Teaser Tuesday: Ichabod Brooks & the Resurrection Bowl #shortstories #fantasy

Today’s teaser is the opening for one of the Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks stories.  Not much of a set up for this since it speaks for itself, but you can check out the rest of his adventures on Amazon!

Cover Art by Circecorp

“Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Brooks,” the lean nobleman says as he steps out of his large tent. Waving his servants away, the brown-haired man adjusts his shirt collar and pats down his long, button-covered coat. “My name is Lord Orson Bailles and I am the one who has requested your services. It is impressive that you made it here in such a short time considering how far from your home we are. Did you have a nice journey?”

Struggling against a looming headache, Ichabod drops his patch-covered backpack and glares at the man. Releasing a calming breath, he picks a few leaves out of his hair and takes a moment to scan his surroundings. The small, but extravagant campsite is on the edge of a forest and there are signs that there were once more people staying in the area. His instincts tell him that Lord Bailles is the type of person who would purposely drive others away if they are from any class lower than the nobility. The biggest clues being the way his servants scowl at his backside and the pale-skinned man’s pompous smirk has yet to falter. Ichabod flexes his fingers as the urge to throttle his new employer rises, but years of professionalism help him ignore the sense of disgust he feels from the man. Taking the signed contract out of his bag, he begrudgingly accepts that he cannot leave just because he hates the noble.

“I must point out that this is unorthodox and fairly rude. You sent me a signed contract and spread word that I had agreed to this job. That puts my reputation at risk,” Ichabod explains as he hands the scroll to Orson. He winces when the man violently shakes his hand, a brief shock of pain running through his fingers. “If you wanted me to be impressed with your grip then you failed. Break my fingers and I’m off the job. Now, you’re lucky that I have a few extra bills to pay and don’t care if I like my employer. I’m here as long as you aren’t having me do anything that crosses a personal line. Can’t really say evil since I’ve taken an assassination job or two in the past. That’s something to keep in mind. What’s the job?”

“Have you ever heard of the Resurrection Bowl?” Orson responds, turning his back before getting an answer. Snapping his fingers at a boy, he impatiently waits for the servant to hand him a wooden plaque. “Created long ago by an immortal father who refused to let his loved ones die, it was lost when his family turned on him. They found a way to kill him and all of this other legend nonsense, which does not concern me. Before they died, his loved ones hid the Resurrection Bowl in a city that has since lost its name. You have certainly heard the rumors that very few people have made it through the front door. Those who have are never seen again or return on the verge of death. The problem is that even if you get inside, the city is a maze of traps and monsters. One needs to know exactly where to go to succeed. That is not a problem since I have found a piece of the legend that reveals the artifact’s location.”

Ichabod nods his head a few times before saying, “Not interested. Put a hit out on my reputation, but I’m not going into this nameless city with somebody like you. Yes, I noticed that you changed a part of my contract to make sure I take you along. Still doesn’t mean I agree. I knew people who took on the Resurrection Bowl challenge. It ended exactly as you heard. No amount of money is worth the risk. So, you either find someone else or do it yourself.”

“Do you still refuse if it means your death?”

“Give me your best shot.”

“I already have.”

“What are you talking about?”

A slight tremor runs up Ichabod’s right arm and he notices that his mouth has gone slightly dry. He takes a small drink of water, but nearly spits out the sip when the taste turns sour. Eyeing the grinning noble, his attention falls on the man’s pointer finger, which is adorned with a jade ring. A glint of metal is on the underside, revealing the thin needle that stabbed his palm during the rough handshake. Ichabod checks himself to make sure he is not imagining things, but finds that there is a sore spot near his thumb. Sniffing at his skin, he can barely make out the acrid scent of an unfamiliar poison.

“I knew that a man with a family would be inclined to deny my request,” Orson states as he slips the ring off. He tosses it to a passing servant, who yelps when the needle gets her in the finger. “I am the only one who knows where the antidote is. You could run to town and ask for help, but I know they lack a healer who can undo magical poisons. By the way, how much do you love your wife? You see, when this poison kills you, it does the same to your soulmate. Such an interesting curse since you have nothing to fear if she is not your soulmate. Then again, do you want to risk her life and make your son an orphan?”

“Whoever you plan on bringing back better be worth breaking my seventh rule,” Ichabod growls while drawing an ivory arrow. He aims at the noble’s shoulder, but his arms jerk at the last moment and the screeching projectile sails far over the horizon. “Damn it! That arrow would have made you feel the same suffering that I do. Beating you up until I get the antidote doesn’t fall under my promise of creative punishment either.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that you can be quite sadistic when your family is threatened,” Lord Bailles casually replies, the sweat on his brow revealing his fear. Clearing his throat, he claps his hands to get his servants to break camp. “My sister recently died from an incurable disease. She was beautiful, smart, and kind, which is why Windemere deserves to have her back. Unlike modern spells and rituals, the Resurrection Bowl holds no risk. One need only find it and ask for the dead to be revived. I don’t even need her body to bring my dear Ruth back.”

“Sounds like she would hate what you’re doing to me,” the adventurer mentions, his right eye twitching. Before Orson can stop him, Ichabod snatches the plaque out of his hands and looks at the legend. “Thou can see the dead again. By sitting in the throne. That will show the path. A reunion in the palace. Well, this seems rather simple and clear. The Resurrection Bowl is in the central palace and you sit on the throne to find it. Makes me wonder why nobody else has ever found the damn thing. Where did you get this?”

Thrilled that Ichabod is willing to work with him, the noble smiles wide and takes the heavy slab back. “I bought it from a merchant who was passing through Gaia. He said that he had no loved ones worth the risk, but saw that I was in need. Only cost me a thumb-sized ruby, which is nothing compared to the value of my sister’s life. By the way, I was told that the poison kills within seventy-two hours. More than enough time to walk over to the city, get inside, revive my sister, and come back. Before you get any ideas, I’ll be giving the antidote to a servant who I will send back to you once I’m a few miles away. Don’t want you coming after me.”

“If you think distance will stop me from making you pay then-” Ichabod starts to say before he violently coughs. He can feel blood on his tongue and fears that the poison is working faster than Orson planned. “Lead the way since you have the legend and probably already know where the city is. I want to get this over with as soon as possible.”

“We should really be friendly to each other on this journey.”

“You poisoned me and threatened my family.”

“Only because I feared you would say no.”

“When this is done, I will hunt you down and kill you.”

“My guards-”

“Will not stop me.”

The icy glare from Ichabod makes Orson struggle to swallow his next breath. He pulls at his collar and tries his best to maintain eye contact, but the pure hate and anger that he sees sends a chill down his spine. As his arrogant façade crumbles, the noble takes a sip from his jewel-encrusted flask and regains some of his composure. Snapping his fingers at the adventurer, he turns on his heels and heads into the forest with his servants only a few steps behind. Gripping his longbow and taking up the rear, Ichabod licks his lips and steadies his heartbeat through the few meditation techniques that he remembers from his training days. The thought that his own anger is killing him and his wife helps to temper his rage, which he holds just enough of to make sure he can call upon it when the time is right.

Will Ichabod make it out of this one?  How long before he punches Orson in the face?  Find out in The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks!

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An Obituary: Todd Bol, creator of Little Free Library, dies at 62

Nicholas C. Rossis

I don’t often share obituaries on my blog but this one is an exception as it is about an unsung hero: Todd Bol, whose Little Free Library brought books to the street corner. He died Oct. 18 at a hospice center in Oakdale, Minn. at the age of 62.

It All Started in 2009…

Little Free Library | Istomedia web database and multimedia design - σχεδίαση ιστοσελίδων, βάσεις δεδομένων, πολυμέσα The very first Little Free Library built by Todd Bol. Image: Open Culture

As Washington Post reports, it all started in 2009. The previous year, Bol had been forced out of Global Scholarship Alliance — an organization he had founded. Global Scholarship Alliance offered nursing scholarships for foreign students to study in the US. Bol was sacked by investors he had invited into the company, who told him:

We need to cut back on resources, and you’re the resource we’re cutting back on.

A year later, and no closer to figuring out his next endeavor, Bol…

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The Challenge of Putting Mental Illness in Fiction

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Not sure this will be a long post because this is a delicate topic that everyone seems to have a different opinion on.  Using various mental illnesses is common in fiction.  Many of us can name at least one story where a character has a diagnosis of some kind.  Sometimes it’s done with care and the other times it’s done rather bluntly.  Yet, how often is it done correctly?

I remember seeing various shows and movies where they tried to show someone was autistic or schizophrenic.  The former was usually done the extreme and the other repeatedly showed up as the reason behind a person committing murders.  As a society, we tend to look at all of these things as a hindrance and a portal to abnormality.  Many artists take that and run to the darker side of human nature.  Seems only recently that people are pulling back and showing characters who have these issues and are proving that one can live a full life with them.  Still, they do seem to be the butt of jokes such as Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory.  Comedy can be a bridge to get the audience to consider mental illness, but it can’t always get them the entire way to understanding.

For myself, I don’t use a lot of mental illness in my stories.  I’m too nervous about getting something wrong and pushing the stigma that continues to create trouble.  I might touch on depression and anxiety since I have a better understanding of that.  For example, Quest of the Brokenhearted utilized my experience and thoughts on severe depression.  Kira hit that point where she didn’t want to die, but didn’t care if she did.  I’ll admit that I’ve been there in the past.  It was fairly easy, and oddly cathartic, to do this since I had experience.  Most authors don’t have that to work with when they try to make a character with a mental health issue.  So, research is definitely a necessity.

So, I’m going to open the floor since this is a complicated topic and I’m always on the fence about it.  Don’t want to say anything as if it’s a rule even though Wednesday will have a list of tips that are done in a tongue-in-cheek style.  What does everyone else think about writing characters with mental health issues?  Do you have any advice or experience doing this?

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Meet Annette Rochelle Aben, Author – From Rachel Poli’s Blog

Author Don Massenzio

It’s my pleasure to welcome Annette to my blog!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Author | Interview | Blogging | RachelPoli.comTell us a little bit about yourself (a quick blurb of the kind of books you like to write)

I was born to be a poet. So, the majority of the books I have self-published are either pure poetry or heavily laced with poetry. As I have found self-help books to be useful in my life, I also enjoy writing books of that nature as well.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I was a small child, being published in a literary magazine at the age of 14 gave me the encouragement to continue writing. Throughout my adult life, I have been lucky enough to hold many positions where writing was an integral part of the job.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

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What Teasers Do People Want?

So, I’m scratching my head on what to choose for Teaser Tuesdays.  I can pick from everything, except Bedlam, and that gives me a lot of space to work with.  So, I’m going to open the floor to see if anybody has any requests.  In fact, I’m also going to put a really big poll where people can vote for more than one choice.  Gives me plenty to work with since I’m not promoting a specific book for a while.  So, here we go:

Pretty big list, but I have 20 big works to use.  Well, 18 since I’m not using ‘Crossing Bedlam’ and ‘Chasing Bedlam’.  Not unless people really want those two in the mix and say so in the comments.  By the way, everything that gets a vote will get a Teaser Tuesday, but I’ll just go in highest to lowest order.  Thanks for the help.  If this fails then I’ll just put all of the titles into a random order generator, so don’t feel pressured.

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How To Help Your Children Love Books

Nicholas C. Rossis

Kids' library | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksAs the wee one is now at an age when she’s starting to read, I have been wondering how I can help her enjoy reading. Recently, I came across a two-part post by Jennie, a teacher of thirty years, titled Language, Literacy, and Storytelling. She shares there some remarkable statistics which gave me pause:

  • Every child wants to read when they begin school.  Enthusiasm is 100%.
  • By fourth grade, only 54% read something for pleasure every day.
  • By eighth grade, only 30% read for pleasure.
  • By twelfth grade, that number has dropped to 19%.

Teach your children to read | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book Image: jenniefitzkee.com

As Jennie points out, the key word here is pleasure. We drown our children with so much reading that they learn to associate it with drudgery. In their minds, reading becomes synonymous to homework. Is it any wonder they start avoiding as soon as they’re allowed to?

On that note, I…

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Why readers aren’t reviewing your books – by Sandra Beckwith…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

on Build Book Buzz:

When my first book was published in the dark ages – the 1990s – I didn’t have to think about online reader reviews.

Amazon was only starting to sell books when WHY CAN’T A MAN BE MORE LIKE A WOMAN? was released in the spring of 1995; Barnes and Noble was still a strictly bricks and mortar business.

That meant that reader reviews came in the form of good, old-fashioned, word-of-mouth  recommendations among friends. If you liked a book, you told someone: “You will love this book.”

It was a pretty simple process.

Continue reading HERE

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