Tuesday, March 17, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Sneak Peek: Novel excerpt

It seems a bit frivolous, in these difficult times, to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day--we're all far more worried about our loved ones' health and our own, and if we have groceries in the cupboard, than the way all the St. Paddy's celebrations have been cancelled.

This week, I'm working on a little gardening book, which, given the potential of food shortages, seems far more important these days, instead of plunking around with my Irish stories. But if you're game for a little distraction of the Irish kind, I offer you a taste of my upcoming novel: part of The Fairy Cottage mini-series, and Book 5 of my Irish Village of Ballydara series.

If the character of Hazel seems familiar, you've probably read my short story The Christmas Visitor. This novel centers on her sister Emma, but Hazel plays starring role--it's a warm and tender story about finding love and home and family in the most unlikely of places.
Part of my Fairy Cottage mini-series

Chapter 1

If you’re a creature of habit, rather than impulse, you carry on with your regular routines day in and day out, no problem. However, if you’re keen on routines but at the same time have a tendency to be a bit disorganized, like Emma Carey, recently arrived from Ireland, you might try out all sorts of systems and apps to keep yourself on track. So, although Emma has often struggled to say focused, every time she tried to use one of those organizing apps with their timers and buzzers and flashing updates only made her want to toss her mobile phone into the nearest bin.

Was it that her brain didn’t work like other people’s, Emma wondered, people who had no trouble relying on their mobiles (and adoring them) with a life-and-death ferocity? Or that she’d inherited her short attention span from her mam, who flitted (actually, more like lurched, Emma thought) from one idea or activity to the next without completing any of them? Or that she was, at heart, an old-fashioned girl like her younger sister Hazel? Whatever it was, when Emma started working at Ireland Place, a non-profit hub of Irish arts and culture based near Seattle, she’d been so desperate to create some structure for herself she went old school: she created a chart that she cellotaped to the half-size fridge in her studio apartment, upon which, at the end of each week, she could afix gold stars to the various categories if she stayed on the straight and narrow.

So Emma would give herself stars for doing the elliptical for one hour at the gym Monday through Friday, eating absolutely no desserts except for a gluten-free cookie on Sunday, and keeping her regular hair and nail appointments with Helen at Nugyen’s Salon at a strip mall on the other side of town. The gold star thing was something she’d started for her sister Hazel, when she was little. Given her sister’s tender age, the stars hadn’t anything to do with eating or exercise, but Emma had been desperate to do the right thing for her.

Emma’s most reliable tendency, though, wasn’t one you’d want to reward with shiny stars or even a modest pat on the back. It was the kind you didn’t want to admit even to your best friend, which in Emma’s case was Hazel: she had the unfortunate habit of falling for her bosses.

Emma was like a Swiss train schedule:  you could tell time based on how long it would take her to fall for her male supervisors. Two weeks, max. These blokes didn’t need to be handsome, or charming, but as soon they’d given Emma an approving smile on a project well-begun, a compliment on her progress, even held a door open for her, she was in love…

I plan to have my new gardening guide ready in another week...until then, be well, stay safe, and I'm wishing you all the Irish blessings you can hold.

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