Of unicorns and Welsh mountain ponies . . .

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 Can a young girl and a sixty-something woman have something in common–say, a white unicorn in the form of a wild mountain pony?

The time is roughly 429 AD. The place, Britannia on the eve of Roman retreat. A 15-year old girl is sent  by her mother to stay for six months with her great-aunt Marrie. She has traveled from the area around the Roman fort Deva Victrix (modern Liverpool) west to the province of Lindum (present day Lincoln).275

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Photo courtesy of our Liverpool pal Paul McDermott. The round structure near the center of the photo has not been identified. Caylith, however, could tell modern archaeologists excactly what it was. She and her friends had an adventure right there which changed the history of the fort and put her in charge, at least in name, and at least for a remarkable few years…

The photo on the right shows the mighty fort of the Romans at Deva, close to where Caylith was born. We know it now as Liverpool—home of the Beatles.

By the time our saga takes place, the fort was protected mainly by raggedy “native”  troops— hardly the finest soldiers from  Mother Rome, but instead rough regional men and women from nearby areas conquered by the emperor’s soldiers.

The city of Lindum, at the time Caylith stayed there, was a provincial capital and is known to the modern world as Lincoln. The old city is seen mainly in crumbling gates and walls. We’ll show  more of these in future articles. Below, you see a photo of a city gate where the fine Roman architecture can still be admired.

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The girl Caylith, our young heroine, is unmanageable—plain and simple. She’s been a tomboy all her life, especially since  the death of her father five years before. Her mother has allowed her to run virtually wild on their ancestral estate. Now, however, she has drawn in the reins in an ancient call to tradition: her daughter Caylith must learn how to become a woman. A landed woman, a woman of influence and means, a woman who will know how to choose a proper mate when the time is right.

So great-aunt Marrie, the aunt of her dead Roman father, is to take the teen into her Roman manor and teach her, among other subjects, money, manners, and proper marriage.

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This photo is from modern Lincoln, but it could have been Aunt Marrie’s ancestral Roman manor outside the city where Caylith and her BFF Brindl stayed for six months.

But Caylith has other goals in mind. While her elderly aunt is outdoors where the spirited teen longs to be, she is festering to be free of the linen-storage room where Marrie keeps her busy counting supper towels. All this while, Marrie herself has adopted a herd of endangered mountain ponies and has set herself to tame her favorite, a pretty white mare named Alba. And she vows that her nosy niece will never find out. After all, taming a pony is not exactly the same as learning to be a proper young lady!

The mischievous redhead cannot be held captive for too long and soon discovers a few of her aunt’s tightly guarded secrets.

The book is as much about the elderly Marrie as it is about Caylith. She, too, is a redhead; and she, too, has a certain streak–but she keeps it carefully hidden from everyone. When Caylith begins to discover her secrets, the novel explores the convergence of old and young, reality and magic.

On Christmas Eve, Aunt Marrie schedules a formal dinner for Caylith to show off her newly taught life skills, but Caylith is nowhere to be found. Has she run off to chase a unicorn  . . . or will she manage to save the day, despite still being untamed by her well-meaning aunt?

Our book is available on Amazon and at the MIU bookstore:

Running Over Rainbows on MuseItUp

Running Over Rainbows on Amazon


This picture of Caylith shows the world for the first time what  she really looked like at fifteen—full of mischief and of wonder, delighted by her own vision of a rainbow in a snow-filled forest, and a unicorn in a snowdrift.

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This cover was designed by remarkable artist Marion Sipe. How in the world did Marion travel back 1500 years and find Caylith? Magic, pure and simple.

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