Tuesday Snippet – Shira (working title)

So without further ado, here is a snippet of the revisions I’ve been doing for Shira. I’ve changed the name to Hero of Corsindor.

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2The messenger wore a velvet cut-back frock with single-breasted buttons fasted on the chest. Underneath the coat, he wore white lace frills under the a black silk waistcoat. His breeches were a stylish black velvet and he wore silk stockings to the knee. His black patent leather shoes had wide steel buckles. He wasn’t wearing the customary white gloves. He was in court dress.

When she heard his footsteps, the new Queen turned from the window overlooking the busy courtyard and beyond into the city. The servants and merchants looked like little ants too busy to look up into the sky.

The messenger stopped to admire the Queen. She wore a crimson dress that draped her tall thin frame. It emphasized her small chest and then fell straight down in waves. Her hair, a dark chestnut color, was piled artfully on her head. Silver and diamond pins sparkled in her hair. Any man, except the current king, would love to pull those pins from her hair and comb her hair with his hands.

The slight smell of lavender flowers followed her as she gracefully swayed. The messenger stopped a few feet from her and bent his head.

“Your Majesty,” he said. He bowed to her.

She gestured to two seats on the other side of the opulent room. How she could walk graceful as a bird on the plush rugs was a mystery. She sat down and then he sank in the soft chair.

“So?” she asked.

“The nurse is dead. He smiled at her, showing white sharp teeth.

There was a slight shudder in her shoulders and then she squared them.

“And, the baby?” she asked.

“Bad news, your majesty.” There was a hint of irony in the man’s voice. “She had already hid the baby before we found her.”

The queen’s voice hardened from a soft high voice to something lower and more sinister.

“Find him. Kill him.”

The messenger bowed his head in agreement. He stood and bowed again, then walked out of the room. His steps were firm and confident.

What the queen didn’t see as the messenger turned the corner and walked down the corridor was that his eyes turned a dark crimson. When he reached the shadows that gathered and pooled around the next corner, he disappeared into them.

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Monday, monday

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One of my favorite childhood stories was The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. I was impressed that a creature of the sea would accept such pain to love another and in the end he didn’t chose her. If you want to read a story that is heart-wrenching, sad, and cathartic, you should read the original story and not watch the sanitized version by Disney.

On my desk is a tiny statue of the “Little Mermaid.” I found it on my trip to Denmark a few years ago. I was on a tour bus and one of the places we went to was the Langelinje Pier in Coopenhagen to see the mermaid statue. When I looked down at the statue and saw the waves lick her feet, it made the story more real to me.

It is one of those fairy tales that settles into the heart.

I lost my prince to death on September 19, 2014. In the story the mermaid didn’t have a soul so she drifted in the aether with other spirits. In my heart I have drifted. Every year I go farther away from the pain. Every year I remember his irrepressible spirit.

It has taken me fifty years to understand the pain in the story. But even though the story is disturbing, there is a nugget of hope in the last words:

“After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven,” said she. “And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions.

So even in love and even in pain– there is always hope.

Sorry and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Happy Father’s Day

According To Hoyt

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*Sorry guys.  I’m actually on the mend.  At least today, for the first time in three weeks, I woke up with a clear head.  But the overdue short story is still not finished, the house looks like Pompeii after the volcano, and I am trying to do three things at once, so I forgot this.  I have a couple of books to promo, but they’ll get done next week.  I just can’t do the finicky work right now. I’ll add them next week.  For now, here’s the vignette, and I’ll be back tomorrow – SAH*

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we…

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Saturday Reviews

Since I am reading a lot lately, and decided to make Saturday a book review day. When I decide to review books, I get this flashback to second grade, which I almost failed, because I hated doing book reports. So that I wouldn’t fail, I spent the first week of my summer writing ten book reports. Yep, I only had to do ten book reports to pass the class. So that is how you can have a high IQ and still be almost held back.

Why didn’t I complete those book reports during the school year? That year I was reading the Oz series and other books that were on a high school level. I thought book reports were stupid so I refused to write them. I did write a list of books that I had read. When the teacher told me that I was lying, my need to buck authority was born.

She changed her tune when she finally got the book reports.

Anyway, enough about me and my book report phobia. This will be a book review, which is an entirely different beast.
dog with bone
I started reading “Dog with a Bone” a week ago, while I had the stomach virus. I was on my side with my kindle in my hands. I was looking for a good escape from the toilet god experience. If you have ever been sick, you know exactly what I mean.

It started out “burnt ozone tickled my nose” and I was hooked. The story is about Thierry a half-breed fairy who has magical powers derived from the runes on her hands. They never describe the runes. Sorry Norse enthusiasts so I am not sure if the cover is false advertising or not.

Her job is to hunt down and capture dangerous Fae who are slipping into the human world. At the same time she must keep her identity secret from the humans.

This book was a well-written wild ride. In this first book she is discovering her powers and her ancestry while trying to capture some dangerous creatures.

What was best about this book and the entire “Black Dog” series is that I escaped from my pain and sickness for a while. I’d say its worth the few hours of sitting in one place.

Be careful what you wish for

woman lying on white sand beach

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When I was very young, my dad and I would sit on the grass and watch the stars. As the first star shone, he taught me to say:

“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight.”

A child’s wish is very powerful.

When I was only six, I made a list of the things I wanted to do when I was an adult. On my list were two really important things. 1) I wanted to go to college. No one in my family had been to college. I don’t know what I wanted to learn there, but I had this burning need for knowledge.

My second wish was that I would travel. I wanted to see the world. I had at least one destination in mind–Japan. As I became a pre-teen I put those dreams on hold. I already knew that I had a higher intelligence than most of my peers. I was also the youngest in all of my classes.

Still my parents decided to leave me bored and unhappy. In second grade I was so bored, I read the entire reading list in one week. Then I started to bring books to school to read. I would give part of my brain to the teacher. If I already knew the subject, I wouldn’t listen until I had to take a test. I skated through school this way, making As and Bs.

When I reached the ripe age of thirteen, my parents decided to home school us. At that time my actual learning stopped and I was expected to teach my siblings basic math and reading. My parents had my life mapped out for me. I would work, get an educational degree, and teach children. I was so good at it. I would be married and have my own children then.

When I reached my early twenties and found that I wasn’t going to accomplish either of my dreams, I think I hit bottom. My parents wants for me contradicted my wants for me. I could follow them or I could break free.

I decided to break free. I joined the US Navy and became an electronics tech. I met my husband there, then when I left the Navy I acquired a degree in English Literature. I was 42 when I managed to accomplish that goal. In the Navy and afterward, I traveled to Japan, Panama, and Germany. I even spent a couple of years in South Africa.

Wishes are powerful things. What I didn’t know was that to gain what I wanted, I did sacrifice stability. My life up to now has been constant change. Sometimes I wonder if I would had been ill if I had taken that other path. But I know, deep down inside, that if I had caved, I would be a bitter unhappy woman and empty of experiences.

So wish– and be careful what you wish for– because you might get it.

Here comes the sun

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Yesterday the temperature neared 108 degrees. The dry breeze sucked up all the moisture from my body and then blow-dried my hair.

The news anchors reported that the temperature would drop to the 90s in the next few days. The relief from heat would be more heat.

My blonde hair glittered as the rays bounced off of it. I have to admit that I have always loved summer until I came to this place where heat bounced off the asphalt, turning the city into a brick oven. Even the taupe and brown painted apartments can’t push away the heat without the air conditioning going on constantly.

I had braved the heat to spend lunch with my nephew. Family and blood is the only reason I need to walk out into the crushing heat. I listen to my nephew talk about work, family, and social life. I know he is missing the mountain forests, cold clear streams, and throwing his line into the water as he listens to the sounds around him.

I used to love the mountains. My family would pack seven children into a small car with bread, mayo, tuna, and crackers. My father brought his fly fishing rods and bait. When we were freed from the confines of the car, we would run down the small path next to the stream. We would dig for worms and look for the big fat trout that sunned next to a huge rock. Mom would give us a hook and fishing line. We would try to trick the fish into eating the bait.

The fish was smarter than us because we never caught him. We would lie on the rock and sun ourselves and fall asleep. When dusk began to settle on us we would wake to our mother calling us to come back so we could drive home.

It was the only freedom I remembered then. The next day I would be in charge of diapers, food, canning, and cleaning.

So I listen to my nephew and remember what it felt like to work so hard and see nothing for it. I tell him to take some time off and go back to the mountains.

Tuesday Snippet – Shira

I will be the first to tell you that the more you practice, the better you get. This applies to music and it doubly applies to writing. I started out writing poetry.

I think the first poem I wrote officially was when I was nine years old and in the style of Robert Frost. I can’t compare the poetry I write now with the poetry I wrote then. It has been not quite fifty years and a lot more experiences behind me.

So last year I decided to go through the fantasy novels that I had published in 2010-11. The story structure was decent, but the descriptions and characters were thin. I know I wouldn’t have been able to critic my own work eight years. So I decided to revise and update my first novel, “Shira: Hero of Corsindor.”

And without further ado, here is a snippet:

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2Prologue

She glanced nervously at the lead-glass windows as the rain hit them in staccato bursts. The rain struck with such force that it drowned out the clanking of armed guards, roaming the hallways. The grayness and cold crept into her heart and chilled her bones.

In the midst of this war of elements, a newborn baby wrapped in white swaddling lay in a cradle. She gently rocked the cradle, whispering to the baby.

“You, poor sweet thing,” she said. His mother had not survived the birth. It was a miracle that this one was breathing. “She said she was in danger.” The nurse hummed and rocked. The baby smiled. It broke her heart. This child wouldn’t be allowed to live. He was born of the wrong woman.

Everyone knew that the woman who had married the king was not the king’s first love. This marriage had been arranged. The king had kept his mistress in the castle so that he could visit her during her pregnancy. It had been an embarrassment to the new queen. The kitchen gossip ran through the nurse’s mind.

The cook had sworn that she had seen the queen in the kitchen in the early hours, brewing up a potion. Then the mistress went into labor. The cook had connected the potion with the death of the mistress. The baby was supposed to die as well.

It was the baby’s smile that had changed her mind. Instead of announcing the baby’s birth, she wrapped the baby tightly in the new blanket. Hoping that the baby would stay quiet and wouldn’t suffocate, she tucked the blanket into a basket.

A silent prayer was on her lips as she walked firmly and confidently down the hall with the basket pressing against her arm. She nodded to a guard and walked past him. She reached the kitchen without being stopped. The warmth of the kitchen was a huge contrast to the coldness of the rest of the castle.

She set the basket down and warmed her hands on the flame.

“Has the baby been born yet?” asked the cook. She was bustling around the kitchen, beating dough with her hands. Two of the cook’s thralls were carting pots out to the courtyard so they could scrub them and clean the pots for the next meal.

“No,” the nurse said. “I’m going to the apothecary to get more herbs to ease her pain.”
The cook just nodded and went back to her work.

A tradesman knocked on the door. A kitchen maid opened the door and accepted the dinner meat. The nurse slipped past them and into the courtyard. A side gate that lead to a narrow path down the hill into the city was open.

It was slippery, but the nurse kept her footing. The rain had turned into a soft mist and she slid into the shadows. She looked back at the castle. It looked menacing in this light.

She shivered just a little and adjusted the basket. Her shoulder ached from carrying the baby.

She thanked every god in the pantheon that the baby hadn’t cried or screamed. She pulled back the blanket so that she could see his face. He was breathing. She let out a sigh of relief and hurried to a cobblestone road with two story buildings dwarfing her.

She slipped into a small alleyway that led to the market square. Then she hurried through the square. It was unusually quiet. The hard rain must have sent the merchants home early. It only made her shiver more and she thought that someone was following her.

Finally after going through a few more alleys, she found the one she was looking for. The shopkeeper sold beads and brocade from far away. Plus she knew him. He was her cousin’s husband.

“Welcome,” he said when she sat the basket on the counter.

He took a long look at the baby. The baby had soft dark hair and light skin. The baby’s eyes opened and they were a dark blue.

“Well,” said the shopkeeper. “It’s come to this.”

The nurse nodded her head.

He pointed to the curtain at the back of the shop. She followed behind him into the darkness.

An hour later the nurse left the shop with herbs in her basket. She headed toward the castle.