our world at certain times, and who may be sometimes helpful, sometimes spiteful. These other Folk include the Hawaiian Menehune, Russian Rusalkas, German Kobolds, and the Little People of the Passamaquoddy Indians (as described by Katharine Briggs, in "An Encyclopedia of Fairies"). Of course, in traditional, indigenous belief systems, such Folk are not believed to be corrupt, “fallen” beings – but rather, simply another race or species, with moral standing equal to ourselves. Even Scottish folklore identifies two distinctly different types of Fairies – the kindly, helpful “trooping” ones of the Seelie (Blessed) Court, and the mostly solitary, malevolent denizens of the Unseelie Court. If this is also part of the Irish belief system, yet there is no mention of any such concept anywhere in the volume. In my reading of the present volume, any idea of the Fairies as naturally-existing, earth-evolved beings, seems to have been completely subsumed by now, in this “fallen angels” superstition. All the Irish Fairies appear equally damned and malevolent.
So, in that regard, the book regrettably left me with a sense of dissatisfaction. It does provide a wealth of detail in regard to Irish Fairies’ interests (protecting the sovereignty of their own particular patches of Earthly real estate, such as “forts,” whitethorn bushes, and roads) and behaviors (speaking Irish Gaelic, dancing, playing music and games, feasting, and especially kidnapping, or “carrying,” humans to the Other Side). But for me it is far more informative about Irish sociocultural attitudes of the past two centuries, than revelatory about what might be the true nature of that Other Crowd.
Finally, in my opinion, Mr. Lenihan draws an erroneous conclusion, in supposing that due to the modernization of Ireland, and the increase of technology and urbanization, both the stories and beliefs are going to die out soon. In my view, the upsurge of a general interest in metaphysics, paranormal experience, and altered states of consciousness, which began in the 1960s, shows no sign of waning. This should mean that there are now probably more people intentionally cultivating their own awareness of other, subtle planes of existence, than there have been at any time since the start of the Spanish Inquisition. So, if the Good People are real (for which the entire book tends to argue), then surely They are not going anywhere – at least, not unless we humans manage to eradicate all other life from the planet, in the process of eradicating ourselves. And as long as The Other Crowd exist, I expect They will continue to find ways to interact with those who are open to meeting them.
Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I’ve been fascinated by prehistoric animals since I was five years old, and for many years I’ve also had a great iOh, how I wanted to love this book. I’ve been fascinated by prehistoric animals since I was five years old, and for many years I’ve also had a great interest in elephant intelligence and behavior. So I thought that a novel about mammoths – one which purports to portray them as having a rich oral culture, and to accurately imagine their daily lives – would be right up my alley.
Alas, for me this read was a hard slog, requiring a lot of set-aside time over a period of six months. And although I purchased the two sequels at the same time as the first one, I think it very unlikely that I will ever get around to reading them.
To his credit, Stephen Baxter’s research on both mammoths and their environment, has the air of impeccability, and evokes the far-northern climate and landscape with vividness. The only fault I can find in this aspect of the book, is the exhaustiveness with which he goes about his descriptions. A writer with a scholarly inclination to detail (he is a trained engineer), he seems unable to ever deny himself the satisfaction of including a full laundry-list of animal and plant species, glacier features, and other biologic and geographic phenomena, whenever the opportunity arises. As an example: “She munched on the bright red cranberries, yellow cloudberries, midnight blue bilberries, and inky-black crowberries.” I often felt more like I was reading a science textbook, than a fictional adventure. (“…their leaves were thick and waxy, which helped them retain their water.”)
For some readers, this evocation of the Arctic tundra environment in minute detail, will no doubt be an intellectual feast. Nor do I myself have any objection to knowing more about about an unfamiliar region. However, for my fiction-reading taste, Baxter’s digressions into descriptive natural history simply occupy too much of the text.
He approaches the biological realities of the mammoths in the same almost clinical way. (“When Lop-ear had taken a trunkful he closed the trunk by clenching its fingers, lifted the end, and curled it into his mouth. Then he tilted his head back, opened his trunk, and let the water gush into his mouth…” “And she would lift her anus flap and pass dung, briskly and efficiently, as mammoths must ten or twelve times a day. The soft brown mass settled to the ice behind her, steaming…”)
The dung-passing thing became a particularly sticky issue (as it were) for me, in working my way through the book. It just seemed to be more detailed information than I really needed, and showed up much too often (for example, twice in two paragraphs, at the start of Chapter Sixteen).
But all these are minor quibbles, compared to the biggest drawback, for me. There is an inescapable fact about stories in general – to be interesting to the human mind (therefore popular and successful), they must always somehow incorporate two key elements: sex, and death. Nearly all of us spend our lives puzzling over two great questions – one, where we come from (sex plays a big part) and two, where we go at the end of all this. So, the purpose of all stories is, essentially, an effort to come to some greater understanding (or at least, acceptance) of these mysteries. In my observation, when one of these is under-used, the other is proportionately increased. This seems to be almost instinctive for storytellers. Now, a book on mammoths has little scope for sexy situations, although the protagonist, Silverhair, does mate once, in a quite efficient, not terribly erotic fashion. (Parents, do not be alarmed. Nothing about that one-page scene contains anything that should distress anyone who has reached puberty – they certainly hear much more, and much worse, in music videos and on the playground.) My point is, that in any work of fiction in which the sex is scarce, you’ll almost certainly find plenty of killing and dying.
This is where the humans come in – quintessential antagonists, and utter sadists, completely lacking a single redeeming quality. If anything could, by now, make me any sorrier to be part of the human species, it would have been this book. I found the men’s brutal slaughter of each mammoth victim, to be very hard to stomach. Known to the mammoths as “the Lost,” humans appear to find purpose only in hurting and killing.
These humans also happen to have “thunder-sticks” (a term introduced over eighty years ago by Felix Salten, author of Bambi) and also “light-birds” (helicopters), which seemed darned peculiar, in a story that I started out thinking was set in the Ice Age. Eventually, it became clear to me that Baxter has created an alternate time-line world, in which a remote population of mammoths on a far-northern island, has somehow managed to survive into the Petrochemical Age, only to fall foul of a chance encounter with a small group of stranded humans.
But it sure was confusing, since for most of the book, Baxter does not provide himself with any literary device for clarifying time, place, or human motivations. Much of the violence between humans and mammoths left me not only unhappy but also puzzled, right up until an unbelievably neat explication, delivered by a surprise character, ostensibly tying up all the loose ends (and seeming inconsistencies), in the final eight pages. However, I feel that some plot elements are a bit far-fetched; worse, the denouement resolution relies on the introduction of a too-pat deus ex machina.
In Baxter’s favor, I should say that probably when I was twelve, I would have devoured this book and cherished it. I’m sure I would have been enchanted by the idea of a novel about mammoths (not merely museum representations, but fully-realized as a band of lively, hairy, smelly, loving, loyal, quarrelsome, courageous individuals). I would have also learned a lot from the extensive detail about the tundra environment, and been the happier for my increased knowledge. And I probably would not have been disappointed by the many weak aspects of the storytelling, since young people tend to be far more forgiving than adults, when it comes to logic and plot consistency.Even the animals’ violent deaths would have bothered me far less in adolescence (I know this, because books I loved then, are often upsetting for me to read now.) So, perhaps an adolescent audience was his target all along. I do think that it’s worth trying this book out on any teenager who already has a strong interest in palaeontology. It might not be great literature, but it could inspire a career in science. ...more
Patricia Leslie This is a deceptively small book, containing some quite vast ideas within its pages. In it, Boone chronicles his own spiritual odysseyPatricia Leslie This is a deceptively small book, containing some quite vast ideas within its pages. In it, Boone chronicles his own spiritual odyssey, from a very material-minded Hollywood-based writer and producer, to a pioneer of animal communication. The catalyst -- or perhaps a better word is guru -- for Boone's spiritual journey, was the canine movie star Strongheart -- a German Shepherd Dog, a champion in Germany, extensively trained in police and military work. He was imported to Hollywood in the 20s as something of a speculative venture, and soon became a film sensation.
At one point during Strongheart's movie career, his co-owners were called out of town, and asked Boone to step in as caregiver. At first, he was far from keen on the responsibility. But almost immediately, Strongheart demonstrated such phenomenal intelligence, that the reluctant dogsitter was forced to completely reevaluate his attitude toward dogs, particularly this one. As Boone describes, Strongheart took charge of him and his life, even deciding what time Boone should get up and go to bed. Soon, he discovered that the dog was able to "read his mind," even when they were separated by house walls. In fact, in a couple of anecdotes, he also details incidents in which Strongheart was able to read other people's minds, and expose them as fraudulent-minded criminals.
Before long, Boone found himself on a spiritual quest, reversing the traditional "man as trainer" role, to himself become the dog's "student." He studied Strongheart in detail, noting down all his "qualities of abiding worth," which emerged from an innate zest for living. Boone came to believe that a being's outward form is irrelevant to the being's inner nature, and that "the Mind of the Universe is constantly speaking through all life and for the greater good of all life." He finds this perception shared by others he meets, including an old "Desert Rat," a woman herpetologist, an Indian chief, a Bedouin chief, and a scientist who has an uncommon rapport with micro-organisms.
Boone's accounts have the ring of truth; no-one could make up a story as idiosyncratic as his deep bond with "Freddie the Fly," detailed in the book's final chapters. His relationship with Strongheart was undeniably life-changing.
Still, some readers may find it easier to dismiss his claims as wishful thinking or self-delusion. That is probably the more comfortable view for most human beings; because if Boone's assertions are true, and every living thing is capable of self-awareness, it would mean a lot of soul-searching for most of us, about our relationship to the animal realm. ...more
Kim Sheridan, a trained Naturopath and health researcher, spent six years researching and writing a remarkable book. I think it likely that this bookKim Sheridan, a trained Naturopath and health researcher, spent six years researching and writing a remarkable book. I think it likely that this book will in some way permanently change the consciousness of every animal lover – whether believer, skeptic or agnostic. The writing style is lucid and accessible, and the contents are so compelling that I devoured it in record time.
The genesis of the book (recounted in the early chapters) was the author’s own journey from scientific-minded skeptic to believer, and from animal lover to animal rescuer. Along the way she experienced her share of “unexplainable” phenomena, and also made a very systematic examination of the growing field of intuitive (or telepathic) animal communication.
Central to the book are scores of first-person accounts of contacts with beloved animal companions from the “other side.” The informants’ demographics cut broadly across regional, cultural, educational and career lines. Ms. Sheridan adds her own commentaries, placing each anecdote in a more general context (ranging from humane issues to metaphysical wisdom). Her own profound connection to animals (particularly tame rats) provides a through-line of touching personal experiences and incisive observations as well.
Types of “other-side” contact can take many forms, and Ms. Sheridan devotes a chapter to each. Interestingly, much spiritual contact is sensory: still hearing a kitty’s purring or the click of doggy toenails, suddenly smelling the distinctive fragrance of the beloved’s fur, or feeling a small body jump onto the foot of the bed. Some people receive messages through mediums or animal communicators. Some have seen their loved one in vivid dreams, others in waking visions. There is even a chapter dealing with animal reincarnation.
While these are inescapably stories involving loss, tragedy and grief, I found them uplifting rather than depressing. Each is a moving testament to the kind of love which can bind together individuals of different species, even beyond death. Each account attains closure with spiritual comfort, consolation and hope. The chapter “Letting Go: Handling Grief” provides such wise counsel and compassionate insights, that it should be required reading for all veterinary personnel as well as clergy and psychologists.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with grief over the passing of a beloved animal companion, or who is facing such a loss. It will also be of great interest to anyone who is curious about the spiritual aspects of animals. ...more