Nia Greenwood is a half Fairy, half Human (here, Human is a race and therefore capitalized), daughter of Kellen and Cait Greenwood, sister of Tess. She is engaged to an Elf, Drake Evans, at the time she is taken by the evil Children and Family Services Police and shipped off to become a sex slave at the world Alliance’s underwater capital city of Atlantis. Nia is one of the two main protagonists in Wham!
Excerpt from Wham!
“So,” said the woman, leaning over her for a look. “Awake at last, I see.” She straightened up at once. “I’m Mistress Bodine, but you may call me Sam. For Samantha of course.”
Nia threw her head from side to side in a panic. She could see guards. A device wired to her began beeping. “What is this place?” she said. “Why am I in restraints?”
“Why you’re at the capitol,” said Sam, switching off Nia’s monitor. “Don’t you remember being chosen for this honor?”
“The capitol!” cried Nia, struggling against the straps which held her. “Chosen! Is that what you call it when you abduct someone to be a toy for the monsters who’ve taken over the world?”
The Yellow Rose Tavern was a huge three and a half storey wattle and daub house that had only been standing for three years, just down the street from Fates’ Hospital for the Sick and the Silver Dragon. Its upper storeys overhung the first floor nearly to the middle of the alleys on all sides. Minuet and Bethan rented a long room at the top under the roof in front, which opened onto a balcony far above the street between two great crucks under the gable, and which also peeped out from a tiny window under a thick blanket of thatch in the roof itself. They always ate breakfast and supper downstairs, but they usually ate their dinner at the Silver Dragon, since it was next to the hospital.
“So what was the reason Sergeant Bernard brought us down here to the inn?” said Bethan as she addressed her collards with bread and knife. “I didn’t quite catch what he was saying.”
“He didn’t say much,” said Minuet. “I guess that there was some sort of uproar at the Silver Dragon right after we left, yesterday. He thought we’d be safer down here.”
“Well, where’d he go?”
“He said he’d be right outside if we needed him,” said Minuet as she looked out across the tables under the low rows of timbers in the ceiling. “Is this all they’re bringing out for us to eat?”
“Probably. There do be pieces of ham in it. It’s just the taverner and his wife. Both cooks fled the plague, this morning.”
“I wondered why she was the one waiting on us,” said Minuet as she pressed a wad of collards onto her bread. “In here, you’d hardly think there was a plague. Everybody’s just eating peacefully.”
“They do be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the taverner’s wife is more talkative when things are normal. She hardly spoke. I’d allow that she’s a little afraid of every soul who walks in here. It’s a wonder they haven’t shooed us out and flown the coop.”
Across the room, the front door slammed shut. “There’s the witch!” shouted the woman who stepped inside, silencing everyone at the tables. Minuet dropped her bread onto her plate and turned about on her chair in alarm.
“Martha please!” said the man coming in on her heels. “You’ve had too much to drink. Please think! She’s been wonderful to the kids…”
“You doubt me, Sammy boy?” she cried, wheeling ’round and planting her feet. “I saw what I saw…”
“We all saw the pardoner and the flax haired wench…” he said as he grabbed her wrist.
Martha immediately yanked out of his grasp. “Then you’re blind as well as thick!” she shouted, nearly stumbling as she forced her way between the tables. “Had ye seen past your nose, you’d ‘ave seen it was that wizard in league with the very Elf devils who caused the plague in the first place. It was none other than Wizard Razzmorten himself
and his witch daughter, Ugleeuh!” She staggered back a step with a glance about at her
audience of wide-eyed diners. “No wonder he came to town as a pardoner. He knew
they’d be run out if people recognized him.” Suddenly she took a tramp toward Minuet.
“In fact, maybe it’s time something was done about that entire family. Everyone knows
they practice the dark arts.”
Minuet shot to her feet. “Shame on you!” she shouted. “If it weren’t for my father, the queen herself would be dead this minute! Scores of people have caught the plague and are alive right now because of him…!”
“Yea!” she barked, peppering Minuet’s face with flecks of spit. “Like all the pointy eared foreigners who caused it!”
“Foreigners! How can you say such a thing! They were here a thousand years ago, before there ever was a Niarg…”
“A threat to us the whole time , Missy!” cried Martha, smiling with her hateful piggy eyes as an angry drone stirred through the diners.
“A threat?” cried Minuet, turning to the crowd. “How many of you are alive today because you were healed by the Elves? How many of you would have died in childbirth
had it not been for them? How is it wrong to keep them alive alongside us?”
Bethan could see that the grumbling diners were not making kind replies. She saw her moment at once and quietly slipped out to summon Sergeant Bernard.
“And as for you, Martha Benton,” said Minuet, “how come you call me a witch when only yesterday you said I was like unto an angel?”
“I didn’t know the truth!” she shouted for all to hear. “You held me under an enchantment and used your dark magicks on my dear children. For all we know, you’ve left us changlings under your spell!”
“That’s a lie, Martha! I used no magicks! Your children are still your children. And they’re going to live a long life, too, thanks to my father’s drops which I’ve been giving them every four hours!”
“Yea? And we’d never have let you get away with that, had we only known!”
Minuet was stunned, standing there alone. “I’ve no time for this,” she stammered, turning to leave as diners began pushing back their chairs throughout the room. “We’ve got drops to give and bedpans to haul. Come on, Bethan…”
“So where’s your hired woman, witch?” shouted Martha, blocking Minuet’s escape as the entire dining room crowded around. “Could it be that we’re onto the truth and she didn’t want to hang alongside you for your sorceries?”
“If I were a witch,” cried Minuet, standing her ground before the huge woman, “why have I not struck you down with a curse by now?”
Martha dropped her jaw at this and grabbed herself by the throat to sit down on the floor with a heavy plump and topple onto her side like a sack of corn. The crowd stepped back with wide-eyed gasps.
“Good show Martha!” cried Minuet. “But the only thing wrong with you is your vicious demeanor!”
“You killed my wife!” shouted Sam, falling to his knees beside her as shouts of “Rope! Rope!” erupted from the crowd.
“She’s no more dead than I am!” cried Minuet.
“How do we know you’re alive?” shouted Sam.
“Yea!” hollered someone. “Hang her and burn her!”
“Rope! Rope! Rope!” chanted the crowd, as two huge men grabbed her and threw her against the wall to pummel her face and break her wrist, causing her to black out and fall to the floor, where they began kicking her at once.
“Stop!” bellowed Sergeant Bernard as he flung open the door, sword drawn.
Bethan came in right on his heels, elbowing her way through the crowd in a fury. “My baby girl!” she shrieked as she grabbed one of the kicking men by the hair on the back of his head, yanking him off balance onto the floor.
“Why you old sow!” cried the other man as he wheeled and kicked Bethan in the thigh, knocking her onto the floor.
The man on the floor rose to his knees, drawing his sword in time for Bernard to take off his head with a whistling swing of his saber.
By now the room had fallen to a hush as Minuet and Bethan’s other four bodyguards entered with swords drawn, followed by a dozen other royal guardsmen. Bethan knelt over Minuet, sobbing and smoothing her hair from her face.
“Seize that man trying to hide the rope!” shouted Bernard.
There was a brief scuffle as murmurs began stirring.
“Silence!” roared Bernard, punctuating the quiet which followed with the sound of his heels on the boards of the floor as he paced. “I am placing under arrest every one of you on this side of the room, from the man with the rope, clean to the wall, except for
Mistress Dewin and Bethan…”
“Why not the witch?” said Sam as he knelt by Martha. “If she’s not killed my wife, she at least has a spell on her.”
Bernard motioned to one of the guardsmen with a nod and whispered something in his ear. “We will hold you in the castle jail until you appear before the King’s Bench,” he said, continuing his speech as the guardsman slipped outside.
“What about the witch?” cried Sam as the guardsman returned with a hunting crop and handed it to Bernard.
Bernard made no reply as he took the crop and walked calmly over to Martha, smacking her rump with a furious whistling crack, causing her to jerk away with a yodeling shriek, tumbling up onto her knees wide eyed as she dearly held her behind. “I’m right glad to see that you’ll be awake for your hearing, dear,” he said as he handed the hunting crop back to the guardsman.
Ch. 11, Good Sister, Bad Sister
(Click on book title or book image to download from Amazon)
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps
Herio awoke to the sound of busy wee toenails scuffling along a corky ridge of bark overhead as a tiny chickadee searched for hibernating grubs. The cloudless dawn sky above was already turning blue. At the sound of a metallic clink from a link of his shackles, the bird chipped and flitted away. He jerked, giving a furious scratch at the fleas which infested the tattered unicorn blanket which Sergeant Dunvel had resentfully shoved at him. It was still far too cold to do without it. Jays called.
“Wake up cachu ci!” barked Dunvel as he kicked him in the ribs hard enough to knock the wind out of him.
He cried out in pain as he struggled to get his breath. He sat up, drawing his shackles tight around the trunk of the small maple he had straddled all night.
At once, Dunvel had a knife at his throat. “There, cachu ci,” he said, tossing the keys into the leaves by his shackles. “Undo ’em. And if ye do anything quick at all, I’ll haul your stinkin’ red head to Niarg in a bag.”
Herio stretched out his arms, mindful of the blade at his Adam’s apple. He had to try several times to unlock the shackles, since his hands were trembling convulsively and Dunvel simply refused to let him lean forward. The blade stank fiercely of raw egg and foul spit. Wave after wave of white-hot fear surged through him as he fumbled. He could picture his own throat being cut. He could picture himself somehow grappling away the knife and running Dunvel through. Somehow he would manage to stay alive because someday he would get Dunvel for this, after he got Brutus for killing his little brother.
At last he was astride his unicorn, a small dappled cyflymder-Dúlish cross. The thought of spurring it and dashing away through the timber had died the moment he saw how both mounts were already tethered together. He watched Dunvel champing open-mouthed at the last of the travel rations like some kind of dog. His stomach gnawed and he looked away.
“Hey cachu ci!” barked Dunvel. “Want some? Hey! Don’t you look away! Do you want some?”
Herio looked but made no reply.
“You’d better answer me ‘fore I come over there an’ make you. Are you hungry?”
“Well, ye ain’t gettin’ any ’cause this is the last, last little bit,” he said with beady-eyed merriment as he came up close to chew. He wiped his hands first on his breeches and then in the leaves, as he belched loud enough for it to echo amongst the trees. He began untying reins. “We’ll reach Castle Niarg in less than an hour, I’d reckon,” he said with a grunt, as he threw his leg over his ponderous ceffyl arfog unicorn. “Now, ye’d best be rememberin’ what the captain said, or else a lot more of your stinkin’ Ash Forkers are goin’ ‘o swing.” He roared with laughter and smacked Herio’s unicorn on the rump, making it rear and roll its eyes before spurring his own mount off through the leaves.
Herio stared straight ahead, tears streaming down his cheeks, watching his unicorn’s ears turn this way and that, as Dunvel went to great lengths to describe how his little red-haired brother had kicked and kicked and turned blue as he died. At last the castle loomed before them, ending the ordeal.
Dunvel smoothed and straightened his black sash with its embroidered blood red hourglass and grinned a toothy grin as they rode up to the gate. “You remember why you’re here, cachu ci,” he said.
Herio kept his eyes forward and gave a curt nod only to show that he had heard.
“Halt, right there!” hollered the guard from the embrasure above the portcullis.
“Ha,” thought Herio at the sight of the look which flickered across Dunvel’s face, though not a twitch of expression managed to surface on his own.
“What business has one bearing an escutcheon such as yours doing here, sir?” echoed the guard.
“We have an urgent message for your king!” hollered Dunvel.
“Urgent? And who might this urgent message be from?”
“Are you blind, man?” cried Dunvel. “It ought to be obvious!”
“We are right well credited by this tottering sack of hog dung, wearing the black sash and red hourglass of sorcery and treachery, if by the mere sight of him he fancies that we can read his mind!” called out Captain Bernard as he stepped beside the guard. “Unfortunately, since he’s so frightfully ugly that it would be impossible to read his mind, we must assume that his bloated head merely makes him forget his place in a country not his own! So be it! I’ll let His Majesty know at once! In the meantime, though, you’d best stay exactly where you are, since I’ve ordered a score of long bowmen to loose arrows if they see you move at all!”
Ch. 47, Stone Heart
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps
Demonica’s keep had two great towers at opposite ends of the front wall of the castle proper. One of them housed Razzorbauch’s great library. The other one served as her private lookout over the vast Orin Ocean to the far off horizons in three directions. In good weather she was fond of having supper on its uppermost storey under a tile roof held
aloft by open Gothic arches on all sides. On this particular evening, she and Ugleeuh sat
across from each other in their crimson dresses, listening to the booming of the surf as the breeze ran ripples along the skirt of their linen tablecloth. She forked two more steaming slices of duck roast onto her plate of sour cabbage from the duck’s cavity and looked up at Ugleeuh. “Is something the matter, dear?” she said as she licked her fingertips.
“How do you eat like that after…?” said Ugleeuh, waving aside her own comment with a shake of her head. “Oh, never mind.”
“You don’t find that a good torture session increases your appetite?”
“Well, Minuet and Bethan were the one who always dressed the chickens…”
“Well. You do look right peaked, now that you call my attention to it, dear. Do Minuet and Bethan lose their appetites for chicken on the days they cut up fryers?”
“Of course not. They’ve learnt that what’s in the skillet is important enough that gory feathers are of no consequence at all. And the blood on a torture table doesn’t matter, either. What counts is that heady sense of power. Madog was on his way to see to your undoing. Now Leeuh, surely you’re not about to tell me that the mess in the dungeon overshadowed the orchestration of his deserving end, are you?”
“And that’s the entertaining part,” she said with a happy wave of her knife. “What good would it be if he died first thing?”
“I did enjoy myself, Mother,” she said as she picked up her bread to butter. “Could you pass the duck? I’d like some cabbage and some more bird.”
“Oh it is. And I did have fun. But what does torture have to do with sorcery?”
“Oh, not so much with sorcery as it has to do with power. One must enjoy power in order to wield it.”
“So now that we’re relaxed and powerful, when will you teach me to be a sorceress?”
“Well sorcery does include power,” said Demonica as she spread some cabbage onto her bread. “But no more today, dear. Let’s just talk and get to know each other.”
“Fine. What do you want to know?”
“Well, what did Princess Branwen do to make you go to all that trouble to get rid of her?”
“She was betrothed to Prince Hebraun.”
“So I’ve my own plans for Hebraun, if you must,” said Ugleeuh with a sullen toss of her raven mane.
“Why you look vexed. I’m only curious about you.”
“Yea? Well it would be easier to take, had you any curiosity about me while I was growing up,” she said, glaring as she wiped her mouth. “So here you be after skipping my life entirely up to now, pushing at me for a cozy little chat. My appetite’s gone. I’m going to bed.” And with that, she threw her napkin onto her plate and stood up.
“Touchy, are we?” said Demonica as Ugleeuh reached the stairs.
Ugleeuh slowed as her back stiffened, taking the first step down.
In Chapter 17 of Good Sister, Bad Sister, Demonica takes Ugleeuh to see Madog, the one who delivered the cat to Princess Branwen. It quickly becomes clear that not only did Ugleeuh murder Princess Branwen of Far, she also caused the outbreak of the plague.
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps
In the early 21st century, in an effort to increase human productivity, science granted mankind wearable AI headsets.
By 2016, these early versions were cast aside and replaced with more reliable, Nano-sized, implantable devices tuned to human thought.
Infants received their implants at birth. Total human connectivity was achieved in March of 2201.
Governments, militaries and schools were abolished, and the world was handed over to a network of intelligent computers called AHNN.
Now in the 31st century, or 9th, depending on who you talk to, AHNN has pretty much had it with running the world and has decided to give it back.
This is AHNN’s story.
My Review of AHNN by T.E. Mark
Imagination or vision? I couldn’t help but ponder this question while reading this multi-layered tale. In this scifi/dystopian novel the entire world has been transformed and is ruled by a vast A.I. (artificial intelligence) known as AHNN. This plot at first glance might appear to be just another tale on a familiar theme, but AHNN deviates from the norm almost instantly.
AHNN is a clever, highly imaginative, and well-written original story with a god deal of humor. The plot flows smoothly and quickly, and the characters are as diverse as they are interesting. For these things alone, AHNN is worth a read. Though personally, I feel it would be a shame to dismiss this book as mere entertainment, and not give it some deep thought. On close inspection the story reveals a world with technology and social issues reminiscent of our own, such as A.I.’s taking over jobs that were previously filled by human workers, racial discrimination, and unrest due to border and immigration disputes, to name but a few. Does this suggest we are on the verge of becoming a dystopian society, or have we already taken the first initial steps to that end?
In AHNN, the all-powerful A.I. resolves all the issues which face the population under its rule. The irony is that once the people become totally reliant on AHNN and the new technology which runs their world, they lose all the things which make them unique, and well, human. Meanwhile, AHNN, the great technological guide and deity in orbit above the earth, appears to gain at least the rudiments (if not more) of humanity itself, when it realizes that all its efforts to improve his people’s lives have not yielded quite the results it envisioned
I believe that the way the book ends is a warning about human complacency, and the fact that down through the ages humankind has never been able to fully resolve its in-group, out-group issues satisfactorily. Instead, we seem to resort to the same old tactics and behaviors we always have used in the past, even though our knowledge and technology continues to increase. It appears that our advanced knowledge and technology only serve to make us more dangerous, and vulnerable, and ultimately the probable facilitators of our own eventual demise. Or could it simply be that the only way humankind will actually grow and thrive is on chaos and conflict?
I highly recommend this brilliant scifi/dystopian tale to all who enjoy this genre, and especially to all who want a book that makes them think.
“Happy birthday!” cried Wizard Razzmorten with a grand whirl of his cape, leaving a round wooden box with a gawking baby parrot sitting on the board by the cake.
“Why a popinjay, dear. They’re almost impossible to come by…”
“It’s all pinfeathers. You surely don’t intend for it to actually be my gift, do you?”
“Well it’s right young, Leeuh,” he said. “When you start with them at that age, they can actually be talking to you before they’re quite a year old.”
“Not if I drown it first…”
“Lee-Lee!” cried her sister. “You don’t mean that! What an awful way to treat your Father…”
“Oh go on! He surely knows better. Here I am, still waiting for you to serve me, and he runs up and plops down this dirty box full of muslin, fowl and green poop, right where I was expecting my cake. And by the way, dearest Minuet, just how long are you going to stand there with my saucer in your hand? It is my birthday, don’t you know. And since that thing in the box is my birthday gift, I certainly get to drown it.”
“Don’t you dare!” said Minuet. “I’ll take it if you don’t want it…”
“Please!” said Razzmorten, throwing up his hands. “Let’s you and I take the morning tomorrow and find you something special in the market, or if you know of something better just…”
Ugleeuh wasn’t listening. “You can have the stinking popinjay, Minuet, if you give me my cake before it slides off the saucer.”
“You mean it?”
“Sure sister dear. The cake now, and it’s yours, but you’ll still owe me.”
Ch. 1, Good Sister, Bad Sister
Ugleeuh came to Razzmorten’s door and opened it. A pungent smell of old paper whirled through the room on a rush of air from the window, bright with yellow maple leaves. “Oh, he’s busy with his stupid still,” she said. She skipped down the hallway to Minuet’s room and peered in. “No Minny-Min,” she said, clasping her hands together. “She’s off somewhere, busy at being just too, too.” She stopped short at the sight of Hubba Hubba on his perch by the bed. “But the stinking popinjay’s sure here.”
Hubba Hubba went skinny as she crossed the room.
“Hold still, popinjay,” she said as she crept up to the perch. “It’s high time we drowned you, don’t you think?”
He stood upright with wide orange eyes, leaning back away from her as she drew near. The moment she grabbed for him, he bit the web of her hand and flew away into the hallway, screaming: “Minuet! Minuet! Minuet!”
“I’m not done with you, stinker!” shouted Ugleeuh as she grabbed her bleeding hand. “How about spending eternity as a crow?”
Suddenly Minuet stepped into the doorway, out of breath.
“Minny-Min!” cried Ugleeuh, as if she’d just stepped out of a coach. “I’m home!”
Ch 17, Good Sister, Bad Sister
Minuet stood inside the doorway catching her breath, as a whir of wings flew ’round the corner from the hallway. She held up her finger to collect the landing flurry of feathers without taking her eyes off Ugleeuh.
“Minuet!” shrieked Hubba Hubba between pants. “Bad bear witch!”
“Well you certainly excited Hubba Hubba, Leeuh,” said Minuet. “What happened? Did Uncle Razzorbauch disappoint you, or did you disappoint him?”
“Bad!” growled Hubba Hubba.
“No, no sweetness,” said Ugleeuh with a pampered tone. “You disappoint me. You failed as big sister. I’ve tried and tried so hard as little sister, but you’re just too, too.”
“Bad witch!” growled Hubba Hubba.
“Do you really expect a warm welcome after the way you left? You didn’t even tell Father.”
“Right!” she scoffed as she brushed passed Minuet on her way to the door. “As if I owed him. He’s hardly been a father. What would he care? Always trying to make me to fit the goody-goody mold, just like big sister. He’s the one who owes me.”
Ch. 18, Good Sister, Bad Sister
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps
Posted below is a recent letter I wrote to my congressmen:
Dear Senator Largesse:
For years, big chemical outfits such as Monsanto have paid for a substantial amount of the research at the University of Illinois and other land grant colleges. As a result, the farmers in this area have almost entirely abandoned conventional tillage for no-till farming. This means that farmers are using sprays instead of controlling weeds and pests by mechanical means such as disking and cultivating.
The problem with this is that pests and weeds have a high rate of reproduction and consequently a high probability of adaptive mutation. That is, they quickly develop resistance to the sprays, requiring the farmers to use ever greater quantities of spray to keep the weeds and pests under control. Eventually sprays will cease to be effective against the new resistant strains of weeds and pests, but by that time, spray use will have increased to levels disastrous to the environment and human health.
Years ago, when I was getting my degrees in botany and zoology, I was quite taken by how very similar human cell machinery was to that of all other organisms. Our cells’ structure and chemistry are not very different from those of agricultural pests and weeds.
Already, we have resistant strains appearing, such as a resistant pigweed in beans, and spray use is increasing astronomically. So to hide this from the public, someone has allowed the chemical companies to sell sprays without the distinctive safety odor which has until now warned people that they were breathing something toxic. Now, the public no longer has a choice about whether they have to breath toxic fumes. The sprays are odorless and being sprayed with impunity.
After a career of teaching, my wife and I came back home to the farm I grew up on, looking forward to enjoying being out of doors. And up until now, if we got a whiff of spray, we simply avoided it. This year, the bean fields have been inundated with odorless spray. Ditches everywhere have been turned brown with spray instead of being mowed. And before we know it, we find ourselves breathing the sprays long enough to be caught up in the throes of asthma attacks and convulsive coughing seizures and migraine after migraine. After waiting all year for warm weather, we now can not ride our tandem bicycle without getting migraines, strangling and chest pains. We have been forced to give up riding our bike, and now we scarcely dare to go outdoors.
This has to stop! It is bad enough to base a new agriculture on a toxic and unsustainable chemistry in the first place, but it is utter insanity to allow greedy chemical companies to take away people’s right to avoid exposure to their poisons. Please, PLEASE do something to make it illegal to sell or to apply odorless pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Please legislate it to be mandatory for all sprays to have a vile and easily recognized safety scent in order to allow their use.
Thank you for your time,
Please feel free to copy and use this letter to send to your Congressmen.
“Here’s my dearest,” she said grandly. “His name is Hubba Hubba and he is such a darling, but I’m afraid he enjoys eating more than he does flying. He’s just a bit too plump to get off the ground these days…”
Ch. 10, The Collector Witch
“Yea,” said Hubba Hubba with pompous arrogance. “Time to eat.”
Rose bolted upright, wide eyed. “It talks!” she said, flinging back her covers. “I thought only parrots could do that, and not even all of them.”
Ugleeuh and Hubba Hubba turned to glare at her with one icy accord, reminding her so much of a pair of glaciers, that without thinking she pulled her blankets back over her legs.
“My name is Hubba Hubba,” he said with a flash of his eyes, as he straightened his heft beneath his bristling mantle of feathers. “I am not a thing. Do not refer to me as ‘It!’”
Ugleeuh swelled up with a hiss through her nose to glower down at Rose.
Rose shrank back into her bed roll.
“I don’t like parrots,” she snarled. “I would never have one, and I prefer not to discuss the vile creatures. Crows, particularly this one, have far greater command of language than any parrot. And from now on, if either of you talks about or speaks to my dearest, you’ll call him Hubba Hubba. Is that perfectly clear?”
Ch. 10, The Collector Witch
“So,” said Hubba Hubba with a rasp like a rusty hinge as he leveled a derisive squint. “Just how much of the time which you just spent outside was actually taken up by deciding if your unicorns were indeed gone? At this rate, I’ll be lucky to get into the air before Ugleeuh gets back. Why, she might not even see me up there and crash into me. Chaos and mayhem. I’d be dead and you two would be to blame. She’d never get over it. She’d never forgive you. Never let you go if she even let you live.”
“Don’t you dare threaten us with that old sow witch of yours, Lard Ball!” shouted Lukus, lunging at him with a stamp. “What I want to know is what the old bat’s done with our unicorns. She has no right to take them! She could hang for it, don’t you know. Where are they? She has no…”
“Careful there snot,” he said as he leant forward, following Lukus’s movements minutely. “You’re repeating yourself. And I’d also advise you to be cautious about how you speak to me and how you treat me, because Ugleeuh will hear of it. In fact, she’s told me to give her a complete report of your entire behavior upon her return, and I must say that it’s not very favorable, so far.”
Ch. 11, The Collector Witch
“Good,” she said. “Then I suppose we have no choice for our next step but to hitch up the sparrows.” She shuddered as she looked about and found them, shackled to their iron balls, pecking at crumbs on the floor. “So then, Hubba Hubba, just how does one wrangle venomous little birds into harnesses and make them do your bidding without getting poisoned in the process?”
He made no reply, but Rose’s comment stopped all three sparrows at once. They gazed up at her, keenly absorbed in what she was up to. He leant forward, clacked his beak and leered at them, but the grumpy gesture caused them to break out in a titter. He ruffled up with a heavy shake and hoisted himself into an aloof posture.
Rose turned to Lukus. He shrugged, making it quite clear that he knew no more about the matter than she.
“Well,” said Hubba Hubba from under a half opened eye, “they might not be quite as deadly as Ugleeuh led you to believe.”
“Just how much risk is there to handling them?” said Rose.
“Practically none,” he said, almost meekly.
“Practically!” yelped Lukus. “What does that mean? Either the birds are dangerous or they aren’t, Tubbo!”
“Name calling is very childish and rude,” said Hubba Hubba as he drew himself up on his perch, obviously stung by Lukus’s taunts about his corpulence. “It was not I, dear impetuous one, who told you that tale about the slaves, you know.”
“No, but you’re the one who’s refused to be clear about it, yet.”
“Lukus! None of this is getting us anywhere,” said Rose. “Hubba Hubba, are the sparrows poisonous or not?”
“Not in the least,” he sighed. “Chirp, Tweet and Squeak merely have small minds.”
Ch. 11, The Collector Witch
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps
Describe the books you like to write.
The stories I am called to write are adventurous, quick moving, sensual, spicy, and flush with surprising twists and turns. Many of the heroes and heroines are otherworldly–ghosts, guardians, goddesses, witches, fairies, angels, and demons, while some are human but with special insight. The otherworldly ones also possess humanlike attributes and personalities, while exploring the depths of their unique abilities and powers. My characters must deal with challenges on the human earth world and other realities. Their lives don’t always unfold like a blossom opening to the sun. Sometimes a solar flare erupts and fries the pristine bud. Sometimes the flower morphs into a breathtaking, witchy siren. My characters seek beauty in the midst of darkness and devotion in the midst of bedlam. Simmering below it all is the immutable flame of eternal love.
What is the most important thing writers can do for themselves?
The most important thing a writer can do is write, write, and write some more. Instead of obsessing over getting your first book published if you are not going the indie route or finding an agent, write a second book, and a third.
What writers have influenced you?
Other than author Loretta C. Rogers, who convinced me that I could write a novel and get it published, I am drawn to the clarity, brevity, and action of vintage romance author Dorothy Cork and icon Rex Stout, author of the Nero Wolfe mysteries.
What literature do you find particularly compelling?
I love the novels of Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Hardy; the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare; and the poetry of Yeats and Keats, just to name a few.
John Keats: “Real are the dreams of gods and soothly pass their pleasures in a long immortal dream.”
Julian of Norwich: “All is well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
How does your writing process work?
I like to plan, plot, and measure where the turning points should go and then allow the characters or chaos muse to take the story in unanticipated directions. As a writer, the initial planning provides a tether so that I’m not always floating in the stratosphere, while the openness to change gives color and liveliness to the project. New beings flutter forth from the fae dimension. I like a good surprise.
What message do you most want your writing to convey to readers?
Experience, enjoy, and esteem the magic of life.