In this selection from Chapter 2, Abby has returned to Harmony Springs in rural Florida, her spiritual home. She has just graduated from high school in New Jersey and is now living with her grandmother. She hopes to spend a peaceful summer catching up with her friends, taking one college course, and (of course) resuming her magical studies.
But the peaceful part is not to be. Her first night back in town…
That night, the terror begins.
I am in some kind of virtual reality space—muted colors and huge shapes looming all around. My body is an avatar, a robot or two-legged bug, and I’m running. Running frantically.
Something is chasing me.
The dream is charged with much more emotion than you would expect from an online game. Besides, I’ve hardly done any gaming since I was thirteen and had my breakdown. That was when I started hallucinating, seeing goblins and alligator men from the games appearing in my waking life. Terrifying me.
Terror like this dream. Except, this feels different—less about me and more about the whole world.
The world isn’t as safe as it used to be.
I dash into a long building that looks like an office or school. But when I get inside, I see it’s a dungeon. I flee through stone-paved rooms with low ceilings. There are kids everywhere, mostly guys, but some girls. Some are running, like me. Some are just milling around, or standing in front of monitors hung on the walls, hypnotized by VR displays. I watch one boy get sucked into a monitor and changed into a wriggling reptile.
I run up a long corridor, climb a flight of steps. I pass a girl collapsed on the landing, sobbing. Her hands are gone, her arms bloody stumps. I want to stop and help her, but I’m too afraid.
I enter an upper chamber, like a temple or throne room. Suits of glittering armor stand along the walls. More kids are lined up in a queue, approaching a throne. On the throne sits a huge white frog, with mad angry eyes in its head—and dozens more eyes in its stomach. A girl approaches the throne, and the frog monster opens its mouth. She shrieks as he sucks her in, like sipping cola through a straw.
I wake up, horrified, shaking, I stare into the corners of my bedroom, looking for monsters or floating eyes. It takes me a long time to catch my breath. Climbing out of bed, I sit down on the rug. I do the Ablution exercise, the basic meditation designed to calm and center the spirit. Taking long, slow breaths, I visualize the five Springs of Harmony as fountains at the nerve centers of my body.
Love, at the root of my spine, pure water, clear and cleansing.
Endurance, at the solar plexus, filling me with strength.
Balance, at the heart, centering my energies.
Amity, at the throat, filling me with serenity and love.
Bliss, at the crown of my head, the water pouring out and down over my body, washing away all fear.
Ghosts of Lock Tower is Book 3 of The Abby Renshaw Supernatural Mysteries. In this opening chapter, Abby and her friends arrive for their first sight of the tower. They are on a magical mission.
1. No Entry Sign
Lock Tower might be the weirdest place in Florida.
I know that’s saying a lot.
But picture this: a pink marble bell tower, 23 stories high, set inside a moat full of goldfish. The tower stands on a hill in the middle of the state, surrounded by acres of flowery grounds with ponds, trails, and a visitor center. They say Emanuel Lock had tons of black soil trucked to the top of this sandy hill so they could plant the gardens. These days the place gets its share of tourists—those willing to drive the back roads to discover “old Florida.” Of course, the inside of the tower is closed to the public.
But that’s not stopping us today.
“I really believe you need to rethink this,” Ray-Ray warns, as Molly and I approach the gate that leads to a little footbridge over the moat.
From here we have a good view of the stained glass windows and carvings on the tower walls—images of birds, alligators, people in robes, and symbols that I recognize as occult. The front entrance is on the other side, huge bronze doors sculpted with scenes from the Book of Genesis. But the back door is small and narrow, just across the bridge from this gate. Molly spotted two maintenance men going through a few minutes ago. If they left the door unlocked, we’ll walk in. If not, we’ll knock until they open it.
Either way, this seems to be our only chance to get inside.
Which I have to do—for magical reasons.
“It will be fine,” Molly insists. Although to be fair, the No Entry sign on the gate doesn’t exactly boost her case. “We’ve got a story ready. We’re a couple of students doing research. We’re harmless and charming. What are they going to do, arrest us?”
“Uh, maybe,” Ray-Ray says. “More likely they’ll call security and have you escorted off the premises—which, I have to say, would be what you deserve.”
Why is he even here? He’s not my boyfriend anymore, if he ever was. That thought makes my heart cringe as I look up at him, all tall and hunky in his sleeveless T-shirt and Claremont State cap. But I have to sweep those feelings aside. I’ve got more pressing issues than my lack of a love life.
Like trying to awaken an ancient goddess to protect myself from an evil ghost and his monster. And maybe protect the rest of the world while I’m at it.
“Don’t be a doomsdayer, Ray-Ray,” Molly tells her brother. “We’re not being frivolous here. Abby has work to do—magical work. I explained that to you, and you promised that if you came along you’d be supportive.”
“Yeah. I didn’t know that meant breaking and entering.”
“Supportive, Ray-Ray,” Molly says. “And it’s not breaking and entering. At most, it’s criminal trespass.”
“Okay. Okay.” He shows his palms in surrender. “I’ll stand here and do my best to block the view. When they escort you off the grounds, I’ll meet you in the parking lot.”
He steps aside, and Molly opens the gate.
One thing I learned growing up in New Jersey: if you’re not supposed to be somewhere, don’t let it show. Act like you own the place. As we cross the bridge, I put that intention into my stride.
Molly’s a step ahead of me, walking like she really does own the place. She didn’t grow up in New Jersey. For her, it just comes naturally.
She reaches the door and tries the handle. With a click and a creak of hinges, it swings open. Cool, sweet air drifts from the dim interior.
Stories are strange things. They grow from tiny seeds—characters, actions, imagined events. Often for me, a story really takes off only when two or more completely unrelatedideas come together. This seems to create a kind of magical tension as I wonder “How can these things fit together?”
My newest novella, Ghosts of Prosper Key, evolved in this way. It is the fourth of a series, the Abby Renshaw Supernatural Mysteries, so I already knew the back story. Abby is a teenage “true magician,” student of a tradition founded by her ancestors in the town of Harmony Springs in rural Florida.
At the end of the preceding novel, Ghosts of Lock Tower, Abby has succeeded in overcoming magical challenges and dangers spawned by the occult. She is living with her grandmother and starting college. She has relationships with elders in the magical circle, as well as two guys she is interested in romantically.
Idea 1: Molly is Haunted
Abby also has a best friend, an aspiring journalist named Molly Quick. All of my readers seem to love Molly, due to her bravery, insatiable curiosity, and no-nonsense approach to things. In Lock Tower, it was also revealed that Molly has native talent as a spiritual medium.
So I wanted this story to focus on Molly.
What’s her situation? She’s in her last year of high school, applying to colleges. Like many sensitive and intelligent kids, she is scared of the coming changes, scared of growing up. These fears haunt her. Because of the subject-matter of the series as a whole, these fears manifest as paranormal events.
Molly is haunted. But by what?
Idea 2: The Setting
One thing I love about this series is that it lets me write about out-of-the-way places in Florida. A location I had visited and wanted to use as a setting was Cedar Key.
This island lies off the northwest coast of the state. The area is known as the Nature Coast, as it has little population but lots of swamps, ranches, and nature preserves. Today, Cedar Key is a remote, “old Florida” tourist destination.
But the past has a different story to tell.
In the late 1800s, the Cedar Keys (as they were then called) were one of the most populous areas in Florida. The island then known as Way Key was the end point of the east-west railroad and the major port on Florida’s west coast. Fishing, oyster farms, and especially timber were major industries. Because of over logging, the economy began to decline in the 1890s. Then, in 1896, the area was devastated by one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the United States.
So, I thought: if Molly is haunted and if our heroes visit Cedar Key, the ghosts must originate there.And if there are unhappy spirits roaming the place, they most-likely lived during that great hurricane.
Idea 3: The Tempest
So now I had the main character, her conflicts, and the setting. But something was still missing. Who were these ghosts? Why were they restless?
It had something to do with that hurricane.
For research, I read the book The Cedar Keys Hurricane of 1896: Disaster at Dawn by Alvin F. Oickle. The events were both frightening and amazing. The island that is now Cedar Key was leveled, while nearby Atsena Otie Key (then known as Depot Key) was inundated by a ten-foot storm surge.
Their whole world washed away in a night and a day.
Pondering that, I suddenly thought of a famous song that the spirit Ariel sings in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Hark! now I hear them. Ding-dong, bell.
(Act I, Scene 2)
Sea change. The sea rising up and changing everything. That idea resonated strongly. My story had some relationship to The Tempest. But what?
As you might recall, the play concerns Prospero, a powerful magician who has lost his Dukedom by betrayal and now lives on a remote island with his daughter, Miranda (and spirits that he conjures).
Prospero raises a storm to wreck a passing ship which, he happens to know, contains the party of Alonso the King of Naples and Prospero’s own brother, Antonio, who usurped his place as Duke of Milan. Ferdinand, the son of the king, swims to shore and is found by Prospero. Put into service by the magician, he falls in love with Miranda, and she with him.
So: Molly haunted by ghosts, a powerful father and his daughter, a tempest and disaster, a love story.
My completely unrelated ideas had come together.
The story had taken off.
Throughout the action of Shakespeare’s play winds roar; confusion reigns and disappears; love is found; moral order is restored; and all the lost characters reunite in the end.
As Gonzalo, the loquacious king’s counselor, summarizes:
Beyond a common joy, and set it down
With gold on lasting pillars: In one voyage
Did Claribel her husband find at Tunis,
And Ferdinand, her brother, found a wife
Where he himself was lost, Prospero his dukedom
In a poor isle and all of us ourselves
When no man was his own.
(Act V, Scene 1)
These days, of course, our own world is facing dangers and changes of every kind. Will we all drown in wreckage, or will we emerge on some better shore having found ourselves in unlikely ways?
We can hope for the best. That’s what stories are for.
This month we celebrate Halloween. Many people will dress up in costumes, go to parties, eat candy. Many also will celebrate the dark, mysterious, and otherwordly.
But what’s it all for? Why do we even have Halloween?
Pagan Roots and Christian Makeover
As you may know, the origins of Halloween trace back to an ancient Celtic holiday called Samhain. Celebrated around November 1st, Samhain marked the completion of the harvest and the end of summer. It was also considered the boundary between the light half of the year and the dark, when the veil between this world and the Otherworld was thin. Because of this, it was a time for propitiating spirits and honoring the dead.
In Christian times, the pagan festival of Samhain evolved into our Halloween. October 31st became All Hallows Eve, also known as “All Souls Day,” and November 1st, All Hallows Day or All Saints’ Day. These days were dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween
The Honored Dead
In modern Wiccan traditions, Samhain is often considered the most sacred holiday. in the wheel of the year. It is a time both to mark the turning of the year and to honor our ancestors.
Many believe that our ancestors bequeathed to us more than the DNA residing in our physical bodies. There is a growing body of scientific belief (albeit controversial) that emotions and experiences can be passed down to us from our forebears. For an introduction to this topic, see this Wikipedia article on transgenerational trauma.
In any case, we can say with certainty that we are here because of the lives our ancestors lived. And, to some degree at least, their lives shaped us. If, like me, you are of a poetic turn of mind, you might even say that the spirits of our ancestors dwell in the depths of our psyches, and that they may continue to influence us in ways we are hardly aware of.
So in your celebrations this month, you might want to remember your honored dead, and contemplate how their legacies have resulted in who you are now, and how they might be influencing you still.
Abby Renshaw Meets her Dad
As a fictional illustration, here is a scene from Ghosts of Bliss Bayou. Late in the story, Abby Renshaw is undergoing a series of rituals to gain magical power. To make room for the infusions of energy, these rites require her to release her complexes and fears, which are obstacles to growth.
Here, in a psychic vision, Abby encounters the ghost of her father, who self-destructed and died when Abby was a young child.
After a while, I don’t know how long, I’m back in front of the gray fountain, leaning on my hands and knees. I stand up. Annie is gone, replaced by…
I suck in my breath. I can’t believe it.
The luminous gray ghost of my father stands before me—wide shouldered, curly haired, and with a worn, sad face.
I want to hug him, but I’m afraid he’ll vanish into nothing. Like when he died.
“Dad. I’ve missed you so much.” I’m on the verge of sobbing, and so is he.
“I know, Abby. I’m so sorry. I screwed up.”
“Why did you leave us?”
“Because I was weak. I couldn’t face living. Living is hard…but it’s even harder to be dead and have so much regret.”
I stare at him, trying not to cry.
“I know I can’t make it up to you,” he says. “But I want to give you what little help I can. It’s only this: don’t run away, like I did. Once you start running away, it gets harder and harder not to run. Pretty soon, running away becomes who you are.”
As I listen to this, I realize how desperately I’ve wanted to run away these past two days, ever since Grandma fell. I didn’t let myself think about it much, but now I do. I could call Mom tomorrow, get her to book me a flight. Leave all the terror behind. It might work…or I might go completely insane.
But there’s another way out. I could just give up, let Raspis have his way, drown myself in Bliss Bayou. The temptation is surprisingly strong—pain for a few minutes, then peace forever. Living is hard.
But it’s even harder to be dead and have so much regret.
“I understand, Dad.”
“One other thing,” he says. “Be kind to your mother. She’s a good, strong person, much better than I was. You’re sensitive like me, but you have her strength. You must thank her for that and not resent what she is.”
He’s right again. I have resented Mom for being so tough and driven, for caring more about her career than me, for leaving my senior year to go to England. I need to let that go.
“Abby,” Dad says. “I love you. It would mean so much if you could forgive me.”
I see a tear sliding down his cheek. “Yes, Daddy, I forgive you. I love you too.”
The ghost of my father steps close and wraps his arms around me. He does not feel like a ghost at all, but a solid, living man—the one I’ve loved and missed for so long.
I clutch him, shaking, until I lose all track of time, of who and where I am.
When awareness comes back, I’m lying on the floor in my bedroom. The candle and incense have gone out. My face is wet from crying.
In Abby’s case, meeting the ghost of her father helps her face her fears in preparation for the trials to come. And forgiving her father unblocks psychic energy to free her inner power.
Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, and may all your ghostly encounters be good ones.
In last month’s post, we looked at the history and exterior of Bok Tower in central Florida, which was the inspiration for Lock Tower in Abby Renshaw’s latest adventure. This month, we’ll open the famous sculpted brass door and step inside.
Note: The inside of Bok Tower is generally closed to the public. In this post, we’ve relied on published descriptions, videos, and photos, and provided appropriate credits.
The Founder’s Room
On the ground floor is the Founder’s Room: vaulted ceiling, marble carvings, colored tiles, iron staircase. Abby’s description of the inside of Lock Tower is based in part on these images:
“… this building is light and full of energy—like a living spirit…It looks like a fantastical palace or some elaborate hotel in a steampunk story”
The two levels upstairs from the Founders Room are used for mechanical and workshops. On the fourth level is the Carillon Library. The library contains many of Edward Bok’s writings and also the largest collection of carillon documentation and music in the world.
The Carillon and Bells
Above the Library level is the carillon studio, including a practice instrument for rehearsals. From there, the carillonneur climbs a spiral stair to the actual cabinet for playing the bells.
This video provides a tour of the carillon and let’s you hear some of its music:
At the climax of Ghosts of Lock Tower, Abby climbs to the parapet for a final confrontation with her evil opponents:
“My footsteps ring and echo on the metal—the black stairs and catwalks that rise into the belfry. The bells of the carillon hang from beams at many levels, some of the bells smaller than me, others enormous. …. The roof is open space except for the fan and the struts that support it, and the parapet, a walkway twelve-feet wide along the edges.”
View from the air
This video from 2016 shows a drone flyover of Bok Tower with splendid views of the surrounding landscape:
I hope you enjoyed this look inside the wonderful Bok Tower. Along with its surrounding gardens, the “Singing Tower” is one of the most unique and fascinating destinations in Florida. If you visit our state, and can tear yourself away from the theme parks and beaches for a few hours, it is well worth the trip.
I am happy to announce that Ghosts of Bliss Bayou is being produced as an audiobook!
The ACX Platform
For indie authors, audiobooks represent another avenue for distributing your titles and gaining a wider audience. The ACX Platform makes it about as easy and inexpensive as can be. Using ACX, you can partner with professional voice actors to produce your work and distribute it via Amazon, Audible, and other marketplaces.
How it Works
This is how the process works for an indie author.
You verify that you own the audio rights to your title.
Create a profile highlighting your project. This describes your book and the kind of narrator-voice you are looking for. Also the kind of promotion and marketing you plan to do.
Find voice talent. Here the voice actors are called “Producers.” ACX makes it easy to search for and invite producers to audition for your title. I received four different auditions from some really excellent actors. (You also have the option to narrate the book yourself. But unless you have a great voice and expertise in sound engineering, I wouldn’t recommend it.)
Make a deal. You can pay the producer by completed hour of audio or on a royalty share basis. In royalty share, you have no out-of-pocket cost, you simply split the royalties earned by the audiobook. There is also a combined option, Royalty-Share Plus, where you pay a guaranteed amount per hour to the producer. This is the route I chose.
Review the Audio. You submit your manuscript to the producer, along with a 15-minute segment, called a checkpoint. You review the checkpoint recording first and provide feedback. From there, you work with the producer in reviewing and finalizing the recording.
Distribute and Promote. ACX distributes the finished title through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Depending on the kind of contract you chose, you may have the option to distribute through other channels. ACX also provides guidance on how best to promote your audiobook.
As of today, I have selected a very talented actor and provided her with the complete script of Ghosts of Bliss Bayou. I marked off several sections in the text to serve as the 15-minute checkpoint.
I also provided these coaching tips on reading the dialog for the different characters.
Abby – (the narrator). She is intelligent, introverted, sometimes very scared, but also determined and brave. Appreciates irony.
Shadow Man – An evil entity. Creepy and hissy voice.
Abby’s Mom – Strong woman in her late 30s. Loves Abby and worries about her, but is focused on her career. High-achiever, workaholic.
Grandma (Kathryn). She is in her sixties, but robust and energetic. An old hippie. Runs an antique shop. Loves Abby exceedingly.
Timothy (one scene only, in Chapter 2.) Middle-aged shuttle driver from Belarus who quotes Shakespeare. His accent is described in the text, but don’t sweat it.
Ray-Ray. (Molly’s brother). Eighteen, son of the small town police chief and working as a police intern. Plans to become a detective. Serious, low-key personality.
Molly – Smart, curious, extroverted, obsessive about finding things out.
Violet – Energetic woman in her seventies. Leader of the occult circle, very knowledgeable but a little scattered/distracted
Kevin – Studious black man in his sixties. Retired anthropology professor.
Franklin (Abby’s friend from New Jersey) – Sixteen year old, ironic, flamboyant gay guy.
Fiona Alden-Gathers – In her late thirties, realtor and leader of the fight to save Harmony Springs. Polished, determined. Might have a slight Southern accent.
Ghost of Margaret Alden (Maisie) – Voice of a strong elderly woman. Formal (grew up in the early 1900s).
Ghost of Annie Renshaw – A young woman (contemporary of Maisie, but died young). Earnest, noble, compassionate.
Now I am waiting for my producer to starting sending the audio files for review. I hope to have the production released by September, around the same time as the publication of the next Abby Renshaw adventure, Ghosts of Lock Tower.
I’m very happy to report that I am finally nearing the completion of the third of the Abby Renshaw Adventures, which will be titled Ghosts of Lock Tower. This book’s been over a year in the making and was originally planned as a novella. It took on a life of its own, as stories often do.
This month’s post is inspired by a phrase that appears in the novel. Midway through the story, something terrible happens. Abby, our protagonist, is devastated by horror and grief. She is also racked by guilt. She had a premonition something bad was going to happen, and feels she should have found a way to prevent it, or at least to warn someone.
Kevin, one of her mentors and an initiate of the same magical order as Abby, tells her this:
“You had a vision, Abby. But you didn’t have enough information to act on it. Or the power to stop what happened. I understand how you feel. But there’s a lesson in the Circle of Harmony that says ‘you can’t carry all the sorrows of the world.’ A true magician is prone to see many things. Sometimes that can include terrible evil. You cannot let yourself be crushed by it—not if you want to keep any hope of doing good.”
When I wrote that speech, the phrase carry all the sorrows of the world strongly resonated with me. I was dimly aware that it’s source was something I had read years ago, in Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn.
As you may know, the Golden Dawn was a magical society of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Its members included prominent occultists A.E. Waite, Dion Fortune, and Paul Foster Case, as well as artists, authors, and poets, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and W.B. Yeats. (See this article on Wikipedia for more.) The Circle of Harmony, the secret magical society in the Abby Renshaw stories, is loosely based on the Golden Dawn.
As revealed by Regardie’s book, initiates in the Golden Dawn advanced through a series of grades. Each advancement was marked by a ritual, in which the candidate was given new knowledge. The system of grades and the paths of advancement had correspondences both to the Qabala and the Tarot.
In some rituals, paths would be shown to the candidate but were not yet “open”—until the candidate had attained a higher grade. This was the case with the particular ritual I remembered. The path in question is named for the Hebrew Letter Mem, and corresponds to the Tarot Card, The Hanged Man. It is a path of sacrifice.
In this ritual, the candidate is told:
“The Portal of Mem is barred. Yet it is well to be willing for the Sacrifice itself, is as yet, not fully prepared. For in the Path of Mem rules the Hanged Man, the power of the Great Waters. Can your tears prevail against the Tide of the Sea, your might against the waves of the storm, your love against the sorrows of all the world?”
From The Golden Dawn, as revealed by Israel Regardie, Llewellyn Publications, 1990, page 212).
Surely, in the way of poetry, there are many meanings we could unwrap here. To me, an important one is this: No matter how awful the evil we witness in the world (and these days, if your eyes are open at all, you’re witnessing plenty), we must not let it destroy us.
As Kevin tells Abby, we are not required to carry all the sorrows of the world. We are only required to do the good that we can.
I think this quote from the Talmud gives the same message:
At least, that’s how I see it.
Ghosts of Lock Tower is scheduled for publication Summer of 2019
As one who commits fantasy fiction, I read a lot. Not only fantasy, but science fiction, mystery, classics, magical realism, thrillers, you name it. Not to mention lots of nonfiction for research.
When I’m working on a story, I prefer to stay away from that particular genre in my reading. So I haven’t read too much fantasy in the last couple of years.
That said, here are my reviews of three books I did read that I think are really great and deserve more attention.
The Healer’s Choice by Kathryn Hinds
Epic fantasy: a first novel by an author with lots of expertise in history and medieval scholarship.
My review: The characters are varied and true-to-life, and every one is rooted in the imagined cultures in which they live. The world-building is complex and beautifully wrought, from the smallest details of daily living to the intricacies of war, medicine, philosophy, religion, and magic. The story is multi-faceted, with twists and surprises that are alternately exhilarating and heart-breaking.
The author manages multiple viewpoint characters and story lines with a deft touch, keeping the reader intrigued. She even throws in some lovely poetry that feels authentic to the people and times she writes about. Magical!
More, Ms. Hinds! More!
The Dragon Scale Lute by JC Kang
Note: this title has recently been rebranded as Songs of Insurrection: A Legends of Tivara Story (The Dragon Songs Saga Book 1)
My review: Excellent epic fantasy set in a world inspired by pre-industrial Asia.
Beautiful, detailed world-building, sympathetic and interesting characters, well-defined magic, and very skillful writing. To be honest, most indie-published fantasy novels I’ve read have not been up to what I’d consider professional standards. This one is certainly an exception.
First in a series.
School of the Ages: The Ghost in the Crystal
by Matt Posner
A YA urban fantasy and the first of a series.
My review: Like other reviewers, I read the blurb and thought, “Oh, like a New York City version of Harry Potter. I’ll bite.” In many ways the comparison is valid:
a secret magic school in the midst of the real world
a varied set of adults, magical and non-magical, with interesting perspectives and sometimes murky motives.
a many-layered plot that keeps cooking with twists and surprises.
What I find unique here is the quality of the magic. Harry Potter magic is fun, a combination of pure invention and recycled pop culture tropes. School of Ages magic is serious—rooted in mystical traditions (primarily Hebrew) and concocted with plenty of mental horsepower. At times I wasn’t sure if I was reading YA fantasy or being taught occult metaphysics:
“They say time is a like a river, always flowing forward, ever changing. Not true. Time is a wind. It goes in all directions, this way and that, moves many things, leaves others in place.”
“The good of magic,” Dr. Archer said, “is not principally in doing, but in knowing what ought to be done.”
Yikes! If, like me, you favor serious magic in your fiction, it doesn’t get any better that this.