Monday, December 22, 2014

Rose Reveals a Secret



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A throb of lightning lit up the countryside, revealing the arrival of a roaring wall of rain. The crash of thunder and the deluge arrived together in the next instant, like a douse from a colossal bucket, dashed at once into every crack on the porch. Rose and Lukus stumbled through the front door, only to find that the parlour wouldn't do at all. They groped from room to room between flickers and flashes until they found some cover against the inside wall of the kitchen where most of the thatched roof remained.
They sat on the floor with their backs to the wall, combing their bedraggled hair from their faces with their fingers. Rose nudged him with the striker from her knapsack. Without a word between them, he spent the next several minutes struggling to light the lantern. At last it came to, a wee sputtering yellow seed atop the dirty stub of candle. Pale shadows leaped and waved, dancing above rivulets of water finding their way out through holes in the floor. He started to speak, but his voice vanished in the din. He studied the room, listening to the storm. “Oh, Rose?” he said, speaking out louder this time. “Wouldn’t you say we’ve lived something of a sheltered life in the castle, all these years?”
“Yes, yes. Quite.”
“So you decided that to cultivate your new maturity, you should go out into the world for some exposure, aye what?”
“I didn’t plan the rain.”Scan10059
“If we just bed down along the wall here, I think it'll stay dry enough to sleep. And boy, am I ever hungry.”
“Sounds fine to me, Lukus,” she said, “except...”
“Except what?
“Except you seem to have left your pack in the barn,” she said, kneeling to open her own bag.
“Oh, great!” he said. “Couldn’t you just...? I mean I’ll just run out after the rain and pay you back, all right?”
“Be neat for once, would you?” she said, handing him things out of her bag.
They ate ravenously, listening to the steady downpour. "Dried apricots and cheese make one strange meal,” he said between thoughtful chews, “but you know? I think it’s pretty near the best supper I ever ate.”
He finished eating to discover that no pack also meant no bed roll for him, but Rose was willing to let him use one end of her bedding as a pillow. “So Rose," he said, settling himself onto his back, stirring the empty space over his head as though it were an orchestra. "You were telling me...”
“Telling you what?”
“You know. As you were saying back in the woods before we got off the road and came here. I mean you weren’t done were you? Isn’t there some sort of reason for our going to the Chokewood Forest?”
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For a long spell, the rain was the only sound he heard. “Lukus,” she said at last, “I may not be your sister at all. If there be any truth to what I was told at my awful birthday party, you and I are only cousins.”
“Oh go on,” he said with a laugh. “Surely you don’t mean first cousins? That would make one of us Ugleeuh’s child.”
“Ugleeuh? My word. You made that up.”
“No I didn't.”
“But no one would ever name a... So who on earth is Ugleeuh?”
“Mother’s sister, Rose. Didn't you know her name?”
“Something else I wasn’t to find out until I was sixteen, no doubt. How come they told you, anyway?”
“No one made a point of telling me. I don’t even remember how I found out, but you weren’t singled out. Good grief. It’s not as though anyone in the family was exactly proud of her.”
“But Lukus, I can’t believe Grandfather Razzmorten would name one of his daughters such a thing.”
“Well he didn’t. Mother said that Grandfather was away when the baby was born, and she said that the baby’s mother, Mother’s stepmother, named it before he returned. I guess she wasn’t very happy to have a child and took it out on the baby."
“How awful. No wonder she grew up with such a chip on her shoulder.”
“Yeap. Probably had a lot to do with it, all right,” he said, rolling onto his haunches to stare into her face. “But good grief. She surely can't be your mother. No way.”
“Yea? Well maybe Lukus, but somehow nobody, absolutely nobody back at the castle would be completely straight with me when I asked them, so I intend to find out for certain, one way or the other. So please don’t ask me any more questions right now. We need to get some rest. We have a long way to travel, yet.”
“But I want to know more about this, once we’re...”
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“Fine. On the road. Please, let’s go to sleep.”


Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rave reviews Book Club Spotlight Author Blog Tour for Rochelle Carter



Why I’m proud to be a member of the Rave Reviews Book Club

As a publisher and author, I am always seeking ways to help my authors get promoted. I am a huge fan of having them connect through a community, however with such a virtual staff and team of authors it has been difficult to really get them on board with each other.

Rave Reviews Book Club is the only group I know that rewards its member handsomely through publicity for showing up and supporting each other.

This may seem like a little thing for most authors, but for me, an introvert, it fits my lifestyle perfectly.



1.       I like to read books- #RRBC allows me to choose, from highlighted members or at random from a list of members, an author that I can read, support and see their progress without wading through millions of Amazon books. I have my favorites, but it’s nice to whittle down the “give it a try” list to engaged authors in the group

2.       I like to play on twitter- Now I have people I search for regularly to retweet and share information with. Gone are the days of wandering through twitter, now I just hit the #RRBC hashtag to see what’s new with the crew!

3.       I love to play in chat rooms- Do you even remember what those are? I don’t always get to make it, but chat rooms are so much fun for our book of the month authors to gather, answer questions and overall just show off their books. I love getting to know more about them in an informal setting, and I prefer the room to Facebook honestly.

These are just my top three “likes” for RRBC, but there are many more. I am happy to be a part of such a great group of supportive authors, and I hope they don’t find me too difficult and kick me out… J



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Friday, December 19, 2014

Abbey Sees Like an Elf



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Prince Abaddon of Loxmere-Goll sees someone in the distance as he rides into the great desert of the Wilderlands with Shot 'n' Stop the python on the back of Arwr the diatryma in Chapter 39 of The Burgeoning...
The sun still hadn't come over the mountains by the time they had set out again, taking a diagonal path down the face of the long steep slope. By the time it was bearing down on them making the day hot, they had gone a good league beyond the shelf, and Abaddon began to make out great tree trunks strewn about everywhere, sticking out of the colored dirt and sand as far as the eye could see.
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Shot 'n' Stop had noticed too. "If thosse bare trunksses are ssuppossed to be a forresst, I don't think we'll ssee any sshade," he said as he slithered across Abaddon's leg to rise up between his arms for a look. "I jusst don't ssee any leavesses, kiddo."
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"I don't either," said Abaddon. "Maybe there was a big fire or something."
"I believe it's a stone forest," said Arwr, "though I'd not heard that such a thing existed outside the Dark Continent."
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"Stone forest?" said Abbey.
"We'll see soon enough. I do know that this is called the Red Desert..."
"Red? It looks tan and white and purple and black."
"Indeed," said Arwr, "but Súlacha said that just beyond the horizon it looks bright brick red, and redder still should we happen to get a rain."
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"Rain?" said Abaddon. "It doesn't look as if it ever rains here."
"Oh but it does. Look at all the deep gullies running down the slopes. I'd allow that it seldom rains."
"Hey!" cried Abaddon, straining to see from under the flat of his hand. "See that, Arwr? I swear I saw someone dart between a couple of stone trees down yonder. I think he had a bright green hood on. I thought nobody lived in the Wilderlands."
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Arwr shared a look with Shot 'n' Stop. "If you're certain, Abby, perhaps we should point him out to King Neron."
"Oh, I saw him."
"Then hang on," said Arwr as he flew down the slope at a light, easy jog.
"Arwr?"
"Yes?"
"Grown-ups never thought I had anything important to say back in Castle Goll."
"Well this could be important," said Arwr, "and try to keep your eye on the spot where you saw him."
Abaddon just hugged Arwr's big fluffy neck.
 ***
"Can ye point him out Prince Abaddon?" said Súlacha as he shaded his eyes to look about.
"'Way out yonder, I think."
Súlacha kept looking. "Ansin," he said with a sharp nod as he stared. "I do indeed see prints in the sand which look to be human, but I see nothing astir down there now but a couple of lizards."
"I don't see any of that," said Abaddon. "You've sure got good eyes."
"But you're not an Elf yet, Prince Abaddon," said Súlacha with a serious face.
"You mean all Elves can see faraway like that?"The_Burgeoning_Cover_for_Kindle
"No. Just the aons with eyes," he said, studying the footprints. "Sire! Look yonder. There's a man down there amongst the stone trees and he has green hair."
"A Fairy!" cried Abaddon with an excited bounce on Arwr, as Neron strained to see just where.
"Well, Prince Abaddon," said Súlacha. "Perhaps you've been a-seeing like an Elf all along, since you were the first to spot him."
 Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fannie and the Polite Stranger


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                        Emma Walker Phipps                Fannie McKenzie

ws_A_Path_in_the_Woods_in_Autumn_768x1024Fannie McKenzie was my grandmother's niece who married Horace Werden and lived with him in a log cabin on a farm north of us. Every day she would feed her sheep and her chickens and guineas and then walk a mile through our woods to teach at the Balch school house. Most days after it turned cold, she carried a spur triggered pistol in her muff to shoot squirrels on the way home.
squirrel1On a day which was cold enough to see her breath, she met a stranger on the path who asked what the shortest way was to get across the river.
"See that hogback, yonder?" she said, pointing this way and that. IMG_1818
"Right beyond the top, there's a fork in the path. Take the path straight east, down into the hollow and follow the creek. Just keep a-going and directly you'll end up at McCann's Ford."
"Yes ma'am," he said with a wide-eyed nod, "Yes ma'am!" And he hurried on his way.
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"Well now, he's awful polite," she said as she watched him go. And then she remembered the pistol in her hand as she put it back in her muff.
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Tom Phipps

Monday, December 15, 2014

Homer's Head



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When Lukus takes his Elven wife and her family into The Suds and Steer in Sweetpea  to enjoy a Stone_Heart_Cover_for_Kindlenice supper in Chapter 40 of Stone Heart, they run into trouble...
Lukus was disappointed that the waitress did not recognize him in the least, though he clearly knew better. It merely made her like nearly everyone else on earth. Soon she was back, huffing and shuffling and sidling between tables as she brought forth the stew. She labored to breathe as she strained to set out the steaming bowls beyond the reaches of her girth without tottering. As she straightened up, Soraya lowered her hood and unbuttoned her cloak in order to eat. The elephantine serving woman stopped wide eyed and rigid, jowls a-jiggle. As a look of hatred swept across her lardy face, she furiously snapped up both bowls at once, slinging stew onto both Soraya and Lukus. "We don't serve y'r stinkin' kind in here!" she screeched as she wheeled away to the kitchen with their meal.
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Lukus sprang up, knocking his chair flat as he started after her.
"Hey," said Danneth, intercepting him. "Perhaps it would be wise if we just left quietly."
"No," said Lukus between his teeth. "Not until that sow gives me a better reason than she just did."
"I'd say there's a very good chance she'll not," said Danneth with a sigh as he stepped aside.
Lukus zigzagged between the tables, catching up to the waitress just as she put her shoulder to black-patina-platesthe swinging door to the kitchen. "Please excuse my abruptness ma'am," he said as polite as he could manage, "but I'd truly like to know why you refused to serve my wife and me the meal we just ordered. Our money's as good as anyone's."
"I'm s'prised you'ns even 'ave the nerve t' come in here a-flauntin' y'selves amongst decent folks," she huffed in a thin falsetto, as her eyes turned to hot slits in her red face. "Ye think we don't know what you're all about? Ha! The queen told us 'erse'f, she did."
"She what? So just what did the queen say about the Elves?"
"You ain't no Elf!" she screeched.
"No, I'm not. Now, will you please be kind enough to answer my question? Just what on earth ANT02102did Spitemorta say about the Elves?"
She looked across the room at Soraya. "Why are ye traveling with an Elf?" she said defiantly. "Don't y' know they're dangerous?"
"What makes them dangerous, then?"
"They're after our land. They're out t' kill us all for it, too," she said with wild piggy eyes. "Y' best get shed o' that Elf right now! She'll sooner slit y'r throat as look at ye, young fool!" And with that, she shoved past him through the door with a shriek and a yank of her tray, sending the bowls skittering across the kitchen floor on the other side.
Lukus looked up from his shocked disbelief to find the entire room astir like a kicked hive, every single eye on him. Across the room Soraya and her kin bore emphatically urgent looks. Things were well on their way to getting ugly and they needed to get out.
Lukus tramped across the dining room, put the bail of one traveling basket in the crook of his arm antique-pewter-plate-olivier-le-queinecand the other one in his left hand as he grabbed Soraya with his right, pulling her to her feet and heading for the hall to the stairs, surrounded by Neron, Danneth, Strom and Jerund.
"Just get our belongings and go?" he said, bounding up the steps.
"You mean there's a choice?" said Neron.
"Is there a way out up here?" said Danneth.
"Everyone grab up your things!" cried Jerund as he hurried ahead. "Good job no one unpacked. I'll go see." As everyone raced to his respective door, Jerund reached the window at the end of the hall. "Cac! Léan air! A leithéid de chac!" he cried. Suddenly he broke out the glass and waved out the window. "Hey! Get the coach and the unicorns around front! Now!" He dashed back, by the rooms as everyone came out. "No way out We got 'o go back the way we came in! If we're lucky the coach will be somewhere...!"
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Lukus fumbled with buckles, strapping the claymore to his back for the first time. He grabbed up the twins, put his arm around Soraya and was ready. "It's a mercy no one chased up here after us," he said. Down they went, plunging into the dining room full of glares, angry jeers and shaking fists. They shoved their way through the jostling and spitting, but miraculously got to the front door. Soraya, Strom and the twins got shoved outside, stumbling onto the steps before the door got slammed painfully on Danneth's arm.
"Get 'em, Homer!" came cries all around, as a hateful face stepped forth and ran a rapier through Jerund's shoulder.
Lukus went instantly white hot, lunging forward with a furious two handed swing. Gearr Téigh Síós rang with a sharp ping and Homer's head rolled away across the plates on the floor with a kristeva-severed-topbloody bounce under dancing feet as the crowd gasped, taken by surprise. Suddenly a rotten toothed man with a tar tail charged up with a cutlass to be impaled by Neron, who yanked out his claymore from the fellow and neatly cleaved two heads, while Lukus took off another's arm. When the crowd hesitated, Danneth pulled Jerund outside, as Neron and Lukus backed out and slammed the door.
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, December 12, 2014

Your Butt's Too Big

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Years ago, when I taught at Ch'ooshgai Community School on the Navajo Nation, the students there had a reputation for playing rough, but when it came to it, they had big hearts. Like students at all schools, they resented the Special Ed students for being given lighter work for the same grades. However when a little Down's syndrome girl showed up at school, she became a celebrity.
Yvonne was one of the handful of students who stayed in the Special Ed room instead of attending at least some regular classes. In spite if this, like every other student in school, she was supposed to take her seat and stay there when she came to class, and that meant that she was supposed to be in her seat when the door was open and kids were in the hall.
That was an utter impossibility for Yvonne. She was endlessly in the doorway with her hopelessly smeared glasses, swinging her leg like a ballerina at the bar, waving and calling out cheerfully to the passing students. I would hear time and again from across the hall: "Yvonne! Where are you supposed to be?" and, "Yvonne, take your seat!" Kids liked her, even if they did call her names.
One day, she grandly sang out a little rhyme:
"Your butt's too big, your butt's too big,
No matter what you do, your butt's too big..."
"Yvonne! Get to your seat, now!"
But before everyone was in class, I heard:
"Your butt's too big, your butt's too big,
No matter what you do, your butt's too big..."
Soon, passing students were taking up the chant each time they saw her in the doorway. "Whose butt is too big?" became the burning student question. The Special Ed teacher's? She's got a big enough butt, they said. No. It had to be the old witch from the Office. Or was it a particular student? They would ask Yvonne.
And her reply was:
"Whose butt's too big? Whose butt's too big?
If you don't know, your butt's too big.
Your butt's too big, your butt's too big,
No matter what you do, your butt's too big..."
One noon, Yvonne came marching down the hallway with all of the verve and poise of a first string cheerleader, followed by the entire student body, chanting at the top of their lungs, the kids near the walls pounding the locker doors in time:
"Your butt's too big! your butt's too big!
No matter what you do, your butt's too big...!"
The following noon, the Special Ed door stayed closed. There was a brief interlude of students chanting: "Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne!" but every noon thereafter, the Special Ed door remained shut. Even so, I seldom heard a day go by without at least someone chanting a verse of Your Butt's too Big, all the way to the end of the school year.
So in spite of the best efforts of Special Ed, Yvonne may well have become the most specially remembered of all the students in her class.
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Tom Phipps

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Waylaid by Elves



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After a nice supper in the Suds and Steer in The Collector Witch, Rose and Lukus find themselves on a dark road in the woods...
The_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_KindleBefore them lay the border of Loxmere, beyond which lay the Jut of Niarg, a southern arm of their own country, filled with a dense forest known as the Jutwoods. They crossed the border in the broad moonlight by leaving the road in order to avoid the guard houses. When they had found their way back onto the road, they were nearly three leagues beyond Loxmere in very dense woods. Suddenly Rose halted Mystique so abruptly that Lukus ran his knee into the skirt of her saddle. “Hey! Rose, call your shot next time.”
“Hush!” she said. “We’re being watched.”
"How do you know?"
"I swear I saw movement."
“It must be the robbers from the inn. I told you they were up to no good.”
“Can you see them, Lukus?”
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"It's 'way too dark. I can’t see anything. They could hide anywhere. They could be right there in the rocks along the cliff, for all I can tell. I think they’re rocks. Maybe they're pacing us through the woods, just off the road.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Run or hide. We’d better choose one right quick, 'cause I just heard something. We can make out the road by the gap in the trees.”
“Then let’s ride like the wind. They'll not have mounts even close to ours.”
At once three figures stepped into the roadway. 
"Lukus!" she cried, wheeling square about and frantically digging her heels into Mystique's flanks 


to charge back the way they'd come. Lukus tried to follow, but Starfire reared and bolted off the road and through the brush to throw him sprawling in the briars. Two hooded figures rushed out of nowhere and grabbed Starfire's reins. Lukus scrambled to his feet and fell in time to be pounced on and rolled up in a blanket.
4ud2Rose was too far away by now to hear him over Mystique's pounding hooves, but she looked over her shoulder to see if he was behind her. "Lukus!" she cried. The moment she turned about, three hooded figures stepped into her way, spooking Mystique off the road to go crashing through a thicket while she hung onto her neck for dear life. As they raced under the limb of an oak, somebody dropped onto Mystique's back to grab her as she lost her grip. She gave out a throat shredding scream.
"Hush!" cried the somebody, clapping his hand over her mouth. "You'll scare lean air out of Lukus, and cac too, Princess!"
Directly, she was helped off Mystique by the one who had caught her and by two other hooded men who set to work at once, unwrapping Lukus. "Good for you!" she shouted. "You have us! Now what are you going to do to us? And just how did you know  Lukus's name?"
The three calmed the unicorns and stood quietly before them, faceless as wraiths.
"You're not from the inn," she said as they pushed back their hoods.    
The middle one smiled at her. 
“You’re Elves!” she gasped at their pointed ears. “But you don’t exist. You must be an enchantment.”
"Nope," said the middle one with a bow. "We're as real as you are. And enchantment would be beyond you, I'm afraid. I'm Danneth and these are my brothers, Strom and Jarund, and we most certainly mean you no harm in the least. In fact, we're here at your service.”
“Yea?” said Lukus. “And how is stamping on us and rolling us in the blackberry briars the same as serving us?”
“Yes, that was awkward,” said Danneth. “You have lots of energy. It took quite a bit to get you to hold still.”
“Just how many of you are there? Nine? Twelve?” said Rose. 
“We are three only,” said Danneth.
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“Now you're playing us for fools,” she said.
“Not at all,” said Jerund. "We merely move quickly when we must."
“Rose, they don’t have to let us find out. It’s pointless,” said Lukus, turning to Danneth. “Though it would only be fair if you all at least told us what you stopped us for and just what you are.”
“But Rose saw at once that we are Elves,” said Danneth.
Danneth looked like his brothers to Rose, but where his hair was silvery, Strom’s was metallic golden and Jarund’s was iridescent and black as pitch, far blacker than any black hair she had seen in her life. “They have to be what they claim, Lukus," she said, turning to the Elves. "I'm convinced that you're Elves, but telling us that you're at our service is no explanation at all for your waylaying us.”

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps