Category Archives: Excerpt

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

It is my writers group sharing meeting on Tuesday. This is a monthly meeting where we share our stories and receive constructive critique. Later there are discussions on plot, characters, publishing and many other subjects. We occasionally have special guests and presentations on particular topics. No matter which meeting you attend, it is always inspiring and great to network.

http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/  We welcome local & virtual members – any age, any stage of their writing career.

Writers Foundation Strathcona County

Other events:

Funding Your Book Research Panel Discussion
Wed, 8 February, 14:00 – 15:00
Humanities Lounge, HC-429
igali@ualberta.ca
Acquisitions Editor Peter Midgley participates in a panel discussion about the labours involved in book research and
writing.
This is a popular annual event and Sold Out! WGA 2017 Banff Retreat: February 3 – 12, 2017, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. A self-guided retreat is a great opportunity to connect with fellow writers and enjoy uninterrupted writing time at The Banff Centre, the world’s largest arts and creativity incubator. Writers at any stage of their career or writing project are welcome to join in.
Why not add your local events underneath?

Past & Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…Post revision


 

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This past Saturday I had an enjoyable ‘writerly’ day – coffee with a new author friend discussing publishing, promotion, writing and getting to know each other. Then off to an author reading at Social Grounds cafe organized jointly by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and Dream Write Publishing. Although the audience was smaller than I would have liked, they were engaged and appreciative. What more can an author hope for?

I read a section of The Rython Kingdom, which some of you may know is a fantasy romance novella set in medieval England. Go figure I’m English! Anyway the book (e-book if you prefer) is actually two stories in one. The first is the story of my protagonist, Guillem Ruet a famed troubadour and how he finds himself not only relaying a tale to the King but aids in the fight against a malevolent witch aiming to destroy the King and his kingdom. The other ‘story’ is the one Guillem tells the King and his courtiers in the great hall.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/214247

http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/rython-kingdom

I can reveal that I am working with a cover designer on The Rython Kingdom and will launch a ‘new’ cover in the next few months. Watch this space.

Local events coming up:

YOUNG AUTHOR’S CONFERENCE   FEBRUARY 25, 2017  TOMORROW’S WRITERS TODAY 

https://www.eips.ca/students/yac

If you have an event or reading this week please feel free to add it to the comments below.

Happy Writing.

Man Writing

 

 

 

Facebook Group Spotlight – Medieval Romance Novels. The Rython Kingdom…


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Facebook Group – Medieval Romance Novels. https://www.facebook.com/groups/MedievalRomanceNovels/

On today’s post I am reflecting the post I put onto the above group with the added bonus of an excerpt. The novella is actually two stories in one, the story of Guillem’s adventure and the tale he relays to the King’s court.

Bio: Mandy Eve-Barnett resides in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. She is a multi-genre author and freelance writer and lives and breathes the written word and creativity in all its forms. She is the Secretary of her local writing group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and President of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County.
Mandy publishes regularly on her blog – http://www.mandyevebarnett.com – where she has built a thriving writing community – sharing tips, news, interviews, and excerpts. She has published three children’s books and her adult novella, set in medieval England, The Rython Kingdom. She has also co-written a guide to memoir writing. Currently working on four manuscripts Mandy is never happier than writing and creating imaginary worlds.
Blog: http://www.mandyevebarnett.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/mandyevebarnett
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Mandyevebarnettcom/
Link to excerpt of The Rython Kingdom https://mandyevebarnett.com/my-adult-books/

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Excerpt: 

The Rython Kingdom –  Chapter One

“He’s coming! He’s coming! Guillem Ruet is here!”

Guillem smiled at the group of children running beside his horse as he rode toward the castle’s drawbridge. Dirty and barefooted, these youngsters would not be lucky enough to hear his newest tale, first hand. That pleasure would be for the inner court alone. It was a strange and most complex tale and all the more mysterious for being made of a dream.

Shouts of his approach preceded him, thrown from one person to the next across the dirt track and woven among the shacks lining it. The summer heat had denuded the earth of moisture; dust swirled around his mount’s hooves, creating a cloak of fine grains behind them, shrouding rider and horse. Ahead, the King’s standards lay limp against their poles high above on the castle turrets; thin strips of coloured cloth obscuring the lion head emblem of the king. More children, and some adults, ran beside him, eager to witness this famed troubadour first hand. The talk among the courtiers and peasants alike had been of his arrival and little else for many weeks.

As Guillem entered under the portcullis, it brought back memories of returning from battle years previously. Conquering heroes were showered with flowers and rewarded with grand feasts and warmed by many a maid. Serving as a knight in his younger days, Guillem had been admired for his prowess in battle, but now he was even more revered as a troubadour. His tales of battles and faraway lands held audiences spell bound as he punctuated them with displays of swordsmanship and the exhibiting of combat scars. So popular was Guillem that a feast or festival without his presence was considered incomplete. Fierce competition between lords kept Guillem’s purse and belly full as he traveled from one borough to the next, shamelessly attending whomever paid the highest fee. His new life fulfilled his wander-lust. Being confined to one place filled him with dread as did faithfulness to just one maid. Why restrict yourself to one when there were so many to pick from – all willing to bed the famous knight and troubadour?

Word had reached him a month prior notifying him the king himself requested Guillem’s presence at court. It was an honor to be bestowed with such a command and Guillem did not hesitate to comply. Not dallying at Lord Suffolk’s seat; as was his usual habit. Normally, he would take advantage of the many benefits afforded him but, this time, he packed his saddlebags the very same night and set off toward the king’s domain at daybreak. Several requests for his presence had made it to his ears as he traveled but each was declined in favor of an audience at the king’s court. Once it was common knowledge the king had requested Guillem to speak, Guillem knew he would be able to use it to increase his fee.

Ahead of him now was the sovereign’s castle keep with sentries standing at both sides of a stairway leading up to massive oak doors. The excited crowd jostled for position to get closer to Guillem and perchance to touch him or his fine mount. A herald sounded his trumpet as Guillem dismounted. The shouts died away as all eyes centered on the keep’s massive doors. They slowly opened. All knees bent and heads bowed as the regal figure of King Henry was revealed, resplendent in deep purple robe and golden crown. With measured steps, King Henry descended the stone stairs.

“Welcome, Guillem Ruet, your reputation precedes you. My courtiers and subjects have talked of little else but your arrival for these many weeks. Come and drink ale with me. You must be weary from your journey.”

Guillem bowed deeply again then handed his horse’s reins to a saddle hand, who was fidgeting beside him. As the boy led his mount away, Guillem could hear the lad’s excited whisper to the surrounding crowd.

“Look, look, I have his horse to care for.”

Careful to remain a step behind, Guillem followed his King into the castle’s dark interior. The huge stone blocks prevented the heat of the outside world from entering. Guillem shivered involuntarily. I should have taken my cloak out of the saddlebag before releasing my horse into the care of the boy. Then another thought struck him and he turned to see his horse being led away on the far side of the courtyard – he had not secured the small box. He had promised a mysterious old man he would not let it leave his possession and now it was in the hands of a young stable lad.

“The fire will warm your bones, Guillem. Is something amiss? You seem anxious?”

“Thank you, Sire. I relinquished my cloak without thinking but I also forgot to retrieve a certain object.”

“Do not worry, Guillem. I will have your saddlebags brought to your room presently. If there is anything missing I shall deal with the culprit myself. But for now….” The King raised a hand to summon a serf, “Stephen, a robe for our guest.”

A young man appeared from the shadow of a stone column and presented Guillem with a thick woolen robe. Its heavy warmth felt pleasing. Serfs opened an inner door as the King approached and allowed the two men to enter the great hall. Long oak tables flanked the centre aisle below a raised platform where the King’s ornately carved table and throne stood. Following his sovereign’s lead, Guillem walked toward the roaring fire at the far side of the huge room. Its radiant heat was welcome in the cool interior of the castle.

“Sit with me, Guillem, you will soon warm. Bring ale, Stephen.”

“As you command, your majesty.”

The serf had moved so silently that Guillem jumped when he responded to his master’s command.

“Guillem, why do you start so?”

“Sorry, Sire – I was unaware of your serf’s presence; gave me a bit of a shock when he spoke.”

“Not so surprising, Guillem, we call him Silent Stephen. He seems to glide instead of walk, although to watch him you cannot see any difference from any other man’s stride.”

“Strange indeed, my Lord, is he born of a witch?”

“Actually no, Guillem, his mother was a maid to my mother. He has grown up within these walls and knows no other life than to live and serve here.”

***

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The Rython Kingdom is available as a print book at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/retail/books/rython-kingdom

Also available as an ebook from all Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

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Interview with Karlyle Tomms…


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What inspired you to write your first book?

It started as a joke. I have done community theater for about 45 years and I’ve always been a bit of a cut up. One day, I was joking with a friend and this character came out of me. She was a smoking, aging hippie woman who said, “My daughter would never dress out for gym class. That’s because one nipple pointed up and one nipple pointed down, and all the children called her tiddlywinks. –Of course that golf ball sized hairy mole on her ass never helped matters much either.”
It got a laugh. So, liking a laugh, I decided to sit at the keyboard and see what she would say. The rest was a total shock. Over the next couple of years, she wrote her entire autobiography as my first novel. She had a lot more to say than just a joke, and actually, that joke never came out in the novel. It was a catalyst that started the writing, and apparently that is all it needed to do. It was a spark that lit the flame of my novel writing. From that point on, I simply wrote what she told me to say in her own words.

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How did you come up with the title?

The pet name that the protagonist’s father gave her as a child was Pumpkin Patch. So, since she was confessing all kinds of things, the title became “Confessions from the Pumpkin Patch.”

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

This is actually not my first book, but it is my first novel. I had written a self-help adult coloring book back in the mid 1990’s when I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. It appears now, I was ahead of my time since adult coloring books have become so popular. At the time, I had great endorsements, had a literary agent and a film producer who was helping me with a film clip to promote myself for speaking engagements. However, personal tragedy struck, and the result was I ended up moving back to the Ozarks to take care of my Grandmother. So, the book deals kind of fell apart. We had editors of major publishing companies who were interested in the book, but the “bean counters” in the days before publish on demand existed, were hesitant to publish it. In retrospect, it is probably just as well, as I would not have been able to care for my grandmother and have the time to promote the book or do speaking tours anyway.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

This is the first novel in my “Soul Encounters” series. It became a series when one of the cameo characters who interacted with the protagonist of this first novel began nagging me that he wanted to tell his story. As I started his story, I had yet another character who began nagging me to tell his story, and so on. It is called “Soul Encounters” because there is a life changing event that occurs in the interaction between the cameo character and the protagonist, that triggers changes for both of them. These are stories about life’s misfits (in a way). One might not recognize them as misfits because they appear, on the surface perhaps, to be quite together, but they are not. They struggle with inner demons, and struggle to overcome life’s challenges, conflicting beliefs and conflicting relationships. They struggle with dysfunctional family, addictions, mental illness, PTSD, abuse, rejection by society, prejudice etc. Then they realize in the end, that there is another way of looking at life, another way of looking at their conflicts and perhaps another way of looking at themselves. Each one is a story of overcoming in a different form, a story of surviving to be a stronger, to become a more emotionally healthy human being.

How much of the book is realistic?

Well, none of the books are fantasies. There are no fairies, dwarfs or witch queens, no flying unicorns or dragons. Each one is based on a point in history. In the first book, Lovella (Pumpkin Patch) struggles with the issues of the 1960’s, hippies, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, her own racial prejudice (that she never thought she had), and the struggles in her relationship with her mother who she grew to despise from a young age. The second novel in the series, “In My Father’s House” covers the 1940’s through the early 1970’s and has to do with struggles around religion, faith, sexuality, abuse, suicide, addiction and mental illness.

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Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I have a friend who swears the protagonist of “Confessions from the Pumpkin Patch” is our friend Marcy, who has passed away. She was an older woman of the 1960’s who we met in college, and who took us under her wing. She was a child of the 60’s, though not quite a hippie and she struggled as well in her relationship with her mother. However, it was not my intent to base this character on her, and the character is very different from her in many ways. If I were to say anything about these characters, I would say they are (in a way) all part of me. If I were to have Dissociative Identity Disorder and have multiple personalities, perhaps the protagonists of my novels might be personalities that would have manifested inside of me. It feels as though they are a part of me. They talk to me. They tell me who they are. They tell me their stories, and they tell me how to write their stories.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

Oh Wow! Don’t make me choose. That is kind of like asking a father which of his children is his favorite. You love them all for different reasons. I’m so excited about, and for all of them. I love that they have wonderful stories to tell, and that their stories have lessons of spirituality, and mental health contained within them. I love watching the stories unfold in my mind, and I love watching how they get told in the written word. It is almost as though I am not writing the story, but I am listening to them tell it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No, I don’t think so. My latest book is actually only one or two chapters from being finished. It is the second book in the Soul Encounters series. When I get those chapters finished, then my editor and I get to work pouring over and over the manuscript to make sure the grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct, the time lines are correct, that I got the history around the story correct, and that it flows well from beginning to end. At this point, there are tweaks that can still be made, but probably very few. If the first novel is any indication, it will all fall in place right where and how it is supposed to.

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Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I am so grateful for all the folks who have taken the time to buy and read this first book. I hope you will enjoy all the books in the series just as much. I am grateful that so many people have liked the first book, and I’m thankful for all the positive feedback I’ve gotten about it both from readers and professional reviewers.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

It is just as entertaining for me to write the stories as it is for the readers to read them. I love to write! I never thought I would ever be able to write a novel until Pumpkin Patch showed me how. Before this, I realize I had been over thinking it, trying too hard, getting so focused on the planning that I failed to see the process. Now, I look forward to writing. I look forward to telling the stories just as I look forward to watching a good movie or having dinner with friends. Writing is entertainment to me. Creativity is a joy.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I wrote my first play when I was in the 8th grade. It was called, “Who Ate the Tree?” I have no idea what happened to it, and recall little about it except it was a story about being environmentally responsible. That would have been about 1965 or 1966 (Don’t make me do the math!). I wrote poetry all through high school and when I was in college, I was the editor for the campus literary magazine showcasing student writing talent.

What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?

My favorite part of the first novel is the last few pages and the last line of the book. It made me cry when I wrote it, and I’ve cried practically every time I’ve read it since then. This is a mother/daughter story, but it is also a story about coming to recognize love behind the veil of conflict.

What is your favorite theme/genre to write?

I guess general and historical fiction which is the genre of the Soul Encounters series. I love science fiction, and I actually have several ideas for science fiction novels, but those have not decided to come to fruition. I have an idea for a murder mystery novel that I have carried around in my head since the 1990’s, but that has also not come to fruition. My first book, Confessions from the Pumpkin Patch won the 2016 New Apple Awards Medal for general fiction as a coming of age story. They are all coming of age stories, in a way, but absolutely not for young adults. These are very adult books, and there are segments that are quite graphic, both sexually, and by the third novel, violently. One might consider these novels historical fiction. However, I have had a hard time labeling a genre for them.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Actually, I don’t think there is a subject I would never write about except that I will never write about a nihilistic or hopeless view of life. I will not write a story in which the premise is – why bother, it’s all worthless bull anyway. I don’t believe that about life. I went through hell in my own life. [Read “Hate (My Story)” on my blog page karlyletomms.com.] I have overcome the concept of a doomed world with doomed relationships. I think if I can overcome it, others can too. In fact, that is exactly the point of my writing. When you have been through trauma and oppression, you have basically two options. You can succumb to it or you can overcome it. I chose to overcome it.

What book are you reading now?

I’m not reading now. Since I had my first novel published, I have had my nose so much to the grindstone that I have not really had time to read. I will watch movies because I can sit down for about 2 hours and get the story, but a book takes more time and effort. There are things I enjoy about both, and maybe if I can get a vacation soon, I can do one of my favorite things to do on vacation, relax with a good book. I did recently order Hold Back the Sun by Warren Bell, and I’m looking forward to an opportunity to read it. I am interested in reading it because it is a novel about the Pacific War of World War II. Since my father was a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II, I have an interest in Japan and that whole era.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

As mentioned above, I have interest in books by Warren Bell. I have also marked a few “want to read” on my Goodreads page that look interesting to me.

Do you see writing as a career?

Oh Yes! Please Lord! Yes! Yes! – This is how I want to spend my retirement. I am sixty-one years old, and over the next few years will be retiring from my day job (unless my writing sells enough to get me out sooner), and I want to spend the rest of my life writing, writing and writing.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

I do not nibble as I write. In fact, I find that food gets in the way of typing fingers. It also can make the keys sticky—yuck! I hate when my keyboard doesn’t’ feel right. However, my favorite snack food is popcorn, and if you ever find me passed out, administer dark chocolate liberally.

Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?

I have multiple childhood stories and many of these can be found on the blog page of my website (karlyletomms.com). In the early 1990’s I wrote for a regional magazine called “Recovery Times” and was published with a monthly feature article alongside people like Rokelle Lerner, Father Leo Booth, Alan Cohen and Thom Rutledge. I would tell a childhood story in my articles and then wrap it around a metaphor or moral for addictions recovery at the end. I still have about twelve of those articles and I’ve considered publishing them as a compilation.  Odd habits? I don’t know. Your definition of odd and mine could be entirely different. However, I prefer to be barefoot and will go barefoot any time the room or the weather is warm enough to allow it. In fact, I moved south so I could go barefoot more often. If I can move near the equator one day, I may never wear shoes again. When I was a child, I went barefoot all over the farm, and have scars on my feet to prove it. No jokes about Arkansas stereotypes please.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I would love to be a well-established writer, and have multiple works in publication. I would love to try my hand collaborating on screenplays, and I would love to have my stories turned into well-funded and well produced movies.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding the time for it! I will have a lot more time for it when I retire, and maybe when I can sell enough books to hire someone to do the promotion and a lot of other things I am doing on my own now. I seem to be at that squeeze point of success where you are selling so much you can’t keep up with it, but you are not selling enough to hire the help you need.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Deadline? What deadline? There are deadlines? Nobody told me about this! I have moved back my own deadline for finishing my current novel twice. However, this one is getting written in about three years when it took six years to write the first one. I think my reward will be getting it finished and seeing it in publication.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Well, of course. I don’t think you are a normal writer if you like everything you write. There are several things in the hard drive that I’ve never finished for multiple reasons. There are poems I have simply ripped up after handwriting them. I may re-visit some of those things some day and try again, and maybe I won’t.

What book do you wish you had written?

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – brilliant book! It is the only book I have ever read that I couldn’t wait to get back to as soon as possible. I read every evening after work until I finished it, and couldn’t wait to get back to it the next evening.

What is your best marketing tip?

I haven’t figured that out yet. I am just running around trying everything that happens to pop into my head (if I can achieve it) and praying it works. What I have done most is Twitter. I post my own quotes and sayings on photos (most that I take myself) and I have a service that repeatedly re-tweets them on a schedule. It seems to be gradually picking up speed. I also post to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and others. I have a daily mini blog on Instagram with a commentary about one of my photo quotes.

What genre is your next project? What is it about?

For now, I am staying with my current genre of general and recent historical fiction. The novel I am about to finish is about a man with a fetish, and a sexual addiction who hates himself for it because it conflicts with his fundamentalist religious beliefs.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Well, I had the idea to have people read the current novel and try to guess which cameo character would be the protagonist of the next novel. However, I can tell you it is about a man who is struggling with conflicts between his sexual addiction and his religious upbringing.

How do we find your books, blog and bio?

There are links through my website karlyletomms.com and my work can be purchased on Amazon. Also if you Google my name, Karlyle Tomms, there are multiple links available to a variety of things including the books.

 

True Near Death Stories…


Original article – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2547714/Our-astonishing-near-death-stories-thousands-touched-thought-provoking-series-intensive-care-nurse.html

I was halfway to losing myself – and my baby

Carol Page, 67, a retired nurse and mother of three, lives with her husband John in Perthshire, Scotland. She says: ‘It should have been the moment I held my daughter in my arms. Instead, after a gruelling labour that lasted over 24 hours, my baby was  whisked away as the midwives treated me. ‘I could sense the panic around me as the medical team painfully pushed and pulled on my abdomen, blood seeping out.

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‘Then, suddenly, the pain lifted and I was fading, floating above my body.  ‘Though I could still hear the voices of the nurses, everything was quiet, gentle and a beautiful pinky white colour. ‘I wanted to stay in this pain-free and happy place, but then I heard the wail of my daughter and knew I had a responsibility to her and my two year-old son, Benjamin, waiting at home.  ‘Just as I made the choice to return, I heard a voice say ‘Christ, she’s back!’ and I slammed back into my body, where it was red, black and enveloped in pain. ‘I remained in hospital for five days and had numerous blood transfusions to replace the huge amounts I’d lost. ‘When I held Rachel in  my arms after those scary few hours, I was so relieved and happy. ‘ was halfway to losing her — and myself — but thankfully, I managed to hold on. ‘Forty years later, we still talk about it.’

Saved by my late grandmothers

Susanna Omuri said she had a vision of her late grandmothers telling her 'not to join them'

Susanna Omuri, 30, from Chigwell, Essex, is a stay-at-home mother to her 18-month-old daughter Isla. She says: ‘Almost 20 years ago, when I was 11, I visited a friend’s house. They lived on a dangerous bend and as I began to cross the road, a car came swerving around the corner.’It hit me hard, throwing me 30ft into the air. At that moment, suspended in the air above the car, time slowed  and I got a clear vision of my two grandmothers — who had died when I was young — standing in a group of other people nearby, though I couldn’t recognize anyone else. ‘They were shouting at me and saying I couldn’t join them. Then they purposefully turned their backs on me. ‘The next thing I remember was hitting the bonnet of the car and then the road. I was in agony, but fully conscious the whole time.’Despite being covered in bruises and suffering from shock, thankfully I was relatively unharmed.’An ambulance took me to the hospital and on the journey I couldn’t stop thinking about how angry my grandmothers had seemed.’The nurse told me that at the speed the car was going I should have died, and would have done if I had landed in any other way.’She said a fairy godmother must have been looking after me. I was sent home that day.’I was three when my first grandmother died and six when the other passed away. ‘Being so young when they died, I had only a hazy recollection of what they looked like, but when I saw them at the moment of the car accident they were as clear as day.’

Moment I knew my son was going to die

‘My husband Ken and I were staying with him, and I went out to speak to him.

Angela Dent, 61, said she had a premonition predicting her son's death

Angela Dent, 61, said she had a premonition predicting her son’s death

‘As I looked at him, a strange calmness came over me. We asked each other if we were OK and both said yes. In that moment, I got an inexplicable feeling that I would never see him again and that he was going to die. ‘We held each others gaze. ‘There was no sadness or smiling. It was strange and unnerving, but I have never felt so certain of something before. ‘I went back inside and into my bedroom and woke up my husband Ken to tell him of my premonition because I felt so strongly that something bad was going to happen. He told me not to be so silly.’Simon went off to work a little later. That night at 3.37am, the phone rang when Ken and I were asleep in bed. ‘I started crying, knowing it would be the news I had been dreading. ‘It was one of my son’s friends saying there had been a terrible car accident and Simon was very badly hurt. ‘We arrived at the scene of the accident, but our son had already been pronounced dead.’I was strangely numb, but knew that it was his time. I will never forget that moment when we looked at each other and I just knew.’

Childhood near miss that still haunts me

Anne Sanderson, 64, believes she had a near-death experience when she was a young child

Anne Sanderson, 64, believes she had a near-death experience when she was a young child

Anne Sanderson,  64, a retired medical secretary, of Larbert, in Falkirk, lives with her husband Derek, a landscape artist. They have two grown-up children. She says: ‘I had a near-death experience 62 years ago when I was just two. My twin sister, Lesley, and I had been put into our shared cot by our mother, Susan. ‘I recall the sparse but sunny room clearly, with its linoleum on the floor. Lesley was standing in one corner of the cot  and I was standing opposite her when she suddenly sneezed.’I got such a start that I fell over the raised cot side and onto the floor. At the same time I had one of the strangest and most lasting memories I’ve  ever experienced.’It was a dream-like scene where I found myself floating high above  Earth, looking down from outer space.’The blackness was all around highlighting the colours I could see below me — all blues, greens and yellows marking out the countries and seas. ‘I could see the entire globe so I must have been a long, long way away. There was also a slender, silver cord attached to my left hand side, reaching all the way back to Earth.’I felt very tranquil as though it was the most natural thing to be happening, even though I had no idea what I was looking at.’This happened in 1951. No colour photos of the world like that had yet been taken, let alone produced for a toddler to look at, and we didn’t even have a black-and-white television. How could I have known what the Earth looked like? ‘Fortunately, it was not my time to go. ‘I discovered much later that I’d cracked my collar bone. I regained consciousness in the hospital and have gone on living for six decades.’

White-robed man with a tranquil smile

Teacher Jan McPherson lives with her husband David, 68, a retired civil servant, in Carmarthen. They have two children. She says: ‘Five years ago, I grew ill with a lung condition called bronchiectasis which meant I had difficulty breathing.’As my condition deteriorated, I had the same dream over and over again. ‘In it, I went to a wooden door with a brass handle. Every time I tried to open the door it stayed closed.

Jan McPherson, from Ferryside, said she had a dream in which she saw ‘a man in white robes’ while she was suffering with a lung condition called bronchiectasis

One night the door opened and inside was a garden filled with blond children playing by a waterfall.’They had smiling, angelic faces and the air was filled with laughter. I had an overwhelming feeling of calm. In the corner was a man in white robes. ‘He had a long, grey beard and hair and carried a stave, rather like a shepherd’s. ‘He had the most a tranquil smile I have ever seen and radiated warmth and light. ‘Soon, I knew it was time to return, but I felt sure I’d had been privileged to witness such a scene.’Over the next few days my condition began to improve. I believe I was touched by healing hands and miraculously given strength from somewhere that night.’

I was hovering 10ft above hospital bed

Bob Pendlebury, 63, a retired financial services manager, lives in Hove, East Sussex.

Bob Pendlebury, 63, a retired financial services manager, said he recalls floating ten feet above his hospital bed after an asthma attack

Bob Pendlebury, 63, a retired financial services manager, said he recalls floating ten feet above his hospital bed after an asthma attack.He says: ‘Five years ago, I had an asthma attack that very nearly killed me. I was at home with my wife when suddenly I felt very tired and my breathing became difficult. Within minutes, I was struggling for each breath and panicking.’My wife, Nicole, rang for an ambulance and I was rushed to A&E, where they gave me emergency drugs and adrenaline as I had stopped breathing. I was convinced I was about to die.’I blacked out in one of the emergency rooms while doctors surrounded me, pulling tubes in and out of me.’The next thing I can remember is hovering 10ft in the air in the corner of the ceiling, looking down at myself on the hospital bed. I could see lots of people rushing in and out of the room.’Then suddenly my wife was leaving.

‘I was not in pain and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I remember thinking: ‘That’s nice, Nicole’s abandoning me.’ Then I felt a sting in my neck, as though vinegar was being poured into my artery, and suddenly I came to again. Things slowly came back into focus.’I made a full recovery.I later found out that magnesium had been injected into my neck as a last resort. My wife told me they’d been moments from performing a tracheotomy when I suddenly started breathing again.

Strange dream as my heart stopped

Carol Paradise had a near death experience in hospital in January 2013

Carol Paradise, 71, a former mayor of Bath, lives with her husband David, 75, a retired builder. They have three children. She says: ‘A year ago, I went into hospital for a straightforward gallstone operation. But the gallbladder burst and my organs began to shut down. ‘I was unconscious for two days and my heart stopped three times. ‘From those two days, all I can remember, vividly, is the strangest dream. My friend Anna was sitting by my bed and I suggested that we go for a walk in the grounds.’We came to a circle of grass edged by a low stone wall that looked down to the sea. ‘A group of people joined us and we turned to enter a cave that led into a black tunnel. ‘The group, none of whom I recognised, seemed happy and went into the tunnel. ‘I looked around and Anna had disappeared. At the last moment, I turned around and went back. ‘Then I remember waking up, being rushed along a hospital corridor and seeing my family around me.’I made a full recovery eventually and was told I had been very lucky to survive.’

A vision of nuns at my feet

Gerald Grainger, 69, from South Wales who suffered a near death experience when he had a heart attack in June last year.Gerald Grainger, 69, lives with his wife Laurel, a retired sales assistant, in Merthyr Tydfil. They have three grown-up children.

He says: ‘I was at home last June when I started feeling chesty and sweaty. My wife Laurel insisted I called 999.’In the ambulance, the lovely paramedic, Vanessa, was talking to me when suddenly I felt myself floating down a square tunnel lit by a bright shining light.’I could see four faceless figures, dressed in nun-like habits with pointy hats, float beside me and there was a feeling of calm, as if I was suspended in a lovely dream.’I was looking ahead at what I thought was a large garden when suddenly everything went into reverse and I was speeding backwards through the tunnel and I was awake, my face pressed up against the side of the ambulance with Vanessa saying: ‘Come on Gerald, fight for me, come on.’’We arrived at the hospital minutes later where I stayed for six days, after apparently suffering a heart attack and ‘dying’ for five minutes in the ambulance. ‘Vanessa had shocked me with a defibrillator and carried out CPR until I’d eventually regained consciousness.’When I returned home, I continued to see visions of those nuns at the foot of my bed every night for about six weeks, and, strangely, their presence felt very comforting.’I used to be afraid of dying alone, but I’m not any more.’

 

Have you experienced anything like this?
crossroad
Although I have not experienced a near death vision I did have a vivid dream once that showed me driving down a hill and the brakes failing. At the bottom of the hill there was a cross roads. As the car raced downward, I saw a large truck approaching. That is when I knew I would hit that truck and die. I did not recognize the location and dismissed the dream for years.
However, about seven years later a new boyfriend picked me up and said we were going to a new pub for supper. I was happy until I saw the hill – it was exactly the same as I dreamt, which filled me with dread. I asked my boyfriend to stop the car until I could calm myself. He soothed me by saying if he wasn’t in the dream then it would not come true. Eventually, I agreed and we drove down the hill, across the crossroads and onward to our supper date with no incident. Needless to say I did not travel that route ever again.

Writing Prompt Contest – Fog…


fog

The fog advanced through the trees, gaining on me. Once it surrounded me my sense of direction would be lost…I’d be lost.

Use this sentence as your story starter.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

 

First Lines to Hook Your Reader…


As writers we want to grip our readers from that all important first line. It is not an easy task and can consume our thoughts for days, weeks or even months.

Today I want to share some of my first lines:

TheRythonKingdom

The Rython Kingdom. A romantic adventure set in medieval England.

“He’s coming! He’s coming! Guillem Ruet is here!”

Guillem smiled at the group of children running beside his horse as he rode toward the castle’s drawbridge. Dirty and barefooted, these youngsters would not be lucky enough to hear his newest tale, first hand. That pleasure would be for the inner court alone. It was a strange and most complex tale and all the more mysterious for being made of a dream.

I have introduced the protagonist, where he is and the source of the story’s basis.

OckleberriesToTheRescue

Ockleberries to the Rescue. A children’s chapter book telling the story of magical woodland sprites and their forest animal friends.

Curled into a ball with his bushy red tail across his snout, Swift twitched in his sleep. He helped Tansy the previous evening by dashing to the aid of a rabbit. Now his mind replayed his hurried course through the forest to the sprites home.

Again I have the main characters, their home and their a hint of their adventures.

Working on first lines takes effort and we change them time and again. This is true of my latest novel, Life in Slake Patch. It has been revisited many times in the 10 years since I began writing. It was my first NaNoWriMo and the most I had written up t that point. This year I promised myself I would complete it.

Life in Slake

Life in Slake Patch. A speculative fiction novel of a matriarchy world and one young man’s journey that changes everything.

Jacob’s persuasion for me to look at an extraordinary book had gotten the better of my curiosity. He led the way down the steps into the old library basement. The building, whose very structure of stone blocks was in stark contrast to our log buildings, stood as a relic of a world before the Grand War.

We understand this is not the present age and two people are gripped in a a secret together.

Click crop cover

My next book will be launched on 1st October at a local event called Words in the Park.
Clickety Click. A YA adventure mystery of a young girl who discovers a huge secret, which has astonishing changes for her and those around her.

Its eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bedcovers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click. Click. Clickety-click.

I have introduced Alice, my protagonist and the cause of her terror.

I read a multiple of genres but some of my favorite first lines are:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

It was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she’d been told. The lady said to wait, it wasn’t safe yet, they had to be quiet as larder mice.

Ferney by James Long.

As he looked for the bones of his long-dead wife, old Ferney came close to death. Caught in the traffic jam that resulted, Gally Martin’s life changed.

The Map of Time by Felix de Palma

Andrew Harrington would have gladly died several times over if that meant not having to choose just one pistol among his father’s vast collection in the living room cabinet. Decisions had never been Andrew’s strong point.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold

My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Today I’m five, I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.

I could fill this post with Stephen King first lines, as you all know he is my hero.

It by Stephen King

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years—if it ever did end—began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
Cell by Stephen King

“The event that came to be known as The Pulse began at 3:03 p.m., eastern standard time, on the afternoon of October 1.”

 

What are your favorite first lines?

Do you re-write your first lines over and over?

Clickety Click – Excerpt #8


monster claw

Too hesitant to ask what the King meant by his remark, Alice nodded and smiled. Totoran took Alice’s hand and led her away, calling back to his parents that they would join them later for supper. Escorting Alice along another passageway he turned into a splendid chamber decorated with several battleaxes, a large cloth covering depicting a battle scene and a long low bench. Alice was amazed at the intricate details in the fabric although the scene was rather gory.

“What is this, Totoran?”

“This tapestry was made by my great, great, great grandmother. It is the final battle on our planet before we escaped. It is a reminder of our home and the courageous Griffian’s who tried to defend it. The weapons you see are the only remaining pieces from that battle. We fashion new weapons in their likeness although we use earthly materials, such as iron and steel.”

“So this room is a war room?”

Totoran smiled and shook his head.

“Not exactly – it is a place of reflection and a reminder of our history.”

“I’m not sure I could be peaceful and reflect with these images, Totoran. The scenes are violent and graphic.”

“Well, yes I can understand that. You are young in your transformation and the collective memoirs have not invaded your mind yet.”

Alice turned from inspecting the tapestry with wide-eyed shock.

“Collective memoirs? What are you saying, Totoran? Will I see this battle somehow?”

“Alice I did not mean to alarm you. I’m so sorry. The images will come gradually just like dreams. You will not be assaulted all at once with the history of our kind. It is a way of passing down our world and accomplishments, generation to generation.”

“Will the dreams be so graphic, horrid? I’m not sure I would call them dreams more like nightmares.”

Totoran rubbed at his chin, deep in thought. When he looked up again, he was smiling.

“I think I know a way of making this history less frightening for you, Alice. Come with me.”

Puzzled at his words but thankful she would have less horrific images to deal with; Alice followed the prince along a corridor which steeply dipped into the mountain. Totoran took her hand as they descended for what felt like a long time, guiding her and ensuring she did not slip on the wet rock surface. Alice guessed after some time that an archway encircled with torches ahead of them was their destination.

“We are now as deep as it is possible to dig, Alice. Here we keep our most precious treasures.”

“Treasurers? How will treasurers help me learn your history with being scared?”

“You will soon see. Come this way.”

Totoran turned to one side and brushed away a heavy cloth from a hidden wooden door. It’s surface was framed and crisscrossed with heavy metal bars.

“Not much could get through this door!”

“That is why it was made, Alice.”

Totoran took a large key from his belt and turned it in the lock. The heavy mechanism’s clanking echoed along the corridor behind them. As Totoran pushed the door, Alice could see it was over a foot thick and the hinges creaked loudly. She had to blink several times for her eyes to get used to the bright light within the chamber ahead. As her eyes focused she saw several hunched figures sitting around a table lit with dozens of candles and there were even more torches hung on the rock face around them.

“May I introduce you to our most precious treasurers, Alice. These are the elders. They are writing their life stories in intricate detail for future generations.”

Alice was stunned into silence. The Griffians before her were hunched, pale and withered. She whispered.

“How old are they?”

“Well in human terms several hundred years but Griffian’s live a lot longer than humans. Why don’t you sit, Alice? We shall talk a while.”

Alice followed Totoran’s lead and bowed to the elders one after the other, then sat on a nearby bench beside him.

“We ask your help, great elders. Alice is fearful of the history transfer and its images. Can you relate the past for her?”

The elders turned as one to face the two young Griffians, nodding slowly. One Griffian with steel grey tufts along his back spoke in a low gruff voice. It sounded like pebbles rolling down a wall to Alice.

“Young ones, we have many, many stories of our planet before the destruction. Generations of Griffians enjoyed happy times and abundance on our home world. The battle was but a second in time and not to be dwelled upon for long. We must learn from our mistakes and ensure our kind continue far into the future. What did you wish to know?”

Totoran nodded his encouragement to Alice. Her mind froze. What should she ask first? Gripping her hand gently, Totoran spoke.

“Our young guest has recently transformed and is trying to make sense of her new form. Please forgive her.”

The elders smiled and nodded in unison. The grey tufted one, held his claw out towards Alice.

“We have many stories to tell, my young one. We only want to help. Do not be afraid we are old and harmless.”

“I didn’t mean you to think I was afraid of you, I just have no idea what questions to ask. The tapestry so horrified me and when the prince told me I would have dreams of the battle, I was scared.”

“It is understandable, Alice. Why not ask about something other than the battle?”

Alice’s shoulders dropped showing her relief at the elders offer. After a moment she began to talk. Three hours later, with their stomachs grumbling for food, Totoran and Alice left the elder’s chamber, happy and filled with momentous stories to recite at the supper table.

An Interview with Country & City Girl – Barbie-Jo Smith…


Barbie

What inspired you to write your first book?It was time, plain and simply. I had been putting together information for ages and it was just time to clear off my desk! I’ve always written but I think I had more time to really think it out and organize the information after I retired.
How did you come up with the title?
When I write I often create the title first. This gives me a sense of grounding. The title of my first book is “A Country Gal in the City” and I am literally that gal. The book is a reminiscent collection of humorous stories and poems based on real life. I have lived in both city and country so the title is a natural. No matter how many other books I write, I’ll always be that country gal whose life bridges two worlds.

CGintheC_cover_front[1]CGintheC_cover_back[1]

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
ACGITC is my first official book. I’m working on a second now. It’s called “Things Were Going Fine Till We Hit the Rapids”. For years I wrote columns in two specific magazines, “Our World+50” and “Cloverleaf Country”, and various newsletters, smaller publications. My work was also displayed as a museum exhibit for a year. I currently have my work published in 12 anthologies of Canadian writers. During my career years I did a lot of business and medical writing, so while I wasn’t published through traditional means, I have always been “a writ’n fool”!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My books aren’t novels, but rather compilations true stories. I don’t write to give a message but if there is something in my writing, it would be to get out there and really live! Remember to be grateful for the good things in your life and more grateful for the harsh things. It’s during the tough times in life when we learn the most important lessons.
How much of the book is realistic?
As above, it’s all based on real people and real life events.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes very much so and they generally appear as themselves. In rare cases I change names and/or combine people or events to ensure privacy. One of the strongest characters is my late father, Ty Smith. He had a great sense of humor and was genuinely accident prone. The combination provided unlimited side-slapping situations. He always had a caper on the go. Really now, do you know anyone who could charm his wife into dangling him by the ankles out the upstairs window so he could patch cracks in the stucco?

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, yes! I would change the format to make it read more easily and compliment the contents. In the next book I will include a table of contents, something which I totally forgot in the first. I’m satisfied with the artistic content but am considering a second edition that will just look and read better with a few more selections added in. Barring that, the next book will have a cleaner presentation. Publishing is an ongoing process so I’m guessing that you reach perfection after producing several hundred books!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My goal is for them to see the picture I’ve painted with words. If they come along on the ride through the story and have a good time, then I’ve succeeded. If they throw back their heads and belly laugh, even better. My work reflects everyday experiences (well in most cases) that most of us have had, and I write those from a humorous point of view. I hope the reader will see that there is humor and fun in almost every situation.

kansas-roundup-27d47213.jpg.885x491_q90_box-0,325,3000,1991_crop_detailWhat is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
I’ve long suspected that I was born in the wrong century. I love the story about the cattle roundup. On one of those shindigs, you just work yourself down to a stump while having a ton of fun and laughs. It’s not for everyone and I’ve met some cows that would also like to skip the experience, but if you ever get the chance to participate …
What is your favourite theme/genre to write?
Humor.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Mmmmm! That a tough one. I think I could tackle almost anything, especially if it was research related, however if it required a lot of cruelty, really bad language or depravity, I think I might struggle a bit. If it had a higher meaning, that is, to be used as a reference or is written for a specific special interest group, then perhaps it would make the experience more palatable.
What book are you reading now?
I’m not reading anything right now. This is a somewhat vain attempt to keep focussed on my own writing. I’m not sure it’s working! However, when I want to escape I read mindless drivel that I can steam through in a day or so. There was a time when all I read was textbooks, even for enjoyment! I’m not so driven now, although I enjoy a good hematology text every now and then. I sound like a vampire!

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Not at this time.
Do you see writing as a career?
I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to make a total career out of writing. I love it but I have a very busy life so I struggle with balancing all the things that I love to do. Now if someone gave me a huge publishing advance I’d strap myself to the desk and stay there until I finished the book or died trying.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Do you mean literally or figuratively? My husband and I have just moved to a village community in the country so I imagine we will still be here until they come to cart us off. Whether that’s in ten years, who knows. As for my writing, and I think that’s what you really wanted to know, I plan to have rounded out my technique and finished several books. I’m like a slow moving steam engine and I’m still building up that head of steam. Heaven help us when I reach warp speed! I’ve been incubating an idea for a children’s book series for years and I think I’d like to play with that next. However I also have an outline for a collaborative cookbook with my youngest daughter. There are lots of potential projects to keep me busy.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in you writing?
Discipline! To produce you have to sit there and write. I do a lot of fooling around – coffee, get comfortable, look outside (my window looks out on a green area where wild things pass by), sip coffee, get comfortable again, quick glance outside (was that a deer), check e-mail, call up writing files, sip coffee, think and key I some words and ideas, sip coffee, glance outside (yes it is and there’s another one), now it’s time to use the washroom……… Eventually I get some writing down, but it’s a struggle. It’s obvious that I need to throw out the coffee pot and move my office to the basement!
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Not hated. I just knew I could do better. I tried my hand at fiction one time and my writing group advised me to kill off the husband of the main character early in the story. I really let him have it in a very gory way and when I read it to the group there was literal wincing. I may have gone a little overboard! Actually I really like my writing. I may be the only one who does, but the important thing is that it gives me joy!
What book do you wish you had written?
I love the writing of James A. Michener because he researched so well and was an excellent story teller. You can literally step into the story and stay there. I would be proud to say that I wrote “Centennial”. My friend, Sue Hyde, is writing a book about the old west and it’s fascinating. I love the characters and how she crafts the story. Every time she sends me pages, I can’t help being drawn into the story and it stays with me for a long time afterward. That’s the sign of a good author. I hope I can do that for my readers.
What is your best marketing tip?
Be bold. Ask for the business. Go for it! I’ll sit on the sidelines and watch. I suck at marketing!
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
The same genre.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Draft 1 cover iconHere’s the text from the book cover.
“Things Were Going Fine Till We Hit the Rapids” is a collection of short stories and embedded poems, all based on real life experiences. The title has a double meaning, because we can literally hit the rapids on a boat ride down a river and we can metaphorically hit the rapids on our journey down the river of life. Barbie-Jo writes with both sensitivity and hilarity, sharing stories from her life and introducing characters who whose antics and experiences will have you laughing out loud.
How do we find your books, blog and bio?
Through my publisher, Dream Write Publishing http://www.dreamwrite.ca, or dreamwrite10@hotmail.com or you can simply e-mail me at countrygal@sasktel.net.

Clickety Click Excerpt #7…


monster claw

Alice walked in Totoran’s shadow feeling nervous and picking at a loose scale on her claw. She wished she had been left with the other Griffians, the deference they’d shown when Totoran mentioned his father increased her unease. How fearful is the King? Will he crush me underfoot? Dismiss me as a nothing? Her increasing panic slowed her pace until Totoran glanced backwards to find her lagging several feet behind him.

“Alice, please keep up. My father despises tardiness.”

Oh no another thing he doesn’t like. Can I do this right? Alice scuttled to walk close to Totoran’s back taking advantage of his bulk and it’s shadow to hide her. The undulating corridor floor became smooth and torches ahead illuminated a large rock face. Alice frowned as the dead-end of the corridor but then remembered their previous entrance. Totoran will push the rock to open it in a moment. What will the inner sanctuary look like, I wonder?

            “Alice, stand beside me and as soon as we are through the entrance lower your head. Do not look up unless you are asked to. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Totoran.”

The grating sound of rock against rock echoed along the corridor, as the Prince pushed the solid rock face open. A gust of fresh air flowed past them and bright flickering light bathed the companions. Alice moved forward and slightly to the right of Totoran keeping her head bowed to the floor but curious to look around she glanced quickly left and right. The cavern’s walls were smooth and glistening with crystals. Fabric hung from steel rods showing emblems of rich burgundy and emerald green. She was trying to make out the shapes on the wall hangings when Totoran’s whisper made her jump.

“Keep your head down, Alice. I will show you around the sanctuary once my father has gone. Remember to bow your head and only speak if spoken to.”

Alice nodded her head and concentrated on her clawed feet.

“My son, come to me. It is a great relief to see you unharmed.”

The voice was deep and gruff but the words were kind. Alice was exposed as Totoran left her side to greet his father. Unable to move for fear of doing something wrong she stood perfectly still resisting the urge to look up and see the King.

“Father, we have managed to block the upper corridors and the great cavern but the humans are blasting explosives. It may be some time before we can regain our home.”

“You have done well, Totoran in keeping our subjects safe. Your escape plan worked flawlessly. We own you a debt for that.”

“Thank you, Father but without the assistance of a great number of brave Griffian’s it would not have been so successful. If we work together we are stronger.”

“Exactly why I know you will be an exceptional leader when your time comes, my son. Now shall we feast?”

“Before we do, may I present someone to you, Father?”

Alice’s heart leapt in her chest. Oh no don’t make this any more uncomfortable for me, please Totoran. Let me disappear into the shadows.

“You have found your one, Totoran?”

“I truly believe so, Father but as tradition states you have the final say in her suitability.”

Alice felt the blood drain from her upper body. What are you saying Totoran? Her vision began to shimmer she could feel her body sway and adjusted her position to prevent herself falling.

“Alice please come forward and meet my father.”

Placing her clawed feet slowly one after the other she approached father and son, trepidation coursed through her body. If I mess this up what will he do to me? Can Totoran save me?

Once she was level with Totoran, Alice lower her head even further and remained quiet.

“Father, this is Alice. She has shown me she is brave and loyal in the time I have known her. Her guardians were taken and she has no one to protect her. I have found she is fearless in her flying and is willing to fight for her new family.”

“Well that is quite the recommendation, young Griffian. Alice you may look upon me.”

Alice raised her head slowly. Her eyes flowed upward revealing the towering bulk of the largest Griffian she had ever seen. Totoran was large but beside this Griffian he seemed small in comparison. The King leaned forward slightly to greet her face to face. His green eyes shone and his nostrils flared. Determined not to show fear, Alice matched his gaze even though inside her stomach rolled over and over.

“You are a strong character, Alice. Many young Griffians have fled from my sight in fear. Welcome to my sanctuary.”

“Thank you, Majesty. It is an honor to meet you.”

“Well, I can see why my son has chosen you. Shall we feast and get to know each other?”

Alice nodded and bowed her head again. The King turned and walked toward a corridor to the left of the cavern. Totoran clasped a claw around her arm to steady her as Alice stood up.

“You faced him, Alice, that was awe inspiring. Many have indeed run once my Father peers down upon them. I will let you into a secret he is not as fierce as he makes out.”

“I certainly hope not. At one point I thought I was going to pass out! We best hurry if he detests tardiness.”

Totoran led Alice down the same corridor his father had taken. Torches lit their way to a smaller but luxurious cavern, festooned with more fabric hangings and ebony furniture elaborately carved with Griffian images. Alice could now make out the images on the wall decorations. They were life size representations of magnificent Griffians, all holding specters of various designs.

“You are admiring my family heritage, Alice. These are my forefathers.”

Alice turned to face the King and immediately bowed her head.

“Majesty, every one of them is splendid. Do you have one?”

“Not as yet, I’m glad to say. The seamstresses make them during the ‘death month’ to honor the passing of their King. It is laid over the body for the last ritual and then hung on the wall.”

Alice covered her mouth in shock and hoped the King would not find her disrespectful.

“Apologies, Majesty, I did not know. Forgive me.”

“Of course, Alice. You have much to learn and I am sure Totoran will teach you well. Come and sit beside me, we shall talk.”

Alice glanced at Totoran who smiled and led her to the long ebony table in the center of the room. Once she was seated he sat on her left and squeezed her claw gently. His whispered comment eased her mind.

“My father is obviously taken with you. It is a privilege to be seated beside him.”

Alice watched as multiple plates of food were laid on the table in front of them. This is far too much for three of us. She was startled when both the King and Totoran suddenly stood up and bowed. She followed suit as fast as she could wondering what had happened. There had been no noise or shouting prior to their sudden action. As Alice raised her head she saw a beautiful slender woman walk into the cavern. She curtsied and approached the King. He held out his claw and kissed her hand, which looked tiny within his large claw.

“Do you wish us to transform, my love?”

The woman smiled at the King and Totoran and gave Alice a slight nod.

“Only if it pleases you, my dear, I would prefer it remain in this form but will of course change if you wish. I thought it would be more comfortable for the young one.”

“You are right as usual, Serina. Let us transform and eat in a more civilized manner for our guest.”

I’m a guest? Totoran never said. I hope I can change as quickly as them. I would hate them to see me struggle. Alice took a deep breath and tensed her muscles as her body began to contort she could see the King and Totoran do the same. The woman sat patiently on the seat beside the King until they were in human form.

“I believe we should be introduced now, Totoran.”

Totoran stood and guided Alice to her feet.

“Mother, this is Alice. She was the ward of guardians, who unfortunately were captured. A rescue mission is under way. As we speak. I brought her to safety.”

Alice could not stop her surprised comment.

“You are rescuing my aunt and uncle?”

“Yes, Alice but it is something we can discuss later. Please acknowledge my mother.”

Alice felt her cheeks grow red. Trying to remain calm, she bowed her head and smiled at the lady beside the King. The queen, she is so beautiful.

“Your Majesty, my sincere apologies, I was unaware of the mission, Totoran is speaking of. I was shocked. Please forgive me. It is an honour to meet you.”

“Well, I am sure I would have reacted the same way, Alice. I hear you fly exceptionally well for a young Griffian. Totoran has spoken of you fondly.”

Alice’s cheeks flared red again at the compliment and the implication’s of it. Could Totoran be interested in me as more than a friend? She glanced at the young man beside her and saw his smile.

“Let us eat, Serina, let the poor girl adjust to all this new information. I am famished and wish to discuss the concealment and rescue plans with Totoran once we have finished.”

The King placed a hand on his queen’s hand and then began selecting items of food from the copious spread before them. Once Alice saw the queen pick up several items, she chose some pieces for herself. Alice was relieved there was ‘human’ as well as ‘griffian’ food on the table. Her palate was getting used to the new tastes but hunger made her chose recognizable items. For several moments the table guests were quiet as they ate. It was Totoran who broke the silence.

“I must apologize, Alice for not mentioning our rescue mission to you before. Believe me, when I say I did mean to let you know but the invasion attempts took my focus elsewhere. We have several Griffians infiltrated into the police force near your old home. They will bring your aunt and uncle here as soon as they are able.”

“I completely understand, Totoran. The safety of the majority comes first but I’m glad there is a rescue plan. Uncle Gregor and Aunt Catterine are special to me and my only family as far as I know.”

Alice missed the knowing glance between the king and queen as she picked out several pieces of fruit to eat.

“So, Alice had your aunt and uncle looked after you for a long time?”

“Yes, your Majesty, since my parents died in a car accident when I was three years old. I was unaware of my other form until several months ago.”

The queen smiled and nodded before saying.

“Was it the clickety click that heralded the change?”

Alice was surprised but delighted the queen knew of the clickety click noise she had experienced.

“Why yes it was that sound…how did you know?”

“It is the known sign of every Griffian’s transition time. We all experienced the click sound prior to changing, my dear. Be assured we shall do our utmost to bring your guardians to safety as quickly as possible.”

“Thank you, Majesty. I am more than happy to take part in the search.”

“That will not be necessary, Alice we have many experienced soldiers within the search party. Come we shall walk a while together.”

The queen stood and gestured for Alice to follow her down a corridor. Alice smiled at Totoran, who nodded as she left the large cavern. Alice could not mimic the queen’s elegant stride so walked as upright as she could, pushing her shoulders back and her chin upward. The corridor was lined with flaming torches and revealed large gouge marks on the rock face.

“I think you will enjoy my surprise, Alice. It is my favorite place in the mountain range.”

As they turned a corner, Alice’s mouth gaped as she was confronted with a vast cavern full of sunlight, trees, flowers and birdsong. As she looked upward she made out a fissure in the rocks above, where sunlight poured in bathing the cavern with light.

“How is it possible, your Majesty?”

“It is not of our making, Alice. A natural break in the mountain’s formation allows the light to come in. However, the garden you see before you began with my great-great grandmother’s wish to have a flower garden. Over the decades it has grown…”

“It is magnificent. My apologies I should not interrupt.”

“I find it delightful that you obviously love my garden as much as I do, Alice. Shall we walk through?”

“Oh, yes please.”

As they walked down the winding paths, Alice asked for the names of flowers and shrubs and expressed how much she loved the scent of the many blooms. It was not until the light dimmed that they realized how much time had passed.

“We must get back to the throne cavern, Alice. There will be reports of the rescue and invasion, I am sure. It is so easy to forget when surround by such beauty.”

“Of course, Majesty, but am I allowed back? I would enjoy working in your garden. I’m a quick learner and follow instructions well.”

“I would enjoy that too, Alice.”

With a last look at the magnificent garden, Alice and the queen returned into the dimness and hard surfaces of the corridors. When they returned to the luxurious cavern, Tortoran and the King were huddled with a dozen large Griffians. Queen Serina took Alice’s hand and guided her to the far side of the cavern and sat beside her on a long stone bench.

“We will wait until their business is finished. Do you require any refreshments?”

“If I may have some water, please. Thank you.”

The queen raised her hand and a servant was at her side instantaneously and bowed deeply.

“Sweet spring water for us both please, Mari.”

Mari disappeared into an alcove then returned with a tray holding two large goblets. Alice sipped the water; which was crystal clear, cold and sweet. So unlike the tap water she was used to.

“This is the best water I have ever drunk.”

“It comes from a mountain spring higher up the range, Alice.”

With their goblets almost empty, they saw the sturdy Griffian soldiers rise from the table, bow before the King and leave the cavern. Totoran stood and walked toward his mother.

“Good news, Mother. The invasive army has retreated and did not expose any entrances with their explosives. The guards will remain vigilent for another few days to ensure there are no hidden exposives or spying devices before we can assure normal life again.”

“This is good news, Totoran.”

“I also have news for you, Alice. Your uncle and aunt’s location has been found and their escape is imminent. With a good trip they should be with us in a day.”

“Thank you, Totoran. It is such a relief to know they are going to be safe soon.”

“Where did you both go while we talked, Mother?”

“I showed Alice my garden and she is keen to help maintain it.”

“The garden is wonderful, Totoran, I could live there all the time.”

“That’s exactly what my mother says.”

Their combined laughter caught the attention of the King, who was pondering over large maps on the table. He strode over to join them.

“What is so funny?”

“Alice wants to live in the garden just like mother.”

“Well that’s another similarity we have discovered…”

Alice frowned at the look her companions shared. Is there something they are not telling me? What could it be?