#TheYearOfPublishingWomen's Short Stories Series: "Wizards Can't Go Home" by Karen Eisenbrey

During 2018, Not a Pipe Publishing has accepted Kamila Shamsie's challenge to only publish women for one year. Beyond the nine (nine!) novels we'll be publishing, we'd also like to promote even more women's voices, so we'll be publishing short fiction here. If you would like to submit, check out the information HERE.

Fans of Daughter of Magic, rejoice! "Wizards Can't Go Home," like Eisenbrey's other short story "Crane's Fire," takes another step into the past--this time, showing us how Stell and Old Crane first met. The story provides a deeper backstory for one of the most pivotal historical moments of the book and also shows us the beginning of a beautiful love story. -Sydney Culpepper, Assistant Submissions Editor

Wizards Can't Go Home

by Karen Eisenbrey


“Wizards can’t go home.”

When Master Ordahn spoke those words, his apprentice thought he meant home would feel too tame, or the wizard would be too changed for home to seem like home anymore.

He didn’t know it meant home would cease to exist.

The young wizard glanced at the dripping sky, then pulled his hood forward and sank onto a fallen log with a dejected sigh. “Now what?”

He called himself The Crane, a name he’d given himself as a boy—the last of many. He didn’t remember what his mother called him. Both his parents had died when he was very small. They had died here. He wasn’t sure he could even find their graves.

It had been easy to find the swamp. Its tall poplars towered over the mostly treeless prairie, marking the spot where the river overflowed its low banks and spread out into the dry land. No cranes were visible, but ducks paddled in the swamp’s meandering channels. If they heard the wizard’s question, they didn’t answer. He shivered. Winter was mostly past, but it would be weeks before spring brought any warmth. For now, all it brought was damp. The poplars didn’t offer much shelter, and the shack was gone. Only the chimney remained to mark the place where it once stood.

The Crane roused himself and stood. He picked his way across the little island. His wizard’s staff helped him avoid mud holes and vault across the wider channels. When he was a boy, mud and water had been his chief playthings. He spent many happy hours damming and diverting small streams until they dried up in summer’s heat. At this time of year, the channels were full, and the ground saturated. He wasn’t inclined to play.

He crossed the last channel and searched the high ground to the west until he found the graves. The markers had sunk almost out of sight, and tall, dead grass lay over them. There were still only two graves; his uncle did not lie here with his parents.

The Crane’s Uncle Soorhi was all the family he’d ever known, the shack in this swamp his only home. Now both were gone. Weariness and melancholy oppressed the young man. He’d been called the greatest wizard of his generation, but he felt like a lost little boy. He’d come here with no plan other than to return home and start again.

The Crane had left home fourteen years before, a ten-year-old apprentice to Master Ordahn, an itinerant wizard who found their hidden shack. Soorhi had known Ordahn years before and trusted him to take the boy to a better life. He fulfilled that promise. The Crane learned magic and saw more of the world than he ever dreamed existed. It was a hard life, but better. He had power and the skill to use it, along with a reputation for good works. He’d been on his own for six years now, and he could count on a welcome anywhere he went. His name was as good as a pocketful of coins.

He’d made that name with dramatic feats of magic—extinguishing burning houses or barns, healing when all hope was lost. Sometimes he even had visions of the future. But fame and power alone soon grew empty. Cheers and praise energized him, but they didn’t last. He traveled alone, worked alone, slept alone.

He wanted to change that, but he didn’t know how. The Crane’s isolated upbringing hadn’t prepared him for the world of men and women. He could do great things, but he was lost when he had to talk to someone other than Master Ordahn. He wanted a new beginning, and the place to make it seemed obvious: the house where he was born. He wanted to hear Soorhi’s voice again, and ask him more about his mother’s people, the Mountain Folk. He had traveled for days with mounting anticipation, only to discover there was no answer there. No house. No uncle.

It wouldn’t do to stay. Daylight was fading, and if anything, the rain was coming down harder. He knew of a village nearby, a place called Deep River. He’d never been there. He didn’t understand why, but his uncle had insisted that no one should know about them—something to do with a promise Soorhi had made The Crane’s father before he died. Only one person from Deep River knew about them, a healer called Elika, and she kept their secret.

This village was the most likely place to find a meal and a bed for the night. That would require going among people, but maybe that was the way to start his new life. He would present himself as only a hungry traveler, nothing more. He didn’t have to stay longer than one night.

He could have transformed and flown there in next to no time, if he weren’t already exhausted. As it was, it would be hard enough to walk. He wiped the rain and tears from his face, stood up straight, and took one step, then another. He followed the river upstream through open grassland and brush. With the heavy cloud cover, dark came early, but he listened to the river’s voice and used his staff to keep from falling in. By the time he reached the village, the rain poured down. But a delicious aroma drew him onward to the inn, a place called The Blue Heron.

He grasped the door handle, then drew back as if burned. The vision was brief, but certain—he would die in this house.

Better to die with a full stomach than to starve out here in the rain. He opened the door.


* * *


Stell persuaded her father to take one more spoonful of broth before he lapsed into the stupor that passed for sleep. He was propped upright to allow even that rest. He’d been in poor health for years, short of breath and tired, but this was the worst she’d seen. He hadn’t left his bed for almost a week. Elika said his heart was failing. She’d done everything she knew, but admitted the man would probably die soon.

Please, not yet, Stell thought. I’m not ready to be alone.

“Good night, Papa.” She kissed his forehead and left the room. She still had an inn to run. She forced a smile onto her face. There was a good crowd on this wet night, all locals. That was a relief; in her father’s absence, Stell felt safer around people she knew.

She served mugs of ale and plates of stew to her guests, smiling and making small talk while her heart ached. Papa wasn’t an old man; he couldn’t die and leave her alone. If only he’d let her marry. There would at least be some solace in a family of her own. But he’d insisted she wait until she was eighteen, and now he was too sick to think about it. Meanwhile, all her friends were getting married, some to men Stell would have considered if Papa had let her. Soon there’d be no one left. Then she’d really be alone.

She shook her head and smiled without much humor. Here she was, in a room full of men, thinking about being alone. But it wasn’t the same. She wanted—something. She was waiting for—something. Someone.

Stell gathered a stack of dirty dishes. As she made her way to the kitchen, the front door opened and someone took a hesitant step inside. She didn’t need to see his face to know him for a stranger—he was at least a head taller than anyone she knew. He leaned on a walking stick, and his long cloak dripped onto the floor.

“Welcome to the Blue Heron,” she said. “Come in out of the wet.”

The stranger pushed back his hood to reveal a dark face topped with curly black hair. His chin bristled with a few days’ growth of beard. Stell caught herself staring, and glanced away. He was young, and handsome, with the most beautiful dark blue eyes she had ever seen.

“Thank you. Might a poor traveler find shelter here?” The stranger’s voice, though quiet, rang like a deep-toned bell. Stell felt it as much as heard it.

“Shelter, hot food, and a warm bed,” she promised.

“I haven’t much money.”

“I’m sure it will be enough. You’re soaked—hang your cloak on that peg, and then sit anywhere there’s space. I’ll bring you a dish of stew.”

He glanced around the room. “You—have your hands full. Are you sure it’s no trouble?”

“I have more work since Papa’s been sick,” she allowed. “But it’s our business, so no trouble at all.”

“Your father’s ill?”

“It’s not catching, if that worries you.”

She hurried away to the kitchen before he could answer, and set the plates in the dishpan. Her heart pounded. A stranger should have worried her, but this one didn’t. He was so—beautiful. His voice thrilled her, and his shyness made her want to draw him out. She hoped there’d be a moment to talk more before time for stories.


* * *


The Crane hung up his dripping cloak and stared after the girl. He’d seen a lot of girls, but he rarely got to talk to them. When he did, he never knew what to say. It helped to have some kind of business to discuss. And, though she was pretty, with her honey-gold curls and large, gentle eyes, somehow she wasn’t as intimidating as most of them. Her kindness seemed genuine. He wanted to earn it. But that was his old habit. He wasn’t here to do great deeds. But if she didn’t know—

He did a quick survey. A number of men ate and drank around two large common tables, as well as few smaller tables under the front windows. On the other side of this common room, a steep open stair led to a narrow gallery. The doors from this gallery must lead into the guest rooms. The Crane doubted he could afford a whole room, but perhaps he could sleep down here, or in the stable; anywhere out of the rain.

But the girl had glanced at a downstairs door when she spoke of her father, and even if she hadn’t, any wizard worth the name could sense illness. While she was in the kitchen, he crossed the room. It was no trouble to deflect the attention of the other guests. They would never notice a stranger entering the innkeeper’s bedroom. He went in and closed the door behind him. A man lay propped up, his breathing labored. He slept, but not restfully.

The Crane considered. A healing of this magnitude required a lot of power, and he was tired and hungry. But if he wanted to do it in secret, he had to do it now. The girl had promised food and bed. He could recover his strength soon enough.

“Good evening, sir,” the wizard whispered.

The man stirred a little, but it was impossible to tell whether he woke or slept. The Crane laid both hands on the sick man’s chest and intoned a spell to strengthen his heart and lungs. The damage was great, but he might gain a few years—enough to let his daughter start her own family. Power flowed out of The Crane. He sank to his knees with fatigue, but finished the spell. The man breathed easier and slept more comfortably. The wizard smiled. Now he was really exhausted, but happier than he’d been in years. He tiptoed out of the room and closed the door behind him. No one glanced his way, but not because of his spell. All the guests focused on the girl, who sat by the fire, telling stories. The Crane leaned his staff against the wall next to the stairs and sat on the bottom step. Her voice worked on him like a spell.


* * *


Stell dished up stew for the stranger. When she returned to the common room, he was nowhere in sight. The door opened again and her heart soared, but it was only Briato.

He grinned and glanced at the dish in her hands. “Is that for me?”

“What? Oh, yes, of course. There’s a seat over there, by Yshna.”

Stell hid her disappointment and set the plate in front of Briato. Not so long ago, she had hoped Briato might court her, but now he was betrothed to Keena. Yshna had seemed interested, too, but lately, he’d been walking out with Sullea every evening.

Now that everyone had been fed, she had one more duty to perform. Even as a child, Stell had spent nearly every evening telling stories by the fire. The old tales came alive, and she spun new ones almost as easily as breathing. Nobody left early who didn’t have to.

She ended with an old favorite, about a wizard and a dragon, then began cleaning up while her guests headed for home.

“Good night, Stell. Hope your father’s better soon,” Briato called.

“Thank you. I’ll tell him.”

As the room emptied, she turned toward the stairs and nearly dropped a stack of plates. The stranger sat there, gazing at her with his strange, beautiful eyes.

“How—how long were you listening there?”

“Long enough. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a tale so well told. So—you said something about hot food?”

“Come into the kitchen and keep me company while I wash up.”

She seated him at the kitchen table and gave him a dish of stew. It was gone almost instantly; she refilled it without being asked. “So, where did you come from?”

He chewed and swallowed a mouthful. “I’m—not sure.”

She laughed. “I didn’t realize it was a difficult question! Home is so hard to remember?”

He looked down at his plate. “No, but I don’t really have a permanent home. I see so many places, it’s hard to keep track.” He furrowed his brow. “I was in a place called West Bay recently.”

“Where’s that?”

“On the coast.”

She stared at him. “You’ve seen the ocean? What was it like?”

“Cold, wet, and salty. And gray as far as you can see.”

“The maps show it blue.”

He chuckled. “Maybe in summer. I’ve only seen it in winter.”

“I don’t think you came straight here from there.”

“No, but there are so many little villages out here that I can’t keep track of them.”

“Do you know Bitter Springs?”

He shrugged and shook his head.

“I only ask because I’ve been there for the dances, and once I went to Oxbow with Papa to pick up the mail. What do you do in all these little villages?”

He hesitated. “Lots of things. Whatever needs doing.”

“That must be useful, having a lot of skills. Now, me, I pretty much stay in this one place and do this one thing.” She looked around the kitchen.

“I’d say you do a lot more than one thing,” the stranger said. “You cook, you tell stories, you keep a tidy house, you look after your father—”

Stell blushed and returned to the dishpan. “I guess. I can’t imagine it seems very exciting to someone like you. You’ve probably seen all kinds of things. Magic, even.”

“Do you—get many magic folk through here?”

“No. Deep River isn’t on the way to anywhere important. We had a wizard living here once, but that was before my time. We have a healer, though—Elika.” The stranger dropped his spoon with a clatter. Stell smiled at his empty plate and refilled it once again. “She’s my friend’s mother, so she’s kind of a mother to me, too, especially after Mama passed.”

“I’m sorry. I—lost my parents, too.”

“That’s a shame. Recently?”

“No. A long time ago. My uncle brought me up. He’s gone now, too, but he made sure I knew something of where I came from.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Family is important.” She swallowed hard and glanced toward her father’s door.

The stranger smiled. It was a sad smile, filled with poignant sweetness. “I’m sure he’ll be all right soon. He’ll want to find you a good husband.”

She laughed about that and shook her head. “I don’t think he wants to let me go. So, have you met a lot of magic folk in your travels? Greater than healers, I’ll bet.”

“Healers do important work,” he said. “I was in a town once where a single wizard healed an entire family that was down with a dangerous fever, all at once. And in another place, I saw a man extinguish a blazing barn with just a word.” He smiled a little and shook his head as if he couldn’t believe he’d seen such wonders.

Stell sighed. “I wish I got to see things like that.”

The stranger looked up and met her gaze for a long moment. He blinked and looked away. “Thank you for supper; it was just what I needed. What do I owe you?”

“Five duleens for the supper, but you can pay in the morning; for one dul you’ll get a room and breakfast, too.”

“No, I really should be going.” He fumbled with his moneybag.

She grabbed his hand. “If you don’t know where you came from, I can’t believe you know where you’re going.”

“I’m—going to the mountains. To find my mother’s people.”

“Still, you must be exhausted. You don’t want to go back out on a night like this.”


“Bring that lamp; I’ll show you your room.” She had no other guests that night. She filled a water jug and led him upstairs to the best room. “Set the lamp on the mantle. I think you’ll appreciate the fire tonight—even I don’t have one, just the back of the oven to warm my room.”

He stared open-mouthed at the big bedstead with its featherbed and quilts; at the comfortable armchair; at the hearth with firewood already laid. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t afford this. I’m not sure I have money enough for even a pallet on the floor.”

She gave him a stern look that silenced him, though he towered over her. “I want you to have it. If you can’t pay, you can work. There’s always plenty to do.”

“Thank you. It’s a beautiful room. I’m not sure I’ve ever had nicer.”

She smiled and turned to fill the basin in the corner between the windows. “I’m sure you’ll want to clean up after your travels.” After a moment, he joined her and looked out, though it was too dark to see anything. “If it’s clear tomorrow, you’ll have a nice view of the Mountain,” she said. “Now I’ll just light the—” She turned and stared at the cheerful blaze already crackling in the hearth. “I suppose someone who travels as much as you do would know how to light his own fire. I’ll bid you good night, then.”

He turned from the window. “Please don’t go yet.”

She heard in his deep, ringing voice an ache of loneliness that almost brought her to tears. He didn’t know where he came from or where he was going, and it seemed he had no one. He was lost.

“I can stay awhile. What’s your name? I don’t know what to call you.”

“Some call me The Crane. That will do.”

The name sounded familiar, but she couldn’t place it. It was like a name in a story, for a dashing highwayman or masked hero. She held out her hand. “Glad to meet you. I’m Stell.”

He took her hand and she felt tingly all over. On impulse, she reached her other hand behind his head, drew it down to her level, and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close while they kissed. Her heart thundered and she felt warm inside. This was what she wanted—who she was waiting for.

She fell onto the bed and drew him down with her. She opened herself to him, and then there was no turning back. The pain was shocking, but short-lived; the pleasure almost equally so. She tried not to cry out. She wanted to say, “Stay with me,” or else, “Take me with you.” But she didn’t get to say anything.


* * *


The Crane had never been with a woman. When he asked Stell not to go, it was only to avoid being alone a little longer. But when she took his hand and kissed him, his desire for her was sudden and surprising. And personal. He hadn’t done anything impressive to earn her kindness or regard. She was friendly and caring to the man, not the wizard. In return, he longed to give her all the pent-up love in his heart.

She fell onto the bed, and he landed on top of her. He didn’t know what he was doing, but his body seemed to. She didn’t resist; perhaps she was too surprised. His first thrust brought unspeakable pleasure. She cried out a little, then bit her lip. He felt a moment of horror at what he’d done. But it was too late—it was over. Tears leaked from her eyes, and he expected her to call for help. He kissed her to keep her silent while he laid a sleep charm on her. She wouldn’t wake till morning.

He sat in the armchair with his head in his hands. The first person to show him unearned hospitality, and how did he thank her? But they had been getting along well. Maybe he could stay the night, talk to her in the morning, try to make things right. Or make his escape now while he had the chance. Her father would be well enough in the morning to kill him. Was that what the vision meant?

Best to get away under cover of darkness. And leave no evidence of his visit. He emptied the basin out the window and set it back on its stand. He knew a spell to remove the spots of blood from her dress and the quilt. He couldn’t make her a virgin again, but he could relieve the pain. If she woke in her own room, she might think it had all been a dream. A nightmare, perhaps, but what a relief to wake.

He extinguished the lamp and fire, then slung Stell over his shoulder and carried her carefully down the stairs. He stopped long enough to collect his staff, then took her into her room and laid her on the bed. He bolted the door so she’d believe she’d been alone all night. He could leave by the window. He didn’t dare undress her, but drew the quilt over her and kissed her once more; he couldn’t resist. And had another vision. Something had started that was not his to stop.

The Crane opened the window and climbed up onto the sill. The rain had let up. He didn’t have his cloak, but it was probably wet and clammy, anyway. He gripped his staff, dropped to the ground, and pushed the window closed. Then he changed into an owl, and flew away.


* * *


Stell woke refreshed from a dream so vivid and delightful that she could hardly believe she was in her own bed, alone. She sighed happily. Even if it was only a dream, now she knew how it felt to be in love. The dream didn’t scatter the way dreams usually did; she could still feel the warmth and thrill of her lover’s embrace. But not the pain. That was gone, so it couldn’t have been real.

She was still in her clothes, but that wasn’t so unusual. She often dropped into bed fully dressed after a long night. She got out of bed and tapped on Papa’s door. She didn’t expect an answer, but it wasn’t polite to just walk in unannounced.

“Give me a moment to finish dressing,” he called. He sounded alert and strong.

“Papa? Are you well?”

He opened the door and grinned at her. “Better than I’ve been in years. Elika finally hit on the right cure.”

Stell threw her arms around her father and wept for joy. “I thought you were dying.”

He chuckled and stroked her hair. “Not until I’ve found you a good husband.” She laughed with him, though she wasn’t as interested in a husband as she had been the day before. At least, not in a Deep River fellow. “Now, run along to the kitchen. When I get back from the privy, I’m going to want enough breakfast for three!”

Walking to the kitchen felt like flying. It was a miracle! Elika didn’t give herself enough credit. She—

A worn traveling cloak hung by the door. Stell felt it; it was still damp from the night’s downpour. A stranger really had walked in out of the rain. He'd sat in her kitchen and talked half the night. Even if their encounter in the best room was only a dream, perhaps the love she felt was real. She hurried upstairs to find out.

She tapped at the door and got no answer, so she opened it and peeped in. The room was empty. The bed had not been slept in, the basin was empty, the hearth cold. Disappointed, she returned to the kitchen, where her father waited for his breakfast.

“It looks like you managed without me,” he said.

“Everybody missed you, though. Briato wished you well.”

“I didn’t expect our local boys to give you any trouble, but I have to admit I wasn’t easy about you serving strangers on your own.”

She smiled. “We didn’t see many. There was a traveler last night, but he didn’t stay.”

“Is that who left that mangy old cloak?”

“I—think so. When it’s dry, I’ll put it away, in case he comes back for it.”

“You think anyone would come back for that ragged thing? Throw it out.”

Stell nodded, but she’d already made up her mind. He might not come back for the old cloak. But he might come back for her.


* * *


The Crane rested in a stand of pine a little distance from Deep River. He wished to be farther away, but transformation required a great deal of power and physical strength. Better to rest before he was completely exhausted. It was a good thing he had eaten so much in Stell’s kitchen. He had no food with him, and wasn’t sure when or where he might find more.

His heart ached at the thought of Stell. He wanted to go back, to explain, to apologize, to make love to her the way she deserved—gently, tenderly, every night, forever. But no. That couldn’t be. If he went back, he would die in that house. It was all he deserved, but he wasn’t ready for that yet.

He couldn’t go back, and he couldn’t bring himself to go on. Even after his strength was restored, he paced among the pines and scrub oaks, restless and angry. He had made a foolish mistake, and for all his power, he couldn’t unmake it. Soon enough, Stell would know that something had happened—that it wasn’t only a dream. She would demand justice. If anyone came looking for him, they wouldn’t be likely to listen to explanations. They couldn’t make him go anywhere if he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t want a fight. He’d already hurt one person too many.

With luck, she would marry soon. She might not even realize the child wasn’t her husband’s. But The Crane felt sick with jealousy at the thought of another man holding Stell in his arms, sharing her bed and her life. It was the best outcome for everyone, but he couldn’t bring himself to wish it.

As he paced in the pre-dawn darkness, The Crane began to listen to the river, as if it could give him advice. Down in the village, it murmured; here, it shouted and sang. The sun rose in a sky scrubbed of clouds. The new light revealed a little waterfall where the river dropped down from the wooded hills into the rolling prairie below. A long ridge rose to the south of the river, then dropped away again to another broad valley. Past floods had worn a secondary channel into this other valley. The river surged and danced; even now, intermittent splashes fed that stream.

The Crane idly flicked a twig into the water. It shot over the falls, disappeared into the roil, then popped up and spun downstream. He flicked another. This lively, active river hardly seemed like the same stream that wandered lazily into the fetid swamp where he had spent his childhood. Where his mother had died of swamp fever.

He started his task without much plan, but as he worked, he became caught up in the details. It required little power to deepen and widen the secondary channel. He began shaping a dam from mud and branches and magic. The river backed up into a pool. Some water spilled into the new channel, some over and around the dam. The Crane widened the dam and built it higher. More water found the new channel, until the whole river had changed course. It flowed around the other side of the hill, far from its old channel. When summer came, the swamp would dry up—and stay that way.

Using magic cheered The Crane. And he began to see a way out of his difficulties. He couldn’t prevent Stell from remembering him. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. But he could prevent anyone else from wondering, or searching.

He began with a general, wide-spread enchantment. It would stop anyone in Deep River from wondering about the father of Stell’s child—who he was or where he’d gone. They would be disinclined to mount any kind of search—or leave the area at all. After some thought, he added a layer of magic to keep them from wondering why they couldn’t leave.

Stell could wonder, if she wanted to. She could even speak, though perhaps no one would listen. He’d done enough to her. But he could do something for her. Her father, though better, was not cured. He had maybe five years left. The Crane wove another strand into the enchantment, to keep strangers away from Deep River. She’d be safer with the locals who’d known her all her life. They would take care of her.

Then he strengthened the spell especially to keep wizards away. All but The Crane, of course. He might want to come back. The child was likely to inherit a share of his or her father’s power. No, his—he was nearly certain of that. The Crane didn’t like to think of Stell losing her son too soon to a wandering wizard. Maybe the child could have a normal life if he didn’t know of his gifts. Or maybe he would seek his father to oversee his training.

“I’ll send him clues, when the time is right,” The Crane decided. “If he wants to find me, I won’t hide from him. But if he hasn’t come looking by the time he’s eighteen, I’ll get out of his life. The enchantment will end, and he can do what he wants.”

The dam-building and spell-casting took all morning. The enchantment hung like a luminous net over Deep River and the surrounding countryside, invisible to all but magical eyes. The Crane rested, then caught a fish from the river for his lunch. He felt better, but knew one thing for certain—he would never have a place among other people. Wherever he ended up, he would have to keep them away. But under a new name. The Crane’s good reputation was safe. He would vanish, while a new wizard of evil renown would appear. He wouldn’t even have to do the deeds; it would be a simple matter to start a few rumors, sow a few nightmares, and let busy tongues do the rest.

He would go into the mountains, to his mother’s people. He’d always wanted to learn their ways. Perhaps they knew a place where he could be alone and do no harm. He would settle down at last. But it wouldn’t be a home. Wizards can’t go home.


Karen Eisenbrey (color).JPG

Karen Eisenbrey is the author of Daughter of Magic (Not a Pipe Publishing, 2018) and The Gospel According to St. Rage (Pankhearst, 2016). She lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Although she intended to be a writer from an early age, until her mid-30s she had nothing to say. A little bit of free time and a vivid dream about a wizard changed all that. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction in a variety of genres and the occasional song or poem if it insists. She also sings in a church choir and plays drums in a garage band. She shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and two mature adult cats.