Click here to listen (and watch, kinda) C. W. Schultz’s short story, Roadblock.
Click here to listen (and watch, kinda) C. W. Schultz’s short story, A Light in the Empty House.
Episode 6 of Mysterious Music, “Urban Legends”, is available now! This installment examines songs that have been shrouded in mystery due to being associated with an urban legend. To watch the full episode (as well as other installments of the series), please click here.
Episode 5 of Mysterious Music, “Single-Copy Albums”, is out now. To watch the full episode (as well as other installments of the series), please click here.
First and foremost, I hope everyone is staying healthy. I try to avoid talking too much about COVID-19 because you just can’t go anywhere (not that you should be going places) without hearing about it; but then again, it’s a very real problem and has had an affect on some of these updates.
More important than any hinders COVID-19 has had to the release of my upcoming work is that my loved ones (some of whom are high-risk) and I have remained in good health through all of this. I hope this message finds you all well, too; and, if not, I sincerely wish you and/or your loved ones the thoughts and strength to rebound from all of this.
Despite the optimism of my first two paragraphs, I admit the introduction of this post is grim. So, I might as well get the bad news out of the way, before moving on to the good news.
The bad news: Whispering of the Autumn Leaves has made no progress in getting published. There was a publisher interested, but when COVID-19 hit, they were forced to pushback their 2020 and 2021 releases. This would push the publication of Whispering of the Autumn Leaves to 2022. A lot of things could happen between now and then, so commitment from either party wouldn’t make sense at this juncture. As I’ve stated before, the novel itself has been completed, and careful instructions have been given to a select few, should anything happens to me before it gets published.
Now, the good news: Aaron Calafato’s podcast of non-fiction vignettes, 7 Minute Stories, will be featuring a short-story read and written by me, called “Rooster”. It will premiere on April 30. In the meantime, Aaron has a lot of fun stories of all different genres, including “The Yellow Bird”, which was featured on NPR. So, regardless of my appearance on the podcast, I highly recommend you navigate over to the one and only 7 Minute Stories podcast.
Last but not least, the fifth episode of Mysterious Music will be released the first weekend of May 2020 (either the 2nd or 3rd). What began as a two-part examination of trends between songs which are unidentified versus tunes whose artist/band have since been located, has since sprouted into an ongoing series of all different types of mysterious music. I thank you for all of the interest and your eagerness to get involved in the quest to solve these songs.
So, despite the state of the world, it’s a time for creativity, inspiration and reflection. I hope I’m doing my part in keeping us connected and reminding you that better times are ahead. Stay safe and thanks again for everything.
Episode 4 of Mysterious Music, “Lost & Found”, is out now. To watch the full episode (as well as other installments of the series), and find out the difference between a lost song and a mysterious song, please click here.
Mysterious Music is a new series about recordings that currently have no known source, or were at one time unidentified. To hear some of these cryptic tunes, watch the latest Mysterious Music episode here. You can also join the discussion to discover several other mysterious albums, bands, musicians and songs that will be the subject of future episodes!
Today marks the 1,209th day since A Book About a Film was released. 1,209 days represents the longest I’ve ever gone without releasing a novel. Since I feel like I owe you guys one for your continued patience, I decided to not only release a sample chapter of the forthcoming Whispering of the Autumn Leaves, but also make a video of it. Unfortunately, still no release date. Whispering of the Autumn Leaves is very long and complex, and deals with a lot of stories intertwining through multiple dimensions, so there’s a lot of planning needed to avoid knots and ensure the reading experience isn’t too much of a maze.
Thank you for maintaining your interest after such long gaps. Rest assured, I’m doing everything in my power to make it worth the wait. To be continued…
Chapter 3 – The Andles A
A public service article published in the 1231 issue, titled “The Psalterist and the Shawmist”
Monsters have always lurked in the Royal Forest, a vast wooded area crossing into the regions of Denland, Everdirk and Wist Vondorian. It was a story to teach children not to wander far, or help them visualize the unknown evils of the world. Now, however, it appears some of the monsters have emerged from the Royal Forest to kidnap the children.
Within the last few cycles, the amount of missing children has increased. Reports stretch from the Royal Forest’s nearby farmlands like Naidney, all the way into the northern side of Denregal, particularly the Roachill district. Some believe there are hexminors turning children into red-crested jays, the black bird with a flame-red crest. However, these birds aren’t seen nearly as frequently as the rate of disappearing children, thus debunking this theory.
Two men were spotted emerging out of the Royal Forest. One was described as fat and balding, while the other was said to be thin and covered in locks of blond hair. The former cradles the bulky harp instrument of a psaltery; while the other carries the slender flute instrument of a shawm. They’ve been dubbed the Psalterist and the Shawmist. Both tall in stature, their footsteps make for long strides, explaining why witnesses have had difficulty chasing them down when they see a child in their company.
The sound of music can be heard as the Shawmist leads the child back into the Royal Forest’s border of black pine trees, which are so tall, they reach into the clouds on a rainy day. The Psalterist waddles behind his partner-in-crime and their young captive, ensuring the child doesn’t escape the musical trance.
Days later, the child is found in the farmlands, identified only by the clothes he or she was last seen wearing. All that is left is a dry skeleton, as if the child had been dead for decades. Skin and all organs are completely gone, and the bone is as clean as polished ivory.
People believe a witch lives in the Royal Forest, and they named her Ryla Bao. The name comes from the Mirean language the villagers in Naidney use, which is directly translated to Evil-Eyed Lady; “ryl-” meaning “eye”, “-a” meaning feminine, and “bao” meaning “evil”. They say she’s centuries old, and uses black magic to allow the children’s skin and organs to prolong her youth. The younger the child is, the longer it takes her to age again. The Psalterist and the Shawmist are her warlocks, commanded to retrieve her sacrifices.
Many expeditions have been organized in an attempt to save children seen leaving with the warlocks. However, these same expeditions are usually soon abandoned, with the child’s skeleton always turning up days later. While in the Royal Forest, people who have survived the expedition claim to experience spirits speaking to them, as well as strange disorientations that causes nausea and euphoria at the same time. These disorientations greatly affect the sense of direction, resulting in parties traveling in complete circles; as well as a sense of time being paralyzed, with nights seeming to last as quickly as a few minutes or as long as several days. Beasts in the Royal Forest also show signs of ravenousness, with bears, unisaurs and wolves oft attacking and killing members of the search party. The probability of being attacked by an exceptionally aggressive beast has led many to conclude that entry to the Royal Forest is equal to certain death. When King Three of Johnamas Hollied introduced the punishment of Banishment to the Royal Forest back in 978, he had heard the stories of these aggressive animals. Now, with a witch and two warlocks emerging from the haunted woods, the probability of survival lessens and the punishment of Banishment to the Royal Forest is ever crueler.
Because the child’s body usually turns up in the farmlands while the expedition is still in place, horrific bewilderment arises by how the body is discarded without the Psalterist and the Shawmist’s reemergence being noticed. Theories have included an invisibility spell, teleportation or that the children are being led into the Royal Forest and exited through a different path as a diversion. If the entrance to the Royal Forest is just an elaborate distraction, there are plenty of barns and small castles between Naidney and Denregal that the children can be easily taken to. In other words, the Psalterist and the Shawmist might not be just warlocks, they could your neighbor.