About C. A. Sanders

Hi, everyone. I am a semi-established writer of fiction and non-fiction. I live in Rockland County, NY, where I ply my trade and occasionally get paid for it. You can see my full website, with links to published work and my blog, at www.casanders.net

The Day I Took A Piece of the Rainbow

Here’s yet another story fairy tale, this one in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been telling a version of this at SCA events, but I finally wrote it down. Some form of it will likely end up in the Watchmage anthology. Enjoy.

(BTW, The first book in the Watchmage Chronicles is still only 99 cents. If you like these shorts, support your humble writer friend and pick the book up.

Watchmage black

One day, I fell in love with a fair maiden, but she would only marry me if I brought her a present of great worth, one that no one else could ever possess. Being the man that I am, I swore that I would bring her a piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms, or never return.

I sailed to find the end of the rainbow, where I could chip off a piece. Who would miss a tiny piece? I thought.  So, we sailed to the North, the West, the South, and the East. We sailed in the circle…we were all pretty drunk.

But I followed that rainbow. I went by sea and by sail, rode over hill and dale…even over Chip. Finally, I came to the end of the rainbow. It ended at the roof of a stone guard house, and in front of the guardhouse was a fierce leprechaun, armed with a mighty hammer that he held with two hands. Around his neck was a tiny piece of the rainbow.

Leprechaun

The leprechaun growled as he waved his hammer at me. “Ye canno’ have me gold, b’hoy. Leave, afore I squash ye flat.”

“I don’t want your gold, only a piece of the rainbow.”

“Wha’?” He stepped forward to squash me flat, or at least my kneecaps.

“I brought gifts” and I retrieved four bottles of whiskey from my cart.

“Leave da whiskey,” he said. “Now move yer feet backward.” He slapped his hammer against one hand.”

But I knew a secret about leprechauns. They can’t resist a challenge. I looked at the stone wall of the guard house. “I’ll wager with you that I can knock down this wall with four strokes. If I win, you give me a piece of the rainbow. If I lose, I’ll give you this whiskey, and you can squash me flat.”

The leprechaun laughed. “Wager accepted! These walls have lasted a thousand years. That whiskey and yer squashed head are mine!”

So I went to the wall and stretched as if I was ready to perform some great feat of strength. I raised my hand over my head. “Here goes…”

*knock* upon the wall. *knock* in front of my eyes. *knock* at my waist. *knock* at my knees.

I turned around and grinned.

The leprechaun looked at me dumbfounded, his hammer fell to his side, for he knew I had won. I knocked down the wall.

curing in Gaelic, he snatched the piece of the rainbow hanging from his neck and threw it at me. I left him the whiskey, for I knew that he’d need to drink his sorrows away.

And I returned to my love and presented her the piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms. But she refused me. She instead chose a man with a…bigger charm.

And that is why I wear this chunk of rainbow around my neck. It’s not the size of the charm that matters. It’s how you win it.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

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Upon a Distant Tide

Here’s yet another tale, told from the POV of my SCA persona and meant for oral presentation. I’m sure that another version will find it’s way into the book of short stories in the Watchmage world. They always do.

When I was away on a voyage, my betrothed, my loving sea, died of a fever. I returned home to the news, and raged that the fire in her soul consumed her body. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and I swore that I would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods, and bring her back to the living.

Six months later, my captain, Cornelius van Corlear, agreed to my request, and he sailed to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druid religion, and where stood an entrance to the Otherworld. He gave me one week to return, or he would leave without me.

I left and found the famed cave to the Otherworld, and there I drank the rye-blight tea. I entered the cave and soon lost my senses.

crystal ship

When I awoke, I was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, and the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was the God of the Sea and patron of sailors, Manannan Mac Lir. “You should not be here, Drustan of Nordenfjord,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” I said. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And I spun him my tale, and of my love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day I was not there to save her.

He shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, for that loving sea you dream of has flowed to a distant tide.”

“Please…PLEASE…bring her back to me.” I pleaded, but the god was unmoved. I panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. I looked at the shadowy oarsmen.

“I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her to life. I swear it upon the sea!”

The Sea God smiled for he believed my oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

I stood puzzled at his words and broken at his denial.

“Your offer pleased me, Drustan of Nordenfjord, and in these times, I am rarely pleased. So I will explain and share a secret of the gods. We live backward in time. We were born weak as kittens at the Sun’s final death. We grow stronger every day before, and at the height of our might, we will die setting the foundations of the Earth. Your past is our future.

I wept, for Manannan Mac Lir never lies. My loving sea was upon another tide and sailing backward would only leave me alone and adrift.

Finally, I said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Six months before now, please visit my love and give her three kisses: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together again in the Otherworld.”

The great god agreed, and I lost my senses once more, awaking in the cave alone with my memories.

I returned to my captain and we sailed off to a new adventure. And once more I searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And I found her.

Like this story? Then you’ll love my series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents! Come visit a 19th century New York, where a world of magic and supernatural beings exists beyond the riches of the Upper Ten Thousand and the grim deaths of the poor.

Watchmage black

doge in space card redux

EKCoP Assembly, and My First Performance

On Saturday, I did a thing. For me, it was one of the bravest I’ve ever done.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I joined the SCA in the fall, and became interested in Bardic recitation and performance. I did a very short story on Novice Day in front of a giant crowd of…three?..Four?.. It might have well been a hundred, for I was terrified. But I did it and I was hooked.

Saturday was an event for bards called the East Kingdom College of Performers Assembly and University. I not only taught a class on story structure (which I’ve done before at libraries so I wasn’t that worried) but I got up on stage and did two separate performances. Both were original pieces. I’ll post them below.

This is the first one that I did. I swear that I was trembling inside, and hoped that I wasn’t trembling on the outside too.  

This was the second one that I did. I felt a little more comfortable, but still nervous.

 

So why is this such a big deal for me? After all, I teach. I get up in front of kids all the time and talk away. I’ve even taught adults.

When I was a kid, I was impossible to understand. My voice was so garbled that no one knew what I was saying until aged 4 or 5. I had years and years of speech therapy and orthodontics (head gear, lip bumper, retainer, braces, the whole thing), to fix my crooked, chaotic mouth. Even then, my voice was still whiny and the target of many a bully.  (I still get mocked for my voice by students. It’s a very sore spot for me). Add in that I once literally froze while giving an oral report in college, and I have all sorts of anxiety problems.

This was a big freaking deal, and I’ve proven to myself that I’m not the unintelligible child that I was. I killed that monster that’s been hounding me as long as I can remember. Yes, my voice is still weird, but it was much, much worse.

I’m looking forward to more of this. I have many stories in my head that need to come out.

doge in space card redux

The Fox and The Grapes

Okay everyone. Here’s another fractured fable for you. I bet that you know the original…This one’s a little different 😉 Like the others, they’re slated for a companion book to the Watchmage Chronicles (Book 1: The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Get hooked on the series now, so you can snark about how you discovered it first)

Once, but not so long ago, there was a great vineyard surrounded by great hills and cliffs. All animals loved the grapes for they were sweet and tasty, each flavor slightly different, a paradise for those that partook.

All the animals were happy, except for the foxes. The foxes had heard that somewhere in the vineyard were the legendary Alabaster Grapes, a plant that produced the perfect flavor. For the foxes, only this perfection would do.

Two fox brothers searched the vineyard for the Alabaster Grapes. They sampled from every plant they could find–some plump and purple, other a green approaching the alabaster they were searching for. Though they were all delicious, they were not the grapes that the foxes were looking for.

Fox-and-the-Grapes-story

While the second fox became despondent, but decided to settle on the bunch of grapes that he liked best, the first fox became filled with anger.

“How can you settle!?” Demanded the first fox. “Nothing else will do. Only the Alabaster Grapes are worthy.”

“The Alabaster Grapes are just a legend, my brother,” said the second fox. “We must make do with what we have, for there is no perfection, but things that approach it.”

“No! I hate all these grapes. I will never back down, and these grapes are standing in my way. They are now my enemy.”

“But they’re delicious.”

The first fox was so enraged by his brother’s wisdom and pragmatism that he decided to teach him a lesson. The fox grabbed a branch from Mankind’s famed Red Flower, the one that brought light and heat.

The fox set his brother’s grapes aflame with the Red Flower. “This will teach you for settling. You deserve this!” And his brother’s weeping enraged the first fox even more. He set every plant in the vineyard on fire, watching with glee as they burned.

But the Red Flower is insidious and burns all its path. The flames spread red across the land. All the animals except those living high in the hills were burned to death or fled far from the vineyard. Even the second fox died in the flames, and the first fox felt no guilt for his brother’s gruesome death.

From high on a hill facing outside of his burrow, the first fox watched the carnage. “Those grapes were sour anyway,” he said. He curled up in his burrow, satisfied with all that he had done.

Now, years later, the vineyard began to recover, and delicious, plump grapes reached harvesting time. And the fox began his quest for the Alabaster Grapes again. And the Red Flower was already between his jaws…

The moral: Just because something isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you should destroy it. You never know the consequences.

Like this story? Than you’ll love my historical fantasy series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book is only 99 cents and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Watchmage black

doge in space card redux

Song of Simon: Current Status

The bad news: A couple of weeks ago Caliburn Press, the current publisher of Song of Simon, went out of business. This left SoS up in the air and me struggling to get the publishing rights back. I did get them back when Caliburn took SoS off of Amazon.

The good news: I have the rights back and can now self-publish it. I’m tired of publishers that don’t care and I’m tired of unscrupulous agents.

The heckin frustrating news: I have to reformat it, re-edit it, and buy new cover art. This is all time and money, and I’m strapped for both. I also lost all of the reviews connected to it. I want to finish the 3rd Watchmage novel. I have short stories to write and bardic stuff for the SCA. I don’t know when I’ll have time to get SoS done again.

SoS Practice Ad 1

My question to you, good readers: Do I drop everything, but the current cover art, and republish SoS right away, or do I do a full re-edit and then buy new cover art before I publish it? It needs a re-edit. I’m a much better writer now than I was 6 years ago, when SoS came out. People seem to love the book, but I know that it can be better.

Maybe this is my chance to write the other 2 books in the planned trilogy.  Maybe it’s meant to be. I love writing Watchmage, but I’ve been working on those books for 6 years now. I need a change.

Change is good, right?..Right?

doge in space card redux

 

When Writing Stops Being Fun

Why doesn’t this spark joy anymore? What don’t the words make me happy?

I honestly don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t seem to get the same pleasure out of writing as I used to. Maybe it’s because I’m having trouble with this 3rd book in the Watchmage Chronicles. Maybe it’s because I’m burned out on promoting and sales are showing that. Maybe it’s because three publishers that have owned my novels have gone bankrupt. Maybe it’s because working at something you love means that you never stop working, and that love becomes a chore. Maybe I’m no longer amazed.

I haven’t blogged in a long time, and I don’t understand why. Writing used to be my constant Northern Star to sail the seas by. Now I’m constantly in the dark… I’ll be at the bar.

I need to be inspired again.

Maybe this is why I’ve been so depressed. I’ve been uninspired, so I lose the joy of writing. Without that joy, I’m uninspired, and so on. Wheels within wheels in the windmills of my mind. And while I used to tilt at those windmills, now I fall off my horse onto a dusty spring field. Even creating a trail of seemingly unrelated metaphors that lead into each other in obscure ways gives me only a small amount of joy. It was a happy accident, anyway.

Okay, it felt kinda good.

doge in space card redux

 

Reunion

Last night I went to a reunion of sorts, and it turned out much better than I expected. Backstory: When I was a teen, me and all of the other local scummy people hung out at a local coffee house. The owner was an ex-cop that sold drugs out of the back of the shop.  He was also allegedly banging an underage employee, but that is just (likely) rumor.

I didn’t get along with everyone there. I was shy and weird. But I had a small circle of friends that I was very close to. Over the years, we didn’t lose touch, but they moved away one by one.

For the past few years, my best friend from the group has been coming back every christmas time, and a couple of us would get together and have a few beers. This time she thought it’d be a good idea to have some more people, and to have it at the bar where the owner of the coffee shop now bartended.

So one friend created an event on Facebook. And it grew. And it grew. And it fucking grew like an out of control giraffe erection. All the people that I hated and caused massive amounts of drama were coming. At one point the Going or Maybe Goin list was over 100. I started to dread it.

I should not have been afraid for flakes will always be flakes.

Only a small amount of people showed, 20 at the most. Most I was friends with, and I found that the formerly obnoxious ones were…still obnoxious but not as bad. In all, it was a great night that I thought would be an awful one.

So I raise a glass to good cheer. May all people we dislike turn likable in time or turn away.

doge in space card redux