Tag Archives: fiction

The Devil You Know (Written for PanHistoria & Dreamwidth)

“I call’d the devil, and he came.
And with awe his from I scan’d:
He is not ugly, and is not lame.
But really a handsome and charming man.
A man in the prime of his life is the devil.
Obliging, a man of the world, and civil:
A diplomiatist too, well skill’d in debate.
He talks quite glibly of church and state.”
– Heinrich Heine

“This way, come along.” Melek reached back to the young girl that followed just behind him. Her large, dark eyes looked up at him inquisitively even as she slipped her tiny hand into his much larger one. If there was any trepidation there on her part, she certainly did not show it. Fae creatures were delightfully alluring, even when they were so young. Or perhaps, he mused, it was especially when they were so young that he found their curiosity so wholly irresistible.

This one, however, had a whole future ahead of her. He resolved that he would groom her, and when the time was right, and much, much later, it would be her own daughter would assist in his greater purpose. But first things first.

“Tell me, do you like books, my dear?” he asked.

The Halfling child nodded her head. then offered in Sidhe, “I know how to read a little but there are not many books in Dunnlauden.”

“It’s very good that you can read,” he smiled, ignoring the child’s observation about her village. “Did your Maman teach you?”

The little girl nodded.

Of course, the Peacock Angel knew that Moya had done so. For a human, the girl’s mother had not only proven to be useful in her devotion, but in providing the Sidhe ranks with at least some new blood. Without a doubt, the child would not be entirely trusted among humans, and her mother would be branded a whore for the ridiculous sin of having consorted with demons. The absurd irony of it all both amused and annoyed him. But the child did not need to ally with superstitious humans that lived in a village anyway. He had already foreseen that it would be leveled in a few years time. By then she would be far, far away, the village nothing but a forgotten and distasteful memory. And with his help, this Halfling girl would take back the throne of her Sidhe ancestors. Following that, everything else would have fallen neatly into place, and Melek’s plans would begin their long, winding road to fruition.

The forest trail became a long corridor of columns comprised of gnarled trees that stretched far toward the horizon. Shelves and stacks of books of incredible luxury and filled with delights of every kind were found behind branches, along tree trunks, hedgerows and brambles. The Halfling child’s eyes grew even larger and more luminous as a covetous bloom lit her features.

Remembering herself, she looked up at Melek who smiled at her unasked question. “The forest, indeed the whole world is my realm – and yours. You see, we are family, you and I. Family should share, and I will share all of this with you.”

Her little hand gave his a slight squeeze. Immediately to her right, resting on a moss and lichen covered tree stump sat a very large green and blue leatherbound book. The binding was shot with gold arabesque designs and in the centre of the cover was painted the most beautiful peacock whose feathers glittered with green and blue stones.

“That one is yours alone,” he smiled down at her. “Do you like it?”

“For me?” she had barely dared to hope.

“Of course, my dear.”

She let go of his hand only long enough to step forward and ftouch the beautiful and ornate cover with gentle and reverent fingers. Clearly, she had never seen anything so beautiful as this book and very carefully she opened the cover to see a blank page staring back at her – then another and another. The entire book was blank.

“But there are no words,” she said with obvious disappointment.

Melek knelt down beside her and took both of her small hands in his. “That is because it is your book and you must write the words in it,” he said. “Will you do that for me when you learn to write and to draw? You must write down all that you see and learn and keep track of it.”

Unable to resist the instinct to reassure him, she extracted her tiny hands from Melek’s and embraced him, burying her face into his neck, her soft, warm breaths warming the depths of what might have been his heart. It had not been the daughters of mere mortal men who tempted the Fallen Ones. No. The Sidhe women, the pure essence of what wildness and Nature truly are in ways that no human woman could ever be. This little one would serve his purposes beautifully and she would do it willingly besides.

And somewhere in the distance, the voice of the girl’s mother called into the dark palace of the woods.

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Filed under dreamwidth, fiction, Pan Historia, writing

Pantheacon and Creative Projects

Pantheacon starts tomorrow. I will, again, not get to go this year. That makes me extremely sad because there are many friends, and even family, who will be going. My reason for not attending is I have just started a new semester to finish out my degree. While I am excited about that, I feel a like a hungry waif with her face pressed up against her computer monitor, gazing at my scores of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, Dreamwidth and other venues where I write get to meet each other and attend some pretty wonderful classes at P’Con.

I would like to give a shout out to my sister, godmother of my son, and spiritual Mother, founder of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, Tamara Siuda a shout out for a very successful Kickstarter campaign for her Ancient Egyptian Book of Days book. She has more than made their goal, but going past the goal with support for a really cool project is always well received. Congratulations to her and I cannot wait!

Egyptian ScribesI have a penchant for reading all things even remotely connected to Ancient Kemet and right now I am very much an enthusiast of putting titles that I already own on my Kindle. Recently, I purchased Jeremy Naydler’s Temple of the Cosmos on Kindle since I liked the hard copy so much. As I opened it up, I noticed that there was a distinct lack of quality in the book. By this I mean, as a reader, I got the short shrift because there were no illustrations as there were in the hard copy. Since the illustrations make up a large part of the book (25 -30 %) the book was rendered absolutely useless without them. Egypt is all about symbolism, especially with a hieroglyphic language and metaphor that is incorporated into the culture. Amazon’s policy is to refund any Kindle book that dissatisfies, no questions asked, within seven days of purchase. Would you believe I had the book on my Kindle Fire for under five minutes?

Most eBook consumers will just shrug and settle. My advice? Don’t. I will be contacting both Jeremy Naydler and Inner Traditions. I think Mr. Naydler is being entirely shafted by his publisher. With the advances in eBook formatting, there is absolutely no reason why a zero sum proposition, such as formatting his current manuscript for digital publishing should ever have been delayed or mishandled. Maybe if I point Mr. Naydler toward some self publishing blogs, such as those of Kathrun Kristine Rusch, Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, he, too will walk away from his publisher. As a book consumer and an avid reader and researcher, I am furious. I am more than willing to purchase every Inner Traditions title that I own in digital format as well because I want the portability. I am not willing to do this if there is such a glaring difference between what is offered in print and what is offered digitally.

This touches on the very sensitive issue of the wide proliferation of PDF files of published books floating around out there, from which the author does not make a dime. As an author and small publisher, I know that this is unethical. Let me more direct: It’s stealing. Conversely, however, if a publisher does not give enough of a damn about either its authors or it’s paying customers to give them a true facsimile of what they have put in hard or soft cover, that publisher, in my view, has absolutely no business representing the author, or bringing their works to the marketplace. Inner Traditions, up until very recently, had some rather vociferous staff members who went as far as to blog their opinion that they hoped that Inner Traditions did not see fit to participate in this “eBook thing”, since it was ultimately killing publishing, books and bookstores as we know them.

This may be true. Technology has a way of making obsolete that which has gone before, or opening up other avenues that the public likes and eventually demands. However, publishers, agents and even writers themselves are ultimately complicit in the demise of their own industry because they have not reacted well enough to the industry wide changes. Books are not obsolete, there are just other ways to get content delivered. The cost of a book in digital format is often priced less than one that is in physical form, however, it should not mean that a consumer should be happy with an altogether inferior product. Because of the tools that are available to the consumer and prosumer markets, and the endless books, blogs, articles and news stories in broadcast media, it is now possible for anyone (and I do mean ANYONE) to put together their own book, movie music video, you name it. With social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, people can promote their work. With the explosion of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the creative projects of millions of authors, artists, filmmakers, and musicians has seen the light of day. The publishing industry and its gatekeepers can no longer justify not being able to do what individuals and small groups of people can accomplish. The creatives are ready to take back what was always theirs, eliminating the middle men who would cut into them actually profiting from their own works. The castle has been stormed. The revolution is well under way and there is no turning back now.

That is not to say that anyone can get away from needing the feedback of a good editor or the services of a good cover artist, if you are not too handy with Photoshop, or non-linear editing yourself, for instance. However, the days of absolutely needing an agent or even a publisher are over. With the incentives being offered by online venues such as Amazon.com, or even iBook, why would you put anyone who clearly does not care about their established writers enough to put out a decent digital copy of their extant work in charge of yours? Think about it: What is a better return on investment or return on the sweat equity you undoubtedly put into your creative projects Would you prefer to receive 25% of list price or 70% of list price. Would you like beer money in a check at the end of the year whenever your publisher gets round to sending it to you (less any advances or “costs” they tack on, of course) or would you prefer to get a direct royalty payment that pays your car or house payment or student loan payment or more every 60 days?

Think about that one very carefully and then get back to me. I think I know what most people will choose in the end. I know which one I chose, and it was the one where I get to be the control freak and tell people where to go when it comes to my creative work.

The bottom line in business is really always the bottom line. Pagans and authors who have a good head for business are not necessarily selling out. We watch trends, we are as aware of the mundane as we are of the spiritual. That is what it means to walk between the worlds. You have to keep your head about you, or like doing spiritual battle, you are going to fall on your literal if not magical ass. You have to be smart and think about your resources; the greatest of which is YOU.

Below are some of the best links that I know of for folks who are thinking of going their own way. If you choose to go the traditional route, that is certainly a time honoured way of going about getting into print. If, however, are careful about weighing the pros and cons and want to have more control over the entire process, then some of the listed blogs, websites and books are a great way to get into the game.

The Passive Voice Blog – Passive Guy, an attorney, keeps on top of what the industry is doing both from a business standpoint and often a legal one. Readers of the Passive Voice tend to have some great discussions and are very aware of what is going on.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch – A very successful author across many different fiction and non-fiction genres, Rusch has an excellent insight to indie publishing vs. going within the industry. She and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith easily make their living by writing.

Joe Konrath – Other than Amanda Hocking, this man is the top folks doing it to follow. He and his friend, Barry Eisler debunk many of the myths about epublishing, including the legends surrounding their own successes.

There are many, many more and if I were to list them all, this blog post would be endless. I will hopefully have a page of these links and others to share with folks. In spite of things being scary economically, this is a time where innovation can offer opportunities we have never even imagined before. It’s largely unexplored territory. However, it is the possibility of discovering something that may possibly allow us to carve a life of our own out of that wild and unknown place that holds the most promise.

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Filed under business, update, writing

Diabolical Plans

There is something incredibly satisfying in plotting the death of one’s own character. Whether it is a major one or a minor one, nothing can add to or diminish those gleeful thoughts of their demise. Knowing that you will not only plan their death, but meticulously carry it out and get away with it is a heady draught indeed. This godlike power is better than any substance that has yet been created.

Even if the poor wretch does happen to become aware of your intentions, it does not matter. Not even the panicked breathing of the Muse whose life you are about to snuff out, or the shrill, raised voice that threatens to splinter glass when his or her other headmates begin whispering about what is afoot can dissuade you. Soon, they will no longer inhabit the space. All the while, measurements are being taken for the character’s coffin (if they are allowed one) and other shadowy, less fleshed out characters wait in the shadows of your cranium,. They watch from the sidelines like ghouls and demons in the dark recesses of the Underworld.

My mind reels at the possibilities of it all! watch out!

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The ‘Dude’ (Aka Jesus)

Dreams are strange things. I have a long history of having very strange and very profound dreams. If anyone, particularly a psychologist, were to ask whether or not I dream in colour, I would have to say, yes, indeed I do. If that makes me crazy, then so be it.

Recently I had one of those dreams that ranked pretty high on the strangeness scale, even for me. It started out as so may of my dreams do, where there is a tornado. A dream interpreter would say that this particular symbol means that there is an incredible amount of chaos in the life of the dreamer. I think I would agree with this. My life is filled with a bit of chaos at the moment.

As a result of this tornado dream, I ended up dead. That was the first time I had ever dreamed of anything like that. I do remember that I was more pissed-off that I could not tell my son how to distribute my stuff than I was in being recently deceased. There were some specifics that were not in my will, after all.

In the dream, I found myself in Heaven in a waiting room. It was kind of like the one you see in the movie, “Beetlejuice”. I remember that the waiting room was pretty full. My case worker, a lovely, mid-fiftyish African American Woman was going over this and that, and asked me what my religious preference was.

“Kemetic Orthodox,” I said, “But don’t you guys have that on file?; I asked, eyebrows raised. This was Heaven after all. They should have known these types of things.

“Oh, yes,” she wrote down my reply in her notes, “but so many people decide to change their minds when they realise that they’re dead.”

“Really? Why do they do that?” I asked.

“I think some of them have the idea that they may end up getting a better deal if they switch,” she said rather matter-of-factly.

“Well…..do they?” I was quite curious now.

“No,” she said with a shrug, “everyone pretty much gets the same thing.” She then pointed a slender finger at the waiting room that had not become any less crowded in the course of our conversation. “Why don’t you have a seat and we will call you when we’re ready.”

I nodded and sat down. My initial indignance at being unable to speak to my son seemed to have been forgotten for the moment. I picked up a copy of KMT magazine of Egyptology. It had a fabulous full-colour article on the reconstruction of Thebes going on somewhere in Heaven. I made a mental note to check it out. It was one of those places that I had always wanted to see. If I could see it in all of its past glories, so much the better.

I was completely caught up in my reading when there was a commotion. It was as if the Rolling Stones had decided to open up an impromptu set on the spot. I craned my neck around the throngs of people to see who might be causing all of the commotion. In the front of the mass of people who were quite literally tripping over themselves to get to this person, I saw none other than Jesus – who bore a frightening resemblence to Jeff Bridges as Jeff Lebowski (aka ‘The Dude’) in ‘The Big Lebowski”. With that kind of laid back attitude, it seemed perfectly appropriate to me that Jesus would get a rock star’s reception. After several minutes, the agitation of the crowd died down. Everyone would get their chance to talk to Jesus. From what I could see as I went back to my magazine, Jesus was a pretty cool guy. He was standing around chatting calmly and kindly and it seemed that he was quite approachable.

Eventually Jesus made his way over to me and took the now empty seat next to me. I shook his hand and we began chatting. Jesus was warm and polite, wore well worn flip flops and he had an easy laugh. It would be very difficult not to like a man who looked like a rock star and had the temperament of the Dalai Lama. In his warmth, I began to feel very self-conscious about something that I felt I needed to tell him. I did not want to lead him on, especially since he had been so very kind during our conversation.

“You know,” I began uncomfortably, “I have to be honest with you, Dude….I mean Jesus. I think you are really very nice and a really cool guy. But I have to say I couldn’t be a Christian anymore. I left and I have no intentions of returning – ever” I said. “But I want you to know, Jesus, it isn’t you,” I added hurriedly. “It really isn’t you. “ I searched his face and it showed absolutely no sign of surprise or disappointment. “It’s some of your followers, Dude. Too many of them, quite frankly, well…they suck.”

Jesus nodded and heaved a very long and heavy sigh. “Yeah. I know,” he said, “I get that a lot. I really am going to have to set a few of them straight. I mean all I said was, ‘love one another’. How hard is that? “

Jesus and I finished our very amicable conversation and he went on to mingle elsewhere. In the meantime, I finished my magazine and got up and began checking out the various Egyptian statues. I was totally engrossed in the detail of one of them when my case worker called my name.

“Well, we’ve scheduled your driving test for you!”the receptionist said. She did sound rather chuffed at having managed such a feat. Apparently, even in the afterlife, such things can be a difficult proposition.

“Driving test?! I said incredulously, “in Heaven?!” It was almost an overwhelming surprise. “I didn’t think they needed cars, let alone licenses here,” I said.

“Oh, yes,” she said in that same matter-of-fact tone. “It was quite necessary for us to institute that. To be honest, we’ve been having a real road rage problem up here as of late and we’re trying to avoid that.”

“What happens if someone gets road rage up here,” I asked.

“Oh, then it’s a requirement that the offender go…”she looked about nervously, “downstairs” to attend traffic school with you know….HIM.”

“Him?” I was puzzled. “You mean…Satan?”

“Shhh!! We don’t talk about him up here. Seriously. You don’t want to be flagged for further testing, do you?”

Thankfully, it was then that I woke up. A few minutes after I had dragged myself out of bed, I called my son to wish him a good weekend and to remind him that no matter what, I loved him. I didn’t remember when the last time was that I did that, and after the dream I felt it was important to do so.

I sometimes think that because of my religious belief, where life and the afterlife are almost exactly the same, that idea can be in some ways rather disheartening. All of the frustrations and responsibilities that we encounter in this present, waking life, tend to remind us that we need to be in the now. We need to be responsible and honest with both ourselves and those around us about what we believe and how we feel. Loving and caring about each other should not be along lines of who is of our belief system and who isn’t. We are all human beings, and compassion knows no creed. We need to live our lives as if we mean it.

It also might help if we were to check with our priests and pastors to make sure that our drivers licenses are good from one reality into the next.

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Standard Disclaimer for All Fiction

Because I write fiction over at Pan Historia, Dreamwidth and sometimes even over at Livejournal from time to time, I have to post a standard disclaimer. This is because of the sad fact that people are often unable to discern fiction from non-fiction and need you to preface it. This particular one has my own personal spin on it:

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work / journal are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Caveat: However, if the writer should decide that some cheap therapy is needed and there is does happen to be some hapless victim or two that dies a horrible, particularly grisly and senseless death; it very well might be that it does in fact represent someone after all.

Thank you.

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Wednesday – Picture that Causes You To Cry

The Unseelie are not easily moved to tears.

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Filed under fiction, livejournal, rochefortian tales