It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


A fanciful short story originally written for my sister, Kathy...Dedicated to all who soar high, travel far and take joy in the art of dreaming.

Once upon a time by a river near the southern sea, the fairy-like beings that lived in Cypress Point almost got a long-held wish fulfilled.
    In this small village lush with flora and fauna, the residents and other creatures that inhabit this part of the earth work well together; their village is one that thrives.
    Most of the villages have inhabitants that are deemed, ‘unusual’ or, ‘odd’… Cypress Point was no exception. If asked to describe Sade, most villagers would say, ‘precocious’ – and follow that with: ‘Sade keeps to herself, spends all her time dreaming,’
     But very few complained out loud about her oddities because Sade always did her part for the village and, often, did her task better than others. Sade had an important task: keeper of accounts, ensuring that each resident received an equal share of silver-edged stones, ones that served as the currency of the time.
It was easy for Sade to keep to herself once her work day was over. She was one of the few villagers to build a nesting spot way up above the ground, high in the top of a tall cypress tree. Most residents built their nests on the ground, cozily abutting the trunks of the trees. “Being close ensures the safety of our village plus, it’s easier to visit with each other,” these residents would say to any newcomer.
    When Sade was asked, “But, why is your nest up so high?” her answer was a nonchalant response: “To be closer to the realm of dreaming.”

The villagers of Cypress Point are, for the most part, a congenial bunch. After the daily tasks are done, many villagers gather to play games or engage in the centuries-old tradition of nest-visiting, the common way to relax. To the puzzlement of some villagers, however, Sade usually chose to head up to her nest after work. Usually when a neighbor asked her to stop in and visit, Sade graciously declined, thinking:  I need time to clear my mind in preparation for dream-time.
    The recognition for Sade was that dreaming soothed her soul. The few villagers who took the time to observe Sade, her inherent cheerfulness, came to understand her choice.
   Truth be told, there were a few who were secretly jealous of Sade’s ability to dream; they often tried to force themselves but, alas, were unable to remember any dreams and thus, had nothing exciting to reveal. If any had bothered to ask, Sade would have explained that dreaming deeply cannot be forced…lack of success is due to a desire for outer results, not inner experience.
    The other villagers had grudgingly come to accept her oddities yet still made the effort to entice Sade to join them in playing forest games or neighborly gatherings. Sade assented just often enough to placate their pleas. ‘Placating’ was a lesson that she had learned early on, in her growing-up years.
    As in most communities, there are the few who resort to badgering those who do not conform to the norm. “Sade, you need to grow up, be like everyone else – It’s our way,” one creature named Rastus often whined when the subject came up though it was rare for Sade to respond. From her observations, she knew that Rastus merely liked the sound of his own voice…It’s the only time he gets noticed was her unspoken thought.
    Admittedly, it was difficult at first for Sade to handle the constant enticements and badgering from others – in the past, she had often felt stirrings of anger and guilt. Instead of arguing back or challenging their views, however, Sade had learned to follow her mother’s advice: honor and assuage the urgings of your own inner nature; let their arguments go dancing off into the wind. Thus, with practice, it was now easy for Sade to temper any residual reactions; she merely listened, and observed. 
    Now, many villagers choose to let Sade handle their accounting issues for she was kind and always helpful; and they usually walked away with a smile or a bit of laughter. Which brings up another oddity about Sade that a few still puzzled over: why was Sade always chuckling to herself? No one who thought this odd ever had the nerve to ask her.
    Here is the main reason for Sade’s chuckles: she was content with her own self and rarely saw a reason to stay mad or upset. Over the years, observations had shown her that every villager had their own personality quirks. Behind her chuckles was usually the thought: Each of us is unique…I fit in quite nicely!
On one fine day off after a stressful week of handling more than the usual accounting issues, Sade awoke and, instead of writing down her dreams, stood up and gazed out from her nest. The morning light sparkling on the river below beckoned and her eyes followed the dazzling sparkles down-river until they became tinged with sunrise orange, at the place where the river met the sea.
     What would it be like to dream upon the river? Sade wondered. Do I have to be up so high to dream? “Well, I won’t know until I try!” she said and excitedly began running around the nest to get ready.
     The villagers were quite surprised to see Sade flitting down from the cypress tree that held her nest. “It’s not an accounting day so what is Sade doing?” they wondered aloud to each other.
    Sade merely smiled at those she passed and went into the woods collecting armfuls of large branches and strong vines, making a pile on the river bank. Though no one said anything to her, most were sneaking quick glances at Sade, curious to see what she was up to. When she felt that she had enough materials, Sade began to lay out the larger branches and then cross those with the smaller ones.
    “Aha!” said two of the more curious villagers – “She’s building a raft – finally!” And they set off, running about in the village to spread the news.
    Sade finished tying the branches together using the vines then stood up and pushed the raft into the river, tying it off on a branch with the end of a vine.  Almost rightone more thing, she thought and began to gather a bunch of soft grasses and leaves.
    By then, quite a crowd had gathered. The residents were whispering to each other, excitedly thinking that Sade was finally going to join them in the day’s river games.
    “Why else would she be making a raft,” one villager said out loud, peering around at another who stared then responded: “But what is she going to do with all the tall grasses and leaves?”
    Neither had an answer; this was indeed puzzling.
     Sade stay focused on her task until she had gathered a nice-sized pile. Carefully now, she tossed the leaves onto the raft and, using a long pole, smoothed them into an even layer in the middle of the raft. The soft grasses were next tossed atop the leaves.
    “How smart – what a great idea! We could all use a soft seat,” said one of the residents, clapping his hands; but the rest held back, still unsure.
    Sade looked up at her fellow villagers and smiled then said, “It’s such a good day for dreaming.”  She chuckled excitedly, stepped lightly onto the raft and, using the pole, pushed away from the bank and out into the river. With a final wave to the others, she put down the pole and lay down upon the grass bed.
   Stunned into silence, the villagers looked at each other, shrugged and went on about their day, most still hopeful that Sade was just taking a short nap. “Well, she did work hard building that raft,” one said out loud. “Sade needs to rest awhile, and then she’ll join us in some games – it is still early.”
    Sade, however, was not exhausted at all. She was in a state of exhilaration as she prepared to dream, loving the sensation of being gently lulled by the flow of the river. The gentle rocking motion of her raft sent Sade quickly into the land of dreams.

Unformed segments of dreams began to unify into sequence while Sade was asleep, drifting down the river. By the time her raft reached the sea, Sade was fully into her dream-state.
    Sade was a seaman, a human in charge of a large boat with many sails. Under a brilliant blue sky, she furled and trimmed the sails, billowing winds carrying the vessel quickly across the sea towards a foreign land.
    As the ship was about to touch upon the land, the dream shifted and Sade transformed from strong, bulky seaman into a woman of older-age, her head tilted back in a fit of delightful laughter. Silver white hair swirled about as this Sade turned to thank a waiter as he served a plate of steaming broiled lobster and succulent spiced shrimp. Lifting her glass of merlot, Sade inhaled the combination flavors of dark berry fruit, light spices and smoky-toasted oak.
    Just as she tilted her glass to drink, the dream-curtain shimmered and Sade was now a khaki-clad woman in a canoe, paddling on a lush wide river. She dipped the paddle into the river just as an elongated body with prominent whiskers on a dark face popped up beside her and, after emitting a shrill, chattering call, rolled onto his back.  Making a chattering sound back, Sade dropped her hand into the river and the giant river otter paddled over for a …
    The curtain shimmered again ever so slightly and Sade became an otter, swimming effortlessly underwater then suddenly popping up to the surface, cavorting in play with a family of otters.

Atop the raft, Sade – the dreaming fairy-creature – sighed deeply on the bed of grasses, a smile upon her face. The deepest states of dreams are the most captivating; one can actually taste, see, touch, hear and smell…as if the dreams were indeed real.
    On the raft, Sade’s smile broadened…the dream-curtain had shimmered once more, transforming Sade into a young woman walking in a sunlit field hand in hand with  a man – my lover Sade thought. Even in sleep, her mouth formed the words.
    ProvenceI am in Provence! was the young woman’s thought as she took off running in circles around her lover,  her  fingers running gently through the many flowers bright with shades of the color purple.
    And then the dream curtain shimmered again – Sade was herself, a fairy creature, though back on the sea, on her raft.
    It was dark…the sea reflected a rage that came out of the sky: explosive booms of thunder and flashes of lightening intermittently lit up the dark, with rambunctious waves churning all around. The raft was falling apart; Sade tried valiantly to keep herself from falling into the tormented sea.
     “It’s going to eat me,” she screamed, and, at that moment, the raft splintered and the stormy sea pulled Sade under. As the surging tides from beneath grabbed her body and sucked her down, Sade’s terrifying thought was: This is my end.

And it was, yet only in the dream.
     The raft was bucking and water was splashing all around yet not because of a storm.  Villagers had jumped onto the raft causing Sade’s dream to seem more real than usual. She awoke from her dream with a cry expecting to be drowning in the sea; instead four of her neighbors’ faces were peering down at her. “Are you okay – you were screaming,” said Faustus.
    Sade began to laugh then and, in an effort to catch her breath, sat up. The villagers scrambled back to move out of her way, making the raft rock even more. This set Sade off on another bout of laughing until finally she caught her breath, wiped tears from her eyes and spoke: “I went out-of-body; it was so glorious, my dreams – I was so many people, went to so many places – even to my death.”
    The four villagers looked away, shocked…shaking their heads. They don’t understand Sade thought to herself as she stood up, giving each one a smile.
    “Thank you,” she said to each villager as each stepped back onto their own rafts. Still shaking their heads in puzzlement, each of the four began to pole their way back down the river to Cypress Point’s shore.
    Sade chuckled aloud at the sight of the four villagers moving away in the rafts, sitting atop their own piles of leaves and grasses.

Sitting back down, Sade dug into her satchel and found her journal intact. Shaking off the drops of water, she took out her favorite quill. “This is one for the books,” she said out loud, still chuckling. Dipping the quill into an ink-filled acorn, she began to write.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


It is a pleasure today to have as my guest, Julia Hughes. I happen to be a huge fan of this London-born author’s tales though she tells me that all fans are really, ‘fellow travelers.’

Everyone enjoys a giveaway and Julia Hughes is offering some great ones!

‘Celtic Cousins Adventures’ Reloaded Blog Tour’ launches the release of a newly re-edited version of Julia's time-travel romantic adventure, A Ripple in Time.
The new version is available today from these virtual bookstores:
Nook Books: click here. 
Amazon: click here.
WH Smith (in the U.K.): click here.
 Smashwords: click here.

 Readers can expect to have a smoother reading experience on their Ebook devices.

For those who enjoy paperback reads, the new version will be released in paperback on December 10.
It is so easy to enter Julia’s giveaway contest. Head over to her website - here - then click onto the Rafflecopter link and follow the easy instructions. The prizes are:

FIRST PRIZE: Autographed Paperback: ‘A Ripple in Time’ with a unique SPECIAL edition. The winner’s name will be featured in the book as a passenger on board the Titanic.

SECOND PRIZE: An Amazon $10 gift card.

A RUNNER’S UP prize will be given to twenty (20) people – a free ebook format copy of A Ripple in Time.  

A special congratulations to Julia! Her protagonist, Wren – the more mystical of the two Celtic Cousins, has just received an award. In the recent eFestival of Words Awards Hall for 2013, Wren was nominated for “Best Hero” and voted by readers into joint second place.

A Ripple in Time SYNOPSIS: Wren awakes in a present day in which World War I never ended and the alternative-Wren died as a child. Somehow, his nightmares entered the dreams of Carina, a girl on board the Titanic. Using Wren’s knowledge, she has been able to avert tragedy, so creating a ripple in time. With the help of Carina’s descendant, Carrie, Wren must find a way to go back and restore the time line. If he does, the lives of those aboard the vessel will be lost and the love of his life will never be born. Will he be able to save the present or is history as we know it doomed?

Julia’s note: “An iconic image of the last century, the Titanic represents hope, ambition and tragedy. It marks the beginning of the end of an era. However, A Ripple in Time isn’t all about the Titanic. It’s about making unbearable decisions, taking chances and allowing faith and love to grow.”
To read my review of A Ripple in Time, click on the page shown at the top of the blog.

Julia agreed to take some time and answer a few questions about her writing in general and a few questions I have specific to A Ripple in Time.

Q: Writing a novel is not as easy a task as some might think! What is it that compels you to pour a ton of glue on your chair, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), lock the door and shut off the phone?

A: (Had to stop and think about this one!) I think everyone indulges in daydreams from time to time – what would our world be like if, say for example, Lee Harvey Oswald had never been born? I take these fantasies one step further and, honestly Dody, it’s annoying to other people because I can easily lose myself in an entire movie running inside my scatterbrain mind. There are more questions than answers; so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’. I guess you could say I’ve invented my own solutions to mysteries that niggle. Writing down these stories seemed a natural progression.

Q: Since I am an avid fan, having read each of the aforementioned novels, I’ve come to appreciate your great ability to weave into your stories not only the day-to-day minutiae of living but also historical facts, geographical landmarks and mystical possibilities. Are you a student of history; an ardent observer of people and life?

A: I wish! Who wouldn’t love to live their lives in study? I’m so envious of youngsters nowadays who have so many opportunities to access learning. The internet has widened things up to us oldies as well but, in another life, I would be a historian. For me, history speaks. It’s all around us, sometimes mysterious, sometimes quite plainly saying, “This is how your great grandmother lived, worked and played.” Our ancestors’ ‘magic’ is our science and, in the years to come, for certain many mysteries will be explained by science to our children.
Q: In other interviews, you have shared that you have a fascination for historical events. What intrigued you so about the sinking of the RMS Titanic – so much so that you wove such an intense, intricate tale surrounding this event?

A: The lifeboat scenes you see in the film "A Night to Remember" were filmed at our local lido. That and the fact that the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912 were the only two facts I knew about this tragic event before writing ARIT. Any pivotal moment in time would have served the story line. I originally selected the assassination of The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which provided the catalyst for World War One. Anyone who's read the war poets or Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" will understand why I had to abandon that storyline as being too raw. The Titanic's tragedy led to an appalling and needless loss of life, but it was a tragedy dwarfed by the war that followed.
Q: ARIT is one of the most incredible stories that I have ever read – in my view, you wrote a brilliant story. How did you gather and discern the possibilities that could ensue regarding the alternative world that we would have had if the Titanic had made it into New York City?
A: Thanks for the up – you can come over for dinner any day! As I read through the inquests' transcripts, it became apparent that floorboards were shifting, the conventional class structures were challenged. The American courts and newspapers in particular were vocal in their condemnation of the "establishment" and upper classes. "Why should the value of a life be based on social status?" was a question asked repeatedly. The owner of the White Star Line, Mr. Bruce Ismay was called to the stand, and appeared bewildered that anyone should even think, let alone ask this question.
The "Zimmermann telegram" inviting Mexico to invade America with Germany's backing actually exists. It's pretty easy to imagine what might have happened to European history and development, without America's intervention in the World Wars.
Q: As in all of the Celtic Cousins Adventure tales, the descriptions of your characters and their dialogues are so vivid that they practically leap off the pages, bringing readers like me into the story itself. Especially when scripting the complex scenes and dialogues in ARIT, did you go into some sort of writer’s altered state – were there ‘ripple in time’ experiences in your mind that leapt out at you?

A: Again – I'm flattered – you're really too kind. But of course, readers read a different story from the one the author thought they wrote. Isn't that the beauty of reading? You bring your own imagination to the table, and the story comes to life.
I imagine for most writers, their fictional characters live. It's a fabulous feeling to know that for one reader, the Celtic Cousins and Detective Crombie exist.
Julia Hughes is London-born and the author of five notable novels that are personal favorites:  the remarkable Celtic Cousins Adventure series - A Raucous Time, A Ripple in Time and An Explosive Time. The Bridle Path is a delightful romance set in the Cornish countryside and The Griffin Cryer is a fantastical not-just-for-young-adult adventure for griffin rider wannabes like me.