A FIRST SENTENCE

February 5, 2018

A cloudy sky greeted morning on the day time and weather went wild.

1st sentence, 1st of 4 books in The Lovey Saga, now under construction.

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A START

December 26, 2017

My new middle grade fairy tale novel has a beginning. It might be called BREDLA AND THE RED VELVET ROSE. It begins like this:

Angry. Bredla was angry. And when she was angry, Bredla complained.

“And do you know what else?” said Bredla, “I hate the colors around here. I should say I hate the no colors around here. There are gray rocks and white snow and black at night and black in the cavern. There is black when I close my eyes. And white blizzards with gray tatters. Even our fur is all black and white stripes. Very boring. That is all. Oh, some kind of blue in the ice, yes. Oh, you say the sky is blue, and the sun is yellow. Good for them. But can they shove the clouds and storms aside so I can see blue and yellow for myself? If they can, they have never done it in my lifetime. Well, I want to know even more than blue and yellow. Where is green? You say forests. There is no forest here. Where is red? Especially red. There is a red velvet rose, the raven said. I have never seen red. I do not know what velvet is. I have never seen a flower. I demand to see a flower.”

Bredla folded her arms and glowered. Her parents were helpless whenever Bredla folded her arms and glowered.

“But Bredla,” said her father, “when we came down from the sky, we promised to stay in the caves on top of this very fine mountain. Is that not correct, Harriet?”

“Yes,” said Bredla’s mother. “We really should stay in the caves, dear. They are your home. You were born here. Your father and I saw all the colors when we lived in the sky land. They are not so impressive when you get used to them. Flowers are none of our business. Ice and snow are enough for us. Where will you find such delicious rocks to eat as we have here?”

“I am going to see the red velvet rose,” said Bredla. She tightened the fold of her arms. She deepened the frown of her glower.

Bredla’s parents traded glances. The glances were glances of surrender.

“But how are you going to find this red rose?” asked Harriet, Bredla’s mother.

“Kra,” said Bredla.

“Kra? What is Kra?” said Bredla’s parents at the same time.

“Raven I met under the crag. She was on an errand for her witch. They are coming to get me tomorrow, but I am going now,” said Bredla.

“But what is a raven?” asked Harriet, Bredla’s mother.

“A black bird with a black beak and black wings and shiny black eyes. Kra belongs to the scarlet witch who lives under this mountain. Kra says that the scarlet witch will help me get to the place where the red velvet rose is growing. I will find the witch’s cave at the bottom of the mountain right now. I will soon see scarlet. Not red, though. Kra says scarlet is red with black in it. I do not know what that means, but I will find out. Good-bye.”

Bredla stomped out of the cave and into the permanent storm. Bredla’s parents were not worried. They were confused. Because they were snow giants, Bredla’s parents did not fear witches. They did not fear for Bredla’s safety. Bredla, too, had no fear of witches or anything else, for that matter. She stomped instead of walked. Bredla was a young, sturdy, confident snow giant.

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THE POTION

November 28, 2017

‘Describe the pain in your knee. Is it sharp? Dull? Does it throb?’ said the witch doctor.

‘Yes,’ said the witch. ‘It starts every Tuesday as a kind of long stabbing. Then it dulls on Wednesday and Thursday, throbs Friday, retreats until I think it’s gone on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Then Tuesday. Stab, stab, stab. I’ve tried every single potion I know and some I don’t know. I’m desperate. Can you do something? Anything?’

‘How is the knee feeling right now?’ asked the witch doctor.

‘It’s Friday,’ said the witch, left eye twitching.

‘Ah, yes. So it is. Throb then. It’s clear to me that you are suffering from invisible penguins,’ said the witch doctor.

The witch grimaced, revealing her favorite fang. She contemplated turning the witch doctor into an empty bucket and throwing him down the well. Taking a deep breath, she set aside the urge for the moment.

‘So. Invisible penguins. Can you do anything to help me?’ said the witch.

‘Oh, certainly,’ said the witch doctor. ‘You need to mix a potion of hen’s ears, two elbow hairs plucked from an ogre, 3 apple seeds divided and conquered, a thimble of rainbow mist, and a clutch of candleberry beads. Heat the potion in a medium cauldron and drink it with your eyes closed. The invisible penguins will beat the hastiest of retreats. I guarantee it.’

‘I have everything you said there except candleberry beads. What are they and where can I find them?’ said the witch.

‘Candleberry beads grow in clusters on the sanch trees found in Hidden Discovered Valley. The beads are purplish or bluish. Get some of both. No need to pay me until you’re free of pain and invisible penguins,’ said the witch doctor.

‘Paying without getting results was never in the cards. Empty buckets, on the other hand … Oh, never mind,’ said the witch, and off she flew directly to Hidden Discovered Valley, where she quickly found and gathered the candleberry beads.

Returned home, her knee throbbed as she limped about the cottage assembling the potion’s ingredients. She stirred the ugly sludge in the medium cauldron until it was warm. She closed her eyes and drank. Instantly, the throbbing in her knee ceased. She tried a few tentative knee bends. No pain. She hopped. No pain. She grimaced in pleasure, revealing her favorite fang.

‘The invisible penguins are gone,’ she murmured. ‘What shall I do to celebrate? Hmmm. I think I’ll change that witch doctor into an empty bucket and throw him down the well after all. I mean, why not?’

And so she did.

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THE BAD SKOON

November 14, 2017

‘If you don’t behave, I’ll send you to where the ferns grow, and there you’ll be eaten by the Bad Skoon.’

The witch’s daughter narrowed her eyes and presented to her mother a skeptical expression on her as of yet still smooth green face.

‘Oh, there’s no such thing. And if there is, what is it? And I don’t care because I’ve got my powers ready.’

The witch mother snorted an impressive snort from her long bumpy green nose.

‘Your pitiful powers will be no match for the Bad Skoon. It has a great round lump of a body and 8 long poison fern leaf legs. One touch and you freeze, only to slowly melt until nothing is left but your still seeing eyes, which the Bad Skoon then gobbles up with a terrible gnashing of its daggery teeth.’

The witch’s daughter thought this new information over.

‘Well, mother, I have decided to clean the cauldron after all.’

The witch mother nodded once.

‘I thought you might.’

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BEYOND THE MIST

November 6, 2017

She disappeared into a whiteness of mist above the billowing waves.

Far from home she flew to dwell in the comforting echo of caves.

With blended thoughts, dark and light woven, she sat, content to wait.

Oh, what revenge she would deliver. Oh, what horrible fate!

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WHEN THE RED LEAVES SHOW

October 24, 2017

The great brick castle on the hill wore  a mantle of magic ivy. In winter the leaves were white. In summer and spring they were green. In autumn they blushed red as red. The people at their labors in the village and fields below paused from time to time to gaze with pride at the castle’s beauty. And when it came to be that at long and at last the Queen gave birth to a Princess their joy was complete. How soon was joy complete to be snatched away? Within a day.

‘Until the Princess Fair reaches her fifteenth birthday, she must never know when the red leaves show,’ proclaimed the sayer of sooth, staring with a frown at the bubbling potion in the ruby goblet.

The Queen’s mind whirled first in dismay and then in orderly contemplation. Her depth of thought had gifted her from infancy with well respected and admired serenity.

‘So,’ said the Queen, betraying no sign of alarm. In truth, she stifled a yawn. ‘I shall raise Lady Fair myself alone until her fifteenth birthday in the Far Desert.’

And the people saddened when they learned that they would lose their Queen and the new Princess Fair for fifteen years. And though, as the years passed, they maintained the castle with brush and broom for the lonely King’s sake, whenever they gazed up at it from the village and fields, it wasn’t really the same.

When Lady Fair was ten years old she strode up to the palm tree in the oasis where the Queen sat and announced, ‘This is ridiculous. I can’t wait five more years before seeing the magic ivy on my own castle home. Five years is way too long. The sayer of sooth probably didn’t know what he was talking about.’

The Queen reasoned with her daughter, as she had so done since Lady Fair had learned to talk at the age of one. And when she felt that her well respected and admired serenity had once again won the day, she said, ‘Let’s play hide the bowl in the sand.’

The Princess pretended to be content and played at hiding the bowl in sand with clever sparkle. That night, however, after waiting to hear the Queen snore in slumber, little Lady Fair burrowed under the tent and ran free in thrill. She headed straight for the brick castle fifty miles distant. She knew the way? Had she not pried the knowledge from one of the young supply caravan attendants? She had.

Red of red was the magic ivy embracing the red brick castle. Dawn broke. Lady Fair stared. Oh, glory! Red of red! The world trembled. The wings sprouted. Lady Fair was Lady Fairy. She flew off into the sky.

The Queen returned from the Far Desert. She sat with the King each morning gazing at the sky. Sometimes the King said, ‘Five more years were all we needed to keep her.’ Sometimes the Queen nodded. Sometimes she didn’t.

 

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AFTERMATH

October 17, 2017

purple dragons fought in the sky

a rain of scales fell on castle stairs

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THE TRIDENT

October 11, 2017

‘Where’s my slender trident? I distinctly remember leaving it leaning against the shed. Is it leaning against the shed? No, it is not leaning against the shed. So where is it? I’m looking at you, Bernard,’ said the witch.

‘Look at me all you want. I know nothing about the silly trident,’ replied the raven, shuddering its neck feathers.

‘Now I’m looking at you, Charlotte,’ said the witch, turning her most withering gaze toward the black cat.

‘There’s nothing in the world I care less about than your trident. You probably jammed it into the ground in the green wood so you could wander around babbling nonsense unencumbered,’ replied Charlotte, unsheathing her claws to have a nice rake across the gravel.

The witch whirled around in fury and strode off into the green wood. She kicked a tree, threw dirt clods into the stream, bit her own arm, threw herself to the ground and sobbed. When none of these things produced the slender trident, she sat up glowering, her face a silent storm. It was then that she noticed the slender trident stuck in the ground next to a stand of lush green yellow bushes.

‘Oh, yeah, heh, heh,’ she mumbled in embarrassment.

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THE HOLLOW

October 4, 2017

‘Oh, find the ghostly hollow where color melts away, and deadly shoots of cane await in silent fog so gray,’ sang the grandmother.

‘Why is the cane deadly? Why is it foggy in the ghostly hollow? How do I find it?’ asked the granddaughter.

‘You must discover the answers to the first two questions on your own. As for how to find it, take this basket, climb the stairs to the top of the cliff, cross the mesa, ford the river, climb up through the forest, crest the peak, and you will stare down into the ghostly hollow. Descend and enter. I pray for your safe return,’ said the grandmother, and she handed the basket to the granddaughter and turned away to hide her tears.

The granddaughter carried the basket outside and paused to gather courage and to gaze at the forbidden stairs marching up, up, up to the top of the cliff. She took one deep breath and began her journey with a single strong stride followed by another and another. Cliff, mesa, river, forest, peak, she arrived at the place where she stared down into the ghostly hollow. Clutching the basket, clothes tattered, hair matted here, wispy there, she descended.

She twisted and bent her way through the sentinel cane shoots. She disappeared into the fog so gray. Silence. Stillness. Time.

Three years later the grandmother heard a knocking at her door. She pushed the window curtain aside to see who was there. She gasped, clutched at her chest, and fell unconscious to the floor.

The grandmother, struck blind and deaf and mindless, babbled and sang. The visitor cared for her. The visitor survived. The visitor’s claws and tusks were kept razor sharp with the file she stored away in the basket with her other treasures.

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WHITE MOUNTAIN

September 23, 2017

Euphonia Gasp stormed into the witch’s cottage and flung a worn out shoe against the wall. Then she flung another worn out shoe against the other wall. The witch glanced up from her sewing and smiled.

‘I take it you haven’t succeeded in finding White Mountain,’ said the witch.

‘No. There’s no such thing. You lied. I found Pink Mountain, Blue Mountain, even Yellow And Black Striped Mountain. You lied. The White Mountain treasure does not exist. You lied, you liar,’ said Euphonia Gasp.

Fortunately for Euphonia, the witch was amused, and in her eyes the merriest of twinkles danced.

‘Tut, tut, tut, my dear,’ said the witch. ‘I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I will repair your shoes and give you a hint.’

So saying, the witch waved her right hand, the one holding needle and thread, in a complicated pattern as if she was leading an orchestra into battle. The flung worn out shoes leaped fully repaired to Euphonia and bounced off her stomach.

‘Oof,’ said Euphonia, and she stepped into the newly lovely shoes. ‘What’s the hint?’

‘Treasure is found when least you look. Bind your fortune to a long lost book,’ said the witch.

‘That’s it. That’s the clue?’ said Euphonia, and she barely suppressed the urge to remove and fling her shoes. Instead, she turned and left the cottage, muttering, ‘Long lost book, long lost book.’

‘Wow. She fell for it again. I can’t believe it,’ said the witch’s cat, sliding out from behind the sewing basket. ‘Why do you keep torturing her year after year?’

‘I’m a witch. It’s what I do,’ said the witch, and she hummed a happy tune as she returned to her sewing.

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