Are You Named ‘Rumpelstiltskin’?

Rumpelstiltskin - Fairy Tales - Research and Course Guides at Missouri Southern State University

[Note: I’m not feeling well today, my wife feels worse than I do, and my editor feels worse than she does. Nevertheless, we’ll try to maintain business as usual.]

Imagine writing a business letter and having to start it, “Dear Mr. Rumpelstiltskin.”

Imagine hearing a court case, The People vs. Rumpelstiltskin.

Imagine anyone named Rumpelstiltskin running for Congress.

You get the point. The name has no business outside a fairy tale. But look at my name, which winds up on book covers. It is pronounced a dozen different ways, none of them right. Dye-gon. Dooo-gin. Doo-jion. Du-gong (a marine mammal related to the manatee). At least most people can say “Rumpelstiltskin.”

I asked “” if there’s anybody really named Rumpelstiltskin. The tantalizing answer was “At least one.” Hmm… That’s all there was to it. It raises more questions than it answers.

Rumpelstiltskin for U.S. Senate. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Please Feel Free to Browse the Archives

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I just don’t seem to have it today. WordPress tells me I’ve posted for 2,572 days in a row, my wife insists I rest, I’ve done no work on The Witch Box today, and my brain wants me to put it into a pail of cool water and leave it alone for a while.

So I guess I’d better take the rest of the afternoon off. Maybe I overdid it yesterday.

If you’re new here, or even if you’re not, I invite you to browse the blog archives to your hearts’ content. They’re probably full of cool stuff I’ve forgotten all about. Go for videos of boat launch fails: I always find those refreshing.

I hope to return this evening with a critter video.

Memory Lane: A Sunday in the Summer

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Back when I was 12 years old and could stand the heat, Sunday was a big day for our family in the summer. Uncle Ferdie usually dropped in with a platoon of cousins, and that was the signal for two of my favorite family events–a backyard cookout, and horseshoes in the school playground next door.

I loved the clang! the horseshoes made when they struck the metal stake. It went so well with the crack of the bat. Ferdie, by then an inventor with RCA, had been a U.S. Marine. I always thought of him as a Marine recruiting poster come to life. So did the Marines, who shipped him off to Puerto Rico to be an admiral’s chauffeur. It wasn’t quite what he’d signed up for, but he had no complaints.

Hamburgers and hot dogs, with harmonica music, generally followed the horseshoe games. We had a large family, very close. My aunts would join us later on and show us slides of their latest journeys to almost everywhere in the world. For us a summer Sunday was like Christmas, but without the tree.

Oh, I wish we had our horseshoes back, and all those travel tales!

Thank you, Lord, for all those golden memories.

Our Own Assassin Fly

The Robber Fly | Natural World | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

So I went outside to write in the heat, wanted to finish a chapter of The Witch Box, and when I’d had enough, I came back in to lie on the floor and cool off. I was just getting settled when Patty reported, with alarm, “What’s that on your back? Oh, it’s some awful kind of great big spider!”

“Well, are you going to just stand there looking at it? Get it off me!” I may be Mr. Nature, but I’d just as soon not have some great big spider crawl under my shirt.

“How? How do I get it off you?”

“I don’t know! Do something!”

She started to pull up my shirt. I wasn’t having that! “Oh! It’s got a long body like a grasshopper!” She was still messing about with my shirt when the big nasty spider suddenly “flew away.”

“What? A spider that can fly? Where did it go?”

“I don’t know! It just flew off!”

By and by I found the creature resting on a windowpane. Now that I could see it, I realized it was an assassin fly. I drew Patty’s attention to it. “Is this what you saw?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“There’s no problem, then. It’s an assassin fly. It’s a predator. It has no interest in human beings.”

“Does it eat bugs? Will it eat flies?”

“Flies, and anything else it can catch.”

“Well, then, it can stay here and be welcome,” Patty said.

So it’s still there on the windowpane, waiting for a tasty fly to come along.


Memory Lane: Travels With My Aunts

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Throughout my childhood, one of the sure signs of summer was my aunts taking off for faraway places–Gertie, Millie, and Joan. Grandpa and Grandma always went to Florida; and even that was an exotic destination, back then. But my aunts went just about everywhere.

This was the late 50s, early 60s. You weren’t allowed to go to communist countries, and the Iron Curtain cut off half of Europe. So they went everywhere else.

Listen, people didn’t do that, back then! Just get on a plane and light out for the ends of the earth. My aunts could have easily become celebrated travel writers, had they wanted to.

Adventures? Yeah, they had adventures. Their tour came unraveled once, somewhere in the middle of Uganda. They had to eat at a place called The Black Cat Cafe. And you had to be very careful about that!

Another time, Aunt Millie had a panic attack deep in the bowels of the Great Pyramid–heckuva way to find out you’re claustrophobic.

These were single women with ordinary jobs. They weren’t rich. This was how they liked to spend their money; they worked hard for it and saved up for their travels. Travels (at least, as far as I can remember) to Norway, Iceland, England, Germany, Peru, the Caribbean, Australia, Venice, the Alps, Spain, Egypt, East Africa, West Africa, Greece, Labrador, Alaska (hardly anybody went there, back then), Ireland… And I’ll bet I’ve forgotten a few more. They always brought back really cool souvenirs and lots and lots of slides, show the family first and then the church. Every summer, another adventure.

It was a lot bigger world, back then. And my aunts knew it better than most.

‘I Love My Characters’ (2018)

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One thing about writing a continuing series: it gives your characters scope to grow and change.

And of course it’s always fun when new characters enter the story.

I Love My Characters

Any day now The Wind from Heaven will be published, No. 13 in the Bell Mountain series. I have no idea how it’ll be received.

If you’re reading Bell Mountain for the first time (a lot of people read it more than once), I’d love to hear from you!

A Personal Note (Ooch! Ouch!)

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Thank heaven for hymn requests and Norbert videos! Because of these, I can keep this blog going even when I’m not quite up to snuff.

My allergies are killing me and I ache all over–in fact, I feel like I just fell down the stairs. I had to go to the supermarket anyway, where I learned from the checkout clerk, and from the woman behind me in line, that there’s a lot of this going around, bad allergies all over–which to me means it’ll pass. “Would you believe I slept for 12 straight hours yesterday?” the clerk said. “Save some of the next batch of sleep for me,” I answered.

So I’m not up to working on my new book, I can’t bring myself to scan the nooze, and I look forward to feeling better tomorrow. I’m changing the title of the book, by the way–the new book is now The Witch Box.

(Oh, fap! I’ve got to write a Newswithviews column tomorrow. If I can! I’d appreciate some prayers on my behalf.)

P.S.–Don’t forget we’ve got a hymn contest going. The more, the merrier.

Workin’ in the Heat

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I’ve just come in from working on my book outside. Yeesh! They say the heat index is over 100 degrees. I’m in no position to doubt it.

And wow, dig that Big Tech censorship! I’m on a pace to lose 3,000 views compared to April 2020. Three thousand views. Good thing I’m not in this for the money.

Now, somehow, I’ve got to write a Newswithviews column. Pray I don’t keel over. I have no idea what to write, so I’ll have to think of something. If I can cool off first.

I’m Already Tired

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I’ve got a book to write, which means going out there where it’s as hot as Hades. I also have to write blog posts, a Newswithviews column, and a book review…

Why don’t you write indoors, stupid?

Because I can’t write fiction indoors, that’s why. I have to be in the real world if I want to write fantasy. (Oy, now they’ve got me doing it!)

Will I get more blog views if I say Joe Biden is a great man who won the election fair and square? Will that move me up in the search engine rankings… or just get me struck by lightning? Or totally destroy my self-respect for the rest of my life?

Well, it ain’t gonna get any cooler while I sit here dawdling over the manuscript. Onward!

Racking My Brain

Lingua Franca

I am supposed to write a Newswithviews column today, but I don’t know what to write about. Scanning the news of the week so far, we find an embarrassment of poverty. I mean, do I really want to write about drag queen shows at Nellis Air Force Base being held up to us as morale boosters and part of military readiness? How far could I go with that without tossing my cookies? If we ever have to fight a war against someone who can fight back, we’re done for.

I notice in the cartoon that the poor brain is positioned where the 8-ball would normally be. As Edgar Rice Burroughs once said, to be behind the 8-ball and out on a limb at the same time is very bad business.

Look, I’ve got to go pick up my laundry. If you’ve got any suggestions, I’ll read them as soon as I get back. And then I really must write something.