Avalon 2.5: Camp du jour

            Taken prisoners by a Neolithic tribe with only Roland the elf allowed to go free with their horses, the travelers wonder what awaits in the camp when they meet Ogalalo, the shaman, the one described as a man of power, and magic.


            When they arrived in the camp, it looked purely Neolithic, a transient encampment full of wood and bones and skins and stones.  In contrast to the Amazon village, this camp had no sign of pots or metals or even agricultural activity.  This was strictly a hunter-gatherer world.  

            The men were shoved into a tent and Elder Stow immediately broke his bonds.  The Gott-Druk had extraordinary strength and no simple vines could hold him.  Then he set Lincoln and Lockhart free before they sat and waited to see what this Shaman wanted.  They were free of the vines but there were still guards posted just outside the tent, and Lockhart was reluctant to be the first to start the violence.

            “I say we check on the girls,” Lincoln argued.

            “They will be fine,” Lockhart assured him, and he hoped they were not in trouble, but he fingered his knife and imagined the back of the tent would not be too hard to slice.

            The women got a tent of their own.  Once alone, Boston pulled her hands free and stifled her excitement.  “I did it, I did it.  Magic, see?”  She held her hands up and did a little dance, though seated.

            Boston leaned over to untie Katie, but Katie said, “Wait.”  She tugged on the vines and after a second, they snapped.  “Zoe said being elect meant not just blindly accepting whatever the men decide.”

            “That sounds more Amazon.”

            “Probably,” Katie agreed.  “But part of the package is strength.  Strong as any man, she said, and frankly I am tired of hiding it.  I have been hiding it for twenty-seven years, well, twelve or thirteen years anyway.”

            “I don’t want you to hide anything,” a man said, and Boston and Katie whipped their eyes around to see Lockhart’s head sticking through a hole in the back of the tent.  He grinned at them when they heard a sound outside the tent door and Lockhart quickly withdrew and held the hole closed hoping the cut in the tent would not be noticed.

            A young man stepped into the tent and said, “Get to your feet.”  Boston and Katie got up and brushed off their clothes and the young man lifted his eyebrows at the sight.  He turned quickly to the door and shouted, “Hey!  Who cut these two free?”

            “No one,” Boston said.  “We just got tired of being tied.”

            The man showed anger on his face and grabbed Katie by the elbow.  She flat-handed the man’s chest and he flew out of the tent and landed a few feet away hard on his back, possibly with a couple of cracked ribs.  Katie felt sorry about the ribs, but she could not help her smile.  That felt wonderful.  It felt like something she always wanted to do but never let herself do in her whole life.

            The man quickly rose and held his chest as he rushed away to hide.

            The women came out of the front of the tent.  There was a young man in a wolf skin standing by the fire out front, and Boston guessed.  “Ogalalo.”

            Lockhart stepped out from behind one side of the women’s tent while Lincoln and Elder Stow came from the other side.  They flanked the women as Lockhart spoke.  “So what is it you want?”

            Ogalalo said nothing.  He stepped up and looked at each in the face.  He stopped when he came to Elder Stow and raised an eyebrow.  He spoke to the elder.

            “We have no quarrel with the elder races.  You are free to go.”  The others could hear the touch of fear that echoed in the man’s words as he looked away and returned to his place by the fire.  Lockhart repeated his question.

            “What is it you want?”

            Ogalalo simply waved his hand and Boston saw a bluish light escape from the man’s fingers.  It struck each person, and everyone froze where they were, except the Gott-Druk who was spared.  Boston got mad.  The firelight rose in her against the blue, and in a moment she was free even if her friends were still frozen.  But then she was new at this and could not control it well.  The campfire behind Ogalalo also flared and his wolf skin was set ablaze.

            “Sorry!”  Boston spoke right up.  Ogalalo looked startled for a second before he smelled the smoke.  He tore off his wolf skin and dashed it to the ground as Boston repeated, “Sorry.”

            “Little Fire,” Ogalalo said, and he did not sound unkind.  “A big fire, maybe.”  In that moment the sky darkened and the wind picked up suddenly.  There was a wail, like a banshee set loose and the leaves began to shake in the trees.  Boston, Elder Stow, Ogalalo and the people in the camp all looked up and saw a ghost-like creature that began to fly around the camp with great speed like one trying to create a tornado on a clear day.

            The people screamed and ran, some aimlessly in their panic.  Something like lightning shot from the ghost, but Boston noticed it had to become more solid to do that.  The lightning struck at several tents and those tents were set on fire.  Ogalalo lost all concentration, and Katie, Lockhart and Lincoln were slow to come around.  Boston named the creature for Ogalalo and Elder Stow who was searching for his sonic device.

            “Bokarus!  You cannot have us!”

            The bokarus zoomed up and paused to face her and the others.  The expression on that ghost face said it thought it did have them, but Ogalalo did not hesitate.  He grabbed Boston’s hand and she felt something taken out of her gut as she watched a ball of flame form in Ogalalo’s hand.  It shot at the bokarus who had to fly back quickly to avoid being hit.  The bokarus wailed again and began to circle the camp once more, but as long as Ogalalo had his hand up, the ball of flame followed the creature.  What is more, it was gaining.

            Elder Stow finally found his device and he let it rip, though the frequency was mostly above human hearing.  The dogs in the camp howled bitterly, and the bokarus made a sound like pain and rushed away.  The flame ball dissipated and Ogalalo fell to his knees, exhausted.  Boston fell with him.  She felt totally drained.  Katie was right there to hold her up and Lincoln and Lockhart helped Ogalalo back to his feet where they neglected to let go of his arms. 

            Several men came running with spears, but Lockhart put a knife to Ogalalo’s throat and threatened to cut it, so they stopped short.

            “Please,” Ogalalo begged.  “I mean you no harm.  You are free to take your things and go.”

            “It’s alright,” Boston said.  She had seen inside the man enough to know what motivated him.  He was desperately in love with a woman who did not love him in return.  All Boston could see was sadness.  She missed the cunning.  She should have remembered the wolf

            As soon as Ogalalo was set free, he stepped back and called his men to come in close.  “You brought the bokarus creature among us.  I saw how it looked at you.  If we sacrifice your lives to it, it will leave us alone.”  He was thinking like a cave man.

            “On the contrary,” Katie stood and placed Boston in Lockhart’s arms.  She stepped right up to Ogalalo’s face and was not at all worried about the ring of men with spears.  “The bokarus wants us for itself.  If you let us go, it will follow us and leave you alone.  If you kill us, you will make it mad by depriving it of its prey.”

            Ogalalo would have to think about that.  He did not get much time before a woman’s voice echoed through the camp.  “Ogalalo.  Let my friends go!”


Avalon 2.5:  Unbroken … Next Time


Avalon 2.3: In the Dark


            “Lockhart,” Boston shook the man.  He was too tired to wake and having pleasant dreams.

            “Boston, go pick on some other old man,” he said before he sprang awake, eyes wide open.  “Why is it still dark out?  Why is it so cold?”

            “The sun didn’t come up today,” Boston said.

            “What?”  Lockhart shouted.

            “What?”  Lincoln echoed as he sat up straight.

            “Bread?”  Boston held it out and grinned.

            Lockhart took a piece, but not without comment.  “You are spending too much time with that elf. 

            “Okay,” Boston said.  “Roland Katie and Elder Stow are down by the beach, away from the hillside.  Elder Stow has his equipment and is examining the stars.  In fact, they were coming into the cave as she spoke, arguing in the normal human way.

            “Can’t be,” Katie said.

            “Must be, but we shall see,” Elder Stow countered.

            “We will see,” Katie said, skeptically.

            “What?”  Lockhart and Boston asked at the same time.  Lincoln had bread in his mouth.

            “It is eight in the morning,” Katie said with a look at her watch.

            “Your timepiece is correct?”  The Elder asked.

            “It is correct,” Roland said.  “Internal clock cannot be fooled by light and dark, at least not for many days.”

            “Elder Stow claims it is summer and the stars we saw were winter stars which we could only see if the sun is not there.”

            “We will look again, eight this evening,” Elder Stow said.  “We should see the summer night stars then.”

            “But the sun has to be there!”  Katie protested.

            “But it is not.”

            Lockhart left the argument behind as he stepped out of the mouth of the cave.  The sea was calmed, but still thundering enough against the rocks to fill his ears.  And it remained as dark as the night.  He looked up at the stars in the sky, but he did not look long.  “Everyone,” he shouted as he turned back to the others.  “Saddle up, we ride as fast as is safe in the dark.”

            Oh, not that torturous beast again,” Elder Stow complained.

            “Katie, I figure without the warmth of the sun the temperature is going to drop rapidly, and keep dropping.”

            “Best to stay close to the water.  Water is slower to lose heat,” Boston shouted as she went for her horse.

            “Best to thicken up your fairy weave clothes,” Katie added.

            “Lockhart,” Roland got his attention.  “We can use the fairy weave tents like medieval blankets for the horses.”

            “Good idea,” Lockhart agreed before Elder Stow spoke up.  The Gott-Druk had a pitiful look on his face which reminded Lockhart how human this Neanderthal really was.

            “If I had my things, I could keep up well without having to ride that beast again.”

            Seeing that look nudged Lockhart to give a serious answer.  “First you must prove yourself a good son who means no harm to the tribe.”

            The Gott-Druk looked surprised before he lowered his eyes in a sign of submission.  “My father,” he said and bravely went to mount his horse which Lincoln had ready and waiting.

            As fast as they could in the dark was not very fast.  There were not many journeys inland to get around breaks in the shoreline, but they just could not move fast without light.  The lamps helped a bit, but Lockhart was concerned by noon and ordered three lamps only, one with each pair of riders.  The other two he turned off to save what battery life they might have.  They would all need time in the sun to recharge.

            It was not much further before they came to a fishing village that was built along a gray beach.  It was about that same time it began to snow.  The villagers were afraid of them, which was to be expected as it was likely their first experience with horse riders.  What was not expected was the immediate reception by three elders who cried out to them.

            “Help us, help us.”

            They all heard the scream in the distance.  They dismounted, drew their weapons and marched toward the sound, escorted by the elders.  Lincoln and Elder Stow gladly stayed with the horses.

            Something flew out from one of the huts, like a specter in the dark with just enough glow to be visible. 

            “Alexis?”  Lincoln thought he recognized the ghost, but Katie spoke at the same time.


            The elders cowered, squatted down, turned their faces to the dirt and cried.  The specter circled around the newcomers several times before it flew off and disappeared into the dark sky.

            “What was that?”  Lockhart asked, not expecting an answer.

            “Succubus, or near enough,” Roland answered.

            “Not Alexis?”  Lincoln had to be sure.

            “Not Alexis, though it may appear to you that way.  Or your father, Lieutenant.  It will appear in whatever way necessary to get close enough to suck out your life force.”

            “On that happy thought, what say we stop for lunch.”

            “Indoors?”  Boston asked.

            Lockhart picked one of the local elders off the ground.  “Indoors,” he did not ask.

            The snow flurries became a constant downfall by the time they finished eating what they and the village had.   “And now we shall all die,” the elder said.  “My wife was drained of life before my eyes, and I have but two daughters left to me in my age.  I was angry at the loss of my wife, but she has eaten the food of the dead and cannot return.  Now, I feel as if the spirit showed mercy to take her life.”  The old man pulled his cloak tighter around his body, but it was thin, and even with all the heated rocks it was not enough.

            “Don’t give up,” Katie encouraged.  “If we can find our boss, there may yet be hope.”

            “Our boss?” Lockhart asked.

            Katie just smiled.  “You don’t think after all this I could go back to just being a marine, do you?”

            “I don’t think we will get back to anything if this situation continues much longer.”

            Roland, Lincoln and Elder Stow were off checking on the rest of the village, heating all the rocks they could find and drag inside the homes.  They were lucky none of the straw and bamboo huts caught fire, though at least that would have provided some light and heat against the cold darkness.

            “I have faith,” Katie said with a look in Lockhart’s eyes.

            “I am not sure you and Elder Stow will make it to the eight o’clock evening stars,” Lockhart countered.



Avalon 2.3:  To Warm the Heart … Next Time


November: NaNo: The month of the eternally stubborn … and the Politically Correct.

November is a full month even missing a day …


The first of November used to be a holy day: All Saints Day.  Christians prayed and gave thanks for all the “great cloud of witnesses” that came before them.

Now it is the day Christmas decorations go up and Christmas merchandise makes it to the shelf.


The eleventh used to be Veterans Day – an honorable day to remember the brave men and women who sacrificed so much to defend and protect this nation, our homes and our freedom. 

Now it is a day to flip a finger at the tomb of the unknown soldier and in an effort of short-sightedness, castigate ourselves as colonialists, imperialists and war-mongers.  It has become a day to hate all things military.


The third Thursday used to be a day to give thanks to God for family, friends, neighbors – for all the blessings bestowed by the providential grace of God on our homes, communities and nation.  It was a day of prayer and gratitude, not only for a good harvest (good year) but for all the good things in life.  It was a feast of celebration of life.

Now, God is gone, gratitude is gone, the expressions of love for family friend and neighbor is gone.  We have excess food and football in preparation for shopping.


On that first Thanksgiving, European settlers and Native Americans gathered together like the best of neighbors.  They celebrated life, the harvest, and peace.  It was a joyous time of fellowship and friendship with pledges to one another in the understanding that peace is always better than war.  And they gave thanks to God, each in their own way, and none other than God. 

Now, the people who came here from Europe to worship and practice their faith without persecution are painted as greedy, land-grabbing killers and murderers, And the Native Americans mourn Thanksgiving as if that one GOOD day is the cause of all the bad days that followed.


These are simple things.  If you have a desire for any sort of historical fiction, especially during NaNo month, my thought is this: “Don’t let your modern prejudices get in the way of reality.”  And that is what they are.  They are not political correctness.  They are not open minded.  They are certainly not seeing the truth as if for the first time.  They are plain and simply prejudice and bigotry of the post-modern mind.


Have a happy Thanksgiving, and don’t be afraid to be grateful and give thanks for all that you have.  And, if I may, don’t be in such a hurry to go out on Friday and get more …


Quotes From My Father: On Serious Writing for Serious Readers.

            My father landed on Normandy beach in about the twenty-third wave.  He was a secretary for the Colonel who took over running the railroads in France as they were captured.  Dad could type about a gazzilion words per minute on a manual typewriter.  That was important, because the Germans only had one that could type half-a-gazzilion wpm.

            After trying so hard to keep his trains and tracks from being blown up, and being shot at a few times, as well as being bombed, he came home and studied journalism at Northwestern on the G I Bill.  He went from there to work in Washington D C, a place known for having no sense of humor.  Then after a brief stint in serious gangster land (Chicago) he ended up in New York editing Railway Age Magazine. 

            The company my Dad worked for all of his career published mostly professional journals and magazines.  My dad ended his career many years later as Executive Editor of Banking Magazine, the journal of the American Bankers Association.  Bankers also have no sense of humor (so I have been told).

            All that serious, professional stuff.  I think that is why it made such a mark when every now and then he would say, “Life is too important to take seriously.”

            His heart was light.  His writing was easy to read, and even, and sometimes especially when the subject was utterly serious and professional.  People not only read his work, they enjoyed his work. 

            We who seek to write, fiction and non-fiction should consider this lesson.  We believe in our work, especially when it is non-fiction – that it is important and oh-so-serious.  But most of all, we want readers.  As my son says, “Lighten up.”  This is a good motto to remember when you are so deeply immersed in the serious importance of your work you can hardly come up for air: “Life is too important to take seriously.”  — J. W. Kizzia

21st Century: The Swine Song

The Swine Song is from the book 21st Century Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes and Other Atrocities.  If I ever get all the rhymes and tales and such in print, I’ll let you know.


The Swine Song  (Commonly Called Higlty Piglty) 

by BwaHaHa

Higlty  piglty  higlty  pig 

Hoglty  poglty  hog


            Higlty  piglty  higlty  pig

            Hoglty  poglty  hog

And then

Higlty  piglty  higlty  pig 

Hoglty  poglty  hog


            Horkety  porkety  horkety  pork

            Hamedy  pamedy  ham

No blog today, just a couple of questions:

No blog today, just a couple of questions:

If Paul Revere tweeted “The British are coming,” would anyone have paid attention?

If George Washington set up a fan page on Facebook, would any of his soldiers at Valley Forge have friended him?

If Thomas Jefferson blogged the Declaration of Independence, would it even have been read?

Yet we think Twitter, Facebook and blogging are the best way to get the word out.  Think about that.  These men lived face to face, not behind the screen like me, and you…

I think Ben Franklin, though, would have been a great and popular radio talk show host.  What do you think he might have said about this current world?

And here’s a thought:

Washington bucked the trend.  We know “he could not tell a lie” and he lived to a ripe old age.

(And what would we give now for a politician who could not tell a lie)?  The problem is most politicians know better.

The trend is Honest Abe.  They shot him.  That is what honesty gets, and especially might get in these volatile days.  That trend started… oh… some two thousand years ago.  Of course, they crucified him.  Bravo to anyone who knows the trend and defies it by being honest, regardless.

Just a passing thought… 

Unofficial Nano: Two for One.

I wrote my NaNo novel in September/October (I couldn’t wait).  I finished it on October 23rd, 79.000 words in 37 days, but then what was I going to do in November?  Well, I thought since Katie (Harper) and Boston (Mary Riley, but everyone calls her Boston) make guest appearances in the The Chosen: The Young & The Strong, I thought I better get them back to where they belong:  Avalon.

Season one of the Avalon series is currently being presented here for free as a regular Monday/Friday post.  We are up to episode 7 (1.6 =7, trust me).  It is by no means too late to pick it up.

Avalon is the story of a group of people, three “men in black” including Boston, two marines including Katie, an elf and a half-elf who are sent into the deep past to save one man’s wife.  They succeed in the pilot, but lose their quick ticket home.  They are forced to get home the long way, by way of the time gates and across the time zones that surround the many lives of the Kairos, the Watcher over History, the Traveler in Time.  But that won’t be easy.

The first problem is the Kairos never lives a quiet life.  There is no telling from lifetime to lifetime what they may have to confront.  The second problem is they are not the only ones stuck in the past where they don’t belong.  Others have picked up their trail.  Some are content to follow them through the time gates, but some are hunting them.

Now working:

The first episode of season two finds the travelers in the Andes in the midst of a war.  The alien Agdaline and their fleet of 10 ships landed there, unable to elude pursuit by the Balok.  The Balok are reptilian, serpent-like creatures who believe they should be the only intelligent life in the universe.  They are attempting to wipe out every other intelligent species to make their vision into reality, and the poor Neolithic human race is caught in between.

That is 6619 words.

At the same time, I am continuing the story of the Storyteller – the one who was supposed to be their quick ticket home.  I am currently presenting it, again for free, on my Word & Spirit blog on Mondays only.  Plans are to present it on this blog at a future date since it connects to the Avalon events in a real way, but for now it is over there.  Why?  Because for all of its fiction, it is a parallel to my life and memoir-like.  You would not know it by reading it, but…

So, the Village II is 2766 words and Psalm 23 is 3855 words.  That is another 6621 words and that makes my total for the first week plus: 13, 240 words. 

Yes, both season two and Anatomy of a Storyteller will be book length, so in my mind they both count, even if the whole exercise is unofficial. 

Avalon 1.5: Joys and Sorrows

            Korah recognized the sound and ran toward the cry.  The sheep parted to let her through, and her future husband was right behind her.  The young boys in the field stood over their mother but did not know what to do.  She was crying over a dead sheep, and there was no comforting her.

            The dogs only killed one, but the woman’s herd was down to six.  Herds that once sported forty or fifty sheep were in a death spiral in that harsh and inhospitable environment. 

            “Godus, dear.”  Dallah turned again to her husband.  “Give her one of ours.  Make it a good one.”

            “But then we will have just six.” 

            “As she will.  Give it to Korah for her new family,” Dallah decided.  Godus raised an eyebrow.  That was not really playing fair.

            “Pardon, lady.”  Itchy stepped forward.  “Might Stonecrusher have the dead one?  That would certainly be a relief for everyone.”

            “No,” Dallah said.  “Roland, you take the dead sheep for tomorrow and the next day if necessary since you likely won’t find anything between here and the gate.  Stonecrusher.”  She waited until she had the ogre’s complete attention before she spoke.  “You can have the dogs.”

            “Mother!”  Reneus objected.  There was a lot of good meat on those animals that would sustain them for some time.  But Dallah was not finished speaking.

            “Take only the dead dogs and be content.  Share one with your impy cousins and go with them to Lord Varuna.  He may have new work for you.  You are released from your obligation to Dayus.”

            “Yes, Lady.  Thank you Lady.”  The ogre picked up the dogs one by one and carried all four back into the wilderness without any strain at all.

            “Strong sucker,” Captain Decker noted.

            “And you imps.”  They looked up at Dallah with big eyes.  She smiled.  “Skat,” she said.  “Shoo.”  They ran off, happy.

            Godus sidled up to his wife and spoke softly.  “Any more surprises?”

            “A few, but mostly you are looking at them.”  She took his hand introduced the travelers.  She remembered to say “Her name is Mary Riley but everyone calls her Boston.”  Then they all went to a wedding.

            Dallah cried.  Boston cried with her.  Alexis only got teary eyed so Lincoln cried for her.  Captain Decker said, “Women.”  Captain or not, Katie Harper slapped him in the arm.

            The third family in the camp was the family that performed the actual ceremony.  They were also witnesses to the union.  It was a lovely ceremony and surprisingly not unlike modern ceremonies in most parts.  But then there was the sacrifice of a sheep.  And several moderns looked away then the old man who performed the sacrifice soaked his hands in the sheep’s blood and sprinkled it liberally all over the couple.

            Boston kept her mouth shut be she thought “Ewww,” really loud.

            After the wedding, the couple had a place not far from the camp.  They had their own fire and sweets and got the prime portion of the sheep for their supper.  The families, meanwhile, settled in for a party of their own.  Korah’s new mother sat beside Dallah for a time, though it made Dallah uncomfortable.  Dallah only had one word of advice for the woman.

            “Korah has a big, sensitive heart full of love.  If you treat her gently and with kindness and encourage her in what she does she will love you forever.”  The woman responded in a way which should not have been too surprising given the events of the day.

            “Yes, Lady.  I will do that very thing.”

            By evening, Doctor Procter appeared to be much better.  He sat up and ate, but thought it best not to go join the celebration.  He claimed to be too tired. 

            Later, when the sun was set and most of the camp was asleep, Alexis stayed up a bit to watch the Doctor.  She was looking out beneath a nearly full moon when her eye caught something glisten in the moonlight.  She had no idea what it might be until she heard the sound of a horse snort a big gust of breath.  The knight came close to the camp, but it did not come into the camp.  Alexis stood.  Doctor Procter appeared to be asleep, but he began to shiver.  Alexis held her breath while the knight reared up, turned and galloped off into the dark.  She immediately woke her father and told him.

            “It was a knight of the lance.  I am sure.  It had to be.”

            Mingus shook his head.  “There haven’t been any knights of the lance around for centuries.”

            “No,” Alexis argued.  “I heard there was one a few years ago when Ashteroth came up into the castle of the Kairos and the Kairos got so sick.”

            Mingus nodded.  “I heard that, too, but there was never any proof.  It was just a rumor.”

            “But father –“

            “Go to bed and sleep.  We will be leaving in the morning.”

            Alexis looked down and nodded.  Maybe she had not seen it.  Maybe it was like a waking dream.  Maybe she was not sure.

            Later in the night, Doctor Procter woke as a lizard crawled across his belly.  His hand reached out and grabbed the creature.  It was a harmless little thing that the Doctor held and bent backwards until there was a snap!  It was not that Doctor Procter had a reason for doing that.  He felt the urge to kill and wanted the pleasure of watching the beast die.

            There were more tears in the morning as everyone said good-bye.  The witness family was the first to leave.  They took their sheep and headed off to the southeast.  Then it was time for Korah and her mother to be parted.  “Always respect your husband,” Dallah whispered between the hugs and tears.  “And he will love you without ceasing.”

            Korah nodded, and shortly they headed off into the north.  They said they were going to go as far as the mountains to escape the dead lands.  Dallah truly wished them well.

            Last of all the travelers headed into the west and Andor waved until they were out of sight.  After they were gone, he pointed his fingers at Mya and said, “Bang!  Bang!”  She just had to chase him.  They were staying where they were for the present.  They had the stream and some grass that was worth eating for their few sheep, but how long they might hold out was anyone’s guess. 

            Boston was the last to say anything under that blazing sun.  “Doesn’t the Kairos ever get born anywhere off the equator?  I mean, a little rain might be nice, at least.”  Naturally, as they stepped through the gate they found themselves in a torrent.

Wise Words for Writers: The Optimist in Us.

People have been talking to me lately about publishing.  People have been talking a lot.  Some have offered articles and insights.  Some ask, what all is involved?  Isn’t it hard?  I feel qualified at this point to catalogue how difficult it is these day to get anything in print, and I probably don’t know the half of it.

The shorthand of it all would be what one well heeled author told me.  These days, the odds of finding a good agent, connecting with a good house (publisher) and obtaining a good contract would take lottery level luck.  (And some wonder why so many have turned to e-publishing).

But then I thought:

How many NOs did King get before he got his first Yes!  Everyone knows Rowling sent  Harry Potter to Scholastic as a last gasp.  Legend says the only reason Twilight got in print is because an editorial assistant put it on the wrong pile.  And then there is my favorite story:

Young Mister Toole wrote A Confederacy of Dunces and got turned down by absolutely everyone.  He committed suicide (for complex reasons, I am sure).  Eleven years later, legend says his mother was instrumental in finally getting it published, and don’t you know?  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

So, is it difficult?  (I respond with glib and sarcastic laughter).  But then I thought of another little story.

There once was a man who  was a better war correspondent than a soldier.  He served in the military for a time, but finally concluded that the only thing he might be really good for was public service (no comment).  He ran for office, got elected and served for a time.  The people threw him out in the 30s. He started to sound too harsh, almost war-like.  Then the war came and they begged him to come back and in the end he spit in Hitler’s eye.  He had something to say about that journey, and it rang a little bell in my publishing head when I read it.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.   -Winston Churchill 

Is it difficult these days to get anything in print?  Absolutely.  It is nearly impossible.  But did you ever think the challenge of it is precisely what makes it so much fun?

Avalon 1.5: In the Camp

            Dwizzle immediately jumped into the water and began to use his two hands like water shovels.  Poor Andor did not stand a chance.  Surprisingly, Mya was the first to come to his assistance.  Then Crusty joined in, but he splashed Dwizzle by accident.  So they splashed each other a few times, and that brought Itchy and Reneus into the fray.

            “Wait!”  Dallah shouted.  Everyone stopped and looked in her direction.  “Have your fun as long as no one gets hurt, but leave me out of it.”  She spoke sternly, and at least Crusty gave a little bow.  Dwizzle just opened his jaw and Andor took advantage by splashing Dwizzle in the face to make him swallow some water.

            Then it was a free-for-all, and the water went everywhere.  It was inevitable when Itchy and Crusty teamed up to make a big four-handed wave aimed at Reneus, and Reneus ducked.  Dallah got soaked, and again everyone stopped.

            “I would say that is enough,” she said.  “Imps, come here.”  Dwizzle and Crusty came right away, but she had to sternly add, “You too Itchy.”  The imp came whether he wanted to or not.

            “Now, who are you working for?” 

            Crusty took off his hat which no one realized he was wearing, and so Dwizzle followed that example.  Itchy chose to be stubborn, and he was the one who answered.

            “Dayus, the King of the gods himself.”

            “Oh?  He got sober enough to give you instructions.”  The imps, even Itchy grinned at that, but Reneus and Mya reacted at her near blasphemy.


            “Please!”  Dallah sighed.  “It is a wonder he gets up in the morning and can follow a straight line across the sky.”

            “Automatic pilot,” Itchy whispered with a grin.

            Dallah nodded.  “Now what is your job?”

            “To dry the land and make it sand,” Crusty recited.  Dwizzle nodded.  Itchy had a thought.

            “What’s it to you?”

            “I think you have done enough of that.  The die is cast, as they say.  There is no stopping it now.”  She paused to examine the three imp faces one at a time before she spoke again.  “I release you from your duty to Dayus.  I think you should go see Lord Varuna.  He may have work for you.”

            “Wait a minute.  Who are you –?”

            “Mother,” Reneus interrupted.  The travelers were on the horizon.

            “Quick, now’s our chance.”  Itchy pulled the other imps to the side and they melted back into the landscape and made for the party.

            “Lockhart!  Boston!”  Dallah groaned to her feet and waved.

            “Mother?”  Mya spoke.

            “These are the ones I told you might come one day.”

            “I had forgotten.”  Reneus said as the travelers came to the water.  Dallah had to hug Boston and Alexis.

            “It is so good to see you.  I am so glad you are here.”

            “Where can we set down Doctor Procter?”  Lockhart asked.  He looked exhausted.  He and Mingus were taking a turn and the elder elf in particular looked unable to go much further.

            “Of course,”  Dallah stepped close to the half-breed but knew better than to touch him.  “How long has he been like this?”  She asked.

            “This is the second day,” Captain Decker said.  He shouldered his rifle and took Mingus’ place.

            “Well, come.  We must get him to the camp.”

            “Mother.”  Andor got her attention.  “Your imps went ahead of us.”

            “Oh dear.”  She hurried and everyone hurried to follow.  Fortunately, the imps were just arriving since they stopped first for an argument.

            “We are free now,” Crusty said.

            “We’re supposed to go see Lord Varuna,” Dwizzle said.

            “Wait a minute!”  Itchy was buying none of it.  “Since when does a thicky bean tell us what to do, especially when our orders come from the King of the gods himself?”

            “But I feel free,”  Crusty said.  “I don’t feel like doing the work of Dayus any more.”

            Dwizzle nodded, but Itchy responded.  “That don’t mean anything.  Crusty, you don’t ever feel like doing any work.”  Dwizzle laughed.

            “I’m thinking we could ask Lord Varuna when we find him.  He always tells the truth.”  Itchy hit him.  “Ooowww.”

            “You don’t do the thinking, you’ll only hurt yourself worse than before.”  Dwizzle put his hand back in his mouth and pouted.

            “I think that is a good idea,” Crusty said.  Itchy stomped on his foot.  “Ooowww.”

            “Right now we got to find Stonecrusher some meat before we become meat.”  They could agree on that.  With their glamours on, they came right up to the edge of the camp.  It was not much to speak of, the huts being barely more than lean-tos with skins on the open side.  They were snuggled between some stick trees, and there were only five of them altogether.  There could not have been more than twenty people in that camp and barely more than twenty sheep altogether.

            The sheep were all presently in a pen where Dallah’s husband, Godus and two men were separating the sacrifice from the others.  When they were done, the groom had two younger brothers who drove the rest to the stream.

            “Not much selection,” Crusty said.  The sheep were all scrawny, stunted and underfed.

            “Yeah, but it will do,” Itchy responded.

            “Hey, look.  Sweets”  Dwizzle pointed to a table by the alter.  It was full of dried fruits and cooked roots and tubers of various kinds.

            “Oh, boy!”  Crusty shouted, and before Itchy could stop them, they were on the table, they had let their glamours drop and people were screaming, some running away and some not sure what to do.

            “Hold it right there!”  Dallah shouted between breaths.  The imps froze in place because Dallah had that in mind.  “This is my daughter’s wedding and you will not mess it up.”  She yelled a little, but mostly walked more slowly to the table so she could regain her breath.  When she arrived to stare at the imps, she pushed an escaped gray hair back toward the bun on her head before she spoke.  “Your hands, empty.”  Dwizzle and Crusty put out their hands and she slapped them.  The imps made no sound, but both squinted from the sharp, if temporary pain.  “Itchy.”

            The imp had his hands behind his back.  “No.”  He shook his head for emphasis.

            “You should have been named stubborn,” Dallah said.  “Your hand.”  She did not ask and Itchy whipped out his hands, empty despite what his mind was telling him and despite his better judgment.  She slapped them both, and Itchy had a hard time putting both in his mouth at once.

            “Hey!  How do you know our names?”  Crusty was the one who asked, like the truth of that suddenly caught up to him.

            “I know all about you,” Dallah said.  “More than I would like to know.  Now get off the table and behave, I have to see to my daughter.”  Korah was already running into her mother’s arms.  She cried, but Dallah smoothed her hair and said, “Hush, everything will be alright.”

            “Mother.”  Andor tried to get her attention as Godus came up from the sheep pen. 

            “Who are you?”  Itchy finally removed his hands to ask, and then decided to take turns soaking one hand at a time.

            “She is your goddess,” Boston said.  “Or she will be one day.”

            “What?  Don’t we have enough gods and goddesses already?”

            “No, no.”  Alexis spoke to clarify.  “She will not be another goddess of humans that you have to work for.  She will be your goddess.  Goddess of all the little spirits of the earth.”

            “There is no such thing.”  Itchy understood.

            “There will be,” Alexis responded with a smile toward her brother who was frowning.  The law said they were not supposed to reveal the future like that.

            “Mother.”  Andor tried again.  Reneus, Lockhart and some of the others looked where Andor was looking, but hardly knew what to say.

            “But she is old and will die soon,” Crusty protested.

            “But she will be reborn,” Mingus stepped up.  “And sometimes she will be a god and sometimes a goddess for us all.”  He turned to Itchy.  “Whether we like it or not.”


            “But lady,”  Dwizzle tugged on Dallah’s dress and pointed  “Stonecrusher is hungry.

            The ogre was coming down the path from the stream.  He was hard to look at because he was so ugly.  But it was not simply a disgusting ugly.  He looked mean and mad and hungry and now the people had something they could really scream about. 

            “I’m gonna eat me some people,” Stonecrusher said.