For more information regarding the fantasy series, The Tales of Tanglewood, please visit the website to learn more about Colin and the other characters in the 'wood, and to download a sample of the first few chapters of each book for free.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prologue Pt. 2

Although I saw no other fey on my journey to the home of Monohan, I did behold the phenomenal beauty of the forest, brilliant with light and flushed with color, truly a wonder of nature rarely glimpsed by human eyes.

The old man called out certain areas to me as we passed by them or over them. Root Path, Copper Stream, Satyr Stump, Fallen Tree, and others. But I paid little attention to the names. Instead, I concentrated solely on observing all I could. I wanted to hold tightly to these beguiling visions of woodland splendor and the broad spectrum of color that no painter could ever hope to reproduce.

My body felt young again, and my energy seemed infinite, despite how far we had walked. The complaints of old bones were gone, replaced by vigor and determination.

The home of Monohan was hollowed out of a huge and ancient tree, easily fifteen feet across the trunk. The bark was rough and gray. A mass of thick branches reached high into the sky and across the earth, but bore no leaves.

I saw no entrance to the tree at first, but the outline of a door appeared when the old man knocked upon the thick bark. The door, a section of tree as tall as Monohan and myself, slowly swung open of its own accord, and the old man bade me enter.

“This tree was once mighty and powerful, long ago,” Monohan explained, as I stepped into the tree. “But, as with all things, his time was soon to pass, and when I happened upon him, I asked if he would share with me the space within his giant form, so that I may have a home.”

Remarkably large yet equally cozy, the hollow of the tree was yet another sight to take my breath away.

It was as if a storybook image had come to life before my eyes. All of the furniture that lay within; the large table, the chairs, the shelves and cabinets, and the narrow stairway that wound its way to another floor higher in the tree – they all appeared to be fashioned from the substance of the tree itself. In fact, the legs of the table sprouted from the floor as though they had been grown, as did the railing on the stairs and the stairs themselves. The floor was smooth and solid, and detailed the pattern of the tree’s long life.

“The tree obliged me,” Monohan continued, motioning me to be seated at the table. “I have lived here ever since, long after the tree gave its final breath to the sky.”
Lavish tapestries adorned the walls, depicting images of elves and fairies and other creatures I did not immediately recognize. A small fire blazed at the opposite end of the hollow tree in a small enclosure, with the smoke dwindling up into an unseen chimney within the outer shell of the trunk.

The scent of herbal incense also hung heavy in the air. I found it all very pleasant and soothing, and immediately felt at home within the tree.

Monohan leaned his staff against the wall and proceeded to take a small teapot off a shelf, and hang it from an iron hook, suspended over the fire. “Blackberry tea is best served hot.”

As the old man busied himself with the teapot, I took in some of the finer details of his home. Strange runes and symbols were impressed within the inner shell of the tree and along the table, reminiscent of Celtic design.

Various nooks and flat protrusions in the tree formed crude shelves, on which all manner of items were stored. Small candles placed thereabouts further illuminated the inside of the tree, casting the hollow in an amber light.

My eyes wandered over the tapestries, and I took notice of a small representation depicting a tall, thin being that I first thought to be an elf, but something told me that despite the elfin features, this fey was something different. He stood within a ring of other creatures, and possessed a regal look. His stance set him apart from the depictions of the other fey that regarded him. They seemed awed yet warmed by his presence. A subtle smile on the central fey’s lips revealed a multitude of characteristics; kindness, understanding, strength, confidence, and more. I do not know how I was able to discern all that from the tapestry, and Monohan interrupted any further thoughts of it.

He sat himself down across from me. I noticed then that Cluny was gone. He must have flown off at some point during the walk, but I was too lost in the wonders that surrounded me to have noticed.

“Now, while that tea is getting hot, let’s talk.” He clasped his hands in front of him.

“Alright,” I said. “Why have I been brought here then?”

The old man’s face brightened, and he smiled. “Ah, good lad, now you are asking the right questions.” He paused, and then grew very serious.

“You’ve been brought here,” he said, “to tell the tales of Tanglewood.”

He smiled again, but I was merely confused.

“You don’t look pleased,” he said.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I replied.

“You are a writer, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Well, I mean, I used to be.”

“Nonsense! There is no such thing as used-to-be. You are a writer, whether it has been ten minutes or ten years since you’ve picked up a pen. Look there, on the shelf.” He pointed.

The shelf he indicated held a large stack of parchment, and several quills and bottles of ink.

“They are yours,” he continued. “To write the tales of Tanglewood.”

He said this matter-of-factly, as though everything should have been understood.
It wasn’t.

The old man spoke. “Much has happened in the ‘wood these many years past. Much that needs telling. It has been my charge to record the events of the ‘wood and instill them within the Well of Knowledge, but I have fallen behind in my task, as I was busy with other matters, and will soon be called away again. So I entrust this chore to you. You need to write, and the ‘wood needs a suitable scribe.”

He rose from the table and proceeded to take two wooden mugs from a small nook.
“I wrote stories,” I explained. “Fiction. And sometimes newspaper articles. But I was never a famous writer. Why me?”

“Why? Because you believe. And also, because when you wrote, you wrote from the heart. You wrote with feelings and emotion. You let it flow from your heart and soul, to your pen, to the paper. You have a magic in you that can manifest itself in the words you write, should you choose to let it out.”

“Magic? I don’t think so. I imagine I would have been more successful as a writer if that were true.”

“You were not meant to write for the ‘kynney deiney’. You were meant to write for the ‘wood. Until now, your magic has been suppressed. Here in the ‘wood, it can be free.”
Monahan rose from the table but continued talking. “You feel it now, don’t you? You feel it stirring in your heart, like a sleeping beast that has been dreaming for very, very long, and is only now opening its eyes to a new world. No doubt there is a flurry of words and sentences and descriptive passages already forming quite a storm in your head.”

Monohan removed the teapot from the hook, and poured each of us a steaming mug of dark purplish tea. The sweet scent of blackberries and various other spices wafted through the hollow of the tree. It smelled absolutely heavenly as I breathed in deep the steam that rose from within the mug.

“Not just anyone can write these tales,” he continued, seating himself at the table again. “But you have always been a Soul of the ‘Wood, even if you were never actually in the ‘wood”

“Soul of the ‘Wood?”

The old man looked at me, his eyebrows furrowed. “You like repeating after me, don’t you? Well, to answer your question, a Soul of the ‘Wood is one who has always believed, one who has always had the wild spirit of nature contained within. You are at peace in the forest, and a friend to animals. You find the beauty in nature, and your soul is open to the magic of the world. That, my good man, is a Soul of the ‘Wood. Now, drink your tea.”

I did, and the sweet-hot liquid was like nothing I’d ever tasted. Its warmth enveloped me in a comforting embrace, while my senses were affected by a rushing wave of sprightly exuberance.

Tasting of ripe blackberries, woody herbs and sharp spices, I felt as though the spirit of the ‘wood itself was contained within this magical elixir.

It tasted familiar. It tasted like home, a home I had never seen, but at last returned to.

My mind was a flurry of ideas, and I looked at the parchment and quills, suddenly eager to begin work on these tales of the ‘wood.

I had denied myself the comfort and thrill of writing for far too long.

“These stories, these tales of Tanglewood you wish me to write,” I said, taking another healthy sip. “Who will tell them to me?”

Monohan sipped his own tea and smiled.

“Listen to the trees, my friend. The trees will tell you the stories, and perhaps much more.”

I listened, and the whispering wind rustled the leaves of the trees. The very air had found a voice, deep and ancient. There were no clear words, but rather a weighty moaning that penetrated my mind. From this engrossing chant I could discern a meaning.

Behind my eyes, I beheld new images of the ‘wood, places I had never been to, and strange creatures I had never seen.

The voice of the ‘wood suffused itself into my soul with startling intensity. It spoke as though it were just another part of myself, familiar yet detached, muted as though immersed under water, a rumbling echo within a deep cavern.

The great trees had witnessed much in their millennia, and had an abundance of stories to tell. But they chose to speak to me first of a little boy named Colin, who reminded me much of myself when I was his age.

But Colin had found Tanglewood much faster, much easier than I did…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prologue Pt. 1

When I was a young boy, the world outside my house was a magical realm. My yard was full of clover and toadstools, which I spent considerable time looking through on sunny afternoons, searching for evidence of fairies, pixies or elves. I made sure never to step on the bright green moss beds that hugged the base of the trees. The soft moss was fairy carpeting, and I wanted the fey to have a comfortable, inviting place to relax, should they ever decide to visit my yard.

Many summers came and went, and my view of the world began to change. Distracted by homework, and video games, and mundane tasks and chores, the yard slowly transformed from something mysterious and magical to just your plain, ordinary, everyday backyard.

I had begun to grow discouraged after never finding any sign of the fey. But an advantage came with being older; I was now allowed to enter the woods alone. A small forest bordered the yard behind my house, and it was there, I thought, that I would stand a better chance of meeting a creature of the fey, for the woods were their true home, where they likely lived in abundance.

Every hidden pathway was an adventure leading to secret places, every knothole in a tree a possible lair for sprites, every clearing a possible meeting ground for elves. I walked the paths until I knew them all by heart, and watched and waited and listened, and I never found any sign of the fey.

Several more summers passed, and the woods, though undeniably beautiful, no longer seemed a haven for mystery and myth. The forest was home to typical woodland animals such as raccoons, squirrels, birds, and the occasional fox or owl, but little else.

I gave up my quest to find and meet the creatures of the fey. I had other things to be concerned about now anyway. College, a girlfriend, a job, followed by a house, a wife, a career. The magic of the world and my memories of the woods faded away to a far distant place, overtaken by real world technology. Steel and glass and concrete and plastic began to replace trees and grass.

All about me, the world changed at the hands of my fellow man, intent on removing all that was once bright and magical from the earth. Once, acres of farmland, and endless miles of woodland dominated my hometown. Now, most of that was gone, replaced by obscenely large cookie-cutter homes and unnecessary shopping malls boasting rows of cookie-cutter shops.

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall; the changing scenery repeated itself in a constant cycle, and I grew older still, watching with detachment. I grew bored, restless, and saddened by the state of the world and what it had become. I realized that a world without magic, whether real or imagined, is not a fun world at all. And if you can no longer find any magic in the world, then you must find it within yourself.

And so it was that one day, when I was very old, I decided I would take a walk in the woods once again. Away from the cities, technology still had far to go before it could completely erase every patch of nature from the world. I had moved far away from my old home and my old hometown, but here in this new town where I resided, there was a large area of woodland just within walking distance, and I felt a renewed sense of childlike energy as I approached it.

It seemed funny that I had never really paid attention to the woods that I had likely driven by so many times. Had it really been so long ago that I wandered a simple dirt pathway looking for fairies and elves? Had my childhood been abandoned and forgotten so easily?
As I walked through the woods, I appreciated the beauty of the trees, the serenity of nature, and the warmth of the powerful sunlight that split the trees. Fey or no fey, I found magic in the woods once again. I had to stop and pause a moment, to simply bask in the moment of peace that had overcome me. It was the peace of being a child, of having no worries or concerns. Such trivial things had been left behind at the border of the woods, and I stood here now with a happy heart, the heart of a child finding wonder and magic for the first time.

The moment had captured me so completely that it took a few minutes to notice the butterfly circling lazily before me. It was a colorful splendor of purples and yellows, and appeared to be dancing in the air just for me. I smiled and observed the small insect that seemed to mirror my happiness.

I held out my hand, and the butterfly lighted upon it, and I marveled at the insect, which was casually staring back at me, slowly waving its antennae. Then it caught a breeze and flew before me again, remaining close. I strode forward to continue my walk and the butterfly moved forward with me, ahead of me.

If it hadn’t been such a crazy notion, I would have thought that I was supposed to follow the beautiful insect. Since I had nothing else to do with my time but enjoy all that the woods had to offer, if they offered me a butterfly to lead my way, then I would follow.

We walked for some time, the butterfly and I, down a path that narrowed considerably, and into an area where the trees grew thick and the sunlight struggled to penetrate the canopy of leaves overhead. Still, I was certain that I could find my way back at ease, and I was enjoying the camaraderie of the butterfly in this enchanting environment.

The butterfly picked up speed, darting through a small tunnel of birch trees, and I followed.

Emerging from beneath the archway, the forest suddenly changed. It wasn’t something immediately noticeable in appearance, but rather a subtle feeling that enveloped me gracefully.

Though I had already been walking for some time, the weariness was gone from my bones, chased away by a sudden onset of vigorous anticipation.
My skin tingled.

I began to notice small differences in my surroundings. The forest was radiant; bright beams of sunlight trickled through the leaves to kiss the ground below, and cast a lustrous glow about the forest. The very air seemed to shimmer excitedly and the leaves and the grass sparkled with fresh morning dew. The twittering of woodland birds was musical, and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and tickling my hair was a soothing, comforting whisper.

The butterfly still fluttered by, and I glanced at the insect suspiciously. I suddenly wondered if perhaps there was real magic to be found in the woods after all.

The rational part of my mind wanted to dispel the silly idea, but the child in me was wholly stronger here. Fueled by memories and desires of childlike longing, I easily dispatched rationality to a faraway corner where it was unable to cause any trouble or sway me from continuing.

I could taste the very essence of the forest on my tongue, a morning mist of earthy flavor. The aroma of the woods was fresh and primal; I could sense the richness of the deep earth beneath my feet, and the scent of pine was seductively inviting, mingling with subtler notes of clover and sweet honeysuckle, orange blossoms and wild berries.

My ears were wide open to the welcoming song of the birds hidden within the surrounding trees. The woods were lush with color; a bold array of greens, majestically strong browns, the effervescent glow of sunlight glancing off patches of delicate, golden-white flowers.

The whispering wind hinted at secrets and assured me that the magic I was feeling was real.

The forest was alive, and for some reason, the butterfly had led me here, to the heart of it, to witness these sensations for myself.

I was gazing at the woods around me in silent admiration, when a quiet voice startled me.

“I wasn’t sure you would come,” the voice said.

I whirled, frightened to find myself suddenly not alone. Had I not been so old, I might have run.

When I saw that the owner of the voice that addressed me was an old man, much older than myself, I realized there was no need to take flight. He was likely just another old soul out for a walk in the woods, and our paths had crossed. My heartbeat settled back to its normal rhythm.

I had not immediately considered his words to me.

I then noticed his appearance and strange manner of dress.

He wore a shirt of a roughly woven green cloth, and brown pants of a similar material, reminding me of something you might find in a thrift store back in the year 1500. The legs of his pants were folded over a pair of pointed brown boots of worn suede or leather, hardly what I would call a comfortable walking shoe. A tall, wooden walking stick, smoothed and topped with a gnarled clump of a head, was clutched in his hands.
His hair was cropped short, mostly white with the slightest tinge of red, and his beard was straight and long, framing a softly wrinkled face. His eyes, however, were not soft. Though seemingly kind, they were also hard and strong and lively. They watched me intently.

He leaned his staff against a tree and reached into a faded brown satchel that was slung over one shoulder, and produced a wooden flask.

“Something to drink? You’ve walked far to get here, you must be thirsty.”

I was thirsty, but I was not yet ready to accept an odd flask from an even odder man.
“No thank you, “ I replied.

He raised his eyebrows slightly. “Suit yourself. But you’re passing up a fine blackberry tea.”

He put the flask away, and when I witnessed the butterfly set itself down on the shoulder of the old man, it was my turn to raise my eyebrows.

The stranger glanced at the insect on his shoulder, and then returned his gaze to me. “Yes,” he said. “The butterfly is mine. Rather, he’s my friend. You two have already been acquainted, but you haven’t been properly introduced. His name is Cluny. I am Monohan.”

It seemed absurd to introduce myself to a butterfly, but I found myself starting to anyway, out of politeness. “I am–“

“We know who you are, of course. Why do you think I sent Cluny to find you and lead you here?”

This was all getting a little too bizarre for me. I was about ready to turn around and head home.

The old man uncannily sensed my thoughts.

“Don’t go, please. Not after all the trouble I’ve gone through to find you. The ‘wood needs you.”

“The ‘wood?” I asked.

“Tanglewood, to be more precise. This is where you stand now, just beyond the Gateway, the entrance to Tanglewood.” He pointed to the copse of birch trees I had just walked beneath.

“You would not have found it on your own, I assure you. Only the fey can show you the way. That is why Cluny led you here.”

The butterfly left the shoulder of the old man and flew about my head enthusiastically, and then returned to its shoulder perch.

I was more interested in what the stranger, Monohan, had just said, I asked him to repeat it. “What did you just say?”

“I said only the fey can show you the way. No one can get into Tanglewood otherwise.”

All my childhood endeavors of searching for the fey came rushing back into my head, but I forced myself to remember that I wasn’t a child anymore. Old notions of magic and innocence had been joined by doubt and suspicion, and I wasn’t quite ready to believe I was in the presence of a fey. Not yet.

Once again, the old man seemed to sense my apprehension. “You have questions?”


“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather follow me to my dwelling, where we can discuss all this over a mug of fine blackberry tea?”

“No, I’d rather ask them right here.”

Monohan nodded. “Alright. Ask your questions. But leave your heart open to receive the answers.”

Fair enough, I thought. “Okay. Are you telling me that you are one of the fey?”

The man chuckled. “Me, no. I do live among them, however, for quite some time. I have been away from the world of man, the ‘kynney deiney’, for quite a long time indeed.”

“Then the butterfly–“

“Cluny,” Monohan corrected.

“Yes. Cluny.”

“He is a creature of the fey, possessed of intelligence and some minor magics. You’ll find that many of the creatures of Tanglewood, the birds, the foxes, sometimes even the fish, are no ordinary animals. But we are getting off topic. We have much to discuss, so please try to keep your questions related to the topic at hand.”
“I’m not even sure exactly what the topic is.”

“That’s easy. The topic is contained within this simple question. Are you ready to accept that the fey and their magic are real, and always have been?”

I paused, unsure of myself. It was here I knew I had to make a decision. I could dismiss the ramblings of this man as harmless lunacy, or I could accept what he had told me, and follow him to his home, wherever that may be.

A gentle wind caressed the trees once more. Watching with curious perception, listening keenly, I heard the whispers of the woods and the song of the sky resonating within my mind. A primeval feeling of enlightenment overcame me.

I realized then that I had truly never stopped believing, and these extraordinary woods, full of untamed life and strange enchantment, had cast a spell over me.

Monohan took hold of his walking staff and gestured me over, turning toward a path I had not seen before.

With a renewed sense of adventure and my curiosity piqued beyond habitual limits, I eagerly followed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An excerpt from Angel Tears - new novel currently in production for NANO

Whenever Dariuse saw an angel spread her wings, his heart fluttered. A sudden rush of adrenaline would course through his cold veins; the thrill that accompanied his observation of the angel’s majestic flight was immeasurable.

The wind whistling through the angel’s feathers was an ethereal melody, playing softly as if in tribute to her own grace and beauty. The sky above belonged solely to the angel and nothing else. The clouds were her personal plane of reality; wispy tendrils of white cotton encircle her, and glistening beads of moisture cling to her lustrous golden skin. Her wet lips are spread in a soft smile, and her eyes closed against the tainted world floating below.

Weaving a haphazard pattern through the clouds, she darts about like an energetic child. For moments at a time, she simply sails along gracefully, randomly interjecting her flight with long swoops and dazzling turns, and then finally hovers still. Her snow-white wings are spread wide. Remarkable warmth emanates from them and kisses the ground far below, as soothing as the showering rays of the sun.

It is at this moment, when the angel’s perfect form is silhouetted against the sky, that Dariuse knows he must turn away or risk entrapment. His eyes are special, and can see nearly as far as heaven if he concentrates his focus. But to continue to watch the angel one moment longer would mean surrendering his mind to the glamour that is continuously expelled from the heavenly being. Had Dariuse been human, his consciousness would already be lost, doomed to envision the aerial dance even long after the angel had returned to her haven in the cosmos.

Therein lied the primary danger element in hunting angels. They were creatures of striking beauty and magical elegance, but dare to watch them for too long, and you are transfixed by the vision.

Dariuse knew this not just because he was extremely knowledgeable about angels. He knew this because he was nearly defeated in this way during his very first hunt. It was only his severe hatred of angels that enabled him to summon the willpower to break free from the spell, and even for days afterwards, the effect lingered on, forcing him to continually concentrate deeply in order to avoid slipping back into the recesses of oblivion.

The angel hunter drew a black arrow from the quiver slung across his back, and reached for the bow he had placed in the branches beside him. From his perch high in the trees, he kept the angel in sight out of the corner of his eye, not daring to chance looking at her directly.

The angel remained motionless, her ivory hair floating about her seemingly with its own life. Her physique is quite remarkable, the object of every man’s fantasy, the living embodiment of sexual desire. Her slender arms were spread wide, allowing a soft breeze to run through her long, nimble fingers. Each finger was capped with a white nail that was as sharp and as deadly as a hawk’s talon.

Dariuse nocked the arrow. It is exquisitely crafted; the shaft is long, polished and smooth, and nearly unbreakable. It is finished with the feathers of a slain angel and stained with her blood. The feathers will enhance the propulsion of the arrow and keep it on course. The arrowhead is sharp enough to penetrate the most solid mountain and bury itself deep within the mass of stone, but that would be an extreme waste. There are only nine more arrows such as this one in the world, and though Dariuse has only ever needed to use no more than one in each of his kills, he took great pride and pleasure in crafting them, and would not care to lose a single one.

The bow itself is fashioned from the bones of an angel’s wing, which Dariuse was delighted to find both strong yet pliable. It is in fact the wing bones of his first kill, which was quite difficult without the aid of this superb instrument of death, to say the least. The angel hunter smiled with amusement every time he reflected upon how the remains of one angel have since aided in securing the deaths of so many others.

In one fluid motion, Dariuse leapt to the tallest reaches of the tree, rising out of his leafy enclosure to reveal himself to the sky, and drew back the bowstring.

Dariuse let loose the arrow, and it streaked into the clouds with barely a sound, straight and purposeful. The hunter could almost see the trail of heat left in its wake.

The angel is oblivious until it is too late. Her eyes snapped open and she sighted the point of the shaft barely a moment before it struck her body. In that split-second, there was confusion on her face as she struggled to comprehend the unnatural object speeding toward her.

The angel hunter is constantly amazed at the speed possessed by angels. In that one miniscule moment of clarity in which the angel realized the danger, she was able to twist her body just enough so that the arrow missed her heart, probably by no more than a mere fraction of an inch.

The arrow made no sound as it sliced into her, and neither did she. Dariuse imagines that it was likely the shock of a strange new emotion called pain that overcame the angel first. The arrow ripped through flesh and bone as effortlessly as it had cut through the air. A portion of the shaft emerged from the angel’s back almost directly centered between her wings. A pure, unblemished white only moments ago, they were now spattered with blood.

Miles away from the tree in which Dariuse sat, the angel began her plummet to the earth, trailing feathers and red mist behind her.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Synopsis of Angel Tears, being written for National Novel Writing Month

Synopsis: Angel Tears

For centuries, Dariuse has hunted and killed angels, managing to stay hidden from their vengeance-seeking brethren. But when he kills an angel of particular importance, the delicate balance of restrained peace between angel and demon is threatened.

Adexzinus seeks a position on the Council of Demons, and intends to use Dariuse to achieve that goal, and perhaps bring about an era of unrivaled chaos on Earth as well.

Sebastian is an incubus whose appetite for the lifeforce of humans is rivaled only by his jealousy of vampires, particularly the attention lavished upon them by the entertainment industry.

Tracey, a reluctant prostitute, and Mitchell, the police detective intent on saving her life, find themselves suddenly thrust into a world full of supernatural beings they never imagined really existed.

Humans, demons, and cursed immortals. All will find themselves tested in ways they never imagined. The fate of the Earth depends solely upon who or what remains standing in the end.