June 1, 2010 -- New Review of True Colors, just posted on Goodreads and Amazon (thanks, Kendra!):
Bk. 4, 23 Short Stories & Poems, June 1, 2010
By Kendra H., Texas
Finished "Backenfort Redux" today -- it took all day! But I think it turned out pretty well. I need to do a little bit of formatting and maybe some rearranging of the stories, but the book is basically done! Might even be able to get it out there sooner than I had expected.
Here's a preliminary look at the cover:
Update -- 3/11/10 -- I finished the story "True Colors" this morning, so the only thing left is to finish "Backenfort Redux" -- and then the 4th book will be ready for publication.
I posted one of the short stories from the book over on the "New Stuff" page.
I am currently working on "True Colors," the fourth book in the "Moving Day" series. I hope to have it published sometime this spring.
"True Colors" is another book of short stories and poems. Again, some of the short stories tie into the overall "Moving Day" storyline while others do not.
I am planning on posting some excerpts from "True Colors" here in the near future.
After that, I am planning three more books in the "Moving Day" series. At this time, the working titles are "Moving Targets," "White Rainbow," and "Phosi."
Here is a short story from the upcoming "True Colors." This was originally written for my friend John (smiless) on Mingle2, who was publishing an on-line fantasy magazine. He asked me to contribute a story:
ALEXANDER THE SCRIBE
Alexander, the scribe, stood at the base of the hill, looking up towards the castle, as he often did when he traveled this road. The castle was old; rumor had it that the castle was in place long before any people lived here. Alexander wondered how that could be.
It was June; warm and breezy, but not too warm or too breezy. A day to enjoy, to walk to the river and swim, or fish, or….
But Alexander had other duties this day. He had been summoned by Pilford, the blacksmith, to help write out a list of new tools and materials the man would be needing in the not too distant future.
Hardly a suitable task for a scribe, Alexander thought. But scribing had turned out to be not quite as lucrative as his uncle had told him.
“It’s all about the letters and the words,” Uncle Sherrick had said. “The ones what can write, they knows things, m’boy! They can reads the things! I believe the King and his lot, they keeps secrets from the rest of us! And they keeps it all on paper, in writing, where only the ones what can read and write can know anything! That’s why it would be in your best interests, m’boy. You could tell us what the secrets say. You could tell us if they plan to send all us poor beggars off to war. Forewarmed, and all that.”
Alexander had had no taste for the farm work, or for the smithing, the barrel-making, the cart-building, the plow-forging….he was small, and sensitive, and smart. Writing came naturally to him, and his hand quickly learned to produce letters of great beauty and clarity.
But there was little demand for his services, and what scribing duties were available generally went to the older and more well-connected scribes.
And so Alexander was reduced to writing things like inventory lists, recipes, and the occasional wanted poster.
He sighed and began the long trudge up the hill, towards the blacksmith’s residence.
After a few minutes, he heard a voice calling to him. “You, there, scribe. Come here.”
A female voice. Soft, yet demanding.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I don’t see anyone. Where are you?”
“By the big tree, near the gate. To your right, boy. Open your eyes.”
He turned and saw her. It was the Princess. He had never seen her before, but he had heard rumors of her great beauty. The rumors were true.
“Oh Princess, what are you doing here? You are far from the castle!”
She laughed. “That is certainly none of your business, scribe! But the truth is that I grow bored in the castle, and there are times I need to get out and see the scenery of our town.”
Alexander shook his head. “The town must seem shabby in comparison to your home, Princess.”
“There is shabby, and there is boring, boy. Who is to say which is worse? Now, I have a question for you.”
“A question, Princess?”
“Yes. How would you like to serve me?”
“Serve you, Princess?”
“Yes, and you might start by not repeating everything I say.”
“I am very sorry.”
“It is of no concern, scribe. I have noticed your talents. I do believe you would make a good servant. Of course, you would no longer want for food or shelter or anything necessary for your survival. Those in servitude to me shall never want for anything.”
Alexander considered this. What could a Princess possibly want with a lowly scribe? How could he serve her?
“What must I do, then?”
She approached him. “I will give you three vials. You must drink the first vial at tonight, and the following two at on the two following nights. On the morning after you drink the third vial, come to the castle. You will be admitted inside and your problems will be over.”
She handed him the three vials, which he placed gently in the pocket of his robe.
“Thank you, Princess.”
“Thank you, scribe. I will see you in several days then.”
The Princess then walked away, down an almost indiscernible pathway. Alexander stood and watched until she was no longer visible.
“Something seems odd about this proposed arrangement,” he muttered to himself.
Alexander decided not to go to the blacksmith’s after all. Instead, he went to see Lemperly, variously known as a chemist, a wizard, a madman, and a dreamer.
Lemperly greeted him warmly. “Alexander, my lad, what brings you to this den of iniquity?”
“I hardly see much iniquity here, Lemperly. Some potions and pots and strange animal carcasses, perhaps, but very little iniquity!”
Lemperly shrugged. “Times are harsh now, boy. One does what one can! Tell me, what can I do for you?”
Alexander pulled the vials from his pocket and handed them to the old wizard. “The Princess gave me these three vials. She instructed me to drink one tonight at , then the next two at the next two nights.”
The wizard peered into the vials. “What are they supposed to do?”
“I don’t know. She only said that, after I had finished them, I would be ready to serve her at the castle.”
Lemperly scowled. “Makes no sense to me, Alexander. Why could you not serve immediately? What is the necessity of drinking this unknown liquid?”
“I do not know. That is why I brought it to you. I thought perhaps you might be able to tell me what it will do.”
“Perhaps,” Lemperly nodded. I will need a small sample for testing purposes.” He opened one of the vials and poured a few drops into a green container. “Alexander, this may take awhile. If you have things to do, feel free to come back later.”
“I don’t mind waiting, Lemperly. I have nothing of import to do, and my curiosity about all this would prevent me from enjoying anything else I might attempt to do. I would just as soon wait here, if that’s acceptable.”
“As you wish, Alexander.”
Lemperly tested the liquid for several hours, at two points going back to the vials for additional samples.
Finally, he said, “Alexander, it would appear that the Princess does not need a scribe after all.”
“I know what this formula is. I know what this is because I designed it for the Princess myself.”
“You created this?”
“Yes, I did. The Princess came to me some time ago and said that the village was becoming overpopulated, and that this was putting a burden on the supply of available farm animals.”
Alexander was puzzled. “What did she want you to do about it?”
“She wanted me to create a formula which would turn people into animals, thereby killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.”
“And you did it?”
Lemperly smiled. “I did. It was not an easy thing, but I did. In fact, after much work, I was able to create different formulas to turn people into different animals.”
Alexander pointed at the vials on the table. “And those….?”
“My dear boy, you were to have been turned into a goat.”
Lemperly nodded. “A goat. You might make a fine goat at that!”
“But – Lemperly, I do not want to be a goat! Not even for the Princess!”
“Very well, then. And I understand your position. Of course, one can hardly refuse a request from royalty, but….”
“Is there a way to avoid this, Lemperly?”
The wizard paused, rubbed his chin. “It occurs to me that one goat appears much like the next. If you were to produce an alternative goat, I doubt the Princess would ever know the difference. Of course, you would have to leave the village – it would not do to have the Princess or any of her family see you after the ‘conversion’ had already taken place!”
“You’re saying I have to see that someone else drinks the formula?”
“That would be one way. Although it’s a bit harsh for the unfortunate soul who ends up as the goat. Or – well, as it turns out, I have several goats and other animals tied up in a pen behind my house here. I use them for experiments.”
Alexander’s eyes widen. “Are they real goats or did they used to be – human….?”
Lemperly grins. “Let’s not get into that. A goat is a goat is a goat.”
And so it was that, several days later, a little goat appeared tied to a post in front of the castle, a note tied around his neck: “Alexander the Scribe.”
The Princess took him in and made him her pet.
And the real Alexander the Scribe went to a far-off land where he found a better life.
And no one ever did manage to turn him into a goat.