All Souls’ Night

Bonfires dot the rolling hillside,/Figures dance around and around

To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness,/Moving to the pagan sound.

It was not on All Souls Eve but on Midsummer, Sommerwende, the turning of summer, that I saw bonfires leaping from the mountains, fire dancing on an ancient bridge, and caught hints of something far, far older than St. John’s Eve. Continue reading


Disney, Folk-lore, and Music

The students finished their work early, I had nothing new planned, and it appeared that the majority were playing games, reading books, or counting the spots on the ceiling tiles. So, in honor of the season, I inquired how many were familiar with “Night on Bald Mountain” from Fantasia. Less than half.

So I asked if they wanted to see it. They did, so I turned on the projector, called up the video, and turned out the lights.

There’s a lot more in that thirteen minutes of movie than I remembered. Continue reading

Saturday Story: RajWorld Part 8

Of Hunters and Hunted . . .

Chapter 8: Patterns and Finds

Rigi watched the striped leapers browsing on some brushy kalo plants in the grass below her. The cluster of a dozen or so heavy-bodied, long-headed marsupials hopped slowly as they nibbled their way down the small valley. Several of the females still had young in the pouch, and the matriarch and patriarch kept close watch on the sky for broadwings. Rigi ignored the older animals, far more interested in a yearling that seemed to be lagging behind, healthy but distracted by something upwind. It stopped and rose fully onto its back feet, looking left and right, back to her. Rigi sighted to the left of the spine, just below the shoulder, and fired.

The tan and black striped animal fell forward without a sound. Did the others notice? Rigi kept still, watching. Another yearling paused, turning its head as if to look for the dead leaper. Kor fired and the second yearling dropped. The leaper clan moved on, not noticing the two missing, or not caring. Since the two yearlings had been lagging behind for several days, Rigi suspected that the others did not miss them yet. The wind blew across the clan toward Rigi and Kor, hiding the tell-tale burnt smell of a beam-shot animal. Even so, Rigi waited for Kor’s signal to safety the rifle and follow him down the slope.

They needed meat, and the two leapers would feed the camp’s omnivores for several days. Rigi offered a little prayer to the Creator and Creatrix for their gift and for a clean shot. Kor had been forced to finish off a pain-maddened long-nosed wombeast that had survived an attack by striped lions, and the sounds and smell drove home the order that if they couldn’t kill, they shouldn’t shoot. And that wounded animals had to be finished. Continue reading

Aunt Dragon

“Hi, Aunt Dragon!” a post-toddler waves from the computer screen. I wave back, my parents fight off giggles, Sib-in-law looks amused and Sib ducks a little. It’s bad enough that strangers assume Red 2.0 is mine, because she looks very much like me, minus the age spots. Now she’s decided that Aunt Alma is not my proper name. And it’s my fault. A dragon followed me home 4 years ago. Continue reading

Assembling Story pieces

Like many writers, I have a snippet file. This is the place where ideas that are not quite fully formed go, or scenes that lack a story, or things that need to be written but are not really canon get consigned. Some of the latter . . . ick. Rada having a pity party? Not that kind. There’s also some half-formed scenes that never worked but that inspired something that actually did fit, and some lousy early snippets that I keep around because they remind me that progress is possible, and what not to write (when you can hear the sad violins swelling in the background and everything goes into soft focus? No. It’s not going to work, not for me at least.)

However, after several years, a piece that ended up in the file bubbled up and helped change a chapter to make it far, far better than the original. Here’s what happened. Continue reading

Light One Candle, Write one Book

The comment said, in effect, that writing a few novels won’t stem the tides of darkness and the threats facing Western Civilization. The writer was, and is, quite correct, except . . . there have been a few times when a book changed enough people’s minds to tip a close balance. And there have been a few cases in history when one person made such a difference, or inspired such a movement, that it shifted societies and cultures, sometimes for the good, sometimes for ill. I don’t aspire to be that person – I’m not Harriet Beecher Stowe, or Paul of Tarsus, or Siddhartha Gautama. I’m just a writer and a teacher, a historian and occasional blogger. But if one spark touches two candles, and they touch four more, and another sixteen, and so on, the whole world might be lit. The first match will have burnt out, but the fire started somewhere. Continue reading