And the Lazy Blogger Award goes to…

Why me, of course!

[Cue applause]

“Why, thank you ladies and gents! It is such an honour to win this prestigious award! Id like to give thanks to my trusty fnas here in the blogger realm, for your continued dedication. It must be a real challenge to faithfully follow a blogger who so rarely publishes a blog post, but somehow you do!”

[Takes a bow, accepts trophy, audiance applauds.]

Ok, enough nonsense! Seriously, though, my life has become so busy these last monhs, that sometmes I feel like I’m running on my last reserves of energy, hence my absence of posts lately. Unfortunately, that means it is taking much longer than it should to get the last of my chapter reviews finished before I can begin sending out my manuscript. Once in a while, I am fortunate enough to snag a few minutes to read the odd post from fellow bloggers, and I apologize for neglecting the bloggers I follow.

Well, that’s all I have time for today. Will keepyou updated when there is anything new to tell. Hope you’re all having a nice week!

Wool Sock Challenge

Credit to Hyperion for this one. You can check out his post here: https://wp.me/p7FFs0-MI
So, here ya go, my sock loving friend! One of my favourite pairs of socks: Ski socks from Smartwool. They are a blend, I believe, but all of the Smartwool socks I’ve ever ownded have been wonderful! I need more, lots more!

The Lazy Blogger

There should be an award for lazy bloggers. I would definitely qualify! Clearly, I have procrastination issues. However, contrary to the title of this post, that is not what I want to write about today. The real reason for this post is to check in with my fellow bloggers and provide you all with a brief update.

So, I am struggling through my tendency to procrastinate, and am actually getting some work done on my manuscript. My final proofread before beginning the inquiry process is more that half way complete. I just finished going over chapter 7 yesterday, and will tackle chapter 8 tomorrow, if all things go according to plan. As it currently stands, there are only four chapters left to review, plus a little last minute tweaking, and then it will be ready to go.

Thanks for reading!

Why We Change

My inspiration to write this post comes from a personal matter I’m dealing with, regarding someone I care about who is a smoker. All of my efforts to persuade this person to give up smoking have failed. Something this person said a while back about how it has to come from him got me thinking.

Why do we change? Do we do it for ourselves, or does the will to change come from our love and consideration of the people in our lives?

I have a theory, based on my observations, not only of myself, but others I have known in my life. When we live our lives solely for our own gratification and desire, do we not then fall into reckless, even self-destructive behaviour? Do we not succumb to unhealthy habits, such as drinking, smoking, drug use, or even promiscuity in our sexual activities? Perhaps the self-indulgent behaviours are less obviously destructive or unhealthy, such as overeating, inadequate physical activity, etc.

But what happens when we have something or someone to live for? How does that impact the choices we make in our lives? Do we not then stop to think about how our choices and actions may affect those we love? I know this has been true for me. It was true for my grandfather, who only gave up drinking after my older sister and I were born. And I have seen it in others, how their priorities change, often drastically when they find a sense of purpose, be it becoming a parent or close loved ones.

This notion that making positive changes in our lives has to be something we want for ourselves, while all good and well, can’t be all there is. Often it seems to me that it is a cop-out, a cheap excuse to avoid difficult challenges, such as breaking addictions or bad habits. When taken in this context, as being only about ourselves, it seems to me narcissistic.

Human beings are social creatures. Nature did not create us to be loners. We thrive in healthy groups, where our efforts empower and strengthen those around us. When we devote ourselves to our families, friends, and our communities, we find renewed energy and motivation to be the best we can be, to live in a more positive and conscientious way. My belief is we can strengthen our own will power in this way, by cultivating a certain amount of selflessness. Not in the sense that we do not make any effort for self care, because that, too, is self-destructive. No, I mean that we find that perfect, harmonious balance of self-care and devotion to others, and in our modern, self-indulgent times, we need these renewed, strengthened bonds with the people who should matter in our lives.

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“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Gandhi

UPDATE: Naming Our New Pet

The little lovebird my daughter found has been living with us since Sunday, and so far, no one has claimed her/him. So, it was high time we name our little birdie, but the question remained. What to name her/him? It doesnt help that we don’t even know the gender, so a gender neutral name would be preferable. However, I just wasn’t comingup with anything. We’ve been dubbing her Peeper, just to substitute until a name could be settled on.

Well, this evening I ran a few ideas past my daughter. My favourites were Nessie and Pippin. Frida says we can’t call the bird Nessie because the water dragon who lives in Loch Ness is already named Nessie. She prefered to call the bird Pip, after I explained that Peep sounds too much like peepee! 😂 My second choice was Pippin, and so we came to a compromise. Pippin as the full name, and Pip for short.

There you have it. Problem solved. Our bird has been given a name fit for such an adorable little rascal as s/he is! 😊

UPDATE: I found the owner of the lost bird, and Pippin is now back home with his human companion and his female mate. His actual name is Frtizti, and his owner was so relieved and happy to know he was safe and to have hime returned to her. We will miss our little buddy. We were all hoping that we wouldn’t be able to find his owner and get to keep him. But seeking his owner was the right thing to do, even if it does make us sad to see him go. Funny, he didnt want to leave, but I’m sure now that he is reunited with his mate, he is much happier. The last couple days he seemed pretty down. Then this morning I discovered that playing recordings of lovebirds cheers him up, so I kept the bird songs playing for him all day, and he was full of energy and charisma. He spent the whole day playing with all of us, even the children, so at least we had a happy last day with our Pippin (because to us, he will always be our little Pip)! 😊

An Unexpected Visitor

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Life has kept me very busy lately, and needless to say, progress on proofreading my manuscript is slow going. One amusing little thing Life sent my way recently, is a lost bird.

This past Sunday afternoon, my daughter went to visit her father and grandparents for a couple hours, and I took my boyfriend’s eldest daughter with me to work with the Icelandic horses of a friend, two of which are still in training. She lucked out, and got to ride the one horse who is fully trained. After we were finished, we came home, and a short while later, my daughter got dropped off by her father. When I went outside to meet her, she was looking up at the top of my boyfriend’s car and was very excited. I looked to see what all the fuss was about, and there was a colourful little bird. I tried to catch it, but it got away only to land on my head. So, I quickly carried the little bird inside and left it with my boyfriend and the kids while I went back outside to get my daughter’s stuff in.

Since then, I’ve been keeping the bird upstairs in my rooms, where it is safe from the children and the cats. Luckily, I had a brand new bag of squirrel food here, which I’ve been saving to feed to the squirrels in the winter, so I opened it up and poured a little into my dog’s empty food bowl. The bird was on the bag before I even had it open. After she gobbled down her fill, she moved on to the dog’s water. Clearly the little bird was extremely hungry and thirsty, so I gather she’d been out for a while. Probably that whole day, if not longer.

Anyway, she (I’m calling the bird a ‘she’, even though, after looking up her breed and realizing there are no distinguishing features between the males and females, it is common for the females’ legs to be wider apart than the males, and this one seems to fit that description) immediately made herself at home, checked out my whole room, and got acquainted with me and the children.

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Her first night, she slept up at the top of my curtain, and has pretty much settled on that being her sleeping area. My boyfriend and the kids repaired an old bird feeder from the garden and brought it up to my room Sunday after the bird showed up, to give her a place to perch and put her food and water. Then yesterday, she really showed off how intelligent and curious she is. She got into everything, made her presence known by being very vocal. When I tried to take her picture while she was sitting on my daughter’s head, she repeatedly flew onto my phone before I could snap the picture. I finally got lucky and managed a halfway decent picture, as you can see at the top of this post. She even managed to send a what’s app message to my friend from my phone. (I couldn’t keep her off of it when I was trying to tell him about the bird!) Later, when I tried to work on my manuscript, she alternated between trying to play on the keyboard and steal my iced tea. I had to constantly shew her from my laptop, and resorted to putting a notepad on top of my glass to keep her out of my tea!

But despite her excitement yesterday, today she has been less than enthusiastic. She isn’t very vocal today, and she isn’t much interested in anything. My friend, Dan, did a google search and discovered that she is a Fischer’s Lovebird Agapornis Fischeri, and according to info found online, they are very social birds of the parrot family. They usually need to live in small groups of two or more, and don’t do well alone. So, I’m assuming she isn’t feeling so happy anymore now that she realizes there are no other birdie friends for her here.

We want to make an effort to find her owner. One of the kids made the rounds to the neighbours on our street Sunday to ask if anyone lost a bird, but no luck. The message I put out on a Telegram group turned up no results, so the next step is to make inquiries at the local animal shelter, and maybe there is some useful info on the ring around her leg. In the meantime, we are doing our best to keep her happy and healthy. This morning we stopped at the pet food store and bought a bag of food specially formulated for her breed. The store clerk happens to be a bird breeder and says he doesn’t use the common store bought food, but instead, buys super high quality bird food, but as there was nothing like that available at the store, we just took the normal stuff, since squirrel food isn’t exactly the right blend of nuts, seeds and fruits. If we can’t find the owner, we would like to keep her, but then we will need to get her a playmate. Can’t have her becoming a depressed lovebird. That wouldn’t be right. 😉

At the moment, she is back up in the curtains taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon. I hope she’ll start feeling better soon.

Manuscript Review

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And the process continues…

My apologies for my absence of late. I really should make more time for blogging and keeping up with the bloggers I follow, but finding the time has proved exceedingly difficult. It’s a wonder if I can even find time to read through my manuscript, which needs to be done before sending it out to editors, publishers, etc.

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So, Samhain is coming up, and we are planning a little celebration which is sure to be fun. This is really the perfect time of year for me to be active in creative pursuits, so I  really should channel some of that energy into my work. I’m currently nearly halfway through my review on chapter 5 of my manuscript. The work is going much faster on this chapter, as there aren’t as many errors and corruptions as in previous chapters, for some reason.

My original goal was to tackle two chapters a day, with the hope of being finished in under two weeks time, but I have long since passed my self-inflicted deadline.

TediousWriting

Why, oh why, must writing be such a tedious endeavor? I love dreaming up stories, and the satisfaction I get from actually writing down those stories is so very rewarding, but actually sitting down and getting started and sticking to the task…. Is there an award for procrastination, because I am surely the queen! Time management really isn’t my thing.

So, before I bore you all with further ramblings, I leave you with some would-be helpful advice, if only we writers would heed it…

Writing-Strategy-15-Minute-Rule

 

 

Book Cover Emergency!

Help! I really need a cover for my book, and have an idea what I want but can’t do the artwork myself, nor can I afford to pay an artist at this time. What should I do? Maybe this won’t be an issue if I get traditionally published, but considering my inexperience of the publishing world, I have no idea what to expect.

5 Things Not to Do at Your Book Reading

Before you plan your next book blowing— oh, pardon me, I meant book reading— here are some tips to improve your performance. Unfortunately, there has been no Hans Effect to this blog post, so don’t expect to find tips indicating proper use of bananas. That being said, I hope you find the following blog post useful. See the link below.

https://wp.me/p4SsOO-oS4

Success! I Have A Manuscript!

Much thanks to Hyperion (aka Dan) for all your help, especially for preparing my manuscript for me. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Twilight of Yggdrasil, the Dark Realm is very near to becoming a real book! This is book 1 of a trilogy, for those who are new to my blog.

Last step before beginning the enquiry process: a final review to make sure all recent edits and revisions are accurate, etc, and then I’m finished.

I’ve made myself a latte, the laptop is on, and I’m ready to get started!

Wish me luck, folks! The journey to publication is about to begin!

And to all of you who’ve stuck around since almost the very beginning, a big thank you for all your support and encouragement!

Keepers of the Stones, Part 4

Continuing the tale of Olwen, after the tragic murder of both her parents and her narrow escape, she is taken in by the gnomes who discovered her after her narrow escape into the forest. The tribe’s most renowned Seer and bard will be responsible for her upbringing. To avoid having this story get too long, I’ve decided to skip ahead a little. Read on to find out what happens next.

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Olwen was just a girl when her parents were brutally murdered by dwarves while traveling through the mountains. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of strangers, she would have been lost. As the years passed by, the gnomes who had welcomed her into their midst became like family to her. She still lived with the Seer, Terrwyn, and had taken to calling him Grandfather. He taught her well, and as a result, she was becoming an adept healer, just like her mother. But what she most enjoyed was the magical connection she had to nature. When Olwen wished it, clouds would roll in, bringing rain. She could touch a plant and watch it grow, cause flowers to bloom with the warmth of her breath. Animals were drawn to her, and it was not uncommon for a deer or a wolf to approach her when she strolled through the woods and allow her to pet them.

Terrwyn was proud of her, as he so frequently reminder her. But he was growing old now, and was not as able as he had once been. It saddened Olwen to see how stooped and feeble had had become, and she did what she could for him, but even her healing powers could not stave off the effects of old age indefinitely.

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      A day came, when Terrwyn called her to his side where he sat bundled in a thick shawl before the fire of his small house. Most of the gnomes lived in dwellings too small for Olwen to enter, save for Chief Cledwyn’s hall in the ancient willow and Terrwyn’s home, which, having foreseen her coming, had been modified in preparation for her. Still, she had to duck her head to pass through the low doorways.

It was nearly midwinter, with the longest night just days away. The sun set early this time of the year, and despite being only late afternoon, it was already dark. Olwen carried a wooden bowl of hot rabbit stew over to Terrwyn, and seated herself beside him on a cushion.

“You wish to speak with me, Grandfather?” she asked, handing him the bowl. He sniffed the steaming stew and smiled.

“Your rabbit stew is the best I’ve ever eaten, my dear,” he said, bringing a spoon full to his mouth.

Olwen waited patiently until he had swallowed his food.

Terrwyn cleared his throat, and turned his sharp, beady eyes on her. “I am old, Olwen,” he said seriously. “I will not live to see the spring.”

“Don’t say that!” Olwen cut in. “You have many years, yet.”

The old Seer shook his head. “You know as well as I that that isn’t true,” he replied. “I have lived a long and good life, and am ready leave this tired body. But your story is only just beginning, and there is much you must know.”

“Tell me, Grandfather,” Olwen urged, leaning forward to prop her elbows on the armrest of Terrwyn’s seat.

The old gnome sighed and tugged his shawl more snugly about his body. “Long ago, before you came to us,” he began, speaking slowly and choosing his words with care, “Chief Cledwyn had a vision. The old willow is the heart and soul of our people, and she speaks to us, offering her wisdom to those who seek, and she told him that an elven girl, bearing the gem of the heavens about her neck, would come to us, and that her life would be in danger. I had the same vision; as did the other elders. There could be no doubt that we were meant to help this girl, and so, when you entered the forest, our Chief sensed your presence.”

Olwen smiled. “But I know all this, Grandfather,” she said affectionately.

Terrwyn shook his head. “You don’t know everything,” he stated. “That is no ordinary jewel you wear,” he added, prodding the bright, blue sapphire that hung from a silver chain about Olwen’s neck. She gave him a quizzical look. “You are aware of it’s magical powers, but you don’t know why or where it came from. The Sky Jewel gets its name because it fell from the heavens. Some believe it was a star which was plucked from the sky by the Gods and given to the elves. Long ago, there were several such stones, of different colours, and each had unique magical properties, but most were destroyed by those who were jealous of the elves, who alone could wield their powers.”

Olwen was mesmerized. “Tell me more!” she pleaded.

Terrwyn chuckled. “There are now only two stones left,” he said. “Yours and one other.”

“Who has the stone?” she asked.

“A dark elven chief,” answered the Seer in a foreboding tone. “His is called the Blood Stone, for it is red as blood and makes its bearer invincible in battle. Arawn is his name, and he rules the underworld.”

Olwen gasped. “I have heard his name before!” she exclaimed.

“I am not surprised,” replied Terrwyn. “Arawn has a terrible reputation for being a cruel and bloodthirsty warlord, but there is more that you must know. For reasons unknown to me, your parents betrothed you to Arawn when you were a little girl, and it has come to the Chief’s attention that Arawn has learned of your parent’s fate and has been seeking you all these long years.”

Olwen frowned. “Surely, there must be some mistake,” she said. “I cannot believe my parents would not have done such a thing! How did you come by this information?”

“The same way we knew of your coming,” he answered. “It was revealed to me in a vision.”

There was a flicker of fear on Olwen’s face. “You will not tell him that I am here? Please, I am safe here. You must let me stay!” she cried.

“A promise is a promise,” he replied, shaking his head. “Chief Cledwyn intends to send word to Arawn after my passing.”

“No! He mustn’t!” exclaimed Olwen.

Terrwyn held up a weathered hand to silence her. “But he will not force you to marry against your will,” he assured her. “If Arawn wishes to take you as his wife, he must earn your favour. That is Chief Cledwyn’s decree.”

Relief mingled with dread in Olwen’s eyes. She was afraid. What if Arawn would disregard Chief Cledwyn’s decision and force her into marriage anyway? Throughout the course of the next days, she wondered if it might be better to run away.

At last, she decided to visit her old friend, Deri.

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I hope you enjoyed this latest installment of Keepers of the Stones. Stay tuned for the next part, coming soon! Please, leave a comment, and feel free to share a link on your own blogs if you enjoy reading my writing.

The First Step, A short Story

There has been a lot on my mind lately, and so I thought I might try to channel that into a short story. It is not my usual style or genre, and I definitely will not pursue it in any serious way, but a fictional story inspired by my own personal experiences would be a good way to get some things off my chest without getting too personal on a public space.

      Abigail stood before the easel and surveyed her work. She had been painting most of the afternoon and was nearly finished. Just a few finishing touches, she thought, as she raised the paint brush to the canvas.

The living room door opened, and the padding of little feet across the wood floor indicated that Abigail’s two-year old daughter had woken up from her nap. Smiling, Abigail turned and opened her arms. Greta, still groggy from sleep, let her mother scoop her up into her arms.

“Hello, sleepy-head,” Abigail cooed softly. “Are you hungry?”

The little girl nodded.

“Well, dinner is in the oven,” Abigail told Greta. “Would you like to play with your dinosaurs while I get all this cleaned up?” she asked, indicating the array of brushes and paints on a table next to the easel.

“Okay, Mommy,” answered Greta, rubbing her eyes with tiny, balled fists.

Abigail set her down and Greta wandered off to find her toys. Abigail turned back to her painting, gave it one last scrutinizing look, then proceeded to pack all the tubes of paint back into their storage box, replaced the unused brushes in the jar she kept them in. Next, she began cleaning the oil paint out of the used brushes in a cup of turpentine. Halfway through, she looked up at the clock. It was four in the afternoon. Her husband would be home from work soon, the knowledge of which filled her with a sense of dread. It had been a good day, but she knew how quickly all that could change once Lothar was home.

Abigail wiped the brushes dry and replaced them in the jar with the rest, then scooped up all her painting supplies and returned them to the cabinet where she kept all her other art supplies. Then she moved the easel out of the way, and went to check on Greta.

The little girl was playing quietly in her room, and looked up when Abigail entered.

“Look, Mommy!” Greta said, holding up one of her dinosaur figurines.

Abigail crossed the room and sat down on the rug beside Greta. “How nice,” she said. “And what kind of dinosaur is that?”

“A stegosaurus!” Greta exclaimed proudly.

“That’s right!”

Greta was fascinated with dinosaurs, and when they looked through her books, she always asked to know what each was called. Abigail was so impressed by how quickly Greta learned the names of the various dinosaurs. She was still speaking in sentences consisting of no more than a few words, but could easily pronounce the often complicated names of her favourite dinosaurs.

“I need to finish getting dinner ready before Daddy comes home,” Abigail said.

“Okay,” Greta replied.

Abigail stood up and left the room. She hadn’t been in the kitchen long before Greta joined her, carrying a puzzle.

“Here, why don’t you do your puzzle on the table,” Abigail said, guiding the child to the kitchen table. “Would you like something to drink?”

“Juice!” Greta squealed.

Abigail took a carton of apple juice from the refrigerator, poured a small amount into a bamboo cup, then topped it off with filtered water. She carried it over and set it on the table.

“What do you say?” she asked.

“Thank you!” answered Greta.

“You’re welcome,” Abigail replied, and dropped a kiss on Greta’s forehead.

She returned to the counter where she began preparing a salad. A few minutes later, she heard the front door open,and knew her husband was home.

“Hello!” Lothar called, closing the front door behind him.

“Hi! We’re in here!” Abigail answered.

A moment later Lothar stepped into the kitchen. He looked tired.

“Daddy!” cried Greta, happily, as she climbed down from her chair and ran to hug her father.

“Come here, you!” he said and swept her up into his arms.

“Can you play with me?” she asked.

“Maybe in a little while. I just came home and I’m tired,” Lothar said. Then he turned to Abigail. “What are you doing?” he asked, a note of annoyance in his tone.

“Making dinner,” Abigail stated, and reached for a red onion.

“Do I have time to shower before we eat?” Lothar asked.

“Yes, of course,” she said, pausing from peeling the onion to look up at her husband.

Without another word, he set Greta down and left the kitchen. The little girl trailed after him. A few minutes later, Abigail heard the shower running. She finished preparing the salad, then carried the bowl to the dining room and began setting the table. She was just carrying the lasagna to the dining room when Lothar entered and took his seat.

“I wanna sit on your lap,” said Greta, as she tugged at her father’s arm. He lifted her up onto his lap, but Abigail noticed the look of frustration on his face.

“Why did you make such a big meal?” he asked, his tone edged.

“What’s wrong with lasagna and salad for dinner?” she asked defensively.

“We shouldn’t eat so much heavy food this late,” Lothar replied.

“It’s only a little after five,” Abigail stated. “If you don’t like it than don’t eat it.”

In recent months, Lothar had taken to complaining about whatever she cooked, whereas in the past, he had always been pleased to eat whatever she served, and it was starting to wear on her nerves. She noticed, though, that despite his complaints, it didn’t prevent him from heaping his plate with a generous serving.

Once everyone had food on their plate, Abigail decided to breech the subject that had been on her mind all day.

“Lothar, she began. “A lady I know told me today that she had a small house that will be available to rent in a few months.”

“So,” Lothar said and took another bite of lasagna.

“Well, we’ve been saying we don’t like living in this apartment, since there isn’t a garden for Greta to play in, and the utilities are so high,” she explained. “The house I heard about is only a little more a month, and we would have a fenced in garden and there’s a wood stove, so we won’t have as much heating costs.”

“So, you want to move again,” Lothar accused. He sounded angry.

“All I’m saying is that we could think about it,” Abigail remarked.

“I know you,” he snapped. “And you’ve already made up your mind. Then I will get stuck doing all the work while you goof off.”

Abigail resented his accusation. “That’s not true,” she insisted.

“I don’t want to move again,” Lothar snapped.

“We’ve talked about this,” Abigail said. “We only took this apartment, because it was the best we could find at the time, but we never intended to stay here. Now we have a chance to move to a better home, and you won’t even consider it?”

“It’s always the same with you,” he said, ignoring Abigail. “You get an idea in your head, and I have to go along with it.”

“Can you please just think about it?” she pleaded.

“So you can sit on your ass while I do all the work?” he replied.

Abigail threw up her hands in frustration, but didn’t say anything more on the subject.

They finished their meal without speaking to one another. When they were finished, Abigail got up and told Greta it was bath time.

“What about the dishes?” Lothar demanded to know.

“I’ll clean up after I get Greta in the bath,” she replied, and took her daughter’s hand to lead her to the bathroom.

Lothar, meanwhile, cleared the table and began washing up, as Abigail waited for the bath to fill. Behind her, Greta was undressing herself. Suddenly, Lothar entered the bathroom, and Abigail tuned just in time to see him snatch Greta’s jeans off the floor.

“I could have put those away,” she said.

“Clothes don’t belong on the floor,” Lothar stated harshly.

“Greta only just took her clothes off,” Abigail replied.

“Why didn’t you pick them up?” There was anger in Lothar’s voice.

“I was getting the bath ready,” Abigail said in her defense. “I would have put the clothes away when I am finished.”

“Why couldn’t you do it right away?”

Abigail was on the verge of losing her temper now. It was always like this; Lothar was constantly seeking something to complain about. “Like I told you, Greta just undressed. I hadn’t had a chance, yet,” she said, forcing her voice to remain calm.

“I come home from work, and have to clean the kitchen and clean up the house,” he complained. “What do you do all day? Just sit on your ass!”

“That’s not true,” Abigail retorted. “Come on, Greta. Into the bath.” She led her daughter to the tub and helped her to climb in.

“Is Daddy mad?” Greta asked.

“No, I’m not mad,” Lothar answered, though the anger in his expression and voice was all too obvious.

“I’ll be right back,” Abigail said to Greta, and walked past her husband.

He followed her into the bedroom, where she was taking out pajamas for Greta. “I bet you were on your phone all day!” he accused.

“No, I wasn’t,” Abigail said with a sigh. “Do you really have to start something with me?”

“I’m not starting anything,” he insisted.

“Yes, you are!” she retorted, and making a selection, took out a set of pajamas and shut the cabinet door.

“No, I’m not!” he reiterated. “But I work all day and shouldn’t have to come home and clean the house.”

Abigail spun on her heel to face him. “No one asked you to clean anything!” she snapped. “I told you I would clean up the dishes, and I would have picked up Greta’s clothes, too, if you would have just been patient and let me do it.”

“You never do anything in the house!” he shouted.

“Yes, I do!” Abigail exclaimed. “I spent the whole morning cleaning the house, not that you’d notice!”

She pushed past him and returned to the bathroom to check on Greta, but Lothar just wouldn’t drop it. He followed her and began making other accusations.

“There’s someone else, isn’t there?”

Now Abigail was angry. “No!” she snapped. “And I’m tired of the accusations!”

“If you aren’t on your phone, then you are married to your paintings!” he retorted.

“Would you stop it?” she cried. “Why do you always have to start a fight?”

“You’re a lazy bitch!” Lothar proclaimed.

Abigail stormed out of the bathroom. When her husband followed after him, she turned on him. “Stop it, right now!” she demanded. “I’m sick of you starting shit with me, and I don’t want our daughter exposed to this.”

“You want to start something with me?” he accused.

“I’m not starting anything! You are!” Abigail exclaimed, exasperated.

“You’re a fucking bitch!” he shouted.

Abigail stormed off to the bedroom and slammed the door, to shouts of “whore, bitch, cunt.”

Lothar continued to shout through the closed door. Then Abigail heard him threaten to throw out her easel. She rushed from the bedroom and found Lothar in the living room, her painting in his hands.

“Put it down!” she cried. “Put it down!” By now, there were tears streaming down her face. She rushed forward and snatched the painting out of his hands, as he continued to spew insults. “You’ve got no reason to treat me like this!” she declared.

“I want you out, you fucking whore!” he demanded, getting in her face.

Abigail pushed him away with one hand, and carried the painting back to the easel. Then Lothar marched to the bedroom. She followed to find him throwing her clothes out of the wardrobe onto the bed.

“Leave my stuff alone!” she shouted, snatching an armful of clothes from him. “If anyone is going to leave, it can be you!”

Then she left the room to go tend to Greta. Again, Lothar followed, and the slew of derogatory name-calling continued.

“Get out of here!” Abigail demanded, but Lothar lunged at her with his fist raised. “Go on, hit me!” she challenged.

“Leave Mommy alone!” Greta screamed at her father. “Bad Daddy!”

For a moment he hesitated, then he stormed from the bathroom. She heard him rummaging about in the bedroom and a few moments later, the front door slammed, and shortly after, heard the car drive away.

Struggling to fight back the tears, Abigail got Greta out of the bath. Remarkably, Greta was totally calm. She allowed Abigail to help her dress without any fuss, while wanting to know why Daddy was mad.

“I don’t know, honey,” was all Abigail could think of to say.

Abigail tried her best to appear calm, but her mind was racing. She had no idea where her husband had gone, or when he would be back, and she was worried what might happen when he returned. She was just about to start getting Greta ready for bed, when she changed her mind, and decided to get out of there.

Not knowing how much time they had, she told Greta they were going for a ride, and started packing an overnight bag. She searched for a change of clothes for each of them, but in her panicked frenzy, could hardly think clearly. She pulled clothes from the wardrobe, trying to figure out what she wanted, and stuffing random articles of clothing into her backpack.

She rushed about the house, gathering up anything they might need for a night or two, grabbed her phone, and called a friend who lived nearby. There was no answer, so she left a message telling her friend they needed a place to stay for the night, and would leave right away. She hung up the phone and placed it into the backpack, along with their toothbrushes.

“Come on, Greta,” she said, taking her daughter by the hand. “We’re going for a bike ride.”

Abigail opened the front door, glancing about, as they exited the apartment. “Wait here,” she instructed Greta. I’ll get the bike.”

She opened the shed door, where they kept all their bikes, and got out her E-bike. Next, she put on Greta’s helmet and set her into the child’s bike seat, buckled her in, then climbed on in front of her.

The bike was fast, but afraid that her husband might see them and try to stop them from leaving, she took country lanes where he was less likely to drive. That meant taking the long way, but at least this way, they could avoid discovery.

Finally, they arrived at her friend’s house. Abigail helped Greta off the bike, then rang the door bell. Her friend’s husband answered the door.

“Rose is out looking for you,” he informed her. “She thought you wanted her to come get you.”

Abigail shook her head. “No, sorry,” she apologized. “I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, so took the bike.”

“Well, come in,” Rahul said, stepping aside to let them in. “I’ll call Rose and let her know you are here.”

“Thank you,” Abigail replied.

Once they were inside, Greta joined Rose and Rahul’s two older sons in the children’s room. The oldest boy, Arjun, was the same age as Greta, and they were good friends.

After Rahul got off the phone with Rose, he asked Abigail to sit down. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Yes, please,” she answered.

“Rose is on her way,” he told her, as he turned on the kettle. “Are you alright?”

Abigail nodded. “Yes, just a little worked up.”

“Well, you’re welcome here, so try not to worry and get some rest,” Rahul said.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I really appreciate you two taking us in like this.”

“No problem,” he said, smiling.

When the kettle boiled, her filled a tea cup and set it on the kitchen table. A few minutes later, Rose returned. Abigail filled them in on all that had happened that evening. Rose was already aware of the problems Abigail had been having with her husband, and knew that she had been seriously considering leaving him if things didn’t improve. What had been holding her back all this time were her fears. How would she support herself? She was a stay-at-home mom, and only worked a low-paying part time job a couple mornings a week. But now that she had taken the first step, she was no longer afraid. Somehow, Abigail knew, she would find a way to make it on her own.

That’s all for now, but I might continue it. I hope you enjoyed reading this unedited, spontaneously written segment.

A lot of people find themselves feeling trapped in toxic relationships, but too afraid to take control of their lives and get out. I know those feelings. It’s terribly degrading to feel powerless to change your circumstances, to feel like this is the only option you have. It makes matters a lot worse when you don’t have family or friends you feel you can turn to when things go wrong. I was very fortunate, that the moment I walked through that door, I found more support than I ever knew I had, often in unlikely places. Friends came to my aid, people I barely knew offered their support, and within a week, I was offered a place to live. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve managed, despite certain people’s insistence that I was making a huge mistake and would fail.

Well, my advice to anyone finding themselves in a similar predicament, my advice to you is to ignore the nay-sayers. No one knows your situation as well as you. No one knows the pain you are going through like you, and you don’t have to suffer through it. Take a chance at a better life and get out, if that’s what you feel you need to do. You never know unless you try.

Reblog: 8 Blogging Mistakes that Waste Your Readers’ Time

The Internet has made it possible for us to live in a world of “information overload.” A few clicks, a few swipes on a smartphone, and we have access to more ideas, blog posts, and news stories than we could ever possibly consume.

It’s hard to remember — or imagine, if you’re that young — when information was a scarce resource. But time is still a scarce resource. And with this much information easily available, you must treat your readers’ time with respect when they give it to you.

Especially if you want to build trust with your audience so they give you more of their time in the future.

The curious paradox is that even though it doesn’t cost anything to publish blog posts, send emails, share our life with others through social media updates, if you’re not adding value with those pixels, you’re wasting the time of your readers.

And time is an irreplaceable resource. Time is precious. We all know it.

So avoid these eight common blogging mistakes below at all costs. At all costs.

https://wp.me/p5oeKw-3l

Keepers of the Stones, Part 3

Greetings, fellow bloggers! My apologies for keeping you all waiting, though I doubt anyone had to resort to rabid nail-biting or other nervous tics after being left off on a cliff-hanger. ;-D

Anyhow, I present you with Keepers of the Stones, part 3, and do hope you enjoy it. If you like what I do here, please spread the word, and don’t forget to leave a comment. Reader feedback, positive or negative, is always appreciated!

For those of you just joining us, I recommend reading parts one and two of Keepers of the Stones, first.

Recap: In part one, the heroine, a young elf by the name of Olwen accompanies her parents on a journey to heal a dying girl. Whilst crossing the mountains, they are attacked by dwarves, who then kill both of Olwen’s parents. Only her magical sapphire protects her from harm, and she flees into a forest. There she encounters a young gnome, who brings her back to his village. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by a guard who informs them that the Chief demands an audience with Olwen and her guide, and they are led to his hall within the trunk of an ancient willow tree. Despite having introduced herself to her guide using a false name, mysteriously, the Chief knows who she is. Continue reading to find out what will happen next!

      gnome_house

      Olwen stood before the Chief of the gnomes with her mouth agape, momentarily dumbfounded. With effort, she gathered her composure. “How do you know my name?” she demanded.

The Chief smiled knowingly. His weathered face did not appear unkind, Olwen observed. “You are one of the last keepers of the sacred stones,” he began, then stroked his beard with a gnarled hand, pondering his next words. “Your coming has been foretold.”

Olwen frowned. “Foretold by whom?”

The Chief’s smile broadened and he spread his arms wide, gesturing to the space around them. “This ancient willow, within which I have built my hall, is my people’s Ancestor Tree. We call her Great Grandmother, for she is the memory of the land and of our folk, and we look to her for her wisdom,” the old gnome explained. “I received a vision of your coming in a dream, which the Seer confirmed. You, Lady Olwen, have long been expected. On behalf of my people, I welcome you and offer my sincerest condolences for the loss of your family.” He propped his chin on his clasped hands, as he studied the young elf.

“Thank you,” Olwen muttered.

“But we have not been properly introduced,” said the Chief. “I am Chief Cledwyn, and it is indeed a pleasure to meet you.” He offered Olwen a warm smile, which she struggled to return. “I understand young Deri, here, has extended an offer of hospitality, which was most courteous of him, but that will not do.” Deri’s face fell upon hearing that the elf was not to be his guest, after all. ” I have already made other, more suitable arrangements. You will stay with the Seer, Terrwyn. He will be charged with your care and to oversee your education,” Chief Cledwyn concluded. He motioned to one of the guards at the door, who immediately exited the hall.

Olwen exchanged a curious look with Deri, then Cledwyn invited them to be seated at a table to one side of the hall. A servant entered, carrying silver platters and proceeded to place an assortment of dishes on the table. When she offered to serve the Chief, Cledwyn waved her away.

Olwen peered into the tiny, silver pots which had been placed before her, their contents unfamiliar. Deri grinned. “Try this one,” he said, eagerly, and slid a pot towards her. She opened the lid and spooned a small portion onto her plate. It appeared to be a thick, creamy stew of a dark green colour. The scent of pungent spices wafted into the air, and Olwen’s stomach growled. Using the wooden, three-pronged fork she had been given, Olwen scooped up a small amount and tasted the stew.

“What do you think?” asked Deri, still grinning.

The stew was hearty and rich, and tasted of dandelion leaves, rabbit, and cumin, and other unfamiliar spices and herbs. Olwen smiled. “It’s delicious!” she answered.

Olwen and Deri had just started shoveling various dishes onto their plates, when the doors opened and in walked a stooped, elderly gnome using a twisted wooden staff for support. His mossy-brown eyes swept the hall and came to rest on the elf. Olwen met his gaze, but the gnome turned his attention to Chief Cledwyn and bowed low.

“Thank you for coming, Terrwyn,” said the Chief. “As you can see, the vision proved true, for the elven witch has come.” Chief Cledwyn and Terrwyn both turned to Olwen.

Bewildered, Olwen set down her fork and looked from one gnome to the other. “Why do you call me a witch?” she asked.

“Aren’t you?” asked Cledwyn, smiling.

“No!” exclaimed Olwen. “I mean, it’s not that I have anything against witches, but I’m just a girl. My studies have only just begun,” she added.

“So it is,” chimed in Terrwyn. The unexpected sound of his deep, gruff voice almost startled Olwen. Even Deri looked up from his meal to give his full attention to the old gnome. “But a witch with much to learn is no less a witch,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Before Olwen could open her mouth to protest, Chief Cledwyn cleared his throat. “Lady Olwen, allow me to introduce Terrwyn, our most revered Seer and bard,” he said. “He will be your guardian until you come of age.”

Olwen studied the gnome carefully. His long beard was pure white, to match the thinning hair on his head; He wore faded brown robes, belted around his waist, but despite his advanced age, Terrwyn had sharp, keen eyes, that gave an impression of intelligence.

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Olwen said with a note of uncertainty in her tone.

Terrwyn smiled. “The pleasure is all mine, Lady Olwen.”

“When you have finished your supper, Terrwyn will escort you to his home, where a room has been specially prepared for you,” said Chief Cledwyn.

At a loss for words, Olwen only nodded. After they finished eating, she and Deri were bid a good evening by the Chief and shown from the hall.

“Good evening, Deri,” said Terrwyn, pointedly, once they were outside in the the cool, evening air.

Deri nodded, and glanced up at Olwen, his expression sheepish. “Well, Lady, this is where I leave you,” he said sadly. “I hope we shall see more of one another.”

“So do I, Deri,” replied Olwen. “Thank you for your help today.”

Deri watched as Olwen turned away to follow Terrwyn along the narrow, cobbled lane. Then with a sigh, he headed home.

Fairy_Forest2

…to be continued.

Your Writing Needs This Pacing

Reblogged: This is excellent advice for all the slackers out there (myself included)!

by Richard Risemberg

There is one indispensable step to writing, and that is that you must sit down and write.

This is technically untrue, and was not such a hard and fast rule in the ancient days: Homer, said to be blind, would have been functionally illiterate; he worked the great epics in his head and presented them to live audiences. What we have now are versions likely written down by scribes taking dictation.

That was then, as they saying goes; this is now. Most people read books that they hold in their hands, either on paper or on a digital screen. Except for poetry, and that only now and then, literature is consumed through the eye, not the ear. It’s a complex process, and the mind’s ear is still involved for those not deaf since birth, but books are read, and so they must be written. Unless you can afford a scribe, you must sit down and write.

Click the link to continue reading.

https://wp.me/p4SsOO-p6R

Reblog: Why We Need Clichés

Sharing, because I just really enjoyed this post, and hope you will, too!

by Elisabeth Wong

I write as the inspiration strikes. Inspiration strikes at random times of my life. Huh.

Oh, and yeah, you probably did read the title of this post correctly. I mean for it to be in writing mostly, but I can kind of see how this will apply to real life as well. (….I’m not sure if I was being sarcastic there, either.)

If you’re like a lot of writers, you probably see the word “cliché” and freak out a bit. “What? No! I AM ORIGINAL. You cannot take away my freedom! I will not follow your silly stereotypes! My character will not follow your silly stereotypes! I am not one of your silly stereotypes! Fight me to the death!!” (Cue the writer’s dramatic sip of coffee [Cliché….].)

I know I’ve also said things about avoiding clichés in the past. However, I wanted to confuse you all by giving you mixed messages, so now I’m going to talk about why clichés (I am way overusing this word) are, to an extent, so important. So buckle up, grab your popcorn, and let’s do this.

https://wp.me/p4SsOO-oSc

Checking In

Good evening from Germany, fellow bloggers! I just wanted to drop a line and let you all know that the next installment of Keepers of the Stones has not been forgotten. It has just been a very busy week. So, my apologies for the delay. I hope to have it finished within a few days, but it doesn’t look like I’ll even be able to get started before the weekend.

As for my hopefully soon-to-be-published book, progress on formatting into a manuscript is slow going, but coming along. Thanks Dan, for getting me through my technological illiteracy. Maybe if I get around to doing another online course on EdX I should look for one that teachers writers how to format all their manuscripts! But I’m sure that even with extensive training, I’d still manage to messe things up. Who needs Hans, whennyou’ve got the likes of me blundering her way through technology?! I’m a disaster waiting to happen! 😂

Well, that’s all folks! (I really want to write that with a stutter! Memories-from-my-childhood-coming-back-to-me moment…)

Keepers of the Stones, Part 2

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you have all survived the daily grind and are looking forward to a nice weekend. As promised, here follows part two of Keepers of the Stones, my very poor attempt at rewriting a short story I wrote when I was only seventeen. If you haven’t already read part one, I suggest that you go back and read that first.

mystical_forest

Olwen was alone and frightened. The sapphire she wore about her neck still glowed, but now it was a clear blue. She had wept just once for the loss of her parents, but now she had no use for tears. Olwen was lost, and knew she could not find her way home from the mysterious forest into which she had escaped. She did not know if the dwarves still pursued her, but she didn’t want to wait around and find out. Instead she kept moving, her eyes taking in the scene around her.

The trees in this strange place appeared older than those of her homelands, and her horse’s hoof falls were muffled upon the soft, moss-covered ground. The air was rich with the scent of cypress and damp soil. A mist hung in the air, giving the forest a magical feel. Olwen clutched the reins tightly in her hands. Her lower lip trembled. She was cold and tired and hungry, but had lost her provisions, which were carried by the single pack horse when she and her family were attacked. Though she could not see the sun through the canopy of trees overhead, she sensed it was mid afternoon when she stopped to drink from a clear stream.

Olwen was kneeling by the water’s edge, scooping water into her cupped hands, when she heard a twig snap loudly in the forest. She jolted upright and looked around. Instinctively, her hand went to her sapphire, but it was cool to the touch. There was a sound like the rustling of leaves, and she looked about, expecting something to burst from some hiding place, but she could see nothing.

Slowly, Olwen approached her horse. She was just reaching for the reins when a small figure scrambled out of a patch of brambles, it’s hair disheveled and clad in the furs of small animals. The creature, which she suddenly recognized to be a gnome, had a ruddy complexion and dark, beady eyes.

“Do not be afraid,” the small gnome squeaked. It couldn’t have been taller than two feet.

Olwen was backing away, uncertain of this new creature. Though she had often heard that gnomes were known for their mischievousness, she was, nonetheless, skeptical. “Who are you and what do you want?” Olwen demanded.

The tiny gnome nervously fidgeted and stared down at its booted feet. “Pardon me, Miss, but I was just passing through when I heard a sound and I was curious,” the gnome explained sheepishly, avoiding Olwen’s gaze. “I am called Deri, Miss.”

“Deri,” Olwen repeated, absentmindedly.

“It means oak,” said the gnome.

“I see,” she replied. “My name is–” Olwen faltered, then thinking quickly, gave a false name. “Enfys. My name is Enfys.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance, Enfys,” said Deri.

“Deri, I wonder if you could help me–” Olwen said, coming to a decision.

The little gnome nodded eagerly.

“I’m in a bit of trouble,” she explained. “I need someplace safe to go until I figure out how to get home.”

“You could stay with my family in our village,” suggested Deri, a broad smile lighting up his youthful face.

Olwen thanked the gnome and he led the way to his village in the heard of the woodland. After a while, Deri stopped before a thicket. Olwen looked around, but could see no way through.

The gnome chuckled. “The entrance is here, Enfys,” he supplied, gesturing to a patch of ivy.

Olwen scrutinized the tangled vines doubtfully. Then Deri stepped forward and pushed the ivy aside. Hidden behind was a wooden door, knot designs skillfully carved upon the surface. Deri rapped on the door and almost immediately, it swung open. He grinned at Olwen, who shook her head and followed him through the open door, but no sooner had they entered, when they were confronted by a gnome wearing a fox skull on his head for a helmet and carrying a spear topped with an obsidian spear head, and for armour, he wore armadillo hide. The gnome was only a few inches taller than Olwen’s guide, and clearly much older.

“Deri, you and the elf are wanted in the Willow Hall. Chief Terrwyn awaits your presence,” the gnome stated, his tone commanding. Deri shuffled nervously and cast a sidelong glance at Olwen, who immediately turned on him.

“You tricked me!” Olwen accused, anger flashing in her blue-green eyes.

Deri’s face blanched. “No, Miss!” he insisted. “It was just as I said– I merely chanced upon you in the woods. I have no idea what the Chief could want from us or how he knows of you.”

Before Olwen could retort, the spear-wielding gnome nudged her in the small of the back. “Let’S go, elf,” he barked. “Don’t want to keep the Chief waiting.”

Reluctantly, she allowed the guard to usher her and Deri along the narrow, cobbled lane, passing tiny houses that clustered together. There were even tree houses, some with their front doors built right into the trunk. It occurred to Olwen that she would not fit inside most of the houses she passed.

The guard held up a hand to stop them when they reached the village center, where an enormous willow tree stood sentinel. As they approached, arched double doors swung open to admit Olwen and Deri. She raised an eyebrow at him as they stepped over the threshold to enter the tree.

The interior was much larger than Olwen had expected– a vast open space that served as the Chief’s hall. Small steps protruded out of the walls to ascend in a clockwise spiral up the inside of the tree. The hall glittered with tiny, twinkling lights, strategically placed throughout the tree. On the far side of the circular hall, the Chief sat patiently on his throne, but when he Olwen met his gaze, he gestured for her to approach.

She hesitated, and Deri whispered encouragement. He took her hand and led her forwards. Following his lead, she inclined her head before the Chief.

“Lady Olwen, I have been waiting for you,” said the wizened, old Chief.

Willow_Hall

…to be continued.

Keepers of the Stones, Part 1

Good morning, fellow bloggers! It is Tyr’s day, and today I thought I would do something different. I rarely post any of my writing on here, other than the occasional excerpt, and thought maybe I should do something about that. The other day, as I was organizing the last of my stuff since moving, I came across a folder that had the original short story I wrote in high school, so many years ago. This was the story that inspired the trilogy I am currently writing. (For those who don’t know, the first book is complete and in the process of being formatted into a manuscript in preparation to send to the editor. With any luck, it may soon be published!) I skimmed through the short story, just out of curiosity. It’s been many years since I read it. My first thought was to either post it on WordPress or stash it away where it will never again see the light of day. While my classmates and my English teacher back then may have found it entertaining, my adult self, who has since gone through such a drastic evolution of literary taste, is appalled! I’m glad I waited so long to finally begin writing the book I was determined to write since that high school writing assignment.

Anyway, I came to an alternative. Rather than post the original story, I will instead rewrite the short story as a sort of writing exercise for the entertainment of everyone here. (Sorry, but I’m too embarrassed to share the original for comparison! :-D) After looking it over, I have decided to change some of the original names/place names, because it just isn’t up to my current standard, and I think in this way, I can have a bit of fun with it. After consideration, I have decided to use names of Celtic Gods and characters, but keep in mind, these characters are not the same as those of lore and myth, but rather something of a tribute to them. Anyway, this is just a lighthearted bit of writing fun, and I don’t want to spend months developing the story. I will post this in two parts, or maybe more, depending on how long it takes to write.

So, without further ado, I give you Keepers of the Stones. (I know, I know! Lousy title, but remember, this is a rewritten version of a story I wrote when I was only seventeen.)

      magic_sapphire

      Once, long ago, in a far off land, called Lan Fayes, there lived an elven Druid of great renown. The Druid, Mathonwy, dwelled with his wife and young daughter in a magnificent hall hewn of pure sapphire, and from the very hall itself, they drew their powers, for the sapphire it was made of was enchanted with vast magical powers.

But Mathonwy’s wife was no less renowned than himself. Called the May Queen by the people of Lan Fayes, Cordelia wielded power over living things that could cause flowers to bloom, trees to bud new leaves, and to bring forth new life to the land. She had a heart full of love, and Cordelia loved no one so much as her daughter, the care-free child of Spring, Olwen. On the day of her birth, Cordelia gifted to Olwen a very magical sapphire which changed colours and was enchanted with the power to protect its bearer.

“May it keep you safe from all harm, my darling girl,” Cordelia whispered as she fastened a silver chain bearing the sapphire around Olwen’s neck. And from that day, Olwen wore the precious gem always.

As Olwen grew, so, too, did her own magical powers. Like her mother, she had a special affinity for growing things. Mathonwy and Cordelia were greatly pleased to note that their daughter had also inherited Cordelia’s healing powers, and so they taught her well.

When Olwen was nearing womanhood, there came an urgent message from a chief of a distant clan, desperate to save his dying daughter, who had been afflicted with a curse by a jealous woman. In his message, the chief pleaded for Mathonwy and Cordelia to come, and make great haste, for his daughter’s time was running out. And so, Mathonwy and his family set off on a journey that would lead them over the mountains to the chiefdom that lay beyond.

It was a long journey by horseback, and they did not reach the mountains for many days. It would take many days more to make the crossing, but they were making good time, and Mathonwy had high hopes of reaching the afflicted girl in time. But on the fifth night of their travels through the mountains, they were set upon by dwarves, whose thick skins and enchanted armour shielded them from Mathonwy’s magic. Helpless to fight against the dwarves, Mathonwy ordered his wife and daughter to flee to safety.

Just then, the leader of the dwarf band, strutted forward and pointed his ax at the Druid. “After this day, the dwarves will sing praises that Hafgan the Terrible slayed the the famous Druid of the Faye! Mathonwy, today is the day you die!” the dwarf declared.

Battling_dwarves

Cordelia and and Olwen started to turn back, but Mathonwy held up his hand. “Go,” he shouted. “I will hold them off!” He braced himself for the fight, as Hafgan stalked closer. Cordelia’s face was pained as she gazed one last time on her husband, before turning away and urging her daughter on.

The dwaves closed in around Mathonwy, but he never took his eyes off Hafgan. In an instant, the fight began. Hafgan lunged at the Druid, and Mathonwy counted with a powerful spell that blasted against the dwarf’s heavy armour, but only succeeded in causing Hafgan to stumble back. The dwarf charged Mathonwy a second time, this time darting out of range as he sent another spell. The force struck a boulder, which burst in a million shards of splintered rock. Before he could gather his energy for another attack, Hafgan struck down Mathonwy with one powerful swing of his ax that lodged deep in his chest. His face contorted in agony and he gasped for breath as blood welled in his throat. Hafgan grinned cruelly, jerked his ax blade free, and set off in pursuit of Cordelia and her daughter.

Mounted on horseback, Cordelia and Olwen were faster than the dwarf, and he soon fell behind until they lost sight of him completely. But still they rode on, afraid to slow their steeds, lest the dwarves should catch up with them. Tears streamed from Cordelia’s face for her fallen husband, but if Olwen wept, she hid her tears well. But they had not gone far, when more dwarves descended from the secret passages in the mountain, to bar their escape.

Cordelia screamed, and Olwen’s terrified gaze darted from the dwarves to her mother, seeking instruction. Then she saw him. Hafgan, and the sapphire her mother had given her, shone indigo. How he had caught up to them so quickly was, to Olwen, a wonder. Frightened as she was, she felt hatred boiling up inside her.

“Olwen, run!” Cordelia whispered, suddenly at her side. When Olwen started to protest, Cordelia hushed her with a look. “I will distract them. You must escape. Now go!”

Cordelia threw everything she had at the dwarves, just as Olwen heeled her horse and charged past the dwarves who attempted to bar her way. She made saplings erupt into massive trees beneath their feet, rocks came tumbling down from the slopes to crash upon the dwarves below, wind howled, rain sleeted, pelting their faces, but it was none of it enough. The dwarves were too many, and too strong. Hafgar laughed when he plunged his ax into Cordelia’s back.

The last thing Olwen saw as she made her escape, was her mother fall to her knees, but already, she was too far way to see the anguish she knew would have shown on Cordelia’s face. After that, all was a blur. Dwarves pursued her, but could not catch her, could not touch her, and any who tried, did not live to try again, for the magical stone that Olwen wore about her neck protected her from harm. And so she rode, until the dawn broke and she found herself in a forest like none she had ever seen before.

fantasy

To be continued…

Review: “The Thunderer: Three Tales of the God of Thunder”

thethunderer

Today I’m doing something new – writing my first book review! I purchased this book on Amazon, The Thunderer: Three Tales of the God of Thunder, by David L. Burkhead, after reading a snippet on the author’s blog, The Writer in Black, which captured my attention. This book features three short stories which all center around Thor, and who can resist a story about the God of Thunder?!

Disclaimer: Normally, I’m not big on short stories. Just isn’t my thing, but I wanted to read these. However, I’m not familiar with the criteria used for reviewing short stories, so I’m just going to give my own honest opinion.

Here goes!

Donner Rothskegg

The first story in the collection is Donner Rothskegg. It is placed in a modern setting, and the main character is a man who has fallen on hard times. This is a story about generosity and hospitality. I’m reluctant to write a synopsis, as I don’t wish to give any spoilers, so I will just share my overall opinion. I found this story to have the best flow of the three, and I particularly liked the quality of story telling employed for this one. The author really drew me in, even though what I was most interested in reading was a retelling of the legends and lore of the Gods, and this is purely a creation of the author’s own imagination. But I really did like it, especially given the fact that I am biased against short stories.

Next up:

In the Hall of the Giant

Story-wise, this was my favourite, because this is more along the lines of what I was looking for, and the primary reason that I purchased the book in the first place. The story telling voice didn’t quite leave the impression on me as did the first story, but overall, I found it quite enjoyable, and I loved the challenges that Thor, Loki and Thjalfi undertook in the Giant’s hall. I read this one aloud to a friend, and he and I both had to giggle at some of the scenarios! But wait until you get to the end, when the giant explains the truth of the challenges Thor and his companions faced! Clever! Very clever. I intend to read this one to my daughter, and think she will enjoy it. Should make for a perfect bedtime story.

Lastly:

God of Thunder

Nice story telling techniques, this one was as unique in content as the first two. I’m not sure if God of Thunder is based on any saga or legend, but it has a little of that kind of feel. Set in Greenland after the conversion to Christianity, it goes on to tell a tale that leads the narrator back to the old Gods. I like that about it, and how it reads like a story being told by an elder to the children around the fireside. However, of the three, this was my least favourite.

Overview: A good value for a collection of short stories, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading tales of the Gods. There are a few typos and in the second story, I noticed a bit of overuse of character names, but it is pretty trivial, and easy to forgive. I the book give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Teaser

The following is a short excerpt from chapter 10. This is the chapter opening, along with a little feedback from my uncle that I found interesting.

King Hrothgar turned his ship north. They were sailing home — all except Dagmar, who gazed longingly south, wishing she could return to her home in Anu Duinn. But she knew she could not go back until she had fulfilled her vow of revenge. Not for the first time, she was hit with the painful realization that she might never be able to return to the elven realm for the killing of her own kind. If she could never go home, then what did she have left to lose? So, with firm resolve, she looked to the north, and there was a fierceness in her green eyes which had not been there before.

From his vantage point at the steering oar, King Hrothgar watched over his crew. He was joined shortly by Ravn, who offered him a horn of ale. Accepting the drink, Hrothgar nodded towards the elf. “Now she is a shield maiden,” he observed. “She still has much to learn, but she has had a taste for what battle really is.”

“Mmm, I’d say she’s much improved since that first raid,” added Ravn.

Hrothgar grunted. “If you can call turning an innocent girl into a killer who slaughters her own people an improvement,” he remarked, bitterly.

Comment from my uncle regarding the above passage: [Edit: On second thought, this comment may be from Dan. Apologies if I made a mistake.]

–Another powerful statement about what is inside Hrothgar’s mind regarding the inclusion of Dagmar in their raids and developing her killer instinct. Hrothgar is still a kind of enigma even though you put us inside his head often with regard to Dagmar. This is a point you can interject why he thinks this way as opposed to relishing her transformation. An internal dialog to support the statement that tells us a little of why he feels this way would be good. Of course, if he is thinking something a bit dark and erotic, we can skip that for now.–

I have already followed his previous suggestion of developing the opening paragraph to reveal more of what is going through Dagmar’s mind, but have yet to think of any good ideas for how to develop a deeper insight into Hrothgar’s inner world. Honestly, I do like that he remains an enigma, so maybe less is more in this case.

Ok, this next one was definitely from Dan! (You always manage to crack me up!)

–marching might conjure an image of formal martial ceremony. It might be better to say hurried, ran, or some quick pace. Definitely no gay skipping. That might not go well.–

Well, that’s all for this post. Not much to go on, but I don’t want to reveal too much, especially this far into the book, for those who haven’t read it yet.

Ready, Set, Go!

And it’s time to knock out the last chapter! (Technically, not the last chapter of the book, because I already completed editing chapter 11 before proceeding chapters, so I’m now working on chapter 10. The non-writers in my life are always so baffled when they hear how out of order I work! Haha!)

Anyway, to jumpstart my morning writing session, I’ve made a very tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs, swiss chard, mushrooms, spring onion and sundried tomatoes, as well as a homemade latte! No cutting corners on the espresso, either. I buy good beans and grind them fresh, then brew my double shot of espresso, steam the milk, and ta-da! Professional quality latte! (And yes, it really is, because I used to work in a cool little bakery making all the cappucinos, lattes, mochas, etc.)

Well, enough talk of food and lattes. Time to get to work!

Another One Down!

Editing for chapter 9 is finished! Only one more chapter to go. Then I just need to review the small additional scenes before Hyperion can do the formatting. After that, it will be off to the editor, and I’ll be contacting those of you who volunteered to read the finished product!

Ahhh!!!! I’m so excited to have made it this far!!!!

7 Down, 2 To Go!

Well, technically, 7 plus the prologue. I just cracked open chapter 9 and then there is only chapter 10 left to edit. Plus a quick review of the couple additional scenes that I wrote this past week.

Would anyone be interested in being a beta reader? I can think of a few of my fellow bloggers that I’d like to nominate for the task. All I would ask in exchange is feedback/constructive critcism and an honest review posted on your own blog/s. (You know, to possibly generate a little publicity for the, hopefully, soon to be published book!)

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