Category Archives: Writer stuff

Dead Rabbits on Imbolc

Merry Imbolc, or Candlemas, or Groundhog’s Day. Whatever floats your metaphysical boat upon your noumenal reservoir. It is a time to contemplate renewal amidst the cold and dark of winter, a time to take stock of your resolutions in the second month of the new year. Or a time for dead black magicians to return from the grave. Your choice.

This is an excerpt from “The Ren Faire at the End of the World” which happens in Arcanum on Imbolc. This explains a little why Arcanum Ohio is the scariest town in the world:

 

Marc followed the trail through the slush left by yellow-suited crime scene technicians. In one of the older quarters of the Arcanum cemetery, yellow police tape was strung from yew tree to yew tree to cordon off the ruins of the Stone family mausoleum. Photographers and deputies slipped under the tape going back and forth.

Brenwyn stood at the outskirts of the activity, wrapped in a gray woolen cloak. She was poised as if listening carefully to something no one else could hear. As Marc came up beside her, he could see that her eyes were closed.

“I should have known that we’d wind up in a graveyard at some point,” he said.

“We all do,” she replied, her eyes still closed.

“Cheery.” He sighed. A graveyard is a tough room for comedy. “Picking up anything on your radar? Besides the police calls, that is?”

Brenwyn opened her eyes. They were a flat grey today that nearly matched her cloak. The three vertical scars on her cheek seemed even darker against her olive skin for some reason. She drew closer to Marc.

“There is something behind this, something that goes back before Jeremiah’s death,” the young witch said. “It is vast and dark and hidden.”

“Isn’t that pretty much what ‘Arcanum’ means?”

He at least got a lopsided smile out of her for his efforts.

“Do you know what today is?” she asked.

Marc did some quick calculations in his head.

“Our three-and-a-half-month anniversary?”

“Possibly.” She acknowledged that with a nod. “It is also Imbolc today.”

“And that is?”

“One of the eight Great Sabbats, it is a time of renewal after Midwinter,” she said. “You would know it as Groundhog’s Day.”

“So, there’s a chance that we’ll go through this morning over and over again?”

“Not likely. But Jeremiah did say something about the groundhog seeing his shadow this year.”

Marc knew that the last message from Brenwyn’s ex was just a trick of modern phone technology, recorded as he stood with the noose around his neck and left on her answering machine two weeks later, but the thought of that little goth weasel coming back from the dead still made his skin crawl. There was only one rational response:

“Rat’s ass.”

“Rat’s ass, indeed.”

Brenwyn leaned in closer and Marc wrapped a protective arm around her. As they settled into each other for warmth, a low, cultured voice boomed out from behind them.

“Aw, how touching: The conspirators share an intimate moment.”

Marc and Brenwyn turned towards the sound, separating as they did. Lieutennant Throckmorton of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation stood there, smiling, a tall black man in a cheap black suit. Marc put a hand on Brenwyn’s shoulder and pulled her back beneath his arm.

“Good morning, Lt. Throckmorton,” Brenwyn purred with false cheer. “Did Sheriff Latchke call you also?”

“Maybe to help string yellow police tape?” Marc added.

“I am engaged in an ongoing investigation, if you don’t mind.” The long-standing animosity between him and Brenwyn over his investigation of Jeremiah Stone was evident in his voice.

“Oh no, do go ahead. Detect or do whatever you do,” she said.

“You’re too kind, Ms. Czarnecky. Would you two care to join me at the crime scene?” He gestured as if showing them to their seats in the theater.

Marc looked anxiously at Brenwyn. She gave him the slightest of nods.

“I was, actually, hoping to get a look,” he said.

“Perhaps, you could share some thoughts,” Throckmorton replied.

Throckmorton turned and headed for what was left of the miniature Gothic cathedral that housed generations of the Stone family dead. Marc and Brenwyn followed him at a distance.

“Careful, dear…” Brenwyn murmured.

“I know,” Marc replied. “As always, I’m the prime suspect.”

#

A single whoop of the siren shattered the morning peace as the sheriff arrived last on the crime scene. Marc could see, even from outside the perimeter, that the Stone family mausoleum was simply shattered.

One side of the ornate structure had collapsed, scattering its rough-cut red granite stones over the dead grass and crushed foliage. The interiors of two of the crypts were visible through the breach in the nearest wall. There was one coffin missing.

A leafless magnolia leaned away from the building. The tree’s roots raised into the air along with a mat of turf and soil. Patchy snow around the grounds was trampled to slush by a myriad of what looked to be animal footprints.

The sheriff and a half-dozen of his deputies gathered around his SUV on the far side of the building to go over the situation within the cordon of yellow police tape. None of them seemed interested in a visiting contractor and witch.

Lt. Throckmorton stood waiting for Marc and Brenwyn at the edge of the crime scene.

“Thank you for coming down,” he said. “I’d appreciate any insight you might have.”

As they drew closer, Marc started to make his usual assessment of another male:

Could I take him in a fair fight?

Then, Marc remembered this was the same state cop that had stood by without complaint as Jeremiah’s father threatened to blow Marc’s brains out. He decided it best to cooperate and make no sudden moves.

Brenwyn looked quietly horrified at the desecration of the tomb. Marc was honestly impressed by the sheer scale of the damage.

“My God, what a mess,” Marc said. “Any idea who did this?”

What did this,” Brenwyn corrected. “Do you remember the Samhain bonfire? The second one?”

She could be referring to any number of horrors that gathered around the illegal bonfire Jeremiah had set on the faire grounds, from protean demons from before the time of Creation to the flock of skinned rabbits and squirrels possessed by those spirits. From the clues, Marc was guessing something compact and skinless.

“Looks bad, smells bad, about the size of a shoe box?”

“That would sum it up.”

Throckmorton lifted up the tape to allow Marc and Brenwyn to pass underneath it.

“What are you two talking about?” the lieutenant asked irritably.

“Nothing,” Marc chirped. “Nothing at all.”

Marc moved closer to the mausoleum and hunkered down, squatting to avoid putting the knees of his black BDUs in the mud.

“Please don’t touch anything, Mr. Sindri,” Throckmorton warned.

“I’ve seen enough cop shows to know that.” Marc pointed at mud and stone of the shattered foundation. “Have you taken a look at these marks?”

Throckmorton crouched down beside him.

“I haven’t had a chance yet.”

“These aren’t tool marks, at least not any kind of tool I would have used. It looks more like this area was dug up by animals.”

The lieutenant eyed him dubiously.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Any more ridiculous than digging with a blade a quarter-inch wide?” Marc asked. “What would have that—a bonsai yard rake?”

“We have people in the state lab who can work that out.”

That sounded like the classic lie: We’re from the government, we’re here to help. Marc looked up at Brenwyn, who only shrugged sadly in response.

“Yeah, right,” Marc said.

Marc stood and slowly surveyed the ground around him. He focused his attention on a large stone angel toppled from the mausoleum. It seemed to be making a pained mewling sound.

“Hey, there’s something under this.” Marc started over to the statue as he spoke.

“Why do you say that?”

“Statues don’t make noise on their own—normally.”

Throckmorton slipped on a pair of black rubber gloves and handed Marc a pair.

“Let me call one of the photographers,” the lieutenant said.

“You might wish to wait on that,” Brenwyn advised.

“Sure, this might be nothing.” Marc backed up her point. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it won’t run away.”

Throckmorton shrugged.

“Whatever you think best.”

Marc and Throckmorton rolled the stone angel onto its side with a good deal of straining and grunting. An undead, skinless rabbit was underneath, all brownish-green and smelling as bad as it looked. The creature’s feet and tail were still fluffy though filthy. The falling angel had pushed it into the soft soil, splaying out its limbs like an “x.”

“What the Hell is that?” the policeman asked.

“We do not really have a precise definition,” Brenwyn replied.

The bunny pulled its head out of the earth and screamed, a sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

All the other investigators on-scene stopped to crane their heads to locate the sound.

Marc and Brenwyn took a step back and both tried to look innocent.

Throckmorton levelled his gun it at the creature that continued to pull itself out of the earth with agonizing slowness.

“You don’t want to do that,” Marc said.

“Your reason being…” There was quite an edge in the cop’s normally smooth voice,

“It’s already dead,” Marc said. “How are you going to write that up in your gunfire report?”

Throckmorton kept his gun trained on the zombie rabbit as it shook off the dirt and limped off into the bushes. Its hindquarters angled away from the rest of its body where its back was broken.

Only after it had disappeared into the bushes did a gangly crime tech with his Darke County windbreaker thrown over a “Cthulhu for President” tee-shirt show up on the scene. He quickly took in Marc holding Brenwyn and Throckmorton pointing his gun at a breach in the bushes.

“What the Hell was that?”

“An injured rabbit,” Brenwyn said somewhat honestly.

“Was it hurt bad?” For a man who spent his workdays at scenes of death and mayhem, he sounded awfully concerned.

“I can guarantee you that rabbit is never getting any better,” Marc said.

“Sadly true.” Brenwyn nodded in agreement.

“And the gun, Lieutenant? Was the rabbit under arrest?” No amount of compassion, it seemed, could prevent a little bit of inter-departmental snark.

“I was—um—intending to, uh, put it out of its misery.”

Embarrassed, Throckmorton re-holstered his gun.

“Unfortunately, he got away.”

“I could go find him.” The crime tech made one step towards the bushes.

Marc, Brenwyn, and Throckmorton all shouted at once:

“No!”

“Okay, whatever.” He shrugged and obviously chose not to argue with the man with the sidearm. “Let me know if you need me.” The tech went back to work at the far side of the tomb. The others all remained pretty much motionless until he was gone.

“What the Hell is going on here?” Throckmorton asked through gritted teeth.

“Appropriate choice of words.” Marc turned to Brenwyn. “Do demons actually come from Hell?”

Brenwyn easily slipped into the pedantic mode that Michael seemed to live in:

“There is no such thing as Hell. That is a Judeo-Christian fiction to maintain hegemony over the under-educated masses.”

“What?” snapped the Lieutenant.

“So if there is no Hell, those aren’t really demons reanimating the bodies of dead rodents and lagomorphs?”

“What!?”

“They are amorphous primeval remnants of Creation,” Brenwyn replied, “but if it make you more comfortable to call them ‘demons,’ feel free, dear.”

Throckmorton put his hand on the hilt of his pistol.

“I swear, I am going to shoot someone if you two don’t stop talking gibberish.”

“He seems a bit unhinged,” Marc observed.

“It happens quite a bit here, lately,” the young witch responded.

“You still haven’t answered my question.”

“There are some things in this universe,” Brenwyn told Throckmorton, “that cannot be explained in simple terms.”

“And they all live here in Arcanum!” Marc added cheerily.

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Storming the ConFusion

I have been home sick today. I hope this will not prevent me from attending ConFusion this weekend, as I could not attend for the same reason last year. I am doing better, and expect to do better this Friday . If you happen to be in the Detroit neighborhood this weekend, you can catch me at one of these multiples panels.

Friday 6 pm.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance have a lot in common: mythical creatures in modern settings, noir and crime fiction aesthetics, and, often, romantic plotlines. What distinguishes the two genres, and where to they overlap? How do they use their common elements to create different goals?

Jennifer Blackstream (M), Andrew M. ‘Fish’ Popowich, Josef Matulich, Michael Cieslak, Delilah Dawson

Saturday 11 am.

Applying the Social Model of Disability to Genre Worldbuilding

The social model of disability holds that whatever someone’s physical traits, what renders a person disabled are physical and social structures not built to accommodate them. In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen’s six fingers don’t impede his swordsmanship–the fact that swords aren’t built for his hand does. In the real world, what limits a wheelchair driver’s freedom isn’t their wheelchair, but spaces that aren’t built for wheelchair access. We’ll discuss how to incorporate the social model of disability into fantasy and science fiction world-building to build fictional worlds where people with wide ranges of physical traits and abilities have agency and self-determination, and talk about our favorite fictional worlds that are doing this right.

Josef Matulich (M), Jordan Kurella, Sandee Rodriguez, Petra Kuppers

Saturday 12 pm.

How To Storm A Castle: Pre-Industrial Defenses Around The World

How, precisely, do you storm a castle? Join our panel to discuss pre-industrial building defenses, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and how to get past them if you need to defeat the evil prince within.

Chris Bell (M), Josef Matulich, Scott H. Andrews, Ada Palmer

Saturday 3 pm. 

Autograph Session (I will have all my Arcanum Faire books with me)

Ada Palmer, Angus Watson, Anthony W. Eichenlaub, Cat Rambo, Diana Rowland, Dyrk Ashton, Jason Sanford, Joe R. Lansdale, Josef Matulich, Keith Hughes, Lucy A. Snyder, Mackenzie Flohr, Mark Oshiro, Michael R. Underwood, Mur Lafferty, Stacey Filak, Tracy Townsend

Saturday 4 pm. 

Reading (I will give the audience their choice of two WIPs: Killer GMO Squirrels, or Chinese Air Pirates.

Tracy Townsend, Josef Matulich, Mackenzie Flohr

Sunday 2 pm.

Expanding The Definition of Witchcraft

Witchcraft in fiction often taps into real world tragedies, myths and folklore, spiritual practices, sexuality and gender treatment through the lens of Western occultism. Witchcraft, however, is more than riding brooms or dancing naked. Panelists will explore the definition of witch and then provide examples of witches through underrepresented lenses.

Monica Valentinelli (M), Josef Matulich, Paul Kemner, A. Carina Spears

I hope to see you all there!

 

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This Is Not Vaguebooking

This is not vaguebooking; this is a placemarker for vaguebooking. In a little while, I will have some news, but I can’t tell you about it for fear of jinxing the deal/spoiling the surprise/getting hit really hard.

In a few weeks, I will be prepared to actually vaguebook. At that time, I will intimate something very good for me. Or something really bad for someone else. Or I will assassinate the character of someone no-one knows, at least not from the vague clues provided.

Stay tuned to this spot for the next few weeks for possible discrete celebration, veiled threats or just a simple lack of communication. Thanx!

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Happy Holidays

It is the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, and oddly enough the day after my birthday. I present two little tidbits here. The first is a lovely song by S.J. Tucker titled “Solstice Night”. The second is a short and somewhat grisly bulletin from the front lines of the War Against Christmas.

I wish you Peaceful Holidays and a good laugh in the dark.

CHRISTMAS GOING SOUTH

Josef Matulich

Jingles the elf staggered away from the burning stables with Dasher and Cupid in tow. Behind them, the Secularist Militias and JW Seals fell to their butcher’s work until there was nothing left of the workshop compound but burnt meat and broken toys. As the elf and reindeer headed south across the open snow field, Santa escaped in the opposite south. Everything goes south when you live smack-dab on the North Pole and men with guns show up. The Jolly Old Elf fled on two caribou and a prayer and what looked like a sucking chest wound.
Santa was headed Reykjavik South, where he had been promised asylum, while Jingles followed a Novaya Zemlya South heading. That way led to ice pressure ridges a hundred yards out which would at least provide concealment until nightfall.
The reindeer bucked and pulled at the elf’s grasp on their bridles. The fire, noise and smoke had put them in a panic. It was practically impossible for the three-foot tall Jingles to drag them in a straight line to safety.
Atheist FSM air cover swept over the refugees on a strafing run. Bullets chewed up the snow and ice in parallel rows of destruction. One of those cut across Dasher’s mid-section. The reindeer went down as if broken in half. Jingles stopped to aid the flailing animal, but he broke and ran when he saw a detachment of commandos dashing their way with weapons blazing.
Cupid and he barely made it over the first ice ridge when the bullets started winging over their heads. They clambered down the fragile slope and were at a flat run through the fissures at the bottom.
“Happy holidays, bitch!” Somebody yelled at them from the heights above and behind even as a fragmentation grenade fell at the elf’s feet. He only had a moment to think to himself that this year the War Against Christmas was Hell.

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What I’d like to see in the apocalypse

Dystopian apocalyptic fiction has been the rage for quite some time now, especially since it started playing out on CSPAN. The End of the World seems to be running in a bit of a rut, so here are a few new things I’d like to see:

In the last few moments of civilization, all the hipsters rent those little electric scooters to flee the city centers. They zip between the gridlocked vehicles and make wide arcs around the stampedes of panicked pedestrians. True to form, they maintain that complacent, perfectly erect posture all scooter riders affect. Their ennui-filled gaze is fixed straight ahead as they either escape the blast radius or are swallowed up in roiling clouds of toxic debris and fallout.

Authors have depicted the rebuilding of society by everything from rogue militias to the Society of Creative Anachronism. I’m figuring one abuela with a flip-flop could whip everyone into shape for a radius of a mile or two.

Most apocalyptic landscapes are littered with abandoned cars. Why hasn’t anyone gotten a bunch of Bubbas to push them into a ring around their sanctuary? Once they’re in place, remove tires, fill the carcasses with earth one bushel basket at a time, and build an earthworks ramp up to the next level. Repeat as necessary. Sharpened stakes and the crucified bodies of telemarketers should dissuade invaders.

I just once want to see the guys mowing the lawns after the zombie apocalypse.

You would think there would be some enterprising person who would take over a bunch of construction equipment and bury a Walmart under six to twelve feet of reinforced dirt or concrete. A Dollar Tree if time and resources are tight. Everything needed to rebuild Suburban America would be right there, safe from alien invaders and fallout.

If you are the type that likes to see a new and entertaining End Times adventure, you could pick up my latest book “The Ren Faire at the End of the World.” I set up the ultimate battle of Good and Evil, as fought by renaissance faire performers and reanimated roadkill. If you’ve seen that already, or you break out at the sound of “Huzzah”, you could keep an eye out for my latest project “Squirrel Apocalypse”. I’ll let you know who bites on that one.

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Thanksgiving in Arcanum

Gratitude is not a strictly Christian virtue, and even the vegan Wiccans of Arcanum like to gather their loved ones for a Thanksgiving feast. This is an excerpt from my second novel “Power Tools in the Sacred Grove” that shows Brenwyn’s Thanksgiving while Marc recuperates after being trounced by a invisible tentacle demon.

MARC LOOKED ON WITH ADMIRATION as Brenwyn laid out the complete Thanksgiving dinner across the range and counters. It totaled a dozen courses and appetizers in glittering cut glass serving dishes. He couldn’t remember all of the proposed items, but he recognized the vegetable trays, cream of pumpkin soup and vegan stuffing made with oyster mushrooms. Brenwyn even made a few vegan Mexican dishes he never heard of before, including something made of peppers and prickly pears.

It wasn’t just her prodigious cooking achievements he admired. For the last week and a half, Brenwyn had been wearing incredibly modest clothing: high neck sweaters, loose pants, and flannel PJs at night. Tonight, she was wearing a more characteristic bohemian skirt along with a tight bodice and a low-cut top worthy of a serving wench. The sight was definitely something to make him feel thankful.

Michael and Eleazar upheld their end of Thanksgiving tradition by sitting in the living room and playing cards. Brenwyn didn’t seem to mind. She did a final mop-up around the sink and looked up at Marc.

“Tell me again that you are not horribly disappointed with a vegetarian Thanksgiving?”

She had promised him red meat, but he hadn’t delivered on his end of the bargain. He still walked with a cane, if only for the moments that his strength suddenly gave out.

“As long as it’s home-cooking,” he reassured her, “I’m thrilled.”

Eleazar called out from the living room:

“And some hapless bird is alive because of your humane actions.”

“The corporate farms set their kill quotas on projected demand.” Michael carefully studied his cards, not looking up as he popped Eleazar’s balloon. “No matter what, that turkey’s going to die.”

“At least we will not have their bad karma to bear,” Brenwyn said with a smile and a nod. She carried the first of the serving trays over to the dining room table.

“A little bad karma is good for you,” Eleazar said. “Nothing like a hint of damnation to add spice to life.”

“Then your love life must be like Szechuan cooking.” Michael looked at Eleazar with an expression that was either disgust or exasperation. “If you were shot by an angry husband today, would you go to Heaven? Or would your soul just take the express elevator to Hell?”

“Don’t talk to me about damned for your love life,” Eleazar countered. “According to the Old Testament, decent people should be throwing rocks at you.”

Brenwyn returned to the kitchen for a second trip. She raised her eyebrows in amusement as she passed Marc. He merely shook his head, having heard this argument a dozen times before.

“Good thing for me there are no decent people here,” Michael said.

“Michael,” Marc growled in a low warning tone.

Michael looked first at Marc, then at Brenwyn, and he cringed.

“At the card table,” Michael said. “Sorry, Brenwyn.”

“No need for apologies, Michael.” Brenwyn was being especially gracious today.

“Could you cut out the Judeo-Christian dogma?” Marc asked with a shudder. “Makes my skin crawl.”

“Fear not, milord,” Eleazar declaimed. “Brenwyn’s karma will run over our dogma. It was a just a stray dogma anyway.”

Brenwyn shook her head as she ferried more plates to the dining room.

“Perhaps you could finish your game and wash up?” she said. “I shall be setting out the main course shortly.”

“Excellent!” Michael said. “Oh, I almost forgot.” Michael picked up a card and laid down his hand. “Gin! I’m going to the bathroom, now.”

Michael stood and turned to leave.

“You’ve done me in again, you varlet!” Eleazar slapped down his cards in frustration. “What do I owe you now?”

“A week’s laundry,” Michael said as he turned the corner into the hall. “No reds with lights this time.”

“I told you that was an accident,” Eleazar called after him. “Besides, you look good in pink, milord.”

Brenwyn came over to Marc and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“What for?” Marc didn’t think he’d done anything worthy of her gratitude, though he would take it.

“Protecting my sensibilities. Defending my honor,” she said. “It is very sweet.”

“Chivalry is not dead—it just feels that way.” Standing for several minutes, even with his cane, had his legs and back complaining. “You’re sure I can’t help with anything?”

“You can go sit down and wait for dinner.”

“I feel so useless.” Though it sounded like a great idea to his legs, he couldn’t just surrender.

“You are not useless,” she said, stroking his cheek. “You are decorative.”

“I love you too, but—”

Brenwyn cut him off short: “But your self-worth and male ego are dependent on what you can do, not who you are. Forget about it, beloved.”

“I can’t just forget.”

“Then suppress and sublimate,” she said, “as you do with your other manly impulses.”

“I’ll try.”

“Good,” she said as she scooped up the vegan antipasto platter. “Now, sit down before I take away your cane.”

#

Brenwyn glided in with the last two trays of vegetables and set them in front of Eleazar. As she returned to the kitchen, he squeezed a black olive from the tray onto his pinkie. He waved that at Michael like a finger puppet and then sucked it off his finger with a pop. Michael looked to the heavens for guidance.

With the two ‘children’ seated to his left, it felt like a real family to Marc, with all its bad and good. Brenwyn had gone all out, decorating the table and the dining room with wheat, corn, pomegranates, and apples. Stars and Brigid’s crosses made of the wheat straw took the place of the construction paper turkeys he grew up with.

“Prepare yourselves for the guest of honor,” Brenwyn called from the kitchen.

She returned with the vegan turkey breast on a garnished tray. Six drumsticks, also synthetic, stuck out of the turkey-like object. Brenwyn set the tray down to polite applause and seated herself at Marc’s right.

“Wow, six legs,” Michael said. “You don’t get that with a farm-raised turkey.”

“Maybe a Chernobyl chicken,” Eleazar quipped.

Brenwyn pointed to the large fork and carving knife set beside Marc’s place at the table.

“Would you care to do the honors?” she asked.

“Certainly.” Marc stood to perform his Thanksgiving duties. “Dark tofu or light?”

The others started passing around serving platters and filling their plates as Marc carved.

“I hope you all like this,” Brenwyn said. “It is my own concoction. The commercial turkey replacements all taste too—artificial.”

“I’m sure it will all be most appetizing,” said Eleazar. “Pass the simulated gravy, please.”

Michael looked awkwardly around the table.

“Excuse me,” he said. “This may sound really uncool, but isn’t somebody going to say grace?”

Eleazar looked as uncomfortable as Marc felt. Brenwyn smiled, looking just the slightest bit amused.

“I don’t think I’m—” Marc started to say.

“Well, I’m not either,” Eleazar blurted.

“Well, it just seems wrong not to give thanks,” Michael said. “At least, for this terrific meal. And I’m agnostic.”

“Thank you,” Brenwyn said with a nod. “I could say a few words. If you could endure a Wiccan blessing over a vegan turkey?”

“Sounds just about right to me,” Marc said.

“Let me think for a moment.” Brenwyn put a finger to her lips in silent thought. “How about this?

We thank you Goddess for your world’s gifts:

the beasts, the plants, the sea.

For all dear friends and all we are

and the strength to be what we must be.’”

“You made that up just now?” Michael was openly impressed.

“Not my best work,” she said with a self-effacing shrug. “But poetry and casting spells, they are the same thing: stringing together words to get the desired effect.”

“Cooking. Poetry,” Michael said. “I never realized you had so many hidden talents.”

Marc started carving the main course rather than attend to another man’s unbridled founts of love for Brenwyn.

“You’d better keep an eye on her, milord,” Eleazar said with a wink and a verbal nudge, “or I might try to steal her away from you.”

Marc’s hand tightened unconsciously on the knife handle. He slipped the blade under a slice of faux turkey and flipped the tofu and sprout amalgam across the table to land on Eleazar’s plate.

“Here, eat up,” Marc grumbled, “so you can compliment her cooking, too.”

Marc lofted another slice farther down the table to land on Michael’s plate. Brenwyn held up her plate to discourage any more aerobatics. Marc placed the six drumsticks on a platter and offered it to her. Brenwyn nodded her approval.

“You’ve got to try the cranberries,” Eleazar said through half a mouth full. “They’re most delectable, milord.”

Eleazar quickly brought a hand up to catch the food falling from his mouth.

“No more sincere compliment than that, I guess,” Marc said.

“Is everything all right, Marc?” Michael asked after a long sideways glance at Marc. “You seem tense.”

“No,” Marc grunted. “No, I’m fine.”

“You were about to splinter that knife handle,” Eleazar pointed out. “That’s either tension, milord, or lockjaw’s setting in.”

“It’s just the holidays,” Marc replied. “Don’t worry about me.”

Brenwyn looked knowingly at Marc.

“Marc comes from a family,” Brenwyn explained, “whose every gathering starts with petty bickering and escalates to a drunken row over the pumpkin pie.”

“We must be related. I have the same family.” Michael visibly twitched, probably thinking about his own last family Thanksgiving dinner.

“Mine, too.” Eleazar seemed paler, too.

“I am surprised that you are not with your family today, Eleazar,” Brenwyn said.

“I didn’t know you could be surprised,” Eleazar said.

“Disappointed, then,” Brenwyn said. “Do you not think that Alice misses you?”

“Not in the least,” Eleazar replied. “As long as a significant portion of my paycheck appears in her accounts, she is satisfied.”

“You see,” Michael said with undisguised glee, “he gets to pay alimony without the messy paperwork of a divorce.”

“You could be free to find happiness with someone else,” Brenwyn told Eleazar. “Are you frightened by that?”

“I’m afraid of Alice,” Eleazar said. “She’s this unpleasant to me now; imagine what a divorce could be like.”

Marc could tell that all three men played out that scenario in their heads. A dreadful silence fell over the room.

“Well, don’t let your food get cold,” Brenwyn said to break the silence. “As my grandmother would say: ‘Eat, you look skinny!’”

The three men laid into the feast without another word.

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Pimpin’ Books Amongst Pumpkins

This is a quick reminder, just in case you forgot, that I will be signing books at Keystone Books & Gifts this afternoon as the Circleville Pumpkin Festival happens all around us.

I will be there from 1 pm to 2 pm, signing Arcanum Faire books, especially The Ren Faire at the End of the World, and discussing my upcoming projects. Squirrel Apocalypse is already under consideration by a publisher, and the Silk Empress, a Steampunk Jonny Quest on an airship along the High Silk Road.

See you there!

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Off to Lou’ville

In a few hours, Sheldon Gleisser, my literary wing man, and I will be driving down to Kentucky. This is the weekend of the fifth annual Imaginarium Convention.

Once there, we will rub elbows with publishers, editors, writers, and filmmakers. If you are not any of those creatures, but you love good storytelling, you can come on down and rub our elbows, too.

I will be doing panels on Fairytales & Folklore, the Occult, Steampunk, and Costume & Makeup for Filmmaking.  I also hope to make contact with a publisher and get some news about the disposition of “Squirrel Apocalypse”. To top off the weekend, Sunday I will moderate the Author’s Reading panel. I will get to read my favorite sequence from the whole Arcanum Faire trilogy.

Sorry for the late notice, fans and friends, but at my age getting up and putting on pants is a noteworthy accomplishment. See you all in Lou’ville! If you make it down, I can tell you how karma is like a squirrel in a blender.

https://www.entertheimaginarium.com/

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Don’t Buy My Book, Vote For My Cover…

AllAuthor regularly has Cover of the Month competitions, and my latest book is in September’s. This is not really a reflection on me, but on the great artist Philip R. Rogers and my publisher Eric Beebe of Post Mortem Press. Vote for them and vote repeatedly. You don’t have to be registered with AllAuthor to vote in the initials. Do it for the power tools, and for the anvils.

RFEWtitle

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/2359/

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Bexley Local Author Festival

Just a reminder: I will be at the Bexley Local Author Festival this afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm today. I will only have my “Camp Arcanum” books with me as Gramercy Books is handling all sales and more than one book for each of the authors would be more complex than necessary for such a short event. However, for those of you that have already ready the first book of my Arcanum Faire trilogy, there is good news. Gramercy books is right across the street from the library and they are in possession of “Power Tools in the Sacred Grove”, and “The Ren Faire at the End of the World”. You can whisk across the street, acquire the not-quite-sacred texts, and be back in the auditorium for me to personalize them for you.

As always, you can still get any of my books online, or from the back of the car if you catch me in the right parking lot. Hope to see you all there!

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