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A Visit from David Kummar

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David Kummar is the author of a number of books, including the War of Enden series, which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Welcome to my blog, David. I believe you have a new book out, called My Abigail. Please tell us something about it.

 

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“She would always be my Abigail.”
It was always about Abigail, for me. The book is called My Abigail, the major plot twist has to do
with Abigail, and the character I was reduced to tears over was Abigail. Trust me, I cried
countless times writing this book.
So, why is the main character named Caleb? Let me explain this book.
Caleb is a teenager, who lives in a small rivertown. He isn’t the cool type of teenager. He’s
lonely, angry, moody, unhappy, and doesn’t really have any friends. Not one. So when he meets
Abigail, who is as kind as she is beautiful, the two mesh pretty well. After all, what choice did
Caleb have, unless he wanted his high schools years to -as the kids say- suck?
Around the same time, he meets Xavier, a nerd who he’s heard all about but never met. They
become friends as well. Then there’s Ayva, the little girl his mom babysits. She’s creepy… really
creepy… but nice enough. They get along, and for Caleb it’s like having the responsibility of
being a big brother.
Things turn dark, as things tend to do. Abigail has her secrets. Xavier isn’t who he says. Ayva
continues to act stranger and stranger. And Damian, the shadowy figure on the street who
haunts Caleb’s nights, threatens to reveal everything.
Never before has the saying “ignorance is bliss” been more true. Because when Caleb finds out
exactly what’s going on with Abigail, he wishes he never had. He wishes he had never met the
perfect girl turned monster.
What’s that secret? I can’t tell you that. I can assure you, however, that it’s something you’ve
not seen before and you won’t expect coming. Don’t take my word for it. The reviews on
Amazon say the same thing.
I could talk about lots of things in regard to this book, and I might in the future. I could talk about
the music I listened to, or the time it took me to write it, or the usual day and how typing fit into
my schedule. But I can talk about those later. What I want to let you know is what my purpose
was for this book, and how it became the most important book of mine.
First of all, I wanted to win an award and become a millionaire. Nah, I’m just kidding. That wasn’t
even on the plan, and probably never will be.
For me, this book wasn’t really about making money (haven’t done that) or shocking people out
of their socks (hopefully did that). It was about writing something worth reading, and something
unique.
This book is scary, sure. It’s definitely emotional, what most would call sad. But overall, my hope
is that it’s original. Because just like the title character, this book has its secrets. It has its dark
moments. It had its happy ones. And in the end, it has Abigail.

Thank you David. It certainly sounds a fascinating book.

If you have enjoyed this introduction to David’s book, please leave a comment below.

Comment on the Arts Today

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I’ve been thinking a bit recently about the Arts, and how there is a similar feel to most of them these days. what I am going to say might just make some people say ‘Well, what do you expect from an old person,’ and that’s fine.

First let’s think about Music.

I grew up in a musical family. Although she did not play any instruments herself, my grandmother made sure her daughters learned the piano. She was a bit old-fashioned, I suppose, because her sons did not learn to play any instruments.

Her eldest daughter had a beautiful singing voice. She was a contralto and she had proper training. Her voice had been likened to that of Kathleen Ferrier, a very famous contralto of the time.

She told the tale of being on holiday with her husband and another couple, lifelong friends. They were in a group, on a boat, I think, and the group started singing. A distinguished white-haired man came up to her and gave her his card. He said ‘You have a beautiful voice, my dear. Come to my hotel tomorrow and I can help you get a career in music.’

She said no way was she going to go to the hotel of an unknown man. Who he was she never found out, but her voice was outstanding enough for her to be picked out. She could also play the piano by ear.

My youngest aunt had a music degree and taught the piano as well as music in schools. She played the organ, too. A famous tenor, who sang at the local performance of Handel’s Messiah, said she was one of the best accompanists he’d sung with.

My mother, although she could play the piano and enjoyed singing in a choir, was not exceptional, musically.

When we had family get-togethers, there was always music. We children were encouraged to sing or play and when we did something as a family, it was always in harmony. Everyone, it seemed could harmonise.

I myself learned to play the piano and the violin (or vile din, as my mother called it), and have been in several choirs.

I tell you all this so you can know something of my musical background.

I was listening–no, it came on while I was in the car–to a piece of modern music by Stephen Crowe. It began with a trumpet. the sounds from the trumpet were unmusical to say the least. If it were a child learning to play it would have been unacceptable, but no, this was supposed to be music. I didn’t hear much more because my husband changed the channels.

Much of the modern music of today (and here I’m talking classical) is discordant and atonal. It is not beautiful. To me it grates on my ears. Sometimes it sounds as if the orchestra is just tuning up.

I once heard an interview with a conductor, many years ago, when he was asked if he would be able to tell if a player made a mistake. He said he wouldn’t.

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Now the visual arts. I’ve visited galleries of modern art and been singularly unimpressed. I have some minor talent with painting and drawing, and I know how difficult it is to produce a masterpiece. I’ve gazed in awe at the work and talent of the Great Masters.

I sat for a long time in Firenze, looking at Michelangelo’s David, and in the Vatican at his Pieta. Beautiful works, and it took an immense talent to realise them.

Tracey Emin’s unmade bed? The pile of bricks that was in the Tate at one time? A pickled calf, by Damien Hirst?

Speaking of Damien Hirst. Why was a large anatomical model of a human, just like a big version of the ones we had in school, a work of art? The parts weren’t painstakingly carved by Mr Hirst unlike the wonderful marble sculptures I’ve seen, and the bronzes, too.

Paintings of black and white stripes, or a square on a background, whatever the colour are not difficult to do. Similarly the very simple, ‘flat’, childlike paintings many artists do are not greatly difficult. That’s why they are ‘childlike’, of course.

Poetry has gone the same way. Modern ‘poems’ are just prose divided into lines. Yes, they might have ‘poetical language,’ but they have no rhythm. I heard one being read on the radio the other day. I forget the poet, but he might just as well have been reading a bit of prose, because that’s what it sounded like. Poetry MUST have at least rhythm. That’s the most important thing. Rhyme, yes, but I’ll allow for blank verse. I’ve written blank verse myself, but they did have rhythm.

So what am I saying in all this?

It seems to me that art is reflecting life. Music is chaotic and so is the world today. People don’t want to spend large amounts of time doing anything. We are in a world where everything is a rush, so an artist won’t spend years completing a work of art.
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Modern cathedrals are stark in comparison to the ones built in the middle ages. We think we don’t have the ‘time’ to spend years and decades building them (except for the Familia Sagrada in Barcelona, of course).

Listen to some Bach and then some modern composer. One is sublime, the other–not.

Look at a painting by Titian or Rembrant. The work and talent that has gone into it is tremendous. Unlike the painting of black and white stripes I saw many years ago in the Fitzwilliam museum, Cambridge.

We have become lazy in our art as in much else in life these days. So much, I think, that much art the majority of people could do. I could put random notes down on a manuscript and say it’s a piece of music, or record random noises for the same thing.

Anyone can paint squares, on a canvas, or drop a pile of bricks, or leave their bed unmade, or cast sheets into a stream. (Yes, I read someone had got a grant to do this very thing.)

Anyone can string words together and call it a poem.

There’s no skill in that. The skill comes in being able to convince everyone else that it’s art. That’s the true art with these people, not in their works.

Spring. A poem

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Dandelions, like gold, cover the meadows.
Newborn lambs frolic in fields.
New leaves on the trees are casting their shadows
And winter’s cold grip quickly yields.

At the edges of woodland the primroses glow
And cowslips their scent fills the air.
Anemones dance when the breezes do blow
And birds sing with never a care.

Then bluebells and campions come into bloom
Their colour the blue of the sea.
The cuckoo, that herald of spring, will come soon
His call echoing over the lea.

The song of the blackbird is like molten gold.
His notes are so pure and so clear.
Hearing him seems to banish the cold
And brings joy to all those who hear.

Robin is nesting, and other birds too,
The hedgehog is active once more.
The young of the deer and the badger and shrew
Play their games as in old days of yore.

The sun climbs higher and higher each day
Giving more of his heat and his light.
It sparkles like stars fallen into the bay.
All smile at the beautiful sight.

Hope and excitement come with each spring morn.
What blessings will come with this day?
New starts can begin once again with each dawn
And send us all hopeful away.

Aspholessaria

 

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Asphodel stumbled as she landed in the covered wagon. She lay breathing heavily for a few moments, then she heard a voice and a hand lifted her up.
‘You just made it,’ said a melodious female voice. ‘A few more seconds and you’d have missed us.’
Asphodel looked at the woman who had helped her up and onto a seat. She was wearing white robes tied with a green sash. Asphodel knew this indicated the woman was a vicar and a cleric of Sylissa, the goddess of healing. The woman looked around forty years old and had a few grey hairs just beginning to appear in her dark hair. Her brown eyes had small laughter lines around them and she smiled at Asphodel.
‘Thank you for your help,’ the elf said. ‘It might sound like an odd question, but where is this caravan going to?’
The cleric raised her eyebrows, then replied, ‘To Bluehaven ultimately. We pass through a number of other towns though. First we go through several small villages in Erian before we get to the border with Grosmer. There aren’t any large towns between Frelli and Grosmer.’
The vicar leaned back in her seat and then asked, ‘Where are you going?’
Asphodel sighed. ‘Wherever my coin will take me,’ she said.
The vicar frowned. ‘Running away? What have you done, or who are you running away from?’
Asphodel closed her eyes foe a moment, then opened them and looked straight at her companion.
‘I’ve not done anything. It’s what he did.’
The vicar said nothing, but continued to look at Asphodel.
Asphodel paused, then it all came out in a rush. She told the whole story from meeting Vass to him hitting her. Then her eyes filled with tears and she looked away.
The other woman moved across to sit next to the girl. she put her arm around her and said, ‘You made a mistake, yes, but we all make mistakes, especially when young. How much did you give the caravan leader?’
When Asphodel told her, she tutted. ‘That won’t even get you to the border,’ she said.
‘But Vass saw which caravan I was on. He’ll get the next one and come after me, I know it.’ Her eyes darted around the wagon as though expecting to see Vass jump out from behind the cloth roof.
The cleric patted her hand. ‘Don’t worry about than for now,’ she said. ‘We’ll sort something out. The next caravan in this direction isn’t for a couple of days. By the way, my name’s Trinelli.’
‘Asphodel,’ replied the elf, not giving her full name as she knew the human woman would have difficulty in pronouncing it.
The caravan stopped for a meal at midday. While they were eating, a man came running up to them.
‘Vicar,’ he shouted as he approached, ‘vicar, please will you come to look at my wife. She’s sick.’
Trinelli stood up. ‘What seems to be the matter?’ she asked.
‘She’s vomiting and says she feels dizzy,’ he said. ‘She says that whenever she moves, it feels as if the world is spinning around her.’
Trinelli followed the man to a wagon and went inside. Out of curiosity, Asphodel followed. She stood in the entrance to the covered wagon and watched as Trinelli placed her hands on the woman and prayed to Sylissa.
The cleric’s head slumped forward. Asphodel watched as the sick woman’s colour began to return. Trinelli, at the same time, became paler. Asphodel almost thought she could see something flowing from Trinelli to the woman, but then she decided she was imagining it.
When they left the wagon, and received the man’s grateful thanks, Asphodel had to support Trinelli back to their wagon. The older woman rested for a while, then, as the wagons began to move once more, she seemed to be back to her normal self.
‘What happened there?’ Asphodel asked her.
‘The healing?’
Asphodel nodded.
‘Well. I prayed to Sylissa. She used me as a conduit to send her healing power into the woman.’
‘But it was more than that, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes. When I–or any of us–heals someone, the goddess sends her power, but it also takes some of our life essence to work. That’s why we’re always tired after healing.’
‘I thought I saw something going from you to her,’ Asphodel said. ‘I couldn’t have, though, could I? What you give her is invisible.’
Trinelli looked sharply at the young elf. She frowned.
‘You shouldn’t have been able to see anything,’ she told her, and she shook her head. ‘I don’t know what this means, but I need to think about it.’
The caravan stopped for the night. The caravan leader came to Asphodel and told her that her money had only given her passage to the next village. The girl looked frightened.
‘I have this ring.’ She reluctantly held out the ring she had picked up before leaving. ‘It was my grandmother’s. I think it’s valuable.’
Trinelli turned to the caravan leader.
‘You can’t take her grandmother’s ring,’ she scolded him. ‘It’s valuable enough to take her to Bluehaven and half-way back again.’
‘Well, she can’t have free passage.’ He shrugged. ‘She has nothing else. Seems it’s the ring or she leaves next stop.’
Trinelli fumbled in her purse and withdrew several gold crowns and a sovereign, which she handed over to the man.
‘Here. This should pay her fare to Bluehaven.’
The man took the coins and left.
‘I can’t let you pay for me,’ Asphodel protested. ‘That’s a lot of money. When we get to a town, I’ll sell my ring and pay you back, I promise.’
Trinelli smiled at the young girl.
‘You’ll do no such thing. If you want to pay me back you can help me when I go to heal people. People are always getting sick or hurt on these journeys. Your help will be worth more to me than coin. I’m going to Bluehaven, to the temple there, so I paid enough for you to get there too.’

Has Asphodel has found a means to get far enough away from Vass? How can she help a healer? She’s been brought up as one of the privileged classes in Elven society. How can she help a healer when she has no idea of healing?
Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you.
To find out more about Asphodel’s later adventures, read The Wolves of Vimar Series. Click on the books to buy.

A Visit from Auden Johnson.

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Welcome to my blog, Auden. This story sounds interesting. I’m looking forward to you finishing it so I can read it.

Auden is the author of The Merging Worlds Series, which comprises The Sciell and Chains of the Sciell, and The Jura Series which comprises Visible through Darkness, Shadows Under the Light and Darkness Ignites the Flame. The books can be bought from Amazon.

Auden does her own cover art, If you want to see how she came up with the cover for The Unburned Island, visit her blog http://audenstreasury.blogspot.com/

She usually writes Dark Fantasy, so this is a new venture for her.

 

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The-Unburned-Island-by Auden Johnson

The entire island burned. Everyone disappeared. Somehow, one building remained unscathed. This building, a schoolhouse, is haunted. It and the island remained abandoned for years.
One day, Kiran, En and a team of magical investigators travel to the island to banish whatever haunts the schoolhouse. It takes them no time to realize the building isn’t the problem. The island is.
Add to Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34629301-the-unburned-island

 

Writing The Unburned Island has been a ride. Not always a fun one. I got stuck so many times. It was beginning to get frustrating. The story started as an entry for a magazine. I was barely halfway through writing it when I realized it was going to be too long to submit.
Then an idea hit me. This could be the start of a new series. Magical characters investigating haunted locations. The series is set in a fantasy world so these aren’t known haunted locations. I prefer it that way. Writing fantasy gives me the freedom to make my own worlds and give my characters cool powers.
Unlike most of my stories, this one isn’t apocalyptic. I know, strange. Don’t know what’s gotten into me. I don’t foresee the world ending anytime soon. The series will focus on relationships and creepy places. Of course, both themes gave me problems.
Kiran and En are partner investigators with an interesting history. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted them to be in a relationship. When I realized I did, I couldn’t figure out what their relationship would be by the end of Book 1. They start the story as good friends. Kiran and En told me what they wanted near the end of the story.
As for creepy locations, I wanted this story to have atmosphere but I struggled with how to do this. I created a Pinterest board for Haunted Buildings/Islands and collected images of abandoned buildings and creepy lands. While writing this story, I was able to visit a catacomb. It was so cool and so scary. The images and the catacomb visit helped me give The Unburned Island a nice chilling atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Kira, En and co. will take me. They’re already telling me how they want Book 2 to start.

Thank you for appearing on my blog. Auden. I’m sure my readers will appreciate you sharing your writing process with them. Good luck with the rest of the series.

 

New Historical Novel

I’ve just published Vengeance of a Slave, my Historical Novel set in Roman Britain, on Amazon. Since it’s a very different genre, I’ve written it under a pen name.

The book is available for pre-order and will be published on April 29th. You can pre-order it as you would an already published book, from Amazon.

If you want to have an idea of the book, then you can read an extract on http://emilynovels1.wordpress.com/ on Saturday of next week.bookcover2

Winter Night. (a poem)

This ought to have been published in the winter, but I didn’t get round to it, so I’m publishing it today. Anyway, it’s still technically winter! Hope you enjoy it.

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Snow covers the ice-hard ground
And ponds and lakes are frozen.
All is muffled, every sound.
The birds are silent in the trees,
No moths or butterflies or bees
Just snowflakes by the dozen.

The moon is full and her pale light
Shines gently through the flakes.
But creatures shiver through the night.
The icy wind makes branches quiver
And every living thing to shiver
In trees and hills and lakes.

Across the field there trots a fox.
An owl flies by on silent wings.
On the frozen lake, some ducks.
As snow falls gently on them all,
And cattle low within their stall
We are waiting for the spring.

I welcome all your comments, so please add yours.

The Scandalous Flap Book History

Thought flap books were a relatively new thing for kids. Just shows the truth of the adage ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Mary Natalie reading with mommy | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Mary Natalie reading a story about an insomniac bear who bears (heh heh) an uncanny resemblance to her dad.

Mary Natalie loves her flap books so much that we now have an assortment of them. My personal favorite is probably Spot, although that was before I realized what a scandalous history flap books have, courtesy of Sarah Laskow of Atlas Obscura. To my great surprise, flap books were first conceived not as innocent children’s companions, but as titillating mementos of tourists’ good times in what can only be described as Renaissance Europe’s own Las Vegas: 16th century Venice.

What Happened In Venice…

Sixteenth-century Venice was a cosmopolitan, wealthy city, known for its diversity, romance, and relaxed mores. As a republican port city, it was tolerant of all sorts of people and all sorts of behavior in ways that other European cities were not. All this made the city a popular…

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