Archive for category paranomal phenomena

Social Graces

spiderweb with dewEven though the heroine of my novel, Golden Threads, was kicked out of the manor when her parents were burned at the stake, she was already twelve years old and had been raised to be a lady. Not only had she learned to read and do mathematics, she knew how to embroider, ride a horse (if badly), and run a household. She had learned how to welcome guests, and how to treat servants. Although she was friendly with the village children, she was the Lord and Lady’s eldest, and thus set apart from them. As a small child she was naturally their leader in all of their games. As she grew older, her education and responsibilities kept her away from most of the village children her own age. She knew how to treat them, with respect, but not how to form close bonds.

When she lost all that, and had to struggle to keep herself and her brother alive, the village children she’d once led scorned her, all except Matthew and his siblings. She only connected with the few older women who helped her: women like Matthew’s mother.

Now that she’s living in modern-day England, she finds it even more difficult to make close friends. How does a witch with her history bridge the gap? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because it’s time for her leadership skills to begin to re-emerge, and for her to make use of her childhood lessons in the social graces expected of the eldest daughter of a wealthy landowner.

You can find the newest chapter of my serialized novel, Golden Threads, here, or find all previous chapters by clicking on the novel’s title or the menu link. I love comments, and try to respond to all of them. I do reserve the right to reject any comments for any reason.

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Humans, it seems, like to divide into groups. They pick some characteristic or group of characteristics, such as ancestry, religion, skin color, etc. Those that are like themselves are okay. Those that aren’t are not okay. History is full of these divisions. Sometimes they seem rather silly: do you root for the New York Yankees, or not? But often they lead to deadly results. It seems we have a difficult time living in peace with those who are different from ourselves. Even soccer fans have been known to come to blows, let alone Hutus and Tutsis. As a teacher of mine often says when someone misunderstands her instructions in class: “if we can’t communicate, how can we ever expect to have world peace?”

English: Demonstrator at the March on Washingt...

English: Demonstrator at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wiser people than myself have developed methods for nonviolent communication, although even those can fail. Years ago, I went to an event intended to foster a dialog about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict using nonviolent communication techniques. We did a number of small group exercises, which all went smoothly, and then the organizers brought in the main attraction: two well known men, one a Palestinian and the other an Israeli. An experienced moderator started the discussion. Within fifteen minutes or so, the two men were yelling at each other and threatening to come to blows. The organizers pulled them off the stage and canceled the rest of the event. It sure undermined my belief in those techniques, at least for very volatile situations like that!

Yet, with enough will and heart, barriers between groups can break down. We recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Although racial tensions remain in the US, much has changed, so much so that we have our first black President. We’re intermingling. We’re embracing same-sex marriage, and welcoming gays into our homes.

In my on-line, serialized novel, one witch who come forward in time doesn’t quite fit in, because some of his ancestors were reptilians, the enemies of witches. Like all humans, some witches immediately welcome him, while others judge him without knowing him. To read this newest chapter, and find out how they deal, click here. To read the entire novel, or catch up on missed chapters, go to Golden Threads.


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Love is built on trust

I’ve been reading Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown for the second time. I love her example about the marble jar. She describes the idea on page 48:

Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.

The condition of the jar tells you how much you can trust that person. Trust is built one marble at a time.

This is true for romantic relationships just as much as it is for friendships. We can’t be close to someone, we can’t tell them certain things, when we don’t trust them, and it’s often the little things that build or destroy trust. Thinking about this led to one of the incidents in the latest chapter, Totem, of my serialized novel: Golden Threads. Enjoy!

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School for witches is open

The next chapter of Golden Threads has hit the stands. Have you ever wondered what spells a witch would need to learn first, especially if his or her life was in danger?  Find out here: Chapter 20: The Teachings! To read any chapter to date, click here. Enjoy. Leave me a comment, too.

Since this chapter features Heather, Laura’s sponsor and teacher, I thought we’d interview her for today’s post. Why not! Let’s have some fun with one of our fictional characters.

The "Cave of the Witches" near Akela...

The “Cave of the Witches” near Akelarre in Zugarramurdi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome Heather!

Thanks for having me.

You play a very special role in the lives of our main characters.

I do, indeed. I act as mother to David and Laura, and also as a teacher for Laura and Matthew.

How did you get that role?

I was born to it. I know that sounds odd, and it is a bit unusual. It’s complicated. Are you sure your readers want to know all this?

Of course they do.

You see, ever since the Industrial Revolution began, animals, witches and fairies have worried about the damage it was causing to Mother Earth and all of the creatures living on her. The truth is, we worried long before that, since witches from the future would occasionally appear and warn us how bad it would get. Still, it was difficult to rally much support until humans started burning coal and then other fossil fuels. These future witches would rarely stay long, then they’d be gone and we’d sink back into our old ways.

But then coal came along.

Yes. And exploiting coal and other humanoids gave the reptilians more power than they’d ever had. And we, meaning witches and fairies, formed an alliance to study the issue. We came up with a plan. We’d make a list of the most powerful witches that had ever lived. If things got bad enough, we’d try to bring them forward. In the meantime, we’d cultivate our resources and prepare. Long before Silent Spring was published, we began identifying present day witches and fairies with special abilities.

And you’re one of those special witches.

Yes. So are my parents. They both taught at Oxford. We’re teachers. But we also have strong magic and great memories. My father taught history. My mother was a botanist. She was groomed, just like me, to sponsor witch children from the past, if the need arose. I inherited both my parent’s skills. More than that, I was trained by a special group of witches and fairies, so I can teach all known spells. Plus, I studied psychology at University.

Why that?

It’s a very important skill. Some of the witches we brought forward in the early days, like Laura and David’s father and uncle, were completely unsuited to the task. For example, Laura’s father was very arrogant and unteachable. Her uncle liked to gamble and womanize. We had others that were too shy or just terrible with communication skills. We wanted to make sure we had witches with the right personality. One way to do that was to choose small children, like David, and raise them ourselves. You know, teach them kindness and responsibility along with interpersonal skills. We need real leaders who can work with others. Anyway –

But what about your own daughter?

Wendy? She’ll be fine. She was the kindest child until she turned eleven. It’s interesting seeing how difficult it is to be a teenager in the modern world. She wants to fit in very badly, and she’s fallen in with a selfish, spoiled crowd, but she’s going to snap out of it, I’m certain.

And George? What’s his role?

He makes good money.

Witches need money?

Of course. We can’t go around drawing goods to ourselves with spells. That would draw too much attention.

Is that all with George?

No. He’s only a moderately powerful witch, but he has a strong protection gene. His role is to keep us safe and be a father. It was a lucky break that I fell in love with him. His computer skills are handy, too. That’s what he does. I don’t know enough about his job to explain it to you.

Anything else you want to say to our readers?

Yes. The time will come when we’ll need everyone to do their part to keep the world from turning into a toxic soup, heated to unbearable levels by greenhouse gasses. Get involved. You may not have magic, but you can do your part.

Thank you, Heather.

My pleasure.

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Teen witches

The next chapter of Golden Threads is up! Come to the New Years Eve teen witch party and have a slice of pizza with them by clicking here.

English: New Years Eve at Hallgrímskirkja Reyk...

English: New Years Eve at Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why have a support group for teenaged witches in this novel? When they turn sixteen, many of them have no idea how to use their magic. Sure, a lot of them have learned about being witches from their parents, but learning how to use and handle magic takes practice. Lots of it. Plus there’s a lot more to the world of witches than magic. There’s herbs, talking to animals and plants, ceremonies, and all of the politics and history. It’s also true that no parent or teacher knows everything. It’s good to share information with your peers, and learn from others just a little older than yourself.

Plus, let’s face it, adults never let teens in on all of the secrets, especially when there’s danger involved. Who is going to introduce a child who has barely begun driving to the race course? Of course, some parents will, but most will shield and protect, just when their kids most want to know about everything. Parents agree to the

teen witch club, because older, more experienced teens are monitoring the activities, and the meetings are held in one of the parent’s homes. The amount of supervision is minimal, but someone is there, just in case a spell goes awry and, say, takes out the power in the entire city (it’s happened more than once). A quick reaction by one of the more mature and experienced witches can get the power running quickly, stop a New Years Eve hailstorm or a July blizzard before it starts, and in general keep the world safe from the explorations of the newest practitioners of magic.

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English: Bird's eye panorama of Manhattan & Ne...

English: Bird’s eye panorama of Manhattan & New York City in 1873 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 13 of Golden Threads is up! If you’ve been following along, you can go directly to it, to find out what happens next to our heroine. Or you can click on Golden Threads to find earlier chapters. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

In my last post I asked the question: why do so many novels feature time travel? This week I ask the question, have you ever considered what it would be like for someone from earlier times to land in ours, say in New York City? Even someone born 150 years ago would be completely lost, but what about someone from the sixteenth century? If they avoided being flattened by a moving vehicle their first day here, how would they adapt? Could they? Would it help if some kind soul took them into their family?

It isn’t just the obvious things that would be different for them – modern machines, skyscrapers, asphalt, computers, television, cell phones, electricity – but the basic fabric of life. Take food. For the most part, we don’t grow our own, and we don’t even buy it from the local farmer. We buy it in supermarkets. It comes wrapped in plastic, a substance they’ve never even dreamed of. We cook it in microwaves. Children attend huge schools, until they’re eighteen. We don’t have servants. Instead, we clean our own houses, using machines. Yet we don’t make our own clothing: we buy it pre-made and throw it out when it gets holes in it. We listen to music all of the time. Their world was noisy, full of insects, frogs, and birds, all yammering for attention, but it’s a very different type of noise than one hears in a large city. Just imagine how unprepared someone born five hundred years ago would be for all this.

And the number of people? It’s so different.

What’s something important that I’ve missed? Join the discussion here.

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Chapter 7: Landslide

SSPX0077I hope you’re having fun with the adventures of Laura and her crew. Here’s another installment. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Matthew asked to give you a brief interview:

Hello, Matthew

Hi, Ann

You grew up in a small village, in a valley, right?

Not that small. It’s maybe five hundred people. My father is the Blacksmith. He taught me and my older brother the trade, which he learned from his father. I mostly tend the fire, but sometimes I pound the iron for horseshoes so my da can take a rest. My mum, she keeps the house, along with my three younger sisters. The littlest boy is only two, so he’s more trouble than a help. I often watch him, cause we can’t have him falling into the fire.

You’ve known Laura since you were a little boy?

Yes, my father, he used to be the smithy at the Manor. My mum was the housekeeper. When her uncle took over, he thought mum was too loyal to Laura’s parents, so he brought the village blacksmith in and made da the village smithy. Mum does weaving and sells it at the market. She makes a good solid cloth.

What’s so special about Laura and David that you’d want to rescue them?

She looks right into your heart, Laura does. You can’t hide anything from her. She’s strong, too. When her life changed, she went from spoiled little rich girl to the lowest of the low. She never complained, even though people spat on her for being the witches’ daughter. She didn’t even beg. She just went from house to house asking for work until finally mum hired her to wash cloth and help with the dyeing. She worked hard, Laura did, and another woman saw that and hired her off mum. Which was a good thing, because mum couldn’t keep paying her.

And David?

He’s a lot like Laura, but lighter and easier. Course, he’s little, so that could change. You’ll see. You can’t help but love him. He knows how to get you feeling good about yourself.

It wasn’t fair what happened to them. Laura’s carrying around a world of grief and pain, but she always did have a serious way about her, as if she knew from the beginning that she’d have to figure things out for herself.

Thank you, Matthew. We’re out of time, but I’d love to chat with you again.

My pleasure.

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