Friday, May 17, 2013

Where do these stories come from?

I hesitate to reveal myself as prehistoric, but I am prepared to say that I remember life before personal computers. The computer was some fictional handheld device on Star Trek reruns: cool, but totally sci-fi.
 I grew up in a rural setting, but my family didn’t farm. These days, there is nothing unusual about that, but for the time and place, it was … different. I am the youngest of four and the only girl. Let us just say that a child of today might be stymied by the limited access to electronic entertainment. We received, via a rooftop antenna, precisely four television channels. Nobody had to tell me to go outside and play. Even in the deep snows of a Wisconsin winter, I was outside with only my imagination to keep me company.

My brothers would be off doing their own thing, while I would start walking. We had 90 some acres—half pasture, half cropland—rented out to a neighbor. It didn’t matter how others had harnessed the land; it was my personal playground.
In warmer months, the redwing blackbirds were my friends and the gnats made sure I stayed aware. I knew the location of every rabbit warren and wasp nest, every hole to twist my ankle and stone to stub my toe.  I would lie on my back, chewing on the tender tips of prairie grasses and listen to the world around me. The birds, the bugs, the swaying plants, and the ever-present wind created a transportation device. I was free, alone with my thoughts, and unafraid to dream.

That is what’s missing in many cases. Quiet time, down time, call it what you want, but without it, we all suffer. How can you hear your own voice when it's drowned out by chaos, controlled though it may be? It doesn’t really matter where you are. Try it sometime. Politely decline that invitation, turn off the television, the computer, and your phone. Tell your family you need to run an errand, and hide—maybe in your own yard, or a nearby park. Force yourself to be still. At first,  minute will feel like an hour, but if you persist, an hour will feel like a heartbeat, and then your imagination will be free to go anywhere it pleases.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Everyone has secrets ...

It's here, It's here!

Announcing the release of Blue on the Horizon as a an e-book on A printed version will soon follow, but it you're an e-book lover, surf on over to this link to take a look inside the book. It can be yours for just $1.99 in North America, and similar pricing around the globe.

Click here to find the book, available now in Amazon

Even if you would rather wait for the printed version, go on over to check out the first few pages. I'll post the release date of the printed version in the next few moons.

If you have enjoyed my blog, you are sure to gobble up the book. You will meet dozens of new trolls, and really get to know Leaf, Uredd and all the other personalities who inhabit the village along the river.

Everyone has secrets ...
The first in the Legends of the Aurora series, Blue on the Horizon reveals the truth about trolls. Far from brutish, most trolls are intelligent, humorous, and honorable. But there are others who are have less noble intentions.

Gaven was a happy trollkin—until that night at the learning circle. How could she have known her world was about to change? There would be no lessons, no friends—no acceptance. Instead, she becomes the target of relentless bullies, and that is only the beginning.

Desperate for friendship, she is lured down a dangerous path by someone with an unnatural interest in her survival. Just as she finds her place, her father reveals the truth about her … disfigurement. Disgusted, she resolves to leave, to shelter where hurtful taunts can not find her, but instead, the Fates intervene and she is caught up in a adventure she never wanted.

However, she will not be alone for long. Aided by two unlikely friends she undertakes an incredible journey, one which will reveal the truth.

You’ll laugh— and yes—cry along with Gaven as her story unfolds. Readers of all ages will enjoy this inventive tale all the way through to the stunning conclusion that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about trolls.

More than I could have imagined …

As soon as the sun reached the treetops, I drove to river. My heart was beating wildly, but I couldn’t say why. Oton had implied that the celebration had been delayed so I could attend. What was I to these creatures? I pushed the thought away and started walking. I know the way now. The first few times, I stumbled around in circles until they found me, but I blazed a straight path to Elvsmyr last night. Rounding a mound of shrubs, I was dive bombed by a robin. He screeched and peeked at my head, but I wasn’t there to harm him. A few steps later, I realized why he had become so aggressive. The bright robin egg blue caught my eye as I hurried away. Obviously he had nestlings to guard, and was only doing his best to keep his babies safe, but nothing could have stopped me.
Finally, I walked into Elvsmyr. I had stuffed a backpack with kielbasa and onions simmered in a tangy sauce—just to be certain I had food to eat. One never can tell what might be boiling in the cauldrons of the trolls. I handed the pack to a trollkin and told her to take to the cooks. They just needed to heat it up and it would be ready to share. She scampered away with the pack balanced precariously on her head. Oton, with Leaf at his side, greeted me with open arms. I suddenly lost my nerve, started to worry I would be on the menu, but one smile from Leaf and that dissipated into the night.
“Rebecca, we’ve been waiting for you. I told the others the celebration couldn’t start until you arrived.” Leaf’s long brown hair whipped in the wind.
“But why? I’m just a visitor here; don’t let me stand in the way of tradition.”
“I think you are much more than that and you will too before this night has passed,” she said. “Oton, don’t you have something for Rebecca?”
He dipped his chin to his chest and smiled in that twisty mouthed way of his. “I’ve been working on this for a long time. It’s very special to me, and well, now it’s time to share it with you, my human friend.” He reached behind the erratic boulder and pulled out a large piece of cloth, carefully folded and topped with a blooming apple twig. “I’ve had this cloth for a very long time. It’s helped us in ways you can’t imagine. It has become part of Elvsmyr. We all wear a hunk of it every night, but I wanted you to be covered with wind cloth. It will be my honor if you would wear it when you visit.”
I didn’t know what to say. He handed it to me and I gently unfolded a beautiful hooded cloak of dingy white cloth. It was rough to the touch and felt like canvas, but I couldn’t imagine where he would have gotten such a large piece. I looked around and saw that everyone did indeed wear something from the same bolt of fabric. A scarf here and sash there. Oton’s tunic appeared to be made from it and Leaf wore skirts of heavy white canvas, they were covered in a wild design of swirls and zigzagging lines. I unfolded and cloak and the breath left my lungs. It was embellished with bits of bark and colorful pebbles. Oton must have worked many nights just to drill tiny holes into the colorful details now sewn to the cloak. I swung it around my shoulders and it was a perfect fit. With tears in my eyes, I said, “thank you.”
“I had help, but the cloth was mine. You’re welcome. Now, let’s dance.”
Suddenly the night was filled with sounds of drums, and I followed him to the circle of trolls near the fire. As I moved, the bits of bark and stones, clacked together making me feel like I was part of the drum section. Being tall, I was easily able to see to the center where Pod and a few others were pounding madly on drums made from hollow logs. I was immediately entranced as I felt my heartbeat fall into rhythm. All at once, a tall troll with a whip of tail, bounced to the center, He was covered in woven strands of grass and embellished with blossoms and leaves. He walked to the center of circle then stopped just at the same instant as the drummers finished. All was silent, only the sound of the wind and hoot of an owl could be heard. The next thing I knew, the dancer jumped high in the air, spinning like a top and came down on one toe, spinning like an ice dancer. Just before the momentum died, he flung his arms wide, threw his head back, and howled.
The drummers started up again and more dancers dared the same steps until nearly the entire village was leaping and spinning in unison.
I felt a tug on my jeans and saw Leaf smiling up at me. “Come, I want to speak with you away from the others.” I followed her away from the fire and around a bend in the river. Eventually we stopped and she began to speak. “Rebecca, remove your human shoes. You don’t need them here. The earth longs to feel your touch.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was caught up in the wonder of the troll celebration. I did as she asked, even though it was only a few degrees above freezing and the ground was muddy.
“Now, move you feet shoulder width apart and crack your toes.”
I couldn’t crack my toes on demand, but I wiggled them to honor her request.
“It will have to do. Now, plant your feet firmly against the earth and tell me what you feel.”
I felt mud, oozing between my toes and silly—really silly. But the surprising thing was I wasn’t cold. I expected the mud to be frigid against my toes, but it felt warm and soothing. It was weird. “I feel mud.”
“No, forget you are human. Leave that behind. Close your eyes and let your mind release of all doubts.”
I inhaled deeply and did as she asked. I’ve done some meditating over the years so I had an idea of what she wanted.”
“Tell me, what do you hear?”
I was afraid to say. Since I was a child, I’ve heard a melody when I empty my mind. A melody without words, without beginning, without end—it was here drowning out the wind and the clatter of my pebbled covered cloak.
“You hear her, your smile betrays your human ignorance.”
“I don’t know what you mean. What am I supposed to be hearing?”
“You already know …”
I've been awake ever since. It's hard to explain what I'm feeling right now, but something special happened last night. I've been accepted by them. They trust me, respect me, and maybe even love me ... just a little. All I know for sure is that some of my best friends are trolls, smelly, mole-covered, snot-gushing trolls.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Out walking the dogs ...

Thursday night, as I walked the dogs, Oton had stuck his lumpy head from behind a decorative boulder in someone’s yard. His hair was matted and he was wearing dark glasses. He looked like some bizarre toddler at the kiddie pool.

“Psst, Rebecca, come closer,” he had whispered.

I have to admit I nearly leapt from my skin. It was still light, and people were about, walking their own dogs or tossing softballs in the middle of the quiet streets. “What is it?” I asked walking over. Well, truth be told, I was pulled over by the dogs. My two mutts have grown to love Oton. I don’t know what it is, but they can’t stop licking him from head to toe.

“Will you be coming to the celebration?” He asked, pinned to the ground by sloppy, pink tongues.

“What are you talking about? Tasha, Winston, let him be.” The dogs obeyed but looked sullen.

“We’ve been holding the celebration until you could come. I understand the seven moon schedule that you keep, well maybe not understand, but I can count.”

“Oton, what are you talking about? What celebration?”

“The green has returned. The flowers bloom, even the bugs are back. The time of the sun has returned.”

“You mean spring. Yes, isn’t it wonderful? This winter was too long.”

He looked puzzled, and cocked his head to the side. “But winter is troll time.”

It was my turn to be confused. “So why do you celebrate when it leaves?”

“The larder is empty and the sun brings the crops. Besides, during the season of the sun, the trade routes open and the fun begins.”

“Wait a minute, you mean there are other trolls in the area? Where? Are they like you? Won’t they have a problem with me being there?”

“Always full of questions … There’s only one way to find out. But I know one way you can be certain that they will learn to trust you?”


“Bring donuts, chocolate, with tons of sprinkles.”

He was beaming, but I could clearly recall him telling me that the elders didn’t want him eating human food. I know there was that time during a playoff game that I had a platter of sprinkle covered mini cupcakes, but that was at my house, not Elvsmyr where the elder’s opinion ruled. “Won’t the elders be angry that I bring sprinkles to the village?”

He puffed out his fat cheeks causing deep crinkles to surround his eyes. “Uredd asked me to make sure you brought them. He likes to pretend he doesn’t want human food at the village, but secretly he has been bugging me to bring some back.”

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Trash Talk

No, not that kind of trash talk. I’m talking about the tons of trash that we humans pitch out our car windows.

The weather has been glorious lately; I had to watch the sunset over the river. We have a tiny roadside park that seems custom designed for just this purpose. No sooner had the brilliant, pink orb hit the horizon, than I started to wonder about Oton and the others.  Even though the temperature had dropped as a front crossed the river, I just didn’t want to go home.  I got in my car and drove to my secret parking spot.

To my surprise, Oton and a few of the others were right there, along a human road, with large sacks and pointy sticks. They were a long way from Elvsmyr and I thought they might be hunting. “Hey guys, what’s up?”

They looked at me with downturned lips. “Why? Why do humans leave their garbage strewn about?” Oton looked cross.

“We don’t all do it, but some people don’t take the time to think about it. I guess it all depends on how you are raised.” It was weak and I knew it. Just then, Leaf poked her head out from behind a still brown clump of cattail. She looked sad, and I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible. I never litter. It’s gross and unnecessary, but neither have I joined an organization that “adopted” a stretch of road, and picked up the trash along our roadways.

“There was a time when this didn’t happen. Humans used to respect the earth, and they used everything given to them,” Leaf said.  I mean, what is all this stuff?” She was holding up a pair of gym shorts.

I felt nauseous. How was I going to explain humans tossing their clothes into the marsh? Maybe I could make them understand how a plastic bag unintentionally will roll around in the wind, but shorts! Yuck.

I walked back to the car and grabbed some plastic bags from the trunk. I had stopped at the store on my way home and the items were still inside. It didn’t matter that I would have to make several trips in and out of the house. All that mattered was the trash—tossed out by other humans—had to go.

We worked in silence for a few hours. I had never seen the trolls so quiet. No one was joking, no one was laughing, and more than one tear glistened along a cheek. Finally, Leaf said, “that’s all for tonight, but you know … it will happen again.”

I nodded my head and gathered the trash. Hauling it back to the car, I called over my shoulder, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else I can say.”

Oton patted my leg and said simply, “tell them Rebecca. If they knew, maybe they wouldn’t litter.”