There’s Elves, and Then…There’s Elves!

Who among us does not have a complicated relationship with Elves? Who among us has not received conflicting messages about them? Are they tiny woodland sprites captured by Santa to toil 24/7 making plastic toys with corporate packaging stamped with “made in…” but we know where those destined-for-landfill toys are really from? Do we consider them as related to the Fae, or not? Are we dealing with Elves as Arthur Rackham might have drawn them? Or Elves as Tolkien wrote them? Or are we talking Western filmic Elves, haughty flaxen- or raven-haired beings dressed in Eastern robes lifted straight from The Untamed, those who have little to do with petty human doings?

Whelp, here are some more kind of Elves…

L to R, back row: Gingevus, Nar, Parsifal, Maud, Septimus, Who’s There, Professor Almond, and Hamfast. L to R, in front: Nen and Breadcrumb. With the exception of Almond, all looking pretty much as they do when visiting the Mortal Coil.

The Elves of the guild of ornamental hermits

Once upon a time (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?), the Elves grew bored. Yes, even with all their almost immortal and miraculous powers, and with all the marvels of their Realm to enjoy, a majority of Elves found themselves yawning (“ho hum…”) during the wearisome hours of their days and nights (even during the sparkling noontime hour when all of creation was wont to rejoice and even during the deepest midnight when all of creation’s mysteries opened their eyes to blink at the infinite). Who, or what, could possibly save the Elves from this dismal, existential ennui?

Hoomans, that’s what. Yep, the most perplexing and nonsensical, not to mention deeply destructive, group of beings to ever splatter themselves on the asphalt of the cosmos. That’s right. Humans. The Elves began to watch human hi-jinx from afar, glued to their scrying mirrors, fascinated by the humans inevitable “moth to a flame” trajectories toward dooms both small and large, marvelling at that one good thing that might come of all the current chaos, only to melt away again at the next turning of Time’s Wheel. For the Elves, watching human beings was like having endless streaming channel of sit-coms and horrors, romances and the worst of reality TV.

Elven academia began to take note. Human Studies departments formed. Many Elves were dispatched to the Mortal Coil itself, to perform extensive field work into all aspects of human cultures (high and low) and behaviors (the good, the bad, and the unthinkable). (Of course they had to adjust their appearances and manage their considerable glamour in order to blend in.) Thus it was that Professor Almond (of the glistening gold silk pantaloons above), found himself (they/them pronouns also ok) first in 15th century England. And there he stayed through several centuries (with frequent sabbaticals and even a few rest cures taken back in the Realm). And thus is was that Nar and Nen, members of Almond’s department, also found themselves on the other side of the Coil, spending huge chunks of their careers in the areas that Almond’s English study subjects called “the East.”

From plagues to Pokémon, from wars to witchcraft, from clowning to cribbage, and even from nuclear fission to punk rock fashion, the Elven academics watched and cataloged it all. They wrote papers, they held the Elven equivalent of conferences, and some began to write human-themed epics and create human-themed works of art, never asking themselves if they were appropriating from other cultures. Nar and Nen went undercover into 21st century Asian entertainment industries, even undergoing the rigorous training and competitive psychologies necessary for placement in a “boy band,” never asking themselves if they were weilding magic privileges unobtainable by their fellow trainees. After all, they’d risen through the ranks of many an ancient imperial court much the same way–using magic and depending on their longevity.

Professor Almond, on the other hand, found himself emotionally invested in the fate of those humans he studied and befriended during the difficult years of English witch persecution. His concerns inspired him to create a mystery school start-up, designed to teach certain human beings a hybrid form of Elven and human magic, in the hopes that such skills and perspectives would help change this particular, terrible course of human history. Many of his friends and colleagues, including Nar and Nen, eagerly took on the task of mentoring several generations of twelve human families in magical arts. This mystery school start-up would eventually become known as The Guild of Ornamental Hermits.

All was going rather well until the Professor found himself deeply in love with one particular 21st century human and even engraved her name upon his heart (literally). And when he spilled the beans (a “spillover phrase” smelling vaguely like Pan’s flute and tasting like weasel footprints… The Elves are all synesthetes. Did I mention that?), his human beloved went and did what no human beloved should have done.

But all that is in the books, Gentle Readers and Aspiring Hermits. You will just have to read them.

Watch this new video about my Elves!

As they look in the Realm. L to R, back row: Septimus, Almond, Hamfast, Who’s There, Nen, Gingevus, Maud and Parsifal. L to R, front: Nar and Breadcrumb.

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Numbers Game

Today, apparently The Dire Deeds has rocketed into an unexpected eBook sales rank by being the 13,000th top selling book in Kindle’s fantasy category. My publisher gave me the glad news this morning. This may not sound like much but according to my publisher this is super-encouraging–and somewhat unexpected, frankly–to be ranked 13,000th in this category, out of 900,000 best sellers (out of 6-7 million eBooks published at any given time).

This is quite fabulous news and most heartening, as the other day I tried to donate copies of my book to the local libraries here in Eugene and Springfield. I found out there were various protocols in place, with regard to cataloging and selection, designed perhaps to dissuade wild-eyed local authors from barging in with their books. It was discouraging to see how local authors are disadvantaged under present library systems. We crave readers, after all!

So I said a polite “no” when the Springfield librarian suggested that I donate my precious darling book child to their Friends of the Library sale. (I can give them plenty of other books from my shelves for that!)

Hermes Trismegistus recommends The Dire Deeds. The Sun and Moon agree.

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The Paperback Copies Arrived

My very own copies of my first published fantasy novel just arrived (Aug. 15). I am ecstatic! (Can’t wait to see the second book, The Witching Work, in print too!)

FYI – Other readers who have received the paperback edition already mention that they are quite happy with the book quality (cover, paper) and somewhat larger print. You can order it here.

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August 1st & Aug. 12th – Dire Deeds Publication Dates!

Publication due August 1st!

August 1st was the publication date of the ebook version of The Dire Deeds, the first book in my queer, urban fantasy series. August 12th was when the paperback edition became available.

As of June 27, readers were able to pre-order the ebook (Kindle, etc.) through Amazon.

The second book, The Witching Work, and third book, The Queerest Quest, should follow fairly quickly, hopefully out in the fall.

Please join me in co-creating a vibrant fan community and supporting my creative efforts by signing up for a Charter Membership in a real life Guild of Ornamental Hermits via Patreon.

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Showing Off the Book Covers

Yes, I am plastering these covers all over my website and other social media, but oh my! I am so pleased with them! The cover design is by Frankie Pauncevolt Hill at Digital Parchement Services and the artwork is by “Bettibup33.”

I am so happy. So very, very happy! And soon, the first book will launch! The book will be an eBook and paperback published by Strange Particle Press, an imprint of Digital Parchment Services, and will be distributed through the Futures Past Editions website, plus half dozen other places including Amazon. Here is my author page on Amazon.

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The Mysterious Book of Moons

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 along with several mysterious “Hermits.” The book has strange properties, it 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.

The Book of Moons also may have an image of Hermes Trismegistus on its frontspeice (though not the one above).

It’s not yet clear what function The Book of Moons serves. Is it a grimoire? A genealogy? A coded reference manual? It’s said that only twelve copies exist, one for each of the twelve families, but is this actually true?

We’ll find out. I’m certain of it.

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Magical Mentoring in The Guild

Here are the Elves (on the right) and their human students (at left). Artanaro Nar and Who’s There work with two Hermits each. Hamfast started working with Frank first, but when Frank leaves in the second book, Hamfast ends up working with the newest Hermit, Sophie Lokisdottir. The rest of the Elves teach magic to only one person apiece.

In The Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy novels, these Elves have also worked with one or more of the ancestors of each of their human students, dating from the 17th century onward. These ancestors were members of the Twelve Families who helped the Elves to found the ancient mystery school, The Guild of Ornamental Hermits. Sophie Lokisdottir is the exception. Hamfast has not worked with her ancestors.

All character images created via HeroForge.com.

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The Guild’s Most Romantic Pairings

Yes, these four dyads are the most swoony, as far as I’m concerned. However The Guild of Ornamental Hermits, consisting of human “Hermits” and Elves from The Realm, with a little help from Lucky LaFey (aka Norse god Loki) and assorted members of his extended family, contain many other passionate pairings and groupings. And not all dyads are exclusive.

L to R: Who’s There, Septimus, Babe, Oyster, Tomma, Maud, Parsifal.

The overlapping relationships: Babe and Oyster are deeply in love, but Oyster is asexual (though panromantic). So Babe sometimes spends “quality time” with Who’s There and Septimus. Tomma is also important to both Babe and Oyster, and they’ve even proposed to zir, as a unit! Tomma loves them back, but also has a new love, Parsifal. Parsifal is married to Maud and they have a child, Breadcrumb. So Tomma’s relationship with Parsifal also includes a relationship with Maud. (Elves are usually pansexual.)

But wait, there’s more!

Few divorces have been as amicable as that of Maximus Gordon and Sybil Perry. For many years they were together as the progressive folk duo, Gordon & Perry. They moved to Hermitville about twenty years ago and Maximus, a man of many skills and abilities, designed and built quite a lot of the eco-pods and other buildings. Sybil helped run a music program in the public elementary schools in Puna, and the two of them settled into life in Hawai’i Island. However, after a time, they decided to end life as a married couple and continue as friends. When Maxine arrived in Hermitville sometime later, Maximus was smitten and the two of them fell in love. However, neither of them would commit to monogamy, and when Maximus confessed his past explorations in kink with his ex-wife Sybil, Maxine became intrigued. Maxine and Sybil also became good friends and eventually lovers. Thus a fond kinky triad rooted and grew in Hermitville. There’s no doubt that they all have each other’s backs as well as each other’s kinks.

Sidley Croom and Joe Hillstrom have a complicated, on again-off again, relationship. They were together for many years in San Francisco, but when they broke up Joe moved to Hermitville at Ginger’s request. When Sidley moved there too, they got together again, sometimes as friends with “benefits” and sometimes trying for something that felt more permanent. But it’s been hard for both Joe and Sidley to strike a balance between their outside interests and their own intimacy. In the books, Sidley has flirted with the creepy Stanford Lawsome (Anna Phylaxia’s personal assistant) while also entertaining some fantasies about Anna. Sidley was also intrigued by both Septimus and Maud when the two Elves–posing as European circus and cabaret performers–set out to deliberately distract Sidley away from the Hermitville property, for an afternoon of dining, drinking, and hiking (never a good mix in Puna!).

As for Septimus and Maud, well, they have history too…

For more on relationships in The Guild of Ornamental Hermits, read an earlier blog post, You Need a Scorecard to Keep Track.

Life in Hermitville

What’s it like to live in a quirky, funky, queer-abundant, intentional community in the middle of a lush, tangled jungle? Well, for the “Hermits” of Hermitville, life is usually pretty good–play music, garden, take care of the goats and chickens, play music, make jam, sell at the Maku’u Farmers Market, garden some more, cultivate a complicated personal life, make art, put on shows for the local community, replenish the jam supply, and so on. That is, until the founder suddenly dies, noxious real estate developers want to take over, Elves appear, and the mysterious Book of Moons knows all but won’t tell all.

The books are set in a “not too distant future,” when the United States has ended its occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and the lawful government is reconstituting itself in earnest. All “transplants” must now decide whether to naturalize as Kingdom subjects or return to their points of origin. The Hermits were facing this choice anyway, but with all that’s going on now, can Hermitville really survive? And–more importantly– should it?

Video: Life in Hermitville. Enjoy!

The Incredible Unstrung Band as rendered via HeroForge.com

The Cosmic Soccer Mom, Mal-i-Bu Bar-Bee

In The Guild of Ornamental Hermits, the Elsewherian known only as The Lawyer™ is a secret devotee of “the Cosmic Soccer Mom,” the dreaded (yet sometimes strangely merciful) multi-dimensional goddess, Mal-i-Bu Bar-Bee. The Lawyer™ is startled to find representations of his beloved goddess in toy store windows on Earth, and understands that these supposed children’s toys contain awesome cosmic power, just waiting to be unleashed in all backwaters of the cosmos (such as Earth).

While one can be somewhat sympathetic to the fervent devotions of The Lawyer™, it is easier to condemn zir role in attempting to turn Hermitville into a posh eco resort at the behest of the archvillain, Anna Phylaxia, CEO of Anna’s Wicked Wares (purveyor of a line of fine BDSM-themed housewares, table linens, china, shower curtains and cutlery.)

The character of Mal-i-Bu Bar-Bee is an “Easter Egg” homage to an early (1990s) internet prank, a satirical letter in response to a supposed submission of an “ancient hominid specimen” to the Smithsonian Institute. I’ve always loved this letter, which I have discovered again, reprinted from T.H. Gray’s blog: https://peabodyslament.wordpress.com/…/smithsonian-barbie/

[Beginning of letter]


Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078


Dear Sir:
Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled “211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.” We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents “conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.” Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the “Malibu Barbie”. It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:

The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.

The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.

The dentition pattern evident on the “skull” is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the “ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams” you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:
A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.
B. Clams don’t have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating’s notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.

Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation’s Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name “Australopithecus spiff-arino.” Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn’t really sound like it might be Latin.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a Hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation’s capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the “trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix” that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,
Harvey Rowe

Curator, Antiquities

[End of letter]

Mal-i-Bu Bar-Bee, as rendered via HeroForge.com