The Second Volume of the 50 Best Short Stories of All Time

coverHave you read the 50 best short stories of all time? The elves at Rook’s Page have been very busy trying to help you reach that goal! If you thought Volume I was good, take a look at Volume II, the most international installment of this amazing series.

In 1914, a critical moment in literature, the New York Times asked the most highly regarded authors of the day to name the best short story in the English language. Many of their responses have maintained consistent fame through time. Others have become hidden gems. All are essential literary experiences that will make you love to read again.

These masterpieces are collected here for the first time, masterfully copyedited and with an introduction by Martin Hill Ortiz, PhD.

This volume includes:
Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte
The Brushwood Boy by Rudyard Kipling
Doctor Marigold by Charles Dickens
Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
An Unfinished Story by O. Henry
The Claws of the Tiger by Gouverneur Morris IV
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Providence and the Guitar by Robert Louis Stevenson
Bread Upon the Waters by Rudyard Kipling
Marjorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Love in a Mist by A. Neil Lyons
His Wife by Stephen French Whitman
Rebecca and Rowena by William Makepeace Thackeray
Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy
The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
The Piece of String by Guy de Maupassant
Cinderella by the Brothers Grimm
The Story of Ruth Anonymous
“What is the Best Short Story?” The original article as presented in The New York Times

Some of the stories you’ll find in Volumes I (now available) and III (coming soon):
The Outcasts of Poker Flat by Bret Harte
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
The Ring of Thoth by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
The Door in the Wall by H. G. Wells
Gifts of Oblivion by Dorothy Canfield
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A Journey by Edith Wharton
Beyond the Pale by Rudyard Kipling

The Best Short Stories Chosen in 1914 by the most prominent authors of the day, Volume II is now ready for the public at these outlets:

Kindle in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, and India

Nook in the USA, the UK, and Europe

Kobo worldwide


Volume1The Best Short Stories Chosen in 1914 by the most prominent authors of the day, Volume I, is also available in ebook at the following outlets (check back soon for the soft cover edition!):

On Kindle in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, India, and Japan

In the USA, the UK, and Europe for Nook

Worldwide at Kobo

The 50 Best Short Stories of All Time, New from Rook’s Page

Volume1Have you read the 50 best short stories of all time?

Rook’s Page Publishing is here to make it easy to meet that goal! Our first release is Volume I in a three-volume set that commemorates the hundredth anniversary of a critical moment in the history of literature.

In 1914, the New York Times asked the most highly regarded authors of the day to name the best short story in the English language. Many of their responses have maintained consistent fame through time. Others have become hidden gems. All are essential literary experiences that will make you love to read again.

These masterpieces are collected here for the first time, masterfully copyedited and with an introduction by Martin Hill Ortiz, PhD.

This volume includes:
An Introduction to the Times survey and the stories
“A Lodging for the Night—A Story of Francis Villon” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“The Outcasts of Poker Flat” by Bret Harte
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
“The Pavilion on the Links” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“The Maltese Cat” by Rudyard Kipling
“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe
“Will o’ the Mill” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“Wolfert Webber; or, Golden Dreams” by Washington Irving
“The Ring of Thoth” by Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain
“The Door in the Wall” by H. G. Wells
“Gifts of Oblivion” by Dorothy Canfield

Some of the stories you’ll find in Volumes II and III, coming soon:
“Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
“A Journey” by Edith Wharton
“Beyond the Pale” by Rudyard Kipling

Don’t miss them!

The Best Short Stories Chosen in 1914 by the most prominent authors of the day, Volume I, is available in ebook at the following outlets (check back soon for the soft cover edition!)

On Kindle in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, India, and Japan

In the USA, the UK, and Europe for Nook

Worldwide at Kobo

The Passion of Emerson Perkins by Roger Leatherwood

Açedrex Publishing is proud to celebrate February and its most famous holiday by presenting the winner of our semi-secret quirky love story contest. “The Passion of Emerson Perkins” is Enjoy!

Roger Leatherwood worked on the lowest rungs of Hollywood for almost 2 decades before returning to print fiction where he could tell his own stories. His work has or will appear in Circa Literary Journal, Oysters & Chocolate, Nefarious Ballerina, Punchnel’s, European Trash Cinema and others.  He can be found at


Roger Leatherwood

What Emerson Perkins always wanted to do with his life was clean up the environment. But he couldn’t do that himself; that wasn’t realistic. So first he resolved to clean up his life.

And so, one Saturday, after an afternoon of sitting alone in his apartment, after 35 years in the same city and two different addresses 5 blocks from each other, he started. In a methodical and final spring-cleaning, he collected all his possessions and went through them box by box, closet by closet and shelf by shelf, discarding what was no longer needed and reboxing only what was absolutely necessary.

He wasn’t quite sure how much was really necessary. Emerson Perkins needed change. He couldn’t exactly put his finger on it. He intended to clear through all the stuff, and make it into some kind of event. It turned out not very much was necessary to his life after all.

Books he’d read long ago and had strong attachments to he realized he would never reread. He loved them the first time, he knew them, and reliving the initial surprise of turning the pages was something he finally, realistically admitted to himself would not happen again, could never happen again.

He would trade them away. Boxes and boxes of books. It was his first, small effort to recycle.

Books he didn’t like so much, but that still held some unknown promise of grander wonders he’d been unable to put his finger on the first time – he actually did keep. Maybe he didn’t quite get them yet. These might actually supply enjoyment in the future.

Music he hadn’t listened to in quite a while was also discarded much easier than Emerson Perkins had thought they’d be. He had a collection of almost 200 records he hadn’t played since he was in school, and after all, most of it was available elsewhere, in stores or at the library. If he hadn’t listened to it in years, did he really need to keep it around? Many of them were souvenirs of when he’d had less refined musical tastes, and was swayed by popularity rather than by the beauty he might have heard. Most of these bold experimentations to find something new he’d heard only once, maybe a few twice. He would trade these away, too. And get much more money for them than for the books, even though the book were more rare. He took good care of his records. There were people out there who listened to music regardless of, thought Emerson, its inherent value or beauty.

His clothes were also sorted through. Old, worn beach towels and bed sheets without pillowcase matches – Emerson Perkins took it all to Goodwill and got a receipt, for tax deduction purposes.

Then his furniture. This stuff was the most profitable to get rid of. He took it all to the swap meet early Sunday morning in the back of a pickup truck belonging to a guy at work. Emerson had to buy him a six-pack of beer, and while this guy relieved himself on the pavement behind the truck every so often, ribbing Emerson over his new-found frugality between belches and cigarettes, Emerson quietly sold away his possessions, bargaining down the prices as the day went on, making over $400 neat. He got rid of his appliances and his extra plates as well, coffee mugs, and glasses. He sold his TV, and his chairs except for one. No more coffee machine or electric can opener. He’d use the manual means instead and save electricity.

The only luxury he kept was his cassette tape player. His stack of handmade tapes were not valuable in the current market.

Having divested himself of much that had encumbered him for more of his life than he found pleasure in remembering, Emerson Perkins continued his efforts by getting rid of his current job. At the small accounting office where he worked, he went into his superior’s office that Monday morning and told him, simply, that he wasn’t going to work there any more. He then informed his assistant of the decision, and walked out, past all the confused and doubting faces, thus erasing a major burden on his time and energies in one quick, painless announcement.

Emerson Perkins had succeeded in cleaning up his life. It was approaching being a blank, a person without burdens or connections. Soon he would be able to focus his energies on what he wanted to do, which was cleaning up the environment. He would have no distractions. Not of these things. Weighing him down, getting in his way of feeling streamlined and self-contained.

His memories were like photographs he had taken while on a trip of Italy. He could thumb through them as his leisure, and although he couldn’t offer them up as “proof” he had been there, they were cold comfort. But then, photos no matter how dear could be misplaced. What then? No matter. Nothing could take away the fact that he had experienced all those things.

Books, music, furniture, work, why hang on to the tawdry souvenirs of life with no value? He had lived it, Emerson Perkins told himself. Wasn’t that enough? What more was there to life?

And yet, one souvenir remained to be had – obtained, memorized, grown tired of and then discarded. Emerson Perkin’s life was uncluttered and unmessy. Too much so. Emerson Perkins was a virgin.

Emerson Perkins had not intended to remain a virgin all his 35 years. There were no religious convictions or moral trepidations he’d harbored that prevented him from ever getting into a relationship with a woman that he cared about or that cared about him; a situation some afternoon or evening in which they felt comfortable, began to kiss, to explore each other’s bodies, and to explore the sexual, sensual responses that came naturally and early if in a clumsy rush for most people.

And it wasn’t that Emerson Perkins had never been in love. He had in fact been in love twice. The fist time had been in grade school, but in retrospect he told himself it was more of a crush than really love. She was named Laura, and her skin, Emerson remembered, seemed to look very soft. She smiled a lot when she talked to her friends, although she never talked to Emerson. She never talked to any of the other boys, either, and wasn’t particularly popular, or funny, or loud. Her skin just looked  – well, she smiled a lot.

All the other boys liked Laura, too. They talked about her in rude and disrespectful ways on the playground, Emerson remembered, as they tried to sound adult or knowing. They didn’t know anything about what they were talking about at all. Emerson didn’t join in these discussions. He only listened. She never talked to them either. After the school year ended Emerson never saw Laura again. Perhaps her parents had moved away.

Twenty-five years later, Emerson Perkins wished he knew where on this planet Laura had gone.

The second time Emerson Perkins fell in love, he felt like he had fallen in love for the first time. It was with the girl that lived in the house across the street and one over. After his first year in high school they spent the summer going to movies, delivering magazines, and once learning how to roller-skate at the rink when a minor flood closed the mall temporarily for a weekend.

They never consummated that romance officially. He had never actually told her he loved her, and she had never said it either. When they returned to school that September, in the same home room, happy coincidence, he’d accidentally found out that she was sleeping with the guy that used to give her rides home from his parents.

That wasn’t exactly how he’d first heard it. The guy’s name was Ron King, and during the lunch one day, out on the patio Emerson and two other guys, named Phil and Bobby, had been talking about nothing and everything and Ron, who was on the football team and had a dumb look and meant Emerson no harm, had gotten onto the topic of those rides home in his parents’ car and had mentioned that he had fucked her in the back seat the night before.

Emerson nearly choked on his sandwich. Phil and Bobby laughed and wanted to hear all the details.

Emerson Perkins never forgot Ron King. Emerson saw the girl every day in school for the rest of the year after that. And yet, her name he did forget.

He didn’t forget how it felt. Emerson Perkins stayed to himself. He was not what anyone would call a social animal. And now he was at a loss.

He knew, resolved, somehow, that he should figure out a way to be with a woman. He wanted to get laid. But he didn’t want to go downtown and drive slowly by the hookers on Lucent or along Parker. The thought made him too nervous and break out. Instead, he went to a bar known as a local pick-up joint. Even by him. It was within walking distance of his apartment, which was good because he had sold his car too.

The bar was called the Finish Line. Emerson Perkins sat quietly at a back table nursing a gin cocktail, in his newly pressed thin cotton gray suit, the only one he kept in case of a job interview. It was the suit he wore to weddings although he hadn’t been to one in over five years. He felt good in it. He loved the way it hung on his chest: he thought it make him look handsome, which was actually the case because Emerson Perkins was not an ugly man. He wasn’t particularly thin or gangly, or have a pock-marked face. He didn’t wear thick glasses and he was always well groomed. He just tended to act like he wasn’t very important. He’d learned to carry himself like he didn’t make a difference, as if his presence here, or there, or wherever he happened to be, didn’t amount to a whole lot in the larger scheme of things. And that countenance became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Emerson intended to change that shortly, to start working on cleaning up the environment, to give of himself and make a difference, instead of merely to co-exist, to survive in a gray blur of routine.

As soon as he got this business at hand out of the way. So in the meantime, he sat with his gin cocktail, at a back table.

And that’s how it went for much of the evening. He was too shy to approach anyone, so he tried to look handsome and available. He quickly got bored with this. Everyone ignored him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t used to that. But he didn’t want to go home, because there was nothing to do there, except read books he wasn’t really sure he liked and listen to music he was always listening to. He should have traded all that, too. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to do it last week.

And he still hadn’t really attacked the problem of how he would go about working on his environmental concerns now that he had all this free time and so few distractions. He might even have screwed up his references. Emerson Perkins didn’t know exactly how to go about doing what he had to do next.

Had Emerson Perkins lived? Really experienced life? Was it too late for him to turn it around, and change the directions of his actions?

“I used to be an accountant,” Emerson said.

He was talking to a woman who sat down next to him a short time later that evening. “Boring, isn’t it?”

She laughed. She became sympathetic to Emersion when he had reached for the check and spilled his third drink on the table, embarrassed and making a noise that caused half the people in the bar to look at him for the first time that night. He didn’t seem to be on the make, like everyone else seemed to be here in the Finish Line.

She was brunette. About five years older than Emerson.

“Now what do you do?”

“Right now I’m kind of at liberty.”

He saw the hint of a grimace cross her face.

“I do have some money saved up,” he awkwardly added. “I’m taking some time off. From working, to get my life in order.”

She nodded, as if waiting for more. She was drinking a greenish margarita, the shade almost had a glow to it. She held it between her relaxed hands, twirling it in a circle on the table.

He added, “What I really want to do is clean up the environment.”

She nodded and then she didn’t say anything else. Emerson thought her mind had gone blank, like his life.

“What do you do, Marilyn?” Marilyn was her name.

“I’m with the Travelgraph Resolute Company.” She smiled. “I sell projectors for classrooms. Overheads?” She was a little embarrassed.

“Why the look?”

“We’re not doing well. They’re rather old-fashioned.”

He thought to himself that she probably wouldn’t be able to help him with the environment.

She did later agree to go to his apartment with him, with the clear understanding that they were only going to have a nightcap. They walked there, of course, and when they got inside Marilyn was surprised to see that all his possessions were in boxes, and not many of them at that.

Emerson explained that he wasn’t moving. Just getting his life in order.

They talked for a while longer and they sipped wine out of the two water glasses Emerson still had. Soon the evening got to the point where it was going to be time for Emerson to either say goodnight or make a move on Marilyn. She knew this at the same time he did and sat on the floor, across from him, legs crossed.

She looked up at the wall, and counted nail holes, recently empty. She smiled to herself. She told herself she was in no hurry.

For a moment Emerson Perkins reconsidered why he had brought Marilyn to his apartment. His life was in the process of being cleaned out. He wanted more than anything to have something worth getting rid of, some memory a little more difficult to jettison than by merely going down to the nearest thrift store. Before restarting his life, before turning over a new leaf, Emerson Perkins wanted to feel like he had given something up. And Marilyn was being so nice so far. To him.

“Well,” she said. “Maybe I should get going soon.” There was a hesitance in her voice.

The moment was escaping him.

“Ah…wait a minute…” He inched closer. He sat across from her. “Marilyn.”

She uncrossed her legs and sat sideways, stretching them. “What are you trying to say, Emerson?” She smiled disarmingly. “You can tell me.”

“I’ve never done this before.”

“That’s okay. I have.” She placed her hand on his. “It’s easy.”

They went to the other room and sat on his futon, in the middle of the room by itself. The only other thing was the tape player, the stack of cassettes next to it.

And Emerson went to bed with Marilyn. He tried to be gentle and she helped him. He took his time because he was afraid of making a mistake. He also wasn’t sure if he would have another chance. Marilyn told him how to sit, and how to lie and how to balance. He didn’t want to be selfish, think only of himself, even though that was exactly why he’d initiated this tryst.

“It’s okay to be selfish,” Marilyn said at one point. But Emerson couldn’t be completely selfish. He had already decided that his own personal comfort was less important than what he could do for those around him. “You don’t seem to be all here.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I guess I’m distracted.”

Emerson had so much to do, not the least of which was to disentangle thoughts of Marilyn from the front of his consciousness, and from his self-proclaimed life’s work.

“I see,” she said, to herself. She rolled over and went to her clothes, which she’d laid neatly in a pile next to his. “I should be going soon.” The comment hung in the empty apartment like a Christmas ornament in July. “And I have to get up early—”

Emerson sat up also. “Don’t leave. Not yet.”

“Why not?”

“Please? Stay a while…? I don’t know what to do. I have nothing here, Marilyn.” He gestured to the room.

“I can see.” And so she stayed.

“It’s lonely,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get my life in order. I gave it all up. To start over, to help the community. The environment. You see?”

She didn’t. At least, she said she didn’t. She actually did understand but it didn’t sound like he believed her. She asked him to explain.

He couldn’t, of course. He tried again the next morning, while Marilyn and him at breakfast, after they and made love again, slower this time, yes, even slower than last night, which drove Marilyn a little nuts, because it was sure to turn out all right that way. He served the food on a single plate because he’d used the other one to drain the bacon. They pecked the food with two forks.

He didn’t bring up the subject the following week, when they saw each other again. Or at all during the next few months. Marilyn didn’t move in. She insisted that she had a good head on her shoulders and didn’t want to rush into that kind of thing again.

But she came over to his apartment all the time because there were no prying neighbors, and she helped him with his resume and getting some new art on the walls, and gave him moral support while he interviewed for jobs. And she helped him celebrate when he finally landed a high-paying position at a renowned financial firm in amid a corporate turnover. Marilyn moved in shortly after that, when she realized it was the next, if not the right, thing to do.

What Emerson Perkins had wanted to do was clean up this life. Surround himself only with what was necessary.

The environment would have to wait.

Dragons and a Princess with New Artwork


The Trossachs, Scotland by Shirley MacKenzie

I asked Seymour Hamilton, author of The Laughing Princess, how it came about that he met Shirley MacKenzie, who did the lovely new cover and many other drawings for that book. This is how he explains it:

I met Shirley MacKenzie at a reading soiree at a now defunct indie bookseller which had our books on consignment.  Shirley had written and illustrated a moving account of her search for her birth mother and father. The emotional impact of Shirley’s story was in her drawings, which are at the intersection between personal and universal.  She does not tell her reader what to think or feel: she presents evocative images of loss, longing and fulfillment that haunt me still.

"Ryll's Fortune"

“Ryll’s Fortune”

Shirley bought a copy of my book, The Laughing Princess, and was moved to draw a scene from one of the stories, “The Wizard and the Fire Dragon,” and later another, “Ryll’s Fortune.” I was amazed to see how close her vision came to the one in my mind when I was writing.  Her charming rendition of The Littlest Dragon, the character that ties the twelve stories together, is now the cover art for both The Laughing Princess and the Spanish edition, La Princesa valiente.

Cover art for Shirley's book, Orphan Sage

Cover art for Shirley’s book, Orphan Sage

Shirley’s search for her birth parents took her to England and Scotland, where she travelled with sketchbook in hand.  In London, her paintings feature views of and through the peculiarly English iron railings that most people see but do not notice.  In Scotland, she captured the muted colours of a Scottish autumn with a vividness that refreshes the memories of those who have been there.

Back in Canada, she continued to find ways of taking us through the picture frame into the world that she sees in such vivid detail.  Her paintings of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have the quality of a shared experience, when one person says, “Look at that!” and both enjoy the moment.

Illustration is Shirley’s latest enthusiasm.  She started with well-known children’s classics such as The Little Prince, Charlotte’s Web and Treasure Island.  Her drawing of a pivotal emotional moment when Jim Hawkins makes an important step towards manhood illuminates the text, making us aware that Robert Louis Stevenson was not just writing adventure: his story has emotional depth that we often lose in the many films, cartoons and re-interpretations of the famous tale.

The most poignant example of Shirley’s ability to read into the deeper dimensions of a story came when she drew a couple of incidents in stories by Spider Robinson.  I was impressed by the appropriateness of her treatment of these emotion-laden scenes, and sent copies of them to Spider, who I have known since we both lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concept by Shirley MacKenzie

Here is a part of his response:

“I am seriously mind-boggled.  I just sat and looked at that sentence for ten minutes, trying to figure out what to follow it with.  I failed, but have decided to keep on typing, anyway.  But mind-boggled pretty much sums it up. The surely accidental resemblance of Erin to my granddaughter Marisa is uncanny.  (For which reason I have forwarded it to her mom in Connecticut.) And that happens to be the way I was wearing my hair and beard when I wrote that book.  And I lived in converted school buses on Stephen’s Farm long enough to recognize the interior of one when I see it.  Right down to the inevitable tape-patches on the seats. What a beautiful piece! If we ever succeed in getting the e-book rights to that book back from Bantam, that’s the cover I’ll recommend for it to my agent. Please tell Shirley I am highly pleased and deeply moved.  And thank her from me, big time.  It never fails to awe me when some words I stuck together end up inspiring a work of art.  Especially one that good.”

9781937291464The Laughing Princess is available with its beautiful new cover in soft cover: Soft cover | Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound (shows the old cover, but never fear!)

And in ebook:  Kindle  | Kindle CanadaKindle UK | Nook | Kobo | Sony | Google PlayBook Country | and Apple iBooks

Y en español: Amazon | Amazon España | Barnes & Noble | Pídela en tu librería preferida

Kindle | Kindle Canada | Kindle España | Kindle México | Nook | Kobo

All images in this post are © Shirley MacKenzie and must not be used without permission. Please see Shirley’s other work at

Rhinoceros Awareness for Your E-Reader

Update 10/26: The book is now (finally! at last!) available for Nook and Sony as well as Diesel, Smashwords, Kobo and Kindle! Scroll down for links!

If you already love elephants, lions, zebras, or giraffes, why not add the magnificent rhinoceros to your list of favorites? Rhinos are some of the largest animals on Earth and they wear swords on their faces, but they can’t protect themselves from human greed and violence. They need all the help they can get!

Jessica Knauss’s new collection of short stories is a fun, really inexpensive, way to learn more about rhinos and what makes them special, just in time for World Rhino Day: September 22.

“Rhinoceros Dreams” tells how Allie, a woman fascinated with rhinoceroses, finds true love in the human world with a bookworm. Can he ever truly understand her? Can she make her rhinoceros dreams come true? Previously published in This Mutant Life and Jake’s Monthly Anthology.

“Not Extinct Yet,” available exclusively in this collection, happens in an alternate world in which animals can talk. Intrepid rhinoceros linguist Suzanne takes on the responsibility to save her African rhino friends from extinction by mindless poaching. When you want to know something about a rhino, you should always ask a rhino! Find out about the story’s origin here.

“A Business Venture in Glue” is a weird flash fiction that uses a rhino escaped from a zoo to suggest themes of collectionism and possession. Previously published in Stanley the Whale.

The magic of rhinos lies not in superstitions about their horns, but in their majesty and in all creatures’ basic right to live.

“This story is so original and surreal that it’d be a crime not to accept it. This is high-quality, intriguing-premise Magic Realism at its finest.” —Jake Johnson

Kindle | Kindle UK | NookKoboSmashwords | Diesel | Sony

More Bestselling Medieval Work for Your Scholarly Appetite

We recently noticed that Law and Order in Medieval Spain is a huge bestseller on Kobo, reaching as high as number 1 in two categories and number 3 in a third. This came as a surprise, a very agreeable surprise!  Our new volume is conceived as a companion piece to Law and Order, and, in the same vein, is illustrated with cantigas and supporting artwork. It’s a survey, meant to stimulate interest in the fascinating social scene of thirteenth-century Spain.

In order to describe the miracles of the Virgin Mary, Alfonso X el Sabio’s Cantigas de Santa Maria show life at its worst, and this often includes violence, which may disconcert a modern audience even more than its original medieval one. This essay examines the lyrics and the miniatures of these songs in order to show how they illustrate the balance of power in thirteenth-century Spain. The role of Mary herself illustrates the role of gender and the divine in giving social meaning to acts of physical violence. Illustrated with twelve color plates.

Available now: Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle España | Nook | Kobo

Update 10/10/12: Deu-lles o que merecian is a Kobo bestseller! Top 7 in all three categories, number 2 in one and number one in the other! Thanks for your support of this title dear to my heart.


The Abencerrraje, finally for epub readers

We’re terribly sorry to have kept you waiting! You’ll be relieved to know that The Abencerraje: A New Translation, which has had such phenomenal success as a Kindle book, is now available for your epub reading pleasure from both your friendly Barnes and Noble and the fine people at Kobo. Endorsed by three arbiters of good taste, this affordable ebook (or paperback) is sure to entertain and maybe edify, too.

To refresh your memory, we present the blurb:

A heartwarming tale of love and friendship in a time when no one could imagine anything but war.

This is a classic story of the exotic landscape of medieval Spain, written about 1551, in a new, easy to read English translation.

Abindarráez is so in love with beautiful Jarifa that when he is taken prisoner by Rodrigo de Narváez, he asks to be freed for only two days so that he can marry her. What happens next shows that love and friendship are stronger than war, even during the final stages of the the Reconquest of Spain.

The translation tries to transmit all the meaning and charm of the original while untangling its complex syntax. Don’t miss the opportunity to read this enchanting book in English!

This edition includes:
• A never-before-published translation of El Abencerraje
• Useful explanatory notes
• A short, original introductory essay

And remember, in the paperback you get both the original Spanish and the new English translation, complete with useful explanatory notes. Thank you for your patience!

Kindle | Kindle España | Nook | Kobo | paperback

The Poet and the Angular Dragon, Excerpt from The Laughing Princess

For your reading enjoyment, here is the ninth story from Seymour Hamilton’s The Laughing Princess. I’m a writer and this is the single most inspiring story I have ever read.


There was a poet who had wandered from city to country to town until he owned a fine stock of memories both happy and sad. He had shipped aboard a leaky boat with a curmudgeonly skipper and had blistered his hands on ropes and fishing lines for months, until he was heartily sick of the sea. At length, he had come to the Village at the foot of the mountains that brooded in purple shadows while the clouds tore to shreds on their peaks.

After the boat had made fast to the stone quay that formed one side of the Village square, the moon rose and the snow on the crags was lit with a ghostly light. Though he had been awake for two days while his vessel was storm-lashed and nigh to overwhelmed by raging water, nonetheless the poet could not sleep. He went ashore and walked among the houses of the Village, where yellow candlelight gilded the windowpanes and silhouetted those within. He heard the murmur of voices and felt a stab of heartsick loneliness for the home to which he could never return, and a longing was upon him to stare into eyes kind enough to see him for himself and accept what they saw.

He passed a tavern, and heard the discordant sounds of revelers far gone in their cups, and he wondered why he should be restless when his fellow mariners sought oblivion in drink, or lay exhausted in salt-wet hammocks aboard their evil-smelling boat. He turned his steps southwards and walked beyond the Castle to where the cliffs drew back from a stony beach silvered by the eerie light of the moon. Shingle scraped under his heels and he drew his jacket tight around him, wishing for he knew not what.

It was not that he had lacked comrades, lovers and good friends, but they were lost along the difficult leagues he had travelled, and now he could revisit them only in memory. There had been a time when he thought to make of his voyaging a never-ending river of poems that would touch the hearts of all who heard them, but now the source of his inspiration had dwindled to a trickle of disjointed words. Whenever he took up his pen or mused over rhymes and rhythms, he was driven to the conclusion that there was no one who would care to hear what he struggled to say.

“There really isn’t much point to it,” he said aloud to the night.

Like all poets, he talked to himself often, but on this occasion when he tried to continue, he could manage only an ironic laugh that threatened to turn into a sob.

He kicked the stones under his feet and stared seaward at the ghost-white crests of breakers as they crashed along the shore. He shivered as he walked along the line left by the receding tide where the waves had tossed up storm-wrack mingled with ruined pieces of men’s handiwork. A broken oar poked up from a tangle of twisted tree roots, and his feet crunched on the fragments of a broken bottle. Ahead of him was a wrecked boat, drifted deep into the shingle by the pounding waves. Its upturned hull was sliced into an enigmatic shape of dark, convoluted shadows. At one moment he saw a huge bird, then a coil of rope stuck with broken spars and masts, then the bony skeleton of a monstrous sea creature.

“It is a statue, created by some sculptor to tease the minds of all who see it,” he muttered to himself. And then, as he knew this could not be, he asked the night, “Is nothing real? Must I choose only among illusions?”

“Can you see the wind?” asked a voice softly. “Or hear the stars?”

The poet stopped and stared about him, for in all his musings he had never been questioned so appropriately.

“Yes I can,” he declared. “At least, there have been times when starlight tingled at the edge of hearing, and the wind was soft enough that I stared at where I held it in the hollow of my hand.”

The poet stepped towards the figure on the boat, that now he saw was a seated woman, her arms folded about her knees.

“You bind words to escape from the knowledge that it is your own mind that shapes your life,” she said.

He stepped towards her outstretched hand, then blinked and looked again. Lit by a light that was not of the moon, he saw eyes whose slit pupils watched him steadily, and he knew that he spoke to a Dragon. Such was his loneliness that he was not capable of fear. Instead, he was captivated, and saw beauty in the gentle curve of its mouth and the soft gleam of its eyes. He felt a bond between his humanity and the inhuman creature, and both his intelligence and his feelings were convinced of its gentle and kindly interest in him.

“All that opposes you is only as real as you imagine it,” said the Dragon.

The poet knew that the Dragon spoke of more than the moment, and he was moved to admit his deepest sorrow and the cause of his midnight quest.

“I would know that I was heard by someone who cares whether I live or die,” he said. “I wish affirmation that what I write may touch another’s mind.”

“Has there been no such moment for you in your life?” asked the Dragon, like a lover in whom there is no jealousy.

“Once,” said the poet. “But she is far away, and I do not know whether she even thinks of me.”

“Then you have touched another’s life, and you have no reason for despair.”

“I could be wrong,” he said.

“True,” replied the Dragon. “But that thought brings no hope, so set it aside.”

And the poet sighed as if he had put down a heavy burden. Clouds sailed across the moon, and in the darkness he fixed his gaze on the Dragon’s glowing eyes.

“Who can I thank for these good thoughts?” he asked.

A laugh like the chime of high, distant bells mingled with the sounds of the sea.

“I am she who is not as are my kinfolk, for I am further from eternal and closer to mortals than they. I speak only to poets, dancers, men and women whose lives are not complete without the tones, shapes and words that they themselves have wrought. I live by their thought as they by their arts, though I offer them only those songs, dances, forms and words that can be shared with the fewest of the few.”

“But what are you called?”

“The other Dragons speak of me as The Angular One,” said the Dragon, and there was sorrow in her voice. “For among my fellows I am no better understood than are you.”

“Then tell me your name, oh Dragon,” insisted the poet, “that I may reverence you in my poems. Because you are beautiful, and wisdom is in your words.”

Again there was musical laughter to join with the night sounds of wind and wave.

“You are a persistent one, Poet,” said the Dragon, and her voice was soft as a woman well pleased. “You know full well how to flatter.”

“I do not deny it,” said the poet. “But you can see my thoughts and know that I speak truth. My world is words, and I must have them in my head to know that I exist. Do not torture me with your silence, for I would repeat your name and know that both of us are real.”

“Then I will whisper, for none has heard it for so many of your generations that I have almost forgotten how it is pronounced.”

And the Dragon bent her head towards the man, and the poet heard the name Kaiwheil Bhagmani-ji, and was content. The harmony of shared compassion filled his soul, and he pressed his palms together in token of his thanks. He could find no words to thank her, so he closed his eyes to savor the syllables he had heard.

When he looked again, the beach was white with moonlight, and he faced an upturned boat. He tipped back his head and saw a shape sharp as knives and soft as a woman’s lips scudding down the night wind. And the poet smiled, because he knew he would hold the moment precious, and that he would continue to search the world for the stuff of which his poems were made.

* * *

The Dragon drew its sea green wings in a little closer around the two children, and they looked out under the massive arch of leathery scales towards the little bay, now shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. The shadow of the cliffs was almost to where the Dragon’s tail lay in serpentine coils on the beach.

“I hope some day I’ll be able to meet Kaiwheil Bhagmani-ji,” said Daniel softly. “I’d like to tell stories and write poems.”

“I thought you wanted to be a warrior,” said the Dragon.

Daniel gave his head a little shake.

“Wizard, solemn son, thief,” counted Petra. “And Ryll. She wasn’t very nice. Do the men get all the luck?”

“I wouldn’t call Barrin lucky,” said Daniel. “And the Princess sounded to me as if she was going to have a good life.”

“Very well,” said the Dragon. “Since you have very cleverly avoided wishing for a story about a woman, Petra, I will tell you about two women.”

And the Dragon told the story of The Witch and the Tavern Wench.

The Laughing Princess is available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo and paperback and as a free podcast at Una edición en español se hará disponible en otoño.

The Laughing Princess, New for Fairy Tale Lovers This Summer

Açedrex is proud to announce the publication of a new book unlike any we’ve done before. In fact, I’m not sure there are any books similar to it on the market at all.

For any of you who read the wonderful Astreya Trilogy and wondered whether Seymour Hamilton has anything else up his sleeve, your question is answered! The Laughing Princess is a collection of stories or fables, all concerning dragons and the powers they still wield in our jaded world. One dragon in particular tells all the stories to a pair of siblings on holiday in a seacoast town that is much more special than they realize:

Petra and Daniel have little use for the quaint fishing Village their parents have forced them to visit on holiday. They don’t know that this Village has a legacy of Dragons. Much more fun than exploring museums or picturesque ruins, a small stone on a lonely beach offers them the chance to perform magic, match wits with elementals, steal hearts, go to war, write poetry, escape from a pirate, and sail The Laughing Princess. Their dull, rainy world will never be the same.

The stories themselves range from meditative to epic, with melancholy musings on love and one’s purpose in life as well as violent battles and the searing char of a dragon’s breath. If you’d like to read something new that nonetheless feels like a half-remembered fireside chat, this is the book for you.

The cover features the dragon sculpture that inspired the first story Hamilton wrote, about a tremendous mountain which is really a dragon and the mere mortal who disturbs his slumber.

New for Açedrex, this book will also be available as an audio download. You can read more about and by Seymour Hamilton by going to There, you’ll find links to downloads of free podcasts of The Laughing Princess read by the author.

The ebook editions are available for only 99 cents now, but get it quickly! The price will increase this Friday night!

Kindle | Kindle UK | Nook | Kobo

Kindle in Europe: DE | FR | ES | IT

The paperback is available at Amazon and anywhere else fine books are sold. Request it from your library or local bookstore!

Una edición en español se hará disponible este otoño.

Building Utopia Out of Dystopia, New from Marie Danielle Frankson

Popular Açedrex author Marie Danielle Frankson returns with her new novel, a departure from her previous ones because it’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

Imagine going about your daily life when, in the blink of an eye, everything changes. One moment, you’re writing an essay in the campus library, then the next you’re thrust into an intergalactic battle between good versus evil. Emily and Ryan, a twenty-something Christian couple, find themselves in such a position. Will the two join the forces of good and help defend their home planet? Will the hectic times force the two apart emotionally and physically? Will the two find the utopia they so desperately seek? In this apocalyptic world where nothing is certain, anything is possible if one is desperate enough.

This book contains adult situations and language. It also presents serious reflections on God’s intentions for humankind relevant to today’s Christians.

For its debut on Kindle and Nook, get it for a very low price (the lowest allowed, in fact!) — quick, before it goes up on July 14!

Kindle | Kindle UK | Nook | Kobo

Also available in paperback.