“Sarabande” by Malcolm R. Campbell

After her sister, Dryad haunts her from beyond the grave for three long and torturous years, Sarabande undertakes a dangerous journey into the past to either raise her cruel sister from the dead, ending the torment or to take her place in the safe darkness of the earth.

Sarabande leaves the mountains of Montana for the cornfields of Illinois on a black horse to seek help from Robert Adams, the once powerful Sun Singer, in spite of Gem’s prophecy of shame. One man tries to kill her alongside a deserted prairie road, one tries to save her with ancient wisdom, and Robert tries to send her away.

Even if she persuades Robert to bring the remnants of his magic to Dryad’s shallow grave, the desperate man who follows them desires the Rowan staff for ill intent… and the malicious sister who awaits their arrival desires much more than a mere return to life. While this fantasy adventure is a sequel to “The Sun Singer,” it can be read as a stand-alone novel. The e-book is available on Kindle with publication of the paperback edition expected August 31.

Excerpt

Gem pulled her hands away and stood up so quickly she knocked over her spinning wheel. She didn’t appear to notice. She walked to the window and leaned out as though making sure no one else would hear her words.

“I was shamed by the king.” Gem pulled up her left sleeve to reveal the letters SJ in a bold pink scar that contrasted with her walnut-colored skin.

“Your strike brand!”

“I bore Justine’s mark as well as his child. Both were conceived in pain in a dark cell covered with urine and rat droppings.” Sarabande went to her, but Gem rolled down the sleeve, covering the ugly mark that signified Sovereign Justine. “No, my friend, I cannot abide your seeing it close at hand. My daughter, though, this doting mother will speak of her at great length if allowed to do so.”

“Cinnabar has shown me her brand,” said Sarabande.

“Discretion is a lesson I was never able to teach her. But listen: on your journey to Osprey’s house, you won’t walk through the domains of kings.”

Sarabande gasped and sat down, suddenly lightheaded when she understood why Gem showed her the scar.

“If there are no kings, what dangers have you seen?”

Gem put her hands on Sarabande’s shoulders and kneaded out the growing knots. Her touch always felt like a touch of power, and she wondered if she shared Osprey’s way with healing magic.

“I have seen a dark creek beneath a bridge on a foggy night. I have heard screams and howls outside my comprehension. I don’t understand it,” said Gem, holding their eye contact as though she understood more than she would say. “Sarabande, you know without my lecturing at great length about the ways of the world. A woman on a lonely road can be a target. Travel with a sharp knife.”

The impromptu massage felt good. The unclear warning did not. Vague predictions were worse than silence. They stirred up what did not need to be stirred up.

“Yes, I know that, Gem. I will carry a knife and take care to have it handy.”

“With due care, you can avoid your fate, but destiny is the way you’ve already written your life’s story.”

“I wanted to walk the sixteen hundred and fifty miles to Osprey’s house long before it occurred to me I would ever do so. If there is to be shame in it, then I will live or die with whatever I find on that lonely road.”

 ***

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three fantasy novels with primary scenes set in Glacier National Park, Montana. His passion for the Montana high country began when he worked as a bellman for one of the park’s hotels during the summer while in college. He hiked many of the trails, climbed some of the mountains, rode horses into the high country and became thoroughly addicted to the “shining mountains.”

In addition to “Sarabande,” “The Sun Singer,” and “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” he is the author of a non-fiction e-book about the park’s Swiftcurrent Valley, “Bears: Where They Fought.” He lives in Jackson County, Georgia, with his wife Lesa and four feisty cats.

Malcolm’s books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing and are listed there on his author’s page. He’s been posting about the experience of writing this novel on his Sarabande’s Journey blog.

Click here for an interview with: Malcolm R. Campbell

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Introducing The Books of A. F. Stewart

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… :

An ebook collection of dark short fiction, sonnets and snippets to make you shiver. A morbid and morose collection of tales designed to scare, dismay and leave you wondering. Open the pages into worlds of horror, dark fantasy, and satire, where things creep in shadowy corners, where they like to hear you scream.

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… will show you it isn’t safe in space, why fairy tales, clowns and rubber duckies are more than what they seem and why you should lock your doors in the dark.

Chronicles of the Undead:

Temptation, vengeance, redemption. Family Secrets.

Inside the personal journals of the Harrington family, a dark and dangerous odyssey unfolds. Three members of this tormented family, Samuel, his son Edmund, and Edmund’s daughter Charlotte, struggle during the 18th and 19th century in London, England, as the lives of this family intersects with supernatural forces. Two intriguing vampires befriend, manipulate and play with all three souls, altering their lives forever. Their fears, private confidences and weaknesses are revealed as one selfish act ends in horrific tragedy, with far-reaching consequences.

Who succumbs to the seduction and danger of the vampire? Who grapples to combat the evil influence that permeates their lives?

Passing Fancies:

A book of collected short fiction, written mostly in the fantasy genre with a smattering of crime and sci-fi dropping by as well. You will find tales short to long, amusing to chilling, wandering about the pages. Take delight in the saga of werewolves, vengeful gods, and virtual reality. Thrill to accounts of murder most strange, quiver as mummies, ghosts,
and demons walk. See the end of the world and the beginning of space.

Stroll the pages of imagination.

Shadows of Poetry:

Poetry written for the blackness in your soul. Wrenching, dismal, bleak verse for those who want to walk on the dark side. Enter into a fateful and shadowy world. Shadows of Poetry is a collection of introspective poetry that skirts
the darker side of life and imagination. Verses include forlorn musings on nature, a harsher glimpse at life and a grim view of fantasy and myth. No sappy, cheerful love poems allowed.

The Incomplete Guide to Action Movies:

Here it is at last — almost everything you need to know to enjoy an action film! Presenting an irreverent manual for dissecting an action movie, a guide to the nuances of that summer blockbuster. Consider musings about crashes, clichés and cannon fodder. Discover how to survive an action movie.Learn the proper way to watch a bad action film.

Bio:

A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest of a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

Website: http://afallon.bravehost.com/

See Also:

Interview with A. F. Stewart
The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy by Mark David Gerson

Prologue 

Na’an came to me in a dream this night. It was early. I had not been in bed long and the night was newly dark. 

“It is time,” she said, “time to fix The MoonQuest on parchment.” 

I was gladdened to see her after so many seasons, but I was not cheered by the message she bore. I tried to engage her in other discourse, but she was single-minded as only a Tikkan dreamwalker can be. 

“It is not for me to boast of my exploits,” I argued. “Others have sung them. Let them continue.” 

“No,” she said, and her silver tresses shimmered as she shook her head. “It is your story to tell. It is for you to fix it in ink, to set the truth down for all to read.” 

I tried to resist, to shut Na’an’s words from my heart, to return to the dreamless sleep that preceded her appearance. But Tikkan speak only what we know in our hearts to be true, and my heart would not close to her even as my mind longed to. Only by forcing my eyes open and my body to this table was I able to banish her milk-white face from my mind’s eye. Only by letting my quill rasp across the blank parchment have I stilled her voice. 

But my quill hovers over oceans of emptiness. I don’t know what to write, where to begin. The story has so many beginnings and no clear ending. As a bard, as Elderbard, I am trained to know how to weave disparate elements into a tapestry of word and song that brings light and meaning to life. When recounting others’ stories, I have no difficulty. The tales unfurl from my tongue as if by magic, as if M’nor herself were singing through me. 

Na’an says it is my story. Perhaps she is right. Is that why the words come so reluctantly? So many seasons of storytelling and still I hesitate. Of all the stories to stick in my throat, how ironic that it should be The MoonQuest, a tale of the freeing of story itself. 

You see how confused I am? I have not even introduced myself. My truth name is Toshar and I am old, so old that most who knew me by that name have passed on to other worlds. 

Toshar… Even I have forgotten the boy who was Toshar, the youth who embarked on The MoonQuest all those seasons ago. 

They call me Ko’lar now, the ancient word for Elderbard. It is a sign of honor and respect, but it separates me from the youth I was. 

Perhaps Na’an is right. Perhaps it is time to bring back Toshar, to allow the boy I was to touch the man I have become, the man I will soon cease to be. Soon it will be time to release the ageless spirit from this aged body and move on to other realms, set off on other journeys. I have seen it and I welcome it. But it cannot be mine until I have told this story. Na’an insists. 

She speaks, even as I sit here in full wakefulness, staring at the shadows cast by my flickering taper. Now, they loom, large and menacing. Now, they flit and flutter in delicate dance. I see it all now, in the leap of light against dark. The shadows will tell me the story and I will write what I see. I will write until my fingers and beard are black with ink. I will write until the story is told. 

Only then will I be free to continue my journey. Only then will my daughter, Q’nta, be free to continue hers. She is nearly ready. Ryolan Ò Garan taught her well, taught her the lessons of The MoonQuest. Soon she will live them through my words and will be free to assume the mantle of her birthright, according to the ancient orders of succession: 

From father to daughter, mother to son
The mantle passes, the Balance is done 

I was an exception to the Law of Balance, a law as old as the land itself. But those were exceptional times, the darkest of ages, in a land where “once upon a time” was a forbidden phrase and fact the only legal tender. 

That was the land I was born into, a land of slaughtered bards, a land dulled and divided by fear. That was Q’ntana, and this is its story, and mine…a story that begins once upon a time. 

© 2007 Mark David Gerson 

• Additional excerpts at http://www.markdavidgerson.com/mqexcerpt.html 

AN AWARD-WINNING NOVEL

• 2008 Gold Medal IPPY Award Winner (Independent Publishers Book Awards)

• 2008 New Mexico Book Award

• 2007 USA Book News “Best Books Award” Finalist

• 2007 Reader Views Semi-Finalist

• 2006 New Mexico Discovery Award Winner 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE MOONQUEST 

An exceptional, timeless novel. ~ Mindquest Review of Books

Empowering, enchanting, breathtaking! ~ Kathleen Messmer, San Francisco, California 

A heart-pounding, heart-wrenching, heart-touching tale. ~ Karen Joyce Weaver, Sedona, Arizona 

When you find yourself relating events in your life to the character in a book and coming to a deeper understanding, well that’s literary magic. That’s just what happened for me with The MoonQuest, and what continues to happen.” ~ Susan M. Cross, Sacramento, California 

ABOUT MARK DAVID GERSON & THE MOONQUEST 

MARK DAVID GERSON has taught and coached writing as a creative and spiritual pursuit for nearly 20 years in the U.S. and Canada. Through workshops, online classes, coaching and consulting, Mark David has guided writers and non-writers alike to connect with their innate wisdom, open to their creative power and express themselves with ease. 

The MoonQuest, his first book, has won five awards and is on track for feature-film production.

“I didn’t set out to write The MoonQuest,” Mark David Gerson explains of his novel’s genesis. “The MoonQuest found me.”

More precisely, an odd-looking man in an even odder-looking coach pulled by two odd-colored horses found him.

It was March 1994 and Mark David was teaching a creative writing workshop in Toronto. As participants settled into writing, these characters — who would later become the mysterious O’ric and his mystical mares, Rykka and Ta’ar —  rode onto Mark David’s blank page.

Their tale would become the opening scene of the first draft of a novel that would reveal neither its story nor title to him for many months.

When it finally did, Mark David was living in rural Nova Scotia on Canada’s Atlantic seabord, where The MoonQuest‘s initial drafts took form.

It took more than a dozen years of revisions, each penned in a different part of Canada or the United States, before The MoonQuest won its first award. It has since won four more, And his screenplay adaptation is in active development toward feature-film production.

Throughout that time, Mark David has continued to guide groups and individuals through the same blocks to creative power, personal empowerment and spiritual growth experienced by Toshar and his fellow Q’ntanans in The MoonQuest.

Mark David is also the author of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, also an award-winner, and has recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers.

A writing/creativity coach, editor, project consultant and script analyst, Mark David is a popular speaker on topics related to creativity and spirituality. He is host of The Muse & You, a radio show about writers and writing, and is a regular featured guest on Unity.fm’s Spiritual Coaching radio program

For more information on both books and on Mark David, visit his web site at www.markdavidgerson.com.