6 New Original Fiction Writing Prompts!

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They just keep on coming, these writing prompts! Get them while they’re fresh and while the floodgates are open. I may have a dry spell that lasts months after this! Then again, maybe not.

These could inspire suspense, coming of age, romance, fantasy - because after all, isn’t everything fantasy?

If you’d like to check out earlier prompts that are strictly fantasy, click here.

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The Moment of Truth

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The Sorcerer punched his thigh, watching the girl leave. 

He bellowed through his nose while she took the spiral out of his Caverns two stairs at a time. He had waited for too long to claim this one to allow her to slip away. 

He glimpsed the liquid cloud of second sight. The vial was on the top shelf carved in the eastern wall, resting beside a small cauldron. 

Perhaps he could see something useful.     

He took them both to the table and sat on the sofa, resting his palm where the girl had been. He savored the heat she left behind until the image of her was clear in his mind. 

Then he emptied the vial into the cauldron and closed his eyes. His face smarted from the smoke rising to form a cloud above his head. 

The Sorcerer cast his mind and heard the girl’s labored breathing before he saw her running through the trees. 

She came out of the woods at the river, close to where he had found her the previous morning just as she was about to jump.

This time she wasn’t alone. 

On the other side of the river was the giant gray stallion, the one that ran wild in the Abandoned Valley. Although he was a mammoth among horses, his glossy coat blended with the rising light and the girl didn’t see him until he pulled his head from the water. 

She glowed when she saw him, the radiance in her face surprising the Sorcerer before he remembered that summer when she rode in the Abandoned Valley. 

The handsome young Horse Trainer had always accompanied her on a splendid gray colt. This must be the same animal. 

The girl called out. 

The giant equine looked at her for a moment before turning away. 

As the animal ran for the far reaches of the Abandoned Valley, the Sorcerer saw the crest of the Patron seared into its left flank.

The girl shook her head and turned towards her father’s manor. 

The house was high enough to view the fields, orchards of unborn peaches, and forests of the family estate, as well as the village to the south. 

The manor was backlit by the coming sun, and the household would be coming awake to start the new day. 

The girl stretched her limbs to their limit and fled. 

She didn’t stop until she came to the garden of lilies encircling the house. 

The top bulbs peeked at her from above her head, but the girl had her gaze fixed on the massive door carved from the wood of peach trees. 

With her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, the girl could have been a refugee at the gates of sanctuary.

Then she touched her hair. 

The coil had come undone when she fell in the river, the golden tresses hung loose and tangled to her waist. 

She looked over the stains on her gown and paled, her fingers touching the remnants smeared across her face. When she faced the front door again, the shine dimmed from her eyes. 

The girl took several deep breaths before following the path to the portico. Her hand shook reaching for the knob.

All was quiet when she stepped in.

She made her way down the hall running through the center of the house. 

One door opened to a salon on the west side, while the one on the east was closed. 

At the end of the corridor, twin doors opened to the dining room. 

From the west side, two servants swept in from a second door, which the Sorcerer assumed to be the kitchen. 

Their arms were laden with a basket of steaming bread, a cutting board with a round of cheese, a tray of sliced oranges, and a silver pitcher of coffee. 

They seemed unaware of the girl’s presence, arranging the breakfast at the far end of the table near the lone place setting. 

From the parlor, the rising sun shone through the eastern windows, gleaming along the wooden floors to fade away before the stairs.

The sudden creak in the floor made the younger maid start and look up. 

At the sight of her Patron’s daughter, she spilled the tray of oranges. 

The other servant turned and scowled at the stains on the pristine linen.  She opened her mouth to scold the other, but closed it when she saw who stood just beyond the doors. 

The Sorcerer suspected this must be the girl’s personal maid when the woman curtseyed. 

She looked over her mistress, taking in the ruined gown, unkempt hair and grimy face, and paled more than the younger maid.

The servants looked at each other and back to the girl, all three standing motionless, a temporary tableau of panic until the heavy tread coming down the stairs spurred them to action. 

The older maid hurried to place the tray of oranges over the soiled tablecloth, the younger poured a stream of coffee into a china cup, and the girl turned to meet her father. 

The Sorcerer also held his breath, knowing that what he wanted depended on the Patron’s reaction.   

His boots appeared first as he stepped down from the landing. 

The Patron would be working in the fields again that morning. He was dressed in peasant garb, and there was a permanent cake of mud around the soles of his boots. 

His torso still held vestiges of the formidable strength he possessed when he had claimed this estate as a young man. His large hands were calloused from years of hard work, the mark of a farmer. 

Yet his hands were also those of a nobleman, his fingers scrubbed each day, his nails rounded and clean of dirt. 

The Patron stopped when he saw his daughter, eyes wide with surprise. 

He opened his mouth as if to speak. 

Then his gaze dropped. 

As he took in the girl’s appearance, he flushed and his lips clamped in a tight line. 

He shook his head, flicked his eyes away, and descended the last stretch of stairs, to step past the girl to the dining parlor. His manner was stately when he claimed his seat at the end of the table.

The girl stared after her father, the high color draining from her cheeks.  Her lips trembled and empty swallows rippled down her throat as she fought to regain her poise.   

The maids shifted their regard between their Patron and his daughter.  He said nothing until he had taken a few sips of coffee. 

Then he placed a few orange slices on his plate and reached for the bread, nodding at his daughter with a glance to her maid.

“I think she needs to attend to her toilette.”

“Yes, Patron.”

The rigid features of the older servant relaxed.  She left her position at table to approach her mistress and curtseyed to her again.

“Would you like me to draw you a bath, Miss?”

As the last of the liquid cloud dissipated, the polite smile and empty eyes of the aging lady’s maid faded from the Sorcerer’s mind, yet the well-modulated voice lingered. 

Miss, he wondered, frowning. Miss. 

How strange that her own maid should address her in such a common manner, even if she was the only person in the entire village who spoke to the girl. 

His eyes snapped open. 

He’d forgotten the Patron had never given his daughter a name. 

The Sorcerer of the Caverns leaned back into the pillows of blood red velvet, smiling up at the bright sky at the end of the tunnel. 

She would be back.   

The Sorcerer's Way Out

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The elegance of mind and immaculate manners of the patron family from the southeast incensed our patron family in the northwest.

For the patron family from the southeast made it graciously clear that they had no wish to nurture this new connection into a friendship.

Thanks to the eavesdropping of the housemaids, we heard all about it in luscious detail.

The patron family read the letters out loud many times, and there was much crude cursing and bouts of raging lament once they realized they had been rejected.

Everybody relished that the marvelous Noble Son was not so blinded by the beauty of the Patron’s Daughter.

His parents were also not impressed with our patron family. They often expressed shock and disgust at the lack of kindness and courtesy with which our patron and patroness treated their household servants.

Although they had said nothing at the time, the housemaids swore they overhead a conversation between the Noble Son and his worried parents.

Concerned that their Noble Son was smitten, they implored him that a marriage to such a young lady as the Patron’s Daughter would only cause him heartache and grief.

The housemaids insisted that they overheard the Noble Son reassuring his parents that he had no significant interest in her at all. That as beautiful as the Patron’s Daughter was on the outside, he didn’t much like what he saw on the inside.

I rejoiced at this miraculous news.

We all did.

To know that our horrid patron family had repulsed truly splendid people cheered us up magnificently.

Many suppers were shared amongst us, and our conversation was lively and animated as summer progressed. We had never been able to enjoy a comeuppance before, and we savored our vicarious victory.

As much as I relished the Patron’s Daughter finally getting her due, I was despondent with the departure of the Noble Son and my romantic dreams about him.

As outrageous as my fantasies had been, my longing for the Noble Son made me feel alive in a way I had never known before.

So not only did my heart ache after he left, the dullness of life became suffocating.

Because it was summer, work was as excruciating as ever. But for once, I threw myself into it.

Driving myself to exhaustion in the merciless heat gave me something to do with my pain.

Yet no matter how hard I worked, I always took a long walk through the trees of the Ancient Grove before I went home.

That was the only place I could cry and lament, for I knew I would be alone.

I couldn’t stand for anybody to see me in such a pitiful state, nor could I bear the scolding tongues and wagging fingers of those who would call me a fool to dream of a man far out of my reach.

I already knew that, and the forbidden woods where the Sorcerer of the Caverns worked his evil magic, was the best place to avoid my people.

It was also the best place to wail over my unfulfilled desires, as well as the eternal bleakness ahead of the thankless labor and dreariness that would be my existence until I met the Reaper.

But I was strong and built to last. Decades of drudgery would pass before life finally killed me. And there was no way I could accept this miserable fate as a beast of burden any more.

I started to ponder suicide on those walks.

I knew I would disgrace my parents with such an act, not just to my patron family but to the other peasants as well.

Yet, our patron family was a disgrace amongst other patron families. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too hard on them. Disgraceful or not, my lineage would be free with my death and my parents could not be forced back to work.

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On my walks through the thick woods of the Ancient Grove, I reflected on every method to kill myself.

No peasant possessed a pistol, and the thought of slitting my wrists seemed risky and even kind of weak.

Although I was ugly, I knew there would be no way I could cut my throat. That would have been agony and I would have made the most hideous mess.

I considered hanging myself in the trees, but the thought of struggling for air and flailing about if my neck didn’t make a clean break was terrifying.

Throwing myself in the river to drown was also frightening. My life had always been full of suffering.

I wanted to die easy.

An overdose of laudanum was the most appealing way to die I could think of. But how would I get any, much less enough?

Any medicine was a luxury for the peasants. I would have to steal something so precious, and not get caught.

I met the Sorcerer of the Caverns one evening, during one of these brooding ambles.

I stood at the bank of the river, staring at the rocks.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that if I threw myself head first into the rocks, the crush to my skull would probably kill me immediately. And if it didn’t, I would surely be knocked unconscious and would not experience the panic of drowning.

I remember congratulating myself on how brilliant that was, this perfect solution to my dilemma.

It was at that moment that the Sorcerer of the Caverns intruded on these bleakly cheerful thoughts.

“You aren’t the kind to take the coward’s way out.”

He had the deepest baritone I had ever heard, and that booming low voice almost made me jump out of my skin.

I lost my footing and nearly fell into the river for what would have been an ironic and accidental drowning.

But he caught me by the wrist and held on until I regained my balance.

I stared at him without a word for what seemed a really long time, and was probably only a moment.

I knew he was the Sorcerer of the Caverns before I saw him, at the moment he spoke.

He looked exactly as he was always described, dressed in flowing black robes with tangled, straggly hair and beard that was the color of dust.

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I’ll never forget his eyes.

His pale, colorless eyes held the emptiest gaze I had ever seen.

Really, his presence made my flesh crawl.

Most people found the Sorcerer terrifying, probably because of that desolate stare of his. But not me.

I was never afraid of the Sorcerer of the Caverns. I wasn’t afraid of him in that moment or later, even after I witnessed what he was capable of.

“I’ve been watching you,” he said.

“Oh yeah?” I snapped. “And what do you see?”

“I see a girl who wants what she can’t have.”

 

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.

“No.”

“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.

 

Suckers for Cutsie Poo and Unexpected Good Dates - On the Road #19

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Hey y'all,

Before I get too carried away, let me just say one thing: next time any of you are in Anchorage, you must check out El Tango on Tudor behind the Holiday gas station. 

If you've gone to Hooters, you have definitely gone too far! 

El Tango has a fantastic menu of Latin cuisine - Columbia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico - a very friendly staff, and a small dance floor. 

It's only been there for a year. The location sucks; but if you like your ambience refreshing, then this is the place for you. 

How did I get there?

Last night at the Cook Inlet Bookstore, I was crushed to find that I was one of a cluster fuck of writers. 

Needless to say, the four of us were overcrowded at one small table. So we got another one and two of us sat there. 

I figured I’d stake out the front door in the hopes I’d get more attention. But everybody still herded around the schoolteacher at the other table.

She had a mountain of books and a generous target audience. Her book, “Recess at 20 Below” was full of pictures of her students having FUN in her class and adorable narrative about school life in Delta Junction. 

It was both cutsie poo and Alaskan at the same time.

Meanwhile, I misread a potential fan, Sheila. And I found out she was anything but when I told her the first chapter of Ella Bandita. I included the dirty old sorcerer, the cold-blooded daddy, and the eaten heart. 

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 Sheila scrunched up her face and let me know that she was a fan of the Walt Disney version of whitewashed fairy tales. She also said that she used to have a friend who would have been into my writing because she wrote a lot like me. 

"But she's dead now," Sheila said. 

So heartwarming of her to tell me that. 

Do I sound bitter? Really, I'm not. Even though the night was a dud.

At this point in my road trip, I have had enough successes to not sweat the flops. 

Besides, last night was a quality, if not a quantity, experience. 

I ended up with a date. A good one, too with a nice guy.

Go figure. That practically never happens to me. 

I usually gravitate to the those-I-cannot-or-should-not-even-consider-wanting-to-have types.  

This guy has a steady job, no addictions ( at least, not obvious ones ), courtly manners, a good body, and blue eyes that are awful purty to look into.

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That's how I ended up at El Tango. Because Nice Guy With Pretty Blue Eyes took me there.   

Besides the food and the Argentinian staff, they had a keyboard player whose keyboard created a symphony with every note, and the staff would get up there and sing. 

Since they didn't have the TV screen that enabled bad singers to massacre mediocre lyrics, it wasn't really karaoke. But it kind of felt that way even though the staff were the main singers.  

Most of the songs were in Spanish, so it was very cool. It also helped that they could...oh, sing. 

Hugo, the owner who was from Argentina, played kind of the Latin version of a bluegrass washboard - a weegel ( I don't know how to spell it, and the closest he could come to describing it was a plant, kind of like a zucchini, that's dried and then hollowed out - if you want to know what the hell I'm talking about, go to El Tango and you'll see), while the bartender had maracas.  

I love Latin folk. They really have the happy-to-live mentality down pat. Hugo gave us free drinks, calling us amigos and that we are family. 

"When you are in Anchorage, this is your home."  Hugo said.     

Nothing is perfect, however...

Hugo is a sucker for Celine Dion, because his daughter, Lilly, belted out "I Will Always Love You," and he sat there, looking emotional and teary-eyed.

Lily sang beautifully. I simply don’t like Celine Dion’s music. 

But other than that, the night was awesome.   

I was going to come back on Tuesday. But my good date asked me out again, so…it’s good to explore the possibilities.

I'm coming back to Juneau roughly sometime before I head down to the lower forty-eight by November 1st. 

Does anybody have a housesitting gig or an extra room? 

I rented my place out and I don't know about crashing on my own couch for almost two weeks. 

It'll be good to see the Vagabond - my cat, that is.  And of course, all of you. I’m really excited to see all of you.

Peace, 

Montgomery 

 

 

The Noble Son

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

InDidjInUs2019

InDidjInUs2019

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.

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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

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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.

GiveYourselfSomethingtoWriteAbout-11.jpg

 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:

FREE!!!

Hear a story...

Buy a book...

Get Tarot reading...

FREE!!!

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. 

GiveYourselfSomethingtoWriteAbout-000.jpg

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 happening...one 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...

Peace, 

Montgomery

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

The Joy of Memes

Funny2.jpg

Hey y’all,

So… I’m making memes now. It was that something new learned this week.

For the record, I’m very proud of the meme that starts this blog.

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In my personal life, I’m addicted to Facebook in a love/hate kind of way. My now ex-partner hates it and I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s become a habit. An annoying habit. Anybody who is not addicted to any kind of social media and does not participate -especially if that somebody isn’t a hermit in a cave somewhere in the Rockies – has my respect.

But I’m a sucker for memes, especially the good ones. It’s such a succinct way to get a pithy message across with words and a visual. Thanks to my flailing in the world of Pinterest, I came across a blog on how to make memes.

Adrenaline.jpg

So I read it, and started. And I think I’m kind of hooked.

If I’m not careful memes will take over and I will stop writing. And that would be a bad, bad thing. Perhaps these are natural growing pains that come with donning lots of new hats?

It’s good for my brain to learn new things. That’s what I’m telling myself right now. I’m overwhelmed. I’m trying to embrace it.

But I loved learning about memes. I made 10 memes on my first day. Self-expression feels good to choose images and quotes – sometimes I even use my own. Or I use an image from the piece of artwork from Ella Bandita with a punch that fits in in a different way, and thus alters the meaning. The possibilities are endless. So what’s not to love?  

EBFireMeme.jpg

The best part is that I already taught something the day after I learned it. My friend and former housemate, Cole is stepping in to help and I taught her how to make memes too. The ones she made were completely different from mine, but fabulous! Maybe we will rock cyber space with our fresh take on things and our memes that go viral.

Or maybe we’ll simply do a great job of getting people’s attention to this website and my stories. Because that’s what I’m really here for, you know?

What about you, dear reader? Do you like to pass the time making memes, finding memes, or both? What are some of your favorites? Let’s have some show and tell, please.

Peace,

Montgomery

PS: Here’s the link to a site that makes it really, really easy to make a meme:

https://quotescover.com/

PPS: Cole found her medium through the Adobe Spark app. And here is one of hers.

PPPS: Technically, memes have nothing to do with writing. But these can also make some good writing prompts. Pick one and do a freewrite. Come on! I dare you.

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Silence Made Her Numb

The girl turned back to the mirror and stared.

The girl turned back to the mirror and stared.

Silence made her numb.  But the girl didn’t mind.  The numbness guarded her against the air grown heavy with quiet wherever she went and the turn of backs on her approach.  Nothing could touch her until one early spring morning when that unseen cloak was stripped away.

 

That day started like any other.  She bore her grooming with the usual stoicism.  The disapproval of her maid was apparent in the vicious pull of gathers, the servant punishing her mistress for her refusal to wear a corset.  The girl turned her head and caught a glimpse of the prim mouth, lips clamped tight.  The graying lady’s maid glanced up and scowled, then kept her gaze on task until the laces were knotted at the small of her back.

 

The girl waited for the click of the door before reaching around and undoing the ties that bound her, and like she did every morning, twisting until she’d regained freedom of motion.  She closed her eyes and savored the flow of breath filling her up and making her head swim.  As her fingers finished a loose bow at the back of her waist the girl sighed, her lids fluttering.  Then she caught the image before her. She froze for an instant, and spun around to find who could be in the room with her.  But she was alone.  The girl turned back to the mirror and stared.

 

“How did this happen?”   

 

Even the sound of her voice was startling.  Her tone had gotten deeper and her throat was scratchy from disuse.  But her attention was still captive to her reflection.  The oval looking glass stood tall, and she kept it in the furthest corner of the room so she would never see herself.  She had been all arms and legs the last time she had, plagued with the awkwardness of girls who were not yet women and no longer children.  She came closer, almost wondering if the silhouette was a phantom, and stopped a few paces away.  Her palms roamed down her hips.  The smooth fabric was cool against her fingers, her gown the shade of gunmetal, her hair a coil of gold at her neck.  The girl followed the gesture in the mirror proving the image she saw was herself.  She was pleased her figure was trim, not voluptuous.  Yet her body curved in the shape of a woman.

“How did this happen?”    “When did I grow up?”

“How did this happen?”

“When did I grow up?”

“When did I grow up?”

 

She realized her birthday had passed a few days before.  She was now twenty.  The age when she could come into society and attend the Carnival masquerades and seasonal balls, like the one where her father had met her mother.  The girl made another move toward her mirror and stepped into the ray of sun streaming through the eastern windows.  The light glared on her blunt features and wide mouth, and reminded her how ugly she was.  She had the face of a savage. 

 

She turned her back, but the pain had already started.  Inside her breast, the clawing squeeze came on suddenly, leaving the girl confused and even incredulous.  It had been so long since she’d felt anything.  Perhaps her heart had come back to life.  The girl brought her hand to her neck and pressed her fingers into her throat.  But there was nothing.  She grew dizzy, making her way back to her bed and dropping into the creamy sea of quilts.  She waited for the sensation to fade away, for the numbness to wrap itself around her as it always did.  Instead the clawing descended and writhed in the apex of her belly. 

 

Then the girl saw herself on one of her father’s stallions, pushing the animal to run until she could disappear.  She sat up, craving the sensation that would make this go away.  She pushed off the bed, taking a pair of peasant breeches from the armoire and donned them under her skirts and petticoats. 

 

As the girl rushed down the corridor and down the stairs, she was vaguely aware of the aroma of warm bread and coffee, the portrait of her mother glowing in the eternal flame of lamps that were never extinguished.  She felt the attendants in the dining parlor staring at her back when she hurried for the front door.  Outside, the air was chilly from the lingering memory of winter, yet the fragrance of early bloom refreshed. 

 

But the girl had no mind for anything but the stables.  She ran down paths weaving through masses of lilies, her gaze fixed on the lean, young stallion with its head over the stall when she came out of the garden.  The cinnamon coat gleamed and strands of honey mane shined from a recent brushing.  That one was fast, perfect for what she needed.  She waved the stable boys back to their chores and readied the horse herself.  The clawing had relented by the time she swung her leg over the powerful back, but she ached everywhere.  The girl warmed up the stallion, cantering him along the peach trees and preparing him to run. 

 

She saw her father when she turned her mount towards the western fields.  The Patron was with his best farmers, the darkness of the Ancient Grove looming behind them.  The men must have been taking a respite from their labor, standing with straight backs.  The sounds of cheery talk peppered with lusty chuckles echoed across the expanse.  The girl listened to them and remembered her birthday had been forgotten.  Even she had forgotten.  She thought of riding towards the group and hesitated.  But her heart was dead.  Yet she could still hurt.  The girl set off towards them and the men fell silent on her approach. 

Then the girl saw herself on one of her father’s stallions, pushing the animal to run so she could disappear.

Then the girl saw herself on one of her father’s stallions, pushing the animal to run so she could disappear.

 

She almost lost her courage, tempted to ride past them.  She flushed uncomfortably warm when she stopped before the group.  But seven years had passed.  How much longer could this endure?  Ignoring his farmers, she focused on her father.  The Patron faced the manor on the highest hill, the line of his rugged features even more handsome in profile.  The girl had to force herself to remain, staring at the Patron until he finally turned to her.  When the girl met her father’s light brown eyes, she saw the same emptiness she had her entire life and the pain clawed through her again.  In that moment, she knew nothing would ever change.  There’d be no Carnivals, no balls, no masquerades.  She was an outcast and that was all she would ever be.     

 

The farmers began to shuffle the ground, averting their eyes from their Patron and his daughter.  Their silence echoed across the fields, but the girl thought she might break apart from the mute scream trapped inside.  Tears stung the back of her eyes, but she refused to cry.  She kicked her mount and left her father and his devoted tenants behind.  The girl was desperate to lose herself in the run, shouting at the stallion to go faster, faster.  She couldn’t make herself disappear, but lost herself in perpetual motion.

 

She didn’t recognize where she was when the stallion slowed down.  The grasses were long, grazing along her feet while her mount cut a swathe through them, coming to the edge of a forest where the freshly sprouted leaves reflected the morning light softly and the song of birds could be heard from the trees.  She turned the horse around and almost laughed out loud when she saw the river and the Ancient Grove far southeast of her.  The girl hadn’t been to this place in years, the northwest border of the Abandoned Valley where life returned once inside the trees.    

 

Memories of the place flooded through her, an onslaught of euphoria that burst the girl into laughter, even with the clawing inside her.  It made a bittersweet ecstasy, as palpable as the days when she came here with the Horse Trainer who had come as a Vagabond.  She could still see his face, the warmth in his golden brown eyes and smile.  The girl remembered the wild gray colt the Trainer always rode, and wondered if the animal still ran in the Abandoned Valley.  Then she recalled that day when the colt escaped her father’s stables and started to weep.  The bliss that caught her unawares became a torment.  She would never have that kind of joy again.

She would never have that kind of joy again.

She would never have that kind of joy again.

 

She spurred the horse to go, her vision blurred from the hot tears streaming down her cheeks.  Her mount stopped suddenly, startling the girl when she found herself staring up at the dark trees of the Ancient Grove looming before her.  She heard the roar of the river beneath her and realized the stallion would stop where the current was most dangerous. 

 

The girl closed her eyes.  She knew this was the last place she should be.  The Ancient Grove and Abandoned Valley had been forbidden for centuries.  Only trouble came from being anywhere near here and she knew that more than anybody.  But the thought of going home almost made her laugh again, the image of her father’s manor as her home somehow absurd.  Instead of guiding the horse downriver where the current eased up, the girl remained where she was, listening for anything beyond the rushing water.  But she heard no birds singing, no rustle of animals in the trees.  Here, the silence was soothing to the girl, coming as it did from an absence of life.  Again, there was that squeeze inside her breast and the girl hoped for the resurrection of her heart.  She pressed her fingers into her neck where she felt nothing.      

 

“Enough,” a soft voice murmured from her belly.  “No more.”

 

The resolution echoed through the girl who opened her eyes to the river.  Long sheaths of water sliced into each other, the snowmelt pushing the current to violence.  The girl imagined herself falling in, her relief more frightening than the thought of drowning.  She would never have to go numb again, for that would certainly make the pain stop.  The girl closed her eyes again and breathed in deep.  The water smelled so fresh.  

 

She dismounted and slapped the stallion’s rump until he left without her.  Then she turned back to the river, becoming lighter as she came to the edge where water met earth.  She cried out when she stepped in, the cold stabbing her feet and ankles.  The impulse to get out made her angry and she resisted, biting her lower lip until her feet lost all feeling.  Then she took a longer stride into the river, the hairs rising on her flesh when she nearly lost her balance.  The current tugged at her calves, whirling her skirts and petticoats around her knees.  An icy shiver ran up her spine and set her limbs to shaking.  The rushing made a dull keening, and the girl wondered if the water yearned for her.  One more step and the river would take her.  But the girl found she couldn’t move and cursed herself for being afraid.

 

Then he spoke.  His breath teased along her right ear, just before the murmuring of the deepest baritone she ever heard in her life.

 

“There’s a better way.”

Then he spoke. His breath teased along her right ear, just before the murmuring of the deepest baritone she ever heard in her life.    “There’s a better way.”

Then he spoke. His breath teased along her right ear, just before the murmuring of the deepest baritone she ever heard in her life.

“There’s a better way.”

His voice rang clear, even over the thrashing water.  The girl froze, her fear exploding into terror.  She could feel him right behind her, standing at her right shoulder.  Turning her head, she saw the Sorcerer of the Caverns looked just like the Cook always said he did.  His hair and beard were the color of dust, hanging in matted ropes to his waist.  Lines etched into the papery skin of his face and his frame was shrunken from the unnatural passage of time.  The blood drained from her face and her head grew light.  The girl opened her mouth, but no words came out.  She should have known better than to come here.  Pieces of legend about the Sorcerer came to mind.  He’d been born an ordinary man until he sold his soul for the powers of magic, and preyed on virgin girls so he would never die.

 

“That way he keeps two steps ahead of the Devil,” the Cook always said at story’s end.  

 

The Ancient Grove and Abandoned Valley were forbidden ever since he came her.  Even her father was powerless against him, just like the Patrons were before him. 

 

His eyes terrified her the most.  When the Sorcerer beckoned, the girl screamed and pulled away, falling until the freeze knocked the wind out of her when she hit.  Then the river buried her.  She flailed in the churning depths, the water choking her when she tried to draw breath.  The last image in her mind before all went black was the Sorcerer of the Caverns, and those colorless eyes that could endure the unblinking stare of the dead.

This excerpt is the beginning of my novel “Ella Bandita and the Wanderer,” and the first novelette, “Birthing Ella Bandita.”

To buy the entire novel as an ebook for $3.99, click here.

If you’d like to see more before buying the novel, download the first novelette for free, click here.

Let Me Just Say One Thing...AAIIGGHH!!! - On the Road #17

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Hey y'all,

 I have seen the future I could have had and it just scared the shit out of me. 

I never, ever thought I would say this, but…I am - with great humility - profoundly grateful for the eight years I spent slinging booze, cussing out drunks, throwing grown men out of bars, and sighing helplessly while at the mercy of women in the throes of alcoholic switch-bitch psychosis.

But goddamn! Tonight has shown me that my time spent as a bartender were not only years not wasted, but they saved me from possibly becoming one of the people I just met at a workshop on self-publishing. 

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

I’ve been holed up in an accidental cabin behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska. This place is a spit away from Anchorage, with its own itty-bitty town vibe. The owner of the place said he learned everything about what not to do in constructing a cabin while he was building the one I’m staying in. 

I didn’t care. I had to have it for the loft and the windows, but what he said about the wiring made me a tad nervous. One of the disadvantages of being on the road, sleeping in the Brown Beast, in hostels, in my tent, etc. is that the creative juices really start to pump and there's no place to spill them. 

Since what I'm doing does qualify as a business trip - hee-hee, haw-haw - I could write it off on my taxes to give myself that precious writer's space while fulfilling my storytelling/bookpeddling commitments in the greater Anchorage area.

Well, last night’s storytelling event at the Oasis was especially demoralizing. It’s been a while since I've hit a low, and I know it's all part of the process. But it still sucks. 

So, tonight I decided to do something different. So I went to Border's to a workshop on self-publishing.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

Incidentally, Border's here in Anchorage is pretty right-on. Jess French found a way around the corporate structure to give me a reading/signing. Since the critical mass was narrowed down to those who liked to read, I had no problem approaching the people my gut instinct told me would be open to what I had, and introducing myself and what I was doing. My gut was on the ball that night. Every person/couple I picked listened to a story. All of them, except the respite provider with her client, bought a book. One couple even bought two.

But back to my self-publishing workshop story…

Since the weather's been stunning and I was on a writing roll, I almost didn't go. But I managed to finish the rough draft of a new story and headed to the workshop. I was surprised to see several people at the table. They had already started even though it was not yet the start time of six o'clock.

I took my seat and sized up the characters around me.

The guy giving the talk had self-published his book as a Print-On-Demand project. He had eyes that seemed to swim inside his sockets. 

Then there was the 50+ New York-to-Anchorage transplant. His hair was dyed black and slicked-back in a ponytail. He also had eyebrows Anton LaVey would have envied. When he introduced himself, I could just hear the tension in his voice. He was angry. Angry and frustrated that he had never been published. 

Looking around at the others as the workshop dude did his talk, I had the sense that everybody there was on the New Yorker's page. 

This was one serious, tight-assed group of people. It seemed as if this was a core writer's group that had workshops at Border's on a regular basis. 

Oh, Chicks with Bics – this night made me miss you so. We actually have fun when we get together. We laugh every time. I don't think any of these people have had a good chuckle in years.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

 This was the most joyless group of intellectual idiots I've met in years. These are the kind of people who give intelligence a bad name.  

Most of the people there were in their 50’s and 60’s. I had the impression that they had lived mostly inside their minds, and hadn’t lived nearly enough in their bodies, much less the world beyond. 

Chances are, they probably wouldn't understand the value of living for the sake of enjoying yourself. 

The pursed lips, the fidgets, the jerks, and the insistence on sticking with the program – I guess they wrote and shared at these workshop? Even the workshop dude felt the need to get on with it and wrap things up with his particular talk, so the others could get going with what they wanted.

On the upside, this only took a half an hour of my life because I left as soon as workshop dude was done. No way was I going to write with these folks.

Every single one of them - male and female, young and old, plain and pretty, gay and straight – reminded me of the maxim: “You need to get laid.” Every single one of them probably needed to get laid really, really badly.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

 The men needed to cut loose and be so obnoxious they might get 86ed from a bar. The women need to get so shnockered to end up sobbing hysterically in the ladies room of the local karaoke bar, struggling to get into their painfully tight shorts while their string bikini panties get tangled around their crotch. All the while testing the patience of the female bartender who had to babysit this embarrassment to womanhood who couldn’t remember her name, much less her address. 

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

For the record, I was the bartender in that sordid little scene, not the drunk bitch. 

But that's not the point. The point is that the people at that dismal self-publishing workshop really needed to actually have some life experiences that would inspire stories other people might actually want to read.

For instance, the workshop dude told his tale of self-publishing through a small POD publisher that charged him for their services, but got him distribution on Amazon and his one year contract. It cost him more than he made, and in one year he sold 300 copies.

“I didn't have to lift a finger to do it," he smirked.

Anyway, workshop dude with the swimming eyeballs moved on to greener pastures. He got some reviews from total strangers on the Barnes and Noble site; and a bigger small publisher (at least I believe that’s how it was) that had formerly rejected his work, has now picked up his book. He felt successful and good for him.

It all comes down to perspective. 

I received my books in early July and it's now late September. I've probably given away about 80 books, and mailed 20 (my mother said she can sell them). But I've sold just under 200 books in less than three months. I have spent way more money this way. I've also lifted many fingers, some in obscene gestures.

But the experiences I've had doing my little grass-roots book tour have been the stuff of dreams during the best of times, and the content of nightmares at their worst. Most, if not all of these vivid experiences, became the subject of my emails to you.

I don't know if I'll sell or give away all 1100 copies, but I'm sure I'll outsell 300 books in 9 more months. I'll also have more fun doing it.

Maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe I'm out of my mind. If nothing else, this DIY booktour/roadtrip has given me plenty to write home about. 

Don't forget to check out www.juneaumusic.com for all your social butterfly needs.  And while I'm plugging Jason's site, I'll plug myself. "Ella Bandita and other stories," is sold at Rainy Day Books and Hearthside Books for 10 bucks. I'll be in town for a few days in October. Call me and I'll sign it for you. 

By the way, would anybody like to review my book for the local paper? 

Peace,

Montgomery

PS My oh my! How self-publishing has changed since 2005. Much of this story is now outdated to the point of unrecognizable. But it’s fascinating to see how Amazon was a player in the Self-Publishing World even then. And Border’s has been out of business for years. I’m still sad about that.

PPS I have less than 150 copies of the original 1100 left. So, in all I did pretty well.

PPPS If you’d like to read the blog post about my times at the Brown Bear Saloon, click here.


10 Original Fantasy Writing Prompts!

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Here are some writing prompts for August. Most are fantasy. All are original. Hope these work to spark the magic of inspiration!

Enjoy!

If you’d like to see more original writing prompts from Free Flying Press, click here.

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The Beautiful Beast

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I despised the Patron’s Daughter for many reasons. For starters, she was as beautiful as I was ugly. At least, on the outside, she was.

Her hair was as black as a raven’s wings; creamy, alabaster skin was flawless and unscarred. Her features were aligned in almost perfect symmetry.

The only flaw in her face was the only asset in mine. Her eyes were small, and I found her limpid blue gaze simpering.

But that was no consolation because everybody waxed eloquent over her startling coloring, her shining black hair, her blue eyes, and her perfect white skin.

Her figure was rather voluptuous for the highborn class, but that only added to her appeal.

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She was celebrated as a beauty far and wide, and I absolutely hated her.

It didn’t help that we were the same age, our birthdays a few weeks apart.

I couldn’t stop myself from comparing the hell of my life with the heaven of hers, and the differences made my bones quake at night.

As self-defeating as it was to brood on that, I couldn’t help myself because I saw her every day on her rides.

I was hardly alone in my hatred of her. But I was alone in my obsession with her life.

All the workers scowled when the Patron’s Daughter made her appearance, but they had the good sense to forget about her after she was gone.

Not me. I tracked everything she did.

Because she was so spoiled, the Patron’s Daughter threw temper tantrums well past childhood to satisfy every whim that crossed her mind.

It was through a tantrum that she was able to make her debut a year earlier than her peers.

It was the custom for young ladies to come out in Society when they were eighteen, unless they were exceptionally accomplished, which she wasn’t, or they had older sisters who had already married, which she hadn’t.

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So the Patron’s Daughter was still presented at court right after her seventeenth birthday.

Then the rampage began.

Because of her celebrated good looks, many eligible young men called on her. Yet beauty on the outside was a beast on the inside, and the Patron’s Daughter discovered a new source of happiness as she spurned suitor after suitor.

Vanity being a puckish pervert, the men came in droves.

Once word spread that her heart was not easily won, the hand of the Patron’s Daughter became the most valuable trophy to boast of that season.

There wasn’t a highborn gentleman for fifty miles round who could resist the challenge to master the she-devil.

I was mystified at the sheer numbers who came.

All of them were noble and many were desirable. Some were handsome, several had wealth, others had power, quite a few were charming, and one was even celebrated for his comical wit.

But no matter how desirable the match, the Patron’s Daughter was more enamored of the malicious glee coursing through her veins every time she rejected a would-be fiancé without giving him a sliver of a chance.

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She loved cruelty, and she became more adept at degradation with each dismissal. Her reputation became so notorious, even her parents were embarrassed.

The Patron’s Daughter was making enemies of other patron families for humiliating their sons.

The next year, everything would change when we were eighteen.

This excerpt is from my WIP, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” If you’d like to read the previous excerpt, Ugly Addie, click here.

A Tale of Two Illustrators - Why Roses Have Thorns Illustrations Complete!



The artiste and her work.

The artiste and her work.

The artwork is done for Why Roses Have Thorns, and all I can say is: Wow!

Natalya far exceeded my expectations. Even with all the hints she showed with the pins that showed her level of research and her sketching, when I saw the inked versions of everything what she did, I was absolutely blown away.

I loved what she did so much I decided to have her re-illustrate The Golden Pedestal when I have the funds to pay her. Please enjoy these samples of her work as I tell of the illustrator I worked with before Natalya.

Illustration by:    Natalya Kolosowsky    website:    http://www.lunariusgraphics.com     Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

Illustration by:

Natalya Kolosowsky

website: http://www.lunariusgraphics.com

Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

I had learned a lot working with previous illustrator, who shall remain nameless for the sake of courtesy. Most of what I learned working with him were lessons in getting what you pay for. His work was good, but his timeliness and ultimately his professionalism left much to be desired.

Like many artists, he’d “always wanted to illustrate a book,” but had never done so and didn’t understand how much time that took. I also didn’t understand the ins and outs of this process.

So given the lack of experience on both our ends, we were pretty naïve in our agreement. He agreed to a rate that was below market for the sake of experience, and having this in his portfolio and on his resume.

Illustration by:    Natalya Kolosowsky    website:    http://www.lunariusgraphics.com     Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

Illustration by:

Natalya Kolosowsky

website: http://www.lunariusgraphics.com

Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

He overestimated his speed and underestimated how much time he would need. I was patient because I knew he needed other jobs to pay the bills, and this was a new one for both of us. I also had started The Golden Pedestal project early for the sake of taking delays into consideration.

Once he got paid, he disappeared. That made me mad. I had hired a book designer, who needed different file/format to get the book print ready, and ultimately needed the original drawings to make it happen.

The illustrator was nowhere to be found. That held the process up of getting Golden Pedestal print ready, and I had to rip him a new one to get him to meet with the book designer.

Illustration by:    Natalya Kolosowsky    website:    http://www.lunariusgraphics.com     Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

Illustration by:

Natalya Kolosowsky

website: http://www.lunariusgraphics.com

Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

I hate it when I have to do that. I don’t like getting angry and acting mean. 

It also dampened my enthusiasm to release Golden Pedestal – even though the book designer an outstanding job.

I also realized that his idea of making a painting for the cover made for a poor cover that would not get anybody’s attention on the book shelf.

Yet even if all that had gone smoothly, Natalya’s style has an elegance that is irresistible, and I know the cover would be arresting.

Illustration by:    Natalya Kolosowsky    website:    http://www.lunariusgraphics.com     Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

Illustration by:

Natalya Kolosowsky

website: http://www.lunariusgraphics.com

Instagram: @lunariusgraphics

I would love to see what she would do with the Purple Princess, Sir Highbrow Olive, Miss Blue Begonia, and of course, the Preacher Man.

She may even be able to help me come up with a better title for that story.

I hope y’all enjoyed some samples of her work. I have loved working with her. 

If you would like to read the previous blog post on working with Natalya Kolosowsky, click here.

If you would like to see some of the original work from The Golden Pedestal, even if I will have Natalya re-illustrate it, click here. 

What do you think? I welcome any comments below.

Peace,

Montgomery

The Last Gamble

I always win.

I always win.

The dealer said he had never seen anybody win and lose and win again like the Gambling Man had that night. He said the high roller gave him the largest tip of the season. Then the dealer saw the woman who had been staring at the Gambling Man all night. Out of gratitude and alarm, he put his hand out to stop him from approaching Ella Bandita. He even had his mouth open to warn him. But the nobleman glanced to the hand on his arm and glared, and brushed him off without a word. The dealer let the Gambling Man go to his fate.

“Congratulations,” she said. “That was impressive.”

“Why feign your good wishes?” he retorted. “You certainly weren’t cheering for me.”

She chuckled and shrugged.

Once he was close to her, the Gambling Man was uneasy and returned to his senses. He remembered his friends and Isabella and groaned. He tipped his hat and wished the strange woman good night. He finished two steps before she arrested him.    

“Why do you love it?” she asked. “What do you love about gaming?”

Luck has no play in games of skill.

Luck has no play in games of skill.

The Gambling Man stopped and turned around. Ella Bandita nodded to his caddy overflowing with chips, but kept her gaze fixed on him. 

“Is it the money?” she continued. “Money you don’t need?”

He was shocked a woman would be so bold to question him like that. He was also excited. All his life, his friends had cheered him on and placed their bets, his family had scolded him, and his sweethearts had cautioned him. But nobody had ever asked him about his passion until now. The Gambling Man smiled for the first time since he saw her, his face glowing with rapture as he answered. 

“No. It’s the games.”

“So you like to play games,” she said. “Why the games of chance?”

“Because I love to win them.”

“Why not games of skill? The victory would be sweeter.”

The rhythm of her speech was steady, her low voice mesmerizing. Ella Bandita was subtle. So much the Gambling Man didn’t realize she was taunting him. Instead, he shook his head in earnest.

“Luck has no play in games of skill,” he said.

“Luck?”

“There were over a hundred men placing bets in here, but only a few of us were taking genuine risks. I nearly lost six months’ income tonight.”          

“Ahhh, I see. And yet, you are the big winner.”

She paused with a smile. The Gambling Man thought her teeth large for a woman, and then he noticed she had the coldest blue eyes he’d ever seen. His stomach clenched, but he ignored the sign and shook his head. 

Why not games of skill? The victory would be sweeter.      Luck has no play in games of skill.

Why not games of skill? The victory would be sweeter.

Luck has no play in games of skill.

“At least tonight you are,” she said. 

“I’m the big winner every night.”

“You still haven’t told me why you love it.”

The Gambling Man knew she was playing with him. He was enjoying her game, because it was one he didn’t know. He couldn’t remember the last time he was so engaged by conversation.

“How many people do you think won tonight?” he asked. 

“A few, I suppose.”

“Exactly. And how many of the real gamblers do you think won?”

“I suspect only you,” she said.

“That’s right. Only me.”

“You think that makes you special, don’t you?”

“I have luck on my side. And you think it doesn’t?”

“You really think you’re one of the chosen few?” Ella Bandita asked with one brow cocked, her mouth curved in a knowing grin.

“What a foolish vanity you have. Lady Fortune is fickle. Luck always changes.”

“Not for me, it doesn’t. You saw what happened tonight.”

“Tell me, Gambler, are you looking for the game you can’t win?”

“No, I’m looking to see that I always will.”

“Hmmm.”

“I win at games of chance,” he declared. “I always have.”

 “Perhaps you only play the ones that are easy to win.”

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The Gambling Man chortled. He turned and pointed to the table now empty of people, clear of chips, the dice put away until the following night began. Even the dealer had gone.

“You think it’s easy to predict which numbers of the dice will come up?”

“You misunderstand me. I meant games that are safe.”

“The only game of chance I’ve never played is the one I’ve never heard of.”

This excerpt is out of my novel, “Ella Bandita and the Wanderer,” in the novella “The Bard Speaks.”

To purchase the full ebook of “Ella Bandita and the Wanderer” click here.

For a shorter read of “The Bard Speaks,” click here.

If you’d like to read an earlier excerpt from this piece, click here.

Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska - Population 85 - On the Road # 16

I even had a really nice date while i stayed behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska.

I even had a really nice date while i stayed behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska.

Hey y’all,

I have so many vivid memories of the people I met at the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska (population 85) along the Turnagain Arm.

As tourism slowed way down in the autumn, I stayed in one of the cabins behind the Saloon for about two weeks. I hoped to take a break from selling and being “ON” for the sake of getting some writing done.

The Brown Bear Saloon was my go-to for morning coffee and dinner, as well as those conversations that kept me somewhat tethered to the human race, and kept the loneliness at bay.

I remember meeting a very kind-hearted woman who had been a bartender since she was 23. She had a pretty face, with sparkling green eyes, and graying hair done in braided pigtails. She didn’t work at the Brown Bear Saloon. She had worked in a neighborhood watering hole for 17 years somewhere in Anchorage.

Restaurant/bar work can really suck people in. Most people work in hospitality as they go to college or figure out what they want to do. I had been one of those, and managed to pull myself out of the hospitality vortex in the nick of time.

This lady admitted she had stayed there too long, was burned out, yet didn’t know what to do beyond starting a hot dog stand. I hope she found her way out of there because she was very gentle with a very peaceful energy.

It’s a dirty business. There’s no shame in it.

It’s a dirty business. There’s no shame in it.

I even had a really nice date while I stayed behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska. Remember, the population was only 85 people, so this date was pretty remarkable.

I don’t remember my date’s name, which I feel bad about because he was a really lovely man. He had dark hair and eyes, and a cheery round face. He took me to dinner and a movie in Anchorage. The movie, “40 Year Old Virgin,” was a guaranteed icebreaker and we both laughed so hard, it hurt.

Afterwards he talked to me about his new career as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten class, and how relieved he was to no longer be a used car salesman. He said that the profession was every smarmy as reputation had it, and gave me a few pointers of tricks they pulled to make a sale more likely.

“For example, say you go for a test drive and come back to the lot. The salesman would encourage you to leave your purse in the car while you look around, go to the bathroom, etc.” 

“How will that make me more likely to buy the car?”

“Because when you leave such a personal item as a purse in a car, you’re already claiming ownership. They salesman is putting it in your mind that the car is already yours.”

I was speechless, and he nodded.

“It’s a dirty business. There’s no shame in it.”

Of everybody who stopped by the Brown Bear Saloon, the motorcycle day-trippers were the most fun to watch. The bikers were not gangsters. They were Anchorage professionals who loved taking day and weekend trips to zoom their bikes along Turnagain Arm and/or into the Kenai Peninsula.

The last pit stop on their way home was at the Brown Bear Saloon. They were a sight to behold decked out in their leathers and bandanas, laughing and talking, and on top of the world.

The last pit stop on their way home was at the Brown Bear Saloon.

The last pit stop on their way home was at the Brown Bear Saloon.

I sold a book to one of them. I don’t remember his name, but we had a lovely conversation about his fiercely independent daughter. She was only 17, and had been out on her own since she was 15. He said she lived in Sitka, had a great head on her shoulders and already so capable of taking care of herself. He sounded so proud of her.

I had been in Alaska long enough to not be shocked by this. Talk about kicking ass and taking names? Alaskan teenagers are a different breed. They believe they can do anything, and they often prove themselves right. I met a woman whose 17 year old son already had acquired his pilot’s license. While I lived in Juneau, two 17 year olds who weren’t of legal age to vote, ran for the council positions on the School Board. Neither of them won, but that’s not the point.

But the kicker was that 2 years later, after I’d been back home in Juneau for a while, I met the weekend biker’s daughter. Her name is Ashley, and she taught skiing and snowboarding, as well as doing Ski Patrol.

Those are the moments that make all the suffering worthwhile.

Those are the moments that make all the suffering worthwhile.

That year was the best snow year on record in Juneau, and I went snowboarding all the time. In a casual conversation, Ashley said she heard I was a writer, asked about my book what was it called?

“Ella Bandita and other stories.”

Ashley got this strange look on her face.

“I have that book. I read it about a year and half ago.”

“What!”

Ashley then tells me this story of her parents meeting me, “this random woman,” buying my book. They read it, and apparently my heart-eating anti-heroine put them off a bit because they thought main story was weird.

But her parents decided to send it on to Ashley anyway as they had intended.

“What did you think?” I asked her.

“I loved it,” she replied. “My parents said, ‘well, I guess you’re weird too.’ But I thought Ella Bandita was awesome. 

Those are the moments that make all the suffering worthwhile.

And I still miss the small town that is the massive state of Alaska.

Peace,
Montgomery

PS: This piece was written from memory of the 2005-2006 DIY booktour/roadtrip in the Alaskan Interior. To check out previous blogs, click here and here.

 

Steampunk Got Me Excited For Fairy Tales!

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La Cité des Enfants Perdus (City of Lost Children), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, was one of the most exquisite movies I saw in the ‘90’s. I was so excited about that movie I went to it countless times because I dragged everybody I knew to go see it.

 

I didn’t even realize it was steampunk. I didn’t even know what steampunk fantasy was. All I knew was that this movie was a fairy tale, and very much an adult story.

 

Without giving too many spoilers, the villain is kidnapping children to steal their dreams because he’s aging quickly. He steals the petit frère (little brother) of the strongman named One, who is determined to get his petit frère back.

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The strongman teams up with a thieving orphan named Miette in his quest to save this child that can’t stop eating. Of course, the hero who saves petit frère from doom is Miette.

 

Other features in the film are the brutal and malevolent army of Cyclops, who kidnapped petit frère and the clones of a mad genius who all argue over which one is l’Originale! 

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It was set in an alternate world of the past and the future, with intricate movie sets, Victorian technological elements, simple yet effective costumes, and moody atmosphere.

 

This film is dark and creepy and mysterious and stunning. If you’ve never seen it, rent it and project it on a wall. It should be seen on a big screen.

 

My partner took me to it recently because Portland loves to feature movies from former times. It struck me how dated this film was. At the time it came out, the direction and cinematography was revolutionary. I had never seen anything like it.

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As a parent, my partner had a hard time with the movie, but she admitted that she would have loved it before giving birth. As a mother, it freaked her out.

 

But what had gotten me so excited in the 90’s was that this amazing film was a fairy tale. And that gave me permission to write them.

 

In the 90’s, I was more of a wannabe than a writer. I talked about this dream of being a writer all the time, as I floundered from job to job. The only problem was that I didn’t know what to write about.

 

Like most recent college graduates who had taken creative writing courses, I was filled with this yearning desire to write “The Great American Novel” or “The Poignant and Heartbreaking Coming of Age Story.”

 

I had no idea what Great American Novel I had in me, and Coming of Age was a concept I didn’t fully understand. Do we come of age when we first start having sex?

 

In my search for what to write so I could be a writer, I had taken the Writer’s Program at UW, Seattle with Margaret Grossman, Jack Remick, and Robert Ray as my teachers.

 

I learned a lot, and Margaret was one of the most inspiring writing teachers I’ve ever had. I took her in the first capsule.

 

But the program ended on a very sour note for me on the last day. Jack and Robert gave me an outline they made up for my first novel that bore no resemblance to what I had written. I had made an attempt at a mystery. They were right that I had no business trying to write mysteries. But I didn’t see how handing me my first plot would help me grow as a writer and figure out what I will write.

 

So between the lofty ideals of the Great American Novel, the Coming of Age Story, and the formula outline of a novel my teachers made up for me, my spirit was broken and I wasn’t even inspired enough to suffer the writer’s block of no inspiration.

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And then that amazing remarkable movie came out. I absolutely loved it, and the right direction to my path gained some clarity.

When I finally found my voice as a writer, “Ella Bandita and the Lone Wolf” came out effortlessly. It was an adult story and very much a fairy tale.

Ugly Addie

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They call me Adrianna the Beautiful. But I was peasant born and Addie had been my name.

I grew up in a village that bordered the west side of the Ancient Grove, the woods where the Sorcerer of the Caverns had made his domain.

For generations, the people steered clear of the dark forest of the Ancient Grove because everybody knew the Sorcerer preyed on the hearts of young girls and virgin women so he would never die.

Yet every so often a pretty maiden from the village succumbed to the Sorcerer’s temptation, only to show up one day with a breast empty of the heart she had sold and the look of smut about her.

They were fools, those women. What excuse could they have had, after hearing cautionary tales about the Sorcerer since they were children? I found that the girls who fell often had dreams and desires bigger than their comfortable lives could satisfy.

Most of the Sorcerer’s conquests were middle class girls, daughters of merchants and officials. Most highborn maidens were out of reach, and of course, the Sorcerer never bothered with the peasant girls.

The ones who had any beauty at all were usually defiled through force or deceit by the patron sons and merchant men of the village before the Sorcerer got to them.

Yet even for those peasant beauties who exercised the prudence to protect their maidenheads, the relentless hard labor of their lives destroyed their allure along with any fairy tale dreams they may have had.

I was not one of those personable peasant girls.

The girls who fell often had dreams and desires bigger than their comfortable lives could satisfy.

The girls who fell often had dreams and desires bigger than their comfortable lives could satisfy.

From time to time, I received a compliment about my eyes on those scarce occasions when anybody bothered to really notice me. But I had been born to be a human mule, that’s how most people saw me, and I certainly looked the part.

Made for arduous work, my body was stocky and sturdy, with muscular hands and meaty fingers. My skin was thick and sallow, my wide face cursed with pockmarks. The mane of horses was softer than my hair, which was frizzy and the color of mud.

No possibility of a fairy tale twist of fate for me. It was impossible that I would even get work as a house servant, where at least I might have married a steward. Our patron and patroness preferred pretty girls as housemaids, and I was hideous.

I was meant for the fields, the hardest labor, and the longest hours. Every year, in the peak of harvest, my fingers never stopped bleeding, that’s how long and hard I worked.

The lay of the land where I worked added insult to injury.

The Big House, where our patrons resided, stood at the crest of a small mound overlooking the vast fields where we peasants labored. So our ruling family could look down on us, while we couldn’t look up without being assaulted with opulence of the Big House.

It was ugly too, the color of rotten food retched from starving bellies with so many curlicues and carved shapes of satyrs and nymphs pointlessly frolicking around its façade. We often got headaches if we stared at it for too long.

Of course, the hideous manor boasted every luxury. The sight of that monstrosity made it impossible for any of us to forget where we were or for whom we worked.

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My people worked for one of the most tyrannical patron families in the country. They were cruel, greedy, and despotic. Once a family was in debt to them, their lineage would be enslaved for eternity.

Everybody around us had been indentured by an impossible debt to pay off. No matter how hard we worked, the money owed grew every year from the ridiculous tariffs and penalties added. There was no end to the drudgery and misery of our lives, especially fifty years ago.

My people had been indentured to them for too many generations to count. The burden of paying off the never-ending debt was especially painful for me because I was an only child. Even though I had been fully productive since I was fourteen, my parents were worked into the ground until my sixteenth birthday.

As ugly as I was, it was improbable I would marry and birth progeny to this misery. Since I was most likely the last of my family line, I was treated even more brutally than everybody around me. At least once a week, I had welts on my back and bruises on my belly from being whipped and beaten for the most inane offenses.

Of course, I despised my patron and patroness. Grateful for minor mercies, they only had two children, a daughter and a son; and they were exactly the kind of people one would expect from such a family.

They were always above their company even though they had no superior qualities beyond inherited status and wealth. The son was so foolish, lazy, and frivolous, it was a stretch of the imagination to picture such an imbecile as the next patron in the village.

But the enmity I felt for the parents paled in comparison for the loathing I had for their daughter.

PS This 1st person narrative is an excerpt is out of my WIP, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” If you’d like to read the previous excerpt, “I Used to be Ugly,” click here.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry... On-the-Road Loneliness Nobody Talks About - On the Road #15

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Hey y’all,

I wanted to show off. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to entertain my audience of friends and family.

Strangely enough, that is what I regret the most about the email journal I kept of my DIY booktour/roadtrip in 2005-2006.

That yearlong odyssey was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. That doesn’t mean it was easy. I only wrote home about the fun stuff, and therefore, I wasn’t being fully honest.

I never wrote about the loneliness. Those long stretches of desolation only came out in hints here and there that only the very perceptive picked up on.

I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

Isolation has a relentless quality. 

From what I remember of that trip, there were many chunks of time when I was so lonesome a sensation of grayness permeated everything.

After the excitement of the first weeks wore off, and as summer gave way to autumn, the other travelers had gone home. That’s when I realized that in the “us vs. them” mentality of most Alaskan small towns, I was one of “them.”

Even though at that time in my life, I had lived in Juneau/Douglas for enough years that I had earned my Alaskan spurs, I was not an integral part of the places I passed through in the Interior 

I sold books pretty consistently. Since I had several hundred books in the back of the Beast, I was always “ON.”

Alaskans are very big on community. Contributing to the village is a core value of this state in a way that is lacking in many others.

Travelers and vagabonds don’t invest themselves in the communities they visit. We’re there for our own experience. If we’re cool and awesome about that, we come and go without impact, and are always welcome to come back.

Travelers are there for their own experience.

Travelers are there for their own experience.

 The locals were very nice. People talked to me readily at the bar or the coffee house, and seemed curious about this journey I was on. But nobody invited me home for any dinner, nor to any potlucks that happen as the darkness comes and the summer goes. 

I could hardly blame them. Even in my chats with people, I couldn’t connect with them any more than they could connect with me. The locals were settled and on home ground, while I was on the road.

Constant motion does something to a person.

A few months later, when I would be in Colorado, a college friend told me that I seemed very ungrounded. She was right. It was impossible to stay grounded when all I had to do was pack up the Beast and move on, and that created a here-today-gone-tomorrow mentality.

I remember when the switch flipped in my mind. It was around the 3-month mark.

After that, the only people I could relate to were other travelers looking for the next place to live. Although they were filled with excitement and a sense of adventure (which for me, was like cool water while dying of thirst in the desert), they were as unsettled as I was.

I learned to make the most of every genuine connection, however brief. Every chat and every conversation gave me the nourishment I needed to stay somewhat tethered to humanity, and kept the relentless grayness at bay, and for that sliver of time, I felt relief.

I can’t believe this is my life I’m living. I am so blessed.

I can’t believe this is my life I’m living. I am so blessed.

And then something would shift. The next adventure would begin, and I was off on another limb of this odyssey. I would be so excited I would forget the loneliness. All I could think was:

“I can’t believe this is my life that I’m living. I am so blessed.” 

Peace,

Montgomery

 

PS: This post is from memory, written now about the DIY booktour/roadtrip I was on for a year during 2005-2006. To see the previous post, Lazy Hiking and Positive Omens, click here.

I Used to be Ugly

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This excerpt is out of my WIP, “The Shepherd and the Courtesan.” To view an earlier excerpt, click here.

“Ella Bandita’s thieving ways clearly did not affect your fortune,” he continued. “So I really don’t understand what this has been about.”

“Allow me to enlighten you,” Adrianna said. “You know that marvelous bounty you and the Shepherd sacrificed for the future of orphans?”

We nodded.

“Where do you think that bounty came from?”

“My grandfather told me a collective of wives and courtesans added to it every year,” the Wanderer said.

“That’s what I heard too.”

Adrianna stared at us without a word, leisurely finishing her soup and sipping from her wine.

“And who do you think started the collective?”

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The Wanderer’s face cleared.

“That must have been you.”

“It was.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Lots of reasons. One of them was that she destroyed my favorite beau and I was outraged. His wife was angry too. I started the collective with her.”

“You did all that over one beau?” the Wanderer exclaimed and burst out laughing. “How long ago was this?”

“A little over twenty years ago.”

“And you’re still going to a lot of trouble,” I added. “What do you want?”

“I already told you what I want, Shepherd. I want your stories.”

“About what?”

“Everything.”

“You would find my life very boring. Most of my time has been very solitary.”

“I want to know about the years you spent with Ella Bandita.”

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“I already told you I never talk about her.”

“Maybe it’s time you did, Shepherd. How long have you been haunted by her memory?”

Something in Adrianna’s tone caught my attention. Her beautiful eyes were narrowed and her face was pale.

“How did you know her, Adrianna? Was she your protégée at one time?”

In response, Adrianna choked on her wine. Two maids hurried to her aid, until her coughing fit died down. I couldn’t imagine my fierce and stubborn Woman as a courtesan. But what she became shocked me so much that anything could have been possible. For how else did she have access to the most elite gentlemen in the country?

“That sounds like curiosity to me, Shepherd. I’ll trade you all of my stories for some of yours.”

I shook my head.

“I’ll even start with one of mine,” she pressed.

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“You’re very determined. But you have nothing to persuade me.”

“Yes, I do. And I can prove it.”

The Wanderer chuckled.

“Good luck, Adrianna. I can see you’re used to having your way, but the Shepherd is one of the most resolute men I’ve ever known.”

“I used to be very ugly. Even uglier than Ella Bandita.”

The Wanderer’s jaw dropped and I thought I’d misheard her. Adrianna’s features glowed in the light of the fire. Her generous mouth curved in a smile. She was obviously pleased with the affect she had wrought. Adrianna was ravishing, even in old age. She raised her hands to frame her face.

“As you can see, the Sorcerer of the Caverns was very powerful.”