She Stands Between

GHOSTLY WOMAN

She looked no different dead than she did alive. Always a beautiful woman. And tall. She had a grace about her and a kindness. The serenity of one who lives with love.

I guess it wasn’t all that odd she didn’t remember that she had died. After all, she looked as whole as you or me. You could touch her, and she could touch you. She laughed, she cried, she seemed to breathe. There was nothing of the grave about her — except when she turned insubstantial and walked through walls or vanished and reappeared.

Nothing of that registered with her. And she had that smile … so oblivious and unsettling. Like a grin on a leper’s face, doped to the pain.

I think she’d been trapped in a dream. The world had become such horror that she utterly denied reality, not even realizing that was what she did. In the end, she even denied death. She saw her world as she wished to see it, and in doing so she was forsaken.

Living in the past, she surrendered her future. She lost whatever it is that lies beyond and all the mysteries that might be answered and all the wonders she might behold.

I think she will always stand between, neither here nor there, seeing what she would, rewriting her history, trapped till time comes to an end.

I don’t know what to feel about her. Pity? Yes. But when I think of her, I feel sorrow more than anything. Of all the cruelties she may have suffered, she was cruelest to herself.

And my love for her makes it hurt that much more.

– Götling Hans Velsing, Apprentice of Ulm –

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No Longer Dead

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They marched from beyond the world’s edge, from across the glacial plains where the White Wastes stretch without end.

Dread Army in Snow 2

To the northern borders of the farthest kingdom, the invaders came fast and silent, as if they’d been a part of the gathering mist. We’d almost no word of their advance before they surrounded the hallowed walls of Hammerhall.

march to war

Knowing not the identity of our enemy but only that a spread of legions upon our borders boded no good, our armies charged to greet them.

Undead Army

We were not prepared for the horror that we would find.

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From forgotten armies of ages past, the Piper raised his abominations.

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Some more dreadful than others.

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The worst were those of our warriors who fell before the fury of the opposition–and rose to join the ranks of the living dead. None of us took well to facing the resurrected remains of our brothers-in-arms, brothers who should have found their way to Valhalla, carried in honor upon their shields and lamented by their kin.

Zombie Knight

Champions appeared on the field. Whereas the common rank and file of the Dread Lord’s legions possessed no mind or will of their own, we spied the officers of the undead controlling their lines. The undead did not speak, they did not cry out, and they had no concern for their lives or flesh.

Hero

Our Field Marshal rode out for parley when our enemy raised the flag of truce.

Horse in Snow

He never returned.

Lich

And our enemy mocked us.

Tree General

My master, the Tree General, led a valiant assault at the heart of the opposition.

Ent Eye

His walking forest wrought more destruction than could be done by a score of trebuchet.

Battle Ends

But we were overwhelmed.

Bloody Snow 2

In the battle, the Empire’s most revered wizard was vanquished. There wasn’t enough left of him to bury.

Mounted Knights 2

I assembled the last of the Tree General’s Hedge Men. We charged for redemption, a final bid to avenge our beloved master.

Fire Explosion

We rode right into it.

Harbin's Charge

There was no turning back.

Man on fire

To a man, we burned. The Hedge Men died in that conflagration.

Harbin

Even I died. Though I yet draw breath.

Scary-Night

In shame, I continue, living without honor. My blade has no purpose. I atone by looking after my master’s widow. Every tear her Romani pride keeps from falling, I cry for her. But I am only half a man. I am not the warrior I was. Hammerhall is taken. The north is conquered. The living dead have claimed their territory.

Evil Tree

The signs are certain. As Tsura has foretold in her witching ways, the Awakened march again. Soon, they shall be at our gates.

Piper

And they shall bring him to us.

Burning village 2

Living or dead … he comes for all of us.

Blood River

As sure as winter brings the cold, the Piper comes.

– Sargent Harbin Herzog, Last of the Tree General’s Hedge Men –

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Wizards of The World

Antique World Map 2

From where do your fellow mages hail?

I have reviewed the stats. To date, we have visitors to this site from 74 different countries/territories (listed in alphabetical order):

Albania
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Belgium
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Ecuador
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Israel
Italy
Japan
Jersey
Kenya
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Philippines
Poland
Qatar
Republic of Korea
Romania
Russian Federation
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain

Sri Lanka
Sudan
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Trinidad & Tobago
Turkey
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yemen

Worldwide, our rally grows!

To date, the top 5 nations for number of views are:

United States
United Kingdom
Canada
France
Germany

(listed in order from highest to lowest number of views)

To you who are here from the beginning, I give my special thanks and promise more to come.

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His Wicked Brood

Demon child 7

I knew most of them. I knew their names. I knew their families. I’d heard them chatter and laugh and sing. I’d seen them chase one another and dally away the hours. I’d seen them dance and tussle and squeal and hug and cry and live their uncomplicated lives, exuding the purity of innocence that only the very young can express. It doesn’t last long for any of us: that innocence. But they lost it far too soon.

Demon child 10

Some had been my friends. Others had been acquaintances. Still others had often called upon my little brother to play games or hike or go fishing or to make some minor mischief. Months before the children changed, they no longer bothered coming around. As of a year before, Mathÿs never went outside without me or my mother or father. For no reason he would explain, he had grown withdrawn. And my home was a place of sadness.

Demon child 8

Some I’d seen around the village or working the fields or when they came to celebrate at harvest. I knew them at market and at worship and walking the country roads. They came from all around. They had the simple faces of peasant stock — honest, hardworking, and unspoiled.

Normal Children

They were just kids. Ordinary kids. Like any other. There was no clue to any weakness. There was no sign of evil. All that made them unique was how trusting they were, and how naive. But they could have been the beloved sons and cherished daughters of any parent.

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I still see them in my dreams. Leaping out of the dark. Black eyes swirling. Mouths open. Their teeth … spiked rows of fangs.

Wicked child 2

I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t think I’ll ever really know or understand. I doubt anyone can.

But what they became … and what they did … I can never forget. I can never really forgive.

I remind myself that they weren’t what they were. They weren’t even who they were.

So, I pray for them.

May the gods grant the wicked brood the mercy that their master never did.

I believe that the children of Schönfelden were the first victims of the invasion. At least, I think they were the first to be damned.

– Clarisse, Daughter of the Gypsy Queen, Chovihanis-in-training

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Cometh The Shadow Queen

Shadow Queen

She doesn’t come in darkness. She IS the darkness

Shadow Queen 2

Sensual as a slice of cold steel drawn across the throat.

CREEPY SHADOW WOMAN

Her every wish is murder.

Picture of a woman in shadow

Mother to mayhem, she is yet alone,

scaryface

Breathing terror into those who but think her name.

Shadow-people

Trapped in her hidden world, she plots, waging her secret campaign to re-claim all that has been taken from her.

shadow-figure-bed

In nightmares, she bides her time.

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But her patience is not equal to the millenia of her imprisonment.

Tentacle_shadow_monster

Her hour draws nigh. Beware, my child. The Shadow Queen cometh.

– Tsura di Iacopo Ritagliatore compassionevole, Witch

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Relax, Enjoy, Take A Breath

Snoopy Happy Dance

This moment, right now, is singular. It will never come again.

How are you going to spend it?

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Should A Writer Not Be A Reader?

Shark Smile 2
I find the notion ludicrous.

I can somewhat understand reading LESS frequently or for shorter intervals during some of the more intense phases of writing … but to stop altogether is like being a shark and deciding to stop swimming. You’re going to drown.

When I’m asked for “tips” on writing, the first thing I say is “Write.”

The second thing I say is “Read.”

If I don’t read, how am I to be exposed to anything new? How am I to know what is exciting readers? How am I to see shifts in market? By reading books in my own genre(s), I educate myself on terms and conventions I might not have known. I see new viewpoints and new uses of language, and I am reminded of things I have forgotten.

To me, reading and writing are as essential to an author as air and water are essential to life. You might exist for a little while without one or the other, but you’re not going to last long.

For those who have asked, Yes. I read. Constantly.

Currently, I am finishing Elizabeth Moon’s trilogy, “The Deed of Paksenarrion.”

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FANTASY vs. REALITY

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fantasy gypsy woman

As I am a fantasist, I have to say that my approach comes from the impossible made real. However, for there to be any emotional and/or intellectual value, the reader must be allowed to make “realistic” correlations. Therefore, realism is a necessary element to fantasy. I believe fantasy can best be perceived as an “extrapolation” of reality. Fantasy is merely asking “what if” and running freely with such conjecture without the restrictions of “reality” as it is currently understood. The fact of the matter is that much of so-called “science fiction” is really fantasy. The further fact is that so much of what we call “reality” today was once regarded as fantasy. I consider fantasy a necessary element to a healthy life and state of psychological well-being, as it is through fantasy that we engage our imaginations and perceive possibility where possibilities would otherwise not exist.

For those following the development of A WIZARD’S LIFE, the foregoing images represent a taste of what’s to come.

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FOLLOW ME

one man and field of summer grass

The journey ahead promises to be an exciting one.

I would like to take as many along as are willing to follow.

There is room yet in the caravan.

Medieval Travelers

If you haven’t chosen to follow this blog already, please do so. For those who are following, please extend an invitation to your family and friends. Things are speeding up and the word needs to be spread.

Share the adventure.

Roaring Bear

Surprises await.

walking dead

And romance.

kiss

And mystery.

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And passion.

Burning_Castle_by_sHoCkWaV325

And wonder.

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Please help our Wizard’s Rally grow.

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WELL … WHADDA YA KNOW?

unexpected-growth-jerry-lofaro

As an actor, I never pay attention to reviews. I don’t read them. I don’t really care. Praise is nice, but I don’t perform for praise. I perform for myself. I know when I am “there” and when I am not. Besides, it is easier and more entertaining to write an insult than it is to write praise, and insults do nothing constructive. From what I am told, most of the reviews I have received have been positive–but I would be the last to know and the least concerned. And if I don’t read them, then they can only exist in my mind as generous and full of adulation.

I rarely enter contests of any type. I don’t like to lose, and I don’t like to bet — particularly when I cannot comfortably afford defeat. As a kid, I lived in Las Vegas. I was surrounded by gamblers and knew more than one sad tale of a life lost on a roll of the dice or a flip of a card.

I never understood the addiction to gambling. The wheels, the lights, the flashes, the smoke, the praying for luck, none of it ever made any sense to me and never had any appeal.

I gamble enough on the choices I have made in my life, and I have rolled a hard game. I have gone hungry far too often as it is without throwing away my limited finances by betting against the house.

However, I do on odd occasions play the lottery. When a jackpot climbs above $250 million, I tug a recalcitrant dollar out of my wallet (Oh, yes, it screams as it exits) and I buy a quick pick. Typically, I don’t play any particular numbers. If you’re going to bet that a comet is going to land on your head, it seems a futile effort to describe the color of its tail before it plows into you.

It hasn’t been unusual for me to not check on the lottery results for weeks and even months after the draw (and even not at all). In fact, that’s the norm. I like holding onto the dream that I might actually win something, rather than face the certainty of having lost. It is the illusion of hope that I cling to — not actual hope. It is enough for me that a whisper of hope can be bought, and I try to let that dream last as long as I can.

Really, what else is there in life for us to hold onto but love and hope?

Back in 2011, I entered a writing contest. I don’t think I’ve entered a writing contest since I was in high school. That was sometime during the Paleolithic era I believe. We were using stone tools at the time. We did know about flint though.

I used to win every writing contest I entered. I couldn’t get published, but boy I sure could win writing contests. That used to annoy me. So, I stopped entering contests. And I stopped submitting for publication. The drawer with the rejection slips had more pages than my stories.

But I digress.

I never heard anything about the 2011 writing contest. I didn’t bother to check on it. I entered it hoping to win some money that would allow me to live while I wrote. Once more, letting hope last, I didn’t look for the results of the contest. Besides, I figured if I’d won anything then I’d get a notice. Some fat check would appear clogging up my mailbox with the volume of money it represented, and the paparazzi flashing their cameras would blind me with my own brilliance. Otherwise, if I didn’t hear anything, then it wasn’t worth knowing about to begin with. Nothing lost. And the dream lived on.

I am writing a series of novels in the vein of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic (meaning it is a fantasy, it is lengthy, and it goes on over many volumes). I began the project in 2010 and am finishing the third volume now. In the coming months, I will be doing polish edits and rewrites for several chapters within the current 3 volumes, which I envision as the opening sequence to a 9 volume series.

I entered the prologue and the first chapter or two of the first volume in the 2011 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

I really could use the prize money to finish this project. Alas, I did not win.

However, it has just come to my attention that my entry made the Short List of Finalists in the Novel-In-Progress Category.

Well … whadda ya know?

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