A traumatized young nun, Fiona O’Neill, is trying to decide if she should continue to pursue the religious life. When a mysterious old woman—Maggie O’Brien—appears at the convent door and tells Fiona to seek solutions in Heaven Cove, Fiona heeds the advice. With the guidance of the clairvoyant Maggie, and with assistance from the caring people of Heaven Cove, Fiona rebounds from trauma, learns the secret of her father’s childhood, and finds her true home. Set in 1960’s Newfoundland and overflowing with indelible characters, MAGGIE OF THE MARSHES is an uplifting story of mystery and magic, at the core of which is Maggie O’Brien.
Four characters emerge from a taxi into the sunshine of Heaven Cove, among them a young 'nun-on-the-run' (Fiona), the hard-drinking driver (Tom), and an old woman (Maggie). The inspiration for Maggie came from a vague childhood memory, that of an elderly woman I once saw in my parents' shoe store.The grating voice, the yellow hair, the rolled-down stockings-- all images that stuck.
The working title for MAGGIE OF THE MARSHES was "Heaven Cove." It started out as the tale of a young woman, Fiona, who, uncertain about her calling, chose to leave the convent for a time. The more I wrote, the more I encountered Maggie-- a mysterious, old, clairvoyant woman who was demanding to be heard. It took me a while to realize that she owned this story, heart and soul.
Thirty-eight year old Justin Wentworth loses everything when his entitled lifestyle slams into a collapsing economy. Alcoholic, homeless, and living on Vancouver streets, he has one desire: to regain the love and trust of his wife, Sarah, and his little boy, Bobby. Help arrives when twenty-something Steve Jameson, a graduate student researching the homeless, rescues the mugged Justin from a Dumpster and offers food and shelter in return for Justin’s story. As Justin reveals his journey—from happy childhood to family man to drunken indigent—he begins to trust his Good Samaritan but soon discovers that all is not what it seems with Steve. Can Justin persist on his path back to his family, or are darker forces at work against him? Castles in the Sand is a poignant, character-driven tale of tragedy and hope, one that will win the hearts of readers everywhere.
On a Thursday, I was looking for some kind of forever symbol for my character, Sarah. I couldn't think one up right away so I put it on the back burner. Two days later, we had a garage sale. In strolled a new neighbor whose glittery sandals caught my attention. I noticed a tattoo on her instep: two paw prints. Turns out the prints belonged to her dog; she wanted to remember him forever. The perfect 'forever' solution for Sarah! (I just love it when life gifts me with answers.)
Do you ever wonder how much you actually take for granted? Did something ever cause you to pause, to appreciate? Justin resents his Good Samaritan Steve because Steve is living the entitled lifestyle that Justin once had. Despite this, despite his growing mistrust for Steve's motives, Justin hits a gratitude moment. A simple thing-- a shower. A privilege.
Justin has to give up everything, including the family's much-loved dog, Lady. Just like there was no Marshmallow Man in the initial draft of the novel, there was no dog in the initial draft of the 24-hour contest short story.I wrote the first draft of that story--beginning, middle, end-- and set it aside. I engaged in my Sunday morning ritual: coffee, Mozart, and newspaper which I scanned before settling on the LA Times Crossword. One article jumped at me: the SPCA was receiving a higher volume of dogs than usual because people were losing their homes and had nowhere to keep their pets. I incorporated that and added another true life moment: My husband and I visited 8 shelters while looking for our current wonderful dog (CoCo). Outside one, there stood a man carrying a little white dog named Lucy who only had eyes for him. Lucy smelled so good and I made an offhand remark about that. He lowered his gaze and said that he thought the least he could do was take her to the groomers before he returned her to the shelter.
According to Stephen King, "Fiction is truth wrapped in a lie." The truth in this book bubble is that the way Justin and Sarah meet--the setting, the coffee and cinnamon toast-- is exactly the way my husband and I met.
"Castles in the Sand" is based on a contest-winning short story. The theme word for the story prompt was castle; I ran every castle-related phrase I could think of. When I hit "a man's home is his castle," I decided that the main character would be homeless.As a result of that split-second decision and subsequent research, I learned that homelessness, which I always thought of as far away, can happen to anyone. It is as near as your heartbeat. There was no Marshmallow Man in my first draft of this novel. One day, on Robson Street in Vancouver, I saw a young man in a blinding-white puffy jacket. I eavesdropped. "Do you need help, sir?" he asked a homeless man. Steve was born!
Set on the rugged island of Newfoundland, OF SEA AND SEED takes the reader on a tragic journey through the 1920s as one family strives to hold onto life in the face of secrets, betrayal, and tsunami. Chronicling this journey is the family matriarch, Kathleen Kerrigan, who is condemned to an afterlife of atonement for the depth of her crimes in life. But what possible mortal sin could cause heaven to banish this loving mother, grandmother, and storyteller? A poetic, literary masterpiece, this first book of The Kerrigan Chronicles illuminates the depths of the human heart as it follows three generations suffering from toxic family secrets, shocking betrayals, and the harsh everyday reality that accompanies a life entangled with the sea. This suspenseful account of life in early twentieth century Newfoundland is as stunningly lovely as it is devastatingly heartbreaking. OF SEA AND SEED is a gripping family saga—an unforgettable must read.
Kathleen Kerrigan, the ghost, visits her corporeal self who is grieving at the grave of the baby Jimmy Kerrigan. She has always known and kept secret the sin of Alphonse, but she has never known why he did what he did. For a long time, neither did I. To write it as pure jealousy did not seem enough, so I dug deeper. The inspiration came when I saw an interview with a soldier, a veteran of WWII...
The word 'Sea' in the title refers to Kathleen, the family matriarch. The word 'Seed' refers to her offspring. The third voice in this novel is that of Kathleen's son Kevin, who left home at sixteen, married young, and worked hard as a fisherman to support his young family. His whole purpose in life was to take care of his own: his wife Mavis and their children. Then the tsunami hit the Burin Peninsula...
There are three points of view in this novel; Kathleen (matriarch and ghost), Clara (Kathleen's daughter) and Kevin (Kathleen's son.) Chapter 2 is written from the point of view of Clara whom the reader follows from age six into adulthood. Today Clara, as punishment for hiding in the dory while her brother manned the oars, must stay close to home and listen as her mother weaves a story about the bond between mother and child. This chapter is, in a way,a tribute to my own Irish ancestors. And "the saddest thing in the world" line is a variation on something someone said to me after she had lost a daughter.
There are three points of view in OF SEA AND SEED, but only one narrator--Kathleen Kerrigan. Kathleen was not a part of the original concept which started with a little girl named Kate. I decided to go back one generation to Kate's mother, Clara. I pretty much knew I had a family saga on my hands at that point, but for the longest time, I resisted going back another generation... so much work! Eventually I fell into the idea and Kathleen fell out of it; her lyrical voice is a joy to write. . She is matriarch, storyteller, poet, historian, and ghost. I love her statement that "heaven does not open its gates to women of my ilk." I love unraveling her mystery....
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