the Pen Name Game

Been a long time, but here’s a game from the Ionia Martin/Charles Yallowitz team. Maybe this is the start of us returning to a few comical sketches or interviews. Seems ‘Life’ got in the way. Seriously, we were playing the board game called ‘Life’ and it got totally out of hand. We’ve called off the ninja squirrels and capybara cavalry, but peace talks are still ongoing. Having trouble with the Cupcake Clause. Anyway, on to the real fun.

Many authors use pen names for various reasons. Some dislike their birth name or feel it’s too complicated to put on a book cover. Others wish to hide their true identity because of any number of reasons. For example, a writer of erotica might want to keep their writing career hidden from family or a full-time employer. Either way, there’s a big tradition in pen names, so Charles and I came up with a game.

Give us a pen name in one, some, or all of the following categories:


This will be on both our blogs today and we’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with. Let’s have some fun.

Happy Birthday Helena!

If you are not familiar with Helena

You should take a moment to visit her site and see all of the fantastic material there. Helena is one of the most engaging and witty people that I have had the pleasure of running across on WordPress. She is also an author, so if you visit her site, be sure to check out what she has written. Or you can check it out here:



But this post, is about something else. Today just happens to be Helena’s



If you find a moment, go tell her happy birthday today. In the mean time, enjoy these videos.

A discussion about poetry with Pamela

My good friend and fellow author Pamela Beckford has recently taken her first foray into the publishing world. Today we are going to sit down with her and talk a little bit about her experiences and the art of poetry itself. Please welcome her to Readful Things and take a moment to check out her sites:


You have been experimenting lately with different forms of poetry. Are there some that are easier to work with than others? What has been your favourite so far?

Thank you for noticing the different forms I’ve been working with. I really have enjoyed learning about them and how to make them work. I think that many times the shorter poems (tanka, doidotsu, cinquain, etc) are more difficult than a longer poem. With the shorter ones, the choice of words to make the biggest impact and convey just exactly the right feeling, can be very challenging. My favorite form is whichever one I’m working with at the moment. I haven’t found any that I really don’t enjoy.


You write with such emotional depth, and yet you haven’t been writing anything public for very long. Was it scary to share your talent with others?

I haven’t been writing anything privately for long either. I think that poetry is so personal and I feel like I am sharing my inner most self. It makes me very vulnerable. I still struggle with sharing some of them and feeling like I’m good enough. If it hadn’t been for a couple of individuals encouraging me, I might still be keeping most of them in my head. But I find poetry to be a great outlet.


What do you find inspires your poetry?

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really a romantic at heart. I put up a tough guy facade, but deep down, I want to love and be loved. I have a couple of muses as well that keep me inspired.


Tell us a bit about your first collection of published poetry and how we can find it.

I put together a short collection of poetry called Dreams of Love. It is available on Amazon as a download and also in paperback. It is only $.99 for Kindle.


Any plans for further books?

I’m glad you asked. I collaborated with Kirsten on a book of nature poems, Voices of Nature. I love her poetry and we work really well together.


Any final thoughts/ ideas you would like to share?

First, I would like to thank you for spotlighting my poetry. Second, I would want everyone to know that all poetry is not alike. If you think Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass” is what poetry is all about, you need to explore poetry a bit more. It comes from the depths of your soul and I hope that anyone who reads my poetry feels deeply.


Come, my love
Surrender to my touch
Waves of desire bring raptured delight
As tenderness yields gently to deepest longing
Ecstasy insists we never part
Laying with you’s pure joy


Thank you, Pamela, for agreeing to the interview and for being my guest author :)

An Author you should know and book you can’t miss!

If  you have not met my good friend and lovely Romanian author Carmen Stefanescu, you are missing out on something very special. Her book “Shadows of the Past” is one of my favourites of the last few years. So here is some info on the book and the wonderfully talented author herself. Don’t forget to check out the book trailer at the bottom of this post!


Author Bio:


Carmen was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula.

She graduated the Bucharest University, the Germanic Languages Faculty.Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of communist oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

You can find Carmen at her website by going here:


About the book:










When Anne and Neil leave on a one-week holiday hoping to reconcile after a two-year separation, little do they know that destiny has other plans for them. Their discovery of human bones and a bejeweled cross in the hollow of a tree open the door to the supernatural realm and the anguished life of Genevieve, a nun from medieval England.

Can Anne save her relationship and help Genevieve her eternal rest?

The twists and turns in this paranormal tale keep the reader guessing up to the end and weave themselves together into a quest to rekindle love.

Buy it here:



Book Trailer:

Dawn at Last by Lawrence Grodecki

Dawn at LastDawn at Last by Lawrence Grodecki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dawn at Last by Lawrence Grodecki is an unusual novel. This is not a bad thing. The book stood out in the crowd of other books for just this reason. This author has a reflective quality to his writing. You can read a passage one way and take it in and then go back later and reread it again and find totally new meaning in it.

The characters were alive, vibrant and fully realised. Never once during this story did I stop to question what the author was thinking or why he chose to take a character in the direction he did. I really enjoyed getting to know Donna in particular. I found that she was a deep and emotional character that kept me wanting to find out why she reacted to situations as she did. The more I learned about her, the more I felt a kinship with her. I was sad to see this book end, as it was the kind of book that you want to keep reading so you can stay with the people you have come to care for.

This is not a fast paced book, but it has a kind of symmetrical flow where one scene bleeds into the next carefully and keeps you wanting to come back for more. Above all, this is a story of love and redemption. Love for other people, love for yourself and love of life. Each sentence had a purpose and added something valuable to the story.

Watching as the characters came to realisations about themselves and one another was great, but really feeling the depth of their emotional connections was phenomenal. Lawrence Grodecki has something in his corner than many other authors don’t—he writes from the heart and incorporates much of himself into the creation of his characters.

This book was long enough to enjoy over a weekend, but not so long that the characters began seeming overbearing or pointless. The writing was solid and the dialogue was interesting and kept moving in a progressive manner. I had a lot of fun reading this book, shed a few tears, and thought a lot about life and the chances we have to correct wrongs and make decisions. What more could you ask from a book?

If you have not read Dawn At Last, I encourage you to take some time to do so. I recommend it.

View all my reviews

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost LakeLost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a novel about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia called Lost Lake.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it’s the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn’t believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake’s owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake’s magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lost Lake is another emotional and family-driven read from author Sarah Addison Allen. When I first began reading this book, I didn’t really make an immediate connection. There were quite a few characters introduced early on in the story and I had trouble following who they were and what part they played in the story, but after a few chapters, I settled in to the book and began to see how everything worked.

One of the things that makes me return to read this author again is her ability to build strong bonds between her characters. You know when you read one of Sarah’s books that you will get a comprehensive picture of the main character’s life and their experiences. The friendships and family relationship she builds are so real and so physical that you can easily relate to them. I often thought during this “I’ve felt that way before,” or, “I know how that is.”

This book has lots of good humour and excellent quotes in it. The story kept pace well and by the end, I knew this was a book that I would buy in paper format to add to my collection of treasured books.

If you are looking for something wonderful to read, you can’t go wrong with Lost Lake.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher as part of the blogging network. All opinions are my own.

This is the monthly selection. To find out more about she reads and all the wonderful things they do for women’s literacy and the reading community, please check out this link:

Deadly Sins: An interview With Author Kori D. Miller


Read on for an excerpt after the interview:)
Tell us about you and your current project.
I’m a wife, mother, martial artist, tea guru, and writer — not necessarily in that order. My most recent business venture is Back Porch Writer: The show for writers, about writers, and writing. As the host, I have the opportunity to talk with amazing people that everyone should know. I edit Kori Miller Writes: The site for creative writers and newbie podcasters. When I’m not writing, or thinking about writing (yeah, that’s rare), I’m creating signature teas, tisanes, and lemonades for The Tea Trove while the kiddos are at school. We’re a martial arts family, so that takes up a bit of my off time. Lock, rock, and roll, baby! (Hapkido/JiuJitsu humor – what can I say, I’m hooked! See what I did there? Hapkidoists love their canes.)

Deadly Sins: A Dezeray Jackson Mini-Series is my current focus. The book includes four mysteries written in a flash fiction style. Each scene, with the exception of two, is less than 1000 words. Each mystery is based on a deadly sin. The reader decides which deadly sin was committed in three out of the four.

 When can we expect to see this book available and where can we find it?

Deadly Sins will be available just in time for Valentine’s Day on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Book Tango, and via other major retailers. It’s being released as an e-book first. You can read an excerpt over at Goodreads. The print edition will be published about two weeks later.

  What inspired you to begin writing and what continues to inspire you?

I don’t know what that initial spark was. I learned early that my ability to write could save my grades in certain school subjects. It didn’t help in algebra. That was a total loss. I’m inspired by events unfolding around me and by things my children say.

 Do you have any genres that you have yet to write in that particularly interest you?

I love watching Scifi movies. That’s what made me decide to write a middle grade Scifi story (Archer Jaxson and the Compass Wars for NaNo.) Magical realism might be an area I’d explore at some point.

Do you have other works that you have previously published?

I released the second edition of My Life in Black and White: A Book of Experiences January 2014. It includes an updated forward, additional comments for specific essays, two new sections: A 40-year-old’s Perspective and Final Thoughts, and two new essays: I Can’t See White People and Our Lawn Burned. It’s available via Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Book Tango, and other major retailers.

Any advice for authors that have yet to put their work out there?

You need to accept a few truths:
1. Writing is subjective. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Be intrinsically motivated.
2. Writing is a skill. There’s always room for improvement.
3. You must believe in your work. If you don’t, why should anyone else?
4. There will always be at least one typo, no matter how many times your work was edited, regardless of who did the editing. (Believe me, I’ve read a lot of books by guests on Back Porch Writer in the past year. Every book had errors whether the book was traditionally, or self-published.)
5. You can’t do everything equally well. If you’re self-publishing, learn where to expend your energy and effort, and hire someone else to do the things that you don’t want to learn to do. Be honest, not cheap.
6. You must sell your work. Even traditionally published authors hire a publicist at some point.
I think Auntie Mame said it best: Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! Live! Live! Live! (Ok, that’s two separate scenes from the movie, but you get the point. And, I’m talking about Rosalind Russell as Mame. Funny, stuff.)

 What, in your opinion, is the most difficult part of being an author?

There isn’t anything difficult about being an author. It’s a great gig! Where else can you earn money by sitting in your pajamas dreaming up stuff?

Seriously, though, I don’t find many things difficult. (Difficult is learning your child has a life-threatening illness, or something equally out of one’s control. Writing is completely in my control. How I view my writing, what I choose to write, or not to write — all of it is in my control.) I do find some things challenging. And, I love a good challenge! I credit Sister Mary Lucy for my outlook on this front. She was my sixth grade teacher. She posted a quote on a bulletin board in our classroom. It read, “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off of the goal.” I remember thinking, “Huh, that’s true.”

Where can we find you and do you have any additional projects you would like to mention?

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Blog Talk Radio (Back Porch Writer). My twitter handles are @KMillerWrites and @backporchwriter. My author website is

Final thoughts

Ionia, thank you for giving me an opportunity to share information about my new book, Deadly Sins: A Dezeray Jackson Mini-Series with your readers. And, thank you for creating The Community Story Board. It’s a great space for writers to post their work. I shared one or two of the scenes from one of the mysteries and received helpful feedback. It’s the next best thing to having a critique group.
Deadly Sins: A Dezeray Jackson Mini-Series ** Excerpt **
I opted to walk the four blocks from my apartment to the New York City office of Tracer International. It was my last day. By this time tomorrow, I’d be heading to Omaha, NE. A free house was an offer I couldn’t refuse. And, Omaha would be a welcome change of pace.
“Dez.” Sam Walters greeted me as I stepped out of the elevator on the 20th floor.
“Sam.” I kept walking. He tagged along. The office was like every other place I’d worked. The elevator door opened and the reception desk was all you saw. To the right, a door led to the back offices and cubicles for entry-and mid-level investigators. That was me. I waved my ID in front of the sensor. There was a click, and the lock released.
“You’ve got one more assignment. Becker dropped it on your desk an hour ago.”
I checked my watch. It was 7:30 a.m.
“He said I should go along with you.”
I stopped at my desk. A file rested in the center. I’d cleaned everything else out last night, not that it amounted to much after two years. It all fit in a shoebox. I opened the file.
“It’s a stolen-property case. The client doesn’t want the police involved. I’m not sure why.” Sam plopped down in a chair next to my desk. He was an entry-level investigator.
“Sasha Alexander? Why do I know that name?” I asked more to myself than to Sam, but
he spoke up anyway.
“Socialite. She owns a gallery in SOHO.” He twirled a pencil between his fingers.
“Wait a minute! Not that gallery?”
“One and the same.” He grinned.
“Christ.” I dropped the file. “Let’s go.”
We grabbed a taxi. Screw the trains. It was my last day. Company-paid expenses are a
privilege I’d be without in about 24 hours.
Alexander’s gallery fit in perfectly with all the others in SOHO until you walked through
the doors. I paused on the street in front and took a deep breath.
“Let’s go!” Sam, always the eager one, reached for the handle. People pushed past me on
the sidewalk. I followed Sam through large, ornately-carved wood doors into a small alcove.
Heavy, plush, red drapes hung from the ceiling, blocking our view.
Sam pulled one of the drapes aside, allowing me to enter the gallery.
“Oy,” I mumbled, and took it all in at once. Some things can’t be unseen.
“Wow” was all Sam could manage to say.

© 2014 Kori D. Miller – Fremont, NE –

Blogger(s) of the week

Garden 106

One of my very favourite people on this planet is the blogger of the week this time. I love her and her other half so much that it is hard to put into words. But I’m going to try anyway. Have you ever met one of those people who just makes you smile when you think about them? Meet Katie Sullivan and her minion…er…Druid “D.”

Why do I adore Katie? There are too many reasons to count. I love that she makes us all laugh, that she is a talented writer and a great mum. I also think she makes talking to yourself an art form. In fact, I believe she has perfected it.

If you haven’t visited with her and D yet, go say hello to them over at:


You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong. If I ever do though, I have a whole list of people you can blame to absolve me of any wrongdoing, starting with Charles.

A new release and a call to action: Minions–assemble!

unnamedBlurb: John J. Cannon successful San Francisco lawyer takes a well-earned leave of absence from the firm and buys a boat he names My GRL. He is unaware that his newly purchased boat had already been targeted by a terrorist group. John’s first inkling of a problem is when he wakes up in the hospital where he learns he was found unconscious next to the dead body of the attractive young woman who sold him the boat in the first place. John now stands between the terrorists and the success of their mission.


My GRL is available on Amazon. (Today the print version and e-version will be available Monday January 6)


Find it here:






Author Bio: John W. Howell’s main interests are reading and writing.  He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business.  John writes thriller fiction novels and short stories. He also has a three times weekly blog Fiction Favorites at where he writes about . John lives on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife Molly and their spoiled pets. He can be reached by e-mail:, Twitter: @HowellWave and on Facebook:


Now for the call to action: I shamelessly stole this from John’s blog. You know you want to join the “Ionia thinks your cool” group. Give a hand to a talented author. He will return it with all fingers attached. He promises.

“Volunteers Needed. . . Volunteers Needed. . . Volunteers Needed. . . Volunteers Needed  Please e-mail me at

I need your help to spread the word that my thriller My GRL is available on Amazon. (Today the print version and e-version will be available Monday January 6). I would like to take the time to make the announcement in an organized fashion. I think an official My GRL Launch Announcement Blog Tour scheduled between January 19 and February 1 will do the trick  and I am asking for volunteers. If you participate; the only thing you will need to do is paste the material I send. If you do join; I will publish a link to your blog and your book or what ever you designate on the day of the tour and be so grateful for your help. As I stated, I will send you all the material, and you will only need to simply copy and paste into your site. If you would like to participate please send an e-mail to: If you could also indicate a day when you won’t be able to participate it will help scheduling. Please send your e-mail to me by Monday January 13. I will then publish the schedule and material back to you on January 16. Thank you for your help.”


animals4You know you can’t wesist my chawms:) Go hewp John. Go….




A Series that is so much fun! Nogglestones

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being introduced to the book series “Noggle Stones,” by Wil Radcliffe If you are searching for books that are appropriate for a bit younger audience but still entertaining enough for an older audience, this is the way to go. Below you will find further information about this series including the first two chapters and some great links where you can find fun stuff to do. Trust me–you wanna!

Helping me spread the word is not required but always greatly appreciated. ♥
Book I at Amazon

Book 1 1/2 at Amazon

Book II at Amazon

The Noggle Stones Role-Playing Game


The Noggle Stones Archery Line at

Also available at Barnes & Noble

Here are the first two chapters:

From my flesh I make this scroll.
I draw ink from veins that bleed.
With my heart I craft these words;
I’m this book that you now read

In darkness I walk in circles.
In circles I walk forlorn.
Yet in you I live forever.
For when you read, I am reborn.
(Unknown goblin author, Age of the Bending Oak)



The bee danced within its glass jar prison, and the embers in the fire died to dull orange and gray. Bugbear, the keeper of goblin wisdom and culture, pulled his blanket about him and drew in his arms and legs, huddling into a ball on the forest floor. He considered warming himself with a cup of banderberry root tea, but the fire was far too low. Tudmire would need to return with firewood soon or there would be no fire left to rekindle.

Now, sleep tugged at his heavy head. Sleep. Dreaded sleep. Where the dreams were alive and angry. Where faces danced before him, mouths pulled into screams and eyes wet with tears. The dreams… oh, how they had tormented him. Dark visions clouding his mind. Sinister whispers filling his ears. Unspeakable terrors clotting his blood.

And yet it was the dreams that inspired him to search for the lost ruins of Whittlegrip’s monastery. It was the dreams that sent him on his scholarly journey into the study of Non-Logical Thought.

And it was the dreams that had brought him here, huddled in the forest at night before a dying fire, a bee in a jar his only companion. The dreams… how he craved them and how he loathed them. The inspiration they granted, and the terror they inflicted. He wanted to deny them… to evict the torment from his head. Yet they always came, like unwanted dinner guests with dreadful eating habits.

As the bee’s buzzing drilled into his head, fitful slumber fell upon him, like an assassin, killing him a thousand times. Dark shapes slithered and slunk. Evil voices bellowed and shrieked. He wandered alone in a world of gray, a colorless landscape stretching to the limits of his sight. In the sky above, images formed… dim and dreary like drawings etched in mud. He saw an archer, drawing her bow against an unseen foe. And he saw an animal, loping along upright like a goblin. And he saw something even stranger… a monstrous face, obscure and unclear, yet somehow important… somehow burnt into his skull. This image forced Bugbear’s dreaming mind to recall an illustration of an odd and forgotten race he had seen in one of his books of ancient lore. They were called humans, and a more ridiculous myth he had seldom studied. The three images then turned to him and pointed, speaking as one: “You should wake up. The game has begun.”

With a gasp and a shudder, Bugbear found himself awake. The fire was rekindled, and Tudmire had returned… with three unexpected guests. Large people. Ten feet tall. Pale purple skin. Big warty ears. Small red eyes. Long spotty noses. Ogres.

Tudmire crouched with them before a Noggle Stones board, moving pieces here and there. The ogres watched on with dumb amusement, a bag of copper coins on the ground beside them.
“Gambling,” Bugbear hissed.

Bugbear threw his blanket aside, tucked the bee jar into his coat-of-many-pockets, and stormed over to his cousin. “Tudmire!” he barked. “I sent you for fuel, not for fools!”
Tudmire turned back to Bugbear and waved him off. “Shush, you mouthy mouse! I’m about to win!” And with a surprisingly nimble movement of his thick fingers, Tudmire slid his three white stones over the opposing black stone.

“Ha!” he blurted. “I’m the Noggle Lord!” He stood and danced about the bewildered ogres and the grumbling Bugbear. His voice reached high into the night, filling the air with echoes of laughter and gloating. Then he stopped before the ogres, holding out his hand and smiling with all the teeth he could muster. “My winnings, if you please!”

The ogres shrugged as one. The largest passed the bag and a yellowed scroll over to Tudmire. “Goodly gamings, little gobling,” he said with a smile. “Thanks you for the invitings.”
Tudmire swept into a deep bow before the ogres. “My pleasure! Unlike some goblins, I appreciate and enjoy the company of ogres!” As Tudmire rose, several black, white, and gray stones tumbled out of his sleeves. He stood for a moment in the light of the campfire, sheepish and uncertain.
The red eyes of the ogres fell upon the pile of stones. Slowly the dim light of realization swept over them and their faces turned from masks of confusion to reflections of rage.
“Cheaterings!” the largest blurted as he overturned the board and sent stones showering into the air.
“Cheaterings!” the other two shouted.

“Smasherings!” the largest yelled as he advanced on the trembling Tudmire.
“Run, you fool!” Bugbear commanded as he took Tudmire by the hand and pulled him off into the thick tangles of brush. Pockets and paths unfolded before them, as Bugbear imagined they might. For he had placed his mind in a Non-Logical state where possibilities in thought could become truth in reality. And so they scurried, scampered, and scrambled, the green things opening before them and closing behind them.

Until finally, his thoughts exhausted, Bugbear collapsed in a worn-out heap. Tudmire squatted down beside him as the leaves and branches covered them in a canopy.

“Cheating at Noggle Stones, Tudmire?” Bugbear huffed at his cousin. “Did you really think you could slip extra stones on the board without being noticed? Honestly! If you were going to cheat, you could have at least been more original and less obvious about it.”

“Cousin,” Tudmire began, “they’re bloody ogres. How was I supposed to know they’d gather enough wits to see through my… uhm… misinterpretation of the rules?”

Hoarse voices thundered behind the goblins. Oak trees groaned and splintered as the ogres rampaged through the night. Nocturnal animals scurried, fluttered, and slithered from the chaos. Even the moon and stars seemed to take shelter behind the heavy gray clouds.

“Where for you going with our treasures, little goblings?” one brute yelled. “You been taking advantage of our good natures with your trickeries!”

Bugbear brushed a few branches aside to peer into the gloom. He could see the silhouetted ogres, savaging the forest with their tantrums. Slender fingers of fear began prickety-pick-picking at his brain. Out there in those huge callused hands death waited. He shook his head and exchanged his fear for fury.

“Gambling with ogres anyway,” he hissed. “What were you thinking?” He turned back to his cousin and squatted into hiding. “They didn’t even have anything of value… just a few coppers and a tattered, old parchment.”

Tudmire pulled the bag of winnings close to his chest. “You don’t understand gambling. It’s not what you win, it’s that you win.”

“Maybe I don’t understand gambling, but I do understand dismemberment. And so do those thugs out there.”

The goblins glared at each other, each shifting in place with aggravation. For being cousins they presented a striking contrast. Bugbear wore the clothes of a gentleman… cleanly pressed olive colored coat, spotless white shirt, bright plaid vest, matching olive breeches, and buckled brown shoes, whereas Tudmire wore a stained gray shirt, fraying suspenders, dusty brown breeches with patches at the knees, and scuffed black shoes. Even their hairstyles were as different as right and wrong… Bugbear’s a frazzled tangle of thick brown from the top of his head all the way to the unruly mutton chops which sprouted from his cheeks… and Tudmire’s a wispy clump of haphazard strands combed over the top of his head to hide an ever expanding baldness.

“You never listen to me,” Bugbear said as the confrontation continued. “And now see what comes of it!”
“Angry you making us!” another ogre shouted. “Your bones we be crushering for these flustrations!”
Bugbear snatched the parchment from Tudmire’s hand. “We’ll give them back their things, apologize, and get out of this with skins intact.”

Tudmire protested, trying to snatch the parchment back. “It’s my property. After all, I cheated them fair and square.”

Bugbear’s leathery skin crinkled into a mass of angry wrinkles and his eyes widened into bloodshot saucers. Even in the gloom of the night, his face lit with his rage. He shook the parchment before Tudmire. “Listen, they’ll have their valuables back whether we hand them over now, or they pry them from our dead hands. We’re barely a fourth their size, Tudmire. We don’t stand a chance against them unless we use reason.”

Tudmire continued to flail and grab at Bugbear, trying to wrest his ill-gotten treasures from his cousin’s keeping. “Reason is for those who lose the game. Winners get the loot!”

While Tudmire tugged and tore at Bugbear, a small object slipped from his vest and fell to the forest floor. It was nothing special, or magical, or profound in any way. It was but a simple tin, unmarked and unadorned. And yet when it skittered to the ground Bugbear’s eyes exploded like sparks in the Devil’s furnace. “My medicine!” he gasped as he fell to his knees and carefully lifted the dull tin. “It’s the only thing that keeps the dreams away,” he practically sobbed. Carefully he slid the tin back into his pocket, licking his lips and closing his eyes as if in some starving man’s trance. As he did so, the parchment fell from his grasp. It unrolled at his feet, unleashing such an unnatural and brilliant light that the goblins fell back as though struck by a thunderbolt.

“What did you do?” Tudmire yelped. “The ogres are certain to see that!”

“I didn’t do anything,” Bugbear gasped. “The parchment… it has some kind of peculiar luminous quality.”

“You mean it’s magic?” Tudmire said.

“No. I’ve told you before, magic is a foolish superstition. Like Snaggy Mary Tittle-Top, or human beings.”

“But Grand Uncle Crick says…”

“Grand Uncle Crick is a dear old soul,” Bugbear interrupted, “but he lives in the past. This is the Year of the Dappled Beetle in the Age of the Unstrung Harp. We live in modern times. With modern sensibilities. Science rules, magic fools!”

Bugbear picked at the scroll with dainty, uncertain fingers, until, with a sudden rush of conviction he pinched the vellum at a corner and lifted it. “No. This is a purely scientific phenomenon,” he said, examining the strange paper. “Perhaps it would be hasty to turn it back over to the ogres just yet. After all, as I was appointed Bugbear by the High Council of Ysgol Gwybod, it is my duty to expand and improve upon goblin culture and knowledge.”

“There you go flaunting that fancy Bugbear title of yours again,” Tudmire snorted. His baggy face then perked with curiosity. “What are all those squiggly lines there?”

“That would be writing, you dullard,” Bugbear said, with a dismissing wave of his hand. “Although, I’m not certain what language. It has a structure similar to dwarfish, but less harsh. More fluid, like elfish in many ways. But then again it has a goblin-like boldness to it as well. Given time perhaps I could…”

“Die, you thieverous little greaselings!” The three ogres ripped the brush away from the goblins, exposing them in the dull moonlight. Two of the brutes reached down with ham-like hands, grabbed the stunned cousins by the scruffs of their necks, and hoisted them into the air. The third hissed at them,

“Your little feets carries you far from us, and you hides well behind your things of green. But we sees the big flashings and lightnings! And you speaks all too loudish!” The fiend snatched the now unlit scroll from Bugbear’s grasp. “Be giving us the rest of our belongings! Else we crushes your bones evers so slowly and not nearly so fastly.”

“Oh, you festering fool!” Bugbear yelled at his cousin. “Now we’re done for, thanks to your grubbering greed!” He twisted and turned in the ogre’s grasp, trying to reach Tudmire with his wild slaps and punches.

“Shut your bloody gob!” Tudmire countered. “If you hadn’t been wasting our bloody time with that bloody scrap of bloody paper, we wouldn’t have been bloody surprised, you bloody twit!”

“Oh, blame me!” Bugbear said. “Blame me! At least I was interested in scholarship rather than dollarship! That’s something worth dying for, I’ll tell you!”

“There’s no profit in death!” Tudmire yelled. “Unless it’s yours!”

“I doesn’t know, Loomis,” one ogre said to his leader. “Maybe we be saving us troubles if we lets these goblings killing each another for us.”

“They does seem to have a powerful hateness for each one of the other, Nigel” Loomis remarked. “But they is goblings, and goblings is filled of trickeries. We kill them ourselfs, to be safety. But firstly we best be collectoring our thingies post hastal, boys. We doesn’t wants gobling bloodieness all over its. You shakes them and I’ll sortify what falls loosely from them.”

“Did you hear that?” Tudmire whined. “They’re going to shake us clean and kill us!”

“Yes,” Bugbear said. “I tried to warn you. Ogres tend to do things like that.”

The ogres turned their prisoners heads-over-toes, and the shaking commenced. From Bugbear’s oversized coat pockets dropped all manner of books, papers, gadgets, contraptions, odds, and ends. Calculations, journals, experiments… delicate pieces of a scholarly puzzle he had studied for years, now lay scattered upon the forest floor. His saucer eyes doubled in size, for even he was amazed at the volume of items he had gathered, and even more amazed that his stunted little body was capable of carrying it about all this time.

“Blimey, Loomis!” the third ogre gasped. “This little feller has more ownings than a museum!”

“Right you be, Dubbin,” Loomis said. He rummaged through Bugbear’s belongings. “But they is mostly worthless things.”

“I beg your pardon?” Bugbear said. “You just happen to be looking at a lifetime of scholarly study!”

“Well, if this is all you gots to be showing for it,” Loomis laughed while holding up the bee in a glass jar,

“then I says you been wasting yourself a lifetime.”

“Do not mock me!” Bugbear exclaimed, a rage boiling through his veins. “You cannot even begin to understand the importance of my work!”

Loomis picked up a small tin, opened it, and fingered through a fine powder. “And where in do you finding the impotence of this?”

“That is my medicine. Nothing more!” Bugbear blurted. “You need not concern yourself with it.”
Loomis sniffed and snorted and tasted the powdery stuff. “Not bad. Try some, boys.”

The other two ogres snickered and dropped their stunted prisoners. “You stay putses!” Nigel ordered the goblins. “We be eatings, but we also be watchings!” They gathered about Loomis and picked at the tin.

“Let us be tasting this new pleasure.”

“My tea,” Bugbear whined as he pulled himself from the dirt.
Tudmire crawled to his cousin’s side. “Are you all right?”

“My banderberry root tea,” Bugbear sighed. “They’re eating it.”

Tudmire brushed the pine needles and dust from his clothes. “At least we aren’t dangling upside-down anymore,” he said, slicking back his few strands of hair.
Bugbear gripped his cousin about the shoulders. “I need it, Tudmire. I need my medicine. I don’t think I can endure another dream.”

Fear seized Bugbear. Oh, how he dreaded seeing those wretched, alien creatures again. The dreams… the nightmares… only the tea had staved them off. It was Duergar, the village gardener, who had told Bugbear of the healing properties of the banderberry root. But now Duergar’s gift was being devoured by the ogres. And Bugbear’s mind was being devoured by unfettered rage.

“I shall crush the heathens with my bare hands!” Bugbear exclaimed. He lurched forward, veins bulging like willow roots, teeth grinding like millstones. “Lowly, insignificant buffoons!”

“Shush,” Tudmire cautioned as he caught his irate cousin by the coattails. “They’ll hear you.”

“Faugh! Even if they can hear me, they lack the intellect to understand my brilliant oration!”

“Listen, Bugbear,” Tudmire continued in soft, soothing tones. “My dear, dear Bugbear. You aren’t thinking straight. Your mind’s all askew, like a spinning coin that can’t decide which side to land on. Please,” Tudmire said, tugging at Bugbear’s sleeve, “come sit and wait. Maybe when they’re done with your tea, Loomis and his brothers will show a bit of pity and let us go.”

“No,” Bugbear hissed. He stared at the brutes as they feasted on his tea. And from the midst of his disordered mind, a small strand of sanity wormed its way to the surface. “I have a plan.” Bugbear shook Tudmire’s hand from his coat and stepped forward to confront the ogres.

“O’ great merciful Lady Luck!” Tudmire gasped. “The little maniac has a plan!”

As they saw Bugbear approach, the ogres wiped the powder from their mouths. “What be you wanting? We gives no permissions for you to be movementing!”

“I was just wondering if you’d be willing to reconsider…”

“No!” Loomis barked. “Go backs over there and waits to be killt!”

Bugbear turned to Tudmire. “You were right, cousin,” he said. “They aren’t interested in negotiating.

But, I suppose we can at least take consolation in the fact that they’ll never find where we hid theTreasure of Eglwys Cacynen!”

The ogres stared at Bugbear with mouths agape. “What Treasure of… whatever it was you just says?”

“Yes,” Tudmire said, his loose face tightening with delight, “what Treasure of Eglwys Cacynen?”

“Oh, you remember, cousin,” Bugbear continued. “The vast horde of goblin wealth that we hid away before we were captured.”

“We never…”

“Of course you remember. Gold coins. Rubies. Sapphires. Emeralds. And the magical cauldron. Certainly you remember the magical cauldron.”

“Be showing us your gobling treasures,” Loomis demanded. He cast aside the tin of tea as he and the other two ogres lumbered forward.

Bugbear eyed the fallen tin with drooling desire… but then remembered himself and his clever plan.

“Oh, dear,” he sighed. “I’ve given away our secret, cousin. What a fool am I. Can you ever forgive me?”

“Well, I… I… I,” Tudmire stammered.

“Yes, of course you can,” Bugbear continued. “Anyhow, the treasure is right over there.” Bugbear pointed to a hollow log laying alone in a stream of moonlight.

“Be fetching it for us,” Loomis demanded.

“I should say not,” Bugbear said. “Tudmire and I strained our weak little bodies severely enough putting it there. I don’t believe we could handle any more such exertion. No. Moving treasure is an honor reserved for those strong enough to bear it. Goblins are better suited for standing back in awe.”

“Yes,” Loomis agreed. “That making senses. You heard the little gobling, boys. Let’s be bearing our honors.”

Dubbin shambled over to the cousins. “I be watching these maggots. They may still be filled with more trickeries.”

“Good thoughting,” Nigel said.

Loomis and Nigel confronted the log, like cautious, scavenging animals hovering before some unknown carcass.

“Puts your handses in there,” Loomis ordered. “Sees if the gobling is truthful.”

“I tain’t putsing my handses in there!” Nigel balked. “There coulds be nasty anermals in it! Log lizards, and wood winkies, and rot weasels, and such!”

“Bah!” Loomis scoffed. “Baby babble! There be nothings in there to be afraidness of!”

“Then you puts your handses in,” said Nigel.

Loomis’ face curdled with anger. “No! I is the eldest brother! I is the rules maker! And I is making a rule right now! You is putsing your handses in the log to be getting our treasures!”

Nigel grumbled, but as he saw Loomis’ massive hand knotting into a fist, he seemed to rethink his opposition. “Well, seeings as how you’ve mades it a rule and all…”

Nigel wallowed on his stomach as his burly arms reached and clawed and clambered inside the rotting hollow log. “Best be thinkering up some newer rules, boss,” he said. “If there are treasures in there, they ‘tisn’t cooperating with me handses.”

Loomis turned to Bugbear, his tiny eyes glowing red. “Why ‘tisn’t he able to be pulling out the treasures?”

Bugbear shook his head. “Obviously because someone needs to be pushing it to him from the other side.”

“Ah!” Loomis gasped with joyous revelation. “Ah! Very cleverly! Yes! This log shall not be outsmartsing us this day!”

“But it’s night,” Nigel corrected.

“Shuts up with you!” Loomis snapped. “Back to your reachings. I be pushering from the other ending.”
And so Nigel returned to his wallowing and turning and straining, while Loomis mirrored him at the other end of the log. Their legs beat the ground as they toiled against the troublesome log, struggling to retrieve their elusive prize.

“Oh!” Bugbear exclaimed. “Oh, they’re almost there. Yes. Almost. If only someone had the strength to just give them a right good shove. Oh, but where to find such a someone? Where in all this endless woods?”

“I be someone,” Dubbin said.

“Why, yes! Yes you be… uhm… are,” Bugbear replied. “But my question is, are you strong enough to push them far enough in to where they can get the treasure?”

“Bah,” Dubbin answered. “I be winning the Con Courian County skull crackery two years running, I be.” Dubbin pointed to several large bumps atop his head. “Sees them? They’s my trophy lumps. No one cracks their skull as well against hard things as I does. Not even Loomis.”

“Very impressive,” Bugbear said. He addressed Tudmire. “Cousin, I believe we have found our someone.”

Tudmire looked to his cousin with a face all skewered up in confusion.
Bugbear smiled. He liked it when only he knew what he was thinking. “Well then, dear champion, I suggest you get to cracking that skull of yours against your brother’s backside.”

Dubbin nodded like a dumb animal being praised by its master. “Yes. Cracking I will go.” The ogre set himself into a solid, charge-ready stance. His breath pouring from his mouth like smoke from a dwarven furnace, he rubbed his feet into the earth for leverage. And then he charged, his considerable bulk a blur of motion as he rammed his lumpy, distorted head into Nigel’s backside. There was a great splintering of wood, a great movement of earth, and a great howling of ogres.

“Who be shovering his head up me arse?” Nigel bellowed in a muffled rage.

“I be helpering you finding the treasure,” Dubbin groaned, his head wedged inside the log next to his brother’s rear.

“Moronics!” Loomis cursed as he found himself jammed inside the log and up against a tree.

“Ha ha!” Bugbear laughed. “Delightful! Delightful!” Like a drunken acrobat he skipped and danced and pranced his way to Loomis and plucked the scroll from the ogre’s back pocket. “An excellent manipulation of events!”

“Bugbear, you bloody fool!” Tudmire cursed. “With those big oafs wedged into the log, we’ll never be able to get the treasure out!”

Bugbear sighed… sighed in the way that very intelligent folk sigh when confronted with the ranting of very unintelligent folk. “History lesson, cousin.” He sauntered over to his scattered belongings and commenced gathering them. “Eglwys Cacynen was a goblin monastery founded ages ago by the venerable Whittlegrip. Legend has it that this order developed a new philosophy based upon the concepts of Non-Logic. They studied bees in particular.” He held the bee jar aloft and stared at its prisoner with wide-eyed delight. “Bees, cousin. Creatures that defy logic. They fly even though their fat little bodies are disproportionate to their flimsy little wings. The old tales say that Whittlegrip and his monks actually discovered the secret of the bees… how they use a rotating rather than vertical wing motion to stay aloft. From this startling discovery, Whittlegrip developed the four basic precepts of Non-Logical Thought, which can never be repeated enough. Number one: Reality is Thought. Number two: Logic restricts Thought and thus restricts Reality. Number three: Abandon Logic, abandon restriction. And number four: Unrestricted Thought equals unrestricted Reality! It is said that he even performed a series of successful experiments proving these precepts. But then unknown forces rose against the monks and destroyed their ranks. And the knowledge was lost… for a time. But I have taken up the search for this forgotten science! And I am on the verge, dear cousin. Soon I shall rediscover the lost Treasure of Eglwys Cacynen! Do you hear me, Tudmire?” Bugbear found empty air his answer.


Bugbear turned about to see his cousin sitting in a patch of moonlight, picking coppers from the ground.

“Forty-five. Forty-six. Forty-seven…”

“Bah!” Bugbear grumbled, trying to manage his armful of scholarly treasures. A dull metal skittering met one of his footfalls. “Oh dear!” he cried. “My precious tin of tea!” He fell upon the ground, scattering all but his bee jar as he groped blindly through the dark. “Where is it? For the love of sanity, where is it?” His fumbling fingers fell upon the cold metal edges of the tin. “Ah, my medicine!” he sighed. He tucked the jar beneath his arm and ran a finger along the inside of the tin. “Just enough for one dose.” Trembling, he brought the ambrosia-laden finger to his mouth.

From the pile of belongings at Bugbear’s feet, the scroll crackled with luminance once more. And once more Bugbear fell back, scattering his remaining tea to the night winds and shattering his jar upon a rock. The bee was free. “My tea! My bee! My tea! My bee!” the goblin screeched.
Tudmire looked up from his copper collecting. “What’s that you say? Oh! You’ve lit up that paper again, have you? Excellent! I can see more coppers now!” And he returned to his greedy endeavor.
“Tea or bee?” Bugbear muttered to himself. “Tea or bee? Which is the most important? Which shall I search for first? Only time for one! The tea or the bee! The tea or the bee!” His head turned from side to side, like the pendulum of a tightly wound clock.

Suddenly in the unearthly glow, Bugbear caught the flitting flight of a small form. With the grace of an airborne ballerina, the bee settled upon the edge of the scroll. Using great caution and care, Bugbear picked up the arcane parchment, gently lifting the bee to meet his gaze. It perched there, waving its antennae, and looking to him with endless honeycomb eyes. The bee brought its forelegs together, almost as if in prayer. And then the parchment exploded.

Light scattered in every direction. The entire world was engulfed in luminance. Bugbear could feel the earth beneath his feet trembling and shuddering as though it was alive… and very, very afraid.
Wave after wave of golden and white lights lapped over, under, and into each other. The sky thundered with primal force, ripping and re-forming, collapsing and growing. It seemed as though the world was ending. Or perhaps it was just beginning.

“What is all this noising?” Loomis barked from the log. “What mischiefs be you tricksterers confoundering out there?”

“Cousin!” Bugbear yelled as he peered into the blinding white and gold maelstrom, “can you hear me?”

“Yes,” came Tudmire’s timid reply.

“This scroll has done something! I don’t know exactly what, but chances are we won’t live through it! And before we die, I wanted you to know something…”

“What’s that?”

“This is all your fault!”

The lights swirled a few moments more, separated into sparkling grains, and danced away upon the winds. The thunder dwindled into soft, lazy rumbles. And the earth settled once again into its unmoving stance.

Bugbear shook the stupor from his head. Slowly his eyes focused and he again became aware of the forest and the night. The parchment glowed ever so faintly in his hands, and as the bee took to flight, the light died completely. “Whatever it was, it’s over,” Bugbear gasped.

There came a splintering sound. C-c-c-cr-aaaac-c-c-ket! And then there came vengeful voices. “Your trickeries travail you not anymore, little goblings! Soon breaking free we will be!”

Bugbear took up as many of his belongings as he could shovel into his stunted arms. “Tudmire! Enough of this dawdling! We must run!” He scurried into the brush.

Tudmire sprang after his cousin, and soon the goblins were scrambling through the thickets and briars.

“What happened back there?” Tudmire asked.

“I don’t know,” Bugbear admitted. “Some kind of luminous display, I suppose. Maybe a freak electrical storm. Maybe…”

“Maybe it was magic!” Tudmire gasped.

“Again with the magic? Nonsense! All phenomenon have a scientific explanation, Tudmire! This one just takes a bit more thought is all.”

“It’s magic,” Tudmire said.

“I swear if you say that word one more…” Bugbear stopped. He glanced about the forest. “Wait a moment. This isn’t the way to the village.” He looked up to the night sky. “The village is west and…” Bugbear’s words stuck in his throat.

“And what?” Tudmire asked, looking about in confusion.

“By Pappersnap’s toe trimmings! The stars are all out of place!”

“What? That’s ridiculous! Stars don’t just up and bloody move willy-nilly. Unless they’re magic, that is.”
Bugbear felt impossibilities ricocheting through his head. “I can even make out stars that don’t exist! Madness! Madness! We’re lost beyond lost, cousin! Stranded in a strange land!”
The sounds of falling trees and harsh voices shook the goblins to alertness. “We are free, we are! And now you be dead, you be!”

“Time enough for stargazing later!” Tudmire said. He grabbed his cousin by the collar and pulled him into action.

Bugbear ran, as did his thoughts… skimming through a fog, dancing in the twilight, tripping along dusty roads. This was not the world as he knew it. And as he felt the scroll warm and throbbing in his hand, he could not help but think, “Magic?”

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