Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy July 4th


I love living in the United States, and the 4th of July has always been a huge and fun holiday for me.

I hope you have a wonderful day, no matter where in the world you live.  I will be trying to relax with friends and family!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Beautiful Music Video for the 4th of July ~Condoleezza Rice and Jenny Oaks Baker ~ "Amazing Grace"




The music is beautiful and the images behind the musical artists create a perfect atmosphere for this patriotic time of year.  I was stunned with the beauty of the video and the music.  It is the perfect blend of violin and piano.

This song can be purchased on iTunes.  The  proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project.  The cost is 99 cents.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Blog Tour Spotlight ~ "Ashes of Life" by Erica Lucke Dean & Laura M Kolar + tour giveaway

Married for just three months, Alex Barrett is stunned when her husband, David, dies in a tragic accident. And the absolute last thing the pregnant young widow wants is to take on responsibility for his teenage daughter, Maddie. Reeling from loss, Alex struggles to deal with her grief and her troubled stepdaughter, but one question haunts her: why was David with his ex-wife when he died?
All Maddie Barrett wanted was for her parents to get back together, but an icy road took that dream away.  Afterward, Maddie is riddled with guilt that she can’t share with anyone. Feeling angry and alone, she lays all the blame on Alex.

Alex and Maddie must find a way to move past their pain—shared, yet separate. Thrown together in an untenable arrangement, they fight through a frozen landscape of sorrow and redemption while redefining love, forgiveness, and family.



Read an Excerpt
********************

Chapter 1
Maddie

Two caskets flanked the church altar: dark wood—mahogany, maybe—for Dad and a warm honey oak with white satin trim for Mom. So many flowers surrounded them, my nose stung from the mixture of scents, or maybe it stung from my grandmother’s perfume, sprayed on thick to mask her alcohol-laced breath. Grandma Rosie and Aunt Shannon both reeked as though they’d spent the entire morning at a bar.
Alex sat, unmoving, across the aisle from me. My stepmother’s perfect auburn hair draped over her shoulder like a scarf as she stared into her lap. Her hands rested over her flat stomach, but I knew what she hid under those bony fingers. And she could pretend all she wanted, but her stomach wouldn’t be flat for much longer. She didn’t even bother wearing black to her own husband’s funeral. Instead, she wore a stupid purple cashmere sweater and gray slacks—not a stitch of black, unless you counted her soul.
Father John recited a closing prayer, and the organist played a low, mournful melody as people exited the sanctuary, turning their backs on my parents… and on me. When most everyone had left, the immediate family—and she—was allowed a few private moments. My aunt and grandmother got up and headed straight to my mother’s casket. No one from my dad’s family came. His parents had passed away years ago.
“Maddie? Would you like to come up?” The priest asked.
I sucked in a deep breath and stood, but the world spun, and I stumbled. Alex looked up at me with her emotionless green eyes but never made a move from her seat. Regaining my footing, I marched toward my father first.
“Hi, Daddy.” I didn’t really know what else to say. He was gone. His body was in the box, but my dad was gone. I kissed my fingers then pressed them to his heart. “I love you.” Then I wiped my eyes and went to see my mom. My grandmother and aunt stepped aside but hovered close by. “Mom,” I whispered. “I-I’m…” I burst into sobs, wishing I could crawl into the casket with her and shut tight the lid.
Alex’s mother put her arm around me. “She’ll miss you just as much as you miss her.”
I doubted it. Did the dead even have the capacity to feel anything? I glanced at my stepmother. Some of the living didn’t seem to feel much as it was.
She gave my shoulder a light squeeze then stepped back, allowing me some space to wipe my eyes and nose with my already well-used tissue. That was when Alex decided to stand and go to my father’s side. I watched her put her hands over his, but if she said anything, it was too quiet for me to hear. Grandma Rosie tsked and left the sanctuary with Aunt Shannon close on her heels, probably both in search of a drink.
“We’ll take care of your parents until the ground thaws in the spring,” Father John said, reminding me we had to wait months before burying them.
“Thank you.” I swiped my sleeve across my eyes to dry my tears. “I think I’ll go find my friends now.”
“Very good.” He smiled then turned toward my stepmother. “Alex, would you like to join the others for some refreshments?”
My dad’s new wife, his widow, didn’t move. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
The old priest nodded, making the loose skin on his jaw bounce. “Take as much time as you need.”
With one last look at my mom and dad, I left. On the way to the reception area, I nodded at Alex’s parents, refusing to read too much into their sad smiles. Father John held the door then walked me through the lobby and all the way to the fellowship hall. I was barely ten steps inside before people surrounded me, offering their condolences. I felt like the french fry all the seagulls fought over at the beach, but the attention always seemed to come with a lot of shit.
Mrs. Jarvis—the lady who lived down the block from Mom and me—latched on to my wrist. “Oh sweetie, your mother was such a wonderful woman, and we’re all going to miss her.”
One of the guys from Dad’s golf club patted my head as if I were the family dog. “I bet your dad’s already found a prime course, wherever he is.”
“Your parents loved you so much, Maddie. It’s just so, so sad,” said a woman I didn’t even recognize.
Each comment, laced with well-meant but unnecessary pity, made me want to run away, screaming. None of these people knew my parents as I did. None of them knew me the way my parents did, especially Mom. The nearly uncontrollable urge to bolt from the room as if a horde of zombies was bearing down on me swept through me, and I had to force myself to breathe through it.
“Hey.” Haleigh hugged me. One of her corkscrew curls caught in my eyelashes, and I smothered a laugh. “I have to admit, I thought it would be weird having your parents’ funeral together, but Father John did a nice job.”
“Yeah, he did. And nobody had to sit through two services. But now I just want to get out of here. I can’t stand all these people looking at me like I’m the most pathetic thing they’ve ever seen.” I wrapped my arms around myself. I’d worn my black sweater dress, the one Mom’d bought for me to wear on New Year’s. We’d done our annual shop ’til you drop at the after-Christmas sales, and she’d found it on a clearance rack. The fit, the style, everything about it was perfect.
“You don’t look pathetic. You look stunning right now, and you should totally show off that dress later.”
Part of me knew I should have probably stuffed the dress in the back of my closet and never thought of it again, but no matter how badly I wanted to, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have anything else to wear for the party, and Mom did buy it to show it off. She’d been so happy when I modeled it for her that day.
“Maddie, I’m so sorry for your loss.” My school principal put her hand on my shoulder. “I wanted to let you know that, in light of your current circumstances, we’re not going to take any action regarding last week’s incident. However, that doesn’t mean I want to see a repeat of it.” She stared down at me, raising one penciled-on brow in a perfect arch.
“Thank you, Mrs. Walker.” I forced a smile. So kind of you to remind me of my transgressions at my parents’ funeral. Bitch.
“And who are you staying with?” She looked around the room as if scoping out my possible caregivers.
“With Haleigh’s family.”
“Oh…” She glanced between the two of us. “Well, I’ll make a note of that in your record, but if you need anything at all, please be sure to let me know.”
“Okay.” I shrugged.
She patted my shoulder again then went over to Haleigh’s parents. The three of them kept glancing in my direction, and I knew without a doubt they were talking about my situation.
Poor Maddie, the troubled sixteen-year-old orphan, whose parents died in a car accident together. She’s going to need lots of support and… a keeper. She’s going to need to talk to someone and tell them all about her feelings.
“I could really use a hit right now,” I whispered in Hayleigh’s ear.
Hayleigh went wide-eyed. “Maddie! We’re at your parents’ funeral.”
I rolled my eyes. “My point exactly.”
“I get it. But you might want to be careful. You could’ve been expelled if it weren’t for—” Her mouth fell so far open I could see her uvula—a word I’d learned in biology the week before.
“My parents dying?” I stared her down, watching her face turn every shade of red in the color wheel. I had no idea why I was punishing Haleigh for the shit day I’d had. She hadn’t done anything wrong.
She stared down at the floor. “Mm-hm.”
“Sorry. I just… I don’t even know.” Then I bumped her with my shoulder. “Did your mom say we could use her car tonight?”
Haleigh smiled. “As long as the snow holds off. But I wish you had your license. I hate driving at night.”
“Yeah, maybe I can get it in April.” That seemed like such a long way away, and I wasn’t even sure who’d take me. Mom and Dad had made me agree to wait until I turned seventeen because they didn’t think I was ready to have my license. I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect to die before then. I know I never expected to lose them so soon.
“What are you two girls conspiring about over here?” Grandma Rosie slurred her words, and I wondered where she’d found more alcohol in the short time since the service ended. The church most likely didn’t keep a stocked bar, unless you counted the communion wine. But I wouldn’t have put it past my grandmother to raid that when no one was looking.
“Probably some party with booze and boys. Maybe we should crash it.” Aunt Shannon winked at me, though she had trouble re-opening her eye, as if she were moving in alcohol-induced slow motion.
I tried to guard myself against the offensive smell oozing off the two of them, but it was impossible when my grandmother wrapped her twig-like arms around me, and her bleached-blond hair fell in my face.
“You know you can come with me if you want, to live I mean. We’d have such a great time.” I had to help her stand upright as she let me out of her grasp.
“Oh, that would be fun!” my aunt squealed a little too loudly. “It’d be just us girls, and we could give each other facials and watch Hugh Jackman movies. God, that man makes me wet.”
Ew, gross! “Um, thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.” I grabbed Haleigh’s hand. “I should probably go say hi to some people, so…” I took a step back, pulling my best friend with me.
“Okay, sweetie. You just let me know,” Grandma Rosie said, though it came out more like, Okay, sheety. Yoused lemme know.
I hadn’t even made it halfway across the room when my former ballet instructor cornered me. “Maddie!” Miss Nicole pulled me into a hug, enveloping me in her familiar gardenia perfume. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. Your parents were such wonderful people. I’ve missed seeing them—and you—since you stopped dancing.” She finally let me go and took a step back. “My God, has it been three months?”
“Time flies.” When your life is falling apart around you. “I’ve missed you too.”
“Why don’t you stop by the studio? You never did see the new floors. No more warped wood.”
I’d sooner spend a week in detention. “Sure. I’ll do that. I, uh, should go say something to my, uh, stepmom before she leaves.”
“Okay, good.” She pressed a kiss to each cheek before setting me free again. “I’ll see you soon.”
I turned around to make my escape and ran smack into Brody Allen, all six feet, blond hair, and brown eyes of him. His soft dark sweater clung to his lean muscular chest, and he smelled like sweet pine with a hint of chlorine, probably from spending most of his time swimming with the school’s team.
“Sorry, I—”
“You have nothing to be sorry about.” Brody winked at me with that skeezy half-grin of his perched on his kissable lips. “I’m the one who’s sorry about your parents. My dad’s really shaken up by it too. He keeps saying he’s going to sell his golf clubs and take up fishing instead.” Michael Allen and my dad had golfed together every week, from the moment the snow melted until the course was too cold to walk, so I’d known Brody half my life. The guy went through girls like Grandma Rosie went through six-packs, and he was exactly what I wanted at that moment. Sign me up for self-destruction 101—only bad boys need apply.
Brody ran a finger across the back of my hand, and my mouth turned dry. Sweat trickled down the back of my neck as if someone had turned up the furnace to its boiling point. “Thanks. Um, I think my dad would want him to keep playing, though.” If the look in Brody’s eyes was any indication, I was about to become his flavor of the week.
“Let me know if you need anything. I’ll even cover your next stash,” he whispered in my ear then kissed my temple and stepped back. “So, are you two coming to Drew’s party tonight?”
Haleigh giggled and turned a lovely shade of pink. I managed to nod just before another well-wisher appeared.
“I’ll see you later, then.” He winked and walked away. I knew he probably practiced that wink for hours in front of the mirror, but I couldn’t help the butterflies in my stomach when he directed it at me.
********************

Purchase a copy at:



About the Author's:

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives  in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180 lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.
When she’s not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her first book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.
How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.
 Laura M. Kolar lives with her husband and daughter in a one-stop-light town in northern-lower Michigan. Though she didn’t discover her love of books until she turned thirty, as a self-declared hopeless romantic, she has spent the past few years reading and writing stories with mostly happy endings. If not at her day-job or with her family, you will find her sipping a cup of chai latte while sitting in her favorite rocking chair, hunched over her laptop writing or spending entirely too much time on Twitter.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Freedom to Read giveaway hop (International)



I love the 4th of July! (Except for the heat)  Thanks to Bookhounds and I am a Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this giveaway.


My prize will be a choice of one book up to $15 USD to one winner.  It will be shipped from the Book Depository, so as long as they ship to you for free, you can enter.

Entry is thought the raffelcopter form below.  You must be 18 or older to enter.  Terms and conditions are to the right.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the hop! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review ~ "Taken" by Dee Henderson

Taken by Dee Henderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received from Publisher to Review
Genre: Christian Suspense

Book Description:  Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.
 



My thoughts; When I read the synopsis for this book I was intrigued. A woman escapes a crime family after 11 years of captivity. I knew it would be an emotional ride and full of detective work. I wasn't disappointed. I'm glad I requested this book from Bethany House.

Shannon's journey from victim to metal health is very meticulous. She has everything planned. She has a list and sticks to her list and the time schedule she feels is appropriate. She sought out the man she felt could help her best, Matthew Dane. His daughter survived eight years before she was rescued. He knows how to deal with her situation, he is compassionate, and he understands her better than anyone else.

There is suspense and drama in the book, but it focuses on the emotions of the victim and the man who helps her. As Matthew leans more of her ideal, the more impressed he is of the woman she has become. When he is stumped by her behavior, he prays to seek inspiration and the best way to help her. It is not a fast moving book. Layer upon layer of the story and the process of bringing justice for Shannon add for a good story.

There is a tiny bit of romance. The violence is described long after the events. Most of the horrors Shannon endured are alluded to without many details. I would classify this book as clean.


Dee Henderson is a new author to me, even though she has published several books. I will definitely be watching for more of her books to read in the future.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Blog Tour Spotlight ~ "Steel and Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures" + tour Giveaway!



Shovel the coal and stoke the boilers as nine steam punk authors explore islands of mystery and adventure across the seven seas.

The Clockwork Seer by Katherine Cowley: On an island of oddities, a young clairvoyant struggles for normalcy, but deadly automatons have other plans.

Sindisiwe by Scott E. Tarbet: A slave girl in Zanzibar escapes a beating when a stranger in the marketplace proves her past is more than just a fairy tale.

Stand and Deliver by TC Phillips: Neither shackles, slave labor, nor the island’s deadliest inhabitants will prevent these brothers from meting out justice to their father’s murderers.

Island Walker by C. R. Simper: Kit digs her treasures out of trash heaps, but the theft of her invention leads to discoveries money can’t buy.

A Mind Prone to Wander by Danielle E. Shipley: Beyond a locked door lies Rowan Charles’ death or his sanity, and the survival or extinction of his people.

Curio Cay by Sarah E. Seeley: The future of humanity rests in the hands of three time-traveling scientists battling biomechanical creatures in the Jurassic past.

The Mysterious Island of Chester Morrison by Kin Law: Dodging her chaperone, a debutante stumbles into adventure and romance at the World’s Fair.

Revolutionary by John M. Olsen: A dirigible captain goes down with his ship, and wakes to find himself a captive of a sky-dwelling civilization.

The Steel Inside by Gail B. Williams: Darkness lurks in Sarah’s forgotten past, kept hidden by those who claim to be her devoted husband and loyal servants. 

Purchace your copy here:
Amazon Kindle USA: http://www.amazon.com/Steel-Bone-Nine-Steampunk-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00YQRAIIC
Amazon Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steel-Bone-Nine-Steampunk-Adventures-ebook/dp/B00YQRAIIC



Katherine Cowley

Katherine Cowley wrote her first story at the age of five, a retelling of the Icarus myth titled “The Turtle That Got Too Close to the Sun.” She has worked as a documentary film producer, a radio producer, and a college professor. She now devotes herself to writing steampunk, fantasy, and science fiction. Cowley’s short stories and essays have been published and won awards in the Locutorium, the BYU Studies Personal Essay Contest, the Meeting of the Myths, Four Centuries of Mormon Stories, and the Mormon Lit Blitz. You can also read her stories online at katherinecowley.com.

Katherine loves European chocolate, the history of science, and steampunk fashion. She has lived in the United States, Brazil, and Finland, and currently resides in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.

Scott E. Tarbet

Scott E. Tarbet writes what fires his imagination: the broad umbrella of speculative fiction. He is especially intrigued by how human beings react to and interact with science, technology, and other magics.

Educator, chef, professional opera singer, and Steampunk craftsman, with a long list of short stories and other works to his credit, he makes his home in the splendor of the Utah mountains with his wife and best friend, Jewels.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/103022248044977989570/about

TC Phillips

TC Phillips hails from tropical central Queensland in Australia, where he currently lives with his loving wife, three young children, a spoilt cat, and an overactive imagination. An avid reader from a young age, he has held a long-standing attraction for the written word and is excited to make his own contributions to the vibrant and ever shifting world of storytelling. Holding degrees in both Theatre Studies and Education, he is also currently completing his Master of Arts (writing) through Swinburne University of Technology.

C. R. Simper

C. R. Simper is an Arizona native who graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Purchasing and Logistics Management. She married another Arizona native in 1991 and is now the stay-at-home mom of three daughters and one son.

Simper has written in multiple genres over the past three decades. She has found that writing maintains a sense of order in her life. Her first published story, “The Journey of Inspector Roux” appeared in Terra Mechanica: a Steampunk Anthology (2014), another Xchyler publication.

Other hobbies that she enjoys are playing volleyball, genealogical research, and indexing obituaries. She is a member of the American Night Writers Association (ANWA).

Danielle E. Shipley

Danielle E. Shipley's first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them.

Shipley has also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home-schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she's not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she's probably blogging about it at EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

This is her third appearance in a Xchyler anthology, following the paranormal "Two Spoons" in Legends and Lore, and "Reality As We Know It" in fantasy collection The Toll of Another Bell. Other publications include Inspired (a novel), and a series of fairy-tale retelling mash-ups, The Wilderhark Tales.

Sarah E. Seeley

Through two wonderful mentored research experiences, Sarah E. Seeley had the opportunity to work with dead sauropods and ancient odonates while acquiring her undergraduate degree in geology from Brigham Young University. She hopes to study more dead things in the future and contribute to scientific discussions about what makes life on Earth so amazing. In the meantime, she explores the bright side of being human by writing dark fiction.

Seeley's independently published works include Maladaptive Bind and Blood Oath: An Orc Love Story. Sarah's short story "Peradventure" appears in Xchyler Publishing's Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions. Another short story, "Driveless," appears in Leading Edge Magazine Issue #66. You can learn more about Sarah on her writing blog at www.SlithersOfThought.com

Kin Law

Living in the bustle of NYC, Kin is constantly reminded he is a child of two worlds. Originally from Hong Kong, he's traveled both geographically and socially, working in many professions including movie projection and line cooking. He has degrees in Media and Culinary Arts, and a great love of Philosophy. As for fiction, his favorite authors are Douglas Adams, Hemmingway, and Chuck Pahlaniuk.

Today, Kin is a culinary copywriter, intent on furthering his novelist career. He loves his fiancée, his cat Zoe, Scotch, bacon and coffee. Addressing himself in the third person makes him chuckle.

John M. Olsen

John M. Olsen has been creating things his whole life through a mixture of technical and creative processes, whether building family, stories, art, software, woodworking or anything else. He has dreams of becoming a Renaissance man and loves to learn new things to add to his store of randomly accessible information (otherwise known as irrelevant trivia). Writing is one of his loves, inspired by having read most of his father’s extensive fantasy and science fiction collection in his teen years.

He builds high-end simulation software, and has contributed chapters to several books on computer graphics and game design, as well as publishing fiction in multiple genres.
He lives in Utah with his wife and five children, some of whom are old enough to have moved out and back in. Together they have also raised three nieces and a nephew, and are minions of their benevolent cat overlord.

Gail B. Williams

Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. With a vivid imagination fuelled by a near death experience at the age of three, there was really no other choice for Gail than to write, something she’s been doing for as long as she can remember. She’s tried not doing it, but it never works for long, her brain gets itchy if she hasn’t written anything for a couple of days. Gail is English by birth, but lives in Swansea, Wales, married a Welshman and they have two fantastic children. They live with the world’s most imperious and demanding cat. An asset management specialist by day, a freelance editor and keen writer of an evening and weekend, she really needs to learn to sleep. To find out more see www.gailbwilliams.com



James Ng
James Ng (pronounced Ing) was born in Hong Kong, where he spent most of his childhood drawing monsters and robots, making his own elaborate cardboard toys, and playing soccer. Ever since, he has been on the move between Hong Kong, Vancouver, Chicago and New York. His travels have greatly influenced him, allowing him to combine Eastern and Western cultures in his artwork.

Currently James is enjoying the freedom of being a freelance concept artist and illustrator. After a sunny summer in Vancouver, and traveling to London, and then to New York for an award show and exhibition, he is back in his home of Hong Kong to continue his career.





Read and Excerpt:


As the promised giant slayers await conveyance to their enemy’s castle, Rowan reflects on 

the events that led to this fateful hour…

I’ve seen enough of the clockwork roc in recent years to imagine its first appearance—from 

the way the sunlight will have glinted off its feathers of golden metal, to the strength and 

precision of its massive talons clamped over the wall’s edge, to the unsettling look in its 

glassy eyes when its blade-sharp beak dropped the scroll at the feet of the man who had 

made himself Skycastle’s king. Though I remember nothing of the first reading of the scroll’s 

message, it’s since then been repeated so often that I could recite it word for word.

People of land, it read, it has reached my ears that you have killed the giant Opher, 

Lord of Gold. This is a great loss to me, as he was my beloved brother and my only true 

companion. I demand compensation. You will therefore relinquish to me, on the first day of 

the new year, two young women from among your number, each twenty years of age. 

Transportation to my castle will arrive to fetch them from “your” shore of the Clouded Sea. 

The young women will remain with me until the year’s end, after which time, I conditionally 

vow, I will arrange to have them returned to you. Should you refuse to comply with my 

wishes, you will find the consequences most unpleasant.

 . . . Unless you are a particularly morbid people, fond of death, in which case I shall 

forever wonder whether my revenge was technically successful.

Yours in all seriousness,

Griffon, Lord of Wings

Only two women, the people thought. Only for a year. Not a huge catastrophe, as 

such things go. For the long-term well-being of the city as a whole, it seemed a negligible 

price to pay. And so the clockwork roc bore the pair of brave volunteers away, leaving 

Skycastle in peace to await their return. But when the roc came again, it came alone, 

carrying nothing but a second scroll.

People of land, I regret to inform you that the young women you graciously lent me 

are dead. Lest you mistake me, let me make clear that my regret—and, in all candor, my 

frustration—has less to do with their deaths in and of themselves, and more to do with the 

fact that they died for sheer stupidity.

As the expiration of my guests has occurred prior to that of the full length of their 

stay (one year) as agreed upon between “your” castle and mine, you will send a replacement 

pair to fulfill our contract. The terms are unchanged: two young women, aged twenty, 

travel-ready on the Clouded Sea’s shore on the first of the year, to be returned (conditionally) 

on the year’s last day, else your entire city shall suffer my severe disappointment.

Yours, with sympathies,

Griffon, Lord of Wings

Grieved, outraged, and horrified, the people wasted no time in rebuilding their 

broken ships as best they could. Though they lacked the supply of lifting gas necessary to 

make the ships airworthy, the vessels could still navigate a sea of clouds. In short order, they 

launched to locate the giant’s castle and put an end to his terrorization. But search though 

they might, the Lord of Wings’ home could not be found, leaving Skycastle little choice but 

to give up another pair of young women.

And another, the following year.

And another, the year after that.

June 28

June 29

June 30

July 1

July 2

July 3

July 4
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