Druid's Portal: The First Journey
by Cindy Tomamichel
Genre: Time Travel Romance, Historical Fantasy
An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.
A love that crosses the centuries.
An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love—but are they a promise or a curse?
Her fiancé Daman abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.
In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves—Janet and the Empire.
Time is running out—for everyone.
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It felt hot, and the heat pulsed through her until she felt dizzy, as if she was standing on the edge of a precipice. She held onto the cabinet as the museum faded around her.
Then she fell into a grey void.
There was a smell of forest earth, long undisturbed, centuries of leaf mould, of the secret growing business of trees. Quiescence. A sense of time. A time long ago, ruled by gods long forgotten. But not far away—distance didn’t register. Somewhere nearby—close to her home and Hadrian’s Wall. Where she had grown up and where the stone and earth were part of her.
The void split into shadows as the peace was shattered.
Danger. Around her the grey void echoed with screams of hatred and of death that pounded in her ears. She was in a battlefield, surrounded by the misty shapes of men as they bellowed in agony, and she choked as the smell of blood smothered her. A tall shadow filled her vision. Right in front of her a shadowy figure raised a sword, and she cried out and fell to her knees.
Death and danger.
The grey void vanished, and Janet opened her eyes. She shook her head. It had been the impression of a moment, but death, danger, and love seemed intertwined in a way she could neither explain nor fathom.
Druid's Portal : The Second Journey
Ethan—latest guardian of the Arwen pendant—finds his heritage of time travel a burden he can scarcely endure. Rowena—last of the line of Daman—is a soldier in the Celtic army, forced to perform deeds that haunt her. Both tormented by visions of the other, separated by barriers of time.
A time that should not exist.
Rowena flees the catastrophic end of her time but is trapped by an ancient family pact with an evil goddess. Desperate to save her, Ethan crosses over into her timeline, where his parents never met, and Daman—their greatest enemy—rules.
The past is ruled by a man who knows the future.
Thirty days to stop a goddess taking over her body. Thirty days to save his timeline. Together they will fight their way through an altered history to the dark past of Stonehenge.
But time is running out—for everyone.
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She filled a hole in his heart he had always known was there, but had never known the shape of it was her. The sense of completeness hit him like a blow.
“I will find you... ” he shouted as she faded. “I will protect you, always… ”
But she was gone, leaving nothing but a ghostly fragrance of flowers, and he was alone once more.
She staggered, feeling dizzy. The pendant felt so heavy, too heavy for its size, and she clutched the desk as the room spun around her. She blinked as a grey mist blurred her vision, and then blinked again. In the grey mist stood a man, a stranger, but she felt she knew him. He was tall and solid with muscle, his dark red-black hair grew past his shoulders, and his leaf green eyes looked at her. Straight at her. There was no doubt he saw her. She stretched out a hand to him as he did the same, yet between them was a barrier she could not breach. Standing like sentinels around him were trees larger than she had ever seen. She gasped, and deep into her lungs rushed the smell of old forests, the mustiness of time measured in centuries, and the coppery taste of blood.
The mist swirled, and she clung tightly to the desk. He was the vision of a moment, but there was a bond between them she could not deny.
He vanished, and all she was left with was a tangle of impressions.
Death and danger came with this man.
Yet also love.
How could such things be?
Find a world where the heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.
The Druid’s Portal series is a genre blend of action, adventure, romance, time travel and magical historical fantasy set in Roman Britain.
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I left a job in 1999 with the intention of writing a book and becoming an author. I did finish the book, but quite a lot of life things had to occur before I was anywhere near getting a book out into the world.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I always have cat hair on me.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
For my 50th birthday I did a tandem skydive. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, and no way I would have jumped out, had I not been strapped to a muscular chap about a foot taller than me. However, it had been on my bucket list for a while (20 years) and while I wouldn’t do it again, it was certainly something I am glad I did.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I used to get annoyed about toast crumbs in the butter, but realized there are probably more important things to worry about. Life is getting too short to worry about little things.
Where were you born/grew up at?
In Sydney, Australia
Who is your hero and why?
Jane Goodall is someone I admire. She has spent her life working and travelling to promote and fundraise for animals. Gerald Durrell as well, for his great books, and zoo which helped preserve endangered species.
But there are heroes all around us. People in service industries smiling and helping a customer even though their feet hurt, firefighters and soldiers, police and nurses. All devoting their lives to helping others, and not getting as much credit as they deserve. People that build new companies based on cleaning up ocean waste, or scientists, inventing vaccines that save lives. All heroes, and all deserve that recognition.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I don’t know, power might go to my head. But my platform would involve animal care, cleaning up the oceans and environment. Building more libraries.
What are you passionate about these days?
Plastics in the ocean is something that has concerned my family of late. We have been researching ways to reduce our plastic use, including using steel straws, our own bags, supporting companies that clean up waste etc.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I have been making graphics for author friends of late. I find it a fun activity especially if the tv is dull. Unless there is Star Trek on – then that has my full attention!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Writer – that wasn’t the important step for me. Anyone can write, but not all can finish something that other people want to read. Winning a prize for a short twisted fairy tale was awesome. It was based on Rapunzel – but what if the prince never arrived?
Author for me was the big goal – to be published. Thankfully after many sacrifices to arcane gods at midnight, Soul Mate Publishing accepted Druid’s Portal: The First Journey.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Pretty keen on the Die Hard, Indiana Jones, and The Mummy series. But I also love old ones, David Niven in Separate Tables, or Witness for the Prosecution, which is based on an Agatha Christie story.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
My Druids Portal series is all action, adventure and romance, and many readers have commented they would love to see them made into a movie. I have had lots of conversations about the interview process for the leading man!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
On a family RV trip across the southern states of the USA, I forced a detour to Cross Plains, Texas. This is the small town that has the Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan) museum. I spent the afternoon rambling through his house, taking photos, and actually sat down at his desk. It was an incredible experience. His stories of action, strange eldritch places, evil sorcerers, bold heroes and strong women have been a great source of inspiration in my writing.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Since I often have cats draped on or around me, I suspect I have already been chosen as some sort of cat slave. There are worse things, no doubt.
What inspired you to write this book?
The same thing that inspires any author – the characters really won’t leave you alone. Apparently they decide when the story is finished, not me. Otherwise, lots of small bits of historical research is also inspiring. Janet the archaeologist working on Hadrian’s Wall for instance has a fascination with Roman sandals. Hundreds of sandals have been excavated at Vindolanda (a fort on Hadrian’s Wall) preserved in the mud. I found a reference to a incense burner at the site of a water goddess Coventina, and that got included in the story.
I was also keen to write a hero that is not one of the over forceful dominating types. Both Trajan and his son, Ethan are powerful capable men, yet both have a gentle side which they are not afraid to show.
What can we expect from you in the future?
The future involves finishing the Druid’s Portal series, which will be another three books. I have a book and e-course coming out for writers – The Organized Author. This is designed to help authors set up their author platform. Then there are all the scifi and fantasy novels I have on my hard drive to polish and get out into the world. So plenty to keep me and readers busy.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey?
The series focuses on the family of Janet and Trajan, who we meet in the first book. Janet is an archaeologist who is dragged back in time to Roman Britain and Hadrian’s Wall where she meets Trajan, a Roman soldier.
In the Second Journey, we follow their son, Ethan, who has inherited the duty of guardian of the time travel pendant, and has grown up in the shadow of heroic parents. One mistake creates an alternate history, and there Rowena battles a culture of war. But love is a chancy thing, and for a guardian, always comes with danger and death.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
In the first one, I have always had a hankering to be an archaeologist, plus she needed to be fluent in latin. An interest in time travel, and a location and the story wrote itself.
For the Second Journey, I have noticed that growing up with parents that are already heroes themselves is a tough thing for the child. Think Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Diehard series, and The Mummy series for instance. All tough, smart kids, but their parents have already done it all. What would be the consequences for a man growing up in the shadow of heroes? Will Ethan follow in his father’s footsteps, or forge his own path? Rowena also battles her heritage as a descendant of a man who warped her world into war.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Often names just come to me, but for secondary characters I consult a baby name book which also has info on the meaning and origin of the name. I can’t be christening ancient Celts with modern German names!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Tying all the threads together, and dropping hints of future events. This one starts to weave the threads of family and history that we glimpsed in the first one into what will become three generations of the family travelling into time.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Ethan has grown up in the shadow of heroic parents, and has trained his entire life to become both an historian, linguist and fighter. None of which he would have chosen to do himself, yet it is his duty and heritage.
Rowena has grown up in a world dominated by war, and will be training as a soldier. Her choices are narrowed to being a citizen or a slave. She can see no other paths open to her, except for her dreams and visions of Ethan.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
I had another chosen, but it sounded soppy, and it was already used, so I picked Druids Portal, as being more related to the plot.
Who designed your book covers?
Soul Mate Publishing chose Melody Pond to design both my covers, and the first one won cover of the month at Books & Benches. Her website is: https://melodyypond.weebly.com/
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think you always want to rewrite parts, make them better and a closer match to the world in your head. But so long as it is an entertaining read then I can be happy with that. Besides, I have to get cracking on the next books!
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I do quite a bit of research, and this book I learnt a lot about Druid history, ancient religious rituals, and Stonehenge. I also delved into wild flowers, and what sort of flowers, leaves and trees are sacred, both historically and today in pagan circles.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ethan is a tall, muscular chap, and handy with a sword and a one liner. Jason Momoa fits the bill nicely!
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Keep an eye on the secondary characters – the brothers Quintus, Brack, and Phelan. They are major players in the following books.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
In the alternate timeline, we get the chance to see secondary characters in a different setting. In one scene Ethan meets the soldiers his father served with, as well as a character that is important in the next book. For me, it tells of the losses of time travel, of leaving behind friends that never knew what happened to you. I tried to portray the deep bonds that had been built up, though 2,000 years separated the characters.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Branwen is one of my favourite characters. She is the celtic manager of a bathhouse in the Roman fort town of Pons Aelius, which will become Newcastle. She takes Janet in when she arrives from the future, and her three sons become major characters. She loves to cook and bake, so I imagine we would spend the day baking and sharing some honeyed wine and gossip. The bath house is always first with all the news!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I have had a couple of characters that come from real people – one walked across a crowded pub and straight into my imagination. Most are entirely imaginary, maybe with a feature from someone in real life.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I wrote Nanowrimo last year, and a secondary character took over, and I had a Jason Momoa lookalike galloping across Roman Britain, finding love and generally taking over. It was enormous fun, and it developed the story in ways I had not planned. I know the general direction, but it’s fun not to know too much.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Who writes about Roman Britain? Not many – it’s all kilts or regency frocks. Explore a time of history that still echoes in our lives today. Go and find a real hero, and women who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes, is the short answer. Science fiction, fantasy, contemporary romance, urban fantasy and historicals are all clamoring for their share of the spotlight.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Oak and rose. Oak for Ethan’s link with the forest, and rose for the perfume Rowena has in her hair.
What did you edit out of this book?
Not much, except for 1,000+ hads, and shes when editing. I write fast and tight, and add in when drafting, not delete things.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Robert E. Howard would be great. His Conan books are great examples of fight scenes, and also describing dark creatures and places in graphic ways.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
I read history books like a novel, and really try to get details right. I have consulted archaeologists to get my facts straight, and emailed a museum to find out how a 2,000 year old incense burner worked.
My cat loves helping, and sometimes I am working and balancing the keyboard on top of him.
Roman soldiers along Hadrian’s Wall ate lots of bacon. They had to carry food, cooking equipment, shovels, and tents on their marches, then dig protective trenches before they rested for the night. And do night patrol. Tough men.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
I’ll cheat a bit and add in series. Hey, I am a fast reader.
- Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell for top notch action and bad guys, and strong women.
- Temple by Matthew Reilly for a great past journal- modern action combination.
- Lord of the Rings/Hobbit by Tolkien, a fantasy trailblazer that needs no introduction.
- Narnia series by CS Lewis a childhood favourite, although I still mourn poor Susan.
- Thornyhold by Mary Stewart, a lovely relaxing romance with some beautiful descriptions of an old English house and gardens.
- Phyrne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood for a take no nonsense Australian heroine.
- Conan series by RE Howard, the goto books for sword and sorcery and an iconic hero.
- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson, an intense and detailed fantasy world.
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling, for igniting the longing that everyone has to receive their letter from Hogwarts.
- The Discworld by Terry Pratchett for so many laughs over the years.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Mine- obviously! ?
But more seriously, it’s really hard to recommend books, as people differ so much in taste and interests. A book that rocks the world of one person may be either impenetrable or rubbish to another. However, a book I found inspiring was Jane Goodall’s book “Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink” which was full of stories of scientists rescuing animals and studying them so as to preserve their species. For anyone that despairs at the state of the world, this is a book full of hope.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote a little when a teenager, but really got stuck in when in my 30’s. So about ten years of terrible poetry, and twenty years of novels and short stories.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
No, sometimes a new character has to be added in, or a character will pop up when writing and demand their time in the spotlight. The main characters are usually solid before a book starts, but I don’t like to know too much of what’s going on, I like to surprise myself.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I read generally for historical books to get feel for the time. I search for something that’s a bit of a hook – Roman sandal discoveries, a carving on a stone or the diet of a Roman soldier. There are some great online courses offered (Online Learning) and I have done an archaeology one, and Life near Hadrian’s Wall. From there, I can research specifics during writing. I also keep an eye out for new research finds, adding in a lot of the digging results at Vindolanda, a fort along Hadrian’s Wall.
For science fiction and fantasy, I follow much the same pattern. However topics vary widely, and I have researched terraforming (changing the surface and atmosphere of a planet), cuneiform writing, string language (knots in string were a form of communication , a little like morse code) and making pemmican (a travel food of dried, meat, berries and fat) and using herbs.
Do you see writing as a career?
It is a part time career now, as it allows me to fit in other bits of life tucked in around the edges.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read according to mood and whim, spanning fantasy, scifi, romance, action adventure and mysteries. But I do tend towards the action adventure end of the spectrum for preference.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
In silence generally, although I do get out to cafes and find the act of blocking background noise helps concentration. I have written in the middle of preparing dinner, and walking across carparks on the back of a receipt. However I find music terribly distracting.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Write one at a time, and try to get a project finished. The last is not that successful, as I have quite a few novels in various stages of editing, all screaming for attention. But I have a great critique group for early drafts, so I am often working on several books at once.
Pen or type writer or computer?
All of the above – I generally write on the desktop computer. However there are folders full of post it notes, and notebooks full of plot ideas. The best thing of late is a folding keyboard which hooks wirelessly to my phone. I put it straight into googledocs, and transfer later to word. But I wrote the last 10,000 words of a book while on holiday on my little folding keyboard, while sipping hot chocolate and watching the ocean go by on a cruise.
I am so old I used a manual typewriter for university essays, and the sound of the little dinging bell still makes me quiver. We are so fortunate technology has moved forward, writers really have a wealth of tools to use today.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I have a rough outline, although this is often very basic as I don’t like to plan it out too much and lose the sense of adventure. For Druids Portal, since it is a multi-generational time travel, with alternate history and multiple time trips, I have done a flow chart to make sure the events all make sense.
When ready to write, I set up a document with a manuscript format, and chapter headings. Which gives me as much framework as I need, and settles the idea as a novel, rather than a mass of notes.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Talking about writing more than actually doing it. Social media is also a time suck most writers would do best to avoid as much as possible.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I probably focus on originality. If I was sensible, I would be writing in more popular genres.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Get stuck into it. Don’t bother reading dozens of how to write books. Give up the turgid poetry. Read the Hero’s Journey earlier. Watch more Star Trek.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I can knock out the first draft of 70,000 words during the month of Nanowrimo (Write a novel in November) but redrafting and editing can take many months.
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