We all remember the first time we thought we were "In Love". Even if the feeling didn't last and we later dismissed it as a crush or infatuation, we remember that overwhelming feeling of bliss.
First Love Day, always celebrated on September 18, salutes that sensation. It has become a day to contemplate and remember the feeling, the person, and the importance they had in our lives.
We often think of this "First Love" as romantic, but it doesn't have to be.
The love might have been a parent, a teacher, or even a pet. Who or whatever it was shaped who we are today. First Love Day reminds us that, for better or worse, our first love shaped us.
So, how do you celebrate First Love Day?
Think about the object of your love and how the relationship progressed. If you’re still friends with them send them a message, perhaps on Facebook, reminiscing about that time in your past and the importance they played in your life. If you can't reach them, write about your feelings and tuck them away for, perhaps, posterity.
My first romantic love was a crush on a boy in eighth grade named Steve. I don't, to this day, understand what the attraction was, but it was soon over. He never knew how I felt. His family moved out of state that summer.
I had a few heartthrobs that followed the same pattern through high school. Eventually, by the time I was in college some young men began to return my attentions, but my loves were first and foremost fantasy men of literature. I was a reader. I loved Herman Melville's tragic story "Billy Budd". My crush was on the ill-fated sailor as he was depicted in the 1962 movie of the same name by a very young Terrence Stamp. This crush grew into a love of the era: Napoleanic War, the romance between Lord Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton and the English Regency. I read non-fiction and fiction alike. Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle - by Georgette Heyer is the story I recall, even though I no longer remember it.
The odd part was that, I saw myself as the wicked uncle; not the heroines of the story. My first novel starred Jamie McPherson, a misogynistic and wealthy disabled Naval Officer who wrote racy short stories and preyed on young women to help him ease his demons. He was part Nelson, part Sylvester and part Byron. I was 16.
In college in 1970, an Introduction to Art Professor handed me a project: "Write about the REAL Atlantis, according to actual legend, rather than the popular romanticized legend. Find Atlantis for me." He also said "Write about the goddess. I have been looking for her for years." Thus Professor Charles Algood at the then Memphis State University became the first prototype for Marai, the seeker of the goddess. He was a tall, once muscular middle-aged man with steel grey hair. He seemed like an almost shy Zeus-like or Odin-like man of few but incisive words who had the power set the students thoughts and creativity on fire. Friends laughingly called him "Father Nature" Although he was not immortal and has been gone for many years, he cemented my search for those people I would meet who had that "heroic" spark of wisdom and immortality. "You will know them when you meet them" he told me. "Just be patient and they will find you." Later in this post, I'll share a scene of Marai and his first true love Naibe, whom he called his "goddess". First, however, let's meet our character of the week!
Last week we met prolific children's author Koos Verkaik. This week we meet his charracter young Alex.
Go ahead and introduce yourself.
My name is Alex. I live in the middle ages and come from the Alps; my father is a tinker. My parents have many mouths to feed.
That is why I left home and started roaming. I ended up at the foot of the Alps, in Cloverland. Giants rule there! Prince Ruff Rumble, also a giant, caught me when I was picking fruits. He took me with him on a giant horse to his black castle – Robber’s Nest.
I was set to work in the kitchen there, where chef Old Burny teaches me how to cook properly for the always hungry Ruff Rumble, his giant wife Bluff and his giant son Bombardon.
Tell us where and when were you born.
I was born in the Alps. I still love the high mountains and the snow-covered tops. More than often I visit a magician there, my old friend Halo. He lives there with a big bee from the mysterious Downhills; when Halo leave the Alps, he rides in the back of the faithful bee.
How would you describe yourself?
I am just a little boy, but everyone expects me to take decisions. The giants are not all too clever, except for our King Clover. They are afraid of mice, always quarrel and always are hungry. I have to follow their orders. When they find themselves in big, big trouble, they demand me to help them.
Tell us about where you grew up.
Actually, I am still growing up… I am a boy amongst adult people, but they always want me to solve their problems. When I was brought to the black castle, a magician drove his wind wagon into the lake in front of it. He was on the run for the royal family: King Clover, Prince Dozen and Prince Prime. The royals thought that magician Halo was able to make gold. Now Ruff Rumble, the youngest prince, threw the magician into prison.
In order to help the poor magician, I had to travel to the mysterious Downhills.
Monsters and dragons live there. And… wolpertingers! Everyone is afraid of wolpertingers.
But I became best friends with Ludo the wolpertinger and together with him I experience one great adventure after the other!
How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
I always try to look at things from the most positive side. I care about people, I care about giants, I care about all the odd creatures in the mysterious Downhills…
I am seldom afraid. Ludo the wolpertinger is a mighty little creature who always helps me. I have lots of friends: Uncle Balloon, Spark the Daredragon, Princess Barbara, Ton-ton the fatmonster and many, many more.
What line will you never cross?
I live in Cloverland now and have to obey the giant king and his three sons. I am not in a position to say no, when they demand me to do something for them.
What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Meetings Ludo the wolpertinger and my friendship with Princess Barbara. They mean so much to me.
Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
When I found myself in the mysterious Downhills, all creatures there thought that I was just a gold digger. But I had come all the way to help and rescue Halo the magician. Fortunately, after lots of adventures everyone there realized that I was no gold digger at all. Now I have lots and lots of friends there, especially in the famous Monster Inn, owned by Waldo the wood mouse and Heros the Hare.
Yes… only Princess Barbara and I know the secret way – under the roots of a magic oak – to the Downhills… No one else can enter that mysterious land but us.
What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
I’m just a boy from the Alps and circumstances brought me in big trouble more than often.
What is your current goal?
I want to see Cloverland in peace, I like to see all the giants happy and I love to go through now adventures in Cloverland and the Downhills…
5 STARS Rich Fantasy with Old World Style! ByLorraine Carey Format: Kindle Edition
Imagine cooking for a greedy glutinous prince who wants to be waited on hand and foot.
Poor young Alex creates a specialty of bread and cheese that just about saved his life from this evil prince. Alex learns Prince Ruff Rumble has captured a magician and is holding him prisoner, demanding that he make gold but his books of magic have been ruined .
Here is where Alex and his pet tomcat, Chum begin their wild adventure as they are led on one wild journey after another to find the gold makers and bring them to the prince. To begin with Alex is shrunken by the magician so he can fit into the tiny tunnels that lead into another realm of the Downhills
The spell also granted Alex the ability to understand all the animals including his faithful friend Chum. They enter this magical world where strange creatures lurk, but some help them find their way to the Monster Inn, where they will hopefully find what they came for. The story is riddled with clues all along for Alex and Chum as their fate depends on finding the gold makers.
The fatmonster becomes a friend when he offers them help crossing a raging river and a place to sleep for the night. They meet up with Ludo, the Wolpertinger who is friendly and leads the way to Monster Inn.
You'll find out why this Wolpertinger is so special and why he wants to help Alex and Chum. Once again Alex finds himself caught and forced to be a cook at the inn serving a bevy of hungry monsters. He does get some help from the waitresses who are bats and a dragon who can heat up food with his flames. His special recipe of bread and cheese will once again get him out of a mess. The mystery continues on as Alex, Chum and the Wolpertinger get closer to finding the legendary gold makers.
Author Koos Verkaik shows off his skill for rich fantasy in this fast paced story peppered with old world style.
I met Mark McQuillen in 2015 at the first Virtual Fantasy Convention I attended. I read his book description, I recognized that he was writing stories not unlike my own. Mortals translated into immortals. Later (Much later) we began the journey of co-writing a story that combined our universes in Black Rose - the Healing.
We were to combine my ancient Egypt with his Norse gods and goddesses, place them in an alternate universe, and move forward. We chose the Elysian Fields; a timeless place of ecstasy.
I didn't think I would be able to do it because at that point I hadn't read his books. Now I have read the first one Valkyrie - Darkness Awaits and cannot recommend it more. Below is my official review.
You know an author has engaged you a reader when you read the last page and quickly seek the next in the series. The world of the Valkyrie wraps itself around you. If begins with Gil Swanson, a veteran with PTSD who meets a mysterious woman. She requests his help.
Somehow he believes he knows her, and realizes he has seen her at various times throughout his life; usually in connection with battle or the memory of war.
She is Mist, a Valkyrie. Now she has asked him to help her defeat an entity known as Malice. He doesn't realize it, but his life is about to take off into the fantastic.
During his journey with her into herr world, he wakens to many truths about his own existence.
The story has action, battle, sensuality, humor and a great fast-pace that is over-all too-soon with a strong lead-in to the next Book Valkyrie - Darkness Rising Buy and read both. Enter Mark's world of unbeatable fantasy and action!
Ah First Love: In my own writing, Marai the Shepherd had worshipped and sung to a fantasy version of the goddess Ashera for years. His version of the goddess had become a lonely man's fantasy of his ideal mate -- a woman who could nurture and heal his heart with her gift of love. In Book 1 Voices in Crystal when one of the women he saves from disease and death is transformed, she becomes that goddess. Horrified, but deep in the throes of first love, he resists her until one night... Get swept up in their romance:
Maybe,he will wake... what then? Should we walk in the Lady's starlight to speak of the sweet star rising in me?
The shepherd's eyes drifted open at the sound of her magical thoughts wafting through his soul. He sensed movement by his side.
In the dimness of the silver moonlight, he saw her sitting on her heels in his side of the tent, facing him. As she put one finger to her lips to hush him, her other hand extended down to his chest, gently touching it.
In his dream, he sat, then rose without speaking to follow the image of his goddess out to a smooth place by the stone-lined well. The shepherd gently placed his travel cloak out on the earth and eased the young woman down beside him.
A blessed dream this is, he thought, looking up at the sky above them. The bow of the Lady as Warrior had risen, positioned as if it was nocked with her star. When he saw this and smelled the freshness of the night air, he wondered:
Or am I awake? Naibe must have waked herself earlier, he returned his gaze to her face. He guessed she had quietly crept to his side of the tent to sit and contemplate him while he slept. That was the moment he felt her thought "Maybe he will wake..." That had roused him, words tugging at his heart; thrilling him as if it had found a great prize.
"More bad dreams, Brown Eyes?" Marai asked after he slung his arm behind her to help her lean against the outer wall of the well. He touched her eyes with his lips, the way a father might kiss and soothe a daughter who couldn't sleep.
"Uh-Huh..." she answered, but he knew it was a lie. It didn't matter.
I touch her and she responds as if she is already helpless. I can't mislead her. It's just comfort, even though most men would take her if they bought her out on a night so full of her own energy and love. Everything would be so right.
Naibe reveled in the thrill of his touch as it stirred her old instincts.
Any other man would beg for what you refuse. she sent he thoughts into his heart. A quiet place under the light of the evening star embraced by the moon. But you are not like other men.When you look into my eyes, or smile at me with that father-like half-smile, it tells me I can trust you; that you already know everything about me, like a god would know. She allowed the power of that thought sweep her away.
The bow of the moon was brighter tonight. It made the silver of his hair glow with such a pretty sheen. All of the voices inside her whispered gentle words through her heart.
Be soft for him
Daughter of the moon,
Woman of the sea and star
The ages watch
Walk with him on the water of the sea
Draw him into your warm ocean
Guide him and rule him
With your power
Heal him with your strength
"Was the dream worse?" he asked
She shook her head “no” then pressed it on his shoulder for a moment, moving her hand around the back of his neck.
Still he cuddles me as if I am his frightened child.
She drew his forehead down to hers, so that the stones in their brows touched.
“It's time” she said. “See, my star has risen..."
The fire of her request raced through his soul and locked itself in his heart. What he had called the "voice of the goddess" combined with a sound composed of a thousand passionate whispers. They spun themselves into her low sweet voice, then raced through every part of his soul. It was the very same voice he had heard throughout all his years of loneliness and prayer. It isn't real, he thought. Words of the goddess... The shepherd stared into her upturned eyes. But she says these words from her own heart...as if she has always been their author. Marai felt elated, yet drowsy at the sound of her yet unspoken words. The world of wilderness and sand were fast slipping away. He was fading into the silent sound of her voice, falling wingless from the highest of mountains, yet knowing no terror of how he would land.
Come to me, lion
This night is not for sleep.
The stars watch for us.
She sighed gently at his lips, echoing over her own voice so that the Children of Stone chanted the words with her and through her. Her fingers caressed his temples, wove through his hair, and traced tenderly behind his ears.
Marai gasped a little, shivering at the way the touch of her fingers transmitted an unearthly glow of bedeviled sparks every place on his body they touched. He knew how much sense being with Naibe-Ellit, she who calls My Lady, suddenly made.
Golden bursts of sparkling stars flashed up in her brown/gold eyes. Her open mouth sighed in joy at his throat, then licked out tenderly at his lips, asking a question with her tongue.
The next author on the guest list is Kayla Matt
1. Who are you as a person? (brief bio paragraph)
I am a workaholic, first and foremost. I’m a shy, socially awkward workaholic that majored in Illustration and uses those skills on an almost daily basis. The writing that I do is mostly done as a vehicle for my illustration work. I tend to enjoy animation, comics, horror movies, and online roleplaying with friends.
2. How long have you been a writer?
I started with writing when I was about…14, I think? My early stuff was even worse than what I do now, and I’d rather not think about some of it. Only parts of it I’m comfortable with are some of the characters.
3. Are you Traditionally or Indie published? If not yet, what are you considering?
I’m an indie author. I like having full creative freedom.
4. What writers inspired you? Favorite Authors?
Not sure…but the first three that leap to mind are J.K Rowling, Jim Butcher, and Stephen King (both inspiration and favorite authors). Also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe.
5. What is your book/series about (elevator speech or quick tweet post)
In a city founded by mad scientists, a city of genetic experiments, cyborgs, and magic users deal with different threats to their lives.
6. What is the setting and genre?
Modern times, alternate history for the setting. The genre’s a blend of sci-fi, urban fantasy, and horror.
7. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I think my two favorites are probably Travis and Ivy. In Travis’ case, it’s that he’s part-monkey (and I happen to love monkeys), and he’s just fun to write. Ivy was the first of the Hell Bent characters I’d ever created, and so has a special place in my cold dark heart.
8. What character is most like you?
Probably Travis: we both tend to think the worst of ourselves at times, and we both love food.
Unlike him, however, I don’t need to eat close to my own body weight each day…he regenerates, and therefore burns a ton of calories when he heals.
9. If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
I would probably want to be able to control the weather. Or teleport. One of those.
10. Would you say your book has a message or underlying theme? What is it?
Message, not really. But the theme may be the importance of family/a strong support system. Were it not for that, neither Travis nor Spencer would be as well-adjusted as they are right now.
11. How are you marketing your book?
I’ve been going for any free methods that I can. Stuff like author interviews, takeovers… I’d go for paid ads, but I can’t quite afford those.
12. Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I can’t think of anyone specific.
13. A wonderful thing has happened! Hollywood wants to make a movie of your book! You get to pick the actors & actresses. You want________________for your lead characters.
I’d ask if it’s being animated, first and foremost. If so, then there are some voices I could hear clearly for some of my characters.
With Travis, it’d be Charlie Day. Spencer: Brian Dietzen. Beast (and by extension Serena, because twins): Idina Menzel. Ivy (and possibly Yvette, due to the twin thing…or maybe not because they aren’t quite identical): Kat Dennings. Not sure on some of the rest of the cast.
14. What music do you hear (what songs) remind you of your story?
Any of the Marvel soundtracks tend to make it onto my writing playlist. Some of those work well for it. Part of the Thor soundtrack got me through the final scene of book 12. The soundtrack to any season of RWBY would fit, as well.
15. What Favorite foods
Favorite foods would probably include tacos, pizza (recently tried a clam pizza with anchovies…THAT was awesome), chocolate, seafood, anything spicy, chicken riggies… I tend to like a variety of foods, really.
16. What makes you laugh/cry?
A lot of things make me laugh. I’m pretty easily amused. My sense of humor can get a bit dark, sometimes, and I may laugh at things I probably shouldn’t. As for what makes me cry: getting too far into Travis’ mindset (when he thinks about the possible immortality issue), feeling like I’m not good enough…Or there are times where I’ll finally get to watch something I’ve really wanted to see for a long time, and I just get overwhelmed with how freaking AWESOME it is. Sometimes it’s just on a visual level. Or there’s the whole thing with seeing fictional characters being hurt or killed.
17. What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Wait! I’m not dead yet!”, because the thought of people getting confused over this amuses the hell out of me.
18. Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I would say drawing, but I don’t consider that a hobby (save for fan art). I enjoy sewing, though. I’ll usually make cosplays and plushies.
19. What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Any Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, some of the DC ones can be good (particularly the animated ones), Disney movies, The Walking Dead, Gotham, Criminal Minds, Arrow, Supergirl, Supernatural, many true crime shows, Sailor Moon, Full Metal Alchemist, RWBY, Steven Universe…and the most recent one I’d become a fan of (on Syfy) is Blood Drive. Though I know that that story’s pretty much finished.
20. If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have no idea. I’ve mainly gone into writing because I couldn’t FIND much of anything else.
21. What are you working on right now?
As I type my responses, I’m working on the sixth book of the Hell Bent series, am preparing to work on book seven, working on a comic on Patreon, been drawing a ton of pics (some cards, some prizes for giveaways during takeovers, some for friends), a bunch of short stories, including a few for anthologies… This is always kind of a loaded question for me.
22. What future plans do you have in writing?
My main plans are to get the rest of the series done, crank out a prequel, maybe publish the various shorts I’ve written in the Hell Bent canon…
23. What links or website do you have? List them below.