Sunday, October 28, 2012

In time for Halloween, Stacia Kelly says, "Bring on the Demons"

Bring On the Demons

Moments before the sun slipped below the western horizon, thirteen dark cloaked figures stepped softly into the sacred glen on a small, unmapped island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Large stone monoliths encircled the quiet space, keeping the wilderness of the island at bay while a large clear crystal graced the center of the clearing, one end lodged deep into the earth, the other pointing up towards the darkening sky. One by one, they stepped forward, forming a tighter circle around the crystal.  Slender hands unclasped the cloaks letting them fall with a whisper to the grass beneath their bare feet.

Barely clothed in dark halter-tops and short skirts, the majority of their skin, naked to the elements, glistened in the dark. The women reached out and clasped hands with one another, their silver bracelets flickering like fireflies as they each connected. Thirteen matched pairs of eyes glowed red in the night, focused on the crystal, watching as a faint glow from within began to radiate outward. One by one a voice rose up, blending and empowering the others in an ancient tongue.

“Pŵer tywyll, Arglwydd Chaos, gwrando ein ple. Dewch i’n brodyr cythraul yn ôl gyda thi. Rydym yn galw ar yr Arglwydd Tywyll o Anhrefn. Rydym yn eich gwahodd yma, efallai y byddwch yn mynd i mewn. Bywyd y cythreuliaid mawr ddod atom ni.”

The wind began to stir, rising in strength as the voices grew louder. Electricity sparked from the crystal splintering high into the sky where clouds started to form and circle. The night sky lit up, pulling in a storm.

“Dark Power, Lord of Chaos, hear our plea. Bring our demon brothers back with thee. We call upon the Dark Lord of Chaos. We invite you here, you may enter. Life of the great demons come to us.”

As if they were one body, the women began to dance, feet pounding against the ground, their bodies and arms twirling widely as they whipped themselves into a frenzy around the crystal. A vortex grew in size above them, dark, angry clouds swirled with viscous speed. The women never stopped their fevered pace, moving faster and faster, repeating the summons.

Four loud cracks of thunder reverberated through the night.

Gaian cast a look towards the sky above and frowned.

“Not so smart of them, you think?” Phyxe said stepping up to stand next to her. Glacial perched atop the crystal, the light and energy swirling around her body rather than streaming towards the sky while Wystin played on the air currents.

“It’s looking like it was a good thing to bring you all with me. The Dark Fae are never up to any good, and this one is wicked.” She pulled a dagger free from her calf and winged it across the glen with deadly accuracy.  Her target dropped to the ground the blade embedded deep in her chest. The dancing stopped.

“Now that I have your attention.” Gaian strode across the glen, the ground under her shook. A tingling rippled down her neck, she could feel Glacial playing with the crystal’s energy keeping the remaining dark fae in place. “Who would like to explain why you’re opening a portal without approval?”

“We were bringing our dark lords to us.”

“Oh, sister dear?” Wystin called down, levitating above them.

“What?” Gaian glanced up at her. Krite. Five torpedo bombers passed overhead and flew directly into the portal. “Well,….hell.”

“Do you want me…?” Wystin looked warily at the portal.

“No!” She said. “We’ll go after them in time. First, I must fix this.”

She turned back to the Dark Fae who been brave enough to speak up. “You wanted your dark lords?”

The vortex shimmered with dark light. Glacial’s hampering of the crystal energy was shattering its tenuous hold on Earth.

“Then you shall have them. Wystin?” Send them through, sister.

“Of course.” The winds whipped around them. Glacial released her hold on the crystal’s energy allowing it to flare high one final time. The Dark Fae cried out in horror as Wystin flipped her hand and sent them following the trail the bombers blazed before them.

“Squashed all my fun. I thought for sure you were going to let me roast them.” Phyxe rolled a small ball of fire between her fingers, the flames licked her skin.

“I thought about it. For about half a second.” She covered the length of the glen in seconds. “It’s a small island with only them as inhabitants.”

“Good thing.” Wystin floated down to stand next to them as they gathered around the crystal. “We’ll have to sink it to close the portal and cut off the energy.”

“Bury it actually.” Gaian laid a hand on the stone. Glacial jumped down. They circled the stone. “You know what to do ladies.”

Four nods.

She ignored the winds howling and sensed the rising waters as her sisters of air and water pulled the energies to them. Deep beneath her feet, she felt the warm pools of lava beginning to swell pulsating to Phyxe who waited for her to rip the land below open. With her hands on the crystal, she reached out and rearranged the molecules below them. The earth trembled and buckled, water surged over her feet.

She barely noticed as Wystin reached out and lifted them all, carrying their weight in the currents as the rest of them continued to pull and manipulate energies.
I am sorry, Mother Earth.

The planet shuddered. In a matter of seconds, the island, crystal and all lay buried deep beneath the ocean floor. Gaian opened her eyes, staring down at the now calm waters. The sky above them clear.

“Well, that was fun.” Phyxe grinned, her fiery hair lit up like a beacon in the night. “But, I’m outta here. Gonna go find someone to fight with since you flipped the dark fae out before I could get rid of any energy.” She winked out with a bright flare.

“You do know that crystal is still going to cause havoc here, right?” Glacial asked. Gaian looked at her. Her sister’s deep blue eyes glinted with worry, and she nibbled on the side of her lip.

“It already is, sister.” Gaian flicked her fingers to the night sky. “I have to go after those bombers and make sure they find safe haven. Their disappearance is going to cause a stir, but their reappearance would be worse.”

Glacial bowed her head before disappearing into mist. Wystin faded out next to her.
Safe travels, sister. Their farewell echoed through her head.

She stared out over the ocean water. The crystal’s energy hummed softly in her ears. She’d have to check back in a few decades to see what havoc it created. Too bad she couldn’t stay. She’d love to prowl the high mountains in her tiger form. Something else reached out and called to her, requesting her presence.

She double-checked everything with a critical eye, mentally marking locations and timelines. No hints of mischief or foul play.

Krite. The dark fae owed her a dagger. Hers, still lodged in their dark sister who rested well beneath the ocean’s floor now. She shifted out of the realm with her claws extended. Someone was going to be hand crafting her a new one. And, they might be using some fae magic and metals to do it.


WbtR member Stacia D. Kelly is the urban fantasy author of Phyxe: Goddess of Fire as well as the author of Muse, focus, and the upcoming book, Reduce You. You can find her work at and She lives in Prince William County, VA with her husband, son, some crazy cats and a hyper but loveable Mini Aussie Shepherd.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Celebrate with June Kilpatrick and James River Writers

"Celebrate with a Book"

Regency Square Mall, Richmond

James River Writers, a Richmond group that you've been hearing a lot about, has signed up twenty authors to participate in its December 15 book fair at Regency Square Mall in Richmond, At least one WbtR member--yours truly, June Kilpatrick--has slipped in unnoticed among these twenty Richmonders and other Virginians (actually, I just signed up early) and will join them in signing books at the fair, which is timed to catch the holiday shopping crowd.  
Tina Glasneck, JRW member and author of Mayhem and Romance with a Twist of Murder, is organizing the event, "Celebrate with a Book." To learn more about the book fair and the authors who are participating, check out the website: In case WbtR is interested in holding a similar event sometime in Manassas, I include below some of Tina's instructions to the participating authors:

In order to help us promote this, I am interested in having each of the participants submit one blog post. Until December 15th, we have approximately 10 weeks. That being the case, I am looking for volunteers who are willing to submit posts during the upcoming weeks. This could be to introduce yourself to the world or any particular topic you are interested in.
 Further, I am requesting that each participant prepare a gift bag  to be given away at the event. This gift bag will be given to the  first customer at your table (that means we are giving away 20 gift bags - people love free stuff and I think this will also help to gear up interest). The gift bag should not have a value of more than $10.
I will also be offering advertising space in the brochure I am  creating for the event. If you are aware of anyone that may be interested in advertising with us (or would like additional space for whatever purpose), please let me know. What is listed on the website  is what your write up will be in the brochure (unless you specifically  provide me with additional/supplemental information). --Tina Glasneck

Barring ice or snow, I will be there with copies of my book, Wasps in the Bedroom, Butter in the Well: Growing Up During the Great Depression, which takes place in and around Richmond. Luckily, one of my high school and college classmates, Walter Tucker, has amazing contacts and will be sending out email notices to his vast list of John Marshall grads, and there are lots of us. I am curious to see how the book will do in its home territory.

--June Pair Kilpatrick, Member, WbtR

Monday, October 15, 2012

" Thank God He Survived Pickett’s Charge"

Manassas Museum
9101 Prince William Street
Manassas, VA 20110

When author Carl L. Sell, Jr. began to research his ancestors, he didn’t know that the
compelling story of his great grandfather, a Civil War soldier, would eventually result
in a book. Sell will recount that story during a Book Talk at The Manassas Museum
on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.

Thank God he survived Pickett’s Charge, Sell’s new book, recounts the
experiences of his great-grandfather, Private James Farthing from
Pittsylvania County, Virginia, who served as a private with the 38th and
later the 53rd Virginia infantry regiments. The book describes his long
march from enlistment through Gettysburg, where he was wounded during
Pickett's Charge, and continues to Chester Station, where he was again
wounded. As a member of the 53rd, Farthing was captured at Five Forks in
1865 and spent time as a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland.

Although Farthing did not leave a diary or journal detailing his
experiences, Sell combined information from secondary sources about
the regiments, and added fictional dialogue between the characters. At times
he planted himself firmly in Farthing’s shoes, and told the story as he
thought his great-grandfather would.

The Oct. 21 Book Talk is free and Thank God he survived Pickett’s Charge 
is available at Echoes, The Manassas Museum Store.

*** end ***

Patty Prince
Communications Coordinator

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dan Verner Interviews Linda Johnston

WbtR member Dan Verner interviews WbtR member Linda Johnston,
Editor and Illustrator

Dan: Good morning, Linda, and welcome to the Biscuit with Gravy Interview Program [on Dan's personal blog], a somewhat irregular feature on Biscuit City, going out to all our readers and listeners on the Biscuit City Network. Welcome to our newly renovated glass-enclosed observation post.

Linda: Thanks! I’m glad to be here. I must say that the observation post is smaller than I expected.

Dan: I’ll admit it is cozy, but serviceable. Anyhow, I first met you at one of our Write by the Rails meetings which were held Monday evenings this summer. You had a manuscript copy of a portion of your book and I think it’s accurate to say everyone there was blown away by it. How did you get the idea for such a book?

Linda: When we lived in Kansas about twenty-five years ago, we were close to an historic site on the Santa Fe Trail, just outside Kansas City. I was a guide there and one day while waiting on a group, I saw a diary of a pioneer woman on a shelf in the library. She had traveled the trail, and I became interested in similar diaries, particularly women’s stories.

I could identify with moving and leaving everything familiar behind since we had moved so much with my father in the Air Force and then after we married. My story, in a sense, was the same story as the pioneers.

I continued to research and read pioneer diaries off and on for the next twenty years. Although I had always wanted to do a book, five years ago I became serious about it and took a writing class at NOVA. I did research at the Library of Congress and at the Kansas Historical Society when I visited my daughter who was in school at the University of Kansas.

I should say that I also became interested in diaries kept by men. They were exceptionally observant and wrote very well. Their script is beautiful as well.

My book tells my story as well. I am interested in art, nature and in the emotions of moving and coming to a new place. They’re all there in the book.

Dan: It’s unusual for a book about pioneers to focus on the positive experiences in their lives. Why did you take that approach?

Linda: I asked myself, what did I want my readers to know about these pioneers? What was life like for them on the frontier? How did they cope with what they encountered? How would I have dealt with similar circumstances? I went back to Kansas every year and found a few more diaries that intrigued me each time.

These people have become very real to me and an important part of my life and of my story. We’ve traveled together all these years.

The original diaries are time machines—they’re a direct connection to the past. When I hold one of them, I’m touching someone’s life.

I want to tell the readers about one man, Samuel Reader, who kept an illustrated diary from the time he was 14 until he was 80. That covered the span of years from about 1855 until 1915. Imagine having such a record of your life!

Dan: How do people react to your book, generally?

Linda: People are enthusiastic about it and interested in it. It’s so personal, I want people to like what I’ve done. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do art work. I keep travel journals and I illustrate them, which is what people did before the advent of inexpensive cameras.

So many people are turned off by history, but this is a book for those folks who normally would not pick up a book about history. It shows a different perspective. It’s the personal story of real people and their lives. I wanted to make history personal. It’s taking a look “between the ticks on the time line.” Anybody can read about people who made history: I wanted to write about people who are history.

I wanted people to understand that these pioneers had the same emotions, struggles and heartaches as we do. The context of their experience and understanding it are everything.

Dan: Did you find a publisher while you were working on it or did that happen before you started?

Linda: Last October, I was at a Women Writing the West conference in Seattle. Those attending had the opportunity to sign up and meet with editors and publishers who were presenters at the conference in order to pitch a book. I did just that. I met with Erin Turner, from Two Dot Books, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. I thought targeting a regional of a larger press would be a good fit for my book. As it turned out, Erin loves Kansas history and has written two books on Kansas herself.

So, I prepped for my presentation. I had props—a picture of Samuel Reader, a leather covered diary and some of my paintings. I felt at ease with her and we connected. I sent my manuscript to her and touched base at Christmas and New Year’s. In March I got an email that she was interested in my book and that I should send a query. I sent her an annotated table of contents. She sent a message that she was going to pitch the book to the publishing committee the next day.

She emailed me the afternoon after the committee presentation to tell me that they wanted to publish the book. I was so excited!

They sent a contract, and I hired an attorney to review it. That was costly, but it was worth every cent.

I had experience talking about my book at conferences and that paid off.

Dan: Please tell us about your trip to Kansas this summer to gather more information. You also did something when you discovered the graves of some of the people mentioned in your book. I thought that was very touching. Please be sure to tell us about that.

Linda: Last spring I received a grant from the Kansas Historical Society to complete my research. I made a trip to Kansas in August to do that. While I was there I gathered more information and met some fascinating people.

We don’t usually hear the words, “pioneers” and “fun” used together. But they, like us, did have good times as well as bad. That’s why the book is called Hope and Hardship.

One settler, Joseph Savage, went to Kansas in 1854. He went back to New England the following spring to get his wife and five children. . . He went back to New England, remarried, and returned to his farm in Kansas. His experience shows the character of many early settlers.

That strength got them through difficult times, including droughts in 1856 and 1860. During that time, settlers received aid (clothing, money, and other supplies) from eastern states. This helped them survive as well.

Another woman emigrated there and hated the place. Her father-in-law didn’t want her to leave, so she stayed. She wrote poetically about the wildflowers and nature, and although she might have been “sad and sorrowful” one day, the next day she went to church and recorded that Kansas had invigorated her and that she had never felt so good, that it was a “fairy land.”

Dan: Please tell us about some interesting people you met in the course of doing this book.

Linda: I got in touch with Bill Griffing, who had posted some of his ancestor’s (James) letters online. James lived in Manhattan, Kansas Territory. Another of my diarists, Thomas Wells, lived in Topeka but moved to Manhattan in 1870 and lived next door to James the rest of his life. The two families became lifelong friends. This illustrates the network of relationships that characterizes a society.

Dan: You have an interesting way of working on the book. Would you describe how that happens?

Linda: I paint for a week and then I write for a week, every day, eight to ten hours a day.

Dan: I might add that the paintings are charming and lovely. What sort of projects do you have planned in the future?

Linda: I might like to do a book on Pike’s Peak. Many settlers traveled from the Kansas Territory to search for gold there. I would also like to do a children’s nature book, maybe on nature journaling. I participate in a writing workshop for fourth and fifth graders each summer and really enjoy that.

As part of my book project, I would like to encourage kids to keep a journal and understand that their everyday lives are a part of history. I will incorporate this in my website, which is my next big project once I have turned in my final manuscript.

Dan: Wow! That’s quite a list. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Linda: I feel very blessed that this project is coming to fruition and involves all the things that I enjoy.

Dan: When does your book come out?

Linda: The launch date is August 13, 2013, and the book will be published by Two Dot Books, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press. I’ve already got the caterer lined up for the release party!

Dan: I want to thank you for being our guest today, for an informative, far-ranging interview. We’re looking forward to seeing your book when it comes out. I’ll put a notice here when it does with some information about how our readers can get a copy. We wish you the best in your work!

We’ve been talking with Linda Johnston, editor and illustrator of Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from the Kansas Territory. It’s a beautiful book and one that I look forward to reading

This has been the Biscuit City Interview Show brought to you on the Biscuit City Network. Stay tuned for more interviews at irregular intervals. And so we bid you a fond farewell from the glass-enclosed observation tower.