Free Audiobook from the Betwixters series!

Would you like to receive a free audiobook version of Ole Grum’s Tales? It’s the very first story in The Vathylite Realms and reveals how the entire Betwixters adventures began.

Join Ole Grum, a wondering gnome, on a magical adventure through a vibrant and enchanted land. You will learn how we began communicating and how I discover Neevya, a pale yellow Sunbeam Faerie who lives in Ayin, a bustling city in the realm of Faeyelwen.

Ole Grum’s Tales: One Barmey Beetle is an audiobook narrated by Martin Hillier, a charming Englishman who has a knack for bringing the characters to life and sucking you into the story.

To receive this audiobook all you need to do is sign up for my newsletter at:

www.LauraCCantu.com

Don’t worry, I will not spam you.  Currently, I rarely write newsletters because I’m typically too busy writing books. I only send out newsletters when I think there is something important you might like to know, such as how to get free stuff, promotional items, and discounts. Also, my newsletters come straight from me, and not from someone in an office who is meant to represent me.

So there you have it.  I hope you enjoy your free audiobook version of Ole Grum’s Tales!

 

PS  If you would like to take a sample listen, you can find Ole Grum’s tale on audible by following this link:

https://www.audible.com/pd/Kids/Ole-Grums-Tales-One-Barmy-Beetle-Audiobook/B01MXZ5FN6?qid=1495644257&sr=1-1

 

 

 

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 4 (end Tale 1)

“Mr. Grum . . . Mr. Grum. You awake?” A high pitched squeaky voice sounded in Grum’s ear.
He opened one beady eye and squinted up at the pesky yellow faerie.
“Don’t you know better than to wake a gnome from a nap? I don’t understand you faeries, respecting the plants and all but not giving a gnome some peace and quiet.” He waved his arm as if to shoo the faerie away and rested his head back onto a root he had snuggled into.
“I see you found my beetle.” The diminutive voice sounded too cheerful for Grum’s liking.
“And I see that you’re not going to leave me alone.” With great effort, Grum pushed himself into a seated position. He yawned and worked to get his muscles to cooperate for a small stretch, but he was sore and his arms fell heavy and limp to his sides. He worked his finger in the dirt next to him.
“I am so pleased Mr. Grum. I can’t thank you enough for your help.”
He looked around for the darned beetle and found it grazing on some grass. The most annoying thing was that Neevya wasn’t even watching over it. “Aren’t you worried that your little friend is going to leg it again?”
Neevya glanced over her shoulder. “He seems to have calmed down.” She shrugged, “I’ve raised him since he was a hatchling, and we’re quite attached. He’s my first pet beetle. I was ever so worried about him. I thank you Mr. Grum, from the bottom of my heart.”
“Well I’ll give you something from the heart of my bottom if you don’t let me get some rest. It’s all very well messing around with the local wildlife but if you’re not prepared to take good care of it then you shouldn’t be allowed within ten feet of it. There should be some kind of beetle license as far as I’m concerned. A bloody menace is what they are.”
Grum was about to launch into a tirade against the perils of beetle ownership and how stricter sanctions should be put into place, along with more rigid guidelines about correct handling of all insects, but he abruptly stopped when Neevya planted a smacker on his cheek. Until that moment, and in all his years, Grum had never been stunned into silence.
Neevya smiled and said, “Really Mr. Grum. I truly appreciate your assistance. You’re the noblest gnome I know.” He stood without moving as he watched Neevya drift away on the wind, her loyal beetle jogging along at her feet. She turned, faerie dust drifting from her wings, and gave him one last smile and a little wave before she disappeared into the forest.

Grum settled back into the tree roots, but he couldn’t sleep. That kiss played over and over in his mind. No matter where he put down his hat, whether it be in the thick moss under the elms, or in an abandoned rabbit hole, a nook in the branches, or one of the many beds available in the tavern he found after wandering aimlessly for a couple of hours, he simply could not sleep.
“Frogwash!” Grum stamped his foot and looked at the setting sun. It was then that the idea of a quest came to him. He would have to go beyond Ayin to find somewhere to sleep. Somewhere without any beetles and definitely no faeries; too damn pretty were faeries by half.
Grum took off his hat and reached inside. After a little searching he produced what he was looking for. It was a portrait of his eldest brother Lam.
Those of you in the know will recognize that portraits have a great deal of power and can be used to travel across great distances to meet the ones depicted. And this is exactly what Grum did. He replaced his hat and stepped through the portrait portal to visit his brother in Gwyndovia, the land of the Gnomes.

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 3

“Aren’t I meant to be helping you find your faerie?” Grum said. “And how am I going to do that if you go wandering off all the time? No wonder you got lost in the first place. If Neevya thinks there’s going to be some gullible gnome to lend a helping hand every time she misplaces an insect, then she’s got another thing coming. Or rather she doesn’t! She’ll have nothing coming, that’s what. Not from me.” Grum halted and watched the beetle veer into the bramble-lined forest. “I’m not kidding around you know. I’ll carry on without you and then where will you be? I’ll tell you. Even more lost than you were before, that’s where. Lostville. Population: one. One dumb beetle.”
Grum’s threats were empty, and he knew it. Heck, the beetle knew it too. The more Grum complained, the more the bug seemed to think Grum liked him. Maybe Neevya was right . . . maybe beetles did have good intuitions.
When all was said and done, despite missing some important nap-time, Grum didn’t abandon the beetle. Nor did he continue his search for a nice spot to lie down and catch up on some well-deserved sleep. He did none of these things because even though he hated to admit it, deep down he was a good fae. There had never been a time when he was overly proactive about this innate goodness, but if the chance for good was thrust upon him, more often than not he would seize it . . . albeit reluctantly.
“You’re going to take being lost to a whole new level if you don’t start listening to me, beetle,” Grum yelled as the beetle scampered out of sight.
When Grum finally caught up, he found the insect standing still with its legs extended. Its small head and long antennae waved in the breeze.
“What’ve you found, boy? Caught her scent have you? Or has all that faerie dust in the air got to ya?” Grum approached the beetle and laid a hand on its carapace. The beetle bolted.
Unfortunately, but perhaps serendipitously, Grum’s loose shirt sleeve caught on one of the many barbed ridges that adorned the beetle’s back. A material such as faerie-silk would have glided off the pointed hooks without so much as a ripple, but woven squirrel fur was prone to snags, and before he knew what had happened, Grum was yanked off his feet. The beetle scurried across the ground as if running away from a gargoyle. Grum bounced through brambles and over roots from one tree to the next. It was a good few minutes and many bruises later that Grum managed to haul himself astride the beetle, at which point he grabbed its antennae and pulled hard.
“What in the blazes are you playing at you demented invertebrate?” Grum yanked hard, pulling the beetle’s head to the left.
A little side note: you may be aware that an insect’s feelers, its antennae, whether they be centipede or wasp, mite, fly, or beetle are very sensitive. Grabbing them as Grum was now doing was not unlike poking you or me in the eyes. Evidently Grum was not aware of this.
The beetle bucked and yawed like a pixie surfing the wind gusts of a tornado. It careened through the forest. The only thing poor ol’ Grum could do was hold on for dear life. As the beetle drove them deeper into the forest, Grum began to fear that they might emerge in Zyang, the heart of Faerie. No sensible gnome should ever go to the most magical place in all of Faeyelwen if he wanted to keep his wits about him . . . at least that was the rumor among his race.
“Give it a rest you great black thing!” Grum’s mind raced about trying to determine how he could get the beetle to end its rampage. He didn’t know any beetle calls, nor did he know how to sing the insects to sleep. All he knew about beetles was what they liked to eat.
Grim released the beetle’s antennae. That calmed the beast down enough for Grum to take off his hat and rummage through it. Somewhere in there, right at the bottom, past the bread and butter, past his shirts and pantaloons, beyond his spare hat and pipe, and just a bit farther than all the other junk he had accumulated over the years was the one thing that beetles couldn’t resist. Dung.

Dung can be a very useful thing and isn’t quite as disgusting as you might think. It can be used to make the soil fertile, something the faeries would no doubt vouch for. If you want to set up camp at night (or in the day if you happen to be a gnome) you may use it to ward off dangerous wild animals. Other uses include fuel for fire. It has medicinal properties as well, and can even be used in pigments.
What is disgusting, though, is what beetles do with it. I shall let your imagination fill in the blanks and I hope that you are not currently eating your lunch as you read this.

Grum tossed the dung from his rampaging steed and was promptly thrown off as the beetle made a sudden U-turn to dive after the treat. Five, maybe six times Grum tumbled head over heels. He lost count. When his body settled at the base of a large oak tree, Grum was too tired to move and thought it was just as good a spot as any for a much needed and well-earned nap. As he drifted off to sleep, he saw the beetle coming toward him. Then he felt the insect’s weight on his head. He started to protest, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Grum closed his eyes and entered the realm of dreams.

 

Next Wednesday: The conclusion of Ol’ Grum: Tale 1

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 2

Note to reader:
Don’t be surprised if you find many of these tales starting with Grum waking up. Waking is an important part of a gnome’s life, as it’s a frequent occurrence. Should you be interested, I could go into detail about a gnome’s sleep, but I think Grum’s dreams may be a bit too abstract to capture your attention at this stage.
Nevertheless, Grum has been insisting on telling me his entire life story, and no details are too small apparently. He says he has nothing better to do than to keep me entertained, but I suspect he’s trying to teach me a lesson or two. And unlike other gnomes, I reckon he is getting quite discontent sitting around in a frozen state all day. He says a gnome can only be petrified once in his lifetime, and he’s actually looking forward to being able to stay awake for as long as he likes when he de-petrifies. Until then, I suppose he will have to be content conversing with me.
Now, on with the story.

_____

Grum opened his eyes. Normally, waking in the darkness wasn’t much to get excited about. It simply indicated that Father Sun had not yet crested the horizon, which meant going straight back to sleep was not only the most socially acceptable option, but also the most advisable. Yet something was off. His stomach always grumbled at noon, and it was growling like a leprechaun who had lost a bet.
Grum tried to sit up, but his nose was smashed against something smooth, hard, and round. He hadn’t even noticed the weight before that moment. Waking in this condition might make any other fae cringe in fear, but gnomes aren’t the fearful type.
Grum worked his hands around the surface of the object and huffed when he realized what it was . . . a beetle napping on his face. Whether or not this was the same beetle Neevya had been looking for he did not know, but he thought it highly likely.
“I’m not a faerie,” Grum said, “and you’ll find that out soon enough when I give you a good wallop. Now get off my head you great ugly thing. I can’t see past the end of my nose, and in my experience that’s where all the interesting stuff happens.”
It was unclear if the insect understood the threat or not, but it crawled away nonetheless. The beetle was an ordinary looking insect with a shiny black shell and a tiny head with mandibles that chattered back and forth.
“If you’re who I think you are, I’ll have you know your mistress is looking for you,” Grum said. “You’d better be on your way. There’s important faerie business to be done. Not to mention all the important gnome business that you woke me from. Now scram.”
The beetle swiveled a beady black eye in the gnome’s direction and, in the only way possible for a creature with no face (to speak of), gave Grum a pitiful look.
“Don’t play coy with me. I’m not going to help you,” Grum said, already plotting where he was going to lie down next. The wind was picking up, so he thought somewhere sheltered might be nice. “I told your mistress I’d send you back if I saw you. Last I saw she was over by the king’s palace. Go over there and I’m sure you’ll find her, or she’ll find you, one or the other.”
As Grum removed his hat from his head, he could feel the mournful stare the beetle bore into his back. Grum reached inside his hat, pulled out a nice chewy piece of bread, and poured himself an acorn full of ambrosia. After dipping his bread into his drink, he took a bite and turned back to the beetle.
“What?”
Click click click
“I’m going to regret this,” Grum mumbled as he tossed a piece of bread to the ground.
The beetle gobbled it down.
Grum took a large bite and tossed the remaining bread to the beetle. Then he slung his gnomestool over his shoulder. Again he felt the beetle’s stare. Grum shifted the gnomestool so he could carry it without much effort, adjusted his hat, and started walking, mumbling all the while. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder to know that the beetle was waiting for an invitation.
Grum stopped, turned around, and asked, “Well, what are you waiting for?”
Before that moment, Grum never knew beetles could smile. Even more astonishing, Grum didn’t know he could smile.

 

Short but sweet! Next Wednesday brings an adventure!

Ol’ Grum: Tale 1 -Part 1

Grum woke slowly, trying to hold on to the last scraps of a particularly vivid dream he was having, something about winning first place in a giant frog rodeo. As the sunlight reached his eyes, the image of his being tossed into the air by a wild toad slipped away. Grum rubbed his eyes and retrieved a spotted handkerchief from deep within his oversized pointy black hat. After he wiped his nose, he stuffed the hankie back into his hat and pulled the hat down well over his ears. The morning was a touch on the chilly side for his sensitive ears. Now that they were snug and warm, Grum stood and began searching for a nice place to have a much needed nap.

The forest of Ayin had been his home for some time. The folks were nice enough, that is to say they left Grum well enough alone. For the most part the faeries stayed out of his way. They seemed to enjoy hanging around in the higher branches of the trees that they diligently tended. It was, after all, their job to occupy themselves with the wellbeing of the forest. Grum quite enjoyed spending a great many moments puffing on his clay pipe with an acorn shell full of ambrosia in his hand as he watched the comings and goings of the faerie folk. They were an industrious lot, always with something to do.
On this day Grum decided it was time to move on from his habitual sleeping spot and find a new perspective. With the changing of the seasons, Father Sun would move ‘round to favor another part of the forest and Grum did not want to miss out on any of the light. There was nothing like having a “light” snooze, pun intended, to get a gnome going in the morning.
Grum ducked under leaves and padded down paths that snaked strategically across the forest floor. Gnomes may be seen as a lazy lot, but when determined, they get where they want to go. After sauntering for some three hours with a red toadstool (also known as a gnomestool) hoisted over his shoulder, Grum reached his destination . . . a lush bed of grass near the faerie king’s palace. He looked at the palace’s twisting spires and climbing vines. “Bah, faeries,” he said under his breath as he dropped his gnomestool and planted it in the grass. Grum propped himself against the gnomestool, ready to catch a few Z’s, when a young female faerie came fluttering by.
Just how you were meant to tell the males from the females Grum didn’t know. They all looked the same to him; perfect smiley faces, glittering wings, and pointy ears, all jolly and charming and thoroughly unlikable for it.
“Hello Grum,” she said as she landed beside him, “I wondered if you could help me.”
“Hrrmpff,” he replied in his most courteous voice. He knew this faerie. She was quite possibly the peskiest and peppiest of the lot. Her name was Neevya. As far as faeries were concerned, Grum thought she was just about an inch from being intolerable – but then again, she had helped him out of a few doozies. The most embarrassing time was when she had to rub salve over his skin to soothe a nasty rash he had acquired while sleeping in a patch of poisoned ivy. It had been the best night’s rest of his life, but the next day was brutal.
“As you know it is my duty to catch sunbeams so I can pass them on to those less fortunate plants who have grown up in the shade,” the faerie said. “The problem is that I’ve gone and lost my beetle.”
Grum pulled his pipe from his hat and wedged it in the corner of his mouth. “Your beetle? Since when did you start working with beetles?”
“I’m trying something new. They’re very intuitive you see, and they can track down plants in need of sunlight almost as well as any faerie can.”
“The beetles track the dead twigs to eat them. It has nothing to do with being intuitive. You hang around ‘em enough and you’ll see.” Grum puffed on his empty pipe. The faeries wouldn’t allow him to put even the tiniest leaf into it. Not only did the fairies claim smoking was bad for his health, but apparently the plants had rights too. According to them, even the dead leaves disliked being burned outside of ceremony. So all he did was chew the pipe. He supposed it did the job of getting the bad taste out of his mouth that this faerie was currently giving him. He wanted to give her a taste of annoyance and drove his point home. “That’s what beetles eat isn’t it? Dead things and dung?”
Neevya’s shoulders slumped as her enthusiasm seemed to drain away from her.
Grum smiled inwardly, but then his frown returned when Neevya perked back up and said, “Well yes, but I don’t like to think about that. Instead I prefer to focus on the positive. My beetle helps me find the weaker plants and I make them strong. What he does in his own time is up to him.”
Grum liked messing with the faerie, but thought he’d pushed it well enough for one day. As it turned out, he didn’t really like to see sadness in her eyes. “If I see a beetle I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.” He kept the next part to himself: It’s not like there are thousands of the blighters crawling around everywhere. He looked around as if trying to be helpful and said, “I suppose I’ll tell him to meet you at that terrible eye-sore your king insists is a palace. Boy is King Kearoth mistaken…”
Neevya turned to look at the Great Hall. “It’s not all that bad. Imposing, but shows strength. It has a certain elegance I think. There’s a legend that it was a gift from the humans. I’m no so sure I believe in humans. Do you?”
Grum shrugged.
Neevya frowned, “Well, if humans are real, I’m not so sure I’d like to meet them someday.”
“Yeah because mixing with that lot always turns out peachy,” Grum said. Then he eyed her suspiciously. “So you have your eye on the castle do you?”
“On what?” Neevya said, her rainbow colored butterfly-like wings twitching a little nervously.
“The palace. Kearoth better watch his back I reckon.” Grum snorted down his pipe.
“Oh Grum you’re too much sometimes.” The faerie took to the air once more and hovered above him. “If you see a beetle who looks sort of lost, send him my way will you? Now good day.”
And with that the faerie was gone. Grum settled back onto his gnomestool, crossed his hands over his belly, and closed his eyes. Now this was the life.

 

Join us next Wednesday to find out what Ol’ Grum gets into next!

Ol’ Grum’s Tale -Introduction

old Grum Render 1

The thing every person should know about Gnomes is that above all else, if a gnome does not get enough sleep he gets extremely grumpy.

You might be thinking, “But all the gnomes I’ve seen decorating lawns and stuffed into flowerpots seem to be enjoying various activities. They look so happy digging in the dirt and pushing their wheelbarrows.” Or perhaps a gnome made you smile when you saw one brandishing a small lamp and waving as if to say, “Follow me.”
Well, I’m here to tell you . . . the last thing you should do is follow a gnome down a dark garden path. You’re likely to find yourself lost in the middle of a forest with the small fellow trying to convince you to let him nap in your lap.
As is often the case with gnomes, life is all about sleeping. Through a series of intriguing events and somewhat disturbing discoveries, I learned that if a gnome does not get the required twenty-two hours of sleep within a period of thirty-six hours, he will spontaneously petrify. The process of turning into stone is quick and unexpected, and often you will hear the gnome giggle right before the petrification process is complete. Without appropriate intervention, it takes a gnome at least fifty years to thaw from this frozen state and regain his elasticity. It’s not uncommon to hear a de-petrified gnome say that it was quite pleasant to serve as a garden decoration or to travel the world with a human while in that blissful state of suspension.
Just think, if Granny Jenkins only knew that her beautiful yard was decorated with a host of petrified supernatural creatures, she might have a whole new appreciation for her little lawn buddies. I know my grandmother changed her tune when she found out. She even started polishing the mini-folks daily.
As for me, I began carrying a particularly special gnome with me everywhere I went. I even gave him his very own front row seat to see the world from the cup holder in my car. His perennial expression reminded me of a famous grouchy dwarf, so I figured it was only fitting that I name him Grumpy.
One of my favorite things to do when I got into my car was kiss my finger and place the kiss on his small bent black hat. Then I would say, “Hi there Grumpy. Are you ready for the latest news?” Back then, I wouldn’t wait for an answer. I would start right in telling him about my day as we drove along. And he was a great listener.
Imagine my surprise when one stifling hot day in the desert, Grumpy replied, “Good day to you too. Now turn on that blasted air freezer!”
I looked from side to side, searching for the origin of the voice, thinking I was imagining things, but the voice, fainter this time, came again. “Hello human. What’s the trouble? Can’t you hear an old gnome when he’s speaking to you? You’ve been blabbering on for some weeks now. Your lot can’t seem to help yourselves . . . incessantly rambling on about this or that, but I suppose it’s in your nature. No matter, I think it’s only fair that I get some say-so, so listen close. It’s overly hot in this metal box, and I sure would appreciate some coolin’ off. Seeing as I am presently unable to move, I’d rightly appreciate your clicking on that air freezer.” By the end of his sentence, the voice was like a small whisper in my ear. I pushed the button for the air conditioner and glanced at the small figurine I’d found a year prior.
After a few minutes I heard a sigh followed by, “That’s the toad’s croak. Thanks.”
Feeling quite discombobulated, I asked, “Who are you?”
This time the voice sounded as if it had originated in my head, as if I were answering myself, yet at the same time it felt foreign and invasive. It said one gruff word, “Grum.”
Feeling a bit of a fool even though no one was around, I spoke out loud, “Grum is the name of my garden statue?”
Grum’s words clearly formed in my head, “Who are you calling a garden statue? I went and accidentally got myself petrified ’bout just a year before you found me; blasted forty some odd years to go, and counting. Never mind that. I happen to be one of the most famous gnomes in Faeyelwen . . . and boy do I have a tale for you.”

Grum’s story is a stunning tale of adventure, mystery, and magic. It reveals that life is not always what it seems, and we need to be aware so as not to miss our chance to participate in the unfolding magic and wonder all around us.
So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my friend and travel buddy, Om Grumwort Slinkvold. Grum for short. Sure, he’s a bit grumpy, but his heart’s in the right place.
We will follow his adventures in a place known as Faeyelwen. It is a realm beyond the veils and on the other side of imagination. Faeyelwen is a lush and beautiful land that houses the kingdoms of faeries, elves, trolls, sprites, elementals, dwarves, and creatures I’ve never heard of and for which there is currently no name in the English language. Last but not least, Faeyelwen is the home of gnomes, and Grum, the hero of our tales.

 

Tune in next Wednesday to read about Grum’s magical experiences in Faeyelwen.