You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, a fantasy adventure novel available at Barnes and Noble Online.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Next Level-

I have been long thinking on how to turn writing into more than a hobby. I would like to get at least some of my income from writing. I have studied a bit about copywriting, a lucrative field preparing copy for advertisements and promotions, as well as writing letters and such for those who need a writer's skill. It is not the creative writing I prefer, but it is an avenue I might follow in the coming years.

More in line with my real interests I have written a novel, and begun a sequel. However, I have not yet gotten my novel published. Having studied the processes of getting published I have decided to go with a print on demand program through Amazon. This form of publication will leave promotion of my book in my hands, and so it will probably not make a huge splash in the realm of adventure fantasy fiction. Still, it will be out there.

How to market my short story writing? I was inspired by my sister Donni to use Craigslist as a tool for beginning my short story project. She promoted her private pre-school using Craigslist, and the results have been far greater than I imagined. So, I have begun to offer short stories over Craigslist.

My purpose is to create short stories for people to present as gifts or commemorations to family, friends and colleagues. Other purposes will come to mind over time, and I can create tiny tales for whatever purpose my client might have.

I have established a separate Google mailing address from which to manage the project, and a PayPal account as a means of receiving payment. Once some revenue is generated I can apply it to getting my novel out into the marketplace, and once that is underway I can reinvest the income to build my writing into a business.

This project will be very low budget, and only time will tell just where it will go.


That is the contact address. If you or anyone you know has need of a unique gift, write me at that address.

Meanwhile, the tales I tell here remain free. Invite your friends and neighbors to stop by and visit. Leave a comment, from time to time. Writers love readers, and its nice to know someone is reading.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Medicine Man's Apprentice-

The Great Botutsu scrabbled under a low bush, digging at the roots until he came up with a large bulb. Shaking the dirt from his prize he tossed it to Comasa. Comasa caught it and placed it in the large bag hanging from his shoulder.

The bag was heavy. It was Comasa's job to carry for the Great Botutsu. To fetch for the Great Botutsu. To empty the gourd the Great Botutsu kept next to his bed. To cook. To clean. To do what he was told.

In exchange the Great Botutsu would give Comasa knowledge. He would teach Comasa about the plants and animals, about their spirits and how they could be used to help and heal. He would also learn about poisons, or so he suspected. The Great Botutsu never addressed the subject directly, and always deflected questions on the matter.

"That is the root of the Tum Tum tree." said the Great Botutsu. "It brings sleep to those who have a wounded spirit. It heals the mind and quiets the small demons that harbor in the hearts of those who have been long sad."

Comasa nodded. He had seen it used on Mama Kodumba when she had lost her husband to a great beast in one of the hunts. Her heart had been wounded by the beasts spirit, or so the Great Botutsu had said. The beast having eaten her husband, the spirit of the beast had followed the bond of their marriage to consume the mate as well. She had lost the will to live, and was unable to care for her children.

The Great Botutsu had given her the last of his dried root, a bit at a time over the course of two months. With the passage of time she had returned to herself, and the spirit of the beast had been driven out. Comasa had been assigned to the nightly drum rituals to drive out the beast, and after much time the root and drum had prevailed.

Mama Kodumba was again tending to her children, and cooking the wonderful meals for which she had been famous. Comasa had entertained some concern that the fat those meals had put on Mama Kodumba's husband may have prevented him from escaping the beast that slew him, but he knew better than to speak of such things.

The Great Botusu was the one to speak. It was Comasa's job to listen and learn.

Now the Great Botusu was looking at a plant that was unfamiliar to Comasa. Perhaps it was unfamiliar to the Great Botusu, as well. The Great Botusu walked around the plant one way, and then the other. He looked it up from root to tip, and down from tip to root. He then sat before the plant, and held out his hand.

Comasa untied the small bag from his belt and handed it to the Great Botusu. The Great Botusu opened the bag and withdrew a pinch of smoke weed. He dug a small hole at the base of the plant he was studying and burried the bit of weed. Tossing the bag back to Comasa the Great Botusu began to chant.

Comasa sat down next to his master and joined in the chant. As he had been taught he visualized the plant as a seed, falling from the sky and coming to earth in this place. He imagined it growing, putting forth root and leaf and over time coming to be the plant before them.

The Great Botusu got up and cut several branches of leaves from the plant. He dug at the base of the plant and brought forth some of the roots. All of these he wrapped carefully in his prayer shawl, and cradled them as they walked back to the village.

When they arrived Comasa went to work preparing all of the things they had collected for drying and storing. When everything was cleaned and arranged on the drying racks he went in search of his master.

The Great Botusu was sitting by a small fire in front of their hut. He had a clay vessel heating in the coals, and Comasa could see some of the leaves from the unknown plant soaking in the hot water.

"Sit, Comasa." said the Great Botusu. "It is time for the next step in your initiation."

Comasa sat. The Great Botusu used some wooden tongs to remove the hot clay pot from the coals. He poured off a small portion into a little bowl. He held it up, allowing the vapors to enter his nose. He put in a finger and brought one tiny drop to his tongue. This he spit out. He offered the bowl to Comasa.

Comasa also let the vapors enter into his nose. He touched the brew with one finger, and touched it to his tongue. He did not spit it out, but let it rest there. He waited, holding the warm bowl in his hands.

The Great Botusu watched and waited with him. Then he took up his rattle, and began to shake the rattle first to the left of Comasa, and then to the right. Comasa drank from the bowl. He waited, watching the fire and listening to the sound of the rattle.

Brighter and brighter grew the light of the fire. The sound of the rattle grew crisp and seemed to take on a strange color. That did not seem right. The light of the fire filled his eyes. The rattle went through his head. There was a sudden pain in his chest and then there was darkness and silence.

Slowly the light came back to Comasa. Rather than rattles his ears picked up the sound of a small bell occasionally struck. He opened his eyes and could just make out the shape of his master above him. Comasa realized he was laying on his sleeping mat, and tried to rise.

The Great Botusu pushed him back down. "Rest. You have been four days in the spirit realm. Fever and sweat, and strange words from your tongue. Four days. When you are strong again you will tell me of your journey."

Comasa expected his head to hurt, but it felt remarkably clear. His body felt worn, as if he had worked long and hard and then run many miles. As he lay there he began to think again about his decision to bind himself to the Great Botusu.

He then recalled the long hours tending the fields or minding the goats. The long trail hunting in the forest, often with little to eat and not always with success.

With the Great Botusu he had plenty of food. The village provided well for the medicine man, and Comasa shared in that bounty. He enjoyed the learning, and mastering knowledge that was held by only a few.

He would rest. While he rested he would try to recall his journey to the spirit realm. Right now he only remembered pain and darkness, but he was sure the truth of the journey would come to him as he rested.

The little bell tolled by his ear. "I will name the new plant for you, Comasa." said the Great Botusu. "You wrestled with demons while the plant held you in darkness. Reach back. Remember. Find the names of the demons. You will one day be the Great Comasa."

Comasa hovered on the edge of sleep. He could now see the demons in his mind. He could remember the battle. Yes. It would be a mighty tale to tell, when he woke again.

Somewhere a bell rang softly in the distance.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Witch of Wickham-

John Fortner was old enough to be aware of the war, but too young to really understand what was going on. He stood on the porch with his father, watching the soldiers march by. Word was that the enemy was just miles away. There would be a battle.

A battle! The thought raced through young John's head. Visions of glory on the battlefield, with a vanquished foe at his feet!

"Go muck out the barn, John." said his father.

Far from dreamed-of glory, John did what he was told. He finished, and stepped outside of the barn for a bit of fresh air.

He could see smoke on the horizon, and hear occasional shots and shouts. Rarely a cannon barked and echoed off of the surrounding hills.

John's dreams of glory had faded to cow dung on his boots. He made his way to the porch and sat on the steps. One at a time he removed and cleaned his boots. He often thought his father was stodgy and unimaginative, but he respected the value the man placed on necessary things. John cleaned the boots with care.

He looked up in time to see her come out of the woods, walking along the same road the soldiers had used to go past their small farm. The witch of Wickham. She looked like a ghost in the twilight, gliding along the way and looking neither left or right. He watched her pass, moving in the direction of the battle.

As she faded from sight, John realized that the sounds of battle had also faded away. With a sigh, he finished his task and went into the small house.

His father sat at the kitchen table, finishing a cup of tea. John poured a cup from the kettle, and sat down opposite the older man.

John said nothing. He sipped at his tea, and looked down at his feet. His father had not gone to the war. "Growing food for people to eat is contribution enough." he had said some time ago, when John had asked. "Soldiers have to eat, and we know how to grow food."

"G'night, Dad." John said, getting up.

"Night, Son." said his father. John noticed that he looked much older tonight. Perhaps the light. John went off to bed.

It was late in the night when John awoke. He shivered, even though the night was warm. He got up from his bed and made his way to the front door.

His father stood there, looking out at the road.

John joined him. Moments later he caught a glimmer on the road. It was the witch! She walked back up the road, heading toward the woods and the village of Wickham on the other side. She was singing an unearthly tune, one which made John's heart feel cold and hard inside his chest.

As she drew abreast of the farm another glimmer in the direction from which she had come caught his attention. Slowly, two by two, soldiers were marching in her wake. They were keeping pace with her tune. As they drew closer the chill in John's heart grew colder still. He shivered as he watched.

Some carried limbs in their arms. Legs, arms, bits of themselves or other men. One carried his own head. Some shared the burden of carrying a torn and mangled torso, or unrecognizable pieces of what once might have been men. None carried weapons or gear. John realized that they were beyond need of such things, now.

He drew in a breath to ask his father a question. His father touched his lips, gently, and the question faltered on his tongue. He watched in silence as the price paid for a war he did not understand marched silently away into the woods.

The last stragglers finally passed by and faded into the woods. They aided each other, for few were whole and walking was difficult. When the last one passed into the deeper darkness between the trees, John let out his breath.

"Let's get back to bed, Son." his father said. "They may now be beyond need, but others will be in need of the food we can produce."

A multitude of questions tangled John's tongue, and not a one made it past his lips.

His father looked at him. "That is all there really is to the glory of war, Son." he said, gently. "She will lead them to a place of passing, and they will find peace. The rest of us have to carry on. Get some rest."

John returned to his bed. He thought he would lay there the rest of the night, unable to sleep. Instead the haunting melody the witch had sung threaded itself through his mind. He saw a clearing in the woods, and a path that was lit by an unearthly light. The soldiers were now running up the path and into the light. They were whole and young and shouting for joy.

He fell asleep, and dreamed a dream of quiet days and work well done.