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Much to discuss in this blog. A few major developments to tell you about, dear reader. Please read this entire blog all the way through. Good things are happening, and I want to take you with me…

First, I have published Phillip’s Clown. An accomplishment to say the least! Happy, happy, oh happy day! Now I can continue to market, blog, build my social media presence, and start reviewing for other authors. Anyone interested in swapping reviews, let me know. I’m looking for three honest reviews of Phillip’s Clown from fellow indie authors.

 There are a few authors out there, including:

I adore these authors, and would value the opinions of these great ladies.

So much here to cover…

I live in Socorro, New Mexico. This small town is located about 75 miles south of the place of my birth, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Within the last few years, the state of New Mexico has been the center of attention within the filmmaking community. Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston, and, In Plain Sight, starring Mary McCormack are both filmed in Albuquerque. Santa Fe, New Mexico is bustling with Hollywood insiders, producers, directors, actors, and screenwriters. The movie industry is here, and I hope it’s here to stay…

I have recently been invited to be one of the 15 judges for Fireborn Films 1st Annual Comics in Film Festival – Albuquerque Comic Con I will be judging in the ‘Best of’ categories: Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting / Villain, Cinematography, Screenplay, Editing, Special Effects, Set Design & Score. 

Fireborn Films, a Jerry G. Angelo company, produces a highly-effective workshop for actors located in Albuquerque called Stage. An apprenticeship is being established there for screenwriters. Starting in February, I will be attending the workshops. I do have a few unpublished screenplays to my credit, including the screenplay for Phillip’s Clown, and hope to hone my screenwriting skills. This apprenticeship is a 5 week program. During the 4th and 5th week, my best short screenplays will be acted by the Stage troupe. This is a great opportunity to bring my work from behind my eyes and see the scenes develop in front of me. The 5th week involves a showcase of a scene or two performed by the troupe in front of movie insiders. Another great opportunity for the actors, as well as the writers. The strongest screenwriters will have the opportunity to write for upcoming Fireborn Films television and feature film endeavors. 

I am working with a local author ghostwriting and editing. It’s a great feeling knowing I have these opportunities, and my writing skills are leading the way! Updates throughout my journey are forthcoming.

As an author, whether indie or traditionally published, have you ever thought of seeing your work(s) produced for the silver screen?

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A prologue to a longer tale, Phillip’s Clown is philosophically metaphysical in nature, taking place in two separate existences. The story involves Phillip Ash, a young thoughtful boy in remission from stomach cancer, the fears associated with the struggle with this terrible disease, and the way Phillip plays out those fears through dreams. 

His dreams are set in a land of castles and forests, rivers and fields, magic and dragons. Phillip’s fears are mirrored in this world, and played out by characters who mirror people in Phillip’s waking life. One of these characters is Gard, a benevolent shaman who seems to know more than he is letting on.

This novel is about family and friends, and the need for support in trying times.

This is the trailer for Phillip’s Clown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcN5QVFNTKk

The novel you are about to read is intended to provide a glimmer of hope for those who feel there is none. Peace.

This novel is dedicated to my mother and friend, Jacqueline F. Lattery.

Thank you for always believing in me.

PROLOGUE

Despite the distant rumble of an approaching army, the young king and the shaman laughed.

The once shining armor of the king was muddy and dull. The shaman, clad in a peasant shirt, leather trousers, and a dark robe, was a great medicine man, from a place mysterious, of birth inexplicable. His name was simply Gard.

On horseback, the shaman led the king through a misty field surrounded by fog-laden forest. The face of the shaman was the color of alabaster, a line of crimson-red shot from the corner of his eyes, forming a thin crescent to the shelf of his jaw.

The young emperor perceived the shaman heeding a sound emanating from afar.

“Selah!” The shaman called, breaking his horse into a gallop.

Dwayne, the royal steed followed suit.

The chill wind on the king’s face was exhilarating. Tears coursed from his eyes back into his ears because of the biting wind. He sensed the rumbling beyond the forest. Nevertheless, for one moment, he put that aside. He breathed in deeply, enjoying the sensation of the life surging through his strong body, as pure insurmountable feelings of happiness and strength washed over him.

The shaman shifted his painted face toward the young sovereign, peered into his eyes.

King Phillip Ash laughed aloud, observing that the shaman was laughing too.

 *****

The boy found himself in a dark chamber made of brick and stone. From a bird’s eye view, he observed an overpowering shape bestowing a tall, encroaching crown beating him. With each blow from the menacing presence, the boy grunted and groaned as he watched from above his own body battered. He knew this intimidating beast, this fiend inhabiting his waking life, having seen the dark, empty lines made flesh.

PART I 

CHAPTER ONE 

She was pushing the bottom of her light-up tennis shoes, making the lights flash as Phillip marched into the living room. Katie turned her eyes from her lights. “Phillip, you look dashing!”

Phillip smiled at his sister, appreciating the compliment. At six, Katie thought herself a young woman. He sat beside her. “Thanks Katie. And you, my dear, look smashing!”

Katie giggled, pulled her “Winnie the Pooh” lunch pail onto her lap.

“Are you ready for school, Katie?” Phillip asked.

“Well, I would be if we could get there. Hurry mom!” The eagerness to get going was apparent as she peered with impatience down the hallway.

“I’m coming!” Katherine called, appearing in the hallway in a hurried fashion.

Katherine Ash was a beautiful woman. Her hair flowed around a refined face. She was dressed in an executive business blouse, her black skirt ending just below the knee. Katherine was an administrator for the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Katherine reached for her carryall on the floor beside the sofa. “Are you ready, my babies?”

“Been ready, mom,” Katie said with flecks of sarcastic impatience. Katherine smiled down at her. Katie grinned widely. “Let’s go.”

“Mom, I’m not a baby anymore,” Phillip said as they exited the house. Katherine set the house alarm and came out the door, locking it behind her.

They hurried to the Cadillac and Katherine got in first. She unlocked the doors and the kids climbed into the car.

As they pulled out of the driveway, Katherine yielded to search for oncoming traffic. Then, glancing from Phillip in the front seat to Katie in the back, she said, “You will always be my babies. Put on your seatbelts.”

*****

The ride to school was mostly a silent one. Katherine had turned on the radio quietly. It played an old Huey Lewis tune as they turned onto Interstate 40, taking the Louisiana Boulevard exit to Montgomery Elementary School. This was Katie’s stop.

Phillip discerned an unusual quietness in his mother, observing her subtle but apparent anxiety.

She peeked at him and smiled. Katherine became aware of her own visible apprehension, so she brought her thoughts out into the open. “You know, Paul Ray is being released from prison tomorrow.”

“I know,” Phillip replied. He thought about how he used to follow his uncle Paul Ray around like a puppy. Phillip had thought he was so cool. They had gone to movies and played cards together. He felt close to Paul Ray because even though Phillip was much younger Paul Ray accepted him without question.

Then, one day Paul Ray disappeared from his life. He had gotten himself into trouble and sentenced to seven years in prison. Phillip missed him terribly and did not understand what had happened. He became angry with Paul Ray for leaving. In the last couple of years, Phillip wondered if Paul Ray did not care enough about him to remain in his life. Phillip wrote letters to Paul Ray, but eventually the connection had fallen away.

“I know we had decided he would live with Gramma, but I’ve decided to let him stay with us.” Katherine glanced into the rear view mirror at Katie to study her reaction. Katie was quiet, peering out the window.

Phillip asked, “I wonder what he’s like now, mom?”

“He’s fine, Honey,” Katherine reassured her son. “He’s still the Paul Ray you remember, but he looks and acts a bit different.”

“How mom?”

Katherine turned the radio off as they pulled up in front of the school. “Hold on,” she told Phillip. She got out of the car, walked around to Katie’s door, and let her out.

Phillip called out to his little sister, “Have a nice day Katie. Bye!”

Katie hugged her mom and pecked her lips. Katherine knelt before Katie. She adjusted her daughter’s coat collars and said, “Have a good day, Sweetie. Be careful and tell Mrs. Mashoff I said hi.” Katherine smiled and kissed Katie again.

“Okay mommy.”

Katie tapped on the front passenger door of the Cadillac. Phillip rolled down the window. Katie reached her head toward Phillip and kissed his cheek. “Bye Phil. I love you,” she told him, with a red face and a smile. Katie turned and skipped to the double doors of her school.

*****

Katherine got back in the car and pulled out onto the street. “Paul Ray is different because he has been through a lot,” she continued. “Seven years in prison can do a great deal to a person.”

“Is he gonna work for Danny?”

“Yes. Danny will have him at the upholstery shop.” The stress was now fully apparent in Katherine’s eyes. ‘Although it took some talking to get Danny to agree to help,’ she thought.

Phillip was eagerly looking forward to Paul Ray’s arrival. It had been so long since he had seen him. He did not know him anymore.

“Yeah,” Phillip agreed. His Uncle Danny was opposed to helping Paul Ray. Danny had a lot of resentment toward his younger brother.

They rode in silence the rest of the way to Cleveland Middle School, the school Phillip attended. Katherine pulled into the parking lot.

“Thanks mom,” Phillip said, leaning over and kissing his mom’s cheek with a loud pop.

“Don’t forget the M.R.I. is next Tuesday, Phillip,” Katherine informed her son. He got out of the car and spun around, leaning in the car’s open door. “I know. Bye!” Phillip smiled and closed the door.

“Bye.” Katherine watched her son walking away. Tears welled in her eyes. This always happened.

Phillip is twelve years old and in the seventh grade. Phillip had cancer.

CHAPTER TWO 

Katherine Jacobs married a man named Edward Ash, taking his last name. Edward was a partner in a large law firm. A man of accomplishment, he was revered as a mover and a shaker. Edward’s clients were high-powered and well known in the community. He was early to work and late to arrive home, even bringing his work home with him and staying up late into the night sculpting his cases and presentations.

Katherine herself, at that time, was an executive secretary, rising in the ranks of the hospital administrative pool.

The atmosphere of a traditional marriage had been virtually non-existent from the get-go because of their respective careers. Katherine and Edward made no time for each other. When there was time for a brief interlude, they only spoke of work.

Katherine and Edward conceived Phillip and Katie six years apart.

Edward named Phillip after one of the twelve apostles, while Katherine named Katie after herself. She had never heard of any mother ever naming a daughter in the junior sense, but Edward had agreed, even insisted upon it. She called her Katie and not Katherine.

The year of the birth of Katie was by far the most eventful and tragic year in Katherine’s life, and for everyone in the Ash family. Edward left Katherine. During the last months of their marriage, Edward had come off as a cold and unreasonable man. He became selfish and combative when asked to spend a little more time with Phillip. With not even as much as a two-week notice to his job, much less his wife and family, he was gone, off to start his own firm three states away.

At that point, the only pain felt by Katherine would be the fact the kids would be fatherless. In addition, to Katherine’s chagrin, Phillip actually loved his dad and missed him terribly.

Sadly, Edward’s only contact with the children would be his child support payment, which he paid without fail every month. He had intentions of visiting the kids and having them to his house. Nevertheless, in the end, that is all they were: intentions.

Katherine learned that no matter how hard she would try, she would never be able to make him do what she wanted, so she let him go. At this time, Katherine was pregnant with Katie.

That year the hardships had only begun. Phillip, at the tender age of six, had begun to complain of stomach pains. After two full weeks, the pain had only grown worse. One day, while watching television, Phillip doubled over in pain, his arms about his belly.

“It hurts,” he had moaned repeatedly on the way to the emergency room.

The “specialist” had prescribed a painkiller and an antibiotic. After two more weeks, the pain had not only persisted, but worsened.

Katherine spoke with a doctor. His name was Arthur Sigura. A large Hawaiian man with a crown of thick, black hair, his potbelly rounded out a colorful, tropical shirt.

“I would suggest an M.R.I., Miss Ash.” He suspected something serious and wanted Phillip examined right away.

How right he was.

The M.R.I. revealed three tumors on the lining of Phillip’s stomach. Sigura informed Katherine that no metastasis had taken place. However, the tumors were malignant and Phillip needed hospitalization.

Devastated, with the admittance of Phillip into the cancer wing, Katherine went into early labor.

Katie would be the miracle within the despair. She was under weight and heavily drugged at birth because of the Demerol, but she was healthy and beautiful, her eyes an intense blue.

*****

With all the Ash family hospitalized, Katherine’s older brother, Danny Jacobs, watched over her large house. He watered the yards, front and back, and fed the family cats, Mort and Jenkins.

Both mother and daughter remained at the hospital for observation. Katherine’s co-workers and various employees of the hospital visited her. They left bouquets of flowers and cards on the counters and tables inside her hospital room.

The closest of her various associates would accompany Katherine to the viewing room, and through the glass they would gaze at baby Katie. Because of the turmoil in her life, Katherine would cry and then apologize for all the grief she was causing. All her co-workers would tell her she had nothing to apologize for and that everything would be all right.

Danny and Katherine’s mother, Clarice, visited often and their support was priceless. They visited with Phillip too. He had grown very close to them, especially with his grandmother. She brought him crossword puzzles and books, and even though the doctors had Phillip on a strict diet, she would sneak chocolate into his room.

Danny was reserved around Phillip. The chemotherapy and radiation treatments had caused Phillip’s hair to fall out and he had become much thinner. Phillip could sense Danny’s unease, but he overlooked it because he loved his uncle.

Phillip was only one of the patients at the hospital. He thought all the children in the cancer wing appeared like little, bald old men, including him.

He missed his mom and asked about her. Gramma Clarice told him she would be up to see him when she was strong enough.

The day Katherine was well enough to have the I.V. removed; she went to visit her son. She steeled herself before entering his room.

“Mom!” Phillip looked up from his puzzle as she came in. His appearance worried Katherine profoundly, but she held her composure, coming to him with a tight embrace. As they held each other, the tears came. The hug endured as they spoke of the love they shared for one another.

Finally, they parted and Katherine wiped the tears from her eyes. “How do you feel?” She asked Phillip.

“Tired, but the doctors say I’ll be fine.” He ran a pale hand over his bald head.

A nurse came into the room with a bundle of blankets in her arms. The nurse had brought Katie up to Phillip’s room as Katherine had requested. She gave the bundle to Katherine and left the room. Katherine set the baby down on the bed between herself and her son. She parted the folds of the pink blankets revealing Katie’s tiny, red face and said, “Phillip? Meet your little sister, Katie.”

Phillip gazed down at Katie with wide, wet eyes. His expression of wonder and fascination etched into Katherine’s mind forever. She held back her emotions, stemming the tears.

“Hi Katie! I love you,” Phillip cooed in a little voice. They visited and played with Katie for about forty-five minutes. They said goodbye to the little bundle and Katherine had Katie taken back to her crib.

As Katherine walked back to her hospital room, she broke down, her overwhelming emotions overflowing. The joy of the new baby and the deep sadness for Phillip were too much to bear. She crumpled to the floor in the hallway. A troop of nurses helped her to her room in a wheelchair.

*****

Katherine and the baby went home. She brought Katie to visit Phillip everyday. Clarice and Danny came with her twice a week.

One day, they came to find Phillip deeply sad and crying. “What’s the matter?” Clarice asked as she came to his side.

“My roommate Andy,” Phillip pointed to the empty hospital bed next to his. “He…died this morning. The cancer got him.” The family cried for the boy and sat in silence with Phillip.

Katherine forced a smile and broke the quiet, her eyes trained on her son’s sunken features. “Well, you’re going to make it.”

*****

Two months later, Arthur Sigura phoned Katherine at home. “Good news, Katherine. Tests show that the tumors are shrinking and Phillip may be on his way to remission!”

Katherine cried out, overwhelmed with relief. Phillip was coming home!

*****

The Ash family and several of Phillip’s closest friends had a party honoring Phillip’s triumphant return. The family was finally whole again. The celebration lasted well after Phillip’s friends had gone home and Phillip himself had gone to bed.

He returned to school and endured the cracks and jokes from his classmates concerning his bald head. Soon his hair grew in and he was back to his old self.

*****

Six years passed and with the medications and the frequent M.R.I.’s, Phillip had stayed in remission; keeping the cancer at bay.

Throughout all these years, not a day went by when Phillip did not think about Paul Ray. He had always missed his favorite uncle.

CHAPTER THREE

That night, Phillip and Katie helped their mom clean out the spare room across the hall from Phillip’s room. This room stored household items and now it would be Paul Ray’s new home.

While Katherine washed the walls, Phillip carried boxes of linen, old silverware, books, and other miscellaneous items out to the large three-car garage at the other end of the house. Katie wanted to help her brother, so Katherine told Phillip to keep an eye on his sister. He let her carry a few tiny boxes, but he mainly wanted to do the man’s job himself.

In the garage, Katie asked Phillip, “Are you glad Paul Ray is coming to live with us?”

“Yeah Katie, I am,” Phillip said, leaning against the wheel well of the Cadillac. “I haven’t seen him in so long.”

Katie peered into her big brother’s face. “Is he going to be nice? Aren’t people from prison meanies?” Her face was uncertain, her tiny eyes searching Phillip’s for reassurance.

Phillip crouched to his knee before Katie to bring his face down to her height. “Yes, of course he’s nice. He’s your uncle. He’s just had to go to prison for some things he did in the past. When I knew him, I was your age. He was my best friend besides the ones at school. When I first got the cancer, I wished he could’ve been there. But you came then and I knew I would be okay.”

Katie smiled and hugged her brother.

*****

They set up a twin-sized bed in the spare room after Katherine vacuumed the gray chisel cut carpet.

When they were finishing up, Danny called from the bottom of the stairs. “Hello, anybody home?”

“Up here Danny!” Katherine called back. Katie ran out of the room yelling, “Danny, Fanny!”

He appeared in the doorway of the spare room with Katie in his arms. “You know, this girl gets bigger everyday.” He let her down, and walked into the room surveying the changes taking place.

Danny stood six foot two. His light brown hair was neat and trimmed. His face was polite and handsome. He wore a white business shirt with maroon tie, pressed black slacks, and spotless loafers.

“Hi Danny.” Katherine hugged her brother. His large arms enveloped her and gave her a sense of comfort and reassurance.

Danny turned to Phillip. “Hiya Phil!” He pulled Phillip to him in a big bear hug. He released him and said, “How goes it, Slugger?”

“I’m good, Danny, and you?”

“I’m great, Phil, How’s school?”

“Fair. I’m doing good as always.” Phillip gave a jesters bow that Katie thought was funny.

Danny glanced at Katherine. “You sure about this?” He roamed his eyes over the bed and dresser.

Katherine gave Danny a disapproving glare and glanced at Phillip. “Why don’t you and Katie go and watch T.V.”

“Okay mom.” Phillip put his hands on Katie’s shoulders and pushed her forward as he made a rumbling sound like a backhoe.

Katie glanced over her shoulder as she left the room. “See ya laters, Alligaters!”

*****

“Danny, for God’s sake, we’ve been through this already!” Katherine’s tone was aggressive. “He’s your brother! He’s paid his dues!” She leaned back on the closed door of the spare room.

“He has caused so much grief for mom, and for you…and for all of us!” Danny’s face became red and a vein pulsed under the skin of his forehead. “Why should we open our arms up to this…this man who never helped out? He never put forth an effort…for himself, for mom, for anybody!” He sent his point home by mashing his hand into the palm of his other hand.

Katherine had seen and heard this before. She threw her hands in the air and brought them down on her legs with an audible slap. “Why can’t you get past this?” She was frustrated with Danny.

“I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I’ve kept my word. I’ve stuck to my guns! I’ve encountered the same obstacles in my life that Paul Ray has faced! Mom has been put through the ringer. No…Paul Ray put mom through the ringer!”

Danny was upsetting Katherine. “I know. I know all that, Danny. But Paul Ray has spent the last seven years of his life down in that prison. Don’t you think he’s had time to re-evaluate his life? I’ve visited him all these years. He regrets what he’s put us through. He’s changed.”

Danny shook his head, “Now you don’t know that Katherine.”

“Well, I…,” Katherine lowered her head.

“Well what? He comes here, upsets your household. God knows what he’ll be like, what he’s learned in there!” Danny ran a hand through his hair.

“We’ve got to give him a chance.” Katherine stood facing Danny. “You’re not going back on your word?”

Danny’s expression softened. He sat on the edge of the bed. “No, he’s got a place at the shop. I’m only doing this for mom and for you. But, at the first sign of trouble, he’s out.”

Katherine went to Danny, put a slender hand on his shoulder. “Thank you.”

Danny stood. “I’d better be going. I just wanted to let you know that you have my support. If it were my decision, he’d stay at a half-way house.”

They went downstairs and found the kids not watching television, but eating ice cream at the kitchen counter.

“Caught you guys!” Katherine said to her babies.

They all laughed, made small conversation before Danny bid them farewell.

“Dinner is at mom’s to celebrate Paul Ray’s homecoming.” Danny pasted a weak grin on his face. He kissed Katherine’s cheek and embraced Phillip. “Love you, Phil.”

“Love you too, big guy,” Phillip said. He and Phillip were the only ‘men’ in the family. However, that would change now that Paul Ray would be back.

“And I love you too, Katie!” Danny picked Katie up, kissed her cheek loudly.

“I love you, Danny-Fanny!”

Everyone laughed again. Danny made his way to the door, stepping out onto the porch. “I’ll see you tomorrow night at moms,” he said.

Katherine went to the door. “I’ll pick Paul Ray up and bring him to moms at noon or so. I’ll be there with the kids later on.” As she closed the door, she thought, ‘Please God, let this go well.’

*****

Before bedtime, Katherine sat Phillip and Katie down in the living room.

“I just wanted to make sure one last time you guys are comfortable with Uncle Paul Ray staying with us.”

“Yeah mom, I’m looking forward to it,” Phillip told her.

“And you, Katie?”

“Phil said that he is nice and not a meanie, so I’m okay,” Katie said. Nevertheless, Katherine and Phillip detected she was still a little uncomfortable about the situation.

*****

Phillip’s dream about the shaman continued that night.

They rode side by side on horseback. The trail before them cut narrowly through deep forest. The air was thick, the humidity hanging like an endless curtain. Lichen and gossamer clung to the trunks of the large oaks all around the two travelers. The hooves of the two horses clumped on the earthen path.

“We have the cover of the forest, but the army from the south approaches quickly.” The voice of the shaman was deep and raspy, despite his clownish appearance.

King Phillip nodded. Dew misted his armor and his hair clung to his head. Somehow, he knew this name of the shaman. Somehow, he knew the land and the lay of the forest.

“Gard, beyond the rim of this forest, in the hills to the north, our castle stands. Surely, reinforcements lay in wait for our return,” King Phillip said.

The face beneath the greasepaint stretched into a smile.

“Your words are kind young king, to refer to your domain as ours. Come, climb a tree, and see what you can see.”

They stopped and dismounted their steeds, securing the reins to a protruding tree root. Standing beside the shaman, King Phillip realized his full height. The conjurer was more than a head taller than he was. His braided hair fell about his painted face, his peasant shirt drooped drearily in the humid air.

King Phillip’s armor felt heavy on his body as he made his way alongside Gard to a tall oak tree several yards off the pathway.

Gard inspected the tall trunk of the tree. Above, the branches broke out and away, extending to tangle with the arms of its surrounding companions, the leaves large and green.

“This one looks sufficient,” Gard said, examining the trunk of a tall tree. King Phillip thought it as good as any tree. He pulled away his armor piece by piece. Gard helped him unhinge the connections of each piece; first the shoulders and torso piece, then the upper and lower legs. King Phillip removed his boots and slipped from his chain mail.

Now he stood at the base of the tree in his underclothing, squinting up into the branches. Obscure was the sky above.

Gard had gone back to the mounts and returned with two hand held hooks. He handed one to King Phillip.

“Ready?”

“Let’s climb.”

King Phillip buried the hook into a ridge of bark and pulled himself up, finding a slim foothold in the skin of the tree. He lifted himself and pulled the hook loose, swinging the hook in again and pulling himself up, repeating the process until he had reached the lowest of the branches. He left the hook in the bark as he hoisted himself up into the thick array of leaves and branches.

Gard followed close behind and soon they were making their way to the furthest peak of the tree.

King Phillip judged each move he made, and the direction he took through the maze of branches. He followed a thick branch until it petered out, climbing up the next biggest one.

Gard ceased just below King Phillip, surveying the surrounding foliage.

“King Phillip!” Gard called.

King Phillip stopped climbing and peeped down at Gard’s upturned face. His ashen greasepaint had gelled in the lines of his sweat, and the red lines had blended together giving the illusion of a large red spot on each of his cheeks. He was smiling widely, his eyes large and wet. King Phillip thought, ‘This is the kindest, most likeable face I have ever seen. His eyes are filled with love.’

“Look around! Isn’t it beautiful, King Phillip?”

King Phillip gazed at the vast array of leaves and wood. The yellows, reds, and greens of the surrounding foliage seemed to glow as the light of the sun filtered through.

A large bird’s nest made of brown twigs, lay nestled at the crook of two branches in the neighboring tree.

When King Phillip beheld the baby birds inside the nest, he made a double take as he realized that they were not birds, but baby dragons.

Gard laughed aloud at the surprise and wonder on King Phillip’s face. He shifted his gaze from the nest to King Phillip. “We had better hurry. Mama may be here soon. She dwells north of King Mason’s river province to the east, in a volcano. Dragons, by nature, build a nest to cradle their eggs until they hatch. Once hatched, the baby dragons must learn to fly. Only then will they navigate the way to their true home. A rite of passage, if you will. A mysterious one too,” Gard said, smiling.

They climbed to the crown of the tree. King Phillip was able to stand on the highest branch as it arched up to the tips of the furthermost leaves.

King Phillip lost his breath at the awesome sight.

“So…What do you see King Phillip?”

To the north, beyond the forest, lay a rolling sea of green hills. King Phillip could make out a dark area at the point of the farthest crest.

“There it is, Gard! I see the Kingdom of Ash!” He pointed north toward the hills. “Ah,” Gard groaned, “at last within sight.”

In front of King Phillip, to the east, ran the Klēn River running north to south. It zigzagged through the forest, disappearing past the arc of a hill, where beyond lay King Kendall Mason’s domain.

“It’s beautiful up here Gard! Come take a look.”

“I would, King Phillip, but the branches would not hold all of our weight.”

King Phillip surveyed south, shocked by what he saw.

“What is it? What do you see?”

“I see a dust cloud approaching from the south. All view behind it is blocked from view.” King Phillip’s face contorted with an ill-wrought mask.

“The Black Army pursues! Let us be off, King Phillip! If we were to be overtaken, the castle and the peoples of Ash Country will surely perish. Come, let us make haste!”

Phillip awoke and the dream faded. Yet, elements remained; Gard’s painted face, and a distant castle beyond.

____________________________________________________________________________

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#Sample Sunday

Excerpt from: The Traversal of Montabu

Awoken by the cooling trade winds that blew in off the Gulf of Papua, east of the village, Montabu opened his eyes. Instantly, he felt wide-awake and refreshed, the branch had kept him comfortable and secure like the warm palm of nature. Above, slices of turquoise sky peered down through the framework of branch and vine. Oddly blithe of spirit, Montabu took one lasting gaze of longing at his village and climbed down the tree.

Montabu set out to find the evidence of Traversal, down a narrow cut pathway worn by time and vegetation. Montabu knew this path well, for he had traveled it many times with his father. He had never been allowed thus far to participate in the wild boar and dog hunts, but Antobi had brought him out here to the worn path for long walks.

As Montabu walked along the cut path, he thought of those walks with his father. Antobi spoke with an abiding respect for the jungle, pointing out the many varieties of predator when they would come across paths: colorful multi-legged centipedes, undulating over the skin of branch and rock, scorpions, black and shiny, snapping pincers as big as crabs. Antobi even spoke lovingly of the many plants that preyed, including the Venus Fly Trap, in which he ran his finger along the fine hairs surrounding the mouth of the bulbous bloom.

Further on, the cut path veered left running along the bank of the muddy Fly River. With the heavy rains having not visited recently, the Fly River was thick with mud like lumpen molasses. Montabu looked out over the wide, mucky highway, and stopped. This was as far as he had ever come, and for good reason. Antobi had brought him this far to show him what he saw before him now.

Crocodiles.

Montabu side-stepped quietly, knelt behind the thick fronds of a riverside plant, and peered at the bathing reptiles. There were three of them basking in the intense sun that cut through the wide aisle, but there could have been more. Their armored, segmented backs were entrenched in mud. If you had not the wisdom of experience, you might not have seen the reptiles at all. The biggest of the crocs spread its jaws in a wide, lazy yawn.

Montabu backed up, quietly stole away down the cut path. He had no reservations with these predators and he surmised, wisely, that no evidence of Traversal lay within their perimeters.

Still on the path, the jungle breathed around Montabu like a living being.  The sky was hidden as the terrain grew deeper. The branches and vines above built vast cathedrals of foliage.

In the shade, Montabu perspired, and turned around sharply. A thought came to mind, a dreadful one, and he willed it to go away.

“Beware Serepenti, Montabu. The great king of the jungle.” Antobi had once told Montabu. 

“Who is Serepenti, Father?”

“The great king. The ancient serpent. He is long as a tusk, and has the jaws of a lion.” Antobi conveyed this with wide eyes that terrified Montabu. Now, he was frozen with fear in recollection. ‘What if Serepenti were watching me right now?’ Montabu thought.

To add the exclamation to his emotion, that is when it happened. Montabu did not immediately register the minute thumping in the soil beneath his feet. But, somewhere in the back of his mind, hiding behind the menacing thoughts of Serepenti, he sensed the beating. As the thudding grew more intense, his realization turned his blood cold, and despite the heat, grew goose bumps on the flesh of his back and arms. Before Montabu could pry his cemented feet from the earth, it was upon him.

A boar. A wild boar.

It came at him with odd speed, despite its stout body. Racing toward Montabu, with head lowered, it butted him, digging under with its stubby tusks, flipping the prey over its quilled back.

Montabu grunted, landing on his face in the soil.  He was only shaken, not harmed. Quickly, Montabu hopped to his feet and spun, facing the charging boar. He had a brief glimpse of scarlet eyes, yellow tusk, and black bristling whiskers before he was butted and lifted yet again. This time he landed on his head. Montabu had an upside-down view of the wild boar as it skidded off the cut path and slid into the brush. Montabu picked his entire four-foot frame from the earth and fled.

Thistles and wisps whipped Montabu’s cheeks, chest, and arms as he raced along the cut path. His little legs pumped furiously, but he feared they would not carry him fast enough. With his upper body pitched forward, Montabu sprinted with eyes wide, as well as mouth. He could hear and feel the wild boar directly behind him and gaining, its hooves digging into the soil. He could smell its foul breath, warm against the back of his legs. Montabu stumbled over a root protruding from the earth. With his short life flashing before him, Montabu closed his eyes, covered his head with his arms, and pulled himself into a ball. Nothing happened. No thumping hooves, no poking tusks, no biting teeth. There was the sound of rustling leaves, but what made Montabu open his eyes was the hoarse, guttural ranting of the wild boar.

Dread and horror consumed Montabu as he witnessed the sight before him. Behind Montabu, on the cut path, the wild boar was suspended in the air by a tentacle-like appendage. No, not an appendage, but a threatening form. The tube-like length wrapped about the thickness of the body of the helpless pig. The boar continued to vomit wet shrieks of surprise and pain.

Montabu saw the head of the serpentine beast, saw its eyes. Like pristine globes of pure contempt, those emerald eyes bore into Montabu’s soul. Those eyes seemed to say, “You are in my kingdom, an intruder, prey.”

Before he knew what was happening, Montabu’s legs had found their use and he was away with the whipping reeds and the Fly River aside. He would find evidence elsewhere before he became the evidence of Serepenti’s feast.

The new year is here! Reflecting back on 2010, I see the personal writing accomplishments I have made with regard to editing a novel of my own creation. Rule number one is still: Never edit your own work. So, I have placed the novel in front of the eyes of others, to give me an idea of what I may have missed. When editing my own writing, the potential for blind spots is magnified ten-fold. I want this novel to be right both content-wise, grammar-wise, with technical elements executed properly.

Phillip’s Clown is a labor of love. I can’t count how many times I have poured over the text, line edited, completely deleted entire sections, formatted, retyped, pulled my hair out, banged my head against the wall, dealt with middle-men publishers who charged outrageous fees to accept a further edit of content, only to find I could have done the same thing for my book myself at a much lower cost. I’m not made of money.

I want the book to be perfect. It’s my baby, my masterpiece. I’m getting ready to set my first novel free to the masses, to readers, to critics, to fellow indie authors. I hope the novel moves the reader emotionally, for this novel is written with heart, with strength, with feeling, with deep emotion. I want you to care about the characters, to roll with them in their conflicts, to laugh, to cry, to cheer, and to grieve. This novel deals with fear, with death, with loss.

Wikipedia

The novel also deals with renewal, lost hope regained, success, and understanding that our actions have an impact on the people around us. Our actions, and the words we speak, have a percussion like a water drop causing ripples on a pond.   

I’m viewing the publishing of Phillip’s Clown as a first attempt. I’m finding this part of the writing and publishing process to be very tedious. My fingernails are bitten to the nubs as I anticipate the release of the novel, hoping the reviews are positive.

The novel examines the life of a young boy named Phillip, living in remission from stomach cancer. According to Cancer.net:

In 2010, an estimated 21,000 adults (12,730 men and 8,270 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with stomach cancer. It is estimated that 10,570 deaths (6,350 men and 4,220 women) from this disease will occur this year.

From what I have taken from other blogs, the affliction of cancer on a main character is tired and cliché. Tell that to the thousands of people suffering from cancer today.

Phillip’s Clown also deals with a man named Paul Ray Jacobs. He is a man with a second chance, released after a long, seven year prison sentence.  He is the younger of Phillip’s two uncles. His character represents a renewal of life; proof that a person can change if they want that change bad enough. Tired and cliché? Tell that to the 2,000,000 + men and women in the American prison system, some of which look forward to the day when life begins anew. Not to mention the families who await the return of loved ones. 

This novel peers into the dream life of Phillip as he secretly believes that the cancer is returning. His dreams are set in a land of castles and forests, rivers and fields, magic and dragons. Phillip’s fears are mirrored in this world, and played out by characters who mirror people in Phillip’s waking life. One of these characters is Gard, a benevolent shaman who seems to know more than he is letting on.

This novel is about family and friends, and the need for support in trying times.

With these elements combined, I believe Phillip’s Clown to be quite a unique story.

And so it begins. Phillip’s Clown is a prologue to a much longer tale. This tale will be split into two further novels that explore fear, standing up against fear, and the relationships maintained and developed through the support of family and friends.

In this coming year, I plan to prepare the new books in a more organized fashion. I will implement the lessons I have learned along the way, making me a better, more prepared author.

Phillip’s Clown will be available this week on Smashwords and Amazon. I’m so excited!!

If you are an author distributing your work through Smashwords, I’d like your feedback on these questions please:

Is Smashwords a good distributor? Are they trustworthy?

Until next time, do your research, stay focused, and keep writing! 

 

This is a short post-script to the previous blog:

I’m also attending and coordinating a writer’s club here in Socorro, starting in January. I’m excited about this because I was kicked out of the last author’s writing group I attended. I believe they wanted to share their fluffy stories from days gone by, and my work may have been a bit on the violent side for them. Don’t get me wrong, Phillip’s Clown, is an adventure story, and the writers in the group wrote mostly about their cats, and balls of yarn, and that type of thing…Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

On to the new year. 2011, here I come. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I spent Christmas Day in Corales, New Mexico, with my family. It was good to see my son, Stephen, and his wife, April. I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like to. My son is a good guy. He has a great heart. I miss him when he is not here.

A few people were missing from the festivities of this holiday season. My daughter, Kyona Sky, lives in Northern New Mexico. She couldn’t make it, but she is never far from my thoughts.  One of my goals for next year is to have my two children in the same room with me at the same time.

So, with goals in mind, I wanted to share with you the goals I intend to accomplish in my writing career in the coming year.

I am currently in the last phases of completing Phillip’s Clown. The novel is written, edited for grammar, structure, pacing, and then edited again. I will be publishing and distributing the book through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a few other outlets. I am sending the manuscript to agents too. I once asked a movie producer about reading my book. I really tried to upsell him to consider the screenplay for Phillip’s Clown for production. He replied by telling me that my book could be the next War & Peace, that it may make a zillion dollars at the box office, but there was nothing he could do. Still growing a thicker skin at the time, I felt a bit dejected. I asked for his advice, and this is what he said: “Number One: Go out and get a camera.”

Dipping my toe into the film industry is a bit premature for the phase I am in with regard to my writing career. But, I want you to know that even though you may be turning the focus of your writing career toward ebooks, and riding the wave of self-publishing. I digress. Build that website. Stay on top of the social networking game. Keep sending your manuscripts to established literary agents and publishing firms. The masterpiece you worked so hard on demands and deserves nothing less. You owe it to yourself to give your novel a fighting chance.

I have a backlog of writing to publish in 2011. Phillip’s Clown is a prologue to a much longer work. The epic follow-up is titled Christina’s Castle. The writing is complete and the preliminary editing stages have begun. This is the work I am most proud of and can’t wait to focus all of my attention on that novel.

More short stories are to follow, as well as three screenplays I have transcribed from my novels and shorter works. One story involves an old World War II Australian fighter jet lost in the jungles of New Guinea, another is about a camping trip with a grandfather and his grandson, and the adventure they have fighting off a pure white mountain lion that runs on its hind legs, like a man…

I am currently working on a movie trailer for Phillip’s Clown. I’ll post it when it becomes available. I also want to discuss making a movie trailer for your own book,  how I did it, what software I used, images, music, etc…Once my trailer is finished, I’ll post that blog.

I am still so new to blogging. I’ll continue to sculpt my blog character, and the themes my character most likes to discuss. For now, I think I resemble a fresh block of wood, ready to be chiseled. So, here’s to a new year, filled with hope and promise. I heap upon you added success, and the motivation to seek that success.

So, until next time, do yourself a favor, and remember the number one goal: “Go out and get a camera!”

What are your writing goals for the new year?

I Am Her Human

 

M stands for Maui

Maui

 

Maui is sitting on the floor next to my chair as I type.  She is my supervisor. I am her human.

When Maui saw me for the first time, she knew she had found the one being who would see to her every need, accommodate her every whim. As she was placed in the palm of my hand, I knew I had been commissioned by a higher authority. The look in her eyes told me all I needed to know. I’ll show you.

 

Maui at 6 or 7 weeks old.

The look in her eyes.

 

I was speechless. Her very presence was spellbinding. What could I say to those eyes?  How could I resist the hypnotizing power? I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. I had no choice, but to comply.  She was the Count Dracula to my Jonathan Harker. I was trapped in her castle, her fluffy, adorable castle.

It’s at this time that I noticed the M. It was plain to see. Do you see the M? It’s right there on her forehead. I was her slave. She was my Master. She knew who she was all along. She knew the devastating effects of her cuteness. My life was forfeit, living to only satiate her lust for Delicat and Fancy Feast. This was no game.

 

Maui is my master.

She plays no games.

 

Almost five years later, Maui is the constant guardian. She watches over me. I go out into the world, suffer long hours of painstaking labor to satisfy her every need. She has no thought or care for my afflictions, only the desire to supervise, and sleep.

Once it was Maui, placed in the palm of my hand. Now, it is I who resides in the cup of her paw.

I love you, Maui. I am your human.