Friday, August 22, 2014

Cynthia Owens: Everlasting

A new release from historical romance author Cynthia Owens is always a treat. Cynthia credits her Research Hero with helping to keep things factual in Everlasting, Coming Soon from Highland Press. Enjoy her post, and then enjoy an exciting excerpt from Everlasting. Welcome back, Cynthia!

A Real-Life Hero

Hello again, Pat! I’m so happy to be back on the Plain once again! And I’m thrilled to announce the August release of Everlasting, Book IV of the Claddagh Series. It’s Shannon Flynn’s story, it involves a lot of mysticism and political intrigue, and I couldn’t have done it without my Research Hero.

I have to confess right here that Everlasting was not a "planned" story. The Claddagh Series was planned as a trilogy, and I’d already written the three stories. But when Book II, Coming Home, was released, my editor spoke of stories for other characters. So even though I’d already begun my Wild Geese Series, I started thinking about other Claddagh Series stories.

Going back to Ireland was a bit of a transition for me at that time, since I’d been concentrating on my Irish-American heroes. But since Shannon Flynn was courting in Coming Home, I thought she was ready for an adventure of her own.

But I floundered around a bit. There was just so much history around 1875, and I was hard put to decide how I should write it so the history would be sprinkled throughout the story, and not be just one big information dump.

Enter my Research Hero.

It started with a question about wild mint. A book lover and an Irish historian, John and I had been friends on Facebook for a couple of months, and I worked up the nerve to message him about whether wild mint might grow in the Galway woods. I received an immediate answer, which gave me the courage to ask a few more questions. We hit it off, and within a few weeks more, we were e-mailing several times a week.

In those e-mails was a gold mine of information on Irish history, customs, culture, and those tiny details we both love. Each time a question cropped up, John had my answer. It was John who inspired my thoroughly objectionable agent, Brendan Doyle, the ruined church and graveyard of St. Gerald’s, and Mrs. Curran, the housekeeper at Bennington House. It was John who steered me to St. Gerald’s graveyard and away from the fairy fort when the plot wasn’t working. And it was John who inspired the name of Tom Flynn’s currach, the Pretty Lady.

And amidst all the research and the talk of Irish books and legends, an amazing friendship grew up between us. We moved easily from e-mail to Skype, and conversation flowed—something that really surprised this usually shy and tongue-tied writer. Through joys and sorrows, new contracts and book-signing-induced butterflies, and the death last September of my beloved mother, John’s been there for me, my hero and my best friend, always supportive, always encouraging, and always there with an answer to an "Irish question."

This one’s for you, John!
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Everlasting Blurb:
Where does justice end and retribution begin?

She was driven by anger

When her fiancé died trying to feed his family, Shannon Flynn vowed to punish those responsible…even if it alienated her from her family, even if it put her—and them—in danger.

He returned to exact revenge
Eight years after he was forced to flee his beloved Ireland, Liam Collins returns to Ballycashel to find his family devastated and the person he holds responsible for his exile dead.

Can these two wounded spirits come together to battle a common enemy? Or will anger and pride destroy them both?

Excerpt:
Ballycashel, Ireland, Off Galway Bay
January, 1874


"I see them! Sweet Mary be praised, they’re safe!"

Shannon Flynn gripped her mother’s hand so tight she felt the bones crack. On Ma’s other side, her sister Peggy let out a harsh sob. Little Fiona stood a few feet away, white-faced, hands pressed to her mouth in silent horror.

Icy needles of rain slashed Shannon’s face, and though they stood well away from the waves, she could still feel the sting of the sea, taste its sharp, briny tang. She blinked hard against the cloying mist. Was that really the Noreen, Da’s currach? That tiny craft bobbing over those vicious waves, helpless as a cork?

She flinched as the little fishing boat disappeared from view.

"They’ll be fine." Nora Flynn’s voice rang out, stern and bracing even as she kept her gaze riveted on the storm-tossed sea. "Sure, yer da knows these waters better than anyone. He’s been through many a storm worse than this. He’ll be fine." Her voice teetered on the edge of despair as wind and rain scored them with merciless claws.

He’s never had Mike with him.

The boat reappeared, teetered at the crest of a towering wave and tumbled sideways. Nora cried out once, pressed her fist to her mouth. The anguished sound echoed in Shannon’s heart. Before she could react, Nora drew a deep breath and set her shoulders. "Come ye, now. They’ll be needin’ us." She threw a sharp gaze to her two younger daughters. "Peg, look after Fiona. Shannon, come with me."

Hand in hand, they raced into the sea.

Shannon’s breath gushed from her lungs in painful gasps as icy water clawed up her legs and tangled in her long skirts. Had the sea ever been so vicious and cold? The waves so high? Oh, where was Da? Was he safe?

Was Mike safe?

She clung to her mother’s firm, strong hand as she slipped and almost fell on the sea-drenched shingle and sand. Thick strands of seaweed twined about her legs. Ma pulled her to a stop, her hoarse cry snatched away by the shrieking wind. Could Da and Mike triumph over the furious sea?

Sweet Mary protect them. Keep them safe. Bring them home.

Two heads, one dark and the other fair, burst from the waves, went under, surfaced again. Oh, God, was it possible? Could they really be farther out? The sea clawed greedily at them, pulling them under, down and down. Away from her. The wind tore her hair from beneath her red headscarf, and she lost sight of them for a moment. She swiped the flying strands away, staring harder through a stinging mixture of rain and fog and tears.

Dear sweet Lord, where are they?

"I see them! There’s Da!" Fiona appeared beside them, fighting to stay on her feet as a wave broke over her shoulders. She pointed a trembling finger. "Look, there’s Da!"

"Fiona, get back!" Shannon fought to make herself heard over the crashing waves and the devil’s howl of the wind.

"But I see him, Shannon! I see Da!"

Mike can’t swim! Even as icy realization swept over her, Shannon knew her father would fight to the death to save him.

To the death…

She squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back the tears.

"They’ll be all right." Peggy clasped her hand, swaying against the fierce current. "Please God, they’ll both be all right."

Please God…

"Tom, look out!" Her mother’s scream reached above the greedy fingers of sea foam just as a mighty wave knocked Da under once again.

Please God… Please God…keep him safe. Keep them both safe.

Moments, hours, days later, Shannon stood frozen under the leaden skies. Da stumbled into the shallows and fell into Ma’s waiting arms.

Da stared into Ma’s eyes, touched her cheek. "Noreen. Ah, Noreen. The currach’s torn to pieces, so it is, but sure, we’re all right now."

"Ye are, thank God."

"Da?" Her own eyes wide and dry and burning with salt, Shannon searched her father’s beloved face, saw his anguish.

Fissures shot through her heart.

"Mike?" Shannon scanned the beach in desperation. The gray sea roared and frothed wildly. The broken currach lay on the strand like an exhausted shark. Rain and tears blurred her vision. "Da? Where is he? Where’s Mike?"

Her father’s dark eyes filled with sorrow. "He’s gone, love." Tom Flynn blinked away tears. "The sea took him."

"Gone? No!" Her heart ceased to beat. Something was strangling her. Ice held her feet frozen to the beach even as she swayed drunkenly.

"I’m sorry, a storín, so sorry, my dearest. I did everything I could." Dimly, she saw her father release her mother, move toward her. "But I couldn’t save him for ye."

He reached for her, his big hands open, his face etched with grief. She flung up her hands, shook her head. Denying. Denying. No. No!

Nonononono!

Then she spun away, ran from her father to mourn alone the loss of the man she loved more than life itself.
* * * * *
About Cynthia Owens:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury "King’s Girl," one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
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18 comments:

  1. Pat, thanks so much for having me today. I love visiting the Plain!

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    1. Always a pleasure, Cynthia. Congrats on your latest release, and wishing you many more.

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  2. Yay for a hero! Wonderful book. I wish you a lot of luck with it.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Miriam, and thanks for visiting me here at the Plain.

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  3. Congratulations Cynthia. We've come a long way baby. I still remember long ago when Cynthia and I were critiquing partners - long distance/snail mail times. It was always such a pleasure to hear from her. And her books are great. Keep writing and wow the world.

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    1. Hi Mary, we sure have come a long way from those snail mail/critiquing days, but they were good days, weren't they? Thanks so much for your lovely words, and for visiting me here at the Plain today!

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  4. Hi Cynthia, great post as usual! It's nice to know there are still heroes out there.

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    1. Jean, there certainly are, and I'm lucky enough to have found one! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Oh, Cynthia, I just loved learning about your friend, John! I was thrilled to have him comment on my blog. So exciting to make good, good friends!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Lani. It is absolutely wonderful to make a good friend you can talk to, and whom you just "click" with. Thanks for the visit!

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  6. What a wonderful resource to have stumbled across and then to have him turn into a friend! And what an exciting/difficult period to write about. I am writing about Ireland as well, but earlier--at the moment 1810-1815, but am going to either expand my trilogy into a series as you've done--thanks for the idea!--or tack a second trilogy onto it. I'm gong to have to get Everlasting.

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  7. Beppie, it's been a wonderful and rewarding friendship. As for my time period, yes, it's exciting and difficult - but wonderful fun, too! I love the people, the politics, and the intrigue. Everlasting should be available any day now, so it you do get it, I hope you enjoy it. ;) Thanks for visiting!

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  8. Hi Ella, thanks for the kind words, the tweet, and for dropping by! :)

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  9. How fantastic to have developed such a great relationship--such a writing boon for you, as well. Loved the information you shared!

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    1. Hi Barbara, it really has been a great relationship. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for visiting!

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  10. What a brilliant story-within-a-story! Love it :D
    Annie (aka Kelly Ann Scott)

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    1. Thanks, Annie, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the visit!

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