First Fridays: Chapter Five

I interrupt the blog’s Valentine tomfoolery to bring you the first page of Chapter 5 in Changelings: Into the Mist. If you’re new, you can start with Chapter One, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Five

20141207_140911~2Sean woke with a gasp and a sickening heave of his stomach. The waking was so sudden, he forgot where he was. He forgot he had spent the night back-to-back in the dirt with Maureen. He forgot they had travelled through time – he even forgot they were now stranded. It came back to him in a rush and his stomach twisted even more.

Behind him, Maureen was stirring. He started to turn to her but she hit him and ‘shushed’ in his ear.

“Do you hear that?” she hissed.

His protest at being smacked in the shoulder died on his tongue. He closed his mouth and listened. There it was – the sound that first woke him.

“Someone’s chopping down the trees.”

Maureen nodded slightly. “Aye. I was having a nightmare and the noise blended with it, somehow. It woke me up.”

Something about the shadows under her eyes, and the steady beat of a handsaw and axe made the hair on his neck stand. “I don’t think we should be seen by whoever is up there – doesn’t feel right.”

She eyed him for a second – hunches and wild suppositions were her area of expertise – but nodded. “Nothing has felt right since yesterday morning. Let’s get out of here.”

They helped each other stand and quickly brushed off the leafy debris of their night under the stars.

Sean stretched and rubbed at his face. “If there’s any civilization here at all, we’ll find it closer to the bay. There’s probably a road or path at the base of the hill – if we can get to it without being seen.”

A shout and the ear-splitting groan of a monarch’s fall overshadowed this last. They stared at each other as the birds jeered above them.

Word of the Day

Monarch: ruler of a kingdom, in this case the oak tree is the monarch of the forest, a common symbol. Oaks have long been associated with royalty – not only because it was valued by the Druids, but because of its durability (Ref: Fine Dictionary).

Devil’s in the Details

The Mighty Oak Tree

The Mighty Oak Tree

Dreams, visions and “wild suppositions,” as Sean calls it, figure heavily as motivating factors in Changelings. While only hinted at here, Maureen’s dreams – much like the oaks and the mist – become an important player in the ongoing mystery surrounding the Changelings.

D: Wow A – is that all you’re going to say?

A: Um, yeah. Why?

D: You’re ‘details’ aren’t exactly detailed today, are they?

A: I can’t say more – it would be a spoiler. It’s important. It’s probably the most important thing on this page of the book, besides their emotional elasticity – which I talked about in Chapter Four – that allows them to accept their current reality.

D: Bla, bla bla, words, words, words. You’re just not willing to admit this is kind of a boring opener for a chapter.

A: Would it be better if I’d stuck you in there, despite the fact that you were likely gallivanting around the Continent, leaving Maureen and Sean on their own?

D: . . . well, at least it would have been entertaining.

A: (Sigh) Yes, D. Whatever you say, D.

D: That’s better.

Historical Footnotes

How many miles is it really to the bay?  As the hill is technically fictional, it could be as many – or as few – miles to Clew Bay as I wanted. However, I had fun with maps (fun fact: I have several atlases. While I can get lost crossing the street – true story – maps are some of my favourite things.), and explored an elevation map for a reasonable spot to plant my fictional hill, abbey and chapel. As it happens, the other side of Carrowbeg Lough was just hilly – and empty – enough to be favourable. Using roads, that general area is roughly 2.3 Kilometers from Carrickahowley Castle, or 1.42 miles (See below – source: Google Maps).

 

Advertisements

Not-So-Shocking Adventure: The Podcast Has Landed

It's Podcast Time!

It’s Podcast Time!

D: Well, it’s about bloody time.

A: Excuse me?

D: How many months ‘hiatus’ did you take from podcasting, Miss A?

A: Seriously? This from the druid who ridiculed the very idea that I put my voice to the interwebs?

D: Well, now, I may have had some reservations, but while you were off not doing the podcast, no one was giving any thought to who should be my voice!

A: But I’ve known all along who should be your voice (and with that hefty revelation, why don’t you stop by GE Recommends for the podcast. Don’t worry – D’s waited this long. He can wait a few more minutes).

D: You have?

A: Uh huh.

D: . . . and why haven’t you shared that with the world? Come on, A – this audio-book isn’t going to act itself out!

A: Oh all right, in the spirit of the week that’s in it, I’ll reveal who not only inspired your um, brooding looks–

D: I do not brood.

A: It could have been worse, I could have called you a lurker.

D: (Sputtering). Fine. Brooding, it is.

A: This gentlemen not only inspired your brooding good looks, but in my head, whenever you speak, it’s his voice. Every. Single. Time.

D: Distracting, is it?

I may or may not encourage silly gifts like these from The Boy on Valentine's Day. What can I say, they just make me smile.

I may or may not encourage silly gifts like these from The Boy on Valentine’s Day. What can I say, they just make me smile.

A: Considering The Boy jokingly gives me movie paraphernalia with his face on it every year for Valentine’s? Yeah, a little.

D: I knew I liked that child. So you’re telling me, I’m based on Thorin?

A: Or Richard Armitage, but yeah, basically.

D: I like it.

A: Really? No push-back? No snark?

D: No. I think it is highly appropriate. He has my gravitas, pathos and a charmingly wicked gleam to his eye. All in all, I believe you found the perfect muse with which to release my greatness. In fact, only one thing remains.

A: I’m afraid to ask. . .

D: Answering the question why you haven’t cornered him and demanded he do my voice?

A: I think he’s a little busy being epic on stage and in the movies.

D: I don’t think that ought to stop you.

A: Oh dear, this not going to end well.

D: In fact, I think you need to fly or sail or swim or, I don’t know, take that broomstick of yours and get yourself over to England and enlist that man’s voice. You can do it – I’ve heard what you and your friends got up to trying to get Conan O’Brien’s attention.

A: (Sigh) And I was right. While I try to talk D off this particular high, head over to Green Embers’ Recommends for the 14th episode of the Not-So-Shocking-News Dialogues, The Podcast Has Landed!

‘Twas the week before Valentine’s . . .

‘Twas the week before Valentine’s,

And all through the house,

Nary a heart was heard beating, 

No, not even a pulse…

D: Um, A. . .

A: Yes, D?

D: What are you doing?

A: Taking creative license with Valentine’s Day.

D: With a poem ripped off from Christmas?

A: It’s how I roll.

D: Okay, but isn’t it slightly morbid?

A: You’re talking to the chick who wrote a flash fiction story based on a zombie getting it on with Jenny from Human Resources.

D: . . . this is true. So, tell me, have you written something slightly off-kilter for this year’s Valentine’s extravaganza – because I assume that this being Monday, you’ve decided to devote the entire week of posts to this strange, modern holiday designed to sell flowers, ridiculous pieces of lace, and overpriced bits of plastic masquerading as chocolate?

A: I actually like Valentine ’s Day.

D: . . .

A: No, really, I do – amid all that bad chocolate is some fabulous chocolate, which goes on clearance the day after. Plus, all the color is a nice break for all of us in the northern climes completely surrounded by grey, white, more grey and bits of crusted-over, gnarly-looking snow.

D: Uh huh, and?

"Circle of Adam Elsheimer The Lupercalian Festival in Rome" by Circle of Adam Elsheimer - Christie | Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Circle of Adam Elsheimer The Lupercalian Festival in Rome” by Circle of Adam Elsheimer – Christie | Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A: And, it has some rather dark and disturbing pagan roots – beyond Cupid – and I just like that kind of thing.

D: Um, A – did you read the article you just linked?

A: Okay, I don’t like the actual Roman Lupercalia ritual, I just find the idea that the Catholics attempted “to put the clothes” back on the ritual when they tried to assimilate the pagans amusing. Of course, we’ve done a rather bang-up job of taking the clothes back off, which is okay, too. However, we can leave the ritual beatings for fertility to those ancient Romans, thankyouverymuch.

D: Thought so.

A: Right, so, we interrupt this Monday’s installment of “Three Ghosts” with the a repost of a story I wrote for The Community Storyboard a few years ago, which is a) based on the ghosts I grew up with, and b) the basis for a far-off book I’ll write when I’m good and ready and D please stop tapping your foot at me.

D: Who, me?

A: (Eye roll) Right – without further ado. . .

My Dearest Love

Portrait of a Union Soldier -- Kenosha (WI) Civil War Museum | Image by Ron Cogswell, 2012

Portrait of a Union Soldier — Kenosha (WI) Civil War Museum | Image by Ron Cogswell, 2012

My Dearest Evelyn,

While war continues, I would not write of it. I would spare you the details of my daily horror.

When I write to you, it is to forget that I am far from you, far from your embrace. I wish that I had been brave enough to speak to your father and ask for your hand before this started. I have faced enough Secesh as punishment for my fear, and I will speak to him.

* * *

Samuel,

Your words fill me with hope that I will see you again. How foolish we were to think that this war would only last a week. Our nation is divided and my heart weeps. I will follow your advice, and think of you only as I remember you, for to imagine you amidst all that devastation is almost more than I can bear.

I think, in light of your new status in the military, you will find Father’s measure of you much improved, or else I have seriously misjudged his character.

Keep safe, my love.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

Forgive me for keeping secrets from you. Once I knew that I would be granted leave for Christmas, I wrote to your father straight away. He has granted that we may wed.

I would not take you from the bosom of your family until this dreaded war is over, but please, do me the honor of becoming my bride when I return?

* * *

"Pauline Cushman" Part of the Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Pauline Cushman” Part of the Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Samuel,

You must ask? Foolish boy, I love you with all my heart.

Mother is already a-flutter with preparations. She laments that we will not be able to go travelling as they did in her day, to celebrate amongst the family, but she is happy just the same.

I, on the other hand, am not merely happy. Your words have filled me near to bursting and I fear I may cry out, laugh or sing with the feel of it! Cook caught me signing the other day as examined what has become of my trousseau, and scolded me something terrible. She tells me such noise is bad luck. But what can she know of it? She is not married and I defy the fates to take this joy from me.

* * *

My dearest,

That I can call you wife, and yet not be by your side is more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Pray for me, my love; pray that I may return to your side, that I may have your sweet whispers in my ear once more. Pray that this war is over soon.

* * *

My love,

Mother says that ardor cools as daily life intrudes, but I have not found this to be true. Perhaps it is that I have yet to know you day-to-day. I remember you though, the feel of you by my side as I slept. At night, I kiss the air where you once were and weep to know that you are not there. My heart is full of the good nights and good mornings that have not yet been.

Knowing that you are mine, that those nights and mornings may yet be, only flames my ardor for you more. You may think me indecent, but my love for you only grows.

Let me be your beacon of light, guiding you home.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

Your letters do me well, my love. I feel your kisses at night and they keep me warm, safe in this chill.

I do not find you indecent, dearest. Your blushes and modesty have no place with me anymore. I would fill your days with kisses and more were I there.

And, I will be there. With your love guiding me, I will be there.

* * *

My love,

The neighbors say that this war cannot last much longer. I pray that the year 1865 ends this horror. The thought of your smile, the memory of your touch, and the echo of your laughter stays with me, and cheers me. With them, I traverse the darkest hours of the night and live in hope that I will see you again soon.

* * *

My Dearest,

Your words, you once said, should be my beacon of light. I tell you that they are so. Your love is my guiding star, my heaven. I have suffered but the promise of home keeps me. The war is over, they say. We will be coming home. Once I would have leapt with joy at the news, now I weep that I have been gone so long. Wait for me.

* * *

The house my parents built. Evelyn & The Soldier's home is on the right, the exposed beam side.

The house my parents built. Evelyn & The Soldier’s home is on the right, the exposed beam side.

He knocked at the door and collapsed before it could open. Clutched in his hand was a scrap of paper, words scrawled across it with a near-unintelligible hand.

* * *

Evelyn opened the door and nearly tripped on the half-starved scarecrow that lay in a heap. There had been so many returning, so many seeking a warm fire and a bite of food, that she had stopped searching their faces for her dear Samuel.

* * *

He woke, stretched out before the fireplace. The tatters that had once been his fine uniform were gone, replaced by the heavenly scratch of thick wool blankets. The fire blazed, cheerful and comforting. He tried to turn his head, but found that even this small movement cost him more than he could spare.

“Don’t move, Samuel.”

Evelyn. He tried to say her name, to feel it on his lips once more. She kissed him silent. Her lips were salty.

“Don’t speak, my love. We didn’t know if you would wake. The doctor has been and gone; he was amazed you made it this far. Oh, Samuel, my dearest love.” She clutched his last letter in her hand. At least she would understand why. She kissed him again and rested against him. He breathed her in, surrounding himself with her. On her sweet perfume, he drifted off into the darkness, never to wake.

* * *

My Dearest Evelyn,

It was all I could do not to run all the way home when I received my discharge. That I was not permanently maimed or prisoner in some war camp was solely by the grace of God. That I prayed to you instead of Him may have been my undoing. The roads are not safe between our camp and you, and I was set upon in the night, attacked and shot. I fear it will be the death of me.

Forgive me, my love. Forgive me for not being able to be with you; forgive me for those beautiful babies yet unborn, forgive me for not growing into old age with you. I love you, Evelyn and I am so desperately sorry. If God is good, he shall grant that I watch over you, and love you for as long as you are upon this earth, my dearest. I feel your kisses yet, Evelyn and they still stave off the chill.

All my love,

Samuel

Background: The home my parents built – the home I lived in until the age of 18 – was haunted. It was actually two civil-war era log homes dismantled and rebuilt together, and most of the ghosts accompanied the timbers in the move.  Evelyn and “The Soldier” to whom I have given the name Samuel, resided in the formal living and dining rooms, respectively. Their close proximity as ghosts led me to wonder whether they knew each other in life, and the story grew in my head until I was convinced Evelyn had waited for her soldier, only for him to die in her arms upon his return from the war.

Eventually, Evelyn and Samuel will form the backdrop to a multi-generational love story, but until then, I’m happy to let them have this little snippet of a tale.

First Fridays: Chapter Four

20141207_140911~2D: I still think we should skip ahead.

A: . . .

D: It’s just, I didn’t mean—

A: I know you didn’t mean to leave them there, all by themselves, with no one to turn to. . . poor orphans, at the cusp of adulthood, chasing a phantom.

D: You can stop at any time, you know.

A: (Grin). No, really, I know you had no idea that headstrong and ridiculously bright Maureen would decide to break curfew and chase after you. I mean, she’s only your—

D: SPOILERS!!!!

A: Wow.

D: Ahem. I mean, please don’t continue, A. Those are spoilers, and we wouldn’t want to ruin the story, would we?

A: Uh, no. Of course not. Sorry.

D: As well you should be. Good gods, woman – I’m almost happy to let you deconstruct the first page of Chapter Four if it will keep you from divulging information vital to the denouement.

A: Then that is exactly what we will do – hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because this is Chapter Four of Changelings: Into the Mist.

Chapter One | Two | Three | Want to read along? Get your copy here!

Four

 

What does the hill look like? Maybe like this - in an abstract, totally denuded sort of way!

What does the hill look like? Maybe like this – in an abstract, totally denuded sort of way!

“Oh my God, Sr. Theresa was right, you are a Changeling,” Sean muttered. He did not know how long they had been lying in the tall grass, staring up at the starry sky. Long enough to realize that this was not a dream.

The church had vanished, and there were no sounds but those belonging to the night.

No, not a dream, but a huge, hideous mistake. The world started to tilt at funny angles and he dug his hands into the thick, matted earth.

“Me?” Maureen sat up. He winced at her speed. “It wasn’t until you touched my hand that anything happened.” She gave him a half-hearted glare as she attempted to smooth the back the riot of curls that had escaped her braids.

“And what did happen? In case you hadn’t noticed—”

“I know, I know. No church. Nothing.”

Yet, that was not completely true. She turned away and scanned the darkened countryside. Sean followed her gaze and tried to ignore the prickling unease that danced up his spine.

The church itself was gone, but the tumbledown remains of a stone structure, overgrown with weeds, sat in the middle of where the building had once been. Surrounding them was a great ring of oaks, or rather, what was left of them. Someone had been at them with an axe; a few raw stumps gleamed in the light of a moon that had just crested the hill. Beyond the oaks, with their twisted branches, were other stands of broad leafy trees that extended down into shadow.

The abbey, its collection of buildings and the modern trappings of their tiny world, had disappeared – either because they had not yet been built, or because they had fallen to ruin long ago.

* * *

Word of the Day

Changeling: A changeling is often described as the offspring of the Fae, a troll, elf or other legendary creature, who has been secretly left in the place of a human child. The switch is often made to strengthen faerie bloodlines, or out of malice. In Ireland specifically, if one doted on one’s child too much, one was at risk for inviting the wrath of the Fae – and almost daring them to steal the doted-upon child (ref. Wikipedia).*

Use of the term changeling – particularly in medieval times – may have been a psychological need to explain mundane horrors. In a world where infant mortality was ridiculously high, and what we consider common illnesses were ascribed to some sort of devilish defect, bringing the Fae to bear when something is “off” about a child (or in the case of doting, in preventing heartbreak should the child die) is as good a way as any. The repercussions of such a “switch” depended on the religious temperament of the community and their general fear of – or abhorrence for – the old beliefs. As Sr. Theresa is evidence, there were still those in the 50s who referred to the Fae as the Good Folk and left crusts of bread and milk out for them to avoid incurring their wrath.

Devil’s in the Details

I love this chapter, because unlike the first three, it shows just how close Sean and Maureen are – they finish each other’s sentences. They draw strength from each other’s reaction to what happened. Sean is almost catatonic with terror until Maureen just brushes it all aside. Maureen, having no clue what happened but knowing she is the one who did it, knows she has the responsibility to remain cool – even joke about it to a certain extent later in the chapter.

I said in Chapter Three that time travel is easier without parents around, and it is true. Not having parents from such a young age also meant Sean and Maureen learned to rely almost exclusively on one another – and themselves. This independence from the outside world is their greatest coping mechanism, and it is what allows them to handle the fear and terror of traveling through the vortex within the church.

It is also my contention that as children growing up in the wake of WWII – orphans of war heroes whose war record was considered treason by their own government – they would have grown a tougher skin, and built up their own self-sufficiency. That self-sufficiency gives them the emotional and mental elasticity to deal with extraordinary circumstances (like traveling through time, meeting pirates and making war with Fae kings . . . you know, every day, mundane stuff!).

Historical Footnotes

I’m afraid to say there is nothing particularly historically accurate about this chapter – except that if there had been a chapel or religious hermitage on the hill, it likely would have been torn down during the height of King Henry VIII’s Reformation of the Catholic Church.

While a few Catholic religious communities survived the Reformation (the Friary at Burrishoole being one of them – see Chapter One), many others did not. It is my contention, in the alternate history of the area, that the hermitage, surrounded by Oak trees (long held sacred by the Old Religion – especially in the generalized/idealized version in Changelings) would have been just too much for the reformers. Keep in mind, there were many pagan overtones to the Catholic Church before the Reformation (and an interesting study of this is the Lancaster Witch Trials of 1612), but even acknowledging the arcane aspect of religion, asking them to accept a grove of sacred oaks, atop a known sidhe mound, encircling a hermitage that may or may not house an ancient mystic? Saint/Goddess Bridget might have survived the Reformation, but that hermitage did not.

*Note on my reference material – no one has called me out on it, but I am well aware that Wikipedia is not the world’s greatest source, particularly for proper historical research. However, as a quick reference guide, it works well, and it’s a great starting point. I’ve noticed that, in general, its information has corresponded with many of my other source material (all of which are outlined in the Changelings appendix… get your copy today!).

Spotlight on Wednesday

Once upon a time, there was an author who liked to talk to a character – a mighty Druid warrior – in her head, and share her meanderings with the world.

Okay “liked” might be too strong a word to use. “Endured talking to” might be better. And I’m not so sure “mighty Druid warrior” is really how we want to describe D – in fact, I’m pretty sure he’s been messing with my post drafts…

Ahem. . . To expand their reach, and because they liked to catalogue the curious – their very own cabinet of curiosities, so to speak – said author and Druid curated other bloggers. And so, “The Druid Tells the Tale” was born. It further evolved into “Interview with a Druid” or “The Druid asks the Questions,” to help shine a light on those bloggers they knew had something to say – and something to share with the world.

And lo, the people were happy, until the day the author, being fickle and lacking basic time management skills–

Ahem. . .

I mean, until the day the author, pressed in on all sides with real life obligations, let it fall to the wayside. And the people mourned.

But then, January came, and the author had a revelation! Spotlight posts! Every Wednesday! Scheduled in advance!

And so, the author and her character did rejoice, and live happily ever after.

The End.

Empty-stage-with-spotligh-004Okay, not quite, but as you can see, this is another “I’ve found a way to improve my life – or at least my blog – and I’m actually doing something organized about it” post.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I’m not a reblogger – at least, not a reliable one – and I’ve always had fun cataloguing a list of interesting tidbits, fanciful tales, and stories of interest – fact or fiction – for my readers. Of course, a few years into the blogging game, with a book out, another five million in various stages of creation and editing, not to mention a child who insists on getting older, and my time has withered away to nothing. So now, instead of being a curator of the interesting, I want to be a mouthpiece for it – and I need your help.

While I am trying to generate fans, I am aware that most of my readers are artists themselves, and all of them have something to say – something they want others to read and I want to help them do it, every Wednesday until I no longer have material.

What a Spotlight Means

It means shining a light on creative types – artists of all shapes and sizes. All and sundry are welcome – that is, if you write, paint, draw, document, picture, film, chronicle, pixelize, satirize, or in any other way create, you are welcome. You do not need to be selling anything to participate. Guests posts and interviews don’t need product to be successful, they just need you and your wonderful ideas.

And those wonderful ideas can be:

  • Press Releases. These include cover reveals and book launches – or any other type of launch.
  • Guest post. Topic: your passion. Share it with us. The post can be as detailed or as simple as you like. And no, I won’t make you talk with the Druid – of course I won’t stop you, either!
  • Interviews. Of course, for this one, you are going to have to talk to the Druid, because he’s the one asking the questions. Don’t worry, I’ll make him behave. Sort of. (Click to download example questions for writers)
  • Anything else – if you have the material, and it fits into my guidelines, then I’m happy to post (see: the WhoIsJessica Campaign).

The Dirty Details

I do not make a distinction between promoting traditional or indie-fueled content. All I care about is quality work. If the post is error free, compelling, something you’re proud of, and has at least one graphic provided, then it’s good for me.*

Posts will go live every Wednesday until further notice, and are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. If there is a particular time-frame you’d like a spotlight presented, let me know now so I can schedule accordingly.

Art and creativity are subjective and I reserve the right to reject any posts that I feel are not right for this blog. This includes, but is not limited to, posts/promotions of an extreme violent or sexual nature. That’s just not my audience.

*Posts must be edited before submission. Posts with grammar, spelling and syntax errors will be sent back for revision. I will not post anything riddled with errors unless said errors are central to the promotion.

Have something you want to Spotlight?

Use the form below to get started.

I will contact you by the email provided for more details and scheduling.

First Fridays: Chapter Three

20141207_140911~2D: You know, A, I’ve been thinking.

A: This ought to be good . . .

D: What was that?

A: Nothing. You were saying?

D: . . . Yes, well, I was thinking perhaps we could skip this chapter.

A: What?! But D, this is a pivotal chapter.

D: Oh, there are far better chapters than this in the book. Take Chapter 19 for instance. That one was brilliant.

A: Well, thanks – but we’re going to get there eventually. Right now, we’re on Chapter 3.

D: I know, but . . .

A: We’re. On. Chapter. Three.

D: Pedant.

A: Are you pouting?

D: Maybe.

A: Don’t pout. It will give you wrinkles.

D: I’m over 1300 years old. I think I’m past wrinkles, A.

A: (Sigh) Now who’s pedantic?  Stop stalling. We’re reviewing and titbit-ing and footnoting chapter three – and you will enjoy it. Got it?

D: Yes, Master.

A: Stop lisping and pretending to have a hunched back.

D: Yes, Master.

A: (Eye roll). Anyway, If you’re new to the First Friday feature, check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and don’t forget to pick up your own copy of Changelings so you can follow along!

Three

Maureen’s green eyes glowed in the half-light as she sailed out of the kitchen doorway. Sean followed, feeling slightly sick. He listened to the night, and found himself holding his breath. He was waiting for an alarm to sound – an alarm he knew in his gut would never be raised. After his earlier daring, he did not know what to say. This had been his idea, but it was her show. What happened next was all on her.

The fieldstone church was separate from the rest of the abbey, and built at the top of a hill that commanded views of the surrounding countryside. It was a short trek, and they walked in companionable silence. As they crested the hill, the newly risen moon came out from behind low clouds. Its light threw into stark relief a circle of young oaks that would, one day, tower over the little building. Their branches strained towards the sky, and the moon painted them in silver.

It was eerie and beautiful, and not quite of this world.

He shook himself and reminded himself why they were here. This was no time to allow the power of the morning’s vision to carry him away. He looked around for his friend.

She was gone.

The heavy oak door, the gateway to the church, opened with a grating sigh of wood and age. Panic seized his chest. He nearly bolted until he realized it was only Maureen, opening the door. He wondered where she had gotten the key – or if she had a key at all.

He shook his head. Some things were better left unknown.

She motioned him inside with a jerk of her chin and closed the door behind him. He waited for her to lock it again, hesitant to step foot into the nave without her. She touched his shoulder lightly as she passed him.

“What are we hoping to find in here?” he asked. His voice bounced off the stones and he winced.

* * *

D: What was Maureen hoping to find in there?

A: You know exactly what she was hoping to find. And you know that not finding it (or you, as it happens) is exactly what precipitates the rest of the story. Of course, your particular role in Maureen and Sean’s adventures is why you didn’t want to review Chapter Three. . .

D: Am I so obvious?

A: You’re a character in my head, D. Of course you’re obvious.

D: Now. There was a time when you had no idea what I was on about. Years, in fact.

A: (Sigh). Yeah. Those were the days.

Word of the Day

Schematical illustration of a plan view of a cathedral, with the coloured area showing the nave. "Langhaus" by Benutzer:Leonce49 at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Schematical illustration of a plan view of a cathedral, with the coloured area showing the nave.
“Langhaus” by Benutzer:Leonce49 at the German language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Nave: The nave is the central part of a church building, intended to accommodate most of the congregation. In traditional Western churches it is rectangular, separated from the chancel (the space around the altar in the sanctuary) by a step or rail, and from adjacent aisles by pillars (ref: Wikipedia).

Technically, the nave extends from the entrance to the chancel, but I separated them slightly as the entrance is also called the vestibule, and I wanted to indicate that while Sean was inside, he was waiting for Maureen to set foot in the church proper. Plus, so many different words… it’s supper/dinner/lunch/tea all over again!

Devil’s in the Details

Readers may note that Maureen and Sean had to trek to the church, which should not have happened in a traditional abbey – those are generally self-contained structures, with everything – from kitchens, bedrooms, churches, dungeons (kidding!) – linked together. Not so at the fictional Carrickahowley Abbey, where the convent and school are at the base of the hill, while the small chapel commands the top. This was done for two reasons: 1) Sean and Maureen did not start out as orphans and the church was just a community church. Frankly, time travel is easier without parents around, so the elder O’Malleys and McAndrews had to be written out of the story, and the church was changed into the Abbey chapel – but in my head, the church was still all by itself at the top of the hill. Why?

Enter reason No. 2): there have been monuments to some sort of god on the top of that hill since man acknowledged such things – from Dubh’s hermitage to a small chapel of nuns. The lonely chapel is an homage to the mysticism of the hill. The chapel exists by itself, as though home to a power separate from any religious community – old, new, pagan or monotheistic.

Historical (Astronomical) Footnotes

"Lunar Corona" by Wing-Chi Poon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Lunar Corona” by Wing-Chi Poon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

In Part One, the moon – and its phases – features heavily. Not only was the moon a reliable timekeeper, in the generalized ‘Old Religion’ at use within the pages of Changelings the moon is a powerful magical gatekeeper – but only if used correctly. Dubh, being – as he says – over 1300 years-old, is well versed in the old magics. Maureen and Sean, born in 1943, are not.

Because the moon is used so specifically, I took pains to ensure I had the correct phases for the day/week/month as described in the book, which meant more than a little research to discover not only the phase of the moon, but also the sign. I finally found an online tool to help me – and once I knew that on August 31, 1958 the moon was three days past full, in Aries, I had an approximate date for when they could potentially return home (Feb 14, 1585 – when the full moon was in the opposite sign, Virgo), thus setting up the pacing and timetable for Parts One and Two.

I was very lucky that the tool I found was able to help me with the mundane timekeeping function of the moon as well. Listed on each day is a sun-and-moon rise-and-set time, which helped enormously. There were more than a few times where I would reference the moon only to realize it had not even risen in the sky yet – or, had set hours before.


Enjoying First Fridays so far? Don’t forget, if you haven’t already, grab your very own copy of Changelings, available as an ebook or paperback, from Amazon!

First Fridays: Chapter Two

Every Friday, for the rest of the year (and then some – there are actually 55 chapters in Changelings), I am presenting the first page of each sequential chapter in the book – but the real fun comes after the chapter, with behind-the-scenes goodies, historical footnotes and a bit of dialogue with a certain Druid. Enjoy it as a stand-alone treat or read along with your very own copy of Changelings. Check out Chapter One and follow along!

20141207_140911~2Two

Maureen clasped two identical boxes beneath her arms as she slipped into the boarding school common room. She shot a bright smile at Sr. Theresa, but the woman barely acknowledged it. She was sitting comfortably in the corner with a dog-eared James Stephens novel. It was a hard-won indulgence in the nun’s otherwise austere life, and Maureen knew she would be a complacent chaperone for the abbey’s only summer residents.

Sean was perched on a chair in the opposite corner, reading a comic book – another indulgence. As soon as he saw her, he leapt to his feet. Brightly coloured pages fluttered to the floor.

“There you are!”

She curtseyed. “Here I am.”

They always met in the common room on Sunday evenings, after chores were completed and supper eaten. Sean always finished first, but tonight she had not been delayed by some creative punishment. She shifted her cargo and grabbed his comic. He would be annoyed later if he’d left it there.

He squinted at her and then eyed the prize in her arms. “Oi, those are—”

“Our boxes.”

The squint turned into an arched eyebrow. “But mine was in my room.”

“And I went to the liberty of getting it for you.” She tried to sound nonchalant as she deposited said boxes on the low table in the middle of the room. It was not the first time she had collected them – she knew where to look.

“I wasn’t aware I wanted it.” He ran his hands through his short, jet-black hair and laced his fingers behind his neck. The arched eyebrow was firmly in place.

“You did. You want to help me find the man.” She stopped and clenched her hands. She had no idea what he had actually seen during mass, and she found herself not wanting to say too much. If Sean had not seen—

* * *

D: If Sean had not seen what? My brilliance? Of course he saw. He was stunned by it, overawed, and if Maureen were paying any attention to him, she would have noticed.

A: Could you not revel in spoilers, D?

D: She takes the boy for granted, A, and you know it.

A: Oh, and picking up his comic when it fell to the floor was taking him for granted?

D: Pure reflex.

A: She’s trying to protect him – and herself, D. It’s the 1950s—

D: But that’s hardly—

A: In Ireland—

D: But of course Ireland, A – it’s a land full of mystics and seers.

A: (Eye roll) Just the same, visions in church are grounds for the asylum.

D: But–!

A: Or candidacy for the priesthood for Sean–

D: Surely you’re reading far too much into this, A.

A: Or the nunnery for Maureen.

D: Oh. That would be bad.

A: Uh huh.

D: As bad as you going into the nunnery. Talk about nightmare–

A: Oi, Druid! That is quite enough of that!

D: Oh, ahem. Well, I see your point, now. Indeed – bad business those visions. Remind me to apologize.

A: I’m pretty certain there’s going to be a list of things to apologize for before we’re done.

D: And now who is reveling in spoilers? Hm? Don’t you have historical footnotes and other flotsam with which to delight and entertain?

A: (Eye roll) Indeed, I do, D. Indeed I do.

Word of the Day

Supper: Often used now interchangeably with dinner, in Ireland and the UK, supper was/is often described as a light repast later in the evening (i.e.: slice of buttered bread and water at 10 pm). Dinner is the midday meal, and was often much heavier, especially on Sundays. Of course, to complicate things, in Ireland ‘supper’ was sometimes used interchangeably with ‘tea,’ especially if that light meal, eaten at 6 pm, had some added accoutrements…sigh.

Regardless, I found ‘supper’ sounded more Irish to my Midwestern American ears, and while I could have used ‘tea,’ many American readers may not have known that tea is a meal as well as a beverage akin to the lifeblood of most Irish men and women.

Devil’s in the Details

James Stephens (1880-1950) was an Irish novelist and poet. Sr. Theresa’s ‘dog-eared’ novel in question is In the Land of Youth, a direct reference to Tír na nÓg. Despite being a Benedictine nun, Sr. Theresa is a believer in – and lover of – faerie stories (or, the Good Folk, as she calls them) and often shared that love with Maureen and Sean.

James Stephens also wrote Insurrection in Dublin, in reference to the 1916 Rising, as well as numerous other retellings of Irish fairy tales. While researching just who Sr. Theresa should be reading, stumbling upon James Stephens’ name was kismet. Given his writings, and given Sr. Theresa’s stubborn refusal to give up this one ‘indulgence,’ may indicate Sr. Theresa has a greater roll to play in the lives of the Changelings.

But of course, you’ll have to wait until Book Two, The Coming Storm to find out.

Bonus: Maureen’s punishments often include peeling potatoes in the kitchen, polishing the silver or, if she’s been really bold, embroidery.

Historical Footnotes

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara Ireland | Photo Courtesy: WikiCommons

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland*

‘…The abbey’s only summer residents.’ Carrickahowley Abbey is not an orphanage; rather it is a boarding school for international and local students. Just as the Abbey itself is based off  Burrishoole Friary, the school is based (very) loosely off Kylmore Abbey, an international boarding school and local school for girls in Connemara, Ireland.

The main difference between Carrickahowley and most other church-run boarding schools is that it is co-ed. One could argue that there were two different schools housed on the grounds but in my vision of the school, that is not the case (and in case you’re wondering, Carrickahowley

Glenstal Abbey School* - This is Carrickahowley, only a lot bigger!

Glenstal Abbey School* – This is Carrickahowley, only a lot bigger!

looks more like a squat version of Glenstal Abbey School than it does Kylmore – especially since they were built around the same time). However, proprieties have been observed and Carrickahowley has separate dormitories – even if Maureen insists on stealing into the boy’s dormitory to fetch Sean’s orphan box.

 

*Photos courtesy WikiCommons


Enjoying First Fridays so far? Don’t forget, if you haven’t already – grab your very own copy of Changelings, available as an ebook or paperback, from Amazon!

 

A Year of Fridays

Ah, January – every year you inspire me to get organized, lose a pound or two (or ten), rededicate myself to writing every day, and lately, actually make a plan for the blog. And, usually by March, some of that inspiration manages to slip into a sort of inglorious oblivion.

Wisconsin winters, wine, potato chips not to mention a few sugar plums, turtles and Wassail make keeping to a diet so not easy.

Wisconsin winters, wine, potato chips not to mention a few sugar plums, turtles and Wassail make keeping to a diet difficult indeed.

Now, the writing thing almost always succeeds, and while I can’t speak to why my diet fails every year (oh wait, yes I can: ridiculously long Wisconsin winters, wine, and potato chips), my lack of inspiration for the blog comes from a confusion of what I want it to do. Up until November of 2014, I had nothing to offer beyond the dubious wit of one druid hanging out in my head (and the dubious sanity of one writer). I am my greatest fan, so obviously, I think I’m hysterical, but now there is this book baby waving valiantly at the world. It’s here, it’s real and it’s beautiful. . . and it’s given me something to write about, regularly (I swear, angels are singing. And no, it’s not just because it’s still Christmas in my house).

Thus, each Friday, for the next fifty-six weeks, I’ll present the first page of each chapter and/or an epically awesome page from Changelings: Into the Mist, complete with historical footnotes, tidbits, and dialogues with a certain Druid. If you want to grab a copy and read along – even discuss your interpretation of my background notes in the comments – well, by all means, you can pick up a copy on Amazon (or, if you live in southeastern Wisconsin & parts of Illinois, you might be lucky enough to have it at your local library – squee!).

And so, without further ado, the first page of the first chapter of Changelings: Into the Mist.

One

My little stash - plus, an awesome poster!

My little stash – plus, an awesome poster!

I sat in the grove of my own creation and stared out at a world and a people descended of mine own. As I watched, trees gave way to stone and the Many lost their claim to the priests of the One.

Then the wheel turned. The sacred trees grew around my effigy of stone and the Many came out of hiding. I sat in my grove and watched a world outside my imagination, willing it to see.

She saw. She saw me with uncanny green eyes – the green eyes of my mother and her mother before her: witch’s eyes.

Joy rose in me. It was time – time to join the world after years of solitude, time to act after centuries of stillness.

I closed my eyes and reached across the barrier, to touch my future and my past.

†  †  †

Maureen O’Malley’s eyes snapped open. The grove of ancient trees with their twisted branches disappeared.

Daydreaming. She took a shaky breath. It had just been a daydream.

Slowly – too slowly – her senses acknowledged the church, the hard pew beneath her, and the drone of Father’s voice as he said the Epistle.

She was not stranded on a hilltop mired by mist. There was no stand of oaks, and their gnarled branches were not creaking and groaning in the breeze.

There was no breeze, and the curls that had escaped her veil were not brushing her cheek – no, they were plastered against it. The late August heat, trapped amid the dusty black skirts of the nuns surrounding her, pressed in on her and stole her breath.

She gave her head a slight shake, as if the movement would free her from the grip of that dream world.

* * *

D: So is this where you tell us that Maureen’s inattention at mass – her daydreaming which is about to lead her to a glorious vision of yours truly – is just a re-imagining of your own ‘vision’ that eventually gave birth to the book, right?

A: Actually—

D: Of course, since you had that daydream in church when you were merely 14, it means that for a full five years, you had this story – this first book – without my brilliance.

A: Sure, but D –

D: No wonder you put it away.

A: D!

D: What?

A: You are insufferable.

D: (Preens) I thought that was why you liked me.

A: I think you’re mistaking like for loath.

D: No, no I’m pretty sure you like me.

A: Depends on the day, Druid.

D: And is today that day?

A: Don’t push it.

As long-time readers of this blog know, there was a book a few years before D came on the scene. Historically sketchy, it had only a scant reference to Irish gods and mythology, and nothing to do with a time-travelling Druid. That started to change when I was bequeathed a new character who existed within the tale, but had a hard time fitting in with the story as it was. Fifteen years later. . .

D: I’m brilliant, and the story isn’t too bad either.

A: (Sigh) You are brilliant (a brilliant pain in the head). When first we “met,” I wrote the first few lines of this chapter, which are italicized above. Those alone kept me going through ten years of writer’s block, because I knew if I could write the story etched within those scant 140 words, I would have the story to which you belonged. Fifteen years later . . .

D: I’d say you did it.

A: Cheers, D.

Word/Phrase of the Day

The Many vs The One: The Many refers to the pantheon of Celtic gods vs. the coming of the One, the Christos or Christ. In my research, I got the feeling that there was little argument between the Druids and the priests, particularly priests of the early Celtic Catholic Church (that concept alone is a whole other book, or four – in fact, it’s Book 3 and 4), but as Catholicism incorporated and supplanted the native beliefs, much knowledge and lore, I feel, was lost. It is this the Druid laments.

Devil’s in the Details

Nothing – not a single word – has changed in the opening 140 words of this chapter since it was written fifteen years ago. The same is true for the opening sequence of Changelings 3, which was written (and will be re-written next year) 13 years ago, while I played at being a stay-at-home mom with Tom.

Historical footnotes

Carrickahowley Castle, photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

Carrickahowley Castle; Photo via WikiCommons, uploaded May 2007 by Brholden

The year is 1958 and the place is Carrickahowley Abbey, located just outside Carrickahowley (now Rockfleet), Ireland. The place exists but the Abbey does not, although it was based – very loosely and rather after-the-fact – on the Burrishoole Friary, run by Dominical friars. The Friary, a historical monument, was operated well into the eighteenth century, despite the dissolution of religious orders following the English Reformation. It was abandoned in 1793. That said, boarding schools and orphanages similar to Carrickahowley Abby were established between 1880 and 1950.

It’s also worth noting that Maureen grudgingly wears a veil and thinks Father is pretty boring during the Epistle. Before the reforms of the Catholic Vatican II, women wore veils over their hair and masses were said largely in Latin. Unless Maureen was a very good, attentive student of languages – which she is not, we will find out later – Father’s voice as he said the Epistle would have indeed droned on for her.

Revealed: Memoirs of a Dilettante, Vol. 2

A: D! D! Check it out!

D: What, woman? Good gods, what is the time? I’m aware you keep the hours of owls, but the rest of us do not.

A: Oh, you’ll perk right up for this . . .

D: Is this more of your innuendo talk?

A: My innuendo–you’ve come up with plenty of innuendos yourself, Druid, and the lady we’re about to showcase has had more than a few to say to you as well.

D: Oh. . . OH! You mean Helena! Why didn’t you say so from the first, Mistress A? What news from our favorite Dilettante?

A: Instead of telling you, I think perhaps I’ll do what all writers are admonished to do, and show you!

Cover art by Hastywords

Cover art by Hastywords

COMING SPRING 2015

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two is the second collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia.

Speaking of Arcadia, this volume delves into Helena’s childhood, as she revisits what she calls the Arcadia of the mind — that place that keeps us trapped and holds us back from our potential. Some of her most personal stories are included here, interspersed with hilarious stories of misadventure. It’s not a novel, really, and it’s not a memoir, by the strictest definition. But most of what follows, as they say, is true. Sort of. Almost. From a certain point of view.

Discover Helena’s tales for the first time or all over again, with new notes and annotations for the culturally impaired — or for those who just need to know what the hell was going through her mind at the time!

Helena is going to be running a crowdfunding/pre-order campaign at Pubslush, a community focused solely on indie writers, and has set up a profile there to launch Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two.

For more information, and to follow the progress, Become a Fan at http://HelenaHB.pubslush.com

If you just can’t wait and you want a taste of Helena’s writing, follow her blog: http://helenahannbasquiat.wordpress.com/

If you just can’t get enough Helena, or you want updates on further goings on, release dates and miscellaneous mayhem, follow Helena on Twitter @hhbasquiat


About the Author

helena-h-bThe enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.

She’s written cookbooks, ten volumes of horrible poetry that she then bound herself in leather she tanned poorly from cows she raised herself and then slaughtered because she was bored with farming.

She has an entire portfolio of macaroni art that she’s never shown anyone, because she doesn’t think that the general populous or, “the great unwashed masses” as she calls them, would understand the statement she was trying to make with them.

Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.

In 2014, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, several e-books which now make up Volume Two, as well as a multimedia collaborative piece of meta-fictional horror entitled JESSICA.

Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One is available HERE in e-book for Kindle or HERE in paperback.

Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell.

Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or http://whoisjessica.com or connect with her via Twitter @HHBasquiat.

Bubbles the Elf

… And we’re back! Combine the holiday season with a theater-kid and the plague, and you have a ghastly soup called: Death or Something Like It.

Because I’m almost certain the last month is pretty close to what Limbo* was like – awareness, but without the ability to do anything, nor take anything but the most cursory pleasure out of being aware.

In short, it sucked, and it sucked all the life out of yours truly and family. Not even a pesky Druid in my head could induce me to do much more than exist through my days. Dumb plague (or flu, as it is more commonly known. I’m a hypochondriac who loves hyperbole). Anyway, I’m back now, and with me is some ridiculousness from my weekend.

(* Before the Catholics decided it no longer existed.)

The following was inspired by Terrible Mind’s “Who the Fuck is my D&D Character” Flash Fiction Challenge from last Friday, which you need to check out, because the challenge itself is awesome.  I’m pretty sure our tale of Bubbles the Elf is not what Chuck Wendig intended! 

Traditional Wassail - which, when drunk with brandy may or may not have had something to do with the story of Bubbles...

Traditional Wassail – which, when drunk with brandy, may or may not have had something to do with the story of Bubbles…

Bubbles the Elf has a storied history.

When Tom was nine, he received a Dungeons and Dragons starter set. His godmother and my best friend, Christine, spent New Year’s Eve with us, and was coerced into playing. She chose to play as the Elf. She named him Bubbles.

The name stuck, and while I think we only played two more times, (D&D is hard… there is all this math. I much prefer computer games that do all that … that … thinking themselves. And yes, this is how the world ends…) the name Bubbles stuck – and in times of need, we reference dear Bubbles to bring a ray of sunshine into our lives.

And that is the history of Bubbles the Elf.

Okay, perhaps his history is not that storied – but he does have an amusing, albeit weird, place in our hearts and this weekend, he finally earned his reward: retirement.

But not just any retirement. He now has a place of honor amongst our latest Clue game: Dungeons and Dragons Clue. And just in case you’re wondering, this is the 8th Clue game we’ve kept – we’ve owned a few more but at least two were given up to the garage sales I keep having in the forlorn hope that I may one day rid myself of clutter. (Yeah, I know. It makes me laugh, too.) We like Clue, and Christine has this amazing ability to ferret out fabulously unique editions each year for Tom’s Birthday/Christmas.

Bubbles' place of honor on the new Clue board.

Bubbles’ place of honor on the new Clue board.

So, in honor of Bubbles’ retirement (and the Clue game, because honestly – how can you not love D&D Clue?), I resurrected a silly but fun game/pastime/thing we used to do as teenagers: stories in the round. Below is the fruit of our nerdy (and juvenilely-perverted – you’ve been warned) efforts. Those of us sitting around the Clue board all contributed at least one section – even D got in on the game – and it has been edited only minimally for grammar.  It’s probably not suitable for work. Or the serious-minded. Or those who enjoy fine literature. Enjoy.

The Story of Boobs and Bubbles

It all started when Boobs wanted to visit the dragon.

“It’ll be great! With my Boobs of Fire Resist, we can’t lose!”

“Oh, we can lose something,” Bubbles muttered.

Boobs McGee rolled her eyes, strapped on her breastplate and tossed the Elven Wizard his gear.

Bubbles the Elven Wizard was notorious for his sexually harassing comments, as most Elven Wizards of the Eladrin School are, of course. But Boobs ignored him. All she wanted to do was see that dragon and get her hands on his gold.

They were nearing the dragon’s lair when all of a sudden, Boobs vanished, leaving Bubbles alone and confused.

In his confusion, Bubbles managed to stumble into a Vorpol Sword-wielding Redgar the Barbarian, Bubbles’ worst enemy. The Elven Wizard fell to the floor, headless.

D&D Clue... The nerdening is strong in my house.

D&D Clue… The elf now named Boobs is in red. . . the one year I chose *not* to be the Ms. Scarlet character. . . 

Boobs, on the other hand, was in the chambers of the great Dragon Lord.

The Great Dragon Lord took the form of a muscular, musky man. She was immediately disarmed by the mere appearance of the beast.

“My dear Boobs McGee,” the Dragon Lord-turned hunky warrior prince crooned. “How lucky for me you decided to drop in.”

Boobs curtseyed.

(And picked up her staff in the process.)

(Oi! No interrupting!)

(Says who? She picked up her staff. Deal with it, Druid.)

(Fine… bloody woman) Boobs trailed her red fingernails over the oaken staff and hugged it close as she stared into the Dragon Lord’s blazing eyes.

“You were expecting me, my lord?”

“I am always expecting you, my lovely Boobs.”

“It’s been a while.” She shimmied along the back wall of the stone cavern. The gold behind the Dragon Lord gleamed with an internal fire, and its glow was reflected in her ravenous amber eyes.

The Dragon Lord rubbed his hands together.

“Too long,” he whispered.

There are a few things people don’t seem to know about dragons. While dragons can transform into hunky humans, they can only do so for a limited number of sexual innuendos, and the Dragon Lord was one too many innuendos over his limit, so back into a dragon he turned.

This was unfortunate for Redgar the Barbarian, whose dirty mind had bade him to enter the dragon’s chamber to peep at the reunited lovers. The dragon transformed back into himself and Redgar’s position left him inside the dragon’s stomach, where he was slowly dissolved into stomach goop.

Boobs, named not for her ample chest, but because of her Brilliant Ornithological Observations Based on science, was slightly miffed at the Dragon Lord’s transformation, but was used to it. In fact, he so frequently blew all of his innuendos at the start of their conversation that it had been several years since he was able to express his affections.

Boobs left the saddened but surprisingly full Dragon Lord, and walked out of his chamber. As she left, she found a decapitated Bubbles. Much to her surprise, Bubbles’ head began to reattach, for as we all know, Vorpol Swords can kill gnomes, humans and especially Jabberwock, but are terrible at killing Elven Wizards. Boobs, sick of the abuse others gave her because of her figure, left him, mostly because his hands had started to grab towards her breasts as she went to help him.

As she walked into the sunset, her eye caught a rare Phoenix and she took out her magical notebook to do what she did best. And she observed it so well, she walked off the cliff.

The End

I'm really hoping the Dragon Lord was better looking than this.

I’m really hoping the Dragon Lord was better looking than this.

A: So, can you figure out who wrote each part?

D: That’s hardly fair – you interrupted my part – and called me Druid in the process.

A: Yeah, I had to. At the rate you were going, Ms. McGee – who is a fierce wizard warrior, by the way – would have been riding the damn dragon – and not like they did in Harry Potter 7, either.

D: (Salacious grin).

A: Oh, ew – stop that!

D: Stop what?

A: You know – smiling – lewdly. It’s gross, D. What would Mairead think?

D: Oh dear – you won’t tell her, will you? Promise me, A. She’s still not talking to me for that whole time-travel/abandonment thing.

A: Gee, go figure. Just stop slobbering all over the idea of Ms. McGee and I’ll think about it.

Happy Monday, folks – thanks for reading and I hope this tiny bit of ridiculousness made you smile, even if at just how bad it is! We’ll be back with some fun (and better, I hope) fiction soon, I promise!

Upcoming posts

An exciting reveal on Wednesday

A special Sneak Peek series, beginning Friday

Three Ghosts, a (belated) Christmas tale beginning Monday, January 19