Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Small Gang of Authors: Book in the Spotlight from Erika M Szabo #OurAutho...

A Small Gang of Authors: Book in the Spotlight from Erika M Szabo #OurAutho...: C hildren's book for ages 4-12 about friendship, helping animals and dealing with bullies by Erika M Szabo http://www.authorerikams...

Book in the Spotlight from Erika M Szabo #OurAuthorGang

Children's book for ages 4-12 about friendship, helping animals and dealing with bullies
by Erika M Szabo

Online stores eBook:  

Bianca and her best friend, Daniel, grew up together under the watchful eyes of Peanut, Bianca's St. Bernard. The huge dog was their babysitter, playmate, and bodyguard. They were inseparable, so people started calling them the BFF Gang. When summer vacation came, Bianca and Daniel decided to go swimming in the river when they were confronted by Mark and his cronies of the Wolf Pack Gang. Find out how Peanut told Mark, in his own doggy language, how much he dislikes brute bullies. When Bianca and Daniel finally got to the river and were happily splashing in the cool water, they heard Peanut's angry bark, and they saw an old woman approaching the riverbank with a basket in her hand. When the woman reached the edge of the river, she took a tiny, meowing kitten out of her basket and threw it into the river as far from shore as she could. The kitten flailed in the air, desperately crying, and then splashed into the water. Find out what happened to the kitten and how the BFFs dealt with Mark's gang, in this fun adventure story.

A short excerpt:

“Oh, look! The BFFs are going for a swim with their stupid mutt!” Mark yelled.

Bianca looked back and saw Mark standing by the fence, surrounded by three smaller boys.

“The loooovebirds,” chuckled Scott, one of Mark’s skinny friends, wearing a purple shirt. He looked at the husky boy with admiration.

“They think they’re better than us just because Danny boy won the spelling bee and her girlfriend came up with that stupid science project,” Mark growled.

“Yeah,” Aiden, the boy in green shirt, agreed. “They’re not better than us.”

“Stupid geeks,” Scott said as he looked at Mark for approval.

Mark sneered and raised his arm. Two of his cronies happily gave him a high five one by one, except one. Peter pushed his glasses up on his nose nervously and shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

“Oh, no!” Daniel whispered. He kept walking as he angrily yanked the towel off his shoulder and swung it over his other shoulder. “I guess Mark is staying home for the summer. Just great!”

“He won’t try to hurt you,” Bianca whispered back. “He’s afraid of Peanut.”

“I know,” Daniel replied angrily. “Mark is a coward. He picks on kids who are smaller than he is and can’t defend themselves. He picks on me only when Peanut is not around.”

“Hey!” Hearing Mark’s angry shout, Bianca and Daniel turned back and looked at the group of boys.

“Hey,” Mark yelled again. “What are you two whispering about?”

“It’s none of your business!” Bianca said angrily.

“Yeah?” Mark yelled. “I’m going to tell my dad that you’re walking your mutt without a leash. He’s a policeman, you know.”

Bianca’s blood boiled with anger, and she lashed out at Mark. “Yes, we know that, Mark. You told us many times, but your dad knows that Peanut wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“He’s just a big, dumb dog that should be locked up. Who gave him that stupid name, anyway?” Mark cackled.

“Leave us alone, Mark,” Daniel shouted angrily.

“Or what?” Mark pointed his round chin forward but cowered back when he heard Peanut’s bark that sounded like thunder.

The huge dog took a step toward him.

“Peanut! No!” Bianca yelled.

The giant dog stopped and looked back at Bianca with a twinkle in his eyes, and then he looked at Mark again. A low, threatening rumble escaped the dog’s throat as he opened his mouth showing his sharp teeth.

Mark’s usual arrogant expression changed. He looked frightened and flattened his body against the fence. The three boys slowly inched their way farther away from Mark who held onto the fence and didn’t move.

When Peanut saw how scared the boy was, he held his head high with a satisfied look on his face and turned his back on Mark. He kicked a few times with his hind legs toward Mark, showering him with dust and small gravel.

Bianca giggled and whispered to Daniel, “I swear Peanut can tell how he feels without words a lot better than most people with words.”

Daniel looked at her questioningly when he heard Mark’s shaky voice.

“Why…?” Mark cleared his throat. “Why did your mutt do that?”

“That’s his way of telling you that he doesn’t like you,” Bianca laughed, “That’s what he does with poop. He turns his back on it, kicks dirt over it and then walks away.”

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

What Makes You Open a Book? #OurAuthorGang


There are so many books written in so many genres that the choice for readers is bewildering. I’m an author, and a reader, and like you, I make choices about what books I want to read.

Thus I asked myself a question. What grabs my attention to make my hand reach out and take a particular paperback from the shelf in the bookstore?

The author? Possibly. I have my favourites but I’m not averse to trying out an unknown face.
The cover? Yes, that helps if it stands out.

The Genre? Mostly yes. I love epic fantasy but I’ve read thrillers, sci-fi and biographies and a few books from other genres as well.

It all sounds so easy to choose, but in reality the task can be a little tricky, so I decided to look at the problem from a wider perspective. I visited my local library, randomly chose a large collection of hardbacks from the shelves, sat down, and read several pages from each one before making notes.
Each author has their own voice, and it didn’t take me long to decide which ones jumped out of the page and grabbed me by the throat, and those, let’s say, that I put on the discard pile.

We are all unique and your favourites would surely be different to mine, but here are my findings. Naturally I’m not naming any of the books.

1. The quality of writing was generally good, but every book had errors. All were professionally published, yet all had spelling mistakes – some that made me wince.

2. One book, a fast paced best-selling thriller, had pages of dialogue, which made me want to turn each page. Alas, the writer annoyed me. Using, ‘he said,’ ‘she said,’ after every comment was lazy writing indeed and I gave up.

3. Girly books aren’t for me and the one I’d picked up didn’t have a brilliant cover. However the dialogue was excellent and I warmed to the main protagonist as she suffered one misfortune after another.

4. The blurb on the back covers was generally good. Yet, even with the might of the publishing company behind them, some authors must be losing sleep, for the blurb on the back cover of their books wouldn’t grab the attention of a gnat. Bland was definitely the colour here.

5. I found errors - page numbers missing - poor formatting - the odd blank page in the wrong place - and a few grammatical errors. The number of problems was surprising in such a small sample of books.

6. A fantasy book with a brilliant cover caught my eye and before I knew it I had devoured the first three chapters. I checked the stats on Amazon, and whilst the sales were adequate I had seen many inferior books much higher in the charts.

7. If there is one thing that I hate, it’s pages and pages of long descriptive passages. I know some readers love this style, but even they would surely yawn with two of the books that I picked up. In both, there was no dialogue until the 3rd and 4th chapters respectively. I had no idea of the plot and only a little understanding of the characters. Describing the same, or almost the same, scene, in a variety of ways is boring. I hasten to say that the books were written by the same author. I had to read the second book as I couldn’t believe that the author would write the same opening chapters as before. I was wrong, she did, but in reality, who is the winner, for she has sold thousands of books.

8. I’ve heard many times that a cover can make or break a book as obviously it’s the first part of a paperback/hardback book that a reader sees. I looked at dozens of books in the library - different genres - and more often than not the cover seemed no more than adequate. Maybe my survey wasn’t big enough but it seemed to me that the publisher hadn’t taken the time to pick the perfect cover. Was that down to cost cutting?

As always, we pay the money and we take our choice, but think - caveat emptor - buyer beware.
With publishers under pressure to produce more profit, I think Indie authors can take heart from my findings. Check, double check, and triple check your work. Employ an editor that loves your gene, that’s if you can afford one. Ensure your cover is superb. Write your amazing blurb, and most importantly sell your wonderful books, as you may not need a publisher to succeed.

I wish you all much success.
Cheers. Rick.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Glastonbury myths ~ King Arthur #Arthurian #myths #OurAuthorGang

I cannot remember a time when I have not been fascinated with the life and times of King Arthur and his Knights of The Round Table. I guess growing up a stone’s throw from Glastonbury (The Ancient Isle of Avalon) may have had something to do with that. Today I wanted to take a look at the death of this legendary hero.

La Mort d'Arthur By James Archer ~ Wikipedia

How did King Arthur die?

Arthur was mortally wounded at the Battle of Camlann. He was taken to Avalon, where he dies. His famous sword, Excalibur, was thrown back into the lake. A rather abrupt end for such a hero.

Let us fast forward to the 12th century. For Arthur's death, it seems, was only the beginning.

Glastonbury Abbey and King Arthur

A terrible fire had spread through Glastonbury Abbey, and unfortunately for the monks, they did not have the coffers to pay for the repairs.  If only they could encourage more pilgrims to come to the Abbey. What could they do? Pray to God and hope all would be well...?


Well, those monks of Glastonbury were nothing if not pragmatic. If they claimed to have discovered Arthur’s body then surely that would draw the crowds in? And more importantly, it would bring in the money.

Glastonbury Abbey

The timing could not have been more perfect for those monks. Geoffrey of Monmouth had just penned, The History of the Kings of Briton, and thanks to his book, Arthur fever had infected the nation.

If the monks wanted to claim ownership of Arthur then now was the time to do it.

Funnily enough, King Henry II told the Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey that
he knew the exact whereabouts of Arthur's body — for a Welsh barb had whispered in his ear. And the location was... You guessed it, Glastonbury Abbey.


Coincidence? I don't think so.

The monks dug in the exact location that the King described and sure enough they discovered a huge oak coffin beneath a lead cross bearing the inscription.

“Here lies King Arthur buried in Avalon.”

Inside the coffin, there were two bodies. A man and a woman. It is said that the woman’s golden hair crumbled away when the monks touched it.

This had to be Arthur and his Queen Guinevere. For the monks, it was like winning the lottery. Pilgrims travelled from afar to stand at the tombs of Arthur and Guinevere, and Glastonbury Abbey soon had more than enough money to make the repairs.

Digging up King Arthur

Fast forward to November 2015.

For four years a team of archaeologist dug in the grounds of the Abbey looking for Arthur’s grave. And what did they discover...?

Glastonbury Abbey

“With the other legends there is a possibility of genuine belief or misunderstanding, but with Arthur and Guinevere I’m afraid there can be no question – the monks just made them up.”
Roberta Gilchrist, professor of archaeology at the University of Reading

You can read the full article of Roberta Gilchrist findings here.

In four years those archaeologist debunked a thousand years of history. But the truth, I think, is even more fascinating.

Glastonbury Abbey ~ Pixabay

Unless otherwise stated all images are my own.

If you fancy travelling back in time and finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur, then why not check out The Du Lac Chronicles...

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Imitation or Inspiration?

Those were the days...
Ruth de Jauregui

Folks who know me know that I have strong feelings about fan fiction (fanfic). Not that people write it, I'm OK with that. My issue is that some think that it's acceptable to share it on the author's own pages and even propose selling it.

I know Mom (she was quoting Charles Caleb Colton) said that "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but Oscar Wilde took it further, saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”


As a non-fiction writer, I'm acutely aware of plagiarism. Just the smell of the accusation can destroy your credibility with your client and audience. Quotes must be properly placed within quote marks and credited every – single – time. Even paraphrased statements must be attributed.

But before I completely upset everyone who's ever written a story based on a favorite character, yes, I know that you just love that character so much that you want to read more about him/her and that world. I understand. Writing little stories for yourself are good practice in plotting and building a story. I think a lot of writers have done it at one time or another.

The difference is, you don't publish it or post links to it on the author's own website or fan page or fan group. Or try to sell it. You just don't do that – it's rude. And yes, the author's characters ARE copyrighted and in some cases, such as Disney properties, trademarked. It can be an expensive lesson if the lawyers descend on you. (Note: Song lyrics are strictly off-limits unless you purchase the right to use them. No, you cannot just quote them. You CAN mention the song title and that's about it. Trust me.)

Yes, yes, I know that some very popular novels were allegedly based on fanfic. The difference is that the admiring author then took the fanfic story and rewrote it into a whole new story, with new and/or renamed characters and a different setting. While that story may have started out as imitation, the base tale became inspiration.

That's where the difference lies.

It's great fun to use your imagination to spin out a tale, even one based on another author's work. At some point, however, you can take it into a new dimension and build it into your own tale of love or adventure or suspense or outer space.

Most tales are inspired by other stories, legends, factual articles, songs, conversations and the world around us.

Isaac Newton said in a letter to Robert Hooke, ""If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

But Newton's words were based on the earlier words of Bernard of Chartres as attributed by John of Salibury. "Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants."

When we build a new world, characters, a plot and story line, we too stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and inspired us with their own tales. As an example, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Andre Norton's Witch World series inspired much of modern fantasy.

Inspiration leads authors to create fabulous new worlds for the reader. Hopefully those new stories will then inspire other authors to create their own tales.

My own WIP character, Bitter, was inspired by a conversation with my author friend Neal Litherland. We were talking about bitterness and the harsh issues and attitudes that authors face as they forge forward in their careers.

My overactive imagination began putting together a detective, a woman, a woman of color, who had faced the bitterness of fighting every step of the way to become a successful homicide detective and boom, Bitter was born. Being awfully ornery (don't know where she gets that from [rolls eyes]), once she was conceived, she demanded that I stop working on my four book urban fantasy (inspired by Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson) and begin working on her stories.

You can stop by and read the short story that introduces Bitter at The first chapter of that urban fantasy is also posted on my sneak peek website.

As a designer, I had to do the cover
before I finished writing the book!

Quotes were taken from Brainy Quote, Goodreads and Wikipedia and

#UrbanFantasy #Nonfiction #Fanfic #ASmallGangOfAuthors

Monday, September 25, 2017

Building an Elevation Map #OurAuthorGang

Rich Feitelberg

You want to build a world for a story or series of stories. You have the general points sketched out and you are thinking about the map you need. You can, of course, draw it -- or generate it -- at any time. But let's consider a few aspects of the geography first.

Geography not also defines the shape of land masses, but also an area's climate and resources as well. If your world has a molten core like ours, then volcanoes are possible and the surface is can be made of sliding plates which determine where the mountains are, and the shape of each continent. It will also tell you where there are quakes (usually along fault lines where two plates abut). Make a map of the elevation and the fault lines. It will help you later.

The US Geological Survey web site provides such topological maps of the United States, which can serve as an example. Your maps don't need to be that detailed (remember Tenet 1) but you should note where there are mountains, hills, and flat areas. Remember to provide a transitional area between mountains and flat terrain. Often there are hills in between.

Also keep in mind some mountains have volcanoes hidden among them. And not all hills are grassy knolls. Some of forested and some are barren. You don't need to consider this in the elevation map but it is something to think about for later.

Once you have these detailed sorted out you are ready for the vegetation map. We'll consider that next time.

Elevation from My Fantasy World, showing mountains and lakes

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Prose and Poetry #OurAuthorGang

by Author Grace Augustine

Excerpts from a 40 year compilation of prose and poetry:

A day in the life of a clown
For one and all to see
Sometimes up, sometimes down
So, what's right for me?
Am I now alone
In this foolish game?
Can I still condone
Life's fortune and it's fame?
Do these tears still fall
Drowning what's not right?
How I fail to hear you call
As you whisper in the night.
I want to be aglow
From all the love you give...
Your warmth I want to know
So I'll more fully live.
I need to be with you
In all parts of my day.
To find our love renewed
Through all the words we say.

Porcupine quills
Puncture the sensitive tendons
Of the soul
As the precious life blood
Seeps through
The pin-hole openings
Draining all energy and emotion
Traumatic transformation occurs slowly
One in which all systems shut down
Only to become
Stony grey and cold and hard
My heart and I cry
Icicle tears.

Dance Little Snowflakes, Dance
On silver skates you'll twirl
Late at night 'til early morn
With laziness you'll swirl.

The children laugh aloud,
You can even hear them skate.
Rows and rows of snowmen
Now stand guard around the lake.

The chilly North winds blow,
You seem to heed their call.
Float then gently down,
Uniting as you fall.

Biting, whirring whirlwinds
Create mounds of deep white fluff.
The piles grow ever higher.
Isn't this enough?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Our Guest Author Today...KH Bixby #OurAuthorGang

Please join us in welcoming Author KH Bixby. Bixby is taking the thriller/suspense genre by storm with her new series DEADLY GAMBIT.

As a person who views politics with the fascination of viewing a train-wreck, KH Bixby is driven to extract what IS discussed and twist itinto what ISN'T. Writing in the parameters of the believable is possible, KH's thrillers grab the reader, causing them to wonder...IS THE STORY REAL?

In SHELL GAME, Book 1 of the DEADLY GAMBIT SERIES, we find Sami Turan uprooted from the violence of his homeland. Sami leads a sheltered existence in New York until an explosive encounter with a family member brings back to the surface all he'd lost. On a mission to right a wrong in the best way he can think of, he discovers monsters wear many masks.  Trying to correct his ill-conceived actions, he inadvertently nudges out of balance the first domino in an overlooked international conflict. Will his actions help his homeland, or will he end up starting the next world war? At what price? And, will the monsters he exposes in the process be obliterated?

MINEFIELD, Book 2 of the DEADLY GAMBIT SERIES, picks up where Book 1 ends. Complications mount when Sam Turan agrees to work part-time for Heidelberg Bank and dedicate the rest of his time to rebuilding his homeland in the Middle East.  Conspiracies and plots threaten his relationship with the Adler Heiress and attempts to blow him up escalate the danger level. Sam can only trust a handful of friends. With the ground shifting beneath him, is anyone who they claim to be?

Interested in following KH Bixby? Follow the links below.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pick a Book day at #OurAuthorGang

Please support Indie authors, check out our books

Short excerpt:

Emily pulled out her necklace and showed it to Daniel. “I kept the ring too,” she said. “I had it plated with gold and the blue glass stone replaced with sapphire.”

Daniel held Emily’s hand and swallowed hard, trying to get rid of the lump in his throat, “I tried so hard to find you, but my parents always hushed me when I asked, and we didn’t move back to my hometown until it was too late. Your Aunt Julia said you stopped visiting, and she refused to give me your address or phone number. A year ago I accidentally overheard her telling a neighbor in the store that you were a third-year medical student in New York. That’s why I transferred to New York on a student visa. I was hoping to find you…” He choked up.

Emily’s heart warmed and she looked into Daniel’s eyes, “You did that just to find me?”

“Yes,” he replied as he bowed his head. A small, sad smile played in the corner of his lips, and he continued, “I’ve been searching the net and social sites for years, but I couldn’t find anything about you. The only lead I had was that you were in medical school, and I followed it.”

Emily gasped when she realized, and exclaimed, “My parents changed our last names when we moved to upstate New York. My father said he wanted a fresh start. I was twelve years old, and I really liked our new name, St. Claire. I asked about you and wanted to visit, but my parents kept us busy. They took us on vacation to New Zealand and a lot of other places, and they never let us go to Hungary again. Grandma visited us once, but her visit was short and she argued a lot with my mother.”

“No wonder I couldn’t find anything, I was searching Molnar, the name I knew,” he exclaimed. “I knew deep in my heart that destiny would bring us back together.” His eyes sparkled.

    Books 2 Read  

Short excerpt:

"My first test, the dreaded MRI. I’m semi-claustrophobic. This is not a good thing. It’s late afternoon, I’m tired. I’m stressed. Now, I have to lay flat on my back in this sausage casing-like tube for an hour for imaging of my brain and spinal cord.

Ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink…bada, bada, bada…buzz, buzz, buzz. Over and over for three minutes. The table moves. The next test is five minutes. The table shakes and again, ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink. The table moves me out, the nurses infuse the contrast, and back in I go. 

Sigh. End of day one.

Day two began early. Another neurologist. This one was from Scotland. He performed the standard nerve testing and made his notes. Mind you, these “visits” are an hour or more long. The patient is put through strength testing, tuning fork testing, and my most favorite…lets poke you with a sharp instrument testing (the point of a safety pin) along all of your nerve meridians.

After going through the same exact testing with a third neurologist, this one from China, it was lunch time. We made our way down to the subway level, grabbed lunch, and kept a close eye on the time. 
An hour is like minutes in this expanse. I was mesmerized by the people: young, old, crutches, wheelchairs, bandages, amputees, Americans, Africans, Europeans…all there for varying reasons. Some wore suits, some were in colorful native attire. People watching passed the time as I was pushed along in the wheelchair.

Two more appointments and day two would be history. Back up to 8th floor neurology clinic to see yet another neurologist and down to the lab for additional bloodwork. 
I can do this."

Short excerpt:

The audience hall in Wrightwood Manor was large and stately. White marble with red veins covered the floor and a narrow red carpet ran down the middle of the chamber from the large double doors at the back, to the dais at the front.

The doors opened and Father Evan Pierce, a priest of the Order of St. Michael and a demon hunter, strode into the room followed by one hundred Michaeline knights. Each knight wore a breastplate of polished metal emblazoned with a silver sword. The group clanked and clanged across the hall until they reached the end of the carpet. 

At the foot of the dais, Evan knelt on one knee and bowed his head. The knights behind him did the same.

“Your Grace,” said Evan.

Seated atop the dais in an elegantly carved chair of bone and ivory, His Grace, Duke Wrightwood looked at the others in the hall dispassionately. He gestured with one hand. “Arise and report. How fared you in the Mirean ruins?”

Evan stood and smiled. “Very well, Your Grace. We captured two necromancers and killed two others. The pentagram they were preparing was cleansed and destroyed, thereby thwarting any plans they had for using it.”

His Grace pursed his lips. “And what of their leader, Jormundan? Captured or killed?”

The Michaeline priest sighed and frowned. “Neither, I’m afraid. He escaped, vanishing like a ghost at the end of a difficult battle that almost killed Sir Ahlan and me.”

Duke Wrightwood’s jaw tensed a little at this news and his blue eyes flashed with a fire Evan knew well. “Then we have no clues as to his plans for stealing magic jewelry of great power.”
“Not exactly, Your Grace."

Short excerpt:

Her name was Jivvy Trenovis, a pretty young woman in her early twenties, with sienna-hued skin beginning to turn blue from the cold. She was lying naked in the snow of a small clearing, stretched out as if she were about to be crucified. A circle of nine candles surrounded her; black candles, still burning. Her eyes were fixed and open, not blinking or squinting from the glare of the sun, but she wasn’t looking at anything in this world. She was still breathing . . . just barely. In her left fist she clutched a crumpled piece of parchment.

Naked trees swayed in the gentle breeze like dancing skeletons. Icicles dripped cold tears from bony branches. Fresh snow covered the ground like a burial shroud. Somewhere off in the forest, a banshee howled at the morning sun. Not a good omen.

Nine black worms slithered in an endless circle around Jivvy. They were as long as my cavalry saber, and each had human arms and a face that would have looked perfect on a mummy. Although I wanted to snatch the paper from her hand, I didn’t — not with those ghastly fat worms in the way. I’d never seen creatures like those before.

“I was on my way to Valdar when I found her,” Captain Mazo told me. “Her brother’s not home. I found her clothes piled near the back door.” 

Short excerpt:

“I wouldn’t carve that pumpkin or take a picture of it if I were you,” said a strange, chiming voice out of nowhere.

Nikki and Jack were stunned. They turned and looked around.

“Who said that?” Nikki demanded.

“I did,” the voice replied.

The two cousins could now pinpoint where the voice was coming from and looked up at Mister Bonejingles, the silver wind chime.

They jumped to their feet at the same time.

“How come you can talk?” asked Jack, feeling scared but curious. “You’re not supposed to talk, Mister Bonejingles! You’re just a wind chime.”

“I am not just a wind chime.”

Taking a step closer to get a better look, Nikki asked the silver skeleton, “Then what are you?”
“My name is Wishbone Jones.”

 “Where did you come from and how come you can talk?” asked Jack.

“I come from Creepy Hollow, a land that exists in another realm,” said Wishbone Jones.
“Never heard of it,” said Nikki.

“Of course you haven’t,” said Wishbone. “Few people in your world know of its existence, and those few are all children, just like yourselves.” 

“Well, my name is Jack, and this is my cousin Nikki,” said Jack.

“I’ve been watching you two kids and it’s very nice to meet you both.”

Nikki took the wind chime off the hook and held it in her hand. “So how did you end up here, on Grandma’s front porch?” 

“That’s a bit of a long story,” said Wishbone.

“We have plenty of time before we go Trick or Treating,” she said.

“Well,” Wishbone began, “once upon a time I was a great warrior. I fought many battles until I was badly injured in the Troll War, protecting The Trinity of Wishmothers, who watch over Creepy Hollow.”


Short excerpt:

“Is it true you signed a pact with the devil?” Philippe raised his voice on purpose, and the Hall fell silent.

“You go too far,” Alden said, rising to his feet in defence of his brother. 

Philippe stood also, his gaze never once wavering from Merton’s. “I am not afraid of you,” he stated arrogantly. “I am curious though as to why you came here. You are not welcome. Budic has all but disowned you.”

“I came here to burn and pillage,” Merton replied dryly, and there was a collective gasp at his words. “Why else?”

Philippe looked at Merton in fearful disbelief for a moment and then he laughed, loudly, and others, taking his lead, began to laugh as well, albeit nervously.

“I shouldn’t have asked,” Philippe said, wiping tears of amusement from his eyes. “You were always one for jokes, were you not? I am glad that has not changed. Although I hear the devil has a new apprentice.” His tone was one of jesting and his words brought more laughter from the Hall, but gone was the mirth in his face.

“If you say so.”

Philippe leant across the table and poured himself some wine, before sitting back down in the chair he had so recently vacated. “Tell me, for I am curious, what goes through your mind when you round up a village, lock them in a barn and set fire to it?” The Hall once again fell silent as they waited for Merton’s answer. 

Copyright © Mary Anne Yarde 2016

Short excerpt:

Morana’s castle was well-hidden from prying eyes, deep in the woods on the mountain side. Nobody knew about its existence, only Zelda, her trusted servant throughout the centuries.

The soft humming of her rotating, air-filled mattress relaxed her and protected her withered body from developing bed sores. The Royals and Elders were furious when they found out many centuries ago that Joland had shared the gift of eternal life with her and gave her the power to keep her body young. The Elders separated them, but they couldn’t make them mortal again. She has lived so many lifetimes, alone, because Joland was exiled to a timeline in the distant past. As his punishment, he couldn’t move forward in time with her. The Elders succeeded in taking away the ability to rejuvenate her body, which became bones with wasted muscles and shriveled skin. Although her withered body was useless, the power of her mind allowed her to reach the remotest part of the world and beyond.

Morana closed her eyes and began searching the complicated network of the Collective Memory, in her mind. She murmured under her breath, “The Elders took everything I valued in life from me, but they never found out I could read every word that is written by every gifted Hun, after they have reached maturity, and if they used the ancient letters given to them by the Ancestors.”

Morana’s prune-like face lit up with a grin, “Good girl, Adel. You are the servant of the Leaders and can’t talk to anyone about this, but you just wrote in your diary that the Elders are planning a meeting. Oh, I see. One of them is about to take her last breath, and they need to choose her successor. Hmm… could I use it to my advantage? We’ll see. There is another interesting sentence here; you are worried about your mistress, Csenge. She seems distant and unhappy. Let’s see what our Leader has been writing…” she scoured Csenge’s desk in her mind.

“What?” Morana shouted angrily when she read Csenge’s note in her calendar, “The Chosen One, Ilona, is coming of Age today.”

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El castillo de Morana estaba bien oculto de miradas indiscretas, en lo profundo del bosque, en la ladera de la montaña. Nadie sabía de su existencia, sólo Zelda, su criada de confianza a través de los siglos.

El suave zumbido de su colchón de masaje le hacía relajarse y protegía su marchito cuerpo, de desarrollar úlceras por presión. Los miembros de la realeza y los Ancianos entraron en cólera cuando averiguaron que Joland había compartido con ella el don de la vida eterna y le había dado el poder de mantener su cuerpo joven. Los Ancianos les separaron pero no pudieron convertirles en mortales de nuevo. Ella ha vivido muchas vidas sola porque Joland fue exiliado a una vida en un pasado lejano. Como castigo, él no podría avanzar en el tiempo para estar con ella. A Morana, los Ancianos lograron arrebatarle la habilidad de rejuvenecer su cuerpo, el cual se convirtió en huesos con atrofiados músculos y arrugada piel. Aunque su marchito cuerpo se encontraba inservible, el poder de su mente le permitía llegar al lugar más remoto del mundo y más allá.

Morana cerró sus ojos y empezó a buscar en la complicada red de la Memoria Colectiva, en su mente. Ella murmuró en voz baja: “Los Ancianos me quitaron todo lo que tenía valor en mi vida, pero nunca averiguarán que yo puedo leer cada palabra escrita por cualquier Huno con el don, después de que alcancen la madurez, y si utilizan las letras antiguas que les dieron los Ancestros”.

Su arrugado rostro se iluminó con una sonrisa. “Buena chica, Adel. Tú eres la sierva de los líderes y no puedes hablar con nadie sobre esto, pero escribiste en tu diario que los Ancianos están organizando una reunión. Oh, ya veo. Una de ellas está a punto de exhalar su último aliento y necesitan elegir a su sucesor. Hmm... ¿Podría utilizarlo en mi beneficio? Veamos. Hay otra frase interesante aquí, tú estás preocupada por tu señora, Csenge; parece triste y distante. Veamos que ha estado escribiendo nuestro Lider…”.