Posts Tagged ‘Bill Penrose’

“Devil’s Revenge”, a novel…Chapter One.

February 5, 2016



WARNING: Sexual content, scenes.  If you are offended by this, don’t read.  Frankly, I understand.  I am offended by misogyny and Pentecostals. 

I started this erotic novel almost ten years ago.  It was only my second novel.  I left off writing it when I started other works.  Recently I came back and reread what I had written so long ago.  It was fresh and funny, and some of the original characters came from the first novel (Heart of the Maze).  That novel was boring and too long, meandering around.  I had fallen in love with some of the characters and didn’t want to kill them off, as the novel demanded.  (Novel writers will recognize this easily enough.)  So I made some of them Devils and just let the characters write this one.  The narrator is not a devil nor demon.  Just a writer who wakes up one morning in an alternative universe.  Happens

Trusting in your characters  makes it easier for an author:  They  tend to do the heavy lifting.  They circle your computer and whisper their lines.  You just type.

I have previously posted random chapters but was encouraged by other writers to begin from the beginning.  We will see.  The people I respect the most and wouldn’t want to offend are now all dead, so the rest of you will just have to take your chances.  Tastes vary, but that is the way of the world.

However, I want to express my sincere gratitude to a couple of writers who stuck with me for many years and encouraged me to trust my own imagination and give it voice.

Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Steve Isaak, and Liras.  These excellent and generous writers, now dear friends, have made learning my craft a lot easier.

Lady Nyo





I am about to tell a strange tale. Not really a tale, because a tale smacks of fiction. This in any case was not fiction. I felt the full effects of its turnings. And it’s not over. I just have to tread water because each time I open my eyes, after a fitful night’s sleep, I am again locked in a world not of my making.

Well, part of my making, but even my lurid imagination pales with what I have experienced.

Sixteen years ago I wrote a too-long novel, set in the 1820’s. The characters had names from the Dutch families I knew while growing up. Everything was fiction, except the landscape, the characters long dead, figments of my imagination, creation of a writer. Never did I expect some of them to leap out of the pages of that unfinished book and change the course of my life.

I feel I have dropped down a rabbit hole, or flown to some strange alien universe. Perhaps I am mad. In any case, events are spiraling out of control, beyond my control, and now?

I have none. I have given up my will to fate, destiny and I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Bear with me, reader. Understand what I write, what you read– exists.

Bess McShane



Chapter One


One morning I sat upright in bed, gasping in terror. The light was dim, hard to see. There was a fireplace with a low burning fire. An ember must have exploded. There could be no other answer for the sudden noise. Asleep, it sounded like gunshot.

My eyes adjusted and I looked around. An ember exploded? Where the hell was I? My heart pounded and a sickness rose to my throat. Suddenly I knew where I was. Many years ago I had written a novel, still unfinished, and now I was in the bedroom carefully constructed in the novel. But perhaps I was just dreaming?

I felt a sharp constriction around my ribcage and tried to take a deep breath. I was wearing some kind of corset, laced tightly over a slip. No wonder I couldn’t breathe. At least this made some physical sense.

I tried to take deep breaths to get my bearings but no amount of air would calm me.

What had happened from the time I went to sleep in my own bed next to my snoring husband? How did I make it to this bed?

The constriction around my chest did not dull me to the sudden pressure of my bladder. There was a closet in the corner and I knew inside that closet was a chamber pot encased in a stool. I had written that detail into the book and now very glad of it.

Slipping out of the high bed, I padded across the wood floor. It was a strange thing to pee in a chamber pot. Everything was so quiet, even the birds outside still asleep, but the noise of water hitting china was too loud for the morning. It made me self-conscious, even though I thought I was still dreaming. I had to be.

I came from the closet and sat down before the fireplace. The fire suddenly flared and I jumped in surprise. It was almost as if an invisible hand fed the fire. At least it would warm up this cold room. A cup of tea sat on the table, still hot. It was dark outside the window but steam from the tea rose in the air. I was almost afraid to touch it, my mouth dry from fear. There, a sip, and it was just tea.

A dresser stood across the room from the bed, with a small mirror on the wall above. The image appeared to be me, my hair the usual color, my skin the same shade. Yes, me, but I pinched myself, just to see if I was still dreaming. If pain were any indication of my present state, I was awake.   There was a yellow wool dress, thrown carelessly over the back of a chair. A pair of bloomers on the seat. Crotch less, they opened from the front to back. I giggled, a bit hysterically. Like Alice, I had dropped down a rabbit hole.

Nothing now seemed real

Even with the flare up of the fire, the room was not warm. I needed to get dressed. I needed to get my bearings. Stepping into the gown I pulled it up to my shoulders. It hooked in the front of the bodice. I pulled on stockings and garters. They were a lovely silk, soft and delicate, and came to the tops of my thighs. The garters could be tied anywhere, so I tied them above the knees, rolling down the tops of the stockings, hoping they would stay. I held up the split bloomers and tried to determine the front from the back. They could be useful when you wanted to pee. The shoes were another surprise. Made neither a left nor a right, with a thin leather sole and low wooden heel, they tied across my ankles with ribbons. There was a blue shawl, of fine wool, at the bottom of the pile.

Now at least dressed and warmer, I could explore my surroundings. The room was not large, but had a dark beamed ceiling above. There were no paintings or prints on the walls, but above the fireplace, was a shotgun. I recognized it as an old breech loader.

Two long windows looked out upon a dull morning. The wind blew a little sleet against the windows and I shivered. The glazing had fallen away and cold air seeped in. It was still rather dark outside, and except for the blurred outline of trees, I couldn’t see much of the landscape.

Pulling the shawl tighter around my shoulders, I was still cold, or perhaps it was shock. I was not used to awakening in a strange bed, even one born of my own imagination

I still doubted I was lucid, and thought this some weird dream-state. Given a bit more time, I would awaken. But if this were a dream, it was a strange one. I was not given easily to hysterics, but short of hurling myself through the window, there was little I could to do. I would just have to be patient with this ‘dream’ until I  woke.

Trying a door in the middle of a wall, it opened into another bedroom, and inside was a large poster bed, a wardrobe, and another shotgun in the corner by the bed. This must be a man’s room. I had no clue why, accept for that evil-looking shotgun. There was nothing feminine in the room at all, though. I turned back to my bedroom and tried the other door. Outside was a wide hall, leading to the top of a staircase.

I stood at the top of the steps, listening for voices or some sound. The house seemed deserted. I could hear nothing of a normal household. Carefully, trying not to slip in these strange shoes I descended the staircase and walked through a wide first floor hall. There were a couple of rooms but there were no people and no lit fireplaces. The whole house was bitterly cold. It seems this house held no life at all.

My footsteps sounded loud on the wooden floors of the hall, though I tried not to make a clatter. There was a closed door to the left and when I opened it,  a man  was sitting behind a desk.

Something about him seemed familiar. Then I knew who he was. It was a shock to realize I was looking at a character I had created for the novel sixteen years ago. I had named him Garrett Cortelyou.   He looked up, sat back and stared at me, quite rudely. Christ! This looked like trouble.

“Come in,” he said. “It is trouble.”

How did he seem to appear in the flesh? He was just paper and ink the last I thought of him. Can this creature read my thoughts?

“Of course I can. I can do more than that,” he said, scowling.

I fashioned Garrett Cortelyou from a number of sources, and, seeing him before me, I couldn’t help but be pleased. It is one thing to imagine, it is another to see the results. He was a tall man, broad of shoulder, with dark hair, rather long for the 1820’s, actually, now gathered into a ponytail, but I created him to be his own man. He proved to be a stubborn character, and not an easy birth. Clean shaven, he had dark eyes and regular features except for his nose. It had been broken and not set correctly.   He looked pissed off.

“Why are you so angry with me?”

“A year ago you closed your book and abandoned all of us. You told me to ‘cool my heels’. Am I not allowed my anger?”

“It was a metaphor, ‘cool your heels’.”

“I know what it was.”

I was surprised. I had enough of writing and needed time off. This actually happened sixteen years ago, but who was I to correct him? Why argue with something unreal? I put his intended, the character Jennie, in the library. I gave her a cup of tea and a good fire, and she had all the books in the world or at least in this library to read.

“You abandoned us all.

“Life got in the way, Garrett, I needed time to work things out.”

What am I saying? Why am I explaining my life to this creature? Am I insane?

“Come closer. Let me see you better.”

I entered the room and stood across the desk. He looked me over, his eyes running the length of me.   “You look unimpressive. I thought you would be older.”

“Why, did you expect me to be covered with wrinkles?”

One glance at his face and I should have held my tongue.

“You are quick with the words, madam. Let’s see how quick on your feet.”

Like a cat he came around the desk and grabbed me. He was strong enough to lift me like a stick of wood and throw me into another chair. I was shocked at the suddenness of his movement, but amazed he was real.

“You should be. You play with people too much.”

I looked at him standing before me, his hands on his hips, and fear crept up my spine

“You forget I created you.” My voice squeaked.

“And you forget, madam, anything is possible. I can command you as easily as you have me. You now are my puppet. Quite a turn around, don’t you think?”

“You wouldn’t have seen the light of day had I not thought of you!” What am I saying? I am talking to a ghost!

“Ah, you were bored and this scribbling occupied your time. Your night dreams went into all of us. Your poor husband should not have given you a pen.”

“I wrote on a computer, something you would not know.”

“I don’t care how you wrote. Right now, and until I release you, you’re under my thumb.”

“What do you want with me?” Suddenly, I was scared. My spit would not wet my mouth.

Garrett smiled, but it didn’t mount to his eyes. They remained cold. “I can smell your fear, little lady. Come give me a kiss.”

“You are a jackass. You act like an animal. Leave me alone.”

I tried to rise from my chair, but the anger on his face stopped me.

“Will you stop playing the virgin? It doesn’t fit you at all.”

I was beginning to panic. I had created this character, this man before me, and I knew something of his sexual appetites from the novel. I had created those sexual appetites but didn’t expect them to become an issue before me.

He laughed, apparently reading my thoughts. He must be a demon come to life, or I must be still asleep.

You created me? I’m from the slime. I’m a mixture of souls throughout time, with all the cocksure ways of manhood. You created something you can’t control, and now you’re afraid? You should have thought down the road, madam. You should be afraid. You think you know my appetites? You don’t know much, because you don’t know me. Not that way.   You haven’t the imagination to know what I can do. You are too ignorant of life. Here.”

He pulled me up to him, and grabbed one of my hands and placed it on the front of his breeches. He was hard enough.

“There. Is your curiosity satisfied? You knew some of me, but never enough. You have a poor imagination for a writer. We circled each other like cats all those years, but I played the gentleman. A boring and unnecessary role.”

My face was red. There was no denying I was curious. I wondered a bit what he would be like in the sack. Just daydreams, sitting at my desk. Faced with reality, fear was now trumping that consideration.

He pinned my arms behind my back with one hand. With the other he traced my cheek and neck with a finger, his eyes narrowed into slits.   He brought my face to his mouth and kissed me, at first softly – oh the deceiver!- then roughly, forcing my lips with his tongue. He cupped my breast and squeezed my nipple, rolling it between two fingers.   He kissed me hard, bending my head back, crushing me to him.

“There. How do you like being kissed by something you think you have made? Have I met your expectations?”

I caught my breath. “I gave you Jennie, you monster!

This was a rather stupid, but I didn’t have much of my wits after that kiss.

“And I thank you for her. She is a sweet little pastry, but I’m hungry. You look like you could feed me for a week.”

“Oh, let me go, you’re not real!”

He pushed me away and rubbed the front of his breeches. “Is this not real enough for you? Then we’ll go where I’ll show you what’s real.”

Grabbing my wrist, he pulled me out the room and up the staircase. I tripped on my shoes as he roughly jerked me up upwards. I was frightened, knowing that this couldn’t be a dream. It was more of a nightmare. The physicality of his behavior belied any dream.

He strode down the hall, pulling me behind him like a ragdoll and opened a door, He flung me into the room where I had awakened probably only an hour before.   With his back to the door, he locked it, pocketing the key. I ran to the other bedroom, intending to lock myself in, but he was quick. He threw me on the bed. Now, I was frightened. I was panting.

“’I was panting.’” See, I can read you like a book.” Throwing back his head, he laughed, howling like an animal, like a demon. My stomach flipped, and I cringed back on the pillows. He was more an animal and less a human.

He dragged a chair from a wall and sat facing me, one long leg propped up on the mattress.   If I tried to leap from the bed, I would jump right into his arms. He looked at me with half closed eyes, his head cocked to one side.

“Don’t you find it confusing to read Richardson’s “Pamela”, in the middle of writing seduction scenes? Rather you should read Fielding’s “Shamela”….better story, or rather, same story, not so tedious.”

What? How did he know this? How did he know what I read?  

What was I dealing with? Was this a ghost or a demon? The icy sweat I felt down my back wasn’t something I was imagining. I had to get control of this nightmare.

“I can snap my fingers and you will be gone,” I said desperately. I closed my eyes and snapped them.

He remained before me grinning, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, looking like a lunatic. “Try again.”

I snapped my fingers. Nothing.   The demon lover was still there.

“Ah…you called me ‘lover.’ Perhaps you won’t resist me so hard now.”

“I called you ‘demon lover’. You’re not hearing that first word.”

“You created me. It’s all in your calling.” He sat back and crossed his arms. He looked  relaxed and in control of the scene.

“That’s right…and I can uncreate you.”

“You already tried. This conversation is going nowhere. I need a drink. Seduction is hard work.”

He snapped his fingers, and a tankard appeared on the table behind him. “Oh, my apologies. One for you?”

“A small one, please.” I shivered. What had I just done?

“A small one it is.” A snap.   Another tankard appeared.

He got up and retrieved the two tankards and reached across the bed, and handed me my drink. I thought of throwing it in his face, and running from the room.

“How far do you think you would get?” I had forgotten his mind reading trick.

“Not far- just testing.

He laughed and drank deeply. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“We’ve been circling each other for years. Don’t you think it’s time we put an end to this charade? A little carnal knowledge would not be amiss. Besides, I already know you want me, have known it for years.” He picked up his tankard, his eyes glittering across the rim.

“You are a cocksure devil!” I would laugh at his presumption, but he was correct. I had created him from my own secret lust, and spared nothing in the doing.

Perhaps a different approach would give me answers and a hand over him.

“Explain to me, Demon, how you have access to me? You are nothing but some scribbles on paper, yet you appear flesh and blood enough now.”

I was more than curious, I was tumbling with fear and trying to regain my feet. I needed something to wake me up. I needed some logic here, some answers. I still believed I was mired in a nightmare.

He put down his tankard and grimaced. “Sometimes there’s a rip in the fabric of time and all hell breaks loose.   Dimensions warp and ley lines bulge. The usual workings of a universe gone mad.”

“So I’m here in another dimension?” From the 21st century to the 19th, quite a rip in the fabric, I think.

He grinned into his ale. “For as long as it suits me, and as long as you please me.

“What is it you want?” I looked at him, fearing the answer.

“First, I want to know what’s under those petticoats. That will be good for starters. We can work outward from there.”

He had an interesting concept of seduction. Rather direct, not subtle at all, but intriguing.

By the looks of him, he would be worth the effort. I thought of his kiss, and I grew uncomfortable. My face grew flushed, and his grin told me he knew what was happening between my legs. I wanted him, my sex knew before my head, but I wouldn’t give him the words he wanted to hear. Perhaps I was playing with fire, but a ‘tumble’ would be sort of welcome. Sex hadn’t been on the agenda for a long time. He was too much temptation in the flesh to deny.

Besides, it all was a dream and a wet one at that. I held to that hope as my only window of sanity.

He stood up, stretched, and sat upon the bed. He drew off his waistcoat, one I had embroidered in planning the book, a pretty cream satin with figures. “Flowering” as it said in Pamela. It was just a piece of embroidery I attempted as I thought through the chapters. Here it was a finished piece, and I had never finished any piece of sewing in my life. What part of magic was this? Was this a particular hand of fate?

“You know, you were quite witty in making the links between ‘orchard’ and ‘sex’ in that last chapter. You are my orchard, at least for now. I’ll pick myself an apple.”

Like a tiger he was over me, pinning me down with his weight.   The smell of ale was strong.   I was backed up on the pillows when he began to unhook the front of my dress. I slapped at his hands, and he laughed. He ripped the front of the dress from my breasts

A literal bodice ripper…..

“There. Now, will you lay still and quit resisting? You know what you want from me. Why play the coy virgin now?”

“Go back to your hell, Demon”.   I spat at him, my eyes flashing. He wiped spittle off his face with his sleeve. His eyes shot out a warning I couldn’t miss if I were blind.

“I will go back to my hell, the one you so easily wrote for me. First Lucile cuckolds me then Obadiah sticks in a knife. Did you ever think how painful that was? Finish me off with that dolt Jennie.   Ah, God…give me a dish of woman I don’t have to fight or teach.”

He pulled up the skirt of my dress, and spread my legs with his.   I had forgotten about those crotchless bloomers. He touched my sex with a finger, watching my response. I jerked at his touch, and he dug deeper into me. I bit my tongue to keep from groaning.

“A neat invention, don’t you think? Easy to get to the pearl in the oyster.

He was a vigorous looking man, with well-muscled arms, and a broad chest. He looked formidable.

“Wait until you see John down there, now he’s formidable. Oh, I forgot, you have seen him, or me, or you think you have seen us. But you only saw my cock in shadows. I always thought you could write that scene better.

How? It was only my first novel and writing sex scenes was hard work. And harder work staying detached.

“Here, place your hand on this cock and tell me if you have ever felt a finer one.”

I pinched the head of it hard and he yelled.

“You witch. You should be glad I’m not Obadiah. Perhaps you would like his kind of lovemaking better, though it usually leads to death. But you know that.”

“I wrote that.”

“Yes, and it was kind of sick.”

“You should talk. Obadiah is a pivotal character. He needs to be the negative, the bad guy, but right now, you serve that purpose just as well.”

“That’s scrambled English. Something you’re good at.   Now, lie still and at least enjoy my efforts.”

“Do you like your women like logs? I can be a pillar of salt if you want.”

“Can’t you try to be original? I have a blazing hard-on and I intend to use it.”

I smiled and closed my eyes.   I would submit to his pathetic efforts because I was aroused in spite of this scene of insanity, but I would not let him hear any moan of pleasure. He rose between my legs and pulled me to him, and began to enter me. I grunted with his movements.   He was bigger than I had imagined (“You got that right” I heard him whisper,”) and he took his time. Would he ever finish?

“No…not until I hear you coo like a turtledove.”

I groaned in spite of myself. My mouth opened and he stuck his finger in. I bit down hard and he laughed. He tried to seek my mouth with his but I would not let him. He laughed and squeezed my ass, lifting me easily. I could not take this much longer and I screamed an unearthly sound from my throat. He reached his shortly after, panting loudly, pinning me under him. He wasn’t a bad lover.

“Ah, again, you called me ‘lover’. I like that. You are growing tender.”

“What would you have me do, Garrett? You have what you want. What more can you do?”

I didn’t have the energy to argue. Besides, that orgasm seeped the fight out of me. I knew I had to be awake. This wasn’t a dream. No dream could sustain this. No dream could create that reality.

All of a sudden I thought about Jennie, his intended in the novel. What had he done with her? If he was capable of materializing before me, of transporting me in some unknown fashion, he was capable of other acts.

“She’s nowhere to be seen. Don’t worry.

“I worry. What have you done with her?”

“Do you mistrust me so much, your own creation? Snap my fingers and erase her?”

“Garrett, you have way too much power. I believe you capable of anything.”

“Well, I am capable of another round of lovemaking, my sweet woman, if you would give me a moment. I need to empty this ale.”

“Don’t you dare use the fireplace, Garrett! I’m wise to your ways from the book.”

“I’ll open a window this time.”


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“Tin Hinan”, Book II, Chapter 5. “Sandstorm”

September 21, 2012

Most writers work on a number of projects. I do. I don’t really have any thought out reasons, but I have since I began writing. “Tin Hinan” is an unfinished (but almost finished….) novel I have posted chapters from time to time. I see by my stats that there are consistant readers of those chapters I have posted, and I would think these readers are coming from Morocco, Algeria, the Sudan, and other parts of the Middle East. I have heard from a few readers who are Berbers, and that is very gratifying. When one attempts to write about another culture, it is good to have readers who stand as critics and help with these important cultural details. Thank you all who have written in with suggestions and your own cultural knowledge that stems from your origin.

This chapter is a work in progress, and needs rewrite. But! Bill Penrose, the man who stands as my publisher on these issues, and especially is awaiting my meandering completion of this novel, will be glad that I am back on the camel.

Lady Nyo

Tin Hinan, Book II, Chapter 5

We could see the Amour, the Ksour mountains. They were blue-gray blurs in the far distance. These were lower ranges, but would be arduous enough. I had never travelled this route, even with the few months Takama, Niefa and I plodded to the mountain range where Immel and his men found us. We were still in the desert, where our small party traveled from oasis to oasis. We had traversed the wadis, the Chelif and Tonil riverbeds, long stretches of oasis. The grass grew along the riverbeds when there was water enough to cultivate the foliage and where the palms and dates could dig deep into the sandy soil. Our scouts proceeded us a day out. We needed to be careful of the other caravans along the way. They also made sure we were headed in the direction of oasis, for water was our greatest concern. Ours was so small, less a caravan more a raiding party. We were not, but we still could draw suspicion. Immel said the majority of caravans had a thousand camels, but some of the Arab caravans had up to twelve thousand camels! What a sight that must be, stretching out as far on the horizon. Surely these caravans would carry the wealth of nations. From what Immel and his tribemen said around the fire at night, this wealth was made up of many things. Gold, salt, slaves, cotton and silks. Watermelons, spices, fruit, the kola nut and cotton seeds for planting.

Ah! Cotton was essential. There was no other cloth to use in the desert. It protected from heat of the sun, and the bite of sand. I learned to spin thread and weave cloth on small looms only two feet wide, but there were bigger looms in some tribes. We stitched the lengths of cloth together and dyed it with indigo for the rich, dark blue that our men wore around their heads and across their faces. We also dyed the cloth with different flowers and herbs and fixed the color with camel urine. But mostly we left it white and let it bleach out in lengths in the sun. It looked like strips of snow in the sunlight!

Several times we watched long caravans from a distance. They were hidden by dunes, or distance. We did not get not close because we didn’t want to attract attention. Our little party of twenty some camels and pack animals would be of little interest to these big outfits. But we were careful, only approaching the smaller caravans. Of course, we knew the Berbers were the guides even in these big Arab caravans. They were well paid crossing the deserts from far flung towns with produce or booty. Large slabs of salt, to be cut into smaller portions sold in the markets to the east and west had been brought from Mali in the south. All this would make their way to foreign cities. This salt was so necessary for daily life. It was the basis of preservation of food.

It was a miracle that Takama and I didn’t succumb in the desert during our first crossing to the mountain where Immel found us. Our navigation was from oasis to oasis, but we were more guided by luck and the scent of water in Niefa’s nose than our own abilities. Now I understood how much of a miracle it was: yes, our course was different, and there was some purpose for this much longer route Immel was taking but still, it was by favor of the gods and goddesses. Path- finding in the desert was a reading by stars, wind patterns, sand dune formations and even the color of the sand. Immel and his men knew all these things of the desert, and we didn’t. Perhaps that is why our appearance before them occasioned such wonder and disbelief from the elders of their mountain ksar.

Somehow we had survived.

There is a saying, probably Berber, as we are a wise people. “Sahara surrenders very few realities, only illusions”. Perhaps it was also because our perception of distance was so unreal. What looked like an oasis in the distance was only a shimmering of heat on the endless landscape. Our trek from oasis to oasis had to be exact, within a day’s foretelling as we could die in the desert if our reckoning was off even by a few miles. But Immel and his men were experienced in the desert, and I felt safe we would not perish. Of course, there were other factors to consider about our survival, but that was not assured by any god or goddess.

One late morning near noon, when the day seemed to be exactly like the day before, and the day before that, a wind picked up and the camels started to be restless, bellowing and groaning , their nostrils flaring, as if they were scenting something in the air. Suddenly we knew why. There was an enormous cloud in the distance–stretching from the ground to heaven. The sky had turned a dull orange. It was very strange from the azure blue of just a few moments before. But it wasn’t a cloud, it was that most fearful of dangers– the sandstorm! We could hear it coming, though it was miles off, a pounding roar like nothing else. Immel and the other men gathered on their uneasy camels to discuss what to do.

There were some hills off to the west. Though we could not outrun a sandstorm, to attempt to do so would mean certain death, the hills might offer protection. We turned towards those barren hills, whipping our camels into a gallop and clustered together, making the camels and pack camels to lie down together. We got on the leeway side of the camels, and prepared for the storm. We huddled together, and I saw Takama’s face, her eyes black and fearful, before she pulled her hood and cloths over them. She had taken the two foxes in their cage, had covered them with the loose woven basket and heaped some of our luggage over them. If she had to, she would lay herself over their basket to save them. She had grown so fond of them.

Immel wrapped me in his burnoose and pulled me close. I could feel his excitement and fear, as his heart pounded hard in his chest. Takama cuddled behind me, almost digging underneath the camel. We had made it in time, as the wind and the sand came barreling down the desert, and even though we were protected by the men and the covering of cloth, the sand was hard, abrasive on our clothes. No one said a word, for to open your mouth would mean sand and dust, dust carried by the wind above the sand, small and dangerous pieces of rock and dirt, would enter our throats and go down our lungs, suffocating us. The sun was blotted out. It was if nighttime had fallen at noon.

The roar of the storm was ten thousand demons and zars riding the wind. Even if I didn’t have my ears wrapped shut, I could not have heard the sound of a human.

It seemed as if I had fallen asleep. I felt the heaviness of a deep sleep, but it was the heaping of sand all around and over us that was weighed me down. Suddenly the roaring stopped. The storm had worn itself out, and the silence around us was unnatural after the roar before.

I heard Immel’s voice, as if from a long distance. He was shaking me to consciousness. I wanted to go back to sleep, but this was not the sleep of the night. It was the sleep of an almost-death. We were covered in sand and we shook ourselves to feel our limbs. We had survived one of the worst of perils of the desert. Our camels had long lashes on their eyes, something to keep the sand out. Their nostrils closed to keep their lungs safe. Thick and rough coats were also the reason they had not been beaten, flayed by the sand, but they too, had to work their way out of the heaping sand. With bellows and groans and the help of the men, they pulled themselves upright, shaking themselves, creating miniature sandstorms in the doing.

Takama uncovered the basket and the foxes were gone! Her eyes caught mine and I saw her sadness. They were gone, swept away by the djinn of the sandstorm. Though Takama was desert bred and strong, she fought to hide her tears. One of the men, who saw her distress, came over and bending down, started to dig away at the sand. There, popping out their long noses, were the two foxes! With the intelligence of desert animals, they burrowed down in the sand, safer from the storm than we above.

It is said that “The Desert is the realm of the Spirits” and to pilgrimage there is to come face to face with your mortality. The night brought spirits, demons, zars, as they rode the cold night air. They also appeared during the day, when travelers were caught far from shelter, and had to survive the elements as best they could. The roar of the sandstorm carried the voices of ghosts—men and camels who had perished in the Great Sahara for millennium.

If history was to be believed, 50,000 soldiers of Cambyese’s army, had marched across the middle Sahara to fight the Ethiopians, only to perish in the desert in minutes, buried by ten feet of sand. Their bleached bones, arrowheads and lances were left scattered across the barren landscape for 2500 years.
The Sahara Desert was well called “The Mirror of the Soul”. It made or broke men, and those who survived had their lives changed forever.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2012

Release of “White Cranes of Heaven”

March 3, 2011

North Carolina Stream, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006

Today I finished the work needed to release “White Cranes of Heaven” ID# 10243736, available from

For some reason, is listing this new book under the name: “White Cranes”, probably because we refused the ISBN# package from Lulu because it would have doubled the price in the market.  “White Cranes” or “White Cranes of Heaven” is the same book, and the name doesn’t really matter much.  The content does.

This is the first time I have published any of my paintings, except in a short brochure.  The resolution looks great and I am very impressed with Lulu’s printing.  I decided to use these paintings to illustrate some of the poems, and it works.  I hope the readers who buy this book will agree.

Lulu is still processing some of my product page, so I don’t know exactly when it will be viewable, but when I checked, the new book was available for purchase.

This has been a very long labor.  Bill Penrose was the midwife on this and I can’t thank him enough.  I’m tired and need a break. I’m going to sit and read a spell, something I don’t get to do often enough.

Thanks to Bren Goode, Margie Chester, Nick Nicholson, Steve Isaak, and my dear friend Bill Penrose for this book.

Without you, it wouldn’t have grown feathers.

Lady Nyo

“Winter Afternoon”

Winter’s  pale afternoon

Creeps into night like skim milk

Poured from one china bowl to another.

The thin crescent moon appears,

A broken cup of feeble light

That spills upon the ground,

Too watery to brighten the road.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2011

“White Cranes of Heaven” finally to be published

February 24, 2011

Update:  We’re working it out.  A few more  turns and we should have a book.

Thank you all who have written with your encouragement.


Lady Nyo

It’s been a while to get this work  done, but it looks like it’s finally going to be published by

My dear friend, Bill Penrose, who is an excellent writer and a master at formatting, has taken on this project.  He formatted and produced both of my first books, “A Seasoning of Lust” and “The Zar Tales” in 2009 and 2010 with  Without Bill, these books would not see daylight.

Last night I called over a computer whiz friend and neighbor and we made a hash of what Bill had started on Lulu.  We screwed it up completely, and I ended up deleting the file from Lulu to start clean this morning.  Bill has received a few rather hysterical emails from me this morning as to ‘what did I do wrong, and can you fix it?’

I have to say that isn’t user friendly.  We realized that with the first book, and it seems to be getting even worse with them.  Of course, they are selling their professional services and making it easy for the public isn’t exactly good for their bottom line.

But in a few days, with Bill’s magic, “White Cranes of Heaven–Fifty Seasonal Poems” will be available from

There are a number of my paintings to illustrate the poems in this new book, mostly watercolors and mostly landscapes.

There are also a number of people to thank for this book: Nick Nicholson in Canberra, Australia, Marge Chester in North Carolina, Katie Troutman in NC, Bren Goode in Maine and Steve Isaaks in California all took poems and did critiques.  Their talent and eyes were invaluable in this production.

I tried to follow the seasons in cycles, but then lost the trail. There were too many poems of a mixed seasonal nature to do this in format, and also there is a section of “Moon Poems and Tanka”.

I hope those who get this book from enjoy the poetry.

Lady Nyo


Sharp brittle winds

Sailing like clipper glass

Cutting the skin razor thin,

Flaying off winter’s gall.

This spring can‘t wait.

It lies, promising comforting warmth,

Yet delivers the opposite.

I hear the laughter in the pines.

They moan and echo an evil chuckle.

No matter.

This argument will be over

Once the earth

Pirouettes  on point.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, from “White Cranes of Heaven”, to be published by….soon.

“Tin Hinan”, Chapter 9

December 10, 2010

It’s been a while since I have worked on this wip, but it’s a favorite of Bill Penrose (“Ancestors of Star”, and other books available at and I see  there are still readers of this unfinished novel.

I am stuck doing some research, and it’s tedious at best.  Not for “Tin Hinan” but for another project. Perhaps things move slowly because of the approaching holidays and I just can’t get into it; either the holidays or the writing.

But “Tin” is a sweet story, and when I do go back and look for a finish, something stirs, and it’s not mice in the chimney.  I hope to finish this story early this next year.

Lady Nyo





When you are a Berber and about to wed, you don’t marry a man, you marry the tribe.

The approval of both families was necessary, and since mine were far away, as distant as a star in the nighttime sky, provisions had to be made.


Immel asked for his parent’s approval.  I don’t believe they were surprised, because during the past few moons, he had made clear his intentions.  They remembered his grief in losing Cherifa, and what man is at peace without a wife?


The elders were consulted, the natural course for great and small concerns. Nothing this important could be decided without the elders.



Not all went well. There were objections. Mother Leila told me I would have to appear and explain why I was alone on the distant mountain with my woman.  Gossip always filtered down but the elders wanted to hear the story from my own mouth.


Marrying Immel was bound to raise many considerations.  He was the eldest son of a prominent elder and trusted to lead raids and men.  I was no one, with no family or tribe to represent me.


If I found favor before them, there were other moons to jump. When Immel married me we would have to bring a heavy bride-price to my parents and tribe, appeasing them with much wealth.  Separated by long distances across mountains and desert, our traditions still held.  There was war enough between the different tribes residing in the mountains and deserts. Immel’s tribe did not want more. Tribute would have to be made.


Ah!  It was a necessary evil, but we would make the long trip down the mountain, across the valley, up the mountain, down again, and so forth. And of course I would go with him. In fact, because of the distance and questionable safety of our journey, Immel would lead a caravan of many men to my parents. It would be supplied with gifts to impress my tribe with the wealth of his clan and family.


First, I would have to appear before the elders.  Mother Leila planned on my heavy silver jewelry and my best robes, but I had a different idea, one that Mother Leila would not like at all.


I would appear exactly as Immel and his tribesmen found me.  I would don the robes of a man, the indigo- blue turban and the sword and dagger I had left home with when Takama and I started into the desert.  I believed this would make my case as well as any words from my mouth.  I would make these elders know I was a woman with a mission,  one given to me by the Goddesses.  Well, at least I could try to make them believe that.  Whether the Goddesses spoke to me or not wasn’t their business.


I let Takama into my plan and she thought me crazy.  “What! Do you want to tempt fate? Have you learned nothing about men?  What would Immel think to have his intended show up before the elders dressed like a man?  Some Zar must have scrambled your head!”



She had a point, but I was determined.  Perhaps I felt more power as a man.  During the journey, even though I was fully a woman, just dressed like a man and carrying a dagger and a sword, I did feel some sort of transformation in my liver.  Perhaps men are more powerful by nature, but the sword made me feel power. I was just glad I wasn’t tested in my ability.  Both Takama and I would be dead now and this story would not be told.


The morning I was to appear before the council of elders, I prayed one last time to my silent Goddesses.  Takama was lookout for Mother Leila while I dressed in my male undergarments.   I drew on the long gown men wore and my tribe’s red and white striped burnoose.  I tucked my dagger and short sword into my girdle and wrapped the indigo-dyed cloth around my head, in turban fashion.  I even secured the trailing end over my nose, and walked out to meet Takama in the front room.  The transformation was complete, and Takama, even though she had seen me dressed this way before, trembled.  Perhaps her emotion came from fear, for what I was doing was a fearful thing for a woman to do.


I was to appear before the elders in a small house used by them for tribal meetings.  I strode confidently down the winding road to the courtyard, a young Berber man, tall and thin, but inside, I was quaking.  I entered the wooden door to the house, and sitting on benches were the fifteen elders.  Before them was a rough table with their judgement stones.  Off to the side was Immel.  I expected him to be but had not been sure.


The sky outside was gray, a pale wintry day, and the council room was not well lighted except for a brazier pot in the middle of the room.  There were oil dishes providing some illumination, but still the room was dim. I stood there, the door closed behind me, and I blinked to adjust my eyes from the change outside.


“I am Tin Hinan.”


At my voice, the men looked up, confused, and I glanced over at Immel.  He sat back on his bench, his shoulders hitting the wall, and a wry grin formed on his face.


I removed the veil from my face, exposing my mouth.  “I come amongst you as Immel Uzmir and his men found me.  I dressed as a man when I left my tribe for the safety of my woman, Takama, and myself.  I made this journey to follow my destiny.”


There were some exclamations of surprise and not a few of disdain. My garb was shocking to these men.


A voice called out.  “What reasons do you give, Tin Hinan, for setting out from your parents and tribe?”


I tried to keep the waver from my voice, but my stomach betrayed me.  I felt my right leg shake and I knew fear.  My state must have been obvious to the elders.  Gazing at Immel I saw him slightly nod his head, encouraging me to go on.


“I was to be married to Hasim Azur Dhalid.  The bride-price was paid to my parents.  Gifts were exchanged between our clans. Then, less than a moon before the wedding, I was told Hasim had left for the tent of another woman.  My parent’s gifts were returned, and I knew our tribes would go to war over this insult.”


A mummer spread across the room. Immel looked grim. To any Berber, this would be a grievous insult not only to the family, but also to all the clans. Such an act would call for war.  This mountain tribe was no different in defending honor than my desert home.


“For three days and nights I purified myself and prayed to Ammon, Isis, Ayyur and Neith.  I sought council from the other Goddesses.  On the third night I had my answer.”


I looked down at my feet.  No, I did not have my answer, but these elders did not know. What they knew was what Immel told them. I glanced at him, saw him deep in thought, his eyes hooded, his expression neutral. I did not know what was in his heart, or if he would defend me.


“Is this why you cut your woman’s hair off, daughter?”  A deep voice in the gloom.


“Yes, Father.  My happiness as a new bride would never happen. I also knew my tribe was smaller than the tribe of Hasim. There would be many slaughtered clans if they went to war over this injury to our dignity.”


“You could not think of any other way except to take your woman and leave dressed as a man?  Did your father not try to stop you?  What father would let his daughter leave like that.  Are you sure you are telling us the truth?”  This voice was rough and accusing.



“I am, Father.  I have no reason to lie to you.”


I cast my eyes to the floor, and I thought my stomach would heave. Suddenly, I felt the presence of someone at my left, and glancing up, I found Immel standing next to me.  Although he did not touch me, or hold my hand, I knew he would defend me.  Then, at that point, I realized I could love this man who stood with me in spite of my turning fortunes.


“Fathers.”  I heard Immel’s voice, strong and clear, address the Elders.


“I have come to know Aicha, for that is her birth name, though she would have us call her Tin Hinan.  I have come to know her love for her family, her clan and tribe.  She would sacrifice herself in the desert to avoid the bloodshed.  When we found her in the mountain far from here, she had drawn her sword and pushed her woman behind.  I knew she was woman when I lay eyes on her.”


There was much nodding of heads at this last statement, for men, at any age, can discern a woman, even dressed in the garb of a man.  (I could not help but think Immel rather boastful.)


“And more.  She was a brave woman for she drew a sword against thirty men and stood ready to die.  We men know courage when we see it, but seeing such courage in a woman!”  Immel spat on the ground in emphasis.


“She would have not lasted much longer, for we found the grey wolf and her pack the night before.  They were hunting and it was only a matter of hours before they would have killed these two women.  It is by the grace of the Gods we found them first.”


One of the elders stood up slowly, and addressed us.


“Immel Uzmir and Tin Hinan.  The Council of Elders will meet on this matter and cast our stones together.  We will call you both back within a matter of days, and give you our decision.  May the Gods and Goddesses continue to champion your fortune.”


I looked up at Immel. H gave a weak smile and pulled his veil over his face.  Turning on his heel he walked out, stooping to get his height through the door.  I bowed to the elders, as a proper woman should and followed Immel outside into the bleak winter day.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2910

Why We Write.

November 18, 2010

Well, I can think of a lot of reasons.  Perhaps it’s different for different people, but I think there are some very strong threads that pull us together.  Perhaps our impulses here aren’t so different after all.

I have been thinking of this for a while, but very recently, in fact, during the last few days, it has come up in a sharper  sense amongst some very good writer friends.

I have a very dear friend who has received a contract to publish  in an anthology.  This anthology is of erotica.  I think I understand his  confusion and concern.  Publishing erotica can bring some problems to those who don’t kn0w  you are writing in such a genre.  In this case, my friend’s friends don’t know that he is  a writer.

I am amazed at this, because this man is one of the most wonderful and creative and polished  writers I have come across.  To know him is to be up close to real brilliance.  I would give a finger, maybe two….to be able to write with his creativity, depth and imagination.

The polish on his stories, poems is a product of a writer who is so exacting, so dedicated to the story , well, it’s awesome.

He reads this blog, and our emails back and forth haven’t yet convinced him of this good opportunity.  He is worried…well, he’s a worrier.  I want to beat him.

It’s not uncommon to begin to write as a form of self-therapy.  Diaries and extended letters to friends can be of this nature.  At some point, we stop the pity party, or a concentrated examination of our personal life, and look around.  The world brings us topics and wonder straight to our laps.

I started writing my first novel…”The Heart of the Maze” in 1990.  I started it the very week we adopted our son.  I have no idea why this happened, but I think I was in some emotional shock.  Having a toddler at 40 certainly would feed into this shock.  Never having been around children, but being handed the responsibility of another life threw me into something I still can’t understand. Thankfully my husband took over, and for maybe 5 months he and our son were inseparable.  I snapped out of it, and became the mother, but I don’t know yet what was going on there.  Perhaps this writing impulse was stronger than the new mother bond.  I really don’t know.

I do know that after those first months, I didn’t go back to that novel for 5 years.  I finally realized my son was the center of our life, and the writing could be put on hold.  I didn’t go back to writing ‘seriously’ until  the fall of 2006.  And I did finally finish that first novel.  What I will do with it is for the future.

This issue of writing as therapy is an interesting one.  A few years ago, I was coming out of a bad patch.  I had been under the influence of a man who was a writer, but  not interested or encouraging in what I was writing.  I thought that strange, because we were both writers, right?  I was very stupid.  He had a different agenda, which I bought into, and then found  it was  personally destructive.   Had I ‘stayed the course’ ,  I probably would have stopped writing altogether.

The world gives us such promise!  If we only look outward, up from our own navels, we will find more than we can handle.

I published “A Seasoning of Lust” because I  survived all that had happened.  That first book was a kitchen sink of poetry, short story, flashers.  I threw it together just to feel alive….in one of the only ways I knew.   In fact, I did more than survive.  With this first book, I regained my feet.   I wrote a lot more where before I thought I could do nothing right.  That was the net result of his ‘influence’ yet I would break through this  particular hell and find a world rich in words and imagination.  I reclaimed myself from this  cultural gulag and  went on to publish “The Zar Tales”.

Bill Penrose (the writer who formats my books) is encouraging me to finish “Tin Hinan”, after “White Cranes”.  I  found leaving  all that shit behind,  falling into writing, and especially poetry, has given me all the future work I could desire.

As we joke:  Writing is a restorative to the soul.

I believe it.  I find a sense of empowerment in writing  I can sling in the face of life’s troubles, whether they come in the form of pain, death or nasty wankers.

Writing can give you discernment in dealing with people.  Having friends like Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Katie Troutman, all fine writers, is important.  They are heart bound friends who encourage and inspire.  They are serious writers who  can be depended upon to give their opinions and have been there in the darkness writers face.  They are my tribe.

I meet ( online, and in person) a lot of  writers.  I can make friends, but I am more cautious now.  I have a sense of myself and a purpose that goes far beyond what I had before.  And this is just the beginning.

I hope my dear friend forgives my fierceness, but I won’t back down.  I see such amazing promise in his abilities here, and I want him to start publishing.

It will open a world to him that will embrace and support him in ways he has yet to find.

Lady Nyo


The clouds flee the sky,

Bitter north winds push them far.

My heart follows now.

Fallen leaves crackle.

Sparrows add the treble notes.

Seasonal music.

The cold moon shines down

Upon hollow dried grasses.

Earth prepares to sleep.

The frost at morning

Makes the birds plump their feathers

Squirrels add chatter.

The air grow colder.

Soon wool will not be enough.

Come inside- stay warm!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

Veteran’s Day, and a short piece: “Gallipoli, 1915”

November 11, 2010

In the US it’s Veteran’s Day today, originating I believe on November 11, 1919….from the war that was supposed to end all wars, WWI.  It didn’t but people were hopeful back then.

Bill Penrose, a good friend and excellent writer, is up in Canada attending to his father-in-law who is 95 years old.  He’s doing fine, both of them,  and tells me today is Memorial Day in Canada. Old men are wearing their uniforms, or parts of them, and metals are prominent.  Bless them all.

Our only child, a son,  is in the Navy, now almost a year.  We haven’t seen him since early December, and hope he will be home for Christmas.  He’s been in Glasgow, Scotland, the last time we heard from him, and should be back in Norfolk soon.

Gallipoli was horrific enough, and I post this piece, what is called a ‘flasher’ of 200 words here in remembrance of all veterans…living and dead.

Lady Nyo


“Are you joining up, mate?”

“Why? It’s the Brit’s war”.

“Cause Aussies are part of the empire, ‘one for all’…you know the drill”.

Both young men soon in the trenches, barely eight meters from the enemy.

“Hasim, leave off the plowing, we all go to fight the British.”

“My wheat will not be planted in time for the rains.”

“Forget the planting…leave the plowing to the women.  If you don’t go, the infidels will take your fields… Once more our country will be invaded.”

Both young men crawled into their trenches, pushing past bodies bobbing like apples in gore.

The slaughter was horrific.  New men replaced dying men. Then, within hours, they  too were dead.

The trenches filled with blood, guts, madness – a stinking circle of Hell serving all faiths, welcoming all comers.  Plenty of seating.

The Aussie mates and the Turkish farm boys didn’t last the night.  Their bodies, shoved aside by a seemingly endless supply, sank in the mud.

These were the “Founding myths” of nations, claimed with pride by politicians who never saw the muck up close or personally.


Beautiful Gallipoli.

Turkish soil and streams nourished by the mixed fruit of the dead.

All Mothers, your children rest in the now gentle bosom of the land. They sleep as brothers. Your tears feed the oceans forever.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyright, 2007, 2010

“White Cranes” Get Feathers with a LOT of help from my Friends!

September 10, 2010

I know…a baaaad title for anything.  But it’s 5am and I’m not really that creative this time of the morning.  It could be titled “White Cranes” Continue to Moult”, and that would be the truth of the matter.

I just got the text done…organized….the poems arranged for this new book.  The “a LOT of help from my friends” part comes from various friends taking clumps of the poems and reading them and returning them with their crits and comments.   I’m not that territorial about my poetry, though Nick Nicholson would disagree…. but what the hell….these friends are writers and good ones, too…and IF I can’t trust these friends…who?

Compiling poetry is so different than going over chapters.  I had 90 plus poems, and decided that this was too much for anyone, including me…to read.  So I got them down to 50….and they are all seasonal poems.  None of them are love, erotica, etc, though there is a thread of erotica in many of them…just not a blatant thread.

Bill Penrose yesterday…the fellow who does all the really hard work on my books: the formatting for the publisher….suggested illustrations to make the book ‘more interesting’.  I think he’s on to something here, dear Bill.  I used to be a painter…and have lots of pix of the paintings..mostly landscapes and birds , so some of these paintings hopefully will make it into the new book.  We can try this and see how it works.  It will make the book more expensive I am told, but it will be ‘more interesting’.

Lady Nyo


The chilling rains

Have blasted leaves

From black-barked trees.

Too soon has this happened

Thinking there would be yet time.

Time to marvel

At Nature’s robust palette,

To fill the eyes and senses

With ethereal beauty

No man-made tints can challenge.

But like most of life

We are behind

And lose out to clockwork

Not of our making.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

‘Mystic Marriage’, from “A Seasoning of Lust”

August 27, 2010

from: thoughtsthattoddhasn't

We have been kicking around this issue of why we write and why we would bother to keep a blog.  I would suppose there are many reasons to do so, but for hopefully serious writers it’s really a different issue.  We write because ultimately  we can’t not write:  it’s like a river running deep and there  may be issues of blockage or other things that frustrate our attempts …but all that said, we plow on.

I think the point of all of our attempts is to improve.

It’s a craft after all, this cobbling together of words.  It takes some  vision and a lot of work.  We need to read  broadly for that vision to develop and those who don’t are condemned to mediocrity.   There are a lot of blogs out there that don’t attempt to do much except think they interest the public with their agony in life.  They use it as a tool of self-therapy.  This is unavoidable for all of us, because we think our personal problems are issues of great interest…to others besides ourselves.  I’ve done this many times on this blog, but hopefully I have come to understand some things.

People come here to read not because I have answers or because I have their common agony in life.  Sometimes  we do, but  it’s not a common bitching site.

They come here to read my writing.  I owe these readers the very best I can squeak out.  That is a process:  it takes time and a concerted effort on my part to do so.   I don’t write here for affirmation or attention, though in some cases, I get that. (And attention can be good and bad.)  I write here because I try to entertain with my writing and that is reason enough.  Probably what most of us aim for:  we are storytellers,   after all.

I have a great group of fellow writers around me.  Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Dan Holloway, Steve Isaak, and a few others.  Most of these excellent writers can be found on the blog roll to the right of this text.  All of them have worked hard to push their writing upward: they are no slight writers, either, and they always stand to support and help me work out issues.  But the lion’s share of that comes from my own efforts.

If we don’t make those efforts, we can’t call ourselves writers.  At least not in the category I want to belong.

Lady Nyo

“Mystic Marriage

Mino begs a gift of Poseidon and

from the sea comes a white bull.

Glorious Bull! With hooves of gold,

eyes of fire and sweet of breath.

Pasiphae, Mino’s wife

besotted with the sight of him

begs Mino to spare his sword

and offers her handmaidens

for the sacrifice.

Tender-hearted Mino allows his wife

to rule his judgment

all sense is pushed aside,

havoc soon overturns the throne.

Pasiphae builds a wooden cow

and besotted with lust

climbs into the decoy

Seduces the golden hoofed Bull.

The Minotaur is born, suckled from

Pasiphae’s paps,

grew wild –the labyrinth

built to imprison him.

Unnatural love- making produces

unnatural monster Minotaur

half man and half bull,

given freedom only in a maze,

fed on virgins of both sexes.

But Poseidon has the last laugh.

He was the gift, the snow white bull

and cuckolds Mino

for his greed.

Mystic marriage overturns a throne and kingdom,

reveals the deception of woman,

produces monster offspring.

In his maze all paths lead to the grave.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2010

Why Do We Write? Part II

July 7, 2010

I’ll call this entry “Part II” because somewhere in the last two years of this blog, I vaguely remember writing “Part I”.

We have just come back from a short vacation in Savannah, Ga.  An elderly relative just celebrated her 90th birthday, and this was something we couldn’t have missed.  Funny, the weather down there was around 81 degrees, while the weather we left here in Atlanta was 95 plus.  Back again, it’s 95 with a projection of 98 tomorrow.

While I was away I had a lot of time just to think, and NOT to write.  And that brings me to this issue of why we write.  That is, those of us who have fallen into the pit of thinking we are writers or actually publishing our works.

Being around family, and a family that is not supportive of my writing (except some of the poetry that is ‘nice’)…made me think of the obstacles one faces as one tries to develop into a writer.  To say  they aren’t supportive of my writing is probably an understatement:  my first book, “A Seasoning of Lust” was  full of erotica.  I am sure they would have seen it (if they read it) as a ticket to their particular Hell.    Fortunately, I have become tougher than to bow to their particular literary standard.

But this is just one aspect of what we stumble across when we decide that perhaps we are writers.  For a number of years, I was on an erotica site, learning some basics of writing and how to critique other writing.  It was a necessary step and a good one, but it also limited my choices as a writer.  I had to sum up some of the influences there, and there were quite a lot of things to sum up.  Some writers were hacks.  Some wrote horrific extreme bdsm works that fed their own sexual urges, some wrote some good and expansive erotica.  But it all was tailored to erotica, and if you hankered for something broader, different…well, you had to leave or adjust your interests.

I left.  I left after a few years, but there are writers there I remember fondly and with good reason.  But in a way, erotica is a trap.  Perhaps we grow out of the theme, realize there is more to writing and life than our genitals.  Or other people’s genitals.

There are a couple of friends there still that seem frozen in place.  They are wonderful writers, and they learned a lot from that particular site.  But they write the same things over and over, or perhaps with some nuances of difference, but come on….how many different ways can you describe the ‘act’?  Of course, the best there do so much more….layer this particular theme with other parts of interest, but in a way…at least to me….they could be doing more with their writing.

One fellow in particular has developed to such a level that his writing is generally praised.  But it’s preaching to the choir there, and unless he finds the courage to strike out and take himself more seriously….he will short change his writing.  He knows this, but for some damn reason, he doesn’t see just how good he is as a writer.  He goes far beyond a writer of erotica.  Or could.

I have no real answer as to “Why do we write?”.  I barely know why I do.  But over the years, I have realized it is an art form that allows me a lot of expression and freedom.  It has also pushed me into a maturity that I don’t think I would have come to without this form.  And I have gained a lot of confidence with my writing.

I don’t suffer fools silently anymore.  I use my words…and some of them bad ones.

I’m working on two manuscripts this summer.  “White Cranes of Heaven” which is purely poetry, and “Memories of a Rotten Childhood”, which are mostly funny and poignant stories that are close to the bone.  Bill Penrose, the wonderful man and writer who does the production on my previous two books, told me something early on when I first met him:  “Write with an eye to the truth of it all, and damn the naysayers.” I don’t think one could get better advice for a new and wobbly writer.

“Memories of a Rotten Childhood” will not sit well with my birth family.  Tough.  They don’t read my books anyway.  But they are good fodder for the memories because they were part of the mix, and I am following what Bill said.  They will recognize themselves because it can’t be helped.  They were part of the building blocks of childhood.

Being ‘truthful’ to your experience is important:  you are weaving stories of memorance, and in some cases, they will strike a resonance with others.  That has impact because drawing those lines to each other makes for a stab at our collective humanity.

Maturing in any case means breaking other’s concepts about you.   You take chances but honor  the vision you have or are developing, whether it’s of the past or the present. You begin to embrace your values and realize they were part of the process of becoming independent.

In any case, it’s relying on your own developing standards and finding the courage to ignore those who would shut you up.  Perhaps we write because it gives us voice in a particular way.

Lady Nyo

From the wip:  “White Cranes of Heaven”, to be published 2011.


The moon sits moored

In a midnight sea,

Clouds sweep her face

Shading a pale, wavering beacon

As she tugs at her moorings

And floats

Across the upended bowl of Heaven-

Into the harbor of dawn.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

September, 2009