Sunday, October 12, 2008

Debut Author Sheryl Brennan

Hi, Sheryl. Welcome to the Romance Bandits!

Hi Joan! Thanks for having me. I love what you've done to the lair.

Thanks. It took quite a while to clean up after Aunty's party
:-) Tell us about your debut title "Celtic Sacrifice."

Celtic Sacrifice is a historical romance set in 16th century Ireland during the last years of the English/Irish Nine Years War. The story follows the life of the heroine, Ceana O'Hagan, from her mystically foretold birth to adulthood.

After spending the past eighteen years of her life without tuteledge in the ancient Celtic druidic arts, elders from her dead mother’s clan of O’Connor come to claim Ceana on her eighteenth birthday. After meeting the long lost materiarchal side of her family, she believes her destiny is clear: to marry Cian O’Connor, become a druid priestess, and restore the mystic powers of a long-lost ancestor.

However, during her training the path becomes muddy. A mysterious stranger captures Ceana’s heart as well as her body, setting an alternate course of events into motion. Dangling within the chasms of religion, duty, and newly discovered emotions, Ceana must decide if she will forsake her tribal obligations to be with Cian or will give up her country, religion, and culture becoming the Celtic Sacrifice the English crown craves.

Celtic Sacrifice sounds fantastic, Sheryl. A really fresh approach. What drew you to write in this time period/setting?
Thanks Joan! I have always been interested in the Renaissance time period and was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism for a short while. They taught me how to fight with rapier and dagger :)
I knew I wanted to write something in the Renaissance era, but the Elizabethan period is so overused as a setting I knew I needed to find some obscure piece of history within it to keep the reader’s attention. Somehow, call it a higher power, my muse, or whatever else you subscribe to, I hit upon the Nine Years War. I checked around and discovered that only a slight few authors have used that political setting as their backdrop, so I ran with it. The more research I did, the more interested I became. The most interesting facet of my research was the discovery of the Chair of Tullaghoge and the part it played in ending the war. I’d love to expound upon my findings, but don’t want to give away any spoilers to the story.

I say hooray for diversity in time periods. Any challenges submitting and marketing a different period?

One of the main challenges to submitting and marketing has more to do with the ethnicity than time period. Right now, Highlanders and Limees are the trend. One of the worst rejection letters I got read like this:

Dear Ms. Brennan,

We thought your story was intriguing and well written with colorful characters. The world you built transported us to a different time and place. However, it is our opinion that English settings sell better than Irish ones. Should you have another story set in Scotland or England, please do think of us again.


Blah Blah
Editor in Chief

Come on now. If you thought it was that good, then why let the fact that it takes place in Ireland keep you from offering a contract for it. Tisk Tisk. Oh well, one editor's loss is another publisher's gain.

Tell us more about the Society.

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an International organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. One of its more prominant characteristics is encouraging its members to choose a persona to research and re-enact that entities life during SCA sponsored events.

My "alter-ego" was a welsh girl by the name of Ceridwen verch Moridic, who was the daughter of a Welsh general in service to the last Prince of Powyss. There is a whole story there in and of itself, but Ceridwen is taking a back seat to Ceana O'Hagan at the moment. Ceridwen doesn't mind though. She knows her time will come.

What's next for Sheryl Brennan?
QUEEN OF THE WORLD! Mwah ha ha ha ha.

Just kidding. A sequel is under contract with Underdog with a tentative release date of May 2009. Oh- and I almost forgot--- Just by signing the guestbook on my website, one lucky person will be chosen at random to have their name or the name of a loved one written in to the sequel entitled Celtic Hope! The winner will be announced on my homepage on December 13th.

Until then I have a question for your readers: If you could be a supporting character in a romance novel, what kind of character would you be and what would be your subplot?

Visit Sheryl at her website for more information on CELTIC SACRIFICE.


flchen1 said...

Oooh! I love Celtic stuff! Celtic Sacrifice sounds very good, and I'm glad you found an editor who agreed! :)

I've never thought of myself in a romance novel--I think maybe I'd like to be the smart, funny sidekick, who helps push the hero and/or heroine to do the right thing and get the girl/boy. And hopefully I'd find my own HEA, too, since it IS a romance!

flchen1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flchen1 said...

Oh, and it looks like the GR is out for the count--he may have overindulged in the chocolate, ice cream, pizza, and barbecue today. He's in the corner with a couple helium balloons and some crumpled streamers...

jo robertson said...

Welcome to the Lair, Sheryl! We're so happy to have you here. Congratulations on your debut. It sounds very intriguing. We love different time periods in the Lair. Witness Joanie's Roman boys and my 1900's fellows.

And pul-leese on the Irish rejection! I'd say that editor missed the mark. Aunty Cindy's editor was DRAWN to that setting in her book that just debuted.

jo robertson said...

Ooooh, forgot to say congrats on having the rooster yet again, Flchen1. Hmmm, you must be feeding him something very special to keep him coming back to your neck of the woods.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Sheryl, and welcome to the lair! Thanks for the interview, JT. We love rebels and renegades here, so you've come to the right place, Sheryl.

CELTIC SACRIFICE sounds fabulous and full of atmosphere and passion and difficult choices. Wonderful stuff!

Louisa Cornell said...

As my father was three quarters Welsh and one quarter English, I have to say anything Celtic has me at "Hylo" or "S'mae" !!

The book sounds intriguing, Sheryl, and thanks for not listening to the editor about the Irish local. I LOVE books set in Ireland. We all do, don't we, Aunty C?

No wonder the GR keeps coming back to your house, Fedora. He knows a fellow party animal when he sees one!

I think I would like to be the eccentric wealthy aunt in a Regency novel. (rather than the eccentric poor aunt in real life!) I would love to be the kind of woman who gets invited everywhere so she knows all the gossip, can flirt with all the rakes because she had no reputation to worry over, can say, think and do EXACTLY as she pleases because she's related to everyone who is anyone AND has more money than God. I would be free to matchmake and dispense advice to any and all. Yes, that would be me in a Regency historical romance. I can just here the hero's friends now "Egad! Is that Great Aunt Louisa? Quick, lets be off. She's always pinching me and she's been trying to introduce me to that squinty eyed niece of hers the entire Season!" "Pinching? What do you mean she pinches your cheeks?" "In a manner of speaking. Ouch! Hello, Aunt Louisa! We were just talking about you!"

Helen said...

You obviously throw a great party flchen have another great day with him

Hi Sheryl this book sounds wonderful I will be getting this one for sure.

What would I like to be in a romance novel a best friend to the heroine there to guide and help with the HEA.

Have Fun

Joan said...

A quick hello to everyone including the rooster nabber..AGAIN as I head out to the DDJ (Yup, gotta work on a Sunday)

I've read bits of Celtic Sacrifice and it really is intriguing. Sheryl also recently made her first trip to Ireland which I'm sure nourished her Celtic soul.

See you later!

Donna MacMeans said...

Fedora - I'm beginning to suspect that the GR is in a pot on the back burner and the early comment are subtrefuge (Grin).

Well, pooh on that editor and their obviously limited readership. Glad to see you didn't despair. Together, you and Cindy can lead a revitalization of Irish set romance.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Sheryl,
Welcome to the Lair! And thank you Joanie for inviting her and for "encouraging" the cabana boys and your gladiators into a sprucing up session. :-)

Sheryl, I think you and I must have submitted to the same editor at some point. I had my manuscript set in Venice returned unread because, according to this editor, only settings in England and Scotland sell. And this was a contemporary! Well, definitely HER LOSS!

Of course your olde Aunty LURVES all things Irish! I have even attended a couple of SCA functions back in the day and they were a blast.

Keep up the great Celtic stories, Sheryl and maybe someday we can do a booksigning together!


catslady said...

I love anything with Celtic or Highlander in the title lol.

Not being a writer it's hard to answer the question but I would want to be helpful I think with a good sense of humor and honor.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Forgot to say, Congrats to Fedora AGAIN! I too suspect some kind of skullduggery afoot. Tis the season, after all. ;-)

As for the character I'd like to be... I do like Louisa's idea of being the VERY WEALTHY and interfering Aunty. Wait! I already am that, except for the wealthy part. Still working on that.


PJ said...

Hi Sheryl! Congrats on your debut release! I love all things Celtic and am always looking for stories set in Ireland. I'll look forward to reading your book.

heidi said...

First off, Hi to Sheryl and Joan! Love the title. It says: Read me! Glad you found a home for your Irish. There are still readers who like a diversity of settings...I was under the impression that romance readers were highly educated and diverse. Give us variety.
Back off my soapbox now. If I were in one of the historicals, I'd be the wallflower who blossoms under the hand of the devilish rogue. Because, after all, don't we fall in love with the hero?

Anna Campbell said...

Sheryl, welcome to the lair! And congratulations on the release of Celtic Sacrifice. It sounds intriguing! Hmm, if I were a romance character, I suspect I would be the eccentric aunt (like Louisa! Perhaps we could be a pair of eccentric aunts. They often come as a double act!) or the smart-mouthed best friend. I wouldn't mind featuring in a secondary romance, though ;-) Often the heroes in secondary romances are lovely!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Fedora, the chook seems to have decided the weekend with you sounded good!

Helen said...

I really like visiting other countries through the books I read so I am all for adventures wherever the author takes me.

Have Fun

Sheryl Brennan said...

LOL- You guys are killing me with the rooster.
Sorry for the late posts- my internet was down most of the day and I'm playing catch up.

Sheryl Brennan said...

flchen1- THANKS! I feel very fortunate to be the first author with Underdog Press. From your blogger personality, I can see you would be well suited to be the funny, yet helpful sage for the hero/heroine.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Hiya back, Jo! Thanks for the warm welcome.

I'm glad to hear that there are other publishers out there no limiting themselves to specific time periods and settings.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Many thanks Christine. You guys definately make being in da Lair fun.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Hi Louisa! Oh your excentric Aunt persona sounds absolutely fabulous. Makes me want to start a good non-traditional regency. You must be a fan of Elizabeth in Auten's Pride and Prejudice?

Sheryl Brennan said...

Helen- being the best friend of the heroine definately has its advantages. For one you always get to be in the middle of the action :) Thanks!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Hi Donna! I certainly hope so. The Irish are a dynamic people with lots of stories to tell.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Aunty Cindy!!! Your an ex SCA'er too? That's where I learned how to fence with an authentic Rennaissance style rapier! SOOOOOO much fun.
Sounds like we did submit to the same publisher at some point. Pooh on them, indeed. :)

Sheryl Brennan said...

catslady- you'd be suprised where your imagination can take you. Sounds like you would be a perfect fit for the every loyal and helpful sage...

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks PJ! I hope you enjoy my story.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Heidi- LOL. Absolutely! I fall in love with my hero's every single day. Although the wallflower blossoms, I bet she tames that devilish rogue of hers.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Anna- funny you should mention secondary romance... perhaps you hit the nail on the proverbial head as it pertains to Celtic Hope. I agree with you 100%. The SR adds color, subplot and an intriguing dynamic.
And yes- excentric aunts do tend to come in pairs. LOL! They didn't coin the phrase double trouble for nothing.

limecello said...

As a secondary character... I'd like to be the quirky best friend, and my subplot would DEFINITELY be a romance as well :D
Otherwise... no idea :P

Louisa Cornell said...

I am definitely a big fan of dear Elizabeth! And hey, Anna, we would cut quite a swath through the ton, wouldn't we. And who says eccentric aunts can't have secondary romances? Especially with younger men!!! For a Regency girl it must be - Faster horses, bigger diamonds, younger men and more money!!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Limecello- You mean like Phoebe in friends? Now that would be an interesting character!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Louisa- OH MY! The MOLF factor. (giggle) What a romance THAT would be. LOL.

jo robertson said...

We love call stories in the Lair, Sheryl. Would you mind sharing yours with us?

Also, can you tell us a little more about SCA, like obtaining membership?

Marisa O'Neill said...

Hi Sheryl,the books sounds intriguing and you've got me interested. Looking forward to it.

I already am the secondary character in a romance novel. :)

Seriously, I would probably be the Rhoda Morgenstern to Mary Richards in The Lady Mary Tyler Moore Show(s) the Sinful Duke Minneapolis .

Caren Crane said...

Congrats on the GR, Fedora!

Sheryl, congratulations on your debut release. It sounds fabulous! It's hard to believe publishers find Ireland such a hard sell. Especially since so many of us are mad for Irishmen--er, I mean, Ireland! *g*

If I could be a supporting character, I would like to be the hoydenish friend of a Regency miss. My subplot would be to scheme to nab a handsome nobleman and use my oh-so-innocent wiles to drive him mad with passion. I would be hopelessly compromised and forced to marry 3/4 of the way through the book. To no one's surpise, my character would be knocked up by the Epilogue. Ha!

Keira Soleore said...

Sheryl, congratulations on the release of your debut book, and welcome to The Lair.

I'm so glad more and more Irish books are being written these days. In the romance novel I'm featured, I'd love to be the sage advisor aka a woman as old as the hills with more wrinkles than teeth.

Fedora, should I start feeling sorry for the chook? :)

Caren Crane said...

Marisa, I love that show! *g* I can totally see you as Rhoda. Not as they made her on her on show, but with all the quirky potential she had on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Hey, can I be your sister Brenda? I always loved Julie Kavanaugh, even before she was Marge Simpson!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Ahhhh- Kiera-- ye aspire to be the old crone. In pagan societies, these old wise women were the advisors and well respected members of their clans. Amazing how that has changed over the centuries, eh?

Caren Crane said...

Keira, honey, you have many decades before you can pretend to be anything like a sage old bag of wrinkles. *g* How about the mischievous friend with the twinkle in her eye who "helps" her friend by setting things up to force her and the hero together? Now that I can see you doing, whilst you sit on the sidelines eating Nutella and smiling at the trouble you've wrought.

Sheryl Brennan said...

ROFLMAO! Caren, that's wonderful... I love it. :)You've certainly thought over your part well.

Keira Soleore said...

Louisa, your pinch-fingered hilarious aunt you. I just hit my head on the keyboard (ow!) I was laughing so much. Pinching cheeks. OMG. :)

Caren Crane said...

Sheryl, I hadn't really thought about it, but it seemed a natural for me. Kind of like young Caren transplanted to the Regency. *g* I would, of course, have to have a father who could afford a good modiste and all the ribbons, bonnets and frippery I required. ;-)

Sheryl Brennan said...

Marissa- LOL! I can see the stylish hats flying through the air at the Prologue already :)

Caren Crane said...

Sheryl, we need your CALL STORY. Care to share?

Louisa Cornell said...

Keira, dahling, some cheeks are just SO much more fun to pinch!!

And I hate to break it to you dear, but with your gorgeous skin you will NEVER be a wrinkled old anything. Keira will still be beautiful when she is ninety! Drat her!

Caren, knocked up by the epilogue??? I LOVE it!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, doesn't Keira have the loveliest skin? I fear she's far too dewy to become a wrinkled crone!

I'm afraid, Louisa dear, I am a Prime Candidate for knocked up by the Epilogue. I like to call young Caren "precocious" but I fear others just called her "impetuous". I know you are all shocked. *g*

Joan said...

Hey everybody! Thanks for keeping Sheryl entertained for the day!

My usual 12 hour shift turned into 14....don't you love it?


What? Oh, sorry. Fell off my chair in exhaustion.

If I were a character I'd definately be the fiery, spriited, hot heroine who is swept over the shoulder of the hero and taken off to a secluded dwelling where....


Hey, I don't just use my imagination for writing ;0

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the lair on a Sunday, Sheryl! We're thrilled to have you.

Sheryl wrote:Come on now. If you thought it was that good, then why let the fact that it takes place in Ireland keep you from offering a contract for it. Tisk Tisk. Oh well, one editor's loss is another publisher's gain.

I've often thought that publishers consider England the only place with a history worth talking about. Anything else doesn't count....Hmmm, since Ireland is west of England, maybe they thought it was a "western"?

Your book sounds great Sheryl! I've never heard of the Nine Years War. I'll be checking out your book and learning a bit of history new to me as well!! whoohoo!!

Sheryl Brennan said...

Hi Jo-- call story- boy do I have a doosey. Settle in, I may exhaust my character count in blogger. LOL.

After two failed attempts to submit a manuscript electronically to Tiger Publications, a friend who had been contracted with them urged me to try again. She said their website was temporarily down and in all likelyhood, it did not make it through.

She was right. I resubmitted and within a couple of days the aquisitions editor emailed me to request the full ms.

Needless to say, I polished and submitted within 2 hours of the request. Suprisingly, she said it would only take her 2 weeks to get me an answer.

True to her word, the AE emailed me after 2 weeks with a detailed description of her opinion of my story. She suggested a few changes and if I thought they could be made without sacrificing the storyline, to resubmit.

At first, I was crushed. It wasn't a complete rejection, but it wasn't an offer of a contract either. After conferring with a few of my writing cohorts, I decided to make the changes and resubmit.

This was early November of 2007, and only a few days prior to having a complete hysterectomy. I made sure to let the AE know that I would be beginning my medical leave soon, just in case she had any questions. The AE thanked me with a promise to get back to me as soon as she could, but it would probably be after Christmas. (sigh) The story of my life... hurry up and wait.

Two weeks post surgery, I finally felt up to sitting in front of the computer. The kids and I were enjoying our morning and they were just about to go out to the school bus when an email from the CEO of Tiger Publications came across.

I thought to myself in a drug induced high, "Oh great. The ms was so terrible the AE is getting the CEO to reject me."

I clicked on the email and began to skim the paragraph. There was even an attachment. The more I read, the more my eyes watered. My heart began to pound in my chest and my hands shook. I spun... slowly... around in my chair, alternately crying and laughing.

My kids ran towards me, looks of horror on their faces as they yelled, "Mom, what's wrong? Do we need to call an ambulance? DDAAAAAAADDD!!!"

Trying not to pull open any stitches, I reached over and hugged those precious girls able to finally sqwee, "I just sold my book!"

My kids jumped up and down and I was so nervous I wildly shook my hands to calm myself. Deep breaths don't work when your hopped up on hydrocodone and the adrenaline kicks in.

Now you'll notice that the name of the publisher of Celtic Sacrifice is Underdog Press and not Tiger any longer. Sadly, Tiger closed its doors earlier this year and released all of its authors from their contracts.

My second "call" story is not nearly as emotionally wrought, but satisfying all the same. It was good to not only find a home for Celtic Sacrifice so soon, but to be the debut author for a start up press is equally as exciting. What a wild ride the last twelve months have been.

The SCA or Society for Creative Anachronism is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Their "Known World" consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more. You can find more information on membership and your local chapter at

Caren Crane said...

Wow, Sheryl, TWO call stories! Both so welcome, too. *g*

I've known about the SCA since the late 70s. I had friends in high school who met up with our local group in Nashville, TN. Don't know how active they are now, but that was a happening chapter in the late 70s/early 80s. They would have events at Centennial Park downtown and it was always so much fun!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Sheryl. Wow, what amazing call stories! I get all mushy and gooey over them, so thanks for sharing.

And thanks for the website on SCA.

Sheryl Brennan said...

Thanks Suzanne! The English Irish Nine Years War and Flight of the Earls is such an amazing part of Irish history and a pleasure to research. I hope you enjoy my interpretation.

Sheryl Brennan said...

LOL. Joan--- sounds like the start of an awesome love scene! And your quite fiery already, miss world traveler :) Pass the meade this way, if ya please...

Sheryl Brennan said...

Ladies- you all just have me in stitches. This was so much fun.

Joan- thanks for inviting me to the Lair. I hope you'll have me back to talk about Celtic Hope.


flchen1 said...

Donna! I'm shocked! I'm sure any queries directed to the GR will show that he's not under the influence of any non-self-administered drugs of any kind ;)

And though I admit to having a *whispering* roast chicken in the fridge, that was acquired from Costco, before the GR came for his weekend revelry... truly!

flchen1 said...

Oh, and yes, thanks for sharing your call stories, Sheryl! Amazing indeed! :)

Marisa O'Neill said...

Caren and Sheryl - I'm definitely using you two in the opening if they make a movie of the book that features me as the secondary character! And Caren you can definitely play my sister Brenda.

Sheryl Brennan said...

LOL Marisa... you gotta deal!