Follow Blake and Renee for an Independence Day you won't forget. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0153XTBG2
Follow Blake and Renee for an Independence Day you won't forget. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0153XTBG2
We are 5 days away from the release of BETWEEN THE TIDES, an anthology of 12 stories by 12 amazing authors. Our stories are sweet, sassy, sad, happily-ever-after, not so happy-ever-after, romantic, historical, and fun.
As authors, we've had an amazing time visiting and laughing, but most importantly knowing each other on a different level. Some say friends cannot be made online...that because you don't have a face to face relationship it shouldn't happen. That is so far from the truth! These ladies have become family and I'm thankful for each one and their unique abilities.
My contribution to this collection is set in the depths of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. This lake is known for pop-up squalls that sink ships, it is known for its beauty, it is known for the most famous shipwreck of all...the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
Dave sets out on what is a normal day of fishing only to be caught off guard by the Ides, who've decided to whip up a fierce storm. What happens next is subject matter of myth and legend as Dave is plunged to the depths of the lake. A sturgeon-shifter, his daughter and the spirit of The Keeper of the Souls of the Lake do their best to keep Dave from crossing into eternity. What happens next will surprise and warm your soul.
I hope you will follow us on Facebook and join our release party that begins on June 8th at 5:30 pm EDT. https://www.facebook.com/events/450284962206719/
There is so much truth in this. The older I become, the more quickly time slips by me. Was it this way forty years ago when I was in my 20's? I remember thinking then how I wish time would move quicker. Then there was marriage and children and the only evidence of time passing I had was in the growth of my sons.
Today, as I'm updating some things and changing others, I see it has been several months since I've posted here. To those of you who stop by regularly, I apologize. I have no excuses for this other than time getting away from me, and maybe a bit of health issues tossed in there.
If you haven't visited another blog that I co-moderate, please do so. We are a group of creatives who hope to affect the readers in a positive manner with our posts. It has been a joy to begin friendships with our members and our readers. Each day is a different post and we have some spectacular guests who pop by. originalitybydesign.blogspot.com
I also began a new newsletter feature. Every Sunday you will get a snippet from a character from one of my books. They will bring you up to date on what they've been doing since their book was published. I hope this is a feature you will enjoy. Please, feel free to leave your feedback.
March is National MS Awareness month, and as such, I have been posting MS Facts on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/grace.au.372 and on Twitter @mallidalli. By doing these little facts, you learn a bit more about this autoimmune disease and as G.I. Joe said..."and knowing is half the battle."
I will be doing a reading at Groundswell Cafe in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, March 29th. There is a $5 cover charge and I will have my newest book available for purchase as well as SO YOU HAVE MS. NOW WHAT? I hope you come out. There will be other authors and music between readings.
Until Next time...be kind to one another.
It doesn't seem like this year has been all that productive...based on the number of books published, anyway. I wrote a short story that accompanies SECRETS OF DALGAARD CASTLE--A Winter's Solstice Tale (published here on my blog) and SECOND CHANCES--my holiday novella that was published a few days before Christmas. Kudos to Barnes & Noble and the Nook Press team for a great printing job.
Personally, I'm sure I've achieved much--including dealing with every day life. I did my first Walk MS event earlier this year, continue with weekly physical therapy, and keep my hands busy (idle hands are the devil's playground...or so I've been told) with acrylic canvas painting. The year seemed to fly past me...and I know the older I become, the less time it takes 365 days to pass!
Do you have a New Year's Eve tradition? When I was younger, and lived in Portland, Oregon, the tradition there seemed to be everyone going outside at midnight banging on pots and pans. After I married, we had champagne as we watched the ball drop in Times Square. The older I get, the more it is just another day--no parties, no get togethers, no special events--maybe a special treat or two, but nothing elaborate.
This year I am making won tons, something I've not done in a very long while, and maybe wine spritzers. And no big meal on January 1st. For me it is the beginning of 365 new chances to be better, be kinder, affect the lives of those on my path in a more positive way. And to be even healthier as the year begins and continues.
However you celebrate, I wish you a beautiful year ahead filled with success, happiness, kindness, and everything you put out to the universe.
Here is my gift to all of you, my faithful followers and readers. This short story accompanies my fantasy/dragon novella...SECRETS OF DALGAARD CASTLE. May you experience the wonder and magic of the season as you read.
A Winter Solstice~~Christmas at Dalgaard Castle
Snow gently fell to the ground landing on top of the six inches that had already accumulated. The tiny Norwegian Kingdom of Taydaryn was picturesque…a scene for a holiday card. Lights cast a warm glow on sales items in Shoppe windows, the small number of people walking huddled deeper into their winter coats, and strains of holiday carols were heard in the distance.
Dalgaard Castle was decorated for modern times with white lights and pine garland. Yet, there was something about the old girl that screamed tradition. Her massive dark stone exterior was a stark contrast to her surroundings on this snowy eve of Winter Solstice.
Inside, there was mixture of tradition and old world. Stepping into the entry, the aroma of cinnamon and hot cider invaded your senses. White blinking lights peered from the white pine garland that wound its way around the mahogany staircase. A twelve foot tall white pine decorated with white lights and icicles and snowflake ornaments stood at the base of the staircase.
A servant took the guests’ winter coats and hung them on a rack to the left of the entry. Laughter coming from the Grand Hall wafted to the front of the castle beckoning the visitors to follow.
Brenna Dalgaard sat in the walnut rocker in front of the great stone fireplace that graced the castle’s Grand Hall. She marveled at how much her life had changed in the past five years: leaving all she knew to come back and care for her ailing mother, accepting her dragon powers, falling in love and marrying Tirdon, and ruling her beautiful Taydaryn.
It had become customary for her as Queen to host the annual winter solstice fundraiser celebration that centered around children. This year she and King Tirdon would present the donations to the Gifts for Children society, an organization that provided help for the less fortunate.
“Gather around, my darlings,” Brenna began, motioning for the children to sit in front of her by the crackling fire. “There’s room, Iona…right here up front, Dania. Jonna, everybody, let’s squeeze in tight.”
Thirty or so children rushed to the front of the hall and took their places at Brenna’s feet. All were expectantly wide-eyed with joyful smiles as they waited for the winter solstice story to be told. For some it would be new, for others, it was a story as old as time that most knew by heart. It was a tradition the adults loved just as much as the children.
Brenna settled deeper into the rocker, pulled a light blue chenille cover over her lap, settled her own child against her, opened the oversized book with gold edged pages, and began the story she’d told so many times.
Odin donned his royal blue cape and fur lined cap before walking out of the castle.
Freya tossed the warm sheepskin like mittens at her husband.
“Darling, don’t forget these. ‘tis a ghastly cold night out there, will be even more so when Skadi awakens…usually before your return home.”
Odin nodded as he caught the hand coverings. He knew his wife was right. Skadi always awakened before he arrived home after leaving gifts for all the children. It usually meant he was caught in a blizzard and covered with icicles by the time he pulled his eight-legged flying horse, Sleipnir, into the barn.
“Stop fretting, my Freya. I’ll return. The bag is filled to overflowing, but I have no doubt my steed and I can handle it,” Odin chuckled. “And Skadi…don’t fear your stepmother. You are more like her than not, grumpy when you awaken. She needs to give up this century old vendetta. There were reasons behind the taking of her father’s life,” Odin sighed.
Freya raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth to speak but thought better of it. She smiled.
Odin placed a kiss on his wife’s cheek and walked out into the winter night. He mounted Sleipnir, patted the animal’s neck, and headed to the sky.
“We can do this, my lord,” Sleipnir confirmed.
“Yes, my faithful steed, with your help, we will visit all of the children before dawn breaks.”
King Tirdon walked to the fireplace hearth and sat down with the children, pulling one of them on his lap. As soon as his son saw him, he climbed down from his mother and settled against his chest.
“King Tirdon, I thought Odin was a terrible god with a fierce temper,” the little boy on his lap commented.
“It’s true, Odin does have a temper, but he has a love for children…just like you. That’s why every year on the twelfth night of Yule Odin flies through the skies on Sleipnir, slips down chimneys, and leaves gifts for all of the children.”
Tirdon put a finger to his lips indicating the children should be quiet and listen as the story continued.
Brenna looked lovingly at her husband and son then to the other children who were enthralled with the storytelling. She smiled and continued.
Now, because this is the evening of the twelfth day, children all over the land had filled their boots with straw and treats for Sleipnir. They knew when they awoke in the morning there would be gifts, gifts Odin had left.
On the other side of the forest, Njord poked the fire. He knew his wife, Skadi, was preparing for her final annual storm. He smiled, thinking of her. She was a beautiful goddess, very tall and thin. She wore her platinum hair in a single braid that fell down her back to her waist. Her icy blue eyes pierced all with whom she spoke. Being the goddess of winter took much energy from her and she slept most of the time.
“Queen Brenna,” a child interrupted. “Are you the her? You have white hair and blue eyes, just like Skadi.”
Tirdon chuckled quietly. His wife the goddess of winter…never. Her heart was too big and too warm for that to happen. Not that Skadi was cold-hearted by any means. She was a loving giant goddess who just happened to like icy storms.
Brenna reached forward and touched the child’s cheek and smiled.
“No, little one, I am not. Being Queen of Taydaryn is a full time job. I don’t think I’d like to be the Goddess of Winter,” Brenna shivered. “It’s a lot of work whipping up storms and making frost and icicles.”
“Uncle Tirdon, do you know the Ice Goddess, Skadi?” Jonna asked, flipping her long auburn hair over her shoulder, mimicking her mother, Eldra, Brenna’s sister.
“Yes, Jonna, I do. She’s beautiful, just like your Aunt Brenna,” Tirdon replied.
Brenna raised an eyebrow at her husband and continued the story.
In the beginning, before Skadi was the Goddess of Winter, she was very angry. Someone had killed her father, Thjazi, and she wanted revenge. She was dressed in full armor with a sword.
Brenna’s eyes grew wider as she indicated the size of the sword with her hands and arms.
All Skadi thought of was her father and she wanted to kill whoever took his life. She threw open the doors to the meeting hall of the gods. She ranted about vengeance for her father’s death, a death they had caused. The gods patiently listened and agreed to help her and pay her in some way. One of those ways was to immortalize Skadi’s father, Thjazi.
Odin cast Thjazi’s eyes into the sky where they became shining stars that looked down from the heavens upon his daughter.
Next, Odin decreed Skadi could choose any of the gods to be her husband but could make her choice only based on seeing the gods’ feet and legs.
Skadi laughed and chose the legs of whom she thought belonged to Baldur, Odin’s son, the most handsome of the gods. They were beautiful clean feet and legs, and she was certain of her choice only to be disappointed when it was revealed she’d chosen the legs of Njord, not Baldur.
Skadi and Njord had a beautiful wedding! It was filled with elements of winter and the sea, since Njord was the god of the sea and Skadi the goddess of winter. This proved a problem when choosing where to live. The couple decided they would spend part of their time at Njord’s home on the beach and the rest of the time on the mountain where the snow didn’t melt.
“Skadi, winter’s coming. I think we should head to the beach,” Njord suggested.
Skadi shook her head, her platinum hair falling softly down her shoulders. She brushed a wisp behind her ear.
Brenna changed her voice to how Skadi spoke. She even rolled her eyes like the winter goddess did, which brought laughter from the children.
“Njord, I’ve told you time and again that winter is to be spent at my home here on the mountain. I have a job to do. I can’t very well do it if I’m at the beach slathered in sunscreen, now, can I?”
Njord walked over to his wife and put his arms around her. He buried his nose in her hair, inhaling its crisp, clean, winter fragrance and placed a kiss on her forehead.
“Skadi, I understand. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.”
Skadi sighed. She knew her husband longed for the beach and the sun and the water. They would be there soon. Winter Solstice was only a day away. That meant the light would come, the days would be longer, and the sun closer to the land. That was when she could sleep. That was the time to be at the beach.
“Sweet mother of pearls, Njord! Stop looking so sad, please! It’s only a few more days, and if you are so desperate to leave, then leave. It’s not like I don’t know my way to your house.”
Njord was trying his best to not upset his wife. He knew what happened when she was upset…snow happened. Wind happened. Blizzards happened. Ice happened. Sometimes all at the same time. And, most of the time on the eve of Solstice. He knew she whipped up storms to anger Odin and most of the time it worked.
“Calm down, my love. I can wait for the Solstice. It is day after tomorrow.”
Skadi grabbed her full-length, hooded white fur cape and the staff that was leaning in the corner and stormed outside.
Njord sighed. This meant only one thing. A storm was brewing.
Brenna looked at the children, then at Tirdon, all sat hanging on her every word. She nodded to the server at the back of the room. Soon there were several people milling through the crowd with trays of hot cider, hot chocolate, and traditional cookies including krumkake, rosettes, snipp, fatigmann, and pepperkaker.
Brenna took this opportunity to stand and mingle with the adults for a while.
“When did you get here?” she asked her sister, Eldra.
“Just a few minutes ago. We may be staying over,” Eldra hugged her then looked up at her husband, Martrand. “The roads are terribly slick, and the wind is picking up. Looks like Skadi is up to her old tricks again.”
“Only adds to the mystery around the story, sis,” Brenna giggled.
Tirdon motioned he was taking their son, who’d fallen asleep, to the nursery and not to start until he returned. He smiled. Marrying Brenna had been the best decision he’d made: she was beautiful in both her human and dragon forms, personable, and had such a heart for the people of Taydaryn…especially the children.
When Tirdon reentered the room and made his way to the fireplace, he noticed Eldra and Martrand at the back of the room. He smiled and nodded a greeting. Evidently, his appearance signaled it was time to return to the story for the children eagerly grabbed cookies and napkins and ran back to their spots by the fireplace.
“Now, where were we?” Brenna asked, settling into the rocker.
“The Winter Goddess had just stormed out the door,” a couple children said in unison.
“Yes, that’s right. Does anyone have an idea what will happen next?” Brenna asked in hushed anticipation.
A couple of the children raised their hands excitedly waving their arms for her to see.
“You mustn’t tell,” Tirdon cautioned with a finger to his lips. “Let’s find out together, shall we?”
Skadi trudged angrily through the snow. How dare her husband think she should be sunning herself on the beach when there was serious work to do? The gods may have tried to appease her regarding her father’s death, but she remembered. She remembered all of it. Her father was no longer with her and her heart was broken.
Skadi turned in a complete circle when she heard the voice.
“Daughter! You must stop!”
Skadi sunk to the ground, her legs buried in the snow drift. Tears ran down her cheeks, turned to icicles, and broke into pieces when they hit her cape.
“Father? Is it really you?”
“Yes, my child. What is with the tears?”
“I miss you so much, father,” Skadi declared. “I feel so alone.”
“But, you have your husband, and I’m always watching over you. Odin made sure of that. All you have to do is look up in the sky to see me, yet you never do. You choose to harbor anger and sadness.”
Skadi’s father was right. She was angry and sad and had been since his death.
“My sweet child, I love you more than anything the gods could ever create. You know that. Just because I don’t walk physically by your side doesn’t mean I’m not there. I’m always in your heart. Always,” Thjazi assured. “Give up this vengeance against those who took my life. Forgiveness is better than harboring anger. Fill your heart with love.”
“Father,” Skadi sobbed. “I love you so much. I promise to be better. I promise.”
“I’m always with you, Skadi,” Thjazi’s voice faded to a whisper.
“Father!” she screamed. “Father! Don’t go!”
Skadi had cried so many tears there was a pool of ice surrounding her. She braced the point of her staff in the ice and rose from the ground, wiping the last tears from her cheeks.
She walked for miles. She had a job to do and it needed to be done before the sun appeared. One last storm to usher in the Light. She had to be quick. She ran at breakneck speed and opened her cape. Soon she was soaring over the land. The wind from her running so fast created snow tornadoes behind her.
Skadi inhaled as much of the frosty air as she could, puffed out her cheeks, and blew. The snowflakes that silently fell to the ground were turned into whirlwinds and blizzards.
Brenna opened her eyes wider and her voice became louder and her speech faster.
Louder and louder the wind became as Skadi blew. She’d whipped up a fierce storm right in the path of Odin’s travels, making it difficult for him to find his way home.
The children shrieked when the shutters on the castle windows banged against the building. Eldra wasn’t lying, there was a storm outside.
Skadi, continued blowing wind into the snow until she could no longer fly. She fell with a thud to the ground in front of her house.
Brenna smacked her hands together, again causing children to shriek.
The Goddess of Winter had blown her last storm of the year, as she usually did on the eve of Solstice…the eve of Light. She stood slowly, looking exhausted, her cape torn from flying so fast. Her hair had fallen out of its braid and was every which way. She looked like she’d stuck her finger in an electrical socket!
The children laughed as Brenna painted the vivid picture of the Winter Goddess.
Njord opened the door when he heard the noise. He knew Skadi had come home. He swept her up in his arms and carried her into the house.
“Skadi, now are you ready to go where it’s warmer?”
Skadi feebly nodded and immediately fell asleep against her husband’s shoulder.
Njord smiled. Whipping up storms is hard work. He carried his wife to their bed, removed her tattered cape, and covered her with the down-filled comforter. He kissed her lips and closed the door as he exited their room.
One little girl, who sat directly in front of Brenna, was crying.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” Brenna asked.
“What…what happened to Odin? He won’t be getting presents to the children, will he? Skadi is evil. I don’t like her,” the little girl remarked.
Brenna noted this must be the child’s first time hearing the Yule story. Tears filled her own eyes as she nodded toward her husband to continue the story.
“You need to wait until the end of the story. Skadi is a good person,” Tirdon assured and continued to the story’s conclusion.
The wind was blowing the snow around so much it made it difficult for Odin to see the stars in the sky. That was the only way of finding his way home. He used the stars for direction. He looked to Thjazi’s eyes, now stars, to guide him.
“Sleipnir, we will have to fly blind…yet again,” Odin stated, patting the neck of his trusted friend.
“My lord, I will get us home,” Sleipnir replied. “We’ve flown this route for hundreds of years, not to mention, I have an inner GPS.”
“What are you talking about Sleipnir? What is this GPS you talk about?”
Tirdon enjoyed embellishing the traditional story even if that meant raised eyebrows from his wife.
“Trust me, boss, I know the way home.”
Odin couldn’t believe the disrespect coming from Sleipnir.
“You call me boss instead of my lord? I should put you out to pasture!”
Sleipnir whinnied. It sounded more like a laugh to Odin.
Tirdon tried to sound like he imagined Sleipnir did. It brought laughs from all the children.
“Now, brownies sound gooooood,” Sleipnir whinnied again. “Wonder if Freya will have some ready when we get home?”
Odin shook his head. All this modern talk was getting to his trusted friend. He’d been hanging out in the wrong stalls, that’s for sure!
“I’m not sure YOU will be getting anything but straw when we get back. I may not even take the time to brush you down!” Odin bellowed.
“Your call, boss. You either fly with me or against me. Just remember, I know the way home in this blinding snow. I have both eyes.”
Ominous ooos and aahs floated throughout the room at that statement of disrespect for the god Odin.
“Lead on, oh wise one,” Odin instructed. “If you’re lying, I will punish you.”
Again, Sleipnir whinnied and raced through the skies to Odin’s barn. He slowed, descended, and landed directly in front of the door—which was now closed tight because of the mound of snow in front of it.
Odin cursed as he looked to the sky. The winds had calmed, and the stars shown brightly in the pre-dawn sky. The sun was rising. The Light had come. Days would be longer from this day forward.
Sleipnir shook his mane and hoofed the ground in front of him.
“I apologize, old friend. I promise I will try to never doubt you again,” Odin stated.
“It’s all good, boss.”
Odin pulled sharply on the long, sleek hair by Sleipnir’s head.
“Call me boss again and you won’t be flying for a very long time.”
“Yes, MY LORD,” Sleipnir whinnied. “About those brownies…I smelled them as I landed.”
Freya met Odin at the door with a plate of delicious smelling chocolate squares.
“Take these to your steed. He’s earned each one,” Freya instructed of Odin.
“If only you knew…”
Freya put up a hand stopping Odin in mid-sentence.
“No, just do as you’re told, old man,” she kissed Odin’s cheek.
Odin mumbled something under his breath and did as he was told. First, it was the wrath of Skadi and now, the wrath of Freya. He shook his head as he walked back to his house.
Once inside he took of his cape and hat and hung them on the rack by the door and slipped off his boots, placing them on the corner of the hearth to dry.
“Well, Odin, another year done. Time to rest,” Freya hugged her husband.
“No, my lady, time for me to get ready for the hunt. It begins soon.”
“You’ve been up all night and out in the cold. By the sounds of the wind here, I can only imagine what Skadi whipped up for you to travel in. Why can’t you skip the hunt and stay home?”
“Never mess with tradition.”
“So,” Brenna began. “Here ends the story of Odin and Freya and Njord and Skadi.”
The children cheered and clapped, even some adults did the same.
“Now, it is time for all of you to find your beds and get some sleep. Odin will be sliding down the chimneys soon to leave your gifts, but only if you are asleep.”
The children, one by one, hugged Brenna and Tirdon before finding their parents and bidding a good Yule to all.
Jonna grabbed her mother’s hand and held her coat in the other.
“Mother, we have to leave. It’s time for me to go to sleep so Odin can bring my presents!” the precocious five year old stated.
Eldra pushed her daughter’s auburn hair away from her face and smiled down at her.
“Sweetheart, Odin will find you, wherever you are. We’re staying here in the castle tonight. The roads are too bad for us to travel back to Marenth tonight. We will do so tomorrow, or the next day. If that is okay with your aunt and uncle.”
“It’s perfectly fine with us. You know where your rooms are so, whenever you want, just climb those stairs and fall into bed,” Tirdon said.
“Really? Odin will find me wherever I am? Is he magic or something?” Jonna pressed.
“Something like that,” Martrand answered. “Now, how about we go find your room and get you in bed, so you can get to sleep?”
Martrand picked up his daughter and carried her up the stairs to the third bedroom on the left. There were drawers of clothing for Jonna since she frequently spent the weekends at the castle.
Martrand helped his daughter into her frilly pink nightgown and tucked her into bed.
“Father, what happened to Skadi?”
“Honey, what do you mean?”
“Well, I know she blew out all the wind for the storms and then fell at her house. But what happens after that?”
Martrand sat down on the bed beside his daughter and continued explaining the folklore surrounding Skadi.
“Skadi is the Goddess of Winter, right? Her husband, Njord, was a God of the Sea and lived at the beach. Being a winter person, Skadi hated the sun and sand. She tolerated it only for so long before she told Njord she had to stay on her mountain. He went back to his home on the beach and she stayed on the mountain where the snow never melted, and they lived happily ever after.”
“Is that really true, Father?”
“Yes, sweetheart, it is,” Martrand pulled the covers up to Jonna’s chin and tickled her, making her laugh. “Time for you to get to sleep. Love you.”
Martrand stood, blew a kiss to his daughter, and walked out of the room, leaving the door ajar. He walked down the staircase and into the den where the others were sitting.
“Darling,” Tirdon began. “You nailed that story again. I don’t know how you do it, but the children hang on your every word each time you retell the tale.”
Brenna blushed. She loved telling the story that was so much a part of her past, her heritage. What made her heart soar more were the looks of wonder on the children’s faces.
“Thank you, I do enjoy it,” she smiled.
Eldra nodded in agreement and noticed her husband walking to where she sat.
“Jonna all tucked in?” Eldra inquired.
“Yes, but not before she heard the rest of the story,” Martrand smiled, making air quotes.
“The rest of what story?” Tirdon asked.
“The rest of Skadi’s story. Jonna had it in her head that Skadi was a bad person. I couldn’t let her drift off to sleep with that thought, so I told her the rest of the story…that Skadi and Njord split and she stayed on the mountain where the snow never melted. That seemed to make her happy.”
The two couples laughed and continued conversing until Tirdon announced he was retiring, so he could play Odin and get the gifts around the tree and in the stockings. Martrand offered to help, so the men headed into the cabinet chambers where the gifts were hidden, leaving the sisters alone.
“You really do fit the title of Queen, Brenna.”
“I don’t know about that, but I do care about this place…a lot. I could say the same for you, Queen of Marenth.”
“I’m sorry for the grief I’ve caused you over the years,” Eldra confessed.
Brenna walked over to where her sister sat and pulled her to her feet.
“Listen, it’s all good. Sisters disagree and come back to center. It’s all good…” Brenna paused. “Feel like flying? It’s been forever since my dragon has flown. I’ve been too busy with kingdom business and mom stuff. I’m serious. Let’s fly to the mountain outside of town and look at the Christmas lights.”
Without telling the men their plans, Eldra and Brenna put on their winter capes and headed out the door into the blustery night.
Martrand and Tirdon took arm loads of gifts from the closet in the cabinet chambers to the main tree in the den. After strategically placing all of the gifts around the bottom of the tree, the men stood back and admired their work.
“You know, if you’d have told me five years ago this would be happening, I’d have said you were crazy.”
“Yeah, I know,” Tirdon agreed. “How are things in Marenth? Any word of the new Dragon Guard making trouble?”
Martrand shook his head. He hoped to the gods there was never trouble in Marenth or Taydaryn. His Fire Guard, along with the Ice Guard had security tight around the borders of each kingdom.
“Not a peep, bro, not a peep.”
“That’s a good thing,” Tirdon acknowledged. “Eldra looks happy, finally.”
“She is, for the most part,” Martrand laughed. “There will always be fire between us…that’s part of why I love her so much. I don’t think she’s said anything to Brenna, so please don’t, but we are expecting baby number two in six months.”
“Congratulations, man,” Tirdon chucked his brother-in-law on the shoulder. “I won’t say a word. Speaking of the ladies, I think we should probably find out what they’re up to.”
Lazy beautiful flakes fell as Eldra and Brenna landed on the mountain outside of town. Multicolored lights twinkled from nearly every home in Taydaryn.
“I see why you like it up here,” Eldra stated. “You can see all of Taydaryn.”
Brenna’s mountain, as Tirdon lovingly referred, had always been Brenna’s safe place to quietly ponder life and all it offered. Tonight, was no different.
“Yes, it’s beautiful up here.”
“Bren…I’m pregnant. Looks like our second little DuBois will make its presence known six months from now.”
Brenna wrapped her wing around her sister.
“I’m so happy for you, Eldra. You’re a natural mother. Jonna is such a beautiful little girl.”
The women sat in silence, wing in wing, until the wind became so strong it nearly blew them from the mountain.
“It’s time to get home. The storm is settling in again,” Brenna instructed.
The women soared high against the brutal north wind until they reached the edge of the forest behind Dalgaard Castle. They walked around to the front doors. The wind fiercely blew the women through the castle’s front door. The shutters banged against the stone walls and the heavy door clamored shut behind them with a loud crack.
“Skadi, you sure know how to kick up a ruckus!” Eldra exclaimed.
Cynical laughter rang through the entryway.
“Takes one to know one, my dear Eldra,” the soft voice cackled.
Martrand and Tirdon heard the noise and rushed to the entryway.
“Everything all right?” Martrand asked.
The women looked at each other before bursting out in laughter.
“Just the fierce Winter Goddess leaving her last word before the Light of morning,” Brenna quipped.
Copyright 2018 Grace Augustine
. December brings with it some fairly nice weather here in the Midwest. We've have a few skiffs of snow, some bouts of freezing rain, but all in all for this late in the year, it's very good.
I put up the 4 ft. Christmas tree earlier in the week and trimmed it with the many ornaments I've collected over the years. It is always a walk down memory lane for me when I unbox each one (yes, each has its own original box) and place it in literally the same spot that it has graced the past 20 years.
I spent many years baking and delivering goodie plates to all the neighbors and the special service people in my life (mail delivery, doctors, mechanic, etc.) but I've not done too much of that recently--my health is the major factor, but it is also not healthy to consume so much sugar!
Christmas Eve will be spent with my older son and a good friend sharing chili for dinner and attending candle light church services...and maybe playing games for a while before heading off to bed...as we await the arrival of Santa. :)
I've achieved many things this year and thank all of you for reading and supporting my writing; for choosing me to edit your works of art, for purchasing my acrylic paintings, and for supporting our new blog. If you haven't checked out that blog, please do so, we have some incredible people there and we are a team... originalitybydesign.blogspot.com
As you prepare for the 24th and 25th, however you celebrate, I wish you peace and love in your hearts and that you will share that kindness with all who cross your path on those days and into the New Year.
From Chris, Bou, and me....Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
After being outside today, I don't remember Spring. We flashed from snow to scorching heat and humidity in the blink of an eye. Certainly here in Iowa, the corn no doubt will be "knee high by the 4th of July." My patio pots are happy--the sun makes the coleus so vibrant in color...and...my son's red bell pepper plant is growing like crazy.
I normally don't share contests, etc. on my blog...but these are too good to pass up.
#1. Summertime is here and before you head out to the pool or beach to catch some sunshine, check out this a-m-a-z-i-n-g giveaway hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Win bestselling and award-winning books not to mention a tote bag filled with goodies, perfect for heading out to the beach. Enter to win below and good luck!
Beach Blanket Book Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775014/?
Literary Giveaway Portal: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal
#2. 2018 BEST BOOK COVER
The gang at A Small Gang of Authors is holding a best book cover contest. Voting begins Saturday, June 2nd. Simply click on the link below and follow the instructions.
Photo courtesy of HouseBeautiful.com
The hype is over the moon about Harry and Meghan and this elaborate, maybe not so elaborate, wedding of the year that happens tomorrow. I can't decide if I will stay up all night, go to bed early, or just forget it and watch the re-run.
The definite pomp that surrounds any royal event as this is interesting to me. I've enjoyed watching the nightly program about the Royal Wedding on PBS hosted by Meredith Vieira. I loved seeing the dresses through the centuries, the royal tailor and what it involves putting all of the embellishments on the royal jackets, the history and awe that surrounds this Windsor family. (Photo of Harry and Meghan courtesy of WalesOnline.)
Yeah, I'll probably be awake at 3 am CST sitting in front of the tele with my freshly brewed coffee and tissues watching as the almost King Charles walks Meghan down the isle to meet her love. After all, I'm an author and all about the happy ever after!
I don't remember much as a young child. I didn't interact with my mother that much because I don't think she knew how to mother. She was a large, by that I mean tall and big framed, not overweight, woman. Her hands were huge! She had a 6th grade education so never worked outside the home. She took in ironing and babysat.
Unfortunate circumstances forced us farther apart during my teen years and I couldn't wait to move out of our house into my own place upon graduation. It didn't happen that year, but the next year I moved into a mobile home with my best friend.
She always made sure my clothes were clean and there was a tasty meal on the table...venison chili, braised short ribs in a tomato sauce with green beans over mashed potatoes (I sure wish I had that recipe!) and carrot cookies that were to die for! Every Sunday, while my dad was still alive, we would have fried chicken and all that went with it, and homemade lemon meringue pie...all recipes in her head.
As time passed, I moved to Oregon, then to Iowa. At that time I didn't realize her health was so poor. She was a terrible chain smoker, and by the time she finally saw a doctor, the cancer was so advanced it had eaten part of her esophagus. She died a terrible death and I wasn't there. I was pregnant with my 2nd son, when my family went to Montana to see her and clear out her apartment. I received word of her passing 2 days after returning home to Oregon.
The relationship we had was tolerable. I neither loved nor hated her...I honestly to this day don't know how to describe what I feel about her. So, instead of celebrating Mother's Day...I celebrate my children and I celebrate women all over the world. I'm so proud to be a woman...no let me rephrase that...I'm so proud to be a lady with high standards and morals who doesn't give a rat's behind about being politically correct.
I stand for truth and honor and justice in all situation for all people...INCLUDING MEN! But, let me add to this, I do not support abuse in any form--whether it be from males or females. I was physically and sexually abused as a teen by the man who my mom was supposedly in love with...and I will not stand for any physical or emotional abuse by anyone! I am not a male basher. I am old school and still respect the strong male role models (even though they are more and more difficult to find) and applaud any who succeed.
So, on a day for Mothers....may I say to all my girlfriends worldwide...shine your lights this day as you mother those around you whether they be your own children or someone else who needs your love and compassion.
It's been a busy couple months. Spring....or maybe I should say Sprummer...has arrived, my patio pots are filled with colorful coleus, purple sweet potato vine, hot pink geranium, a bright lemon yellow vine (that I forgot the name of and am too lazy to run outside to get.) I'm anxious to watch them grow. This photo was from last year.
The WALK MS even was very successful. Because of your donations I exceeded my goal of $800. Thank you to Rexco Equipment, Inc. for matching funds that you collected in change jars I will continue to be an MS advocate whenever and wherever I can. It is important to get the word out about the need for a cause and cure for this autoimmune disease.
My new book, SECRETS OF DALGAARD CASTLE (don't you just love my cover? The talented Linda Boulanger of Tell ~ Tale Book Covers designed it--and the cover of the anthology), part of STOKING THE FLAMES II anthology, will release May 22nd. You won't want to miss this! The price is only 99 cents for 14 awesome stories by 15 incredible authors. If you love dragons, myths and folklore, please click on the link under the Stoking the Flames cover (which is gorgeous!)
Grace Augustine loves books, writing, and music.