A nine-year-old boy from 1966 suffers a psychotic break and learns the secret behind the visions in his mind. Another nine year old boy from 1914 is trapped by the circumstances of his family’s secrets. Their lives are connected by tragedy, redemption, pain, and triumph in a journey that teaches them both about a bond stronger than time. The Childgrove is set against two eras of change in the Midwestern city of St. Joseph MO and the real people and events that linked them together.
Combining the original novella with it’s sequel, Edward, and featuring all new chapters, twists and turns. Coming mid September in Kindle, paperback, and hardback.
I published the first (below) in 2020 two years to the date of my wife’s death, using her fantasy world and art, about an accidental world created by wild magic.
Visit the Withe and Stone Page
On a beach in a pre-industrial British village, two small children appear, that everyone sees, but no one remembers. Lost traditions play themselves out on the stage of the seasons, as the villagers live their stories of love, loss, healing, humor, and adventure. An old woman brews and bottles hope, peace, and truth. A miller’s daughter finds unwanted drama in suspicious newcomers. A young boy becomes embroiled in a quest of elderly mystery lovers. A roof thatcher is haunted by a straw fox and a tragic puzzle. A little girl spins tales for the forest creatures. A widower who lives in a tree writes it all down. The villagers of Withe and Stone tell their tales, without realizing just how different their world is from ours, where the traditional faiths of pagan Europe stayed dominant, evolving into a peaceful agrarian society, and where two small children whom everyone sees, and no one remembers, read the spell of the world, and use their magic to keep this universe from slipping away.
Standard Print: 341 page This edition is printed on standard paperback stock and does not include the illustrations. $14.95
Deluxe Print: 358 page edition is printed on heavy white paper stock and includes 42 original color paintings by Jan Goldsberry, which served as the inspiration for and even mentioned in the stories. $49.95
I stated playing music as a profession in 1978, and 20+ albums later, you’d think I’d know better.
One song I wanted to share, came from a friend who left us in 2021. Back in the late 80s, Bill Hilburn met a boy walking down the tracks in a railyard in Springfield Missouri, picking up grain that had fallen from passing railcars, and taking it back to the hotel on Commercial street where he lived amongst the transient and impoverished. He liked to feed the pigeons. Bill was so touched by the boy’s story that he wrote a poem, to which I turned into this song. Remembering you, Bill.
The ultimate in collaborative creativity, nothing will force you out of an introvertive shell like theater.
“In the Tent of Stars is a rare script with powerful emotions. This needs to be seen.”
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A family-friendly magical realism musical involving the son of a 1910s Broadway singer, who, following the collapse of her marriage, takes him and flees to a Midwest tent vaudeville show, called the Astrolabe Theater Company. He discovers there is much more to this theater than first appears. Its cast exists in a realm of limbo, where lost and broken souls go to help each other find redemption, heal, and go on to fulfill their dreams. He begins to understand the reality of the lives around him, especially that of a boy who befriends him, challenging him to see beyond preconceived ideas regarding others and himself.
This is a mammoth project I started in the 80, but didn’t have the resources for. It’s a narrated operetta performed through dance and shadow puppetry, and follows an unnamed avatar for humanity through the course of human evolution, encountering aspects of mythology along the way to our ascension beyond the confines of time. Listen to a sneak peek of a couple of song and a bit of narration.
The faun, the spring, and the long vanished race of beings mentioned are bound in cross cultural history
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 14. 67 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
“[Rheia summons rustic-spirits to the army of Dionysos for a campaign against the Indians :] The rock dwellers came also from their self-vaulted caves, bearing all the name of Pan . . . all armed to join the host; they have human form, and a shaggy goat’s head upon it with horns.
Twelve horned Panes there were, with this changeling shape and horn bearing head, who were begotten of the one ancestral Pan their mountain ranging father . . .
With these were two other Panes, the sons of Hermes, who divided his love between two Nymphai (Nymphs); for one he visited the bed of Sose, the highland prophetess, and begat a son inspired with the divine voice of prophecy, Agreus, well versed in the beast-slaying sport of the hunt; the other was Nomios, whom the pasturing sheep loved well, one practised in the shepherd’s pipe, for whom Hermes sought the bed of Penelope the country Nymphe. Along with these came Phorbas (Fear) to join their march, savage and insatiate.”
Herodotus, wrote about a group of people called the Macrobians, who were believed to have lived in modern-day Africa and were known for their longevity and youthfulness. In his writings, he also spoke of a mysterious pool of water that the Macrobians used regularly that he speculates may have held some of the power of their youth. Here is what he said in one of his books:
When the Ichthyophagi showed wonder at the number of the years, he led them to a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil- and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom. If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use of the water from it which makes them so long-lived.
Hebe was the Greek mythological goddess who represented youth, and she was also the cupbearer of the gods on Mount Olympus. Since she is the goddess of youth, she is also associated with early tales concerning a water source that some believe is the fabled Fountain of Youth.
Later in the tale, after encountering the birth of man, the nurturing of mother earth and her desire to protect her children, the boy realises that he must join the flow of time in order to understand it. It is then he witnesses the splintering of belief and the birth of war.
The duel natured god Marduk is powerful head of the Mesopotamian pantheon in the first millennium. Being both good and evil, he could chose to help or destroy humanity, and hence his priests could warn his followers of his wrath in disobeying him and could justify almost anything they wished. He was the patron god of the city of Babylon, where his temple tower, the ziggurat “the foundation of the heavens and the earth” served as the model for the famous “tower of Babel.” In the first millennium, he was often referred to as Bel. Marduk achieves his supremacy by battling the goddess Tiamat, or Mother Earth, representing the female aspect, with Marduk standing for the male. Marduk is victorious, kills Tiamat, and creates the new world from her body. Thus the loving mother Earth is subdued by the passions of greed, war and the lust for power.
Withe & Stone Musical
This is very early in the process, and different from the novel. It has to be more contained set wise, with a smaller cast. Hear is just a taste.
ACT 1 SCENE 1
(The light comes up in a great room where the walls are made from the inside of a giant tree.
There is a fireplace and a chair where the writer, John, sits with a notebook and a quill writing.)
(looks up from his writing)
I thought this was my story, but I was mistaken. It is the hubris of writers who put themselves in
their own tales because that’s where the story started in their minds. What I failed to see was that
this story started long before me, and I just happened upon it after a thousand years had already
passed, at a fortuitous moment.
(He sets the notebook aside and stands)
That moment occurred here on this very spot, about 35 years ago. None of this finery was here
yet. It was a hollow tree back then. Granted, it was a vast hollow in a gargantuan tree made from
three ancient oaks that had long ago fused together, but that’s why it started here. It is said the
Three Sisters, which the trees are named, are older than the world itself. I thought it a fanciful
concept, but again, I was wrong. Not about the tree, but about the world. About time. About
reality. But before I spoil the ending, let’s go back to that moment, and I’ll let the spell tell you
(The light goes black on John, and from the darkness comes the voice of an elderly woman.)
Seven times four throws open the door
(Shafts of light illuminate the stage, and a swirl of color appears like a rainbow tornado in the
air above the center stage. When it clears, there remains a small girl in a gossamer dress of
blues and purples and greens who descends to the stage.
The tree looks rustic now, just a hollow wooden cavern with light streaming in from knotholes
high above. She dances in and out of the shafts of light as “Isabella’s Theme” plays.
She yells into the darkness)
You did it, Corbie!
(A large black crow flies in over the audience up to the stage, circles her as she spins and leaps
with it. It zips in and out of the dark spots as it changes shape, eventually becoming a boy with
iridescent black hair. He joins her as the ballet builds to its finish.)
Took you long enough!
(The boy wobbles and cocks his head in a crow-like way.)
Ah-oh. Still in crow mind? Okay, let’s go find you something to eat.
ACT 1 SCENE TWO
(The tree set rises to reveal a town square with timber frame buildings and thatched roofs.
Directly center is “The Open Arms Inn and Pub. On the green, before it, a fair is going on.
Musicians play lutes and tabors, pipes, shawms, and fiddles. They play “Corbie’s Theme” as the
action unfolds, people mill about the fair booths, and kids run in little clusters through the
(Isabella drags Corbie into the middle of it as the boy’s attention flits from one thing to another.)
SONG: Corbie’s Theme
Put it back, Corbie. You’ll just wonder why you have it later.
(Corbie sees young John enter holding a carpetbag and runs to him and throws his arms around
Well, hello. Um…Thank you?
(he tries to detach Corbie from his middle)
Friend! I like friends!
(Isabella pulls Corbie off, and the boy begins “flying” with his arms outstretched around the
stage, dodging in and out of the fairgoers.)
NOTHING IS BETTER THAN STARTING A JOURNEY
NOTHING IS BETTER THAN MEETING NEW FRIENDS
NOTHING IS SWEETER THAN TASTING ADVENTURE
NOTHING SO GREAT AS TO WHERE IT BEGINS
WHERE ARE YOU WHEN YOU BEGIN A NEW STORY
WHAT DO YOU FEEL WHEN THE MUSIC FIRST PLAYS
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU WAKE TO A SUNRISE
DO YOU DREAM OF THE FUTURE WITH EVERY NEW DAY?
INFINITE MEANS WHAT YOU WANT TO BE
IT’S THE THE BEST CHANCE TO BE WHAT YOU WANT
WHEN THE SPELL IN YOUR HANDS TELLS YOU WHAT IT DEMANDS
AND YOU FEED IT ON JOY, AND YOU WATCH IT RESPOND
STOP IN THIS MOMENT AND LOOK ALL AROUND YOU
NOTICE THE CLOUDS AND THE SCENT IN THE AIR
LOOK IN THE FACES OF EVERYONE ROUND YOU
AND LOOK IN THEIR EYES TO THE DREAMS THAT YOU SHARE
THIS IS YOUR MOMENT TO MAKE THAT DECISION
THIS IS THE CHANCE TO WAKE UP FROM THE TRANCE
THIS IS YOUR CHOICE TO WHERE DESTINY LEADS YOU
THIS IS ME SAYING COME JOIN IN THE DANCE
HAROLD WITH BLASTS OF THE HORNS
THIS IS HOW FUTURES ARE BORN
WELCOME TO THIS; IT’S MY STORY UNFOLDING
HUGS TO YOU ALL CAUSE YOUR STORIES HERE TOO
EVERYONE HERE IS A PIECE OF THE PICTURE AND
EVERYONE HERE HAS THE PART THEY MUST DO
SO MUCH BEHIND US AND MORE STILL BEFORE US AND
SO MUCH TO SEE IN THE SPACE IN BETWEEN
HERE IN THIS NOW THAT WERE GIVEN TO LIVE IN
THERE’S ONLY THIS MOMENT TO DO WHAT WE DREAM
HAROLD WITH BLASTS OF THE HORNS
THIS IS HOW FUTURES ARE BORN
SO BE THERE TO SEE IT, TO LIVE IT TO BE IT, AND THEN YOU CAN FREE IT TO
GUIDE YOU ALONG
THIS IS A GIFT, AND IT’S EVER SO PRECIOUS
NEVER AGAIN WILL THIS MOMENT EXIST
SO DRINK IN THE JOY THAT IS LAID OUT BEFORE YOU
THIS IS OUR MOMENT OF BLISS
Read reviews about me
Don’t take my word for it – here’s what others have said:
“What a squirrel”
“There’s nothing you couldn’t fix about that boy that wouldn’t be solved by a daily trip to the woodshed”
Fourth Grade Teacher
“Yes dear, if you think so”
John’s late wife