Wednesday 27 January 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Buried

Today upon this Drabble Wednesday we come not to mourn, but to unearth those things that should stay buried…

Dead and Buried

The hour grew late, and the church bells chimed their dirge. I watched the funeral procession slowly climb the hill to the graveyard, the closing rays of sunlight dancing with lengthening shadows. The mourners were few: the pallbearers hoisting the shiny mahogany casket, the dry-eyed widow, and a few backstabbing family members. A pitiful parade, but one to be expected given the decreased.
You see, I was a most horrible person in life, cruel, ruthless, vindictive. I took great pleasure in tormenting any hapless creature that crossed my path.
That shall not change. In death, I will truly haunt them.



One black feather.
It floated with the puff of winter air, a capricious thing, and settled tenderly upon the cold ground.
A raven’s feather.
Shed from the wing of a soaring bird, fled from war and towards a far distant shore. In its wake came a fading echo; the keening cries of the dying and the lasting silence of the dead. It preceded the howling tempest…

Soon, the sun peered from behind the clouds; the storm had passed. In its aftermath the land remained, blanketed with snow, the shroud to cover the decaying bones and the crumbling ruins of kingdoms.



Dust, earth, smoke and bone.
Interred deep, below the soil, overgrown.
I still breathe, this timeworn air, here in my box, thin of flesh and coil of hair.
They called me mad, called me witch. Bound me up, left me to twitch. It didn’t work, no, not one tiny bit. For I’m still here, though worse for wear, I’ll admit.
I’ve been patient, I’ve been calm. I believe I’ve shown some aplomb.  Yes, through the ages, I’ve lain so silent. Nary one peep, nothing violent.
But my time is coming, I can feel. Soon from my grave, I will steal.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Changelings

Today on Drabble Wednesday come read of oddities, things out of place, and not quite right…

The Tree of Life

The emerald leaves of the deciduous tree fluttered in the breeze wafting off the lake. It appeared fresh and vibrant as the first day of spring, though all around bare branched fauna shed their leaves, shadowing the ground in a red and orange shroud.
A strange site to behold indeed, yet the tree existed, lush and green throughout winter and spring and all seasons in-between. Perpetual mist caressed it bark, fed from the lake or perhaps something more unearthly. And its branches were ripe with crimson fruit, sweet and waiting to be eaten.
The perfect temptation for all unwary fools.



The tiny creature in the crib breathed the sweetest rhythm, a soft inhale to exhale. Its chest rose and fell in time with its heart, life expelled and renewed. Pale rose pinked its cheeks, lending a cherub look, enhanced by a perfection nose and chin. Velvet fuzz of chestnut hue and curls adorned its small head.
The loving family doted on the new addition, marvelling at its disposition, for it rarely cried or fussed. They showed it off proudly and all visitors cooed, declaring it the loveliest baby ever.
And it was, save for one small thing.
It wasn’t human.



Voices leaked from between the bindings, and the smell of ancient ink and old leather. Garbled whispers wafted from the paper and hide, and sometimes screams. Its gilt—along the spine and leaf edge—glowed in unearthly tones, shifting with the tide of the air. The manuscript stood an enigma, a macabre mystery upon the dusty shelves of the library archives. It nestled in a nook, flanked by unused tomes and folios, avoided by all.
Yes, no one ever touched the book.
For the last sorry soul to lay hands on it died a madman, babbling of demons and devils.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Contemplation

Today’s Drabble Wednesday gets a little Zen…


I stand on creaking, swaying planks of wood fashioned into a worthy vessel, gazing beyond the edge of the world. Across the liquid horizon, upon the tranquil, yet undulating, surface of the sea. So peaceful, so calm, reflecting the sweet blue sky, whilst harbouring its own hint of emerald green.
On days like this it is my mistress, my true love. We are one.
Even so, I give all respect to the coiling fury beneath, with its bones of lovers past. Turn your back, become complacent, and the ferocity will strike.
Still, I’d not give it up, not for anything.


The Mountain

Standing solid within the scope of time, a stalwart backbone of primeval earth, this mountain stretched to converse with the sky. It cast its shadow over the village, and generations of people took comfort in its presence. In turn it had played god, protector, inspiration, and obstacle.
In the winter it isolated, snows often blocking the pass and road that led to the next kingdom. In summer it provided, the slopes giving fertility to fields and harvests, its trees yielding fruit, nuts, or wood stockpiled for the cold weather.
Standing strong despite time’s passage, the mountain would outlast them all.



Dots on the black canvas, illuminated frippery, adorning the universe. We stare—in awe, seeking knowledge, simply to idle away the hours. They are an eternal muse, imprinted, indelibly part of humanity’s eons.
What are they, truly?
A touch of things unknown, alien light reflected from another existent past, a farewell and hello from faraway places. They are a call to frontiers beyond, and memories we’ll never know, time travel held in celestial particles.
They are the beacons in the darkest night, whispering we are part of a universal something.
Where would our wishes go, but to the stars?

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday 12 January 2016

The Bookminder Blog Tour

For those of you following along, you will remember the cover reveal for The Bookminder, and the inclusion of a sneak peek of the novel in my holiday book list. Well, it's been lauched and is (along with its author) on tour to celebrate the release. I have a look at the book and a short interview with the author M. K. Wiseman, plus a Rafflecopter Giveaway.

So without further adieu, may I present...

Some links where you can find The Bookminder

The Book Trailer

An Interview with M. K. Wiseman

How did you come up with the concept of your story?

In 2004 I had a very vivid dream that, afterward, wouldn't leave me alone. Said dream basically detailed out one scene from the story, something so different and captivating for me that it stuck. Now, it must be noted that I was not writing at that time, nor did I intend to write in any professional capacity. But as this one nugget of an idea would not let me be, I started to form a story around it – Why were these people doing what they were doing? Who were they?
I think that working in the Preservation Dept of the campus library system had bled into my subconscious and that is where the magick system that rules The Bookminder developed.

How did you come up with the title?

Haha, well, I had to actually do a bit of research to check my brain on this as, over time, there have been several incarnations, besides the working title of Wizard's Librarian. As a (former(?)) librarian, I was really hoping to keep the working title, as homage to my career and the work that had sparked the initial idea. But then we wanted to go with something simpler, brighter, and more “fantasy”.
The 'research' I allude to above? I just unearthed a Facebook exchange between a librarian friend and I from last March. In it she says she quite likes the new title and then asks “Who came up with that?”
My answer? “Honestly I don't remember . . . might have been my editor. We just started throwing things together.” Words that felt book-binder-y but not quite so literal. Things like “Spellbinder / Spellbound” seemed a bit too on the nose.

Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.

The locations in Bookminder are real. Parentino truly did fall to ruins, while its twin fortification flourished. And while the town known as Dvigrad in the story did have another name, Moncastello, in keeping with the attitude of the characters in the story, I dropped the name from their fortification and merely called it Dvigrad. Call it a decision of character politics, if you will.
The tales of what actually happened to Dvigrad are a little muddled but history has the town mixed up in the middle of the Venice and Austrian conflict of the sixteenth century. And the town truly was abandoned due to plague—though history has that date at 1630 and Bookminder has it coming some 50-odd years later.

Who is your favorite author? Who has most influenced your work?

Two questions. Two answers:
Fav author? Have to go with Douglas Adams. His humor is superb. And while my brain tends to go a little sideways when reading his stories, that's part of my enjoyment of his very unique work. I appreciate that there really is no other author with his touch.
As for who has most influenced my work: Brian Jacques. While this may not seem the most obvious choice, hear me out.  His Mariel of Redwall is the very first book that I remember being completely in love with. I read, of course, before that. Quite a bit. But this one book seemed to change reading for me. It became more than merely enjoyable. Stories could be transcendent, not mere personal experiences. Reading could link you to others. Maybe it was just the right book at a certain moment in my life. But I was a lucky enough kid to meet Mr. Jacques on more than one occasion at bookstore readings/signings. He became my author rockstar and it was his stories that changed how I thought of books which, in turn, has influenced my writing at a very deep level.

What activities best give your brain a break? How do you unwind?

Sudoku. I love (so called) “killer” sudoku. Meditation. Running (which, unfortunately, sometimes puts my brain right back into production mode as much as it allows me a break.) I like video games and play pinball whenever I can get my hands on a good machine. Reading, of course. A hard or two of poker is like a brain-vacation. And, weirdly enough, I like to just stare out the window at the scenery watching birds, rain falling, tree branches moving . . . Oh! I almost forgot: Fishing. I have really gotten into that in recent years. Especially ice fishing. That's good stuff.

What are some of your other published works?

I have three short stories out through Xchyler—two steampunk and one paranormal. Those were a blast to write. And if we “count” stories that I published to my blogs for fun, then I also lay claim to two (currently haitus-ed) continuing stories: one steampunk, one . . . not. :)

And here's a just for fun nerd list from our author:

Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars (Though I am a sucker for Voyager.)
Hunger Games or Divergent? Neither? I know that sounds terrible. I just never got into the 'dystopian' thing. Too intense for me.
James Bond or Jack Ryan? Erm, *embarrassed blush* I haven't ever read or seen a James Bond novel or movie and actually had to Google “Jack Ryan” to find out who that was.
Sherlock: Robert Downey, Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch? Jeremy Brett. :)
Spock: Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto? Leonard Nimoy.
X-Men or Avengers? That has changed for me very recently, actually. Avengers now has the lead because of the excellence of the recent movies—great dynamics.
Aliens or Predators? Cue another embarrassed blush . . . Complete and total unfamiliarity here for me.
Minions or Penguins? Penguins.
Batman or Superman? Batman *But only because he has such cool toys!
Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean? That's a tough one because I never really got into Harry Potter in the way that I'm sure this question is asking about and I loved “Pirates” so long as we stick only to the first movie.
Beatles or Rolling Stones? Beatles.
Peter Jackson or James Cameron? Peter Jackson. But only because I am largely unfamiliar with the main body of James Cameron's work.
Steven Spielberg or George Lucas? George Lucas.
Vampires or Werewolves? Vampires
LARP or MORPG? LARP – always wanted to try one.


The Bookminder by M. K. Wiseman

We're celebrating the release of THE BOOKMINDER by M. K. Wiseman with a blog tour and Rafflecopter give-away! Visit each blog each day for more chances to win lots of great prizes. If you like epic fantasy, you'll love this coming-of-age tale of magic and wizards set in the Renaissance era.

January 9-16, 2016

Saturday, 01-09 Bookwhizz
Sunday, 01-10 M. K. Wiseman
Monday, 01-11 Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind
Tuesday, 01-12 Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Wednesday, 01-13 The Howling Turtle
Thursday, 01-14 Dreams to Become
Semi-short Chic
Friday, 01.15 JD Spero
Books in the Spotlight
Saturday, 01-16 Creativity from Chaos
Rambling Reviews


Don't forget to enter our blog tour Rafflecopter give-away below, on the blogs above, on our Facebook page, or on Rafflecopter, with daily chances to win!

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Past Reality

This week, Drabble Wednesday steps beyond the realm of the existent into worlds beyond…

Debt Collector

The man in the black coat waited. At the end of the street, his white gloved hands resting on his walking stick, a derby hat upon his head. He stood still, though the wind plucked at his coat, his silver eyes staring.
I remembered those silver eyes.
I remembered the last night he stood waiting. The night of my unholy bargain. Now it’s time to pay my due.
Well, he won’t collect anything from me. I shan’t go out tonight.
I take my tea into the drawing room. Silver eyes stared at me.
“Hello, James. I was tired of waiting.”


The Visitor

My sister died a year ago.
My family shut away her existence, even refuses to whisper her name. They shush me when I try to talk of her, and I see their looks of pity. I ignore them now. I am simply glad they granted me the gift of her mirror.
I hung it on my bedroom wall, over my dressing table, where the sun can catch the gilt finish and make it shine. Where I sit and stare into the polished glass, remembering. Where I smile, laugh, and cast her name to the heavens.
Where she answers me.



Skittered particles of dust, like sparkles on a lake surface, shifting, shattering inside sunbeams. Suspended in air, visible as the light passes giving form to the insubstantial. Whispers of what went before, the aged dust of humanity, hovering, lingering.
In the gossamer net of the sun, exposed. A minuscule river, flowing, bobbing, desiccated powdered remains, of what was once flesh and life. We were washed away, but now reborn specks of matter again, fragments to be certain, but alive, aware. For one moment in the sun. Before we disappear to the nether beyond.
To the world of the dead.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Friday 1 January 2016

A New Year's Poem

For New Year's Day I have a poem for you. Enjoy...

A Handful of Hours

 Shall the porcelain clock face
freeze—its hands stilled
against the monumental
advance, the ever present loom
of that unfriendly ticking time

Shall we stay within that frozen
second—its sad face forgotten
our one moment defended in
this stagnant infinitesimal, far outside
our remaining handful of hours

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved 

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