West Clare Coast. Worth saving?

Sea off the coast of County Clare, Ireland. The setting of my new novel, Selkie's Song

Sea off the coast of County Clare, Ireland. The setting of my new novel, Selkie’s Song

An excerpt from my new release, Selkie’s Song:

Muireann rolled to a sitting position and sat cross legged. “Are you ready?”
“Always,” he said. “What, exactly, did you have in mind?” His suggestive tone only added to her curiosity about him.
“Something I want to show you.” Muireann offered her hand. “Ready for a bit of cliff rambling?”
She took a step back. “Let me show you something.”
They walked the short distance to where they had left the car. Ty tossed the picnic paraphernalia in the boot, grabbed his mandolin case and looped the strap over his shoulder.
They strolled, hand in hand, back toward the cliffs.
“I can’t remember a time I didn’t know this headland.” She stopped perilously close to the edge of the drop. “I’ve even dreamed I was born here, under the sky, rocked to sleep by the music of the sea.”
She tugged on his hand to draw him close. Ty hesitated.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
Ty blew out a breath, cleared his throat, and gripped tight on her hand. “I’m not all that crazy about precipitous drops onto sharp rocks.”
Ah, the brave and gallant Celt has an Achilles’ heel.
“Here,” she encouraged him as she lowered to the turf. “Get down on your stomach.”
He set the mando down, knelt beside her and then stretched out on his stomach with his chin resting on his hands. “You may as well know I’m not fond of frigid water either.”
“Are you saying you don’t swim?”
“I swim…like a rock.” Ty’s smile turned strained.
Ty swallowed his trepidation. If hanging off this feckin’ rock meant he was gettin’ lucky tonight, it was well worth the risk.
Whomp. A virtual slap to the side of his head would have knocked him flat had he not already been prone. He’d rekindled his acquaintance with Muireann less than twenty-four hours ago. He’d either lied to himself or to her about why he was here. A lie by omission, but still not the entire truth.
Ty had promised himself he wouldn’t deviate from his master plan. That plan, initially, did not include a woman—in his bed or his heart.
“What am I looking at?” he asked, trying to distract his carnal thoughts.
“You have to be patient. Watch the water, there, just beyond that solitary rock.” She nodded in the direction of a shallow pool.
Ty tried not to think of the churning blue water and the three hundred foot drop. He gamely pushed back the memory of being caught in the tide and dragged out to sea, the struggle, and then the giving up. Twenty years had passed, and he still remembered clearly his battle for the surface of the water.
“There. Do you see her?” Muireann whispered and pulled him back to the present.
Against the dark water, Tynan’s vision focused on a silvery streak. Just when he thought he had made out a form, it disappeared. Then there were two and in a moment a third silken and sleek creature appeared. “Seals?”
“Cool, huh? It’s a family.” Her voice caught. “I watched that pup being born right here on this strand. This is home to them. Harbor seals live in the same place all their lives.”
Muireann’s face softened and her lips turned up ever so slightly as she spoke of these animals. She reminded him of American girls’ reaction to puppies and newborn babies. The female need to nurture inspired an instinctual fear in the gut of most men, himself not included. When the time was right, Tynan would be more than ready for a nurturing female in his life.
She turned on her side, propped up on one elbow. Her expression hardened. “Seals follow the sound of fishing boats. So many seals are hurt or killed each year by careless fishing methods. Locals know this and take care.”
The two adults and the pup hauled out and readied for a nap in the sunshine. “This bunch seems to feel safe here.”
“Yeah,” she sighed and continued. “That’s why I want to keep big business interests out.”
“I don’t understand,” Ty admitted. “Seals have lived for centuries alongside fishing boats. What’s changed?”
“The economy or perhaps simply greed.” She looked straight in his eyes. “If industrial fisheries are allowed in here, this family will be gone. I won’t be able to protect them. The large nets will trap and strangle them, the food supply will dwindle…They’ll starve.”
Ty questioned that thinking. “Aren’t there plenty of fish to go around?”
Muireann’s jaw clenched. “Industrial fisheries overfish sand eels for animal feed and fertilizer. Greenpeace calls the practice ‘Hoover fishing’…a clean sweep.”
“Sand eels?”
“Right. And these little fish are the main food source for harbor seals, and seabirds as well. Everything’s tied up in the ecosystem of the sea. It’s a domino effect. The most profitable fish are also the ones the seals need to survive. Without sand eels, this cove, this strand, it’ll be empty.”
Ty loved her passion for this crusade but couldn’t see how things could change. “What can one person do?” This was the adult Muireann. The girl had become a woman with serious interests. She took some getting used to.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I want this to be designated a marine protected area.”
“Seems that’s going to be a hard sell with Ireland’s economy tanking and high unemployment,” Ty suggested. “Is there some sort of compromise?”
Muireann sat up and hung her long legs off the rock edge. She turned to him. “I’m not an impetuous child anymore, Tynan. If you knew me, you would realize I’m not inclined to compromise when it’s a matter of saving something or someone I love.”
Tynan could indeed sense her instinct to fight to the death for justice…or love.
“I stopped a whole damn oil company from setting up a rig offshore right there.” She pointed toward the horizon, then turned and gave him an ebullient smile. “Me and my mates. We camped out here and made the oil company’s lives a living hell until we got enough attention in the media.”
“You amaze me.” Truly she did. When she talked about saving seals, her love for the sea, when he saw her passion in the pottery she created, Muireann had that same charisma he had admired last night in O’Malley’s when she sang.

The third book in the Fadó Trilogy, Selkie’s Song, is now available at Amazon.com

For more information about my books go to http://www.clareaustin.com

Ceol agus Craic.

IMG_4849What does that mean, anyway?

If you come to Ireland you’re going to get some…whether you like it or not.

Ceol is the music. In this case traditional Irish music. You can get it in a kitchen over tea and biscuits or in a pub with a pint. Often you get it on the street for a coin tossed in a fiddle case or simply for a smile. It is everywhere, like the sound of the sea birds, the wind that messes your hair and, on this island, the lilt of the spoken Irish language.

Craic? Oh, that’s another thing altogether. Hard to describe “craic” unless you are part of it. It almost always goes along with ceol and often with a pint of stout, although the new Irish consciousness about healthy living has slowed the pints a bit. A glass of fizzy water or a soft drink is just as useful when quenching the thirst brought on by enough craic.

Craic, simply put, is Irish fun. It isn’t a lonely pursuit. It takes people of a like sense of humor. Last night at one of the two pubs on our little island, the  craic was “up to ninety” and included plenty of music and dancing…at one point the dancing happened on a table top. Think Riverdance, Aran Island style!

If you want to know more about Ceol agus craic, check out my Fadó Trilogy, starting with Butterfly and Angel’s Share. The last book in this series was  released on Amazon Kindle yesterday, Selkie’s Song.

To read more about my books go to my website http://www.clareaustin.com

I guarantee a bit of ceol agus craic!

10 Things I learned from my mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

This is my pretty, Irish mother. She taught me many things.
About karma….
1. Never speak ill of the dead.
2. Never kill a spider in the house.
About nutrition….
3. Fish is brain food. (She knew this 50 years ago. Why is it in the news only recently?)
4. Carrots are good for your eyes.
Politics…
5. Never wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day. (If you are Irish, I think you know where she was coming from on this.)
Sex education….
6. Any man or boy will say or do anything to get into your knickers.
7. Any woman can look good on her back. It takes a real woman to pull off brilliance the rest of the time.
On growing old.
8. Red heads do not grey gracefully.
9. If you are confused…just smile!
10. I will always love you.

If your mother is still living, tell her you love her every chance you get. If your mother has passed, be thankful for the times she was your biggest fan, the times she fought to protect you, the times she told you what was right and what was wrong.

Thanks Mom.

A girl. A boat. A tradition.

Rosy Again!

I have decided to try something new as part of my adventure in blogging. I’m going to post excerpts from my books in progress. Your opinions are welcome and necessary. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

Chapter One
Rosy Again

He was sitting at the bar with one hand wrapped around a pint and the other on Peg Cooley’s right thigh when the door flew open with the ferocity of a rogue wave.
“There ya are, Daly,” an all too familiar voice shouted above the music session going on in the corner.
Shane swiveled around to meet his fate in the form of Rosy Connelly. One hundred pounds of fury in a bright yellow mackintosh, green Wellingtons, soaking wet and smelling like a dead mackerel on a summer’s day.
He lifted his pint in a mock toast. “I see ya dressed for the occasion.” He sniffed the air and added, “Ah, what’s that? Eau de sea bass?”
Peg giggled at his cleverness.
Rosy dripped defiantly on the wood plank floor. “You.” She pointed her index finger into his chest. “You are gonna marry me.”
Shane tried to feign calm the way he did when the boat was in trouble on a bad sea and he didn’t want to worry the crew. “Ah, ye hear this lads,” he said, turning to the group of men propping up the bar. “She fancies a husband, now.”
“I don’t fancy a husband and I don’t fancy you, you stinkin’ bottom feeder. And stop calling me ‘Rosy’.”
“It’s your name.” Shane set his empty pint glass down with a thump. Then he smacked his forehead in a parody of recollection. “Oh, now how forgetful of me. Our little Rosy went off to University and came back…Róisín.” He knew the way he pronounced her name in Irish would irk her even more…RHO-sheen.
“That’ll do,” she snapped.
And, as he suspected she didn’t look pleased. She looked like she was about to burst into flames. Spontaneous human combustion was not entirely out of the question where any Connelly was concerned. Shane thought he shouldn’t take a chance of her igniting a conflagration that would take down the best and only pub in Ballybeg.
“Do we get to discuss this proposal or have you already reserved the church?”
“Oh, we’re gonna discuss it alright.”
Shane looked around, quickly calculating the risks of letting Rosy have her say in a public place. Not to mention in front of every man in town.
She wasn’t inclined to wait for him to weigh the odds. “Let’s take a walk.”
“It’s bucketing,” he protested.
“Ah now, just a bit of good Irish weather.” She shot him a look of disdain as she headed for the door.
“Back in a flash mates,” he shouted to his companions and gave Peg a quick kiss on her cheek.
“You’ve got some explaining to do,” he said to Rosy through clenched teeth.
“Yeah…well, it’s your own fault, Shane Daly.” She shouted over her shoulder and kept walking. “Now, you’re stuck with me.”
Shane reached out and snagged her by the back of her collar. “Hang on here. If you’re up the pole, it for sure isn’t my doing.”
A red flush crept up her neck and pinkened her cheeks. “I’m not…pregnant!” Her hand swung out making contact with his jaw. “You feckin’ fool. You think I’m stupid?”
“Ow! Stupid? No. Insane? Completely.” He dared not mention he doubted any man would have the guts to get into her knickers.
“If you had a brain bigger than your left testicle, you would have remembered that I moved Da into the care home today.”
“Oh bloody hell.” He’d promised to help. “I’m sorry, Rosy. Hey, I’ll make it up to you. I’ll go over right now and help him get settled…I’ll…”
“Pull your head out of your backside long enough to listen to me. This isn’t about your helping out for an hour here or there. This is bigger than that.”
“Well, then tell me what the hell is going on.”
“You’re just gonna marry me. That’s all.”
“Maybe you are stupid,” he suggested and moved back a step in preparation of her hitting him again. “You’re like…like…”
“Like family? Is that what you were gonna say?”
“Uh…now that ya mention it.”
This time he wasn’t quick enough. She caught him in the ribs with her fist.
“Dammit, Rosy, stop hitting me.”
“I should kill you. If I’d let you drown when you fell off Cailleach Head, I wouldn’t have to marry you now.”
“Go way outta that. A man would have to be mental to hook up with you.”
She stuck her face as close to his as possible, considering he was a whole head taller. “The Róis Aris is my boat. I’m not sharing her with the likes of you.” Rosy turned and started to walk toward the pier where her father’s fishing boat was moored.
Shane jogged to keep up. “What’s the Aris got to do with this?”

Hot Flash is Hot Now!

Hot Flash is the new novel from Clare Austin:

It’s not true that a woman over 40 has more chance of being kidnapped by terrorists than to find a hot guy.