Halloween Tricks and Treats: Conclusion

ACEO - Halloween 3

Halloween Tricks and Treats

Part 2

BY: Carol Marrs Phipps

Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins-Cramer

 

Benny laughed and sailed up the walk to the neat brick front stoop and the cheerily decorated house before them. It even had fake spider webs all over the bushes near the house and a neat witch decoration on the front door. Benny rang the doorbell and a moment later the boys heard an odd pitter patter coming across the floor inside the house. A few moments later the screen door creaked open a crack and Josh and Benny peered inside, somewhat confused that they at first saw no one and didn’t know why the door had come open. Suddenly, Josh felt something tap on the top of his shoe and looked down to see a disembodied hand motioning him inside. His first reaction was to jerk his foot away from the little horror and get the hell out of there, but Benny was giggling. Josh looked inside again and saw a young boy, Benny’s age, dressed like Count Dracula, himself, remote control in hand, coming towards the door. Beside the little vampire was a beautiful girl, with long, blonde hair, dressed up like Sleeping Beauty. He was sure she had to be close to his own age. Benny’s party shows promise, he thought as their hosts stopped at the door to greet them and bid them enter.

***

The party was amazing and both Josh and Benny were having the time of their lives. The costumes were the most realistic either boy had ever seen. The beautiful teenage girl turned out to be Mindy Cates. “Moving back to this very spot and even having this party was my idea,” she explained to Josh. “Well, and my therapist’s, too. He felt that I must confront what had happened to me. You know, that was ten years ago on Halloween night on this very spot,” she confided. “The doctors hope that I might finally free myself of my horrible nightmares of what happened that night.”

 It seemed a bit extreme to Josh, but hey, what did he know about psychology? Soon he found himself dancing to crazy Halloween tunes like The Monster Mash and having the time of his life. When Michael Jackson’s Thriller began to blare from the CD player the partiers got into place and began an incredible imitation of what the boys had both seen Jackson and his incredible dancers do in their music video. To Josh’s surprise, they pulled him into it.  He was having such a riot he never even noticed when Mindy, Damon and Benny disappeared from the room.

ACEO - Halloween 4 The Pumpkin Thief

Mindy and Damon led Benny to a quiet little room down a long hall that was completely empty save for three chairs. Mindy indicated he should sit with a wave of her hand. Once he had complied she and Damon took the other two chairs.

“So,” Benny said after a moment, “is this some kind of game?”

“No,” Mindy said, sharing a quick look with Damon, “this is quite real and quite serious, Benny. You see, Damon and I want to help you…if you will let us?”

“Help me? I don’t get it. Help me what?”

“Heal your body and your sad heart,” Mindy replied in almost a whisper.

Benny’s eyes widened. “How? The doctors said it will take years of surgery…and even then, I won’t be the same as I was before the accident.”

Mindy chewed her bottom lip briefly and studied Benny’s face. “Look…you’ve nothing to be afraid of and this is all…complicated. So, I’m going to ask you to just trust me and do what I ask. I promise I won’t hurt you and when it is over, you will look exactly as you did before your accident…if that is what you want?”

Benny sat back in his chair and looked questioningly at Damon, who nodded his reassurance. “OK,” he replied. “What do I have to do?”

“Close your eyes tight and keep them shut, no matter what, until I tell you to open them,” Mindy instructed. “Will you do that?”

“All right,” Benny said after one more quick glance at Damon. Then he squeezed shut his eyes and waited. A moment later he felt something quite cool, but very soft, brush across his neck, and pause there.

“You can open your eyes now, “ Mindy said in what seemed to Benny to be only a few seconds later. “All done.”

Benny blinked. “That’s it? Now I’m magically transformed into my old self?”

“Yeah, all transformed…only, we’ll have to do this again every year on Halloween until you become eighteen. Then…you decide if you want your healing to remain permanently, or return to what you were before I…helped you,” Mindy said.

Benny frowned. “I’m confused. What exactly did you do and how do I even know that you did anything?”

Damon jumped up and hurried over to a door on the far wall and jerked it open, revealing a full length mirror attached to the backside of what Benny could now see was a closet door. “Come take a look,” he invited.

Benny strode quickly to the door and gasped when he saw his flawless reflection. Then he reached up in wonder and felt his now baby, smooth skin. Tears of joy and gratitude sprang into his eyes. “But…how?” he asked as he turned back to Mindy, who had come over to stand by him and Damon.

“I…shared my regenerative powers with you,” she said, “but when you become 18 you will have to either become fully like me or become as you were.”

Benny reached slowly up and touched the place on his neck where he had felt that cold, soft touch. Mindy nodded at the realization she saw in the young boy’s eyes. “Yes, Benny, I am a vampire. But you are not…yet…as I am. I will come to you every All Hallows Eve until your appointed time. No matter where you go, I will find you. But the final choice will be yours. Do you understand?”

Benny glanced at his image in the mirror once more then back at Mindy and nodded.

“Good, then we should return to the party, I expect it is nearly over and you and Josh must return to your lives while Damon, I, and our friends return to ours. You will not remember how you were transformed this night, until we meet again, next Halloween. That is both for your own protection and ours,” she said. Then she led him back to the party that did, indeed, come to a conclusion, almost as soon as they re-entered it.

Time somehow seemed to stretch and then shrink and become all fuzzy. The next thing Benny knew he and Josh were standing back in their own kitchen and their Mom was coming through the kitchen door.

“Hi guys!” Jean said breezing into the kitchen, “how come you’re both still up? You didn’t just get here, did you?” she asked as her eyes narrowed and her gaze darted to the bold-faced kitchen clock. It clearly read 12:15. She placed her hands on her hips and turned back to wait for a reply from her sons. Suddenly she gasped and nearly fainted as she finally got a clear look at Benny’s no-longer ruined face. She stared questioningly at Josh, who shrugged and shook his head. Benny just beamed and threw himself into his Mother’s arms.

ACEO - Pumpkin Patch & Wagon 1

The next morning, Jean packed her two sons into the car and drove to 666 Mockingbird Lane, determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious healing of her precious young son and also to thank whoever had been responsible for this amazing miracle. The family piled quickly from the car the moment Jean turned off the ignition and hurried to the narrow sidewalk between the tall hedge…and stared in amazement at the empty lot beyond.

 

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Halloween Tricks and Treats, Part 1

ACEO - Halloween 1 LISTED

Halloween Tricks and Treats

Part 1

BY: Carol Marrs Phipps

Illustrated By: Lana Dobbins-Cramer

 

Benjamin Burns sprang off the last step of the school bus and rushed up the walk and into his house. And he did so with a happy bounce to his step for a change. After all, it was Halloween and he had just made a new friend at school. But, most of all, his new friend had invited him, him, to a costume party at his house this very night! (After he had finished trick-or-treating, that is).

“Hi Mom!” Benny sing-songed as he fairly skipped into the kitchen where his mother was already preparing supper.

Jean Burns turned from the sink where she was peeling potatoes curious to learn why he seemed so happy and excited, and smiled brightly at her precious younger son. She hadn’t seen him show this much enthusiasm since before the accident. The accident where she nearly lost him. The horrible car crash that stole away her beloved husband, Robert, and left her eight-year old boy scarred and disfigured, possibly for the rest of his life. The semi driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and crossed over into the oncoming lane. Bob had been killed instantly, but Benny was critically injured when the car flipped over four times before it came to a stop upside down in the ditch and caught on fire. Benny was wearing a seat belt, but he had first, second and third degree burns over most of his body, before he was freed from the wreckage. He had hideous burns on his face and had lost his sight in his left eye.

That was two years ago, but since Benny had returned to school he had been depressed. The children at school treated him differently now and did not play with him unless they had no choice. Benny no longer had any friends. He said the kids didn’t like him because he was ugly now. He was convinced that many of them were even afraid of him. It broke Jean’s heart. She had gone to school and explained to all his classmates about the terrible accident Benny had been in, hoping the children would understand and begin including her son in their play once more. But it hadn’t happened. A few girls did try to talk with him and include him, but Benny stopped playing with them after a few days. When Jean finally coaxed him to tell her why, she had been horrified to learn that the girls wanted him to be the scary monster and chase them.

Today was the last day she expected Benny to come home fairly bursting with energy and excitement. She had almost kept him home from school this morning because last year some cruel boys had told him that he could trick-or-treat without a costume. He had come home devastated.

Jean bent over and kissed her son on the top of his curly brown mop of hair. “So, you gonna tell me what has you all excited?” she asked.

Benny nodded and pulled a small envelope from his pocket and handed it to her, then waited as patiently as he could while she read it. As soon as her bright blue eyes shifted from the party invitation in her hands to his own sparkling brown one’s he blurted, “So, can I go Mom? Please?”

Before Jean could open her mouth to form a reply, his teenage brother, Josh, strolled into the kitchen. “Can you go where, squirt?” he asked as he studied first his younger sibling’s imploring face and then his mother’s bemused expression and noticed the party invitation in her hand. “Oh! So you’re invited to a Halloween party, huh?”

Benny beamed and nodded and Josh looked back at his mother. “Hey Mom, don’t sweat it, I’ll take Benny to the party if you have to work tonight.”

“Thank you, Josh,” she said, handing him the invitation to his momentary surprise, but he quickly realized she must have done so because he would need to know the time and location of the party. He glanced quickly at the invitation, read the time and address, then started to hand it back to Benny…but froze with the card still in his hand and met his mother’s eyes before taking a better look at the card.

“Hey! What’s goin’ on?” Benny asked, as his excitement of a moment ago began to turn to fear that he was not going to be able to attend the first fun event he had been invited to since before his accident. “Can I go or can’t I?” he added, confused by the odd turn of events. He had thought his family would have been just as happy and excited as he was.

His mom and Josh exchanged a look over top of his head. “Look, sweetheart, you go get your homework done and we’ll talk about it over supper, OK?”

Benny looked from his mother to his brother, then down at the floor. “Yeah, sure,” he mumbled sullenly and trudged to his room.

***

Supper was a quiet affair until the dishes had been cleared away, then Jean and Josh took turns explaining to Benny that they both wanted more than anything for him to go to his new friends party and have a wonderful time…but the problem was that the address on the invitation said the party was to be at 666 Mockingbird Lane at the Cates’ residence and as far as they both knew, there no longer was a house at that residence. The Cates family that had once lived there were all now deceased.

Benny listened to this information and nodded, a relieved, but knowing look on his young, disfigured face. “I know all of that,” he said impatiently, “but now there is a house there again. It was moved there from Grangerville just a few days ago. My friend, Damon’s family got the place real cheap because the people who owned it had both passed away. They had no family so the city council wanted the land for a parking lot. But they decided that maybe they could make a little profit on the place if they sold it instead of having it demolished.

ACEO - Halloween 2

“Damon also told me that his Uncle John and Aunt Marie’s family lived in the house at the address where his house sits now. They were all murdered by a madman. All except his cousin Mindy, that is. She was only badly wounded and left for dead. The cops had the newspapers report the whole family had been killed because they were afraid that the murderer might try again to kill her if he found out that she was still alive and might be able to identify him. So, when she was well enough, Mindy was sent to live with Damon’s parents, Wolfgang and Elvira Cates,” he added this last with a great sigh and a hopeful expression cast first at his mother, then his big brother, who immediately exchanged a look across the table.

“That is quite a story, young man,” Jean said with a look on her face that Benny knew quite well meant she was not entirely convinced it was all true. Oh, not that he was lying, just that he might not really have been told the truth by his friend, Damon. Still, Benny could tell that the imploring look on his disfigured young face was winning her over, nevertheless. “So…I’ll tell you what. Even though I’m not sure I buy the whole thing I’m going to take a chance and say that you can go…see about this party. Your brother will take you there after you finish with what trick-or-treating you wish to do. If there truly is a house at that location now and your friend and his family are there having a party, you may attend it until ten o’clock. No later. Understood?”

Benny grinned and nodded his head up and down enthusiastically.

“Good,” Jean said, then cautioned. “However, if, as Josh and I fear, there is no house in that location, you will come straight home and do your very best not to feel too bad. You know that there are people out there who are unkind and even cruel to people who are …different…than they are.”

Benny thought this over for a few moments before he slowly nodded. He knew all right. He had been the victim of such cruelness far too often since the accident.

“Then run and get your costume and I will help you get ready before I leave for work,” his mother said. Benny grinned happily and flew to his room to gather up his costume.

***

Jean bent over and tied a neat bow at the neck of Benny’s faux fur prince cape and then set the shining gold plastic crown with the big pretend jewels upon his curly head and kissed his scarred forehead. “Have fun trick-or-treating, and remember…”

“Don’t eat anything until I get home and you or Josh inspects it for signs of tampering,” Benny said before she could.

Jean smiled and nodded. “And…don’t be too disappointed if your party…doesn’t work out.” Benny nodded solemnly and Jean’s mouth spread into a smile once more. “OK, I’ll see you later, then, sweetheart.”

Benny smiled back and waved as he followed Josh out the door and spent the next two hours merrily trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. But now they had finally arrived at Mockingbird Lane, and Benny was anxious to get to the party, though his brother insisted they might as well trick-or-treat the houses along the way.

“Come on, Benny,” Josh said, “at least if it turns out there isn’t anything at 666 we’ll have something to show for coming all the way here.”

Benny agreed, but just to keep Josh off his case. Teenage brothers could be such a pain if they didn’t get their way!

It seemed like time had slowed down, though, and Benny was beginning to feel like they would never reach the end of the block where Damon said his house was. What was more ominous, though, to Benny, was that it was pitch dark at the end of the lane where the Cates’ house should be. He began to feel disappointment and betrayal creep over him the closer they approached to that lightless spot. He trudged downheartedly from the brightly lit porch of 665 beside Josh who cast him a truly apologetic look, as they began to cross the street to go 667 and back up the other side of the lane.

There was a foreboding thick hedge in front of the property at 666 at the end of the lane, broken only by a narrow sidewalk that split the hedges in the center and ran on up into the darkness. By some unspoken agreement, both boys stopped outside the hedge and stared into the inky blackness towards where the narrow sidewalk ended. Suddenly a great many lights flared all at once, illuminating the house that now resided on the property. Josh and Benny both started in surprise, then exchanged looks of wonder.

“Well little brother,” Josh said with a grin, let’s go see about this party, shall we?”

Rose Loses Fuzz

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Rose awoke beneath the cries of gulls swooping over the waves rolling ashore along a snow herring_gull_semipalmated_sandpiper_and_ploverwhite beach. She ran her fingers through her sand matted hair, squinting into the bright blue sky as she struggled up onto an elbow. A pair of sandpipers took a fluttering hop at the sight of her andi-d8817a76f8ec8d302ecaea6802bc4921-sandpipers-shorebirds scurried away to peck here and there amongst the shells. “Where on earth is this?” she murmured as she looked up and down the beach to find that she was utterly alone. “And my word, just how did I get here? Oh my! The storm. Oh dear Fates, the ship went down!”

 

images (2)She sprang to her feet in a panic. “Fuzz!” she wailed as she looked this way and that. “Fuzz!” she cried out with every bit of her might. She ran madly after something down the beach only halt in despair when she saw that it was an uprooted stump, washed ashore long ago. “Fuzz, Fuzz!” she sobbed. “You have to be here, somewhere!” She started up a hurried walk along the sand, looking everywhere. “We went into the sea together. I remember now. We were holding hands. You and

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I and Karl-Veur.” She turned about to walk backwards for a few strides. Fuzz!” she hollered out. “Karl-Veur!” At last she dropped to the sand. “Anyone?” she said with a whimper as she put her head on her knees and closed her eyes to the sounds of gulls, sandpipers and surf.The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle

 

(Ch. 42, The Burgeoning)

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Minuet Sends Herio with Bernard

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The castle barn owl flew in like a ghost from under the ridge pole to pause on a truss, staring at the echoing voices below before giving a couple of circular bobs with his head and lunging into a glide to his nest with his mouse.

“I don’t understand, Your Majesty,” said Herio, looking anxiously from Razzmorten and Captain Bernard to Minuet. “I’m sworn to protect you. Why must I evacuate? Haven’t I proven myself?”

“Oh, Herio,” said Minuet, her voice full of admiration as she sat beside him and took up his hand, “a most worthy knight of this house you be, but truth to tell, you’re far more than that. Since you are now my adopted son and a potential heir to the throne, you cannot be risked. Besides, I need you to go with Captain Bernard and help protect our people.”

“But, King Hebraun charged me to protect you, my Queen…uh, Minuet,” he said, casting a hopeful look at Hubba Hubba, who was carefully following everything from Razzmorten’s shoulder, “and since you’re now my mother, hit’s even a family matter.”

Hubba Hubba let go of a black feather with a silky snap as he eyed the owl gliding from timber to timber on his way back out. “Queen’s got the right of it,” he rattled. “We’ve lost track of Lukus. We reckon he’s alive, but we don’t know that for sure, and Rose already says she won’t sit on the throne. You’re ‘way more important than just a knight, now that you’re part of the House of Niarg, Prince Herio. Got ‘o do what she wants this time. Besides, I’d feel better having you with me.”

Herio nodded resolutely at Minuet and squared his shoulders.

“You’ll do right well, Prince of Niarg,” she said with a look of fierce pride. “Go now and keep our people safe.” She gave him a quick hug and then took Razzmorten’s arm as they rose and filed outdoors, with Hubba Hubba, Pebbles and both their broods, each one of them now in crow form, fluttering along overhead.

Gwynt was waiting beside Captain Bernard as the mounted throng surrounding them fell to a hush. Herio found his stirrup, threw his leg over the cantle and as soon as the crows had all found their places, nodded at Bernard. At a grand and silent wave from Bernard, the The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindlemultitude began ambling toward the gate. Herio did not look back, but he could feel Minuet’s eyes on him for a very long time.

Ch. 38, The Burgeoning

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Rose and Fuzz Reach Dragonsport

 

 

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“Right there,” said Rose, looking out from under the flat of her hand. “That’s where we have to go. As you can see, the snow white cliffs are turning out to be a whole forest of limestone pillars which we could never begin to sail between, if we haven’t improved since Oyster Cove.”

“Remember when I took Edward to explore all the abandoned buildings of Dragonsport?” said Fuzz. “I had no idea about this side.”

“You’ve not seen anything,” she said. “Wait until we start in.”

“Those leaning trees on top of the pillars are spectacular,” said Olloo.

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“You can see those?” said Rose.

“Well, I can’t decide if they’re oaks…”

“My word!” said Fuzz. “Leaning oaks is indeed what they are. Derwen pwysaf is the old 269495336_32314966dcname. I only know that from discussions, ‘way back when I was here. But I can’t see whether the vegetation on top is trees or not.”

Before long, they had furled their sails and dropped anchor. They decided to row ashore, leaving their unicorns and their strike falcons by themselves on board, except for Olloo’s bird, Baase. Rose had indeed been correct about where to go, for they found themselves rowing ashore along a broad corridor between the gigantic columns of limestone, making for the break in the sheer cliffs behind, which formed a narrow canal where teams of dragons once hauled ships inland to the lagoon and the quays of Dragonsport.

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At the quays, Baase hopped out with a splash and dashed after a lizard. They stepped out as he gobbled it down and hauled their boat ashore in a pulsing sea of cicada calls in the noonday sun and made their way past the abandoned barns and warehouses and up the blinding white dirt lane beyond, which wended up a great flat topped hill covered with leaning oaks.

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“They seldom brought in ships when we were here, so no signs of anyone didn’t bother me,” said Rose, pausing to look back the way they had come. “But the only tracks up this entire lane are ours. Well. If they’re not here, it’s off to the Black Desert, then.”

“I don’t know,” said Fuzz. “The Black Desert is a huge wasteland.”

“Yea, but we’re going to find them.”

“You know that? If it were any one but you a-saying such a thing, I’d not be paying attention.”Shuanghe-Dongqun

Before long, they came to the broad hole in the ground with its great stairway, which was the entrance to the Dragon Caves. By the time they had reached the enormous fountain and statuary of dragons being driven by Razzorbauch at the bottom of the stairs, the caves seemed abandoned to everyone. The Elves begged for an explanation about the towering sculpture from Rose, and held their breaths in rapt attention as her tale echoed from the empty reaches of the vast gallery. There was not a soul.

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Soon they found themselves in Spark and Lipperella’s cavern, respectfully turning over this and that of their remaining flotsam. Rose stepped into Edward and Laora’s room. “Fuzz,” she said, pulling out a wooden stick from under Edward’s mattress. “Look ‘ee here.”Sextantio-Le-Grotte-Della-Civita_11

“My word!” he said, looking it over. “That’s the very sword I was not finished carving for his sixth birthday. I reckon he missed it, under the bed like that. My. Now I never once had the slightest amorous urge for Myrtlebell, as I’ve said many times, but Edward actually grew up as a son to me. Did I ever tell you that he was even born in my old den?”

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“Why no.”

“Oh my. I’m no midwife. I just ran back and forth, fetching clean rags and pans of water. But it had me worried. I mean, I hadn’t so much as pulled a calf nor helped an old ewe in my life, so I dashed out and found Rotundra.”

Rose laughed out. “You didn’t need her.”

“At least I quit dropping and spilling things when she came. And I even managed to pour Myrtlebell’s shot of whisky for Edward’s crowning without spilling a drop. But mercy, did I ever regret it.”

“Why?”

“Have you any idea how many cozy little romantic suppers I ended up obliged to share with Rotundra after that?”

“Very many?”

“Oh my land yes. An entire eternity of them. At least two, as I remember.”

“Aw!” laughed Rose. “Rotundra was sweet, Fuzz. But I was glad her pursuit of you ended when she became Mary the White. I mean, she’s beautiful and things might have turned out different.”

“Go on! Not after we’d met. I’ve actually been in love with you since we were first acquainted.”

“Fiddlesticks! I was a child.”

“Yea. Sixteen and heart stopping gorgeous. And I was a bear with no hair. I could only yearn. Just remember that there’s a lot behind it when I tell you that you are a dream come true.”

“I love you Fuzz,” she said giving him a dear hug. “Say. You just said something. You said that he must have missed it, you know, the sword. I don’t see how he could have. It was down here, sticking half way out from under his mattress like this, see? Hey look! This paper was right here with it.”

“Why that’s a map,” he said.

“Titled, ‘New Dragon Caves!'” she gasped. “And look. A letter to us both. He says he copied this from a map in dragon’s council room. Thank the Fates the witches never found this.”

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“If Spark or any of the other adults had known Edward had this, they’d have snapped it up The Reaper Witch 01 copyfor just that reason.”

“Edward undoubtedly thought that this was his only way of leaving it behind.”

“He just isn’t old enough to grasp how dangerous something like this could be,” he said. “Hey! You were right. I bet we do find them.”

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Elven Trees of the Maidenhair Woods

The Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent has the following indigenous tree and fern species of essential importance to the Gwaelic Elves who still live there (Stone Heart and Elf Killers) and to the Jutish Elves who fled to the Northern Continent with starts of each of them one thousand years ago

 blue maidenhair Ginkgo cyanophyllum R. is a twenty to sixty foot tall broad leaved 

evergreen gymnosperm with chalky blue-green leaves, living on the mountain tops up to the tree line of the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. It is amongst the oldest living things, with some trees having been found with over 16,000 annual rings. The wood is so dense that trees felled next to water have been known to sink as though their trunks were made of stone. The dried leaves, which are drunk as a tea by the Elves, contain ginkeine, an alkaloid complex which includes caffeine and other phytochemicals, some of which may induce DNA repair.

 

fringed maidenhair Ginkgo fimbriflabella R., is a deciduous gymnosperm that lives in waste and burnt over areas where woods meets grassland. It seldom grows taller than 35 to forty feet. Its leaves are deeply lobed with closely spaced fingers, scarcely broader than one mm, giving the tree its name. Its wood is almost white and very soft, and it seldom lives more than 65 to 75 years. Along with plums, crabapples and hawthorns, it is amongst the first woody species of trees to invade after a section of forest is completely burnt off by fire.

maidenhair tree Ginkgo biloba ingentissima R. (The Sacred Maidenhair of Oilean Gairdin is a G. biloba ingentissima) are broad leaved deciduous gymnosperms. These are the tallest living trees on earth with mature specimens towering from 375 to over 400 feet. The largest individual known, living near the bottom of the slopes of the 

Pitmaster Gorge in the Maidenhair Woods, measures 427 feet and is estimated to be well over 7000 years old. They are indigenous to the Maidenhair Woods of the western Eastern Continent where they are the dominant tree, forming the canopies in the deep valleys and steep slopes of the Eternal Mountains up to about 6500 feet. They are amongst the oldest living things on earth with some trees having nearly 10,000 annual rings, though the record for age is held by the very much smaller blue maidenhair, Ginkgo cyanophyllum R., of the mountain tops and tree line.

 

red maidenhair Ginkgo erythrofolium R. is a deciduous broadleaved gymnosperm living throughout the Maidenhair Woods in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent where it overwhelmingly predominates at elevations below 8000 feet. It ranges in height from sixty to ninety feet, the taller trees occurring in low places. It has the interesting ability to thrive under the canopy of the maidenhair trees, Ginko biloba ingentissima R. where the two species overlap. The red bottom surfaces of        its leaves are thought to enable it to thrive in low light conditions. Its dried leaves bear alkaloids, which when chewed by the Elves like tobacco, steadies their nerves.

 

silver maidenhair Ginko genetrex-argenteus R. also called “mother tree” by the Fairies and Gwaelic Elves, its leaves and stems are covered with a silver colored cuticle, hence its name. It lives in symbiotic association with the mycelia of Fairy ring mushrooms, and whilst its leaves, stems, fruit, bark and roots are each said to have potent medicinal properties, the tree’s great rarity has prevented substantial empirical study.    

 

maidenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris R. is the commonest of all species of fern occurring in the Maidenhair Woods of the Eternal Mountains of the west coast of the Eastern Continent, where it forms rank growths along streams, in deep loamy gorges and blankets the north-facing slopes of hills and sandstone bluffs. Its fan shaped leaves resemble the leaves of the maidenhair tree. It grows from six to eighteen inches in height from creeping rhizomes, six inches to six yards long. It is a major part of the diet of the maidenhair red deer, Odocoileus rufi-ginkgus R., and is the likely reason for the animal’s meat having its renowned woodsy flavor.maiden

 Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

Abaddon Thinks Ariel is the Prettiest Little Girl He has Ever Seen

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The sudden cry of an infant across the camp caught Abaddon’s attention. “That must be one of Lukus and Soraya’s twins,” he said, turning to James. “Have you seen them, yet? Ariel, the little girl is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a good job that Momma and Nanna Demonica don’t know about them, don’t you know?”

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“Why’s that?”

“You really don’t know?” said Abaddon with a flicker of his old scorn. “They think Lukus and Soraya are dead. The last thing they want is for them to live and have a baby ’cause of the proper scene. You know, the proper scene. It’s real important, but what is it?”

For a moment he had everyone.

“Prophecy?” said Owain with a respectfully knitted brow as he stepped forth to spit in the fire.

Heart of the Staff Complete Series Box (1)

 

“Oh,” said James. “Well. It’s when some great seer predicts that something is going to happen in the future. The prophesy that I think you must have heard your momma and nana talking about was made years ago by the Elves.”

“So, what is it?”

“It says that the child born of a Human and an Elf will destroy the Heart and the Staff and the evil foe who tried to wield them.”

Abaddon stared away in awe at Soraya soothing Ariel. “No wonder,” he murmured.

Ch 34, The Burgeoning

The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

 

Daniel and Ariel’s Dirty Little Tummies

 

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Lukus strapped the last of their gear onto Shimmer’s panniers and turned to Soraya as hand-holding-crystal-ball_1676626849she finished burying the coals with sand. “You reckon it would be too much trouble to send a message globe to Mother and Grandfather to let them know that we’re safe?” he said over the giggles of Daniel and Ariel as they each grabbed one of his ankles. “It’s been a very long time since we fled Oilean Gairdin.”

001aa018f83f142336ef19Soraya stood up and brushed the dirt from her skirts. “I’m sure they could do with one less worry,” she said, looking about. “Since it’ll be a while before we’re ready to leave here, why don’t we go find Great-Grandfather right now? I’d bet he has time.

Lukus scooped up a squirming and giggling Daniel and Ariel in each arm, blew a raspberry on each dirty little tummy and fell into stride behind the fat_pigeon_by_captain_marmote-d59o7duprettiest young lady in the whole wide world, off to find Neron. By the time Lukus was swinging his leg over Starfire’s saddle whistling Pigeon on the Gate, the message globe was hurtling over the Great Barrier Mountains like a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ch 40, The Burgeoning

The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Herio Smashes Brutus

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“What are we looking for?” said Hubba Hubba, as Herio dismounted and took up a keen search amongst the remains of the fallen.

Herio made no reply.

A_dead_elm_tree_on_Skelston_Moor_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1725919“That’s north, Herio,” said Hubba Hubba, gliding along beside him as he remounted and trotted away. “Don’t we need to go south?”DSC_0003staresparrows

“It shouldn’t be far off,” said Herio, galloping a zigzag from helm to helm along the ground.

Hubba Hubba shared looks with Chirp, Tweet and Squeak as they followed along. Near a great naked dead elm, ringed with fallen sheets of bark and branches, Hero leaped to the ground to straddle a headless skeleton clad in a hauberk with a particularly ornate breastplate and gorget.

Jan 07 History-Art ROCHE 029

He rolled it over once in the faded tatters of it’s black and crimson cape and doublet, looking at 335px-Russian_helmet_13-14centit. “Pen cachu!” he snarled between his teeth as he came down as hard as he could with his heel on the breastplate. “Not good enough!” He looked about quickly and spied a large rock. He grabbed it at once, rocking it out of its depression in the ground. It took three good tries with his veins standing out, grunting and straining to get it shoulder high. Then with a stagger or two, he ran forth with everything he had to heave it at the breastplate which flattened to wrinkles, crushing the ribs. He stood back a moment, getting his breath. “Y pen! ‘Na fargen!” he cried, suddenly dashing over to a silver helm resting in the weeds. As he grabbed it up, a skull fell out onto the12418547305X4hiX ground. “Pen cachu!” he cried out at the top of his lungs as he smashed it with the heel of his boot. “Llofrudd! You hanged my little brother! You hanged poor little Cefnogi Rhywun!” Taking a hatchet from behind Gwynt’s saddle, he knocked out the eye teeth from the broken pieces and then chopped off the golden spike from the top of the helm. He wrapped all of them in a cloth and without a word mounted Gwynt.

Hubba Hubba, Chirp, Tweet and Squeak traded speechless looks from their perches high up in the dead elm before dropping into the air to follow.

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“Bernard said Hebraun himself took off the varmint’s head,” said Hubba Hubba as he landed on Herio’s shoulder.

“And I am forever grateful, featherhead. I only regret not getting to see it happen.”

“So what’s going to happen to the spike and the teeth?”

“They’re a-goin’ deep into the mire in the stinkin’est privy that I happen to sit on in Goll, at least. article-1351054-0CEFC9EE000005DC-286_468x476Something good. I’m not sure yet.”

Hubba Hubba gave a quick nod and clacked shut his beak.

 

 

 

 

 

Ch. 17, The BurgeoningThe_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle

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Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

 

RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB’S “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour: SPOTLIGHT” Author, Marcha Fox

Marcha Fox

Newsletter Tips for Authors

You’ve all seen them–those newsletters that do nothing besides hawk the author’s books. Yuck! BOR-ING! And the more often they’re sent, the more boring they are, usually earning an automated spot in your spam folder. Repetition has a place in advertising and promotion, but there are limits. Think about it: How do you react to such emails?

On the other hand, there are some newsletters I look forward to. Why? Because their content is engaging–interesting articles, recommendations for other books, games, giveaways, and sometimes a contest. I love it when I learn something from a newsletter, whether its strictly a new factoid or get to know the author on a more personal basis. I know what their books are and have probably read them, or they’re on my TBR list. If there’s a new one out, great! But I don’t need to be reminded of your one and only book and assumed claim to fame on a daily basis.

Okay, I’ll admit it, like most authors, it took me a while to figure this out. But when I put myself in the recipient’s place, it was what we physicists like to say, “intuitively obvious”. I’ve been told in book promotion classes that a newsletter is one of the most effective ways to connect with fans and potential readers. One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s a great place to stage giveaways. I’ve done those on the public forums, where you don’t know the winner from Adam, which is undoubtedly mutual, and more than likely your book will wind up on eBay. Well, good luck with that, right? If we have trouble selling our books, the likelihood of them succeeding is pretty laughable. More than likely it’s never read and I sincerely doubt I’ve ever garnered a review from one.

However, when I conduct a giveaway via my newsletter it’s greeted by enthusiasm, appreciation, and often a review. It gives me an opportunity to connect with those names on my distribution list, learn more about them, and what they like. I’ve made my giveaways a bit of a challenge by associating it with a contest. Since I write hard science fiction and believe my best fans are geeks like myself, I ask questions that only a geek is likely to know. This way they know I’m genuine and “a member of the club”, so to speak. The picture shows one of them, the object of which was to translate into plain English what it said on my shirt.

Building your newsletter distribution list can be a challenge. There are various gimmicks, some of which work, others that don’t. It usually takes some sort of lure, like a free download, and there are places that help with this. VoraciousReadersOnly.com is one, and RachelBranton.com is another who conducts “reader magnet” giveaways where readers sign up for your newsletter to receive a free download.

These can be annoying because, quite frankly, there are so many leaches out there who just want something for free, and as soon as they get what they want they unsubscribe. I’ve noticed every time I send out a newsletter about 10% unsubscribe. However, I must admit, that many don’t, and I’ve found some awesome fans that way. I’ve had slightly better luck with VoraciousReadersOnly since they are supposed to leave a review and the sponsor will actually nudge them to do so and exclude them from future giveaways if they have a bad history of noncompliance. Keep your expectations fairly low and you’ll probably be pleased. You can’t please all the people all the time.

I can’t say my newsletter has sold a lot of books. However, it has collected some fans and friends. I haven’t had a new release for a while, so the real test will be when that happens and if it’s met with an enthusiastic preorder or a giant yawn. I’ll let you know how that turns out….

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Marcha Fox is an avid science fiction fan and author with over 20 years’ experience in positions ranging from technical writer to engineer to manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in physics, which was but a prelude to her interest in the unexplained mysteries of the cosmos. Inspired by science fiction to pursue a career in a technical field, she hopes to instill the same fascination in young readers, while providing older ones with classic hard science fiction.

Born in Peekskill, New York she has lived in California, Utah and Texas in the course of raising her family, which included fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom before returning to college in her 30s to obtain her degree, a feat accomplished while she still had six children at home. All are now grown with children of their own providing her with 17 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren so far. Never at a loss for something to do, besides writing she’ a professional astrologer who enjoys gardening, her two Bengal cats and a sassy tuxedo, and keeping up with family.

 

 

THE TERRA DEBACLE: PRISONERS AT AREA 51

https://books2read.com/u/b6QelW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blurb:  Thyron is a flora peda telepathis (telepathic walking plant) from the planet Sapphira on an adventure gone terribly wrong. The bad decision of a human girl and her maniacal robot companion has stranded them on Earth, where his botanical cousins face horrible fates such as consumption by herbivores, incineration, and brutal annihilation for use as building material.

 Following capture, Thyron is transported to Area 51, where NASA exobiologist, Gabe Greenley, studies his every move, ecstatic with the opportunity to examine an entirely new lifeform. In due course, the scientist makes a ground-breaking discovery, distressed by the fact he can never share it due to his security oaths and research agreement. Eventually, he’s confronted by an even worse ethical dilemma that forces him to make a treasonous and potentially deadly decision.

 Will Thyron’s psychic powers be enough to save him? Is Greenley friend or foe? Or does the exobiologist have a few secrets of his own?

 Find out in this unique combination of hard science fiction, suspense, and a touch of humor populated with memorable characters in a setting loaded with intrigue. Unexpected plot twists coupled with a unique ending make this an unforgettable tale whether you’re a science fiction fan, botanist, UFO aficionado, or simply enjoy a good story.

 

Twitter: @startrailsiv

Facebook:  @marchafoxauthor

Website: https://www.startrailssaga.com