Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Fairies Have Returned

A strange report crossed this reporter’s desk last month. It seems a string of Christmas lights, long past the holiday season, but still wrapped around a porch at a local residence had been vandalized. The owner reported every colorful bulb was shattered, or rather, pulverized to dust. Stranger still, the columns appeared lightly etched with a definite swirling pattern filled with the multi-hued powder. It’s as if a very tall child had scribbled on the ten-foot column from top to bottom. The colorful marks remain after several washings, and a hastily applied coat of pain. The owner is considering his options.

Then a call came from in a resident living on the outskirts of town. The caller, who asked to remain anonymous, reported hearing strange noises coming from her chicken hut, but when she went to investigate, nothing was amiss. She would have considered it nonsense, except her chickens have begun to lay unusual eggs. Each morning she finds oddly hued eggs—blue, yellow, pink, orange—and sometimes all four swirled together when she reports her hens have never laid in any color other than white.

Things began to get truly bizarre when an unsigned letter addressed to this reporter arrived with the following statement:
The Fairies have returned.

The handwriting was small, precise, and elegant in a way no longer taught in schools. In fact, it was apparent the author had training in calligraphy. No indication of the sender was available on the envelope, as the letter had been found propped against the office door on a Tuesday morning. The paper seemed to be of common stock and no DNA was found. Several days passed without incident.

A week later, after rumors had begun to spread, a frantic caller from the southwest side of town reported three local boys had cornered a tiny, flying woman in a shed, but further inquiry confirmed the trio had mistakenly terrorized a moth. Another young man called to insist he had found the hive only to later appear at the Stoughton Hospital with dozens of hornet stings. Please remember, fairies move about only in daylight, and the rumor of a central hive has never been verified.

Now, in an exclusive to the Stoughton Press, this reporter can confirm the following event, as she was a first-hand witness. A large, tubular birdfeeder hangs outside the window of the Stoughton Press office. Over the years, we have raised several broods of house finches, chickadees, nuthatches, and cardinals, but the creature appearing one day at dawn was something from out of a legend.  The sun had just pierced a ragged hole in the heavy cloud cover, and being less than six feet from the feeder, there is little room for doubt. A tiny, winged creature, radiating a bright white light that seemed to crystallize into a rainbow within a few inches sat upon one of the perches. Her hair tumbled past her shoulders in pale blonde waves, and her ice-blue eyes held mine with a vise-like grip. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She raised her arm and brought a slender, pink finger to her lips as she contorted her face into a horrific smile full of tiny, pointed teeth. An instant later, she was gone. Just gone. I stared at that feeder all day, but the creature has never returned.

This reporter has inside knowledge of the destructive nature of fairies. You would do well to remember that these are not the fairies of a beloved Disney classic. I fully expect these creatures to bear a strong resemblance to the foul and fickle beasts of the old country. I urge you to ignore any attempt they may make to reach out, as they are renowned as tricksters. They think only of themselves, except, there was that one time, but that is a story for another day.

While we wait for their next move, residents are asked to be wary of friends, neighbors, and even family members randomly dancing an erratic jig or bursting into song as serious cases of fairy fever have been known to lead to skipping while laughing hysterically. The Stoughton Press asks our readership to report suspicious behavior immediately. Contacting the authorities will likely lead to ridicule as city leaders remain unconvinced of the infestation. It is the opinion of this reporter that Stoughton, is indeed, infested with fairies, but I don’t feel there is cause for alarm. In the coming days, keep watch for tiny, colorful displays, as there are sure to be more. And most importantly, DO NOT disturb toadstools. Trust me on this, and stay vigilant, dear reader. 

Originally published in the spring 2015 edition of the Stoughton Press

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cairn: A Dragon Memoir FREE through

If you've been waiting for a sale, jump on this. The first 30 clicks through ChoosyBookworwill receive a FREE Kindle copy or PDF of Cairn: A Dragon Memoir in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, your Blog, etc. 

Love it or hate it, I need your feedback, now. 


Clicks are already coming in, and the moderator at Choosy Bookworm throttles down the flow at 30 hits.  

While you're there, look around. I've found some great books through this website. 

Almost there. Only a few slots remain. Hurry!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Discussing my *cringe* award winning novel one more time at the request of my editor

The spring edition of the Stoughton Press has hit the streets. I posted two articles this time, but I'll begin with this one.  

What happens when you blend murderous whales, an orphaned fawn, and tattooed dragons? Award Winning Magic.

Stoughton resident and the Press’s own Creature Feature writer, Rebecca Ferrell Porter brought home Silver in the 2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award on April 1st for her second novel, Cairn: A Dragon Memoir. “I knew had written something unique, but I never expected this,” Porter said. The respected European award, unique in its own right, celebrates and fosters the next generation of readers. Organizers have teamed with enthusiastic teachers and willing students in and around London, England. The entries become part the curriculum as the kids hone their critical assessment skills. Each book is graded on editing, theme, style, and cover. Once the finalists have been determined, a smaller, select group campaigns for the medal winners in what the organizer has termed a heated battle. Each finalist had its champion, but in the end, Cairn: A Dragon Memoir won enough votes to capture Silver.

While written for fantasy fans of any age, Porter chose to enter Cairn: A Dragon Memoir in the teen category. “It seemed a natural fit because I write what I term cozy fantasy. That is to say a story where the characters take center stage. I keep the plot tight and spinning with action, but little or no graphic violence occurs. To be fair, this story is built around a series of murders, but I didn’t find it necessary to describe every wound in titillating detail. Cozy fantasy focuses on the character and his or her journey toward change while adding a final element, humor. When I read, I want to enter the heads of the characters, feel what they feel, laugh when they laugh, and cry when they cry. That’s how I write; I don’t know any other way.”

Porter began her writing career a few short years ago, and although the craft has a steep learning curve, she’s already gaining the attention of her peers and gathering fans around the globe. “Over time, I’ve developed a system that works for me. My goal is to infuse every scene with images chosen to stimulate the senses. I want the reader to feel as if she has stepped through a portal. The breeze is heavy and she brushes her hair out of her eyes as the scent of the meadow swirls up from her clothes. In the next nest, the soft snore of the dragon calms her as the sweet juice of a stolen plum drips from her chin. It’s a deeper experience honed by the creed of show not tell (the golden rule of good writing).

In Cairn, readers find a world dominated by dragons as Porter spins a new legend built around the natural phenomena we call the Northern Lights. As in all good legends, unexpected and secretive characters appear. Porter introduces us to Aurora, a complex Elemental wielding magic strong enough to send cosmic ribbons of light across the hemisphere. It wouldn’t be right to say more here, but Porter saves some of her strongest imagery for these chapters.

“It all begins in character development. If I can’t see the character in my head, I won’t be able to share the experience with the reader. It’s an intense process. Aurora stepped out of my imagination several weeks before I began writing Cairn. I still remember the moment I met her. It was late at night when I should have been sleeping, but her face, her voice, her honey scented hair all combined into an image so strong, I literally ran to my notebook and sketched her features for hours. Other times, a character I thought to be minor pushes through as I write. Kes, the dragon Scribe was one such character. Her sacred duty is to preserve the memories of the clan in both stone and flesh. She’s a bit frightening and her confidence is unparalleled, but she’s pivotal to the plot.

 “Your inscription is elaborate. It will take time. I may tire and stop to rest, but once started the inscription must be completed.” She [Kes] raised her hand to reveal a flight feather, stripped to the tip where a flake of diamond winked in the light.
He was shaking despite his best effort to control it.
“Some have died, but only a few. You are strong … your heart, pure. You will survive, and I will be remembered as your Scribe. I thank you for this opportunity.” He felt the pressure of her hand resting on this throat.
Just get it over with, he thought.
She inserted something under a delicate scale at the base of his throat, and began prying it up. The pain was excruciating, but he focused on his breathing. He would not cry out. One by one, his scales were lifted, dozens of them until he thought she was removing them all, but he felt her carving away just enough scale before she would gently press the remains back into place. He tried to ignore the stream of blood that grew into a river as even more scales were ripped away.

“It was fun to slip into the head of the dragons, and it a strange way, I miss thinking in dragon, but I’ve moved on to the third book in the Legends of the Aurora trilogy.” With this win, Rebecca Ferrell Porter has earned the title AWARD WINNING AUTHOR, and it’s helping to open doors, but in the end, she’s only concerned with writing a damn good story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baby Sandhill Cranes

It's been quite a week at the office, and I don't mean in terms of work. For the last four weeks we have been hosting a pair of killdeer, a type of shorebird, that lives on the grassy plains of Wisconsin, while the brood their 4 eggs. I'll share more on that little family in a day or two, but because I've been playing expectant Auntie, I've been bringing my camera to work. 

Driving in as the sun rose this morning, I found 2 sandhill cranes standing in the road. It was still pretty dark, but they're big birds and hard to miss. I waited for them to move and checked on my killdeer. 

Later, when a co-worker arrives, she said get your camera. There's two cranes with babies outside the gate. I jumped up and ran outside. It took some time to find them, and the photos aren't great, but there they were. 

Cute little buggers. 

This little family wasn't expecting visitors so I left them alone after I fired off 5-6 photos. 
The parents are 3 - 3.5 feet tall (1 meter).  Those little chicks have a lot of growing to do.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Slipping Into the Mind of the Fairies

If you've read my earlier work (What! Why Not? Go to Amazon immediately and get started.)

Now, what was I saying ... oh yes, If you've read my earlier work, you watched as I pulled on the baggy skin of the trolls before peeling back the skin to expose my claws as I embodied the soul of the dragons. (I love thinking in dragon). Fans reach out to me all time with questions like: Where did that come from? Your dragons are so unique.

I wish I knew. 

The truth is, I've been spinning adventures my whole life. There's a lot going on between my ears, and none of it is boring. I can't help but feel empathy for the bird stubbornly refusing to abandon her eggs in a violent downpour, or imagine what that human (me) looks like to the chipmunk as he hides in his burrow. Some of that led me to the trolls and dragons, but it takes something more to think in dragon. 

I bring this up today, because I've had to leave my scaly, feathered friends and move on to the fairies. You'll note I have not been kind to the fae thus far in Legends of the Aurora. Many legends regarding fairies spin them as wicked, but give me time to spin the legend around to the why. Fairies started this mess, and I have to write everyone through it. But I think you can understand how hard it is for me to feel empathy for creatures I've reviled for 600 pages. 

Don't worry. I'm up to the challenge. It's just that I miss the dragons. So I bring them along to keep my company. In a big way. Can't wait to share book three, [working title ...] 

Drum Roll, please. 

Seeds of Madness

Prepare to be floored by the truth behind the legend.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Every Life is a Story

I've been brainstorming ways to engage the public along with my friend, Linda Bricco Shalk. Linda is the mad genius behind The Press project that launched the half million words and counting of the Legends of the Aurora. Linda took a chance on me, and I'm helping her to find others. 

My latest idea is a Meet Your Neighbor running feature. It builds on my premise that every life contains dozens of stories. Every life is lived in a different way. It's the stuff of a writer's wet dream. All we need do is draw it out of people. Here are some examples from my life.

I once stood shoulder to shoulder on the bank of an Alaskan river as the salmon ran. Anglers were pulling in fish as fast as they could cast, but I never even had a nibble.

I once kissed the famous blarney stone, and it's nothing like you would expect.

I won a jump rope jingle contest when I was in first grade. It was perhaps, my first writing gig.

An English teacher in high school drove me crazy, and I hated her class until I turned in the journal we were required to keep. She wrote the kindest words in the margin including a special one that read: Beautiful. You should write for a living. I didn't believe her, but I've never forgotten, and I still have the notebook. (Thank you Mrs. Ann Jenkins) I believe you now.

I once "saved" a young boy from drowning. Well, he thought he was drowning, but it was really nothing more than his head went under for a second or two. He was terrified. I'm told he remembered me for years.

As a child, I had more than 50 stuffed animals, and they all had names with complete background stories. I still remember them to this day. (I really have been writing my whole life)

As a little girl, I would cry when my mother forced me to wear a dress. I'm still more comfortable in jeans.

Dolls creep me out. Really creep me out.

You get it. Not sure when we'll launch this project as Linda is about to go to press, but each one of those memories is a short story. Share your memories below. I'd love to open your cover to take a peek.