Guest Post and Giveaway: The Druid Next Door by E.J. Russell

Today I am so pleased to welcome E.J. Russell back to Joyfully Jay. E.J. has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Druid Next Door, the second book in her Fae Out of Water series. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

The Druid Next Door Tour Banner

A Druid’s MacGuffin

When you get right down to it, The Druid Next Door is a quest story—more than one, if you want to get technical. From the blurb, it’s obvious that there are two overarching missions—Bryce’s crusading environmentalism and Mal’s personal quest to lift his curse (not to mention their implicit quest for love). But as with any quest, there are a number of tasks, or sub-quests, that the heroes need to fulfill before they can return with the Big Prize.

When I was plotting the story, I knew I needed an object that had significance for the quests, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. In other words, I needed a MacGuffin. In fact, in my plot notes, I actually refer to it that way: “Just as they get the MacGuffin…”

Are you familiar with the term? A MacGuffin, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance.”

The Maltese Falcon in the movie of the same name is the classic example of a MacGuffin, but there are other interpretations too. The Hellmouth in Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been called a topological MacGuffin (Joss Whedon called it “a shortcut, in lieu of scientific explanation.”)

Fae Out of Water series coverWhat I needed was a shortcut in lieu of magical explanation, because, hello, Faerie? Druids? We need some woo-woo stuff going on here! I wanted something small, like a rock, so I exercised my google-fu, and amazingly enough, I found the absolutely perfect MacGuffin for a story about druids and Celtic fae.

There’s an artifact called an adder stone, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a type of stone, usually glassy, with a naturally occurring hole through it.” According to its lore, it has magical properties ranging from protection against the evil eye to curing various diseases (including snakebite) to seeing through magical disguises. It has a number of alternate names too: serpent’s egg, hag stone, witch stone—and get this: Gloine nan Druidh. If you’re not up on your Scottish Gaelic, that means “druid’s glass.”

I mean, how perfect is that? A magical stone that not only has a Gaelic name, but a Welsh one too: Glain Neidr. A MacGuffin tailor-made for The Druid Next Door!

Of course, my adder stone isn’t as benign as tradition suggests, because really—what would be the fun in that?


The Druid Next DoorProfessor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?

Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.

All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.

Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.

Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.


E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:


To celebrate the release of all three books in the Fae Out of Water series, one lucky winner across all three tours will receive a GRAND PRIZE of a $50 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the Druid Next Door tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.


  1. Oooh this one looks like a ton of fun!

  2. I really enjoy reading this book. A journey, indeed. Happy book birthday, EJ! Looking forward to Gareth’s story.
    puspitorinid AT yahoo DOT com

  3. I love the contrast between the paranormal and everyday elements!


    • Thanks, Trix. I’ve always loved stories that pair the “real” world (ah…but can we be sure?) with the fantastical. Diana Wynne Jones’s work remains in my top faves, plus Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks (a very early urban fantasy–with rock music!)

  4. I did know the term MacGuffin, but it was fun to learn how you managed to find the perfect one for your book. Congratulations, EJ, on the new release, and best wishes for your success.

  5. Thank you for the post. It sounds like a wonderful read.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  6. Learned something new, which doesn’t happen every day!
    jlshannon74 at

  7. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    I’ve never heard of the term MacGuffin I’ve learnt something interesting today! shirleyann2400 (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. Sounds like lots of problems for these two.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  9. I didn’t know what a MacGuffin was until I read this post, but now I realize there have been so many in the different media I consume. I love reading posts about world-building and how books come to be. I’m excited to read this book 😀

    marianneereads (at) gmail (dot) com

    • It’s amazing how many times the MacGuffin convention is used. I’ve sat through movies before, thinking, “Why are they looking for the orb/ring/whatever again?” Then sit back and go, “Oh. It doesn’t matter. It’s a MacGuffin!”

  10. I adored Cutie and the Beast! XD Druid Next Door is definitely near the top of my TBR pile.


  11. Thanks for the interesting post! violet817(at)aol(dot)com

  12. Thanks for hosting me today, Jay! And thanks to everyone who stopped by to help me celebrate the release. You all rock!

  13. thank you for the very interesting post, E.J. I had never heard about the MacGuffin before… Interesting concept. and the book sounds so good!

  14. Serena S. says:

    Thanks for the post, very interesting. Surely as the book itself.

  15. This is a new to me author. Thanks for the interesting post.

  16. I guess you just can’t trust a Druid!  Who knew?  
    Sounds like this might be an enemies to lovers romance!

  17. I’ve never heard of a MacGuffin before either. Thanks for the post. I look forward to continuing with this series!
    legacylandlisa at gmail dot com

  18. You got me at surly neighbor! Throw two people unwittingly together and watch the fireworks? Yes please!

  19. Purple Reader says:

    Congrats, E.J., and thanks for sharing how you found your perfect MacGuffin. This sounds like a great series. I love fantasy and fae, and to put them in a modern setting with all that entails will be a joy to read about. – Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

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