Eternal Road – by: John W. Howell

It’s the road trip of a deathtime.

I’d say lifetime, but both lead characters, James and Samantha, have already passed. Where are they going? I can’t tell you. However, a few brief glimpses of their journey are in order.

Of course I was keen on knowing why John had picked this particular car.

Resa – Why did you pick the 1965 Oldsmobile? Why turquoise and white?

John – The 1965 Oldsmobile was selected since it represents my awakening in high school. I was born in Detroit and when I was 15 moved to the suburbs. During high school I used to wash and wax a neighbors 1965 Oldsmobile coupe. Yes, it was turquoise and white and had fancy hubs and white wall tires. The car represents the suburbs since the real item very seldom got very dirty and existed without the inner city grime, pings, and nicks. It always struck me as a symbol of innocence and purity. No one in the city would drive a car like that. If they did it probably would have been stolen or at least vandalized.

So, I hopped in the car. First stop I remember was the wild west.

Resa – Were you enthralled by tales of the wild west when you were a kid? Did you watch all the westerns on TV?

John – Yes I loved westerns when I was a kid. I used to watch the old shows. Hoppalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers were my favorites.

John – I should also add I held a history minor in College so my learning about the old west never stopped.

So crazy how John wove everything together in this story. In terms of suspension of disbelief; I was there, as John took me hither and yon.

Yon… the devil, evil, trickery and punishment can take on any and many forms. So it does in this saga.

He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere, so beware! He’s even in Las Vegas!

I loved when we were with the horses. They are gorgeous creatures and have helped mankind immensely.

Then the devil….AGAIN! In the form of War!!

We go back to the horses. Why? Mmm that would be a spoiler. Where do we go after that. Again, spoiler.

Resa – I used the search tool. I was systematic and careful. Eyes are mentioned on almost every page, mostly due to travelling, but I could not find the colour of Sam’s eyes. I also searched brown, blue, hair…no luck. Thing is, I was thinking of drawing Sam as an angel, maybe no wings. This way I could do a gown.

John – You are not crazy. You won’t find a color of Sam’s eyes since I very seldom describe the characters in terms of physical attributes. My reason for doing this is I would rather the reader form an image in their mind of what the characters look like. So you can make her eye color whatever pleases you. She is more your character than mine since you invested your time reading the book. You can do whatever you wish.

Resa – I see her with light brown hair, and green eyes.
I know she and James look totally human, not like angels for sure. I’m looking for a reason to draw her in a gown. I’m sure I’ll think of one.

John – Since she died when she was seven I think she would be thrilled to be dressed in a gown just like a princess she dreamed of being when she was little.

Resa – Okay first drawing is along the lines of a Disney Princess. If Sam was murdered in 2003 … then Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aurora, and Cinderella, would all be an influence.

John – Sam was murdered in 2003 when she was 7. She certainly would have been influenced by Belle, Aurora, and Cinderella .

Did you ever look up the meaning of the name Samantha?

John – The name Samantha in Hebrew means “As told by God.” When my daughter was born we looked up a bunch of names and we selected another. I always liked the name and I wanted to use it. Also in this story and the next one Sam seems to be constantly telling James the rules of Eternity. I think she comes by being the mouthpiece of God quite naturally.

Resa – This second drawing, more straight from my imagination is partly based on one of the lesser known meanings of Samantha. My search yielded Flower. Another is Listener. “As told by God.” is the most listed. Sam has grown up, as has her idea of a princess.
I think both interpretations are valid.

John –  I agree with your statement that the interpretations are valid. Thank you for sharing these beautiful drawings.

Resa – My pleasure! John, thank you for writing this book!

Click on the cover of Eternal Road, and go to John’s Amazon page.

Visit John on his blog!

Pics taken by Resa – 2013 to 2021

Toronto & Winnipeg

The artists:

Horses – Mandy Van Leeuwen, War – Charlie Johnson, Horse & Cart – John Kuna, Devil Dude – Len Lone Child, Cowboy silhouettes – Joe Viera

The Sorcerer’s Garden – D. Wallace Peach

Wow! Fantasy adventure, mystery and reality all rolled into one. Lillian might be looking into a crystal ball, but all else can only see what she, the Dreamer, reveals.

Peach has us looking through that crystal ball revealing window, always. Yet, are we looking into a garden filled with verdant life, or from the garden into a darkness? Perhaps death? In fact, the author takes us to both sides & then a third.

The saga opens in a time long ago. Two brothers, Dustin and Cody, slay a fire breathing dragon. It’s a well planned battle, and the brothers emerge heroes.

Peach quickly takes us to a second revealing window. We are in a different time. Place?  I was compelled to ask the author a few questions.

Peach – Well, I haven’t ever visited a catacomb or a crypt, though I’d like to! I tend to collect images randomly from the internet and use them to gather cool details – like the slant of light or the shape of columns or the pattern of tiles on the floor.

The Sorcerer’s Garden was a little different because it takes place in Portland, Oregon, near where I live. I used the Pittock Mansion, a real place, as Dustin and Cody’s mansion home. To prepare for the book, I took a private tour of the building (now a museum) and got to explore the areas the public doesn’t normally get to visit.

I took tons of notes, and collected photos and floor plans. Lillian’s music room in the book is exactly as it looked in the house. The tour included the basement, which was a little creepy and dusty and made for a perfect catacomb.

It was strange and disorienting going there for another tour after I completed the book. I felt like I’d stepped into the pages. I stood in Cody’s room, leaned on the counter where Pagan made coffee, and sat on Lillian’s sofa, looking out her picture window.

Resa – Quite cool, or in more modern words -that’s sick!

Resa – Our lead character, Madlyn, wears a black gown, the hem trimmed with onyx beads. It’s to a corporate dinner hosted by Dustin, head of the corporation. She is his social co-host. It sounds like a simple classic piece, no frills or poufs. She accessorizes with her mother’s elegant string of pearls.

 When we first see Princess Madlyn, in days of yore and gore, she’s in a black gown, its hem trimmed in onyx. Is she wearing any other jewels? A  different necklace, perhaps? Gloves?

Peach – I love your impressions of her gowns. I always envisioned the gowns as the same, since the story is already starting to overlap with the real world. But I never say that in the book, so her gowns are created by each reader’s imagination.
One of the coolest things about writing is that readers fill in the blanks, not only in clothing but in the general appearance of the characters and the setting. You’re the expert, so let your imagination create. Anything you do will be just right! I might even add some of your details to the book!
Resa – I imagined 2 gowns, as the story proceeded. One is her original black gown, with the addition of shoes and a sweater (scripted). The gown is now torn from horse riding through battles, the sweater disheveled.
Confession! First, I did create a gown that was not scripted. Yet, the era apparent of the story gave me way to come up with this gown. In the end I realize I created a fusion image. The image is Madlyn, The Queen & Lillian the Dreamer, all rolled into one.

So, to the battles. I engage emotionally when I write, so I hold my breath, make faces, grit my teeth, and cry when something bad happens.
My husband used to worry about me sobbing at my laptop, but knows to ignore it now.
I figure I need to immerse myself in a scene emotionally and feel all the feelings, because if I hold back, readers will sense the distance. I don’t feel bad about slaughtering monsters and bad guys, but it does hurt when I bump off characters I’ve grown fond of, and that certainly was the case in the book. The twist at the end changed the story, but in the moment, I was blubbering. I prepare by scheduling big chunks of time for tough scenes. That way I can give in, go where I need to go, process, and finish in one sitting.

Resa – There are some really bad guys in your story. I mean BAD, and not in the cool way.

The bad guys start off mean, greedy and willing to give into the Soul Thief. Once they give into the Soul Thief, they physically evolve into individual images of that evil. Peach, I bumped into this piece of alley art. I thought – OMG, it’s Warson, most of the way though his metamorphosis. His hair is evolving into horns, and he’s not dressed. Gross!

We find ourselves at the third revealing window. You’ll want to peer keenly through this window! It seems like there is a third entity, a spirit perhaps, writing another book. Nonetheless, it’s still this book. This is a brilliance of Peach’s writing. I’ve said lots, yet said nothing. You’ll just have to read the book!

This book deserves  all great reviews and accolades. It is in many ways about the age old struggles: peace and love vs. hate and war, bad vs. good; decency vs. cruelty. It is intense. Although good triumphs, it is not without loss. This is also an ancient reality.

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Visit Diana on her blog!

You can buy D. Wallace Peach’s books on:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kobo

All pics of street art taken by Resa – 2019 – 2022

Toronto, Canada

Artists:

Dragon (manipulated) – from a mural by Allan Bender John Nobrega & Stacey Kinder

All other artists unknown

Dead of Winter – Teagan’s Challenge

Teagan from Teagan’s Books has been publishing a serial, “Dead of Winter”. It’s a series of journeys (12 so far). She issued a challenge.

THE CHALLENGE

“Create something using Emlyn’s world as portrayed in Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak, as your inspiration.  Not a story with my characters, but anything else you please.”

I came up with:

HOW TO KNIT A PONCHO

To take the chill off the fall mornings, when picking apples.

1 – GATHER YOUR YARN AND NEEDLES.

I suggest using a mid weight, natural, unbleached and not dyed yarn so as to not tick off the Brethren of Un’Naf.

2 – LET’S DO A GARTER STITCH. It is the most basic of all, doesn’t curl so won’t need a finish and its boring repetitive nature will please the Brethren of Un’Naf.

(It’s so easy! There are many tutorials online)

3 – MAKE A GAUGE SWATCH.

Cast on 40 stitches and knit 40 rows, then cast off.
Again, many tutorials online.

Block! Use gentle steam, and pat the sample dry.
Make a 1” by 1” square window in the centre of a 4″ by 4″ piece of
cardboard.
Place the window in the centre of the swatch.
Count stitches across. Count rows down.

4 – MAKE A PATTERN.

Using a measuring tape over your shoulder, let it hang from where the
point will be in the back, to where it ends in the front.

Drape the tape from below left elbow, across the back of the neck to
below the right elbow.

For discussion sake – Let’s say you want your poncho to be 60 inches
long (30″ down the front and 30″ down the back.) You need  50 inches at its widest point, 25 ” down each arm from your 7th cervical. (The bone in the centre back of your neck)

Draw a shape! It does not have to be to scale. Here, we have a diamond shape. For a more complicated shape, a full size pattern would be necessary.

For discussion sake, let’s pretend there are 6 stitches & 10 rows in the 1″
window.

Let’s start with rows. If you need to knit 60 inches – and there are 10 rows in an inch – you need to knit 60 x 10 = 600 rows.

However, you will need a neck hole at the halfway point – Row 300.

Okay, so at the 1/2 way point (which is at row 300) you will be at the widest point. In this case – 50 inches.

If 1 inch = 6 stitches, then 50 inches – 50 x 6 = 300 stitches.

I suggest casting on 3 stitches (1/2 inch). Knit 1 row. Consider this your 0 point.

Now you need to increase from 0 to 300 in 300 rows. This is adding 1 stitch per row. It will be wise, so as not to knit a lopsided diamond shape, to increase 2 stitches every other row. Add one stitch on each side, every other row.

At row 300, you will make a neck hole.

Measure around your head and add 2 inches. I have 24 inches.
Divide this by 2 = 12.

Centre the 12 inches at stitch 150, which is the centre of 300 stitches – 6 inches on each side of centre. 6 inches x 6 stitches = 36 stitches.

We now minus 36 stitches from 150. 150- 36 = 114.
So, at row 300 knit 114 stitches. Then cast off 72 stitches (36 for each side of centre.) Continue to finish knitting that row.

Next row is still 300 stitches. You will knit 114 stitches, then CAST ON 72 stitches. Finish knitting the row.

Knit 1 more row of 300 stitches.

Okay, now we need to get back to to a 1/2″ point.

Do the exact opposite! Decrease 2 stitches every other row, at the sides.
When you get to 3 stitches, knit 1 more row and cast off.
Your poncho is done!

You will need to block the knit into shape by steaming and patting dry, or spritzing with water and patting dry. Use a measuring tape to make sure you are creating a proper shape. (T-pins are used for fancier blocking, but this is a simple shape, so not needed)

In order to please the Brethren of Un’Naf, do not add fringe, tassels, or create a striped colourful pattern by changing colours of yarn every few rows.

Let’s just hope they aren’t annoyed by the fancy point!

✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑✒︎✑

I’ve read the first 3 Journeys. They are excellent. Teagan is a wonderful, entertaining writer. She gifted me, and anyone answering the challenge a book. I got book 4. Unfortunately, I live in Canada, and the Kindle offer is only good in the U.S.A. Thank you, Teagan! I appreciate the thought.

On Saturdays, you can follow the adventure “The Armadillo Files” on her blog.

Click on the cover of Journey 1, above, and go to Teagan’s Amazon page with all of the Journeys. When there, click on her author’s name, and you will find all of her other books.

You can buy Journeys 1, 2 & 3 0n KOBO. (That’s where I bought mine)

Hullaba Lulu & Thistledown Midsummer Bedlam are also available on KOBO.

 

The Blue-Eyed Cat

This tale by Mike Steeden is one of the most imaginative stories I have ever read.

Using street art, I will present a feel that moves along with the book’s official blurb.

‘A book of mind boggling time-travel,

feverish sex, syrupy romance,

ho hum history,

a dark future, The Moon,

Constantinople,

Paris and Berlin,

human consciousness, infinity,

a tongue in cheek take on all things carnal,

art for art’s sake

and three thoroughly mad yet oh so delightful gals’

I drew one a one-eyed blue-eyed cat, for Mike. Mike, Eye’m sure this is nothing you ever imagined. However, after reading “The Blue-Eyed Cat”, which I thoroughly enjoyed,I was inspired to this! Also, I believe the video below is apropos.


Should “The Blue-Eyed Cat” take your fancy it can be found at;

Amazon UK link: THE BLUE-EYED CAT – PAPERBACK
Kindle UK link: KINDLE EDITION
Amazon US link: THE BLUE-EYED CAT – PAPERBACK
Kindle US link: KINDLE EDITION

Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce

Ste J reviews this book from Puffin Books, and I’m impressed. It sounds like a wonderful tale. Hey, did you know Ste j has 27 reviews in the “Children’s Literature” category on his blog? Book to the Future is a must follow!

Book to the Future

toms_midnight_gardenThirteen! proclaimed the clock, and then stopped striking.  Tom’s mind gave a jerk: had it really struck thirteen?

For Tom – angry and alone – the stroke of thirteen brings an escape to another time.

A magical, secret time and place, where friendships await and nothing is as it seems…

Look at this particularly fantastic cover it just screams out ‘read me’, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to do just that.  It wasn’t until I’d read the ending that I realised I had actually watched the wonderful BBC version in the 80’s, back when kids TV was made to be sinister and engrossing.  I may have to do a post on that….

I have long been a firm believer that silence challenges the reader’s imagination and as ever I chose that medium in which to immerse myself in this wonderful book, a masterpiece the cover…

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