Posts Tagged ‘“Anne the Healer”’

“The Zar Tales”

February 11, 2010

"The Zar Tales"

Gets published.  In a few days, probably.

Bill Penrose, the dear friend and writer who formatted “A Seasoning of Lust” last year this time, has done his magic again.  Bill has taken these projects of mine and made them real.  He is a very well published author himself,  (“Ancestors of Star”  and “Anne the Healer” just to mention two books available from and also a research scientist, though what he does boggles my brain. Something to do with chemistry and conductors and lots of things mysterious.

This level of friendship is amazing to me.  What he does…the formatting…is the HARD work to me.  Mysterious and beyond my capabilities.  The writing is easy…..the formatting is difficult. doesn’t take prisoners, though they tout themselves as ‘easy to use’.   Hah!

But I think we both learned from the first book and Bill is, once again…working his magic here.

Thank you, Bill.

Lady Nyo

(Below I am posting a part of the last chapter of “The Zar Tale” just for fun. It is part, the end part of a very long wedding scene.)

Gifts were piled on the long table before them: rugs and blankets, pots and a few pieces of silver.  These gifts were to start the new couple on their life together.

The moon rose up into Heaven and was girdled with an array of distant stars.  A soft nighttime breeze wafted over the fields and a bonfire was lit and still the dancing went on.  The feasting and music continued, likely to last throughout the night and into the early hours of the dawn.

Ali looked down at Shakira, whose head in her heavy wedding crown was supported by the high backed chair she had been sitting on all day.  She could not move much for the combined weight of the crown and the heavy amber and silver necklaces almost immobilized her.

“Shakira, my wife” said Ali tenderly.  “Walk out with me a bit and let us have a moment apart of all our friends.”

Shakira was glad to do so, and since her bridesmaids were sitting all to the left of her, they remove the heavy headdress and some of the wedding jewelry.  That done, she felt the weight of the world lifted from her and she gathered her robes and walked apace with Ali.

Standing in the dark away from the bonfire, with only the moon to grace the ground with light, Ali put his arm around her shoulders and looked out across the landscape, now only shadows and dark mystery.

He, once a mighty Zar, and before a fierce Berber warrior, was now just a man, a mortal with no mystical powers.  At the thought of this moment, where he stood on the ground with a worthy woman at his side, he could have shed tears for his good fortune.

Now he would grow old, as other mortals and he would labor as other men for his bread. He would be part of a humanity that brought justice into the world, no longer a ghost who passed for little, but a man who had substance when the night fell and the dawn came.  His feet would walk on the hard earth and he could feel the winds come down from the mountain on his face.  He could feel the coolness of water and the heat of fire.  He was man.

A sudden cold wind blew where they were standing and Ali pulled Shakira close.  He glanced up at the moon and just for a moment, it looked a sickly green. The stars seemed to melt and revolve in a tangle up in the sky and Shakira shivered under his arm. It was only a second, but for Ali, he knew the signs.  If the others, especially the former Zars had seen what he did, they didn’t say a word.

Perhaps it was just the wine the men had been drinking and it meant nothing at all.  But Ali scowled at the moon and put his hand on his Berber sword.  He had been a Zar for a thousand years not for nothing.

Shakira did not see the change in the moon, but nestled under the strong arm of her new husband.

For her part, she was very glad her husband was mortal, and when the wedding guests tied their hands together with strong yarn and led them to Shakira’s house with drums and flutes and much laughter, she knew she had the best of all worlds.  She had the protection and love of a mortal, and though a Zar could be an enchanting being, the man in her life now was the substance of the best of her dreams.

* * *

But this is not the end of the story.  We will leave them both to enjoy the early months of their wedding, but there is much more to this Zar tale.

Do you remember the Mullahs they met on that black mountain road?  Those who judged Shakira Sheikha so harshly?  The ones who met an unfortunate fate?

These Mullahs were judged in Paradise and sent back to earth, but now in the form of Zars!

And they weren’t of the ‘helpful’ variety as were Ali and his Berber and Persian friends.

No, they were out for revenge and now imbued with the power of a terrible djinn.

The End (for now)


Jane Kohut-Bartels

“The Zar Tale”

Copyrighted, 2010

Interview with Bill Penrose, Author of “Anne the Healer”

January 29, 2010

(Bill Penrose is a friend of over three years standing I met on a  website, ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Assoc). I don’t participate much there anymore because I can’t seem to get the submissions of others  on a regular basis. (I am told it’s a server problem on my end.) It was a good classroom for those years,  and I would recommend it to any beginning writer for what you learn.  Most of us benefit from our time there and go on and perhaps broaden our writing from erotica. Or not.

Bill Penrose was one of the best people to come out of the ERWA experience. He took me, a very raw writer, in hand, and gently mentored  and encouraged  until I  started to stand on my own.  There were others who did the same, Nick Nicholson for one, and I remain very grateful to these two fine friends and great writers. Bill also has taken on the publishing of my first book, “A Seasoning of Lust” and is soon to do the second, “The Zar Tales”.

Thanks, Bill.  You know…you know.

Lady Nyo)

Bill, this book is rather different from “Ancestors of Star”. It delved into Catholicism, faith healing and other social issues, like homelessness.

I was still searching for the right genre. I began this novel as my Nanowrimo 2004 project, and finished it about a year later. Finally, I grew tired of letting it sit on my hard drive and decided to put it out there, first on, and finally on . I think it’s a good story, but I wasn’t really trying to get a message across, only to entertain.

While I was teaching at Illinois Institute of Technology, I was close to several contrasting neighborhoods in Chicago, including Bridgeport, Chinatown, and Bronzeville. Each neighborhood had its own peculiar characteristics, but Bridgeport was most interesting because of its cosmopolitan, transitional character. It had traditionally been Irish-Italian working class, as well as the home of the Daleys and the center of the famous Chicago Democratic Machine. But with the recent dramatic influx of Hispanics, it was becoming more diverse every day. It wasn’t just the broad ethnic spread, but the class distribution. There were the very poor, even some who lived in tents made of plastic garbage bags and duct tape, and others in narrow homes over a hundred years old. The shops on 31st Street reflected the fascinating variety of the area.

In other words, it’s an area where you almost expect unusual things to happen, much more so than in the homogenous suburban area where I lived. Although ‘Anne the Healer’ could have been set almost anywhere, it was a natural for the Bridgeport area.

Why did you write a novel about faith healing? Could you speak a bit on your own religious or spiritual convictions? How did you come to these?

I like to put a little magic in my stories. Life itself is magical in so many ways, so for me, it’s not much of a stretch to add just a little more magic, just enough to disorient and make the earth shift a little underfoot. I think it’s also important to merge it with the universal magic by making the special magic, e.g., Anne’s talent for healing, ambiguous. In other words, it should be possible to read ‘Anne the Healer’ without believing in faith healing or divine powers. Like the universal magic, it should be possible to interpret her healing power as self-delusion or coincidence.

‘Anne the Healer’ actually spun off from the character Mary the Healer in my first attempt at a novel, ‘The Sisters of Kali’. One of the Sisters, Mary Bell, discovers that she can sometimes cure sick or injured people by praying for them. At first, she is doubtful and then frightened by her mysterious power, with justice, because soon it takes over her soul and her life.

While ruminating on Mary’s character, I thought of other scenarios involving a reluctant healer, and wrote a short story, ‘Anne the Healer’, a tale of a brief liaison between a faith healer and Tim Hardy, a minimum-wage bookstore worker. I soon fell in love with Anne, but Tim was too passive to suit me. When I decided the story merited novel-length treatment, I made Tim a petty criminal with enough cynicism to doubt Anne’s talent, and later, when faced with evidence of her power to heal, plan to exploit her for his own purposes. But of course, they fall in love instead, Tim first.
I know that you are a scientist. Did you find that you were searching for different answers or was this not a conflict with your scientific views of life and death?

I never had a problem keeping science and spiritualism in my head at the same time. I’m not one of those scientists who claim to ‘leave God at the laboratory door’. Two people can look through a microscope at, say, a bacterial cell. One person will see an agent of disease, or perhaps a useful tool for the making of yogurt, or an intellectual puzzle to be solved. Another will see an actual miracle, the whole machinery of life packed into an impossibly tiny space, a spectacularly complex and beautifully constructed living device capable of reproducing itself, and involved in a vast web of interactions with the living and nonliving worlds. I find it difficult to do science without being caught up in the beauty of all things, from the mind-boggling structure of atoms, to the incomprehensible vastness of the Universe. The likelihood that these structures arose through a long process of variation and natural selection doesn’t dilute the miracles one bit. In fact, the more we understand, the more marvelous the Universe becomes.

Somewhere in ‘The Sisters of Kali’, my main character, Phyllis, says, “Miracles are everywhere. They happen every day, all around us. But we only question the new or different ones, the ones we haven’t become jaded with.”

No one has to believe in a god, or even a vague spiritual force, to appreciate Nature. Whether or not we attribute the Universe to a great spirit or to random chance isn’t due to the careful study of Nature, but something that comes out of our own character. No one really sets out to study the Universe in order to discover God or prove Her absence. They begin with the assumption that God exists, or doesn’t exist, and interpret all they see and hear from that perspective. Belief trumps facts every time.

I’ll go one step farther and say that the Universe is constructed in such a way that it’s impossible to prove or disprove the existence of a spiritual force. This ambiguity is built into the world, and it’s absolutely essential to the existence of Free Will. If we could solve an equation, or run a statistical analysis that conclusively proved the existence of God, Free Will would vanish instantly. Every decision after that would be conditioned on whether it would offend or please God. We’d have no choice but to try to discover what this new God wanted from us, and try to do things to satisfy Her demands.

You are not a writer who turns from the sexual issues in your books, but in “Anne the Healer” you handled this in a very different way. Why was that?

Mostly, I thought it would distract from the main story. I’d just spend a half year with two different critique groups who found the sexual interludes in ‘The Sisters of Kali’ too explicit, and intruded on the main story. In my current WIP, I’ve run into the same criticism, and I’ve decided to dumb down or dilute those scenes in the next rewrite.

Thank you, Bill.  What you write about Free Will expands my thinking on the issue.  I wish you had been my teacher in chemistry.  I think you would have made it all…’plain’.

And very much more illuminating.

Lady Nyo

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