The Journey to Uisneach

The Journey to Uisneach.

Welcome to the new website for the Kingdom of Uisneach. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jase Hartly, my writing buddy, for working with me to create it and learn how to use it. You are the best, and certainly the most patient, writing buddy on the planet, Wribu.

 I envision this a place more like a community than a webpage. Of course, there will be book information and links to Amazon and my social media sites, but there will be pictures, blogs and, I hope, a place where we can chat about our friends in Uisneach. I hope you will join me at the table in the Great Hall for conversations and sharing the things that are important to you. It took me a long time to get to this point and I want to make the most of the adventure.

With this post, I want to explain how I got to Uisneach. Let me start at the beginning. 

I was born on a spring day in East Concord, Vermont…

No, sorry, not that beginning. The beginning of my writing career. That would be about seventh grade and the pink unicorn. Before that I only remember drawing horses and lots of trees. Constantly drawing trees. Hmm…Maybe this journey did start back in grade school with the tree art….

Pink unicorns. My first short story was about a pink unicorn and a mermaid. I don’t remember the details but I do remember Mrs. Kimball handing it back to me and saying, “You have a wonderful imagination. Maybe you’ll be a writer.”

About that same time I recall watching a movie about Lewis and Clark and for some bizarre reason, grabbed a notebook and outlined the movie. Hmm…the beginning of learning to plot?

Fast forward five years.  Mrs. Bell, my journalism teacher in high school, took me to North Texas State University to look at the journalism program there. She believed I could be a journalist. I did not.

Instead…Job. Marriage. Work. Baby. End of writing?

Not. While pumping gas at a gas station in Vermont, I was happily typing away on the next great romance novel. I finished a not well thought out, and very basic Harlequin romance. Rejection. End of writing?

Only for as long as it took my bruised ego to recover. Luckily, I’m resilient.

I wrote short stories. I joined a writing group. I journaled. I tried to write songs. I partnered with a woman to write another romance that never got finished. I wrote for my job as a nurse educator and then in my role as a minister. I wrote. Whatever I could. And I read.

All this time I wailed, rent my clothes and tore at my hair that I couldn’t be a writer. I didn’t have time. I didn’t have talent. Oh, I had a dozen excuses that looped in my head and to my family.

Then I turned fifty and the gray side of life was staring me in the face. Would I die without being a writer? Impossible. I’m meant to be a writer. Aren’t I?

I remember the scene well. Sitting at the kitchen table with my husband and a friend and putting the broken record on about regretting that I wouldn’t be a writer. My excuse chorus that day was- two jobs-heavy house maintenance- family obligations-no time- no time.

My husband said I was the one putting up obstacles. My friend said I was capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to, and if writing a book was important, I just needed to commit to it and carve out time every day to do it. I admit, I was pretty irritated with them. They didn’t understand what it’s like to be in my shoes and they don’t understand that writing takes a lot of time. Alone. No other responsibilities. The housework won’t get done. Meals won’t be adequate. I’ll have to say ‘No’ to invitations and requests. I might have to let go of some things.

Well, I’d just show them how crazy they are and how little they understand.

So, I started writing Uisneach.

A girl finds her way through a tree to another, ancient land where a king has been cursed, is sleeping in a castle far across the land and needs her to save him, then marry him and live happily ever after. An adult fairytale that turns Sleeping Beauty around and upside down.

An archer would  lead “Aisling” across the kingdom.  This kernel turned into one chapter that sat and sat and sat for probably a year. I didn’t like Aisling’s name and I didn’t have a clue what this story was about.

Then one day I was at a friend’s house watching Celtic Thunder on television. One minute I was listening to the music and the next moment, the earth tilted, went a little dark and wobbly and everything changed.  

That night I went to sleep and when I woke in the morning, the entire Kingdom of Uisneach story was born, not as one book, but a trilogy. Aisling’s name was Briana. The archer became a romantic and care-free bard named Silas and Lord Marshal Sigel was born. Gnomes appeared in a tiny village and there was a Disney-like evil villain.

I now started writing fiendishly. Three a. m. became my new wake up time. In the Catholic faith, that is called ‘the mercy hour’. In my world, it was anything but merciful, but coffee helped.

Over the next three years, The Prophecy was nurtured and born.

After several months of querying agents and publishers and getting either no response or rejections, I decided to publish it myself. With the help of two reputable books on self-publishing, contacts with a couple of indie authors and a fair drain on my bank account, I had a publishing company, Sword and Arrow, and I had a book to publish.

It was pure magic, or divine intervention, that brought me to my editor, Jill Shultz. She taught me so much and through a strenuous editing process, helped me uncover the real story. She helped me turn The Prophecy from a ragamuffin book to a queen!

There are a few other people who have supported or helped me along the way and Team Uisneach has grown into a lovely group of darling people who both feed my ego and pull my feet back to earth. My advice is to find yourself cheerleaders and critics and build your own support team. Their contribution, expertise, friendship and support are invaluable. Much of your time as a writer is spent in solitude. Having a good team eases some of that loneliness as well as providing the encouragement you need  to keep going.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I realized that not only had Briana gone through the tree portal, but I had as well. I had been given a challenge that my henny penny archetype thought it would use to show how badly I could fail at my dream, but which became instead, an entry into the world of my dreams and a fulfillment of my own destiny.

I know I am not the only would-be writer out there who has dreamed of writing a book but believed it was impossible. It is not. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and it does require heroic commitment and letting go of some of the things that stand in the way, but if you want to write a book bad enough, if it is important to your soul to do it, then you can. And you must. Begin today. What is the story of your soul that must be written? What is your Uisneach?

About The Author

For Heidi Hanley, reading and writing are like breathing. On her 5oth birthday, she got serious about turning her passion for writing into a goal to publish. The result is The Prophecy, Book One of the Kingdom of Uisneach series. The Runes of Evalon, the second book in the series, is due out in April. Heidi lives in New Hampshire beside the Connecticut River with her husband and a Scottish Terrier. She has enjoyed a career as a Registered Nurse, Interfaith minister and is currently serving as a Hospice chaplain. When not working, you will find her reading, sneaking away to Maine, or and in the garden with the birds and faeries.

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