Friday, April 28, 2017

The Sad Fate of a Book Character


Writing The Heart of the Staff series has been a grand adventure, but now that it is over I find myself missing many of the characters from the epic who had become a part of my daily life, my thoughts, and even my dreams, and wondering what of them now? The following is what one obsolete character had to say about that.
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So you writers think you have it tough? You ought to try living the life of one of the characters you create. I mean, really, how would you like being the figment of some writer's bizarre imagination? If that isn't bad enough all by itself, consider all the things you writers dream up for us characters to do. Not to mention the dangerous situations you get us into, the problems you make us solve and the many humiliating, provocative and sometimes ridiculous predicaments you drag us through! Could you, mere flesh and bone, survive it all? I think not!
And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that we have absolutely no choice in all of this. From the moment of our creation we are forced to live out our entire lives in whatever image you have dreamed up for us. We aren't allowed to choose the way we dress, talk, act or feel! Why, some of us are forced to emerge as villains, monsters, aliens, fairy tale creatures and even some of the undead, just to mention a few of the lives you choose for us.
Take me for example. I was innocently drifting along amongst the synapses in my creator’s (totally demented) brain one moment and rudely thrust into this narrative the next, without so much as the dignity of a name or brief description of my appearance. And for what? My entire existence, now that The Heart of the Staff series is written, has been reduced to simply educate you writers and readers about the fate of a book character. Once that task is completed, my own fate is sealed. I will live as a nameless, faceless character who is only brought to life when someone reads the series or worse,  this blog. I am doomed to repeat the same words over and over, without change, until one magic day when the series is old news and this piece becomes worn out enough that, it, and I, will be deleted.
Sometimes you writers decide one of us hasn't exactly lived up to your expectations, often without really ever giving us a chance to reach our true potential, and you just start making changes out of hand, leaving us to adapt...or not...and we all know what happens if we don’t adapt. Don’t we?
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By now I’m sure many of you are in denial. You want to point out that book characters have exciting adventures, fantastic quests and memorable romances. To that I say...sometimes. But, it seems to me, a fair share of adventurers and questers end up dead. As for the romance...well the heartache very often off- sets the thrill of it all. No! Don’t point out the sensual delights of a good erotic tale. Have you ever considered being the hero or heroine in one of those? Do you know how stressful that can be? You have to always look your best while performing sexual feats that would often challenge any contortionist. And do all of that while you have an audience of thousands...perhaps millions! I ask you, would you, mere humans, be up to it? (no pun intended)
I will conclude by simply asking that all of you at least consider the fate of the characters you create once in awhile. Maybe you could even wish us well or thank us for helping you on occasion.. After all, if not for us, what stories would ever be told?
Carol Marrs Phipps

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ariel and Abaddon have a Heart Bond



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Lukus paused to listen to the rain of clicks and squawks from the oilbirds in the countless chinks and ledges throughout the gargantuan vault of cave ceiling over Gerddi Teg, kept daylight bright by glow lichens. He threw his panniers across Starfire's rump, checked Shimmer's girth and went back inside the cottage he and Soraya had spent the summer in.
"Your bags ready?" he said, hefting Soraya's tightly packed panniers."
"Tied tight and buckled," she said from the next room.
"I guess I'm asking if we're forgetting anything," he said.
"We can't be," she said, walking in. "We're still here, and nothing's ever forgot until you get down the road and remember."
"Yea. like one of the kids, or something."
"No worry then," she said with her serious face. "Grandfather would send us right back."
"And not wait for us to catch up again."
"Nope!" she said, erupting with laughter. "Not after we forget our own babaĆ­."
"You are the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen when you laugh," he said, scooping her into a sound hug. "And you've been mighty sober lately."
"Yea," she said, standing arm in arm with him as they looked out the open door. "It's kind of hard to leave a peaceful place after what we've been through. And the thought of being out in the open with Daniel and Ariel makes me feel, well, exposed."
Heart of the Staff Complete Series Box (1)

Lukus watched Abaddon in the yard, playing dragon and giving rides to Daniel and Ariel. "You know, they could really get hurt," he said.
"From piggyback rides?" she said. "His piggyback rides? He is the gentlest boy I ever saw play with little kids, especially with Ariel."
"They could still get hurt."
"What is this?" she said. "The worst that would happen from some unlikely stupidity of his would be nothing more than a scrape or a knot on the head of one of them. And you're not stupid, so why is this bothering you?"
"I know he has been good with them, but he is Spitemorta's son..."
"And King James's. And I've not heard you say anything but good about James."
"And Abaddon is very magically gifted. He's been good all summer, but what if he surprises us and turns out like the rest of his line back through Demonica? That's a dark lineage."
"Daniel and Ariel trust him..."
"So what?" he said, as he quietly pushed the door most of the way closed. "Children don't have the experience and judgment to keep from being taken in by some..."
"Human children. And ours are half Elf, actually better than half, since you have Elf behind you..."
"But lately he finds a way to be here every single day. For a boy his age, isn't that...?"
Soraya put her finger to his lips, kissed him on the cheek and closed the door. "I just became certain of something this very day," she said, turning back to him.
"My word, what?"
"Ariel and Abaddon have a heart bond."
"Fates! What if he's evil?"
"I suppose it's possible, but I've never ever heard of a heart bond between Elf and an evil..."
"When did it happen? Are you certain?"
"No one knows when a heart bond actually begins, Lukus," she said as she took his hand. "I mean, when did ours begin? But it is completely out of anyone's control, as you well know. And I'm so very sorry you're troubled by this. I think Abaddon's simply wonderful and I can't imagine that he would ever harm either one of them."
"I hope you are right. Because if he ever does, I swear I'll fix him."
"And with my help, dear," she said.
"There goes Arwr," said Lukus.
Abaddon shot to his feet at once, whistling and waving his arms.
Arwr came to a springy halt some distance away and jogged back.
Abaddon wheeled about and scooped Ariel off the ground, giving her a grand giggly hug before setting her back down. "Bye Ariel!" he cried before dashing through the gate. "Bye Daniel!"
"Abaddon!" cried Ariel, trotting to the gate.
Abaddon stopped and turned back. "We'll be together before the day's over!" he hollered with a wave.
"See you!" she cried with a great bounce of her curls as he dashed away and sprang astride Arwr. She stood waving until Abaddon and Arwr had vanished between the cottages across the common.
Soraya squeezed Lukus's arm as she put her head against his shoulder.
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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Friday, April 21, 2017

Who Are Daniel and Ariel?

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Daniel and Ariel are fabled twins of Elven prophesy, the children of Soraya and Lukus, destined to bring down the terrible witches who wield the Heart and Staff to rule the world... if you hold with Elven lore.
Stone_Heart_Cover_for_KindleThe witches certainly do. Empress Spitemorta so fears the very possibility of any Elf ever having children by a human that she has decreed that every living Elf shall be found and slain. And indeed the twins have the lineage, with Soraya an Elven princess and Lukus the descendant of the great First Wizard. Spitemorta's grandmother Demonica destroys the Elven Castle at Oilean Gairdin, sending the Elves fleeing into the wilderness with Soraya and Lukus and the twins for years to come.
DoomIn the midst of their exodus, Ariel forms a heart bond with Abaddon, Spitemorta's very son. Will the Prophesy not come to pass?





Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Chokewoods and the Peppermint Forest are not the Same

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Lukus heaved a large peppermint limb into the fire. "If Ugleeuh doesn't find us right soon," he said, "I'll go back into the woods and see if I can find some nuts and berries for 
supper. I saw some when I was gathering wood."
"Well why didn't you just gather them in the first place? You just made more work for yourself."
"Yea? Maybe, but the last time I ate berries in this forest I nearly strangled to death, so RowanI had to think about it."
"You tried to eat a choke oak fruit? What kind of crazy are you? Doesn't matter, though. Things like that don't grow here anymore. This is the Peppermint Forest and it's different than the Chokewood Forest, or haven't you noticed?"
"I could see that at once. But just what's what, I need some time to sort out. So tell me, did Ugleeuh actually create all of this?" He gave a wide wave.
"She didn't create it so much as change it, though perhaps whether she did or not Scan10067depends on just what a person considers creation to be. But, you're right if you think that all this forest was once identical to the Chokewoods. When Ugleeuh and I first arrived here it was really awful. We battled with the smallies and dorchadas and other awful things almost every day before she was through with all of her wonderful transformations of the 
place."
"Rose and I had the idea that she made this place out of part of the Chokewoods, but I'm surprised to hear about the dorchadas actually attacking you. Rose and I saw the chief 
of the dorchadas and his heathens trembling with fear in front of her."
"You have utterly no clue at all about the kind of sadistic wrath that Ugleeuh is capable of," Scan30001said Hubba Hubba, breaking into his first laughter of the outing. "The smallies are so terrified of her now that they'll tramp each other to death, trying to hide if they see her. Same thing with the dorchadas. Hoo-wee! She taught them. Nasty, nasty old lady!"
"So, why were you so worried that the smallies might get you, if I left you to go for help?"
"Do I really look like Ugleeuh to you? Had she ever worked you over once, you'd never confuse us. Besides, if the smallies got me, there'd be no trace. No feathers. No nothing. They'd have a free bit of revenge on her and she wouldn't be able to prove it at all."
"You got that right, Birdo. Rose and I saw them take down a deer. It just vanished before our eyes. It gave out a good dying snort, and the next moment it was gone without any sign that it had ever been."
"Yes, yes. I've seen it. It's been years, but I've seen it." he said with a shudder. "Let's build up the fire some more, Lukus, just to be sure Ugleeuh doesn't miss it. Let me come with8138228_7122_1024x2000 you for the wood. I hope that hearing the mint owl doesn't mean that the smallies are in this neighborhood."
"Yea," said Lukus, glancing about. "I think it might be good to stoke the fire a bit, at that, but I'll hunt for fuel where you can see me from here. You stay off that foot unless we have no other choice but to move on." And with that, he went to picking up sticks.
Hubba Hubba's head spun as he trembled and inched closer to the fire, hoping that whatever might be in the forest would fear the crackling flames.
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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Monday, April 17, 2017

Big Bang Fantasy

Big Bang Cosmos Explosion

Albert Einstein's mathematics profoundly changed physics. No one questions this. He is universally recognized as a mathematical titan, and though he might well have been an epochal physicist, it might be a mistake to call him a scientist.
Science is a body of knowledge acquired through observation. Einstein used his math to express his profound imagination, but instead of setting up experiments in order to observe his discoveries at work in the real world as would an empirical scientist, he chose instead to test his ideas with his well documented "thought experiments." The reason no one noticed this is probably the day and time that it was. Great minds in physics were all a-fever, trying to pry open the atom. What was inside? Waves? Particles?
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In 1927, Niels Bohr came up with an "uncertainty principle" which said that the infinitesimally teensy atom was fundamentally unknowable from observation and could only be understood in terms of mathematics. Perhaps. Maybe this is the best we can ever do inside the atom, but what is derailed here is the observing of the need for palpable evidence in order to establish scientific discoveries. Meanwhile, since everything is made up of atoms, people found it easy to accept math in place of verifiable observations for a growing range of things needing an explanation.
So nobody questioned Einstein until NASA found his math to be worthless for sending instrument packages to the moon and to Mars and had to fall back on the four hundred year old math of Isaac Newton to get them there. And Newton was an actual scientist who went to observe the real world for verification. Remember the apple that thumped him on the head?
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The Big Bang is not only the profound math which it happens to be, it is also magic. There may well be a whole football field's space surrounding the golf ball which represents the nucleus of a hydrogen atom, but the entire universe was never the size of the head of a pin. There never was a Big Bang and the universe is not expanding.
In all the years since Einstein's math created it, the only substantial evidence for an expanding universe is the red shift in the spectrum of light, the supposed Doppler effect from everything in the universe speeding away from us. Yeap. Red shift in all directions, which puts us in the exact center of the universe, for one thing, which is most suspicious in a universe so endlessly vast as ours. The other problem is that the Doppler effect is not the only possible way for light from the furthest reaches of space to arrive here, redder than it should be.
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When light passes through anything such as glass, higher frequency shorter wavelengths get converted into longer wavelengths from collisions with atoms, causing a shift to the red end of the spectrum. Ultraviolet light coming into a greenhouse becomes heat. So, what do you suppose happens to light passing through all those zillions of miles of space from the most distant objects which we are able to see? Space is full of dust and stray atoms for light to collide with over its vast distances. Light will arrive redder than it started out, simply because of all the distance that it had to travel, without any need for everything we see in the heavens to be racing away from us.
So the Big Bang is nothing but Einstein's magic, is all I'm saying. And I ought to know, because Carol and I write about magic all the time.Magician wand

Tom Phipps

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: A MOTHER'S HEART by Eichin Chang-Lim

A Mother’s Heart
By
Eichin Chang-Lim

Much has been said and written about motherhood, but not nearly so much about a mother’s heartbreak when she learns that her perfect child is not so perfect after all. Mother’s Heart by Eichin Chang-Lim, is the true story of how one courageous woman copes with such a revelation when her first-born is pronounced profoundly deaf, due to a genetic disorder called Waardenburg syndrome.
This book was written to help others who are facing life with a genetically disabled child to understand and deal with what lies ahead for them, and to let them know that they are not alone. But, this story is one of hope and triumph, not defeat. The author shares her own experience from the birth of her special needs child, through his childhood and up to the present where he has become a young adult out on his own.
A Mother’s Heart is written in an honest, straight-forward manner, and the author is completely open about the ups and downs, anguish and joy, the guilt, the anger, and all the other emotions and roadblocks associated with raising a special needs child. Her tale is often heart-wrenching, but more often it is uplifting.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has or knows a special needs child, or simply is curious to know what it is really like to have and raise such a child.
My Review

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

As if You can Hear the Trees Scream

They arrived at the edge of Chokewoods just after sunset, feeling relief and dread at the sight of the looming trees. Everyone hesitated, not wanting to enter. Lukus slid off Spark, grabbing his head with a grimace when he lit. Rose dismounted and stood by his side, Sinornithosaurus_magsaying nothing. Lukus turned wide eyes to meet Rose's barely perceptible nod. This was like it was the first time they arrived, in spite of it being a different part of the woods and a different time of day. "Well," she said, jostling everyone by speaking. "Let's get on with it, shall we?" She gave Lukus an abrupt shove and followed him through an opening in the tangle of brush and matted vines. Fuzz, Spark, and Lipperella came immediately behind.
In they went, straining from side to side in hopes of spying some sort of clearing or cave for a place to camp. "If you listen, it's almost as if you can hear the trees scream," said 
Lipperella, in a whisper tinged with awe.
"We thought so the first time," said Lukus. "It's so eerie."
images 2"Indeed," said Fuzz, "But the trees are in fact not screaming, and when their trunks look so grotesque, one's imagination would understandably be thrall to suggestibility."
"So you don't hear anything then?" said Spark.
"I didn't say that, "said Fuzz. "It sounds like far away moans and murmurs in some giant hall, but that must be the wind 'way up in the trees, rather than the trees themselves."2004_1024chapel0005
"Are you sure?" said Spark. "I'm not."
"Well no, but it's the simplest explanation, isn't it?"
"Perhaps, but 'simple' doesn't take Razzorbauch's perversion of the place into account."
"Good point," said Fuzz, as everyone fell into a nervous silence.
"Hey," said Lipperella. "Look up ahead. That could be a clearing." It was. They made a hasty camp by doing little more than spreading out their blankets and deciding how 
they would keep watch. Rose heard no owls at all, only the ghostly murmur and sighs 
echoing from unimaginable reaches off in the timber.
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Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lukus Strangles on a Choke Oak Fruit Part Three

Rowan
Lukus bounced in his saddle and renewed his interest in their surroundings. There were ironwood and gnarled muscled hornbeam trees all over the flat of the creek bottom near 2004_1024chapel0005the banks, but as he looked, he saw that there imagesbwasn’t a single tree of any kind, not even a sapling, that was not bent and twisted into some horribly unnatural pose. "I'll declare," he thought. "How could trees give me the creeps?" He kept seeing ordinary looking leaves on the ground, much like the white oak leaves in Niarg. When he looked overhead to find where they came from, he saw that they weren't sorbus-decora-fruitoaks at all, but bore brilliantly colored succulent fruits in bunches, each bunch a different bright color. "Fresh fruit and lots of it, just hanging there for the taking. And I think I will," he said as he steeredSORBUSJOSEPHROCKv2 Starfire toward the nearest tree. Directly he had a handful of the irresistible smelling treats. “Hey Rose!” he hollered. “Come back here and try some of this fruit! They’re better than your old figs! And they're all different colors!”
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Rose turned Mystique about at the word fruit and came galloping back for his first bite.
sorbus-maderensis-fruit"Wow Rose! This is good," he said, champing away. "Strange, but real good. It's got milky white juice which is real bitter but really, really sweet at the same time." He popped11684990965_4bd7dfdd98_b another one into his mouth and savored his prize. Suddenly his eyes bulged open with strained urgency. He turned frighteningly red as his veins stood out. He wheezed in a gasping panic as though he might explode. And now he was gagging convulsively.
Rose fought down her horror. She sprang from Mystique and mounted Starfire behind TR0000004742_card_lgLukus, who by this time was bent over, turning purple and nearly unconscious. She wrapped her arms around him, mxsa7ep4GuMMZ6APQ6Beb-Agrabbed her fist and yanked, making him cough out chewed fruit all down his front. He slid to the ground and sat there gasping and coughing as tears streamed down his face. Rose knelt beside him, and saw that the inside of his mouth and throat were still swelling. Once she had rinsed out his mouth, he croaked a hoarse thanks for saving him.
1279287337-53793900“Needles! It felt like needles," he said as he mounted Starfire. "I don't understand what happened. Those berries weren’t even big enough to get stuck in my throat like that, not to mention fill up my mouth the way they did. My throat hurts."
“Lukus,” said Rose, “I just remembered something that Grandfather once told me. Sorry I didn't think of this before now, but I reckon I'd no reason to. He said the berries here were all the different colors of the rainbow. I think the pits can be roasted, but anyone who eats the fruit strangles to death while his windpipe swellsThe_Collector_Witch_Cover_for_Kindle shut. That's why they're called chokeberries and this place is called the Chokewood Forest. Those trees are called choke trees or choke oaks, though they aren't true oaks at all. I guess they grow all over here."

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps