Thursday, December 30, 2010

Witch Woman

In two different centuries, four hundred years apart, the lives of Abigail March and her daughter, Maggie McBride, play out along parallel lines, both women blessed and cursed by a selective birthright. Born in the breach position at the exact moment when earth’s shadow slides across a full blue moon, their kind are destined to walk alone, to see truth behind words, in the blink of an eye, in the twitch of a muscle, in the whisper of a sigh. They are the chosen of the goddess, marked by a startling mutation, heterochromia iridium, one brown eye, the other blue.
 Abigail, wife to John March, a selectman in the rigid Calvinist community of Salem, Massachusetts, is not what she seems. An expatriate from Barbados, she indentured herself to the March family for seven years in exchange for passage to the colonies. Abigail is beautiful, even with those unnatural eyes, and soon captures the heart of the March’s oldest son. For ten years she has kept her head down, her emotions in check. But now she is accused of witchcraft along with her three-year-old daughter, Margaret. At the trial, she horrifies the community with a startling demonstration, opening a time portal into the future where she and her child can escape. But Magick proves fickle and Abigail’s rusty powers fall short. Only Margaret is sent into the modern world of 1974 where she is found, naked and without speech, by Annie McBride, a wiccan, in the Old Burying Point Cemetery.
Maggie’s unexplained arrival and her unusual abilities force her adoptive mother to leave Salem and live a nomadic life. Maggie grows up to become a clairvoyant, specializing in kidnapping cases. Not until Annie is near death does she learn the particulars of her adoption and the possible source of her troubling dreams. She returns to Salem searching for her past. Meanwhile, Abigail finds the time portal and slips through to an overwhelming modern world, assuming a new identity and hoping that Maggie will come to her. Unknown to both women are the dangers of the old world’s dark forces, a missing child in contemporary Salem, and Maggie’s “sight”  blurring and dim as her ties to old Salem strengthen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Witch Woman - heterochromia iridium

    Heterochromia iridium refers to a difference in coloration, usually of the iris. It comes from a lack, or excess amount, of melanin and may be inherited or the result of disease or injury.
    Maggie, the main character in my soon-to-be-released e-book, WITCH WOMAN, has that interesting physical trait, one blue eye and one brown. Although we see animals exhibiting this condition fairly often, it occurs rarely in the human population. The odds are approximately one in a million. Usually, the affected iris is a much lighter shade of the normal eye, ie: topaz-brown, hazel-brown or blue-green combinations. Rarely do we see the distracting blue-brown that I created with the fictional character Maggie McBride, however, I did find that very same startling characteristic in the real Max Scherzer, a National League baseball player whose photo appears above. The wonderful thing about fiction is the way an author can manipulate facts to create an intriguing story. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weddings, Yesterday and Today

I’ve had occasion to consider weddings very carefully the last few months. My daughter and her fiancé are planning a September wedding. Weddings have changed a great deal over the last four decades. My own was small. Close family and friends gathered at St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church with an afternoon reception held in my parents’ living room. People sat on couches, on the floor and hung out in the kitchen eating ham sandwiches and cake.
My parents were married by a Justice of the Peace in 1952. My mother wore a navy suit. My dad tipped the officiate $5. I have no idea who the witnesses were. My parents are deceased so there is no one to ask. The feeling was, as long as the bride, the groom and the priest showed up, as long as there was cake and champagne, as long as friends witnessed the occasion, the wedding would be a success. No one registered anywhere for anything. My sister’s ceremony was the same.
                Not so today. Today’s extravaganzas are planned to the final detail with lighting, a band, ceremony music, before ceremony music, cake tastings, entrée samplings, favors, video photography, engagement pictures, save the date notices and, to top it all off, a wedding planner who coordinates the day assuring that all will run smoothly. The cost is staggering.
                One would think cleaning out the bank is an American or California custom, but that isn’t so. In Ireland, too, weddings are huge affairs, shockingly expensive with men and women dressed to the nines, even more so than in The States.  Women wear hats or little frou-frou bands with flowers attached, revealing dresses and shoes guaranteed to break ankles. Men wear suits and ties. A band and full bar is customary as is a lavish feast with several entrees and guest lists in the 300s.
              I’m nostalgic for a simpler era and customs such as jumping over the broom or hand-fasting where after a year and a day if a couple didn’t suit, the two went their separate ways without rancor or fiscal hardship. All children from such a union were recognized as completely legitimate. I like the dowry idea, too, and the bride price paid to the bride's family. It seemed more equitable.
Maybe marriages shouldn’t be lavish affairs until the 25th anniversary celebration. I like that, too. It’s a better idea, in my opinion, to celebrate a lifetime of love and tolerance with an expensive public affair. What, after all, do children know of hardship, commitment, loving a person and hanging in there despite all you don’t like?
Friends of mine are celebrating their 50th anniversary on the 17th of December. It will be a lovely affair and tasteful, hosted by their twin daughters. We’ll share food, wine, conversation and friendship. It is a grand thing to be married and in love after 50 years. It is even more than grand, it is inspiring and miraculous to share in the glow of knowing they would marry each other all over again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Writer's Block

Writer’s block. That terrible, but common, phenomenon that hits all of us on occasion. I’m very skeptical about the writer who says she has so many ideas she won’t live to see them all come to fruition. Maybe. Maybe not. My guess is that writers have notions, rather than actual ideas. For example, I’d like to write about Irish travelers, ancient Egypt, Ruth and Naomi, all notions or subjects rather than plot lines with fleshed out characters and conflicts.
Sometimes writer’s block lasts for a few days, sometimes a few weeks, rarely more than that unless a serious, is this what I really want to do with my life occurs. My blocks happen when I approach the the middle of a story, when the flush of the dramatic beginning is over, before the climax and resolution. For me, this is chapter 9. Chapters 1 through 8 are a breeze, introducing characters, the hint of the problem, the rising action, and the roadblocks to the character reaching his goal. I can easily type my way to chapter 9 without an outline. But then it happens, the what next or what if stage that only deep thought, much discussion, more research, lots of reading and many discussions with my critique group remedy.  
The resolution is another challenge for me. I tend to like realistic resolutions, those that might actually happen. My agent constantly reminds me, “This is fiction, Jeanette. We mustn’t disappoint the reader.” Of course, she’s right... I think. I wonder if readers really want a fantasy ending. Personally, I find inspiration when an ending mirrors my own experience or that of others I know rather than the Hollywood ending. I suppose reality doesn’t sell books ...I think.