Here are two of the most pervasive and enduring influences on me, as I make my way through the writing of this work of fantasy fiction.
First, Edith Sitwell’sEnglish Eccentrics, which has a chapter on Ornamental Hermits. Some of England’s “landed gentry” really did hire ornamental hermits to flit about in the shrubbery for their amusement. I believe this should be a 21st century career choice, with better wages and job security, even a union, of course! The San Francisco Chronicle once rejected my (somewhat satirical, somewhat serious) advocacy of a unionized Hermits Guild as a career option for people in need of work (I would have applied!), but the editor did compliment me on providing the most obscure literary reference to come across their desks! I still think a Hermit’s Guild could have made neat use of cast-off costumes from ACT and Beach Blanket Babylon!
Secondly, Tom o’ Bedlam, a poem written (most likely) in the 17th century, author unknown. And this musical version by the Rude Mechanicals. The late Michael Rossman, of Free Speech Movement fame, is the vocalist. Nay, more than a mere vocalist! He became Tom when he sang. Should this book ever be made into a movie, I’ll lobby hard for this version of the song to be part of the soundtrack. My character, Tomma Bedlam, named zirself after this poem. The “madness” of another character also loosely follows Tom’s trajectory.
I don’t just write fantasy novels about magic, I also study and practice various kinds of practical and devotional magic. Sometimes I blog about this. However I’m solitary, eclectic, and I don’t adhere to any particular “school.” I do describe myself as “witchy” but I’m not part of a coven. I also describe myself as “Lokean” (oath-sworn to Loki) and though I’m a member of The Troth, I don’t identify as a Heathen. It’s probably not surprising that what I learn and do in my own life has a lot of influence on what I write and include in the books. I also feel that the writing process is an act of magic itself.
I wrote a blog in December 2017 about Western Magic Influences and updated it somewhat in April 2020. But there’s a lot that I haven’t included or acknowledged yet. I’m now in the middle of the first draft of the fourth book (The Perilous Past) and find that the Hermits (human students of the Elves) are learning more sophisticated and diverse magic “systems” than I’d originally envisioned, including elements drawn from Westernized variations of some Eastern traditions (e.g., Neo-tantra) as well as the fictitious Elven magic of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Basically, the magic “systems” in these books are a blend of Elven ceremonial magic and Earth-based chaos magic, folk magic, Eastern energetic practices, Western-style sex magic, and the cultivation of ally and devotional relationships with the “other than human” people, both seen and unseen.
Preternatural and Magical Stuff
In The Guild of Ornamental Hermits books you will find time travel and time warps (bubbles out of normal Time/Space); interdimensional beings (Vesta the giant salamander, Elsewherians, Wethrini, and the Elves of course); interdimensional materialization of objects (Septimus Sitwell is a master); shapeshifting (Elves and the Norse deities excel); cosmic devotional practices; supernatural parasites; a magic book; local wights and deities; animism; ancestral relationships; and more.
However it’s not quite “anything goes.” There is magical mentorship (Elves to humans), plus there are protocols, permissions, and care taken to understand the spiritual/energetic impacts of certain kinds of magics and magical traditions in different places and times. This is especially important with regard to their impact on the Mortal Coil (aka Earth, Midgard) and spiritual beings in various localities. The first two books, The Dire Deeds and The Witching Work, are based on the premise that winery heiress Ginger Croom’s attempts to reestablish a 17th century English/Elvish mystery school in Hawai’i was a big mistake–no permission was ever asked or granted by the local powers, including deities–and that this tradition is particularly wrong and destabilizing for a chain of volcanic islands. (This is a metaphor for missionary colonization, if anyone’s interested.)
Elf Ceremonial Magic ala J.R.R. Tolkien and The Untamed
As an homage, I use the Elf deities and Quenya language that Tolkien developed. The Valar and Maiar deities are from his Silmarillion. The deities are often mentioned (in exclamations such as “Varda’s Stars!” and “Tulkas’ Toenails!”) though only Nienna, Lady of Mercy, actually appears in the books as a character. This is because she is channeled by Babe Bump.
I have come to envision Elf ceremonial magic as complex weavings of sound (chants and instrumental music), choreographed dance and movement, and directed energy. (Back in 2016, I originally imagined quasi-Wiccan types of ceremony.) By the end of 2019, just as I was becoming convinced that Elven magic had to be very embodied,steeped in dance and spiritually energetic movements (human examples include Tai Chi, Qigong, Hula, and Anthroposophical Eurythmy), I discovered the Chinese xianxia fantasy series, The Untamed (2019), based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation). The Untamed totally captivated me. In this series, magic was based on cultivated practices and performed with dramatic movements, swiftly flashing sigils, animated paper servitors, and powerful sound waves from Lan Zhan’s magical seven-stringed guqin. This was close to what I had imagined for my own Elves. (FYI, enjoy the fandom at https://modao-zushi.fandom.com/).
I also realized how much the movie version of the Elves in The Lord of the Rings owed to xianxia movies. For starters, compare the costuming and hair styles!
A Little More About My Elves
My original conception of the Elves was part Tolkien and part Emma Bull (War for the Oaks, Finder). I’ve taken Bull’s Elf/Human culture clashes a step further. The Elves in my books are deeply fascinated by human cultures, subcultures, and artifacts (when you’re immortal, how else are you going to amuse yourself?). In fact, three of the Elves mentoring the Hermits of Hermitville are academic specialists in “Human Studies.” Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that the systems of magic they share with the human Hermits blends Elven and human magic traditions.
Here are some of the specific elements.
A Magic Book
For the human “Hermits,” The Book of Moons is their first encounter with a form of magic. Ginger Croom, Hermitville’s founder, has entrusted shy Oyster Olson with her copy of this strange text, shortly before her death. As he shares it with Babe Bump, the two of them begin to suspect a connection between Ginger’s funky “Hermitville” (a farm and arts collective in Hawai’i) and the mysterious Guild of Ornamental Hermits, created by twelve families in 17th century England. The book can become longer or shorter, changing its number of pages. It can also hide things, such as Ginger’s will. Another copy of the book appears later and is swiftly sent to The Realm (Alfheim) for safe keeping.
SpontaneousandCultivated Spiritual Energy: Kundalini and Glamour
Triggered by a mention of the “Secret Salamander” (Vesta) in The Book of Moons, Babe Bump experiences a series of spontaneous kundalini explosions. Like a warped fairy godmother, I’ve given this character something I actually experienced myself. Later Babe is able to hold hands with Oyster and their friend, Tomma Bedlam, and share this rush of energy.
Glysandra Shaki Om, one of the Hermits, teaches Western neo-tantra and comments on Babe’s condition shortly after her first experience. We also discover that Vesta can trigger these energy explosions in humans, though Babe is particularly vulnerable.
Elven “glamour”–a powerful, glowing charisma–is also a form of cultivated spiritual energy. The Elves increase and lower their personal glamour, depending on circumstances. It’s mostly an Elven ability but by the third book Oyster Olson also begins to manipulate his own glamour. Therefore the cultivation of spiritual energy in a physical body is definitely a part of the hybrid magic system used by the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. Such energy powers spellwork as well as individual transformation.
As mentioned earlier, skillful use of sound, music, and movement are also ways to increase spiritual energy. (Let’s not forget breathwork!) Plus, an act of sex magic to boost energy for a magic ritual takes place in the second book.
After her first kundalini experience, Babe Bump begins to experience spontaneous trance and begins channeling. She finds this extremely disconcerting and must learn how to manage. She most often channels Nienna (the Elf goddess) and Vesta, a (Roman) goddess of hearth and flame who is related to Zoroaster (Zarathustra), either as a mother or sister (depending on source). Vesta appears in the book as a giant, Kundalini-triggering salamander who enjoys human architecture (a lot!). In the book Vesta is also presented as “a cousin” to the Hawaiian Mo’o (water lizard spirits).
In these books, the Elves do not seem to function as mediums. It may be a magical talent or tendency of human beings. It is worth noting that in Hawai’i, there is a tradition of mediumship, which usually involves one person serving as a haka (“perch” for the spirits) and another as a kahu (caretaker) (Pukui, M.K., Haertig, E.W., & Lee, C.A., Nana I Ke Kumu—Look to the Source, Vol. 1, Hui Hanai, 1972, p. 46). I am also influenced by what little I know of the Norse tradition of obtaining prophesies and divinations from an entranced Völva (witch), which was part of the magic/sorcery tradition called seidr. The Norse goddess, Freya, was known as a practitioner and teacher of this magic. The Poetic Edda contains two poems of prophecies , Volupsa (Prophecy of Ragnarok) and Volupsa en skamma (The Short Prophecy of Ragnarok) (Crawford, J. translation, Hackett Publishing Company, 2015).
Scrying is the primary form of divination used by the humans and Elves. Norse runes are also mentioned (below). I am not very experienced with runes. I personally prefer to use tarot and pendulums, but these do not really appear in the books.
Meditation and Trance
Focused inner attention is foundational to most forms of magic. Some form of meditation is therefore “a given.” As a professional hypnotist and hypnosis instructor (among other things) I enjoy finding commonalities between self-hypnosis, guided imagery, and some types of magical workings. In the book, Babe Bump is trained in hypnosis though she mostly uses it for stage performances.
The elemental “faery cities” of Finias (fire), Murias (water), Gorias (air), and Falias (earth) are derived from Irish faery traditions and I first found mention of them on the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. These cities are important as they not only inform much of the magic of the books, but Elven genders are also based on the elements and these cities (among other things). The twelve Hermits of Hermitville also work in the elemental city groups based on their astrological signs. During part of their training, each Hermit tries to get a glimpse of each of these cities and their inhabitants. And they were encouraged (via meditation and self-trance) to contact spirits that reside in these cities.
When the Norse god, Loki Laufeyjarson, arrived in the third book (The Queerest Quest) (in the guise of Lucky LaFey, “a handsome drifter,” several Norse references came along with him. However, rune work is the only Northern-derived skill or tradition that the Hermits use (so far). (FYI, Tolkien’s writing was influenced by Northern traditions and he created a set of runes.)
The persecution of European witches forms the background of the fourth book as the reason for the creation of the original Guild of Ornamental Hermits. Some forms of folk or kitchen magic, as well as other forms of contemporary American witchery, may be found throughout the books. As mentioned in a previous blog post, Ariel Gatoga’s Witches Primer was super helpful as I began writing in 2016.
The Hermits are given special substances from The Realm, as well as tools to use. However, the Elves insist that tools aren’t really essential, though they are fun to use.
Ginger Croom secretly researched and recruited her residents of Hermitville and made sure that twelve astrological sun signs were represented. Otherwise, Earth-based astrology doesn’t play much of a role in the books. However star positions are one of several factors that determine an Elf gender (there are 29 in all).
The Guild of Ornamental Hermits was originally formed by the Elves and twelve human families in England. The themes of complicated family and ancestral ties are fundamental to the books. I won’t say too much about this as I don’t want to give any spoilers.
In Hawai’i, among the Hawaiian neighbors of Hermitville, there are also some heavy duty ancestral themes, as well as ancestral relationships with the ‘aina (land). A kapu (sacred) child may be one of the reasons that the Elves have been called in to do damage control at Hermitville after Ginger Croom’s death. The Elves even assist in creating an ancestral healing ritual to rid Hawai’i Island of foreign ghosts who are ancestors of four of the Hermits. This is one of the ways that “the Powers” (deities) of Hawai’i ask the Hermits and Elves to “clean up their mess.”
Personally, I’m heavily influenced by Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine work and his courses in animism. (The influences of ancestors and ghosts is also one of the things I notice and resonate with in The Untamed.)
“Other Than Human” Relationships–Seen and Unseen
Of course my human Hermits form close relationships with their Elven mentors (sometimes jokingly called “Elven Overlords”). The Elves are very tangible and “human” (though their actual appearances are quite different). The Elves have previous associations with the “Twelve Family” ancestors and this determines which Hermit they work with.
Other examples: Tomma Bedlam becomes keeper of the “Wubbies,” magic peach children of great power. Ze loves them dearly. Babe has close associations with Nienna, the Elven goddess, and Vesta, the giant salamander. Breadcrumb (an Elf) bonds with a portion of the “membrane” left behind when Vesta “mates” with Ginger Croom’s cottage. The Elves also encourage the humans to be aware of and conversant with local deities, land wights, and the spirits of objects.
The sacred “Powers” of Hawai’i are not opponents, but they are insistent about the necessity to undo the harms caused by Ginger Croom’s spiritual colonialism and land purchases. The Elves and Hermits do their best to comply. The Powers never interact directly with the Hermits. Instead the Elves serve as intermediaries, as they are experienced with protocols.
As mentioned above, ancestors are among the unseen communities that the Hermits begin to know and cultivate.
The Elsewherian foe known as The Lawyer™ has a devotional relationship to the cosmic goddess, Mal-i-Bu Bar-Bee (who is not an Elsewherian). This is an example of relationships between two “other than human” characters. The selfish Anna Phylaxia (human), who has hired The Lawyer™ to help turn Hermitville into a posh “eco-resort,” has no idea that her lawyer is a preternatural being so this is an example of an inadvertant “other than human” relationship.
The humans and Elves face some dangerous preternatural foes, including the Elsewherians and the Wethrini. But their combat is seldom designed to inflict physical harm. Battles are often contests of wits and reality performances which seek to overwhelm the opponent’s sense of reality or banish them to other dimensions. The theatrical and musical talents of the Hermits are often put to good use in these battles.
Wards and protection rituals are also essential.
This covers almost all of the types of magic and magic traditions found in the four books so far. I can’t promise though that other things might not make their way into the fourth book, which is still in progress. Look to FuturesPastEditions for ebook publication of the first books in early 2021.
Coming soon! A twice-annual magazine devoted to the Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy novels.
Readers will be able to find character bios, submit cosplay photos of themselves as characters, publish fan art, and more!
The first issue will be available on MagCloud.com. in February, 2021. Deadline for submissions, Jan. 15th.
Cosplay and Fan Art Challenges for the first book, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits:
Elf – You’re an Elf named Breadcrumb and you really like clowns. Your toes sound like bells.
Hermit – How would you look and dress if you lived on a post-hippie, post-punk “farm and arts collective” in the jungles of Hawai’i, and you were just getting involved with magic for the first time?
Elf – How do you look and what do you wear when you don’t have to take on a human-like appearance? (Elves in the Realm are multi-gendered and very colorful).
SupernaturalVillains – How would you look and dress if you were an Corporate Elsewherian or an uncouth Wethrini?
Cosmic Goddess Mal-I-Bu Bar-Bee – The cosmic soccer mom with massive power to rend the cosmos with just the tip of her well-manicured fingernail. What does she look like and wear?
Fan Art Challenge – How would you imagine the two Elves, Artanáro Alma (“Nar”) and Fantur Nen (“Nen”) if they were played by Xiao Zhan (as Fantur Nen) and Wang Yibo (as Artanáro Alma) in a movie of The Dire Deeds of the Ornamental Hermits? Hint: Nar and Nen are “Human Studies” experts who have done a lot of field work in Asia over the millennia.
Fan Art Challenge – Tomma Bedlam is an outrageous, redheaded, gender non-binary person who lives in Hermitville. Ze is a performer, a collector of Barbie Dolls, and is a big fan of Tulkas the Laughing Warrior, an Elven deity from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion. How does Tomma look and dress on the farm? Hint: Tomma is really good with a machete.
If you would like to submit a cosplay photo or fan art, please email email@example.com for instructions.
All contributors will get a free PDF copy of the magazine.
Good news! Tomorrow, November 14th, I will sign a contract with Digital Parchment Services to publish the first four books in my Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy series with the Futures-Past Editions imprint. I am choosing tomorrow to sign because it is an auspicious day for me with a New Moon in Scorpio and some good Saturn and Neptune energy.
It’s also just about the middle of NaNoWriMo 2020 – National Novel Writing Month – which begins each year on my birthday, Nov. 1st. I began this fantasy during NaNoWriMo 2016, just as a certain catastrophic election took place in the U.S. That same month I put together a 50 page “resistance handbook” while also banging out 50,000 words of the first draft of The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. The book is set in a communal farm near Pahoa, Hawai’i Island. There are Elves, supernatural and human bad guys, and a number of human characters, “the Hermits of Hermitville,” that I have come to adore. Eventually the book ended up weighing in at over 250,000 words and I worked hard to par it down to about 179,000–still a lot!
My publisher, Jean-Marie Stine, suggested I take the manuscript and turn it into two books: The Dire Deeds of the(etc.) and The Witching Work of the (etc.). The third book, which takes place in California and Oregon, is called The Queerest Quest of the (etc.). (You have probably figured out I like alliteration in my titles.)
For NaNoWriMo 2020, I began working on the fourth book, The Perilous Past of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. As of tonight, Nov. 13th, I am over 23,000 words so far. Tomorrow I plan to leap over the 25,000 word mark.
The Perilous Past weaves together an important love story that triggered the founding of Hermitville; the contemporary struggles of the Hermits to adjust to their new home in Oregon; and the 17th century origin of the Elf/human mystery school known as The Guild of Ornamental Hermits. This was the heydey of the English witch persecutions, so there’s that.
I am, once again, completely in love with the characters who’ve been with me in the first three books. I also have some new adversaries and more about the Guild founders collectively known as “Twelve Families.”
I’m excited by the prospect of completing the fourth book in record time and I am hoping to see all four published in 2021. These are LGBTQIA++ fantasies and offering these books to readers feels so right after the hell of the last administration. It’s a time for joy (as well as hard work), so maybe these books can provide that as we make a better world for us all.
May we all be safe, healthy, and prevail in this very difficult time!
Today I am sharing two illustrations I commissioned from my youngest son, Paul F.S. Bauer, as illustrations for The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. There is a scene in the book where the Elves teach rune casting and I wanted the results illustrated. Paul added the additional design elements, based on his own inspiration, and I think they are perfectly appropriate for an otherworldly divination. And his hand-stippling is truly amazing!
I hope these beautiful illustrations will be published soon, along with the rest of the book!
This one features a reversed Berkana, as this is how it showed up in a rune casting during the novel.
Please do not share these images without permission or credit. Thank you.
I am back firmly in fantasy novelist mode! This past weekend I put some character and plot development changes in place and continued the final edit on Dire Deeds. I updated my lists of Elven (ala Tolkien) names and words; plus revised the list of 29 genders of the Elf world; and sorted and organized several files of character “faces” (a form of fantasy “casting” that helps my writing process). This is a series about “mid-life magic”–most of the human characters are in their forties or older and most are encountering magic for the first time.
The first book, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, is set in a fictitious “Hermitville Farm and Arts Collective” in the Puna district of Hawai’i Island, during a “not too distant future” when the U.S. occupation has ended and the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is rapidly reorganizing. Unfortunately, the Hermits of “Hermitville” realize their own occupation has had unintended mystical and spiritual consequences, causing the Elves of the Realm to return and revive the Guild.
The second, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, is set in Lake County, CA. The Norse god, Loki Laufeyjarson, took over this plot with his search for his final missing child. But an evil Lake County cult leader teams up with a villain from the first book, to dump yet more challenges onto the newly reformed Guild (consisting of the “Hermits” and their teachers and guides, the Elves).
The third in the Series, The Perilous Past of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, will blend a contemporary plot with the origin story of the Guild, created during the times of witch persecution in Europe.
I began writing The Dire Deeds in 2016, during my time in Pahoa. I was very lonely so I began creating characters I wish I knew and a community life I wish I had. And I was homesick for the SF Bay Area. So naturally, these books contain a majority of LBGTQIA+ and BIPOC characters–all of whom get to do magic and have adventures.
Even as a child I never liked my first name, preferring often to simply use the letter “A.” I used to think it was because “Amy” seemed too wimpy and I also resented being named after a character in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (yes, my parents did that). I began to feel better about the name just last year, after I discovered that Amy is also the name of a gender-fluid Goetic demon. (I mean, you can never call a demon “wimpy,” can you?)
As a little kid, I was never an Amy in my imagination. I was Captain Nemo (20 Leagues Under the Sea), or Dr. Doolittle, or Sir Lancelot. I was also, often, a “Pirate Queen.” You see a pattern starting to emerge, right?
In my teens and early twenties, I went along with “being a girl” because I didn’t know there was an option. But I felt uncomfortable, never quite right. I’m artistic, intellectual–never athletic–so “tomboy” wouldn’t fit. I wanted love, so I became “a girlfriend” for a series of boyfriends, later “a wife” and “a mother.” I was and am other things too, but the stakes for success or failure in the gender roles were always the highest, the most precarious. As uncomfortable as I was in them–though I tried my best–I didn’t want to be “a man” or “a boyfriend” or “a husband” either. The concepts of gender neutrality, gender plurality, and gender non-binary, didn’t show up on my radar until I was in the middle of menopause. Yes, there was the old idea of “androgyny” in the 1960’s, and I was often attracted to androgynous people, but that didn’t seem like something I’d be able to do myself.
Anyway, there’s a long story behind all this and I’m not up to telling all of it now. It’s just that I only recently realized that the gift of being unpartnered for the last three years has given me the opportunity to discover an essential core truth. The truth is this: I have seldom felt like “a woman” (pregnancy and lactation the closest thing to experiencing that), though I’ve had to live as one. But I don’t feel like anything super nameable either.
I feel like…a creature…forced to wear an ill-fitting garment that hides zir true beauty. (And is the “garment” only made of ill-fitting concepts or is “the ill fit” more physical? Too soon to tell.) And so today I’ve claimed the pronouns of ze/zir, at last. I may not be able to do much about the ill-fitting garment, especially since the physical aspects are aging, but I can at least claim the right pronouns for myself.
On a literary note: Some readers of earlier chapters of The Dire Deeds have suggested to me that Babe Bump is my alter-ego. But though I’ve given Babe a number of characteristics and background details of my own, she’s not my alter-ego. My alter ego is Tomma Bedlam, if anyone is.
And why I’ve created a new social media group as a place for queer, trans, non-binary and pretty much everyone else who is “othered” and tormented by the soul-sucking, climate-changing, greed-slurping dementors of the world we live in today…
Since 2016, when I started writing The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, I knew that my characters would create a safe, vibrant place for people to learn and enjoy a new kind of magic–something that today I am calling MagicQ. In my second book (close to completion), my characters–including trans guy Oyster Olson, intersex woman Babe Bump, and non-binary Tomma Bedlam–are actively engaged in creating a new Hermitville Center for Arts and Magic as a place of refuge, inclusion, and empowerment for LGBTQIA+ people, and anyone facing violence and discrimination as a result of personal bigotry and systemic injustice.
Two days ago I learned about J.K. Rowling’s most recent transphobic statement on Twitter, in support of a woman who holds hateful beliefs about trans and otherwise gender diverse people, and who believes it is fine to discriminate against them. While I never thought of Rowling as someone who had great politics (I mean, she poured money into preventing Scottish independence, for gods sake…), I was startled and dismayed by her most recent public statement. I hadn’t been following Rowling’s transphobe trajectory but others have, as early as 2018 or before.
My kids (now adults) grew up on the Potter books–along with other, better works of childhood fiction. One of my kids is trans–and I will never forget how dismayed he was when he found out he was not going to Hogwartz when he turned eleven. However, he’s since claimed his place in the worlds of magic and witchery, and has even created a church for LGBTQIA+ people. To work for social change and justice is a magical, transformational act. This is the real thing, not make-believe.
Inspired by both my own kid’s action and the mission of my own characters, I’ve created The Guild of Ornamental Hermits group on Facebook, as a home for magicQ and its practitioners and allies. Since I am also a practicing witch, as well as a writer/blogger and sexologist dedicated to gender equality, as well as a mother–I can do no less and I also pledge to do more!
So, I say to J.K. (who also writes under a male name–go figure!!!) that in my world of magic and literature, she has now become “she who must not be named.” If she ever repudiates her current stance, and educates herself, and humbly serves as a fitting ally to LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized people, perhaps I’ll reconsider giving her a place on my bookshelf again. But til then I’m boycotting. I won’t be giving her books to any more young people.
This month, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits has gained 34,548 words so far, bringing the total word count for the first draft up past 80,000. I just paused at the end of Chapter 25, to do a little updating on this website. I have slightly over 15,000 words to write to meet the NaNoWriMo challenge of 50,000 words in one month.
I’m mindful that I need to wrap up this draft soon, before ending up with an unwieldy word count that no one agent will want to touch. Honestly, though, it’s too much fun to stop writing, so my plan is to wrap up the end and then get started on the first few pages of the third book, if I have to. Then, I’ll rewrite this first draft so that I get a polished second.
The Hermits and the Elves are tangling with yet another supernatural bad guy as they attempt to come to terms with a new setting for their adventures. And the changes are not over yet!
Excerpt from The Queerest Quest of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits:
To hear Lucky tell it, he’d spent a chunk of time hobnobbing with the poshest Sonoma county growers (grapes, not cannabis) and had known Ginger’s parents as well as Ginger. He’d lived on this property as a sort of unofficial caretaker, off and on, ever since their death.
“Why haven’t we seen you before now?” Tomma asked.
“Been away,” Lucky said tersely, through a mouthful of cinnamon-spiced dough.
“Do the Elves know about you?” Roz wanted to know.
“Well of course. I’m rather well-known,” Lucky admitted. He was now wearing a miniature donut on the ring finger of each hand, admiring the look of them.
Oyster rolled his eyes impatiently. Getting the story out of Lucky seemed to be a series of two to seven-word phrases punctuated by sounds of chewing. “She means, do the Elves know about you living here?”
“Ah…” Lucky tried (unsuccessfully) to look disarming and innocent. “…No.”
Tomma, who’d been staring at Lucky with blatant fascination, then blurted out, “We’ve got the exact same hair color!” Ze then looked embarrassed. We all laughed but it was true.
“Yes, we do.” Lucky admitted. “Also the same taste in nail polish.” He pointed at Tomma’s toenails.
“You, me, and every drag queen within a hundred mile radius,” Tomma replied flippantly. Then ze looked at me, “You know, this guy may be shady, but I think I kind of like him.”
“What’s not to like?” Lucky looked hurt—genuinely hurt. It surprised me.
Massive Max spoke for the first time. He’d been hanging back, leaning against the refrigerator, watching Lucky closely. “Dude, you show up out of nowhere on the first day that the Elves are gone, and tell us this story about living here, and, well, it can sound pretty fishy. Understand?”
“Okay,” Lucky said, “you know that little trailer in the garage? Have you cleaned it out yet?”
“Not yet,” Massive admitted. “It’s locked and we just haven’t gotten around to breaking in. And it looks like a mess in there.”
“Here’s the key,” Lucky said, pulling out a Thor novelty keychain with two keys. He tossed it to Massive. “If you go there now and open the cupboard over the kitchen sink, you’ll find a red mug decorated with a picture of a fox, a box of old breath mints, and the title to the trailer in my name.”
Massive was about to check it out when Oyster stopped him and then addressed Lucky, “You just materialized a bunch of donuts. What’s to say you haven’t just materialized those objects into the trailer?”
Lucky sighed. “How hard it is to be believed! Haven’t you learned any truth-telling spells yet? You could try one of those. I’d gladly submit.”