Jane Dougherty and Ali Isaac with a special book for Valentine’s Day

Jane Dougherty was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Oct. 2014, and has returned now with co-author, Ali Isaac, to tell us about a very special publication that is available just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Grá mo Chroí
‘Love of my Heart’ janeLove Stories from Irish Myth

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This is what it’s all about:
Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology. They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

That’s all very lovely, I hear you say, but what decided us to get involved in retelling stories that, well, had already been told? We should probably explain.

Jane: I was brought up on the old Irish stories and noticed from an early age that there were the Leprechaun and the old priest type stories, and there were the Fionn Mac Cumaill and the Niall of the Nine Hostages type of stories. The former were all very well for the under nines, but they were so obviously stories, of a certain folksy historical interest, but not to be taken seriously. The mythological story cycles were a different matter entirely. These were real people doing real things. You could tell the stories were true because often the protagonists did the most unexpected and unlikely things. Just like in real life.
Just like in real life there are many versions of these stories, and one suspects the Church to be largely responsible for airbrushing out the exploits of some of the more shameless women, and sticking saints and priests in where they had no business being. As someone who loves getting to the roots of things, words, myths, ancient histories, it was a challenge but also a labour of love, peeling back the layers of propaganda and other rococo additions, to retell the stories of the real people who were our ancestors.

Ali: I had been thinking for a while that I’d really like to write a book of short stories based on tales from Irish mythology. In fact, I’d already integrated quite a few into my Conor Kelly series. When I met Jane via her blog, I discovered that she too had been writing along a similar vein. We shared the same interest in the old stories of Ireland, and had both fallen in love with the characters and their passionate, tragic lives. It just seemed natural that we would work together on a joint venture, and out of that, Grá mo Chroí, ‘Love of my Heart’ was born.

Why did we choose love stories? Good question! I had never written a love story in my life. But these were the stories we naturally gravitated to; perhaps we identified in some way with their tragic heroines, their obsessive devotion and heart-rending loss, and their valiant warrior-lovers. Perhaps we were chosen by them to tell their stories to a world which has all but forgotten them. With Valentine’s Day looming, focusing on love rather than battles and magic seemed like the right thing to do.

Here is a short excerpt from the first story in the collection, The Tragedy of Bailé and Aillinn

 Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.

Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

These are the purchase links for Grá mo Chroí:

And if you want to know anything more about the two of us:
Jane can be found on her blog, on her FaceBook author page, or Twitter. You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

You will find Ali pottering about most days on her blog, Facebook author page, or Twitter. Alternatively, you can email her at: ali (at) aliisaacstoryteller.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

The Apocalyptic Four

253460_10151030239276603_469225808_nThe Apocalyptic Four
– AKA Eileen Bell, Randy McCharles, Ryan McFadden and Billie Milholland

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Our latest release was The Puzzle Box — a collaborative contemporary fantasy novel.

Quick description: It is a box that you can hold in the palm of your hand – but the contents will change your life forever. There is no simple way to open it: no hinges, locks, or clasps. To some, its six surfaces gleam like polished gold. To others, it appears dull and tarnished like a forgotten antique. For every person, solving the box will be different, with life-altering consequences.

“I have a great gift for you. Now I ask you: what do you want? What do you really want? You don’t have to tell me. It already knows.”

Albert Mallory, a down-on-his-luck archaeologist, begins to discover the true secrets of the Puzzle Box as revealed through four tales belonging to the the previous owners. As each story is told, the mystery of his own life slowly unravels until he is left with the biggest question of all: What’s Inside?


Brief biography:
Eileen Bell has written most of her life (usually as an antidote to whatever day job she had) and has had short fiction published in magazines and several anthologies, including the double Aurora Award-winning Women of the Apocalypse.

Recently, she and three other writers had a collaborative novel, The Puzzle Box, published through EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. In 2014, she will have her own paranormal mystery, Seeing the Light, published through Tyche Books.

When she’s not writing or editing or thinking about writing, she’s living a fine life in her round house (even if it is in a perpetual state of renovation) with her husband, two dogs, and a gold fish.


Randy McCharles is active in the Calgary, Alberta, writing community with a focus on speculative fiction, usually of the dark and humorous variety. In 2009 he received Canada’s most prestigious award for SF & F, the Prix-Aurora Award, for the novella Ringing in the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta which appeared in Tesseracts 12 (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and was also reprinted in Year’s Best Fantasy 9 (David Hartwell and Kathryn Kramer, ed). Additional short stories have appeared in Tesseracts 11 & 16; as well as in the Urban Green Man, Okal Rel Opus 2, and Okal Rel Opus 6 (Absolute XPress).

In addition to writing, Randy chairs the When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers.


Ryan McFadden is an award-winning fantasy/SF author living in London, Ontario, who happens to be a full e-reader convert, and now uses those powers to help code books for publishers and authors.

His novella, Deus Ex Machina, was part of the Aurora-winning Women of the Apocalypse released in 2009. His recent publications include stories in Evolve 2, When the Villain Comes Home, Blood and Water, and Expiration Date. He is busy working on his next project in the always popular Neo-Noir Supernatural Crime Thriller category.


Billie Milholland is a Western Canadian writer of fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction titles include They Came and North Saskatchewan River Guide. She has had short fiction produced on CBC Radio, articles in Harrowsmith Magazine, children’s fiction in Chickadee Magazine, flash fiction in Seven Deadly Sins. A novella in Aurora-winning Women of the Apocalypse (Hungersnot). Short Fiction in Ride the Moon Anthology (Small Seven’s Secret)


Links to buy The Apocalyptic Four’s book:
Amazon Worldwide – eBook and paperback
Kobo – eBook
Chapters/Indigo – paperback

What are you working on now?
Right now, we are all working on individual projects.

Eileen Bell’s first “on her own” novel, Seeing the Light, will be launched in late 2014.
Randy McCharles’ novel Capone’s Chicago will be available spring 2014. His collection of three novellas, The Necromancer Candle, will be available August 2014.

Eileen’s reading recommendation:
Eileen’s reading Reamde by Neal Stephenson and she’s enjoying it immensely.