Guitar Mancer — Episode 9: Mancers

1960s Karmann Ghia post card.jpg

1960s Karmann Ghia post card

Hello everyone.  I’m happy to see you back in the car for the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer.  As I write this introduction, the month of June is soon to arrive.  Here in the USA, it’s Memorial Day weekend. It’s actually a somber holiday, but over the years it came to represent the beginning of summer.  However, in the novel, it’s not summer at all, it is New Year’s Day 1970.

Each week I’ve featured a vintage auto at the beginning of the post.  The Karmann Ghia above was one of the “things” left in a comment from a lovely blogger-chef.  Which brings me to…

This Week’s Featured Blogger

Floridian, Cheryl has nine, count ’em nine, websites.  I always start with Cheryl “Cheffie Cooks” Wiser and move around from that point.  You will find recipes galore at her blogs.  Speaking of which, these Baked Center Cut Pork Chops-with Apple Cream & Mushroom Gravy would have been a great New Years Day meal for our heroes.  So be sure to pay Cheryl a visit.

About This Episode

Guitar Mancer Cover final 05-04-2016

This road trip is going at a novel’s pace.  A fantasy writer would not explain all the magical elements of the story right up front.  For one thing it would be tedious.  For another it would take away some mystery.  So you’ve been nibbling small servings as we go.

As you’d expect by the title, the mythology of this story centers on mancers.  Along the way I’ve been giving you some idea of what mancers are.  However, Luci hasn’t been in on the small bites of magical information that I’ve been feeding you.  This time Bodaway and Tam begin to explain all mancers to Luci.  

There was an old southern superstition where I grew up.  My grandmother always said that whatever you did on New Year’s Day, you’d be doing all year.  Then she, and everyone else, sat down and refused to do any work.

I can’t help wondering if Luci might have pondered that old wives’ tale while her first day of 1970 got stranger and stranger.  

Episode 9 — Mancers

The electric Farberware percolator chugged away.  The kitchen quickly filled with the aroma of fresh coffee.  It was a comforting scent on a winter day.  It also gave a homey feeling to a circumstance that was otherwise unnerving in its strangeness.Farberware chrome percolator 1960s

Luci needed that familiar kitchen coziness.  She looked at the two men.  The one who sat at the table with her was a complete stranger.  The other paced the room restlessly; she had barely met him.  Her mind went to a third stranger.  The day before, the guitarist, Yamata Orochi had a mesmerizing and frightening effect on her.  She gave her head a sharp shake, refusing to let the thought take hold.

The Apache shaman raised an eyebrow at her involuntary movement, but he didn’t say anything.  A moment earlier, outside her home, he had made introductions.  He called himself Bodaway Thunder, and then named Tammarand Ben Taliesin, or Tam as Mr. Blaylock called him. 

It might have gone against popular wisdom in many places, but Luci had the hospitality conventions that were part of the culture in which she was raised.  She invited them into the bungalow. Yellow kitchen chrome dinette

Besides, there was no doubt in her mind that the two men had information that she needed to know.  She had never liked feeling left out while everyone else knew something.  So she led them to the kitchen, where they sat down at the table to talk. 

Bodaway explained that the hawk was looking for the kitten.  Freyja was apparently content after her human found the mewing object of her search.  She flew to the tall hickory tree.  Luci had the distinct feeling that the hawk watched their every move through the kitchen window.  She wondered if the bird could hear their conversation as well.

As Luci looked out the window and up at the big hawk in the branches, the kitten startled her by jumping to the windowsill. 

“Why your kitten-ness, I didn’t know you could jump so high!” she exclaimed.

“Is that what you’re calling him?” Tam asked in an incredulous tone that earned him an offended look from Luci.

“It’s okay,” the shaman inserted.  “The kitten will let you know his name.”

Lynx kitten 2At first Luci thought the tall man was joking, but he looked serious.  She could feel the hawk’s intent gaze on the kitten.  She found it quite unnerving, and said so.

Bodaway Thunder gave a deep chuckle.  “Oh don’t worry.  Freyja doesn’t plan to eat him.  She recognizes him for one of her kind,” he said.

“Her kind?” Luci asked.  “Did you notice that she’s a bird and he’s a cat?” she remarked and then hoped that had not come out as sarcastic as it sounded to her own ears.

The extremely tall Apache chuckled and smiled.  “No, they are both spirit animals,” he said in a matter of fact way, but Luci looked at him blankly.  “Freyja and this little one,” he said picking up the kitten in one huge hand.  “Both were born of the astral plane because a mancer would need them.  They bear a special calling.  They bond to one human and protect and serve that human no matter what.”

“Did Grover tell you nothing of this?” Tam asked having finally settled down with a cup of coffee.

Luci shook her head “no” as she poured another cup of coffee for the shaman and herself.  She felt embarrassed by the odor of burned Pop-Tart that permeated the house, but it was getting cold inside so she got up to close the window over the sink.

Jean Shrimpton Look 1966

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

“And you don’t play any sort of musical instrument at all?” Tam asked dubiously.  “Not even a comb with a slip of paper? Spoons?” he added, green eyes twinkling in jest.

“No.  I don’t think I’ve ever even touched one,” Luci said.  “Why is that so important to you?”

“You have guessed that we, Tammarand and I, are not… We are not ordinary folks?” Bodaway asked but didn’t wait for her to answer.  “You can tell that something is different, just from being near us.  And the same for Freyja.  Isn’t this true?” he asked very gently but Luci could only nod.

“You have ancestors who were like us,” Tam chimed in before she could speak.

“Just what do you mean by like you?” Luci asked not so sure she liked where the conversation was going.

Bodaway smoothly took back control of the dialogue.  Luci seemed to respond more levelly to the Apache than she did to Tam.  She didn’t know why, but Tam had the ability to irritate her for no apparent reason.

“Let me try to explain it,” Bodaway began.  “Among people like us, there are some who are very strongly talented with music.  We call those people talents,” he said.

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Luci nodded.  That was easy enough to follow, so what was the big deal?  The shaman waited for her to show that she was with him before continuing.

“A talent can draw out music, from within himself, music that other musicians could never reproduce, no matter how technically correct they were in playing the notes,” he said.

“Yes.  I can understand that,” Luci said.

“Once in a generation of generations,” Bodaway said with emphasis.  “A talent immerges who has the potential to become a mancer,” he said.

“A mancer?” Luci said, testing the strange word.  She looked from one man to the other.  “You guys are putting me on, right?”

Tam leaned across the table closer to her.  He looked intently into her eyes.  “No.  Luci, please.  You must believe and understand this.  It’s critically important,” Tam said urgently.

“My alarmist sounding friend is right,” Bodaway Thunder confirmed.  “I’ve read the portends.  Dangerous times have arrived.”

“Oh for crying out loud man,” Tam interrupted.  “She’s having a hard enough time believing about talents and mancers.  Now you’re going to throw ‘portends’ into the mix?”

“Luci understands portends,” Bodaway said sounding a little hurt.  “Don’t you?” he asked.

“I understand the word.  But what does any of this have to do with me?” she asked.

“I said you had ancestors who were like Bodaway and me.  They were mancers,” Tam said more carefully that time. 

Domhnall Gleeson shadowed sweater

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“Did you think my dad is one of these mancers?  Is that why you came here?” Luci asked in astonishment.  “But he’s never played—” Luci began, but stopped.

Yet that wasn’t true.  She realized that it just seemed that way.  Luci reminded herself that Grover was USO band director and was at a reunion with his old cronies.  She had heard that her dad could play many instruments.  However, he refused to discuss it when she asked.  Luci had never seen him play anything.  It seemed almost as though he didn’t even like music.  Even the radio channels he listened to were all talk.

Had Grover kept a great musical gift hidden from her all her life?  It made her sad to think her father may have been a great musician and never played for her.

“Grover Harper is a talented musician,” Tam said.  “Mancers, very powerful mancers were in his family line.  I thought that somehow the mancer power had manifest late in life with him,” Tam said and he looked like a man who had just learned something that was hard to believe.

James Garner white shirt

James Garner as Grover Harper

“But your father is not a mancer,” Bodaway chimed-in, leaning on the word not.

Both men looked at Luci significantly.  “You don’t mean… Surely you don’t mean me!” she exclaimed.  “I can’t play anything.  I’ve never even touched a musical instrument.”

“That’s just it.  You haven’t even touched one,” Bodaway told her.  “Your father mistrusted the mancer power.  He blamed it for his parents’ death.  So he shielded you from it, in case it should be passed down to you.  He protected you by keeping music away from you as much as possible,” the shaman said.

“Somewhere out there your gift instrument is waiting.  The one you have a gift for playing; the one you can play better than any other instrument.  You just haven’t been exposed to it yet,” Tam said.

“I think that the first time you put your hands on it — whatever it is, you will just suddenly begin to play it.  You will play it without even knowing how you play,” Bodaway told her with earnest passion that gave her goose bumps.

“Is that how it was for you?” Luci asked the Apache and he nodded with a broad smile.  “And you are a… a mancer?”

Bodaway nodded again and Luci turned to Tam.  “And you are one too?” she asked.

Oi!  You don’t need to sound like that’s such a surprise, Wee Mouse,” Tam said pretending to be wounded by her words.

Luci thought that if he persisted in calling her “Wee Mouse” she might in fact wound him. 

“So you’re telling me that it’s magic?  You’re saying that you two are also… magic?” she asked.Guitar-blue-flame dreamstime_m_15806645

It all sounded like an elaborate prank to Luci.  She could imagine going to her first day at work and Tam telling everybody what a gullible fool she was.  Luci was beginning to feel irritated.  She frowned at them both and folded her arms.

“Erm…  yes, you’d pretty much have to call it magic,” Tam admitted.

Tam’s accent seemed to hum in Luci’s ears as he spoke.  The sensation was slight, but she noticed it.  Bodaway Thunder gave her a knowing grin and another rumble of a chuckle.  Luci looked at the Apache in confusion.

“In its most simple form a mancer’s power can influence someone’s decision or affect their mood.  Most mancers can’t use their power — their music for much more than that.  However, in its most advanced form, the power of a mancer could move small objects, effect the internal workings of machines, or create and direct energy — power.  The power within a great mancer could bring beauty and happiness or pain and death,” he finished on a dramatic note.

Johnny Depp Guitar hat

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

Her mind again flashed to the strange guitarist and his pale gray eyes.  Luci stamped down hard on the thought to make it go away.

Taking a deep breath and expelling it in a burst, Luci shook her head slowly.  Her mouth twisted into an expression of contempt.  She’d had about all of the foolishness she could stand.

“I see that conveniently neither of you have a musical instrument with you.  So that saves you from having to prove this nonsense.  April Fools’ Day is in April.  Maybe wherever you come from they do the same thing on New Year’s Day,” she said derisively.

“Oh, so it’s proof you want, is it?” Tam asked as if accepting a challenge.

He gave a quick look all around the kitchen.  His eyes alighted on the drain board next to the sink.  Tam picked up the copper bottom Revere Ware pan in which Luci had made hot chocolate the night before.  Then he opened a drawer, but raised his eyebrows looking at her as if asking permission.  He removed two knives from the flatware set.  In an afterthought he also picked up a water glass.

Tam placed the pan, bottom up, along with glass and the knives on the table in front of Bodaway.  The tall man’s mouth quirked in an expression that Luci could have sworn was mischievous anticipation.

“That is my favorite pan,” Luci said in a warning voice.  “What are you planning on doing with it?”

“You hear that?  Make sure you don’t dint or scratch it,” Tam told the shaman.

A droplet of water on the copper reflected a beam of sunlight.  Bodaway smiled pleasurably as he touched the drop with one finger and then caressed the rim of the glass, producing a perfect note of music.  The tone reverberated throughout the kitchen, growing louder.

Drummer Gene Krupa StroboscopicThen he picked up the table knives by the blades and gently tapped the pan.  The click of metal to metal made a tone that eased upward to match the tone of the glass and the two sounds merged.

The rhythm of his tapping reached into the tense spot between Luci’s shoulders.  She felt those muscles relax.  Without realizing it, she started moving her shoulders to the beat.  

Bodaway continued tapping the knife with one hand, but with the other he ran a finger around the glass again, producing a second note.  The two notes came together in a reverberating chord.  Outside the hawk cried a single long note that made three part harmony.

The kitten sat beside the Apache’s feet and rubbed his head against Bodaway’s long denim clad calf.  Luci thought the cat was purring in rhythm to the beat.  She glanced a Tam and saw that his eyes were closed as he gently swayed to the sounds.

Listening to the music, Luci felt peaceful and content.  With the relaxation came inexplicable happiness.  Bodaway gradually played slower and softer until he finally stopped and placed the knives on the table.

Neither man said a word.  They waited expectantly for Luci to speak.  “That was… amazing,” she eventually whispered.

“That is the power of a mancer’s music,” Tam said quietly. 

“Can you do that too?” she asked Tam.

“No, not with percussion instruments.  Bodaway is a drum mancer,” Tam said as if that was supposed to clarify things.  Seeing the look on her face he added, “The drums are his gift instrument, the one where he has the greatest ability.”Revere Ware pan

“And you’re trying to tell me that you think I can do something like that?  Well, I’m sorry but you’re just wrong.  I can barely carry a tune in the shower.  I can’t dance because I have two left feet and no rhythm at all.  What you’re suggesting is just crazy,” Luci said adamantly.

Bodaway looked at her and shook his head gloomily.  So did Tam, but the shaman won the prize for having the saddest big brown eyes.  He could match Grover Harper for the puppy-dog expression.  It was worse than looking at a puppy.

“You were right Tam,” he said.  “I didn’t realize what a terrible thing it was when you said it, but keeping a potential mancer away from music, submerging their latent talent…  I know her father wanted to protect her, but to me this seems like a crime,” Bodaway said to Luci’s astonishment.

“What are you saying?” she exclaimed.  “My father has never harmed me in any way,” Luci added in her dad’s defense.

“Luci, we know he was just protecting you.  He must have sensed your potential.  And apparently it really frightened him.  Grover set things up so there was as little music in your life as possible.  He allowed you to believe you had no sort of musical ability at all, probably encouraged the belief.  To us, as mancers, it is sad,” the shaman tried to explain.  “To us, the idea of having all music taken away is a horrible thing.  It’s probably the worst fate a mancer can imagine,” the Apache said and looked down at the table.

Tam looked into her eyes and spoke softly.  “Have you ever been so moved by music before?  Let alone by pots and pans?” he added with a playful glint in his green eyes.

“Only once,” Luci said and both men looked surprised.  “But it was the opposite of this.  This was wonderful.  It was almost… healing,” she said.

Luci misunderstood their reaction when she said that she had in fact experienced being greatly moved by music, so she heaped on the compliments in case she had hurt anyone’s feelings.  She soon saw that was not what was on their minds.

Depp B-W chrome guitar

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orocio

“The opposite of this you say?” Tam asked, his expression changing from surprise to fear.

It alarmed Luci for him to look afraid.  She remembered the overheard conversation between Tam and her father.  Something had both of them worried.  Plus a little while earlier, listening to the two men when she found them in her front yard, she gathered that they were upset when they mistakenly thought her dad had not left town for his own safety.

She turned to Bodaway and saw an expression in his dark eyes that was at least as worried as Tam looked.  In answer to the flood of questions that erupted from the two men, she told them about her encounter with the strange guitarist.

“He was just some kind of creepy weirdo,” she said not wanting to think about it.  “He even had a reproduction of B. B. King’s guitar, Lucille,” she finished.

Or she thought she was finished with the subject of the guitarist.  Tam and Bodaway, however, poured another flood of questions at her about Yamata Orochi.  After a thorough grilling the two men stopped interrogating her and stared at each other.

“This is bad.  Really bad,” said the Apache.

“The guitar mancer is already here?” Tam said in apparent denial.  “He’s already found her, and undoubtedly recognized the potential that we didn’t see at first,” the sandy haired man added.

“Speak for yourself.  You’re the one who didn’t notice her,” Bodaway said dryly.  “I think we need to high tail it out of here.  We’ve got to get back to the Mother.”

“What does that mean?  The Mother?  You two are starting to scar me.  What in the Sam Hill is going on?” Luci demanded as a chill ran down her spine.


End serial episode 9

Hmmm…  In fantasy stories, when a character finds out they have a magical power, there’s usually some fun to be had with it.  However, it doesn’t seem that way for Luci.  If you think back to the episode where Tam got the message from Bodaway, Tam had noticed musicians were suddenly losing their ability to play. He seemed to think something sinister was happening.  Will a power that Luci doesn’t yet even possess place her in danger?

The prospects don’t exactly seem sunny.  However, back when today’s featured blogger made that comment filled with “things” from the late 60s, Cheryl mentioned the old Beatles song “Good Day Sunshine.”  So here’s one more treat.

Until next time, keep on truckin.’  Mega hugs!


Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 4

Atonement bookshelf

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

     Welcome, one and all!  It’s been fun participating in Get Caught Reading Month.  I hope my zany and bizarre story encouraged people of all ages to read.  Last week my real-world schedule caused me to put blogging on the shelf.  But look what grand company I had, thanks to Chris Graham!  

When we left our heroes…

As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape in the act of reading.

In Chapter 2  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel , Christoph Fischer, John W. Howell, and blogger Dan Antion.

Then last time a new duo was added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and adorable Toby.  But to the astonishment of our intrepid band, everyone became anime characters when Cornelis Drebbel’s alchemy went wrong.  Now for the conclusion of The Sign of the Ape.

Sign of the Ape 4

Ape London Atonement

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

Toby barked frantically at the pavement and scratched at it with his little paws.  Doubtless, the dog could hear  John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets in the tunnel beneath the street.  Finally, Hugh couldn’t take seeing the Corgi so upset. He jumped back onto the big construction loader and started digging a hole in the road — much to the dismay of the drivers in the area.

Annette Abens Cats

My phone buzzed at me.  When I answered, I was greeted with a loud chorus of meowing from  Annette Rochelle Aben’s cats.  I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  And yes, that did remind me of the fuzzy ears and long tail that came with the anime version of me.  I shot Cornelis Drebbel a nasty look and muttered that I’d get him for it.  Then a second call got patched onto the meow-wow.  The four naughty chimps  translated for Annette’s kitties via text message.

“You’ve got to figure out how to get to London. The Story Reading Ape is there.  He left Tokyo before your airship even touched down!” came the message from the chimps.

London?  Well the chimps should know.  They were tight with the Ape.  But London?  I hadn’t figured out how to stop being an anime yet!  How could I possibly get to London?  I sure couldn’t go as an anime — and especially not in that horrid schoolgirl uniform!

Although I was rather shocked that  Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  and Suzanne DeBrango  seemed to take their cartoon situation in stride.  Their dogs, Kasha and Percy, didn’t seem to think it was worth barking about.  Maybe I would feel differently if I were a beautiful goddess or a cute giant-robot-driving future girl, I thought.  I steamed and stewed… I’d never forgive Cornelis for putting me in such an outfit.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading


Toby gave an excited yip and Hugh turned off the loader.  Once again I heard that crazy, funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  Then a sports car roared up through the big hole dug by the construction loader.

Atonement Hot Rod

Thanks again Chris!

John W. Howell  and Dan Antion, along with dogs Lucy and Maddie, and MiMi the tuxedo cat were in the sportscar.  Oddly I could have sworn I saw the Boxer, Lucy driving the car.  But who am I to say that was strange. After all, I was an anime schoolgirl with cat ears and a tail…

Lucy close up_John

Lucy, who owns John W. Howell

I could see Dan wave from the back seat that everyone in the car was okay.  John leaned out of the passenger window.  He had a weird looking guitar.  I asked where he got it.


Maddie who owns Dan Antion


MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi caught reading







“A strange taxi driver with bushy eyebrows gave this guitar to me,” John told me.  “But no matter what notes I strum, it will only play that James Bond theme,” he added and played the chorus to demonstrate.

However, the music abruptly changed to the Goldfinger theme.  Glittering clouds of golden dust formed in the sky.  John put down the guitar, but it continued to play.  The golden dust settled on everyone (and every pet) who had become anime.

I felt my stomach expand and contract like the beginning of a very unfortunate gastritis attack.  The most embarrassingly loud belch escaped my lips.  However, everyone else produced similar burps, so I was a little less mortified.  We were anime no longer, but the dratted costumes remained.  I muttered a new curse to Cornelis Drebbel about my uniform.

“Thank heavens you’re a redhead again,” John Howell commented.  “The raven locks were nice, but it just wasn’t right.”Animated Teagan book

Then with sharp popping sounds, one by one, my friends began to disappear. Frightened beyond reason, I screamed at the alchemist for an explanation.

“My dear, do calm down,” he said in that droll voice.  “Everyone is perfectly safe.  I sent each of them directly to their homes,” the alchemist explained as I stammered and tried to ask why.  “Darling, remember it is Get Caught Reading Month.  May is almost over!  How can they read anything if they are trotting around the globe with you?  And you still haven’t finished “The Sign of the Four” for that matter,” he told me, adding a tsk-tsk sound for good measure.

Cornelis took my hand and suddenly we were inside the giant robot.  “I’ve always wanted to pilot one of these,” he confessed with a giggle.  “Next stop, London!”

As Cornelis flew the alchemically powered robot, I wandered, exploring the many nooks and crannies.  It was more spacious than I expected.  The sound of deeply pitched chuckling caused me to stop in my tracks.  I strained to hear.  It seemed to be only one voice, like someone talking on the phone.  Ever so carefully I moved closer.Naughty Chimps

“You four truly are naughty,” the voice rumbled.  “Sending all those bloggers on such a wild goose chase.  Although I must admit, a free ride back to London in a magical giant robot is a memorable adventure.  I will see you naughty rascals when I get home, but for now I have reading to catch up on.  I think Gwydion may have just gone too far for Ralda to forgive him.  I really must see what happens next in Atonement, Tennessee

With a silent gasp I realized the Story Reading Ape was hiding right under my nose!  I removed my cell phone from my skirt pocket and switched on the camera.  I crept around the corner… Gotcha!

Ape Caught with phone

As I checked the image, the spoils of my victory, my long tail swished in a self-satisfied rhythm.  

…Tail?  I looked behind myself.  The tail was still there…

“Cornelis Drebbel!”  I yelled.

Here ends The Sign of the Ape.


Thanks to all of you for tuning-in for this zany chase.  I’m glad you were “caught reading” here at Teagan’s Books.  As you know, this is a workday, so I might be delayed in answering comments.

Special thanks to all the bloggers who participated in this madcap adventure — and to their pets as well!


GCR pets

The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi


Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 8: Get-together

Janice Joplin Porche

Janice Joplin’s Porsche

Sigh…  Okay. I admit it. I’ve taken on a bit much for myself.  Doing my regular weekend serial episode, and adding a midweek story for Get Caught Reading Month… on top of two big ongoing personal projects (one of which I’ve been working on for four years with no sign of it coming to fruition)…  Are you breathless from that run-on sentence?  Because that’s about how I was feeling in general — breathless.  Then a couple of “career” things came up on top of it all… So last time I parked both serials for a rest stop.  However, we’re back on the road trip now!

There’s still a wide range of “things” waiting to be used, from that announcement post, when I decided to serialize The Guitar Mancer.  I was just now reading over them again. The truth is, I hoped to see one that was already in this episode, but no such luck.  However, your comments were so lovely it was a joy to read them again!Maxine_cheese-whine

Anyhow, as much as I hate to say it, I didn’t have time to work any reader’s “things” into this installment.  So that means I didn’t get to feature anyone either. I didn’t even get a recipe for you…  However, if you use the links on the right side of the screen, you can see several bloggers featured in the Get Caught Reading serial.  Sorry for the whine.  Got any cheese to go with it?  Now let’s get this story back on the road! 

About This Episode

Last time Luci, disoriented from the mesmerizing guitar mancer, Yamata Orochi, had been driving around in the rain.  She tried in vain to settle the anxiety she had from the effect the mancer had on her.  Lynx kitten baby

As the storm worsened, Luci took in a very tiny, very strange kitten.  With the kitten’s purr, her world seemed to be back as it should be.  But was it?  Luci still doesn’t know that magic was involved, and she’s never even heard of a mancer.  Is she ever in for a surprise!

Episode 8 — Get-together

On New Year’s Day 1970, with her first threads of wakefulness, Luci was cozy and warm.  Sleepily, she thought it seemed like a luxurious fur collar was at her neck.  Her fingers moved to her neck and indeed they touched soft fur.  She started to turn over — and the collar began to purr.

Fully awake, her memory of the night before flooded back.  Along with it came awareness of the upsetting encounter with the strange guitarist.  She stroked the kitten’s fur without thinking, without realizing it comforted her to do so.  The purring grew louder.

The turquoise colored Zenith clock radio she’d had since high school showed her it was time that she got out of bed.  She reached over and turned on the radio.  That woke the odd looking baby feline.  It squeaked a mew at her as she sat up in bed.1960s Clock Radios

“Good morning, your kitten-ness,” Luci said, surprised to be so happy to have the tiny cat there.

She blinked her eyes and looked at the kitten again, feeling confused.  It was twice the size she remembered from the night before.  When she was cleaning it up, it was tiny and fit in a single outstretched hand.  A matter of hours later, it was still small, but it would take both of her hands to hold it.

“I must have just been so tired and upset that you seemed a lot smaller to me…” she told the kitten.  “There’s no other explanation for it.”

With a little burst of static the radio announcer came onto the airwaves.  “WMOT, Middle Tennessee Public Radio,” the announcer intoned.  “Happy New Year, groovy people.  You’re waking up to the year 1970.  A whole new decade!” he said and continued with banter to which Luci didn’t listen.

The DJ finally said something odd enough that it caught her attention.  “If you have small pets, you’d better keep them inside.  There are numerous reports of an eagle soaring around metro Nashville.  And it’s easily big enough to carry off a small dog,” he said. 

Then the announcer played a sound bite from a veterinarian.  “Doctor, some witnesses insist that the bird was a red-tailed hawk, not an eagle,” the reporter’s voice said.

Wolfman Jack

Wolfman Jack

“No,” the veterinarian said flatly.  “Hawks simply don’t get as large as this raptor is described.  Either it is not as big as they say, or it is not a hawk.  You can’t have it both ways,” he said.

“Hummm…” Luci said to the kitten as she scratched its back.  “Oddball news story number one for 1970 and it’s not even noon.  Now what am I going to do about getting you some proper food?” she asked and the kitten meowed loudly in answer.

All the grocery stores were closed on New Year’s Day.  Luci was at a loss for what to do.  She knew it wasn’t good to give a pet human food, especially not a baby.  Then inspiration struck.

“But maybe a Quick Mart,” she pondered aloud as she headed to the living room, the less tiny kitten trotting behind her. 

Sitting on the padded bench of the telephone table, she took out the phone book.  Flipping through the pages she located the number of the closest convenience store.

“Let your fingers do the walking,” she quoted the commercial and the kitten slapped at her fingers playfully.1960s Telephone Table

To Luci’s great relief someone answered at the convenience store.  They were open, though the clerk grumbled about that fact.  She asked him if they had any cat food and he replied with a flat “No.”  She expressed her disappointment.

“Sorry ma’am,” he said sounding a little less grumpy.  “All we have is a bag of kitten food.  No cat food.”

With a roll of her eyes, Luci asked him to hold the kitten kibble for her.  

Luci hurried to get dressed.  She didn’t understand why people always accused her of spending hours deciding what to wear and matching things.  Yet the truth was, she didn’t put much thought into it.  Luci appreciated pretty things, and her hand just went to the right clothes.  “Why would anybody have to think about what matched and what didn’t?” she thought.

Plaid bell-bottom pants with navy, red, gray, and ivory worked into the design, and a red turtle neck sweater.  It was cold out so she quickly pulled out her navy blue wool peacoat, and her wide brimmed felt hat.  Those were the first things she saw and she spent all of 30 seconds putting it together.  And yes, they all matched perfectly. 

She barely combed her hair before heading to the door.  The kitten meowed loudly behind her and she stopped uncertainly.

Would the kitten could get into any trouble of left on his own just for a few minutes?  Luci quickly figured that he could.  The house wasn’t “child proof” so it wouldn’t be kitten proof either.1960s Grocery check-out

“It would be a bad idea to have you running loose in the car,” she told him.  “You’ll have to promise to stay in the box if I take you with me.”

Her answer was an insistent meow.  Luci picked up the box and the kitten, grabbed her purse and drove the Malibu to the nearby store.  The kitten meowed the entire time.  She decided it was no wonder she never saw cats riding in cars like dogs.  With all the caterwauling who’d want to chauffer them?

A few minutes later she was on the way back home.  Luci turned on the radio, hoping the music would quiet the mewing feline.  However, when she twisted the knob, it was the disc jockey talking instead of playing music. 

“Blues fans, you’ll be happy to know that Lucille has been found!” the DJ said.  “B. B. King’s guitar was left anonymously at a downtown Nashville police station last night.  Ole B. B. is on his way to pick it up himself.  Nobody saw who brought back the stolen guitar,” the announcer continued. 

“But witnesses report seeing that huge hawk that’s been striking fear in the hearts of Nashville pet owners.  Though in all fairness, I have to say that nobody has reported the big bird of prey taking any pets or livestock, or being aggressive in any way.”BB King concert poster

The song Get Together that was a hit for the Youngbloods a number of years before started to play in the background as the disc jockey spoke.  As the rock band sang about everybody getting together and loving one another, the DJ summed up his commentary.  “If you ask me, I think the hawk’s getting a bad rap.  Come on people now.  Be groovy.  Don’t blame what you don’t understand,” the announcer finished as Luci pulled into her driveway.

Juggling the kitten in his box with one hand, and trying to keep him from jumping out with the other hand Luci didn’t look up when the sky darkened.  A breeze gusted against her back as she stepped under the awning. 

She heard two sharp chirps of a bird’s call.  It had a scolding tone to it.  “That was loud,” she told the kitten as he tried harder to get out of the box.  “You never know, it might be that bird the DJ was talking about, so you’d best behave yourself, your kitten-ness.  Stop trying to get out of the box!  I only have two hands.”

She hurried to open the door and put the kitten inside.  The abrupt darkening of the sky surely meant more rain.  However, when she ran back to the Chevrolet to get the bag of kitten chow the sun was shining.  Another high-pitched bird call met her ears, but she still didn’t see the source.


“One hundred percent nutritionally complete.  Does that sound sufficient, your royal kitten-ness?” Luci read the information as she opened the bag of kitten chow.  “Well… here’s the amount you’re supposed to have if you’re three to four weeks old.  And last night you didn’t look any older than that.  But based on these pictures I’m guessing you’re around nine weeks old,” she told the kitten as he meowed encouragingly and raised a paw in the direction of the food bag. 

Lynx kitten 2“I’d still swear you doubled in size over night,” she muttered as she cast a suspicious glance at the hungry feline.  “Did I dream that you fit in one of my hands just last night?” she said shaking her head.

Adding one part warm liquid to three parts kitten chow, Luci prepared the kibble.  While the kitten chow soaked up the liquid, she put blueberry Pop-Tarts in the toaster and mixed a glass of Tang breakfast drink for herself.

A moment later she gave the bowl of food to the strange looking kitten.  She smiled as she watched him eat.  Luci thought cats were supposed to be fastidious, but he wasn’t a neat eater.  Bits of food were all around the bowl.  When he looked up at her, he seemed appreciative.  He also had food all around his mouth and whiskers.

He was a comical looking little thing.  His ears were so big compared to the rest of him that Luci couldn’t imagine how he’d ever grow into them.  And his feet… that was the most interesting part of what made him look strange.  She’d never heard of cats having big feet.

The roof creaked as if the wind was picking up.  Once again she wondered if it was going to start raining.  She sure was tired of the rain.  Then Luci heard the same shrill avian cry, but louder than before.  It sounded like it was right on top of the bungalow.  A chill went down her spine. 

When she saw the kitten look up in the direction of the sound, she thought it would frighten him.  However, he tilted his head to one side curiously and sniffed the air.  Then he went back to his bowl of at Luci house

Luci was so preoccupied with the kitten that she didn’t notice that the toaster had not popped the tarts.  It had gotten stuck and filled the kitchen with smoke.  She hurried to unplug the appliance.  She waved a dish rag around, but that did absolutely nothing to the smoke.  It was winter, but she threw open the window above the sink to let out the smoke.

To her surprise she heard men’s voices outside in the yard.  She craned her neck, but they weren’t in view of the window.

“She bloody well needs to come down,” the first man said.  His voice was muffled but he sounded very aggravated.

“She won’t.  I’ve never seen her be this stubborn,” said the second man.  His voice carried well so he was easily understood.

The first man said something else but she couldn’t make it out.

“Yes, I could insist,” the second man replied in a sardonic tone.  “But you know as well as I do that could go badly.”

1969 Jean Shrimpton as Luci

1969 Jean Shrimpton as Luci

Luci heard their footfalls on the driveway.  They were coming closer to the house.  She couldn’t imagine what they were talking about.  Then she heard movement on the roof.  Had their cat gotten on her roof?  That was her first thought about the sound, considering she had just had the kitten slide off the shingles and into her arms the night before. 

Nashville was a big city to Luci and most of the people who lived there.  However, it wasn’t the kind of place where you never spoke to strangers — even if they were technically trespassers as well.  Though one of them sounded annoyed, they didn’t seem threatening.

Luci’s curiosity got the better of her.  She put on her coat and went out the kitchen door.  Even though they seemed okay, she didn’t want to walk head-on into whoever the men were.

Walking around the side of the bungalow, she saw an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.  The station wagon had the most amazing custom paint job she’d ever seen.  It was of a highway and a beautiful hawk. Frejya down stroke

The high pitched call sounded again.  It had to be a hawk’s call.  Was it the same giant hawk the radio announcer had been talking about?  Luci’s eyes went wide and she backed farther from the bungalow so she could see her roof.  The huge hawk extended impressive wings and screeched at her.  The raptor glided down from the roof to alight on the luggage rack of the Vista Cruiser.  Luci edged closer to her house, alarmed.  Moving slowly so she wouldn’t upset the hawk, she backed right into something.

Or rather someone, she realized as she turned around.  She was eye to… chest with the man who had the resonant voice.  She had to tilt her head all the way back to look at him.  The man smiled as if she had done something cute.

He had long dark hair with feathers tied in it.  Over a flannel shirt he wore a brown leather vest with long fringe around the bottom edge.  It was similar to one she’d seen Jimmy Hendricks wear in pictures.  The tall man’s bellbottom jeans revealed a large pair of brogan boots.

Jay Tavare jacket

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

“You’re a umm… You’re awfully…” Luci stammered, too stunned by how tall and well… unique he was to form a sentence.

“Shaman?” the extremely tall man offered as if he was being helpful, though she could tell he knew that wasn’t what she would have said.  “Don’t worry,” he said tilting his head toward the hawk.  “She’d never hurt anyone.  Particularly not you.”

“Wha…?” Luci attempted speech again but failed.

She heard the other man approach.  The tall man was blocking her view so she still couldn’t see the first man.  However, she could tell he was very agitated.

“Grover told me he was going to his reunion,” he practically spat.  “But clearly he is still here!”

Luci saw his arm make a broad gesture toward the hawk, as if the hawk’s presence was supposed to be tied to her father’s.  Then she saw the rest of the man.  It was the sandy haired guy with the accent from the studio.  The one Mr. Blaylock basically said didn’t know Luci was alive despite having walked right into her.  What had he called the guy?  Tam?

Tam looked at her oddly, suggesting he was annoyed that she was there.  Then he seemed to recognize her.  His expression became curious, as if he couldn’t understand why on earth she would be there.

Domhnall Gleeson suit

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Oi!  It’s you,” Tam said.  “The Wee Mouse from Blaylock’s yesterday…  What brings you here?” he asked with a suspicious edge to his voice.

That didn’t sit well with Luci Harper.  “Grover is not here,” she told him flatly as she stood a little straighter and glared at Tam.

How dare he question why she was at her own home!  She was surprised when the tall man started to laugh.  It began with a snigger, but quickly erupted into a belly laugh.

“What are you laughing at, Apache?  Some kind of medicine man inside joke again?  You really ought to think about reigning in that unique sense of humor of yours.  You might offend somebody,” Tam said and Luci wasn’t sure whether he was joking or angry.

The Apache slapped him on the back.  The hawk screeched.  From inside the bungalow she heard the kitten meow loudly.  One of the shaman’s eyebrows climbed nearly to his hairline as he looked toward the caterwauling.

“What do you mean, Grover is not here?” Tam abruptly rounded on her to ask.  “He must be here, otherwise she wouldn’t be here,” he added with a wave at the big hawk.

“Tammarand Ben Taliesin,” the shaman’s voice boomed and broke through his agitation.  “Freyja is here for her,” he said lightly placing a huge hand on Luci’s shoulder.

Jean Shrimpton Look 1966

Jean Shrimpton, Look Magazine 1966

When the tall man touched Luci, the hawk launched herself to him.  He held out his arm and the bird alighted on it.  She seemed protective of both the Apache and of Luci.  Despite Luci’s initial feeling of apprehension at the proximity of the large raptor, she felt oddly comfortable in the hawk’s presence.

The hawk spread her beautiful varicolored wings.  Her amber eyes seemed to hold kindness as she gazed at Luci.

Tam looked from the Apache, to the hawk, to Luci in open mouthed astonishment.

“You really didn’t know?” the shaman asked him shaking his head and still chuckling.


End episode 8

Well now…  Luci is surprised to find Tam at her house.  However she is not as astonished as Tam is surprised to find Luci there, rather than Grover.  The little kitten would barely make a snack for the big hawk, yet he doesn’t seem a bit concerned about the raptor’s presence.  

I can’t resist asking… Did you pick up on that tidbit about “Lucille being anonymously left at the police station, and a big hawk being seen nearby?  Freyja is feeling smugly self-satisfied. 

Our heroes are finally all in the same place.  Are there more surprises to come?  You can bet on it!  Until next time — be groovy!

Oh, and tune in on Wednesday for the conclusion of The Sing of the Ape — the Get Caught Reading Month story. 


Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Road Trip Rest Stop

Vintage pink Cadillac woman sitting

Hello everyone.  I’m happy that you came to visit.  However, the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer is parked this weekend.  The chase for The Sign of the Ape will also take a breather on Wednesday.

I always look forward to visiting with you, but life has intruded.  This weekend and the coming week, I have a lot of unexpected career related things to tackle. Happily they are good things!  

For your entertainment, here are some fun photos in keeping with The Guitar Mancer era.  I promise I’ll be back with both serials.  Until then keep on truckin’ — mega hugs!

Mail secretary 1960s

Woman behive work 1960s

Aerial Film Control File clerks 1960s

Secretaries 1960s

Switchboard operators 1960s

Stuardesses 1960s

Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan 1960s

Helen Gurley Brown, editor Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1960s




Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 3


Crystal Reading Atonement

Crystal pointing to a clue

Wow! May is nearly half over already.  However, it’s still  Get Caught Reading Month.  Welcome back to the zany and bizarre story I’ve been writing to encourage people of all ages to read.  As many of you know, a few elite bloggers (and their pets) banded together with one quest — catch the Story Reading Ape reading.


When we left our heroes…

During the first chapter, I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the Story Reading Ape reading.

Last time  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen and I met a number of author-bloggers (and their pets) who joined the quest to catch the illusive Ape. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  (Cowboy Boss and His Destiny), Christoph Fischer (The Gamblers.), John W. Howell (John J. Cannon Trilogy,) and blogger Dan Antion.

This time a new duo gets added to the intrepid band of bloggers –  Hugh Roberts and Toby.  Now, let’s join our adventuring bloggers.

Sign of the Ape 3

Ape in Tokyo

Image courtesy of Chris Graham

I couldn’t see anything when I looked out the portholes of the dirigible.  No, I don’t mean that it was nighttime.  There was nothing to see, just flat blackness.  I supposed it was just as well.  The airship was traveling outside the laws of nature with the alchemist, Cornelis Drebbel, at the helm.

That gave me a very unsettling feeling.  However, the steady whir of the engines was comforting.  The sound was almost hypnotic.  I wondered aloud how long it would take us to get from New York to Tokyo, even with the magic Cornelis used.Kasha reading

“I don’t feel very well,” Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  murmured, and her fur baby, Kasha, put her head on Mary’s knee.

“Air sickness, Mary?” Suzanne DeBrango asked the author in a concerned voice, but Percy the Pug barked a decisive yip.

Tilting my head, I studied the little dog.  It seemed like he sensed something, but we humans were not picking up on it.

Suzanne made a face.  “Now that you mention it, I don’t feel quite right either.  Maybe it was the hors-d’oeuvres back at the Fictional Heroes exhibit,” the blogger-chef suggested.  “My stomach feels all wrong, but then so does my head.”

Abruptly we experienced a sharp bump, an air pocket, I thought.  However, the pressure inside my ears immediately did something strange, causing me to shake my head.  With a sinking feeling I knew that was no air pocket.  It was the blasted alchemy going awry.

“Cornelis Drebbel!” I shouted, much as Felicity, the woman in trousers, would have.  “What have you done?”

Before the words had left my mouth, I felt the sensation of horrible pressure.  It was like having a giant vice in front and in back, pressing hard against me from both sides.  I thought my head might explode, but my ears finally popped, giving me some relief.  It effected my eyesight as well.  Everything blurred and twisted.  Then my eyes bulged painfully, so I squeezed them shut.Anime eyes Kagome

After a moment I the dirigible bumped lightly.  I heard soft groans from my companions.  Snuffling sounds told me Kasha and Percy were sniffing everything excitedly.  My eyes were still closed against all the unpleasant sensations I had just experienced, but I felt a little paw on my knee.  I put my hand out and knew it was the Pug’s sturdy little body, so I petted him.  Then he ran back to Suzanne.

Finally I opened my eyes, but I had trouble focusing.

“Teagan, are you okay?” Mary asked.  “You know, I never realized how huge your eyes were before,” she commented in a puzzled tone.

Or at least it sounded like Mary.  Her hair was blond, but there was something different about it.  When she moved I realized that her hair flowed almost to the floor.  Something else wasn’t wright, but everything was still blurry.

“I think I’m okay,” I told Mary.  “I’m having trouble getting a deep breath though.”

She and Suzanne helped me stand.  Suzanne led us to the portholes.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis 2

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

“Look at the lights,” Suzanne exclaimed.  “It’s Tokyo!  We’re there.”

Cornelis called out that we should sit down.  The airship was about to land.  The three of us staggered to our seats.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one experiencing my unfortunate symptoms.

“Teagan, could I ask you something?” Suzanne began hesitantly and my affirmative came out as a groan.  “Oh, here – these might help,” she added handing me my glasses.  “Are you feeling a little… deflated?  Because I sure am.”

Putting on my glasses I looked at Suzanne.  I was speechless.  Her hair was suddenly short and bluish-green.  She was dressed in a turquoise metallic futuristic outfit with matching tall boots.  There was one other thing.  Suzanne was flat.  So was Mary.  So were the dogs!  They all looked like anime characters.  I started to hold my hand up in front of my face to see if I had been effected, but I was afraid to look.

I turned to Mary, who was shifting uncomfortably in her seat.  Mary made a complaint to that effect.  She wore a flowing airy gown.  Indeed there was something that prevented her getting comfortable.

“Erm… that might be because of your wings,” I told her.  “I think maybe you’re some sort of goddess character.”

Mary reached frantically behind her and gasped when her fingers came into contact with her wings.

For a moment I studied Suzanne in that futuristic outfit.  I asked her if she thought perhaps somewhere nearby there was a giant robot that belonged to her.  The oddest expression came to her face.Eureka

“I know it sounds crazy,” Suzanne admitted.  “But I think maybe there is!”

“Don’t you all look delicious?” Cornelis exclaimed as he strolled into the area. 

He was dressed as a Victorian gentleman, but that would not be unusual for him.  However, it was certainly odd that he looked like an anime Cornelis Drebbel.  He reminded me of one of the male characters I might see on the Black Butler series.

“Am I supposed to be some kind of goddess?” Mary asked the alchemist.  “These wings!” she added, still uncomfortable in the seat.

“Darling Mary, all women are goddesses,” Cornelis replied slyly with bobbing eyebrows.

“But what about you, Teagan?” Suzanne asked worriedly.

Inuyasha vol-1 1997

Inuyasha (& Kagome) manga, v. 1, 1997

Looking down, I saw that I wore loafers and knee socks.  I was dressed in a pleated skirt, and white blouse with a sailor collar.  It was like an anime schoolgirl uniform.  I groaned even louder than I had when the air was squeezed out of me.  I was barely aware of hearing a rhythmic thumping sound.

“Cornelis Drebbel,” I growled pushing my skirt into place.  “You’d better be glad this skirt was not a mini!  Else you’d be a dead man.”

“I don’t mean the outfit,” Suzanne told me as she gestured to her head, just above her ear. 

Moving a strand of my hair, I realized it was long and black.  I gasped, but apparently that wasn’t the full extent of my transformation.

Finally Suzanne added, “Ears?  Tail!

I put my hands to the top of my head and felt two soft furry ears.  The thumping sound grew faster and louder.  I put a hand to my backside.  The noise was coming from my anxiously swishing, thumping tail!

“Your character may have gotten a little… crossed,” Cornelis said in a droll voice.  “You were actually supposed to be a Neko character.”

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

Percevil Ulysses Holmes

“Come along.  There’s a city square we must get to.  It has a number of billboards bearing images of our quarry.  We can take the giant robot as transportation, if Suzanne will kindly drive him,” Cornelis told us all, with a bow to the blogger-chef.

The turquoise anime version of Suzanne scrambled to the porthole and gasped in excitement.  I followed and my tail swished, knocking over a small table.  Mary glanced at her wings, murmured something about what damage she might do with her wings, and stayed in her uncomfortable seat.  When I reached the window, I saw a huge flatbed being pulled by a heavy duty construction loader.  Stretched out on the flatbed was a giant flying robot.

Cornelis moved to help Suzanne and Percy as they disembarked the dirigible, though they both scampered down the gangway without need of assistance.  Mary’s wings presented more of a problem.  A gust of wind caught her and she was lifted into the air.

“Mary!” I screamed and Kasha barked.

A thread of magical glowing green shot from the alchemist’s hand and wrapped around Mary’s ankle.  Cornelis and Kasha walked down the ramp, with the anime version of Mary in tow via the magical lead.  Once safely on the ground, Cornelis helped her touch down.

My tail swayed as I descended.  It was amazingly useful for balance.  Then my cat ears picked up a familiar voice and barking.  Kasha and Percy also heard it and barked their replies.  A man and a Corgi hopped out of the construction loader.  It was Hugh Roberts and Toby.

Toby reading Hugh

Toby caught reading

Moments after I introduced everyone, my new cat ears picked up muffled sounds.  It was the same music I’d heard back at the wax museum.  I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme, and I remembered the tunnel back at Time Square into which John W. Howell, Dan Antion, and their pets had gone.  It seemed impossible that it could be them.  Then I heard two dogs barking and a cat’s meow.  It had to be Lucy, Maddie, and MiMi.

Finally the sounds grew loud enough for the other humans to hear. 

“Isn’t that ruckus coming from below ground?” Hugh commented in surprise.

“Yes.  It sure is,” I replied, feeling very worried.

End Chapter 3, The Sign of the Ape

I begin to think the Ape won’t be caught until he simply allows us to do so.  Now that I’ve seen his image all over billboards in Tokyo I think maybe he’s in charge!  Stick around to see what happens to our intrepid bloggers next week!

By the way, it is a work day, so forgive me if I’m slow to answer comments.

GCR pets


The Sign of the Ape, furry family cast

Row 1:  Percy, Crystal, Lucy, Kasha

Row 2:  Claudius, Oh Kitty, and Sweeney, and Toby

Row 3:  Wilma, Greta, Maddie, MiMi



Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Special mention to Christopher Graham for the marvelous “Atonement, Tennessee” images.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 7: Home

1964 Malibu turns 50 ad

1964 the Chevelle Malibu Turns 50

Welcome back everyone.  In this installment of The Guitar Mancer it’s still New Year’s Eve, 1969.  The new decade is about to be born — and so is something else.  I’m delighted that you are in the car for this road trip.

This Week’s Featured Blogger

The “things” this time are from Inese at Making Memories – Inese MJ Photography.  I started editing and formatting this installment of The Guitar Mancer before I knew Inese was probably going to be on holiday.  Hopefully it will be a nice surprise for her when she gets back. She hasn’t been feeling well lately, so I hope she’s also completely over that nasty virus by now too.  Anyway, look for apron and Burda Style pattern.

Inese’s photos are inspiring and thought provoking.  Sometimes I daydream about getting her to cast, compose, and choreograph photos for a book cover.  I describe it that way because her images can feel like a dance.  Do visit her site and say hello.

About This Episode

Remember that totem that Bodaway Thunder said was going to show up for an emerging mancer?  

“I could feel an air of confidence and self-reliance about the totem, something that makes me believe it is a probably a feline species.  Or possibly a venomous snake,” Bodaway told him with a sidelong look.

“That’s quite a contrast in species,” Tam said sardonically.

“I don’t really think it’s a snake,” Bodaway said drolly, and suddenly Tam realized the shaman had baited him just to enjoy his reaction to the possibility of hunting down a cobra or a copperhead totem.  “But that’s the only other possibility.”

“A cat?” Tam exclaimed.  “Something as common as a cat?  We’ll never spot it amid all the house cats in Nashville,” Tam complained in exasperation and gave his friend a pleading look.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Bodaway reminded him.  “The totem will be born into whatever form the new mancer needs most,” he finished in a typically cryptic way.

Read on for more about the new totem!  Cat… snake… something else entirely?  

Last time Luci had a strong and complex reaction to the mancer-music-magic of Yamata Orochi.  She was completely freaked out by the experience.  When she finally gets home, will she be able to sort out her feelings and relax?  Let’s find out.

1965 Chevrolet Malibu ad

Episode 7 — Home

Rain streaked the world in monotonous shades of gray.  The drizzle began as soon as she left the parking lot at Blaylock Sounds.  Luci didn’t know how long she drove around in the light rain.  Now and then the windshield wipers squawked against the glass because there wasn’t quite enough water to allow them to glide over the surface.  She started turning them on and off manually, wishing her Chevrolet had one of those interval wipe things.

The guitarist had a powerful effect on her, and she needed to collect her thoughts, find her balance.  So what, she told herself.  The musician rattled her, even freaked her out in more than one way.  But he hadn’t done anything overt, or said anything explicit.  Plus the guy had not followed her.  Having thought about the possibility of him being behind her, Luci couldn’t resist glancing into the rear-view mirror.

What was his strange name?  Yamata Orochi, she remembered because of the way Matt Blaylock had sounded out the name.  Luci turned the windshield wipers on again, and “turned off” thoughts of the frightening yet compelling man.  The drizzle increased to a light rain, so she left the wipers on.  

Driving always helped settle her mind.  Apparently her thoughts needed a lot of settling, because she had to stop and fill the Malibu’s gas tank.  She cranked the handle several times to roll down the window when the service station attendant walked up.  Checking her wallet first, she told him to “fill it up.”

1960s Chevron Standard gas station


By the time she got to Wilson County it was raining hard.  That time she didn’t take the back way.  With the storm, it was already dark and those roads were poorly lit and treacherous in bad weather.

Luci rarely had the house to herself, so she had been excited about having a little independence.  Yet as she pulled up to the front of the bungalow, for the first time the house looked empty and cold.  In a way it seemed foreign, alien, like it wasn’t even her home any more.  

She shook her head as if that would clear her thoughts.  She was safe in her home.  Always had been, always would be.  So why was she so upset?  It wasn’t that she already missed her dad.  Luci didn’t think it was really about how unsettled and upset that Orochi guy caused her to feel either.

However, Luci felt like the whole world had shifted on its axis.  It seemed like something fundamental had changed, though she couldn’t begin to think what.  When she looked in the mirror, it was still her face in the reflection.  She told herself to snap out of it.  There was no reason for her to feel so gloomy.

Starburst clockShe thought about the guitarist and how mesmerized she had been when he played.   Maybe she could blame him after all.  It was all that guy’s fault!  She tested the idea by saying it aloud.  Well okay… she admitted, maybe that was exaggerating a little.  Nobody could step into her thoughts and switch them from happy to sad.  Could they?

The guitarist was gorgeous, but he was as creepy as he was beautiful.  Luci knew it was absurd, but she honestly felt like he had been trying to take over her somehow, as he stared at her and played the guitar.  When she ran out of the studio, she felt like she’d had a narrow escape.  The fact that her thoughts about it didn’t sound rational, even in her own ears, made her even more distressed.

The gale blew harder as she stepped onto the front porch.  Luci hadn’t expected to be out after dark, so the porch light was not on to light her way.  The storm blotted out the moon light and she fumbled getting the key into the lock.  However, the key turned easily, once she actually found the lock.  She went inside, flipped the light switch beside the door as she walked, and gave the door a push.

Just as the door closed behind her, the phone rang.  A glance at the starburst style atomic clock told her it was probably her dad calling.  Luci forced more cheer into her voice than she actually felt and picked up the receiver.  She fidgeted with the coiled phone cord as she said “Hello.”

Her dad sounded relieved to hear her voice.  She immediately told him everything was fine.  She even said how excited she was about getting the job.  However, she shut her eyes tightly to keep the unsettling guitarist out of that thought.

Grover sounded like he was happy to reconnect with his old friends.  She smiled at the excitement that crept into his voice.  Luci told her dad not to worry, everything was fine.  “You just have a good time, Dad,” she said.

For some reason, the pleasure in his voice triggered an old memory of her dad in the kitchen, with a ruffled apron.  Of course it had belonged to her mother, but Luci’s memories of Darla Harper were random.  She only remembered Grover wearing the apron.  She chuckled at the memory.

As she hung up her damp coat she shivered.  A cup of hot chocolate would be good, she thought.  Luci went to her room and got undressed quickly.  She put on her favorite winter pajamas.  Luci had made them herself, using a Burda Style pattern.  Comfy and cozy in the pajamas, she headed for the kitchen and the soon to be hot chocolate.1960s Pajamas

She wasn’t willing to think about it, but Luci knew it was far from typical for a girl in her early twenties to be at home on New Year’s Eve.  She did have a few friends, and she actually had been invited to one party, but she made an excuse.  

Parties for New Year’s Eve, or any holiday for that matter, seemed phony to Luci.  She’d much rather be at a spontaneous gathering, where people were genuinely happy.

Her dad seemed both concerned and relieved that her social life was somewhat limited.  Grover Harper had been careful in dealing with his daughter as she grew from child to woman.  They didn’t move to the city until after she graduated high school.  Grover said he didn’t want to uproot her from school and friends.  Before Nashville, they lived in the same tiny town for as long as she could remember.  

After Luci graduated from high school, her dad seemed to sort of relax a little.  Luci and her dad were both in favor of her getting at least some college education.  Luci had pushed the idea of Nashville, but Grover was against moving to Music City.  However, it also happened that an acquaintance of Grover’s had a house to sell at a good price.  Grover was also unexpectedly fond of a rowan tree on the property.  Luci eventually talked her dad into Nashville and the bungalow.

The gale moaned its discontent as she took the first sip of hot chocolate.  As the giant hickory tree that shaded the bungalow rained a clatter of nuts and sticks onto the roof, she thought how warm, rich, and comforting the chocolate was.  A blast of wind caused her to look at the ceiling apprehensively, hoping that none of the big branches broke off and landed on the roof.  It wouldn’t do for her dad to come home to a hole in the roof.

Swiss Miss boxShe sat at the kitchen table, huddled over her hot chocolate, willing the anxiety of the day to roll off her back.  Another gust of wind caused more debris to make some noise on the roof.  Amid the sound of dead nuts rolling down the shingles she also heard a scratching, scrabbling noise.  Then she heard a wail that was very much like a baby’s cry.

Luci grabbed a coat and flashlight.  On impulse she also picked up Grover’s hiking staff.  It was carved from a branch from the old rowan tree that he liked so much.

Logically she knew the cry had not been from a baby.  However, a protective impulse kicked in, and Luci had to find out if anyone or anything was in distress.

Outside she squeezed between the lilac bush and the wall of the bungalow.  The bush didn’t have much foliage left, but it still managed to shake cold droplets onto her neck as she pushed it aside, following the direction of the unexpected sounds.

Then she heard the cry again, desperate in its yearning.  She still wasn’t sure what made the sound.  It might be something unfriendly, she cautioned herself.  She aimed the flashlight beam onto the roof, but saw nothing.  A moment later, with a strangled meow, a small something came sliding off the roof toward her.  Luci held out her arms reflexively and the tiny thing landed against her chest.

Unexpected though the situation was, Luci had her wits about her enough to know that an animal that was frightened or hurt might inflict serious scratches or even bites, even if it was a baby.  It might be panicked and struggle.  So she quickly slipped out of her coat and wrapped it around the little animal.  However, it didn’t struggle at all.  Luci hurried back inside.

Jean Shrimpton head-shot

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

She grabbed a clean towel from the laundry room.  Then she sat the wet bundle on the on the kitchen counter.  The coat seemed to crawl awkwardly aside of its own volition.  It fell into the empty sink with a muffled disgruntled noise.  Luci pulled her soggy coat off the creature.

“Why you’re just a kitten, aren’t you?” she exclaimed.  “And you’re wet to the skin, poor thing.”

It was definitely a kitten, but it was the oddest looking cat she’d ever seen.  Its wet face gave it a comical expression.  She had to smile at it.

“I do believe you’re the most pitiful lookin’ thing I ever saw,” she told the kitten, her light southern accent becoming more pronounced as she spoke to it.

Nestling the kitten in the towel, she opened a can of tuna and fed some of it to the very tiny cat.  It ate the fish greedily, but purred with such vibrating intensity that it could hardly stand.

“I’ll give you some more in a little while,” she reassured it.  “I’m afraid to let you have too much at once,” she added, but the kitten mewed as if bargaining with her.

As the kitten’s fur began to dry and fluff it started looking more like a kitten and less like a drowned rat.  Though he wasn’t much bigger than a rat, Luci thought.  He was small enough to fit in her open hand.  However, she had never seen a cat that looked like this one.  Everything about him, from the coloration of his coat to his features was utterly strange.

Lynx kitten babyOnce dry, his coat proved to be variegated shades of tan with some brown here and there.  Big round golden eyes were outlined first in pure white and then a fine line of black.

He had a short tail tipped with black.  She had never heard of a cat with that kind of short tail.  It wasn’t a bobtail like a Manx would have; it was longer than that, but still much shorter than a cat’s tail ought to be. 

And his ears…  He had the biggest ears!  At first she thought something was stuck to the tips of his ears, but in cleaning him up, she realized each ear had a long tuft of black fur.  Like his ears, the kitten’s feet were disproportionately large.

Luci left the kitten for a moment and went to the garage to get things for a makeshift litterbox.  When she came back the kitten was mewing distraughtly.  The tiny thing climbed up the sleeve of her robe and nestled under her ear.

She gave him a little more of the tuna and then carried him to the bedroom with her.  She made a bed for him in a box next to her bed, but the kitten was having nothing to do with it.  It was as if he had to have constant physical contact.

Luci turned the knob on the portable TV in her room.  The small RCA Victor television stood on a chrome pole with three horizontal legs tipped with wheels.  Luci rolled the portable television closer to the bed and adjusted the dial to get a good channel.  With the storm there was a lot of static both on the screen and in the audio.  She twisted a smaller knob to get the volume right. 1960s Portable TV

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was on, with Jim Backus from Gilligan’s Island and Woody Allen.  However, her thoughts were too overwhelmed with all the events of the day for her to laugh at them.  She put the kitten back in his box-bed and pulled back the quilt on her bed.

When Luci got under the covers, the tiny kitten managed to get out of the cardboard box.  He climbed up the bed skirt and then up the side of the mattress.  She had to laugh at his persistence.  That had to be like climbing a mountain for something small enough to fit into a teacup. 

“Oh, all right your royal highness.  No, that would be your royal kitten-ness.  Come on then,” she said and laughed fondly at him.

He investigated the bed for a moment and then on wobbly kitten legs moved to her shoulder where he cuddled under her ear.

As the clock struck midnight Luci heard the sound of a few firecrackers pop in the distance.  The kitten under her ear purred louder and stretched a miniature paw onto her neck as if hugging her. Where a few hours earlier she had felt the entire planet had shifted in a bad way, she suddenly felt that all was right with the world.  Then Luci went to sleep with an unexpected feeling of safety and contentment.


End serial episode 7


In this chapter, Luci planned to have a comforting cup of hot chocolate.  So I thought I would offer the same to you.  In the link below, you’ll find not just one, but five hot chocolate recipes!

Hot Chocolate

Stick around.  In Episode 8 Luci will have unexpected visitors: Tam, Bodaway, and Freyja.  Until next time be groovy and mega hugs!


Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.


Get Caught Reading — The Sign of the Ape 2

The month of May is a lovely time of year.  It’s also Get Caught Reading (GCR) Month.  As many of you know, I’m doing a midweek mini-series in support of this public service campaign.  The intention of GCR is to encourage people of all ages to read, and that is what bloggers do with every post.  So this fictional, fanciful story includes an intrepid band of bloggers.

Have you caught me reading any sort of novel?  Why yes you have — the novel that inspired the title of this mini-series, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four.  The plot has nothing to do with my story though. I was not ambitious enough to try and follow the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.  You can get The Sign of the Four free here.

Last Time

During the first chapter I found a shimmering airship outside my window.  The pilot looked suspiciously like  Cornelis Drebbel.  Before I knew it, I was in Time Square beginning a chase to “catch” the  Story Reading Ape reading.

At Times Square I glimpsed something very large and very furry carrying a book.  He bounded around the corner.  I ran to the spot, but he was long gone.  Then on the sidewalk I saw a banana.  It had to be the sign of the ape.

The Sign of the Ape — Chapter 2The_Sign_of_the_Four-_in_Lippincott’s_Monthly_Magazine_1890

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four Chap. 6, p. 111


“Percy and I will meet you at Madame Tussaud’s Celebrity Wax Museum,”  Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen had promised.

I had thought the blogger-chef was the only person in New York that I knew.  However, at the famous wax museum I entered a gallery with a marque announcing a new exhibit called Fictional Heroes. I saw familiar faces.

Kasha reading

Kasha reading about Michigan lighthouses

The first thing I noticed was a cowboy who seemed oddly familiar to me.  When I saw author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel  I understood why — it was Tristan Carlson, from Cowboy Boss and His Destiny. Or rather it was a wax version of him. 

Excited barking greeted me.  It was Kasha, Mary’s fur baby.  Kasha stopped for me to pet her, but then tried to run out to the hallway.  Mary of course caught her.

However, something four footed may have been what interested Kasha.  In came two large curly haired dogs.  Mary said she wondered what they were.  A smile slowly spread across my face as I recognized another statue — Ben Andrews of The Gamblers. 

“I believe those would be Laboradoodles, and I think you’re about to meet Christoph Fischer,” I told her just as the writer walked into the room.


Greta and Wilma caught reading

Then I heard the funky guitar music of the original James Bond theme.  I looked back at the collection of wax heroes.  Was there a spy or thriller hero among them?  I didn’t recognize the statue at first.  However, Kasha was sniffing at one.  I saw the wax man was the hero of the John J. Cannon Trilogyby John W. Howell.

It was odd about the music… Was it my imagination?  I gave my head a shake.  However, I forgot about it when a moment later, Percy the Pug led Suzanne into the exhibit.  Seeing the blogger-chef reminded me…  The opening of the exhibit was shaping up to be such a great party that for a moment I almost forgot the strange events that brought me there.  

“Did you happen to see John W. Howell, out there?” I asked Suzanne, motioning to the hallway.

Lucy digging_John

Lucy digging

“Oh, that must have been the man with the boxer.  I thought he looked familiar,” she replied.  “They were just outside.  The dog was trying to dig up something.  She was really persistent about it.”

That was odd.  I knew John’s pets were well behaved.  I wondered what was going on with Lucy.  However, my thoughts were interrupted when all the dogs started barking furiously.  Suzanne deftly picked little Percy up in her arms.  The other dogs tore out of the exhibit, their author owners running frantically behind them.

As the dogs left, I noticed it on the floor near the wax figures.  The sign of the ape — a ripe yellow banana.  I picked up the banana, examining it carefully.  I saw nothing unusual about it.  There was no clue or suggestion of where the Story Reading Ape had gone.  I followed the sound of barking to another gallery.

A single display was far larger than all the rest, taking up an entire wall. Everyone was transfixed by that figure.  It was a wax exhibit of the Ape himself.  The dogs stopped barking, but Kasha, Greta, and Wilma sniffed every inch of the exhibit.  Percy struggled until Suzanne finally let him down to join the others.

“What has them so excited?” Christoph Fischer asked as he moved closer to Greta and Wilma to make sure they weren’t at risk.  

I explained to him about the chase to catch the Story Reading Ape reading.  Meanwhile I examined the display closely, or at least as much of it as I could reach.  Christoph, being taller than the rest of us inspected the higher portions.  However, we found no clues, nothing that would lead me to the Ape.  The dogs had stopped their sniffing.  Apparently they had lost his trail.  

Ape Gallery

Christoph’s Laboradoodles moved over to me.  I petted the dogs, amazed by their soft curly fur.  I wasn’t sure which was Greta and which was Wilma, but they were both adorable.  Soon the authors were called back to their exhibit.  I was able to quickly introduce Suzanne to Christoph and Mary before the authors had to return to their exhibit.

I detained them long enough to ask if any of them had met John Howell yet.  Apparently John never came inside the museum.  That made me uneasy, so I went looking for the Texas based author.

To my surprise, Percy followed me.  A moment later Suzanne ran behind the pug to catch him.  As I rounded a corner I all but collided with a tall man.

MiMi reading_Dan

MiMi reading for a clue

Dan Antion?” I exclaimed in surprise.

It turned out Dan was in New York to meet John W. Howell and see his John Cannon wax statue.  Dan carried a small kennel, from which I heard a meow.  I asked if he always traveled with one of his cats.

“MiMi has been acting really clingy and… just strange,” he confessed.  “I could have sworn I heard her meowing back and forth with some other cats, but she was alone.  Then she got one of my books.  She slapped my hand when I tried to take it away from her.  I thought it was best to take her with me.”

I suspected Annette‘s cats had called Dan’s for a meow-wow, just as they had called Crystal.  Then I heard barking from a new canine voice.  Dan looked around worriedly and muttered something I didn’t catch.  Suddenly I realized he must have brought his dog too.

Maddie sniffing_Dan

Maddie on the trail

“Maddie!” he called and then whistled as we all moved toward the barking. 

 Outside the museum was a small landscaped area.  Percy ran to a sizable hole in the ground there.  Dan’s Irish Setter had already gone into the hole, but she ran back out when Dan called her.  At that point I realized the hole wasn’t simply a hole, but a tunnel.

Then I heard it again…  It sounded far away and muffled, but I could hear the funky James Bond guitar music again.  The music seemed to move gradually farther away.  Percy wagged his little tail and gave a yip, as if he meant to say everything was as it should be.  Suzanne and I exchanged puzzled looks.  

“I think John and Lucy are down there,” I told them.

Before you could say boo, Dan along with Maddie and MiMi, went into the tunnel after John W. Howell.  Suzanne tightened her grip on Percy’s leash, but the pug didn’t try to follow the others.

“It might be dangerous — especially for just one person,” Dan called from the tunnel.  “I’d better go after John and Lucy.”

A taxi rolled up.  It was the same driver that brought me to the wax museum, the same driver who looked a lot like the pilot of the airship — I mean the man who looked an awful lot like Cornelis Drebbel.  Suzanne’s eyes widened.

Percy Tie pug hill

Percy reads Pug Hill

“It’s him isn’t it?” she exclaimed.  “It’s the alchemist.  How did you bring Cornelis Drebbel here?” she asked in astonishment.

I told her that he was actually the one who brought me.  At that point I had to admit to myself that the driver/pilot truly was Cornelis Drebbel.  Yes, I had been in denial.  As  Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  My driver and pilot had been Cornelis Drebbel, the alchemist.


Cornelis began to flirt outrageously with Suzanne.  The two were having such a good time, I didn’t mean to be a wet blanket.  However, all I could think about was the fact that I had no idea where to look next for the Story Reading Ape.  Then I realized I still had the banana, the sign of the ape.  I took a closer look at it.  There was a little sticker, a brand mark, but the writing was Japanese.

Cornelis looked askance.  I showed him the sticker.  

“Oh yes, I know this market.  It’s in Tokyo,” he said, but I gave him a blank stare.  “That’s your next clue.  Come along now.  Get in the car.  We need to take the dirigible to get there,” he added and I mutely got into the cab.

“Well m’lady?  May I have the honor?” Cornelis spoke to Suzanne and she and Percy eagerly got into the taxi.  

“Did you say dirigible?  That sounds like a slow way to get to Japan,” Suzanne commented.  “Cornelis, are you going to use magic?” she asked with a grin.

Cornellis merely wriggled his bushy eyebrows.  

I cringed.  This couldn’t be good.

“Where is that blond?” Cornelis asked hopefully.

“Do you mean Mary J. McCoy-Dressel?” I wanted to know.

“Well yes, we have a brunette and a redhead,” Cornelis said as if explaining to a child. “It would work better if we also had a blond too.”

That of course made no sense at all to me.  However, as if on cue, I heard barking and Kasha bounded up to Cornelis.  Mary ran after her dog, but looked at Cornelis Drebbel in shock.

“Is he?” she began and I nodded.

“Cornelis, what would work better?” I demanded as a queasy feeling formed in my stomach.  “Cornelis Drebbel, you’re not planning some complicated alchemy are you?”

The alchemist wriggled his bushy eyebrows again.  This really, really couldn’t be good.


End Chapter 2

If you remember Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers, then you know Cornelis Drebbel’s magic had a tendency to go awry.  Between the alchemist and the Ape, what will happen to our intrepid band of bloggers in Tokyo?  And what about John and Dan (and their pets)?  We left them in that tunnel.  Come back for the next midweek episode to find out.

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.