Sunday, July 16, 2006

Face-Lift 121


Guess the Plot

Aisling's Tale

1. As he endures constant jostling, and luggage raining from the racks above, Kyle Freeble dreams of one day having a window seat.

2. Aisling, the religious leader of a pagan clan, converts to Christianity. Her husband decides to punish her by sacrificing their son to the fire god. Will Aisling try Buddhism next?

3. Professor Kettlewick, composing his treatise on17th-century Irish vision poems, is unaware that his nightmare of a world overrun by cybernetic leprechauns is about to become all too real.

4. Aisling, a bard and storyteller at The Toad’s Beard Inn, is living a quiet life until Widowcracken, the evil overlord, kidnaps him and presses him into service as his personal entertainer.

5. When four-year old Aisling O'Connor places at the bottom of the pre-school 'Spell Your Own Name' competition she vows vengeance on her Irish ancestors.

6. A sparrow cursed to live as a human, Aisling spends far too much time seeking pants that hide his last remaining tail feather.


Original Version

“Christ is my druid now.”

With these words, Aisling O’Ceallaigh rejects the ancient gods of her people. Destined from childhood to succeed her dead mother as druidess to her clan, Aisling has hidden a secret that could mean death if it is discovered - she doubts the power of the gods she is to serve, and nurses a hope that something else exists beyond the universe she knows.

Aisling keeps her secret concealed until the day she stumbles upon a secret ritual in the midst of ancient standing stones. [Is it Stonehenge?] A prophecy has been circulating throughout Ireland, predicting the coming of a foreign god. The druid Ronan is about to sacrifice the life of a young boy in order to keep the prophecy from being fulfilled. Aisling sabotages Ronan’s plan to rescue Luc, [Luc . . . I am your Druidess.] exposing her faithlessness.

On the journey home to face the judgment of her own clan, Aisling falls out of the cauldron and into the fire when a chieftain bent on revenge against her father abducts her. Despite her attempts to escape Lorcan MacKenna, he prevails by threatening her father’s life, and Aisling enters into a loveless marriage. When a former British slave named Patrick receives permission to camp outside the ringfort gates, Aisling hears the Gospel and receives Jesus Christ. Her husband decides to offer their son [Their son? When did that happen?] in the Samhain fires to punish her. Aisling hides the child and faces her husband’s fury alone, trusting her Lord for ultimate redemption.

Aisling’s Tale is a historical romance, [You forgot to include anything in the query that would indicate there's a romance.] [Her marriage is loveless; does she have a love affair with the slave? Apparently while he was turning her on to Christainity, he "forgot" the part about not committing adultery?] and takes place at the dawn of Christianity in fifth-century pagan Ireland. The finished manuscript is 98,000 words.

I have included the first chapter. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Revised Version

“Christ is my druid now.”

With these words, Aisling O’Ceallaigh rejects the ancient gods of her people. Destined from childhood to succeed her dead mother as druidess to her clan, Aisling has a secret that could mean death if it is discovered - she doubts the power of the gods, and nurses a hope that something else exists beyond the universe she knows.

Aisling keeps her secret concealed until the day she stumbles upon a secret ritual in the midst of ancient standing stones. A prophecy has been circulating throughout Ireland, predicting the coming of a foreign god, and the druid Ronan is about to sacrifice the life of a young boy to prevent the prophecy's fulfillment. Aisling sabotages Ronan’s plan and rescues Luc, exposing her faithlessness.

On the journey home to face the judgment of her clan, Aisling falls out of the cauldron and into the fire when a chieftain bent on revenge against her father abducts her. Despite her attempts to escape Lorcan MacKenna, he prevails by threatening her father’s life, and Aisling enters into a loveless marriage, one that produces her first son.

When a former British slave named Patrick receives permission to camp outside the ringfort gates, Aisling finds herself entranced by both his hunky bod and his preaching of the Gospel. She receives Jesus Christ. And shouts, "Hallelujah!" Then she also receives Patrick. And again shouts, "Hallelujah!" Her husband decides to offer their son in the Samhain fires to punish her, but Aisling hides the child and faces her husband’s fury alone, trusting her Lord for ultimate redemption.

Aisling’s Tale is a historical romance, and takes place at the dawn of Christianity in fifth-century pagan Ireland. The finished manuscript is 98,000 words. I have included the first chapter. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Notes

Evil Editor didn't change much, except where the author seemed to be letting a year go by between sentences, and adding the romance angle. It sounded more like an inspirational book than a romance in the original.

37 comments:

Eunuch said...

What happened to the peace loving eunuchs? Surely they step in for the poor woman, with poems about love and peace?

Catja (green_knight) said...

Aisling sabotages Ronan’s plan to rescue Luc

I sincerely hope that the writer will read his queries more thoroughly in the future.

Ronan plans to _sacrifice_ Luc. _Aisling_ rescues.

And I equally hope that the writer will read up a little bit on the period in which he proposes to write and research things like names, and, well, druidry...

Anonymous said...

What does the secret ritual at Stonehenge have to do with the rest of the story?

It seems like the setup is that she is married to this guy she doesn't care for, she falls for Patrick/Christ & the husband has a cow (and a bonfire).

The whole Luc/Stonehenge/traveling home thing are just details on the way to the main story. They could be cut from the query & perhaps from the story.

Nut said...

To me, it would work better from the 'pagan's' side (minus sacrificing your own child thing). Why? Well, you know what Native Americans, African slaves, India's population, and many others have in common? Yep, they were all 'barbarians', as far as 'good', Christian people were concerned.

You probably don't need to listen to me, after all, I am a nut...

P.S. No, I do not think all/most of/many Christians subscribe to this 'barbarians must be converted' view.

JFK said...

I know zilch about the time period in which this is set, but I think the idea's cool. Family versus family, people turning against their faith, hunky slaves *grins*

I agree with anonymous about the fact that the Stonehenge (if it is indeed Stonehenge; there were other druid rings - oh wait, I said I know zilch about this time period didn't? I stand corrected) scene doesn't add much. What happens to Luc?

Also, the title doesn't really jump out at me. Maybe it needs to be in capital letters? :)

Good luck with this!

BuffySquirrel said...

Is it Stonehenge?

Not unless Wiltshire was unusually mobile way back when...

Anonymous said...

Is thsi "former British slave named Patrick" supposed to be st. Patrick? If so, his having a tawdry romance with Aisling might stir up enough contoversy to make the book a bestseller, but you'd better watch your ass next March 17.

whitemouse said...

Did the writer intend for the religion of the druids to have some apparent validity in the story? After all, they had a correct prophecy, so they weren't complete frauds.

I mention it only because the novel does seem like it was intended to be predominantly an inspirational story, and this aspect doesn't fit.

The romance also doesn't seem to fit; perhaps it should be chopped, rather than emphasised.

born_liar said...

The "sacrificing his son as revenge" thing doesn't work for me at all. Wouldn't it make more sense for him to kill the slave?

Anonymous said...

I think this story has potential if some of the advice given by EE and his minions is taken to heart. It is very tough to find entertaining novels about Christianity as a good thing. If, that is what is intended here. -JTC

rachel said...

"Patrick" in Irish is "Padraig". Just, y'know, informationally. There's no way the author DOESN'T mean St. Patrick, and I would just like to say... St. Brendan the Navigator was ten times the hunk St. Patrick ever was! *ahem*

And burftysquirrel, we were thinking the same thing -- Wiltshire on wheels!

December Quinn said...

Patrick is Padraig in Irish, Rachel, but St. Patrick wasn't Irish.

You're right, though, in that Aisling would likely call him Padraig, and that accurate Irish names should be used in the book.


I don't know if it would please the author to know that as a pagan I would not enjoy a story where pagans are protrayed as people who sacrifice their children to get back at their wayward wives. So this would be a pass for me, but I'm sure it has a large and enthusiastic audience elsewhere, which is great.

Anonymous said...

The name Aisling did not exist in the fifth century.

Aisling (or Aislinn) is a political genre of Irish poetry created in the 17th-18th century in which the island of Ireland appears to the poet in the form of a woman. The woman laments the current state of the Irish people and predicts an approaching return to glory.

The word, which on its own means "dream" or "vision", has only been used as a girls name in Ireland for the last century or so.

I am highly unlikely to read any book about Christians converting the "poor heathens" of another land.

But if I were so inclined, I'd pass on this book the second I saw a fifth century woman named Aisling. I would assume that if the author couldn't be bothered to research the name of her main character, he/she likely hadn't researched much of the plot either.

illiterate said...

Sorry, I'm with the plant and her majesty, on this one. I'd rather read the book from the 'savages' point of view.

Poohba said...

It was the name Luc that struck me as not being particularly Celtic. (Did a wandering Frenchman also make it into this story?)

I get the feeling this is supposed to be an "inspirational" novel. It might work as that, but I highly doubt it would go over as a mainstream romance.

Luna said...

Oh, ick ick ick! Eeeeevil pagans and goooooood Christians.

I hate this plot device. I hate the eeeeeevil Christians and the gooooooood pagans device too, but not quiet as much.

Being religious doesn't make someone black and white, and this level of preachiness certainly won't fly in a historial romance, where readers are most concerned about the, er, romance.

(You may also want to research Celtic druids a bit more, because a lot of this sounds like it's been grabbed from various periods and pagan lores and mixed together in a not-very-appetizing human sacrifice cocktail.)

(Although I know the druids did make sacrifices, as did many primitive cultures. I'm not saying lose the angle, I'm saying that as it's presented I wouldn't want to read about it.)

Off to my weekly secret stone circle ritual group potluck...

Mazement said...

If Patrick is really St. Patrick, then playing up the "driving snakes out of Ireland" bit would capitalize on one of the hot new trends.

Working title: "Snakes on a Wain".

Anonymous said...

I read the synopsis a couple of times and can't figure out the timeline. She rejects her gods for Christ, keeping her conversion a secret, but then later meets Patrick and hears about Christ (for the first time?). That's how I read it but I realize it can't be so. In a synopsis this short I would recommend keeping the timeline strictly linear.

Also not a fan of infidels "saved" by Christians (elephant in the room: weren't Christians about to go on a devastating rampage across the Middle East in just a few more centuries?) but more importantly I'm wondering how this would sit with inspirational readers...? I've read blurbs for modern inspirationals, and as far as I can tell they don't usually denigrate other religions in the process of championing Christianity. Just thinking about the market potential here.

I would guess the romance angle is her husband being saved in the end ("trusting her Lord for ultimate redemption" could refer to hubby?) and they live happily ever after. I'm pretty sure an inspirational would not include adultery, even if the marriage hadn't been sanctifed by the "correct" god.

So - no hot hunky slave sex. Dang.

Heyoka said...

Is anyone else sent into raptures of giggling by "'Christ is my druid now'", or is it just me?

eltrhki said...

Snakes on a wain.

Outstanding, mazement! Well done.

born_liar said...

These names could be the setup for a joke.

A Frenchman, a modern-day Irish woman, and a British slave walk into a bar...

Anonymous said...

Of course, Patrick did convert Ireland to Christianity, so the whole Chrisitan-Druid conflict is historically accurate. And I don't think we can assume a christians-good-druids-bad theme from a query.

It is interesting: I've noticed you rarely see christians protrayed in a good light in modern literature that isn't overtly christian/inspirational.

Min Yin said...

When I saw "Lorcan MacKenna" I immediately thought of popular (female) Celtic singer Loreena McKennitt, which probably isn't the image the author had in mind for the villain.

Spooks said...

I think the sacrifice of her son would make more sense if her husband found out that the child wasn't his...otherwise, why would he sacrifice his own son? Of course, that would mean that her morals were a tad off...or, maybe he could just think/suspect that the boy wasn't his?

Minion #1555 said...

Christ is my druid? Errrr... I really don't think that's accurate. it would be more accurate to say that Aisling is a druid. Christ is a god, or a sub-diety, or whatnot.

And please, I hope in the name of Athena that you don't preach in this novel. Pagan bad/Christian good is innacurate. Pagan kinda bad and good / Christian kinda bad and good is more accurate. Make sure that Ronan isn't an entirely bad guy... just a guy doing what he believes is right.

And is Aisling going to go for monotheism all at once? I'd find it more accurate if she accepted Christ as ONE diety of many, at first at least. Unless St. Patrick brainwashes her.

IF YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH this novel has potential. IF YOU STAY OBJECTIVE this novel has potential. IF YOU DO NOT it will probably flop straight into the slushpile.

tlh said...

The thing that got me is... okay, you have your worst enemy's daughter in your possession. Instead of selling her into slavery, or killing her, or any number of horrible things to punish her father... you coerce her into marrying you by threatening to kill her father, who one would assume you would have killed already if you could (and thus the threat is empty) and then have her pretty much underfoot for the rest of your married life, in a prime place to poison you, stab you in your sleep, or otherwise make life short for you?

ofwygc: a good name for a 5th century Irish villain?

A Reader said...

If you want my two cents (which, combined with several more cents, might get you a danish) I:

1. Don't think anyone will care much when the name Aislain or whatever her name is was first used.

2. I think a lot of Christians would like this book, and the author might want to try Christian publishers.

Please note that I am not Christian, I'm just thinking about this book in relation to the success of other books with inaccurate historical information and inaccurate religious information (ie, Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code). In other words, I think that if an author tells a good tale, historical details tend to fall to the wayside, and no one really cares.

Catja (green_knight) said...

A reader:

Many people *do* care about blatant historical inaccuracies, bad naming, etc. I have a hard time taking a book seriously if ten minutes of googling could have made it better.

Never assume your readers are stupid.

A Reader said...

Catja: I didn't say stupid. I said they wouldn't care.

Urnamma said...

I second Catja's comments, to some degree. As to 'who would care'... I think people of Irish descent would care deeply about seeing their history completely misrepresented.
Before we begin with the historical inaccuracies though... Why so anti-Christian here? Early Christians are a bit different from the 15th century (time periods and what not). In many cases, they had memories (many recent) of being sacrificed as captives, being thrown to the lions, or being crucified for their faith. Or, being children left exposed to the elements to die, and being raised by other Christians.

In this time period, most non-christians in non-Roman Europe -were- barbarians. Literally.

A lot of things could have been corrected by judicious use of google, but here's the inaccuracries from a historian's perspective:

Patrick was not called Patrick. He was called 'Fhadraigh' when paganism was still common (the P wasn't present in the language widely outside of church records for some time). 'MacKenna' is an impossible name (no K in Gaelic), and would be 'mac Ceinna', which is out of date (viking period name).

Further, there is use of surnames at all, which is totally inappropriate; they would be only used for formal things, and even then, they're a bit vague.

'O'Cellaigh' would be 'Ua Ceallaigh' in this usage, and would only be a formal declaration of one's tribe, and not ever used casually (that'd be offensive).

Druids didn't exist by this point (the last Irish druids were more or less exterminated at Lough Derg; poeticized with Patrick defeating the beast of Lough Derg, turning the lake red; a poetic version of 'the Christians and pagan Irish fought there and the pagans died').

However, Patrick wasn't in ireland when the Lough Derg incident happened. He did convert the cavern of Lough Derg from a pagan shrine to a Christian one.

It's why he didn't bother much with the south of Ireland though; the pagans there (which included the Irish enclave of druids) had been exterminated, converted, or fled to the north. Every druid was killed. Any 'druids' remaining were lower functionaries.

Further, calling Jesus a druid would be a grevious insult, considering druids were considered wicked by Christians because part of their duty was the sacrifice of humans.

Further, they can't choose to sacrifice their children, even if they're pagans. Her 'husband' could not POSSIBLY offer their son (yeah, when DID that happen?) for sacrifice.

Sacrifices were composed of criminals and prisoners of war, not children, by pre-Christian Gaelic law.

Also, Hallelujah was not in use in Ireland (while widespread now, it was, at the time, more common in the southern 'Latin' sphere of Christianity; the normal shout in northern Roman Gaul and the isles would have been in the local native language, generally something like the Irish form of 'Glory to God!', which was more or less a modified tribal affirmation of loyalty to a chief).

Patrick was a Roman Briton, with the title Patricius (where the name comes from). His given name was Maewyn Succat. In Ireland, he'd probably be called Moiran by those who would know him personally.

Pope Celestine was the first to actually call him Patricius (he refered to him as the 'Patrician of Ireland' when visiting Britain)

Also...ancient standing stones were NOT usually a site of Celtic religious ritual. They had temples, sacred mounds, votive ponds and lakes, etc. The standing stones (and there are a LOT more than just stonehenge, were pre-celtic). Like, the Lady of the Lake is born out of a clear pagan Celtic belief in a lake goddess.

Also, one did not 'succeed' their parents as a druid. Being a druid required what was essentially a college education, it was not remotely an inherited position. Druids had a lot of memorization to do, and a lot of mathematics, geometry, etc to study.

You had to study under a master. Further, female 'druids' were generally attendants, doctors, or otherwise served an ancillary public function. They were not 'to a clan'. Nevermind that the Irish (Gaels) didn't HAVE clans, they had tribes.

A clan is an extended family unit of multiple families, and is considered much smaller than a tribe (it's generally believed to be a concept of a 'fractured' tribe; the first 'cenell' were actually portions of the Ui Neill TRIBE, when it broke up due to infighting)

Clans are much closer related. Irish tribes are huge, and they claim descent (often erroneously) from a common, distant ancestor.

Like, the Eoghanachta tribe ruled Munster. Their one TRIBE inhabited over 2/3rds of the kingdom. A tribe is way too big to have one 'druidess'.

The mention of child sacrifice seems pretty common here, and it's utter rubbish. Celtic pagan religion DID sacrifice humans, no doubt, but they didn't go around sacrificing children. Their religion actually forbade it, because children are intended to replace the elder members of the tribe one day. Like the infirmed and the elderly, children were a 'protected' class. No matter what they did, they could never be punished with death (except for treason) or offered for sacrifice because they were too holy.

Also, if 'Patrick' here is supposed to be Saint Patrick, the concept of him having an affair with a woman adulterously is nigh slanderous, and an insult to any Catholic, let alone one with Irish ancestry. Patrick was reknowned for his respect for women, for one thing, as well as his emphasis on the sacred status of marriage. The concept of this woman becoming a Christian by way of Patrick, and then sleeping with him (ADULTEROUSLY! GAH!) is almost a blantant slap in the face.

Aside from that, Patrick wasn't apparently considered very attractive. For one, he wore a beard (a pretty unattractive thing to Gaels, unless you were very rich and had servants to groom and style it), and he was most likely a celibate (while not a requirement at the time, Patrick did encourage celibacy for those unmarried).

Most Gaelic Christians did not accept monothiesm very quickly, even if they accept Christ. It was a large portion of Patrick's later work in Ireland. Further, while he was a slave in Britain, Patrick was an athiest (of sorts) for a long time. He converted to Christianity initially largely out of desperation (he was familiar with it; his father had been a bishop). He says in Confessio that he had 'not yet known God' during most of his initial stay in Ireland as a slave.

The names generally suck. I'm not expecting you to know Gaelic, but for a 'historical' romance, you should make an attempt at getting the names right.

Aisling, way out of period, Luc, not remotely Irish (it was used by some later Irish...during the high middle ages and increased trade with France)

People weren't generally sacrificed in fire by Gaelic pagans. They were cut open and their entrails were examined by Druids to read the omens.

The chief god of the Irish at this time was Lugh, ostensibly the sun god (Celtic religion didn't have gods that were hardfast related to one 'field', as it were; those applications were generally by foreigners to make their gods easier to understand, based on their traits).

/ rant (for now)

Quiz question: How many black popes have there been?

Nut said...

urnamma: If you meant black, as in skin colour, 3.
St Victor 189AD, St Militiades 311-314, St Galassius 492-296 (or so sais holyangels.com)

However, the wikipedia has this:

"The Black Pope" is a derogatory name given to the Superior General of the Society of Jesus due to the Jesuits' practice of wearing black cassocks (compared to the pope's always wearing white robes), and to the order's specific allegiance to the Roman pontiff.

I dunno which one you meant, I'm sure I didn't pass. Informative rant. However, not all peoples considered 'pagans' by the Christians, really were ones. I'm sure you'll disagree. That's fine. I am just a plant, after all.

glub glub said...

Many readers of historical romances really do care about anachronism, and as the comments here have shown, many people know enough about pre-Christian Ireland to know that the details here are fishy.

The thing that caught me, though, was the quote, which I immediately recognized as one of Saint Columba's (aka St. Columcille). If my memory serves me, he was alive and working in Ireland around 500 AD -- and a LOT of Irish Catholics at least will know that quote. (More at http://ns2.rsok.com/columcille_and_druids.html)

If you're going for a purely Christian market, you'll still need to fix the research problems in the book. If you're not, you might reconsider making the good / evil split between Christians and pagans so obvious

Urnamma said...

Nut, you did indeed get that correct.

You have to understand that Christianity was incredibly influenced by being Roman at the time, so barbarian and pagan (which means uneducated bumkin) are terms that they used to classify non-christians. Of course not all of them were, specifically. The Sassanians in particular ;) Then we have the various heresies, Arians, Nestorians, etc.

Evil Editor said...

It should be pointed out in the author's defense that the Hallelujahs (a joke that few would get in Gaelic) and the affair between Patrick and Aisling were added by Evil Editor, and not part of the query (and possibly not part of the book).

Nut said...

Me? I got something right? But, but, but... I was just using yahoo search!

Thanks, urnamma. It's cool, when someone knows what they are writing about. And you do. So, rock on!

Minion #1555 said...

Wow Urnamma....
Can I take a class or something?
:)

Urnamma said...

Technically, yes you can take a class. I should be back to teaching in the fall of 07.

Verification Word: Galtpyuy; the drink that John Galt has every morning.