Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy BIrth/Death Day, Will Shakespeare

In honor of William Shakespeare's birthday and, coincidentally, his deathday as well, I thought to give you a taste of how one of my characters likes to quote the Bard, but only MacBeth.

Cailleach the Winter Goddess
From Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series

Cailleach is a goddess in the Scottish Celtic pantheon. Descriptions of her looks and personality run the gamut from ugly monster or beautiful protector of the land. This split personality goddess is the winter counterpart to the beautiful Bride (Bridget), the goddess of spring.

Living in the Otherworld after the Celts have stopped worshipping the old ones, Cailleach has let herself go to seed. She spends her days attempting to make sense of the hags’ potion in MacBeth (Double, double, toil and trouble). When she hears that a witch has come into the Otherworld, she begins to scheme. If Cailleach can only steal the witch’s magic, she can be young and powerful again.

Excerpt

The warty witch peered into the cauldron. “It’s time. How did that spell go? You’d think I’d have memorized it by now. Ah, yes.”

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw,

Cailleach dumped the slimy, mottled-brown contents of a glass jar into the cauldron.

Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one

“Let me see. Is this thirty or thirty-one days since I found the frog under the log. It says ‘cold stone’, but I’d think a cold log would work as well.”

Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot.

Cailleach sniffed. “Hmm, does this look venomous, or just rotten?”

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

“Well, it’s bubbling. That’s good. Now, which of these mortars has the newt’s eye? That one looks more like a lizard’s leg, or is that goat’s gall?”

For five hundred years, she had been trying to make the spell work, and it always thwarted her. Some ingredients the weird sisters named when cooking up the brew just weren’t right. Either the witches made a mistake, or that Will Shakespeare fellow had written it wrong. Still, the notion appealed to her and she had plenty of time on her hands to play with the formula. She pushed the cauldron closer to the fire and watched the noxious eruptions rise to the top, then burst like so many boils on a beggar’s face.

* * *
Scotch Broom, Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series
A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Buy the ebook and get the audio book for only $1.99

Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat's brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too. Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review - The Curse Servant by J.P. Sloan

The Curse Servant (The Dark Choir #2)The Curse Servant by J.P. Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second in this series about Dorian Lake, a charming fellow. That is, he produces charms and hexes for his clients thus making a living, sort of. But he has to supplement his income with some rental property and an occasional toe-dip into nether magic--this is not a good magic. As a result of using netherworld curses, Dorian has lost his soul, but is actively trying to get it back again. For a soulless guy, he's pretty nice.

The daughter (Elle) of his friends, Edgar and Wren, is possessed by something, and whatever it is, it does not like Dorian Lake in the least. But the consequence of Elle's possession is killing her and Dorian has to fix it. Since he doesn't possess the particular required skill, he's got to bargain for it from another magic worker. But she wants a certain person who she expects Dorian to deliver to her in exchange for ridding Elle of the demonic presence.

It gets complicated fast with other people after other things requiring Dorian to do some less than ethical swapping around. He ultimately also wants to find and restore his own soul.

No reason to go any further with the plot. You'll just have to read the book. Oh, right. Be sure to read The Curse Merchant (book 1 of the series) to get yourself settled into the urban magic served up by J.P. Sloan.

I really like Sloan's descriptions and use of magic, hexes, spells, curses, and possessions. While I recognize some of the arcane use (what fantasy reader wouldn't?), Sloan is spot on in taking all the magic practices and using them in an updated environment.

Despite the series title, The Dark Choir, the books aren't dark at all. More like fast moving adventure with Dorian Lake running through trying to fix things, and having to get really creative doing it.

The books are hard to describe, but that's a good thing. You won't get your typical wizards and wands, but something quite different. The only thing I can compare them to is Jim Butcher's "The Dresden Files." Just start reading them, okay?

Since I had purchased and reviewed the first book in the series, Curiosity Quills Press, gave me a free copy of this book for an honest review. Okay, I'll confess, they gave me the third one as well. If it was a bribe, then it worked out beautifully for me. I would have bought the books myself anyway.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 15, 2017

And When I Die

I've always liked this Blood, Sweat, and Tears song because it's so hopeful and positive. It's also a really great song for those contemplating suicide. Now, I don't recommend the latter, but it does soothe the soul. It also is kind of a natural for Easter, eh?

http://www.metrolyrics.com/and-when-i-die-lyrics-blood-sweat-tears.html



And when I die and when I'm dead, dead and gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.
I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it's peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it's cold way down there,
I hear that's it's cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.
My troubles are many, they're as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell.
Swear there ain't no heaven and pray there ain't no hell,
but I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
only my dying will tell, yeah, only my dying will tell.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.
Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
and all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally.
Don't want to go by the devil, don't want to go by the demon,
don't want to go by Satan, don't want to die uneasy,
just let me go naturally.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born.


Read more: Blood Sweat & Tears - And When I Die Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Miscellaneous Writing Tips

I'm not sure how many of the writers I know manage to post a daily blog. I tend to forget about blogging entirely unless I have news to report. Now that I no longer have new works to report, I'll advise, review, or promo for friends' books from now on.

Cute Kid
I'm supposed to give tips on writing, encouragement to perservere, and funny things that happen in my writing life. Oh, and I absolutely must have a picture of my cute cat, dog, child, or whatever every couple of weeks. Here's one now to fulfill that obligation. She's still cute at 22.

Every once in a great while, I'll post something like this, and I duck my head and wince. Nobody should care what I think about writing unless I have some credentials to prove I know what I'm talking about. Yes, I've published a bunch of stories and ten (or so) books, but that hardly makes me expert.

Still, it is expected, so here I go.

1. Use all the adverbs and adjectives you want. They are perfectly good words in the dictionary. Go ahead. Look them up. Nowhere does the dictionary mention that words are on a scale of 1 to 10 in worthiness.

2. If your book doesn't attract an agent, it's not your query or synopsis; it's because your book isn't the current hot thing in publishing. More teen angst, gorgeous vampires, loving werewolves, and (I don't get this) angels.

3. Money flows from the writer to the writing/publishing world. How many blogs tell you to take classes, go to conferences, join certain professional organizations. All of that costs money. In the long run and on the average you will spend more than you receive in royalties. Writing is NOT a money-making proposition.

4. Write if you must, but don't expect the world to give any notice to you.

5. Writing is a hobby. Treat it as such, and you'll be happier in the long run.

6. "Its" is the possessive form. "It's" is the contraction of "it is."

There. I've done my bloggerly duty and given you a bunch of stupid advice. Use it wisely, hopping Easter bunny.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Free Kids' Ebooks

Here's a free week of the children's book, "Lemons and Other Kid Tales." There are three animal-based stories suitable for kids. Photos illustrate the stories, but this isn't a picture book. It's for a kid who can read about 3rd grade level, but younger kids would probably enjoy having the book read to them. I need to have the book's KENP established. So, please download your free copy and flip through the tales. Hey, there are even color photos!

The stories are:
Lemons - Karen is horse crazy and works hard for Mr. Fredrichs to earn a ride on his draft horses. She wishes more than anything to have a horse of her own.

One Fine DogDogs weren’t just pets, but working members of the family. Sometimes, they could do amazing things and perform feats that were almost like magic.

A Practical Cat - Boots is nothing if not a pampered and lazy house cat, but he gets it in his head he'd like to explore the world outside the house. 

Free April 3rd through 7th.




Monday, March 27, 2017

Free Short Story Sampler

My little ebook are free on Amazon from March 27th - 31st. I need a page count set, so please download, then flip through the pages. This will establish the first page for the book. Hey, it's tiny. You can probably actually read the whole thing is less than an hour. Thank you!

Fish Story - A Three Story Sampler
Sampler of the stories from Mixed Bag and Mixed Bag2.

Fish Story - Colonists to a distant planet find salvation in a fish.

The Vision - Charlie can't get terrifying images out of his head, but why?

Chilpequin 22 Miles - The bartender is big and hairy. Could it be? Nah, it couldn't. Could it?

Friday, March 17, 2017

You Must Be This Much Irish to Celebrate

St. Paddy's Day - when everyone is Irish. I was always like, "Hey, I'm 25% Norwegian and some German and stuff, so I'll pass on the green beer." Looks like I'll at least have to have a sip o' the leprechaun juice.

I got my DNA tested (DNA-lite). So I'm mostly Irish,eh? Funny how not a single ancestor is from Ireland in my somewhat skimpy genealogy chart, yet there it is in green and white.

Okay, that chart isn't too forthcoming, but it is mostly green and white, so it goes up first. So, here's the map. See that green blob on the left? Yup, Ireland. Norway comes in 5th! The genealogy I do know has a lot of England, but it appears I'm more Scot than English. I'll have to find my tartan for Robbie Burns Day. Matter of fact, England isn't even on the list! Don't bother to click, this is just a jpeg of the chart. All told, it looks like I'm goulash. This doesn't even show the Korea connection (that's on the Asia map).



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Using Mythic Elements

I ran across this blog post on the Mythic Scribes site. I'm an inveterate and unrepentant myth abuser. I've written on this subject before, but I really liked this article. For one thing, I haven't stolen from Tolkien because he already stole from myths and legends. Still, a good idea is worth using and using and re-using.

Using Mythic Elements in Your Story by Anne Marie Gazzolo. Here are the opening paragraphs. Read the rest of the article at the link in this paragraph.

Many authors borrow from fairy-tales, myths, and legends and adapt or transform them to suit their own stories. I recently read The History of The Hobbit for a class and was struck by how many elements from Celtic and other mythologies J. R. R. Tolkien wove into his tale.
John Rateliff notes, “…the way in which Tolkien selected elements that fit what he needed for his story is instructive of his complex relationship with all his outside sources: he was neither a naive reader or a passive borrower but transformed and remade what he chose to take…” (History 532-33).
So should be any scribe who draws from the Cauldron of Story, as Tolkien calls the Pot on which the Soup has boiled ages-long. He addresses this in his delightful essay, “On Fairy-Stories,” which is must reading for anyone who aspires to the “elvish craft” of fantasy writing.


Saturday, March 04, 2017

It's Been Awhile Since I Posted

I haven't written a blog post in a long time. I got through the Holiday buying promos, then I decided to try again on the 4th (5th if you count Spellslinger) in the Witches of Galdorheim Series. Then, taxes required some attention. Ducks aligned and ready to shoot down with just a wee bit more of real documentation rather than guesswork.

This is a long post, but I hope you'll read it because it brought to light an interesting phenomena: USING HISTORICAL PEOPLE AS CHARACTERS IN FICTION

I wanted to write a new post. No, not a re-run like I've been doing far to much. An opportunity presented itself in the form of an email from a reader. I don't get those often. Here's what she said:
Dear Marva:
I am so glad to have tracked your email down.   I have come across your ‘Tales of Abu Nuwas’ and I am so intrigued by them.  I was doing a bit of research on Abu Nuwas as I am going to Zanzibar shortly and I am looking at traditional stories that have been popular there.  I just wondered what your source for the stories are, are they based on the traditional tales?  I am particularly interested in the relationship between the story teller and Najda and the way he realised she was preoccupied about her forthcoming forced marriage to the much older man and wondered if that was your own creation or based on one of the original Abu Nuwas stories.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I was a bit bemused how this book had anything to do with a trip to Zanzibar. But, hey, I'm happy to heard from any and all readers. So, I wrote back.
Thanks for writing. Setara's Genie is one of my favorites.
I "discovered" Abu Nuwas when I was combing the disparate stories of Setara's adventures. Since Scheherazade was always in the back of my mind, I decided to have a story teller who served the same purpose. Frame stories interest me. When I found information on Abu Nuwas, I hoped he wouldn't be mad if I appropriated his persona. The real Abu Nuwas wrote poems which would not be kid-friendly. The old picture I found of him (which is on the book's cover now) was perfect for the character I wanted.
So, Abu Nuwas the real man and my version haven't much in common except name and the fact they were story tellers. I also made up Najda. After all, what's a story teller without an audience. I wanted the frame story to be as interesting as the other tales. I'm glad you appreciated that part of the story.
For the stories themselves, I did borrow a lot from middle-eastern mythology including demon names like Azhi Dahaka. I actually selected new names for most of the characters from made-up names to real Arabic or Persian names.  
Then, the reader replied:
Thanks so much Marva - so kind of you to reply. 
I think the Abu Nuwas stories I am looking for are different. I can't  quite work it out but as far as I can gather there is the writer/poet you mention and then a series of stories about the trickster Abu Nuwas and these are Swahili tales and I think (?) there is no link or am I wrong ?
Here are translations of the Swahili tales in English and this was published in Tanzania but interestingly an English re teller - daughter of the man who wrote them down from the Swahili in the 1930s (apparently someone else called Steere wrote them down in the 19th century)
http://www.africanbookscollective.com/books/tales-of-abunuwas-and-other-stories
"Tales of Abunuwas and Other Stories are translations of Hadithi za Abunuwasi na Hadithi Nyingine, from Swahili into English by John Lewis-Barned and retold here by his daughter Suzi Lewis-Barned. The stories were first published in 1935. Whilst the Abunuwasi tales are available in English translations from the Arabic originals, these translations into English from an early Swahili edition add a new and interesting dimension to them"
I would be grateful for any light you can shed on this and thanks so much for your wonderful stories. 
I checked the link to the book translated from Swahili. I discovered that the famed bawdy poet I used as my story teller, was also somehow the main character of a group of folktales adapted in the Swahili tradition. But the character in the Swahili tales are nothing like the real Abu Nuwas. In their stories, he's a scamp and trickster who stars in the stories. At least some of the stories starring Abunuwasi are also featured in "1001 Arabian Nights" so the borrowing included not only a real poet from the 6th C., but a fictional story teller (mine), a trickster character named after the real person, but also a Scheherazade of sorts. I replied to the reader with this theory, various real and fictional characters jumping between real life and folk tales. I love this idea. I really do.
I did not know about the reinterpretation into Swahili.  My stories, while based on Persian and Arabian mythology are my own, not by Abu Nuwas. I did get a lot of inspiration from 1001 Arabian Nights.
I did read translations of Abu's original poems. They were somewhat risque--an ode to wine and the joys of pederasty. I didn't realize some of his poetry might have shown up in the 1001 Arabian Nights. I did know that the stories in 1001 come from many traditions. There is no single 1001 Arabian Nights book. It's fascinating how folk tales cross between cultures. A good story is a good story no matter the language.
Interestingly, it appears the Swahili story teller is also a borrowed version of the original Abu Nuwas. I think possibly Abu is the source for more than one tradition. Like Scheherazade, Abu Nuwas is credited for more stories than he actually wrote.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Abu-Nuwas
Thanks for the link. Sorry that my Abu Nuwas is not the trickster of the Swahili tradition. They both were based on the same real poet it appears. I'm going to look into this in more detail. I love research.
And this is why Lin-Manuel Miranda can legitimately have the founding fathers in "Hamilton" speak in rap.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Animal Friends in Tales of a Texas Boy

No, I'm not talking about the folks running for political office although they're just about as oddball as they come. And proud of it to boot. Tales of a Texas Boy has plenty of weirdos who amuse, baffle, and set Eddie to wondering. One of those weirdos is a man named Cage McNatt. See, even his name is kind of oddball. But it's his actions that take the prize, 'cause his prize sow sure didn't one year at the County Fair. Texas Boy comes in a Large Print paperback, ebook, and audio. Buy the ebook for $2.99 and get the audio book for only $1.99. Or buy the paperback, and get the ebook for only $0.99.

Excerpt from Tales of a Texas Boy 

Cage McNatt and His Prize Sow

Each evening, when the fair was over, Dad would untie Sophie from her post and let her sit closer to the fire. One night, after things calmed down, Dad Boles and I were sittin’ by the fire with Sophie right next to us. Dad Boles was in the middle of a story about trappin’ when we heard something crashin’ around inside the fairgrounds. Dad decided to go check what was goin’ on, and I followed along since he didn’t say to stay put. We went into the fairgrounds to see what was up. The moon was full so we could see well enough.

A man was goin’ toward the fairgrounds’ front gate and it looked like he was pullin’ a big dog along behind him. When I heard the squeal, though, I realized it wasn’t a dog, but a pig. I could also see the pig was white, so I knew right off it was the Luck’s sow. The trouble was that the man was Cage McNatt and not one of the Luck brothers.

Well, you might already have guessed what was goin’ on. Cage McNatt was stealin’ Whitey, or at least, he was tryin’ to. The problem was Whitey was bigger than Mr. McNatt and she wasn’t of a mind to go along quiet. She was doin’ her best to pull away from the rope. She was shakin’ her head back and forth and kept up squealin’ the whole time. That was about the unhappiest pig I ever saw.

Then, she spotted the open gate. She quit squealin’, snorted a couple of times, and all of a sudden she was doin’ the pullin’ and Cage McNatt was runnin’ behind her tryin’ to keep up. She was makin’ a beeline for the gate where we just happened to be standin’. I figured we’d better just step out of the way. Bein’ run down by three hundred fifty pounds of hog flesh was not an idea I cottoned to.

What I didn’t realize, and Whitey didn’t either, was Sophie followed us through the gate. She, meanin’ Whitey, got about twenty feet from us when she looked up and saw a bear standin’ in the way of her freedom. She stopped short and Cage McNatt ran right by her as he had such a head of steam goin’. When he reached the end of the rope, it came right out of his hand. I could see her sittin’ down on her haunches and starin’ at Sophie like she was wonderin’ exactly what it was she was seein’. All she knew is it was a big, hairy critter and probably smelled pretty bad, too.

The sow made up her mind. She whipped around like she was a cuttin’ horse and headed in the opposite direction. I think Sophie was gettin’ curious about this activity, so she went along after the pig. We took out runnin’ as well. Dad Boles didn’t want to risk Sophie harmin’ any livestock, so he was in a big hurry to catch up with her.

I was runnin’ right behind Dad Boles and I heard Cage McNatt’s footsteps right behind me.

The sow headed straight for the Ferris Wheel. I could see one of the cars was at the bottom and it was open. I think you’ve guessed what came next. The pig jumped up into the car and it shuddered like it was hit by a tornado. The gate on the car slammed shut and the pig was jumpin’ around and the car was rockin’ somethin’ furious.

Sophie followed on up the ramp to get to the pig. I don’t think she meant any harm but was just curious. Sophie went to one side of the ramp then to the other lookin’ for an opening to the car. As she stepped to the right, she pushed up against the lever that ran the wheel. The Ferris Wheel started up and the pig was bein’ hoisted up along with it. That seemed to baffle Sophie, so she just stepped off the ramp and walked calm as you please back to Dad Boles.

All three of us stood and watched the car go up with the pig in it squealin’ like she was bein’ introduced to the slaughterhouse.

Dad came to his senses first and ran up the ramp. He hit the lever and the wheel stopped with the pig’s car about halfway up. Now, he wasn’t sure what to do as it seemed the only way to get the pig back down would be to start the wheel back up. I think he felt sorry for the pig as it was cryin’ like a baby and was clearly real scared to be up so high.

By this time, the carnival folks had come out of their trailers to see what was goin’ on. The head man ran over to the wheel and started it back up again. He’d already seen the only way to get the pig down was to run her clear round the circle ‘til the car come to earth again. Unlike Dad Boles, he didn’t mind givin’ the pig the rest of the ride.

The sow made the trip safe enough. When the car reached the bottom, the carnival man opened the gate and she took off like a streak of lightnin’. Dad Boles started laughin’ so hard he could hardly stand up. In between his guffawin’, Dad Boles couldn’t help but say, “Well, I never figured I’d ever really see a pig fly.”


* * *
Tales of a Texas Boy Audio Book (on sale for only $1.99)

How do you handle a crazy jackass? Eddie knows. If you ask Eddie, he'll tell you pigs can fly and show you where to find real mammoth bones. Take his word for it when he tells you always to bet on the bear. These are things he learned while dreaming of becoming a cowboy in West Texas during the Depression. Through Eddie, the hero of "Tales of a Texas Boy," we find that growing up is less about maturity and more about roping your dreams. Hold on tight. It's a bumpy ride. A wonderful read for anyone who enjoys books like "Little House on the Prairie" or "Tom Sawyer." A great bit of nostalgia for seniors, too.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Animal Friends in Witches of Galdorheim III

A skua or jaeger is a large scavenger bird of the Arctic. Jaeger means "thief" so you can get an idea of Skua! (skua with an upclick at the end) in "Midnight Oil" is not exactly a laudable character. Nevertheless, he is open to dealing for food. Katrina the Klutzy Witch needs to send a message to her home island, Galdorheim, but has no way to do it. After all, she's stuck on Ultima Thule, which just might be the tip of Atlantis remaining above sea level.

Kat ends up on Ultima Thule when she tries to keep her father's ice-clad body from being tossed away at sea during a storm. Okay, it's complicated about why her father is a pop-sickle, why they're at sea, why there is a storm, and lots of other questions. You can find out all about it by reading The Witches of Galdorheim series, specifically book 2, "Midnight Oil."

Here's the thing. It's hard to write a succinct explanation of what goes on in the Witches series because it is different from anything you've read before. Here's an excerpt featuring Skua! which might pique your curiosity. Oh, right, the entire series is available for Name Your Own Price (which includes free) on Smashwords.

Excerpt from Midnight Oil

Kat opened her mind to the bird brains, but the shrill cries and squawks were noisier and less coherent than hearing their cries with her ears. She shut off the assault as fast as she could. She’d have to pick a single bird and focus on it. Scanning the rippling wave of feathery bodies, she looked for a bird equal to the task of flying all the way to Galdorheim, possibly without a stop along the way. She didn’t see any albatrosses, but she didn’t expect to. They spent most of their time south of the equator.

As she looked around, she felt the chill up the back of her neck telling her somebody was looking at her. She whipped her head to the side and found herself staring nose to beak with a large dark-gray bird with a white chest and ring around its neck. The bird studied her intently. She listened to him and got a stream of scrambled thoughts. “Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?”

The bird’s mention of a female led Kat to believe he was male. She sent a simple message to the bird, moving her lips silently, so she wouldn’t scare him off. “Hello. I am Katrina.” The bird’s thoughts abruptly halted. He stared at her with beady black eyes.

“What?”

Kat smiled. Contact! She sent soothing thoughts to the bird. He might be just a teeny bit hyperactive.

“Hello. I,” she said, pointing at her chest, “am Katrina.” She smiled. The bird stared at her, tipping his head to one side and then the other. Next, he tucked its long, hooked bill down and scratched the feathers on its chest. The bird ruffled his wings and then hopped backward.

“Food, nest, what? Who? Food, female, nest, where?” The bird continued its mental ramble.

Kat groaned. She glanced around for another target, when a sharp jab on her upper arm made her yelp.

“Talk!”

“Oh, okay. I didn’t think you were listening.”

“Can talk, listen same time.”

“That’s a useful talent. I couldn’t do it,” Kat replied, hoping to get on the good side of the big bird. She recognized him as a skua. A nasty creature in many ways, it liked to steal food from other species. It didn’t surprise her that the rest of the aviary avoided him. The skua would steal and eat other birds’ eggs and hatchlings. The faint whiff of rot told her he also dined on carrion.

The bird swiveled his head and whistled a sharp tone. “No birds here have a brain.”

“So, the rest of them are all just birdbrains?”

“Yes.” The skua coughed in what sounded a lot like a snort of disdain. “Only one, me.” The bird sighed then perked up and said, “I am Skua!.”

Kat heard the up-click at the end. Skua! must be his name. “Pleased to meet you, Skua!.” Kat surveyed the other birds, wondering if he told the truth. Was he the only one smart enough? She guessed it didn’t matter, since he did seem willing to talk to her. “I could use some help.”

“What in it for me?”

“Well, let’s see. What do you like?”

“Lemmings.” 

Kat wrinkled her nose. She was afraid the bird would want meat. Besides, lemmings were cute. “How about, um, bird seed?”

“Pah! Meat!”

“Well, how about we work out the payment later?”

“No fool, me. Pay now!”

“Don’t you want to know what I’d like you to do?”

The bird twitched its head upward and was silent for a moment.

“Good idea. Tell.”

“I need a big, strong bird who can fly across the ocean to an island called Galdorheim. I need to deliver a message to the witches who live there.”

“Big strong, me.”

“I can see that. Which is why I’m asking you and none of these other birdbrains.”

The bird croaked a laugh. “Witches pay good?”

“Very good. Part of my message will be to reward you with whatever you’d like. Except lemmings.”

“Why no lemmings?”

Kat sighed. “It’s a long story, and I don’t have time to tell it right now. Trust me, though, the lemmings are my friends.”

“Pah! Lemmings food.”

“The witches can give you anything else you want.”

“Anything?”

“Pretty much. How about eggs? We’ve got chickens on the island.”

The bird nodded. “Deal we have.”

* * *


Midnight Oil and the rest of the Witches of Galdorheim series are available free through the Name Your Price program on Smashwords. Click this link to see all of the books available in the series.

Bad Spelling (Book 1 The Witches of Galdorheim). Price: Free!
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe.  The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story. You set the price!
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Animal Friends in Witches of Galdorheim II

Katrina Galdorheim is a witchy Doctor Doolittle. She can talk to the animals and the animals can talk back to her. One of Kat's animal buddies isn't very talkative, but he understands what Kat says and communicates his feelings about events in his own way.

Teddy is Kat's Familiar. He's also a little brown bunny. We first discover Teddy when Kat, the klutzy witch, is attempting a transformation in her class. Each student has a familiar, of course. They are witches after all. The lesson is to use the transforming spell to change their Familiar to something else. It doesn't go as planned, of course. Kat also has to contend with Merrie, another student witch, who'd easily make the top of the Mean Girls list in any school. In a school for witches, Merrie can not only be a bully, she can inflict magical grief on anyone she doesn't like. And, for some reason, she absolutely hates Kat.

Excerpt - Chapter 1, Bad Spelling

The younger students practicing their first transformations looked to the board where, under Miss Mariah’s control, the chalk drew a practice pentagram stopping short of completing the last of the five points. She tapped the board. “An unattended pentagram can cause all sorts of problems, the least being a tusser or tomte taking advantage of an open gateway. They’re harmless for the most part but like to play tricks. So be prepared with your spell before completing the pentagram.” More than one kid smudged an opening in their already drawn star.

“Children, you must focus. Don’t let yourselves get distracted.” Miss Mariah adjusted a child’s grip on his wand as she walked by.

Merry curled her lip and hissed, “You’d better not screw me up. If I can’t work this spell right, it’ll be your fault.”

“Tough luck, Merry,” Kat snarled. “If you’re such a great witch, my being here shouldn’t make any difference.”

Turning away from Merry, Kat finished the final leg of her pentagram and set the bunny in the center. “Stay right there, Teddy,” she whispered to her little brown rabbit, setting a chunk of carrot in front of him. He made a dash for the edge of the desk. Kat hauled him back. “Cut it out. You’ll smear my chalk lines.” She stroked his soft fur for a moment. “Hope this works.” He twitched his nose twice, closed his eyes, and hunkered down.

Kat checked her spell book one last time, took a deep breath, and completed the spell with a loud “Fullgerður!” and a dramatic sweep of her arms, just missing Merry’s head with her wand.

Merry shrieked and jumped out of her chair. She glared at Kat while wiping green goo off the side of her face. “Your rabbit stinks. Just like your spellcasting!”

Kat’s mouth hung open for a moment; then she clamped it shut when she glanced down at what was left of Teddy sitting in a pool of slime dripping onto the floor. Merry was right about one thing. The goo smelled like pond scum.

Teddy looked up at his witch with sad, bulging eyes, the top half of a frog’s body floating in the green glop. Kat groaned. Poor, long-suffering Teddy. Green and slimy—that was the good part. The pink nose and floppy ears—not so good. If she couldn’t master transformation and the other mid-level junior spells, she’d be left behind again.

* * *

Bad Spelling and the rest of the Witches of Galdorheim series are available free through the Name Your Price program on Smashwords. Click this link to see all of the books available in the series.

Bad Spelling (Book 1 The Witches of Galdorheim). Price: Free!
Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe.  The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 The Witches of Galdorheim). You set the price!
Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story. You set the price!
What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Animal Friends in Witches of Galdorheim

Salmon the Orca


When Keiko the famous star of "Free Willy" was a resident of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, I had the privilege of meeting him. He seemed to like people or at least found us amusing. He stayed close to the underwater window anyway. He affected me in one of those mystical connections people talk about but I have never experienced until that day.

Not long after, I wrote "Bad Spelling." I imagined Katrina, the clumsy witch, meeting a killer whale pod while attempting to escape from her home island across the frozen Barents Sea. Of course, Keiko was on my mind when Kat had her heart-to-heart talks with Salmon (short for Salmon Hunter).
Just a note. This is my own photo of Keiko in the Aquarium. He looked right at me and I was stunned. There were a bunch of school kids running around and doing school kid stuff, but Keiko looked at me! I held up by arms and slowly moved them up and down. He emulated the motion. What can I say? He and I had a brief conversation.

Keiko as Salmon appears in the first two book of the Witches of Galdorheim series. If you go to Smashwords, you can get all three books in the series free through the Name Your Price feature. Hey, leave me 99 cents to let me know you appreciate my tribute to this wonderful animal. Unfortunately, somebody decided to put him out to the wild in the hopes he'd join a pod. He didn't do that. He hung out in a fjord near a village of folk who fed him. Was it a good idea? Who knows? He died. Was it because he was set free? I don't know.

Get the complete series on Smashwords for free or pay whatever you think they're worth.
Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series)

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

Midnight Oil (Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series)

Kat is a nervous wreck waiting for her boyfriend's first visit to her Arctic island home. He doesn't show up, so she's sure he’s given her the brushoff. When she learns he’s disappeared, she sets out on a mission to find him. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Scotch Broom (Book 3 of the Witches of Galdorheim)

Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble. Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

Spellslinger - A Witches of Galdorheim Story

What does a teenage half-warlock, half-vampire do to have fun? Why build an old west town on a glacier in the Arctic. There he can play at being the good guy sheriff up against mean old Black Bart.