Ledia Runnels' "World of Fantasy Fiction"

Cover of "Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hi...

Cover via Amazon

Devdutt Pattanaik takes an eye-opening look at the myths of India and of the West — and shows how these two fundamentally different sets of beliefs about God, death and heaven help us consistently misunderstand one another.

Why you should listen to him:

We all search for meaning in our work and lives. Devdutt Pattanaik suggests we try a tactic of our ancestors — finding life lessons in myth, ritual and shared stories. As the Chief Belief Officer at Future Group in Mumbai, he helps managers harness the power of myth to understand their employees, their companies and their customers. He’s working to create a Retail Religion, to build deep, lasting ties between customers and brands.

Pattanaik is a self-taught mythologist, and the author (and often illustrator) of several works on aspects of myth, including the primer Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology and his most recent book, 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art. He writes a column called “Management Mythos” for Economic Times that juxtaposes myth onto modern leadership challenges. His newest area of inquiry: How is traditional management, as expressed in old Indian cultural narratives, different from modern scientific management techniques?”

“We’re looking at stories that have lasted the test of time, like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bible. That’s proof of their effectiveness.”

Devdutt Pattanaik

{December 31, 2012}   2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

{November 18, 2012}   Prologue: Moon Magic

Cool and velvety soft,

she pressed the last of her tiny flowers

into the open palm of his hand.…

–Legend of the Cherry Jewel

A small shrine on the grounds of the temple, w...

A small shrine on the grounds of the temple, with cherry blossoms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Year of the Dog 1503


On the summit of Moon Mountain, the last fire-shards of sunlight glistened against the remnants of spring snow. Dusting the ground and the upturned roof of the shelter whereHinata Jintori stepped beneath, into the narrow space.

A frozen wind blew the hem and sleeves of his robe as he broke the skin of ice that covered the stone basin. Scooping the chilled water, he drew his cupped hands toward his lips where he sipped and then rinsed his mouth of impurities. He spat the warmed water onto the ground and then shook loose the freezing droplets from his fingertips. Having completed the purifying ritual, he turned and made his way toward Sakura Jinja, a smallish shelter, enclosed by four walls that stood a few short steps away.

Into the narrow entryway of the Cherry Shine, the outer sanctum, he crossed. A few steps beyond, he moved into the heart of the holy place. Only the rasping shuffle of his sandals against the wooden floor and the sound of his breathing broke the silence of approaching twilight.

Illuminated by the soft glow from a lantern, a silver platform occupied the direct center of the room. On the platform sat a wooden cutout, carved from the sacred Sakai tree into the shape of five cherry blossoms.

Five tiny bells dangled, one each, from the five petals, “Shards of the Sakura Hooseki”–the “Cherry Jewel.” Multihued lights flickered between the shards, accompanied by a soothing drone–like the whir of hummingbird wings.

From the topmost petal the blue-sapphire bell hovered over the jade-green bell on one side with the ruby-red bell on the opposite petal. In turn, the green bell swayed above its golden sister while the pulsating ruby-red bell bled into the brooding bone-white shard beneath it.

As he entered the room, Jintori lifted an incense burner from its place on the wall and lit the brass bowl that hung from the end of an ornately carved cherry tree branch. Standing beside the silver pedestal, he waved the bowl over the breathing Shards, sending tendrils of scented smoke that filled the room with pungent sweetness.

His warm breath formed a cloud in the frozen air as he chanted, “The Spirit Shard for the renewal of inner Chi.” At his words, the blue shard beamed with an azure glow.

He continued the chant, “The Shaman Shard for physical healing.” The jade bell shone with a verdant light, while the sapphire bell grew dim.

“The Dominion Shard, for power over the enemy.” The light from the jade bell faded as the next bell radiated a bloody aura

“The Death Shard ripped from the land of Yomi.” The ruby bell dimmed while the bone-white bell glowered like a skinless skull.

“The Eternity Shard with the power of life over death.” The glaring light from the white bell dimmed as the golden bell shimmered like a star point…



Chapter One

Sleight of Hand

Thaddeus was missing. The only certain thing Benjamin could put a finger on. Everything else was a web of confusion left for him to untangle as best he could.

He opened the front door of the family mansion to find swirling darkness. Squinting, he adjusted his eyes to the room lit only by vague moonlight that shifted through the cloud-filled sky. His breathing and the steady drip, drip, drip from his raincoat hem were the only sounds that filled the otherwise empty silence that pressed against him while the musty scent of death sifted down with the dust particles that floated on the air. He was not surprised still it bothered him that there was no sign of a servant, not even the vermin that most definitely had taken up residence since the humans vacated the premises.

Fists clenched, determined that nothing would deter him, he forced away the willy-nilly shiver that raced up his spine. He covered his nose with a monogrammed handkerchief and pushed past cobwebs hanging from the ornate door frame. As he did so, soft webbing brushed against his face giving the sensation that spiders crawled through his hair and over his clothes.

Frantic, he yanked the rain-filled bowler from his head, slapping it against his exposed head, drenched-wet coat and gray flannel trousers. His startled gaze darted here and there, unable to see anything distinctly in the darkness. A flash of light, perhaps it was a will-o-the-wisp, snapped his brain. Still, he found nothing but air and an overactive imagination crawling through the crevices of his clothes and hair, though his scalp continued to tingle with the phantom touch of a thousand tiny arachnids.

Holding his breath, like a child afraid of the darkness, he stepped farther inside the octagon-shaped foyer, his back toward the rain outside. A slug of revulsion shivered through him as he pulled off his raincoat. He felt exposed as he draped the dripping coat and water-filled hat on to a brass stand that stood near the front door. Tarnished from lack of good housekeeping, the stand reminded him of a wooden skeleton with too many arms and no head.

The steady drip from the coat’s hem echoed dully against the dusty wood floor matching the rhythm of the wind that whistled against the windows and roof making an eerie tick, tick that resounded throughout the murky space beyond. A wet dog, Benjamin shook water droplets from his hair splattering them in every direction. This place, this house, no longer felt like his childhood home. It reminded him instead of a mausoleum that only dead things or the insane would skulk through. Not eager to have prying eyes peer into his private business, he closed the double front doors, shutting out the beam of moonlight that had shown the way. As the latch clicked into place darkness enveloped the room so thick it seemed to twist and coil around him. He yanked the door back open. Damn the rain, damn the floor, he needed the light.

“Thaddeus-s-s,” Benjamin hissed.

It had been months since he received the message that no one in Breton had seen or heard the whereabouts of his younger brother and new bride. Angrier than he had ever been at Thaddeus, and that was saying a lot, his gaze shot toward the three-story cathedral ceiling that lifted away into darkness.

“Where in hell are you, Thaddeus?”

The answer came like mice skittering from buried corners of the mansion. Benjamin pivoted toward the sound. His boot heels clicked on the parquet floor echoing eerily against the unseen walls of the hidden rooms beyond.

At the threshold of the library, he would swear he felt warm breath blew against his ear as if someone stood just above his right shoulder, whispering words he could not understand. He twisted around to face demons cavorting in the murky shadows. For one terrible moment, his senses blurred, his throat constricted. He could not breathe. Oh, God, he could not breathe.

“Who’s there?” He gasped the words, hating the way his voice trembled with dread, while forcing puffs of air out of his closed throat incapable of drawing in a fresh breath.

Everything, what little that he could see of the room, began to blur. He was going to pass out. Oh, God there was no one here to help him and he was going to choke. He was going to die—

He forced the knot out, once, twice from his throat clenched in a spasm before he gasped in the saving air he needed. Breathing in and out, he waited. His face hot from exertion, fists clenched at his side. Yet, only silence and gloom answered back adding to the creeping terror that had almost taken over his mind.

Drawing his courage, he turned back toward the book-lined room and pushed through the encroaching shadows. A tree limb scrapped and tapped at the library’s bay window sending a shiver of dread through him. Bustling about to keep the cold and fear at bay, he knelt before the hearth. Sweeping aside scattered ashes on the stone bed, he pulled wood, kindling and matches from the tarnished, copper magazine. Soon a blazing fire lit and warmed one section of the room. Eagerly, he stretched his hands toward the soothing heat and flickering flame.

He glanced toward the gaslights hanging unlit from the wood-paneled library walls, but thought better of turning them up, wishing to conduct his search in as much secrecy as possible. Instead, he retrieved a tallow candle from a desk drawer.

The wick blazed to life casting meager light and flickering shadows. Benjamin walked toward a mahogany desk where stacks of books and wads of paper covered thick dust. He picked up a crumpled note that lay among the books and smoothed it out. Uneven handwriting lay scrawled across the sheet. It read:

My Dearest Mary, I find myself in dire straits with only you as a possible savior…

The last word ended in a streaked blob of ink that trailed off the edge of the onion skin paper.

Benjamin bit back a curse. He scrunched the stationery into a ball and tossed it into a trash hamper that sat at the base of the desk. One by one, he flattened out the other sheets. Much to his frustration, none of the other sheets of crumpled paper revealed any more than the first had. Benjamin whisked the palm of his hand toward the desktop, scattering the paper wad on to the floor. He then brushed the grime from the palms of his hands, drew in a deep, calming breath and turned away from the desk with its piles of filth-encrusted clutter.

Why was he forever cleaning up Thaddeus’ messes? His anger welled up overpowering the creeping terror he fought at every turn since entering the house. Taking the candle with him, he strode toward to the entrance hall where the peculiar sounds now seemed to emanate.

Since his sojourn in the library, moonlight had broken free of the gathering clouds sending a kaleidoscopic beam of pink, blue and green light cascading down through stained glass cut into the third-floor ceiling. It shimmered like fairy dust against twin staircases that seemed to float as they curved toward opposite sides of the second story.

Near the bottom, right step of the east wing stairs there stood an upright “Saratoga” traveling chest. The bigger case hovered over a prone steamer trunk where a padlock bolted the lid shut.

Benjamin set down the candle and threw open the Saratoga. He searched, rummaging through frilly women’s clothing and shoes hastily thrown into the case, but he found nothing save inconsequential rubbish! He wanted to shout as he flung fists full of the feminine dainties on to the dusty floor. The only thing that prevented him was again, not wanting to draw attention this way.

His mind whirled with speculation. Why the hurriedly packed clothes, stuffed into travel cases left to gather dust in the foyer? Benjamin jumped to his feet and hurried toward the back of the mansion. In moments, he returned carrying a small pix axe and a blunt-nosed hammer. Using the ax tip as a wedge, he slammed the butt of the hammer against the ax’s blunt metal edge. One well-placed blow and the lock shattered. He tossed the tools aside and shoved open the steamer’s lid.

Silk shirts, hand-tailored woolen slacks and broad, colorful cravats, he scooped into a heap on the floor. At the bottom of the trunk, next to a half full bottle of rye whiskey, lay a slim, leather-bound, black book. When he held it up to the candlelight, a shudder of horror tracked down his spine. Pressed into the binding and along the front and back covers of the bleak volume were reddish-brownish stains.

Whose blood is this? His stomach churned.

He could feel the bile rise in his throat. His hands shook, His mind was unable to shut out all the gruesome possibilities. Dreading what new revulsion would present its self, he opened the front cover of the slender tome to find a penned signature occupying the upper left corner. It read, Personal Journal of Thaddeus Ulysses Theibes, Esq…


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Set in Victorian EraWashington State,

Theibes House

is a

Fantasy Horror

from the author of

Legends of the Hengeyokai,

Book One,

Tengu Prince

Chapter One


He cried, it is both

a blessing and a curse to

know the awful truth…

–Tsuru no Megumi

The bird man flew low beneath stars that crackled like ice chips in the moonless sky. Expanding his wings, he glided on the jet stream, directing his flight a kilometer short of where the sandy embankment stretched on either side of the “Sea of Japan“. Dreading what he would find there, he closed his eyes and drew in a ragged breath while a single wish filled his thoughts.

Tonight, things will be different from all the nights before. Back the way they should be.

His greatest hope sprang from his greatest horror that the terrible revelations he remembered from previous journeys would turn out to be mere dreams dredged up from nightmares. Not a horrific foretelling of the future, as all of his most vivid visions always turned out to be.

Megumi Tsuru landed soft as a leaf blown by the wind. The current blew strong near the ground so it pulled his outstretched wings, snowy white with jet-black tips. The next instant, the fetid stench of dead fish, matted with decayed seaweed, assaulted his senses.

So it remains the same. He shook my head while anxiety washed over him like a dull film.

The voice of the sea thrummed in his ears. The gulls that chattered overhead seemed too loud. Still, he swallowed his sorrow, letting the crash of the waves soothe instead of annoy him while a different, yet familiar sensation burned deep inside his bones. It quickly blazed over and through him to the deepest regions beneath his feathers to the very tips of his claws and beak.

Moments later when he opened his eyes, he peered out from the smooth face–of a man. The warmth of a summer‘s night caressed his human body while an inner chill made him shiver.

He dug his toes into the sand, dry where it should be wet, next to a notched branch shoved into the sand when snow had covered the ground–over six months ago. He had put it there himself to mark the place where high tide used to hit the shoreline.

Now dried seaweed stuck cracked and black to the upper nodes of the branch severed from the sacred Sakai, the same tree that once hung with brightly colored cloth and a mirror to lure Sun from her cave hiding place millennia before.

From the defiled branch, Megumi made his way on foot toward the edge of the sea, his gaze focused on the sand near his feet. He could have flown, but he wanted to feel the tremors when they rumbled beneath him, shooting like a spear up his spine. The terrible sensation reminded him that this was more than a dream.

Megumi shook his head. The quakes grew in intensity each time he ventured to the devastated shore. Nothing could deny that.

He had read about a time, lost in the distant past, when the moon came so close to the Earth that it seemed the two colossal spheres would collide. From the account he had heard, the terrible phenomena caused cascading tons of ocean to eat away the shorelines, drowning everything that stood in the towering water’s path.

Most saw this event as pure mythology. But not Megumi.

The visions he saw now told of a time in the near future when the moon would take an opposite sojourn and slowly pull away from the Earth causing low tides to yank the oceans farther and farther away from the present shoreline. If this happened, the creatures of the sea would lie gasping for breath, helpless on dry land.

A grim smile tugged at Megumi’s lips. The meat eaters would find themselves stalking the shorelines for a mere glimpse of fresh food.

He shook his head in dismay. If things did not change for the better and soon, all of creation would face a slow agonizing death of starvation and worse. The Tribe of Crane included. But that was not the worst to come.

Pressure. Pressure.

His chest ached with frustration. The weight of what he knew, of what he must do squeezed like an invisible hand trying to crush out his existence–before the coming atrocities ever could.

He stopped at the edge of the sea, staring into the endless darkness beyond while cool salted water lapped around his ankles. Like a cold slap in his face, he could not get the image of the dried branch he had stuck in the ground or the heaps of dead fish piled up on the sand, reminding him that he must never give up his search for a way to stop it any of it from happening.

Megumi spun toward a mound of sand littered with decayed seaweed and fish carcasses. For one night, this bird had seen enough to make him miserable for eternity.

Head ducked low in determination; he trudged to the top of one rotten heap. Lifting his arms a wingspan apart the wind beat against his back, whipping his white hair, with jet black tips, into stiff, damp swirls. Nose tilted eastward toward the Brother Mountains, he took a running start. By the time he reached the edge of the dune his arms became wings spread open in flight…


In the Northern Province of Yamagata JapanMount Haguro stood the smallest of the three Brother Mountains. Nestled atop the summit the monastery slept. Tsuru no Megumi woke drenched in sweat. He felt the chill in the room as he slipped from beneath the covered sleeping mat.

Soft snoring drifted toward him. He paused, watching the sleeper beneath the colorful quilt. He wanted to wake his friend and tell him about the latest, terrible dream. Shojika would know how to ease the ache in Megumi’s heart even in the dark, cold hours before dawn. But courtesy would not allow him to disturb his friend’s precious sleep.

Head bowed in deep concentration, he turned and made his way through the darkened corridor of the living quarters. In his human form, man‘s feet pattered softly against the rice rush floors.

Situated at the backside of the monastery, Megumi stepped into the library where he spent long hours poring over ancient manuscripts of Nippon history and what others would call folklore. A place of profound peace, Megumi knew the library as a refuge from the insanity and chaos that the visions brought. Today, he went to there, desperate to find answers.

Tsuru no Megumi, “Crane of Mercy”, was the meaning of his name. And for the most part, he lived up to the title. With the abilities of a powerful seer since a very young age, he had grown accustom to knowing the future before it happened.

The outside world held in great demand one with such a “talent” as he possessed. But the over stimulation of attention he received in the past had almost driven him mad. It was the reason he now hid in the Mountains of Dewa where he had lived a quiet life—until the recent visions came to bombard his peace of mind.

He made his way toward cubbyholes that covered every wall, filled with rice paper scrolls. He stopped at a familiar niche.

A gentle slick gave way as he pulled a paper scroll loose from its slot and then made his way to a low-standing tea table. He knelt on a floor pillow tucked beside a tea table that sat beneath a round skylight, like a perfect full moon, that hung near the top of the high-beamed ceiling. Outside the window, the branches of a towering cryptomeria spruce scritch-scratched against the glass pane where the sun’s light had yet to rise.



Is it possible to fall in love at first sight even if your crush is… a ghost?

Andean Hillstar cannot forget Hinata Jintori after she meets him through the magic of a dragon orb.

In Japan a secret society of magic exists. Hidden behind the world of humans. Populated with shape-shifters and immortals  Where the son of a feudal warlord, with a heartbreaking past; a young woman, searching for the father she never knew; and the loss of an ancient talisman holds the secret to saving the creatures of the earth from a terrible fate.

Cherry Jewel is the exciting second volume in the epic fantasy adventure, Legends of the Hengoyokai that will leave you spellbound and yearning for more!

{September 6, 2012}   UPDATE!


I’ve been out of the loop for a bit now, busy with the business of writing etc. For those following my book’s progress, it is pretty much decided that the local middle school is using my novel, LEGENDS OF THE HENGEYOKAI, BOOK ONE  TENGU PRINCE as curriculum next April. I’ve been doing fine tune editing to make sure the book is ready for a teacher to read and teach to a class full of sixth graders. This is so exciting!

TENGU PRINCE has a new cover that I hope projects the theme of the story a bit better than the first one did. Also, I am fine-tune-editing book two in the series: CHERRY JEWEL. I hope to have it ready by this October, but a lot is happening now withTENGU PRINCE so not sure if I will find the needed time to spend on CHERRY JEWEL just now. It will be ready by April of next year at the very latest.

English: James Franco at the Austin Film Festi...

English: James Franco at the Austin Film Festival in October 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Johnny Depp at the Austin Film Festiv...

English: Johnny Depp at the Austin Film Festival in October 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am looking for an agent and plan to attend the Austin Film Festival next month. I have gone twice before and find it an exciting place to meet other writers as well as movers and shakers in the film industry.

Hope all of you are having a fantastic September! I wish all the best for you.

{July 21, 2012}  

Here is the real place where the Twilight Series took place. TY for sharing your mom’s travel adventure, Erin!

{June 16, 2012}  

Thoroughly Nourished Life

Once upon a time…
In a kingdom far, far away…
There lived a brave…
There lived a beautiful…
An enchanted forest where dragons, elves, and fairies dwell surrounded the castle…

There is something about fairy tales that whispers to our soul. Across ages, pages, and the passage of time, a deeper part of ourselves recognises and identifies with the lure of once upon a time, and the promise of happily ever after.
Fairy tales amplify all the parts of human nature; the good, the bad, and the ugly become the saintly and effervescent, the wicked and evil, and the warty and weird.
Our beginnings, average and suburban, become once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away.
Our homes become castles, our challenges and fears become dragons and evil queens.
Everyday life and the steps we take to move towards our dreams are woven into quests and searches for lost…

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et cetera