Monday, December 29, 2008


Well, I did it. Are you surprised?

Frankly, now, I really wonder how much more I can add to The Ultimate Evil. Making existing scenes longer and more interesting is one thing, but adding new ones is another. I added I think one new section, but it only has about 200 or so words in it. Everything else is just extended.

My friend who gave me the advice said that The Ultimate Evil, in a way, reminds him of Lord of the Rings. I'm not sure how to take that. Of course, they are some of the best stories ever told, but I never wanted to draw a lot of inspiration from that trilogy. But considering that my friend used to be a huge Lord of the Rings buff, I'll take it as a compliment from him. :)

One thing he did say was that my writing style is unique. For the past year I have seen a definite writing style emerge from my jumble of letters and it's nice to hear that from someone. Gives me hope. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Who'd have thought that I (with all my struggling) would get The Ultimate Evil's word count higher? Not me. Nope, definately, not me.

But guess what? I did! As you can tell from the title of this post, the story is up to 54,000 words! My friend's suggestions were great (haven't fully completed them yet) and there's a chance that I will be able to get The Ultimate Evil up to at least 55K. Wow, I can remember when it was only 48K. That was a long time ago.

It's been a week since I first submitted to Firebrand but I haven't heard back yet. Not surprising, but I will continue to keep you updated.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm Happy!

Why? Hmm, glad you asked that question. One of my friends finished reading The Ultimate Evil. He's the first person besides me to have read it from beginning to end. And what did he have to say about it?

Very, very impressive.

Seriously, I'm not lying, those were his exact words. He also called it awesome and cool. Well, he actually typed 'kewl', but you get my drift.

Do you know how happy that made me? SUPER happy! He's going to talk to me about it and hopefully he can help me make it even better.

I know I'm not published yet, but him loving the story was a dream come true. Why? I wrote a story that someone enjoyed. That's what I've wanted to do ever since I wrote my first story at the tender age of 6....for people to like what I do and enjoy it. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Imagine what will happen when I get that publishing deal! :D

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Merry Christmas!!! :D

I wish you a Merry Christmas!
I wish you a Merry Christmas!
I wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!! :D

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!!! :D

Can anyone believe that it's Christmas tomorrow? I can't. 2008 has flown by!

I finished my final edits for The Ultimate Evil yesterday, now I'm just waiting on friend's comments. Once those are done this story will be 100% finished! Good Christmas present, huh?

But you know what would top that? Firebrand Literary e-mailing me requesting a full. I'd scream so loud! :D

Merry Christmas Eve, all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Reason For The Season

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cesar Agustus, that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was the first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them at the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace,
Good will towards men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the sheperds said, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known to us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told to them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told to them by the sheperds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the sheperds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Luke 2: 1-20 KJV

As we spend time with family and friends this Christmas season, let's not forget why we are celebrating. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, God's free gift of salvation. So when you join hands with family and friends around the Christmas dinner table and say your prayer, don't forget to thank the Lord for all He has done for us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Submitted

Tonight, I sent The Ultimate Evil out to its first literary agency. Based on everyone's suggestions (thanks, guys, even though I've already thanked you!) I decided to take part in the query holiday. I personally love my first chapter and find the idea of not having to write a query letter EXTREMELY attractive! :)

My 20th birthday is in April and if I'm lucky there's a chance I could get a literary agent before I turn 20. Wouldn't that be so awesome? Talk about the best B Day present ever! :D

I know a lot of people are not here in cyber world so much now that the holidays are here, but I still will be, posting and talking away. I'm staying home for Christmas. My family does it right...we have the family come to us!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I've Got A Problem

On my last blog post I said that I would be sending out my query letter on January 15. Since my query-several-agents-at-the-same-time policy hasn't worked in the past, I was going to query The Ultimate Evil off one letter at a time. Slow, but seemed practical for me.

I still have a problem.

I found out this morning that Firebrand Agency is having a query holiday. What does that mean? It means that when you submit to them you don't send a query letter, but rather the first chapter of your complete (only one submission, please) WiP. This started Dec. 15 and ends midnight Jan. 15, the day I send my query letter that I've worked six months on to the Nelson Literary Agency.

My finals edits are not quite done, but chapter one is all set and ready to go. I don't know, should I take part in this query holiday? It sounds like fun whether I hear from them or not. (This is a don't hear, not interested thing).

So, what do you think I should do? I'll tell you this though, I'm asking all of you before my mom! (That's saying something!) LOL :D

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ultimate Evil Update

OK, here's the pictures of Arvil that I promised. The first two didn't show up quite as well as I had hoped they would, but in the story (if some of you remember from Chapter Two: you see that he is described as being very dark, blending into the scenery, so in a way these mess-ups are kinda accurate. :)

On this one you can see the scar on the left side of his face and the permenant scowl. Do you like the chopped and chipped horn? It was my mom's idea.

As you can probably tell, Arvil is MAD in this picture. Why? I guess you'll have to wait till it's published to find out. :)

So, those are my Photoshop pics of Arvil. I know I'm not the greatest artist, but I enjoy it when I have nothing to write.
The final edits for The Ultimate Evil are underway and on January 15 I will send out the first query to my dream agent. Wish me luck! :D

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stuck In The Middle With You!

So, the good news is that I finished the last three chapters of Khaladin about an hour or two ago. The bad news is that I have to finish writing the middle. *SIGH* I know what happens, I just can't find the words yet. Words are stubborn. They only come when they're ready, not always when you want them.

On the bright side I have nearly finished a children's fantasy chapter book. I only have a chapter and a half to go before the first draft is done and then the edits can start.

Once I'm done with the first draft of Khaladin the edits will begin with that story. My BFF has offered to read it and be VERY harsh. Yeah, I LOVE harsh critiques! Those are the ones that make you a better writer.

Well, it's 12 AM here in North Carolina. Better sign off and go get some sleep. See you later in cyber world!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Picture Time! :)

It finally let me upload pictures! Here's the one I made in Photoshop of Khaladin:

OK, so his mane and tail aren't as copper as I see them in my imagination. I can't find the right shades on Photoshop and I'm too impatient to try. This is close enough for me. :)

I've been working my tail off in Khaladin (see picture below) and have written 21,000 words, but I don't think I'm going to make it to 60K. No big deal....60K is long for middle grade, so I'm not too bummed.

So, here's the story with the picture. That's me (duh!) writing on my laptop, but WHY IN THE WORLD am I writing in the middle of the Grand Canyon overlooking the Colorado River? Simple: these two natural landmarks are in my story. There's a great chase through the canyon and maybe even a river rescue. It's going to be so much fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Q and A With Marianne Mancusi

Hey, everyone, I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct this interview with author Marianne Mancusi to discuss her most recent novel (and first hardback!) GAMER GIRL. This is my first Q and A with an author and I am SO excited! Here we go!

1) OK, first I want to ask you a question that doesn't deal with your book. When did you discover your passion for writing?

I’ve always loved to tell stories. Even before I could pick up a pen, I’d dictate stories for my mom to transcribe. In high school, I would spend class time writing stories for my friends to read—romances about them and the rock stars who loved them.

2) GAMER GIRL is your most recent novel. Can you give us a few tidbits about what it's about?

It’s similar in premise to that “You’ve Got Mail” movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but with videogames instead of instant messaging. My heroine, Maddy, is friendless and bullied in the real world, but discovers love online. Problem is, she’s not sure if her new virtual friend will actually like the real life her.

3) What gave you the idea for GAMER GIRL?

I am intrigued by the idea of people who have never met in real life falling in love in the virtual world and wanted to explore how that happens. Can that online attraction grow into a real life romance? How truthful are these relationships—which are based solely on what you choose to tell the other person?

I also wanted to write an empowering tale to help tweens and teens survive high school bullying, of which I, myself, was once a victim.

4) How long did it take you to write GAMER GIRL, including first draft and edits?

Probably about six months.

5) GAMER GIRL is not your first book. What other books have you published?

I’ve done a variety of books for both teens and adults in a number of genres. Comedy, time travel, vampires, cyberpunk, zombie apocalypse – you name it, I’ve probably written it.

6) What type of reader would enjoy GAMER GIRL?

My ideal reader would be a tween or younger teen who loves videogames and/or manga. (My heroine is a budding manga artist, so a lot of the book focuses on that world.) But any girl who has, at one time or another, felt like a freak or a loner at school will hopefully relate.

7) GAMER GIRL released very close to the holiday season. Do you think (or hope!) that this will increase sales?

That is the dream. I personally think it would make a great Christmas gift for a tween or teen. And it’s a lot cheaper than a videogame. :)

8) How do you see the economy slump affecting the book world? There's been a lot of controversy about this topic.

I know it looks bleak, but I refuse to believe that books are going to go away. Maybe the method of delivery will change (more e-books, for example) or the big chain store model will shift (Maybe more independent bookstores? Or online sale?) but there’s always going to be a need for good stories. And I’m prepared to keep telling them.

9) How excited are you about GAMER GIRL?

It’s my first hardcover, which is definitely exciting, and I’m proud of how it turned out. Even after twelve books, it’s still thrilling to go in and see it sitting on the young adult tables in bookstores.

10) Is GAMER GIRL your favorite book you have written so far, or does another hold that title?

That would be like choosing between your children! I love every book I’ve written in different ways. I will say I am particularly fond of my Blood Coven series. (Boys that Bite, Stake That, Girls that Growl.) The characters and stories are just so much fun to write.

11) Who inspires you to write?

My teen MySpace friends who write me all the time and beg for more books. It’s always so encouraging to go and read their emails—especially when I’m feeling down and unmotivated to write.

12) There are a lot of aspiring writers out there who are looking for a literary agent. What's the best advice you can give them on that topic?

Don’t settle. It’s better to have no agent than a bad one or one who doesn’t fit your style or career goals. I have an amazing agent now—Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency—but that wasn’t always the case. Find an agent who supports your career goals and believes in your writing. Find someone who will “tough love” you when you get lazy and push editors to give you the best deal possible. Someone who goes over contracts with a fine tooth comb and doesn’t let anything slide. Someone who knows the market you’re writing for inside and out and has contacts in your preferred genre. (Otherwise, they’re just sending out manuscripts as blindly as you could do yourself.) Find a good communicator who always answers your questions promptly, and who treats you exactly the same as they do their A-List clients. You deserve respect and should accept nothing less.

13) And the last question is: what is the best piece of advice you can give to a writer?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Work hard, learn the craft, tell the story you want to tell. And finally, when you truly believe it’s the best book it can be, then send it out to agents and editors for publication. I see too many writers who are in such a rush to get published that they don’t send out their best work and then get defeated by rejections they receive. Or they try to copy other successful authors in order to get published rather than writing in their own voice. They begin to lose the joy of writing that they once had and become disillusioned and end up quitting in the end.

Doctors and lawyers spend years in training before they can start working in their chosen professions. But since writers have little formal training required, they seem to want to take short cuts. They believe their first book will be published and don’t take under consideration that they’re still actually in school/training mode. A doctor can’t perform an operation in his first year of medical school. But for some reason many writers truly believe their first book should become a bestseller with very little effort.

Write because you love to write. Stay dedicated to the craft and the storytelling. Never lose sight of that in a desperate attempt to get published. I guarantee when that day comes when you eventually do hold that first book in your hand the wait will be worth it!

That's it! Thanks so much to Ms. Mancusi for this interview. I think any writer can take her wonderful advice and put it to good use. I know I will! GAMER GIRL is on sale would make a great Christmas gift for the tween or teen in your life.

So, how'd I do on my first Q and A?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

OK, So I Might Not Reach My Goal

This post isn't near as depressing as the title suggests. I've been working my butt off in Khaladin, am in chapter 19, and only have about 20,000 words down. I'm past the halfway point in my plot (I think) so I'm not sure I'll make my 60K goal. But hey, that's all right. Most MG books are 20K to 40K, so I'm good.

I did a picture of Khaladin in Photoshop, but this stupid Blogger won't let me load it. The "Sorry, this page cannot be displayed" keeps coming up after it's loaded the picture, which, of course, it hasn't. So, if I ever figure it out, I'll show you what Khaladin looks like. Since I have also created photos of Arvil from The Ultimate Evil, I could share those as well. But alas, I am no computer genius. I'm not really even computer smart, which is pretty lame considering the fact that I like (and write!) science fiction. What can I say, I'm a dork! (and I love it too!) :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

OK, I Need Your Help

My new story, titled Khaladin, is a story about a girl named Judy. Her aunt's horse, Penny, ends up giving birth to a unicorn foal. Well, technically, he's a half unicorn. Long story short, they try to keep him a secret, but the baddie finds out and kidnaps Khaladin. In trying to find more unicorns, said baddie tortures Khaladin.

Here's my problem. The age group I'm targeting is upper middle grade. I don't want anything real gory and gross, like Khaladin lying there dripping in blood. But I would like something that appeals to both sexes. Most girls don't tend to like a lot of blood and guys are like, "Yes, blood!" I'm somewhere in the middle. But do any of you have any suggestions on how to do this scene? Yes, it will be told from either Khaladin's or baddie's point of view.

PS: If you are a member of (aka AW) you can go to the children's section and read one chapter that I posted of this story. Also, I have a thread about the torture topic in The Sanbox titled, Unicorn Help......Again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Already?!?

Yeah, I can't believe that this is the last month of 2008. Has this year gone by incredibly fast or what?

So, I have already made two new year's resolutions and since they have to do with writing, I am going to post them here and all of you can help me stay on track.

Resolution #1: Find an agent for The Ultimate Evil.

It's taken me a little over two years to fully complete this novel. A long time to me, but very fast for a 53K novel from draft to completion. Of course, it's taken me longer than that to write this story. I created the character of Arvil when I was eight years old. That's eleven years ago!
Finding the agent will not be hard, considering I've found several to query. Snagging the agent's going to be a little more difficult. Cross your fingers for me! Queries will go out after the first of the year!

Resolution #2: Finish the first draft (at least) of Khaladin.

OK, I know, I've never mentioned the title before, but all of you know the story. At least, I told you that it was MG unicorn book. I'm hoping it will reach 60K and I already have 10K down. Yes, I'm one sixth of the way through! :-) I'll post more details on the story later....I need some help on a few things.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Lazy, I Know

It's been over a week since my last blog post. Yeah, I know, I have no excuse, especially since I come here every day to check all the blogs I follow. But there hasn't really been much to say. I'm working on yet ANOTHER story....this one's a little ambitious because I'm hoping I can get up to 60K. I've never set a word count goal before and this one isn't set into any type of stone, but I'd just like to see me write a story that long. Though The Ultimate Evil has come close at 53K. So, a few details about this story:

It's a unicorn MG fantasy.

Yep, that's all you're going to get. Don't feel like sharing much more since all the details aren't worked out yet.

Hey, is there anyone out there besides me who is PSYCHED about Christmas even though we haven't yet gotten through Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Would You Like A Compliment Within A Compliment That's Not Really A Compliment?

If you are confused by the above question, so was I when a guy asked me that in the grocery store this morning. This post has nothing to do with writing, but I hope you guys get a kick out of it.

OK, this guy was the one who was pulling the HUGE cart full of Edy's ice cream, ready to load them in the freezer for greedy consumers to buy. I was in his way, so I moved out of it. You know, I live in the South and that's the proper thing to do. Anyway, he looked at me and asked, "Would you like a compliment within a compliment that's not really a compliment?"

As stated above, I was confused. I laughed and said, "Sure," even though I was COMPLETELY unsure. I continued my nervous laughter like the geek I am.

"Well," he said, chuckling himself. "As you went down the aisle, a guy was looking at you---I'll just say he was admiring the view. Well, I was watching him and he saw me and tripped over his buggie! I would have lost it completely if he'd actually fallen!"

We were both laughing. I thanked him and told him to have a good day and walked off. And as I did I thanked God for keeping an eye on me. I know He's extrememly busy with other things, but it's nice to know that He has time for me. Whenever I doubt that His hand is really in my life, He pulls something like this. It's nice to know He cares.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The Ultimate Evil is now 53,000 words! Who'd have thought this would happen? Certainly not me! My friend who had my manuscript for over a year (some of you know he has health problems, but he is now doing much better!) gave it back to me yesterday with his corrections and I finished adding them this morning. I found out that my grammar has gotten MUCH better over the past three years. No, I can't explain the fundamentals of the English language, but at least I'm learning what it should look like in print!

With the story back from that friend and my query letter and synopsis finished, I now only have one more person to finish reading it before I send it out. It's getting close!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


So, I have now left sunny Florida and have now returned to chilly NC. My trip was great... wonderful, actually, since it sparked so many new story ideas and I was writing like crazy. In an earlier post I mentioned that I had submitted a work to Highlights magazine. They sent me a very nice rejection letter, saying that the only reason they did not accept was because the story did not suit their current needs. That's fine. I filed my rejection letter away with all the others.

A lot of authors and writers look at rejection letters as being depressing, but I don't. With every single one I get closer and closer to receiving that "Yes, we want YOU!" letter. So I'll keep typing away and pressing forward!

About rejection letters. Are you like me with them or do you simply despise them and think that whoever read your work couldn't see talent if it jumped up and bit them on the nose?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America Has Spoken

Yep, you all know the results of yesterday's election. America's President Elect, soon to be the President of the United States, is Barack Obama. History was going to be made yesterday, whether it was with the first black president or the first woman vice president and with the first black president soon to be sitting in the oval office, history has indeed been made.

I know not everyone voted for Obama....there were some big McCain supporters out there. Since the election is over, I'm going to say that I was one of them. However, I said a prayer for Obama, asking God to help him be the best president he can. Whether you voted for him or not, I hope everyone will join me in this prayer, because it is one thing our country desperately needs.

It was a long run and I am so glad that elections are OVER! Whew, now we can get back to watching car commercials on TV. :-) At any rate, we have a new president. America has spoken and proven that ALL dreams can come true. That's the magic of this country and I hope we never lose it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

I'm talking about new story ideas. My mind is bustling with them right now....I have at least six WiPs! (For my blog buddies who don't write, that's slang for "work in progress", in case you don't know.)

And it's REALLY bad when all these ideas just seem to fall into place and you're spending more time on your laptop just typing away, lost in the different realms and levels of your imagination. You don't feel completely devoted to one story because you're not. You have to pick and choose which one you are going to devote your time to. It's like going to get ice cream and not being able to choose any flavor except for one when this particular parlor has every single flavor that you love. Decisions, decisions!

So, what I want to know is this....when you have too many ideas, what do you do? Personally, I work on all of them till I establish that connection with one and then devote all my time into completing it. So, what do you do? I wanna know!

(Story update: I have started a YA fantasy/sci-fi genre twist, something I thought I'd never do. Hope it works! Cross your fingers for me!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This is a big thank you to all who read and commented on the first three chapters of The Ultimate Evil. I hope everyone enjoyed it and all your comments helped immensely. Thanks again!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chapter Three: Hard Lessons To Learn

Here's the last chapter I'm going to share. Enjoy!

Chapter 3
Hard Lessons To Learn

"Ouch!" Aduan cried out as the maid pulled on the strings of her corset. "That’s too tight! How am I supposed to look beautiful if I’m fainting all the time because I can’t breathe?"

"Forgive me, milady," the girl said.

Another one of her ladies-in-waiting walked up to her, carrying a dress the color of the sun, but Aduan dismissed it with a wave of her hand. "I changed my mind. I wish to wear my blue gown."

She gave a curtsey. "As you wish, Your Highness." She ran and fetched the beautiful light blue dress. She and the other two ladies-in-waiting helped the princess into it. Once that was accomplished, one of them hurried to get the jewelry and the other began to brush her hair.

"Ow!" she protested as the brush went through a very thick knot. "Do you want me to be bald?"

"Of course not, Your Highness," she said. "I shall take better care."

"See that you do."

There was a knock at the door, and one of the girls rushed to open it. She walked back in saying, "Lord Taon, my lady."
Aduan sighed. Taon had said that her lessons would start today, and she was not looking forward to them. She knew that they were going to be boring. "Show him in."

The vizier walked in. "Good morning, Your Highness. Are you ready for your lessons to begin?"

"No," she said, "but I don’t think there’s any way I can prevent them."

"Not if you want to keep your throne."

"Very well." She waved her ladies away and after a curtsy they obediently shuffled out of the room. "Where shall we begin?"

"I believe he first step would be the best place to start and that is learning that a trusted and effective ruler earns the respect of the people," Taon said.

"How do I do that?" she asked as she sipped from a gold goblet. She seated herself at the vanity in her chambers and began to inspect her reflection with a critical eye, making sure it was perfect.

"You will be receiving your subjects in the throne room," he told her. "They will come to you with their stresses and troubles. I will be there, recording every one. Then, at the end of the day, we will discuss how to solve them."

"Are they all going to have troubles to talk about?"

"Perhaps not. I also must remind you that some may come with gifts."

Aduan brightened. "Like what? Silks? Velvet? Gold?"

Taon shook his head. "No, Your Highness. These are hard times for Validor, and even if they were not, the people would not bring you those types of things for there is enough in the castle. What they will bring you are fruits and vegetables, poultry, pork, beef, or honey."

The princess wrinkled her nose. "Why would I want those?"

He sighed. "The people don’t have to give you anything at all, but they do. You need to take what they give you with grace and dignity, because whatever they do bring, it is the best they have."

She sighed and stood. "Very well."

They went into the throne room. Aduan did not sit in her father’s throne, for that throne was reserved for no one but the king or queen of Validor. She sat in the one beside it and waited.

"Send the first in," Taon commanded the guard at the door as he seated himself at a small desk near Aduan’s throne. He picked up the feather pin, dipped it in the ink, and waited.

The guard opened the door, and a woman walked in, dressed in slightly worn clothing. She carried a basket filled to the brim with fresh fruit.

"You may come forward," Aduan said.

The woman obeyed and curtsied before her. "My lady," she said. "I bring fresh fruit for your table."

"Thank you," the princess said. Uncertain about what to do next, she looked at Taon, who motioned for her to get up and take the fruit from the woman. She obeyed, set the fruit down beside the throne, then sat back down. A moment of uneasy silence passed then Taon asked, "What is your trouble?"

"I do not know what can be done about this," the woman said. "The land near the western border is dying. No one settles too far into the west, milady, and of course you know the reason why."

"No, I don’t," she said. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Taon wince. She knew that she had made a mistake, but she had to continue. "Tell me."

"Why, Morlaya is on our western border, my lady. I was at the king’s funeral, God rest his soul, and I heard that awful crow. Honestly, milady, I have never been so frightened in my life! I believe we need to fight Arvil, but that is your decision and not mine to make."

"Thank you," Aduan said. "You are dismissed."

The woman paused for a moment then, with a look of irritation, gave a quick curtsey and briskly left the throne room.

The princess looked at Taon. "What did I do wrong?"

"Never admit that you do not know anything," he told her. "If you don’t know, say something along the lines of ‘Speak as if I know nothing.’ The people need to feel that you know everything that is going on around you before you will ever earn their trust."

"Is that all I did wrong?"

"No. You have seen your father do this, Aduan. You should have known to take the fruit from her."

"I forgot."

"And also, you never say ‘You are dismissed.’ When someone has finished speaking, you need to stand and kiss them on the forehead. This is a tradition that was started at the beginning of Validor’s history hundreds of years ago. Judging from her pace in departing, I do not doubt the fact that woman was highly insulted."

Aduan sighed. She thought she hadn’t been that bad. "I’m sorry."

Taon’s expression softened just a tad. "Perhaps you will do better this time."

From the west entrance into the throne room, Yeugh stood, watching the princess. After the woman left, Gallim walked up to him.

"How is it going?" the treasurer asked.

Yeugh sighed. "Not well. Aduan has no idea of what to do. She unintentionally left a woman highly insulted, and that is not the best way to start your reign."

"Indeed not," Gallim agreed as they watched Taon explain to her what she had done wrong. "Do you suppose Taon will get through to her?"

Yeugh shrugged. "It is difficult to say. I personally doubt that she can rule Validor, and today’s performance has done nothing to cause me to change my mind. What do you think?"

"I have no idea," he admitted. "Part of me wants to believe that Aduan can do it while the other part tells me that I’m waiting for some miracle that will never happen."

"Bring the next one in!" Taon called, and both Yeugh and Gallim fell silent, not wanting to be noticed. They watched as a poorly dressed farmer came down the rich red carpet, leading a fat black and white pig. He bowed before the princess. "Your Highness, I bring this pig so that you may have meat for your table."

"Thank you." Aduan stood and took the rope from the man. The pig was curious about who was now holding his leash, and he stepped up to Aduan, sniffing and sticking his face in her dress.

"Eww!" the princess shrieked. "Take this thing away!"

Taon sprang up from his desk and hastily grabbed the rope, trying to glare at the princess and apologize to the farmer at the same time. Yeugh sighed. "I believe Taon is trying to teach Aduan what she can never achieve."

"Her father was a wonderful, compassionate king," Gallim said, " and her mother was a kind soul. I know she has some of their ability in her."

Yeugh crossed his arms. "The question is, can she discover it in time?"

The two men looked at each other in silence.

* * *

Well, that was a disaster, Taon thought after Aduan had seen two more people and insulted them as well.
"Am I going to see any more of my subjects today?" she asked.

"No," he told her. He couldn’t risk it. Aduan had a bad enough reputation already.

"Good," she said. "Now I shall go and change out of this dress. That stupid pig made it absolutely filthy!" She left the throne room briskly.

Once she was gone, Taon leaned his elbows on the desk and rubbed his tired eyes. He heard footsteps and looked up to see Yeugh walking toward him.

"Yes, Sir Yeugh?"

"I watched the. . .proceedings with interest," the knight said.

Taon sat up straighter. "Indeed?"

"Yes," he said and smiled a little. He walked up and sat on the edge of the desk, crossing his arms. "What were the people’s troubles? I couldn’t hear everything from where I was."

Taon sighed and looked at the paper. "Every single person complained about land dying near the western border. I believe I shall ride out there and see it for myself."

"You know why the land is dying, don’t you, Taon? It is because Arvil will soon launch his war and he’s starting by frightening the people. And what will be done about it? Nothing!"

Taon’s eyes narrowed. "Where are you going with this, Yeugh?"

Yeugh leaned forward. "Don’t wait the one month to teach Aduan everything she needs to know. We need an effective ruler now, one who will take action."

"The Council agreed—"

"We have more than enough evidence to present before the Council to prove that Aduan is incapable of ruling. There is no one who will vote in her favor, except for, perhaps, you."

"I will not give up on Aduan so easily, Sir Yeugh. I was closer to her father than anyone, and I promised him that I would teach her."

"So you are willingly putting your friendship with the king over Validor’s safety?" Taon did not reply but seemed startled by the question. Yeugh stood. "Think about it."

He left the room.

* * *

After Yeugh left the throne room, Taon went down to the stables and ordered one of the stable boys to saddle his horse. The boy obeyed, then helped the advisor to mount the powerful white stallion.

Taon cantered off the castle grounds and through the countryside of Validor, going to the western border. As he traveled through the different villages, some people stopped their tasks to bow as he rode past. The people did not trust Aduan, but they trusted Taon, and he held that dear; however, he wished that the people could trust their princess to care for and help them. The people of Validor were good, simple folk who wouldn’t give up too easily on their princess. But all knew of Arvil’s threat of war, and Taon was certain that the people were only going to allow Aduan so much time to become what she needed to be before they started demanding a new ruler from the Council.

Taon had been riding for two hours when he noticed odd patches of dying grass scattered about. Another hour of riding brought him deep into the western side of Validor, and he rode among dead and dying grass, trees, and other types of foliage. He pulled his stallion to a halt, listening and watching. No birds sang or flew in the sky, no squirrels sat in the trees, and there was no hum of insects. Taon dismounted and looked at the ground. It was dry, cracked, and hard as if it hadn’t rained for months. No ants scurried about. He sniffed the wind and smelled nothing but decaying foliage.

Suddenly, the white stallion shivered and half-reared, whinnying, his eyes bulging and nostrils flaring with fright. Taon grabbed the reins and patted his horse’s neck. "Easy, boy, easy," he soothed. The horse quieted under his touch.
Taon knew what had upset the stallion, for he had felt it as well. For a moment, he had been unable to feel anything except evil all around him. He climbed back into the saddle and rode back to the castle, his fears confirmed. The dead and dying land was Arvil’s doing, and it was not going to stop until it covered the entire land of Validor.

When Taon came back to the castle, he found Aduan in her chambers. "There you are," she said. "I was wondering where you were."

"I was out at the western border, my lady," he said.

Aduan turned sharply to him, her brilliant blue eyes flashing with anger. "I did not give you permission to leave the castle."

"With all due respect, Your Highness, I do not need your permission. It is my duty to investigate all of the people’s troubles, therefore, I did not need to ask you for permission to leave the castle." Another thing you would know if you would only study.

"Oh," she said, remembering that indeed was true. "Well, what were the people’s troubles?"

Taon was slightly shocked, though he didn’t know why. He should have expected this. "You have forgotten the problems of your people?"

"They seemed trivial to me at the time and, therefore, I deemed them not worthy of remembrance. I ask now merely out of curiosity."

"What is wrong among your people is something you should always know; that way we can do something to fix it."

Aduan sighed, showing her complete boredom. She truly did not care about the people. "Are you going to tell me what the peasants troubles are, or do I need to dismiss you?"

Taon closed his fists in anger. "Never refer to your people as ‘peasants.’ To satisfy your curiosity, everyone expressed concern about the western border, and I must admit, I am concerned about it as well."

"How so?"

"While I was there, I felt a sharp sense of evil. It was very near. The foliage is either dead or dying, no animals—not even insects—were present. The ground was very hard and dry, as if it hadn’t rained for two months, and we had rain only last week."

"Perhaps we didn’t have any out there," the princess said. "And about that sense of evil, I believe you were imagining things."

"My horse felt it as well and was spooked."

"A great many things will spook a horse. I don’t think the western border is of any concern."

"I know all this is Arvil’s doing," he argued.

"And I feel that it is not."

Taon raised his voice. "Your Highness—"

"This discussion is at an end!" she yelled.

For a moment, Aduan and Taon just stood, staring into each other’s eyes, both furious with the other. "Very well, Your Highness," he said through clenched teeth. He bowed and left.

* * *

The next day, Taon decided that Aduan should study before she tried again to meet the people. Until he deemed her capable, he would receive the people himself. He knocked on the door to her chambers, and one of her ladies-in-waiting answered. He stated that he wished an audience with the princess, and the girl conveyed his request to Aduan, who granted it.

"That will be all for now," Aduan told her ladies as Taon walked in. They curtsied before her and left.

Taon bowed. "I do hope your anger towards me has diminished."

"It has," she told him. "Rise and tell me what you have come for."

"Your lessons, my lady."

She sighed. "Very well. Let us sit." She walked over to a small table and sat, indicating for Taon to sit across from her.

"I have decided that you need to be taught how to act like a princess, for it is very similar to how a good queen should act."

"But why must I be taught how to act like a princess when I am a princess?"

"Answer this question. What is a princess, who is she?"

"She is the daughter of a king and queen, destined to rule if no male heirs are born."

"That is the. . .technical definition," Taon said. "I mean her characteristics."

"Characteristics are different in one person than another. You know that, Taon."

"Yes, but there are several characteristics that every princess needs to have."

Aduan was intrigued. "Like what?"

"A princess must be noble, carrying herself with dignity and poise. When she speaks, she carefully chooses her words and exercises control over her emotions, never getting overly excited or angry. She makes choices based on what is right, not how she feels. She is selfless and humble, thinking only of others and focusing on their needs. She listens attentively and seeks and accepts advice when she thinks it sound. She never demands nor expects special treatment. She must always be trusting, forgiving, faithful, respectable, and admirable."

Aduan lowered her eyes and thought for a moment. "I never knew that’s what a princess should act like." She looked back up at Taon. "This is not going to be easy."

"And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not all that it will take for you."

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

"Most times, when a princess is your age, she knows all the laws of her land, is able to receive her people without insulting them, has the people’s love, respect, and trust. She also knows how to handle herself in difficult situations and stand firm no matter what. She cannot be ignorant, immature, or easily swayed. She must be a strong leader, powerful and bold. She must be able to effectively rule her country with dignity, knowledge, and grace."

"Is that all?"

Taon shook his head. "No. You must memorize the laws of Validor and familiarize yourself with the different statuses of your people. You must learn how to effectively command those who serve you. You must also learn how to defend your country and learn just how important it is to be prepared when there is threat of war."

Aduan laughed. "Oh, Taon, do you still think that Arvil is going to attack us? It has been rumored that he will attack us and possibly Excadious and Shaldothe for over three hundred years. I don’t think there is any reason for worry."

Taon sighed, wondering how she could so easily dismiss the warning given to them by the crow. "Very well. I will discuss this with you no more for now. At this time, it is more important that you understand what is expected of you and that you learn it."

"I told you I would try."

"To be honest, so far, you haven’t been trying hard enough." When Aduan’s cheek’s flamed red and her eyes flashed with anger at the insult, Taon raised his hand. "I know you took what I just said as an insult, but you must be told the truth if you are to learn anything, no matter how much it hurts. If you do not learn enough in less than one month’s time, the Council will vote you off the throne."

"They will not!" she stated. "It is mine by privilege and birth!"

"But it is also a responsibility, and one that you have neglected to claim. If you do not, then your throne will be taken from you and someone else will claim it."

Aduan slammed her fist on the table. "No!"

"Then you must be willing to learn."


Taon thought a moment. Then he said, "Tomorrow, in the early morning, I would like to take you somewhere. Have your ladies-in-waiting pack some warm clothes for you."

"Where are we going?" she asked eagerly.

He only smiled and did not answer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chapter Two: Princess Aduan--Incapable Leader

Here's chapter two. Enjoy!


Chapter Two
Princess Aduan—Incapable Leader

It was a cold night in Morlaya. The wind whistled through the dark trees, an unspeakable fear groaning on it, traveling to every corner of the land. The sky, void of both moon and stars, was as ebony as the wings of the crow that was gliding through the heavens, cawing unceasingly.

Dark Ones walked in their oppressive land, their evil mounting with every step. Their black eyes gleamed with anger and hatred. They were ready to fight and slaughter whoever dared step in their way.

The tallest landmark in this land was Black Peak Mountain. Its sides were steep and slippery and it was up these treacherous slopes that a lone soldier was daring to climb. He had urgent news for his king and tried to ascend quickly, but he lost his footing on loose shale. He nearly fell down the steep sides, but righted himself and, not for the first time, cursed the mountain. But before he could continue his journey, a shadow landed in front of him and he recognized her as Janaan.

Janaan was an Excadian and as such, she was a born warrior. The soldier knew that they had excellent skill with any weapon. He admired her hawk-like wings that allowed her to travel quickly and easily.

"What is your reason for climbing the mountain?" She asked, placing her hand on the hilt of her sword. If the soldier failed to have a legitimate reason, she would kill him, as was her right in the laws her master had laid for his land.

"I have urgent news for our king."

Janaan raised an eyebrow. "Of great importance?"

"In the extreme!"

"Very well. Relay your news to me, and I shall deliver it to him."

The soldier obeyed. Janaan nodded once and flew to the one whose danger surpassed the mountain’s. She headed towards the terror that lingered in Dark Castle, which sat on the peak.

The castle had dark, imposing wooden doors with accents of black iron. The smallest flicker of light did not escape the gothic style windows. Seven towers rose from the main level of the castle. Black flags stood on top of each tower. These flags, caught in the chilling breeze and whipped relentlessly by the wind, brought little comfort to the soul.

The cold onyx walls served only to warn of the danger inside. This hideous place was the home to Arvil, King of the Dark Ones.

The only subjects who lived with Arvil were his most loyal ones. But proud as they were to be living in the castle, they trembled in constant fear.

Fear of their king.

Arvil was the most powerful Unicorn alive, born with the amazing gift of shape shifting, able to morph into any form he wished. His subjects were terrified of disappointing him. He had a reputation of slaughtering bystanders when he let his temper control him.

Arvil stood in the tallest tower in Dark Castle. He held his head and tail high. His long, thick mane hung over both sides of his neck. His heavily muscled body bore several battle scars. Half of his golden horn had been chopped off at an angle, and numerous chips and dents scarred its surface. His most terrifying scar was on the left side of his face that traveled from the corner of his eye down to his lip, twisting his mouth into a permanent scowl that showed off chipped white teeth.

He was a frightening being, his most terrifying feature being his eyes. They were darker than his body, and against his ebony coat they gave him a ghoulish appearance. He radiated with the type of evil that lurks in nightmares. He was a son of darkness who bathed in the terror he projected. There were many who believed that Arvil was the devil himself and they shook in fear at the mere mention of his name.

His chamber was round with only one window. No torches were in the room for Arvil preferred the shadows. He almost disappeared in the blackness, except for his heavy gold horn. No light at all hit the horn, but somehow it still glowed brightly.

This room was private. No one was allowed entrance without his permission. Usually, he walked all over the castle, feeling the terror he had instilled in his subjects, but for the past few days he had kept to himself. Only one week ago, the king of Validor had died. That same day Arvil had sent out his threat of invasion. But everyone knew that it was more than a threat. It was a promise and it had sent the people into a panic. The evil King smiled at the thought. He knew that there were those who wanted to destroy him, but that was not possible. He was the most powerful creature in history—how could anyone defeat him? There had been one who had tried and that was why Arvil had kept his battle scars—to remind all that no one could destroy him, and to haunt that one when they met again.

Someone knocked on the door to his chamber. Arvil looked at the door and said, "Open." The door obeyed and Janaan stood in the doorway. Her skin-tight black armor moved silently with her body, and her long black hair swayed from side to side as she approached him.

Janaan’s parents had come to Arvil from Excadious before she had even been born and pledged their allegiance to him. Janaan had grown up in Morlaya, never seeing her true home. Out of all the Excadians loyal to him, Arvil preferred Janaan. Although she was young, her mind and her skill were at the level of someone much more experienced and aged. Arvil sensed great promise in her.

"What do you have to report?" Arvil asked her in his deep, rough voice.

"The Council of Validor has just met," she told him. "Princess Aduan refused to attend."

"Indeed?" the Dark One King said. "I thought she might not."

"Could it be because she is in mourning for her father?" the Excadian asked.

Arvil nodded. "That and the fact that she does not think council meetings are important. She wishes to rule her land, but she has never been trained. She has been raised to live in comfort and have everything her heart desires. This is exactly the type of ruler I have been waiting for. One who will not stand against me, one who will not ruin my plans." He snorted. "As if anyone could!"

"Of course, my lord," Janaan said. "But it is rumored that Aduan has a strong will. There is a chance, however slight, that she may pose a threat to you."

"She is only human and, like every other being, below my hold on power."

"I still advise caution, my liege," she said. "Also, it may be advisable to send a few spies into Validor. Taon is going to start training the princess in what she needs to know in order to become queen. It may help us to know how she will accept it."

"A good suggestion, Janaan," Arvil said. "But why send a spy when I can go?"

In the blink of an eye, Arvil shifted from a Unicorn to a common crow. He jumped into the air and flew out the open window, heading to the land where the leaves were green.

* * *

Taon waited for Aduan in the office that had once been her father’s. He paced the room impatiently, several scrolls tucked under his arm. The princess had agreed to meet him here at nine o’clock, and she was an hour late.

At last the doors opened and Aduan walked in, dressed in a long flowing gown that was a bit too formal for the day. Her bronze hair grew to past her shoulders and had been left down. She had beauty of such magnitude that it had earned her the name Validor’s Treasure. Taon only wished that her spirit inside matched the outside.

"My lady," he said, bowing before her. "We had scheduled our meeting for nine."

"I am perfectly aware of that," she said. That statement told Taon that she did not care that she was late and wished to continue as if she had arrived on time, offering no excuse for her delay.

The princess seated herself at the large desk that had been her father’s and was now hers. She looked up at Taon, waiting for him to begin his speech.

"Your Highness," he said, "as you know, Arvil has sent out his warning of invasion, which means that the war we have dreaded for so long will soon be upon us. Now, if I may direct your attention to this map. . ."

He set the scrolls down on the desk and unrolled one in front of her. It was a map showing the lands of the world. "Validor is the only land that borders Morlaya. If we fall, then he can proceed to Excadious, and then Shaldothe, the land of Unicorns."

Aduan waved her hand impatiently. "Why do you bore me with these petty details?"

"They are not petty, Your Highness. If we do not find a way to stop Arvil, then the world that we know will be lost. Arvil will take over our lands and our lives. We will be slaves to his will, helpless, with no one to come to our aid. The time for action has come!"

Aduan leaned back in the large chair. "And what action would you suggest?"

"More intensive training of our army. Border patrols. Try sending a spy within Arvil’s domain."

The princess began to laugh. "Dear, dear, Taon," she said. "You really are wasting your time. People have been afraid of Arvil declaring war for over three centuries. If he hasn’t attacked by now, he never will."

"But, Your Highness—"

She slammed her hand down on the desk. "I will hear no more of this!"

Taon stepped back and bowed in apology.

"You are dismissed," the princess said.

"As you wish," he said. He gathered his scrolls, bowed again, then left the room, feeling frustration grow in his heart.
Neither Taon nor the princess had noticed the crow that had landed on the stone windowsill. Once the vizier left the room he took off, his cawing sounding much like laughter. And if anyone had paid attention to his direction of travel, they would have noticed that he was flying west to Morlaya.

* * *

When Taon emerged from the royal office, he noticed that Yeugh was standing in the hall waiting for him. "How did she respond?" the knight asked.

Taon sighed. "Exactly as I had expected."

Yeugh shook his head. "Regrettable."

"Yes, indeed," he said. "I do not know if I can accomplish what needs to be done in one month. There’s not enough time."

"There never is," the knight told him. "You must teach her what she needs to know and make her understand, or the Council will remove her from the throne."

"Never before in the history of Validor has that been done," Taon said.

"But the law states that the Council members have that right. We are both on the Council, Taon. I know you are very loyal to the princess because of her father. Although he was my friend, I will not keep Aduan on the throne if I don’t think she deserves it, even though she was the king’s daughter. The other members feel the same as I. If we do have to vote her off, I know of no one else but you who would hesitate to relieve the princess of her crown."

* * *

Later that day, Aduan went outside and sat on the bank of a small sparkling stream, protected from the sun by the shade of the sycamore tree behind her. She had removed her shoes and stockings and was dangling her small feet in the cool water. Red and yellow songbirds perched in the branches above her, their song light and sweet.

For a time, she was left alone. But soon Taon came out. Normally she hated any interruption of her pastime, but today she did not mind because she wanted to see him. She gestured for him to sit beside her. "A lovely day," she said.

"It is," he agreed.

"Taon, I have decided that next Sunday will be soon enough for my coronation."

Taon took a deep breath, preparing himself for whatever might come. "No, Your Highness," he said quietly.

Aduan recoiled as if she had been slapped. "What did you say?"

"No," he repeated.

"Is there something scheduled for that day?" she asked.


"Then why can’t I have my coronation?"

Taon sighed. "Because the Council did not approve it."

"Ugh," she said, irritated. "Why not?"

"For one thing, you did not attend the meeting."

"Taon, you know how meetings bore me."

"Meetings are a part of life, especially in the life of a queen," he told her. "The Council does not believe you are ready to assume the throne."

"They don’t have to," she said to him. "I am the rightful heir and therefore, the throne is mine. They cannot keep it from me."

He sighed. "According to the law, they can. And from what I have heard, they will not hesitate to do so."

Aduan leapt to her feet, not caring that the wet sand was sticking to her feet. "This is outrageous!"

Taon stood and faced her. "Nevertheless, neither one of us is above the law. You have one month to learn what you need and try to convince the Council that you are capable of assuming the throne and wearing the crown with dignity and grace. If, at the end of that time, they feel that you are ready, you will be crowned. However, if they feel that you are not ready, they will appoint a new ruler for our land."

"But what about you?" she asked. "Can’t you make them change their minds? After all, you are the highest ranked member of the Council."

He sighed. "I am only one member of the Council, not the Council itself. My vote does count, but we do not need a unanimous vote on anything, even on a matter as serious as this. The majority rules. You would know that if only you would study."

"Study? Is that all I have to do?"

Taon sighed again. "You have much to learn, for ruling a country is much more than that."

"What do you mean?"

"You must become a friend of the people, someone they feel that they can trust. You must know how to govern and command your country."

"Can’t you do that?" she asked.

He sighed. "I cannot do your job. No one but you can. And if you don’t, then the Council will remove you from power, and nothing in the universe can change that vote."

"Then I am going to pass a law," the princess declared. "No one, not even a member of the Validor Council, can vote me or any other ruler of Validor, off the throne."

"Your Highness, you cannot pass that law."

She put her hands on her hips. "And why not?"

"As I said, you would know these things if you would study. The reason you cannot pass that law is because all laws go through the Council. There is absolutely no way they will support it because it allows for a dictator to seize control. Also, you must be a queen before you can propose a law."

Aduan made a sound of irritation. "But how can I secure my place on the throne?"

"By learning what you need to. If you wish to learn, I shall be your teacher. But as I said, we only have one month, and that is barely enough time to accomplish anything."

Aduan sighed. "All right," she said. "I’ll do it."

Taon smiled at her, pleased by this first step. But it is only the first, he reminded himself. The question is, will she truly listen to what you have to say and apply it? Will she become a capable leader or have her throne taken away?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chapter One: An Impossible Task

As promised, here's chapter one of The Ultimate Evil. All comments welcome! Remember, this is copyrighted by US law.


Chapter One

An Impossible Task

A good king had ruled Validor not that long ago. He had lost his wife to disease shortly after his daughter’s birth, but did not let his grieving affect his ability to rule the country with compassion and grace. He was a kind man who had been very skilled with the sword, and though ruling Validor had demanded most of his time, he always found enough hours in the day to spend time with his only daughter and heir, Aduan. She was a very beautiful and skilled girl, one of the few women who could expertly wield a sword.

But sadly, this king became subject to a terrible disease. The castle was usually a happy place, but it had not been since the king had become ill. Now everyone was sad and distressed, not knowing what to do.

Aduan paced outside the door that led into her father’s chambers. Her heart raced and fear slowly mounted in the pit of her stomach to the inside of her chest.

Taon, the king’s closest friend and advisor exited his room, shutting the door quietly behind him. Aduan approached him.

"Your father is very ill," he told her gravely.

Aduan hung her head. "Do you think he will live?" Her voice was meek.

He shook his head sadly. "There is little hope that he will survive." He paused. "I’m sorry."

The princess nodded sadly and entered her father’s chamber. Everyone had been warning her not to enter the chamber because no one knew what disease the king had contracted. But she wouldn’t listen. Her father had stayed by her whenever she had taken ill, and now it was her turn to return the favor. She sat quietly, holding his large hand in her small ones. But never did his eyes open.

She maintained a vigil with him for many days, hardly taking the time to eat. Then, one dreary day, despite the heroic effort of the physicians to save his life, the king of Validor passed on.

Taon walked into the chamber. When Aduan flew to him, sobbing against his chest, he knew that it was over. He encircled Aduan as he would his own daughter and comforted her.

Validor mourned for their beloved king and many came to pay their respects at his funeral. Many tears were shed as his body was burned in glowing flames. However, the king’s death could not have come at a worse time. While his ashes were still warm, a crow from Morlaya, the land ruled by Arvil, the Dark One King, soared across the land crying, "The time is near! The time is near!" This was Arvil’s threat of war. The Validor Council only referred to it as a threat, hoping to prevent the people from panicking. However, everyone secretly knew that war was immanent. Arvil had been planning it for far too long and the future looked bleak.

The crow’s cry frightened the people present because all knew of Arvil’s shape shifting powers, and there was no way to know if this crow was one of his minions or the Dark One King himself.

With the passing of the king, it was now time for Aduan to assume the throne, but Taon did not think she was ready, and he was not alone in that opinion.

Just one week after the death of the king, Taon called an emergency Council meeting. All twelve members of the Validor Council responded quickly and met in the conference hall. Taon walked in and heard their quiet whispers, knowing that their many conversations all circled around the princess.

The head of the long table was reserved only for royalty, and it should have been Princess Aduan’s seat, but she had chosen not to attend the meeting. Taon would be sitting at the head of the table, stepping in for the royal heir. The vizier knew that already the Council was not pleased, and the meeting had not even begun.

"Gentlemen," he said from the head of the table. "You may be seated." He was immediately obeyed and began the gathering by saying, "I mourn the death of our beloved king and I am sure that you mourn with me. However, it saddens me even more so to see our only princess and heir to the throne refuse to attend this important meeting."

"I concur," said Sir Yeugh, a skilled knight. He was dressed in his armor and the colors of Validor, which were red and gold. His blonde hair, which was chin length, had been pulled back in a ponytail. "Though I respected and admired the king, as he was my friend, he did not do the best that he could to raise his daughter."

"Though I do agree, I do not believe now is the time to accuse the king of any wrongdoings," Taon said. "He never truly got over the death of his beloved wife, God rest her soul. He raised Aduan the best way he knew how."

"By giving her everything she ever desired." This snort came from Lord Gallim, the royal treasurer. "He even raised the taxes at one point just so Aduan would have all the gifts she wanted for her twelfth birthday." There were murmurs of agreement around the room.

"Gentlemen," Taon said, his strong voice silencing the muttering around the table. "I do not disagree with you, but do not think that the king was oblivious to what he had done to Aduan. Out of everyone here, I was the only one present with the king at his deathbed. As he lay dying, he admitted to me that he realized that he had raised Aduan in a way that was not best for her or the kingdom. He wished for me to guide and raise her until the time comes for her to assume the throne."

"That time has come," Yeugh said. "We need a leader. She needs to be taught, but the damage done is extensive. What if she can’t be?"

"Then the king’s third cousin is next in line," Gallim said. "He lives in the southern parts of Validor, oh, what is his name? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there is no other living relative of the king except for his daughter."

"That is correct," Taon said. "Arvil has destroyed every other relative, and as it stands right now, I believe that Princess Aduan is not ready to become queen. Are we all in agreement on that?"

All the heads around the table nodded. "However," Yeugh reminded the Council, "we need a leader. The day Arvil attacks will come soon. We need someone to help us fight him."

"And it could take years to teach Aduan what she needs to know," Gallim added, looking Yeugh across the table. "We don’t have that amount of time considering the warning we received only one week ago. I would say if she does not learn what she needs to at the end of this month, then we need to appoint a new king of Validor, one that will order us to prepare for war."

"So you are with me in believing that war is a certainty, then?"

He nodded. "Especially with the warning the crow gave," he said with a shiver.

Taon was shocked. "One month is hardly enough time to correct all the damage that has been done!"

Yeugh stood up, banging a closed fist against the table. "Morlaya is on our very doorstep! We are the only country to border that land! Also, Arvil’s shape shifting power is the greatest we have ever seen. He could be here right now, impersonating a member of the Council, and we have no way of knowing it! We need someone who will lead us to action; otherwise, there is no possible way we can stand against the Dark One King."

"And there are many things that Aduan must learn—many more than you might think, Taon. She is a princess, but she does not know what that means. She does not believe that Arvil’s war will come and is taking no precautionary measures to help protect Validor against it. She cares more about her appearance than her people. She is arrogant, conceded, and spoiled—none of the qualities we need—so let us appoint a new leader now." the treasurer suggested.

"Without giving her a chance?" Taon asked. "That hardly seems fair."

"I agree with Lord Gallim," Yeugh said.

You would, Taon thought. You want Aduan off the throne as much as he does—perhaps more. "Is that why you are giving her only one month? You know she cannot succeed within that time."

The grin that formed on Yeugh’s lips told him that was precisely the goal of the Council’s devious plan. In their minds, she could never become a capable ruler. He looked around the table. "What would the king do if he could see you now?"
"He would agree with us."

"Possibly. He did come to see the error of his ways. But our late king believed in people. He believed in the good in those who may not seem to be. Do we honor his memory by not granting his daughter the same courtesy?"

But the Council would not be swayed, even though they admitted his words were true. "One month, Taon," Gallim said. "We will wait no longer."

Taon closed his eyes. This task would fall to him, he knew, since it had been the king’s final wish. To succeed would be nearly impossible, but he would do his best. He opened his eyes.

"Very well. Are we agreed?" All heads around the table nodded. "Then let us consider the meeting at an end."

Everyone shuffled out of the room, but Taon remained. He leaned forward and laid his head in his hands, pushing his brown hair back as he did. The Council knew that they were asking the impossible from him, but they felt it couldn’t be helped, and Taon knew that they were right, no matter what the king would have done. War was near, and a capable leader was essential. Would Aduan be up for the enormous task?

But even though he loved her as if she were his own daughter, he doubted she had the desire to listen to him. She didn’t even think that Arvil’s threat of invasion was true, though she had heard it with her own ears.

Taon sighed and left the room. He needed a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow was going to be the start of many long days.

So, what do you think? If you like the story and have a Facebook page, you can scroll down to the bottom of my blog and find a link that takes you to a fan base that I have created for The Ultimate Evil.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set, Visit My Blog Oct. 24-26

Many of you have read the little bits of The Ultimate Evil that I posted shortly after I launched this blog. Well, starting tomorrow, I am going to post the first three chapters of my YA fantasy in their entirety, one chapter a day. Remember that I want honest opinons, so when you post, be sure to tell me all of your tips, suggestions, and opinions. Do you like it? Tell me. Do you hate it? Tell me! I wanna know! Also, remember that everything posted is copyrighted under US law.

Remember, this starts tomorrow! See you then!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Writer's Frustration

As writers, we get frustrated. Something's not going right in the story, or life gets in the way and we can't write as much as we want to, or the dreaded writer's block gets in the way.

Right now, my frustration is different. I have too much to do! So many stories are falling into place at one time that my head is spinning! I'm in the middle of an MG sci-fi novel that has grown over 5,000 words in two days. I'm revamping another MG story and it's coming along pretty good. All this sounds good, but this can actually turn into a very bad thing. When you have too much on your hands, one story does not get that devotion it needs and sometimes great stories are lost. I'm doing my best to prevent that from happening.

So, is there any frustration you want to vent out? I'm calling a venting session for all writers who just want to yell over cyberspace and someone's willing to listen. So, go ahead, vent away!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bringing You Up To Date

So, it's sunny once again down here in sunny Florida. It had been raining and raining and raining some more. But no more! Yes!

But, in order to bring you completely up to date, I need to tell you about my writing. Well, I have written a short story that I plan to submit to Highlights Magazine. Also, more editing has been done in The Ultimate Evil and as you know the query for that story is done. I have also written five stories out of a 12-book series that I hope to get published and have entered chapter 14 in The Untitled Story. I've been busy as a bee. I also have an article about the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek XI, that will be posted on I'll let you know when it's available.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ode To the Perfect Query

I've been writing a query letter for The Ultimate Evil for six months and I am sick of it. So, I sat on my bed this morning in beautiful Florida and wrote this:

Ode To the Perfect Query
When it comes to the query letter
I am smitten
I want to write the perfect one
That never can be written
No matter how much I try
This is something I cannot do
Even the literary agents have said
That this is too true
So try as I may
Try as I might
I'll never write the perfect query
No matter how much I fight
So I'm declaring it finished
Declaring it done
The Ultimate Evil query
Is done, done, done!
Will the agent like it?
This I cannot say
I guess I'll have to grit my teeth
And e-mail it to her someday
My frustrations worked out in a poem. I think six months is MORE than enough time to spend on a query letter for a story. What do you think?
Also, I apologize for a confusing layout with no spaces. For some reason it won't publish the spaces that I add, so again, I apologize.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Ideas? Yep, I Got 'Em

*SIGH* I got even more story ideas now. Yeah, this time, it's a series about a pirate cat. Already got a dozen adventures for her. Now, if only the publishing process were as easy as getting ideas....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Are You Registered?

I know this has nothing to do with writing, but I want to make sure that everyone who visits my blog who's at least 18 years of age has registered to vote. This year's election is one of the most important presidential elections that America has ever faced, so, please, if you haven't registered to vote yet, please do.

I already know who I'm going to vote for, but I'm not going to share because I hate political ranting. Just think about who you're voting for and make sure you believe that whoever you are voting for is the one you really want to see in the White House. And remember, if you don't vote, you are throwing away the greatest privilege you have as an American citizen.

My registration form is in the mail. Is yours? If not, hurry up and send it. Time is running out.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Progress Report

So, the new story, which is titled "The Untitled Story" (and, yes, that IS the real title), is now thirteen chapters long. Yep. A week's worth of work and I'm already beginning chapter fourteen. The chapters are kinda short, but it suits the layout. It's YA fantasy, my fav genre to write in. So, maybe I'll complete the first draft in less than six months. That would make the fourth mss. in a row to be completed in that amount short amount of time. REALLY scary! But, hey, it's October, and all the Halloween candy gave me an idea for a story! Gosh, too many ideas!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Want To Read Some Of My Work?

Then click on over to Go to the Star Trek Novel section and you can read my review of Diane Duane's book, "Doctor's Orders." Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Greetings....From Florida!!!

Hey, everyone! I haven't posted again because I'm down in Cocoa Beach, Florida right now! The weather's great and I'm so glad to get away! Y'all wanna know why? OK, I'll tell you. I've started my new story! Yep, only been working on it for about three days and am already in chapter seven. Pretty speedy, huh?

The change of scenery seems to have really helped my imagination and cleared my head. I'm still trying to decide if The Ultimate Evil needs this new scene I've thought of, but I'm not sure. It's getting to the point where the more I try to add I realize that it's going to start taking away from the story, so I might leave the idea on the back burner and if an agent suggests a new scene, then I'll put it in.

I would tell you the title of my new story, but there isn't one yet. I might need some help from all of you to find one, so if I ask, be ready!

When I get back I wil share a few pics. Right now I don't have my hook up from my camera to my computer, so pics will have to wait. Sorry. :-(

Anyway, this post is kinda long, so I'l sign off, now. I'll continue to keep you updated!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ever Had That Problem....

.....where you're mind is bursting with ideas for stories, yet you have no idea where to begin? Yeah, I have that problem, but it's getting worse. With The Ultimate Evil so near completion, I've been wanting something new to write, however, I don't know where to start. Ideas are swirling around and around in my head. I have a notebook filled with little scraps and pieces of abandoned tales and new ideas and I have a folder almost bursting with characters. *SIGH*

So, what I want to know is, have you ever had this problem? Are you going through it right now? Or is this something that you completely do not understand and want to run from this blog as fast as you can? :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Triumph!

Hey, guys! Most of you know that I wrote a story for a writing challenge called, The Cleft Brothers. (You can find a post on my blog of the entire story.) Well, I just found out today that it tied for second place! YEAH!

I am SO excited! I have never entered a writing contest of any sort before, so I'm walking on cloud nine right now. Yeah, right now, life doesn't get any better!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yep, that's right. I got "The Ultimate Evil" up to 52,000 words! Can you believe it? I found an old trial query letter that said this story had 48K. Not anymore!

Still this is VERY short for YA. Maybe I can think of some more twists and turns to add to the plot. We'll see! :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No, I'm Not Published Yet

Some of you may remember when I posted that I had submitted two poems for publication. Well, I heard back from the place today and they rejected them. The editor said that my rhyming sounds a little forced, and I can agree! This was just kinda a spur of the moment thing, but he did say if I reworked them to feel free to submit them again! Yeah, that's cool. I also received the nicest (and personalized) rejection letter I could have asked for! So, all in all, a good experience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Calling All Fantasy Writers!!!

Hey, are you a fantasy writer like me? Looking for a great writing forum? Well, your wait is over! Just click on over to

FW is a great place where fantasy writers come to chat, post stories, and learn from each other. If you want some good critique on your writing, you're likely to get it here. For fun they also have weekly polls and monthly writing challenges! These are so much fun! I just entered my first one last month and the results will be released on Monday! Hope I placed!

Hope to see y'all at FW!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A (Short) Conversation with Bruce Coville

Last month, I had a little bit of a conversation with Bruce Coville, author of many beloved childrens books including "The Unicorn Chronicles." It was so strange how it happened (and with one of my fav authors) that I gotta tell you about it.

On his website(, Mr. Coville has a guestbook that fans can sign and he will reply to them. Well, I signed that guestbook, but he never replied to my post. Or anyone else's for that matter. He posted that he wouldn't be able to reply to messages for a few weeks. That time passed and he was answering messages again, but again, not mine.

Thinking that maybe it had slipped through the cracks, I posted again, saying basically the same thing. Later that day I recieved an e-mail with the subject, "Timing!" It was from Bruce Coville. This is what he said:


This is bizarre - I was literally posting a response to your message on the guestbook while you were sending this to me. I hit send, moved back to my e-mail page, and there was your message to me, wondering if I had gotten your first posting. You should recieve that message soon, if you haven't already.

Timing is everything!


I laughed out loud and replied to the e-mail saything this:

"Mr. Coville, thanks for sharing the hilarious story with me. My timing is always lousy or perfect, depending upon how you look at it!

Also, thanks for taking the time to answer questions and listen to your readers. I know it means a lot to people, including me, and it sets a great example.

Always wishing happy writing,


And then he replied once more:

"Thanks, Madison. And good luck with following your own dreams.


Talk about weird! But, hey, in this case, weird is a good thing!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Us Greedy Writers

What is it we writers want all the time? Praise? Sure, that's nice, but not all the time. Rejection? Heck, no!

What? You can't think of it? Come on, it's so easy!

OK, I'll break down and tell you. Advice! Advice is what we wanna be authors crave. We want to know what to do, what not to do, what should a contract include, what can make my mss. better, etc. etc. etc. Wow, we're greedy aren't we? Yes, because when it comes to advice, we can't get enough.

Were do you get that advice? It's all over the net, but it's hard to find, isn't it? Well, there's a great blog out there that answers nearly every question we writers could ever have!

What is it? Tell me! Tell me!

OK, keep your shirts on, I'll tell you. It is literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog. He answers nearly every question you could ever have about the dreaded query letter, on how to prepare a partial, and even some tips on the synopsis we have to write. Of course, this isn't all. He posts regularly and interacts with those who post. His blog was even on Writer's Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers. How cool is that?

Anyway, I highly recommend his blog. I only found it not that long ago and now I wonder how I got along without it. Click on over, you can find a link on the left side of my blog, and check it out. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Publication? Maybe?

So, I found this online weekly magazine that publishes short stories and poems. I had written two poems, so I sent them off tonight, hoping that they will be published. I should know (they say) in 4-6 weeks. Sometimes it's shorter, sometimes it's longer.

Anyway, I'm excited and nervous! Hope everything goes well! Pray for me!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Well, now The Ultimate Evil is up to 51K. Gosh, here I was thinking it would never get to 50K! Show's how wrong I can be!

I really don't know how much longer this tale is going to become. Like I said, I never thought it'd get this long. I guess it'll keep growing till it can't grow no more.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dark Land no more

OK, Dark Land sticks out like a soar thumb in The Ultimate Evil, so Arvil is now king of Morlaya. Hope that sounds a little better.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Queries and Agents, Agents and Queries

Since The Ultimate Evil is so near completion, I have begun researching literary agents and writting draft query letters. If you think that's easy,'s not. Queries have to be as perfect as they can be, but there's no such thing as a perfect query letter. There are thousands of literary agents on the web, but only about half of them are not scam agents. I'm doing my research as best I can, but it's a slow process. But it's part of the job.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency: The Futzing Stops Here

BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency: The Futzing Stops Here

50K MARK!!!!!!

I DID IT! The Ultimate Evil can is now at the 50K mark, the minimum for a YA novel! I thought I wasn't going to make it, but inspiration hit and I made it today! YEAH! Sooooooooo excited! [you can't tell, can you? :-)]

Monday, August 25, 2008


As promised, here it is.

Most don’t believe the legend of the Mirror’s Portal because they do not believe that the Mirror does or once did exist. But this legend is proven true when three boys from our world, Khanamaru, Takeshi Nakamura, and Usagi, are brought to the land of Kantour via the Mirror’s Portal, and learn that an evil warrior named Gaasu is threatening the peaceful land. The danger is so great that the princess has gone into hiding and no one knows where or who she is. The boys are told that no one in Kantour will dare fight Gaasu so they have been chosen for the task and they accept the challenge. Though they are warned that the task will be difficult and dangerous, no one could imagine just how difficult and dangerous it becomes.
With the help of three Dalmatians named Anaberu, Dekusutaa, and Dugan, a Clydesdale called Galan, and their mentor, Kurisutaru, the boys begin their training so that they will be ready to embark on this dangerous mission when the time comes. But when the city becomes too dangerous, the princess’ identity is revealed to the boys and they find that they have to escort Princess Sukaaretto to the country for safety. However, the tables turn when Gaasu ambushes them on the trail. When he disappears, it is quickly noticed that Kurisutaru is gone as well and the boys quickly figure out that it is not Sukaaretto, but Kurisutaru who is the Lost Princess of Kantour.

From this point, things seem to spiral out of control. The boys are sent back to our world only to discover that Gaasu has launched war. They don’t understand how Gaasu could come to our world—unless Kantour’s Whispered Secret is at least partially true.

Now begins a whirlwind of different events. The boys must search for dragons, steal a map, rescue Kurisutaru, and stop Gaasu. They believe that Gaasu is dead and they have succeeded until he uses the Mirror to exile them in our world. Now they have to find a way to get back to Kantour, but that way involves robbing the Masutomi Geology Museum in Kyoto. Once they’re back in Kantour they have to find Dekusutaa and Dugan and rescue Galan. From there they have to travel through the secret tunnels to get inside the Great Palace before the Crowing Day so that they can prevent Gaasu from crowning himself king. But Khanamaru, Takeshi, and Usagi have no idea that there is another villain besides Gaasu, and it is someone who they supposed to be dead, and someone they never supposed to be evil.

So, there's my manga synopsis. What do you think?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Manga

OK, so I've been lazy, haven't posted in four days. I apologize. To make up, I'm going to tell you about my manga.

Yes, I'm writing a manga. For those of you who don't know, a manga is an anime graphic novel. (Yeah, you can call me crazy, it's OK). It's called The Mirror's Portal Trilogy. Here are the book titles.

Book One: Escape Through the Portal

Book Two: Dragon Isle

Book Three: The Secret Tunnels

This is mainly for middle readers, written for three boys I know. I'm almost done formatting book one and once I'm done with the other two, I can start looking for an artist.

I'll post the synopsis tomorrow. Yes, I promise. :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Cleft Brothers

So, here's my entrant for the short story contest. The theme was music. Read and enjoy! (btw, first review got four stars! Yeah!)

The Cleft Brothers

Pianissimo was a small, peaceful land laden with open fields, forests, and many rivers. Everything in the land was soft and light, which made the inhabitants quiet and laid-back.
Well, almost everyone. The Cleft brothers were the only exception.

Treble and Bass were very spunky, loud, and short…standing only about three feet tall. They were also very young. Treble was the eldest at eighteen and Bass was only sixteen. This also meant that they were very immature—especially when it came to their thoughts on the Princesses.

Harmony and Melody were the two rulers of Pianissimo. They were beautiful fairy twins with long black hair and wings that looked similar to a Monarch butterfly’s. They were fine boned with pale skin and gentle dispositions. They were very patient, compassionate rulers, but their patience concerning the Cleft brothers was wearing out.

Nearly every day, Treble and Bass wrote beautiful symphonies, telling the Princesses of their love for them. Treble always wrote to Melody and Bass always wrote to Harmony. The sisters were tired of receiving these letters, which they never answered, and wished that the brothers would stop sending them. They had never met them in person—

—but that was about to change.

Treble and Cleft nearly flew up the stone steps that led to the front door of Clear Notes Castle. They had dressed in their finest, making sure they looked their best before they introduced themselves to the girls they loved.

There were no guards outside the castle door. Pianissimo was a peaceful land with no crime, so there was no need for any. The brothers walked up to the huge wooden doors and knocked in a rhythmic pattern. Only seconds later the door was opened by a chubby elf who was only slightly shorter than they were. His round face was merry and his blue eyes sparkled.

“Welcome! Welcome!” he said with a huge grin. “Come in! Come in!”

With an elegant sweeping gesture, he bid them inside the castle. After he closed the door he looked at the brothers and said, “Now, my boys, what can I do for you? Now, my boys, what can I do for you?”

Bass raised an eyebrow. “Why are you repeating everything that you say?”

The merry elf pointed to himself with his thumb. “Because that’s who I am. Because that’s who I am. I’m Repeat. I’m Repeat. Now, why have you come? Now, why have you come?”

“We wish to see the Princesses Harmony and Melody,” Treble told him.

“Ah, wonderful! Ah, wonderful! Our first visitors of the day! Our first visitors of the day! Please, this way, follow me! Please, this way, follow me!”

The jester cartwheeled and tumbled down the long corridor that led to the throne room. But before they entered, Repeat leaned in close and whispered, “I did not catch your names. I did not catch your names.”

“Treble and Bass Cleft,” Treble supplied.

Repeat nodded and opened the throne room doors. He walked in and bowed. “Your Highnesses, may I present the Cleft brothers, Treble and Bass. Your Highnesses, may I present the Cleft brothers, Treble and Bass.”

Repeat turned around and motioned for them to enter and when they did they saw Princesses Harmony and Melody sitting on their thrones, looking radiant in long, softly clinging white gowns. They also wore elegantly carved bands around their foreheads and certainly were the most beautiful creatures the Cleft brothers had ever seen.

“Thank you, Repeat, for showing them in,” Princess Melody said.

Repeat bowed. “Of course, Your Highness. Of course, Your Highness.” He left the room.
Once the jester had gone, looks of slight irritation appeared on the sisters’ faces. “You two are the Cleft brothers?” Harmony asked.

They bowed low. “Yes, Your Highness,” Bass said.

Melody’s eyes narrowed. “Then that means you are the two aggravating ones who keep sending us those love symphonies.”

They rose. “Yes,” Treble said. “Mine, composed only for the beautiful Princess Melody, are symphonies for the flute.” With this statement he reached under his shirt and produced a silver flute, which he immediately began to play.

“And mine,” Bass said, “are only for the compassionate Harmony, who, like myself, is a lover of the guitar.”

His instrument had been strapped to his back and now he brought it forth, plucking the strings, his fingers dancing over the fret board.

The two symphonies by themselves were truly works of art, but together the two were just a jumble of mixed-up notes, lacking melody and harmony. In the presence of the mistresses of these techniques it was highly insulting and the Princesses cried out at the noise in anger and annoyance.


Only seconds later, the Cleft brothers were literally tossed out of the castle, landing hard on the green grass.

Repeat poked his head out. “Sorry, it was the Princess’s command. Sorry, it was the Princess’s command.” He closed the door.

Treble sat up and rubbed his right shoulder. “That little elf is sure a lot stronger than he looks.”
Groaning as he got to his feet, Bass grumbled, “You can say that again.”

At that instant, laughter could be heard, laughter that was in perfect key and harmony. The brothers looked to their left and saw the Four Parts hovering in the air.

The Four Parts—Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone—were tiny wood nymphs that barely stood an inch tall. They had a soft yellowish glow about them and from a distance could easily be mistaken for fireflies.

“What are you laughing at?” Bass demanded, clearly showing his bad mood.

This statement only made the light laughter continue.

The Four Parts were not unknown to Treble and Bass. At one time, they had all been playmates, but whereas the Four Parts had matured, the Cleft brothers had not.

“Thrown out of the castle, eh kids?” Tenor asked with a smile. He wore a brown leaf kilt and his long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

“Oh, you must have been bad boys,” Alto said, laughing. She had a very lean figure, short choppy brown hair, and wore yellow leaves.

“We just went in to see our girls,” Treble said meekly.

Baritone, a chubbier nymph who wore orange leaves, snorted. “Those fairies are the most beautiful creatures in the land. There is no way they would consider dating either one of you, ugly as you two are.”

“Hey!” Bass yelled.

“Oh, Baritone, hush your mouth,” Soprano said. She was the fattest of the four with red hair and wearing green leaves. She smiled at the brothers. “These two are just as cute as ever.”

The brothers beamed.

“So, what got the two of you kicked out of the castle?” Alto asked.

“Well, we began playing our symphonies for Melody and Harmony…” Treble began.

“Don’t tell me the two of you played them at the same time!” Tenor said, appalled.

Treble looked sheepish and scraped his booted foot against the ground. “Uh…we kinda did.”

“Oh no!” Baritone said, laughing, his belly jiggling. “You really insulted those girls. Harmony and Melody don’t like anything out of order, and what you two were doing certainly was. You just created Noise, and that is the one thing the princesses despise and the only thing they hate more so than Unison.”

“Oh, Baritone, what do you know?” Soprano complained. “You know that everyone here in Pianissimo fears Unison! I’d much rather hear Noise than face him!”

“I’m sick of this talk,” Bass said. He turned to his brother. “C’mon, Treble. Let’s go home and talk strategy on how to get our girls back.”

As they trotted down the trail, Tenor yelled after them, “How can you call them your girls when you haven’t even gotten them yet?”

The Four Parts laughed and flew back into the forest.


The land of Forte lay far beyond Pianissimo’s borders. These two lands were not on friendly terms. It was hard for the people of the two lands to get along because the natives of Pianissimo were quiet and laid-back whereas the inhabitants of Forte were loud and powerful. In this case, opposites did not attract.

Forte was ruled by Unison, a man who hated parts. He stood in his chamber, gazing into his crystal ball, in which he could see the two Princesses of Pianissimo: Harmony and Melody. He literally cringed as he thought their names…that was how much he despised variation in music.
Blessed with a keen ear in music, Unison could hear the harmonizing tones and soft pitches that came from Pianissimo, though that land was miles away. The sound made his very soul quiver.
Unison was tired of always hearing the lovely strands of musical harmony and melody coming from Pianissimo. He hated always having to hear the music from that land because no matter how much he tried, he could not block the notes from his mind.

Frustrated, his hate for Melody and Harmony growing, Unison made his way to his castle’s roof. Once there he called out at the top of his lungs and two great dragons, one green and the other white, came soaring across the country and landed on the castle roof in front of their master. Named for the sounds they made they were called Flat and Sharp.

“I have a task for you, my pets,” Unison said. “Fly to the land of Pianissimo and bring its Princesses, Harmony and Melody, to me!”

Nodding to indicate that they understood their orders, the magnificent dragons beat their wings and rose into the orange sky, immediately obeying their master’s order.


Sitting at their desks in their little cottage, Treble and Bass were each working on another symphony to send to Melody and Harmony. All was quiet and still…nothing unusual, until a loud note pierced the sky and it made the brothers cringe.

“Never heard anyone hit a flat note like that,” Bass commented.

Treble shrugged and they both went back to work, trying to shake of the uneasy feeling they both harbored. But when another screech pierced the air, this one sharp, and the sounds of terrified shouts could be heard, the brothers dropped their quill pins and rushed outside.
“Look up there!” Bass cried.

Treble followed his brother’s arm and saw a great white dragon soaring through the sky. “And over there,” he said, pointing towards the east. “A green one.”

“Why are we being plagued by dragons?” Bass asked, curious.

“You got me.”

For several moments, the dragons disappeared. Treble and Cleft stayed outside, gazing up at the sky, waiting to see if the dragons would return. When it seemed they wouldn’t they turned to go back in their cottage, but then a feminine scream was heard and they turned back around, seeing that the dragons had returned, this time each carrying something in their large paws.

Bass put up his hand to help block out the sun, trying to see better. “What do they have?”

“I can’t tell.”

The dragons flew off in the distance. “What was that all about?”

“I have no idea.”

Suddenly, Repeat came running down the dirt path, his hands high in the air. “Oh, it’s terrible! Oh, it’s terrible!”

“What’s the matter, Repeat?” Treble asked.

“The dragons took the Princesses! The dragons took the Princesses!”

Bass’s eyes grew wide. “You can’t be serious!”

“Of course I am! Of course I am! You can go to Clear Notes Castle and see for yourselves! You can go to Clear Notes Castle and see for yourselves!”

At that moment, the Four Parts appeared. “Have you heard?” Alto asked. “Melody and Harmony are gone!”

Baritone snorted. “You idiot. You see Repeat’s here. Of course they know!”

“Calm down, Baritone,” Tenor said. “The main thing now is to find the Princesses. Without harmony and melody, which is what the Princesses are the mistresses of, the quiet peaceful notes of Pianissimo will become distorted. And if that happens, the land that we know and love will no longer exist.”

“Did anyone see which direction the dragons took?” Soprano asked.

“Towards Forte they went! Towards Forte they went!”

“Forte…” Alto’s voice was quiet.

“Oh no,” Tenor said. “That can only mean one thing.”

Soprano nodded solemnly. “Unison.”

“Unison?” the Cleft brothers repeated.

“Yes! Yes!” Repeat said, clearly agitated. “Unison hates harmony and melody. Unison hates harmony and melody.”

“And with his keen ear in music,” Baritone said, “he can hear the harmonious strands vibrating through our land, even though his domain is miles and miles away.”

“Someone must save the Princesses and bring them back to Pianissimo,” Alto said. “But who?”

Treble and Bass looked at each other. Knowing what the other was thinking they threw their fists in the air and shouted, “We will!”

“Let’s make for Forte!” Treble shouted.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down there!” Baritone said. “You boys have no idea what you’re about to get into.”

“Right he is. Right he is.”

“It’s a long road to Forte,” Soprano told them. “You will have to walk the Measured Steps, which are rumored to be very difficult to cross, and before you can enter Forte you will have to Hit The Right Notes. And, to top it off, you will have to defeat Unison before you can rescue Harmony and Melody.”

Tenor held his hand in his chin. “You will need some help.”

“Great!” Bass said. “Four Parts, welcome to the team!”

“Hold on, now!” Baritone exclaimed. “Since when did we volunteer?”

“Baritone, shut up,” Alto said. “We’ve known Treble and Bass since we were kids. If they need our help, we should be willing to give it to them. Isn’t that right, Tenor and Soprano?”
“Of course!” Tenor said with a grin.

“Uh…yeah, I guess,” Soprano said, looking very much like she was not looking forward to the next few days.

“Great!” Treble said. “Repeat, you coming too?”

“No, I must stay at the castle. No, I must stay at the castle. I will help to calm the people’s fright. I will help to calm the people’s fright.”

Bass shrugged. “All right. Well then, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”


With the Four Parts fluttering behind them, Treble and Bass trudged through the forests of Pianissimo till they reached the border of their land. But at the border, they stopped.

“Goodness,” Alto said. “I didn’t think we’d have to cross the Measured Steps so soon.”

Stretching before them, leading up as far as the eye could see, was a staircase that was made of sheet music.

“How are we supposed to cross this?” Treble asked. “Something tells me that there’s a trick to it.”

“Look!” Soprano cried, pointing at the stair’s base. “See what’s printed down there?”

The brothers looked down and saw a 3 printed just above a 4. Bass snapped his fingers, knowing what it meant. “Three-four time. We have to climb up three beats to the measure.”

“But how long is the measure?”

Tenor flew ahead and gazed down at the stairs. “The measure breaks after the fourth stair. You have to climb four stairs to the count of three.”

“I hope you two are good at counting,” Alto said with a giggle.

Treble snorted. “Of course we are! We write symphonies every day, don’t we?”

They began their long climb. “Watch the stairs,” Soprano warned. “The beats and measures might change. If they do, you will have to compensate quickly because if you don’t, this stairway will not lead to Forte, but just become a never-ending road to nowhere.”

Soprano’s speculation turned out to be true. Soon it changed to four-four time, then six-eight time, and then twelve-eight time.

Huffing, trying to keep count, Treble said, “I think… something’s wrong. I think…this stairway is… never-ending.”

“No, it’s not!” Tenor exclaimed. “I can see the end!”

“Good,” Bass said, for he hated the burning in his leg muscles.

When they came to the top of the stairs a great wall of notes stood in front of them, extending in all directions, blocking their way.

“Now what do we do?”

“Simple,” Baritone said. “You have to Hit The Right Notes.”

Alto looked at the wall in dismay. “But how are we to know which notes are right and which are wrong? We can’t just guess.”

“Wait!” Bass snapped, holding up his hand. “Be quiet and listen.”

He was obeyed and every pair of ears could hear several instruments, in unison, playing the same notes over and over again.

“That’s our key,” Bass said. “Now we have to figure out what notes they are playing and hit the right ones on the wall in the proper order. Treble, you know notes better than I do. What are they playing?”

Treble closed his eyes as the invisible instruments played the bar again. “B flat, A, D sharp, C, F, A flat.”

“Four Parts, this is where you come in! Find those notes and hit them in the right order! Don’t mess up because we don’t know what will happen if we do.”

“Right,” Tenor said with a salute and the Four Parts took off. Within ten seconds they hit the correct notes on the wall and in the right order.

“Good job!” Treble praised them.

But the wall didn’t come down. “What’s wrong?” Baritone asked.

“Another strand’s being played! Treble, what are the notes?”

A few seconds passed. “D, F, C flat, B sharp, A, A sharp, B flat, D sharp.”


Again, the Four Parts took off. “Hitting D,” Alto said.

“Now F,” Tenor shouted.

“Now hitting B sharp,” Baritone said.

“Don’t do that, you fool!” Soprano cried. “C flat comes before B sharp.”

“No it doesn’t!”

“D, F, C flat, B sharp, A, A sharp, B flat, D sharp,” Treble shouted again.

Muttering, Baritone waited for Soprano to hit C flat before he smacked B sharp.

The rest of the notes were hit in the right order without anymore confusion, but still the wall didn’t come down. “Now what?” Soprano called.

“Another set!” Treble said. He drew his eyebrows together. “Strange. This time it’s just the note B being repeated six times.”

“And B is right here!” Alto shouted. “Stand back, everyone, the wall is coming down!”

She hit the note six times but still the wall did not come down. “Another set?” she asked.

“No,” Bass said. “The notes just keep repeating themselves.”

Treble smacked his forehead. “How could I be so stupid? This time it’s not the note that matters, but the length. Four Parts, whole note, half note, dotted quarter note, eighth note, whole note!”
Once again, the Four Parts hovered into motion and hit the notes in sequence and this time, the wall came crumbling down and for the first time in their lives the six companions laid eyes on the land of Forte.


Forte was a land that was covered in ash and had a permanent orange sky. The strands of music heard in this land were loud and powerful. It was very strange and frightening for the Pianissimo natives.

“Look,” Tenor said nervously, pointing to the east. “There’s Unison’s castle. The Princesses will be there.”

Treble licked his dry lips. “Let’s go.”

Slowly, they made their way to the castle. The people of Forte…goblins, wolves, and vultures…paid them no mind as they passed through. It brought both relief and fear.

They reached the castle and walked into the great hall. Standing the in middle of the huge room was a tall man in blood red robes with black hair and pointed teeth.


He spread his arms before them. “Welcome to my humble home,” he said, his voice deep. “What can I do for you?”

“You can release Melody and Harmony!” Bass shouted.

Unison threw back his head and laughed. “Idiot. Do you really think I would release them to you? They are the mistresses of harmony and melody, the two things I hate most in the entire world. Already the balance of music from your land had begun to unravel. I’ve never heard tones that sounded better.”

Tenor sped to hover between Treble and Bass. “Hurry,” he whispered. “Play your music. Only the by the strands of musical harmony can you defeat him!”

Treble whipped out his silver flute and Bass brought around his guitar. Immediately they began to play, but something was wrong.

It was their music. They could not play in harmony. No matter how they tried, no matter what notes they hit, the flute and guitar were in perfect unison.

“Ha ha ha!” Unison laughed triumphantly. “No matter what you play, it will be the same!”

“What are we waiting for?” Soprano asked the other Parts. “Let’s hit it!”

But the same thing happened to them. No matter how hard they tried, the Four Parts sang in perfect unison.

Again Unison’s laugher echoed through the halls. You cannot defeat the power of my uniting spell!”

Treble, Bass, and the Four Parts did not know what to do. No matter how they tried, voices and instruments hit the same notes with absolutely no blending or harmony.

“It’s useless!” Bass cried.

Suddenly, the Princesses of Pianissimo, Harmony and Melody, flew into the hall. At the sight of them the look of triumph fled from Unison’s features.

Baritone’s mouth dropped. “How…”

Harmony smiled. “Unison is making the notes you sing and play the exact same pitch and tone. However, all of you are thinking the correct notes and pitches.”

“In your thoughts there is harmony and melody. This broke Unison’s binding spell on us and set us free.”

The six companions had stopped their boring music. “So… this is it?” Treble asked.

“No!” Unison cried. “No, I am not defeated yet!”

He thrust his arms out wide. At that moment there was a sound of music so horrible it could only be defined as a horrible screech. Outside, Flat and Sharp’s screeches could be heard. All from Pianissimo covered their ears and fell to their knees at the offending Noise.

“What do we do?!” Bass cried.

“Play!” the Princesses demanded.


“Trust us!”

The Cleft brothers tore their hands away from their ears and began to play their music, which was still coming out in boring unison.


As she said this, the mistress of harmony shot out her hand. Strands of music flowed from her fingertips and to the instruments that Treble and Bass were playing. Instantly, they were able to play different pitches and it made Unison cringe. Though outside the castle, Flat and Sharp could hear the music and it made them screech in agony.


The mistress of melody shot out her hand and strands of music flowed from her own fingertips, but this strand went to the Four Parts. “Now sing. Sing!”

Baritone and Tenor opened their mouths and beautiful music came from their vocal cords. Alto did as well.

Bass grinned. “And it ain’t over till the fat nymph sings!”

Once the words escaped his lips, Soprano sang a pure note. The Four Parts blended in perfect harmony. The singing and instruments made the most beautiful music Forte had ever heard, which meant that all the inhabitants despised it, yet there was nowhere they could run to escape it.

Unison could not stand the harmony and melody of the music that surrounded him. He began to disappear, crying, “No! No! Noooooooooooo!”

Unison disappeared completely and was defeated.


Back at Clear Notes Castle, the Princesses Harmony and Melody were sitting once again on their thrones, exactly where they belonged. Treble, Bass, and the Four Parts stood before them.

“The six of you were willing to risk your lives to help us,” Harmony said with a gentle smile. “You all possess a rare courage that deserves to be rewarded.”

“In all actuality, Your Highnesses,” Alto said with a bow, “it was Treble and Bass who wished to save you. My brothers, sister, and I merely tagged along to lend what assistance we could.”
“This is true, Your Highnesses,” Tenor said.

“So, what are you saying?” Melody asked. “That you should not be rewarded?”

Baritone nodded. “No one was willing to go to Forte and face Unison until these two brats, who lack common sense, decided that they would go traipsing off into the unknown.”

Soprano smiled. “So, Your Highnesses, the reward must go to Treble and Bass Cleft.”

Harmony nodded. “If that is indeed what you wish. Repeat!”

He entered the throne room immediately. “Yes? Yes?”

“Please see the Four Parts out.”

He bowed. “As you wish, my lady. As you wish, my lady.”

When they were gone, the Princesses focused their gaze on the Cleft brothers. “It was a brave thing you did,” Melody said.

Treble bowed. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, sweet Melody.”

“And I claim the same, perfect Harmony.”

The sisters exchanged grins. “As was stated earlier,” Harmony said, “such bravery cannot go without a reward. What is it the two of you wish?”

The brothers exchanged knowing smiles. They knew exactly what they were going to ask of the Princesses. Beaming, they looked back at them.

“A date!”

Once again the Cleft brothers found themselves tossed out of Clear Notes Castle by the merry jester. Repeat then threw two dates at them. Looking at them, Treble and Bass stuck their tongues out at him as, laughing, Repeat closed the door.

Yes, life had returned to normal in Pianissimo.