Saturday, December 30, 2017

Big White Beard Update 30 Dec 2017

30 December 2017

First and foremost... I send a sincere thank you to the many, many, people that have sent me notes of support and prayers.  All very appreciated and to be frank, humbling.  There was even a 'prayer group'  organised for me.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. 

Three months ago today, I had my stroke.  Three long months of recovery from a brain injury.  Not a lovely thing to have to do, but there was no avoiding it.  I am still recovering.  Some of the major symptoms have subsided.  The severe headaches have gone away and now I have only low grade versions of them, about a 2 on the pain scale.  I occasionally still have moments where my thinking feels 'fuzzy.'   That is not a medical term I know, but anyone that has had a brain injury knows of what I am speaking.  My vision has not recovered much at all.  This means I still can not drive.  I lost the peripheral vision in my right eye, which damn it, was my 'good' eye.  I have a largish blind spot on my right side and I have trouble syncing my two eyes.  The latter issue makes reading hard and fatiguing.

In December I started to work again, or try to do so.  When the stroke happened I was working on my third book.  I am trying to get back my writer's edge.  I want to make sure I can still write professionally.  The book I am working on is the third in a series on Irish history from the province of Ulster.  The first two books are The Laggan Redshanks and the second is Finding the McCains.  The book I am working on now is on Scots-Irish folklore and is about the Scots-Irish and the Faerie Faith.  The book was supposed to be finished by this time, but the strokes brought a sudden halt to the work.  I hope the book will be out by Spring and I will keep everyone informed of the release date.  

I have two more books scheduled for 2018.  It is a lot of work, one is a collection of Scots-Irish essays, some of them collected from my talks at the Ulster American History Symposiums, both in County Tyrone and in the USA, over the years.  If you like Irish history, Scots-Irish history, folklore, tales, etc., you will enjoy the book.  It does not have a working title yet.  

Book three on my work list will be my first fiction effort.  Being a non fiction writer is much different than being a fiction writer and I am looking forward to having a go at it.  For those of you not in the writing business, you see fiction books make more money.  It is a math issue and that is the long and short of it.  Fiction sells better, and, I like telling tales, so going into fiction is a natural progression to me.  Now I must decide on a genre, perhaps mixed genres.  Then to decide between contemporary or a historical fiction, etc. 

Ouachita Mountains in western Arkansas
I have been reading and researching the year 1835 in the old southwest, meaning Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, etc.  I am tempted to place a story in that location and time period.  I am reading journals, letters, newspapers, etc., from the mid 1830s, including the correspondence of David Crockett as he travelled through the Arkansas Territory to San Antonio, in Mexican Texas. There was a lot of Irish men in the area and an in-group preference among the Irish on the frontier.  This might provide an interesting canvas for a period fiction work.  Like all my work, there will be an Irish, Scottish, Celtic, connection.  But, I might get a wild hair and do a contemporary book, romance/mystery, and set it in the Ouachita Mountains.  You know that Jan Karon has a good gig going....!!!

The Big White Beard had a couple of inches trimmed off early December.  I did not want to do this, but during the worst days of my stroke recovery I had a difficult time grooming myself.  But, 2018, will be the Year of the Big White Beard.  I plan on letting it grow and flow the entire year. 

the 1978 version of the ole beard, Red as a Ferrari back then
That is my update; beginning to work at writing again, hoping and praying, my vision returns back to normal, and with luck will have out three books in 2018.  I hope all of y'all have a wonderful New Year and wish you all Peace and Prosperity.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Finding the McCains: Kindle Edition

A few photographs from the Kindle version of Finding the McCains

Ian McKean & Ivan Knox, two of my Donegal cousins
standing in from of Ian's impressive home near Porthall

Finding the McCains: A Scots Irish OdysseyKindle Edition  $9.99 available on Amazon.  

The story of an Irish family that left for the New World in 1718 and one descendant who returned to Ireland reunited the family after three centuries of separation. A biography, a history, a travelogue, a mystery solved using DNA testing. In Time For Christmas!!! Available on Amazon!

McKane's Corner in Stranorlar, Donegal

Loughcrew Co Meath, where I had my encounter with the Sí (the Faery folk)

Barry R McCain attaching a ribbion to a Faery Tree
the Faery Tree, Fore Abbey, West Meath
the mountains in Arkansas, where I first heard stories of the Jackros (Irish Faeries that migrated to the New World with the settlers from Ireland) grandmother

'Finding the McCains,' is an account of one Mississippi McCain’s 40 year odyssey to find his family in Ireland. Senator John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabethan Spencer, both include a short history of the Mississippi McCain family in their respective memoirs 'Faith of our Fathers' and 'Landscapes of the Heart.' This history is a romantic tale of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and who fled to Ireland after her downfall in 1568. The search for the McCains became a mystery story with clues, false turns, many adventures, and then ultimate success through Y chromosome DNA testing. In 2008 the McCains were reunited with their family that remained in Ireland, after 289 years of separation.

The McCain history includes people and events familiar to readers of Irish and Scottish history; Redshanks, Iníon Dubh, Mary Queen of Scots, the Earls of Argyll, the Ulster Migration, and the Scots-Irish, are all part of this family’s story. Faint memories of this past were told for generations in Mississippi and as the research progressed the facts behind these memories were uncovered. Another theme in the book is the Scots-Irish. Contemporary histories about the Scots-Irish present stereotyped and romanticized accounts of this dynamic group. 'Finding the McCains' reveals a more complex history and shows the cultural conflation common in Scots-Irish popular history.

Christmas Sale... Finding the McCains!!! & New Book News

A Christmas Sale! The story of an Irish family that left for the New World in 1718 and one descendant who returned to Ireland reunited the family after three centuries of separation.  A biography, a history, a travelogue, a mystery solved using DNA testing.  In Time For Christmas!!!   Available on Amazon!  

 A postscript of sorts... I am working on the new book now, which is about the Scots-Irish and the Faeries.  I had hoped to have it out this year, but my health issues required me to delay work on the book for a few months.  However, recovery going well, and I am back at my desk, writing.  Looking forward to the New Book coming out. 

Merry Christmas & Happy Yuletide Greetings!!! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Big White Beard, Christmas 2017

Continuing to recover from the stroke.  Almost, two full months into the recovery now.  I have started writing again.  I am working in Gaelic language again.  I am doing hill hikes in the trails in Oxford... and last night late, walked the Oxford, Mississippi, Square.  I had several Coeds give me 'hugs' and took photographs of me, etc.  They asked me where I was from, I replied, 'the North Pole.'   Interesting, the effect a Big White Beard has on people.  

It was a quiet night in ole Oxford town, as it was a Tuesday.  A number of students were out at the clubs on the Square.  The weather was coolish and nice

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Big White Beard

The Big White Beard
Today I had the first visit to the neurologist since the strokes.  That is, the first visit since I left the hospital.  The doctor had examined me in early October while I was in the ICU at the hospital in Memphis.  At this point, recovery is a waiting game, as the doctors do not know when and how the recovery will unfold.  I have regained a small bit of my vision in my right eye, which is a good sign and better than nothing, but I still can not drive and that is frustrating of course.  

I have days where I feel like I can do this, then other days where I feel like I am lost.  Since my strokes, I have communicated with several other stroke survivors.  I realise that I am very fortunate, as many with strokes have more health problems than I do.  I hear their stories of how hard the work at recovery and how patient they are with their struggles.  They have inspired and encouraged me. Patience, recovery is slow.  

I am writing again.  I have several 500 word days done over the last week and I feel like that my skills are coming back.  I was working on a book about the Scots-Irish and the Faeires when the strokes happened.  I was over one half finished with the book. Once, I get into a regular routine of writing I will regain my focus on the topic, I hope that is.  I have also started assembling research notes for the next project, which will also have a Irish theme.  I am drawn to the subject.  

The mug, is an almost empty one, of one of my favourite teas, Darjeeling.  I am a tea drinker.  Darjeeling, Russian Caravan, and Prince of Wales, my three favourite teas.  They are soothing.    

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Duke James Hamilton and his Red Beard

The Hamiltons of Abercorn are a well known and quite famous family.  They had estates in northern Tyrone and east Donegal and have had them for ages.  I descend from Hance Hamilton, to whom I discovered via DNA test results was a Abercorn Hamilton himself.  Hance's line migrated to the Colonies in the late 1720s.  Now photo and letter concerns James Hamilton 1st Duke of Abercorn (21 January 1811 - 31 October 1885, Samhain night).  Duke Hamilton served twice as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  

Like any man in a position of power, the Duke made enemies of course.  Here is a threatening letter written to Duke Hamilton during the 1870s concerning the Duke's handsome red beard and its effect on the ladies.  Please note that the spelling in the letter is non standard, but can easily be deciphered.

James Hamilton and his Big Red Baird