Category: Writings


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Farewell Carol Wills ~ a Very Special Lady

Today we are saying goodbye to Carol Wills by celebrating her life. She was a well-loved British charter member and contributing author to the Peacock Writers. At the beginning of February 2014, she crossed into the realm of angels.

safe_imageCarol was an all around site administrator in the group, helping anywhere and everywhere to carry out the Peacock mission. Our angel was one of the original “four Yanks and a Brit,” published along with other initial Peacock Writers Janice Abel, Gwenna D’Young, Paula Shene, and myself, Carolyn Tody, in the first volume entitled “A Whimsical Holiday for Children.” Less than two and half years later, five Peacock Writer editions exist, a sixth is entering publication, and additional authors are donating their time to the series.

Although all members write other stories, books, articles, and blogs, we prioritize our time twice a year to compose children’s stories and poetry to donate to the twice-annual series. Symbolized by a peacock to portray the jewel-like facets of each author’s diverse creativity, these books help raise funds for children’s charity.

My friendship with Carol blossomed during the frenzied learning curve associated with publishing the first edition in 2011. We had met a year earlier on BookRix, an online authoring site that offers contests and other writing resources. Since then our relationship grew despite the great intervening pond, as we simultaneously reviewed our writings on internet forums that transcend distance. Then she grew quiet during her attempt to defeat the ultimate monster and thief of togetherness.

Carol loved to read – anything. She was married, with a grownup family, and lived with her husband in Chesham amid the beautiful Chilton Hills.

I will miss Carol’s kindness and pleasant sense of humor. Although I didn’t know her for very long, she is a great example of how some people come into one’s life for a brief period, establish a masterful imprint and then move on to a new realm where their special touch is needed.

This lovely lady is best known for her children’s books featuring adventures of Titus, a character who is actually a small bird. Sadly, there will be no longer be new Titus tales.

She also wrote short stories and flash fiction. You can find her writing at: “Women’s Words,” a blog she dedicated to the ladies: http://www.womens-words.com/, at http://purple-hat.blogspot.com/, http://www.shelfari.com/carol_wills, http://indieauthornetwork.weebly.com/, http://www.goodreads.com/, and at http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Wills/e/B005PKRO22/ref=sr_tc_2_rm?qid=1391764175&sr=1-2-ent

Farewell is not forever…

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New Books ~

Previous Books ~

Small Towns Cover  Small Towns: A Map in Words ~

With full page spread Artwork by C.J. Tody, CTA                       

Published 9/29/2009 in print form by Writing at the Ledges and may be purchased at http://www.writingattheledges.com/. Contains my stories “Treasures Beyond Measure,” and “Eye O’ the Storm,” two romantic poems, and my artwork (right) as a map to the seven categories, or ‘sections of town’. Reviews ~Mittenlit: “…this isn’t your typical anthology…the writing is original, imaginative and revolves around themes ranging from “Corner Cafe” to “Country Roads”.  The 300 p+ book also has very good production values and the cover art is striking. I don’t think there is a typo in the book.” Ray Walsh, Lansing State Journal ~ “Treasures Beyond Measure” by multi-media artist C.J. Tody, is a nifty tale dealing with childhood memories.

Seasons of Life - Cover Front and Back    Seasons of Life ~ Published March 2011 in print by Writing at the Ledges and may be purchased at  http://www.writingattheledges.com/. Reviews: Ray Walsh for the Lansing State Journal: “Carolyn Tody’s “Music of the Wind” focuses on the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964, with very descriptive imagery of damage and destruction.”  In addition, the book includes  “Falling for Fall” and “Fireside Nights.”

Announcing the arrival of  three new books

~ This season, a variety of publishers included new stories in 2 new books with a 3rd coming ~

Product Details“Seasons Readings: A Collection of Holiday Themed Short Stories
Publisher: Lia Fairchild. Collaboratively written by contributing authors listed below.  Appeared in eBook form on Smashwords and Amazon December of 2011:  ~ http://www.amazon.com/Seasons-Readings-Collection-Holiday-ebook/dp/B006IUUIYE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324440749&sr=1-1.   Price: FREE ~ Holiday Gift

-Home for Christmas by Lia Fairchild (Approx. 7,000 words)
-Christmas Without You by Mel Comley (Approx. 1,300 words)
-Legacy of Sandy Klausse by Valerie Maarten (Approx. 7,000 words)
-Jade Elephant Libby Fischer Hellmann (Approx. 3,500 words)
-Eleanor’s Christmas Surprise by Tania Tirraoro (Approx. 3,200 words)
-Christmas Rainbows by Melissa A. Smith (Approx. 1,300 words)
-A Basketball, A Storm Drain and a Choo-Choo Train by Sue Owen (Approx. 8,500 words)
Silver Bells by Carolyn Tody, CTA (as Cactus Rose) (Approx. 2,600 words)
-Kate and The Irishman by Mary Pat Hyland (Approx. 5,000 words)

Product Details“A Whimsical Holiday for Children: to Benefit Children’s Charities“.    The second book to appear on Amazon in eBook (and print) form in December 2011 was: http://www.amazon.com/Whimsical-Holiday-Children-Childrens-ebook/dp/B006MQ1A0K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324441545&sr=1-1  Paul & Paula Publishing. Price: $5.99 on Amazon or FREE in Kindle Lending Library for 90 days.

Collaboratively written by the Peacock Writers (a group of five authors for whom I coined a name, from the United States and United Kingdom, who focused their talents on raising funds to benefit children fallen prey to disabling circumstances or natural disasters. Each author contributed in the past by means of a group electronic publishing site. The new venture is designed to allow this dedicated group to donate more freely by releasing at least one annual collection.)  Charities will be chosen for the global impact upon children aged zero to fifteen.  Please support their efforts to improve this initiative.  Happy Reading!

This book contains a variety of original holiday-themed children’s literature, short stories and poetry imbued with whimsicality, a liberal sprinkling of holiday magic, and earnest desire to share the awe and wonder of Christmas with children from late toddler to early adolescence.  All proceeds from this initial publication will be sent to children’s charity.

Stories include:  Gingerbread Castle (Carolyn Tody), A Titus Adventure with Cedric and Santa (Carol Wills), Little Horse Wears Antlers (Carol Wills), The More the Merrier (Paula Shene) and Santa’s Secret (Gwenna D’Young).

Whimsical poetry includes:  Chocolate Town, Snow Fairies, and SnowBuddy (all 3 by Carolyn Tody). Surfin’ Santa and Santa Means (Gwenna D’Young)

  Eagerly anticipated:  “Voices from the Beyond,” a collection of true stories with the story “Winsome Spirit” by C.J.Tody written as CactusRose.   Italian publisher Annarita Guarnieri has joined Ink’nBeans Press since requesting the story and we are awaiting the outcome.

     New in March 2012 ~ A wonderful gift!

The Rain Cloud’s Gift,” The Peacock Writers’ Spring Renewal    Collection  is themed with rainbows, and is now on Amazon Kindle at:  (http://www.amazon.com/Peacock-Writers-Childrens-Charities-ebook/dp/B007QCST12/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1333662100&sr=1-2). Paperback (http://www.amazon.com/The-Rain-Clouds-Gift-Childrens/dp/1475110928/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1333662100&sr=1-2-catcorr)

This book will also be sold by BookRix.com, at:  http://www.bookrix.com/_title-en-gwenna-d-039-young-carol-wills-carolyn-tody-paula-shene-n-barry-carver-laszlo-kugler-chris-clarke-li

Eight authors contributed to this edition. For my gift, I wrote one story and a poem. “White Peacock” begins the tales of Brambleberry Lane along the border of the Patchwork Forest by continuing the Ginger of Witherworm Villa saga. The story introduces Grayson, a white peacock with restorative powers, and Rainbow Painter, a fairie who lives at the bottom of Ginger’s garden. By the time Ginger discovers Grayson hiding across the lane, the thief who stole his colors is long gone. His mate Tealfeather and her chicks no longer recognize him. Another peacock vies for her attention as Grayson and Ginger race against time to restore his pigment.  The journey to reunite the peafowl family results in unexpected twists and turns.  I also chose to write a poem about a Raggedy Rainbow that led a child to discover and reclaim long-lost wishes and hold them close while realizing his or her dreams. The Rain Cloud’s Gift will appear in early June 2012 at the International Book Expo America, held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC, for display with other books for view by industry publishing publicity professionals. An interview with the five original authors in edition one, A Whimsical Holiday for Children, will soon appear in the Literary Lunes online magazine.

Why did I offer the group the use of the name “Peacock Writers?”  In early December 2011 the first edition was going to press just as I was about to have major surgery for diagnostic purposes that included removing an organ. At that time I had already been through major health testing for a lump that appeared earlier in the year. Doctors treated me at two cancer centers in my city ordering tests I had never even heard of.  Two surgeries followed. Something needed to brighten the horizon and strengthen my faltering optimism.

That was when the brainstorm came forth: some of the most brilliant colors anywhere abound in the iridescent peacock feather. The newly formed children’s charity writers needed a name and a unifying theme. Why not the peacock? Throughout ancient and modern history the bird has symbolized renewal, rejuvenation, and purity of heart. The group agreed, and the Peacock Writers published their first edition.

Three days before Christmas, doctors determined that no cancer was ever found. While it was a terrifying and painful year for me, I am grateful for their loyal perseverance. Also for the removal of a ‘ticking time bomb’ in the form of what became diagnosed as benign fibroid tumors.  As for the opportunity to connect the richly colorful image of a peacock to a diverse and growing group of talented writers ~ I must say that each author has a heart as large as the royal fan displayed when the peacock spreads its feathers!

Resources for Writers ~

When it comes to writing, there are times we need a quick reference tool to help edit a new passage, design a cover, add background music, monitor social media posts, create a marketing platform, and perform other writing-related tasks.  I created a convenient list of resources shared by my many friends and fellow writers.  These are merely mentions, not promises, but you are welcome to try them.  It is also a work-in-progress with references yet to share, so feel free to check back later.  Please recommend new resources or comment on the features of those listed ~

Online Editing ~  http://editminion.com/

Epub Conversion ~  Free online epub converter ~ Convert PDF, doc and other types of documents & books to ePub format, the standard format for ebooks, supported by almost every reading device including iPad, iPhone, iPod, Sony Reader, BeBook, Nook, Kobo (for Kindle use .mobi), and Stanza:     http://www.2epub.com/

Covers, Photos, Banners ~ 

Covers ~ PhotoShop, PhotoImpact, PaintShop Pro, Publisher, Picassa. Free download:  Paint.com, Gimp (for PC)

Photos ~  Google Images, Weheartit.com, www.dreamstime.com/free-photos (Stock Photog & Royalty Free Images), http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/589290, photobucket.com, freedigitalphotos.net, Stockfresh.com ($1-20)

Banners ~   http://www.bannersketch.com/?pid=generator&pag=1&opt=2

Music & Playlisting ~ 

Mixpod.com, http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/http://www.audiomicro.com/royalty-free-musichttp://freeplaymusic.com/http://musicbakery.com/http://www.seabreezecomputers.com/tips/freemusic.htmhttp://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/faq.html

Promotion

Book Platforms & Other Promotion on Book-related Sites ~  Twitter.com, Facebook.com, LinkedIn, AuthorsDen.com, Shelfari, Goodreads.com, Author’s den.com, Google+, BookRix.com, Amazon forums, Amazon Authors page, Amazon astore, Smashwords, Barnes&Noble/Nook, iTunes/iBooks, Kobo, Stanza, Epub, other writing-related sites and any book-related site including your website, blog, and email signature.

Funding platform ~ http://www.indiegogo.com/

Royalties paid for writing ~  http://www.wikinut.com/

Creating Book Trailers ~ MacIntosh: iMovie, PowerPoint    PC?: MovieMakersMagic

Managing Social Media

Social Media Dashboards ~ manage and measure multiple social networks, schedule messages, track mentions, analyze traffic  http://www.hootsuite.com and which others?

Create Custom Business Facebook Page ~ publish professional pages without design/graphic/coding skills ~ http://www.pagemodo.com/?r=free_footer and which others?

Hello, Friends!        ‘Firelight’ was excellent in a worldwide poetry contest!

Writing poetry is a lot like dancing.  It’s a heartfelt sweeping waltz, a rollicking jig, a jazzy Charleston that makes it possible to get into deep, expressive imagery and soar rhythmically into the starry night of a storyteller.  Thank you,  from all the honorary residents of “Chocolate Town,” for stopping by.  You already know the way there – the winding path through the dark and distant snow is paved by a life well-lived, navigated by reading between the lines, and lit by following the light in your own heart.  Creatively ignite and propel your dreams!

Enjoy this illustrated book while it is still free, as have hundreds of other readers.   Meanwhile, I will be reorganizing and updating. You may download and/or ‘save to favorites’ (press the Star at end of book or below it,  if you have created a free account). It will then be yours, perhaps even after BookRix sales begin.  If not, contact me with the username you used for the save and I’ll try to gain you access.  I welcome your feedback, so please leave a short comment in the box at end of book and submit.  Thank you in advance!!!  Sending warm hugs,  C…

Firelight book cover Larger

Firelight ~ A Fireside poetry collection. Illustrated relationship musings woven into images of romance, endings, and new beginnings that soar on the powerful winds of change.  Click to read

Reviews for FireLight:

Amazing ~ So much emotion! I could read these over and over and I’m sure I will. I particularly like candles, yes they can burn down a house. Love that picture, too. Torn is amazing. And Melt Down is delightful. Such a range of emotion in these poems and so well done…blkhbask
Firelight ~ I enjoyed the imagery throughout your book! I loved the way you played with words that may [or may not] be ‘Olde’ English..and the panache that endured to the end..voted and kept as saved to my favorites!…ps
Word wonders!   I loved Snowfairies, wintry soul, Regrets, oceans, heart star:  you have a fine way with words: keep it up,…jlc
Touched my Heartstrings!  What a wonderful collection of poems and beautiful images. I loved Regrets and related as if I was standing beside the author…nutmeg
Very romantic ~ soft and beautiful collection of poems stemming from a sublime soul and a special heart. I enjoyed reading it…olfaphila
Very artistic ~ Love the way this book is presented. Although I’m not a poet I would enjoy having a copy of this to browse from time to time. Well done!…gmcas
Just Lovely!   I enjoyed your book immensely! Looking forward to reading more of your work!…llong
Firelight ~ A good ‘manual of the soul’ masquerading as a poetry book. Thank you for inviting me to read this wonderful work. Warm and satisfying, like a Winter meal.  (***** out of *****)…jmkarns
Delightful Poems ~ Very nice, poems … you’ve been busy! I really liked the “Bullies” poem. I also thought the background image you chose for your pages was very fitting…jlm
A magical tour ~ of lovely poems to warm a winter heart…rsp
Chocolate Town ~ Will you take me there to visit? Or do I already know the way?…season
Excellent. You’ve really captured the emotions of relationships, lost and otherwise. I think I’ll read this several times, I enjoyed it so much…tks
CactusRose ~ A fluffy throw, a warm drink and this book make for a happy time…quiltist
Beautiful photos and illustrations…dbs
Meltdown ~ Loved the way this title was written. The whole book was beautifully done and very enjoyable and snuggly to read…jw
Lovely ~ What a delightful work … I love the imagery…lh
Very nice ~ A lot of sensitivity and interesting connections…kc
Wow ~ This is a good poem book…mml
Good imagery and emotion in poems. A hard job done well…redcanyon

If you wish, while you are at the BookRix site, you may also join the social writing community, sign in,  and leave a short profile with or without a photo. You will then be able to ask questions, participate in forums, create ‘flip-style’ ebooks privately or to share,  join contests, and vote for your favorite books after reading contest entries.   Click to read Firelight ~ http://www.bookrix.com/_title-en-cactusrose-firelight

Author CactusRose

Hello friend!   I am an author, artist, and creativity consultant to the Enroute Media Group…

After a  successful reinvention of my own (an open-ended process, I’m afraid!) following an early out from constantly balancing personal life with the career ladder (nontraditional studies, solo parenting, home, and the  other intrepid responsibilities we all have) for over 34 years, I am restoring my hands-on creativity more productively than I could when all of my inner resources went into the workplace.  Now I have a healthy, creative, ‘worksome, playsome’ lifestyle.  Together with my beautiful family and media group I explore everything that glows with interest.  Author CactusRose is also a youth asset promoter and playful spirit enjoying halflings and grown children.

From my location in the Great Lakes region of Michigan, I write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, press releases, edit, review, or whatever is needed at the time, for children, teens, adults, and organizations.  Some of the fiction contains what is termed ‘magical realism,’ or transforming everyday experiences into extraordinary.  Whimsical escapades and creative reinvention voyages are meant to be adventurous, playful, and entertaining.  Many stories contain an element of transforming dreams and callings into reality.  Hopefully, they will inspire other action dreamers.

Besides writing and designing worlds, I love to read stories of adventure, romance, legend, myth, mysteries, some scifi fantasies, hero journeys, world news, anything that makes a person better and brings beauty to our world…

My favorite music to write by is: Smooth Jazz, Inspiring tunes, SoundScapes (wishing for a bubbly Mediterranean fountain by the sea).  I greatly appreciate the learning opportunities offered by competitions, NaNoWriMo, and writer groups.

Doing anything in, on, around, and near big water is intriguing. I also love to dance, bike, hike, travel, sail, cruise, visit Disney, galleries, B&B’s, globetrot, spend time with family & friends, and explore…I am above all curious, creative, intuitive, shamelessly romantic with an open worldview that is much younger than a mere number implied by chronological age!  The world is a beautiful place and I intend to enjoy its spectacular landscapes to the fullest extent possible.

Remember, friends were strangers once, too… I like to actively explore both the global setting and the world of creative dreams, traveling whenever possible, and letting friendship bloom. With my tongue in cheek, I will say that I am often told…after the long struggle to raise a family, dig my family back out of painful relationships, complete degrees, a professional career, national seminars, Fortune 500 internship, and forty bazillion other experiences that create a rounded life…that I have a ‘PhD’ in Life. Haha! I can only wish and hope someone will enjoy what I write. Because writing is a calling as strong as creating visual or performing art, and a calling can only be denied at one’s peril. 

This blog will focus on my writing, author resources such as the DreamSculptr Writing Academy and reviews, DreamSculpting, inspirational thoughts for creative dreamers, plus a few ‘topics of interest’ (at least to moi!).  I hope you enjoy and share with your feedback!  Sending hugs your way ~

From: United States
Language: English
Gender: Female
My favorite books:
Stories of adventure, romance, legend, myth, mystery, scifi fantasy, hero journeys, world news, anything making a person better and bringing beauty to our world…
My favorite quote: Creatively ~  Ignite and propel your dreams!
My last book: Guernsey Literary Society, House Rules, others
Occupation: Author, creativity consultant, photographer, painter, clay sculptr, miniaturist, loving relationship seeker…
My hobbies: Walk by water, creative time with family & friends, dance, read, theater, anything done with rhythm and creativity..
Actively explore and realize dreams, travel, and friendship. Major university, national seminars, and forty bazillion experiences that create a rounded life.

FireFly Express shares whimsical stories with you as short stories, writing samples, and poetry, before it moves on into another life.  Some stories are born from prompts, challenges, and contests.  Some just are.  My only reward is your enjoyment…and, hopefully, feedback.  Feel free to add your own family friendly shorts so we can comment, too!   Here is my first story ~

Riding the Golden FireFly

(All rights reserved, copyright 2011©Patchwork Treehouse Press)

Tristan was bored with castle routine.  One day before sentry duty, he disguised himself as a vagabond and ventured into Indigo Valley.  He sat in a restful cave in a bordering cliff he surveyed the golden panorama below. Two voices overhead cut into his reverie.

             “Hey, Tripper, what is it like to ride a firefly?  Are they built a little like dragons?”

            “Actually, me loyal nut case, no!  Even me first matey should know their shape is better.  What professional companions do you employ in your shuttle, anyway?  You’re the pilot, not me.  A firefly needs no saddle. No horns to nab ye. And them little lightning bugs travel smoother on shorter distances.  Why, Gregorian?  You plannin’ to apply for a new position?”

            “Haven’t you heard?  The Firefly King is allowing suitors to court the princess.  I’ve heard she’s a real beauty.  Maybe even I will…” Gregor hesitated. “No, I shouldn’t have told you.  The less competition the better, far as I’m concerned. 

            Tripper jumped over the cliff and caught an updraft.  His spidery legs curled into position.  For miles he soared over the countryside, scouring green hills and fields of barley for the royal castle.

The Firefly Nation grew their most luxuriant lilies in the Indigo Valley.   A shallow moat ran along the sunny southern side of an ancient Roman Castle ruins.  Deep in the heart of one great blossom with petals as pink as a seashell lining, lived Emperor Alexander.

Radiant Hera was his only child.  Her lovely radiance lit the castle.   Emperor Alex protected his royal offspring carefully, keeping her within the petals.  Once, she ventured near the flower’s edge to see him off and knew that a greater world awaited her exploration.  But she waited dutifully for his guidance.  Eventually she reached an age when her body began to glow.  Her glimmering light lit the night with an iridescence that illuminated the beautiful lily.  On each successive night, her luminescence grew even brighter and more beautiful,  until it cast a mellow golden patina on everything in range.

Seeing this, her father sent heralds across the kingdon with an announcement.  “My daughter is now of age.  Hera and I will travel abroad.  When we return she may choose a proper suitor and wed.”

Every mercenary public relations insect in Indigo Valley passed the cry from mouth to mouth.  Preachers wisely addressed the pulpit with the courtly ‘Verses of Courtship.’ Heroes hungry for companionship pumped the iron.

Alexander and Hera flew in and out of lilies and across fields, venturing to the vast reaches of Indigo Valley.  Admirers thronged her appearances, for she had a singular power of attraction.  While every night insect followed her, she encouraged none, preferring to remain a polite and diplomatic ambassador of good will for the sake of harmony.

When Tristan first saw her, the night was warm.  The moon was full.  Its warm, golden luminescence was visible through the uppermost branches of treetops.  The warm, living sphere washed the sky with an amber glow of distant lamplight.

The heavens were as pale as washed denim.  It was impossible to tell in which moment daylight would fade and moonlight would claim the night. 

Under trees in the meadow, Lorelei watched the moonrise, silhouetted against the clouds on a small hilltop. 

Tristan moved closer, sandwiching her against the moon. 

Hera rose, gliding across the uneven ground as if she were floating.  She knew the way.  Tall ferns and meadow grasses reached her waist.  Swollen tops brushed the ends of her hair with seed and pollen.

            He could not make out her face from this distance.  All he could see was long black hair backlit by the rising moon.  A long skirt dragged on reeds, billowing away like a balloon.  In a sudden breeze, her hair shifted, draping her shoulders and revealing full breasts before it fell again. 

She shivered, knowing he was watching her silently.  Tiny fireflies lit the air around her face.  “You are like lazy little stars,” she whispered, gathering one in her palm,  “…drifting through the gloaming with ease, dimming and brightening the night.”

From his sentry post, all Tristan saw was light sparking around her like a halo, its tiny bursts of iridescence tossed around in the twilight.  It was as though she wore a fiery tiara of fairy ghost light gathered from the night itself.  He watched her stop in a nearly invisible stand of pine saplings to inhale their scent and imagined he could almost smell their fragrance.  A thousand other scents perfumed the night, too. Some were as subtle as a whiff of Jasmine, others spicy and minty or rich and intoxicating, like musky flower blossoms. 

The moment was timeless for him.  What would happen now?  When he left this magical place, this one perfect, peaceful instant when he embraced the universe with vivid possibility, would he ever return?  He felt like he was a part of everything else.  He was one with her, he was a part of the trees and grasses and the moon.  Larger than life was how he felt.  It was as if he had expanded into all that was or ever will be.  Tristan had never seen anyone like her before. She was enigmatic, a mystery. What miracle was at work to make him feel this way?  He thought the answer must lie beyond a mere explanation of biology and earthly matter. 

She closed her eyes and slowly breathed in the fragrance.  She wanted to take in the scent until her blood was saturated, until her soul expanded and he felt the same across the field.  Let the nectar of moonlight carry it to him.  Let the evening liquor steep his soul.  Soon the moon crested the treetops, cascading the meadow with shadows among pale green stems.  “We are the darkness, and yet we cast light.,” she whispered.  “In the moonlight, we are both substance and shadow.”  Only now did she raise her face to his. 

 His hungry gaze locked on hers with a yearning that was impossible to deny.   He waited there until it seemed to him that an eternity had passed. 

Finally, she walked into his embrace and allowed him to hold her.  She knew he would never again in his lifetime find his Holy Grail in this way.  From this point on, his universe would fill with endless striving and a descending spiral of disappointment.  He was damned.  And he was hers. 

Movement occurred in the trees.  Presently a doe with two fawns emerged and froze in their dazzling presence. The movement broke his concentration. He tore his eyes from hers. 

         She moved swiftly into a pine stand and let the night swallow her.  For a while, she watched him search, uncomprehendingly.  She knew she would not pass this way again tonight.  Then she turned and left, realizing there could be no better ending to such a perfect moment.

On the night before Valentine’s Day, she addressed her mother:  “Many admirers have I met, but none I wish to marry. Tonight I shall stay home to see who loves me enough to come courting.  I want to pose him an impossible task. If he is wise he will refuse.  If he loves his life more than me, I shall lose interest.  If he succeeds, he will win my hand.”

“As you wish, my child.  Oh…your Highness,” the empress corrected herself. She dressed her daughter resplendently and set her on a throne in the heart of the flower.  “Guards, keep all suitors at a respectful distance. We don’t want a dazzled bug to approach her light and hurt the princess.”

Hera sent out the invitation by way of Iris, her messenger.  As Iris flew toward the valley, a colorful rainbow twinkled overhead.

“Fly, little glowworm, glimmer, glimmer,” urged Hera.  She watched the little winged beetle fly away, her bioluminescence lighting the ground below as if she was scattering an ultraviolet pathway for love-smitten insects to find their way to Hera. She knew that such light could only breed here, in this marshy, tropical portion of the valley where abundant food grew.  A few wet, northern, wooded areas were also reputed to nourish such illuminating glow.  But to Hera’s knowledge, no northern fireflies had ever journeyed this far.

Twilight faded away.  In fluttered the first suitor.  He bowed low to the princess, “I am Lord Gregorian the Golden Butterfly, offering you my house, my fortune and my love.”

“Go now, and bring me fire.  Then I will become your bride,” offered Princess Hera.

Bowing his head, Gregorian opened his wings with a stately whirrr and departed.

Next to arrive and solemnly profess his passion was Tripper the Gliding Spider with his glossy winged body as black as coal dust.

“Bring me fire to make me your wife.”

Off glided the spider.

Pausing only briefly, in flew Rush the Scarlet Dragonfly.  He expected to dazzle the princess with color so awesome that she would fall at his feet.

“I decline,” said Hera, “Bring me a flash of fire to reveal your bride.”

Swift was the flight of the dragonfly.

Soon, Gregorian returned.  With a tremendous buzzz, the golden butterfly pled ardently for her mercy.

“I’ll say ‘yes’ when you bring me fire,” repeated the glittering princess.

Suitor after suitor and every sweet, sex-starved mechanic in the Indigo Valley appeared to woo the daughter of the Firefly Emperor.  Soon, every petal was dotted with lovers.

To each one, the modest princess replied:

“Bring me fire to make me your bride.”

Every suitor thought he alone possessed the secret, and sped away on the quest without telling his rivals.

Gregorian the Golden Butterfly whizzed off toward a light glimmering through a paper window.

Trapper the Gliding Spider flew into the room of a poor student reading by the light of an earthenware oil dish.

Rush the Scarlet Dragonfly flew toward the light of a road crew working late at night,

Mad with love, a moth suitor hovered ever nearer a candle flame.  His determination to win fire for the princess overcame his fear. “The princess or death!” he buzzed, “now or never!” and flew to capture a bit of the flame.

But none of the lovers succeeded in their quest. None returned to wed the princess. Alas for the poor suitors!  Even fugitive doctors and soothsayers could not save them.  All perished in flame or oil. Great mourning took place the next day amid funerals for Gregorian, Tripper, Rush, and a multitude of others.

“Princess Hera must have had many suitors last night,” muttered maids, as they cleaned the soiled lanterns.

Valentine’s Day came and went.  Such a buzz filled the air!   In the moat on the north side of Castle Romaine, an early snow softly blanketed rocks and pebbles.  The lonely Dragonfly Kingdom of King Zeus was hard at work preparing for another cold snap.

Below the rocks, Prince Tristan yawned and emerged from a long nap.  He flew up the stairs, brushed a few crusty pebbles from his open window, and took a deep breath of fresh outside air.  Then he heard it. “Why?” he questioned the doorman, “What is that noise? Find out what is causing this commotion.”  Once he learned about the glittering princess, he remembered the girl from the meadow.  He fell even more deeply in love and resolved to marry her.

Emperor Alexander agreed to his proposal on one condition.  The prince must obey her wish for fire and that his proposal be delivered personally.

King Zeus gathered a battalion for Tristan, and together they charted a course for the Firefly Kingdom.  With the squadron torches blazing, they flooded the lily palace in golden light.

Princess Hera was so beautiful that her charms shone even brighter than the blaze of princely glory. The fiery visit ended in a flaming courtship enjoyed by both.

A few nights later, the princess rode to the wedding at Zeus’ northern castle in a glistening white petal carriage, borne by his flaming warriors. “Look who was hiding under the snow,” whispered Hera, fiddling with the ring he had only second ago slid onto her finger. Thus began a very illuminating life between the Firefly Princess and the Dragonfly Prince.

Generations later, Firefly Princesses still express the whim for admirers to bear fire as their love offering. This is why insects hover around the lamp each night and victims must be cleared away each morning.

Young ladies catch fireflies in jars for this very reason.  Watching the dance of insect love, they hope that one day they, too, might have lovers willing to brave the fire for their love.

All Rights Reserved©Patchwork Treehouse ExPress 

For Methuseleh Artwork, see ~ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artist-DreamSculptr/130834070320694

This little story was written to commemorate the passing of Methuseleh, a 128-year Tortoise in South Dakota at the Reptile Museum.  He spent years giving rides to children.   Thousands of people have sent pictures, so I almost feel like I knew him.  I wish I had met him, just once…

All this happened, more or less.  Oh, the glories I have seen!  Once, I watched the Ancient Ones prepare to receive visitors.

“The time is now,” chanted the guard.  “We must choose a successor!”   Armor ready and weapons sheathed, they stood firmly rooted.   Nothing deterred them. Displaying the vast power of concentrated vigilance achieved only by the very wizened, they clung to their appointed spots.

When the ground began to rumble, they considered the danger in silence.  The invasion had begun!

Only Methuseleh moved.  He stepped casually over the first small fissure.  Flames shot through his leg.  Soon he walked with great difficulty. “Somehow, I must reach the other side of the field where a fearful youngster clings to the fence.  The valiant child holds a puppy innocently above his head…high, over cracked earth that is muddied by his own falling tears.”

He mobilized his vast inner reserves.  Finally, the elder soul ambled painfully over to the youth.  “Hop on my back,” he invited.  “I’ll take you safely to the Garden Master at the gate house.  He should return soon. With him you’ll be protected. Hang on tight to the little dog, though.  Ready?  Here we go, then.”

Methuseleh was surprisingly fast for his large size, and they quickly reached the main gate.  All was quiet.  No one answered the gatehouse door.

Peering through the fence into the yard, I witnessed a surprising exchange.  Inexperience left me vastly unprepared, though.  At that time I was half my current age.  Yet, no lack of experience could ever conceal the significance of what was about to happen.

As I watched, the pair became engulfed in a faint, rosy glow.  Unspoken words passed between them. Then I knew!

Eternal secrets of the centuries were passing as freely from one to the other as whispers on the wind.  From the youth sprang images fresh from heaven.  From the elder, elegant knowledge gleaned from one hundred and twenty eight years of Earthly existence.

Yes, he had found his successor.  The Ancient Ones were none the wiser as the pair wound their way through the desert past rocky mounds of freshly churned dirt and grass.

Methuseleh watched children file into the enclosure with great reverence.  He recognized many.  They looked like their parents in their own youth.   Near a boulder at the center, a ceremony was beginning.

“We wanted to take this one last opportunity,” began the Garden Master, pausing to wipe away tears, “ to share our tales of an unforgettable friend.”  Several guests sighed and smiled.  “Methuseleh…”

His head came up.  “Yes?”

“…left us today.  And how we will miss our beloved, ancient Tortoise!”

Book Reviews and Interviews

I will review House Rules first, then new books I am currently reviewing.  Over the next few weeks I will invite my inner circle of local authors and some new friends who’ve recently published to interview. Stay posted!

My books

Since it’s 4am, I will develop this section over the next few days.  Subscribe for the latest news!

This entry is “under development!”

It does, of course, include all of my intended books and artwork and family events. More to the point, though…

A studio!  For the many directions I seem to go in all at once.  A large creative space where a renaissance person (me) can pursue many interests in earshot of, if not in sight of, nature and water.  With room for display and my exercise equipment.  Near a quaint tree-lined recreational area, preferably high above Lake Michigan. It’s been designed for years.  In several formats.

A logo and graphic depictions of the magical “tools” to include in my books.

Incentive and encouragement.

Several paintings and sculptural, figurative pieces that illustrate ideas in my books, and are well in process but need finishing.

Legacy.  NatSplat.  Velveteen Picture. Watchers in the Wild. First Anthology. BuildAMate.  Burnin Daylight.

Doing better now…keep ’em comin’ …you can do it!  Cheers!  Of course, I’d give it all up for certain other circumstances I want…which is exactly why I have to keep going until they can practically finish themselves.  No matter that I might just age someday and miss the other boat.  A calling is a calling.  I just wish my callings were a little less intense late at night and a little more cuddly.  So in the meantime, it’s me and my stuffie Patches.  An intrepid combination.

Add your dreams and projects here:__________________________________________.  Cheers!!!

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