Happy New Year! I hope this year brings you much joy and many good books! (including audio books)
I am currently creating an audiobook for the novel Vasilisa. My hope is to finish it by the end of January and then I’ll need some beta listeners. I’m excited to hear how it turns out!
Story Cookies – Quick, Clean, and Calorie Free
The following scene is between cousins Luukas and Tanye.
Luukas paced the length of the dining room, his boots clacking over the wheelchair scuffed floor, as he waited for his father and uncle to return. It was too quiet. If he’d been at home, the room would be filled with the noise of his seven siblings, joking, teasing, and tussling. But here, he got reprimanded for even whispering to his cousin. He hadn’t meant to upset Hal, but their families were so different.
He glanced around the room. Hal sat half hidden behind a pot of ornamental grass, playing with a ball of brown yarn, his mother bent her head in inaudible conversation with his aunt, and Tanye rifled through newspapers, the crinkle of the yellowed print unfolding the loudest noise in the room. How could they be so casual, as if they didn’t care about what was happening behind closed doors? As if this wasn’t different than the many other impromptu meetings between king and ruler-judge? If only he was allowed to tell them, they’d hang on his every word.
But no, he had to wait for his father to speak to his uncle before he could say anything. Waiting seemed to be his lot in life. He sat down next to Tanye. If he couldn’t talk about that, he could at least talk about something else.
“What are you reading?” he asked.
Tanye looked up, her dark brows raised over hazel eyes. “Water rights.” She launched into a discourse of ditches, drought, and water shares. A topic dry enough to even make the silence palatable. Luukas rubbed his left temple.
A mischievous smirk crossed her lips. “Would you like me to continue? Or would you rather talk about the time you and I changed out all the ink of Uncle Halavant’s students again? The Carani language looks more menacing when written in blood red.”
Luukas laughed at the memory. “You should visit the royal academy more often. You’d make the dull days bearable. Plus, I think, you actually enjoy the classes we are required to attend.”
“We’re not required.”
“Maybe you aren’t, but because I’m to be the next king I don’t really have a choice.”
Tanye swatted his arm. “Ungrateful prince,” she laughed. “You could always abdicate. You have four younger brothers. But yes, I do enjoy the classes, and I wish I could visit more than a couple weeks in a year. You have no idea how idyllic your life is. You get to express your ideas outside of your own family. I can only listen while in the High Assembly or Council of Judges, but at the royal academy everyone can speak their mind, including women. It is a birth place of ideas.”
“You know,” said Luukas, “that’s why we live out in the middle of nowhere, instead of in the palace. My father founded the merit based academy so,” his tone rose into a sing-song of recitation, “the rising generation, no matter their birth or rank, could have a better chance at a good life.” He shrugged. “And then he stayed here, teaching a class once week—though others could have taught it—because he feels that he learns more about the needs of the kingdom by listening to the students, than he would in any council meeting, though he travels to the city several times a week for those too. It’s rather unfair. To most the students there, he’s not king, but just a professor.”
“I believe your father would be more than content if he were just a professor.” Elise spoke from behind Luukas.
He jerked around, almost knocking over his chair. “Mother, how long have you been listening?”
Tanye answered, “She’s been behind us since I said you could abdicate.”
“Do you have eyes in the back of your head?”
“No, just ears on the side. Her linen dress swishes as she walks, and her tread is longer than Mama’s.”
Luukas shook his head, laughing. He and Tanye could put on an entertaining show for his siblings where she sat blind folded and said who each person was as they approached her. They could do it when they had a family celebration before he headed to Carani to save—
“Luukas.” Elise sat down next to him. “You’re father has told me many times he’d be happy to be just a professor. Then he’d have more time for our family.”
“And more time,” said Tanye, her mischievous smile broadening, “to teach you lessons that you don’t listen to.”
“I listen.” Luukas protested. He’d listened through every meal time discussion that centered around some dry detail of ruling a kingdom. He’d listened through classes on diplomacy, law, Lansi history, etiquette, administration, foreign policy, and military tactics. He’d listened until his legs itched with the need to move and his ears ached with the need for something other than words.
Elise brushed a lock of his hair back from his face. “I’m glad you listen. That’s three-quarters the job as king, and the other quarter,” her shoulders rose and fell, “is trying to convince others to listen to you. Especially the High Assembly. They seem deaf to anything that isn’t what they want to hear. Being king is often a thankless job.”
“At least being a non-tyrannical king,” said Tanye.
Elise laughed, though it was tinged with sadness, “I’d rather he have a thankless job, arguing for his way instead of ordering his will, than end up in the middle of a revolt. We’ve been through a couple of those, and that was two too many.”
“That is why,” Luukas said, “I’d rather be a hero than a king. A hero makes a difference without all the daily, unappreciated work. But before I become king, I’ll have at least one chance to be a hero, and that is why I’m going to Carani.”
Book Sales and Other News
Journey into magic and adventure! These amazing fantasy authors have teamed up to bring you great reads for $5 or less!
I highly recommend books by W.R. Gingell, Suzannah Rowntree, and Intisar Khanani. And I am sure the others are wonderful too.
CleanAuthors.com is searchable by book content rating, similar to how movies are rated.
I also highly recommend Reshelving Alexandria with its free literary database that contains detailed content consideration as well as many other search options.
Both websites are a good starting point for finding books that fit your specific reading preferences.
Over Christmas I decided to reread a beloved classic, The Lord of the Rings. The last time I read it was when my oldest was a baby, eighteen years ago.
I’m half way through and am enjoying the high adventure that is balanced by richly detailed world building and poetry. I love the nuggets of truth and wisdom that are sprinkled through the story (plus the banter between traveling companions).
Here’s one of my new favorite quotes:
“It had always been a notion of his that the kindness of dear Mr. Frodo was of such a high degree that it must imply a fair measure of blindness… Gollum in his own way, and with much more excuse as his acquaintance was much briefer, may have made a similar mistake, confusing kindness and blindness.”
Lord of the Rings, Chapter ‘The Black Gate is Closed’.