Beauty and the Beast Part 3

Baldric winced as he saw the blood. Ronen stumbled over to his mother. He tugged on his sister’s uninjured hand but she didn’t respond. “Ronen, leave her be,” Baldric said. “Mother, what are we going to do now?”

I’ve got what I need to tend to Ceinwen for now,” Adina said. “I brought supplies to last us a week. That’s how long the spells preventing the detection of our presence will last.”

I can slip out and see where we are,” Baldric said. “Maybe see if what happened in the valley has made it to wherever we are.”

Adina nodded. “I’ll have you go out tomorrow. Today, I need you to help me with the others.”

Baldric kept the other three from disturbing Ceinwen while Adina made up a potion for pain. She made Ceinwen drink the medicine first. She cleaned the wounds with water from a hand pump in the kitchen. Clean strips of linen were wrapped around Ceinwen’s head, neck, and arm, leaving only her nose and mouth free.

Is Ceinwen okay?” Ronen asked, curling up beside but not touching his older sister.

As soon as I can get her to a healer,” Adina said. She forced a smile. “Don’t worry about her, Ronen. It’ll be all right soon enough.” Her smile faded as she noticed that Ronen seemed bigger than she remembered. “Ronen, stand up for a moment.” Ronen did as he was told. “Isabella, Grainne, Baldric, come here.”

What’s wrong, mother?” Baldric asked.

You’re all bigger. You’ve aged,” Adina said.

Baldric looked down. His clothing, which had been loose fitting and comfortable, was now tight against his body. His sisters looked out of place in their too small dresses. Ronen was the worst. The seams had popped in places on his shirt.

Mother, what happened?” Baldric asked.

I don’t know,” Adina said. “Something with the spell went very wrong.” She waved her children away as another bout of dizziness almost caused her to black out.

Can I stay with Ceinwen?” Ronen asked.

Is that a good idea?” Baldric asked.

Ronen, don’t touch her. But yes, you can stay here with Ceinwen,” Adina said. She stood up and walked over to the supplies again. She put together a small meal made up of bread, cheese, and boiled eggs. Then she shook out the blankets and made the others go back to bed.

The next morning, Baldric slipped out the back of the house and went over the garden wall. Ceinwen woke up and began to cry.

Ceinwen, it’s all right. Drink this and it’ll help,” Adina said. Ceinwen drank the pain killer and was soon dozing again.

It was early afternoon before Baldric returned. “Mother, I’m not sure what you did but I don’t think we’re where you wanted us to be.”

Where are we and what did you learn?” Adina asked.

We’re in Northport. It’s grown a bit since you and father brought me here. King Theron’s listed as one of the great kings of the age, and it’s his line still on the throne but we’re two maybe three generations away from him,” Baldric said. “The fashion is very different, some laws are bound to have been changed, and the sea port is busier than it used to be. We didn’t just move to Northport, we moved through time.”

I’ve never heard of the spell working like this,” Adina said.

Maybe the gods did this to protect us,” Baldric said. “Or maybe you were so desperate to save us that you did this without meaning to.”

That would explain why my magic is non-existent, and why I’m so weak,” Adina said. “It would also explain why Ceinwen –.” She stopped and swallowed hard. “So we’re two, maybe three generations out from our own time.”

What are we going to do now?” Grainne asked. She and Isabella were sitting together, watching their mother with wide, frightened eyes.

I set some things in motion that should bear fruit,” Adina said. She dug the papers out of the pack. “I need to find out. I won’t know until I go into town to look into it.” She stood up. “Baldric, you’re in charge while I’m out. Stay inside. The garden isn’t protected by the spell.”

Yes mother,” Baldric said. Adina slipped out and over the wall of the garden much as Baldric had done.

Beauty and the Beast Part 2

She appeared in her living room. “Mama.” Ceinwen launched herself from the table into her mother’s arms. Ronen toddled over just behind her.

Baldric came out. “There have been some strange things going on, mother,” he said. “None of us have left, though there was some dispute about the house and whether they should cut the roses down or not.” He gave her a concerned look. “Mother, what happened?”

We don’t have time to discuss that right now,” Adina said. She went over to a cupboard and pulled several large burlap sacks out of it. “Baldric, Isabella, Grainne, take these and fill them. Make sure you take only clothing and those small trinkets you can’t do without. I’ll buy you new things when we get to the city.”

Mother, the city isn’t going to be safe,” Baldric said. “Not with you and father being so well known in these parts. If something dreadful has happened at the castle the villagers are going to put the blame on you. Word hasn’t gotten out of here yet but you know it will soon.”

You worry about packing, Baldric,” Adina said. “I’ll worry about the villagers.”

Yes, mother,” Baldric said. He disappeared back into his room. The other two girls returned to their room.

Ceinwen, you and Ronen go to your room. I’ll come help you pack in just a moment,” Adina said. The two children scampered off.

Adina brewed a pot of tea laced with herbs that would dull the wits of her children. Once Baldric finished packing for himself, he also packed for Ceinwen and Ronen. Once the children were finished, Adina bade them eat while she packed her own things.

By the time Adina was finished gathering everything else they’d need, all five of the children were drooping in their chairs. Adina drew a circle on the floor around her and her children. Slowly, wearily, she added a series of runes. The chalk broke in her hand and she was forced to scrub it out and start over with a fresh piece. Finally, she was finished.

Spirit of the North, daughter of ice and snow, let time be frozen,” Adina chanted. “Spirit of the East, child of the light, shed your light and show us the way. Spirit of the South, mother of all, grant to me this boon for I seek only to protect my children. Spirit of the West, from whence all life came, guide us to a place in this world where we may once again walk free.” For a moment nothing happened. And then, the world went dark.

Adina groaned. She sat up and rubbed the back of her head. She stared blankly into the shadows, wondering why things were so dim. Memory brought clarity, and clarity brought concern. Where were the children?

Adina fumbled for the pack at her side. She pulled out a candle and tried to light it with her magic. Emptiness engulfed her and not even a spark flickered in the darkness. Adina fought down panic as she rummaged in the pack, finding the flame striker. She struck the two pieces together. Sparks flashed in the darkness as the bit of tinder at the end finally caught. Adina lit the wick and pinched out the smoldering tip of the striker.

Adina held up the candle. Her hands shook as her head spun. Her chest hurt and it was hard to breathe. She took a moment to steady herself and then went looking for her children. The faint light gave her only a bare hint at the shape of the room. She took a few steps forward. Her foot caught on something. She looked down.

Baldric groaned and sat up. “That hurt,” he mumbled, still more than a little dazed. Adina left him to gather himself as she went in search of the others.

She found Ronen next. His breathing was fast and shallow, and his skin was cool to the touch. Her hand shook and a drop of wax fell onto his skin. He twitched but otherwise made no other response. Adina wiped it off before moving on.

Isabella and Grainne were lying in a heap together not far from Ronen. Both of their eyes were open but there was no sense in their faces. Adina made sure to untangle them before resuming her search.

Adina searched every corner of the room but didn’t see her youngest daughter. “Baldric?”

I’m here, mother,” Baldric said. He staggered over to her, a candle in his hand. He lit it from hers.

Ceinwen’s not here,” Adina said. “I’m going to look in the other rooms. Keep an eye on the others.”

Yes mother,” Baldric said.

Adina held her candle high in the air. She searched room to room on the first floor of the strange house but she still couldn’t find Ceinwen. Dread clutched Adina’s heart in an icy grip.

A small whimper to her left drew her attention to the stairs. The light from the flickering candle fell on a bloody, mangled body lying on the steps. For a moment, Adina was reminded of a doll lying broken and discarded on the nursery floor. She let out a strangled cry and knelt at Ceinwen’s side.

Mother?” Baldric called.

Stay with the others,” Adina said again. She pulled her scarf off and carefully wiped the blood off Ceinwen’s face. Ceinwen whimpered again. “It’s all right, kitten. Mama’s here.”

The right side of Ceinwen’s face, neck, shoulder, and right arm were torn, like she’d been raked by the claws of a wild beast. Her eyes were open but her pupils were mere pinpricks in a sea of green. Adina reached again for her magic. It refused to come. There was nothing left.

Adina lifted her injured daughter into her arms. She carried her into the room where the other children were waiting. “What’s happened?” Baldric asked.

The gods have abandoned me,” Adina said. “My magic is spent and Ceinwen – Ceinwen is hurt.”

My Writing Partner

I got asked once how I come up with all my ideas. I explained that they came to me as random thoughts and snippets. I just made notes and went back to them when I was ready to write. They commented on how vivid my imagination was and how I must spend so much time alone perfecting my craft. (No, I haven’t perfected my craft. I’m still working on that.)

I will tell you all a secret…I don’t work alone on my books. I know, a shock, right? My writing partner is my husband. He doesn’t actually write with me, but he’s the one I turn to for help when I get stuck on things. He’s also helped me build my worlds up, create a cogent magical system, and change my characters from god-like super beings to ordinary people with some extraordinary abilities.

My husband has a great deal of experience creating worlds. He was a GM (game master) for several years. He didn’t believe in using the pre-made adventures. He built his own, complete with maps, cultures, and magic systems. I played in a number of his games and his world building skills are awesome.

An example of his help is how we dealt with my magic system in my primary fantasy world. I needed to figure out how to do magic in my world. So, over a series of conversations, we set down the rules regulating my magic. We also have a form of magic that we’re calling thread magic that is technically divine magic but is often seen as more of a curse. It is a complex concept and we have spent the better part of a year hammering it out. We’re still working on it, refining and changing it to fit what the story needs. Of course, we’re also changing the story as we go so the alterations to the magic come as part of the territory.

My initial inspiration for the magic I first created was D&D, Arduin, and all the fantasy books I grew up reading. I piled everything together and built something that was so overpowered it was ridiculous. But it still wasn’t bad for a teenager. As I got older and my writing changed, I started whittling down my magic system.

Even after I started to change it, I still had the problem of it being too OP. That’s when I turned to my husband and his expertise. He told me we needed to rebuild it from the ground up. So that’s what we did. And what we continue to do. As my world changes and evolves, so does the magic.

My husband does so much more for me. He’s literally become some of my characters for me during our conversations, giving them life in a way I couldn’t. That’s helped me give them life in the story. He gives me ideas to better fit the characters to the worlds, and the worlds to what I want/need for the story.

I don’t think I’d be in the place I am with my writing today without my husband. He continues to help and inspire me and I am so grateful to him.

Monday Maundering – Blogging

I’ve been thinking about blogging a lot lately. Specifically the fact that I get very little traffic on my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I got more political or discussed religion more if I’d get more readers. The problem is I don’t want to talk about those subjects. My political and religious ideas are my own and I consider them private.

I’m also not a published author, so writing about writing is difficult because I’m still in the process of getting places with my work. I finally found a few beta readers for one of my projects, and I’m waiting for their suggestions/comments on my novel. It’s going to be interesting to see what they say and find out where my strengths/weaknesses are. I’d like to see if I can get Fury traditionally published. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

I only post three days a week because of the fact that I’m having a hard time with blog topics. I’m planning on doing the A to Z blog challenge again this year, but I also plan on writing my posts in February so I have them ready for April. That way I don’t have to scramble to get them done. This also means I need to figure out what I’m going to do for them. The last time I did it I had somewhat of a theme. I don’t know if I want to do that this year.

Blogging doesn’t come easily to me. I know it’s necessary for building an author platform, and in this day and age of digital recognition it’s important. But what do I say? What do I post about? Blogging has become a chore for me rather than something I enjoy.

I love my stories, and I’m trying to do a serial on Fridays showcasing some of my favorite stories. So far I have no views on most of those posts. I started my Beauty and the Beast retelling last Friday and haven’t had a single view on it. That’s rather discouraging. I want to share my writing with people. But how do I get them to read it when I put it on my blog?

Okay, I’m whining today. I need to step back and find something else to do until I calm down. Don’t ask me what Wednesday’s post will be. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Sorry for the ranting. I’ll be back to normal by Wednesday.

Beauty and the Beast Part 1

So, I’ve decided to turn one of my faerie tale rewrites into a serial on my blog. It’s a retelling of one of my favorite stories. I hope you enjoy it. A new piece will appear every Friday.

The power bled from her as if from an open wound. Her fear acted as a blade, digging into her, making her weak as the very core of her being was sacrificed to stop the curse. She stumbled as her feet found every rock in the path. The chill grew behind her. She couldn’t risk a glance over her shoulder without the chance of falling.

She searched the village in front of her, stealing energy from all living things. Plants withered and livestock died. Children woke in the night screaming as terrible nightmares filled their minds. Men woke and reached for weapons. Women shrieked and flung themselves out of bed, some to flee and some to protect their children.

She reached the end of the path and looked over her shoulder. Ice slowly made its way down the path she’d just run. Rocks cracked beneath the cold. She could feel the tiny points of life vanishing as plants and animals were killed as it followed it’s inexorable path. She stopped and reached out once again. She seized on every life she found. Taking only a fraction of the power released by them, she sent her magic to stop the curse. The gods smiled on her this time for the ice stopped at the edge of the village.

She could feel her own spell from the castle making its way down now too. A different curse would soon be upon the villagers. This one she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want to. There were some things that she couldn’t forgive.

It was dawn when she returned to her home. There, she saw her five children sitting near the fire. Her oldest son Baldric was sitting closest to the heat with all four of his younger siblings surrounding him. The two youngest, Ceinwen and Ronen, were sitting in his lap. Isabella and Grainne were sitting on stools. All five of them were watching the door.

Baldric, why are they up?” Adina asked as she came through the door.

Ceinwen couldn’t sleep. She kept having nightmares about you and father. That kept Ronen up. When I let them out, Isabella and Grainne came to join us,” Baldric said.

Adina sighed. “Children, things did not go well. Your father – your father will not be coming home.” Isabella and Grainne started weeping. Ronen buried his face in Baldric’s shoulder. Ceinwen ran to her mother. She began to cry. Adina held her close, stroking her dark hair. “I’m so sorry, my loves. But we have to go. We have to leave the valley.”

Why?” Grainne asked, still weeping. “Why do we have to leave?”

Father did something, didn’t he?” Baldric asked. Adina nodded.

Adina dropped to her knees and opened her arms. Ceinwen threw herself against Adina’s chest. Baldric released Ronen and he joined Ceinwen. Isabella and Grainne came and put their arms around Adina’s shoulders. Baldric came and put his arms around his sisters. Adina held them all there for a moment.

I have to go to the city,” Adina said. “Baldric, I’m leaving you in charge. No one is to go outside while I’m gone. We have food in plenty. I should only be gone a few days.”

Mama, don’t go. The bad man will get us,” Ceinwen said.

He can’t hurt you now, kitten,” Adina said. “No one can.”

Mother?” Baldric looked confused.

No questions,” Adina said. “Baldric, if anyone sets foot out of this house you will be in serious trouble. If you all survive.”

We’ll stay inside, mother,” Baldric said. The older girls nodded while Ronen and Ceinwen whimpered. Adina extracted herself from their grips before pulling on her cloak and leaving through a door mostly overgrown with roses.

Adina transported herself to the city. She walked around until she found a gold merchant. She walked in. “Good day, mistress,” he said. “How can I be of service to you?”

You are Master Dieter Felweather, correct?” Adina asked.

Yes I am,” Master Felweather said. “How can I be of service?”

I have a fortune held in an account here that I wish to make some arrangements for,” Adina said. He pulled out his books. “The name on the account is Adina Winfield.”

He scanned his way down the list until he found her name. “A sizable fortune indeed, Mistress Winfield,” Master Felweather said.

I know,” Adina said. “My children and I are leaving for some time. I don’t know if or when we’ll be back. Is there a way to put this account in such a place as if it takes some time to get back it will still be held?”

How long are we talking here, Mistress Winfield?” Master Felweather asked.

I’m talking two or three generations,” Adina said. “That may be how long it will take for my family to return to these lands.” She held up her hand. “It’s nothing that serious. But you know how children are. The memory of a place must be forgotten before it’s new to them again.”

Master Felweather laughed. “I know that all too well,” he said. “Two of mine have left the city with no promise to return. I can set up something to be held in perpetuity for say four hundred years. That’s as long as the law allows an inheritance to be held.” They filled out the paperwork. Adina sealed them with her signet, but she added a little twist of magic.

Make certain your descendants bring these papers and that ring with them,” Master Felweather said. “Or else your efforts will be wasted.”

I’ll keep that in mind,” Adina said. She took the papers and thanked him. She walked back out of the city and transported herself home.

Monday Maundering – Recipes

So, it’s Monday. I decided I wanted to make today my recipe day. I’ve got a few recipes that I thought I’d share. The first two (slow cooker scalloped potatoes and the dinner rolls) I made during the holidays. The third recipe is one of my favorites for chocolate chip cookies. So here they are, three of my favorite recipes.

Fast and Easy Dinner Rolls
1 c warm water
1 ½ T active dry yeast (or 2 packages) + 1 tsp sugar
½ c melted butter
½ c granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp table salt
4 c all-purpose flour (I ended up using 5 cups)

In a large bowl, combine warm water with yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. (I used a 1 cup measuring cup for this and it worked just fine. If you’re not sure what water temp you need for yeast, it’s between 105 F & 110 F.) Using your mixer with the dough hook attached, combine butter, sugar, eggs, and salt. Add in the yeast mixture and mix to combine.

Add flour 1 cup at a time , mixing between each cup. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bow, you’ve added enough flour. You should need about 4 cups total, give or take a little. (As I said, to get it to the proper dough consistency for bread type foods I ended up using 5 cups.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured clean working surface and knead for a minute or two. Divide the dough into 24 small pieces, then roll each into a smooth round ball. Prepare a 13 x 9 baking dish by lightly greasing it. Place the dough balls into the pan, leaving equal space between each rounded ball.

Cover the rolls and let them rise for about 60-90 minutes, or until doubled. (This took closer to 2 hours for me.)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. (Fresh from the oven, I smear the tops with butter to give them a little flavor and to keep them soft.)

Slow cooker scalloped potatoes with ham

4 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ c shredded cheddar cheese
¾ c chopped onion (I just went ahead and used a medium yellow onion. I didn’t measure it.)
1 ½ c chopped cooked ham
1 ½ (10.75 oz) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup (I just used 2 full cans.
¾ c water
¾ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt (I left this out because of how salty it already is with the cheese and ham.)
¼ tsp black pepper

Place sliced potatoes in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix together shredded cheese, onion, and ham. Mix with potatoes in slow cooker. Using the same bowl, mix together condensed soup and water. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour evenly over the potato mixture.

Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 ¼ c granulated sugar
1 ¼ c packed brown sugar
1 ½ c butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
4 ¼ c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 to 2 bags (12 oz each) semi sweet chocolate chips (2-4 cups)

Heat oven to 375 f. In large bowl with electric mixer, beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs until well blended. Beat in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. This should make 72 cookies.

(With the cookies, I’ve used the baking bags of Butterfinger crumbles you can find in the baking aisle. I’ve also made these into bar cookies. To do that, just get out a 13 x 9 jelly roll pan and spread the dough out on it. I’ve also made them extra chocolate by substituting ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder in place of the flour.)

I hope you get as much enjoyment out of these recipes as our household did.

Happy New Year!!!

It’s January 1st!!! It’s 2016!!! Time for a new year and a fresh start.

2015 has been an interesting year. I started submitting my short stories around to different publications. I’ve had all rejection letters, but it’s a start. I finished the first drafts of two novels, the second draft of another, and the third draft of another. I celebrated my birthday by moving to the Oregon coast. I started getting an idea what it’s like on a farm. 2015 was actually a better year than I’ve had in a while.

So, what do I want to do for 2016?

Find beta readers. I’m in a position in my writing process where I absolutely have to have other eyes on my stories. I haven’t had much luck finding beta readers in the past, but I’m going to put more of an effort into it.

Work more on the farm. I sort of fell back into my habit of sitting on my ass and not helping out as much as I probably should have. This year the guys have even bigger plans, so I need to put forth the effort and join in the work.

Start working on losing weight. I’ve already given up soda (for the most part), but I need to get up and get moving. I do the cooking so I need to make sure I keep cooking low sodium healthier foods.

Write more. This should go without any question. I’ve got lots of ideas that need to get written. So I’m going on with all my projects.

Read more. I haven’t been as good about reading my TBR list as I probably should be, considering a good writer must also be a reader. I’m going to try to read a book a month. I’m hoping for more. But I want to get through at least one.

Review the books I read. This is an obvious one.

These are my goals for this year. It’s going to be interesting to see how they pan out over 2016.

What are your goals this year? Anything exciting coming up?