Saturday, March 31, 2012

Luck of the Irish

The other day I was out hunting for four-leaf clovers, when I passed this patch of grass. I've always had a strange knack for spotting them, but I've never found more than a few at a time. I started to pick the first one, then spotted another, then another until I realized there weren't just four-leaf clovers in this magical patch of grass. There were five and six-leaf clovers, too!

I dashed back to get my camera, then picked as many as I could find and carried them down to the beach to share with the selkies. The selkies said they were doing just fine and didn't need any luck at the moment. But I should put them in a bowl of hand-made pottery the color of the sea and let them turn into four-leaf clover dust.

The clovers are a sparkly green powder now, shimmering in a pretty blue bowl on the windowsill. The smallest pinch worked into a spell could bring a year's worth of luck. Is there anyone out there who could use a little selkie magic? I'd be happy to send some your way. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Magical Beginning to Spring

It was still dark when I set out for a run with my triathlon club to see the Cherry Blossom trees in DC this morning. Flashes of lightning illuminated the thick cloud-cover blotting out the moon. The air was still and muggy and charged with electricity, but the rain felt like it might hold off for a while. We were almost to the tidal basin when the thunderclaps hit: one...two...three... boom! Lightning streaked through the sky, illuminating the marble monuments rising majestic and powerful along Constitution Avenue. It started to rain. Then pour. Big, fat raindrops splattered onto the pavement. We took shelter under the roof of a Park Service building and waited until the first glows of sunrise painted the horizon an electric pink, pushing the storm away. We set back out, into the rain, toward the foreign trees, their sudden blooms a ghostly unexpected white in this haunting break of day. A shadow of clouds moved swiftly now over the river and snatches of sky--eerie shades of pastel pink--shone through the gray. Raindrops tinkered into the tidal basin, the glassy surface an unsettling metallic silver. Pale petals fell from the trees as we ran, showers of white raining down around us on a muddy foot path. I stretched out my hand, closing my fist around a falling petal, carrying it with me as we ran, like children intoxicated by that first warm spring rain. We splashed through puddles, water soaking through our clothes, dripping down our faces and into our eyes. We chased each other back up the streets, back into the heart of the city, and I said goodbye to winter. Goodbye long dark nights. Goodbye firelight. Goodbye woodpile. Goodbye cold kitchen tiles. Welcome spring. Welcome Cherry Blossoms. Welcome tourists. And welcome back running in the rain. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How About a Little Selkie Magic for St. Patrick's Day?

To celebrate my favorite Irish holiday, I want to share a little selkie magic with you. My fairy tale romance, The Selkie Spell, will be FREE on Amazon now through midnight on St. Patrick's Day. The people of Seal Island can't wait to get to know you and share tales over a pint at O'Sullivan's Pub. And Tara... well, Tara might seem a bit guarded when you first meet her. But she's got a pretty good reason to keep her past a secret. Give the island (and the sexy bartender) a little time to work their magic on her, and she'll open up like everyone else. :) So light those last fires of spring in the hearth, fill your favorite glass with a dark frothy Guinness, and get swept away to an enchanted Irish island where red roses grow all year round.

In this modern-day fairy tale romance, American doctor Tara Moore's life is transformed when she travels to an enchanted Irish island and discovers she has the power to break a 200-year-old curse. At first, Tara laughs off the villagers' speculation that she is descended from a selkie--a magical creature who is bewitching the island. But when a ghostly woman appears to her with a warning, Tara realizes it was more than chance that brought her to this island. Desperate to escape a dark and dangerous past, Tara struggles against a passionate attraction to handsome islander Dominic O'Sullivan. But the enchantment of the island soon overpowers her and she falls helpless under its spell. Caught between magic and reality, Tara must find a way to wield both when a dangerous stranger from her past arrives, threatening to destroy the lives of everyone on the island.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Enchanted Irish Fairy Cakes, Featuring Author Diane J. Reed

To kick off the St. Patrick's Day celebrations, the lovely and talented author, Diane J. Reed, is here to share her coveted Irish Fairy Cake recipe with us. I stumbled across this tasty treat in her magical Irish love story, Twixt, and have been pestering her for the recipe ever since!
Enchanted Irish Fairy Cake Recipe
{ © by Diane J. Reed { Makes 1 Dozen {
Special Caution: This fairy cake recipe is featured in the novel Twixt, and is rumored to help one see fairies! Don't be surprised if you suddenly spy flits of sparkling light or hear twinkling laughter and become "fairy struck" by inexplicable feelings of joy... 

Fairy Cake Ingredients:
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (scrape seeds into batter & discard hull)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 handfuls rolled oats

{ Now here’s where the MAGIC comes in! According to your fancy, add any of the following ingredients that you like (go with what your heart tells you!):

½ cup of chopped walnuts/or pecans
½ cup of chopped dried fruit (such as dates, cranberries, apple, or apricots)
A few flower petals!
Then wiggle your fingers and sprinkle joyful feelings (it matters!) 

Lemon Fairy Icing Ingredients:
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
2 cups powdered confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (zest)
Several drops of yellow food coloring (to desired color)
(Feel free to add more or less sugar/lemon to taste)

Directions for Enchanted Irish Fairy Cakes:
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Cream the butter & sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light & fluffy, then add eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract & vanilla seeds (discard hull!) and mix until creamy. Add flour, cornstarch, salt & baking soda and mix at low speed until just combined (don’t overmix). Stir in by hand the with a wooden spoon the 2 handfuls of rolled oats and any or all of the following: chopped nuts, dried fruit, flower petals & sprinkles of good feeling (remember, this is where your MAGIC comes in—so be creative and play!). Spoon the batter to fill cupcakes liners & bake for 20-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool to room temperature before frosting.

Directions for Lemon Fairy Icing:
Mix cream cheese & butter with an electric mixer & add lemon juice, lemon zest & powdered sugar, beating until creamy. Spread a generous amount on each fairy cake—and if you happen to swipe a lick (like Rose does in Twixt), prepare yourself to see fairies! Adorn with flower petals, of course!

Sophie: Since we have you here, Diane. :) Tell us a little about Twixt and how you came up with the idea.

Diane: My inspiration for Twixt began with a visit to an old graveyard in a small Rocky Mountain gold-mining town in Idaho (near where I lived at the time) that was filled with beautiful Celtic crosses from the nineteenth century! And each marble grave marker was inscribed with the name of the county in Ireland where the individual had been born. The mayor of the town explained to me that these Irish gold-seekers had escaped the Great Famine (where many of their peers had died and were thrown into anonymous trenches in the Old Country). So they were determined that when their time came to pass, the world would always know their names and their heritage. Along with them, they brought many fairy stories and superstitions to the Idaho region, which sparked my imagination for writing an epic Irish romance that includes their fairy magic!

Sophie: What are you working on next?

Diane: I definitely have a sequel to Twixt in mind, but currently I'm working on a Young Adult novel.
 Check out Diane's website to find out more about the author and learn about her secret life as a cowgirl!