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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Starting a Video Series

Hello, everyone and Happy Holidays,

I've had this blog for several years and have always written my thoughts. This time, I'm trying something different. I am considering a series of video blogs in 2016, and I'd like to know what you think of this one, whether you like seeing me speak about my books and my writing, and whether you'd like for me to read excerpts from my books in future posts.

So enjoy the video and let me know what you think!

p.m.terrell


Thursday, September 10, 2015

#Ireland: Cold, Dark and Wet Part 2

A few days ago, I posted information about Ireland's weather, specifically comparing it to the weather in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Of course, no region will have perfect weather all the time, and three of my books took advantage of monster storms in Ireland as a sinister backdrop to the story.

In The Tempest Murders, Detective Ryan O'Clery is speaking to his sister Claire about a storm called The Night of the Big Wind, which is an actual storm and the largest ever to hit Ireland. I'll let Claire tell the story:



She brushed non-existent crumbs from the countertop before continuing. “He asked for her hand in marriage on New Year’s Eve. Let’s see, I believe it was 1838. Yes, that’s right. December 31, 1838.”
“How can you be so certain of the date?”
“Because seven days later, Caitlín was dead.”
His head jerked up and he stared into Claire’s eyes. They were as green as the fields of Ireland and now she cocked her head and eyed him curiously.
“He’d gone to Dublin, so the story goes,” she continued slowly.
Ríán Kelly.”
“Aye. He’d been called away on business. And as Fate would have it, the great flood came while he was gone and Caitlín was swept away.”
“The great flood.”
“Don’t you remember any of your schooling, Re?”
“I suppose I don’t.”
“Aye, surely you do. It was Oiche na Gaoithe Moire.”
“Oiche na Gaoithe Moire,” he repeated the Gaelic name. “Night of the Big Wind.”
“Aye; that’s it. History says that just a couple of days prior, they had a huge snowstorm that blanketed Ireland. With it came a cold front. But the next day, they had warm temperatures the likes of which they hadn’t experienced in years. It caused all the snow to melt and melt rapidly.”
“So the great flood was caused by melting snow.”
“You really don’t remember your schooling now, do you, Re? It wasn’t that at all. It’s just that the warm front settled in over Ireland as another cold front came across the Atlantic. It was January 6, 1839—Epiphany.” Her voice took on a whispered note as though she was telling a ghost story. “There were those in the faith who had forecast the end of the world would occur on January 6, 1839—the day of Epiphany. So when the air grew completely still, so still they could hear the voices of neighbors miles apart, there were some who thought the end was near.”
He waited for her to continue. His cheeks were growing flush and he could feel beads of sweat beginning to pop out across his brow. “What happened then?”
“By nightfall, there were gale force winds. They moved from the western coast of Ireland all the way to Dublin, where Ríán Kelly had traveled. Some said the winds were accompanied by an eerie moan, a rumbling of sorts. But not thunder; it was a sound never heard before nor since. It increased as the winds grew. And then the northern sky turned a shade of red that had never been seen before.” She sipped her coffee while she watched him. “We know now it was the aurora borealis. But there was widespread panic amongst the people. And when the sky darkened once again, it darkened to the color of pitch.”
He reached for a napkin and mopped his brow.
“Are you feeling alright, Re? Would you care to lie down?”
He shook his head. “I want to hear the rest of the story.”
“Well, so the myth goes, Ríán Kelly left Dublin immediately. It was a miracle he made it back to the village at all. He traveled through the night, in the rain and the hail, with the winds all about him. Bridges had been washed away; the wind had been so strong—stronger than anything Ireland had experienced in more than three hundred years—so strong that it whipped the Atlantic into a fury and pushed it all the way across the island. Streams and creeks became raging rivers. Whole villages were wiped out. Even some of the castles were beyond repair.”
He rested his elbows on the counter and put his head in his hands.
“You’re sure you don’t want to lie down, Re? You look as if you might faint.”
“I’m fine,” he said. “What happened when Ríán Kelly reached his village?”
“It was gone. Oh, there were a few buildings still intact. The church, for one. But Caitlín O’Conor’s home had been washed away. There was no sign of Caitlín.”
“So that’s where the story ends, does it?”
      “Oh, no. I suppose it’s where it just begins.”

 When I wrote Dylan's Song, I used a real storm that occurred in October 2011. Rains continued for days, eventually causing the flood walls to break. Some areas experienced such severe flooding that the villages were cut off from the rest of the country. Bridges were washed out, roads were flooded, and gale force winds of 100km were recorded. I'll let Dylan Maguire tell the story:



“Then on the twenty-second o’ October, we’d been married three years by then, it started to rain. And she went into labor. I telephoned ‘er mother—mine was God knows where—and I wanted to take ‘er to the midwife straight away. But ‘er mum came to the cottage and said it would be awhile yet; the labor pains were more than an hour apart. So we waited.
“I stayed right there with ‘er. For twenty-four hours it rained and the labor pains grew more intense. I must ‘ave phoned the midwife, Mrs. Gallaghan, two dozen times. I hated seein’ her in such pain. I despised it. But it was nearly three kilometers to Mrs. Gallaghan’s home. I had no auto—I walked to work each day—and she was clearly in no shape to walk. I thought o’ carryin’ ‘er but her mum and her pup had moved in for the duration and they said I was crazy.”
He stared at the tombstone for a long moment before continuing. “I know now I shouldn’t ‘ave listened. I should ‘ave gathered ‘er in me arms at the first sign o’ labor and I should ‘ave carried ‘er into the village. But I didn’t. I waited there and listened to ‘er screams. And on the twenty-fourth, after she’d been in labor for nearly forty-eight hours, the flood walls broke.” He swallowed. “The bridge by the cottage was washed away. We were surrounded by a moat that threatened to come up into the house but there was nowhere we could go. And I couldn’t swim with ‘er in me arms.
“I was frantic. She was screamin’ non-stop and it went on hour after hour. This can’t be right, I thought. Surely, every woman couldn’t go through this h’ail.”
After a moment, he continued. “I’d gone into our bedroom where she lay in a sea o’ sweat and when she saw me, she reached for me. And when I bent down to hear ‘er, she said, ‘Mickey, if you don’t get me out o’ here, I’ll die.’ It seemed like it took forever but finally I got Thomas—Father Rowan now, but he wasn’t a priest yet then—on the phone; the cell reception was so pitiful, it’s a wonder we connected. But he understood enough to know that Alana was in deep trouble. It took him a few hours but he located a rowboat and he came to the house.
“And I announced to ‘er parents that I was takin’ ‘er to the next village. To a proper doctor. The midwife had done nothin’ but tell us to wait. And I was through waitin’. I thought I’d have to thrash ‘er father to get past him, but once she was in me arms, they stood aside. But as I loaded ‘er into the rowboat with the rains comin’ down like a dam burstin’ o’er us, ‘er mother said to me that ‘er death, were she to die, would be on my head.”
He wiped at his eyes again and his arms squeezed Vicki tighter. “Father Rowan got us to the church and he helped load ‘er into his auto. And we took off, with ‘er screamin’ every single minute, though I know she was tryin’ hard not to.”
He shook his head and stared into the sky. The clouds had succeeded in blotting out the moon and the stars. “The first bridge we came to between the two villages was washed away. I had no choice but to turn back and try a different route. And by the time I reached the second bridge and the water was rushin’ o’er it, she was passed out beside me. And I thought, better that she be passed out because at least now she’s feelin’ no pain.
“I turned around yet again and tried a third route. And we’d gotten o’er the bridge and were on the straight-away to the village when she awakened and she begged me to stop right where I was.
“I didn’t want to. Every second counted and I’d pushed that pedal to the floor to get ‘er to a doctor as fast as I could. But she convinced me to stop.
“She asked me to hold ‘er. And I did. Right there, in the middle o’ the road, with nary another soul in sight. I held ‘er. And she said to me, she wasn’t goin’ to make it. And she wanted me to know she loved me and she’d always love me.”
      He choked. “She died in me arms.”


My latest book, A Thin Slice of Heaven, uses a freak snowstorm as a backdrop to prevent Charleigh from leaving the castle and also prevent anyone else from reaching it. Ireland very rarely gets snow and the country does not have snow removal equipment as states do in much of the United States. I'll let this video tell the story:


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Busting Irish Myths: # 6: Dark, Cold and Wet

This is the sixth installment in a series about Irish myths. After returning from Ireland, I discovered many Americans had misconceptions about Ireland, picturing it the way it had been two hundred years ago - people living in castles or little white cottages, spotty electricity, terrible food, and poor medical care. Refer to the posts listed on the right side of this blog for all the blogs in this series.

Today, I'm researching whether Ireland is as dark, cold and wet as many believe it to be.

Darkness

For the hours of darkness, I compared four dates between Dublin and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: the winter solstice, summer solstice, and those in between - spring and fall.

Winter solstice is considered the shortest day of sunlight in the entire year. On December 21, 2014, the sun rose at 8:38 AM and set at 4:08 in Dublin, leaving only 7 hours and 30 minutes of daylight hours.

Winter solstice in Myrtle Beach found the sunrise at 7:16 AM and sunset at 5:11, for a total of 9 hours and 54 minutes of daylight hours - roughly 2.5 more hours of daylight than Dublin.

However, when we compare the summer solstice (June 21) Dublin received 17 hours of daylight compared to Myrtle Beach at 14 hours, 23 minutes. In Dublin, the sun rose at 4:56 AM and set at 10:57 PM, compared to Myrtle Beach's sunrise at 6:05 AM and sunset at 8:29 PM.

For the spring I chose March 21, the midway point between the winter and summer solstice. In Dublin, the sun rose at 6:23 AM and set at 6:40 PM, while in Myrtle Beach the sun rose at 7:16 and set at 7:28, leaving them both with 12 hours of daylight.

For the autumn, I chose September 21, again the midway point between summer and winter. In Dublin, the sun rose at 7:10 AM and set at 7:25 PM and in Myrtle Beach, the sun rose at 7:03 AM and set at 7:13 PM - they were almost identical.

Temperatures

When you look at Ireland's latitude, you might think they are extremely cold in the winter with lots of ice and snow. Comparing their latitude with the Western Hemisphere, for example, they are in line with parts of lower Canada. However, due to the Atlantic Ocean's influence, Ireland's weather is very temperate and it does not fluctuate much year-round.

The Irish like to say that there are four seasons in every day. It might be warm one hour and colder the next, dry one moment and raining the next. But when you look at the statistics, the average daily high in Ireland during the winter months is 43 degrees. In the summer, it is 65 degrees. That means their temperature only varies about 20-25 degrees year 'round.

Compare that to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the high in January in 2014 hovered around 53 degrees - only 10 degrees warmer than Dublin, Ireland. In June, it was 87 degrees - more than 20 degrees warmer.

It's said that in Ireland, it always feels like early spring to late spring, depending on the time of year.


Wet

I also compared the rainfall in Dublin, Ireland with the rainfall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In Dublin during 2014, they received 28.8 inches of rain.

In Myrtle Beach in 2014, they received 51.4 inches of rain.

That means Myrtle Beach actually received almost double the amount of rainfall as Dublin, Ireland!

I found that the rain in Ireland tended to move very quickly through, due to the wind currents off the ocean. It very rarely came down hard, though I have not yet been there in the winter months - that will change soon, and I'll report back. Most of the time, it was a mist or a light drizzle, and those times when it was more, it lasted only a few minutes.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Busting Irish Myths: # 5: Medical Care

This is the 5th in a series entitled Busting Irish Myths. After returning from Ireland and discussing my visits with Americans who have never traveled abroad, I discovered a number of misconceptions, from believing all Irish lived in white cottages with no electricity (the equivalent of the Irish believing we all lived in log cabins) to believing it rains there all day, every day. Check out the list of blogs on the right side of your screen to find the others in this series.

One question I've been asked repeatedly is whether the Irish have a sufficient medical infrastructure. For that, I went to the World Health Organization. Their mission is to track medical care throughout the world in a variety of areas, from HIV/AIDS to world hunger to diseases and to health issues caused by lifestyle. They are also working to improve health conditions around the world.

In the first-ever study of health worldwide that ranks the countries by their level of health care, Ireland ranks # 19. The United States ranks # 37. Each of the links below goes to a Wikipedia page detailing that country's health care. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, which ranks # 18.

In the Per Capita Expenditure, this ranks how much health care costs on a per-person basis. The United States is Number 1, meaning we spend more money on health care per person than anyone else in the world. Ireland ranks 25 and the United Kingdom ranks 26.

In 2010, Ireland spent an average of 2,862 Euro per person, compared to $8,608 in the United States. The biggest difference is that Ireland's public health system paid for approximately 79% of health care while the United States spent roughly 65% from public programs that include Medicare and Medicaid.

The life expectancy in the United States and Ireland are tied at 78 years.



Ranking
Country
Per Capita Expenditure
1
4
2
11
3
21
4
23
5
37
6
38
7
29
8
62
9
6
10
13
11
16
12
27
13
12
14
30
15
14
16
5
17
9
18
26
19
25
20
2
21
15
22
49
23
7
24
39
25
3
26
63
27
35
28
19
29
99
30
10
31
18
32
17
33
44
34
8
35
70
36
50
37
1
38
29
39
118
40
32
41
20
42
48
43
56
44
27
45
41
46
36
47
64
48
40
49
93
50
58
51
92
52
79
53
89
54
68
55
149
56
52
57
91
58
31
59
143
60
124
61
55
62
45
63
115
64
112
65
33
66
59
67
65
68
86
69
88
70
82
71
104
72
74
73
71
74
15
75
90
76
138
77
60
78
130
79
111
80
134
81
114
82
47
83
98
84
69
85
67
86
43
87
84
88
144
89
106
90
105
91
46
92
154
93
94
94
22
95
53
96
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/ba/Flag_of_Fiji.svg/23px-Flag_of_Fiji.svg.png Fiji
87
97
171
98
42
99
107
100
51
101

102

103

104

105

106

107

108

109

110

111

112

113

114

115

116

117

118

119

120

121
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Flag_of_Niue.svg/23px-Flag_of_Niue.svg.png Niue

122

123

124

125

126

127

128

129
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cf/Flag_of_Peru.svg/23px-Flag_of_Peru.svg.png Peru

130

131

132

133

134

135

136

137

138

139

140

141

142

143

144

145

146

147

148

149

150

151

152
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/68/Flag_of_Togo.svg/23px-Flag_of_Togo.svg.png Togo

153

154

155

156

157

158

159

160

161

162

163

164

165

166

167

168

169

170

171

172

173

174

175

176

177

178
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Flag_of_Chad.svg/23px-Flag_of_Chad.svg.png Chad

179

180

181

182

183

184

185

186

187

188

189

190