SAMPLE CHAPTERS & ARTWORK UPDATES

Mierna – Characters

Most of the characters are not introduced until Mierna confronts Bashton in the circus tent. Then she truly sees what their powers are and how they use them in the performance.

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Snippet from “Mierna & the Circus of Mysteries”

With a perfect somersault, he landed on his back and grabbed up the covers. “Hmmm beddie bie. So much more comfortable!” Rolling over, his tail happily wagged like a puppy. He gave a sigh as he settled in a comfortable position facing her. When at last he spoke, his voice had lost all enthusiasm. “As much as I enjoy what I do, it’s tiring. Always having to carry that charm and expectations of an act. But let’s be real here. The whole thing is getting tiresome.”

“Speaking of being real,” Mierna replied. “When there’s something from out a storybook lying in my bed, what am I supposed to say to that?” 

“Oh, come on! You believe in us. You had to. That charm burns your pocket as pure witness.” 

Mierna had forgotten the charm placed in her pajama pants. She took it out. Whereas before the gemstones had appeared lackluster, now they glowed as though with a newfound purpose.

“You wouldn’t have gone back if you weren’t curious to know more.”

“Only because I lost it,” Mierna defended. 

“Well now that you have it,” Vlanders kicked off the blankets, “go ahead and hang it on your door, just there.” 

“What? But it’s just some cheap trinket.” 

“Oh, yee of little faith.” Vlanders watched her hang it. Once she stepped aside, he gently lifted it with the tips of his claws and bowed his head just slightly. A short burst of blue-green light flowed into the charm. The gems glistened with energy as he released it. As the charm tapped back against the door, a colorful burst of energy swept across the room. 

Mierna stepped back at the sweep of color beneath her feet, which simply faded. “The Tree of Eternity is a symbol of protection. But what are we being protected against?”

Vlanders motioned toward the window. “There are…rules of the Fae, so to speak. Just being here is breaking all kinds of rules.” He sat back on the bed. “So with that being said, we should have a little bit of time. What would you like to know?” 

“Just like that?”

“It’s one thing to be in the Fae and ask questions. But here it is different. I can be…” He gave a long sigh. “Myself.” 

Mierna sat down next to him. “I just thought all those from the Fae liked to answer in riddles or want something in return. So how was it possible for you to leave the Fae?”

He chuckled. “Why, Dreamers, of course!”

“Dreamers?” 

He gestured to the girl. “Like you. Like others. They are the ones that keep us in the being! Dreams can be seen in the Fae all around. They appear like soap bubbles when you sleep. You could almost pop one. Well, you can! But then there’s no more dreaming, see? It’s fun to poke at ’em, though! To make them better…or worse – depending. Sometimes…we come into them. And out.”

“So…” Mierna tried to make sense of it. “What you’re saying is when we dream, you can come through?” A nod. “So how do you get back?” 

About a week ago, I finished writing the story about a creepy faerie circus, but I didn’t like the final confrontation. So I’m rewriting that part and adding more details to make it more crazy! Because who doesn’t like bloated clowns diving from a high platform into a foot of water?

Vlanders WIP

Character poster in the works for when everything is published… then I’ll do a book signing.

From: Mierna & the Circus of Mysteries

A flash of lightning showed her worst fear. Heading directly into town was a little splash of white bobbing up and down along the roadside. She squinted, barely making out the pony’s white-patched rump keeping alongside the fence. With no other choice, Mierna dashed after him. 

“Thistle!” She knew it was pointless to keep calling his name, but she had to try even when he started weaving on and off the road. She screamed his name when oncoming headlights blinded her. All she saw was the pony’s silhouette darting in front of it. 

She heard the vehicle’s horn blow just as Thistle made a sharp left. Mierna was surprised how fast his short, stubby legs could make him go and not tire. Already out of breath herself, she followed him through some tall grass. 

Running used to be so easy for me, she realized, glad she had kept on her long jeans. Long stems and briers scratched at her legs and ensnared her feet. Once or twice she tripped, only to look up to see Thistle still going. “You’re going to be a mess going through all this, you brat!” 

At last, they came out to a parking lot. It was completely filled, with cars lining the roadside as well. She was disappointed that she could not see the show like everyone else, and instead chased after a stubborn, wet pony. 

What are you running to, Thistle? When she reached  various storage and sleeping tents surrounded by all the unpacked caravans, she lost sight of him. Thunder drowned out any sounds of his whereabouts, but it could not drown out the circus music coming from inside the towering big top. 

Mierna stepped inside a connecting back part just to get out of the rain. Though it mattered little at this point, she needed a break. There was no telling where Thistle had gone, or what he had slipped into. With the rain coming down in sheets, she was lucky to follow him as well as she did. Now she could see nothing but silver beads of rain streaming down in the lamplight. With a sigh, Mierna turned to look around at all the things stacked in various crates. There were various shiny objects that drew her eye, large hoops, balancing balls and hay – lots of hay. 

“Must be for the animals.” She squeezed between a couple of barrels, their lids partially opened, though they appeared dark inside. A tent flap separated where the two parts connected, with a decent-sized trough containing a bed of hay sitting to the side. The center seemed compressed, as though something had been resting on it. Intrigued, she carefully pulled back part of the flap to catch a glimpse of performers moving around the arena. 

At first only silhouetted figures blocked her view from changing acts. Stagehands rushed to lower and raise ropes and ignite certain lighting effects. A series of flames shot upwards that ended in colorful cracklings. This went on for several moments while four trapeze artists exchanged swings while leaping through the air. Even from the backside, Mierna was impressed with how smooth they made it seem. Below them, a two headed woman in an ornate bell-bottomed gown began to sing a duet as the music changed. Starting slow, it enticed the audience to gaze in wonder at what new event might follow.

Fire crackled like the sparklers her father brought home during fourth of July celebrations. Her anger for Thistle was soon forgotten as a large metal ring was lifted up and set ablaze. Combined with masked dancers weaving in and out among one another with wavering ribbons, drummers on the side increasing tempo, and singing conjoined twins got Mierna’s heart pounding in anticipation for the next bit.

There suddenly came the cry of a hawk, or hawk-like. The sound seemed to echo in tune with the sweet sound of epic music introducing its flight. Mierna expected a large bird of prey to cross the ring of flames. What she saw instead made her question her friend’s statement of freaks & geeks. The bird was indeed large, but it was nothing like any animal she had ever come across in a book. Its silvery feathers adjusted to mimic the multicolored flames. Two long plumes extended from the tail, fanning out to climb high over the audience. Then it turned to glide back to the other side of the arena. In a dive through the flaming ring, its wings pulled tight. Just when it reached the center, the flames intensified, seemingly engulfing the bird before it could pass all the way. Mierna heard herself gasp, as did many others in the crowd. One or two even screamed. Yet in that moment, the flames split with an eerie blue-green glow, and something else emerged in its place. 

Mierna gaped at the faun-like creature that struck the floor on two cloven hoofs. Its legs were like the hind quarters of a goat, but longer. Silver fur darkened at the knees and trailing feathering around the ankles. But it was the upper body that resembled a young man, aside from the two horns on either side of his head and silver fur covering his skin. For this reason, no clothing was needed, although he did acquire a few ribbons in a quick-step move between the other dancers. With movements that defied gravity itself, he kicked up a large hoop and spun it around himself while dancing in a swirl of fur and ribbons. A darkened goatee curled upon his chin when he finally turned toward Mierna’s hiding spot. He paused in a balancing act upon the ring when a blue-green gaze seemed to find hers in the dark.

Vlanders

It takes great patience to get this púca to hold still long enough to draw. From the short story: Mierna and the Circus of Mysteries.

Mierna & the Circus of Mysteries

“There are Givers, and there are Takers. Some say there are both, but a person can only be one at a time. To Give is to bring joy and life into the world, to shape it into a thing of grace and mystery. To Take is to destroy all that was made good. It darkens dreams of those sleeping and makes the frail even frailer until they simply wink out of existence altogether. To counter such actions requires a special Giver, a gift that can only only be granted out of one’s—” 

“Mierna!” 

The voice of her father seized her imagination. With a sigh, she closed the book and placed it on her bed. The pages were worn where she had been reading it over several months. She had nearly memorized the words by now, but it was still one of her favorites. Next to the book lay several college applications, some of which were already in the process of being filled. With a quick glance over them, she started for the stairs.

“Coming!” She jumped the last two steps like she always did and stepped into the kitchen. “Did I miss something?” 

Her father stood at the kitchen table thumbing through some mail. He did not look up, but replied, “It’s your turn to clean out the stalls today. Did we forget?” He raised his eyebrows in that inquisitive way that suggested he knew she had. 

“Oh, the schedule switched this week! I’ll get on it.” She started for the door. 

“Any luck on those applications yet?” 

She paused with her hand on the doorknob. “It’s just…hard to figure what I want to do. I wish I could be like Lizzy and just…know my place.” 

Her father smiled in understanding and set the mail down. Reaching up, he removed his reading glasses to better see her. “You don’t have to be like your sister. Lizzy was just ready.”

“Farm life was never her thing, though,” Mierna said softly and opened the door to the front porch. “Is the business trip still happening?” She turned to see him nod. “So…the deal is still going through…” 

“Farming may not have been anyone’s choice, but it was a good for a while. Don’t worry. Maybe city life will help you find your niche.” 

“Nothing wrong with the quiet at times either,” Mierna said quietly before stepping outside.

She made her way to the barn where several horses were being boarded. This helped with some of the bills coming in, but not all. Her father needed the extra pay, and she knew it was for the better. As she approached the building, she let her gaze trailed over the freshly painted boards. 

“Hmmm, did we miss a spot?” Mierna squinted at the unmistakable spot near the roof where some of the red paint appeared faded. “Weird.”

The horses were restless when she went inside. She patted one on the neck as she checked each of their troughs, but no refills were needed. A wheelbarrow with a shovel and other tools lined the far wall. In the opposite corner was a feed room. It was also closest to a liver bay stallion, which pawed against its stall door as though trying to get out. 

“Sorry, but you’re going to have to wait for the others first,” she told it. 

The stallion snorted and pranced in place. 

“You’re certainly high-spirited today.” She reached over to touch its velvety muzzle when something slammed against the floor behind her. Spinning abruptly, Mierna saw where the shovel had tipped over. From behind, the stallion reared in fright, forcing her to back away. “Take it easy, boy! It was probably the…wind?” 

Unease from the other horses began to cause worry. There’s no wind blowing in here! So how..? As Mierna went to retrieve the shovel, she heard a rustle coming from the feed room. With shovel in hand, she kept it raised in front of her while stepping across the floor. Her hand reached for the partially opened door when a faint blue-green glow flickered within.

“What is that?” She opened it fully just as the light winked out. 

At first, nothing moved. Natural light filtered in from the opened barn doors, allowing her eyes to quickly adjust to the dim room. She then flipped on a light switch. 

Nothing. 

Mierna lowered the shovel in puzzlement and looked around at bins. Everything looked fine except for an open lid showing an overflow of oats starting to pile up on the floor. With a sigh, she reach down to clean them up. 

“Overfilling the bins again? Come on, Dad. No wonder you’re ready for a change.” 

That same blue-green illumination flickered off the bins, like a candle flickering before going out. Mierna paused, lifting her hand in and out of the unnatural lighting. In the midst of turning toward its source, there came a rush of air to the back of her neck. Had something dropped from above? She never saw, for in that instant the door shut tight. 

“Hey!” Luckily, there was no lock, so Mierna was easily able to get out. A clap of hoofs, as far as she could tell, ran out of the barn. After checking the agitated horses, she ran outside. Bits of dust still lingered where something had been. 

For a moment, she stared down the dirt road leading into town. At night she could see the lights in their windows. It had built up over the years she had lived there when little of nothing had been available. Now there were possibilities, but not enough.. To her left spread acres of corn and wheat growing so tall it blotted out the sky. To her ride sat the old farmhouse. Though it had seem better days, the fresh paint did help brighten up the weathered boards and shingles. 

“Maybe city life will be better…I guess.” She turned to go back inside when a piece of paper blew across her path. Still startled from the earlier scare, was hesitant to reach down. It was slightly crumpled along the corners, but after unfolding it she began to read the headline. 

“JARUS BASHTON’S CIRCUS OF MYSTERIES. COME FOR THRILLS AND ASTOUNDING ACTS THAT DEFIES GRAVITY ITSELF. BRING ONE AND ALL. FREE ADMISSION FOR THE FIRST NIGHT.”  

Mierna stared at the interesting figures on the poster. Amidst a series of acrobats frozen in death-defying leaps, trapeze artists and contortionists, all in colorful masks, there was one figure that stole the spotlight. Taking a guess this was their main attraction, she stared hard at the faun-like figure twirling with ribbons billowing around his slender form. A pair of horns topped his pallid head, but it was the electric blue-green glow that emitted from around them that made her draw a quick breath. 

It had been the same color she had seen a moment ago. 

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