Shaking Hands With the Devil

Image by  Lothar Dieterich  from  Pixabay

Very few people can boast they shook hands with the Devil and walked away unscathed.

For me, the Sorcerer of the Caverns was that devil and the most cunning monster I’ve ever known. As the maestro behind the first adventures I would journey through in life, the experiences involving the Sorcerer were the most bizarre and the most incendiary.

After meeting him, my world blew apart. Yet nothing else would have delivered me to the open road that brought me here.

The wisdom I gained in those months would always serve me well.

Perhaps the most shocking lesson I learned was the bondage created through hate. The envy and loathing I had cultivated for the Patron’s Daughter had bound my soul with hers – and with that, my destiny.

Had I known the consequences, maybe I would have tried to find another release for those violent sentiments.

Image by  Rúben Gál  from  Pixabay

Image by Rúben Gál from Pixabay

Then again, that may have been impossible.

The Sorcerer of the Caverns understood the ties made of animosity, and used that knowledge to his advantage.

His first promise to me was transformation. The Sorcerer swore he would make me beautiful.

But only if I could get him what he wanted.

Of course, the Sorcerer of the Caverns didn’t want to seduce an ugly peasant like me.

Beautiful and vicious, with a vanity that was both excessive and resolute, the Patron’s Daughter presented an unusual appetite for the Sorcerer.

But the greatest obstacle was her heart.

For centuries, the Sorcerer had ensnared his conquests through those desires that were beyond their reach. Because the Patron’s Daughter had been indulged and pampered all her life, she had no yearning.

With nothing to tempt her, such a girl would never sell her heart to satisfy a forbidden longing.

Image by  Oberholster Venita  from  Pixabay

That’s where I came in.

The Sorcerer wanted to seduce the Patron’s Daughter, but I would have to give up my heart and deliver his conquest. 

I laughed in his face.

“That’s ridiculous! I hate her.”

“I know you do.”

“I’m pretty sure she hates me too.”

“No,” the Sorcerer replied. “You don’t matter enough for hatred, Addie. Not in her eyes.”

A surge of ire burst in my breast, and that must have shown on my face because the Sorcerer smiled.

“And that’s what makes you perfect for this, Addie.”

Suddenly, it sunk in that my heart would be the payment.

I had never been one for sentiment, but I resisted.

I declared my heart shouldn’t be necessary since the Patron’s Daughter was the Sorcerer’s choice, and I risked death if anything went awry. I argued the best I could, but I lost.

The Sorcerer did not gain his immortality on his conquests, but lived for centuries feeding on virgin hearts.

Because he needed deception to seduce the Patron’s Daughter, he could never claim her heart after her virginity. Since the Sorcerer could never have the heart of the Patron’s Daughter, he had to take mine instead.

And I was definitely a virgin.

Image by  engin akyurt  from  Pixabay

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

However, my resistance must have caught him off guard.

To convince me to sacrifice my heart, the Sorcerer promised another spell that I would only grow more beautiful as the years passed.

At the time, I thought that temptation frivolous. Youth never considers the vicious reality of old age, and vanity is seldom an indulgence of the ugly.

I gave in simply because the Sorcerer wouldn’t. I couldn’t appreciate the power and security of that piece of magic for decades.

Because of it, I’ve been spared the humiliation suffered by many of my sisters once they became women of a certain age.

Even with such extravagant promises, I didn’t accept right away.

I actually took a few days to think about it.

The possibility of beauty and grace was a dream that I had never had the audacity to fantasize for myself. But I couldn’t fathom how any of this should come to pass.

First, how could I ever lure the Patron’s Daughter to the Sorcerer?

Second, how could one as ancient and repellent as the Sorcerer possibly seduce her?

My reservations aside, I accepted his offer.

The next few days of backbreaking, thankless labor in the fields reminded me that I truly had nothing to lose.

This excerpt is from my work-in-progress, The Shepherd and the Courtesan. If you’d like to check out a previous excerpt, click HERE.

Sweat Your Prayers - That'll Give You Something to Write About

Image by  Gerhard Lipold  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerhard Lipold from Pixabay

Since cultural appropriation has been a hot topic for a few years, I start with the disclaimer that there was none of that here.

A Blackfoot Native taught his tradition, along with songs and prayers in his language to this community of copacetic and lovely Caucasian humans.

The story he told of being a watchdog as a child truly made clear the significance of what I was about to do. He said he was forced to go to the Native boarding school, and that their traditional sweat lodges were deemed illegal by the US government.

But the Blackfoot continued them anyway.

Dillon (name changed to protect his privacy) said that his job, along with the other kids was to hide in the tall grass while their parents snuck the rocks, sticks, wood, canvas, and everything else needed to make a temporary sweat lodge in baskets to look as if they were going out for a picnic or something.

If the kids saw any government officials coming, they were to blow their whistles to warn the elders of coming trouble, who would then stop what they were doing and hide the evidence.

It’s unbelievable that such a practice was ever illegal. There was no reason for that beyond oppression.

I would have thought that as a Blackfoot, Dillon would take offense at the white people who wanted to use his spiritual traditions for themselves.

But nothing could have been further from the truth.

Dillon made it very clear that he was grateful for communities like this one, where the Caucasian nation wanted to form sweat lodges and do the spiritual practice as it was meant to be practiced.

“With your participation,” he said to us assembled there, “the practice of praying in a sweat lodge stays alive. And that’s crucial for us to keep it going.”

This was my first sweat lodge and I really couldn’t have chosen any better.

I used to be scared of sweat lodges.

Until a couple of years ago, I always avoided saunas, and preferred steam. But then one of my best friends and I started a daily sauna marathon after a retreat we attended together a couple of times.

Maybe the retreat was more arduous than most. All I know was that the saunas I shared with my former roommate burst through any resistance to heat and sweating.

Because now I love the feeling of rivers of sweat pouring down my body.

It’s both cleansing and kind of dirty.

There is something primal about it. It’s even more primal within the womb-like space of a sweat lodge.

The heat is even more intense and your sweat pours, all while crammed into a confined space with a lot people who are also drenched with body fluid. Throughout we’re singing, calling out prayers, and setting intentions.

This year, I went to the retreat alone.

A new friend who was also there invited me to the sweat lodge the following Sunday, once he knew I was staying in the area for a few days longer after the end of the retreat.

“I’m intimidated by sweat lodges.”

“You should be,” he said. “So are you coming or not?”

I did.

I went to the Wal Mart parking lot early last Sunday morning to meet friends from the retreat and get a ride to the sweat lodge.

I figured the bearded hippie dude doing tai chi in the empty parking lot was likely headed for the sweat lodge.

I was right.

“Just you wait until the water hits the rocks,” he said. “That’s always my favorite part. There’s something ancient and primitive about it that runs deep for me.”

This particular sweat was special in that it was the inauguration of a new lodge. I found out afterwards that the monthly sweat lodges had been suspended for about a year and a half.

The previous hosts were in their late 70’s, and got tired. They insisted that the next generation pick up the ball, and it was a while before somebody did.

The lodge was already assembled with various sticks and branches nailed together and covered with canvas to make a mound. In the center, a hole was dug out.

This held the rocks — aka the Grandfathers — and we carried them to the edge of the pyre that would later become the fire that would heat them up.

There was an air of anticipation as we prepared for the sweat lodge. Doing the work of building up the sweat was a crucial part of being here.

The strongest and hardiest of us split logs of varying lengths, while the rest of us carried them to the pile where still others built up the pyre. The fire would burn directly in front of the opening to the lodge.

“That’s the fire line. It’s very important to not cross it when you’re coming in and out of the lodge.”

A woman explained to me the points of significance once she knew this was my first time.

Pointing to a small mound to the right of the entrance to the sweat lodge, she explained to me that was where we leave our offerings and prayers, and that the four sticks with long, narrow ribbons in different colors represented the four nations of the races of the world.

“Yellow is for the Asian nations, white for Caucasian nations, Red for Indigenous nations, and black for African nations.”

That lady was very kind to tell me all this.

“The rocks are the Grandfathers, whereas the fire and the lodge are the Grandmothers. The lodge in particular is the womb of the Grandmother, and the heated rocks are the Grandfathers and Grandmothers united.”

“How long does it take for the rocks to get hot enough?”

“At least an hour.”

Finally, it was time to light the fire to marry the Grandfathers with the Grandmothers.

The air was festive on this Sunday. More than 70 people showed up to this and I couldn’t believe it when most of them were able to fit inside that sweat lodge.

Their excitement and joy was palpable as the people chatted and waited for the grandfathers to get hot enough and the first round to begin.

“There will be 4 rounds of about 15–20 minutes each,” the kind lady explained. “Each round has a theme.”

During the 1st round, we called in the Great Spirit.

During the 2nd round, we called out our Intentions.

During the 3rd round, we asked for Healing.

During the 4th round, we offered our Gratitude.

There were only a few minutes between rounds to leave the lodge — which a lot of people didn’t — stretch, pee, and drink more water before going back in for more.

Each sweat got more intense than the last.

I’ll never forget my awe when I saw those fiery rocks, smoldering like wood embers in those moments the Grandfathers united with the Grandmothers came into the womb of the sweat lodge.

They came in one by one, in groups of eleven, at the end of a pitchfork to be dropped in the hole in the middle of the sweat lodge.

We called out each time:

“Welcome, Grandfather.”

Then the eleven for that round was gathered, the door to the sweat lodge was dropped, the water was poured, and the steam rose.

The time had come to sweat our prayers.

Freedom in Isolation


The Patron always put off business for as long as he could. 

He never confined himself to his study until the leaves changed color, and only then would he engage in the duties he found so tedious. This was the time of year when he reacquainted himself with the sounds of his household. 

He could recognize the Cook from her heavy shuffle and the maids from their light-footed trots; his daughter’s personal maid and his manservant had similar glides, the tread of the latter heavier than the former.  Their paces made a mesmerizing rhythm, making the dullness of his work more tolerable.

Late one afternoon, his concentration was interrupted by an unfamiliar tread coming from his daughter’s rooms. 

The Patron looked to the ceiling and frowned. 

This gait was long and steady with a firm step to the floor, its resonance echoing through the ceiling, whereas he knew his daughter for her near silent footfall. 

Many times, a servant or merchant would be startled to turn around and find her standing there, for they hadn’t heard her approach. 

The Patron looked at his watch. The girl was usually on a ride at this time before dinner. Whoever he heard above him couldn’t be her.  

Stunned that an intruder should be in his home, the Patron rushed from his study and up the stairs. 

He saw skirts and petticoats as he came up the second flight. 

They swirled around breeches cuffed at her boots, reminding him of his daughter’s refusal to ride in a lady’s saddle, while the tread of a stranger echoed down the corridor. 

In his haste, he almost collided with his daughter at the top of the stairs. 

But the girl reeled away from him, her face pale. She recovered quickly and stepped back, crossing one foot behind the other and sweeping one side of her skirts to her waist. 

Her composure restored, color returned to her cheeks as she came out of her curtsey, waiting for her father to allow her to pass.

Embarrassed, the Patron stepped aside. 

The girl descended to the landing, and to his surprise, stopped before the portrait of his wife. She kissed her fingers and then pressed them on the lips in the portrait. 

She glanced to the top of the staircase and flushed when she saw the Patron still watching her. 

Yet all he noticed was that she now stood a shade taller than the woman in the painting, and he realized his daughter was the same age as his wife when he had met her. 

He looked at her again. 

The girl was actually glaring at him, the defiance in her eyes unnerving even as she curtseyed to him once more before continuing on her way.

The Patron didn’t return to his study.  

He stayed upstairs, listening to the fade of his daughter’s gait as she left for the stables. 

He came down a step and sat down, staring at the portrait, while the same question ran through his mind. 

When had their daughter grown up? 

There he stayed until his manservant startled him out of his reverie, reminding him to get ready for dinner.  

The Patron watched his daughter closely after that day, and found it wasn’t just her walk that had changed. 

All her life, people whispered what a tragic shame it was the girl didn’t take after her mother. 

He agreed, although he tried to hide it. 

The girl’s presence would have been easier to bear if she could have reminded him of his wife. 

But he never saw anything, no matter how much he wanted to. Time had not refined her features, and she never acquired the languid poise of her mother. 

Yet after that day, the Patron noticed the girl radiated an assurance that was unusual for women.

She possessed her own grace, moving with animal freedom. 

The Patron also noticed she had grown more animated. 

He found she chose satires and comedic novels for her reading, often biting her lower lip to suppress her chuckles. 

She also began painting for the first time since her formal education came to an end, singing or humming while working watercolors onto canvas. 

He often found her on the back portico of the house, where she had a splendid view of the young forest to the east. 

The girl always stopped her brushstroke when he came, confusion clouding her features every time she saw him. But the coolness in her eyes was unsettling. 

His daughter’s transformation intrigued the Patron. 

He couldn’t understand how that had happened, for nothing had changed. 

She was still despised everywhere she went. 

Rooms fell silent on her entrance. People stared at her or ignored her just as they had for years. 

But the girl was no longer stricken by it. 

Instead, her indifference to what others thought of her was clear while she went through her day as alone as ever. She now had an air of contentment about her, happiness even. 

After years of ostracism, she had become someone who didn’t need anybody.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, feel free to buy the ebook at this website HERE or on Amazon HERE.

If you do buy it through Amazon, I’d be eternally grateful for a review. Preferably a good one, of course.

6 More Writing Prompts!

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Show me the love, Stacy!

You know I <3 U 4ever!


“Well Isn’t that sweet of Evan?”

Stacy shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"Sure it is,” Stacy scoffed. “That is, if you find desperation endearing. Come on, Andrew. Let’s get a drink.”

The Writing Prompts, they keep on coming. Some smaller images and pithy excerpts, I hope they get your creative juices flowing.

I do love doing these, and it’s easy when I can’t think of any big theme to put out there, and I hope to get to offer some inspiration for my sister and brother creatives and writers who may find themselves stuck or stumped or simply like to collect ideas for new stories. So happy to oblige.

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Dino pressed his ear against the moss covered brick and tapped with one hand.

“What are you doing?” Belka asked.

“Listening and feeling for the hollow spaces.”


“Because I can.”

“That’s bull. You’re after something.”

“Of course, I am. But I don’t have to tell you, Belka.”


Francisco loved Adina as much as a hot taco on a cold, damp Seattle day.

Adina was not impressed.

Her mind was filled with Roberto, who made the most delicious tacos.

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

“Show me the magic!”


“Why not?”

“Because you’re too greedy. You’ll only use it for ill.”

“But when you do, it’s ok?”

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

“Space Traveler? That’s what you’re dropping out of school for!”


“Why would you do a stupid thing like that? Everybody knows Space Travelers get devoured by the Cosmos!”

“That’s why I want to go.”

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

Writing Prompt Original by Montgomery Mahaffey from Free Flying Press

“It’s been a long time coming. But we’re finally in the pink.”

“I’m so relieved.”

“Don’t be. By next week, we have to be in the red or we’re out.”

“We’ll get there.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because Marco is going to help us.”

First Rule of Seduction

Image by  Alexandr Ivanov  from  Pixabay

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

She stared into the long white palm of the Sorcerer, bony fingers reaching for her. The clutch inside her chest was excruciating. 

An impulse came over her urging her to run up the spiral before the Sorcerer could lock her in the Caverns, and she nearly gave in to the call of fear. 

Then the scent of lilies wafted in her nostrils, the melodious voice of her mother singing in her mind.

“I will be with you always.”

And the girl knew her heart was safe as she placed her hand in his. 

The Sorcerer reached inside the neck of his robes and pulled out his own stargaze. 

But the only colors were blue and white once the candles’ flame touched the crystal facets. The essence swirled around her, making the girl shiver. 

She tried to pull her hand back, but the Sorcerer kept his hold on her.

“Push out your breath,” he said.

She had no choice. 

The air was drawn out of her when the Sorcerer inhaled long and deep. He didn’t stop until she was drained.

Otherwise the girl felt nothing when she gave up her heart, just the emptiness inside her once it was gone, and a gnawing similar to the one that consumed her when she’d feasted with him two days before. 

She blinked and her hand dropped to her side. 

When she looked again, her heart rested in the hand of the Sorcerer, motionless and silent. 

For once, she found the lifelessness of her heart reassuring when he tied it up in a black velvet bag and placed it on the highest shelf carved in the Cavern walls.

Then the Sorcerer turned to her with a smile and nodded to a corridor leading away from the main hall to what must be his bedroom chambers.

The black walls glowed from fire torches which lit the way. 

He beckoned her to follow with a wave of his fingers, but the girl stared at his back sauntering to the hallway and didn’t move. 

The Sorcerer noticed and turned around.

“You already made your choice, Girl.  It’s too late to change your mind now.”   

“Didn’t you promise to teach me the arts of seduction?”

“Yes, and I will.  So?”

“So, you know I find you repugnant.  Don’t you?”

The Sorcerer raised his brows and shrugged.

“Make me desire you,” the girl taunted. “Isn’t that what seduction is?”

She didn’t expect to evade the Sorcerer and the decision she had made, but her stomach lurched when he smiled.

His long yellowed teeth gleamed.   

“As you wish.”

He pulled a large vial from his robes. 

The girl thought the liquid must be melted rubies for when the Sorcerer held the vial to a torch it lit up the jewel tones. 

He snapped his fingers, calling forth the shadowy servants from the black stone. 

They carried a large iron cauldron between them, which they set down before their master, smoke billowing from the center. 

The Sorcerer circled the pot, muttering in a language the girl had never heard. 

Then he spilled one drop from the vial and the brew inside the cauldron roiled, engulfing the Sorcerer in fog.

As thick as the cloud was, the girl could see the silhouette inside.


The form of the Sorcerer changed shape. 

The mist dissipated in puffs, revealing a man who bore no resemblance to the ancient Sorcerer. 

He was young and strong with powerful shoulders and muscular limbs, wearing the ragged clothes of a vagabond. 

The only thing missing was his rucksack.

“No,” she whispered.  “This isn’t possible.” 

She blinked, trying to dispel what had to be a mirage. 

But the guise the Sorcerer had taken on remained and the girl thought she might faint. 

His wheat colored hair was damp as it always was after a long ride, the smile of even, white teeth as brilliant as she remembered.

“Well look at you, little Miss,” he said.  “You’re all grown up.”

Even his voice had not changed. 

Its rumbling timbre, the playful drawling accent touched by dialects of the places of the world he’d seen.

The Horse Trainer who had come as a Vagabond.   

The girl shook her head, unable to speak. 

She tried to back away from the handsome young man, but he walked a wide berth around her. 

She turned, frantic to keep her back to this phantom of flesh and blood. 

The sight of him filled her with both alarm and sadness.

How could this be possible? 

Her throat closed up and the girl wanted to cry. 

But that urge was distant, calling to her from a place outside herself while the empty space inside her breast throbbed. 

She hugged her arms close while the Phantom of the Horse Trainer moved in a pace at a time. 

Once he came near, there was no relief when she looked into his eyes and saw they were the same. 

The colorless gaze of the Sorcerer had warmed into golden brown eyes which sparkled just as she remembered.

 “Get away from me!” she cried, hurling her fists against his chest.  “You’re not him! I know you’re not him!”

The Phantom grabbed her wrists with one hand and pulled her close.

“First rule of seduction,” he whispered in her ear. “Find the secret yearning of the one you desire and give her what she wants.”

This excerpt is out of my novel, “Ella Bandita and the Wanderer.” If you’d like to purchase an ebook, you can through my website HERE, or you can through Amazon HERE.

Feminine Archetype Riff


Maiden-Mother-Crone-Virgin-Vixen-Virago. Maiden-Mother-Crone-Virgin-Vixen-Virago. The litany of the feminine archetypes almost sounds like a nursery rhyme, doesn’t it?

We’re obsessed with the Maiden in American culture.



 Virgins are the belles of the balls, and the Vixens are the she-devils who devour the balls. The Mother plays a secondary role, there to support or to suppress. The Crone plays a minor role, and the Virago gets scarcely a mention.


This last is the greatest shame.


Of course, I’m speaking in generalities, and there are plenty of exceptions to this rule.


For instance, “Ocean’s 8: definitely had some pretty strong Virago power, which Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett rocked beautifully. There was even a Crone in the failing dress designer, who had some classic moments. But there were plenty of vampy Vixens going around. I’m sure there had to be or perhaps the film wouldn’t have been made.


That said, there is so much power and mystery in our feminine archetypes, with so many layers. Yet we only scratch the surface without going deeper, and thus cheat ourselves in literature and film.


Maiden, Mother, and Crone are the archetypes that represent the various phases women go through, given a full life span. These phases are pretty self-explanatory.


A woman doesn’t need to actually have kids to be in the Mother phase. We go through it one way or another – as aunties, mentors, and teachers.




But how many women do we know personally and in the media who desperately try to hold on to the phase of the Maiden and avoid the Crone phase like the plague?


How tragic is that? And why?


When the woman wears the Crone with pride, she’s often respected for it – like Frances McDormand, who gave a beautiful interview where she explained why she never got plastic surgery because it would erase her life from her face.


Also, Olympia Dukakis, whose career hit her peak in her Crone years, and is STILL getting work because of it (Tales of the City).


“Grace and Frankie” is one of the funniest comedy series on Netflix. What’s it about? Two Crones whose husbands leave them to marry each other.




“The Golden Girls” ran for 8 full seasons. One of my college roommates, a frat boy, really loved that show. But he had to justify it to his frat boy friends by complaining that he hated liking that show because “it was about women.”


That statement alone is fodder for another blog post. Most people get more interesting with the passage of time due to EXPERIENCE, and the ones who don’t lack the qualities to develop wisdom. So it’s absurd that anybody would have to apologize or feel defensive about liking quality writing and great characters.


So why do we obsess over the Maiden, whose feminine power has yet to be fully grown?

Virgin  Maybe about to be devoured by lion?


Maybe about to be devoured by lion?

This post may come across as rather peculiar of me, given that as a writer, my central character in the Ella Bandita stories is an eternal Maiden, a Vixen destroyer who stopped aging at the age of 20. This, of course, also makes her a Virago in the most unflattering light.




Yes, but…


As much as that may seem enviable, Ella Bandita is tragic. She is frozen in time while everybody around her grows older and eventually dies. She is trapped in her destroyer phase because she is also very ALONE, and she knows it.


This brings me to the next triad of archetypes, those that imply character, personality, identity.


Virgin, Vixen, Virago. We’re all familiar with Virgins and Vixens because they get plenty of airtime in books, shows, theater, and movies. But what I dislike about this is that the dichotomy sets it up to pit women against each other.


For instance, “Something Borrowed” is a romcom that I didn’t particularly care for, yet illustrates this dichotomy between the Virgin and Vixen beautifully. Kate Hudson is the Vixen best friend who snags Ginnifer Goodwin’s crush from right under her nose - and with her permission - because the Virgin didn’t have the backbone to speak up for what she wanted until the Vixen and her love interest were engaged. Of course, the Virgin ultimately gets the guy and their friendship is destroyed.


There was even a competitive Virgin-Vixen subplot in the teenage boy’s coming out tale, “Love, Simon.”



 Last, but not least, is the Virago. She has been the most underrepresented of the 3 V’s. When she is, the image is usually unflattering.


“Virago: A domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.” See what I mean. Violent Ella Bandita is very bad-tempered in the first novel.


“A woman of masculine strength or spirit; a female warrior.” An improvement. If Katniss from the Hunger Games starts a trend, perhaps the Virago is getting some of her due.


“A woman of stature, great strength, and courage who is not feminine in the conventional ways.” Now that’s more like it. Xena, Warrior Princess comes to mind.



 The Virago often presents as a female warrior, but what I like about this last definition is that the interpretation of it can be broad and flexible, can go far beyond the female warrior archetype to include women who simply want to live on their own terms. 


One of my favorite fictional characters, Sissy Hankshaw, the hitchhiking maestra from “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” is definitely a Virago. At the beginning of the story, she’s even a Virgin Virago until she’s pathetically seduced by Julian, a fussy psychiatrist. Her main interest in him is only because he’s born a Mohawk native, but everything about his character is from the White Society he conformed to. He threatens her freedom with these stifling conventions as he pressures her to be ‘normal’ and she loses one of her oversize thumbs as a result.


“As do many strong people, she had fallen victim to the tyranny of the weak.” Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.


Another Virago is the one who saves Sissy’s butt, Jellybean Bonanza. As cute as she is, she’s fighting her own battles of trying to create a space where girls can find freedom and become Cowgirls.


The references come from the novel, NOT the movie, which I’ve never seen. I did not hear good things about it, and the novel is magnificent.


Feminine characters are intriguing, mysterious, powerful, and fascinating; yet only if they are given room to expand into the full breadth of their potential. As writers, we owe it to ourselves and to the world to explore that.

Rant over. That’s all for now.

Give Yourself Something to Write About - More Prompts!


Well, those writing prompts…they just keep on coming! I’m fairly pleased with these, kind of nice to use photographs as inspiration. I hope you get much inspiration from these. Something for everybody, really.

There’s an erotic novel in here somewhere. What do you think? Should Narcissus and Vanity have a go at it?


“Tell me I’m pretty.”

Tired of Vanity’s never-ending demands, the mirror remained silent.

“Tell me I’m pretty!”

Vanity slapped her reflective surface.

The mirror cracked.

Vanity stopped and leaned in to embrace her reflection.

She was beautiful.


The Bridge of Serenity is always there for us.

Cross the Bridge into the realm, find a comfortable seat, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself these questions:

“What does peace look like to me?”

“What brings me peace?”

When you’re ready, write down what you found inside yourself.


“I was not one of those personable peasant girls…No possibility of a fairy tale twist of fate for me.”


Claire surrenders to the water. She is filled up with air, but already the pressure squeezes her lungs. From the depths, she hears people screaming from the pier.

They think she jumped in for tragic reasons.

Nothing could further from the truth.

Claire waits for her lover to claim her.


What’s the best way to make friends with your shadow?

Go hang where your shadow is invisible.

In the darkness.

Follow the path into the deepest recesses of the tunnel of your mind.

Invite your shadow to join you and just listen.

Your shadow has a lot to say.

Please. Mama, Please.

Image by  Stefan Keller  from  Pixabay

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

The portrait was the size of life.  

It hung between floors on the wall of the landing facing the upper stairs. The woman on the canvas was exactly as she had been when she was alive. 

Lamps always burned around her, so she could be seen day or night.

She stood facing the artist, butter yellow gown falling in graceful folds from her chest to her feet. Her pale blonde hair hung loose, free around her shoulders and arms. Her lips were curved in the impish smile that had enchanted the Patron.  

Her body was straight, head leaning over one shoulder, chin tucked in, almost shy.  

Her eyes sparkled, looking beyond the man painting her likeness.  Her forearms encircled her middle, white hands resting on the stomach still lying flat, her dreamy eyes seeing deep within, thinking only of the baby growing inside.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

It had been years since she sat before her mother.  

The girl held the stargaze in hand while she stared into the eyes of a woman immortalized in a moment of precious time.  

The subject of the painting embraced her belly, yet still held traces of the wild maiden she was leaving behind for the motherhood to come.  

There was no shadow of death coming for her when the portrait was made, only joy for the life she carried inside. 

The edges of the crystal chafed the girl’s fingers, reminding her of the Sorcerer. 

Day passed into night, but she never left the stairs facing her mother. 

Images of the morning intruded on her vigil, the memory of the Patron’s expression before he looked away ripped through her.

“Take this stargaze and go home to your father,” the Sorcerer had said.

She could almost hear that deep voice whispering in her ear. 

“If you decide to keep living the life you’ve always known…or not…”

The girl remembered how her reflection had distorted the moving water when she looked at herself from the river’s edge. 

Image by  Tim Hill  from  Pixabay

Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

For a moment, she felt it; the resolution to jump and surrender to nothing, and again she had the relief that it could all be over soon. 

But the grip inside her breast made her double over when she thought about dying. 

Nothing had changed for her and she knew nothing ever would. 

But the numbness was gone, along with the anguish that drove her to the river. 

Something had changed. 

She wanted to live.  

The girl gazed into her mother’s eyes. 

Even so many years after her death, there was still so much life in that gaze, the passion she had for living, and the desire to pass that gift on to her unborn child. 

The girl gripped the crystal, her fingers slick from rivulets of blood. Then she thought about the Sorcerer and his offer, searching for a hint of judgment from the woman in the portrait. 

But there was none. 

Instead her mother was radiant.

Her likeness seemed to stretch beyond the paint to come back to life. 

The girl closed her eyes and shook her head. 

When she opened them again, the woman in the portrait glowed even more, the glaze of dreams gone from her expression. 

Then the girl heard a soft soprano teasing at the edge of her hearing, a mother beseeching her daughter to come closer, closer. 

There was that squeeze inside her breast again.  The girl wondered if she was losing her mind.

“Mama?” she whispered, shaking her head in an attempt to regain her senses.

“Come to me, my child.”

The voice was louder, ringing with the clarity of a silver bell, and the painted gaze grew intense. 

A wave of heat wrapped around the girl, a blanket she couldn’t touch. 

Then she caught the scent of lilies, her mother’s favorite flowers and she sobbed. 

Image by  stanbalik  from  Pixabay

Image by stanbalik from Pixabay

She knew she could be going mad, but she didn’t care. 

In that moment, the girl no longer felt alone. Coming down the stairs to stand before the portrait, she now stood two fingers taller than her mother, but became like a child when she reached out to her.  

“Please,” she whispered, staring into the pale blue eyes. “Mama, please show me a way to protect my heart.”

The skin was so soft when she touched the painting, stroking the backs of the hands embracing the unborn inside her. 

The girl sobbed again. 

So this is what it was like to touch her mother. 

Beyond the veil of death, the soprano sang a lullaby to ease the torment of her mind, coaxing the girl to lie down and sleep. 

Fatigue settled over her and she did as she was bid, stretching out across the landing and resting her head at the painted feet. 

The sweet cling of lilies guided the girl to where her mother waited.

“My darling,” the soft voice whispered.  “I will be with you always.”

That promise was all she needed to let go.  The loving words were the last she heard before the girl drifted away into dreams.

...And 6 More Writing Prompts Because I Can!


Breakups come with dubious advantages. Here, one advantage is that I find it a safe distraction to make up writing prompts that have nothing to do with my ex-relationship. Since I’m having a hard time concentrating on everything else, this is a gift for other writers.

These prompts work for fantasy, romance, suspense, adventure, and journaling - which could help with memoir or even fresh ideas for a novel. It all depends on YOU and your inspiration!

If you like these, all you gotta do is scroll to the next post to enjoy some more.

So perhaps you’d like to check out my novel, “Ella Bandita and the Wanderer.” If so, click here!

If you’d prefer a freebie (Part 1) to check it out, click here!

In the meantime, enjoy these prompts and I hope they inspire you!


6 Lovely Writing Prompts for Fantasy, Romance, Journaling!


Time for some more writing prompts! Here are some luscious ones that could inspire fantasy, romance, love story (my personal favorite), journaling, or even memoir. It’s all up to you. If you like these, click here for the writing prompts that came before. I may offer more this month simply just because…


The Sorcerer's Temptation

I can see the feasting has made you rather bold. Really. You could be…fascinating.

I can see the feasting has made you rather bold. Really. You could be…fascinating.

“So how did a wench with such a lusty appetite come to the point of throwing herself into the river?”

“If you’re such a mighty Sorcerer, then you should already know the answer to that question.”

“I can see the feasting has made you rather bold,” he chuckled. “Really. You could be fascinating.”

“What do you want?”

“I already have what I want, Girl. Question is…what do you want?”

The girl chortled, the bark cut short from an upsurge of bile burning the back of her throat.

The pain of eating too much came upon her in that moment.

She curled into a ball and wondered if she would burst from gluttony until her silent memories swept in.

The image of empty faces and condemning eyes seared through and emptied her again. But the ache remained in her belly and the Sorcerer looming over her made her uneasy.

Yet she also remembered this was the first conversation she’d had in almost seven years.

“What do you think?” she muttered, sitting up. “I want to not be so alone. I want people to care. What else could I possibly want?”

The Sorcerer raised his brows and the hairless arches deepened the grooves in his forehead.

“Come on, Girl. Don’t be so paltry in what you wish for. You can do better than that.”

The heat rushed to her cheeks, but she said nothing.

The Sorcerer rested his chin on interlaced fists and waited.  

That squeeze clenched inside her breast.

But this time she wasn’t so foolish to hope her heart beat again. Staring into the colorless eyes of the Sorcerer, who gazed back at her with a bland expression, the girl couldn’t move.

“I want anybody I choose to fall in love with me,” she finally said. “Can you really make that happen?”

The Sorcerer of the Caverns smiled, his teeth the longest she’d ever seen, the dark yellow gleaming against his matted dusty beard. He nodded.

“And what do you want of me?”

“I want to lay with you,” he said. “And I want you to give me your heart.”

The girl froze.

Although her heart had been dead for years, she clasped her hands over her breast to protect what rested underneath. The thought of giving it to the Sorcerer made her stomach churn.

She shook her head before she spoke.


“Not so hasty, Girl. I think you may like what I have in mind for you.”

“I said no.”

She stood and looked up the staircase spiraling out of the Caverns.

Then the snap of fingers made her flinch, and the sound bounced off the stone and reverberated up the tunnel.

A boulder slid across the top and the girl watched the nighttime stars disappear.

She couldn’t quite believe this was happening to her, but she still wasn’t afraid.

A calm descended on the girl as she watched the Gateway to the world above close off to her. She looked at the Sorcerer.

His robes cascaded around his throne; his hair and beard were dull against the opulence of gold and velvet.

“I’ve heard stories about you all my life,” she said. “But never once did I hear that you could force me to stay. Not even once.”

“That’s true,” he replied. “However, I can insist that you listen to what I have to say before you refuse me.”

The Sorcerer waved his hand to the sofa.

The girl saw the table was clear, the ruins of the banquet gone as if the feast had never happened.

Instead, a bronze triad of candles stood in the center of the table beside the crystal she pulled from the tunnel walls.

“Have a seat,” he continued. “You may find my offer enticing.” 

To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge.

To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge.

She sat down. Her back was straight as a rod, her hands in a tight clasp, her limbs rigid, a silent prayer repeating through her that she had to get out of the Caverns.

For a moment, she panicked at the thought that the Sorcerer might read her mind.

But he gave no indication he could as he took the crystal stargaze and held it to the candles.

Its essence came free, and the colors whirled around them.

The girl grew light-headed, but dropped her lids. She refused to look up until she’d made herself blind to everything but the Sorcerer.

Then she opened her eyes and focused only on him until the essence was brought home to the crystal and the colors fell.

“You have a strong command over yourself,” he said.

“Just tell me what you want and be done with it.”

He set the crystal down and pushed it across the table, its tiers spinning before her.

“If you lay with me just once, I will bless this stargaze with the power to steal the heart of any man you desire. But…”

The Sorcerer paused.

“If you lay with me many times, I will teach you the arts of seduction.”

The Sorcerer slowed his speech to the lulling cadence of persuasion.

The girl listened. She couldn’t stop her limbs from softening nor could she hold the tight grip of hands.

“To master the secrets, you must surpass the ancient knowledge. If you can do this and pleasure me more than any woman ever has, I will give you a dust you can use for protection.”

“What does such a dust do? 

“Blow a pinch when faced with an enemy,” he said. “Say the first thing that comes to your mind and thus, your enemy is changed.”

“So far, this sounds…” the girl trailed off. “Why not just make this your offer?”

The right side of the Sorcerer’s brow crinkled deeper. She scowled, hesitating before she continued.

“My heart’s been dead for years anyway. Why would you want it?”

“All or nothing.”

The girl tensed. She thought an agitated serpent might have invaded her belly. The longer she looked into the Sorcerer’s eyes, the tighter the coil around her innards became.

“No,” she said. “I won’t do it. Just let me go.”

“I’m not done yet,” he retorted. “If you give me your dead heart, I will make you immortal.”

This excerpt is out of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer. To purchase the ebook, click here.


The Noble Son


Because the Patron’s Daughter had cast off all the eligible young men in her part of the country, her parents had to invite suitable families from faraway for long visits.

The patron and patroness had many houseguests that season. All of them arrived with a son who was of age to mate with their malicious minx of a daughter.

This desperate attempt to marry her off delighted we peasants working the fields.

There were rumors that the Patron’s Daughter was threatened with the convent at the end of this social season if she didn’t stop spurning suitors simply for the thrill it gave her.

The thought of the Patron’s Daughter with her hair shorn and dressed in a nun’s habit and wimple gave me great pleasure. I often laughed myself to sleep at night imagining such a fate.

GiveYourselfSomethingtoWriteAbout copy.jpg

Whether those rumors were true or not, she did stop the emotional slaughter of the would-be suitors who were hunted for her.

Her rides around the fields were less dreadful when houseguests came, because she was always in the company of the latest young man her parents hoped would marry her.

Perhaps her reputation had spread far, because the families who came were rather lackluster. All the invited families had impeccable breeding, but those who accepted were either on the brink of impoverishment, or their sons were dull of mind, plain of face, or both.

Of course, all the enamored gentlemen got down on one knee to declare their love and ask for her hand in marriage.

But these proposals the Patron’s Daughter respectfully declined. Her parents hardly blamed her, for none of these inadequate young men would do.

Every two weeks, her suitors changed as the houseguests changed.

In the beginning of summer, somebody came along who the Patron’s Daughter actually liked.


He was truly beautiful, this Noble Son of the patron family from the southeast.

I didn’t get a good look at him that day.

But I saw him the next on the ride he took with the Patron’s Daughter. He had fine brown hair and features that were unusually blunt in the highborn class, and the most soulful brown eyes.

The Noble Son wasn’t like the other suitors who had pursued the Patron’s Daughter. What set him apart was the way he treated us, the workers.

Every other gentleman who had come to the big house was content to ride past we who labored in the fields without a look or a greeting; but the first day the Noble Son rode with the Patron’s Daughter, he stopped his horse and dismounted.

He then took a few minutes to introduce himself to us, and even removed his glove to shake our hands.

“It’s wonderful to meet you,” he said to me. “You have the most beautiful eyes, Addie.”

My knees started to shake when the Noble Son took my hand.

He had the softest skin, but there was strength in his grip when he held my hand for that moment. His smile was warm and genuine, and the Noble son looked me right in the eyes.

Nobody had ever looked at me like that, not even my parents. He looked at me as if he truly cared to see me.

I almost collapsed.

Because he’d removed his glove, I had actually touched him, and the shock of contact sent a thrill up my arm and into my breast.

My heart stopped for an instant, then pounded as if I were working relentlessly at my fastest pace.


I grew light-headed and could scarcely breathe. Something burst inside of me, spread throughout my being, and made me giddy.

Then the Noble Son nodded and stepped aside to introduce himself to the man next to me, and his manner was every bit as sweet and gentle. He had a simple grace and a universal kindness.

But my destiny changed on the day I met the Noble Son. The effect he would have on me would change who I was and who I would become.

I had always suffered from resentment and malcontent. Everybody around me was unhappy, how could we not be?

But most of my people, including my parents, resigned themselves to their fate. Though they knew life was unfair at their expense, they accepted their paltry share of it without complaint.

Perhaps apathy was a form of self-preservation for them, while rage over the injustice of it all seethed through me every minute of every day.

I hated my life. I had always wanted more.

Then along came the Noble Son, and the desire for something better became the most excruciating craving.

The Noble Son was impossibly out of reach, but that didn’t stop me from falling madly in love with him.

Desire is powerful, and the longing I felt for him was so raw I thought about him all the time.

Suddenly, I understood why girls allowed themselves to be seduced, even if it brought them to ruin.

In my world, privacy was unheard of. Thus throughout my life, I had caught couples in the fuck many times.


Usually during urgent moments when I had to relieve myself, I rushed to the bushes for some privacy only to come across two backs and thrusting hips; or a woman held against a tree as the man ground his meat into her, her face contorted as if she were in pain; or a woman on all fours as the man poked her from behind as if she were a common bitch.

It was tedious to empty myself with the animal grunts and moans coming not even five feet away.

Until the Noble Son came, I had always found rutting rather repulsive.

Once he did, the restless consumed my body and hijacked my mind.

The fuck became appealing, and I knew exactly how to imagine him taking my maidenhead.

My fantasies were detailed and unabashed; and I dreamed about him day and night, at work and at rest. During the day, when I plowed through the fields I imagined the Noble Son plowing into me.

Every time I gave myself to the Noble Son, I was a virgin; and every time, a layer of ugliness fell away from me until all that was left was the blossom of purity.


I never had a vision of what I looked like, but I knew I had transformed from the awe in my lover’s face.

“I always knew you were beautiful,” the Noble Son would say. “But you are beyond this world, Addie.”

Then he would kiss me deeply and I would melt.

But morning would interrupt rudely, and I woke up knowing I was ugly and unwanted.

I saw the Noble Son in the afternoons, for he rode with the Patron’s Daughter. Every day, he stopped to greet those who worked the fields.

These daily kindnesses when her escort treated us with courtesy caused much vexation to the Patron’s Daughter. It was the only time she acted cordial to the peasants because she knew she’d make a terrible impression if she didn’t.

There was some satisfaction in that, but of course, we knew better.

Those two weeks were delicious.

Besides savoring the discomfort of one who had to give up some of the power she loved to abuse, I got to touch the Noble Son almost every day when he shook my hand.

He remembered me too, and always called me by my name.

“Nice to see you, Addie, with the sparkling, golden eyes.”

Most of the time, I could scarcely mumble a greeting in return. I always looked away from him when my face grew hot for blushing was horribly embarrassing.

Oh! How I adored him! I would have given my soul for a night in his arms. I would have joyfully given him my maidenhead and I wouldn’t have cared about the consequences.

This excerpt is out of my work-in-progress, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” If you’d like to see the previous excerpt, click here.



Didjeridu Magic - Now There is Something to Write About!



It was love at first sight. Or first sound, really. The first time I heard the primal drone of a didjeridu, I was at Esalen in Big Sur. The Wednesday night jam was a weekly event amongst the tubs where the spa was enclosed.

The sacrifice in the view of the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean were more than compensated for with incredible acoustics.

Somehow a didjeridu, a saxophone, and a trumpet made an effective and peculiar trio. But it was the didjeridu that did it for me. The mysterious tones of the didjeridu played into the amplifier of a clawfoot tub soared through the chamber, and I was hooked.

InDidjInUs 2019 - Ondrej Smeykal

InDidjInUs 2019 - Ondrej Smeykal

That was before the didj player did his rounds for a sound healing up our chakras. I had never experienced music that could be felt, physically felt as the musician played it around me.

Then I was really hooked.

Every time a didjeridu was played, I got excited.

The best New Year’s Eve I ever had, a didj was played as we approached midnight. Even though the headlining band was playing on the top floor, I knew I was in the right place to call in the New Year.

InDidjInUs 2019 - Lewis Burns on didj with dancer Adam and singer Jamie

InDidjInUs 2019 - Lewis Burns on didj with dancer Adam and singer Jamie

I especially love to dance to the didj. That tone brings out something buried deep in me. I move in a more thorough, embodied way that gets to all my parts. It’s catharsis in its purest form.

Beloved is one of the more beloved music festivals around Oregon, focusing on sacred music and higher consciousness. It’s lush and decadent, and very Arabian Nights with its exotic trappings. I went one year and had tickets to go to the next.

Then I heard about InDidjInUs a few years ago.

I couldn’t believe there was a gathering centered around the didjeridu. The thought of 4 days of non-stop didjeridu music made my mouth water.

Everybody loves Mama Emma!

Everybody loves Mama Emma!

The website and Facebook page was so vague, yet so specific, I wondered if it was only for didjeridu players, not didjeridu listeners or didjeridu dancers.

It also seemed that there was some kind of struggle going on about the values of this gathering. One man made very clear that they were not about a typical “festival” party atmosphere, and they’d appreciate it if the festival partiers would go to Beloved instead.

Beloved was on the same weekend.

I asked on the Facebook page if dancing listeners were able to come, or if this was only for didjeridu musicians. Ycats (Stacy spelled backwards) answered that a dancing audience was most welcome.

I didn’t hesitate. I gave away my tickets to Beloved and went to InDidjInus. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.


That first InDidjInUs, I went to sleep and woke up to the vibrating drones of didj being played somewhere near. My energy field shifted during that time, and my time there was a profound experience in healing.

I knew I loved didjeridu in music. I had no idea how diverse didjeridu could be when it came to making music.

But one of the most surprising benefits to making such a sudden switch was the genuine sense of community that InDidjInUs provided.

A lot of festivals focus on “community” and “tribe” and “getting woke” and whatever else you can think of that sounds transcendent and cool.

But this group really embodies the essence of community - with the good and the bad, especially when it comes to figuring out conflicts and the fallout that entails. Most of these people I only see once a year in the community that gathers for InDidjInUs.

I just finished my 5th InDidjInUs, and this year was the best one yet. Again, I was in need of healing. Having space when I needed it, and community when I needed connection was crucial, and then there were the various jams going on as well as the stage performances.

Anyway, I included some short clips of the amazing and gorgeous music I enjoyed this past weekend.

And if that’s not something worth writing about, I don’t know what is.

Living the Dream - On the Road #18


Hey y'all,

I am so glad I listened to the wisdom of my inner voice, the same inner voice that told me to go back to Seward for the Music and Arts Festival, even though my first tableside storytelling adventure was not immediately profitable.

In fact, my first day I told stories with my whole heart and soul into it because I wanted to sell my book, dammit! 

This was only my second stop on the trip. I had had a couple of things in Homer. I was in full-throttle eager novice mode and people could smell blood...I could sense them smacking their chops as I concluded my story without closing the sale. I sold nothing!

And that really sucked.

And frankly, so does Anchorage.

I did my last storytelling tonight at the Organic Oasis, and it is impossible to do what I'm doing and not do it often in Anchorage. But I just do not resonate with the vibe of this town, it reminds me of the Orlando of my teenage years.... AAIIGGHH!!! 

So let's get back to the good stuff, Seward.


 After that discouraging first day, however, it got better. I sold two books on my second day, and on my third and final, four. So, the word was getting out there. 

Also, on the third day is when deliverance in the form of Joe Alaniz came along and saved my demoralized ass by selling fourteen books by the next day.

Remember Joe? 

So that was my Seward experience in early August, but they had just put up all these flyers for this festival and since the booths were cheap, I marked my space.

I woke up to beautiful weather in Seward with the colors in full blast and knew it would be slow at the festival. 

And I was right, but I learned a few things since my last time in town. I set up my space with blankets, pillows, and although I left the candles in the Beast, I laid out my purple sari over the table with the book displays, and a sign under an orange patterned fake-silk poly scarf that read:


Hear a story...

Buy a book...

Get Tarot reading...


I figured if everybody was going to confuse me for a fortuneteller, I might as well give them what they wanted. And golly gee! It worked! 

To make it even better, people were into the storytelling and into buying the book. But about a quarter of my sales happened because somebody really wanted their cards read and the book was only ten bucks. 


I sold twenty-two books at full price. And the experience was effortless, at a festival held indoors at the Cruise Ship Terminal, which looked more like a hangar.

The turn out was low due to sunny weather. Got to get that hiking in! Because the darkness, rain, and snow are just around the corner. 

I also sold ten books to the lady who had an all-purpose gift shop coffeehouse in town, so now the book is being carried in Seward. I traded a book for a bracelet. 

So in one weekend I sold over thirty books. 

This, of course, feeds the soul...not to mention the validation that I'm on the right track.

But the best part of this week-end was not the sales - not that I minded those! It was really connecting with people when they sat down to hear a story.

The way I see it, I'm laying the foundation for my base of readers for the future, and it is such an intimate way of connecting with them. It worked well at Borders as well. 

One woman said that I was living the dream, and she was right. Right now, I feel like I am.  

The weekend was so great that I didn't mind coming back to the tepid atmosphere at the Organic Oasis. I sold a couple of books and it is book at a time. One person sold on my work at a time. 

I'm getting better at this, but the tarot cards were a nice touch.

I must admit being a fortune-teller was fun too.

Anyway, Keep in touch...



PS God I was naive!!! This was from the DIY booktour roadtrip I made in 2005-2006. Things have changed a lot since then.