Fishing in the ancient world, a Heart of the Lotus excerpt, Rick Mullins - Desert Dreams, a review o

June 18 is National Go Fishing Day. It's a great day to find a stream, pond or lake and go to catch a fish...or maybe a dozen.

If you own a boat, great! If not, ask one of your friends to let you go on a fishing adventure with them. Just be sure to bring the bait! If you can't go fishing, eat some fish today. It's not the same thing as being out on the water and catching your lunch, but you can either cook some fresh or frozen fish in a pan or on the grill or order some at a restaurant.

Why do we celebrate fishing? It’s a bonding experience that grew out of our ancestors way of getting food. All cultures began near a water source, so all ancient peoples fished. Once civilization advanced, and food came from a variety of other places. fishing became more recreational.

Many of us might remember being taken fishing by adults when we were young. We may have already passed the skill on to our own children.

Today, fishing can also be a form of meditation. Shut off the phone and use it for an unlikely emergency only. Take the opportunity to enjoy the peace of nature and disconnect from your workaday world.

People of Ancient Egypt, like people of all ancient cultures, fished for food, fun, and profit. Fishing was an industry and a source of food. If one was poor, a daily chore was to go get a fish for food. If more fish were caught, they were dried, pickled or salted for later.

Above is a diorama of Egyptian fishermen. As you can see, fishing hasn't changed much. The difference was that it wasn't easy or relaxing. People fished with rods, net and spear, as we do today, but more often the spear was used for defense against hippos and crocodiles.

Nobles enjoyed fishing as much as hunting, but brought servants along to defend and row them out to the choice places.

In Heart of the Lotus (Coming this summer), young Djerah is brooding about his divorce. His wife, who had come from a fishing family, left him for a childhood friend. In this scene, Naibe learns about the young man's life and his occupation before he met Marai and became the steersman for the hosts of the Children of Stone.

“You didn’t get to know her? My wife Raawa?” Djerah stared at the horizon, bitterly.

“Not more than ‘Good morning’ how are you? Do you need any help today?” Naibe reflected on how closed off the woman and her sisters had been and how she, Ari and Deka had clearly known there was another man in the story as she labored to bring her child into the world. “We knew about her, but…”

“That she had no faith in me?” his head bowed again. He radiated the sensation of shame so strongly that Naibe thought a spider crawling by would notice and pause.

“Talk to me, though.” Naibe insisted, her hand patting his upper back in comfort.

“Oh, why not, then.” Djerah grumbled, his hand dropping to find a pebble and fling it out in the direction of the river. “She was the daughter of people who lived near us in the edge of the water up the river from the city. They were fishers. We gathered reeds for our baskets, hunted crocodiles for their hide and meat, caught birds and fished for food near there.

My Aba Esai thought it would be a good match to do fishing and baskets; to pickle or salt the fish to sell to people and put it in our baskets.” He paused, thinking of times when they hadn’t been distant from each other. “I was fourteen and she was twelve. It was good then. We were happy together.

Then the fever came after Aliyan, my second little one was born. I went with the militia in Ta-Seti when it struck and came home to all this death and dying. Then I went across the river to the crewe village to get more certain work.” At that moment, he stopped.

Naibe knew not to press him about it.

“The old man Akaru spoke it like a seer who knows, that she was just alone too long and needed company. Guess she didn’t respect that I was half-killing myself on the crewe for our family.” Djerah pouted.

“I guess not.” she shook her head, getting a sense of everything the young man wasn’t telling her. “Did you ever talk to her at night? After love?” Naibe asked, innocently. That was one of her favorite times with Marai. She liked the “talking time” that always went with tired snuggles and sweetness until sleep came.

“Some.” Djerah hung his head. “I was just always so tired.”

I understand. Naibe’s silent thought reached the young man, explaining that she blamed no one.

“And if I’d been there, not working; maybe begging, would a woman want a man to starve to death with her and be there to help her bury those babies?”

A long silence followed. She placed a gentle thought in his heart:

Djerah, look at me. Look in my eyes, you sweet man…

Last week Rick Mullins spoke to us about his life as a writer. This week he presents us with an excerpt from his writing.


Prince Fallion slid into the seat of the escape pod, then accepted the small case that held the entire purpose of their mission from his most trusted Aid.

His childhood friend stood back and nodded solemnly. “Good fortune to you, my Prince. We will lure your father’s warship away so you may succeed.”

Prince Fallion grasped forearms with his friend, then strapped himself in and tapped at the console to close the canopy.

His Aid gave him one last smile, then hurried from the small airlock as he tapped at the console to ready the pod for his escape. Lights flashed inside the airlock then on his console as the crew closed him inside, alone.

The outer hatch opened and almost immediately his pod was ejected into the blackness of space. The pod was unpowered except for the minimum on his console as his ship fled. He’d been aimed in such a way as to fall toward the planet below while his ship flashed away with propulsion engines at high velocity to mask his pod among the flares they rained in their wake to confuse the warship chasing them.

All he could do was grip his armrests as his pod fell toward the planet. His ship was quickly lost in the vastness of space and as his pod tumbled without power he saw the immense warship his father, the Emperor, had sent after him.

He manually fought the controls of his escape pod as it was buffeted by the forces of reentry at the outer regions of the below planet’s atmosphere. In the screen that showed his abandoned ship streaking far ahead in its preprogrammed flight to slingshot around the planet, he could see the strike of defensive fire against the missile that followed behind.

His programmed reentry had shut down all power and let the escape pod fall free as the gravity of the world below pulled his small craft downward. If the warship that followed that missile didn’t see his power signature, its crew would never know he had abandoned his vessel. The controls were sluggish as he fought them, but he couldn’t risk turning the power on yet.

Another missile streaked by above, so close he could see it through the clear panel of the pod’s canopy as the warship following his vessel fired again and again. Preprogrammed defensive fire would intercept that missile too, but not all those that would follow as the Imperial warship chased their prey.

Close behind that second missile, the immense bulk of his father’s warship crashed through the upper atmosphere as its automatic programming systems performed its own slingshot maneuver. The force of the larger ship shoving atmosphere aside rocked his tiny escape pod as it streaked by above him. It was only the small size of his pod that masked him from the debris of the defensive and offensive missiles the two ships traded.

Prince Fallion could tell from its altitude that his father’s warship would get a greater boost from the maneuver and might be able to catch his doomed ship before it plunged into this system’s star. He smiled sadly as he thought of the crew of his ship and hoped their efforts would fool the crew of his father’s warship. He felt both honored and saddened by their sacrifice.

They had knowingly volunteered to trade their lives for the success of his mission and he had memorized all their names to share with the galaxy if he succeeded. If he lived long enough to complete their mission, their names would be remembered by all as heroes.

He gave a relieved sigh as his father’s warship passed above him close enough to tumble his escape pod, but his restraint straps kept him safe. In moments both ships disappeared around the curve of the planet and were lost to view.

Then his sad smile disappeared as the force of the great warship’s passage through the atmosphere buffeted his tiny vessel out of control more than he’d expected. The warship had come so close he was surprised they hadn’t impacted what their sensors most likely read as offensive and defensive missile debris that would not affect the warships shields.

The pod tumbled and spun so much it took him several moments to regain focus as he almost lost consciousness. He eventually regained his senses, only to find himself deep into the planet’s thick atmosphere.

Fighting the controls without power was too much even for his enhanced muscles and the tiny craft thrashed and rolled like an angry pitiuk caught on a fisherman’s hook and

line as his father’s warship roiled the atmosphere with its passage.

He couldn’t engage power as yet because the flash of it energy signature would surely be noticed by the passing warship even though it was already out of sight around the curve of the planet. He hung on and prayed to all the gods of all the races of his father’s Empire that he would regain control before he crashed into the surface of this obscure world.

The storm he had been aiming for loomed ahead and there lay his one chance to survive. If he could just make it inside the highest of the storm’s clouds, he would be able to engage power without fear of discovery as the storm’s energies masked those of his pod.

He had just made the first of the billowing cloud’s edges and was reaching for the control button when the lightning bolt from below struck his craft, throwing him around even more fiercely in his restraining straps. The power that surged through his pod’s systems was equal to that of one of the energy cannons his father’s warship would have used to disable his pod had they detected him.

He was thrown back and forth in his seat for precious moments as he struggled to reach the ignition control button for his craft’s thrusters. The pod tumbled and he was thrown side to side and back and forth and he felt the bones in one arm and several of his ribs succumb to the forces as pain ran through his left side.

In his ears, the sound of the thickening atmosphere told him he was nearly out of time as he fought to reach the panel and engage the power of his engines with his good arm. Twice he almost reached the panel, but further tumbles and another electrical charge from the storm below knocked him about and he lost consciousness.

He struggled to focus and the sound of the thickening atmosphere became a roar in his ears despite the hull of the escape pod around him as a third lightning bolt struck his craft and the force of the jolt threw him against his restraints and the world went black despite his implant’s efforts to maintain his consciousness.

A book to read - The Mosaic my review!

5 out of 5 stars Fast-paced adventure into mystery

By Mary R. Woldering on June 12, 2018

Chloe and Zoe Tozier, two teenage twins, are being raised by their grandmother who runs a small museum of curiosities in the lower floor of her home. They have lived normal lives for four years since the death of their parents during an Egyptian expedition, or so they believe.

But grandma is no mere mortal. When the girls find this out and they also discover that their heritage is linked to the reconstruction of a large mosaic that’s older than history, the story really takes off.

The girls discover inter-dimensional travel, all sorts of extra human creatures and fey, then come face to face with an ancient evil and a conflict to defeat. I’m not usually a fan of the YA genre but this one was fast paced and a real page turner. My best thought was that I wanted to read it to my Grandchildren, who love adventure stories, as soon as I could!

The new author of the week is Matthew Constantine.

Here's his Interview

What made you want to be a writer?

Since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with stories. I wanted to have books read to me, wanted to watch movies, wanted to create my own versions of things. I don’t remember it, but apparently in first grade, I used to spin wild tales of exciting trips I’d taken for kids on the bus.

When I was about twelve, I started trying to actually write down some stories for others to read. My dad then turned me on to tabletop role-playing games as a way to practice character and story construction.

Tell us you book’s genre.

I’ve found myself describing Conquest of the Sphere as Science Fiction in the guise of Fantasy. When I write, I’m often inspired by early Fantasy writers like Robert E. Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs. However, in the back of my head, I try to approach Conquest of the Sphere as Science Fiction. There is no magic or supernatural. When it appears that those things exist, it’s only because of a faulty understanding of reality and technology.

Tell us about your book and how it’s available.

At this time, Conquest of the Sphere: Four Tales is available as an ebook on Amazon, for Kindle or Kindle Unlimited. This is a collection of short stories that introduce readers to the setting and some of the characters that inhabit it.

How important is it to read books when you’re an author?

Reading is supremely important. I know I would not be half the author I am right now, not a fraction of the author I am, if I hadn’t read a lot of books. Not only should a writer read, a writer should read widely. If you write Romance, you shouldn’t just read Romance. If you write Science Fiction, you shouldn’t just read Science Fiction. You should be reading all sorts of things, because you learn from everything. Robert E. Howard’s writing is a huge inspiration for me. I’ve read a good deal of Howard. Yet, it can’t end there, and it doesn’t.

The book Baby Cat-Face by Barry Gifford (which is...I don’t know, Southern Gothic?), hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I came out of that book a different kind of writer. It’s not a genre I’d ever write in, and not one I tend to read, yet it had a profound impact on my writing. The same could be said for reading Toby Lester’s The Fourth Part of the World. It’s a Popular History book about the first map to have the name America written on it. Not only did that book ignite my interest in Popular History, but it began the process of opening my eyes to the idea that everything is connected and nothing happens in a vacuum.

Many Fantasy stories I’d read seemed to take place in a world that didn’t exist much outside the vision of the protagonists. This was certainly the case with tabletop role-playing games I played. I try very hard to make Conquest of the Sphere (and anything else I write) feel like it takes place in a living world filled with countless stories that aren’t being told.

How did you come up with this fantastic idea?

I draw from everything; movies, books, history, science, etc. Conquest of the Sphere took a long time to come together into something cohesive enough to write about. An early building block was the painting by Frank Frazetta called "The Mammoth". The image of a naked man, rushing headlong into the wild charge of a giant beast really struck me.

I was always fascinated by heroics and morality, and the idea that who we really are is what we do when nobody is looking. Here’s a guy, all by himself, standing against insurmountable odds, and he just goes for it. Later, I had my mind blown by Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Larry Niven’s Ringworld, primarily in terms of the sheer scale a story can take on. Those got mixed into the pot, for sure. Then there was this book, Snowbrother, by S.M. Stirling.

It was a book with no real hero or villain. I guess that’s not quite true. There was at least one really bad dude. But the two major players, who were in the obvious position of protagonist and antagonist were neither good nor bad. Both were complex people on different sides of a conflict. I found that idea wonderfully refreshing, particularly in genre fiction, where there tends to be a very obvious Bad Guy! Character. All of that is sort of general, background inspiration.

Sometimes, it’s more specific and localized. The story Diving Practice, for example, was inspired by my first attempt at snorkeling. There’s a scene in my work in progress, a Conquest of the Sphere novel, that was inspired by an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, where he’s hanging out with Eric Ripert in China. This in a novel about a voyage of exploration and political intrigue on a world that very much isn’t Earth. I guess that means my ideas come from anywhere and everywhere.

Which character did you identify with most in your novel?

Central to the world I’m building for the upcoming Conquest of the Sphere novel is Baal. My published short story collection mentioned earlier is four separate stories and yet Baal is featured in three and the fourth alludes to her. I think she’s the character I relate to the most.

I’m nothing like Baal. Certainly not physically. She’s a giant, standing easily a head taller than me, and could wrestle a bear. I pulled a muscle climbing out of a car. I get winded getting out of bed. But I relate to her in other ways.

She’s a perpetual outsider, curious, sometimes emotionally detached, and an observer. That’s how I’ve often felt. I grew up in a small town, where I never felt like I belonged. In my early 30s, I moved to a large, metropolitan area, where I’m just a face in the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Yet, I always feel slightly removed, and that’s Baal.

In these tales, she’s still fairly young. In Diving Practice, for example, I imagine she’s fairly new to the whole ‘adventuring’ thing. By Vestiges, another story in the collection, she’s been around a bit, but she’s still not comfortable. In my work in progress novel, Baal has been retired for several years, doing what she thought she always wanted. However, she finds that she is still the outsider, still removed.

As writing is often a solitary passion, I imagine other writers can identify with the feeling. Outsider or not, she is still drawn to people, still endlessly curious about the world. And I find that I relate to her on that level, too.

Did The Bible or any other spiritual works have anything to do with your idea for this work?

Though Conquest of the Sphere is not set on Earth, I figure that people are people, and religion is a part of society. One of the major religions that will feature in my work in progress is definitely heavily influenced by Medieval/Renaissance Christianity and Zoroastrianism. However, I approach the setting from an atheist angle. The people within it may believe in and act as if there are gods, but for the purpose of writing, they are not. In that sense, I go back to another of my major influences, H.P. Lovecraft, and write about a cold, uncaring universe, in which the actions of people have no cosmic significance, and any meaning their lives might have must be created for themselves.

Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?

There are ideas that I like to explore, like that all things are connected, and our histories and cultures are not and never were restricted by borders. I like the idea that there’s always more to a story, always more layers to the onion of truth. I also like the idea that we make our own meaning.

Which part of the publishing process to you detest most?

As an independent author, with no agent or publishing house, I guess the part that has been toughest has been self-promotion. Being an introvert, I find it difficult to talk about it around people I don’t know. When it comes to my writing, I have a tough time explaining myself. I want to tell a person everything, but I know that’s not possible, so I try to pick and choose, but that becomes too difficult. I constantly watch for signs the person I’m speaking to is getting glassy-eyed. Handshakes and elevator pitches are like having teeth pulled.

I’m working on it. I’m trying to have some prepared words to say about my book. Using social media, blogs, etc. to get my writing out has mostly felt like yelling into the wind. There’s simply so much content out there, so many people trying to be heard, trying to be seen, that I feel lost in a crowd of similar people, all hoping for that ‘big break.’ And of course, promoting the book takes time and energy away from writing.

Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write.

I used to sit in my room, crank some music, and get typing. Once in a great while that produced something of worth. Rarely.

Mostly I just jotted down notes and talked about how much I wanted to write. A few years ago, I changed day jobs, and found myself with upwards of an hour (each way) commute. About an hour of sitting on a bus, followed by nearly a half hour on a train, twice a day. I don’t have the internet on my phone. I like being semi-disconnected (I mean, I still have a cell phone on me all the time, so I’m not that disconnected), so my options were limited. I could listen to music or podcasts, or I could read, or I could write. I’d been talking a lot about how I wish I could write more, and suddenly I found myself with nearly three hours of time away from the DVD player, the internet, and all of it. So I took a notebook with me, and I started.

These last three years have been, by far, the most productive years of my writing life. I sit on the bus, surrounded by strangers, and I tune out the world and write. I write

longhand, then transcribe it onto the computer for editing. This forces me not to try to edit on the fly, so I just push through until I’m finished.

That’s been a huge help. I still love music, and music is important to my writing, but I seldom listen to it while actually writing. I don’t have a lucky pen, a particular type of notebook, or anything. I just huddle down and scratch the words on the page.

What is one goody you must have on your desk when writing?

As I mentioned above, I just need a pen (any pen) and paper (any paper). And a flat surface, I suppose, but that’s usually provided by the notebook I’m writing in. I used to like to have maps laying around. Not even maps of anything I was writing about. I would just stare at the maps and get my creative juices flowing.

What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel?

Honestly, my own procrastination and laziness have been the biggest obstacles in doing anything related to my writing. I had to get a new job. I don’t think I could have written as much as I have in the last few years if I hadn’t changed jobs. I was in a negative headspace that rarely abated, and in a good deal of physical pain caused by that job.

Getting out of it was good for me, for my life, and for my writing. Since 99.9% of writers will never make enough money to be able to write full time, I recommend finding a ‘day job’ that you can live with, one that doesn’t bleed too much into your time off the clock.

When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?

For a long time, my father served as my proofreader and cheerleader. I’d send him what I had, he’d give me some good feedback and tell me it was good. That was definitely needed, because I often didn’t feel that what I was doing was any good at all. I’ve had some others along the way, friends and such, who have given me good words of support.

But it’s been my wife who has done more to get me where I am now. From the time we started dating, she’s been pushing me (gently) to follow my passion and really write. She’s not only given me encouragement, she’s gotten her hands dirty by actually transcribing some of my chicken scratch writings onto the computer, proofreading them, helping me to e-publish, making digital covers, etc. She’s my champion, and if I ever get anywhere with any of this, it will be because of her.

How do you market your book?

So far, I’ve posted on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I have an author page on Facebook, where I talk about my publications and other things that interest me. I’ve run some specials on Amazon, with varied success, and have listed my books on Goodreads.

Otherwise, I’ve relied on word of mouth. In the coming months, I plan to have a limited supply of Conquest of the Sphere: Four Tales printed, and I hope to distribute to some targeted audiences.

I’ve avoided any especially costly promotions to this point. Perhaps, when my work in progress novel is completed, I will be more willing to do that. For a fairly short collection like Four Tales, however, it feels like firing a cannon to kill a mosquito.

Have readers ever contacted you?

Not yet. Not outside of my already established circle of friends.

Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?

I’d run anything by my father and by my wife, for sure. I have a few other friends who I would definitely trust to give it a read and point out any grammatical issues or what have you. I haven’t set up a crew of ‘beta readers’ yet, and I think I may want to do that by the time I finish my work in progress.

Tell us about your very first book signing.

It wasn’t really my book signing. I attended a comic convention with some friends who had published a couple comics, which included some of my work. It was...harrowing. All of your fear and anxiety is realized, as face after face wanders by, glances at your table, at hours, months, and years of work, and then glances away and walks on. I know I had a few good conversations with other people ‘tabling’ at the convention, but gah. It was rough. I can’t remember if it was at the first one of these I did or not, but I do remember the guy in the fantastic Freddie Mercury cosplay. It was great. The hair, the mustache, the tight zebra pattern pants, the tank top. I was truly impressed. Then he passed by and he had a tail, and he was carrying a strap-on horn, and I realized he was a half-dressed My Little Pony and the Freddie Mercury thing seemed to have been accidental.

What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

As stated above, I love to read. I’m also a huge movie buff. All kinds of movies, from silents to Golden Age to 70s sleaze to contemporary stuff. I also love food; cooking and eating it. And I love to travel. My wife and I are absolutely addicted to travel, and always have a trip on the horizon.

Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is.

My favorite color is green. Forest green, emerald green, jade green. I like green. My favorite food is...what’s in front of me? I love food of all sorts. One of the things I love the most about travel is finding new foods to eat, or new ways to prepare things I already know. Because it’s fresh on my mind I’ll tell you a Top 5 Lifetime Meal, and that was wild boar honey sausage on crunchy bread, followed by peposo from Trattoria Diladdarno in Florence, Italy. I believe we followed it up with some tiramisu

Tell us your favorite novel.

Frank Herbert’s Dune would be my favorite novel.

A live drama or opera?

My favorite stage production is Man of La Mancha. I’ve seen two stage productions of it, and both were great. The original cast recording has been a favorite of mine since I was a young teen. I have to admit that Hamilton is right up there. I got a chance to see it on Broadway with the original cast (thanks to my wife!), and it was wonderful. Very powerful and very rousing.

Chips or crackers?

Is there cheese? If yes, then crackers. If no, then chips.

Hamburger or chicken sandwich?

Hamburger. With everything.

Fries or onion rings?

Onion rings. Fries are fine, too.

Milkshake or smoothie?

Either makes me happy. Smoothie, I guess.

Thunderstorms or star gazing?

Both are wonderful, but if I’m inside and safe, I love a good thunderstorm.

Kindle or paperback novels?

Paperback. Physical books are always my preference.

Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?

Probably not writing six times the content.

What kind of advice can you give to other aspiring authors?

Find what works for you. Write for the love of writing. Don’t expect to make any real money from it. Keep your day job. Find someone who doesn’t just let you be you, but who encourages you to be you. Read. Travel. It’s already a solitary passion, so get out there and experience life. It’s all research.

When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?

As above, my wife.

When is the release of your next novel?

I’m currently hard at work on the first full length Conquest of the Sphere novel. It will feature at least one character from Conquest of the Sphere: Four Tales, though it is set many years later. The novel will dip a bit more into the Science Fictional elements of the setting. I’m not at all sure when the book will be finished. I’m hoping to have a rough draft by the end of the year, but I can’t be sure.

Where can we find your author page?

You can check out my website at, where I not only make announcements about publications, but also write about travel and post reviews of books I read, among other stuff. It also has links to my social media presence, where I’m endlessly charming

Here are some links, to use (or not) however you see fit.

My ebook is currently on Amazon here: My blog: Twitter: Facebook: GoodReads: Robin Rance 6-3-18 James 6-10- 18_

Destiny Hawkins 6-16-18

Did you know there have now been 100 issues of Children of Stone blog? That means I've interviewed almost 100 authors and their characters? Over the next few issues I'll post a list or partial list of everyone and the date they were interviewed or reviewed...just in case you missed one!


Mike Constantine’s character Baal + Tallis Steelyard


Tallis Steelyard’s blog page +Derek Borne

July 9, 2018 National Sugar Cookie Day Derek Borne‘s Devon & Brett + Ellis Knox

July 16 National Get Out of the Dog House Day

Ellis Knox‘ Talysse + Jacqueline Simonds

So stay tuned!

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