Book Launch: The Contract by John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Hi, Lulu.  This is a surprise.  I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow for Jazz Age Wednesdays.

Lulu purple sofa

Bushwa! I was too excited to stay cooped up in your brain.  It’s time to launch John & Gwen’s new book.  You didn’t forget did you?

Don’t give me that look, Lulu. Of course I didn’t forget.  Oh, there’s a bit of horseradish on your cheek.  Was it another late night with free flowing giggle water?  Never mind — I don’t think I want to know.  On to the main attraction.  Here’s John and Gwen to tell us all about their book. 

Take it away John and Gwen!

The CONTRACT

between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Teagan and Lulu, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your blog to share a little about our new book. All your stories are so fanciful and good and we think some elements of ours would be comfortable here. All the best to you!

The Contract

Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.

Howell the Contract composite

Trailer

Here is an excerpt.

He stood listening to the whoop-whoop of a helicopter approaching from somewhere beyond the tree line. He didn’t like the sound and could see no reason for anyone to fly a chopper at such a low altitude. His experiences in the Middle East alerted him to an imminent attack. “Something’s not right, Sarah.” Agitated, Brad’s voice held urgency.

He gripped Sarah’s upper arms and stared down at her. “Jump in the water and swim to the shore. Do not look back.”

Confusion darkened her brow,but then she glanced over Brad’s shoulder.A low-flying helicopter approached. Without further hesitation, she did exactlyas Brad had advised and dove into the water.

Brad pulled out his semi-automatic, but not soon enough, and could not get off a shot before a flurry of 7.62 mm bullets pelted the vessel, throwing pieces of the cabin into the air. Brad took cover behind what he figured would be the sturdiest part of the boat. The chopper turned. For sure, the next pass would bring even more destruction. Obviously, these guys meant business. What looked like automatic weapons protruded from the open door, which meant one thing: he needed to get off the boat before the mini-guns opened up for what would—in all probability—be the last time.

Not waiting any longer, Brad darted to the edge of the boat and dove over the side. When he surfaced, he saw the boat being riddled with gunfire. It wasn’t more than a second until the fuel tanks could take no more and erupted with a force that sent him tumbling through the water.

Authors Bio

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s Books

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2wdXsrn

Jazz Age Wednesdays 23 ― Pip Meets Tiny (Part 2)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blue Lucille Ball Stage Door Trailer

Welcome to Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books.  Last time I posted part-1 of a story that resulted from a collaboration with Fiction Favorites* author John W. Howell*.  John did one of his terrific lists of Ten Things Not to Do, and I wrote a story.  You can read part-1 here*

John Howell Books

I didn’t share his list with part-1 of the story because I felt it would be sort of a spoiler.  So without further ado, I present John’s list, followed by part 2 of Pip Meets Tiny

 Ten Things Not to Do in a Tree with a Bear

10) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not poke it. If you do, at best he’ll think you want to play. At worst, you will find yourself defending space limb for limb. (Didn’t think you would run out of tree did you, Tiny?)

9) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not open that pastrami sandwich you brought along. If you do, at best you’ll learn to share. At worst, you will give up the sandwich to get your hand back. (Something about the hot teeth getting ready to eat the sandwich weather or not you give it up that gives wisdom huh, Tiny?)

8) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the beast’s manicure. If you do, at best you’ve packed an Emory board. At worst, you’ll get a real close view of the nails why trying to avoid the roundhouse swipes. (You should have guessed the bear was the sensitive type, Tiny)

7) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not swallow. If you do, at best the bear won’t see you. At worst, the bear will take the swallow sign as a que that you are going to eat it. (You can imagine how that sign is going to work out, can’t you Tiny?)

6) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ride your unicycle. If you do, at best you’ll have to go tandem. At worst, the bear will remember an old circus act and nasty trainer. (Hard to ride that thing with broken and bent parts right, Tiny?)

Lucille Ball and Bear

5) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not show the bear your WWF wrestling championship belt. If you do, at best the bear will want it. At worst, you are sharing a tree with the internationally known Russian bear wrestling champ. (You know understand the concept of a bear hug. The question is can you get out of it, Tiny?)

4) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not comment on the bear’s bad breath. If you do, at best you will offend the bear and it will stop talking to you. At worst, you’ll offend the bear and it will want to sweeten its breath with your left arm. (You could have been a little more subtle, Tiny. A bottle of mouthwash left discretely on a branch would have done the job.)

3) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not mention the word ‘diet.’ If you do, at best the bear won’t give you any more honey. At worst, the bear will take offense and commit to a pure protean diet. (Guess who is made of pure protean, Tiny?)

2) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not read any Goldilocks bed time stories. If you do, at best the bear will ask a hundred questions. At worst, the bear will want you to go get some porridge. (Where you going to get porridge this time of night, Tiny?)

1) If you are in a tree with a bear, do not ask them questions about the Chicago football team. If you do, at best you will have to listen to excuses for hours. At worst, the bear lost a big bet and is still hurting from the loss. (It won’t help to offer a hankie, Tiny. Getting out of the tree might be the best idea.)

Copyright © 2018 by John W. Howell

Now let’s get a wiggle on and head back to the Roaring Twenties to see how the story progresses. 

Pip Meets Tiny — Part 2

1920s_photoplay-health-for-beauty

Rather than a hat, I opted for a long scarf tied as a headband.  The wind whipped up dead leaves into miniature whirlwinds.  The ties of my scarf fluttered like streamers.  It wasn’t a fit day for a walk.  However, Granny Phanny’s Flemish Giant rabbit had gotten loose.  Granny was gaga for Cinnamon Bun, so we were both out looking for him.  My grandmother went one direction while I went the opposite way.

I had already walked as far as it seemed likely the big rabbit would roam, when the sound of a commotion drew me into a beautifully manicured garden.  Since I had not lived in Savannah very long, I wasn’t sure who owned the fine home and grounds.  As much as I wanted to find Cinnamon Bun, I hoped it was not him making such a ruckus on some swell’s property.

Stepping lightly into the ritzy garden I followed the sounds of rustling, grunting, and other destructive noises that came to my ears.  I cringed to think of the damage Cinnamon might be causing. 

The sounds stopped for a moment.  I cast my gaze around, wondering if I had gone the wrong way.  Then the hullabaloo returned, but I realized it was above me in the branches of a grand old magnolia tree.

A_beautiful_garden_in_Savannah,_Ga._(8368128006)

Savannah, Georgia garden via Wikimedia Commons

Bushwa!  Cinnamon Bun is a clever rabbit, but there was no way he’s gotten up a tree…  Is there?

Perplexed, I stared up into the branches of the towering magnolia.  I could see something moving — something large.  A deep voice added to the ruckus.

“Look, I promise I’ll make them take away the unicycle.  I know it must bring up bad memories for you,” the voice commented.  “Wow, Ursa, you need a manicure.  Your nails are in rough shape.”

I gaped, in astonishment.  What kind of phonus balonus was I hearing?

A disgruntled growl seemed to be the response to the manicure remark.  Then something squishy fell the branches from and slapped onto my upturned face.

A pastrami sandwich? I marveled as I removed a round slice of pastrami that covered my eye.

“Hey!  That was mine!” the deep voice complained.  “Horsefeathers, Ursa!  I’ve had enough of this stuff.  It’s time for you to come down out of this blasted tree.  You know heights give me the heebie-jeebies!”

A growl answered the complaint.

“I guess it’s just as well you dropped my sandwich.  Your breaths is bad enough without pastrami,” the man quipped, and was answered with a roar.

When I heard the roar of a beast, I jumped backward about six feet, eyes bulging.

A broad, tall form backed down from the tree.  He didn’t look my way.  He was intent on coaxing someone nearly as large as himself from the branches.

Oh, make that some thing! I thought and gasped.

He turned at the soft noise I made.  After a moment I recognized him as the big man who had saved my hat downtown.

“You!” I exclaimed, but fell into stuttering.  “And th-th-that…”

Ringling Bros Bears circus

“Don’t mind Ursa,” he assured me.  “She’s tame as a kitten.  She’s my partner for the special event.  Ursa the wrestling bear.  It’s all play to her.  Although I admit she’s pretty strong!”

My mouth moved, but I’m pretty sure nothing came out of it.  I looked from the bear to him and back to the bear cautiously.

“Applesauce,” he muttered and lifted a hand to gently remove lettuce and pastrami from my hair.  “I guess you caught my pastrami sandwich.  I’m sorry.”

“Um,” I struggled to find my tongue.  “Thank you for saving my hat yesterday.”

He gave me a grin that was a match for his girth.  Then he looked at my headband and then at my coat.  His eyes clouded with disappointment.

“You didn’t like them?” he asked in a shy seeming tone.

Granted, I had a few things on my mind, not least of which was Ursa the bear.  It took a moment for me to understand what he meant.

“Bear,” I muttered.  “Oh the bear!  With the hatpins.  Was that from you?  They were pos-i-lutely the cat’s meow!” I told him with profuse thanks.  “But why would you do something extravagant like that?  What’s your name anyway?”

The way he blushed I was afraid he was going to clam up with a fit of shyness.  Finally, he told me he was called Tiny.  He said Godfrey Gilley, the grocer told him Granny’s address.  I figured Mr. Gilley was pretty excited to meet Tiny, since he was the star of the wrestling show.  That must have been the highlight of the grocer’s month.

“He was pretty excited,” Tiny chuckled.  “It’s good to meet fans.  I left him a picture too.  Anyhow, I’m far away from home.  It was Valentine’s Day, and I just thought it would be fun to leave a present for a pretty girl,” he explained.

I was the one blushing at that point.

In the distance I heard the puttering of a motor.  I figured it was Granny in her Model-T, and I hoped it meant she had found Cinnamon Bun.  I told Tiny why I was there, in a stranger’s garden.  I offered to take him back into town or wherever he was staying.

Studebaker blue 1920s

“You’re the berries for offering, but Ursa would probably tear the seats in your grandma’s automobile.  And sometimes she gets motion sickness,” he politely declined.  “Besides one of the guys is circling around with the truck.  I knew she probably hadn’t gone too far.  He’ll probably drive past in a minute.”

We both made a face at the prospect of an up-chucking bear.  Ursa looked at us and made an indignant noise.

Tiny hooked a heavy leash to Ursa’s collar and they walked with me to the street, just as Granny Phanny drove up to the spot.  She waved excitedly and called my name.  She had found Cinnamon Bun.  Then she spotted the bear.  Her brow knitted, then her eyes widened.

“Do I see what I think I see?” Granny exclaimed.

Ursa sat back on her haunches and waved one enormous paw.

“Don’t worry, Granny.  Everything’s Jake.  This is Tiny, and that’s Ursa.”

The embodiment of southern hospitality, Granny invited Tiny to dinner.  However, he said he had to get ready for his performance.  He handed me a stack of tickets for the wrestling event and told me to bring as many friends as I wanted. 

The truck Tiny mentioned came into view. The huge wrestler waved, and the driver gave a little beep of the horn.  Then with another blush, Tiny gave me a quick peck on the cheek.  He and Ursa walked to the truck.

“Have mercy.  Well, Pip… I’m glad he was there to find that bear before you found it.  That would have been a sight!  Expecting to find a rabbit and you get a big ole bear instead!” Granny chortled.

 

Hatpins Ad 1898

Ad for hatpins, circa 1898

“So it was him that left the stuffed bear and hatpins, wasn’t it?” she confirmed.  “I’m surprised you didn’t know who left them, him catching your hat and all.  I guess you didn’t see the way he looked at you.  What I want to know is who you thought would leave you a gift like that,” she added with a suspicious glance at me.

That tone could mean trouble.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  It never occurred to me that a stranger would do something sweet like that, and that’s what I told her.

“The only person who ever mentioned hatpins was Hank Hertz,” I started.  “I was scared to death that Hank had done something like that.  I didn’t want it to be Hank,” I confessed.

“Pip, Hank is a nice boy.  You’re not that much older than him.  You seem to have inherited my bias about age differences.  I hope you’ll get over that.   It would be different for you and Hank than for me and—  Anyway, a year or two is nothing.  A decade or two, now that’s another matter,” she said with a sigh.

At first I thought Granny was referring to Alastair Wong the elder.  She had told me about her relationship with my friend’s great-grandfather.  However, she might also have been thinking about Detective Dabney Daniels — though she’d never admit it.

I suppressed a giggle when I realized Granny Phanny might have been thinking about both of them.  She’d get in a lather if I said it, but Granny was a flapper at heart.

The End

***

 

I hope you enjoyed your visit.  You’re the bee’s knees! 

Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Jazz Age Wednesdays 22 ― Pip Meets Tiny (Part 1)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day

Dennisons 1920s Valentine girl

Happy Valentine’s Day from Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books!  Awhile back I was lucky enough to do a collaboration with Fiction Favorites* author John W. Howell*.  He did one of his outrageous lists of “Ten Things Not to Do” and that took me to my short story, In the Pip of Time*

John Howell Books

I’m happy to say that John agreed to work with me again.  Reading the list that John created especially for this collaboration gave me such fun, vivid images that my story will be more than one post.  However, his list will be sort of a spoiler.  So I’m saving it as a treat for next week. 

Anyhow, in John’s lists of things not to do, a recurring character is Tiny, the WWF champ.  I thought it might be fun if Pip met a 1920s version of Tiny.

With this episode I will feature recipe links to some pos-i-lutely darb food bloggers!  Be sure to check them out too.

Let’s get a wiggle on and head back to the Roaring Twenties and see how Pip came to meet Tiny. 

Pip Meets Tiny — Part 1

1924 Feb_Theatre woman arrow heart Valentine

Theatre, February 1924

Granny Phanny gave me one of her old hats and some red velvet ribbon.  She encouraged me to get the hat “dolled up” for Valentine’s Day.  It was made of pearl gray wool felt with a medium height crown and a three-inch brim.  I used the velvet red ribbon to make a band and a large but neat bow for the front.  It was a big change from the nearly brimless styles I preferred.  However, I thought it would be fun to have something different.

I was ready to show off my hat, so I didn’t mind when Granny asked me to take care of her grocery shopping while she went to look in on Miss Olive, who had a cold.

“Pip, the wind’ll take that hat.  You should have used more than one hatpin.”

“I lost the other one, Granny,” I defended myself.  

“Lost it!  Paisley Idelle Peabody, those things don’t grow on trees, you know,” Granny chided.

“Anyway, it’s not windy today,” I said with a smile, trying to keep her in a good mood.

Granny grunted a contradictory reply as she stopped the Model-T in front of Gilley’s Grocery.

Another Foodie Blogger (click here)

I stumbled into a debate when I went inside.  The discussion was getting rather heated.  My spiffy hat would be last thing those guys would notice.  Godfrey Gilley, the store owner, was getting red-faced as he defended his favorite sport, professional wrestling.  Detective Dabney Daniels wouldn’t budge in his stance that it had become nothing more than modern theatrics.  I rolled my eyes when Hank Hertz, Savannah’s youngest copper, tried to defend both positions.  

Hank noticed my expression and tried to be nice.  He tried, but it just seemed like a criticism at the time.  

“Pip, you usually have two hatpins.  Are you sure one is enough?  My moma always uses two or three,” he told me.

Of all the nerve!  I guessed I should be glad somebody at least noticed my hat.  Sort of.   I gave Hank a glare and he looked like he was trying to figure out how to take back his poorly chosen words. 

1920s Girl Hat 2

Young Lucille Ball

“Pip, you’d best mind your Ps and Qs, and avoid strangers,” the copper told me.  “A bunch of professional wrestling carnies are in town.”

“Professional wrestling is a legitimate sport!” Godfrey Gilley inserted hotly.

The detective cleared his throat, pointedly ignoring the store owner.  Daniels and his chiseled features looked down at me, plainly dismissing my attempt to enter the conversation.  

I was getting pretty miffed.  Were they blind to the fact that times were changing?  I was a modern woman, a flapper!  As I stewed, they ran right over me and kept talking.

“As I was saying, they were supposed to pass through after one performance,” he continued, ignoring Godfrey’s sputter about the word performance.  “But they’re staying longer.  There will be folks around who are less than savory.  So steer clear of strangers.  Savannah, Georgia is not the sleepy Florida town you’re used to.”

Ringling Bros Bears circus

“I hear they’re even going to have a parade!” Hank Hertz inserted excitedly.  “They have a whole troop of wrestlers ― even a wrestling bear they brought all the way from Russia!

Detective Daniels frowned at his young cohort.  Then he managed to include me in the grimace too.

With a glare at the detective, the grocer turned to me and spotted the list from Granny Phanny.  Godfrey Gilley took the list from my hand.  He read over the list.  Then he appeared to have a moment of inspiration as he narrowed his eyes and gave a calculating glance at Daniels.

“I take it, Miss Phanny is making cookies?” he said and cleared his throat.  “I’ll throw in this new red vegetable dye that just came in.  Tell your grandmother it’s a little Valentine gift from me.”

The debate over professional wrestling seemed to have brought out a competition between the two men.  Dabney Daniels made a quick scan of the table displaying sale items and picked up a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Picture

Sunny Cove Chef (click here)

“I’ll take this cookie cutter, but put it with Miss Phanny’s purchase,” Daniels told the grocer.  “Pip, tell your grandmother it’s from me.”

“What a couple of palookas…” I muttered as I left the store.

Granny Phanny had been right about the calm wind not lasting.  As the door closed behind me, a breeze caused my skirt to flit above my knees.  Granny would have been scandalized, but what did it matter if a kneecap showed?  I headed up the street, in the direction of Miss Olive’s.  I expected to run into Granny in her Modle-T before I walked very far.

With one hand on my grocery basket and the other holding my skirt, I was unprepared for the gust of wind that caught my hat.

I knew that wider brim was a bad idea!  Why didn’t I wear my favorite pink cloche hat?

The single hatpin was not sufficient to the task.  The wind tore the hat from my head and it sailed away.  To my astonishment, my hat flew directly into the largest man I had ever seen.  I don’t know what surprised me more ― the unlikelihood of the hat blowing right to him, or his extraordinary girth.  Why, he was a broad as a door and as tall as a ceiling… or at least it seemed that way in the moment.

The stranger smiled and politely handed back my hat.  However, the cat had his tongue.  He fumbled and muttered some words I couldn’t make out before blushing and tipping his hat.  I tried to thank him, but some other men walked toward him, urging him to hurry.

IMG_0516

A Pug in the Kitchen (click here)

Detective Daniels’ caution came back to me.  I was alone and there were several unknown men walking toward me.  So, I smiled and thanked him, as I continued to walk.  Just then the yellow Model-T drove up, with Granny Phanny at the wheel.

She gave a friendly wave to the large stranger.  That was Granny’s way, and she would expect the same of anyone else.  He awkwardly tipped his hat again, that time toward her.  Then his friends hurried him along.

***

That evening I was helping my grandmother make supper.  A thud sounded from the front porch.  Granny was checking the oven and asked me to go and see if anything was amiss. 

When I opened the front door I found cuddly stuffed bear.  A red cutout heard was pinned to the ribbon bow around his neck.  Written on the heart was the old poem, “Roses are red, violets are blue.  Sugar is sweet and so are you.”

“Not very original,” Granny Phanny snorted.  “But a lovely, wholesome sentiment just the same.”  

When I looked closer, I saw the heart was attached under the bow by two rhinestone hatpins.  Then I realized that no one had signed it.  

“It must be for you, Granny.  Detective Daniels and Mr. Gilley both sent you something with ingredients I picked up for your cookies.”  

My grandmother gave me a long suffering look.  She muttered a denial.  Then she hustled me back to the kitchen.  Granny Phanny was determined to make me learn to cook.

End Part 1

***

Thanks to our sensational chef bloggers for sharing their tasty Valentine treats!

You will surely want to share these sweet desserts with your sugar.  Check out these treats and more recipes from Kathryn “Another Foodie Blogger,” Gerlinde “The Sunny Cove Chef,” and Suzanne at “A Pug in the Kitchen.”

Ya’ll are pos-i-lutely the cat’s pajamas for visiting.  

 

Now, for that shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.

Bijou front only 2

Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I

Novel-book-The Three Things Serial Story-Teagan Riordain Geneviene-The Writer Next Door-Vashti Q-spotlight-author

The Three Things Serial Story: A Little 1920s Story Kindle 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 9

Thistledown Girl

Friday, September 8, 2017

About This Episode

We’re privileged to have another recipe for this episode.  When “agave” fluttered into my imagination I asked Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen if she had a drink recipe using it. (Right now, I have no idea how agave managed to get into my twisting mind. However, I had just finished Episode 8, and was already working on this one, when there it was — agave.)  

The creative wheels in Suzanne’s mind whirred into action!  She imagined things Peaches Dragonfly might gather to make a refreshing beverage, then she sweetened it with agave nectar.  Suzanne let me use the recipe and her beautiful photos for this post. Here’s the recipe.    

Sun n Moon Tea in jars Suzanne DeBrango

Sun and Moon Tea, by Suzanne DeBrango

Recipe:  Sun and Moon Tea

https://apuginthekitchen.com/2017/08/21/murder-at-the-bijou-teagans-book-launch/

1 tbs chamomile flowers

1 tbs rose hips

1 tbs red clover flowers

2 sprigs fresh mint

Place all of the ingredients in a 64 oz. glass jar, or two 32 oz. jars.  Pour in fresh filtered or spring water to fill.  Place lid on jar, and set outside in the morning.  Leave the jar(s) all day and night soaking up the rays of the sun and moon. Add agave syrup to desired sweetness, starting with 1/4 cup.  Stir until combined. Strain into a serving container or bottle and chill.

Thanks for the refreshments, Suzanne!  And now today’s episode…

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 9

Sun n Moon Tea w Agave Served apples

Sun and Moon Tea Table, by Suzanne DeBrango

Gone to the Dogs

Bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine swayed in a warm breeze.  The vine ran throughout Thistledown.  It bore the local news.  River Mindshadow touched a petal awakening the vine.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Dull haze reported in random parts of Thistledown!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added shifting to an encouraging voice.

“It says the haze leaves quickly, and that there’s no cause for concern,” River said as she uncurled the leaf to read the news.  “Considering your visions of a dull, colorless place, I find that haze worrisome,” she added with a shudder.

Monticristi_Straw_Hat_Optimo

“Well bless my eyes, Bedlam and River,” Pick Dragonfly said tipping his wide brimmed hat as he walked up.  “Bedlam, it’s nice to see you up and about.  “You know,” he began as if telling a secret.  “Your grand-uncle has been worried about you, even if he doesn’t let on.”

I smiled at the comment, but I doubted it was actually true.  River and I exchanged a glance.  My friend spared me by changing the subject before that conversation could get started.  She motioned to the unusual hat Pick wore.  It was white and made of fine, tightly woven straw, with a brim that was about a finger-length wide.  Pick traveled more and farther than anyone in Thistledown, so I assumed he got the hat in some exotic locale.

River darted up with just a thrust of her wings and grabbed the hat off Pick’s head.  She placed it on her own head and asked how she looked.  River shrugged at our surprised expressions and put the hat back on Pick’s head before settling back to the ground.

“These are popular way down in the southern lands where the sun is hot,” Pick explained, adjusting the hat.  “It’s not the only thing I brought back with me,” he added with a motion to the cart in front of him.

The little cart was hitched to two large dogs.  They wagged stubby tails when River and I walked over to them.  The short tails moved even faster when we paid attention to the dogs.

It was not unexpected to see dogs pulling small carts in Thistledown.  Most creatures enjoyed having a job to do, especially if they were rewarded for it.  I saw Pick hand the dogs treats.  However, what was unusual was the dogs themselves.  Most canines weren’t larger than knee-high.  These dogs were much taller and I had never seen such stubby tails.

“Yes, I got the dogs on my way back.  They needed a home.  I also brought back these agave plants,” he told us motioning to the spikey looking blue plants.

Agave_plant.jpg

I remembered the healer mentioning the tiny drop of nectar she gave me was from a plant related to agave, and described it to Pick.  He nodded.

“Agave is mostly used in making grownup drinks.  You two aren’t old enough for those yet,” he said to our protests.  “The potent kind of drink uses the heart of the plant.  But the nectar from agave is very, very sweet.  So I brought some to Peaches, and now I’m taking some nectar and plants to Belle Stargazer for the Starlight Saloon.  With Belle’s talent in hospitality, I know she’ll put them to good use.”

“Are you ladies ready to go?”  Pick spoke to the two dogs in an encouraging tone.

River and I chuckled when he called the dogs ladies.  But their stubby little tails wagged faster and faster until they seemed to spin in a circle.  Their bottoms lifted into the air.  The back feet of the dogs were barely on the ground.  The dogs shot ahead, pulling the little cart along.

“Hey!  Wait a minute!” Pick called after the dogs.  “You’ll bounce the plants off the cart.”

Pick unfurled his wings, but shook his head.  Apparently he had a leisurely walk in mind, not flying as fast as his wings could carry him.

“I’ll get them,” River said and zipped ahead, quickly catching the excited dogs.

Pick followed, only a heartbeat shower.

I was still grounded from my injured wing.  Even if it had been fully healed, Lavender Cozy had laid out firm instructions for me to rest after the shock of my most recent vision.  I saw Pick look back in my direction.  A moment later, River flew back with a bottle for each of us of the sweet agave nectar.

“He still wouldn’t give us any of the grownup stuff,” River complained as she touched down.

***

Sprig Yellow ben-moore-8884

Unsplash.com

My grand-uncle’s home was nestled in the branches of an impossibly broad and towering redwood tree.  My bedroom was in the attic, the loftiest room of all.  The healer and Uncle insisted that I get a lot of rest.  Let’s be honest ― they’d rather I was confined to my bed and completely unable to get myself into another mishap.

Ironically, I had never been fond of heights.  With my injured wing, I couldn’t glide down from my room, and the view from the top of the stairs was dizzying.  So, I was disinclined to leave.  Fate had conspired to force me to rest.

Fate must be a fiend, I thought.  I was wretchedly bored.  My only “entertainment” was the school books Uncle brought up, so that I’d have a chance of not having to repeat the last term.  You see, just before the end of the term, River and I had been suspended because of the uproar surrounding my vision.

Trying to read one of the books, I nodded off.  A light tapping awakened me.

Psst, Bedlam are you awake?” a quiet voice asked.  “Interrupting your rest isn’t a mistake I’d want to make.”

I could only see one eye and a fragment of the face that peeped at me from the side of my window.  However, the extraordinary long mane that lifted on the breeze was easily recognizable.  It graduated from blond, to blue, to green, to purple.  Only Rhymer Rainbow had such a head of hair.

“Rhymer?  There’s no need to hover outside.  Come on in.  I’d love to have company.”

“I know you’re supposed to rest, so I didn’t want to be a pest,” Rhymer began.  “But I came upon a lost bluebird.  Peaches uses them for messages, or so I’ve heard.  Then on its beak I smelled something odd, and I thought maybe it’s lost because it’s drunk.  So, I brought it up to your bunk.”

“Did it carry a peach blossom?” I asked and Rhymer nodded emphatically.

I took a close look at the bluebird as it clung woozily to Rhymer’s hair.  It did look like one of Peaches’ birds.

“That’s strange and worrisome.  I should go to the orchard.  Do you want to come along?” I asked.  “I’ll have to take the stairs, but I’ll be down in a moment.”

“Don’t worry,” Rhymer assured me.  “I’m in no hurry.”

Peaches Pond nitish-kadam-43351

Unsplash.com

The cottage belonging to Peaches Dragonfly was in the middle of a beautiful orchard of fruit trees and other delicious things.  No matter what the time of year, smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage, because Peaches was nearly always baking something.

When Rhymer and I reached the cottage, we looked from the vine-covered roof, dotted with colorful berries, to the chimneys.  Peaches was still cooking treats in preparation for her Midsummer party.  She started baking well in advance of the holiday, but considering how much she planned to cook, she had to start early.  Our mouths watered as we breathed in the aromas.

I heard Peaches giggle.  Her head of fluffy pink hair bobbed into and out of view from the other side of the low stone wall that surrounded the cottage.  She was outside, apparently playing with something that she had to bend down to reach.  I heard a yip and knew it was the strange gray colored dog she found at the pond.  She had called him Pucker because a suckerfish was attached to his face when we found him.

The little dog was gray from his twisty tail to his squished black face.  Even his tongue was gray.

Rhymer called out, “Peaches!  We brought your bluebird.  I think his eyes were blurred.  I found him before he reached Bedlam.  So, we both came, in case you were in a jam.”

“Hi Rhymer.  Bedlam, I’m sorry I sent for you.  I didn’t know you were supposed to stay in bed until Lavender Cozy told me a moment ago,” Peaches apologized.  “Come inside.  You can try my new recipe!  It’s for sun and moon tea Isn’t that perfect for my Midsummer party?  I’ve been gathering chamomile flowers, red clover, and mint.  I’ll sweeten it with Pick’s agave nectar.”

Peaches was always enthusiastic when she thought of a new food or drink creation.  The tea sounded refreshing and delicious.  A different thought occurred to me.

“Erm… Did Pick leave you some of the grownup kind of agave?” I asked.

“Yes, for the solstice party,” she answered.  “But we aren’t to have any of it.”

Mountain_Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird, Fort Rock, Oregon

“That’s not why I asked.  But I think your bluebird may have had a nip,” I commented and pointed to the little bird that still clung to Rhymer’s multicolored tresses.  “She’s too tipsy to fly right.”

“Oh!” Peaches exclaimed with wide eyes as she fluttered up so Rhymer could hand her the bird across the wall.  “You silly thing,” she told it.  “I was experimenting with making some ice pops with the potent kind.  I splashed some onto the windowsill.  I remember seeing her investigating it.  She must have drunk some!”

“Luckily Pick had left an agave plant here for the healer.  Lavender stopped on her morning rounds to pick it up, so I asked her to take a look at Pucker.”

Rhymer seemed confused when she started to speak, “Look at pucker?  Your mouth couldn’t… pucker?”

Remembering that I couldn’t use my wings, even for a bounce, Peaches invited us to come in at the gate.  Two brick columns were topped by arched white latticework.  Flowers of every color climbed the columns and wove across the arch.

As we walked, from her side of the wall, Peaches told Rhymer about the day we found the dog.  We came to the gate and I heard another yip.  When Rhymer and I set foot inside the blossom filled garden Pucker barreled into me, knocking me onto my bottom.  It was so sudden that all I saw was his squished black face and the pink tongue that licked my face.

“Hey!  His tongue is pink, not gray!”

“Yes, that started yesterday,” Peaches began.  “his tongue turned pink.  It was so different form the gray that it scared me.  Then his gray fur…  That’s why I wanted Lavender Cozy to look at him.”

“If he’s gray that’s all in your head.  That dog is red,” Rhymer tried to insert when pucker jumped over to her.

“He’s not gray!” I exclaimed finally seeing more than Pucker’s face.

The dog’s curly tail wagged as he bounced around at Rhymer’s feet.  As his tail moved, Pucker’s fur changed from red to a sky color.

Pug Yello

“A dog that changes hue!” Rhymer enthused.  “How wonderful ― now he’s blue.”

Indeed, Pucker was suddenly blue, and then yellow, and then green.  Though his face stayed black, the rest of his fur continued to change color as his tail kept wiggling.

“That is what I was so worried about, when I sent the bluebird to you,” Peaches replied.  “But the healer said he was fine.  Lavender said it might be from a change in his environment.”

Peaches and I exchanged a significant look.  I was sure she was remembering the thicket that had developed at the pond, the shadows, the brown suckerfish, and the eerie feeling of the place.  It reminded both of us of the colorless world of my vision. 

Had the little, formerly gray dog come from that other world?

***

The End

New mystery folk revealed this time are Belle Stargazer — Marjorie Mallon and Rhymer Rainbow — Christy Birmingham.  I hope you’ll visit all their blogs and say hello.

Toasting you with a refreshing cup of tea.  Hugs on the wing!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. 

Copyright © 2017 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 3

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Update: The time limit for the lightning contest has now expired. I’ll announce the winners when I post Episode 4. Hugs!

Welcome back one and all!

Writing Process

I really do intend to promote everyone who named a character for this serial.  Yes, that’s a lot of characters… but I will try to do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the story.  I hope to avoid reader-overwhelm and character chaos as much as I can.  

In fact, I’m adding a page with very brief information about each character.  I’m not happy with the page, but you might find it minutely helpful, so I’ll go ahead and post it.  I hope to update the page and improve on it.  However, I gave it too much writing-time this weekend. Apparently the free version of WordPress I use isn’t compatible with table apps…  but here goes nothing.

I’m not delaying the disclosure of Bedlam’s story-opening, big, trouble-causing vision as part of a strategy.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants (too bad I don’t have wings, huh?), and the story just hasn’t worked around that way, despite my initial intentions.

About This Episode

This time we see a snapshot of that other, darker faery-verse.  Bedlam’s visions seem to become more real to her as they progress.  

If you’re playing catch-up, click here for the first episode.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Boy field smoke-ball aziz-acharki-290990

Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

Another Vision

The ringing in my ears overwhelmed everything else.  I could hardly breathe.  The room swayed.  The people I respected most in all of Thistledown were gathered in the kitchen of Peaches Dragonfly.

I was shocked by their unexpected presence.  I was awed and horribly embarrassed.  Then foolishly, I let my wing get caught on something — a child’s mistake.  So I was also in both physical and emotional pain.  Embarrassed was a far from adequate description.  I was mortified.  I jumped to my feet quick as lightning.

When I got up so fast, the kitchen seemed to tilt.  Large black spots danced before my eyes.  The ringing in my ears became a roar.  Abruptly everything stopped.

Everything was gone.  Light.  Sound.  Pain.  But not fear.  I strained my eyes to see in the sudden advent of a dank gray world.  In my mind I squirmed.  This colorless place was familiar.  The awful vision that brought about my situation — was I having it again?  I was sure it was the same place.  However, this felt even more real than my vision.

A shaky breath crept into my lungs.  I blinked trying to clear my eyes.  The blurring left my sight, but the world around me was still murky.  Tan would have been a bright color in that place.

Abbey,_Edwin_Austin_Fairies

Edwin Austin Abbey, Fairies, circa 1900

Someone was talking to me.  I knew that voice well, although it had a different edge.  I swayed as I turned toward the voice.

Dah-le!  So you made it back, did you?”

My vision was blurry, but I saw black clothes relieved only by a scarf and boots in bright purple.  My eyes found the hazy face of River Mindshadow.  However, something was not right.  I blinked hard and looked at her again.

“What?  You’re not River!” I exclaimed, feeling more alert.

“Hahaha!” she barked a guffaw that was unlike the lilting laughter of River Mindshadow.  “Who?  It’s me, Rotten!  It’ll hurt my feelings if you forgot me so fast.  So, did you come back to tell me more of your saccharine dreams?  I admit they were entertaining.”

“I remember.  You’re called Rotten Soulfire.  You were in my vision,” I recalled, and she gave another harsh laugh.  “You’re like my friend River Mindshadow — but, but not.  You aren’t exactly opposites though…  It’s as though one of you is from sunlight and the other is from shadow,” I said without thinking, and then I worried that she, Rotten, would be offended.

“Does everyone in your dream have a counterpart in reality?  Oh, you look confused.  Should I say in my reality?” Rotten asked in a playful voice, but there was a wicked gleam in her eyes.  “I wonder if we could get the two together.  That sounds like a ton of fun!  I mean, can you imagine the looks on all their faces?  The self-important snots here and the goody two shoes you told me about?”

Rotten leaned closer and looked at me curiously before continuing, “I’ve been looking around since the other time I saw you, Bedlam Thunder.  Far as I can tell, you don’t exist,” she commented in a pointed tone that was speculative but somewhat suspicious.  “So maybe you really are from some goody-goody faery-verse.  But maybe you really belong here instead of in your home.  I mean a moniker like Bedlam Thunder?  That’s not a sweetness and light name like the ones you’ve mentioned.  It seems like you should have been called something sugary like Fleur Rainbow!” she said and collapsed in a gale of laughter.

Her brows knitted and she added, “You don’t look so good.  Hold on, what’s that on you back?  Holy moma!  Wings?” she asked, still laughing.  “You been to a cos party?”

Then Rotten’s face transformed in an expression of confusion and concern.  She hesitantly pushed away the flap at the back of my dress that allowed for wings to unfold.  It was a typical fashion among the faeries of Thistledown.  Faery clothes were often backless, to allow for wings.  However folks in Thistledown were quite modest so flaps or even caplets were attached to cover the back.  Plus flight was mostly a means of traveling.  We didn’t go zooming around willy-nilly instead of simply walking.

1 Butterfly wing

“There’s a little blood here,” Rotten commented, still sounding puzzled.”

Then she touched the joint where my wings depended from my back.  Rotten quickly drew back her hand and gasped.  She looked at me with bulging eyes.

Holy moma—  Oh sweet—  Holy—  They’re real?  They’re real!  Oh my God!”

My grand-uncle once told a story of a place where faeries had no wings.  I thought it was just meant to frighten us.  Could it be that this girl had no wings?  That was hard to imagine.  However, her shirt was tailored to her body.  It couldn’t have been comfortable.  It would have been too confining across the shoulder and wing area.  Were wings something strange and alien to her?

I looked at Rotten in consternation.  I didn’t know what to say.  Finally I told her I had caught my wing and made a small tear.

Ouchers!  That couldn’t have been fun,” she commented, regaining her composure but still sounding tentative.  “Tell ya what.  You ran off pretty quick last time.  Why don’t you stick around?  Come and meet some friends.  We’ll see what trouble we can get into,” she offered to my surprise.

I would have been amazed by what had to be a quick recovery, if indeed Rotten was from a place where folk didn’t have wings.  However, she was clearly unsettled.  I believed she was trying to hide her uncertainty.

“Hey!  Rotten!” came a new voice.  “Oh, there you are.  Dah-le!  Who’s this?” she asked.

As the owner of the voice came into my field of vision, I realized she wasn’t alone.  Another girl, also about my age was with her.  Her long hair was dark, but I noticed several rainbow colored strands discretely tucked behind her ears.

“Come on with me Sat, don’t be shy.  Wow!  You two been having a smack down?  She looks a little rumpled.  Wait a minute.  That looks like a wing,” commented the newcomer, abruptly perplexed.

I noticed that her clothes were mostly dark, similar to Rotten’s apparel.  Her hair was as black as her leather jacket.  I wondered if the dullness of this place influenced everything about the people, even the clothes they wore.  She did, however, have a bright pink top under the jacket.

“Hey Desert.  Love the shirt!  That must have gotten you a shocked look or two.  I’ll bet that’s Satellite with you,” Rotten greeted the girls, and the one with rainbow streaks gave a mischievous grin in return.

“Great timing,” Rotten added with a nod to me.  “This one is called Bedlam Thunder.  You should hear some of the stuff she babbles when she’s knackered.  I ran into her once before,” Rotten told the girl as she poked my side with her elbow.  “Bedlam Thunder, meet Desert Firesong and Satellite Frostbite.” 

Dah-le, Desert.  You didn’t tell me you had polite friends.  I’m not sure that’s socially acceptable,” Satellite joked.

“Woah!  What’s up Bedlam?” Rotten Soulfire cried.  “You having a seizure or something?  Bedlam?  Bedlam!

***

I sneezed so hard it felt like my head would come off.  The voice of Rotten Soulfire still echoed in my mind.  I sneezed again.  And again.  My nose, mouth, and even my ears felt like they were on fire.  I sat up on my elbows, but I think my sneezes had brought me upright.

“Lie back down.  You just got up too fast.  You don’t want to faint again do you?” I heard Peaches Dragonfly tell me in a voice that seemed far away.

Everyone thought I had simply stood up to fast.  Didn’t they know that I had been somewhere else?

Maybe my body hadn’t left, I thought.  My grand-uncle had told me about that kind of vision.  The mind went to one place while the body stayed in another.  The passage of time in the two planes could differ.  Was that what happened?

“Thank goodness you got here when you did!  I’m glad Field found you,” a voice said to someone else.

My face was squeezed up for another sneeze, but I forced one eye open.  The speaker was Ember Beamwitch.  The present rushed back into my awareness.  My eyes followed Ember’s gaze.

A woman in a red dress smiled brightly.  I recognized the lamp maker, Pepper Stargazer.  Some of the peppers she grew were so hot they (with a touch of fae encouragement) could burst into flame.  She parlayed that talent into making lamps.

“Morning-fire peppers work better than smelling salts,” Pepper replied.  “Are you alright, Bedlam?  Oh by the way, Peaches, I brought the party lanterns.  Anybody want to help me string them up?  Just let me know where you want the lights,” she added.

Pepper Stargazer led the cousins Peaches and Pick Dragonfly, and Ember out to where she had presumably parked her wagon.  I knew it would be filled with pepper fueled lanterns and other party lights for the solstice celebration Peaches would soon host.  Catseye Glimmer held the door for the others, and then gave us a wave before he followed.  I noticed he was much taller than the others.  Catseye was the only person I knew who didn’t have to crane his neck to look up at the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.

Oh, the furry faery had been in the room, I thought. I didn’t see him leave the kitchen with the others.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him since I recovered from my faint.  I mentioned it to Calico Rainbowforest.

“How anyone so large can move so fast is beyond me,” Calico muttered.  “He zipped out of here the instant you hit the ground.  I’m sure he went to meet Pepper Stargazer on her way here, and asked her to come as fast as she could with her swoon-remedy.  He’d be outside with the others.  I doubt he could resist tinkering with the lanterns.”

I nodded mutely.  Then I started sneezing again.  I should probably have thanked Pepper, but I couldn’t stop sneezing long enough.  I thought I was alone, so I groaned about adding inflamed sinuses to my sore wing and bruised pride.

“Maybe those ‘morning fire peppers’ work a little too well,” Calico commented with a wink.

A sneeze that had been painfully slow to come out finally exploded from my mouth.

I found myself telling Calico about the vision that had just overtaken me, despite my fear that my vision would be made public.  She promised not to write about it in the Thistledown Trumpet unless I was ready.

L0059071 Turn pin spectacles, steel wire, eye preservers, double fold

Turn_pin_spectacles, circa 1800

When I finished describing what I had just seen, she took a deep breath and pushed her spectacles back on her nose.  Though I had only told her about the most recent vision, it was outrageous enough.  I didn’t go into the bigger, truly frightening one.

Calico got up and moved to the big sideboard.  She picked up a cut crystal bottle containing a sparkly amber colored cordial and two glasses.

“Here, Bedlam.  This will do you good under the circumstances,” she murmured handing me a glass of the cordial.  “It sounds like maybe you’re ready to tell the full story, but let’s wait until everyone is together.  There’s no point wasting your strength to tell it twice.  I realize it’s traumatic for you to even think about discussing it,” Calico said knowingly.

Calico was right.  I did feel better after drinking the cordial.  The magic Peaches Dragonfly had with baking seemed to work in everything she made.  We went outside to watch as the lights were hung.

Glitter Shimmerling arrived in a small carriage powered by a score of chipmunks happily running in their exercise wheels.  To the delight of all, she brought a rose covered chocolate cake and offered everyone a slice. 

She let the chipmunks out to cavort with Stellar the cat.  Stellar chased the chipmunks then playfully turned and they chased her.

From the moment the vision overtook me, the one that started all the trouble, I had feared it was prophetic.  I couldn’t be certain, but the one I had just seen with Rotten Soulfire and her friends was the same place.  However, it seemed more real, more current.  I shuddered thinking that such a place could be real, that perhaps my home could become such a place.

Even though I felt uneasy with them, Rotten, Desert, and Satellite didn’t seem “bad.”  However, their home surely was a dark place.  Could there be a place where kindness was seen as stupidity and civility was viewed with contempt?  Would that negativity seep into all the people?

Although I didn’t remember it, Rotten Soulfire told me I had described my world as “sugary.” Wherever her world was, nearly everything I saw was dark, dull, or black.  I wondered what Rotten would make of Glitter’s chipmunk powered carriage or her naturally shimmering lavender hair.

End Episode 3

***

Hypothetically, I’d like to imagine this serial as a TV show.  The mystery folk (the people who named characters) would be actors playing roles in the show.  The new mystery folk who were revealed in this episode:

  • Kathryn of Another Foodie Blogger and Austin Street Tacos
  • Robbie Cheadle of Robbie’s Inspiration
  • Olga Núñez Miret (but this time the dark faery-verse or “scary faery”)
  • Adele Marie Park (a scary faery) of Firefly 465
  • Vashti Quiroz-Vega (another scary faery) of The Writer Next Door

Be sure to come back next time for another episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.  It’s only here at Teagan’s Books.  Mega hugs!

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © July 2, 2017 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 2

Welcome back to Thistledown, everyone!  If you are joining this serial for the first time, or if you need to refresh your memory click here for the premier episode.  I also have a category button on the right side-bar of the screen for “Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam.”  However, these days I can’t make promises about WordPress behaving as it should. (For several days I found myself unable to comment on any blogs — including my own! WP just told me to email somebody else… Finally and laboriously got it fixed myself.)

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Writing Process

As a writer, I tend to reject rules. (Often things are presented as rules, but feel more like “formulas” than anything else.  I don’t care for formulas either.)  Although, when writing in a genre, (to a degree) I do try to follow some general expectations, for the comfort and understanding of readers.  

So before anyone asks…  When writing fantasy, I’m fond of using archaic forms of words.  Hence my spelling of “faery.”  I followed the lead of Brian Froud.  Many people see him as an expert on fairies/faeries/fae.  If you want to know more about the topic, click here or here.  

I had expected to reveal Bedlam’s vision in this episode.  However, I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  It didn’t work out that way.  That’s all part of pantsering.

About the Episode

The mystery folk from the first episode return for this one.  However, several new characters are introduced.  Be sure to click the links (like this) to reveal the mystery folk behind the character names.

This time we get an idea of what sort of gifts, talents, and magic the faeries of Thistledown might have in their daily lives.

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trumpet Vine, by Manu via Wikimedia Commons free media repository

In the Kitchen

Smoke curled from the twin chimneys of the cottage where  Peaches Dragonfly lived.  I could see it a short distance away.  The warm breeze brought the aroma of tarts Peaches had cooking in the oven.  Even though my mouth watered, I couldn’t get my feet to move.

“Come on!” Peaches encouraged.  “Bedlam Thunder what’s wrong?” she asked, letting go of my arm and giving me a concerned look.

My eyes had found the bright yellow flowers of the trumpet vine.  A horrible idea sprang to my mind when I saw the blossoms.  The vine bore the local news.  I touched a petal, fearing it would shout my name.

Extra!  Extra!  Get the Thistledown Trumpet here!” the flower cried.  “Get the time and place of all the best Midsummer parties!  Take a leaflet,” the blossom added encouragingly.

“Oh good,” murmured Peaches as she reached to pluck a curled leaf.  Unrolling the leaf she read the list of parties before commenting, “Good, they got my information right.  They mentioned that Pick is visiting.  They even included that Holly Songbird will be singing!  I had to ask them to update the announcement for that.  I didn’t think I had given them the information in time.  Perfect!”

I was relieved at not hearing my own name or anything about my awful vision.  However, I still couldn’t manage to raise my eyes to look higher than the ground, or lift my feet to follow Peaches.

Crystal Ball Hand_yeshi-kangrang-258234

Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

“People are saying that the things in the vision I had will happen because of me — as if I’m going to make them happen.  That it’s my fault.  Or they just make fun of me.  I haven’t been around much of anybody since River Mindshadow and I were suspended.  That was so humiliating…  I just haven’t wanted to deal with seeing anyone,” I explained, eyes still firmly fixed on my feet.  “And I just can’t face River.  It’s all my fault that she got suspended with me.  I should have done something to stop it.”

It was hard to hold back tears.  I was overwrought, I had been for days.  Stellar the cat twined around my ankles consolingly.  However, it took all my concentration to keep my composure, so I didn’t pet her.  I sniffled and swallowed and sniffled some more before I could finally hold up my head.

Both Peaches and River stood watching me impatiently, fists planted firmly on hips.  I was startled because I hadn’t even heard River come up to us.  Peaches was tapping a foot.  River’s wings were unfurled, so I knew she was about to leave.

“Bedlam, I’ve been given a curfew, a truly unreasonable one too.  So I can’t stay, but I want you to know that none of this is your fault!” River told me in a firm voice.  “Especially me getting suspended, or this curfew.  If you say that again, I’ll be insulted.  My analysis of your vision was mine to state.  I made my own choices.  You didn’t make them for me.”

I drew back.  River’s reaction was not what I expected.  I started babbling an apology, but she cut me off with a smile and a wave of her hand.  Then she nudged me with her elbow.

“It’s alright.  Go on inside and get a slice of tart.  Pick Dragonfly already had two slices,” River said in a kinder voice before she zipped into the sky.

“Ha!  My cousin has been accused of having hollow legs, a slim guy who is always hungry,” Peaches commented fondly as she waved to River.  “He’s actually a good cook.  That more than makes up for it.”

Bird Cherries tree vincent-van-zalinge-38365

 Vincent Van Zalinge, Unsplash

Peaches drew me toward her cottage.  Blackberry vines covered the roof.  It was dotted with berries in various degrees of ripeness, white, red, purple, and black.  The kitchen windowsill was lined with bread and pies set there to cool.  The aroma of desserts in the oven was irresistible.  The pink haired faery did not spare the ovens for her solstice celebrations.

As we neared her home, we had to stop for something most people would find unusual.  A long line of red cherries rolled from the other side of the orchard.  The cherries tumbled along, in single file across our path and through the open front door of her cottage.

Peaches shook her head and made a wry face.  That was how her cousin Pick took care of the cherry picking chore when he visited.  It was part of Pick’s gift, convincing the cherries to leave the tree and come to him.

“If I find a single bruise on those cherries…” Peaches muttered.

Different faeries had different talents or magical abilities, and to varying degrees.  The school was meant to help us, from an early age, to develop our apparent talents, and to uncover hidden gifts.  Some faeries had hardly any magic at all.  Like me.  I didn’t see my visions as any sort of talent, and they certainly weren’t magic.

I had hoped that going to the school would cause me to manifest a better talent.  However, before my freshman term of senior level was finished, my visions got me suspended.  I sighed without meaning to make a sound.  Peaches gave me a sympathetic look before we went inside her home.

Her cottage had a huge kitchen — the largest room in the house.  The way Peaches baked, that was a necessity.

Across the room, the first thing I saw was a uniquely lovely flower arrangement.  It contained the most unexpected combination of things, with all manner of wildflowers, and even stems of cotton bowls.

Cotton plant painting 1901

Cotton plant circa 1901, Wikimedia

However, I stumbled to a halt the moment I stepped through the doorway.  The cherries continued to roll until they went into a basket beside the sink.  Pick Dragonfly carried not just one, but three plates to the sink.  Yet none of those things were what caused me to stop in my tracks.

I faced the long kitchen table, mouth agape.  All of the people I admired most in Thistledown were gathered in my friend’s kitchen.  They weren’t the official council, but they were highly respected people.

The fae at the other end of the table sat head and shoulders above the rest.  He was known far and wide as the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.  The huge table looked ordinary next to him.  I knew the large top hat on the coat rack had to belong to Field.  Wire rimmed spectacles with rose colored lenses sat on his nose.  The red jacket he wore was perfectly tailored for his large frame.  I supposed that if your size and hair automatically drew attention to you, then you would want to be well dressed.

Ember Beamwitch sat at Field’s left.  The flowers in her hair bobbled when she looked up at us.  The fiery colored print of her dress had a soft radiance even in the daylight.  After dark it would give a fanciful glow.  A voluminous sleeve swayed gracefully when she raised her hand to wave at me.  Ember would judge the dance competition that Peaches planned to include in her Midsummer celebration.

One of the spectacles of the Midsummer gathering would be worked by Catseye Glimmer.  From practically nothing, Catseye could create fun and useful things.  I suspected that he would somehow make the dance floor, and that his creation of it would kick-off the party.

At seeing these enormously respected fae, I was a nervous wreck, on top of being an emotional basket case.  My eyes were wide with shock.  I stood speechless even when someone bade me sit down at the table.  That’s when I had one more shock than I could handle.  I dazedly realized the person offering me a seat was Calico Rainbowforest.  She ran the Thistledown Trumpet News!

Oh no, I thought.  This is horrible.  What if she puts my vision in the news?  She’ll probably agree with everyone else.  What if she blames every bad thing on me, like some people are doing?

“Oh dear.  You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Calico spoke in a kind voice.  “Poor Bedlam, I know what you’ve been through.  Did you know that the Readings Master suspended me once too?”

That admission got my surprised attention.  I couldn’t imagine Calico Rainbowforest getting into trouble at school, but she grinned and nodded.

“It wasn’t that long ago, you know.  I believe you and I are more alike than you’d expect.  That man just seemed to take an instant dislike to me.  Anyway… I would very much like to hear the story in your own words,” she requested and paused as if waiting for my answer.  When I didn’t speak she continued, “Whenever you’re feeling ready to talk about it.  I’d just listen, mind you, nothing more.  Then if everyone here agreed that it was safe to share with Thistledown, only if you approved would I put it in the Trumpet.

At that moment I knew Calico was saying something, because I could see her mouth moving.  However, I was already intimidated by the individuals who sat around Peaches’ table.  Plus I was downright paranoid about the Trumpet.  I was slow to absorb Calico’s words.  It seemed like I heard her voice from far away.

Fairy_Islands_1916_by_Ida_Rentoul_Outhwaite

Fairy Islands, 1916, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Wikimedia

Faeries have a fight or flight reflex — quite literally.  Mine abruptly kicked-in, and my wings unfolded before I knew what was happening.  My wayward wings knocked a honeydew melon off a sideboard.  The honeydew hit the floor in an explosive crash of seeds, juice, and melon flesh.  It splattered half the people at the table.

I jumped backward in my agitation.  One of my wings caught painfully on the doorjamb.  I gasped and turned, not understanding what was causing the pain.  My wing started to tear as I moved.

In the recesses of my mind I heard more than one person scream “No!”  They could see what I was too distressed to understand — that I was about to do serious harm to myself if I moved.

I was vaguely aware of seeing Catseye Glimmer stand.  He turned to the unique flower arrangement behind his seat.  Quickly he picked a stem with several cotton bowls.  He whispered to the plant and flexed his fingers in an impossible looking motion.  Then he threw it toward me.

The stem sailed past, an inch from touching me.  It transformed to a soft cushion the size of the doorway, gently preventing me from moving or doing serious damage to my wing.

“Goodness, she looks like she’ll swoon!” Ember Beamwitch exclaimed.  “Here Bedlam, sit down.”

As if he had the same thought as Ember, Pick Dragonfly handed me a glass of chilled water.

Ember put the first two fingers of her right hand to the “third eye” area of my forehead.  A soft glow emanated from her hand.  After a second I felt a wonderful cool sensation and I no longer felt faint.

I was suddenly aware of Field Yewwasp bending over me.  Everyone else had been between the furry faery and me.  How could someone so large move so fast that I didn’t even see him?  As I looked at him in confusion, he asked if I was all right.

“You’d best stay earthbound, rather than fly, until that heals,” Field advised.

The big pain in my wing seemed disproportionate to what was actually a small tear.  Calico unexpectedly drew a tiny jar of ointment from her pocket.  She gave me a sardonic smile.

“Bedlam, my flight skills aren’t any better than yours.  I’ve learned to keep first aid with me,” Calico confessed.  “May I?” she asked indicating the ointment.

I nodded, still mute.  The ointment did lessen the pain.  I drank from the water Pick gave me.  Wide-eyed, I gazed in amazement at the kindness of the people around me.  However, a most unpleasant sensation reverberated through my head.  I shook my head to clear the ringing, but it wouldn’t stop.

Fairfacefairy_2

Wikimedia

***

I hope you clicked the links to reveal the mystery folk. Additions to the cast for this episode include characters named by Hollyberye, Colleen Chesebro, Chris Graham, Mary J. Mccoy-Dressel, and Tim Price.

Fly back to Teagan’s Books next time to reveal new mystery folk and see what happens in episode three. 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 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 provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

Thistledown – Midsummer Bedlam 1

Midnight moon farie

Welcome everyone, to the beginning of an all new serial here at Teagan’s Books!   This one is not a “three things” story, but it is still a pantser tale.  I’m flying by the seat of my pants again!  As I’ve done with other serials, I will promote bloggers each week.

Many of you will know that last weekend I issued a call for characters (for bloggers who wanted to be associated to a character), here and at Facebook.  Well, let me state a big disclaimer about that part.  The characters do not represent the person for which they are named. That is only a means of promoting the person.

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Each week, you will see brightly colored faery names (like this) which will be links.  Click on the link to reveal a mystery blogger.  

Here’s a little extra to get this premier rolling:

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, I present to you the opening episode…

Thistledown Girl

Alex Iby, Unsplash

Thistledown

Midsummer Bedlam

Beginning

Fragrances whispered to me of the past as they wafted on the twilight breeze.  Above, clouds from a distant storm moved aside, no longer obscuring my view of the stars. 

Moonstones mirrored in the reflection pool. I gazed at the images reproduced in endless repetition.  It was the memory of a long ago Midsummer.  Could such a time happen again?  I shuddered.

A faraway rumble came to my ears, reminiscent of my name.  Bedlam Thunder How, could anyone have expected me to fit in with such a name?  However, my grand-uncle had a vision and insisted that I bear a name of chaos among a race of people who were known for being goody two shoes.  My grand-uncle was a seer, so even his whims carried weight.

He insisted that I had the sight.  Some of the oldsters agreed with him, though they shook their heads and tut-tutted at the mention of my name.  They weren’t wrong, but I wasn’t the same kind of seer as my grand-uncle.  I could see around the odd corner or three, but I never saw anything good.  I never saw the healthy birth of a babe or who someone would marry.  I didn’t see anything anyone wanted to know.  Instead I saw things the existence of which my people denied.  Paranormal things — impossible places, creatures, and events.

However, in my younger days I had yet to fully realize those gifts.  When visions randomly bubbled to the surface, so to speak, they were more curse than gift.

My eyes shifted again to the reflection pool.  The vision remained.  Heaving a sigh, I sat down beside the pool to watch the mirror image of the stars gliding into place for the summer solstice.  It seemed that I must endure the replication of the past.  Perhaps I would find some enlightenment in it.  I allowed the reflection to flow into my consciousness, and my mind to merge with the vision.

Crystal Ball Hand_yeshi-kangrang-258234

Yeshi Kangrang, Unsplash

***

Morning’s blush still pinked the sky, but the fae of Thistledown were early risers.  The Opal siblings hurried past me, calling cheerful taunts at one another about who would get into the most trouble for being late for school.  I didn’t think their grand-aunt Willowtree would be too upset with them.

Folk of my age were on their way to school, beginners, intermediates, and seniors alike.  Except for me that is.  A week before the end of first term my friend, River and I had both gotten thrown out of freshman studies.

River Mindshadow was a free thinker.  That wasn’t something the schoolmasters appreciated.  The fact that she had no compunction whatsoever about sharing her thoughts and questions was the bane of their existence.

Me?  My visions were beyond the reckoning of the masters, or anyone else for that matter.  I had stopped presenting them in class, pretending that I’d had none.  Then came the day the Readings Master knew full well I’d had a vision and he demanded that I share it for the class to interpret.

The vision had been particularly chaotic and disturbing.  Knowing the contemptuous reaction it would receive from my classmates and the master, my face heated.  I begged to be excused, but the Readings Master would have none of it.  So I described my frenzied revelation as well as I could.  The class erupted in disorder, but the master brought everyone back to point.

River chose that moment to voice her thoughts.  The Readings Master interrupted her.

“Miss Mindshadow,” he began but turned to include me in his warning,  “and Miss Thunder, I’ve had more than enough of either of you.  Think twice about challenging common sense in my classroom!”

At his words, I tried to shush River.  She rolled her eyes at me and relentlessly continued.  River’s analysis of my vision was creative yet logical.  Of course the “creative” part was not well received by the master.  The sniggering from the other students brought the classroom to the edge of disruption.  

We might have come out of it unscathed if she had stopped there.  However, River closed her interpretation with a dire warning of what the vision represented.  Her reading resonated with me, and I vehemently defended my friend’s analysis.  Everyone else objected.  Then, suitably for my name, bedlam thundered in the classroom.

The Readings Master practically dragged River and me to the Headmaster’s office. 

“The loyalty of friendship is a beautiful thing, but…” the Headmaster said before I interrupted her.

We were in her office for all of five minutes before we both were suspended for the rest of the term.  River unfurled her wings and zipped away in righteous indignation.

River did will in flight class.  I was not so proficient.  My wings remained smoothly tucked away.  (Wings of the faeries of Thistledown were not apparent until needed.  It was a matter of convenience that became custom.  Imagine the amount of space that would be taken up by roomful of faeries in full winged glory.)  I was better off on the ground, so I contented myself by leaving at a slower, dignified pace.

Hand Rock BW_brina-blum-112497

Brina Blum, Unsplash

I stumbled over a rock.  That brought my young thoughts back to the moment.  It seemed I wasn’t much more graceful on the ground than in the air. 

A group of children laughed at me.  The adults minding them whispered to one another and smirked.  Word of my suspension from school got around almost as fast as the tales told about my chaotic vision.

“You’re a fine one to laugh, Sprite.  You fell out of your own bed last night,” a woman told him.

The boy glared at me, but looked suddenly inspired.

“It was because of her!” he accused, pointing at me.  “She sees bad things.  She must make them happen too!”

The woman made an exasperated sound at Sprite, and made an admonitory face him.  However, she turned a speculative look at me just the same.  It was not the first time I had seen that kind of expression on a faery face since my suspension.

Part of me knew it would only make them laugh harder, but in a fit of youthful emotion, I unfurled my wings and jumped into fumbling flight.  It wasn’t the first time I had been blamed for things that went wrong, things beyond my control.  However, I had the feeling this time it was going to get a lot worse.

I had no idea where I meant to go.  Even if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to see the way through my tears.  After a while, I managed to get myself tangled in the branches of an exceptionally large plumb tree.  A surprised cat, lounging on the next branch, meowed at me. 

Stellar?” I asked the meowing feline.

Even if I had not recognized the cat and the unusually big plumb tree, the delicious aromas of baking would have let me know where I was.  It was the orchard that belonged to Peaches Dragonfly.

“Bedlam?” I heard the astonished voice of the baker, just before I tumbled to the ground.

As Peaches pulled me to my feet, I noticed the ground was littered with plumbs.

“What’s all this?” I asked even though I was afraid to hear the answer.

She pushed her lovely fluffy pink hair away from her forehead, and looked wryly at the plumbs.

“Rotten,” she said, shaking her head.  “This season half the fruit is rotting as it grows.”

“Oh Peaches, I’m so sorry!” I apologized, as my tears flowed again.

Peaches started out in the same class as River and me.  However, Peaches proved to be a prodigy in persuading fruit trees to produce.  What she did in preparing the fruit was pure magic, even when no magic was involved.  She graduated three full terms early.

“What?  Oh, I see.  You’ve been listening to the wrong people, my friend.  River told me all about your vision, and her reading of it.  I’m in complete agreement,” Peaches said to my great relief.  “I have some free-thinking friends coming to lend a hand with my solstice preparations.  They will want to talk to you, hear what you have to say first hand.”

I gave Peaches a wide-eyed, doubtful look and murmured that I wasn’t so sure that was a good idea.

“All of Thistledown is already talking about your vision.  It gets more twisted with every telling.  So don’t you think you should discuss it with a few people who are willing to listen?  Tell it the way you saw it?  Now, come with me.  You need pie,” she told me.  “Come on, my cousin Pick is back.  River is here too.”

Pick Dragonfly was the only person I knew who had traveled beyond Thistledown.  He was almost a legend locally.

“Oh!  I should have known Pick was back when I saw Stellar in the tree,” I commented, feeling a touch better about the situation already. 

Cat silhouette Tree_saso-tusar-130051

Saso Tusar, Unsplash

***

End Episode 1

I hope everyone clicked on the links to reveal this week’s mystery bloggers.  Pay them a visit and leave a comment.  We love comments.  

Thanks to the mystery folk of this episode:

  • Barbara Murray (along with Zen and Zasha)
  • Olga Núñez Miret
  • Suzanne DeBrango
  • John W. Howell

Stay tuned to learn just what kind of disturbing vision Bedlam had.  I hope to see everyone again next week in Thistledown.  Mega hugs,

Teagan 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 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.