Saturday, October 21, 2017

Zombiecon Review

   Why does it take me so long to write these?? Zombie Con was October 7, two whole weeks ago!
   Anyway, it was a really fun event in a really cool venue: the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, Washington. It opened in 1915 as the Clemmer Theater, and you can read all about it's fascinating history here.
Bing Crosby theater pit

   It was a relatively small convention, with only about seven vendors, plus the make-up artists. Three zombie authors, including me, were present: Grivante and M. Lauryl Lewis being the (delightful) other two. Then there was Verona the Mad's Crafts and Combobulations, from whom I bought a wonderful clockwork pocket watch, and her friend Belinda (whose link I've lost), maker of beautiful handcrafted clay jewelry! Not sure whose links to put in for the makeup artists, but they were all very talented. But here is the facebook page for zombiecon. It will be returning next year, bigger and better!
   Oh, yes, I forgot: there was a sampling of cast and crew from Z Nation there for a panel!! I sit in on the panel, but it sounded entertaining.
   It was a bit slow some of the time, but so many creative zombies came through! And one of the staff got mobbed by ravening zombie children when he tried to pass out free raffle tickets. I felt a little out of place with my scanty selection of horror-themed items: one out of three books, a few Cthulhu paintings and my Java Zombie mug. (now available on my etsy shop). But I sold a few books! And met more zombie authors and had a good time, so that's the most important thing.
   Not to mention this is the most comfortable costume I've made to date. Mainly because it doesn't involve a neck cloth. I love cravats but they make my neck stiff.
   So once again I was a terrifying zombie! Among many. Can't wait for next year!
A terrifying zombie!

Signed book exchange with Grivante

Reading from Ambulatory Cadavers

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October Frights! and a Book Excerpt

Hello! Welcome to the October Frights Blog Hop. You can check out the other blogs on the Hop via the link at the bottom of this post. I really enjoyed this last year and I'm happy to be a part of it again. Life has been happening and I'm behind schedule on everything, so to start off, here's the first chapter of my horror comedy novel, Ambulatory Cadavers!

Chapter One: In Which Alice Meets a Strange Young Man of Questionable Occupation

Alice did not want to get married. Not to the squint-eyed, flamboyant, and disagreeable Earl of Chornby with his squeaky voice. However, as the carriage pulled up to Hope Hall, and her own hope extinguished, she thought she might consider the proposal seriously. She did not want to stay at Hope Hall for longer than a minute.
“You’ll stay here until you’ve properly considered your ways and repented,” Lady Crawft told her as the phaeton lurched to a stop. “I can’t believe you told the Earl ‘no.’ It’s appalling. Why, it’s criminal!”
“But Mama!” Alice protested. “I didn’t refuse him. I told him I would consider his offer and reply within the year.”
“That’s not what he said. He said you told him you wouldn’t marry him in a thousand years.”
“The Earl exaggerates,” Alice said.
“Nonsense,” Lady Crawft snapped as the footman opened the phaeton’s door. “You will conjure up a yes or you will stay here forever.”
The footman helped Lady Crawft and Alice down.
Hope Hall loomed over them, an extravagant affair constructed in complete disregard for any moral principles involving moderation or humility. It looked like a bank cross-bred with Michelangelo’s private sculpture collection. Huge Doric pillars spanned the forty-foot-wide front stair. Alice’s uncle, the Duke of Hopenheim, hid among the pillars, a sour look on his face as if he were waiting to be struck.
“Christopher!” Lady Cawft exclaimed. The Duke winced. “You look much worse than last time I saw you, are you getting enough air?” Lady Crawft hauled Alice up to the top of the steps where pleasantries were exchanged at double speed. Uncle H led them inside where more pleasantries were exchanged with Alice’s aloof cousin, Lyra. Lyra was always stunning with her auburn hair curling away from her high brow and her dark eyes, which glinted with a coldness the Devil himself would have found terrifying.
Alice wanted to turn, leap into the phaeton and flee.
Instead, Jeebie, the butler, escorted her to her room.
“Yes, yes,” said Lady Crawft, “take her away, I must apprise my brother of the situation.” Which of course meant telling him Alice had refused an Earl and must be talked into changing her mind, which was Uncle H’s specialty. He was the most influential Member of Parliament, infamous for bringing his staunchest opponents around to his point of view in a matter of minutes. Most of them, anyway.
Once Jeebie had deposited her in her room, she bolted the door and opened her trunk to dig out her copy of Poetry for the Cultured Mind’s Expansion and Refurbishment by E.A. Wandlund. She paused, thinking she heard a funny scratching sound from the wall near the walk-in armoire. Mice, she thought, how appropriate. Her skin crawled and she fled to the chaise by the window with her collection of dry poetry.
She always sat there on her visits to the Hall. She would wrap the gauzy curtains around herself so she could see neither the room nor the garden outside, but the sun would glow golden through the pale yellow curtains and illuminate her book.
It couldn’t have been more than half a heartbeat later that Lady Crawft banged on the door. Alice jumped out of her skin.
“Alice!” Lady Crawft demanded. “Open the door.”
Alice dove out of her curtain shroud and looked about the room for a mode of escape. There was only one door, but the room afforded a ridiculous number of other options. She normally tried not to look around when she stayed here, it was too horrible. Now its many gloomy nooks and crannies seemed delightful.
There was a massive vanity and a washstand with a bowl big enough to bathe a dog in. Perhaps she could hide there. Or under the bed. One could hide a regiment under that bed. In fact, Alice had always been convinced that a there was a regiment under the bed, a dead regiment in open coffins. There was the armoire, but Lyra had always delighted in pulling Alice into the dark stuffy confines and telling her ghost stories about the woman in white who perished in the forest but refused to rest.
“Alice,” Lady Crawft repeated, “open this door at once, I must speak with you on the subject of your marriage.”
Alice darted into the armoire. It was bare. She hadn’t unpacked, which meant that as soon as Lady Crawft opened it, Alice would be exposed. And it sounded as if Lady Crawft was breaking down the bedroom door at that very moment.
Alice’s back pressed against the back of the armoire. Again she heard the mice in the wall; their frantic shuffling mirroring her heart.
“Alice! Open. This. Door. Now!” Alice splayed her hands against the back of the armoire and squeezed her eyes shut. Her finger pressed a knot. The armoire back flipped open, dumping her into a secret passage.
Landing on her derriere in a cloud of dust, she thought, So this was how Lyra snuck into my room to imitate dead soldiers under my bed. Her nose twitched. She sneezed.
“Alice?” Lady Crawft asked.
Alice felt around for the secret door and pushed it closed. Her mother’s demands for immediate matrimony were muted. She stood in the narrow passage and inched along, trailing her hands along each wall. The dark was terrifying. She couldn’t see a thing, but she was so very tired of hearing the tedious reasons for her insalubrious marriage enumerated. She came to another door. She opened it and peered in. It appeared to be the interior of Lyra’s wardrobe. No one else would wear such immodestly adorned gowns, especially not Uncle Hopenheim.
Lyra was not very high on Alice’s list of favorable alternatives to coercion so she closed the door quietly and kept moving down the passage. A light flickered somewhere ahead. Behind her came the distant sounds of Lady Crawft beating on her door.
Alice quickened her pace and fell face-first down a very narrow flight of stairs. She tumbled with a cry of horror into a tiny space. Regrettably, the space was already occupied.
“Ow!” yelped a voice.
Alice gasped wordlessly in shock and pain, her limbs tangling with more limbs that were certainly not hers.
“You’re crushing my arm,” a voice said in her ear. “And most of my other body parts as well.” Alice nearly screamed, scrambling off the invisible person and bashing into the wall rather violently; violently enough to give her a goose egg on the back of her head. Her heart sputtered and nearly died.
There was a scratch and a flare as a flint was struck, then a candle bloomed to life and Alice could see a young man with grey eyes that twinkled rather demonically, through a tangled mass of grey curls – although they seemed to be grey from dust and cobwebs rather than the natural cause of aging. His face was thin and his nose and ears stuck out rather comically. Alice sighed in relief – he wasn’t a dead soldier.
“Oh, hello,” he said, looking at her curiously. “Who are you?”
Alice turned red and tried to stand, but her ankle squealed in protest and she collapsed. “Oh, I’ve broken my ankle!” she exclaimed.
“Gosh,” said the young man, kneeling and setting down his candle. “You shouldn’t go around without a light, you know,” he admonished, taking her foot gently and examining it.
Alice thought she might faint. “You shouldn’t either,” she gasped, not sure why she said it. Lack of air seemed the most logical answer.
“I have a light, I just put it out because I thought one of those horrid Hopenheims was coming,” the young man explained. “Your ankle’s not broken. What are you doing in Hope Hall?”
“The other one.”
“What other Hall?”
“No, my other ankle is broken,” she said, holding it out. She wasn’t sure why; it certainly seemed unlikely he was a doctor. She just wanted someone — anyone — to tell her she was fine. The prospect of lying in bed in Hope Hall was far more terrifying than being alone in a secret passage with a complete stranger whilst being deprived of air.
“What are you doing in Hope Hall?” the young man repeated, looking at her other ankle.
“What are you doing? Who are you?” Alice asked.
“Ah, that would be top secret,” the young man said, winking. Alice was mortified.
“Did you just wink at me?” Alice asked.
“Yes,” he replied, apparently taken aback. “Does that offend you? Your other ankle is also not broken.”
“Yes, that offends me!” Alice said. “I mean, the winking, not the ankle. I mean…it’s very familiar.”
“Ankles are,” the young man nodded, picking up his candle and standing. Alice blushed. She didn’t like his being familiar with her ankles, nor remarking on his familiarity with ankles, hers or otherwise.
She also stood, wincing. It forced her into scandalous proximity with the strange young man. She stared up into the curved nostrils of his epic nose. Behind her were the stairs, up which she very nearly flew, but the strange young man opened a door on the other side of the tiny space and Alice’s curiosity rooted her in place. Where did the secret passages in Hope Hall lead? What was this young man dressed rather like a highwayman doing here? Surely burglars dressed in floppy hats, fingerless gloves and jackets, not greatcoats and scarves?
“Who are you?” Alice demanded. It wasn’t very polite, but she was certain that he wasn’t one of the servants, and so a little rudeness could be excused as he presumably didn’t belong in the house.
“Call me Creamey,” he said. “And you?”
“Alice — I…I mean, Miss Crawft,” she said. She really needed some air. The things one did when deprived were truly quite frightful.
Creamey stepped through the door. Alice thought again of fleeing back up the stairs to her room, but as Creamey vanished into the mysteries of Hope Hall, the candlelight went with him, plunging Alice once more into darkness.
Alice lurched through the door after him. Once back in the light, she proceeded more cautiously. Her left ankle still hurt some when she stepped on it. They emerged in another ridiculously narrow passage with a door at one end and steps going down at the other.
“I see, and your business?” Creamey asked, heading towards the steps.
“This is my cousin’s house.”
“Oh…” Creamey said, stopping at the top of the steps. He turned to her. “Um, ah, you won’t mention seeing me, will you?”
“I don’t see that I shouldn’t,” Alice said, much more bravely than she felt. It occurred to her a shocking number of knives could be concealed in a coat of such voluminous nature. Creamey grinned rather queasily.
“Look…I—” he was cut off by footsteps coming down the stairs behind them. The Duke of Hopenheim’s voice boomed down the passageways.
“Heaven help us all,” he was saying. “I can’t imagine that poet is still alive!” The poet in question was Alice’s father. “What he has to put up with… it makes my skin crawl and my eyes flood with sympathetic tears – and you know how unsympathetic I am.”
“Yes, Papa,” Lyra’s voice answered.
“Dammit,” Creamey said, grabbing Alice’s arm and running down the stairs. Alice bolted gladly. The last thing she wanted was to be caught by her cousin and uncle in secret passageways with a strange young man of questionable occupation.
Her ankle threatened to shatter on each step. They reached the bottom as the door in the passage above creaked open. Alice and Creamey sprinted down a long tunnel lined with alcoves, which held horrible things like, medieval torture devices, casks of vintage wine, a few coffins, some old needlepoint, and a statue of Uncle Hopenheim. The air was musty, and odors of mold drifted on the slight draft that stirred the cobwebs dangling from Uncle H’s graven image.
The passage opened up into an ancient cellar; or perhaps it was a dungeon. There was a barred door on one side and a regular door on the other. Straight across from the tunnel opening was a very old looking wooden door banded by strips of iron with large, wicked looking spikes. A collection of antique weaponry occupied the center of the stone cellar: cobweb-coated trunks and racks of rusted rifles, an old canon, poleaxes, and an assortment of bayonets and blunderbuss parts.
“Which way?” Creamey asked.
“I don’t know!” wailed Alice. “I’ve never been down here before.”
Creamey raced to the ordinary door. He peeked in and closed it. “Crypt,” he pronounced. Alice grabbed a rusty sword from the collection.
“Crypt?” she squeaked. Creamey raced to the barred door. It was locked. Alice followed him to the last door, which stood slightly ajar. The Duke’s voice boomed from the stairs.
“You understand the importance of the marriage, of course?”
“I suppose,” Lyra replied.
Alice frowned. Now they were both on to it… how miserable her stay was going to be. Especially if she got caught down here. She followed Creamey through the door. Creamey’s candle glinted on glass phials, beakers and tubes lined out on tables. There were horrible chains hanging from the ceiling and several metal cots lined in a row. A hulking boiler loomed in one corner and wires curled down the walls to connect with great awful gears and tubes and crank handles.
“God’s molars,” said Creamey. Alice gaped at him. “Pardon,” he amended. Then, looking around, he added, “but in all seriousness, God’s molars and eyeteeth!” There was no exit. They couldn’t go back out into the cellar: Hopenheim and Lyra would have reached the tunnel by now and would see their candle…
Creamey pointed at several large cabinets. He opened one, but it was full of bottles labeled with things like, ‘formaldehyde’ and ‘mandrake.’ There was even a brain floating in a large jar. Alice shuddered, looking away from the horrid, slimy things. Her stomach was already tight with fear, which was probably for the best, or she might have emptied it right there.
The next cabinet contained books with authors like Archimedes, Galen, Ocelot, and Paracelsus. Hopenheim and Lyra’s voices were getting closer.
Creamey dashed over to an iron maiden propped up in the corner. He pushed it open. It must have been put to regular use, the joints well oiled, because it didn’t make a sound. He closed himself in, extinguishing his candle.
Alice was about to protest when the door flew open.

Get the book:

And hop for more horror!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Interview with Alison Clarke, Traveling Different Worlds

Alison Clarke is a young adult fantasy author of The Sisterhood Series. Book One, The Sisterhood, won 2016 Writer Of The Year by Diversity magazine. Book Two, Racine, which just came out on July 1, has already been nominated for Book Of The Year.
Twitter: @mythologist200

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I enjoy fantasy because I like creating different worlds. I don’t think about balancing, in terms of genres, because I think that emphasis will manifest organically.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
They came from my love for libraries.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since grade six. 

What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I write young adult fantasy, but I also write poetry.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
Storytelling is an engine for empathy, and through walking in someone else’s shoes, we get a better understanding of what that person is going through.
It helps people to see that we have a shared humanity, that we should be more united than divided.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Fantastical elements, vivid imagery, and a poetic element to the writing, as I’m also a poet.

What was the hardest part of writing a book? 
Finding the time.

What did you enjoy most about writing a book?
Creating different worlds.

What inspires you? 
Going out for walks, nature.

What do you like to read in your free time?
I’ll read anything--from biographies, art books, books of poetry, and so on.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Unity Book Tour, Author Interview Exchange

As part of the UNITY BOOK TOUR, bringing three publishers and their authors together from around the world, we have this fun author interview exchange! I get to interview an author from another publisher and that author interviews me! So, I'd like to introduce you to Jacob Devlin! A fellow myth and fairytale fan, it seems! He's with Blaze Publishing, which is based in the U.S.
He's going to tell us a bit about himself and if you want a chance to win a copy of his book, just leave a comment here.

And be sure to head over to Jacob’s blog where I'm being interviewed!

Author Jacob Devlin

So hi. What’s your name and what do you write?
Hi! My name is Jacob Devlin. I write YA/upper MG fantasy books, usually with some sort of fairy tale or mythical twist involved.

When did you start writing and why?
I've enjoyed writing ever since I was little, but I got serious about it in grad school and wrote as a creative outlet for some of the emotions I was feeling when I lost a friend to brain cancer. What I found was that I was so "in my element" writing novels that I didn't want to stop, ever. The body and soul just required it.

What were the biggest challenges about becoming a published author?
To quote Captain America . . . patience! Querying, and the wait time that followed, was so ridonculously demoralizing. I was prepared for rejection. The real torture was waiting for the rejection letters that didn't even come. Sometimes I'd be holding out hope for a particular agent, a few months would go by, and I'd be like, "just tell me it's hot juicy garbage so I can move on already!" But the reality is that they don't have time to write rejections for everybody. So you have to learn to identify that moment where it's time to boot up and move on.

Shout out your publisher and tell us how they helped you on your creative journey.
Blaze Publishing has been great working with me through my first trilogy. They've forced my characters to grow, and strangely, I've felt myself growing with them.

Where can we find out more about them? 
I'd check out their website (!

What are you working on right now?
I'm between drafts of THE HUMMINGBIRD, the final book of my fairy tale fantasy trilogy. While I wait for revisions, I'm working on a totally separate project involving a dragon, a reality TV adventurist, and a train wreck!

Who is your most favourite character you’ve written and why do they speak to you so much?
While it's always incredibly hard to answer this question, I'm always going to have a huge soft spot for Pietro, the Peter Pan of my story. The trilogy takes some dark turns, but Pietro brings the charm and comic relief. He's also fiercely loyal to his loved ones and is exactly the kind of friend you'd want beside you for a road trip or war against an evil queen!

Do world events and politics influence your writing?
Up to this point, I've opted to leave a lot of today's politics out, because don't we need an escape sometimes? That's not to say I'll never draw from the political environment or current events, but I choose to leave that separate right now.

How important are places you have visited and where you live to your writing?
I have the travel bug, and my characters do too! I loved writing about an actual Renaissance Faire I went to in Maryland, where I discovered fried mac-and-cheese on a stick, and Renaissance jail! I love working different places into my writing.

Share with us your favourite line from your most recent release.
There's a simple piece of dialogue directed at Prince Liam: "The white knight has a shadow after all." His series arc is pretty turbulent and this is where his demons start kicking in.

Tell us five things that you love in life.
1. Breakfast for dinner! Especially Apple Jacks.
2. Comfortable shoes.
3. Movie theaters.
4. Traveling! Sightseeing, eating local food, exploring.
5. Music.

Tell us five things that you hate in life.
1. Those fake-out voicemail greetings. (Hello? What? Yeah? PSYCH LEAVE A MESSAGE LOL HA) STOP. IT!
2. Scorpions. Hell's rejects.
3. Losing at Scattergories.
4. Cancer.
5. Jerkish, entitled behavior.

What book started your love of reading?
I can't remember NOT having a love of reading. I was really into the Bailey School Kids in my elementary school days! A Wrinkle In Time and Harry Potter followed closely after that.

Tell us about your most recent release.
It's part of a series in which your favorite fairy tale characters and their families come together to fight off an evil queen and face their demons along the way! In the most recent installment, the main characters have to fight their way out of Wonderland. Along the way they're meeting the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Hearts, all with their own new twists!

Where can we buy it?
You can order it through your local Barnes and Noble, Blaze Publishing's website, or Amazon!
Where can we find you on social media?
Twitter/IG: @jacob_devlin

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I Was A Horrifying Zombie (Sandemonium 2017)

   So, a week later, I finally get around to writing about Sandemonium. It was August 26, so, sorry if you missed it, because it was a blast.
   What is Sandemonium? It is a small, local, friendly, and fantastic fandom convention in Sandpoint, Idaho, a convenient 45 minutes from where I live. The atmosphere is warm and the vendors are always great. From local authors to artists, game-makers to librarians, they've got something to fascinate. This year, the table behind me was Board2Death a game development company with their own role-playing card game (they had their artist there, who had done all the art for the cards). And there was Sack Lunch Comics and Little Vampires
   I experienced pretty good sales, I thought, for such a small event. I got my picture taken with Darth Vader!

   And there was an author reading, in which I participated (read from Ambulatory Cadavers). I also got to meet Kevin Penelerick, with whom I've been acquainted online, ever since he helped me find  networking opportunities after Ambulatory Cadavers was released (he also writes zombie fiction under another name). He read his children's book, Guppy Butter, which is a horrifyingly delightful tale of tragedy and fish. Seriously twisted (I loved it).
   And there was the cosplay contest. Since I won the amateur department last year, and I sewed my entire costume (sans tights and shoes), I had to enter the professional department, against two fabulous D&D characters.
   All of the costumes were really fun and fantastic! From the pirates to the Skyrim character to the soldiers and Pacman.
   The moral of the story? Cons are fun. Although I did miss out on the panels. They had panels on cosplay and writing and self publishing and gaming. Not much boffering this year, but hey. Also, violin covers of rock songs seemed to be the main soundtrack. In my formal Regency get-up, I wanted to dance, but sadly refrained.
    The best part, really, is talking to readers, potential and returning. When you're sitting at a table labeled 'author,' people will walk up to you and start talking about their own writing, and that is the best thing. There's a little pressure, of course, because I want my success to inspire others. And, I guess it must, without my even having to say anything. Otherwise no-one would stop and tell me that they write, read me their excerpts, and discuss the creative process. It's encouraging and I do my best to be encouraging. I want them to get what I get out of our conversations: inspiration to keep going, to keep writing, and keep connecting.
   Writing brings people together, and that, I think, is the true moral of the story.

   p.s. I wore that make-up all day. Couldn't itch my nose for fear of ruining it.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Small Update and PANIC!!!

   First the update:
   Weather Casters Book Three: nothing official on a release date, but it is likely postponed until early 2018. SORRY. But this means more time to perfect it and design the best cover and release party ;)
   My Etsy: I now have an etsy shop where I am selling prints of some of my paintings! Check it out
   Things I'm doing in the next couple months: I will be at two conventions: the small Comic con in Sandpoint, Idaho that I went to last year. I had a lot of fun there and look forward to returning. Sandemonium 2017 And then, in October, I will be at the first Zombiecon hosted by Spokane Zombie Crawl at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, WA! Zombiecon
   I also have myriad online appearances. Starting tomorrow at A Novel Connection on Facebook. Then I have an interview on September 4 at Audrina's Place (also Facebook).
   Oh!! And the blog hop! My publisher (Little Bird Publishing House) is collaborating with two other indie presses, Firequill (of South Africa) and Blaze (of the U.S.) on a wild blog hop that promises to be fun and fantastic! I will keep you posted.
   AND now the PANIC!!!
   I am a very disorganized person. I hope I can keep it together through all this. I have so little time, between work and sleep to organize these things. But I will do my best. And it will be fun! The cons, of course, will be the most fun, but so will the online events. I'm just not good at hosting these things. Seat of the pants. That's how I approach them. Most things, actually.
   And really, that's part of the fun.
   So, tomorrow, here I come, virtually unprepared and in a state of panic. Live life on the edge.
   Summer's already more than half over, but enjoy that which remains, and remember, panic is ok.
   Until next time, Au revoir.

p.s. at some point, I will get back to posting stories on here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

ChapterCon Awards

My fabulous friends Hazel Robinson, Helen Whapshott, Alison Clarke, Martin Ferguson, and Jill Turner have been nominated for various awards at Chapter Con 2017 in London! Help them out with some votes!
 Vote here!

Chapter Con is an author and blogger conference and public book signing, find out more about this amazing event here.

Image may contain: text

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coming Soon! Martin Ferguson's Curse of the Sands!

Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Title: Curse of the Sands: Relic Hunters Book 2
Author: Martin Ferguson

Blurb: Thousands of miles away from London and The British Museum, in the mysterious Land of The Pharaohs, a pyramid has been discovered, or more accurately, one has suddenly appeared.
As treasure hunting teams from across the globe dash to the historic discovery, the race is on for the Hunter brothers, and their fellow members of the British Museum team, to unlock both the pyramid’s secrets and its relics.
Only, not all is as it seems, and as the treasure hunters begin to die one by one, it soon becomes apparent the pyramid has its own vengeful agenda.
In this second book of the Relic Hunters’ Series, seventeen-year-old Adam Hunter must learn to work as part of the team in order to save the day and win the heart of the girl he's falling for.

Curse of the Sands is published by Little Bird Publishing and available in Paperback and eBook format at Amazon and Kindle. 
Amazon pre-order for Curse of the Sands:

About the Author: Martin lives in Norwich, England and is currently working on the young adult fantasy and historical series 'Relic Hunters'. Inspired by the myths and legends his parents told him as a boy and with the help of his ever-suffering wife, a teacher and history graduate, 'Eagle of the Empire' was the first entry in the 'Relic Hunters' series, to be followed by ‘Curse of the Sands’ on 1st June 2017.

And get the first book in the series here

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Giveaway! With zombies!

   I am giving away three copies of my horrifying (and delightful) Ambulatory Cadavers, a Regency Zombie Novel. So get ready to sink your teeth into a brain! I mean a book. Figuratively, I hope. Since tooth marks would not be very attractive on a book cover and saliva has sanitation issues.
   This was such a fun book to write. All of the characters are my favorite characters, they just appeared to me on the page so real and often ridiculous. It's got it all: science (?!), Balls, art, zombies, gore, and even some romance. I could copy and paste the blurb here, but I'm too lazy, so I'll just state briefly that there are two cousins. One timid, one bold. One evil scientist, one reluctant fiancee. Oh, and a spy, and an artist and then a zombie with character, named Test.
   Reviewers say that it is a literary romp!
   So enter for a chance to win, I'll be signing the copies and probably slipping a little something extra into the packages (just some original art cards 😉). Did I mention I painted the image on the book cover?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ambulatory Cadavers by McCallum J. Morgan

Ambulatory Cadavers

by McCallum J. Morgan

Giveaway ends May 12, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tailoring for Idiots (by Idiots)

   The more I sew, the more I wonder why do it and how I manage to make something even remotely resembling a garment of any kind.
   I have learned a few things, though. And so I will teach them to you, so you won't make the same mistakes that I have. Well, I really probably knew better, but still committed the mistakes. So now you can blatantly commit these mistakes as well!
   Tailoring for Idiots! (by Idiots)

   Lesson number one: always pre-wash fabric. I have made several costumes without pre-washing the fabric. These costumes are made of cotton. So now if I ever wash them I will never be able to wear them again. Also, they will probably become deformed and wrinkled. Not all fabrics shrink when washed, of course, but a friend who is actually in the fashion industry (if you're reading this, hi, please don't break all of my facial bones) advised that all fabrics need a pre-wash. And I agree. One washes the clothing they purchase before wearing (at least, my family always does). Who knows where it's been between manufacture and you? Various dusty warehouses, trains, ships, and fabric stores. What Cheeto encrusted fingers might have chopped that fabric into your order back at the amazon seller's base? (Sorry, all fabric store workers. The ones I have dealt with are all very nice and clean with no Cheeto encrusting whatsoever, but that doesn't mean they don't exist somewhere.) And I suppose there are chemical concerns: those freshly printed fabrics probably need to be rinsed off before sliding over your skin.
   But what if my fabric wrinkles after the wash? Then you iron it. Great Scott! You don't mean more work? Sadly, yes. Which brings us to lesson two.

   Lesson number two: Do (not) be lazy. If you really want something to look nice, you're going to have to work at it. Don't take those tempting shortcuts that call to you like sirens. You'll wreck your boat on the rocks of 'Dang it, now I have to start over!' It will take time to create something worth touting. Make sure you measure everything properly. Make sure you cut it carefully. Make sure you sew slowly. And for Pete's sake, make sure you know what you're even doing! This lesson is very closely related to lesson seven, so we'll come back to this theme again. It needs reiteration.

   Lesson number three: Don't be a hypocrite! (Like me)

   Lesson number four: Keep Calm and Carry On. If you sew something together wrong (or hideously) and it needs redone, KEEP CALM. You will have to get out the seam ripper. Again, remain calm and try not to break things. It will be okay. Not today, but someday. If you need to, take a break. Seam-ripping can wait until after a calming cup of chamomile tea, or the next day. Seam-ripping is in all reality a monotonous task at worst, not Hell on earth as you (and I) may falsely believe. But it's close.
   Also remain calm if you break the sewing machine needle. This will happen at some point. Especially if, like me, you don't actually know what a hem is and suddenly you are sewing a very thick pile of fabric where your hems overlap on the sleeve you are sewing together (wait. Am I supposed to do the hem AFTER completing the sleeve? Please consult an actual seamstress and/or official sewing guide before proceeding (that goes for me, too)).

   Lesson number five: You should probably use a pattern. For years I didn't. Now I use a 'pattern,' Which is a word which here means: I cut up an old suit coat and use it as a guide while I cut fantastical shapes out of large pieces of expensive fabric. Patterns never hurt anyone and it is unlikely that they will do anything to ruin your life. If you are sewing, they will probably improve your quality of life and general sense of happiness. Don't be stubborn and/or lazy like me. Historic patterns exist and you can buy them online. For example: Reconstructing History and Historical Sewing 
   Although patterns introduce sizing issues. Better accuracy would help me, I suppose, since I currently go by guesswork. I should really learn how to use patterns and sizing because then I could sew for other people besides myself and possibly make money.

Lesson number six: You should also probably learn more about your sewing machine and its maintenance (especially if your local sewing machine repair shop closed some time ago).

   Lesson number seven: Slow Down! Be patient. Seriously. If you didn't sew like a madman and finish the garment in a day, it might look a whole lot better and not have those weird wrinkles and odd seams...This, I think is a major factor. Don't hurry. Yes, it's monotonous sometimes and takes forever and you just want to wear your latest creation and sweep around your castle in your new trailing dressing gown, but you need to slow down. Take it easy and be careful. You'll have better success and higher quality. But you should also refer to the previous lessons as this one is unlikely to be a cure all.

   My latest project was a long dressing gown. Fleece on the inside and stretch panne velvet on the outside. So if someone can tell me how to keep the blasted stuff from stretching and causing awful wrinkles and weird stretched panels, please help! Also, I could use some advice on hems trimmed with an accent fabric, because mine (A) didn't line up (because I didn't measure carefully enough) (B) had weird wrinkles (because I didn't iron the fabric) and (C) still looks pretty awesome! (If I do say so myself)
   I need to go back over my seven lessons, put them into practice and apply them to my next project.
   Oh, and as I told my brother, I can make you a dressing gown with matching beard bib (or nightcap!) for $200.
   Happy sewing and/or despairing, my friends! Remember, be patient and get it done now! You just take your two pieces of fabric and stick them under the needle and press the pedal! At some point you will sew the wrong pieces together or break the needle, just remain calm and remember: You are sewing because you love old fashioned clothes and can't afford to buy them. I still can't figure out how they end up looking remotely like historical clothing, though.

Look, a dressing gown. Bit wrinkly but it sure is comfy, which is more than I can say for some of my other projects.

With a matching nightcap!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Unonera's Invention

   Onys, now free from his prison, sifted through the abyss beyond Nomra’s domain in the core of Oramon. He drifted aimlessly for some time, brooding on his revenge. How long he remained like that, he knew not, for time in the dark is immeasurable. But he gained strength from the darkness and solace from its silence.
   A glimmer came through the shadows at last and Onys approached it, curious of its origin, but wary, lest it be an agent of Nomra sent to trap him again. He emerged in Unamalteron, under the sea, where the darkness of the unformed internal earth met with the bottom of sea’s chasms.
   He crawled out of the shadow and up to the peak of Unamalteron, where he found the blind and mute Unonera, etching symbols in slabs of shale brought to her by the spiny Denites. Onys sat beside her and watched her etch the symbols day after day, tracing them with her fingers and rewriting her slates. Her arcane actions intrigued him and he thought her strange and beautiful. The Denites were wary of Onys, but since he did not seem to want to harm their mistress, they left him alone. The Denites also passed the slates of shale among each other, seemingly trying to learn the glyphs that Unonera had made. Sometimes she would help them, drawing pictures to illustrate verbs and making gestures until the Denites learned a symbols’ meaning.
   Unonera sensed the presence of Onys and sought him with her hands, exploring his disfigured face. But she did not draw away.
   “I am Onys,” Onys said. “I was awakened in the dark by Nomra. But she feared me and locked me away. I escaped and wandered the dark, until I found this opening into the twilight seas. This place is magnificent and shadowy, where one might be hidden and reality might morph. Who are you, eyeless queen of this shadow realm?”
   But Unonera could not speak, only scribble on her slates and show him writings that he did not understand. So Onys stayed and absorbed her form of communication until he had mastered it. Then he took a shard of rock and made a slate for Unonera, passing it to her. She felt the symbols with her fingertips and smiled.
   I know your speech. Tell me who you are.
   And Unonera would have wept, but she had no eyes, so she wrote for Onys on a piece of stone:
I am Unonera. Denu made me by accident, dreaming of his lost wife. But I was formed awry, like you, without eyes, but with a sight that looks into the future. Denu despised me and my prophecy and cut off my tongue. Now I write prophecies alone in this shadowy place, inventing ways that I might speak, but I can barely teach it to others. Now that you, who can speak, know my speech, perhaps you can teach it to others?
   “But I dare not go up into the light,” said Onys. “The light is unkind to me.”
   Unonera wrote: Then help me teach the Denites, that they may spread my language. There is a city far from here, but it is sparkling with lights and the people there are beautiful and will not look upon strange creatures like us.
   Onys stayed with Unonera and helped her teach the Denites to read and write.
   My voice and my prophecies shall not go unheard, Unonera wrote.
   Onys took darkness from the chasm of Unamalteron and formed slates of onyx and a sharp stylus for Unonera. When she had written in the soft black stone, the Denites would take it up to the surface of the sea, where the sun would harden the shadow stones. The Denites built crude stone monoliths and set the onyx tablets in them and there slowly grew a forest of stone prophecies beside Unamalteron.

   But Unonera was not satisfied. I must take my words to others, she said. She asked Onys to go with her to the palace of Denona, where Triona and her daughters lived with the Trinites. Onys at last agreed to accompany her, for she warned that the people of Denona had once warred with her and the Denites. First, Onys made himself a reflective mask of onyx and a dark robe that absorbed light, then together, he and Unonera made their way to the shining palace of Triona, where there was always celebration.
   The halls of Denona were in even more riotous celebration than usual. Many months before, when Onys had slipped out of Unamalteron, Denu had crashed into the sea after stealing Mihr. He had come to his old lover, Triona, wounded by the bats of Nomra. Triona had long believed him dead, and was overjoyed. She and her daughters took care of him while he healed and now he was at last fully recovered.
   The daughters of Triona and Denu, the Syré, filled the palace with heavenly songs. Denu showed them how to make the flutes and stringed shells that his children had made in the world above and the Syré played on them, too. And the dancing did not cease. The lights sparkled all around and gleamed off the scales of the Syré and Triona and off the smooth shells of the Trinites. The Trinites’ eyes of fire flickered as they joined the dancing, scuttling back and forth and twirling in circles. A great banquet had also been prepared: delicious shoots of underwater plants, flavorful shellfish, and sweet jellies made from medusas and sea-honey.
   It had been long since any warfare had been waged on Denona by the Denites, and so Unonera and Onys walked right through the gates and into the festival. Slowly, the celebrants stopped their dancing and stared as they realized there were two newcomers standing in their midst.
   Denu recognized Unonera and drew back with a cry. Onys stepped forward.
   “Unonera has a gift for you all,” he said. “She brings you her words.”
   “We do not want her black prophecies here,” Denu snarled, so soon forgetting that she had saved him from the wrath of Neron.
   “She has more to offer than the valuable glimpses of the future,” Onys said. “She brings you history, posterity, eternal delights. She brings you writing.”
   “What is writing?” asked Triona.
   “It is how you speak to your descendants; it is your voice and words, etched in stone forever; for the voiceless, it is a way to speak,” Onys said and Unonera unveiled a slab of onyx that she carried, with all her glyphs carefully written thereupon.
   “What are those markings?” asked one of the Syré.
   “They are symbols,” said Onys. “Each has a meaning and with them, you can say anything that you desire, silently, for eternity.”
   “Why have you come here? Who are you?” demanded Denu.
   “I am Onys,” said Onys. “I have come here to help Unonera teach her language to you. She wishes to gift this new art to all peoples, that they may write as she does, and read.”
   “She only wants that her dark words should echo in every head and render all defenseless to despair!” Denu said, then he turned to Triona. “Send her away. She brought the Denites against you before. What motive drives her now?”
   Unonera shook her head and Onys stepped forward, but Triona gestured to the Trinites and they herded Onys and Unonera from the palace and closed the gate. The onyx slab of alphabet slipped from Unonera’s limp fingers and she leaned on Onys as they made their way back to the gloom of Unamalteron.

   But one of the Syré, named Essua, followed them, for she was intrigued by these silent and beautiful words. Although she was afraid of the Denites, she stayed with Unonera and Onys and learned Unonera’s alphabet. And when she had mastered it, she returned to Denona to teach her sisters.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Theft of Mihr

   Now the time drew near for the Children of Denu’s annual pilgrimage into the depths of Oramon to pay tribute to their grandmother, Nomra. Denu requested to accompany the caravan. Ner was justly suspicious but, with his mother present, did not dare to forbid his father anything.
   Onera asked Nu to help her create a gift for her mother. Nu used a shell and lined it with hairs from Onera’s head and called it the Omra, the first stringed instrument.    Onera gave it to Denu and told him to give it to Nomra with certain words.
   So Denu set off with his Children to the cleft that led into Nomra’s domain. Ner was beginning at last to grow old after the centuries and sent his son Teris in his stead to visit Nomra, warning him before he left, “Beware of your grandfather, Denu, for he is a cunning one.”
   The procession wound through the forests and hills to the cleft where darkness slept. And then down into the heart of Oramon, along the sparkling paths where silver grass grew, down the golden steps into the caverns of glimmering phosphorus and shimmering flame, along the road of chiseled onyx into the crystal caverns where jeweled birds swooped and gemstone flowers bloomed. The pilgrims came to the carven palaces made by Syn and the stone man himself opened the silver doors for them and they passed into the halls of glittering gold, jewel, and crystal. These stones and metals had been formed expertly by Syn, depicting animals and plants and vistas of unimagined beauty.
   In the center of the palace hung Mihr, the Night Light, glowing over Nomra’s throne of jade and the pearlescent tomb of Onys.            Nomra was waiting, with bats swooping around her head, to greet her visitors. Sylo was at her side but Phiron was in the world above, teaching the new race that he and Nomra had crafted together, the Pyrites, small salamander-men that would become great craftsmen.
   Deru greeted Nomra and introduced Denu. Nomra’s eyes sparkled and she turned her scorching gaze upon Denu.
   “I have not always smiled upon Neron’s new beings,” she said, “But your Children have behaved well. They came slimily at first, with flattery and groveling, but long has been our covenant and true respect and friendship has arisen between us. Upon hearing of Nemrus’ curse, I even granted them room in my palaces after their mortal existences were through. After all, it is what Onera’s shadow told me of long ago when these spaces were terrible and dark. But what merit have you, Denu, of the starry eyes?”
   “I have brought a gift from your daughter,” Denu said, laying the Omra at her feet.
   “And she did not come herself?”
   “She did not wish to impose upon the palaces of thy refuge without first sending an emissary,” Denu said, bowing low. “She wishes to reiterate that she bears you only thoughts of warmth and affection.”
   “Thoughts,” said Nomra darkly. “The thoughts of the mind are manifold and much afflicted with duplicity. But the feelings of the heart are true, no matter how frequently thrust through with shafts of contrary emotions. How does her heart read? How does thine, Denu?”
   “Mine is open to you, Lady of the Center,” said Denu. “Read it as you will.”
   “I do not like what I see.”
   “’Tis the many broken shafts,” said Denu, “the darts of fate and the cold loveless eye of a father.”
   “Your children have told me some of your history,” said Nomra. “And that was fed to them by a bitter mother. Neron has always loved his creations. If he does not love one, I trust he has reason.”
   “A reason that pales beneath sound judgement,” said Denu. “That of jealousy, a sin that has touched even you, Lady of the Center.”
   Nomra’s eyes flashed but she did not move.
   “Tell Onera that if she truly wishes it, she may come and see me, but unaccompanied,” Nomra said at last.
Teris and his uncles and aunts all paid their tribute and the pilgrims made their respectful exit.
   “Father,” said Deru to Denu, “it was not good that you said those things to Nomra.”
Denu, seeing that Deru was not flexible, turned his lips secretly to Teris’s ear. “The craft of your father’s city is great and powerful,” he said. “The power of creation is in all thine eyes. Beheld you, the great shining sphere that glows in serenity above Nomra’s throne?”
   “Mihr,” replied Teris. “It is a sentinel, they say, and Nomra uses it to form things in the dark.”
   “And think to what heights it could take your artifice,” said Denu. “If you had this light in your city, you would be powerful beyond Neron and beyond Nomra. All of Oramon would be yours.”
   Teris did not at first like his grandfather’s suggestion, but by the time they had nearly reached Nemraltus, Denu had convinced him that naught could go wrong, and so, secretly, the two turned back and slipped into the darkness once more.
   They crept into the underworld palace and Denu disguised them that they might blend into the shadows. Thus, they peered into Nomra’s throne room and beheld her communing with the bats of her own creation. Syn was gone, but Sylo waited beside his mistress.
   Denu changed into a bat and, flitting into the light of Mihr, stole the Omra from the steps of the throne.
   He gave it to Teris and told him to go far off into the hallways and play it loudly, luring Nomra off in investigation. “Whilst she is gone, I will change into a dragon and wrench Mihr from its fixtures, flying it free from these chambers,” he said.
   “And I?” asked Teris.
   “You will have to slip away before she finds you,” said Denu. “Don’t be afraid, I do not doubt that these myriad bats and birds all watch for Nomra and will alert her to the theft. She will pursue me and you will be free to slip out at your leisure.”
   Teris was reluctant but at last crept off into the shadows. Denu waited. Nomra rose from her throne and whispered to her jeweled birds. She was about to mount Sylo when quiet bell-like sounds echoed from the distance. Nomra narrowed her eyes and quickly mounted her metal steed and rode off into the palace.
   Denu quickly morphed into his dragon form and flew to Mihr. With his claws he gashed the silver fixture that fused it to the ceiling. At first, it would not budge, but Denu shot fire from his eyes and melted it.      Looping his claws through the intricate cage of the light, he flapped his ungainly way towards the exit. As he had suspected, the jeweled birds flew to Nomra, but the bats pursued him angrily.
   Nomra rushed back to her throne room, to find it in darkness, and the cocoon of Onys oozing at it began to breathe freely in the gloom. Nomra spurred her metal steed on and called for Syn.
   “We must retrieve Mihr immediately, or the Dark One will escape!”
   Nomra pursued Denu to the cleft, but he escaped into the night air. The bats pursued him and Syn raced after him across the ground, but Nomra saw that there would be no catching him without flight. She turned her steed instead and went to find Phiron.
   Denu flew high and higher, trying to shake the bats that gained steadily upon him. Still higher he flew, towards the very stars. The bats were too swift and soon they fell upon him, biting and clawing ferociously. Denu swooped and arced, trying to shake them, but they stayed with him, no matter how many loops and dives he performed. He knew he could not make it back down to lose them in the trees, and he saw gleaming Syn waiting for him on the earth, so he flew higher still, until the stars were about him.

   The bats did not let up and Denu’s blood sprinkled some of the nearest stars. At last Denu made a desperate dive, but the great orb of Mihr caught upon the stars and stuck, lodging in the stellar web that was as old as Oramon itself. Denu tried to yank it free but could not. At last, he let go and plunged down, down, down, his speed mounting as he free-fell towards the earth.     The bats dove after him, but could not catch him. He plummeted down, but his upward course had led him out over the sea and he plunged into the water, transforming into a fish and sinking away into the depths.
   Nomra found Phiron and they returned to the cleft, followed by a small army of Pyrites. They gazed up at the night sky, transfigured by the addition of a great light.
“We shall attempt to get it down later,” said Nomra. “Now we must stop Onys.”
   But Onys heard them coming with the crackle of fire and the tramp of numbers. He slid out of his melting prison and slipped away through the palaces, out into the dark passages beyond, to the very edge of darkness and crept over the edge into oblivion.
   Nomra and Phiron followed his slimy trail but they were too late; the fiend was gone. They did find poor Teris, though, lost in the winding halls, clutching the Omra in terrified fingers.
   Nomra kept him in her palace until Onera came and begged her to release him.
   “It was Denu,” said Onera. “None of his children knew of his intentions, and had they an inkling, they would not have brought him to you! His wish to visit seemed pure. If I had come with, perchance I might have stopped him. Teris was led astray, let him come home with me.”
   “You have not planned this thing, to wreak revenge upon me?”
   “No, mother, I never bore you ill will for killing me,” said Onera. “I see you have made a wondrous dwelling for those who will die.”
   “If I will let them come here after what has transpired,” said Nomra darkly. “Do you know what vile creature your lover has released? In that melted sphere of pearl and darkness I had locked away Onys, a being I found in the dark. A vile monster who would that all creation remain in darkness and unformed possibility. Where he has gone now, I know not, nor who he may try to harm next.”
   “Denu did not know that!” Onera pleaded.    “And his children are innocent of his sin!”
   At last, she was able to convince Nomra to let Teris go, but she forbade him to return, or any of his descendants. So Onera and Teris returned to Nemraltus, where still there was no sign of Denu, but Mihr shone bright in the night sky. And ever after, on nights when the Night Light shone its brightest, the children of Denu would work their most powerful sorceries.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Return of Denu

   Denu had remained hidden from the sight of Neron, in the far desert. He had taken the shape of a fearsome dragon and no animals came near. The fire that spurted from his eyes singed a great tract of the desert and it never gave birth to life again.
   Still he missed Onera.
   At last, he left the desert and flew as a bird to espy the peaks of Neron’s domain. He saw with amazement that magnificent palaces had sprouted from Amalteron and that they were heavily populated with a bronzed and beautiful race. He alighted in the old orchards of Nomra and watched the children play.
   From whence these fleet and fair people? They were not his children. Where were the children he had abandoned? What had Neron done to them? He dared not reveal himself upon that holy mountain, but he lingered long, watching and listening. He found Nez, sitting on the cliff, watching the horizon.
   Ariaj tried still to lure him into a smile, but Nez was still heartbroken.
   “At least play with your grandchildren!” Ariaj implored. “You have lost Onera, but she is still here, all around you!”
   So. This brazen being was the father of this strange race. And Onera…with an anguished cry, Denu flew from Amalteron. How had Onera done this thing? Had Denu really been gone for so long? Had she forgotten him? He had never forgotten her…not even when entwined in the arms of Triona beneath the sea.
   He circled Neron’s mountain again.
   Perhaps he need not hate Onera…she had done no worse thing than he…but he could hate this gold-haired seducer. He could hate him and he would hate his children.
   Where were the children of Denu?

   He flew over the sea, and skimmed the boughs of Onerae with his blue wings. He saw Onera beside the healing stream, alone and sad. He alighted beside her and chirped.
   “Be gone,” she said. “I wish to see none but my Denu.
   Denu transformed into a dragon and roared furiously, rippling the waters of Nyr. Onera leapt back with a cry, but she saw his fiery eyes and ran to him, throwing her arms around his scaly neck.
   “Denu!” she wailed. “I have missed you more than any one thing in the world!”
   “Then why did you love another?” Denu hissed as he resumed his original form.
   Onera looked into his starry eyes and hers filled with tears.
   “Denu, forgive me!” she said. “I never meant to! He—he deceived me with a magic brew…I’m sorry, I thought, I thought he was you, for the potion he gave me befuddled my mind and reason. As soon as I realized what was done, I was very furious, but it was too late! Eanez, Arathez…their children now flood my father’s palace as ours once did.”
   “Ours?” Denu asked.
   “Yes!” Onera beamed. “We had seven. Ner, Deru, Nom, Ee, Nerus, Nu, and Dena. But Ner was vicious. It was he that gave Nez the potion that confused me. I am sorry, Denu. I love only you!”
   “I forgive you,” Denu said slowly. He paused, thinking of Triona’s lips. “I only love you, too,” he said, and his shadow loosened from him.
   “And Neron?” Onera asked. “He does not know you are here?”
   “He believes me dead,” Denu said.
   “He never told me,” Onera said indignantly.
   “No,” said Denu, glad that she had not heard of Triona another way.
   “Well, we shall be able to live here happily, then!” Onera said. “Neron is not looking for you! No more fleeing and hiding, we can be happy at last!”
   “I wish to see my children,” Neron said. “What happened to them?”
   “They had many children of their own and grew until father became displeased with their number and so Ner led them away and they dwell now beneath Neronimahnon, in their city, Nemraltus."
   “Let us go and see them!” Denu exclaimed in delight.
   “But Neron—” Onera began.
   “Fie in Neron!” said Denu. “He will not hear of it, and anyway, I have discovered his power and no longer fear him.”
   “Of what do you speak?” Onera asked. But Denu would not tell her of the eyeless semblance he had called forth. He changed into a dragon and flew to Nemraltus, with his shadow barely clinging to him. Ner had not yet aged and died, but he was beginning to show more age than the father he greeted with respect and a shadow of wariness.
   Here was the father that had abandoned them…was this a time for vengeance, or a time to unite in hatred of Neron whose distrust had caused the rift?
   Ner was double-minded and it was no trouble for him to hold both sentiments in his heart. Denu, too, was confused. Here was his long lost son, also the sorcerer to blame for aiding Nez in the seduction of Onera. But Denu was as capable as his son in the holding of hatred and love together at once.
   And he planned a vengeance and a blessing in one as Ner brought him to banquet with the other six children. Nu at once spotted the fluttery shadow of Denu and remembered the old tales that Ariaj had whispered of the days when shadows were rent from flesh and heinous acts were committed.
   If she had known what was to come, she would have silenced her brother Deru when he spoke of the pilgrimage to see Nomra beneath the earth. He told of the sparkling chambers where Nomra was preparing to receive them when Nemrus’ curse would cause them to die like animals. He told of her seas of gold and milk, of her fantastic creatures and of her Night Light, Mihr.
   Denu’s eyes sparkled at the tales.
   He remained with Onera in the city of their children, disguising again in the form of a dragon, lest Ariaj should espy him from the air.
   And the words of prophecy spoken by Unonera still troubled him.

   They will be reviled! The Race of Nez will take your eyes!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A New Mythology--Oramon--The First City

   The race of Denu grew larger and soon the palaces that they had built for Neron on the top of Amalteron were not enough to contain them. Neron’s ire was once again raised by the these upstart children, these bright eyed usurpers who thronged in his halls and made raucous noise in his once quiet gardens.
   At last he went to Ner. But cunning Ner had anticipated him, so before Neron could express his displeasure, Ner hailed him.
   “Oh great Neron, benefactor and holy guardian,” he said. “I have seen that your halls are overrun with the silver-eyed children. Though it breaks my heart, I have decided to part from you. I will take my people to live in the valleys below. We will build a new habitation there. A home big enough for all of us. We will still bring unto you gifts in annual visitation, but we must have room to spread out. You will understand, I hope, oh, Grandfather?”
   Neron could scarce contain his joy. “I understand,” he said. “My blessings go with you.”
   As he watched the Children of Denu gather and depart down the luscious green slopes of his chief mountain, a niggling question came to him: where would they settle? And what would the crafty race create there? Now he could not watch them as closely.
   But now his beautiful palaces would be home to only him, Onera, Nez, Eanez and Arathez. Eanez and Arathez had grown to maturity and now Onera asked Neron to make for them companions as for the Children of Denu. He did as she asked, and when Onera saw that her children were happy, she left, for she had not forgiven Nez, and did not wish to remain in his company. So she departed for the Island that was named for her.
   Onera had cursed Nez that none should ever love him, but she had been too late: Ariaj had loved him from the start and she loved him still. Nez watched the horizon whence Onera had departed and would not accept Ariaj’s advances. Neron saw that he pined and wished for him to be happy, but he had already sent Ner, the brewer of potions, away…
   Ner led his siblings and their many children on through the forests towards Neronimahnon, the flaming mountain.
   “Where will we settle?” complained his sister, Ee, “There is naught out here but wilderness and the wild animals. We grew up in Amalteron’s orchard: to leave is grievous!”
   “We will make a new home, a brighter, grander place than any other,” Ner said. “We are a born of Denu and Onera and the power of creation is in our eyes. We will create such wonders as Neron could never imagine. We will become greater than he or any other. Upon Neronimahnon we will build and use its fire for our craft.”
   Nemrus watched the multitude pass through his quiet glens and peaceful forests with concerned eyes. He saw them approaching his favorite mountain, Neronimahnon, and he waited anxiously for them to pass it by. To his dismay, they instead came to a halt upon the mountains grassy slopes. It was a rich and verdant land about the mountain, and the children of Denu began to make themselves comfortable, planting seeds they had brought from the orchards of Amalteron and erecting shelters.
Nemrus watched as they made his mountain their abode, but he was shy and did not confront them. Instead he went to Neron.
   Neron frowned. He had finally gotten the burdensome children away from his own dwelling and was reluctant to chase them from their new chosen place, lest they return…but he also loved Neronimahnon.
   “Perhaps they will leave if the mountain is unstable,” Neron suggested. “But let them not know why it shaketh.”
   Nemrus silently withdrew, disappointed that Neron was not willing to help. But he went to the volcano and inspired it to shiver and tremble and belch ash into the sky. The shelters that the  Children of Denu had constructed fell down and Ee was distraught.
   “This is not a place that is good!” she said to Ner. But Ner was not deterred. He ordered their settlement to move down the mountain to the valley at its foot. There, the soil was still rich, and a stream meandered through; it was a much better place for a palace.
   Ner began to build his palace beside the stream, while Nu continued to plant orchards higher up the mountain where the soil made them to grow lustily. One day she was alone, tending to the tender shoots. Nemrus appeared there, his antlers outlined by the rising sun. The Children of Denu had rarely, if ever, seen the solitary god of the woods. Nu was surprised and bowed before him.
   “Uncle!” she said. “It is an honor to see you here at our new settlement. Our bustling disturbed Neron upon his sacred mountain and it is good that we come here. We welcome you warmly!”
   “This mountain is sacred unto me,” said Nemrus. “I would that your family goeth elsewhere.”
Nu returned to the valley and told Ner and Deru this, but Ner scoffed.
   “This place is perfect for a dwelling of so many!” he said. “Where else could we go? Here we have soil, stone, water, fire, everything is bounteous for our sustenance!”
   “But great Nemrus is displeased,” Nu said.
   “And he is not Neron,” Ner said.
   “He has the power of earth, of animals,” Nu said.
   “Then we shall give him gifts,” said Ner. “We will adulate and worship him as we did to appease Neron.”
   “I do not think he will be pleased,” said Nu.
   “You must please him,” Ner said.
   Nu was not happy, but she knew that her brothers and sisters would not listen, so she went to negotiate with Nemrus.
   “Great Nemrus,” she said. “This place is perfect for a host this large. We will only grow and few places would sustain us. Would it not be better that we anchor here than to flood your quiet glens and bounteous sacred places? If we remain here, we will not need to go elsewhere. We will name our palaces after you and bring you gifts. We will pay tribute unto you, in goods and in song.”
   Although Nemrus could see that she was right, he was bitter.
   “A child must be thrown into the fire of Neronimahnon each year,” he said. “Or it will erupt and destroy your city.” He thought perhaps they would yet be dissuaded from staying there. Nu was horrified but went and told Ner.
   “We cannot tarry here,” she said. “Let us find another valley! There must be some other place where we can live.”
   But Ner was decided. And he sent Nu to tell Nemrus that they would agree to the terms.
Nemrus told her to bring the sacrifice on the following morning, then he waited and watched to see what would happen. Nu would have nothing to do with the act, and so Ner chose one of his own grand-children and along with a procession of singers and bearers of jewels, brought his grandson, Etas, to the lip of the volcano at dawn.
   Nemrus watched in horror, realizing that Ner meant truly to do this thing. Etas was about to be hurled into the flaming crater. But as Ner reached for his own progeny, Nemrus commanded the earth to swallow him, and Etas vanished into the rocks and soil before he could be slain.
   “Thou merciless people,” roared Nemrus, emerging from the vapors of the mountain. “You would slay your own kin? You deserve not the life that has been granted you!”
   “Our Grandmother, and your Mother, Nomra, did likewise in olden days,” Ner said.
   “And she paid dearly for such an unnatural act!” Nemrus hissed. “As shall you! May the cycles of the animals evermore affect you, O heartless ones, may you not continue to live and multiply and overrun this earth with your wickedness. But I shall spare Nu, for she is merciful.”
   Nemrus left Neronihmanon and vanished into the forests. And after, age came upon the Children of Denu and they grew old and died as the animals did. All save for Nu.
   Nu lived on as the city grew and filled the valley with magnificence. Eventually, Ner grew old and when he died, he passed the leadership of the city to his son, Teris. Generations now came and went, but Nu remained, young and beautiful in the city called Nemraltus, after the god of the forests.

   What had befallen Etas? He had been swallowed by the earth, but Nemrus brought him out of the moss and raised him in the woods and gave him power over the earth and they watched the forests together and minded the animals of Oramon. Etas was fleet and could run around the world in a day, bringing news to Nemrus from far and wide. He was also a child of Denu and had the power of creation in his eyes. He learned to transform into any shape he desired, just as his great grandfather, Denu. Untouched by Nemrus’ curse, he lived on, eternally youthful like his grand-aunt, Nu.