This week Queen Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest serving Monarch. We may not be royalty but this seems the perfect time to tell you about the time we took an imaginary trip across the pond.
It might sound completely mental to imagine we are traveling to the UK, but until we make “The Guardian Bestseller List” or our books are made into movies (we can dream) we’ll just have to pretend we’re visiting the places in our stories.
Start the day out with a Classic British Breakfast
fried eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, toast & tomato
Play a Very British Game of Dr. Who Yahtzee
Or watch “Doctor Who” while noshing on Jammie Dodgers
Visit a Local British Restaurant
Fish and Chips for Lunch
Spend the afternoon reading the words of a British Author.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bront, Emily Bront, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, and Agatha Christie…just to name a few.
Decorate the dinner table for a “Doctor Who” Dinner
Yummy fish sticks and custard
Cassandra Pizza and Bow Tie Pasta
So, if you ever do get to Jolly Ole England, remember…pants mean underwear, sweaters are called jumpers, and trainers are tennis shoes.
If you’re not too knackered from the “trip” curl up on your settee with a cuppa and read this scene from HOLLOWED HUMUSARA, introducing our favorite “Britishy” butler, Chesterfield.
At that moment the castle’s ornate wooden doors swung open and a slender man descended the stairs. He wore an old fashioned black tuxedo with long coat tails, a crisp white shirt, and a bow tie. His salt and pepper hair was meticulously combed back. Skylee thought he looked like he had just stepped from the pages of a Jane Austen novel.
Chrism, who was still slightly out of breath from dancing, stepped up to Skylee and let out a soft snort. “Where’d Phileas find him, Buckingham palace?”
Skylee gave her sister a poke in the ribs without taking her eyes off the approaching man. “More like the Antarctic,” she murmured back, resisting an urge to laugh.
“What the heck?” said Chrism, wrinkling up her forehead.
“Antarctic…penguins?” Skylee softly replied. “Get it?”
“Oh, I got it” she said, rolling her eyes. “Honestly, does everything have to be about wildlife with you?”
Skylee shrugged and grinned.
“Welcome to Mogg Castle,” said the man when he reached the bottom of the stairs. “My name is Chesterfield, the caretaker here. ‘Tis a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He spoke in a prim and proper British accent.
Skylee noticed something odd about him. His facial features seemed almost immobilized. But before she could study him more closely, a squeaky little meowing sound caught her attention. A rather large cat with fluffy orange and white fur had followed him down the steps. As the caretaker introduced himself to the adults, the cat scurried up and rubbed against Skylee’s legs.
Kneeling down, she stroked it gently. “Ooo, such a big kitty, she cooed. “Yes…let’s see…are you a Maine Coon? I think so…yes I do… Aren’t you a good…uh, girl? No…no, you’re a boy…aren’t you?”
“Aaaaw,” said Chrism, joining her to pet the cat. “Look at him, he’s so gorgeous! And he reminds me of someone.”
And just like that, Skylee was struck with an unnerving thought. Ever since her sister had turned into a bear and then a snake—not to mention seeing Levi, the Silvereye, flying around her hotel room—she couldn’t see animals in the same way. Now, she found herself wondering if they were a Corporus.
Well, if I could shift I’d be a cat, she thought, looking closer at the kitty. His large eyes shone like golden glass and his fur felt too soft to be real.
“Hello young miss,” said Chesterfield, bowing slightly to Chrism, and then pivoting to bow to Skylee. “Miss Porter, I see you’ve met our resident cat.”
Skylee stood. “Oh, hi—yes sir—we have. What’s his name?”
“We call him Mr. Chi.”
“Oh, what does it mean?” asked Skylee.
“The name has many meanings,” he said. “In China it is the energy of life or literally air, and the traditional unit of length, sometimes referred to as a Chinese foot. It can also mean dragon. In Greek it is the twenty-second letter in the alphabet. And in some urban settings it means an extremely attractive person, a hottie.”
“Er, well, thanks,” muttered Skylee, glancing over at Chrism, who stood gawking at Chesterfield as though he had just spouted a second head. “That was a very, um, very thorough definition.”
“You are welcome, miss.”
“Huh—can’t believe it,” Chrism muttered under her breath. “He might actually give her a run for her money.”
“Who?” asked Skylee with furrowed brows. “What are you talking about?”
Her sister smirked. “I’m just saying that Chesterfield here reminds me of another Wiki-fact wizard I know.”
“You are mistaken, miss,” said Chesterfield in a corrective yet tactful tone. “It is true that my data is accessed via Internet and includes an extensive number of dictionaries, glossaries, encyclopedias and web browsers, but I rarely scan Wikipedia.”
“Ooo…kay?” said Chrism, looking puzzled.
Skylee let out a small laugh and glanced nervously at the caretaker’s expressionless face. Is he for real? she wondered. She was searching her brain for the right thing to say when her mother stepped closer.
“Oh, Pumpkin,” she said, picking up the cat, which had still been weaving in and out of Skylee’s calves. “He seems to really like you.” She handed the furry feline to her.
Skylee cradled him in her arms. “He’s so perfect.”
“Correct, young miss, he is an android pet, a DroidCo Nine model. Mr. Mogg has equipped the manor with the finest technology, take myself for example I am a DroidCo Generation Twenty.”
“You’re an ANDROID!” Chrism blurted out, and then clamped her hand over her mouth.
Everyone stopped talking and looked at Chesterfield.
Have you ever dreamed of visiting the places in a book?
We have…especially our own.
How fun would it be to go to New Zealand, the land of Hobbits, Elves, Wizards, and Primortus. Okay, let’s go! But wait, there might be a few roadblocks like work, family obligations, and of course the BIG one…MONEY!
What’s an author to do?
Well, if you can’t bring the Writer to Middle Earth–Bring Middle Earth to the Writer. Come along with us as we take an imaginary trip to the places in The Primortus Chronicles WITHOUT breaking the bank!
“VISITING” NEW ZEALAND
Step One-Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Decorations
Golden Table Cloth, Green plates, SharpieMarker, Gold Circle Sticker, Plastic Drinking Cups, Gold Utensils, and Yellow Hula-Hoop…….*Swimming Pool Optional
Step Two-Hairy Hobbit Feet and Glowing Sting
Cheap Flip-Flops, Brown Yarn, and Light-Up Foam Swords
New Zealand Foods
Do a bit of research for recipes-We made Meat-Pies, Onion Rings, Veggies, and Pavlova. We found the Jaffas and Violet Crumble Candies online. Unfortunately, L&P sodas were not available, so we made-up our own recipe by mixing 5 drops of Lemon Juice with Sierra Mist Soda. Then we simply poured it into a brown bottle with labels we printed.
Step Four: HAVE FUN!
Documentary about Middle Earth, Throwing the One Ring Into Mordor and Bilbo’s Fireworks
Television, Sparklers, and a Vivid Imagination!!
If you would like to read our books click the link below…
#10. Reading makes you smarter. Yes it’s true, avid readers have higher GPA’s!
#9. Cheer up with a good book. Reading activates your frontal lobe. Studies show it lights up the area of your brain that improves mood. With a few exceptions…”The Road” for example.
#8. Escape! Jumping into the pages of great book can take you to faraway lands and exotic locations.
#7. Improved Vocabulary. Reading not only increases your language skills it improves spelling.
#6. Be the of the Life of the Party. A good book gives you something to talk about.
#5. Save Money. Think about it…movies cost $10-$12…
e-books are cheap. Where else can you get hours of entertainment for a few bucks?
#4. Relieve Stress. Go on, turn off that TV, open a book and you’ll see.
#3. Make good choices. Improved decision making is another well know benefit of being well read.
#2. Develop you Imagination. Shiny Vampires, Lightning Bolt Birthmarks, and Hairy Hobbit Feet…need I say more.
#1. Good Readers make Great Writers.
Watch the crazy authors as they try to explain.
Read an excerpt from
The Primortus Chronicles
Skylee crept into the room, carefully avoiding the open suitcases, shoeboxes and clothing scattered on the floor. Dressing for the wedding had created quite a mess. She had wanted to clean it up, but her almost stepsister insisted that her father had hired people to do such things.
As she approached the package, her pulse raced. Skylee normally opened a present slowly and carefully like a doctor performing surgery, but her excitement made her eagerly tear through the wrapping.
Inside, cushioned on a bed of crumpled paper, was a brown leather book bound with four gold rings. A diamond shape was carved into the front cover. She held the book close to her heart realizing that it could be her father’s journal, a look into his soul. Turning it over, she examined it more closely and tried to imagine him holding it in his hands. Despite her feeling of excitement, a deep sadness washed over her.
Skylee reached up and pushed back the heavy curtains, flooding the room with sunlight. As she opened the book, a musty odor filled the room even though the cover looked new. She thumbed through the crisp white pages to find page after page of strange hand written lettering, which appeared to be an ancient language. Skylee squinted at the lettering and tried to make out the words.
Holding the book closer to her face, she decided it was a language she had never seen before. Her heart sank in disappointment. It wasn’t her father’s journal. Why…she wondered…why did my dad want me to have a book that I can’t read? She softly placed it on the table and sighed. Then her gaze returned to the package. Maybe there was something else…something that would explain it to her.
She ran her fingers through the crumpled paper and found a smaller box. Her eyes widened as she opened it and peered inside. The box held a beautiful necklace, which appeared to be very old. Upon closer inspection, she realized its dark gray metal shone like new, reflecting tiny flecks of blue. She had never seen a lovelier amulet. Her eyes moved back and forth from the necklace to the carving on the book. They were exactly the same size and shape.
Plucking the necklace from the box, she held it up by its long silvery chain. The medieval looking amulet swayed and sparkled in the light as if it were covered in diamonds. Its circular center was divided into four quadrants, each one with a distinct etching. She brushed her fingers across the symbols wondering what they meant, and then she turned the amulet over. On the back were more etchings. One looked like an inscription and the other was an odd symbol. They appeared to be in the same language as the lettering in the book.
Skylee didn’t know what to make of it, yet she had a strong urge to put on the necklace. Draping it over her head, she crossed the room and stood at the full-length mirror. Her blue eyes narrowed as she frowned at her reflection. She had tried to tame her wavy blonde hair into some kind of twist, securing it at the crown of her head in an attempt to look more mature. Now she wondered if it only accentuated her most embarrassing feature her protruding ears. She brushed an unruly curl away from her face and examined her pale complexion. Maybe the extra makeup was too much. She usually only wore a little mascara and tinted lip-gloss. She shrugged and made a face at herself in the mirror. Then her eyes settled on the sparkling necklace, which was resting on the soft green fabric of her dress.
“So, this is my inheritance,” she said, holding it up.
She curiously gazed at it and, to her surprise, white crystals were forming on its surface. Suddenly a sharp pain seared her fingers and she quickly let go, leaving it dangling from the chain around her neck. The amulet was as cold as ice. Confusion overwhelmed her. Her heart pounded loudly under the freezing metal. She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. But as if being driven by some force that she could not understand, Skylee walked to the book. She removed the amulet and, with icy cold fingers, placed it into the diamond shaped carving.
A brilliant glow grew from the heart of it, intensifying in brightness until its radiance held her gaze. Then without warning a jolt of energy surged through her fingers. She shrieked and tried to pull away from the book, but her hand wouldn’t budge. It was like a
heavy weight was holding it there. She yanked and tugged to free herself, but it was no use.
As she stood rooted in place, the air grew colder. Tiny clouds of white fog floated before her with each quivering breath. In astonishment, she watched as the brilliant light traveled up her arm, making its way to her chest. A tingling sensation spread across her body as if something inside her was struggling to get out.
Gasping for air, she looked down to see a whirling orb of light positioned directly above her heart. Like a bolt of lightning, energy poured through her veins and flooded her entire body. Then the orb burst forth with a column of light, which returned to the necklace still in her frozen grasp atop the book.
Skylee felt as if she were spinning around very fast. It seemed to go on forever. Then, at last, she felt herself coming to a halt. There was a prickling sensation as if dozens of sharp needles were piercing her hand. She carefully released her hold on the necklace and lifted her tingling fingers away from the book. Then, like fireflies flickering in and out, the light faded away.
Unable to look away, she held her breath as she opened the book. Shimmering words appeared on the once unreadable pages as if an unseen hand was translating a secret message. Skylee blinked wildly and shook her head in disbelief as she tried to focus on the page. More words, words she could read, materialized before her eyes. In one swift motion, she gasped, slammed the book shut, and fell back against the couch.
With her eyes shut tight, she could hear her pulse pounding in her ears. Slowly she lifted her eyelids and peeked at the book. She wasn’t sure how it was possible but it seemed to be breathing. Gripped by both fear and curiosity, she edged closer. But the book had changed. Only seconds before its leather had been new and its pages had looked crisp and white, now the edges were worn and the pages were yellowed with age.
“This can’t be happening,” she repeated till she stood in front of the book. With trembling fingers, she opened it and again the shimmering words appeared.
“It has begun…he shall not wait
to bring about a lifeless fate.”
She read the phrase over and over until her head was spinning. Then she cautiously backed away from the book and stood near the door.
There was a long moment of silence, which was broken by a faint high-pitched sound. Someone was whistling a familiar tune, like a child’s nursery rhyme. The slow dissonant melody sent a chill down her spine.
Suddenly a dark movement caught her eye, and the whistling fell silent. A man was standing there, at the window, his eerie silhouette backlit by the bright sunlight. Skylee’s pulse pounded in her throat. She huddled in the dimly lit corner, hoping she was hidden from view. Goosebumps covered her arms as a sinister creak filled the room, and the window swung open. She blinked and tried to focus her eyes.
He was tall, with black hair, and was dressed in a dark blue uniform. His face was so smooth it looked like a mask. The sunlight tinted his high cheekbones slightly yellow, but it was his black eyes that really scared her. They were like dark holes in his face.
The room was deathly quiet. Skylee stood motionless trying not to breathe, as sweat dampened her clothing. The man peered through the open window. He seemed to be scanning the area in search of something, until his eyes stopped at the open book.
“It’s true…it still exists,” he said as he effortlessly climbed over the windowsill.
His swift movement into the room made her let out an involuntary gasp. He froze, then spun around and peered into the corner. The moment he saw her, a low menacing snarl rose from his throat. Terror, greater than she had ever known, swept over her. She felt paralyzed as she stared into his eyes…blue into utter blackness.
Her eyes widened. She was unsure who had called her name. A sharp knock at the door caused her to jump. In an instant, the dark stranger turned and bolted through the window, which slammed shut behind him.
“Skylee, can you come and help your stepsister?” hollered Chloe from behind the door.
Exhaling in relief, Skylee staggered forward on trembling legs and collapsed onto the couch.
“Oh, yes, I…I’m coming,” she called out breathlessly.
She leaned forward and covered her face with her hands to calm herself, but the memory of the man’s black eyes were imprinted on her brain. With adrenaline still pumping through her veins, she struggled to regain her composure.
After several minutes her eyes returned to the window. It seemed to have opened and closed without him ever touching it. She stood, hesitated, and then walked toward it, carefully running her hands around its edges in search of wires. Nothing. As she nervously looked around, she latched the window and checked to be sure that it was locked. She drew closer to the glass and then quickly moved back in fear of his return. Who was he? Was he going to take the book?
“I’d better hide it,” she said under her breath. “But, where?”
Skylee explored the room looking for a hiding place. Inside a supply closet, she found a set of filing cabinets. She slipped the book into a file drawer under a stack of papers, then returned to the empty box and replaced the lid. The box shifted revealing an envelope underneath addressed to Skylee, from Mom.
She snatched up the envelope and turned to leave the room, but something stopped her in her tracks. She spun around and, against her better judgment, returned to the book. She reached out for the amulet, which was still tucked in the cover.
“Ouch,” she gasped, swiftly pulling back her hand and waving her fingers through the air.
It was hot. She stared intently at it. It defied all logic. She couldn’t believe it had gone from freezing cold to burning hot in mere minutes. How? And more importantly, why?