For the month of May, Wendy J. Dunn's The Light in the Labyrinth is just US$2.99 ($3.99 in Australia). See more information either here, or on Amazon.

Wendy J. Dunn

Sandra Worth

Mark Lichterman

Science and History

Science and History

Science and History

The Serpent, the Horse, and Other Incidents

Coming soon: The Serpent, the Horse, and Other Incidents, by D.L. Major. A collection of nine short stories with both feet firmly, sort of, in the world of magical realism:


It'll be available in paperback, as well as Kindle and Epub versions. To be notified when it's available, send an email to, and we'll let you know...

Here's a sample story from the collection. It's dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism fanboys and girls. 

The One  a Dog Runs To

Ceba has been taken.
I shall describe how and by whom presently, but first, you should understand that there is one male for whom her skin is the dark musk honey scent of all women; for whom her eyes are the eyes of every goddess, every female bodhisattva, dakini, temple whore, all these things at once; her touch is the sum of everything, all become one, the universe into one experience, all from the recollection of a touch, of skin barely brushed against skin.
It has been this way since they were young; and she, Ceba, knows this, and secretly she feels the same for him, and there was a time that they swore, each to themselves but not to each other, because of mountains of shyness and fear, and on account of neither of them daring to test the shy, tentative creature that their love was -- that they would, if they could, grow old together, and that they would, in a world filled to overflowing with so much uncertainty and sorrow, be together, if they could; if only the world would let them.
Now, the taking of Ceba went like this: she and her sister were carrying firewood to the monastery when they encountered a tulku on his way back from inspecting farms at the end of the valley. Naturally, they fell to their knees on the hard white rocks and prostrated themselves. They meant not to raise their eyes, of course -- but just as the tulku was passing them, his horse, or Ceba and her sister, or all three, disturbed a Hot Spring snake, which had no business being there, so far from its normal environs, and the serpent, in its hissing and rearing and then its serpentine slithering away quickly, and the two women, in their fright at seeing the creature so close to them, and in fact at never having seen one before, leaping upwards from their prostrated position and shrieking in animal fright and surprise -- all these things together caused the lama's horse to rear, and so tip its rider onto the very hard and white rocks from which the snake had emerged.
The snake had instantly disappeared, to become the stuff of local legend; the horse had bolted, wanting no part in the proceedings, legendary or otherwise; and Ceba and her sister, once the maelstrom of dismounting and yelling attendants and whirling robes and panic and accusations and the twitching, speechless bleeding of the tulku's life onto the rocks as a blossoming of wet, dark red were all resolved, at least enough for order to be regained -- the two women were tied and trussed, their arms behind their backs, and they were dragged, their boots removed and their feet bleeding, behind the horses the rest of the way back to the monastery.
The women made the journey in a silence of terror, their breathing ragged with stumbling, and heaving with the exertion of keeping up with the horses.
The tulku, cooling in the descending evening and slung across his recovered horse, had entered the void he had so long contemplated.
The Master's master has sent a letter. It is brought by a monk from Gyumey monastery, four days away. The monk in question spent those four days cursing his karma; spent it complaining to himself that the time of year could not be worse; grumbling that he should be sent to this place, when he was feeling so unwell... he arrives late, wheezing, his breath cutting into him like a knife, coughing bloody lace into the night air as he climbs the path up to the monastery. He seems too young for the disease, even here, but there you go... the letter he hands to the Master says this: 
We are about to hold puja to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday. As part of the celebrations, special food will be thrown to the animals. You are to supply wet intestines, two skulls, blood, and two full human skins, all of which must be promptly delivered.
On reading the letter and sending the monk on his way bearing reassurance that the materials will be supplied on time (the monk will make it back to Gyumey, but the damage will be done, and he will be dead within a month), the Master summons the young monk Tenzin to his gompa.
Gompa is a charitable use of the name; it might be best to forget what you expect a gompa to be; this one is nothing grand, it is a jumble of small and lightless rooms, either carved into the rock or constructed from the hewn fragments of it (so you see there are two ways of making a room) and there are a few rough stupas there as well, in which it is generally accepted that there are relics of various kinds -- a thumb here, a thighbone there, pieces of a nameless skull and jawbone in the one near the dried up spring... all this religion sits heavily on the summit of an old volcanic eruption of a ridge, where it is hidden from the sight of the town by more of the same order of convolutions.
Gompas aside, this town has something which the other towns in the area do not. A monastery sits on its edge, elevated above it by a few feet of rock. At its centre is a hall which is light in the mornings and dark in the afternoons, and lined with dry corpses, each enthroned on a platform covered with old and brittle golden brocade and the dust of crumbling robes and dried flesh. They are the prior abbots of the monastery, and now here is why, and how, they come to be here.
Near the Master's gompa there is a cell, carved into the rock. It is very old, and it is where the previous abbots have all ended their lives, walled in and brought food by their monks, which they retrieve with wasting hands, reaching out of the darkness through small crevices. When they die, their bodies already preserved by their diet of leaves and barks, the cave is opened, and their mummifying remains are retrieved and installed in the hall of the Masters. There are 33 desiccated Masters there now, and when this Master dies, there will be 34.
It is to Master's gompa, then, that the monk Tenzin is headed.
Tenzin has been a good pupil. Not only did he complete the Chenrezig initiation in his early years, but he also did not have to repeat any part of the instruction; he was never punished or scourged for failing even a single one of the examinations; he was never beaten for forgetting verses in recital; and he has even, to his credit, been chosen to assist Master in the rites with the novices. Tenzin has been an excellent student, and there is talk of his future.
Tenzin knows nothing of the letter from Gyumey as he climbs the path to the gompa. When one of the novices came with word that Master had summoned him, he had been in meditation, and he continues his practice as he ascends the twisting path, turning the wheel of dharma as he goes, walking slowly, mindfully, taking his time over the samdhinirmocana sutra.
He labours only half-heartedly against the unskillful burden of pride, pride held on account of knowing it so well, and because he has bettered so many of the senior monks in debate on its verses, and because he knows that he, Tenzin, is unraveling the Buddha's mind... The thought of Ceba arises in his mind, gossamerred in a mist that is a combination of memory, anticipation and desire. Mindfully, he places it aside. Aside, but within reach.
As Master's gompa comes into view, crowning the ragged ridge ahead of him, Tenzin is contemplating the thousand-armed form of Chenrezig.
Due to this merit may I soon
attain the enlightened state of Chenrezig
that I may be able to liberate
all sentient beings from their sufferings.
May the precious bodhi mind
not yet born arise and grow.
May that born have no decline,
but increase forever more.
Due to the positive potential accumulated
by myself and others in the past, present
and future, may anyone who merely sees,
hears, remembers, touches or talks to me
be freed in that very instant from all sufferings
and abide in happiness forever.
Master is the incarnation of Chenrezig. Master is Chenrezig, and Chenrezig is Master; there is no difference. Chenrezig sees everything. The bodhisattva's eyes, one in each of his thousand hands, never look away from the world, never close or look away; and so like all masters, Master sees everything. Tenzin, too, aspires to clear away the dust of delusion, so that he too may see everything... and there will be no difference between Tenzin, and Master, and Chenrezig...
Tenzin is decided on this: he will, one day, be Master of the monastery, and he will follow this current Master, this sick and dying old man who sees everything, into the cave, and then he will follow him mummified into the hall, and there he and Master will sit with the other 33 masters until the coming of Maitreya, and they will all sit there together, for the sake and enlightenment of all sentient beings...

Master's room is dark. It always is. Tenzin imagines for a moment how total it will be, the blackness, when Master enters the cave. The shadows in Master's room today are as heavy as the mountains outside.
Master is sitting reading by the light of a small fire. Another monk stands near him, waiting in silence. Master looks up, sees Tenzin in the doorway, and looks at a spot on the floor. Tenzin takes his place and says nothing.
The other monk is Gephel. He has brainless, expressionless eyes, and that sloping brow which is well known to reduce the brain-bearing capacity of the skull. Gephel has the thin lips that idiots have, and across his cheeks and shaved head are the scars of his life outside the monastery. He is no match for anyone in the debates, and for that Gephel is the object of jokes and derision. This causes him no distress, though, for no one would dare say anything to his face; if they did, he would beat them senseless, or if such disrespect came from a peasant, to death, and that has happened. Gephel has no interest in the sutras, but makes up for this with unquestioning, blind obedience. The end result of Gephel is that he is respected, feared, appreciated and ridiculed, all at once.
The Master leans forward and drops the paper onto the fire. "Lash them both," he says to Gephel, as the flames flare then settle down again, becoming a soft drone of light again in the space of a breath. "One hundred times, then tie them to the rocks at Drolma Pass. Leave them to Chenrezig and their karma. If they survive the night, lash them again."
Gephel looks up. "The children?"
The Master says nothing, and waves at the door without looking at it. Gephel bows carelessly and leaves. The karma of the runaway serf and his family is about to bloom.
The Master reaches for the letter from Gyumey. His hand is shaking with the infirmity that has been gathering around him; he grows weaker every day, his bones strain against his skin, his eyes have collapsed into their sockets. They focus on less and less, retreating into the darkness inside him.
"We need material, for rites," the Master says. "Two individuals."
Tenzin wonders at being given the task. He does not shy from his duty; he has assisted with blinding and removing hands and hamstrings, and has administered the lash himself, although only once and not expertly. That did not go well; death came too quickly, while the lash was still being applied; such things should not be rushed, but he was inexperienced. Now, he knows which arteries to stay away from, and how deep to go.
If there is a true practitioner in these matters, it is Gephel. Gephel makes them suffer, and the pain must be felt, otherwise there is no point. Without the experience of pain, the skulls and intestines and skins are not as potent; they don't hold the power. Tenzin understands these things academically, but Gephel understands without thinking; in this matter, in Gephel, the formless ground seems to be unobscured. The ceremonial materials he provides are widely sought, such is his ability with pain. Gephel is much valued.
Tenzin recalls watching Gephel at work a few weeks ago, and the screams and pleas of the murderer under the knife and the hooks and the hot irons, and how quickly they degenerated into something beyond words. Even as they are torn, and bleed their lives screaming onto the earth, they grasp at life, seeking security in their egos. The hardship they endure is for the sake of others. All dharmas are empty. There is no suffering. The thousand eyes of Chenrezig miss nothing.
No one escapes their karma.
"Who?" Tenzin asks, nodding, feeling confident as he imagines the thousand eyes of Chenrezig turn onto him.
"Prisoners will do," says the Master. "Skull. Intestines. Blood, skin ... the Dalai Lama's birthday," he adds as an afterthought, letting the paper fall from his hand in Tenzin's direction. "Gephel can go with you, when he's finished up at the Pass."
Tenzin will meditate beforehand. Most of the other monks would not, and Gephel certainly will not; but Tenzin understands what is at stake, and will attend to the void before he sends anyone there. This procedure is rich in tantra, and must be attended to skillfully, for the sake of all sentient beings.
Thus all beings may attain bodhisattvahood.
Tenzin meditates on Chenrezig, the great, compassionate Avalokatesvara, Sahasrabhujalokeshvara, the bodhisattva with one thousand eyes, one in the palm of each of its one thousand hands, Chenrezig, Sahasrabhujalokeshvara who sees everything, the all-compassionate...
The street is not crowded. There is no market day, no religious procession or ceremony due. There is no music, no drums or horns; just the shuffling of feet and worn, faded fabric stirring in the dust of the late afternoon like brown leaves.
A group of novices are loitering, sunning themselves and talking loud, unskillful nonsense about the Lineage Tree when Tenzin arrives at the prison.
Gephel is not here yet. Tenzin sits against the wall of the prison a little way from the novices, amusing himself with their inanity and enjoying what heat there is left in the day.
Not far from where he sits, the prison is a few rooms in the basement of the monastery connected to a small roofless yard surrounded by a wall. Its entrance is a doorway made of blocks of stone that are crumbling and split with age; above the door the prison is named -- too grandly, it seems to Tenzin -- after the Snow Prison, the labyrinth below the Potala, in Lhasa.
The novices have moved on and the sun is almost behind the mountains by the time Gephel arrives. He has brought Jampa, the mastiff. Jampa, large, heavy with muscle and power, and the congealed blood of Drolma Pass drying on his face. The dog is familiar with the ramble of tunnels and chambers near the monastery. It pulls at the leash when it sees the entrance, pawing at the ground, whining.
Gephel wears a smile that is dark and empty, with no centre. The peasant and his wife must have gone well. Gephel stops between Tenzin and the prison door and looks, smiling, conspiratorial, down at the dog. They both seem to Tenzin to be happy, slightly touched with the delirium of the same anticipation.
Tenzin knows this game; Gephel likes to let the dog choose them. He will take the dog through the cells and through the prison yard, letting it rummage and sniff and growl, until it finds one which, for some dog-reason, it will choose.
Inside the door, Jetze, the prison mastiff, growls at being distracted from the severed hand he is chewing on. The two dogs give a perfunctory low growl, but are comfortable enough, in a wary, brotherly, sort of way. Tenzin extends his own hand to the dog. It sniffs at the offered appendage and then, disinterested by the familiarity, turns back to its meal.
Against the stench of dead blood and offal and shit that looms around them, and the constant buzzing of clouds of black flies, the light from outside refuses to offer any contest as they enter the prison.
The peasant will not look up at first. Tenzin doesn't know this one that Jampa ran to in the prison yard, heaving against the leash... and so karma unfolds, but of course, a dog does not understand karma, and Tenzin. He has studied the sutras. He doesn't know why the man was here in the prison. He was here; that is enough. The rest belongs to karma.
The room is dark and rank; grease lamps sputter, possessed by the souls of burning dakinis. The kartika, the flaying knife, weighs in Tenzin's hand, glints of lamplight move along its curved blade. It is heavy, he feels it pulling down, towards the earth.
The rest belongs to karma.
The peasant is trying to say something. Through the blood and the fear, it is impossible to understand; or perhaps there are no words, perhaps it is the beast-without-language speaking now, from that place where they all seem to go towards the end. The peasant's eyes search Tenzin's, imploring, seeking some kind of blank animal sympathy, some dumb, elemental connection.
Tenzin visualises the hands of Chenrezig embracing the scene, holding everything in it with a type of clear, disconnected wonder, the eyes in the thousand palms dissolving karma in the blood and tears shed here. Everything is born and reborn continually, reborn as Tara, she who is the exquisite, the essence of compassion, from the tears of Chenrezig...
It is fortunate that Tenzin understands this. If he did not, there would be no one here to pause before the spectacle of the peasant's terror, in appreciation, in understanding of its true nature and value.
Endless wandering through the rounds of existence is caused by our grasping at egos as though they are real. This ignorant attitude is the demon of selfish concern for our welfare: we seek security for our egos; we want only pleasure and shun pain. But now this peasant must banish all selfish compulsion and endure hardship for the sake of all beings.
He makes a careful incision and begins removing the skin.
There is no more noise from the peasant; they usually make plenty, on account of which sometimes the tongue is removed early on, but then the donor will sometimes choke on the blood, and that is not ideal. This one lies there, quivering, looking, until Gephel puts out his eyes with the hot hooks, and then the only sound is that of the blade slicing, and the tearing of flesh as Tenzin cuts and Gephel uses the hook to pull at veins and tendons. At some point (and Tenzin is straight away ashamed that he was distracted, and not present in his work, and so did not notice) the peasant quietly dies.
Tenzin is disappointed. Gephel, who is opening the torso to remove the organs, has not noticed. It was too soon, but there is no need to say anything.
Jampa sits at Gephel's feet, watching attentively, rapt anticipation obvious on the dog's broad, handsome face.
Soon what needs to be in jars is in jars and ready to be transported to Gyumey. The skin has been scraped and washed clean, and is hanging, still steaming from the heat of the water, vaguely the shape of a man. The skin won't be allowed to dry. The vat of water steeped with herbs that will receive it sits on the floor, waiting.
What needs to be boiled so the flesh can be removed -- the skull that will be inverted and decorated with beaten silver and used to hold blood and other fluids, and the bones that are going to be handled and gestured and pointed with, weaving into existence the various worlds -- these lie submerged already, being stripped clean under a blanket of boiling fat and lye in the kettle.
"That was too quick." Gephel is wiping his hands on his heavy apron. He did notice, after all. He casts Tenzin a look, the look of a patient craftsman reminding an apprentice that he has much to learn. "We will take longer on the next one. Jampa, come. You can choose again."
Gephel and the dog leave. Tenzin is left alone in the room, standing before the table, the stone surface shining wet and red with blood, with nothing to do but wait.
Good; a moment of peace. Tenzin relishes it. A moment of emptiness, of the ground; the bodies of the dhyani buddhas, all manifest in Vairocana, Nampar nangdze ... a vision of serene and composed sky-born lotuses and deities, reposing in a field of infinite blue. He transcends the sweet metallic odour of blood which fills the room, the musky dark tang of rent bowels. The darkness of the room dissolves into the pure wisdom and light of tantra.
Just as the mountains of the Pure Land are forming among the clouds, he is brought back to the room by the sound of footsteps approaching. There is the shuffle of Gephel's sandals, his uncaring illiteracy resonating in every sliding, arrogant shuffle and slap; there is the impatient clatter of the dog's four sharp-nailed feet; and there is the uncomprehending, incoherent stagger of the prisoner that the dog had run to. That third set of steps gives nothing away; the sound is exhausted, confused and disoriented. It is too impersonal, too primal, for personality to have survived.
Tenzin dismisses the last of the mountains of the Pure Land and turns as Gephel and his entourage enter the room. Between the monk and his dog stands Ceba, bloody, her gaze sunken and fixed on the floor.
"Here", says Gephel, and he pushes her forward.
Tenzin says nothing. He is silent, but his heart is pounding. He forgets to breathe.
Gephel goes to the stone trough just inside the door. Meticulously, he begins washing his hands. "We shall take our time. The ritual implements will be strong."
Ceba sways on her bloodied feet. So that he does not have to look at her, Tenzin turns his head to the doorway, towards Gephel. Only when she is gone from his sight does he breathe. Gephel has straightened, facing Tenzin. In the half-light, he has become a gaunt, spectral figure, a ghost covered with gore and blood, hands wet with blood and water, head tilted like a wrathful deity on a thanka, emerging from the darkness as he steps towards Tenzin, who has still said nothing.
"Tenzin, are you ready?"
At the sound of Tenzin's name, Ceba raises her head. She is bruised, and there is something broken in her face, so that one of her eyes is swollen shut. It is impossible, in the half-light, and with her hair hanging dishevelled and matted over her, for Tenzin to be sure just what is broken. He can only be sure that it is her.
At first she doesn't recognise Tenzin. He is just a splash of red robe in the gloom, washed in the flickering light of the dakinis. She shrinks into the wall, hoping that in a moment of mercy, it will open and swallow her.
Then she gasps and says his name, and Gephel hears, even though it is quiet and beneath her choked breath. Gephel leans forward, looking into her face. She refuses to look back at him, and instead gives a single dumb glance to Tenzin.
Tenzin says nothing. There is nothing to say. She is shaking with pain. He feels it, it courses through him.
Gephel straightens, He recognises her now. "This is your one," he says. "I've seen you talking to her."
Tenzin nods. There is no denying anything. Clouds of flies noisily ignore the dried herbs hung in bunches to deter them.
"I've seen her in the market, as well." Gephel's tone is neutral. He may as well be talking about a yak, or a dog, or a rain front crossing a hill. "I know about this one. She and her sister were there when Seagal Tulku's horse reared as though it was possessed and threw him. He died on the rocks, in front of them."
He pauses, searching the dim recesses of a few hours ago. "There was something about a snake. No matter... Jampa likes her..."
He is smiling, that dark thing again, smiling with everything but his eyes, which are dissecting Tenzin, taking in everything that his brain can process and many things that it cannot.
"No matter."
He steps forward, takes hold of Ceba by both arms and thrusts her towards the table. "Here," he says to Tenzin, to the room, to the jars and hung skin and boiling bones and on account of all these, also to her, "here..."
And he arranges her, in one strong movement that is part lift and part throw, as though she was already dead, onto the table, and deftly reaches here and there and ties her arms and legs. He finishes and looks at Tenzin, his eyes calm and unhurried.
As for Ceba: if eyes can be numb and feral at the same time, this is how it is done. Part of her is still walking with her sister, laughing, feeling the sun on their backs, and then seeing in the distance the tulku and his party coming into view, on horses ambling slowly along the narrow track. She still feels the sharpness of the rocks as she prostrates herself when the tulku draws near.
Everything since that flick and slither of twisting serpentine blackness against the rock near her has been a blur that keeps falling in on her. She is trapped, breathless and choking, under a tidal wave of blood and tears and voiceless cries, and everything that happened around her has been one unstoppable, seamless thing, with no heart.
Tenzin realises that Gephel has left the room. Somewhere in the last few seconds, the other monk said something. Perhaps it was "I'll be back," or "Jampa needs to get back", or "needs to shit". The details and context are gone, lost in the darkness that Tenzin feels smothering him like earth, like the shadows in Master's room.
He is alone with Ceba, alone with her in the centre of this heartless, seamless thing that has come from nowhere. He goes to the table.
She is not looking at him, she is somewhere else. That distance allows him the thought of her skin being cut, her flesh being torn, of things hard or metallic or stone or unyielding, of things that blind or peel or burn touching her... causing her to recoil like a dumb, low-born animal.
His mind reaches for the quarter of the void from which Yamantaka presides over oceans free from fear and doubt, ripping them apart like sacrificed offerings, Yamantaka who bears garlands of bloody heads torn from bodies born of delusion and grasping...
There is no one to feel fear... there is no fear.... he stops, he exhales slowly, forcing his mind into submission.
The flies have paused in their buzzing. Ceba turns her head towards him. Her eyes have opened, and through a film of something that should not be there and is not quite blood, she sees something written on his face that she cannot decipher.
She sees him look around, and then she recoils again and whimpers as he picks up a knife, the blade and handle of which are covered with blood that is almost dried.
She recognises that he is unsure; she has seen that look before, that look of uncertainty, that doubt, there was something like it on his face that day he almost, she said to her sister later, kissed her. But there was no kiss then, just doubt. And now there is doubt again.
Tenzin is imagining what could happen. He imagines cutting the bonds that tether her. He is gaining control over what is happening, over what he is thinking; over his breathing, for it is upon his thinking and his breathing that it all rides. He will get her out of here. It will all have to be done quickly. If Gephel returns, he will deal with Gephel. They will run.
He slices through the leather thongs. He lifts her quickly and carefully to her feet, supporting her limp body, pressing his bloodless face against her throat.
She finds some resolve, and lifts her head, and both her eyes are open now, and she lifts a hand to his shoulder, as if to help him take her weight. And he turns to the door. They will run.
And then none of that is done. He is looking down at her, still tied to the stone table.
"I am here, Ceba," he says.
He hears Gephel reenter the room behind him.
Compassion for all beings rises in Tenzin. It is a bell pealing above the clear ground of emptiness. The unconditioned nature of all dharmas, of the aggregates known as Tenzin, as Ceba, as Gephel, as Master -- at last he sees their essential natures.
He knows what he must do.
As he reaches for the kartika, and waits for Gephel to join him at the table, finally he understands compassion, and the thousand fists and eyes of Chenrezig close forever.
* * *

The Light in the Labyrinth


by Wendy J. Dunn

A Queen fights for her life.
A King denies his heart and soul.
A girl faces her true identity.
All things must come to an end
— all things but love.

Available in paperback and Kindle formats.
ISBN 978-0980721928

May 2015 Special

IN THE WINTER OF 1535, fourteen-year-old Kate Carey wants to escape her family home. She thinks her life will be so much better with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife and the aunt she idolises. Little does Kate know that by going to attend Anne Boleyn she will discover love and a secret that will shake the very foundations of her identity.  As an attendant to Anne Boleyn, Kate is swept up in events that see her witness her aunt’s darkest days. By the time winter ends, Kate will be changed forever. 

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear Heart, How Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter — named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014.




Reader Reviews

The Light in the Labyrinth is the compelling story of a teenager who witnesses the final days of Anne Boleyn, the tragic second wife of Henry VIII. Young adults will be enthralled by the romance and political suspense swirling around the court of the notorious Henry VIII, and they will fall in love with Queen Anne in Dunn’s wonderful retelling of her tragic story.” ~ Sandra Worth, author of the award-winning Rose of York trilogy.
“…The Light in the Labyrinth is quite the read – no matter the age of the reader. And yes, thanks to Kate, a new voice has been added to the well-known haunting melody – a voice that mellows and matures as the story evolves and yet retains a touch of bittersweet innocence right to the bloody, inevitable end.” ~ Anna Belfrage for The ReviewRead full review here.
“It is exactly the type of novel that draws youth into a life-long love of history”. ~ QAB Book Review. Read full review here.
“I will be passing this novel on to my 14 year-old daughter and will be heartily recommending it to friends, family and anyone who loves a good historical novel. It is the perfect first historical fiction read for the teen in your life, but make sure you read it too!” ~ Claire Ridgway of The Anne Boleyn Files. Read Claire’s full review here.

5 stars! "This is a lovely book. It’s beautifully written and makes history accessible to young adults in an engaging and interesting way. The book is satisfying on all kinds of levels. It brings history alive and validates for girls stepping into a woman’s role that they’re not alone as they wrestle with issues that women and girls have confronted through the ages, mainly love,and their place in a world controlled by men." ~ History Lover.

5 stars! “Lively, touching and vivid, this novel offers a fresh and unusual perspective on one of history’s most well-known stories, the downfall of Anne Boleyn, by telling it through the eyes of young Kate Carey, Anne’s niece” ~ Sophie Masson.

5 stars! "I was not prepared to cry at the end–cry because it had ended, because it ended on a note of sadness and betrayal and because it brought Anne Boleyn to life in a bold new light. But I cried for more than just Queen Anne. I cried for Kate, for the loss of innocence and trust, for the betrayals of and by people she loved most, and for bravery that marked the death of youth as much as it marked the death of her colourful aunt." ~ Linda Root.

4 stars!  "This is a quality Y/A book, that an adult can enjoy. In fact, I found it better researched & written than many adult books of this subject. Young Katherine’s tale is moving and “Aunt Nan” is one of the most complex characterisation of Queen Anne Boleyn I’ve read." ~ Patricia Hain.

A discussion between Sandra Worth and Wendy J. Dunn.


Sandra is the author of the Rose of York trilogy, comprising of Love & War, Crown of Destiny, and Fall from Grace.

Fellow historical writer Wendy J. Dunn is the author of Dear Heart, How Like You This? and The Light in the Labyrinth.

Metropolis ink is proud to have published prize-winning novels by these two fine writers. In the following discussion, Sandra and Wendy cover the process of writing, research, and, of course, Richard III...

Wendy: Congratulations, Sandra, on your continued success as an award-winning author. Can you please tell us about your fourth novel, The Lady of Roses, which is reviewed on my site?

Sandra: Thank you, Wendy. This is a sort of prequel to my debut novel, The Rose of York: Love & War. It opens in 1456, five years before the setting of Love & War, with young Isobel Ingoldesthorpe, a ward of the Lancastrian queen, Margaret of Anou leaving an abbey in the north to go to court, where she hopes to make a marriage based on love.
      Along the way, she meets and falls in love with John Neville, Lord Montagu, brother of the Yorkist leader, Warwick the Kingmaker, who leads the rebellion against her guardian, the Lancastrian queen. It’s an impossible match, but somehow these two young lovers from enemy camps manage to wed. The book covers the history of the period through the prism of Isobel’s life with John Neville. And thank goodness they did marry, because both FDR and Churchill wouldn’t have been here to save us from Hitler otherwise!

Wendy: Your award winning novels (Love and War, Crown of Destiny, Fall From Grace) recounted the story of Richard III.  You are obviously a passionate advocate for this King of England. What was the pivotal moment that first drew you to him?

Sandra: When I saw his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. I couldn’t believe this handsome young man was Shakepeare’s hump-backed villain! According to the entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica that I read on my return, Richard III was a justician and his brief reign held great promise for the future. That sent  me researching, I had to know the truth, and the more read, the more difficult it was to reconcile the man with the myth, the actions of Richard’s life with his reputation in history. Modern historians agree that the origin of Richard villainy lies in Tudor propaganda. The problem is that by the end of the sixteenth century, Tudor propaganda had become historical fact.

Wendy: Why do you think Richard continues to arouse so much passion for readers and writers?

Sandra: It’s the injustice, I think. The cry for justice is eternal, and that’s what drew me to him. Henry Tudor, a lucky adventurer with a flimsy claim to the throne, won the crown and justified his usurpation by maligning the last monarch of the valiant line of kings that had ruled England for four hundred years. Richard III was an honorable man, a devoted husband, and a king who cared for his people. He sacrificed his base of political support to bring justice to the common man. But the victor writes history, and the Tudors are a prime example of that. If Hitler had won World War II, what would FDR and Churchill’s reputation be today?

Wendy: Richard is known by many as the king who murdered his two young nephews. What would you say to someone who is convinced of Richard’s guilt?

Sandra: Let’s look at the facts. There is no evidence a murder was ever committed, and all that is known for sure is that the princes disappeared. What people forget is that Richard III had three young little princes standing between him and the throne, not just two. This would be the orphaned son of his older brother Clarence, Edward, Earl of Warwick.  Why murder two little princes, and not the third? If Richard III were the villain the Tudors claimed, he wouldn’t have hesitated to murder this child. But Richard welcomed his little nephew into his household and cared for him lovingly. It was Henry Tudor who executed him. He imprisoned the eleven year old Edward, Earl of Warwick in the Tower of London as soon as he won Bosworth. The boy lived in captivity there for thirteen years, until Henry VII finally brought him out to be beheaded on the block.
     Back to the two little princes: A case can be made that Richard III sent them abroad for safety’s sake before Bosworth, and one survived. There is some evidence that the Pretender who fought Henry VII for the crown may have indeed been who he claimed– the younger prince, Richard of York. In that case, Henry Tudor put to death the true King of England at Tyburn. This is a subject covered in my forthcoming novel, THE KING’S DAUGHTER: A NOVEL OF THE FIRST TUDOR QUEEN, due out in December.

Wendy: You do intensive research for your work. What kind of research is important to you?

Sandra: For me, reading is the most vital element. Talking with scholars also illuminates this murky period, and handwriting analysis has provided me with insights I might never have had into the character and personality of those I write about. I find that examining their personal items — things that were important to them, like their books — and visiting the battlefields, castles and churches associated with them helps to give me a real sense of who they were, and what was important to them.

Wendy: Do you continue to research as you write the story?

Sandra: Absolutely. As long as the manuscript is in my hands, I’m open to revising as information makes itself available.

Wendy: William Styron once said “While it may be satisfying and advantageous for historians to feast on rich archival material, the writer of historical fiction is better off when past events have left him with short rations.”  What do you think? Does this boil down to an author’s own preference, that intensive research and “short rations” can equally provide the soil for the growth of a successful novel?

Sandra: The “short rations” came in handy when I was writing LADY OF THE ROSES! Very little is known about Isobel and this dark period in which she lived, so I was able to bring my own motivations and  interpretation to the story. The long blanks allowed me to be more creative with her story than with any other I have written to date, which was a lovely experience for me. What makes writing historicals difficult is flushing out the story around a great deal of known material. Not everyone feels the facts are as sacrosanct as I do. I’ve chosen not to stray from the known historical record, and only to emphasize the passions of those whose actions ruled the destiny of a nation, and changed the course of history.

Wendy: You live in America. Do you find that frustrating when it comes to writing books drawn from English history?

Sandra: Not really because I spent ten years researching the era and made a dozen Ricardian trips to England and Bruges examining the surviving data. That was enormously helpful. Of course, living in the U.S., you can’t just pack up and make a trip to a castle you’re writing about. Instead, you have to collect all the question marks, put them in one sack, and plan a trip that will hopefully give you the answers you seek once you’re there. The only way it could be helpful to live on this side of the pond and write about the other, is that it you’re not constrained. You owe fealty to none but yourself, and what you see as the truth.

Wendy: Can you please tell us why you decided to write about Elizabeth of York?

Sandra: It was a natural progression. She ended my Rose of York trilogy in an epilogue and I received emails inquiring about her. Evidently readers wanted to know more. When I researched the fiction, I found that she was a forgotten queen, and nothing had been written on her for nearly fifty years. Yet she was a remarkable woman and had a dramatic life. She needed her story told.

Visit Sandra’s website:
Vist Wendy's website:

Shiver Test

Shiver Test cover 750

Fifteen poems set to music
by White Rabbit

  [clearboth]  [hr]


  1. The City of Yes and the City of No
    Yevgeny Yevtushenko

  2. In the Beginning
    Dylan Thomas

  3. When I Have FearsJohn Keats

  4. Spell of Creation
    Kathleen Raine

  5. The Transitional Man
    Sarah Gale

  6. The Tyger
    William Blake

  7. Lament of the Frontier Guard
    Ezra Pound

  8. Silence
    Judith Wright

  9. Chaos
    Chris Wallace-Crabbe

  10. Boundary Conditions
    Gwen Harwood

  11. As Kingfishers Catch Fire
    Gerard Manley-Hopkins

  12. The Ikons
    James K. Baxter

  13. Full Moon Rhyme
    Judith Wright

  14. The Eye of the Angel
    Henry Miller

  15. Beach HouseJames K. Baxter


Where to get the album

Download (MP3)

Physical CD


The digital version of Shiver Test can be downloaded from CD Baby. The tracks can be previewed here:


A Man's Guide to Babies

by John Zakour

ISBN 9780957952850
80 pages


THIS BOOK IS A FUN GUIDE for a man who is about to become a dad. It is written by a man, for men, in easy-to-understand (i.e. small) words. The book is relatively short because as a man, the author realizes that men have better things to do than spend their time reading a book.

The author wrote this book because when he was first learning to deal with his new-born son, he was pretty much a big confused lug. He had no idea what to do. He's still a big lug, but is not quite as confused. By writing this book he hopes to share his wisdom with other men, and let them know that they are not alone in their confusion. Like they say, there is safety in numbers.


Where to buy




  • General baby info

  • The baby's room

  • The birth

  • Naming hints

  • Baby stages

  • What babies think

  • Crying

  • Feeding

  • Formula feeding

  • Diapers

  • Getting baby to sleep

  • Holding

  • Dressng

  • Bathing

  • Spitting Up

  • Teething

  • Baby Toys

  • Talking to the baby

  • Baby sign language

  • The sick baby

  • Daycare

  • Finding a sitter

  • Things to remember

  • Baby facts

  • Development



john zakourJOHN is a humor writer with a Master’s degree in Human Behavior. He has written zillions (well, thousands) of gags for syndicated comics and comedians (including Marmaduke, Rugrats, Grimmy, and Dennis the Menace, and Joan Rivers’ old TV show). John’s humorous SF book, The Plutonium Blonde (DAW, 2001, co-written with Larry Ganem), was named one of the top 30 SF books of 2001 by The Chronicle of Science Fiction. His second novel, The Doomsday Brunette (DAW, Feb. 2004), has made the Locus best seller’s list. John’s humorous look at pregnancy, A Man’s Guide To Pregnancy, is published by Metropolis Ink and selling well at Motherhood Maternity stores all over the country and in Canada.

John is also a regular contributor to Nickelodeon magazine writing Fairly Odd Parents and Jimmy Neutron stories. John has written three books on HTML (for Waite Press) and a number of children’s books for a book packager. He’s also sold hundreds of greeting cards to Hallmark, Recycled Paper Products, Gibson, and many others. John has sold two screenplays: “Saucer Girls” to Plutonium Films (though he’s sure it won’t ever get made) and the short feature “A Date with Death” that is being produced in England. John has also written and helped develop an animated series called “Prime Squad” for MUV Technologies in India. John was also a multiple-time finalist in the America’s Best Screenplay contest in three different divisions.

John lives in upstate New York with his wife, Olga, a professor at Cornell University, and his son, Jay. Back in the old days (the late 1990s) John worked as science writer/web guru for Cornell University. In the 1980s John was a freelance computer game programmer. John has also been an EMT and a judo instructor. He’s flexible and fast. Currently, just for fun, John is working on his Ph.D. in holistic nutrition. For fun John also enjoys the martial arts, softball, and just relaxing and watching TV.




Preparing for the Baby to Come Home


Before your wife comes home with your new little bundle of joy it’s best you make sure you have certain items on hand, since once the baby arrives, your house will be more chaotic than a bunch of hungry fat people rushing an all-you-can-eat buffet that’s closing in five minutes. In other words, this time before your child arrives will be your last moments of calm—the calm before the storm. Use this time well by preparing for everything. Just follow this handy list and you should be okay.

  • Baby powder (to dry baby)

  • Wet wipes (to wet baby—yes, it’s a vicious cycle)

  • Extra diapers (you can never have enough)

  • Lots of frozen food (for you—your wife won’t be in the mood to cook for awhile)

  • Baby soap (yep, they have special soap)

  • Baby shampoo (even if they don’t have hair)

  • A good book (gives you something to read while your wife is too tired to have sex)

  • Onesees (they are kind of like shirts and pants for little babies; they come in surprisingly handy. Get the newborn size.)

  • More sheets and crib liners (babies have a tendency to spit up over and over again)

  • Baby acetaminophen (you may want to want buy stock in the company)

  • A year’s supply of paper towels (you’ll probably use them in a week)

NOTE: This list assumes that you have read the part on preparing a baby’s room and already have such items in the house as a crib, changing table, baby toys, and the basic room items. If you don’t have these already, now would be a good time to get them, ’cause—trust me—you don’t want to be putting a crib together (reading instructions in Chinese) with a sleep- deprived wife and a crying baby looking over your shoulder.


Baby Stages


Babies actually go through numerous physical and mental stages during the first year of their lives. But for the purposes of this book I will only define four very general stages.


The newborn. This is a baby in its first month of life. The newborn looks confused most of the time, and rightly so. Heck, it just left a nice warm womb and was thrust on the world—quite a shock. This baby looks at you pretty much the same way it would a toaster


The not newborn/not mobile baby. This baby can’t crawl yet, so it’s still totally dependent on you for it to get around (which is good, ’cause that way you should always know where he or she is). It’s starting to figure out the world. Later on in this stage this baby can sit on its own and even smile. It can tell the difference between you and a toaster. It actually prefers your company to a lot of things. (Of course it will prefer your wife’s company to yours, but you can’t blame it for having taste.) The baby may even start to speak a few words here


The crawler. This is when the baby first becomes mobile and starts to sense a bit of freedom. This baby is pretty much aware of you and the world. In fact, this baby may try to get away from you from time to time. Don’t take it personally (you probably don’t need to start bathing more); babies just need their space too. The baby will probably add a few words to its vocabulary.


The walker. (well, the walker and faller) This baby will stand on his or her own two feet and start to move by walking. The baby is very aware of the world and starting to figure out its place in it and therefore your place in it. Sometimes the baby’s idea of its place and your place are going to collide, and you will have disagreements, which may lead to tantrums. Hopefully these will be limited to the baby and be short. Babies like order and to know who the boss is. They wish it were them, and will test your limits, but you need to be strong. Chances are pretty good you are still bigger than them at this stage so you should be okay. The baby will probably say some more words now and understand a whole lot of words.



Reader review


This book is a fun gift for any new or soon to be new dad. It's meant to give them a laugh, a smile and a hint or two. It's great for showing them they are not alone in their confusion about babies.




Working Daze

by John Zakour

and Kyle Miller

ISBN 978-0975126479
125 pages


THIS BOOK IS MOSTLY CARTOONS from the comic panel Working Daze, which is syndicated in a few lucky papers and over the web. We call this book an extended cartoon collection because it also adds a few witticisms and handy hints here and there, just to be different.
      Working Daze highlights (well, mostly skews) the trials and tribulations we all go through in our daily work lives when dealing with a group of individuals and a corporate “mind set.” It doesn’t take place in your office, but sometimes you swear it does.
     This book was inspired by managers and management everywhere. If you’ve ever been managed by anybody or managed anybody, you should be able to relate to it. Managers aren’t inheritably evil, though they often appear that way—it just happens that managers are usually more clueless and helpless than anything else.
     When life gets tough, sometimes our only defense is to sit back, relax, and laugh at it a little. That’s where these cartoons come in; hopefully they will give you a little laugh or a smile—maybe even make you say to yourself: Yep, that’s how it works!





WD1 [clearboth]

WD2 [clearboth]



JOHN is a humor writer with a Master’s degree in Human Behavior. He has written zillions (well, thousands) of gags for syndicated comics and comedians (including Marmaduke, Rugrats, Grimmy, and Dennis the Menace, and Joan Rivers’ old TV show). John’s humorous SF book, The Plutonium Blonde (DAW, 2001, co-written with Larry Ganem), was named one of the top 30 SF books of 2001 by The Chronicle of Science Fiction. His second novel, The Doomsday Brunette (DAW, Feb. 2004), has made the Locus best seller’s list. John’s humorous look at pregnancy, A Man’s Guide To Pregnancy, is published by Metropolis Ink and selling well at Motherhood Maternity stores all over the country and in Canada.

John is also a regular contributor to Nickelodeon magazine writing Fairly Odd Parents and Jimmy Neutron stories. John has written three books on HTML (for Waite Press) and a number of children’s books for a book packager. He’s also sold hundreds of greeting cards to Hallmark, Recycled Paper Products, Gibson, and many others. John has sold two screenplays: “Saucer Girls” to Plutonium Films (though he’s sure it won’t ever get made) and the short feature “A Date with Death” that is being produced in England. John has also written and helped develop an animated series called “Prime Squad” for MUV Technologies in India. John was also a multiple-time finalist in the America’s Best Screenplay contest in three different divisions.

John lives in upstate New York with his wife, Olga, a professor at Cornell University, and his son, Jay. Back in the old days (the late 1990s) John worked as science writer/web guru for Cornell University. In the 1980s John was a freelance computer game programmer. John has also been an EMT and a judo instructor. He’s flexible and fast. Currently, just for fun, John is working on his Ph.D. in holistic nutrition. For fun John also enjoys the martial arts, softball, and just relaxing and watching TV.


When he’s not drawing cartoons, Working Daze co-author KYLE MILLER makes his living as a game designer. He may be best known for his work on Toon, The Cartoon Role-playing Game for Steve Jackson Games. While there, he also worked on Car Wars, GURPS, OGRE, Illuminati and Isaac Asimov’s Star Frontiers. Kyle was the sole designer and creative influence for the best selling 3D Ultra pinball series for Sierra games, which includes five titles for the PC, Macintosh, and the Gameboy. In addition to drawing cartoons and making games (too many to mention here) Kyle has also held jobs at a toy store, movie theatre, and even the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Kyle currently makes his home near Chicago, Illinois, where he lives with his wife of 18 years, his two children, and their dog (otherwise known as the fur distribution system). Kyle has heard many stories about spare time and is very interested in acquiring some for personal use.





The Wheel of Health

by Guy Wrench

ISBN: 978-0980297669

See it on Amazon

GOOD HEALTH IS AN ATTRACTIVE STATE, but it can be a very dull topic. Everything depends on how it is approached. Dr Wrench attracts our attention at once, by asking "Why not research health as well as disease?"

To him it is more interesting to know why we are not as healthy as we should be, than it is to ask why we are as diseased as we are. Naturally he had difficulty in finding people in whom he could study health as a natural characteristic, but finally found what he wanted in the small tribe of the Hunza in Northern Pakistan.

The very place itself has its fascination, lying hidden high up in one of the tremendous clefts amongst the 'congress of great mountains' separating Pakistan from China and Russia. The Hunza are people of extraordinary physique and health, and this is largely attributed by Dr Wrench to the fact that their foods, such as vegetables and wheat, are not 'sophisticated', as Robert McCarrison calls it, by the artificial processes applied by Westerners. How these processes affect our food is dealt with in great detail.

The Hunza Valley

The argument is detailed and is attractively presented. Whether there is much likelihood of Dr Wrench's views being widely adopted is open to question, but they are impressive. The simplicity of Hunza life is greatly to be desired. Our western civilization will never adopt it in toto, but we could take some elements of it to heart. This book will appeal to all who interest themselves in health and the principles of its maintenance. This is a new edition of this title. The text has been extensively re-edited for today's reader.


Also available for the Kindle:
Hunza children

Sample pages from The Wheel of Health.


  1. The Hunza People
  2. A Revolution in Outlook
  3. The Shift to Experimental Science
  4. The Start
  5. Continuity and Heredity
  6. Other Whole-diet Experiments
  7. Fragmentation
  8. The Cause of Disease
  9. The Hunza Food
  10. The Cultivation of Hunza Food
  11. Progress by Return
  12. An Experiment

See it on Amazon