It’s a Man’s World

No man wants to be another’s pet, and love can’t free a slave

“Where are you going?”

Susan’s face softened but she looked away.

All the women in the neighborhood were dressed in what we use to all “Easter Sunday” clothes; light dresses, bright, Spring colors of sky blues and yellows and whites, some with flower prints with big roses or tulips or daffodils or morning glories or black-eyed susans and all with long, lush green vines wrapping around them. All of them wearing wide-brimmed sun hats, many with scarves tying their hats around their chins. A few wore sunglasses. All had nice big purses, lots of different colors but most of them white, white cloth gloves covering their hands and all of them in either tasteful heels or flats. Nobody was wearing stilettos or CFMs of any kind.

And they gathered in front of my house.

It started with AnElla. I was walking the dog and she came out of her house in her Easter Sunday finest. I waved and she ignored me, walked back into her house then and came out with all her daughters, her granddaughters, her sisters, even her ailing mother-in-law. They were all standing nice and neat and trim and proper in front of her house.

A few minutes later all the other women in the neighborhood came out of their homes and stood in front of their houses. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, they looked around, waved at each other, a few looked at the sky – not a cloud to be seen, by the way. Clear sky, bright sun. Clearest I’d seen it in years, really – and one by one then two by two they moseyed over to my house.

Susan came out dressed like all the rest. Sunday is her day to sleep in. I didn’t even know she had those kinds of clothes anymore.

A bus pulled up. An open air bus, a kind of parade or tourist bus with a roof but no windows. The paintjob matched the women’s dresses; blues and yellows and whites and flowers everywhere. No city markings whatsoever.

Women gathered around the bus. Some got in. Susan stood in line with them.

“Where are you going?”

“Don’t worry. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.”

You’ll be fine?

Here’s the thing about Susan: she can’t lie. She never could. Not to me, anyway.

“No, come on. Where are you going?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked away. “It’s okay, Paul. I’ll be back soon.”

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Grafton’s Ghost-Child

Even unto the Seventh Generation

Grafton turned the knob on his daughter Cloe’s bedroom door so slowly, thankful for the patience that came so naturally to him. The doorknob would sometimes crick and he didn’t want to wake her, just peek in to watch her sleep, make sure she was snug under the covers. Sometimes Amanda would open the window in their daughter’s room to let the night air in and Cloe would curl up into a tight little ball, just her nose exposed and forming a little steam tent.

She was adorable.

His hand turned past the crick, he opened the door slowly. Sure enough, a few icy snowcrystals blew in as he entered and Cloe was beginning her curl into a ball. Like her father, she was patient. It would take about ten minutes before she was done, never waking once. Grafton had watched her do it.

As he entered, Cloe’s Merchant-Ghost looked up. It was sitting in a recliner beside the nightstand next to his daughter’s bed. It was reading a book – Grafton could see it in his hands. It had to be as ancient as the merchant ghost itself – it’s eyes emitting that odd red-yellow light to illuminate the pages. The Merchant-Ghost nodded, its tree-like body and bark-like skin folding as it moved, then went back to its reading.

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How far will you go to find home?

There is a planet on the scanners. It is large and round and red. The sun is yellow and warming, and the planet is in the sun’s life zone. The gravity is slightly stronger than Earth’s. The air is a bit richer, and there is abundant water under the surface.

The red coloring comes from two things. The surface of the planet is covered with red vegetation and their spores are everywhere. The ground is also red, although not with spores but with clay and slate like so faraway Connecticut.

The dog beside me raises his massive head and growls. I scratch behind his ears and his hind legs start thumping the cabin floor. I make him thump in time to songs I sing, switching legs as I go from chorus to lead and back.

“We’ll go down, see if this is the one.”

His ears go up slightly. I wonder how many of the words he understands.

“Take the dog,” my wife said. The cabin has room for me and one more. The taste of her lips is still on mine. The smell of her hair is here before me. I can delight in her touch and feel her sun-warmed and reddened skin.

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A.N. Mouse – Caustic Knights, Hunting Nightmares, Violent CEOs, Necromancers, and Unfortunate Alchemists

This border hopping Indie Author is a fan of WADsworth

A.N. MouseHello all and welcome to our last author interview for 2018. It’s been fascinating and full of learnings for me, so thanks to all who took part.

The first thing you need to know is that A.N. is an amazingly patient individual who graciously sat through three intro takes because I kept botching things.

And there’s still of few goobies in there. It’s me, folks, all me.

I’d like everyone to stand up and give A.N. Mouse a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.
Continue reading “A.N. Mouse – Caustic Knights, Hunting Nightmares, Violent CEOs, Necromancers, and Unfortunate Alchemists”

Stanley P. Brown – Superhero Inspired Celtic Gothics

SciFi Fantasy with a Christian Flare? Beware Tolkien, Stand back, Lewis.

Hello all and welcome to our continuing series of author interviews. Today’s guest is Stanley P. Brown and if you want a fun, educational read, I suggest Dr. – that’s right, today’s guest is a university professor – Brown’s peer reviewed paper, Superhero Physiology. You’ll never look at Captain America the same way again.

I’d like everyone to stand up and give Stan a big round of applause for taking part in our exciting adventure.

Anybody can write a novel. It’s really difficult to write one worthy of publication.

Stan Brown’s Bio
As a child Stan always had heroes. These were mostly in the form of his big brother and those populating the pages of Marvel Comics. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff to be a superhero himself, he became a professor. Works of non-fiction followed, but the call of storytelling remained strong. He answered that call. THE LEGACY, his debut novel, was the result. Other novels – VEILED MEMORY and FALLEN WIZARD – followed in short order.

I want my readers to remember my characters and that my stories are plot driven.

Stan and I talked about being a superhero expert, being a professor (tenured at three institutions), writing paranormal fantasy novels for children, exploring elementals, Harry Potter’s influence on his writing and his daughters, the influences of Vince Flynn and Jim Butcher, using Mississippi as a background in his writing, writing a series based on Celtic mythology, the Do’s and Don’t’s of writing christian paranormals, Tolkien, Lewis, the contiuum of science fiction to fantasy, making presentations at Oxford, hanging out at The Eagle and Child, and more.

I’m interested in contemporary things. I would never write a Sword&Sorcery.

You can find links to Stanley’s books on the right or at the bottom of this post (depending on your device). You’ll also find links to Stanley’s sites underneath the video.

I wanted to explore the elemental principles; Air, Water, Fire and Earth. I’ve done that in a couple of my books.

The Interview

I had always read children’s works before and wanted to know if I could produce one.

Stanley P. Brown’s Links
Learn more about S.P. and his interesting life in and out of academia, Celtic Lore and superheros on his website.

An excerpt from Stanley P. Brown’s VEILED MEMORY

Saturday Night:

The technician made it to the observatory on Mount Fowlkes as the last vestiges of sunlight slipped past the western horizon. In the clear skies of southwest Texas, the usual starlit blackness could be so deep that earthbound objects seemed to fade into silhouettes, unchained, like wraiths.
Those were the times he liked best, but tonight was different. An unnatural haze suffused the region, blurring the usually bright stars. Confused, Ben gazed into the sky, scratching his head as though the answer to some cosmic mystery could be coaxed from his tangled mass of hair. “If that’s not the darnedest thing,” he whispered, still perplexed by a nagging feeling that something was off.
Twin white domes of neighboring Mount Locke sat like mute sentinels propped against a black sky that should have been full of star-speckled brilliance. Otherwise, nothing seemed out of place. A slight wind rustled the boughs of Emory and Western Gray Oak sprouting from the stony soil.
Still focused on the stars, Ben jumped when the giant telescope he stood next to creaked and groaned as it began rotating.
“You say something, son?” Turning, he found his boss standing behind him.
“Just wondering who’s manning the instruments?”
“A visiting professor. He could use some help calibrating.”
“Can’t. There’s a call up from New York. A student needs lunar ranging data. Routine stuff.”
The boss nodded and walked back inside. Ben craned his neck again. Pollution couldn’t have caused this haze, not in this unspoiled environment, but the puzzle would have to wait. He walked across the parking lot of the McDonald Observatory complex to a square metal building standing next to the laser station and called Joe Prather, an astrophysics graduate student at Columbia University.
“We’re good to go,” Ben said. “I’ll call back when I have enough valid returns.”
“Make sure the feed is correct,” Prather said, agitation obvious in his voice. “You screwed it up last time.”
Ben took a deep breath before answering. “I’ll get your data. Just let me get back to it.”
Prather sighed. “The feed to New York has to work. If I don’t get good numbers, I won’t graduate. You know that, right?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Ben muttered, disconnecting the call. He finished selecting his target point on the moon filling his video screen like a gray ghost. Laser pulses would soon flood the targeted portion of the lunar landscape.
He glanced at the window, shocked at the intensity of the moonlight streaming in. “Fuzzy stars,” he whispered, then flipped the switch.
A tight emerald laser flashed across the night sky directed at retroreflectors placed near a crater named Luther. Timing the return pulses would provide the data they needed to calculate the earth-moon distance.
It took longer than usual, but when three more valid return signals appeared on his screen as red dots, he turned off the laser and readied his systems to send the data to New York. Ben pressed an icon on his cell phone.
“Transmitting now,” he told Prather and hit a button on the control panel. “Have a good one.”
Locking down for the night, he had just about made it to his truck when his phone started vibrating in his pocket.
“Look, I hate to bother you,” Prather said, “but its perigee was supposed to be near—” “A little over two-hundred and twenty-one thousand miles.” Ben checked his watch. “Is there a problem?”
Prather’s whisper grew quieter. “I know what you’ll say, but I didn’t screw up. Our system’s working fine.”
“Just tell me what the hell you’re talking about.”
Prather lowered his voice even more, forcing Ben to press the phone harder to his ear.
“The numbers are way off, man. It’s showing two-hundred and seven thousand miles. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the damn thing’s spiraling down.”
Ben suppressed a laugh, but nearly choked when he glanced up at the moon filling the sky like an enormous silver balloon. He cleared his throat. “The model must’ve corrupted in transmission. It’s moving farther out, very gradual, like only an inch a year. It’s not any closer than normal for this time.”
Something on the floor of the valley to the east caught Ben’s eye. He jerked his head and saw a coyote scurrying around sage brush. Even during a normal full moon, it would have been too dark to see anything that far away. Then the enormity of what Prather said hit him.
“What’s happening?” Prather asked in an anxious voice.
“I’ll get back to you?”
Cursing, Ben sprinted back to the control building and ran the same procedure four more times using two other retroreflectors located at different Apollo landing sites. The results were the same. Sweating now, he finally called his boss who alerted two other lunar ranging stations around the world. It took a couple more hours, but they were able to confirm the results.
There were too many questions for Ben to sleep that night, so he stayed up, reclined on the hood of his truck, staring at the night sky, wondering the same thing he knew would be plaguing scientists around the world.
How was the moon’s inconstant orbit decaying?
Then he had it. The prophecy. It could only be that. His people would be ecstatic. Overhead, he imagined Mars appearing in the southwest in a blaze of red fury and Jupiter rising in the east, burning in full conflagration. A falling star dashed across the sky, yet in this strange glow, its flaming trek wasn’t as dramatic as usual.
He smiled, realizing that he had just documented the first factor of the prophecy. Soon, all the clans of the Community would know. And without further delay, he put a shaky finger to his temple and projected his thoughts to the leader of his clan enjoying a vacation somewhere in Europe.

Most novels are sold because people like the characers in them, not so much the plot.