Rose Marries Fuzz

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“How do I look, Mother?” said Rose as she anxiously peered again at her reflection in the great oval mirror.

“Absolutely, stunningly beautiful dear. You couldn’t possibly be more gorgeous,” said Minuet with a smile of wistful joy. “I think it’s almost time. Why don’t I just pop out into the garden and see if they are ready for you yet? And isn’t it wonderful that we had this one warm, sunny day come along so it could actually be out there as you used to wish when you were little.”

144131-fall-colors-wedding-bouquets-3Rose nodded gratefully and heaved a tight-buttoned sigh as Minuet stepped out of sight. “Well yes,” she thought, as the handmaiden came at her train to whisk and fluff and straighten, “except that there are no roses, and that this has grown into a full-blown wedding. The citizens of Niarg had other ideas, but at least they’re not making me marry Pea Slinger Pig Boy. But I do get Fuzz. I just wish this would be over.”

She looked up at the sound of determined footfalls in the corridor. A wail of  bagpipes sounded, three steps before Minuet appeared round the corner. Minuet smiled radiantly and motioned in grand rhythm with the wedding march for her to come. She took a deep trembling breath, stepped through the doorway, took Hebraun’s strong arm and floated down the crunching path to join Fuzz at the great white trellis, laced with naked vines, where he waited with Lukus, Razzmorten, Yann-Ber and Hubba Hubba, who stood at parade attention on Razzmorten’s shoulder with her wedding ring clamped tightly in his beak.

Hebraun carefully parked her beside Soraya, Violet and Pebbles and stepped back with watery eyes. The ceremony swept over her like a dream and before she quite grasped it all, she and Fuzz were man and wife and immersed in a pandemonium of well-wishers. She met the joy and sadness in her mother’s tearful eyes and felt oddly calmed. She turned to her husband and felt herself ignite with a glow of euphoric joy. This is truly what she had always wanted.

(Ch. 42, Stone Heart)Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Neanderthal Under the Bridge

 

In spite of what some people insisted twenty years ago, Neanderthals are not members of our species. They are Homo neanderthalensis and we are Homo sapiens. We are closely related but different species, not different races of the same species. Thousands of years in chilly overcast Europe selected for lots of Neanderthal characteristics similar to those of modern White humans, but now that we are able to compare actual Neanderthal DNA to ours, we find that these similarities are derived altogether differently. Neanderthals used entirely different DNA for their red hair than we use for ours.

Neanderthals’ DNA differs from ours by 27.2 gene substitutions. Chimpanzees’ DNA differs from ours by 55.0 gene substitutions. This means that Neanderthals were half as distantly related to us as chimpanzees. In spite of how much graphic representations such as Popeye look like humans to us, we would not have been inclined to breed with the Neanderthals we chanced upon, because they were simply too different.

Neanderthal vs modern human

If one is lucky enough to compare actual Neanderthal skulls to those of humans, he sees that Neanderthals had brow ridges and rounded chins, all right, but he also sees that Neanderthals had huge eye sockets and a ballooned-out cranium in back, called an occipital bun. Casual observers seem to miss this, but to me this strongly suggests that Neanderthals were nocturnal. Nocturnal animals have larger eyes and enlarged visual areas of the brain which the bun would have housed.

Neanderthal fossils have an exceptional amount of healed fractures. When I was a crazy kid, we had a sport. We’d go out into the pasture where the cattle were bedded down in the moonlight to pick out a cow, jump astride her and see how long we could hang on when she got to her feet. Is this how Neanderthals hunted woolly mammoths?

Neanderthals showed up in Europe about 200,000 years ago and persisted until 28,000-24,000 years ago. We showed up about 35,000 years ago and warily shared the same habitat with them, for anywhere from 7,000 to 11,000 years. That’s a long time to avoid running into them in the shadows. We’ve only farmed and had towns for what, 8,000 years?

24,000 years is an awfully long time ago, but do you reckon that the troll under the bridge is some sort of ancient cultural memory? Is that why trolls are supposed to turn to stone in daylight? What do you think?

 

Valentine’s Sale: Heart of the Staff, the Complete Series is 99 Cents & 99 Pence Thru 2/28/17

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is an entire epic fantasy, not an anthology!

Heart of the Staff, the Complete Appendix is free

 

Books one through six of the series are available individually at Amazon for:

Good Sister, Bad Sister $2.99

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The Collector Witch        $3.99

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Stone Heart                    $ 4.99

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The Burgeoning             $ 5.99

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The Reaper Witch          $6.99

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Doom                             $7.99

Doom

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

 

Rose is Three

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Robins scolded in the growing shadows of the rose garden beneath the balcony, as a little girl held her breath and carefully tickled the red crown feathers offered by the newly fledged parrot. “Mamma!” she gasped, drawing back with dancing eyes. “She likes me.” She clapped her hands with a bounce of her curls of tow. “See? She’s still holding out her head feathers. Can I hold her now?”

20130213-043355“Of course,” said Minuet. “Just hold out your finger as I showed you, Rose, and wait for Pebbles to step on.”

Rose nodded and held out her finger, giving Minuet and Hebraun each a very solemn look before offering it to Pebbles, who carefully stepped on.

“Very good,” said Minuet with a glance at the door. “Bethan’s here, I see. It’s time to let her get you ready for bed.”

“Can I put Pebbles on her perch, Mamma?”

“As long as you’re real easy, sweetheart.”

Rose crept to the perch with all of the sober reserve of some great ceremony.

Pebbles looked quickly here and there at her feet, not knowing quite what was expected as theygreen-cheeked-amazon-parrot-01 arrived.

“A bird is not posed to be dilatory in a castle,” said Rose as Pebbles took an uncertain step onto the perch. “You have to set an essample.”

Minuet looked up to share her amusement and found that the butler already had Hebraun’s attention. “Now go straightaway with Bethan, Rose,” she said. “We’ll be along directly to tuck you in.”          

(Chapter 19, Good Sister, Bad Sister)

 ****

“So,” she said. “She’s undoubtedly got her baggy eyes from the sukere. And she stands a very good chance of being deeply involved with some evil design involving sukere with Razzorbauch and Demonica.” She leant aside to see to Rose. “Oh sweetheart. You’ve got cherries all down your front.”

“They still taste good that way, Mamma. See? Here’s a really good one.”

“I’ll take care of her,” said Bethan. “You’ve got things to discuss.”

4ud2“Mamma? When Grandma Bethan gets me cleaned up, can she take me to show Real Grandma how I can sit on Mystique?”

“You just got your new unicorn, dear. I want to be there with you until you’ve had some real experience riding.”

“I understand,” said Rose as Bethan led her away. “Grandma? You’ll have to learn to be patient. Mamma’s just being a queen like you used to be.” 

(Chapter 20, Good Sister, Bad Sister)Good_Sister,_Bad_Sis_Cover_for_Kindle

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They found Hebraun and Minuet already well into a breakfast of boiled eggs and hot rye bread. As Razzmorten seated her, Ugleeuh saw Bethan leading out a striking and immaculately polite little tow-headed girl. “That’s their little shit,” she thought, as an orderly rushed to the board with plates and another bowl of boiled eggs. “Too bad, little shit!”   

(Chapter 23, Good Sister, Bad Sister)

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Guest Post by Award Winning Author Christie M. Stenzel of The Occulti Series

Christie M. Stenzel

Multiple award-winning independent author Christie M. Stenzel has published five books thus far, with another nearing publication in the near future. Writing and reading are her passions and she primarily writes fantasy stories with an emphasis on the supernatural. As she has diverse interests, she has also written a suspense/thriller short story and plans future books in other genres as well. She holds multiple degrees, her current “day job” is as an ultrasound technologist, and in her spare time enjoys physical activities like yoga, running and weight lifting

Blurb

Have you ever received shocking news that turned your life upside down?

Would you love to have magical powers based upon the color of your eyes?

Imagine the shock of being eighteen year old Remy Verbetta and finding out that you are not only not “human”, but also are not from this “world”.  Remy’s life is turned upside down when she suddenly finds out her entire life has been a lie.  Another “world” is living and breathing along-side our own, a kind of alternate dimension.  On her eighteenth birthday, Remy finds out that she is not “human”, but rather a member of an ancient and almost extinct race called the Occuli.  Each Occuli has different magical powers based solely their eye color.

A multiple award-winning supernatural, fantasy novel, The Grey Eyed Storm: The Occuli, Book One, follows Remy on a journey of self-discovery, magic, mystery, romance and betrayal, as she tries to figure out a way to not only survive, but find a way back to her true home and save the Occuli from extinction!

Excerpt

The night of my eighteenth birthday, I also began sleep walking yet again.  This time, I couldn’t find a way to joke about it or even rationalize it.  Who sleep walks to their own mother’s grave?   Mama’s grave was decorated, which was strange unless dad traveled all the way back here.  I wasn’t even sure how I walked all the way here in pajamas in the middle of the night.  My stomach turned and I ran from my mother’s grave and lost the small piece of birthday cake I had consumed.  Violets, all over Mama’s grave.  Why not, jasmine, I wondered?  They were her favorite.  Why did they have to be the flower I saw in my vision?   I heard a ringing noise and it roused me from my queries; it was my cell phone.  Had I jammed it in my pocket before I left?
“Rubes,” I said, not even looking at the caller ID.
“I am so glad you answered!   What the hell happened?” she demanded.
I felt dazed and my stomach began to turn again.
“What?” I asked slowly, my voice sounding tight and far away.
“Where are you?”
I closed my eyes and I let the crystal tears fall.  Dad said Mama began to act unusual around her eighteenth birthday and he had joked that I would adhere to the family curse.  He couldn’t be more right.  I was a crazy person too.
“I’m at my mother’s grave,” I squeaked.
“How did you make it all the way there?!”  she demanded fearfully.
“I don’t know!  I just….”I sobbed.
Twigs and branches cracked behind me and I felt another wave of nausea wash over me.  I smelled a foul odor and I saw the trees wiggling as if something or someone was advancing.
“There’s somebody here…” I whispered.
“I’m coming!  Don’t worry.  I’m running out the door right now, okay?  Just hang tight, love.”  I could hear a thrashing around and I knew Ruby was grabbing her purse and keys and fumbling out the door.
I heard a low growl, then I saw a pair of yellow eyes, and the pungent odor became stronger, nauseatingly so.  “Ruby, hurry!”
I backed up towards my mother’s grave, accidentally crushing the violets beneath my bare, bloody feet.  What had I done?  Had I crawled here?  My hands and feet were gashed open and gushing blood.  I was covered in mud and leaves, head to toe.  I began to cry harder from confusion and fear.  What kind of person sleep walks miles in the middle of the night and awakens to find themselves bloody and dirty in front of their own mother’s grave?  I waited for Ruby as I watched the yellow eyes watching me.  Seconds passed by with my heart thumping so loudly I felt it was audible as it resounded in my own ears.
“Ruby!  Hurry!”
“I’m driving like ninety sweetie, just relax!!”
“I’m serious, there’s something here and it’s watching me-“
The next sentence died in my throat before I could even utter it.  The yellow eyes shifted and were somehow much higher in the trees, as if whatever was watching me was initially crouched down and was now fully standing up.  The sound of tires squealing alerted me to Ruby’s Ford Ranger pulling up.
“How did you get here so quickly?” I mumbled.
“Zias!”  she screamed into the forest as she jumped out of the truck.  I looked at her, eyes wide.  She stomped forward angrily.  “Zias!  Dammit!  You’re scaring her half to death!  Get out here now!”
Ruby then whirled around to face me.

“Happy 18th, sweets!  You’re now worthy of some to die for secrets….”

Other Books In The Occulti Series

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Thank you, Christie, for sharing with my readers here on our blog today, it was such a pleasure to have you! Best wishes for you and your wonderful series and hopefully, many more books to come.  -Carol & Tom 

Rose Reveals a Secret

The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_Kindle

A throb of lightning lit up the countryside, revealing the arrival of a roaring wall of rain. The crash of thunder and the deluge arrived together in the next instant, like a douse from a colossal bucket, dashed at once into every crack on the porch. Rose and Lukus stumbled through the front door, only to find that the parlour wouldn’t do at all. They groped from room to room between flickers and flashes until they found some cover against the inside wall of the kitchen where most of the thatched roof remained.

They sat on the floor with their backs to the wall, combing their bedraggled hair from their faces with their fingers. Rose nudged him with the striker from her knapsack. Without a word between them, he spent the next several minutes struggling to light the lantern. At last it came to, a wee sputtering yellow seed atop the dirty stub of candle. Pale shadows leaped and waved, dancing above rivulets of water finding their way out through holes in the floor. He started to speak, but his voice vanished in the din. He studied the room, listening to the storm. “Oh, Rose?” he said, speaking out louder this time. “Wouldn’t you say we’ve lived something of a sheltered life in the castle, all these years?”

“Yes, yes. Quite.”

“So you decided that to cultivate your new maturity, you should go out into the world for some exposure, aye what?”

“I didn’t plan the rain.”Scan10059

“If we just bed down along the wall here, I think it’ll stay dry enough to sleep. And boy, am I ever hungry.”

“Sounds fine to me, Lukus,” she said, “except…”

“Except what?

“Except you seem to have left your pack in the barn,” she said, kneeling to open her own bag.

“Oh, great!” he said. “Couldn’t you just…? I mean I’ll just run out after the rain and pay you back, all right?”

“Be neat for once, would you?” she said, handing him things out of her bag.

They ate ravenously, listening to the steady downpour. “Dried apricots and cheese make one strange meal,” he said between thoughtful chews, “but you know? I think it’s pretty near the best supper I ever ate.”

He finished eating to discover that no pack also meant no bed roll for him, but Rose was willing to let him use one end of her bedding as a pillow. “So Rose,” he said, settling himself onto his back, stirring the empty space over his head as though it were an orchestra. “You were telling me…”

“Telling you what?”

“You know. As you were saying back in the woods before we got off the road and came here. I mean you weren’t done were you? Isn’t there some sort of reason for our going to the Chokewood Forest?”

Scan10060

For a long spell, the rain was the only sound he heard. “Lukus,” she said at last, “I may not be your sister at all. If there be any truth to what I was told at my awful birthday party, you and I are only cousins.”

“Oh go on,” he said with a laugh. “Surely you don’t mean first cousins? That would make one of us Ugleeuh’s child.”

“Ugleeuh? My word. You made that up.”

“No I didn’t.”

“But no one would ever name a… So who on earth is Ugleeuh?”

“Mother’s sister, Rose. Didn’t you know her name?”

“Something else I wasn’t to find out until I was sixteen, no doubt. How come they told you, anyway?”

“No one made a point of telling me. I don’t even remember how I found out, but you weren’t singled out. Good grief. It’s not as though anyone in the family was exactly proud of her.”

“But Lukus, I can’t believe Grandfather Razzmorten would name one of his daughters such a thing.”

“Well he didn’t. Mother said that Grandfather was away when the baby was born, and she said that the baby’s mother, Mother’s stepmother, named it before he returned. I guess she wasn’t very happy to have a child and took it out on the baby.”

“How awful. No wonder she grew up with such a chip on her shoulder.”

“Yeap. Probably had a lot to do with it, all right,” he said, rolling onto his haunches to stare into her face. “But good grief. She surely can’t be your mother. No way.”

“Yea? Well maybe Lukus, but somehow nobody, absolutely nobody back at the castle would be completely straight with me when I asked them, so I intend to find out for certain, one way or the other. So please don’t ask me any more questions right now. We need to get some rest. We have a long way to travel, yet.”

“But I want to know more about this, once we’re…”

Scan10061

“Fine. On the road. Please, let’s go to sleep.”

The Collector Witch Render(Ch. 2, The Collector Witch)

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps