UPDATE: Here is my new book, Schisms, which is out now. The artist is Ferdinand Ladera. I met him through deviantArt.com. I did the book cover design. Schisms is now available on Amazon for the kindle at $2.99. It is also available on Smashwords and B&N!
We're on the home stretch with the last of the editing so far. Things are almost ready to be wrapped up. All I need to do is write the blurb, create a table of contents and wait on the art work for the book cover - oh yeah, I'll have to design the cover but that part will take only a day and I already have in mind the exact design and color scheme.
I'm excited about the artwork. I found the artist through deviantArt and his work is phenomenal - and affordable for folks like me! That is a brilliant combination. Anyway I can't wait to show it off. It should be ready by Christmas and the book should be done and published by December 31st!
Ok. So it seems that I've been missing in action. I haven't. Just busy editing is all. I've made lots of great progress and here is the report so far: I am nearing the last of my editing and I'm getting ready to contact artists for the book cover. Things are set and scheduled for a late December release and I am very pleased with how the story is turning out. Very pleased.
This coming weekend I will be sending out an updated partial of the book (the first ten chapters) to those who subscribe to the newsletter in .epub, .pdf, .mobi and .html.
I have checked out some crazy cool art on deviantArt. Just amazing stuff. I hope I can hire one for my book cover! we'll see.
This process of putting early drafts of my novel on my blog, while not new for me is definitely a learning experience. Now that I am in editing phase, going back I always find things that need improvement, what needs changing and what needs to be cut or added in.
It's one of the good things about having an outline and lots of notes. It's a bit scary throwing your work out there when it is unfinished and rough but it is good to put the work out there. Scenes have changed, names have changed, new characters have inserted themselves, new subplots have hatched. The first few chapters are already different from what I originally posted here on the blog.
Then there's tightening up the plot and the prose. I like how the story has unfolded. What I will be looking for next is a new illustrator for the book cover. In fact, I'm on the look out right now and I have a few artists in mind. We'll see who is interested.
I have finished the first draft. So happy. It's been a few years since I've actually written a full length novel so I was wondering how things would work out as far as work flow. It would seem that it take me about a month and a half to write an 80,000 word novel.
There's still a lot of work to do and I still have to plow through a few more books but I've been on vacation all this past week and so I've had the chance to concentrate completely on my work and I've gotten a tremendous amount done. It's raining outside, my kind of weather, fall has truly descended in western Oregon and I've gone through the first gauntlet. I remember last year this time I think that I was working on The Pumpkin Princess.
I think it's time for a good drink. I'm off to the store and having a nice break before it's back to work.
I have managed to find the full series of the marvelous, BBC produced The Hollow Crown. This is a four part series of Shakespeare's histories. A little background here: I was first introduced to Shakespeare in middle school. I saw Zefirelli's The Taming of the Shrew. They showed it at school, I kid you not! I also saw his version of Romeo and Juliet at home and these were instrumental in creating a love in me for the Bard.
To me, Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the western world and if you can incorporate what you learn from his stories into your own work as an author you will add depth to your own work. Besides the Bible, Russian classics and Tolkien, I look to Shakespeare for inspiration.
Shakespeare's histories have some of the greatest passages in the English language, my favorite play being Henry V. Kenneth Branagh's version made me a fan of both Shakespeare on film and Branagh (and through him also his then-wife, Emma Thompson) for life. It was and still is one of the very best films ever made, in my opinion.
So, we come to another version of Henry V and also this is my first time seeing Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two. With a stellar cast, most of them I am familiar with from seeing them in other films and shows, I knew it would be an excellent production. I wasn't wrong. You can catch the entire series of filmed plays on YouTube and I would encourage everyone to watch them. Especially as an author the way Shakespeare uses language is mesmerizing and very educational. The language and turns of phrase are beautiful without being florid and his insight into the human mind and the human condition transcends time. If you are willing to listen and get past the "thous" and the "thees" (I rather like that kind of stuff) there is a wealth of information about how to construct a great story. On my own, I must admit, Shakespeare is difficult to understand but with the help of directors, producers and actors who know and thoroughly understand Shakespeare you can glean a lot of valuable information about the stories he wrote. Many of them are based solidly in history or grand myths. Even if you are not a writer, just for emotional and intellectual enjoyment you should watch this series. It is one of the very best things on television this year - thanks to Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this year. I don't know that it is directly related but culturally I do think it is related to the celebration of her reign in Britain.For extra insight about these particular historical plays check out the documentary narrated by Jeremy Irons. The series starts with Richard II, then goes to the reign of Henry IV,Richard's cousin and ends with the son, Henry V.
I’ve had a number of pretty interesting names picked out for the main characters in the books but as I’ve been re-reading The Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien related blogs it struck me that the names I’ve chosen for the secondary characters and for cities and towns have not much rhyme or reason. When you read the names of dwarves in The Hobbit and LOTR, they are very much rooted in a clan/family name. This is also true of the names of real people. They aren’t as random as they seem and this was especially so in ancient societies that revere traditions and the institution of the family.
This has me rethinking how I choose to name characters in these books. There is also culture to consider when naming characters. Is it a patriarchy? A matriarchy? Are people named by the tribe or community? The family? Is it a name that is passed down from parent to child through the centuries and how many Williams, Richards or Saladins will be named in any one family? (I’m not using any of these names, they are simply examples.)
Some groups even have naming ceremonies so no little attention is paid to a person’s name. It is also said that in the world of Faerie one’s name is of utmost importance and can impart power to the person that knows the name of a faerie creature. Think Rumpelstiltskin as one example. Even in the Bible names are very important. Angels of God who came down to earth to give messages to humans often refused to give their names in order to prevent humans from giving them worship that belonged to God alone. We know of two, Michael and Gabriel, but there are other unnamed angels mentioned in the Bible and it makes them seem mysterious. One is curious about what their names are. Such is the importance and the mystique of a name.
Names often have a specific meaning. They take on importance beyond the internal. Not only can they influence how a person feels about himself but they may influence how he behaves or what he accomplishes. When my mother was expecting me my parents thought I was going to be a boy so my name was picked out – I was to have the same name as my father. basically a Jr. When I was born, well, I turned out to be a girl! So, they chose the feminine forms for those same names. Both names are strong and conjure up ideas of victory and strength. I must say, I haven’t exactly lived up to those names in any traditional sense. But I have conquered and came out victorious in personal struggles and issues in my life that caused much internal strife. A name is an identity and a root that describes where you came from and from whom you descended and it is a symbol of who you are or what you can become. Much consideration should be given to names, even when you’re just making them up out of thin air!
Hello gentle readers! I have some important news! Fill The Shelves is an organization that helps schools in need of books for their libraries. Fill those empty library shelves with books!
I remember when I was a small child my mother read to me every day. As we got older she took us to the library every week to check out books and we were also involved in a reading program called The Reading Tree.
I am now a writer and I love to read, thanks to my mother's efforts so this is important to me. Books are extremely important sources of information for an educated populace. So, if you can find a little change to help these kids at these schools by buying a book or two to help fill their library shelves I am sure the teachers and librarians - and the kids - would greatly appreciate it! You can go to the site and buy a book for a school in need here! I bought Tales From The Odyssey, Part 2 By Mary Pope Osborne
Please join us for Hobbit Day today! it is the 75th Anniversary of the publication of the wonderful book by J.R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit. it will be large and legendary! Celebrate with us on the Middle Earth Network. Starting at 11 am EST, it will go on for 10 hours. It's a festival online all things Hobbit! You can join the festivities online by checking out The Middle Earth Network.
Things are coming along with the story. I'm happy with how things are turning out. I plan to put up the first chapter in the story next weekend so look for it then. Please be aware that what you are seeing when I post chapters of stories here (or my other blogs) that you are seeing either a second or third draft. When the entire book is published, the final product, it may be a little different than you remembered.
Before I get back to writing, I am running a free promotion for The Green Door, the first book in my Secret Doorway Tales middle grade fantasy series. The promotion will last until January 2013. It's an adventure, both fun and epic for kids and kids-at-heart! If you enjoy middle grade fantasy or you have kids who enjoy fantasy, pick up your free copy of The Green Door while it's free! You can download a copy at Smashwords in the file format of your choosing, or you can download either an .epub or .html file format at my website.
And don't forget to pick up the rest of the books in the series, each for $2.99!
All books can be purchased at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.
Description - Anne is a little girl with a big imagination. She loves fairy stories, growing things and old treasures. She finds a secret door to another world called Other Land, a world that can help hers. In this other world, Anne discovers wonderful things and new friends - and darkness too.
The darkness is growing. All is not well in her new fairy tale world and it threatens her own world. Will Anne find the courage and the answers to prevent the enemies of Other Land and the entire natural world from destroying everything?
Just a quick note before I go - I will be taking a small hiatus from blogging here on Blogger for about a month. When I come back I should have the first chapter up here for viewing/reading. I do have a bit of news.
The first book in my new series will be published late this fall. I would encourage readers to sign up for the newsletter (the picture link in the right hand column at the top) if you want to get free stuff. A drawing for several audible.com gift certificates is coming up later this year, discounts on book prices and a free new book - all for those that sign up for the newsletter! The newsletter is sent out once a month (so you don't have to worry about getting too much stuff from me in your inbox!)
When I have a new story bouncing around in my brain it can take years to develop into something coherent. The stories I've already published were ideas that I had years ago but I've written at length about those.
A little background information. I'd first read Frank Herbert's Dune series when I was in my twenties. Like Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Dune was very influential on me as a young writer and I had decided that I wanted to write a grand, sweeping book set on another planet. I had decided not to write a LOTR style book because there were so many copycats that were everywhere I didn't feel that I had anything to contribute but the sweep and enormity of it was also something that inspired this idea.
Other things have a deep influence as well. namely, the Bible which has a significant influence on this new series. I wanted it set on another world but I didn't really want to write a futuristic story. I wanted it to have the feel of antiquity. Ancient Babylon, Assyria and Ancient Egypt and ancient Israelite culture (see a theme here?) all are things that have influenced this story. I want a feeling of history, pseudo-history, I guess you could say.
Also there are certain historical people that have a lot of influence for some of the characters. The prophet Jeremiah, the monk Savonarola, King Ahasueras, King Nebuchadnezzar and Queen Athaliah.
The planet Mars figures as its own character in a way. I'll post on that later but those are some thoughts on some of the influences for this new series of books. History makes for a rich story. It's exciting and intimidating all at the same time. Can this story measure up to all this loftiness? Only time will tell.
So far, here is my new book cover for Edge of Darkness. A stock art piece that I was really impressed with, called Martian Chronicles. I thought about making some fire in the distance but using Photoshop is taking away a lot of time from other things, so this will have to do. After all, it's only a short story.
I'm thinking of hiring a conceptual artist for the actual trilogy book covers. Found some great stuff on
DeviantArt. Great place for art, that. Get the free download of the story at my website this week!
UPDATE! Story is no longer available for free but you can purchase it on Amazon or B&N for $0.99!
Ok. So I've waxed on about the next project and how I plan to do this and that and. . .whatever. Fear not, gentle readers but I have been hard at work. It came to me about a year ago while I was working on my previous series that I might want to write a prequel for the Red World trilogy.
While gathering my notes and thinking on how to map out the outline I found some time to write the prequel. It's a short story. In the beginning I'd thought of writing a full length prequel novel but I don't think it's necessary in order to tell the feathers of story elements here that seed the trilogy. It's in editing stage right now it will be available for free for a limited time next week. Look for it within the next five to seven days here on my blog and also on my website. It will available as a .pdf, .mobi and .epub.
It will also be available for purchase on Amazon and B&N for those who want to buy it. it is called Edge of Darkness. I've thought about making this story in the Red World universe a comic book but I think it shall stay in its current form.
PS: I have been working on a rough timeline of events, if you will to place the story in a quasi-historical setting. It needs a little work but I will include this first timeline in with the short story just to give readers an idea of the setting I'm trying to convey. I will include a more refined version with the novels. In fact, here it is right here:
I must say, this new project I'm beginning is full of promise and fun. But there's a thing. What thing? Well, it's been quite some time since I've written a full length novel. Actually, it's been some years since I've done so. Most of my recent work has been short fiction; short stories, novellas, novelettes, short collections. It will be interesting. Short fiction I think can really help discipline you, keep you from doing too much running on with story telling, writing extraneaous material that no one needs to read. You have to keep it brief.
In a novel, you have more leeway and especially so if you are writing science fiction or fantasy do you have the chance to do some real world building - which can take on vast amounts of time. Discipline is what it's all about.
One thing I will be doing with the first book of this new trilogy is serializing part of it on this blog and on my website so look for installments. Readers will be able to read half of the novel for free on the blog and the website or download those sample chapters to their e-reader. Of course, I will also make the file in a variety of formats.
For years the working title for this trilogy was Monolith. That has changed. The overall title for the trilogy is The Red World trilogy, as it is set on Mars millions of years ago. The new working title of the first book is Schisms.
Look for new, free material from it around the end of September!
Well my very first series is finally finished. It's been an interesting experience. When I first began, it was very exciting and I loved writing it. The excitement wore off a bit by the time I got to the fourth book. What I'd noticed is that as other things in my life arose: family situations, job issues and just life in general getting in the way, it put a lot of stress on me and there were times when it became a chore to slog through. I just had to push on despite being tired, stressed out or distracted.
This was a lesson that I've re-learned this year. It isn't new but I stopped writing for a few years before the advent of independent publishing. So I am relearning it. Writing isn't simply about waiting around on some muse, not if you're serious. It's also a job. You write because you are inspired, because you love to write and also because it's necessary if you have a deadline or you need to put food on the table. I also had a hard time meeting a few deadlines this year, especially for the last two books. I wasn't dreadfully late or anything but still, I'll have to set more realistic deadlines to account for the "Life Happens" issues - another thing I've learned.
I'm saying this not to say that I don't enjoy this. I'm very proud with how it has turned out and I love it! But it was hard work and all of it wasn't joy every minute. There were those moments when I didn't feel inspired, when I was tired and didn't feel like writing anything. I had to make myself do it during those times and the end result of it is pride that I've finished the series and can look confidently to towards the future.
So what does the future hold? At this point I'm enjoying my summer. It's a lovely one. I'm reading again. Dune - I read it every other summer and interestingly, it is the inspiration for the next trilogy I plan to write. I've had an idea for a trilogy for years, many years ago, but I wasn't sure how to structure the story. I've been gathering my many notes I've written over the years. I'm getting ready to organize them and I've written even more notes.. I'll be preparing a detailed outline around the end of the month but for now I'm just relaxing and enjoying the weather. I hope you are too.
Here are the sample chapters for The Battle of Dusk and Dawn. The story is still in editing phase so any errors you see, well, keep that in mind, it is not quite finished.
THE BATTLE OF DUSK AND
Doorway Tale: Book 6
V. A. Jeffrey
cover design by V. A. Jeffrey
There are many kinds of goblins in the world, one of
those kinds being hobgoblins. Hobgoblins are at the core of this
particular story so this brief prologue will focus mostly on them.
They can be a mischievous bunch and not in a good
way. They are often said to be spiteful, rude even cruel and that
they love to hold grudges over the smallest absurdities. All of this
is basically true. Sometimes clustered in tribes (depending on where
they hail from) or in rare cases even families, they are usually
thought to be solitary beings and have been the bane of human
domestic existence for as long as anyone cares to remember.
Often when strange sounds and evil smells erupt in one's
house after a night of hobgoblin mischief – usually in the kitchen
– it is thought to be the work of the usual suspects such as mice,
roaches or, Lord forbid, rats! However, it can just as easily be
hobgoblins. Hobgoblins, as a general rule, enjoy being wicked and can
be a terrible pain in the backside but they do not have much power
beyond being a nuisance. After all, why would a self-respecting
goblin of any sort do anything constructive? However, many hobgoblins
all packed in together with nothing constructive to do can get up to
all sorts of wickedness. . .
There were rows upon rows of antique bottles; bottles of
many colors, shapes and sizes, bone china with painted gold rims,
black round things that people called records, old, worn silk dolls,
frilly pinafores and frocks and a thousand other things that beckoned
to her. There were even ancient looking brass lamps and great, iron
ceiling fixtures. This was mama's favorite antique shop and it had a
tea house attached on the other side where they served tea in silk
tea bags. Anne, mama and grandma Veronica were picking up a few
things, replacing the wreckage found when they 'd come back from
their beach trip. At least the house was no longer in disarray,
however, everyone was still out of sorts over the entire matter.
Except grandma Veronica. She seemed to float above it all and knew
how to smooth things over with her gentle, calm demeanor and the
right, soothing word at the right time.
Anne had been promised a gift from the antique shop and
she busied herself looking through many treasures and eventually
found a little white wooden music box with a tiny, white porcelain
ballerina that danced in front of a clouded mirror. Grandma had
chosen a Wedgewood White cake stand and mama had gathered some
delicate vases and a new set of dinnerware.
On the way to the register Anne saw a large bowl full of
shiny, colorful stones and among them were small, luminous
moonstones. She picked these out of the bowl. If she would only get
one thing, it would be the moonstones. In fact, she wanted her ring
back. And her armor and her bag! But they were gone. Even her new
toys didn't make her happy. Nothing hurt as much as losing something
that was irreplaceable. The moonstones would do, for now. Anne felt a
sinking discontent. An emotion that crept along the edges of her
anger at the hobgoblins' violation. It was well to get new things but
the destruction and loss of things that were important to her and to
her family felt like a stab of broken glass in her stomach. A few
weeks had passed. In fact, it was summer break already, though actual
summer was still a few days away. She kept thinking of her ring that
grandma Barbara had given her. The one with the citrine jewel set in
it by the Summer Queen herself. It felt as if someone had stolen away
her heart. She fought back tears of anger. She saw grandma glance at
her and she quickly wiped her face.
After paying for their items and having them wrapped in
volumes of tissue and newspaper they made their way up to the tea
house. As mama ordered for them Anne and grandma sat down at a table
overlooking the antique shop downstairs.
“What's wrong little one?”
“The same nothing that ruined your room?” Asked
grandma. Anne heaved a sigh.
“Yeah. I guess.”
“Whatever gremlins were involved, remember that
everyone reaps what they sow in the end.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“Bad things happen. Sometimes good can come of it in
the end. Time will pass and it won't seem as scary as it does now.
Come, here's your mama with our drinks. How about you and I go for
ice cream floats and talk this over?” Anne smiled eagerly. Mama set
three iced teas on the table.
“We still have no real idea where this incident came
from or why.” Said mama.
“It's strange, Lilly. So strange. Makes no sense.
Nothing was stolen, you say?”
“Nothing.” But this wasn't true. Anne knew that this
was a direct attack on her and by extension, her family. She was sure
it could happen again, especially considering what she and Jordan had
gotten away with under the nose of the Fairy King and his minions.
Things had been tense at home for some time. Lot's of money had been
spent to replace or fix the damage. Dad was always grumbling about
too much money being spent and this kept both of her parents in a
less than pleasant mood. Anne felt as if her home had been poisoned.
Even the little koi fish had been made to pay for her adventure to
the Dark Mountain. What if they'd had a cat or a dog? She shuddered
to think of what might have happened.
Later, they dropped mama off and went for ice cream and
“During times like these it's good to be around those
who love you, little one.” Said grandma. Anne did feel better after
tucking into a peanut butter float. She thought long and hard on what
to say for she had something important that she hadn't told anyone in
her family. Then she mustered up the courage to speak.
“Grandma, do you believe in goblins? Or other
“Goblins? My goodness. What do you mean when you say
“I mean bad creatures that like to cause trouble for
people. It was goblins that did this, not raccoons.” At this,
grandma was silent for a little while, eating her ice cream.
“I knew it wasn't raccoons, honey. But raccoons seemed
like a rational explanation. Why goblins? Why would they do this?”
“They stole something important from a friend and I
took it back from them and that made them mad. So they got revenge.”
Grandma raised her brow at this and just when she thought she'd made
a mistake by confiding in her, grandma spoke.
“Anne, I have seen many things, ordinary and unusual
in this world. Your story does not surprise me at all. I encountered
one once and boy was he an ugly son-of-a-gun! Ugly inside and out!”
Grandma waved her hands in the air to gesture her disgust. “I'll
tell you about him someday.”
“You actually met one?”Anne was surprised. Grandma
“Wow!” Anne breathed a sigh of great relief. At
least grandma didn't think something was wrong with her. “However,
revenge can turn into never ending feuding. Feuds can get bloody and
they can last forever. Do you want revenge?”
“I see. Just remember, revenge can get out of control.
Did they steal anything from you?” Anne nodded.
“My ring that grandma Barbara gave me and a lot of
“So, you did something to help another person and
because of that you are under attack. Look at it like this, it can
make you a stronger person.”
“I don't feel stronger right now.” Anne said.
“In the beginning you usually don't. It's important to
remember what this is. This is not punishment, it's a form of
persecution. There are bad forces in the world that do not
want to see good things happen and do not want justice to prevail.
They are always looking to cause pain and trouble How you react to it
can either weaken you or strengthen you.” Grandma took her hand and
stared meaningfully at her.
“Do not let this prevent you from helping others. Do
not let the actions of monsters like this to frighten you into
silence. You are never alone. You have your family and the One above
for strength, always. They would like nothing more than to see you
bend down in defeat. Do not!” Do not be frightened. I will not
be frightened. Anne chanted silently. She didn't have her ring
but she did have her ribbon that grandma Veronica had given her, tied
around her iron hammer, Star. They finished their ice cream.
“I'm glad I can talk to you grandma.”
“So am I. Remember, there is strength and help in many
places of the world when you are having a trial.”
“I know grandma. I know.”
After helping mama with making preserves Anne went out
to the backyard to the pond. The koi fish pond had been repaired and
the fish replaced. She lay on the paved stone rim, stretching out her
arms and putting her hands on the warm grass. She dangled her feet in
the cool water and thought of the first koi fish that once swam here.
It was nice to have the new ones but the old ones could not be
replaced. They hadn't deserved to be torn apart. The goblins hadn't
even bothered to really eat them. They just killed them and left them
on the ground. This dampened her feelings of happiness over summer
break. However, there were things to be happy for.
She was happy that school was finally out and she'd have
all summer to play. There was writing camp later but that wasn't real
work, that was fun. Watching the thin, crystal clouds high in the sky
float by and feeling the hot sun on her face this late morning she
thought about her conversation with grandma Veronica. Something
needed to be done. Like grandma had said, it wouldn't do to sit
around and be afraid. That's probably what Stinkthief wanted and she
was sure Stinkthief was behind it. The problem was, no doorway had
opened up recently and she didn't know how to open one herself. Yet.
She hadn't even seen the ginger cat. Zi was probably very busy as he
was a fairy of summer. And he usually showed up right when she needed
him. She felt a nibbling on one of her toes, then on several of them.
The tickling made her sit up and gaze into the water. Dad had bought
even more fish this time and they were all so pretty, their scales
glistening and rippling with many colors under the water. She had not
even given the previous fish names and these did not have names
either. When she lifted her legs out of the water they quickly swam
away from the surface. She splashed the water playfully, bringing up
a light spray of cool water over her face. Something larger than a
koi fish was staring up at her from the pond. She thought at first
that it might have been her imagination but then it swam up and
crowned at the surface under the tiny waterfall. It cooed and gurgled
at her, then moved closer, diving under and flipping its bright green
tail. Its head appeared just above the surface again.
It was a baby mermaid!
As soon she tried to reach out and touch the baby, it
disappeared beneath the surface. Just then she heard someone call her
name. It was Jordan.
“Hey, what's up?” He was hopping along on his bike
by the back fence. Anne ran to the fence careful to avoid stepping
into the thorny blackberry bushes.
“Actually, some weird stuff. . .” She glanced over
at the koi pond.
“Stuff like what?”
“We got back from the beach last month, right after
you and I went to Other Land, and when we got back our house was
trashed! Did you see anything strange too?” At this Jordan's face
turned white and he stood still, nearly falling off his bike.
“Yes! We heard strange noises in the house. For a
couple of weeks actually. Every morning we would find something
broken. At first we thought it was the dog but he never breaks
anything. But Tiger would bark wildly nearly all night long in the
backyard so we finally brought him inside so the neighbors would stop
complaining. Well, one night we heard Tiger growling ferociously. He
was so angry that he sounded like a bear or some werewolf. It was
weird. It even scared my dad and he isn't scared of anything. Then we
heard a lot of noise and what sounded like Tiger fighting with some
animal and then Tiger yelped like he was hurt. We all ran downstairs
and saw Tiger lying in the floor in a pool of blood. He had a nasty
wound on his side but he also had a limb in his mouth!”
“Yup. My mom and dad had no idea what it was. They
thought it was opossum or a massive mutant rat that got in the house
but I'm telling you, it was a goblin arm!” Jordan lowered his
“They hurt your dog?”
“Yes. He's ok now. We took him to the animal hospital
“That's horrible! I'm so glad I don't have a pet. They
stole my leather bag full of objects and even my silver ring.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I'm not sure but I still have my hammer.”
“Nothing was stolen at my house. I still have my bow
and arrows. What do you think we should do?”
“We can't let it scare us. That's what they want. I'm
going back. But I don't have the things I need. Otherwise, you could
just follow me.”
“Actually, I've got a key! Made of chicken bone from a
fairy that turns into a purple dragonfly when she visits me. I just
have to find a doorway now.”
“You have your own key? That's great!” Which made
her feel even worse. She felt her fortunes falling while his were
rising. Sadness and frustration was overwhelming her again.
“That was Mera. I met her once.”
“Yup. That's her name! We'll talk soon. I have swim
lessons later. I'm definitely going back when I can find a way in!”
“If you find a doorway that opens let me know. I'm
going back to get my stuff and to find Stinkthief! He's got to be
“He almost killed my dog! Stinkthief must pay!” Said
Jordan. He held his hand out and she high-fived him and he rode off.
Just as Anne was feeling that everything was against her she
remembered that another way in had just opened. She looked over at
the koi fish pond and then walked to its edge. The fish were swimming
along happily, their scales shining in the reflected sunlight.
Beneath them was a faint light source emanating from deep below. Anne
was delighted. The merbabe was gone but it had been there, seeming to
summon her forth once again to the fairy world. And then she
wondered, whose limb did Tiger bite off anyway?
She awoke from a barely remembered dream. One that led
her through floating ribbons of color and gentle faces that sang
strange lullabies to her. Lying in bed she gazed at the replacement
bag that she'd managed to fish out of the basement. It was a rather
nice bag. Smaller than her other one, slightly newer looking but it
wasn't her real bag. What could she do?
The moon was high and full and its milky light bathed
her bedroom. A light breeze fluttered the curtains. She yawned and
turned over and tried to go back to sleep. There was a strange noise
outside. At first she thought she'd imagined it. She froze, straining
to listen. Not hearing anything else she closed her eyes. Then it
“Aaayeee! Aaayeee!” Then there was a squeaking sound
after it, like a dolphin's call. Anne sat up and went to the window.
The soft wavering light she'd seen yesterday emanated from the koi
pond. She only had on her night gown but it was far too hot to put on
more clothes. Still, she stuffed a light sweater into her new bag
along with her hammer and her two new moonstones and made her way
silently down the stairs.
“Zi?” She whispered. She made her way towards the
kitchen and peered out of the back door window. From there the light
was even brighter. She carefully and quietly unlocked the door and
pushed open the screen door.
“Zi?” She carefully closed the screen door.
“Aaayee! Aaayee!” The voice called. It certainly
wasn't Zi. Maybe the merbabe came back? The water in the pond
was rippling in waves. Many colors rippled in thin curtains of light;
red, orange, blue, green and violet. She crept closer to the edge of
the water and looked in. Among the fish were other creatures. There,
right in the middle of the group was the little mermaid baby. She
swam to the surface and poked her head out from the water. Then one
of the other creatures swam to the surface, a mermaid. She had long
purple hair, a purple tail and yellow patterns over her body. She
beckoned for Anne to come into the water and the baby squealed and
Do not worry. You will not drown if you swim with us.
Come with us, Anne, and we will take you to the shores of Other Land.
She heard a voice say in her mind.
“But how did you know?”
babe was sent to seek you out and show you a way back in. She
could hear the voice of the mermaid in her head. Anne closed the flap
down on her bag and slipped into the water. Hands took her up gently
and the merbabe squealed happily. Anne sank into the pond, finally
submerged and she could see the bottom. Below the stone walls of the
pond at the bottom there was a swirling vortex of color. She could
see the koi fish darting about as the school of mermaids and mermen
took her down with them through the vortex. They were beautiful,
colorful and graceful in their movements. They held her tightly in
their circle as their long, graceful tails and fins swayed in the
Anne felt her lungs fill with water and then – she
could breath as if she had gills all along. They traveled far down
and then out of the tunneling vortex where they reached an open sea.
They swam over vast underwater forests of trees and seaweed,
mountains and valleys. Anne caught glimpses of mighty sea dragons, a
giant squid, schools of fish and seahorses, castles of whale bones
and corals and burly mermen holding huge conch shells and swimming to
and fro in front of the coral palaces.
They swam until finally the ground became higher as they
floated to shore. The mother of the baby turned to Anne.
may thank our Lady Mother, Lady Pearl. She heard your song-desire in
your dreams to come back to this world.
They took her to the shoreline of a long, white sandy
beach. It was the southern edge of the southern forests.
realm ends here, Anne. Perhaps one day you can visit us. So long and
may fortune lift you upon its waves.
She felt many hands and the tide pushing and carrying
her toward to the beach. The merbabe cooed and the merpeople said
their farewells as Anne floated on the tide to the shore.
A ways off she could see the tall bloodwoods and
blackwoods along the edge of the beach. It was just before dawn and
the horizon was a series of color bands fading into each other, dusky
rose, violet and midnight blue near the crown of the sky. The stars
glittered like polished jewels, the air was warm and all was quiet
except the lapping waters along the shore. The white sands sparkled
faintly. She squeezed as much water as she could from her hair and
gown and wiped the sand from her legs as best she could. Then she
started off. To the west she could see Old Tree in the distance,
standing like a fulcrum point in the very center of the universe.
However, Old Tree did not tell the time and she had no time piece and
no Way Wanderer. Listening and watching carefully she made her way
into the woods towards Old Tree, thinking that she might find Zi or
even Mera. If she didn't bump into anyone she knew she might ask Old
Tree, if Old Tree was even awake. If not, she would think of
something. Walking through the forest without a clear pathway was
hard work and after a long while she was out of breath. Anne sat
under a wide fern frond to rest, watching a few fireflies flit away
when she heard the noise of many feet coming towards her hiding
place. Staying as quiet as a fox pup she watched and waited, putting
her hand in her bag to grab hold of Star at any moment. She
was ready when they came close to her hiding place. She recognized
one of them. Them being a troupe of brownies, that is. One of
them had pale, blonde pigtails. It was the girl she recognized with
Mortimer's troupe at the Mirrored Lake. They looked like scouts on a
mission. Wondering whether or not she should come out of hiding she
immediately found that this was unnecessary. One of them, the one in
pigtails, sensed her presence and they went searching around the
bush. The fern frond was pushed away and then there was a very
“It's you! Anne! I know you!”
“What are you doing hiding here? What brings you out
“Goblins?” They all exclaimed.
“They attacked my home and stole some important things
“You came here because they stole a few trinkets?”
Asked one of them snidely. Anne gave him a quizzical look.
“They weren't trinkets and they also wrecked the house
and killed my pet fish.” She said. He made a face but said nothing.
“Gandy, are you saying that we have a right to be
angry because the goblins wrecked and stole what is ours but when it
happens to mortals it doesn't matter?” She asked. The other
brownies just shrugged. She rolled her eyes.
“Anyway, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is
Pilly and this here is Doran. Come with us, Anne. We are on our way
home. Or what we call home, for now.” The others seemed curious
about her. Except Gandy, who stood apart from the rest of the group.
“You see, we've been waging a war with the hobgoblins
all spring. They've taken over our homes, especially Knoll Hilly.
Knoll Hilly is the place where all brownies would gather during
important times during a season. The place where the Grand Toadstool
stands. Most of us had family who once lived there long ago and it
was always the brownie homeland since The Beginning.”
“Our ancestral place allowed by the First Law. The
hobgoblins pushed all brownies out. Greedy, lazy rats!”
“They won't build places of their own, they just steal
from others.” Said Doran.
“They plan to steal all of the surrounding places
where we live. Places like The Mirrored Lake.” Said Pilly. Anne
“You can't let them ruin the lake! Not again! Isn't
that part of your home too?” They all nodded.
“Once, long ago,” Said Pilly, “giants came
tromping through the land. They were traveling to the mountains. They
were eating great big apples and pears – for you see, back then
fruit was as big as boulders and the trees they grew from as big as
Old Tree – and they spit the seeds out. Some of those seeds fell
upon the earth near a large clearing in the middle of the southern
forests, between the western forests and the sea. Over time the seeds
became so hard and calcified that they became like rocks. We called
them mounds. Brownies love rock-filled places, so many brownies came
to dwell in that place. Great Old Knoll, a brownie as big and
powerful as a goblin lead the first group there and called it Knoll
Hilly, a place for us all to live or travel to during festivals and
it was our home until the hobgoblins came.” Doran spoke up again.
“You see, our ancestral home stretches from Knoll
Hilly to the edge of the southern forests and even to the Mirrored
Lake. We do not rule the land the way others might rule over land but
we lived there in peace with other creatures.”
“Goblins do not understand peace. They do not like
it.” Said Pilly.
“Then we will give them what they like, a sound
whipping until they get the point.” Snapped Gandy. The others
murmured in agreement.
“Goblins are a vengeful race. What did you do to
attract their notice, Anne?” Asked Pilly.
“Well, one hobgoblin in particular, who I first saw at
the Dark Mountain fortress, stole some important golden objects for
the Fairy King. He was planning something very bad with those
objects. Jordan and I got them back. After that, they attacked my
“So it was you that was the cause of the Fairy
King's wrath a moon ago! You and that other meddling mortal child!”
Gandy's tone was so venomous that Anne took a step back.
“Gandy! Would you rather the Fairy King be able to
fulfill his plan?” Asked Doran.
“I would rather mortals stay out of fairy business!
Who knows how many fairy folk died that day because of them?”
“Who knows how many more would have died if they
hadn't thwarted him!” Snapped Doran. Pilly waved them both to
“Day is coming and it will soon be time for us to
mount another attack. Come with us, Anne. We would be glad of your
“I'm glad to give it.” Pilly took her hand and she
marched along with them. She found the sullen one staring hard at her
out of the corner of his eye. When she tried to make eye contact with
him, he scowled and turned away.
I can finally see the end coming with this final book. Things are moving along swimmingly. I have to admit that I was really worried for a while because I fell into something of a small depression when I first began writing it. My attitude has changed. Nearly done, actually. I have a few editing passes to put it through after I finish typing it up. I'm actually on the second draft right now. I have also been writing notes on the next book and gathering some old notes as well that I've written for it a few years back. Plus I'm currently reading Dune, and the Bible, two books that are pivotal and influential in the next trilogy I plan to write.
Research, you might say. More on that later this week. I'm also enjoying the weather an life in general. Seeing the sun has done wonders for my mind. I've had some interesting health related bumps and lumps and one could either take a dim view or a practical one. I've decided to be practical and thank God for what I have right now. Life is good and I thank Him for that.
I'm writing up a new short story and it should be out next week. Those that sign up for the email list will receive it for free this weekend! It's calledThe Candy Shop, a weird fiction tale or fantasy tale (loosely fantasy anyway). I prefer to say weird fiction for this particular story. It's very much inspired by some of Alan Edgar Poe's mysteries.
Along with my new short story I will add in a few sample chapters of my newest novella The Battle of Dawn and Dusk, coming out next month. Sign up for the newsletter (link in the sidebar) for the sample chapters and the free short story!
So, I have just finished the rough draft of The Battle of Dusk and Dawn. Celebrated that by having a gimlet (It's been a rough month).
TBoDaD was difficult to write. The hardest one of the series, in fact. I think this is mainly because it's the last book in the series and I feel a little depressed about that. I've been dragging my feet, to be honest. I really love this character and this series - the character is modeled after my niece - and The Green Door, the first book, is my first published book.
I've said this in interviews before but I don't mind relating it again - the idea for the basic story came to me as a short story that I wanted to call The Pumpkin Princess years ago. That was the working title. I had an idea about a little girl who finds herself in a pumpkin patch that leads to a fairy tale land. I never got around to writing the story out years ago. Here's another bit of information that I have not mentioned in interviews, the green door was once a short story idea as well though for a different story. I got the idea many years ago as a teen in a summer writing camp at Lewis and Clark college and did a little bit of work on it but I never finished it so it remained a rather skeletal idea. The idea was about little goblins that lived behind on old green door of a shed. Well, these ideas were combined many years later. In fact, the goblins come much later in the series. The pumpkin princess idea seemed like it started in the middle of the "story" to me when I finally decided to put the story on paper so I felt that I needed to introduce the protagonist to readers by way of her entering this fairy world through another way and that is how the idea of the green door of an abandoned old shed came into being. The Green Door was born. After that The Pumpkin Princess became the second story in what became the current series.
The main character, a seven year old girl named Anne Greene who turns eight loves books, is introspective, imaginative and brave. She loves her friends and her family, who are loving and a little indulgent with her but are definitely strong positive figures in her life. She also loves nature. nature and the environment are very important in the stories. I wanted to create stories around her that created challenges for her without being overwhelmingly dark. I wanted books that showed a little girl with a basically positive view of the world and who held to clear principles, however imperfectly she might live up to them. I named her Anne because of several queens in English history that were named Anne. Boleyn was the first queen that came to my mind. I've always loved the name, specifically the English spelling of it. There are also references to Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare's work in some of the books as well.
Now I've said aplenty that this is the end of the series, and as far as I can see, it is. There might be a short story in the works a year or two from now. I won't say "never", after all, my mom has always said that life can make a liar out of you, but as far as I can see, The Secret Doorway Tales series is basically done. So what am I working on next? Well, as I start on my second draft of my current book I am also writing another short story. A deliciously mysterious story. Look for it to be available for download next weekend, if all goes well.
Just thought I'd drop a line about what I'm currently reading - The film is coming out soon I think and it looks intriguing so I decided to pick up the book it is based on: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter. I don't usually read these kinds of books. They don't interest me but for some reason I found myself interested in this one. I've read some very good reviews - and bad ones, and even the bad reviews convinced me that this might be a good book. So we'll see. So far it's good.
I am now working on the last book in the Secret Doorway Tales series, The Battle of Dusk and Dawn. The outline is done (finished a couple of weeks ago) and I am now working on the first draft. made it up to chapter 4 so far. Things are going smoothly, things are going well. I'm excited about this story!
Anyway, that's just an update from me, and pretty much what's been going on with me right now.
I was reading a review on a retail site for a historical novel and the review was generally positive but the reader had very serious issues with the historical details in the book. In other words, the creative license the writer took went over the line in the opinion of this particular reader.
So, creative license. When is it too much? Or is it ever too much? When writing genres such as science fiction or fantasy I think one can get away with an outrageous amount because the nature of those genres are such that many things are open to the imagination. You are dealing with things that don't exist so you have more leeway. When it comes to historical fiction, another genre I love to read, I don't think you have as much license because the setting is history, which can be researched and verified by others. Especially when you encounter a reader of the genre that is either somewhat or very knowledgable about the time period you are writing about.
This brings me to an example I recently found in my most recent book. It's a kid's book so there are a host of things one must tread carefully with. Now to be honest, I really wonder if this is true creative license because this was a mistake that I just realized I made. It involves the different words for "bathroom". Now, in the book I used the word "privy". Just yesterday it ocurred to me that a privy, at least the definition I am using, is an outhouse - a bathroom that stands unattached and outside of the main house or main building. The bathrooms in the story, technically, are not privies, as they are inside the fortress.
So, I have a bit of a dilemma. I have thought of using the word "toilet" or "latrine". Latrine is an older word, I believe, that children may not be familiar with. I'm not opposed to looking up words while reading if you don't know them. That's how you expand your vocabulary. However, not all readers appreciate having to do this. Also, latrine seems to me to be a cruder, rougher word. George R. R Martin uses this word in his ASoIaF series and those books ain't for kids! Then I thought about using the word "toilet" but this word sounds too modern for the story, I think. The story is set in modern times but the children go to a fantasy world that is anything but modern. In this world it seems to me that the word "toilet" is inappropriate. So what does one do? Should I keep "privy" even though it is technically inaccurate and claim creative license or is it even true creative license? Should I use a more accurate word even if it seems strange to me? Things to think about.
I ask this question because I love both and always have. I've encountered many people who dislike or simply hate science fiction and fantasy entertainment, yet it has seemed to gain an increasing part of the entertainment market. This makes me happy. So I ask the question, why? Well, science fiction and fantasy are excellent framing devices for important and even controversial ideas.
Why do I personally enjoy science fiction and fantasy? Because of the otherworldly elements. The fantastic elements in each genre are what fascinate me. They take you to imaginative places that are very different from our real world, include characters with powers and abilities that are impossible or improbable in this world and yet through the fantastic they can explore issues we face and deal with every bit as effectively as shows that more closely reflect the real world. Star Trek did this through nearly all of its incarnations, my favorites being TNG, TOS and DS9. They also examine timeless storytelling tropes and archetypes we recognize and gravitate towards which can serve to uplift and inspire heroism in ourselves. The story can teach us important things about our own culture and even make us examine morality and ethics. They make us examine culture, society and Self, if we allow them to. The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire and Star Wars are a few that come to my mind. One, Star Wars, deals with simple and clear Good and Bad, Light and Dark sides, while the other two deal with these same issues but are further along on the continuum between Black and White and gray areas. It is obvious that Martin's work deals with lots of gray area issues but there are still identifiable heroes and peoples with good qualities in his ASoIaF series. Many people mistake Tolkien's work as simple. It is simple in ways and yet very complex. It is a gross misunderstanding of his work that has caused this problem and is an issue for another post. I find that I learn things from all three stories.
One unfortunate thing I've encountered are people who seem to have moral issues with fantasy or science fiction. They explain their dislike of them in moral terms - and in turn judge those who do love the genres as being bad or immoral or intellectually stunted. I really have encountered this. Not very often, but I have dealt with it and it is baffling. often it comes from people who are extremely rigid in their views of anything they deem out of the ordinary. The sad thing about it is that many of the issues raised in the very stories they despise could teach them much about how to think differently, how to embrace the other and to examine the world around them.
In some creative writing classes I took many years ago, especially as I got older, these kinds of stories were not encouraged. They were looked down on as childish, as not being real literature. Do you think kids in school are taught English and Great Literature by reading science fiction or fantasy? Not a chance! It's unfortunate because I think there are so many science fiction and fantasy stories have a lot to say about important themes and can say them just as potently as the Great American Novel or the Great Russian Classic. Farenheit 451, Animal Farm, Ender's Game, Dune, The Lord of the Rings, 1984, A Wrinkle In Time, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Scanner Darkly, The Divine Invasion, there are so many excellent works out there that I can't name them all here; I know there are many that I am missing. My point is that in the minds of some people entire genres should be dismissed out of hand as infantile, childish entertainment when in many cases the very opposite is true..
So why? After all, important themes can be explored in more so-called realistic genres and often are with great skill but I think that Otherness of science fiction and fantasy is what draws me to it. The real world on paper with its drudgery, its horrors and sameness does not capture my imagination and attention the same way science fiction and fantasy do. Mind bending, imagination and things that cannot or should not exist do exist which can remove one from the real world and we find another world to escape to. Why should we want to escape? Is it necessary? No and is mostly a matter of style and taste in entertainment but in the escape I think that important issues can be explored without the feeling that one is being preached at or converted or beaten over the head - though it must be said in the hands of less skillful creators this problem is still evident - You can explore unpopular, sticky, controversial issues, even things that may be forbidden by society in such a way that are far enough removed to engage the reader/viewer long enough that he or she may be willing to think about issues that conflict with his own beliefs and attitudes. An excellent article somewhat related to this issue was written by author Bryan Schmidt.
Does this always work? No it doesn't but I do think that this is the key strength of science fiction and fantasy. Besides that, elements of the Other appeals to those of us who love things that are different, mystical, mysterious, original, out of the ordinary or even those attracted to fringe ideas, unpopular ideas or the radical, whether radically liberal or conservative. I think certain personality types can be drawn to these genres for that reason.
So that is why science fiction and why fantasy. Ok, not a work of great intellect but that's my humble opinion. What do you think, readers? Do you enjoy one of these two genres or both? Why? What are your reasons for why you like science fiction and or fantasy?
Book cover for The Mountain King! Still undergoing some tweaking! This was made with stock photo art and some of my own design work The real heavy lifting goes to the artist H. Marynka. You can find her stuff on Dreamstine.
Here are a few sample chapters from The Mountain King. I'm also putting the sample up on my website. Please be aware that the story is still in the editing phase so the final book may be slightly different than the sample chapters! Samples may have errors. Be aware that this is not the finished product! Enjoy!
THE MOUNTAIN KING
Doorway Tale: Book 5
design by V.A. Jeffrey
The old walnut tree, long healed of the miserable
disease of worms and webs stood tall and proud. It's expansive
branches were cloaked in new spring leaves, providing shade for its
yard and the next. It waved its branches slightly but no one saw or
noticed. A light breeze blew through its leaves but that wasn't the
only thing rustling its leaves. The neighborhood children were
playing in its branches and it was ever watchful of them. Especially
over one child in particular for it was she who rid it and its kin in
the surrounding woods of the perstilences they had endured for years.
“Higher! Higher!” Taunted Sam.
“I can't climb that high!” Complained Sarah. She had
finally made it up the trunk to the first section of lower branches.
Her brother Sam was nearly at the top of the tree and he was rocking
back and forth on a large branch as if riding a rocking horse.
“You're not supposed to be up here anyway. You're too
little.” He warned.
“No I'm not!” She protested.
“Whatever. Come on , Anne and Jamie, hurry up! I can
see the whole forest from up here!” Sam urged. Jamie was making his
way deftly up towards the highest branches. Anne followed behind. She
was pretty good at climbing trees but she had never climbed this
high. Still, the height did not frighten her. She had stood on trees
far taller than this.
was right. They really could see the forest and the tops of all the
houses from their lofty position. She managed to get close to Sam and
Jamie. Sarah, far below, fussed at them indignantly for leaving her
“Just stay where you are Sarah. It's too dangerous for
someone small like you!” Anne called down. “You might fall.”
The boys began teasing her. Their voices receded into white noise as
Anne surveyed the sight below. She could see the wide spray of
daffodils in her backyard, little yellow paint daubs from her vantage
point. The koi fish pond gurgled happily in its little corner of the
yard. The scales of the brightly colored fish sparkled in the
sunlight. She turned and her eyes caught movement in the field of
wildflowers across the way. Someone was trying to get into the shed!
It was Jordan, one of the popular fifth graders from school. He had
an old stool and he was standing on it, climbing through the broken
window. Suddenly the stool rocked off its legs and he slipped and
fell inside! Anne looked around to see if anyone saw this incident
and began to climb down. In her rush to move to the branches below
she slipped and fell.
“Ahhh, woah!” She cried and unwittingly let go,
feeling herself in freefall. She saw nothing but whirring leaves,
branches and streaking sunlight in her panic. She heard the other
kids screaming and then she felt her body abruptly hit something. It
wasn't quite hard but not soft. Her eyes were closed.
“Did you just see that?”
“I saw it!”
“Me too!” The other kids began scrambling down. Anne
was breathing hard, feeling herself itch with perspiration and
adrenaline. She'd landed into a nest of branches, twigs and leaves.
“What happened?” She asked in slight daze.
“The tree! It liked. . .moved!” Said Sam, his face
flushed with excitement and relief.
“Yeah. It twisted its branches and caught you before
you fell all the way down!” Said Jamie. Suddenly the tree trembled
and deftly lowered her to the ground. The other kids gasped.
“It's. . . alive!” “Sooooo cool!” They all
gathered around her, gazing up at the old walnut tree in wonder.
“Thanks.” She whispered. It trembled again and the
other kids backed away when it rumbled something low and
“Whaa?” Said Jamie. Anne knew what it meant.
“Thanks?!?” Exclaimed Sam. “I've lived in this
house my whole life and I've never seen that tree move by itself. How
did it do that?”
“Do you like trees Sam?” She asked.
“Take care of them and they will take care of you.
They might even talk to you.” As the other kids began speculating
on how and why a tree would move and talk of its own accord Anne
glanced over towards the field in the woods.
“I'll be right back!” She said, climbing over the
gate and towards the field. As sure as the sun, the shed was standing
there with its old green door, locked, the window had long since been
shattered. And there was no sign of Jordan.
Who does he think he is? That's MY special place!
She thought vehemently. She was throwing shoes in the closet and
slamming clothes away in drawers. She stalked across her room and
looked out the window. She couldn't see the field from here which
made her even angrier.The shed wasn't a place for jokers and dumb
kids who only cared about fart jokes, burping and picking on other
kids! It wasn't a place for kids who didn't take anything seriously.
It was special. It was dangerous. Besides, what did he know? Beside
Lady Grey's visitation at school what made him think the shed was a
portal? Why does he even care about it? Who told him he could go
to Other Land anyway? She shrieked mentally.
“Anne?” Are you cleaning your room?” Called dad.
This pulled her out of her spiraling angry thoughts.
“Ok. Sounds like a tornado up there!”
“No! No tornado!” She finished straightening her
room, albeit with slightly less zeal than before. After she stuffed
the last pair of slippers in the closet she hopped on the bed,
thinking of what to do next. She thought of the times he and his
friends teased her, of the time they had mocked Great Grandfather
Aldy – and were stricken with boils for it. She wondered how that
had gone. Ever since winter break Jordan had been rather – changed.
More solemn. What if he gets hurt out there by himself in Other
Land? She didn't think he or the rest of them looked like the
type to read books unless forced to and one thing you needed to do
was know what you were getting in to, which meant you needed to read.
Books were a guide for her. Even so, there was no guarantee of
safety. She decided that she would have to find out what he knew.
After all, he might need her help. Suddenly, she didn't feel so
jealous. Only a little worried. She didn't like him but she'd met
some dangerous creatures in Other Land and though she had a ring and
a hammer and Zi to help her she often just survived nasty scrapes. It
was settled then. She would have to devise some way to question him
and see what he knew. Without his friends around. It would have to be
the library. The library was guaranteed to scare away his friends.
Anne went to her nightstand and got
out a notebook and pen. She wrote:
jordan. meet me at the library alone!!
after school – very important!!!
She put extra exclamation marks in for emphasis. She
would be waiting for him tomorrow. He must know something
about the fairy world, but what?
Anne had arrived at school earlier than usual, rushing
through all her morning ministrations and through breakfast. She
hurried along through the wooded path towards school with dad
scrambling behind. As she had expected, Jordan and his gang had not
yet arrived. As her dad saw her off she walked quickly down the hall,
looking for his homeroom. Most of the fourth and fifth grade classes
were on the other side of the school and Jordan's homeroom teacher
was Ms. Day.
Ms. Day was one of the meanest teachers to ever set foot
in any school since the dawn of time, as far as all kids at
Linnsworth Elementary school were concerned. Second to her was Mr.
Muenster who snidely berated his students for any perceived mistake
in class and both of them gave ungodly amounts of homework! Her
parents insisted that they were just very strict and expected kids to
do their homework and behave in class but Anne didn't believe that.
In fact, she suspected that Ms. Day turned into an ogress at
midnight. Between Ms. Day's snarling and Mr. Muenster's sarcasm she
dreaded entering the fifth grade.
However, that was a worry for a future day. As Anne
approached the door to Ms. Day's classroom she could see from the
window that the lights were out. A good sign. The halls were rather
sparse but she had to hurry. Teachers were arriving and eventually
the first bell would be ringing soon and kids would come pouring in.
A few were already mingling around the playground. She slowly turned
the door knob. It was unlocked. Good! She slipped inside. The
room was rather boring looking. Not decorated with art and science
projects like Miss Sandy's room was. But she had no time to survey
the room's lack of decoration further. She went over to the other
side of the room looking for the cubbyholes and was very surprised.
They didn't have cubbyholes. She looked around, feeling desperate,
glancing at the clock. Each desk had a name written in bold black
marker ink on white tape and all of the desks were in perfectly neat
rows. She went up and down the rows and finally found one that said:
“Jordan.” She lifted up the top and slipped in her note. There
was another door leading directly to the playground on the opposite
wall. Thinking she'd make an easy escape she went over to it and
tried to open it hoping to slip out unnoticed but it was locked. She
would have to go through the way she came in and hope that Ms. Day
had not yet arrived. Some of the class were already lining up outside
the door by the sounds of it. Anne turned on the lights and opened
the door to find a small group of fifth graders standing there.
“Wait. . .what?” Said one in surpise.
“What are you doing here?” Questioned one of them
“Yeah, what were you doing in there anyway?” Chimed
another kid. They nearly towered over her but she remained calm.
“Nothing.” She said.
“You're not supposed to be in there!”
“The light was on and I thought it was Miss Sandy's
“Miss Sandy's class is,” a girl pointed down the
hall, “that way!”
“Ok.” She said. She felt someone punch her backpack.
She tripped forward but kept going, rolling her eyes. Fifth graders
didn't intimidate her anymore but some of them really thought they
were bad. She turned around and glared at the girl who punched her
backpack. However she quickened her pace when she saw Ms. Day turn
the corner and stride down the hall. The theater was just across the
hallway and Anne ducked into the theater to find relief from further
exposure just as the nosy fifth graders began tattling on her.
“Ms. Day! We saw that third grader come out of your
“We don't know her name but she has long, curly brown
hair and a blue sweater and she just went that way!” By then Anne
was behind the stage and through the exit and on the playground. The
first bell had just rang. She was now in a part of the school grounds
that she was unfamiliar with. She wandered around the white satellite
buildings that surrounded the main school. Soon she heard the theater
exit open. Quickly she hid behind one of the satellite buildings.
Sure enough it was Ms. Day casting the area with that hard,
suspicious black glare she always wore. It was early morning and the
shadows among the buildings were long. Anne could see Ms. Day's
shadow. It didn't match Ms. Day's shape and it was, in fact, far
larger than any morning shadow she had ever seen, grossly misshapen.
She hoped Ms. Day would not venture out any closer.
Ms. Day, not seeing anyone went back inside. She
wondered what this meant. Did the principal know? Pondering on that
she nearly forgot about class! Oh no! Where am I? She thought
frantically. She would be late for class and this all because she'd
decided to help Jordan! She was beginning to think that this wasn't
such a great idea after all. Suddenly a shadow crept over her and
around the corner appeared Mr. Barnes, the music teacher.
“Hello there! What are you doing back here?”
“I got lost and I need to get back to Miss Sandy's
room but I don't know where it is from here.”
“”Oh. You're one of Sandy's students? Here, I can
get you back to where you need to be.” He said. Mr Barnes always
had a sunny disposition. His friendly smile made her troubling
thoughts nearly disappear. She was thankful for the kind Mr. Barnes!
Plan A was now launched. Now for the second part.
She smiled happily as Mr. Barnes walked her back to her homeroom
class as the late bell rang.
- - - - - - -
She waited right outside the back exit from where she
could see who was coming and going from the school library. It
seemed like an eternity! Then she began wondering if he even knew
where it was! Maybe it was a bad idea telling him to meet her there.
If his friends showed up, and she would see them coming down the
hall, that was a no-go and she would go home and leave him to bumble
about in Other Land on his own. She closed her eyes momentarily,
thinking about summer break and summer in Other Land when she heard
someone approaching. Sure enough it was Jordan and she didn't see his
friends. He opened the library door tentatively as if angry bees were
on the other side of the door and then he finally went in.
Immediately she went inside the school and followed him.
Miss Gail, as usual was busy organizing books to pay
them much mind other than a quick hello. Jordan was looking around
for his secret person. Anne walked past him and sat at a table near
the back. There were a couple of kids browsing but for them and the
librarian, the library was empty. She waved at him. Jordan frowned at
her giving her. She merely waited, expectantly. He finally seemed to
figure out that she was the secret person who wanted to see him and
made his way to the table. He flipped the crumpled note on to the
“Did you write this?” He asked, giving her a
“Why? What do you want?”
“I saw you go into the shed in the woods on Saturday.”
“Did you see anything strange in there?”
“Strange like what?” He sounded irritated and began
looking around as if he waere ready to go. Anne decided to push him.
“Like what you saw on Level 1 a couple of months ago?”
Jordan's eyes widened in surprise. She now had his full attention.
“Well?” She pushed.
“Uh, well, what I. . .wait a minute! How do you know
about Level 1?”
“I saw someone mysterious down there in the boiler
room. Did you?” She said. He looked around cautiously.
“Yeah. I did.”
“Well, the shed is also like that.”
“It was just an empty, musty old shed.”
“So what made you climb in through the window?”
“I was just curious. I like to climb trees and into
empty houses and stuff. Me and my friends always do that. So what?”
“So, in order to find the world behind it you have to
unlock the door with a special key. I have a special key to the
“I don't want to meet anymore creepy old ladies.”
“She's not really an old lady. She can change shape.”
“Like what? What can she change into?”
“In the other world where she lives she's a dragon!”
“A dragon? I don't believe you.” He gave her that
suspicious look again. “How do you know that?”
“I've been to the other side. More than once. That's
how I know.” Jordan's eyes were as wide as plates now.
“How do you get there? I mean, how do you get a key?”
“You have to know one of the creatures who live there.
It's dangerous. You shouldn't go by yourself.”
“But the boiler room wasn't locked.”
“I know. Not all of the doorways to the other world
are locked. The ones that aren't are even more dangerous because bad
things can get out.”
“The principal told me to stay away from there because
it was special and dangerous. She said it was like a place where the
fabric of two worlds came together but was invisible to most people.
She wouldn't explain any further though.”
“She's right. Now really, what made you interested in
“I already told you!”
“You're sure you didn't see anything strange?”
“Well,” he looked around and then lowered his voice
again. “Once when I was walking home from the store I passed by it
and I saw a bright light shining in there.”
“Ok so what was it?”
“It means the fairy world beyond the green door
“Fairy world? What do you mean?”
“It's dangerous.” She warned.
“I'll tell you but only because if you go by yourself
without the right information very bad things will happen to you.”
“Ok.” He said eagerly.
“The place is called Other Land. At least that's what
I call it. The land of fairy folk. Some of them are good, some of
them are inbetween and some of them are evil. You don't want to be
caught there alone and unaware of what to expect. . .”