Category Archives: art

The Right Decision (I Hope)

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Hello everyone and happy Sunday. I’ve been busy this morning trying to write my Amazon description for Princess Adele’s Dragon. It’s not the easiest thing to do.
 
I also made a decision today. I’m going to rewrite and retitle The Tower. That was the first book I wrote back in 2010. I can’t believe what a terrible job I did. It’s a great story but it’s poorly written. The nice thing is I can actually go back and read it and pick out all the mistakes.
I’m not kicking myself around because I like to.  It’s nice some people can put out their first book and it be wonderful from the start. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those people. When I first wrote the book I made the statement about what a learning experience it was from beginning to end. The nice thing is I can now look back on it and continue to say it was/is a learning experience.
When I was writing The Tower, I think I fell into every pit other others said to be careful about. I was one of those people that I knew what they said but apparently I didn’t know what I was looking at. With practice, the writing skill grows and I’m happy to say mine did.
I’ve learned over time that people are not always honest with you about your work. It does great things for your ego when someone says they read your story and it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s what they think you want to hear and apparently it is.
I can’t tell a soul bought the book from Amazon or if they did they kept it a big secret. Now you know why I made the decision. I want to put out a better product and I would like to sell some copies.  Am I making the right decision?Thumbs up

Let Me Introduce

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Hello, everyone. Today it’s my great pleasure to introduce to you a fellow writer from Rave Review Book Club, Gordon Bickerstaff. We are both members of this great club and today he is their “Spotlight Author”. It’s my privilege to be part of his Blog tour. He is introducing you to his main characters and providing you with a short synopsis of his book.  Enjoy

The Black Fox cover

Gavin Shawlens and Zoe Tampsin – DoomWatchers

 

Who is Gavin Shawlens?

Gavin Shawlens is an academic in his mid-thirties. He’s not a fitness freak but he keeps trim with occasional visits to the university judo club and jogging up the three flights of stairs to his top-floor flat. He has a thick mop of hair has a light straw colour in summer that darkens in winter. He is single, and has had on/off relationships, but he’s haunted by a previous relationship that ended badly.

He has a secret part-time job. Gavin has gained a great deal of experience over the past six years on a number of major investigations for the Lambeth Group. In fact, Gavin has a UK security clearance of Top Secret Level D, which means he has knowledge of the highest category of official state secrets. He knows where some of the nastiest Government skeletons are buried. He’d been present at the burial of two of them.

Who is Zoe Tampsin?

Zoe Tampsin, Senior Field Officer with the Security Service. On temporary secondment to the Lambeth Group. Based here in London,  Zoe is five-eight, slender, athletic-looking, intelligent and ambitious. The forty-three-year-old ex-army captain had joined the OTC at her university and went on to receive the coveted Sword of Honour at Sandhurst as the best officer cadet.

Captain Tampsin had served with the SAS in Bosnia and more recently on Special Forces operations for MI5 and MI6 at home and abroad. Her CO wrote about her – Zoe Tampsin protects her troop like a lioness protecting her cubs, powerful, determined, and completely ruthless.

Zoe had proved herself in combat, and she was accepted as combat hardened. She was powerful in dealing with the stress of imminent danger, and her concentration over long periods was second to none. Many times her troop had faced the white of the opposition’s eyes, and she had led them through hell and back.

Zoe had smashed the hardest glass ceiling, and showed the pencil generals the unique skill set that women have to offer, in the multi-dimensional fight against 21st century terrorism. She formed and led a special operations unit of women, W Troop. Still a small attachment, compared to the number of men in Special Forces, but against a strict background of no drop in standards, her select group of female troopers had proved themselves worthy of the badge.

Who are the Lambeth Group?

The Lambeth Group is a covert organisation formed when a group of twenty-six university vice-chancellors from elite universities met secretly with Home Office mandarins at the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London. After prolonged discussion, they agreed on the need for a doomwatch strategy to discover and manage research and technology disasters that can happen when top researchers push past the boundaries farther and faster than they should.

Working with CPNI (Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure) a branch of MI5, and the Home Office, the Lambeth Group had successfully prevented the most damaging university and private research disasters from becoming public knowledge.

The Black Fox

Synopsis

 Zoe Tampsin is resourceful, smart and Special Forces-trained, but she has been given an impossible mission. She has to protect scientist, Gavin Shawlens, from assassination by the CIA, and discover the secret trapped in Gavin’s mind  the CIA want destroyed.

As the pressure to find Shawlens escalates – the CIA send Zoe’s former mentor to track her down, and her fate seems sealed when he surrounds Zoe and Gavin with a ring of steel. With each hour that passes, the ring is tightened, and the window for discovering Gavin’s secret will shut.

Zoe is faced with a decision that goes against all of her survival instincts. If she is wrong – they both die. If she is right – she will discover the secret, and become the next target for assassination. Run for your life…

 

Buy Gordon Bickerstaff’s Books

Amazon-UK

Amazon-USA

Follow Gordon Bickerstaff here:

Website: http://goo.gl/2in8SX

Twitter handle: @ADPase

 

Fleshing Out a Story

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              Good day everyone, I want to share an article that I found that explains fleshing out your story in great detail.  I have always had problems due to the fact I am a bare bones writer.     I’ve never had the ability to sit down and write a story without an editor or another knowledgeable person telling me it needs to be fleshed out.  I wasn’t even sure what that meant.  I write like “The cat climbed the tree.” Fleshing out, to my understanding would be like “The white cat climbed the tree with the purpose of catching a bird.”

I had a English teacher by the name of Mr. Collier. He walked into class one day and set a coke bottle up on the chalk ledge of the chalk board.  He then proceeded to tell the class to write three pages on describing that coke bottle.  How can anyone use three pages to describe a Coke bottle. You know, some students got an A on that assignment.   Needless to say I wan’t one of them. The best I can recall, I failed.

I hope this article helps you as much as it did me.  Have a blessed day.   Shirley

                                                       How To Flesh Out a Story Without Padding

by Marg McAlister

You’ve finally finished the first draft – celebration time!

Or is it?

When you read it through, you realise with a sinking feeling that it seems a bit… well, skimpy. And maybe it’s a tad short.

There’s no getting around it. You have to concede that your story needs a bit more flesh on its bones. But how can you make sure that you add substance, rather than just padding? How DO you flesh out a story?

Some Signs of Padding

If a story is padded, it is packed with inconsequential detail that makes the story longer, but doesn’t enhance it in any way. Here are some signs of padding: 

  • Dialogue that meanders and doesn’t move the story forward.
  • Too much description (flowery or technical).
  • Too much interior monologue. (The viewpoint character ponders too much and for too long.)
  • Extra ‘walk on’ characters who just bloat the cast without adding value to the plot.
  • Grandstanding. (The author is obviously using the story as a soapbox to espouse a pet cause or to express feelings about an issue.)
  • Inconsequential ‘problems’ for the characters to solve. (The hurdles put in the characters’ way are perceived by the reader to be annoying side-tracks rather than genuine sources of conflict.)
  • Inefficient transitions. (The author takes unnecessary pages to move the characters from one place or time to another.)
  • A delayed ending / unnecessary explanations. (The story should have been over in Chapter 29, but the author has added another five chapters to ‘make it the right length’. Sometimes this is in the form of tedious explanations about why characters did things and how they outsmarted people. This should have been obvious from the action in the story.)

How to Flesh Out a Story

If the above list shows you signs of a story that’s padded, rather than well-rounded, then what can you do to fix it? What are some good ways of adding depth and texture?

First, you have to decide what your specific problem is. Some writers have problems with their stories because they are ‘bare bones’ writers: they have difficulty adding emotional punch, exploring their characters’ thoughts, and bringing people and places to life with carefully chosen descriptive phrases. Their stories are all action.

Other writers can handle all of these things, but always seem to end up with a story that’s too short. They know it needs expanding, but how? (Sometimes their story is novella length – say, 30,000 words. Too long to be a short story; too short to be a novel.)

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

1. If your story is too short…

(a) Add a new plot twist. (This brings with it more problems and a new level of complexity to the main story).

(b) Add a new sub-plot. (This should be a secondary issue that CAN be removed from the main story without affecting its flow or the outcome of the story. However, it must add depth to at least one of your story people. It might explain a character flaw, or distract the main character from seeing something obvious, or generally make his/her life more complicated in some way.)

(c) Add a new character (A SIGNIFICANT character, whose life is interwoven with the main character’s life – not just a caricature whose job is simply to take up a few more pages and add extra lines of dialogue!)

(c) Add a new dimension to your main character – a secret in his/her past; a secret hobby or interest that for some reason needs to be hidden from others. This may or may not be related to a new plot twist or sub-plot.

2. If your story is too bare-bones…

(a) Identify what you are NOT doing that you SHOULD be doing. Explore this by reading the work of other authors. Identify writing that seems (to you) to work well, or to be something you’d aspire to. Then write out several pages of the published book by hand, or type it into the computer. Get a ‘feel’ for the way sentences flow and the way words are used. Then take an excerpt from your own work and try to replicate the technique.

(b) Look at the way you describe people, events, and places. You’re quite likely to find that you are too economical with words, and that you haven’t chosen words or phrases that evoke what you want. Rather, you settle for something that easily comes to mind, then move on with the action of the story.

Take the colour RED.

What is the red of embarrassment?
What is the red of sunset?
What is the red of a fire?
What is the red of plush velvet curtains?
What is the red of a fine wine?
What is the red of blood?
What is the red of a stop sign?

Find pictures of all of these things, if you can (do a search via Google images). Now look at the range of tones in ‘red’. What are all these shades actually called? Can you think of a creative colour name that will help readers to see exactly what you can see?

In my copy of ‘Words That Sell’, I can find these:

rose, burgundy, ruby, crimson, scarlet, vermilion, russet, auburn, copper.

Then I typed ‘Words to Describe Red’ in to a search engine. On WikiAnswers.com I found these:

Scarlet, vermilion, crimson, ruby, cherry, cerise, cardinal, carmine, wine, blood-red, coral, cochineal, rose; brick-red, maroon, reddish, rusty, cinnamon, damask, vermeil, sanguine.

No doubt a thesaurus would turn up even more.

But… don’t just think of colour names. When you look at a ‘red’ object, start using your other senses.

What is the smell of red wine?
What is the sound of a fire (or fire engine?)
What is the texture of red velvet curtains?
What is the taste of blood?

Already, you can see how your bare-bones writing might start to develop depth and texture. (If you do nothing else, start thinking in terms of the five senses. That alone will give your story more emotional punch and help the reader to picture the scene.) Your special challenge is to use this sensory detail in a well-turned phrase that will help the reader to experience your character’s life. The trap you can fall into is to write too much boring description.

Closely tied to using the five senses – for obvious reasons – is the task of getting viewpoint right. A lot of writers produce bare-bones narrative because they can’t get into the mind of the main character in the scene. They ‘tell’ the reader everything, moving along at a rapid clip, instead of playing out the scene and letting the reader become part of it.

In the end, being able to flesh out a story means that you need to develop more mastery of your craft. It will involve either adding more pages (working on plot and characters) or adding more depth (working on viewpoint and emotional punch). You should be constantly building your skills and adding to your writer’s toolkit.

Writers who work at their craft are the ones who ultimately succeed.

Proofreading A Dying Art

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This is a funny that I originally posted about three years ago.  The topic isn’t funny but the results certainly are, at least in this case. I hope you enjoy the read.  Shirley

Proofreading is a Dying Art these days!

 

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

This one I caught in the Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this.  It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!!  They put in a correction the next day.

 

I just couldn’t help but send this along. Too funny.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

War Dims Hope for Peace

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last a While

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

Man Up for Battery Struck by Lightning

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Local  High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is….

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

 

Now that you’ve smiled at least once, it’s your turn to spread the stupidity. We all need a good laugh, at least once a day!

 

 

Creating Your Protagonist

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Writer2From story to story, from novel to novel, protagonists vary widely in psychological make-up, goals and dreams, in the types of conflicts they face and in the way they resolve these conflicts.  Among all these differences, compelling characters may have some common qualities as well.

Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward and 24 other novels, believes compelling protagonists share two chief traits.  “I think he or she needs to be someone with a strong will to move through adversity, and someone readers can relate to,” she says, adding that relatable characters also require vulnerability. “We’re all vulnerable on the inside, so our hearts go out to anyone enduring struggles we understand.”

Authors are often told that readers must be able to root for their characters, yet Hyde believes that protagonists don’t necessarily have to be likable or sympathetic.  They do need to be human, or readers won’t be able to relate to them.  To accomplish that, says Hyde, you have to get inside your character’s head, and thats when the “humanity will begin to shine through.”

Here’s how Ishmael Reed gets inside of Paul Blessings, a character in his 10th novel, Juice!

I’m a survivor all right.  After generations of ancestors working in the fields, factories, cleaning homes and offices, my generation had a chance to go to school, read books, attend plays, and do desk work just like W.E. B. wanted it.  Like an old time Talented Tenther, I even had a season ticket to the opera. Only falling asleep once.  During Wagners’s Die Meistersinger, I think it was the droning, lumbering trombone score that did it.  Besides, like millions of my contemporaries, I’m fond of gazing and staring.  This “sedentary” lifestyle got me in trouble with glucose, which one geneticist has said we should avoid more than the snakes we were originally programmed to fear.  A bakery display of cake, muffins, and cookies is like a nest of cobras to me.  They should invent a candy bar for diabetics called the Grim Reaper.  How did I know that sugar had a dark side.

Blessings comes fully alive for readers with his open, frank self-revelation: regarding his roots, his generation’s opportunities, his drifting off during the Wagner opera, his sedentary style and his health crisis.  Wryly, Reed situates diabetes in a framework that surprises us by an utterly bizarre comparison: snakes and sugar.  We want to learn more about this intriguing character.

Of course, it’s one thing to know what a compelling protagonist and still another to create one.  Should you begin with notes for a fully fleshed out character, or should you discover your protagonist as you write.  Virgil Suarez, author of several novels and short story collection, plans out his protagonist in advance of writing.  “I love to create an entire biography and history for a character,” he says, even though only 10 percent of what I imagine about a character actually makes it into the story or chapter.”

While Suarez does a lot of initial planning, much of his characterization happens as he writes.  Intutive discovery of character may be key to solid character development. Instead of engineering or controlling characters, let their own voices take action. “I’m on the lookout for a fictinal person with a good story to tell me,” says Hyde.  “After I make that connection, it feels more like a process of sitting back and listening.”  This act of listening worked well fro Grissom, who says her two first-person narrators spoke clearly to her. “I wrote down what they were saying.” She had to edit later, but through attentive listening, she came to know her characters well.

Excerpt from Returning To The Elements by Jack Smith

Meet Raani York, Talented Author of Dragonbride

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dragonbride pic

Dragonbride
(The Dragon Chronicles, Book #1)

Shalima, “Daughter of the Light”, was born under special circumstances. She was raised by her aunts instead of her mother because she needed to be prepared to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Scriptures, which told that she was the only Magician on Earth.

Her aunts carefully prepared her for her obligations and her sacred duty. She will have to get married to the Holy Golden Dragon, the King of the Dragons, a huge Earth Dragon with magical talents. She cannot believe that she is the “Chosen One”, who has to protect the Dragon Species, all of Nature and finally the Earth. But when she turned into a teenager it seemed that the Old Scriptures were right.

Buy the Book:

on Smashwords: https://smashwords.com/books/view/479647

As an Ebook for following formats: epub, mobi, pd,f rtf, lrf ,pdb, txt, html

The Paperback version on Amazon will be released very soon! More buyer’s links will be available within the next week.

Author Bio

Raani York Raani York has been a high volume writer for years. She has published articles, letters, short stories, poems, continuation stories and descriptions of all kind. She also writes novels, some of which can found on her website.

Raani has been educated in Switzerland and in the U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She also obtained diplomas in Graphic Design, Color Studies and won a prize as a Logo Designer. She speaks four languages and several dialects.

Raani York works and lives in Switzerland and the U.S. and travels often.

Next to her writing and her cats, Raani likes reading, blogging, Martial Arts, skiing, horseback riding, sky diving and enjoys playing the classical piano.

Contact:

Website: http://www.raaniyork.com
Blog: http://www.raaniyork.wordpress.com
Email: raaniyorkca@aol.com
Google: https://plus.google.com/115854197563561201228/posts
FB: https://www.facebook.com/raaniyork
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/DragonScriptures
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RaaniYork
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/raani-york/5/922/b37
Myspace: https://myspace.com/raaniyork
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/12628426-raani-york
Microcerpt: http://microcerpt.com/raaniyork/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/raaniyorkca/

Teaser:

The mountains possessed a dark but seductive beauty, and they lay in wait for the ones who came through the Fire Hell. The powdered white peaks of the sparkling black mountain-world watched for them with longing.

The Diamond Mountains gave the illusion of being much closer than they really were, and many a pilgrim had been lured to his death by the promise of riches hidden on their slopes. These mountains were so named because of the rough gems strewn about the black volcanic soil. When the sun shone overhead the gems made the mountains sparkle and shimmer brightly, and at night they made the moonlit mountains glow with a soft silver light.

People, blinded by both their greed and the tantalizing glittering of the sunlit earth, imagined that there was immeasurable wealth lying there on the ground, just waiting to be picked. However, the mountains never betrayed the secrets they held. None who had ever walked those slopes could find the diamonds hidden within the black soil, for the mountains protected themselves.

Although healthy forest still grew in the foothills, the undergrowth became sparser just a few hundred feet up, and then the treeline ended. Where stunted trees would normally grow the forest just stopped, as if some unseen hand had cut it short. All that remained were dangerously sharp, dry rocks. Just below the snowline, the rocks disappeared, and the glittering black soil took their place.

Moreover, at the summit it seemed as if the Creator of All Things had dusted the peaks of the fissured mountain range with powdered sugar, for they were covered with a deceptively soft-looking, yet extremely sharp-edged eternal snow.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…
And if a wanderer were to climb those peaks, going up to the Fire Hell and searching to quench his thirst at a splashing mountain spring, he would find no cool, refreshing water. Instead, these living mountains would seek to frighten him by shrouding the ground with a mysterious fog that made it impossible to see where he was putting his feet. Pilgrims sometimes drowned in the sulfurous pools of water hidden within the hellish rocks when the fog appeared, and if they left the main trails, they would know true fear, for they would be led down treacherous sidepaths that seemed to take them somewhere, yet actually led them nowhere but to their doom.

The mountains never betrayed their secrets…
Though many thought they would find the cool relief of the shadows by early evening, the ascent would continue for another three torturous days. During those three days, their throats would scream for water, and their eyes would tear up in the swirling sand. Blown up by the hot desert winds, the sand burned as it fell upon a traveler’s face and skin. Eventually their limbs would become heavy, and they would barely be able to move; thus, the wanderers would be forced to crawl on, farther and farther, until sheer luck eventually brought them to civilization… to people.

In a canyon between two hills below the mountain range there was a village. It had no official name, but the people living there called it Alpcateçu, which meant Oasis of the Mountains. Anyone who wanted to climb the mountains had to pass through the village. A few taverns and inns surrounded the village fountain, where a market was sometimes held.
Some houses and huts had been built in the wide hills and even at the edge of the forest… and in one such place, hidden within the woods, almost four hundred feet past the deepest thicket and connected to the village only by a sidepath lay the place in which I had been born.

Tips For A Spring Wedding

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Tips for a Spring Wedding

 

Spring is one of the most popular seasons to get married. Everything is in bloom and just waking up form a long winter’s rest. It is very easy to a beautiful spring wedding on a small budget. All you need to do is set a budget, plan early and shop until you drop with all the cheap resources you can find. Some of the best resources that one can take advantage of when it comes to good cheap spring weddings are, the wedding gown, invitations, the cake, favors for the guests and bridal party, rings and even the photography.

Planning a wedding with a spring theme is very simple. When you start planning consider having the wedding on a beach. You really do not have to pay to have the wedding on the beach so that saves money for other things. Plan a spring wedding buy using certain themes such as a butterfly theme or even a tropical theme. Whatever theme you decide to go with, make sure the wedding invitations, favors, cake and even the wedding gown all match the theme accordingly.

If you really want to plan a spring wedding on the cheap side, skip using a wedding planner, they can cost an arm and leg. You can tons of things for a wedding online such as the photographers, rings, the place to have the wedding, the gown, flowers, caterers, and the invitations. In order to get the perfect spring wedding planned exactly the way you want it, start planning the wedding as early as possible like maybe December or January.

Wedding favors are great little trinkets to let your friends and family know you thank them for coming to your wedding. If you want to find the best selection of favor ideas, go online and search the many different vendors there. You can find some amazing little items for just a dollar or less. How cool is that?

Spring wedding can be gorgeous when it comes to decorating with flowers. Spring flowers are vibrant and colorful when it comes to decorating for a Spring wedding. You should choose flowers such as tulips, daffodils, chrysanthemums, daisies or even carnations. You can make flower arrangements using the same flowers you chose for your wedding bouquet so the entire theme matches.

Buying your wedding dress is probably what takes the most time of any wedding planning. Start looking for the perfect spring wedding dress months in advance, so the alterations are done in time. You should also do the same when it comes to the wedding parties’ attire. When you choose the colors for a spring wedding, use ones such as yellows, peaches, white, yellow and even pink.

A spring wedding really is one of the most beautiful weddings that a person could choose. Getting to use all the pastel colors to decorate and choose a beautiful sleeveless flowing gown are just a couple of perks. Anyone can plan a spring wedding quickly or even on a budget. Remember have fun and plan accordingly.

Here are nine wedding dresses for spring of 2013 fashioned created by todays wedding dress designers. Maybe you will find your style or one of these could give you an idea of what you want your dress to look like.

 

wedding dress2 wedding dress3 wedding dress4 Wedding Dress5 Wedding Dress6 Wedding Dress7 Wedding Dress8 Wedding Dress9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed your wedding dress looking. It’s so much fun to dream and to plan that perfect day that only belongs to you and your man.

Top 10 Wedding Songs

This will make you smile. Click Here:Tiny Love Stories

http://posts.fanbox.com/hftw4 Here is another blog showing beautiful dresses.

 

Darius Figgaro: Legend of the Shoemaker

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“I swear it’s true, every single word.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Giorgio, I’m unable to accept your statement. What made you think a story  so far-fetched, would  be believed?”

“Why would I lie about something that could cost me my life, Detective Johnson? That man died just as I said he did. I’m an honest man, and I do not lie.”

Detective Johnson got up from the table and walked from one corner of the room to the other. He couldn’t get his brain around the story that Mr. Giorgio was telling. “Do you care if I smoke, Mr. Giorgio?”

“No, I don’t care, Detective.”

“Thank you. Now let’s stop the formality. I’ve known you all of my life. You call me Peter, and I’ll call you, um, um. I don’t know your first name. I’ve never called you anything but Mr. Giorgio.”

Mr. Giorgio smiled as he listened to Peter. “Peter, my first name is Tony. Actually, it’s Antonio, but everyone calls me Tony. I guess it’s easier to remember.”

“May I call you, Tony? I’m sure I will fall back into old habits and call you Mr. Giorgio, but I’ll do my best to call you by your name. Ok, let’s start from the beginning, once again. Don’t leave anything out.”

“I haven’t left out anything, yet. Peter, there is more to this world than what’s here in Summerton. Things people have no idea is happening in this world. Have you ever heard of Darius Figgaro?”

“No, I can’t say I have. Is that the guy’s name we found in your shop?”

“No, I don’t know who that man was. Darius was from the third century BC and a shoemaker as I am. He lived in a small village, in Armenia. He was known everywhere for his excellent shoes. In fact, he was so talented he was chosen to make shoes for the God’s as an offering, when the festival happened, in a few months. Aramazd, and his attendant, Grogh were made boots. For Aramzd’s son, Mehr, he made the softest, kid, leather shoes, and finally for the Goddess Anahit, he made slippers from a new shiny material from China made by worms. Nothing was finer in the entire world.”

“If anything was going to bring the town prosperity, it would be Darius Figgaro’s shoes. The God’s would certainly think of Artashavian as their favorite place. The village leaders were so confident in their plan, they already had a sign made for outside of town. In large red letters, it read: Artasavian, home of the God’s shoes.”

“You’re kidding, towns back in the third century BC didn’t put up signs.”

How do you know, Peter? Were you there? People are remarkably resourceful, no matter when or where they lived. Think about the pyramids in Egypt, or the great lighthouse in Alexandria. All through the ages, people have accomplished exciting and beautiful things. Now back to my story. Are you going to interrupt me anymore?”

“I’m not planning to,” remarked Peter.

“The time for the great festival of the gods arrived in Artashavian. You could palpate the excitement in the air. Everyone was happier and looking forward to the three days of fun and homage to their gods. Darius’s excitement ended abruptly when he went to gather his offering and found the shoe cupboard empty. I know I put those shoes in this cupboard. What am I going to do now? Darius sat on his cobbler’s bench and prayed to the gods to help him find his offering. A loud booming voice sounded in Darius’s head.

“Darius sweep the floor using your new broomstick.”

Darius stood as he thought a moment where his new broom was located. Once he thought of the location, he walked to his back porch and grabbed the broom. “Ok, god, I have the broom, and I am obeying you even though I don’t know what good sweeping the floor will do.”

Sweeping the dirt floor was not an easy thing to do. You had to sweep but not stir up the dust and yet sweep aggressively enough to remove the debris on the floor. Sometimes Darius would place a course woven material down on the floor is he could buy the yardage at a cheap enough price. It’s been awhile since he purchased any, so his floor was bare.

He swept the center out of the floor but then decided he’d best do the corners. There’s a box here. I don’t remember this. When Darius looked inside the box, he yelled aloud, “Thank You, thank you”. There were all of the god’s boots and shoes. Tomorrow I will present them as my offering to the gods.

Before sunrise, the next morning, Darius gathered his box of shoes and headed to the temple. He felt fantastic and had extra energy. It was a glorious day. There were other people gathered at the temple also. Sunrise was the appointed time for giving of gifts. If your gift was accepted by the gods, you received a special blessing. Darius was hoping they would give him continued good health, so he could continue to make his shoes.

Just as the sun was coming over the horizon, Darius placed his offering on the altar. The ground shook and lightening streaked the sky. Women were screaming and running away, but Darius stood his ground. He looked at the altar, and his offering was gone. Everyone else’s was still there. What does this mean? Have I displeased them with my offering?”

“You have not displeased us Darius. You have used your talents to make a personal offering to us. Because you have pleased us so much, we are going to bless you for each pair of shoes you made. Kneel Darius facing the sun.”

Darius was on his knees with the sun shining brightly in his face. He heard a female voice call his name. “Darius, my slippers are magnificent and feel glorious on my feet. For this, you shall have eternal life. You will continue to share your shoes with all you meet. Everyone will want a pair of your shoes. My child’s feet are protected with the soft leather of his shoes. Because you have given him protection, I shall protect you.”

“Thank you, goddess, for your blessing. I could not ask anything more. I will continue to work and make my shoes”, Darius said.

“You shall prosper though your work,” Grogh commanded. “You shall never go without food or fine housing.”

Aramazd asked Darius if there was anything else he desired. Darius declined. “Then go Darius, knowing you will be protected, have a long life and will be sharing your shoes with the world for all time.”

Darius bowed his head as the bright light was removed from his face. He stood, not quite believing what occurred. “I’ve been blessed. What more could I want in this world.”

When Tony finished his story, he looked at Peter and asked, “Do you understand now?”

“Understand what? You told me a fairy tale that has nothing to do with the man’s body in your shop.”

“You are no different than the thousands of other people I have told my story to. You go through this life thinking you know everything, and you actually don’t know anything at all. I can’t explain it any further than what I already have. You have to open your mind, and actually listen to what I said.”

“I don’t have enough evidence to hold you for the man’s murder. I’m going to let you return home but do not try to leave town.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Peter. I will be at my shop working on some shoes. I have a particular order from the Pope. He likes his kid, soft leather shoes.” Tony left the room, heading back to his shop.

Peter kept running Tony’s story around in his mind. Maybe when I hear from the Coroner’s office everything will fall into place. Returning to his office, Peter pulled out the evidence folder on the dead man. It was empty, not one thing to go on so far.

“Peter, the Coroner’s Office is on-line 1.”

“Thanks Sam. Hello, Doc, what do you have for me? You are kidding me, not one thing. What was the cause of death? Heart failure, so it’s natural causes. Sure, I’ll let the prosecutor know about the findings. Thanks, Doc, for the info.” Shaking his head, Peter couldn’t believe it all meant nothing. He knew he wanted to talk to Tony again about the legend of the shoemaker and to tell him about the findings.

When Peter opened the door to go into the shop, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The room was empty. Not one shoe or even a sign anyone had been in the building. Cob webs hung from the ceiling corners, with thick dust on the windowsill. A desk sat up against the wall. It was polished to a brilliant shine and had a paper lying on top. When Peter walked over to the desk and looked down at the paper, it made him take in a deep breath, before reaching down to pick it up. His name was printed on the folded paper. He opened the paper, and he knew his world would never be the same. It read, I am Darius.

 

Tatoo’s Through The Ages

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I have always had an interest in Archaeology and I’m especially fond of Old world Egypt.  In one of my magazines I found an article that really caught my attention. It was about Tattoos and about how far in our past they go back.

Tattoo's Across the AgesTattoo's Across the Ages

I have to admit I am not a big fan of Tattoos because I know over time they grow to look rather dull instead of the vibrant piece of art work they started out to be.  I also believe that some overdue the tattoos on their bodies, and that is a personal preference. It really is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

People have been tattooing themselves for about 7000 years now. What makes a person decide to have a mark or picture put permenatly on their skin. Is it that constat drive to be different, to be set apart. It might also be a status symbol among some.

Tattoo's Across the AgesTattoo's Across the Ages

Otzi a copper age mummy found in Europe is probably the most famous tattooed man.  He died high in the Italian Alps more than 5,000 years ago.  Otzi’s body was almost perfectly preserved by snow and ice which covered him after his death.  Otzi had tattoo’s in the form of lines and crosses over his well worn ankles, wrists, knees , lower back and Achilles tendon.  When these lines were cut into the skin, charcoal was then rubbed into them.  Reasearcers now believe that they were theraputic in nature.  Was this the first form of accupuncture?

So thoughout the ages men and woman have dad tatoo’s for numerous different reasons. If you have one, what was your reasoning?

In the Greco-Roman world tattoo’s were a mark of shame and punishment. They tattooed crimianls, and slaves who tried to escape. When a country was invaded the victors would tattoo the inhabitants with their mark. Rome also tatooed slaves to show that taxes had been paid.  Bottom line is people have always come up with a reason why they needed tattoo’s.Tattoo's Across the Ages

My daughter received a tattoo across her lower back. She couldn’t explain to me why she did it other than she wanted it. Captain Cook was the first to use the verb “tattoo”.  It has even been around for a long time.  In 1769 he wrote in his diary about the Tahitian art of tatau. I guess that I will have to accept the fact the tattoo is not going to dissapear from this world’s society.